/> Raising Angels: July 2006

Monday, July 31, 2006

The Voice of Desperation

The boys are a little over-tired from a week of being in the sun, staying up late and missing naps here and there. They slept until almost 8:30 this morning (two hours past normal wake-up time) but by 11 a.m. they were already showing signs of sleepiness.

Aiden had been begging me all morning to paint the sidewalk with his new birthday contraption. I was busy unpacking and doing laundry and kept putting him off.

After an hour of begging off and on, he tried once again. "Mama, please I paint with sidewalk chalk? Pretty, pretty please!"

"Okay Aiden. After you wake up from your nap, you can paint," I finally gave in.

"Hooray! Please may I take a nap now? Pretty, pretty please!"

He's still sleeping.

We're Back

We made it. We're back. We're tired. We're catching up.

I have loads of sandy laundry, loads of stuff to get back in its place and loads of pictures to share.

I loved the beach. I loved the time with family.

I loved sleeping in my own bed last night, not having to wait for the bathroom this morning and the quiet that is my own home.

Vacation was tons of fun but it's always nice to be home.

Friday, July 28, 2006

I've Been Replaced

We are having lots and lots of fun in the sun. However, the place we are staying has nothing but tile floors. Needless to say, with the amount of water and sand that we’ve brought in (remember, there are 25 of us here), the floors get really slick. We’ve had our fair share of spills and boo-boos.

Last night, I was running a bath for the kids and Dawson was playing in the bedroom. Suddenly I heard a crash, thud and then a whimper. In sulked Dawson, bottom lip out so far you could use it as a cup holder.

“Dawson, did you fall down?” I asked him.

“Jes,” he whined through the lip.

“Do you need a kiss?”

“Jes,” he said again, then he looked down at his hand, gave himself a kiss and said, “All better!”

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Skinny Dip?

I took the two boys down to the beach this morning. Before I could get my cover-up off, they were in the surf. I decided to snap a few pictures while they were wave chasing.

I was snapping away when Aiden left the water, ran up to me and said, "Mama, hurry up and take your clothes off so you can go swimming!"

Monday, July 24, 2006

One Day Aiden

This morning as I was getting the kids ready for the beach, Mackenzie offered to help Aiden zip his cover-up. Aiden was very into doing it himself and refused her offer.

She responded by saying, “One day, when you grow up Aiden, you’ll appreciate how nice I am to you!”

Ah, Vacation

Well I’m happy to report that we made it to Edisto in one piece…all 25 of us. We got here before our check in time so we stopped off for a visit with another of Nelson’s cousins and aunt. Their home is right on the beach.

Wow! What I wouldn’t give to have the beach at the bottom of my back porch. The kids thought they were in heaven with all that sand. They dug around and then went to “dip” their feet in the ocean. One good wave and both the boys were knocked off their feet.

The dip turned into a swim for everyone. Aiden was in his underwear before long but neither of us cared because we were having so much fun. My usually tentative boy who doesn’t like to get his face wet was being tossed around by the waves and LOVING IT.

It was the perfect beach afternoon. The sun, the sand, the ocean, the pool, the birds. Ah, vacation.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Vacation's All I Ever Wanted

We're heading out of town tomorrow for a week at the beach. I've been looking forward to this trip for months now. Since we're going with all of Nelson's extended family, I've been thinking how this will be a good time for my kids to bond with their relatives. And, after the wedding and other summer activities, I've really been looking forward to the break.

That is until today. After numerous trips to the grocery store, many loads of laundry, lots of gathering, organizing and packing, packing, packing (times 5), I’ve lost my enthusiasm.

I was up until the wee hours (sometime after 2) last night just getting things together. Here I am again with hours to go until I sleep. Isn't it a bit ironic that vacationing is so much work?

Tonight we had a big rain storm and it dawned on me that I hadn't checked the weather report in some time. Now, I really wish I hadn't. The forecast for the beach that we're heading to is rain - EVERY DAY. My mom has always said that a rainy day at the beach is better than a rainy day at home but with 25 of us in the same house, I'm not sure her theory will hold true.

Regardless of what happens, we will go. And, my guess is, whether or not it rains every day, my kids will still have fun as long as I keep my spirits up and be creative.

