home about speaking she cares resources contact

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Alyssa Riley Day


Happy Birthday, Sweet Alyssa!

I can't believe it's been seven years. Seven whole years since you were born making us so proud.

We love your fun-lovin', creative-makin', animal-actin', rockstar tricks. I love your laid back personality and how you can make anything a toy.

I love your Hannah Montana shoes and your Camp Rock hat.

I love your sweet singing voice that you just discovered this summer.

I love how you love bugs but can't stand the way they tickle you when they crawl on you so you won't even touch a doodle-bug.

I love how you can be such a help to me. I love to have you alone. I love to hear your made-up stories and the things you dream about at night.

I love how you want to share the stage all the time.

I delight in your hugs and kisses.

I love to see you growing and rejoice as you mature into who you were created to be.

I pray your year is so phenomenally fun and that being seven is all you ever hoped for and you remember it with great joy!

"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength." (Ephesians 1:17-19)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What do you do when...


What do you do when you have eight kids at your house for an afterschool playdate?

You start a band. Camp Rock Rules! We jammed to the Jonas Brothers and Camp Rock for almost two hours before I sent them outside!

What was I thinking when I invited them all?

Two things.

I was thinking how I am the coolest mom ever.






Then I was thinking how I always wanted to be The Partridge Family.

Seriously, Rock Band makes that all possible.The Smith Family Band Rules!

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Day


Here are some lessons I learned this first day of school:

1. No matter how early we get up, we need to get up twenty minutes earlier.

2. No matter how close we park, it will take thirty minutes to walk everyone to class.

3. No matter how excited your firstborn son is about starting kindergarten, expect tears and bring Kleenex. Expect mom tears and baby tears to last awhile. Pray firstborn son stays brave and strong!

4. Instead of making a To Do List for school hours, make a Things To Do With Baby List.

5. Having a clean house isn't as important today as it was yesterday when they were all here at home making lots of noise.

On his way...The first day. What a grown-up little guy! He loves his sports t-shirts and Spiderman backpack. He makes us so proud!

Patriotism


Something about the Olympics just brings out the American pride in me. I love it when an American takes the gold and the flags wave like crazy. My patriotism takes form in a lunatic-like madwoman chanting, "U-S-A-U-S-A!"

Sometimes my patriotism just swells up in quiet gratitude for the opportunities I have and the choices I can make with the freedom that surrounds me.

Other times my patriotism takes the form of tears. Heartbroken for the way other people around the world are forced to live makes me cry.

So when the Olympic count was in, Americans won the most medals but China easily took more gold. This didn't change anything. I am still proud to be an American. Even though the Chinese won more gold, I don't wish I was on "their team."

Long before the Olympics in Beijing started, the fact was established that it is better to be an American (in my opinion).

Just like it doesn't matter who appears to be winning this race we run as Christians. The fact was established long ago on a wooden cross that this is the winning team. In the end, on the day that counts the most, we win.

No matter how weary I get, I never want to forget whose team I'm on and what the final outcome will be. That should give me some serious energy for the days ahead!

"In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." John 14:2-4

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Marathon or Dash?


The likes of the Christian walk have long been compared to a race. (See 1 Corinthians 9:24, Galatians 2:2 and Hebrews 12:1 to see a few examples.)

I've always envisioned this as a lifelong marathon. I've only recently even slightly wanted to run a marathon just to compare the experience. Blisters, chaffing, shin splints, no thank you! But, hello, runner's high, finisher and goal reaching.

Anyway, I watched several Olympic events that made me rethink this whole marathon thing. I watched diving. One dive. Five seconds. Over. Then wait for the next round.

I watched the ten meter dash. Seriously, three seconds, maybe and done. Winner announced. Second place stinks. No more chances.

Quite possibly the training phase of our lives is the marathon. These runners and divers train just as hard as the marathon runners, volleyball players and the softball team who have 26 miles, sixteen points and nine innings to prove their stuff. Here falling behind early or a lame start is not as detrimental as a slight delay (invisible to the naked and untrained eye) off the starting block.
Take Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympic athlete. His swims didn't last that long. His training has lasted a lifetime and even after these victories, he will continue to train if he wishes to compete. In all certainty he will devote the rest of his life to a sport that he loves and has become a champion of.

