Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Yes, It Gets Cold Here Too!

I took a picture of the girls as they headed out to the bus stop one morning. They look like little snowmen all bundled up in their gear. It takes us about 5 minutes to get our gear on. Then take a peek at the fountain outside Barnes and Noble. It is frozen and Kennedy had too much fun sticking her fingers in it and trying to lick it. I was envisioning The Christmas Story when the little boy's tongue froze to the pole. We were lucky though, no frozen tongues. However, I about busted on the sidewalk, wearing my fancy new boots! They are cute boots but not practical and I can't believe they haven't heard of salt here in GA!!!

Santa Baby!!

So we went with friends to Barnes and Noble to peek at Santa. Linc was the first one to run up to the chubby fellow and jump in his lap. Linc. then preceded to act "too cool" for Santa. All three kids huddled around old Santa and shared their visions of Christmas. Of course they all three mentioned toys that I had never heard of and did not purchase. Good thing that they know Santa is not real. However, I do think they are trying to believe. They begged for us to leave cookies again this year and warned daddy by saying "no eating the cookies dad; they're for Santa!!". I have a feeling I'll be eating the cookies this year!

Her Name Means Joy

Right now you'd never know that her name meant joy. Mia has been so sick that a smile has hardly been visible. She has been asking to head to bed around 6pm and lying around the house each day. It has been terribly sad to see a 5yr old turn down cookies, hot cocoa, and movies. Since Thanksgiving, our home has entertained such viruses as: pneumonia, flu, double ear infections, sinus infections, food poisoning, 104 temps, puking, and other "unknown" viruses. We spent 6 hrs in Urgent Care on Saturday with needle pricks, x-rays, and no news............just a virus. Today was spent at pediatricians office taking urine tests, flu swabs, and blood pressures. All 3 kids are sick. We know that Kennedy has the flu and a double ear infection. Lincoln probably has the flu and no news on Mia. So we are watching this week to see if the fever will go down and stay down. I'm hoping. I had big plans for this week. I was thinking gingerbread houses, Christmas Shopping, baking cookies with friends, and heading to the movies. Instead we are sipping down Pedialite, tylenol, couging, crying, and sleeping. Every night 2 out of 3 kids are awake. Last night I stared at Paul while all 3 kids cried and I said "pinch me so that I can wake up; this isn't really my life". I was joking of course. A mother only wishes health for her kids. I wish I could carry all these viruses instead of the kids. Somehow, I know that I could still plug along and get everything done........on pure stuborness. Unfortunately, the little ones cannot carry these germs and maintain any happiness. They are miserable. I wanted to blog about this so that next year I may look back remain thankful for health. I'm hoping 2011 brings many healthy days ahead!

Time Spent..........Priceless

Every time the grandparents visit, our girls load them up with books and insist on hours upon hours of reading. It's fun now that the girls can read to the grandparents too. While Grandma and Grandpa visited in November, many hours were spent reading. These are pretty precious times for us and we are so thankful that the kids have grandparents that will sit and read.

Keeping Traditions Alive

Thanks to Grandma, we always do a Gingerbread house with the kids. This is the 1st year that Lincoln was able to participate and boy did he participate!! He ate most of the candy and was even pulling it off of the house and eating it after the girls had placed it on. It's not a very creative house but it's just for fun and the kids love it! This year we will also start making our own house from scratch and putting all sorts of brick walls and candy fences on. We shall practice for next year!! We are getting very serious about it now! Just kidding. Thanks Grandma Debbie for always keeping the tradition going. :-)

1st Place at School and Honorable Mention at District Level

Just by chance our girls entered the Reflections Art contest at school, back in September. Kennedy submitted a drawing and Mia took a picture. Kennedy did not place, but we were still so proud of her for trying and Mia's photo took 1st place at the school. She was then promoted to the District Level and her photo took Honorable Mention. How funny! She didn't even really care and yet her photo placed! This was a great lesson for Kennedy. Kennedy is actually the artist in the family and she said to us as we drove to Mia's ceremony "how come I never win anything and Mia wins everything?" I reminded her that this is the only contest she has ever entered and that we should celebrate a win for our friends and/or family at all times. So she decided to put on the happy smile and celebrate her sister's victory. A good lesson to learn.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Adding A New Tradition to the Alexander Home.......The Jesse Tree