One day, many years from now, I will take a vacation where I actually vacate, relax, and do a whole lot of nothing. This is not that time. And, Murphy’s Law, when I get there, I will miss all the activity and fun of these days (at least that's what I try to tell myself).

To moms out there everywhere who have been where I am - thank you. Thank you for all your hard work that is the stuff our memories are made of. Thank you for your planning and packing everything we needed. Thank you for working through your "vacation" so that we felt like we were on one. Thank you for teaching us that it's not about the amount of work or the level of effort or the lack of sleep. Vacations are about being together, playing together and making memories that will last a life time. And, mom, thank you, THANK YOU!

I will go to the beach. I will have fun. I will gather shells while holding the umbrella over my kids if I have to. I will because I'm a mom and that's what we do.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Replacement Theory

As I was putting the kids to bed tonight Aiden said, "Mama, we got only one baby. How come we have only one baby?"

"Who's the baby you're talking about?" I asked him.

"Dawson. How come we only got one baby?"

"Well," I replied with my standard answer, "that's all God has given us right now." Then I asked him, "Why? Do you want another baby?"

"Yes!" was his enthusiastic reply.

"You do, do you? We'll just have to wait and see what God has in store for us," I told him.

"But Mama, how come God's going to throw Dawson away?"

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Ahh, Finally!

Finally, just two of the many pictures taken. Okay, there's one more here. I think the number of times we sang "Happy Birthday" to him finally totaled 6, including the time he instigated. He liked it so much that even when everyone else was singing to him, he sang right along, inserting his own name.

Happy Birthday one more time buddy. We love you!

Wal-Mart or Sam's?

Aiden is a boy of many questions. Lately, he asks where something he's holding comes from.

Because I have to tote all three with me almost everywhere I go, I like to go one-stop shopping. The best place around here to do that is our Super Wal-Mart. Granted, it's not the nicest place in town but if it saves me one time of buckling the car seats and arguments over who sits where in the cart, I go there because they really do have almost anything you could possibly ever need.

Since that is where we shop more often than anywhere else, the answer to Aiden's question is almost always, "Wal-Mart". I'm embarrassed to say that this is the answer so much that he's stopped asking, "Where did this come from?" and started asking, "This come from Wal-Mart?"

Today, I felt I had truly expanded the horizons when he asked where his new back pack came from. This time he asked, "This come from Wal-Mart or Sam's?"

Hmmm, maybe I need to do some more shopping.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


I have so many cute pictures of my new 3 year old but I can't get them to upload. It's almost as if Blogger can sense when I'm up the latest with the biggest desire to just post a few pictures.

Well, as Aiden and the pirates say, "ARR!"

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Happy Birthday Aiden!

Wasn't it just yesterday that you came bursting into this world? You've been in a hurry since conception I think. In utero you kicked so hard that it really hurt. You came to us early and fast, before the doctor or any pain medication I might add. And since you've started walking, which, by the way, is the only thing you took your time with; you've run everywhere you go.

The last three years seem to have gone by in the blink of an eye. And although at times you cause me to actually calculate how many days it is until you go off to college, last night I held you tight and told you that you were not allowed to go to sleep. I hoped that maybe, just maybe, if you didn't go to sleep, then it wouldn't be your birthday and you could stay my first baby boy forever.

Sure there are a few things that I won't miss about your younger years, but more often than not I think about all the things I will: the pitter patter of your little feet running down the hall at 6 a.m. (okay, not the hour, just the sound of those running feet), your infectious and hearty laugh, the squeals of delight while running at me full speed for a tackle-type hug after I've been away, the sly little way you try to avoid trouble by saying, "I not do ANYTHING!", the fact that when you get hurt I'm the one you need and my kisses can still fix almost anything (as long as they accompany a character band-aid), the sweet impromptu, "I love YOU" followed by the contest, "Uh-uh I love you more!", the fact that there are actually times when you tell me I am a princess when I'm all dressed up, knowing you're a tough kid who can NOT go to sleep without Ernie whose poor thumb has been mangled by your constant pulling on it, watching you have tackle time and play corndog with Daddy, observing you investigating life by looking at bugs, trying new things and conquering new skills.