In my walk, I train hard. I stay in God's Word daily, take control of my thoughts and have learned to cry out to Jesus before picking up the phone. I used to see these things as staying on the marathon course.

Now I might be seeing them as training for the short battles in between.

A phone call brings a diagnosis that threatens to bring worry and fear. Was I on the starting block in correct form?

The checkbook is red when I thought it was black. Are my first strides long and strong as I've practiced?

That certain invitation never arrives. Am I in the right uniform?

A sick child interrupts a carefully laid out day. Do I crumble to the ground or fight for the lead?

When this event is over, I begin training again. I celebrate the victories and use the rest to fuel me, push me harder toward my goal just like the Olympians.

"If a man cleanses himself, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work...Be prepared in season and out of season." 2 Timothy 2:21 & 4:2.

Whether it's track season or not, Olympics or not, I want to be prepared!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Closing Ceremonies


Olympic season always makes me wonder why I like them so much.

My husband doesn't.

My kids don't really.

My dad doesn't.

It was a thought pondered much over the last two weeks.

I didn't get to watch as much as I'd have liked. Oh, I saw some gymnastics, some diving, some swimming and even some ping pong.

My favorite parts are when they spotlight a certain athlete who's chosen to be a medalist in the upcoming event and show a biography of his (or her) life. Then they show the race. I cry every single time. American or not. Win or lose. Happy or sad tears. Just tears. The Olympics bring the cotton out of my tear ducts for some reason.

The other day I figured it out. These sportscasters make all of the Olympians seem like normal people.

As I watched the ping pong medal match between Zhang and Wang (or something like that) of China, I realized very slowly that these athletes are anything but normal.

They give up their very lives for their sport and their country. They make moves to other parts of the country. Sometimes separated from their family for many years to train. They don't go to school like normal. They don't eat like normal, sleep like normal, exercise or even socialize like normal. They just aren't normal!

Then I remembered who I am, that I am anything but normal and what medal I am promised upon completion of my games. Along with my teammates, a crown will be mine on that glorious day He returns for closing ceremonies. My anthem will be sung by all of creation, "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty."

"And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing." 2 Timothy 4:8
More Olympic insights are sure to come as I run to catch just a little bit more!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Proof of Happily Ever After

I told you there was proof of our July 4th anniversary celebration at the Smith's. Cris and Linda with all the grandkids (even Chloe) in matching t-shirts. Tracy had this brilliant idea to get t-shirts printed with a picture of Cris and Linda from 1970ish. It was awesome! See what forty years produced...quite a good-looking legacy!
The oldest and youngest...JC and HC. Like names, like personalities. The Smiths!
Here's the crew at dinner...it might just be all of us. We had a great celebration! Notice the wedding themed decorations. Thanks to Heather and Tracy the table was festive in Smith tradition!
The happy couple celebrates on the dance floor to a live DJ who gave them their own dance. Special or embarrassing? Depends which Smith you are!

What separates the good parties from the great? Ice cream. Aunt Tracy always captures Hunter eating...imagine that!
My boys Smith!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Precious Palmer

***Update***In a really ironic twist, this precious smart boy decided to help me out by washing a load of clothes today. He opened the dryer door, took all the clean clothes out, placed them in the open washing machine, climbed up on the open dryer door, poured an entire bottle of laundry detergent in (this was Tide people, liquid gold!) and comes to get me to tell me he dropped something (the detergent bottle inside the washer). Isn't that smart? And helpful? It's ironic because I've been trying unsuccessfully all summer to teach my girls to do their own laundry. They'll now be telling Palmer to do it for them!
I talked about how much fun Alyssa and I had together at Sea World. Well, this is the main reason why...






We just watched Palmer. He had such a great time entertaining himself. This water house thing was so awesome. We waited in line to play in it over and over again. Palmer loved it so much, the operator guy had to chase him out of it at the end. I would have helped but I was too busy doubled over in laughter.

Which, of course, allowed Alyssa and Hunter (who was spending his time with Mom) to laugh hysterically. Because they can do that when they're together for absolutely no apparent reason. Seriously, they are Silly and Sillier when they are together. I'll let you guess who is who.