What is a Jesse Tree? The Jesse Tree is named from Isaiah 11:1: "A shoot will spring forth from the stump of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots." It is a vehicle to tell the Story of God in the Old Testament, and to connect the Advent Season with the faithfulness of God across 4,000 years of history. visit http://www.crivoice.org/jesse.html to read more on it and to get ideas for your own tree. Well, I guess one might find the whole idea a bit "hokey" but I love it. I've been contemplating over the years what to do for an advent calendar in December. I thought about giving elf gifts each day that were hiding on the tree, giving treats each night, and all sorts of expensive and crazy ideas! But this will be our 1st year counting down the days with bible stories and ornaments to match each story. The Jesse Tree sits by our dining room table and is already decorated with 25 ornaments that correlate with the Jesus Storybook Bible. I love that bible cause each story points to the King. That is what we use for family devotions and the girls recognize it. So we finished making our ornaments for the tree today and the girls are very excited. Now, we put our own twist on the Jesse Tree and took stories from OT and NT. We went right up to the crucifixion. I think it's important to remember WHY Jesus was born. So, we'll give it a whirl this year and begin a new "Tradition" in the Alexander home!

Tradition, Tradition, Tradition!!!!!!!!

It's kind of funny that I'm all about 'tradition' since I am NOT a rule keeper or follower. I love to break the rules, however, I also love our family traditions. I actually get a bit uptight if we have to deviate from our prized traditions. We always put our live tree up the day after Thanksgiving. It's so much fun and a great way to kick off the Christmas season after Turkey day is over. And of course, the tree get's a 'new' look each year. I like to hit Target or Joannes after the holidays and spend about 20 bucks buying new items for the tree the following year. Well this year, birds are in for us! We have birds, nests, and burlap ribbon running through the tree. The girls adored the birds as much as I did. I even picked up a few new ornaments for their own tree. Each year the girls decorate a tree in their room and put up very sentimental ornaments that have been purchased throughout the years for them. Because I have 2 older girls, they goo- goo and gaa-gaa over silly things like fairy ornaments and tinsel. So, we kept to tradition and the tree went up! It's the most beautiful tree that Paul has ever picked out. Funny thing.......he got it at Lowes with a gift card that we've been saving.
One other tradition is that we always open stockings on Christmas Eve morning. I just LOVE Christmas and it's hard to wait!! So the kids wake up on Christmas Eve morning, we eat a big breakfast, and we open the STUFFED stockings. I'm not talking about dollar tree items either. It's jammed with movies, lip gloss, new Christmas Pajamas, games, markers, coloring books, etc........then they put on the new pjs, slide in the movie, and spend the rest of the day playing with the new toys that were shoved into the stocking. Now on Christmas morning we don't have stockings but do have the gifts. Our kids get 3 gifts from us. We figured 3 gifts were good enough for Jesus and so 3 is good enough for them. Well, we know he probably got tons of gifts, but only 3 were worth mentioning. hahahaha. So now you can understand why we don't go cheap on stockings. They only open 3 packages from us on Christmas Day. Paul and I don't usually exchange gifts but we do open stockings on Christmas Eve. We'd rather spend the dough on the kids!!! We have all year to give to one another :-)

Oh, oh, oh........one more thing. We don't do Ho, Ho, Ho. I know we are so bad!! We refuse to let some imaginary fellow get credit for all the wonderful things we buy. So, they know it's us. However, each year, they leave cookies for 'Santa' and then ask daddy the next day if he ate them. And of course, we can't lie. So we tell the truth and then they become angry cause daddy ate 'Santa's' cookies. It's so funny. I guess we are messing up our kids because we don't ride the hokey 'Santa' wave like everyone else out there. It's just so hard to pay that much attention to a fake, portly fellow in an outdated red sweat suit who has nothing to do with the Birth of our Savior. Oh well, I guess we are a bit old fashioned. I bet our kids will grow up and decorate their homes to the hilt with Santa stuff and do Santa forever because we did not!!ahaha