Aiden, the list could go on and on and on. I just love you - everything about you. Some of things have challenged me beyond my wildest dreams, but those are the things that have forced me to grow and compelled me to be a better person.

One thing I want you to know is that you are the answer to many people’s prayer for me. Daddy and I wanted you for a very long time. So long that I began to doubt that you would ever come. The moment I was able to put aside my pride and ask people to pray that you would come along, you did. Really it was that simple. People prayed and you were there.

I hope as you grow older you will take two things from this tidbit. Know that God hears our prayers and He can do ANYTHING. Know that your Daddy and I wanted you very much. We will always know that you are our special gift from God. I hope you will know that too.

Happy Birthday Aiden. All this in just three years! I can’t wait to see what God has in store for you. I love you!

Monday, July 17, 2006

My Greatest Blessings

Sunday my mom was kind enough to make me a birthday cake so that my kids could have the opportunity to sing to me. My dad took some pictures and sent them to me yesterday. When I looked at them, I stared in awe at my four greatest blessings ever.

Then I pulled up my blog to upload the photo and saw this. It made me add five to the list of God's greatest blessings to me. Do you see why I love God so much and I feel so blessed?

God is good all the time. All the time, God is good.


As I was cleaning up from breakfast this morning I heard the thuds and giggling of Mackenzie and Aiden wrestling in the hall.

I turned around in time to see Aiden running into the kitchen holding his leg. "Mama! I hurt my leg," he said emphatically pointing to the nonexistent spot on his leg.

"Are you okay?" I asked.

"Yes," was his reply.

"How did you do that?" I inquired.

"I was tackling Mackenzie."

"Well," I said trying to end it, "don't do that any more."

Aiden turned from me and ran back into the hall screaming, "Kenzie! You want to do that again?"

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Last Week About This Time We Were...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Happy, Happy Me!

On Wednesday, July 12th I turned the BIG 3-5! It’s hard for me to believe. It seems like just yesterday it was my 30th and now, here I am 5 whole years later.

In thinking about these numbers I told my husband, who, by the way just happens to be younger than me and likes to rub it in, "You know, I'm half way to 40 now." Of course, I was thinking half-way between 30 and 40 until he responded.

"Are you kidding? You're half way to 70!" Thanks babe.

Other than that, it hasn't really bothered me so much that I'm getting older. In fact Tuesday night I was up late and as I was preparing for bed, the clock struck midnight. Even though everyone in the house was fast asleep, I wished myself a very happy birthday.

I stopped for a few minutes of prayer. There were no initial petitions because my heart was overflowing with gratitude. As I was thanking God for the gift of my life I felt like my life has been so blessed up to now that if I had died that night, it would have been enough.

Now, don't get me wrong. I made it VERY clear to God that I didn't want to die. I just meant that I really feel like I couldn't possibly ask for anything more. I have no real regrets. Yes, I've made mistakes. Yes, there are a few things I think it would be nice to see or do or experience. But, I have no regrets.

I've accomplished all of the initial goals I set for myself. I know that I'm supposed to be married. I know that Nelson is the right one for me. I have three beautiful and healthy children. I have family and extended family that love me and support me. I have a lot of the same friends in my life that I've had since high school. I love Jesus and I know that He loves me.

I went to sleep at the very beginning of my birthday totally content, full of joy and bursting with excitement to see what the next 35+ years have in store. How could it get any better?

The day itself was pretty normal. My kids wished me happy birthday upon command of Nelson. However, later they came back to ask me how it could possibly be my birthday since there was no cake, candles or presents. I had to explain to them that big people just don't have birthday parties like children do.

Nelson arranged for a sitter and took me out to dinner. That, in and of itself, was a gift. Not only did we have an evening to ourselves, but I didn't have to do anything to make it happen. When we finished dinner, he said he had some place really special to take me.

We went to a bar at the top of one of the historic hotels downtown. We walked in to discover about 60 of my dearest friends and family members. Nelson had planned a surprise cocktail party for my birthday.

It was beautiful. The bar is glassed in on three sides and overlooks the city and the river. There were flowers, balloons, a huge cake, lots of food, an open bar, and, did I mention, 60 of my friends?!