Enjoy these precious expressions of a big boy!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Crowd





This is the crowd that was a part, a small part that seemed huge to us, of Sea World. Whenever we go somewhere Andrew and I always feel like we double the population. Imagine this crew walking into a restaurant. Imagine their crazy parents setting them all together at one table so they can continue the spades tournament they started in Padre over a month ago. Take a second, imagine it. Good times.

Sea World was a blast. Andrew and Julia spent the time their way, seeking thrills, big roller coasters, fast spinners and wet falls. Alyssa and I spent it our way leisurely watching animals, watching people and keeping cool, mostly with Palmer because he quite simply is still too short to ride the big rides. Hunter, true to his people-loving personality spent about equal time with both groups of us. Even at Sea World, the divide and conquer motto worked best for us!




Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Thank Goodness for Glue!

I heart glue.

Not Elmer's.

But, super-surgical-skin-repairing-glue.

This morning Hunter tripped and hit his head on the coffee table, just like every five-year-old boy I've ever known has done. This was our first trip to the ER. Our first blood spill of major proportions (and this was slightly above minor at best...we only soaked 1.5 washcloths with nasty stuff). Interestingly enough (and predictable) Julia ran to get the phone, held the washcloth in place and mopped the blood off the floor while I loaded Palmer into the car, called Andrew and calmed Hunter locating shoes for everyone in a crazy downpour all the while Alyssa was hiding in her bed, under the covers crying. She wanted Hunter to have no stitches more than he did. Julia was, of course, extremely excited about watching...

We got there. They asked us a couple of questions, put some gauze on his head and told us to come back in a couple of hours because they were busy, extremely busy. (This was after already waiting one hour.)

So, during our ER wait, we went to the movies. Yaaay Space Chimps. Times have changed...We not only get to leave the ER and come back later, we have glue.

Here, he sports the gauze.

And, here he sports the glue!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Walking with Kids



We recently went to Sea World. It was crazy crowded the whole time. Like walking from the third ramp in Kyle Field after a really close game crowded.

All weekend I was terrified I would lose someone. Every time you took a step, you touched someone, someone you didn't know. Crazy crowded.

I found myself saying things like, "Listen for my voice so you don't get lost."

"Train your ears to listen for my voice even when you are distracted."

"Keep your eyes on me or you won't know where to go."

"Make sure you can see my at all times so you know what I'm doing and you can follow."

"Don't run too far ahead, even if you think you know where I'm going because you can still lose me."

"If you don't know what to do, ask before you take off running."

"Even if you don't want to go where I'm going, follow me or you'll get left behind."

You get the picture.

I've always thought about how we are to shepherd our children. But, saying these things to them was a great reminder and image of how we are teaching them to allow God to shepherd them.

I especially took notice when I kept telling the kids to train their ears to hear my voice and not to get distracted or they wouldn't know where to go.

All of it was a wonderful reminder of how we are to walk with our God.

Thanks, Shamu!

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Coming Home


I've been stuck in The Prodigal Son now for quite some time. If you've never read it, slowly, meditating on each phrase, you should. (Luke 15:11-31) It's so meaty.

The Sunday School question is always, "Who do you identify with?" Meaning am I the most like the jealous, holier than thou older brother who doesn't even think the prodigal's homecoming deserves an honorable party or the younger fleshly indulging, eat, drink and be merry today totally disregarding the consequences of tomorrow younger brother, the prodigal?

I've always know that initially I totally identify with the older brother. I think that because I am a "people pleasing-don't let anyone catch me breaking any rules" type person that I am entitled to certain things. ugh! I hate even typing that.

As I've grown older I can see how clearly I indulge myself at every chance I get with disregard for its impact on others. ugh! I hate even typing that too!

This past year, yep, I said year, each frequent rereading of this story has brought the same question to my mind. That is, "Why don't I identify with the Father more?" As Henri Nouwen says the world desperately needs the Father not just more brothers.

As a follower of Christ, a believer who has a life goal of becoming more like Him and God's promise that as a believer He is always changing me, working to make me more like Himself, when I read this story I should immediately identify with the father. I must confess, I don't. Why not?