Thanksgivng With Friends

Isn't is amazing that you can go almost 4 years without seeing someone and just get together and pick up right where you left off? I love that. We were in a small group with the Jarrells when we lived in Ohio. We have kept in contact on fb occasionally......... and now here we are in the same home playing Catan/cards, cooking together, and decorating our family Christmas Tree. Debbie actually made the wreath that is hanging on my door right now. It's crazy how you can spend a small amount of time (less than 2 years) getting to know a family and yet feel like the best part of the relationship takes place after you move apart. I think back to our relationships and it seems like they become solid after we move apart. Staying in touch doesn't mean a phone call each day but picking up occasionally where you left off and it feeling like you never missed a beat. This past Thanksgiving may have been one of my favorites. I'm looking forward to growing my relationships in AZ, now that we have moved away. I feel like there are many great things to come.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Really Radical

I'm reading Radical by David Platt and it's refreshing. He wrote "Let's put ourselves in the shoes of these eager followers (disciples)of Jesus in the first century. What if I were the potential disciple being told to drop my nets? What if I were the man that Jesus told to not even say good-bye to his family? What if we were told to hate our family and give up everything we had in order to follow Jesus? This is where we come face to face with a dangerous reality. We do have to give up everything to follow Jesus. We do have to love him in a way that makes our closest relationships in this world look like hate. And it is entirely possible that he will tell us to sell everything we have and give it to the poor." This is tough stuff! I've been wresting through these ideas for the past 6 years or so. It all started with our trips to Africa. I just felt compelled to get rid of our junk and live as simply as possible.........still working on that concept! There have been times in my life, where quite honestly, I felt a bit self-righteous cause I had no attachments to my 'stuff'. All of you who 'really' know me, know that I could care less about my stuff. But, that's cause 'stuff' is not a weak spot for me. If I had been the rich young leader who approached Jesus, he would not have bothered asking me to sell all my possessions. That would have been too easy for me. He might would have asked me to 'leave my children, lose my ability to walk, or lose my sight, or lose my dearest friends, or be willing to live/minister in the arctic circle" who knows!! But Christ knows the things that hold me back and he knew what things were holding back the rich young ruler. When recruiting his disciples he asked them to leave their jobs, avoid attending a dad's funeral (no time for that), 'hate' (in context) our families, and basically have reckless abandonment. Yep, that's the kind of love He is looking for. He's not REALLY telling me to leave Paul and the kids right now. But what if one day, we are called to leave the U.S.? Will we be willing to leave our children and grandchildren? That's a real question. Am I willing to risk friendships cause I want to seriously follow Him? I can give up my stuff, no worries there. But what is most dear to my heart? What about my life or the lives of my children? Have I surrendered all of that to Him? Each day, I have to remind myself in prayer that my kids are gifts and that they are His. I am preparing them to one day be willing to risk their own lives for the sake of the Cross. I'm also reading 1000 Arrows and it's a tough one too! I feel like our kids are the next radical generation and my job is to prepare them for their lives as adults. I don't feel as though it will be a 'cake walk'. I think they will have to put their jobs, relationships, and possibly their lives on the line in order to follow Christ. Yellow belly does not set well with me. I hope I have the courage too one day to do the same. I pray that my kids would have a 'radical' love for Him. I don't want average followers of Christ. Yuck!! I don't want to be an 'average' follower of Christ either. I guess I have a lot of work to do in my own life too! What are your desires for your kids? What are your aspirations? doctor, lawyer, preacher? I could care less about the profession. It's not the profession they choose but how they profess His name! Atleast, those are my tiny thoughts.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Beautiful Boston = Beautiful Babies

I just got back from an amazing trip to Boston. I'm saying the word 'Boston' with my best northern accent.I love the way they taaallk up there. Hey, you're in "Bawsten" now. I loved it! I was able to scrapbook, sleep in, play Wii, eat fun foods, and play some Catan. We even went shopping one day and I got the kids their Christmas presents, early! It was a pure delight. Playing the Wii was humiliating. My 7 year old nephew put me to shame and finally took the control away from me and played both of them. I was that bad!! I ate all the wrong stuff and it was so yummy: coke, m&ms, pizza, cookie dough, cookies, candy, etc........yum yum!! What a great trip!

Run Baby Run!