As I live life, am I becoming more like the father? When others need guidance could they come to me and receive only blessing?

When others have betrayed me, hurt me, taken from me do they receive love and acceptance in return?

Am I more like the father than the brothers in this parable?

Who are you the most like?

I will definitely be elaborating on this topic in future posts. This is just the question that spurred the contemplation over this beautiful story. We are all the prodigal son, we've all been welcomed home if we have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ and we should all become more like the father each day.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Family Devotions and School Bells


The topics of fall are rearing their heads. My friends are discussing such issues as fall schedules, how kids have a daily devotion before they leave for school and, of course, football. After all, this is Texas.

As I posted about last year, the main place God has been redeeming time in my life is in the car. This is probably because I am spending more and more time in it!

Last year, I started using the carpool to school as a time to teach them Scripture, discuss some applications and pray.
"And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Deuteronomy 6:5-9

This year, I am going to give Julia an alarm clock and a routine. She will get up a little earlier than the others and begin forming some great independent habits. I, of course, will be by her side guiding her in this.

We will continue our summer study by Francine Rivers because we are not finished with the book. I like to spend several days on each lesson. One day reading the book and discussing the story. The next couple of days reading the story in a couple of different versions of the Bible and then, finally, choosing the verse that impacts us the most and answering the discussion questions. There is also a couple of things to pray that God will do in your life as you study each particular person and I like to gain some life experiences in reference to the particular issues each lesson introduces.

Alyssa is a more independent studier. I will simply wake her up and tell her to read in her daily Bible and she will...or there will be no cartoons...Works beautifully!

I will still use the car ride to school for a quick devotional but will gear this more toward Hunter. Some days I will let Julia and Alyssa teach this verse and give examples of how God has used it in their lives. This is usually an Awana's verse that they are currently memorizing.

One thing we have begun doing this summer is before we get out of the car, reviewing the rules we will be following, the purpose of what we are doing and praying that the Holy Spirit will remind us of what we need to be about at all times. I will certainly continue doing this into the school year. I see this as a really great opportunity to remind the kids that they are supposed to be a light in a dark place.
I will also add some Bible reading and discussion to our evening routine this year. This will include completing any morning study that we didn't have time to finish and daily time on Awana's verses. This way, if we oversleep (no!) the kids can get into the habit of doing their own extended Bible reading at night.
We also try to discuss how God gave us opportunities to apply our morning car devotional verse to our lives that day at the dinner table. We will certainly continue that.
Starting out this school year, I want our focus to be the character of God. We will focus on verses that praise Him for who He is. We will spend some time using our eyes to seek out ways that He if faithful to be who He says He is. I want my children (and myself) to seek God for a fresh revelation of who He is not just what He can do with the move of His hand.
I am entering a transition time where I do not have the extended morning time that I used to have. When the kids were all young and at home and I was nursing babies, I could sit and spend anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour (sometimes two!) reading the Bible each morning. Now, I really only have 20 to 30 minutes even if I get up before 6:00. That is cra-zy to me. I am much more alert staying up until 2 AM than rising at 5 AM. So, I have learned to make time in the Word a priority each morning. This is usually meditation on a verse or passage that God is impressing upon me in my deeper time of Bible study and praise and prayer to set my mind, heart and eyes on Him for the day.
I have learned to use my calendar to schedule time for important relationships in my life. Time with God, time with my husband and time with my children all get written on my calendar and blocked out as uninterrupted time to go deeper. With God this is extended periods reading the Word, journaling and entering into contemplative prayer. I even go through times that I get up in the middle of the night to go deeper. I want to become much more disciplined in this area. If God wakes me up, there is usually something He is wanting to show me and my house is quiet in the middle of the night!
It seems that the above verse says we should use every single minute we can to teach our children about the awesome God we serve. If we miss one morning, praise God we have the afternoon and evening. If we don't have an original lesson, praise God we can repeat them again and again. And, it seems to me it all begins with us loving Him and committing to lead others to Him starting with our own children.
So, use all the time you have to lead them. If you feel awkward or inadequate, sing songs, listen to Cd's of Bible stories, read picture books and then look up the Scripture together. Be creative and ask others what they do. Ask other moms to pray for you. Pray together as a couple for your children. Above all, don't give up!