Our school just hosted it's annual boosterthon and raised around 30ish thousand dollars. It was truly an exciting event and was put on with class! I went to see my babies run that day and had no idea how blessed I was would be. I actually teared up a bit as the girls ran through the tunnel and out onto the field to begin their race. I was so excited that I started yelling out at KK as she ran out cause I wanted her to see that I was there for her. Well, she stopped like a dear in the headlights, a boy toppled over her, and then she did her crazy 'fake' roll on the ground. She then stood up, looked at me, waved and took off running. I about died! Then Mia's class came running by and I did the same thing, with great hesitation. She came over and hugged me and the scurried over to the field. You see it's very hard for Mia to exert a lot of exercise. It's not that she's lazy, she has an amazing work ethic. But, her body is weak and tires so easily with all these overload of allergies. By the 10th lap, she was looking pretty droopy. But I am so proud of her keeping on. She ran her laps and did an amazing job. Kennedy was like a rocket flying around the field. She even came over and shared her water with Linc. Then she took off again. She's got more energy than a rabbit on the 1st day of Spring. She was hopping and clapping and jumping all over the place. I love seeing her in these happy spirits. Just a few months ago, she would have been pouting and dragging around the field. But since we've figured out her allergies, she's a different child! What a fun day. So glad that I wasn't 'too busy' to go.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Thoughtful Death

I was just at a celebration service the other night. The service was being held in honor of an unborn baby that was taken home early to be with Jesus. I was truly touched by the words of the parents. My tears were mixed with joy and sadness. I was sad to see them lose their baby and sad to think about all the times I've been angry at my own babies (life is short and I need to soak it up). I was in joy as I watched them handle it so gracefully and filled with joy to think of the many days I might have laid ahead with my kids. The mother keeps a journal for each child and had already started journaling to her unborn son. I was moved deeply as she read her words aloud to him. She talked about not being able to see him grow up and play sports, not hearing the pitter patter of his feet and not seeing him get married etc..........It made me think of my precious three. I also keep a journal for each of my three. I came home and wrote in each one. I had a lot to say. I have not written in them in awhile. I think I'll start reading an entry aloud to each child on his/her birthday and give them the journals as they become grown adults. I did alot of apologizing in my writing and I did some bragging. I'm so proud of them. The best part is...........I will continue to do this in person and not just write about it. I need to apologize frequently and brag aloud to them daily. They need to hear that. I also keep a journal with my mom. While in highschool the two us did not get along, a very long story! Anyway, I moved out on my 18th birthday, halfway through my senior year and took life into my own hands. Well, our relationship did not really begin to mend until I married. I then decided to write down my personal thoughts to her in a journal and give it to her so that she could respond by writing back. Well, we each have a journal now and we trade each time we see eachother. I love to read what she writes to me. Here is an entry from my wonderful mother called Impressions.
"I know I was glad to have a girl. All I heard while pregnant was that he (my birth father) wanted a boy. I was in recovery for all of the first day you were born. I remember being afraid to face him because it wasn't a boy. I didn't get to hold you for 4 days- the nurses were not very accommodating to c-section patients in Germany. You were fat, no hair, and quiet. I was terrified of not being able to take care of you. You went through 36 diapers in you first 24 hours at home. I cried because he made it very very plain that he expected a boy"
. I never knew that. Don't feel sorry for me. My real father is the man my mother is married to now and he's ecstatic about me being a girl. I'm glad I'm a girl too! hahahha LOL. But these words have been very powerful to me. I had no idea that my mom suffered so much. How terrible to feel this way. There are other entries where she commends me on my parenting and is so proud of me. I love this journal and will do the same with my girls.

Can You Really Be Allergic to the Air You Breathe?