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Boy and His Sword

We just got back from Sea World. Between Sea World, pirates and boys we brought home a ton of swords...plastic, jewelled, long, short, big, little, glow-in-the-dark and balloon to name a few.

Boys love their swords.
Need I say more?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Updates


Here are some updates on Gran.

They made it to Africa safely. Their last plane was cancelled so they had to be put up in a five star resort-like hotel for the night...Where they got wonderful deep, comfortable sleep after the long days of travelling.

They got to Africa safely. Did I already say that? Sans luggage!

They stayed in the resort. Did I already say that? Sans luggage!

When they went to catch their plane the next day, sans luggage, they found said luggage somewhere along the way. I'm not sure what the timeline was on that. Now they've safely made it to a couple of their ministry destinations with their teaching supplies and curriculum. They've helped in building/praying over land where church buildings will go and held nightly revivals and prayer services where many, many people have come for healing prayer.

Next week they will begin the camp where they will have daily and nightly services, work one on one with the women and children during the day and pray for any who ask to receive Jesus as their Savior.

The evening before my mom left, she was diagnosed with diabetes. Not just the "we think your blood levels are off a little and let's do another test" diabetes. But "this is the real deal, full blown, every marker is off the charts" diabetes. There was no warning signs, no suspicion, nothing to indicate she had diabetes. She felt like she needed to get a clean bill of health to travel to Africa for such a long (three week) trip. Needless to say, this diagnosis came as quite a blow to a lady who knew God had called her for such a time as this.

The doctor sent her with a glucometer and list of warning signs. Eating right and sleeping right and exercising right are so crucial in managing diabetes. I'm not sure how that is possible in Africa except with God in whom all things are possible.

God knew. God was not surprised by any of this. God has a plan. She is doing her best to walk in it. Please pray specifically for her health this weekend as they journey on the long bus ride into the bush and prepare for the camp. Pray specifically for the ladies she will be ministering to each day. Pray for their children and the children who will come to the camp and take Jesus home to their villages. Pray.


And, Mama K, she is a walking miracle! I saw her yesterday.

She is d-o-n-e with the walker and is walking unassisted for short, very short distances.

The body of Christ has lovingly rallied around her and is feeding her, has loaned her daughter a car while she's here, and will begin staying with her around the clock when her daughter needs to leave.

She is in great spirits and is getting ready to celebrate a birthday on 08-08-08!

Oh, she knows recovery will be hard work. She's had therapy for other injuries. She is learning to see this weakness in humility as a blessing. Where she's weak, He will be strong. Her weak back will remind her that she cannot carry burdens there but she must cast them on Him because He cares for her.

Really, she is doing well but please pray that her needs will continue to be met. She must be flat on her back for two weeks, no exceptions and then she will be evaluated again. She covets your prayers. She can feel them lifting her.

She said that this has been such a time of blessing and redemption, even. Can you imagine?

She's gotten to spend time with family and friends that she hasn't been able to be with in a long time. She's been laying still and hearing God's voice in new ways. She has an amazing attitude and let's all continue to pray that she would be protected in that and God would rise and come with healing in His wings. That the shadow of His wings would be the only shadow in her life and He would show His mighty goodness to all who pause to take a look!

"Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens." (1 Thess. 5:16-17)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Sure as the Rain


Do you ever feel like you have so many thoughts, words, sentences, half ideas floating around, swirling, fighting, wrestling to become the one that comes to completion first in your head or on your paper?

I do.

Right now.

I do.

I am in one of those crazy existences where I go to sift and sort and think. Seriously, I look like I am doing nothing. I stand in one place staring for a really long time, I read and reread blogs, books, passages of Scripture until I can make sense of what I feel like I am trying to say comes. Then I still these spirals of thought and listen for the heart of God.
Right now the words in bold are glory and revelation. Look for more thoughts on those real soon. It's like I can write and rewrite in my head a zillion times, a gajillion different ways what I'm trying to convey but when I sit down to type or to write, it's jibber jabber. It's still a wordless maze of words. Does that make sense to anyone but me?