Almost. It's been a long journey and I've held back on blogging about these dang allergies. I really wanted to get all my facts straight before I started spouting off information. Well, one thing has led to another and I here I am with a very allergic child. It seems that over the years we have deemed Mia as our "emotional child" and just left it at that. Well, I couldn't settle with symptoms I was seeing and was not pleased at all with the pish/posh excuses that professionals in white coats were giving me. After some discussions with a friend, who has already traveled this road, I began to travel it myself. I began reading, researching, asking questions and I took the plunge. I pulled my girls off of gluten, wheat, dairy, peanuts, and a few other things. My husband was thinking the same thing, "what is there to eat?". No worries, we found plenty!! I've learned to cook gluten and dairy free (also called gfdf) muffins, cupcakes, cookies, and pancakes. The girls love it! Well, Kennedy changed immediately. She went from demon child to sweet child of heaven! I mean we could actually have full conversations without feeling like we were in a courtroom on opposing teams. I though "wow, what will it be like when she is a teenager?!!" I was noticing constipation, eczema, muscle cramps, stomach aches, and headaches in Kennedy. Mia was having diarrhea, muscle aches, stomach aches, and HEAVY mood swings, lots of tears. She was like a cat on a tin roof. I"m not trying to sound demeaning but it was getting to be like the crazy farm here! I just kept thinking that I must be an awful parent. I soaked my pillow most nights, nagged my friends about solutions, argued with myself, and pretty much thought that any mother could do a better job than me. It seemed like no matter what I did, nothing worked out. The girls were upset, whiny, angry, worrisome, anxious. Kennedy's 6th birthday about did me in. We took her out to Red Robin (way overpriced burger joint) and she was crawling under the table, refused to eat the spaghetti (which is her favorite), and showed no remorse. Paul took her out to van to 'chat' and that didn't even work. I could not believe this. He came back in and told me to get the check. The nice waitress came back, ready to sing to the birthday girl but she was no longer in the building. I collected the check, paid, and off to home we went. KK went to bed with no cake, no presents, and no songs. We tried again the next day. You see, the problem was physical, not behavioral. We didn't know. Of course, we had loaded her up on all her favorites that day: oreos with frosting, carbs, syrup, pancakes.......basically lots of dairy, gluten, and yeast!! Come to find out, she is allergic to these things! Sugar feeds yeast and she has an allergy to yeast. I can look back now and go "ohhhhh" duh! Mia is another story. Her counts are supposed to be under 60 for her immunity and she is in the 700s. yeah, wow! The doctor said she is so inflamed inside! So we have become very strict on the eating plan, taking probiotics with 50billion live, fish oil, Veema, and others. Our lives have changed. Instead of saving that 200ish dollars a month for hair color etc............we are at our local health store buying vitamins that are going to bring our girls back to some normalcy (whatever that looks like). I'm thrilled to know that we can help them. I can't wait to see how Mia feels/looks in a month. Not sure if she can even remember what it feels like to feel 'good' or 'healthy'. But in light of many tragic stories out there, we feel blessed. Neither of these allergies are life threatening. So, there you have it........allergies! Who would have thought that allergies would cause such a mood change? Oh, and she's allergic to Clifford :-( so sad. We are tackling it, one day at a time! That's all we can do and thankful for good advice from a friend. We are on the road to healing early!

Vacation was Amazing!

I know, like who on earth goes to hillybilly Arkansas for vacation?!! We do! We stay at the most unbelievable cabins in the country and surrounded by majestic mountains, a river, horses, and lots of land to romp around on! We went hiking, fishing, played kickball (my team smashed Joe's team), played poker, made ornaments, ate pumpkin cake, played soccer, rode horses, had a fire going in the cabin, and slept in! Yes, that's what I'm talking about. The kids could play outside and I never had to worry about a car hitting them, a stranger sneaking up on them, or what time to come in. We just relaxed and took it one day at a time. After the kids went to bed, the adults played cards, ate dessert again, watched National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, and chatted about life. That's what friends do. They vacation together, they laugh together, and occasionally cry. I think Aime and I were crying out of tears of joy and relief at one moment. This is how you live life. You journey with people and you don't hold back. Fear escapes and you become yourself and you're vulnerable. I can completely cut loose and be me. I don't have to worry about 'funny stares' or 'weird comments'. I can just be me and Paul and just be silly Paul. Much needed break!

Family Vacation with Great Friends!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Even Lincoln Wants To Sleep in the Girl's Room

Every night Linc. gets in bed with the girls. He wants to sleep in there!! He's so cute. I think he just likes the new tree that I recently painted on the wall! Today, I couldn't find him when it was time to lay down for a nap. I could hear him, but couldn't see him. I must have passed him twice. He was lying under the covers in Mia's bed. What a little monkey. He just loves their room. I transported the kicking and screaming monkey to his lovely room!