I used to dread these times, hating how I felt so unproductive and incoherent. Now, I embrace them making use of the opportunity to be still before my Lord.

Usually, it's because God is giving me fresh revelation. Revelation of who He is. Reminders of who He is. Times of refreshing. An invitation to press into the Lord. The promise for persevering through these times is water that comes to a dry place. Refreshing that comes where staleness has crept in to reside.

Last night as I laid in bed and listened to the rain falling, I was reminded that just as surely as the rain will come to the earth in due time, God will come to us. The dryer it gets, the hotter it gets, the more we need the rain, long for the rain, appreciate the rain.

"Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth." Hosea 6:3

"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord," Acts 3:19

The energy that results is the ability to live Life with a capital L.

So, I will be pressing on, refueling and being refreshed. Then I will be back sharing the sweet living water of spring rains.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Zoo

Finally! The whole Smith fam in one frame!!! Thanks, Aunt Dot!
Cousins, cousins and more cousins!
Cousins with their Pop! I think he had a pretty good time too!


See, I told you he had as good of a time as the kids. Maybe better. Could it get any better as a grandparent? Huh, Pop? I don't think so!

Saturday, the Meador family met at the zoo in Waco. It was great. We fit in at the zoo.
The kids ran and played and sweated. The adults walked and talked and sweated.
It has been eight years since we've all been together like that.

We were together for Christmas in 1999. It was wonderful. My grandma, Nan, got to have all her chickens in her nest. From her children to her great-grandchildren they were all there. She passed away shortly after that Christmas.

Saturday all our families got together again.

We've tried and pieces of us have been together for various occasions but Saturday was wonderful family day. We've all done a pretty good job of keeping in touch. I, for one, will be making a renewed attempt at it! I think this is an area I can cover adequately when not pregnant!

It has been so long since we saw each other, we were overjoyed to be together. We tried to catch up but would usually settle on a few questions, observations of the passing of time and a long, sweet hug.

As a mother, I can certainly cherish the sweetness of this event. And, it was sweet.

I was amazed at the resemblances between my kids and their aunts, uncles and cousins. Truly, I can see them.

I loved seeing my aunts. They look great. My Aunt Wanda is still funny and entertaining and just plain fun and a little mischievous. She and my Uncle Johnny still make quite a pair. I have always loved to be around them and my kids do too. My Aunt Dot is beautiful and classy and sophisticated. She walked the whole zoo fashionably dressed and in heels, barely sweating and never complaining! She has looked the same for as long as I can remember kind of like Elizabeth Taylor or Brooke Shields. She has that kind of glamour and class. Always has. She handles life with class too.
Uncle Tommy looks like a Meador. Dad said he looked like Papa but I said younger!

My cousins Andy, Mitch and Vicki were there. Vicki and her family are so precious. I can't believe her kids are grown up now! I thought she was the coolest when I was a kid and well, I still do. Now it's her kids Ashley and Dylan who are just plain cool. She and Jimmy have a "perfect" family complete with the house, the dog and even the horse inside the white picket fence.

And, of course, my brother's family. It's still so strange to see my little brother as a husband and a daddy...strange. But he's such a good one and his family is beautiful and the kids are so cute. Jack and Julia are two peas in a pod. Cooper and Alyssa get along so wonderfully with Hunter desperately trying to be Cooper's fav. Little Sophie is way cute. Way sweet. Way cute. I really needed her to throw a fit so I wouldn't want another little girl baby but alas, no fit. She has such an easy going disposition. So sweet. I have some super cute nieces!
Even Hunter's special lady, Ms. Nettie was there. She sure knows how to make my kids feel special. She was such a trooper for sweating it out for a couple of limp hugs from excited kids! We love you, Nettie!

We had such a fun time. Everyone kept saying thanks to me for all the hard work. Really, all I did was suggest something in Waco so we all had to drive about the same distance to get there. And, it was a place where the kids could run, play, scream and climb that was socially acceptable. I want to thank my step mom, Dina who actually coordinated with everyone all the 4-1-1. And, to thank all my wonderful family who were willing to drive to Waco, sweat in a stinky zoo and put up with it all just to be reunited in a kid-friendly locale. It's a day I won't ever forget!