I felt like I had walked into a dream. What woman doesn't dream about her husband doing something HUGE like this for her? How many of them actually do it? Mine did. And boy, did he do it in STYLE. I felt so loved and honored by the whole event that I am still glowing and smiling about it as I type. I married the best man in the world. I have the best friends in the world. As I walked out of the hotel that night I couldn't help but to wonder, "Who wouldn't want to live my life?"

I am blessed. Sometimes, like now, I feel almost guilty about how blessed I am. I am certain that I've done nothing to deserve these blessings. In fact, sometimes I feel like I'm waiting for everything to fall apart. Like one day God is going to say, "Okay girl, you've had enough!"

The fact is that He very well could do that. He has every right to. After all, He is God. And yet, that's the point. HE IS GOD! And, GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME. I could feel this blessed every second of every day for the rest of my life and I could NEVER use up His goodness. As a matter of fact, this is what He had in mind for us in the first place. Remember Eden? God doesn't mess things up, we do.

I am happy about my life. I am happy I'm 35. I am so very happy that I know that none of this has anything to do with me. And I am beside myself that I have a God who loves me enough to bless me anyway. May my next 35 years be my gift back to you, Lord.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Groom's Cake Unveiled

Here it is ladies and gentlemen, my most creative cake to date.

When talking with my brother about wedding stuff, I offered to do his groom's cake. I knew I would be busy with wedding activities, but I love to bake and I love my brother. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

His main request was a key lime cake with cream cheese frosting. It’s easy, moist, and always a hit. After that, he said he really didn't care what it looked like as long as it tasted good.
I went through several options before pulling out the old, "What about something Alabama?" suggestion. Of course he jumped on that. Again, he didn't care what, just as long as it had something with the University of Alabama.

It was actually Nelson who suggested doing something with the hat. For those of you who are not familiar with the University of Alabama's football program (I'll forgive you...but only if you're not from Alabama or have never watched a college football game), I'll need to explain.

I was born in Tuscaloosa, AL while my dad was finishing his Master's Degree at the University of Alabama. I was baptized in the chapel on campus. At the time, the football team was coached by the legendary Paul "Bear" Bryant, who at the time of his retirement, was the winningest coach in Division I college football. To put it in perspective, some people remember where they were when they heard the news that Kennedy had been shot. I remember where I was when I heard that Bear Bryant had died. Anyway, he never coached an outdoor game without his signature hounds tooth hat (he didn't wear it inside because he was, after all, a Southern gentleman).

I knew it would be challenging but once I got the vision for it, there was no turning back. Sure I could have just placed a hat on top of the cake, but that would not have achieved the "cool" factor I was looking for for Brian.

I was so nervous about how it would turn out that I didn't tell anyone but Nelson my plans just in case I had to scrap the hat and resort to a giant A on the top of the cake. When the cake had been put together and frosted white but not decorated, my mom came in my house for something.

She began like this. "How's the cake....ohhh."

"Mom, you're not supposed to see the cake. It's a surprise," I said.

"Um," she sputtered looking at the top of it all carved and seemingly caved in, "is it going like you had planned?" I’m sure she was wondering what had gone wrong and why I thought I could cover it up with frosting.

"Mom, we're not talking about the cake," I said, suddenly wondering if she would recognize it once it was colored in.

"Okay then," she said, not wanting to upset me, "I'll be praying for you."

Happily, when I walked into the rehearsal dinner hall with it in hand she had an epiphany of sorts and recognized it for what it was. "Oh," she exclaimed with a smile, "now I get it. That's so cool!"

Yeah, mom, I thought so too!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Stay Tuned...Again

I'm not trying to keep you in suspense about the final view of the cake. I just can't make it upload the pictures. I've been trying too long and now I'm too frustrated. I've got to get to bed before I turn a year older.

Wait... I'm going to do that anyway in a few minutes.

Stay tuned dedicated readers. I'll give you more photos and wedding info after my big day.

Creation of a Cake

For all of you who heard my cry for prayers and actually prayed for me and the cake, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I could not have done it on my own.

When I checked on the largest layer of the cake while it was baking on Monday, everything looked great. I blogged a little and decided to check again when I was through. What I saw when I opened the oven was cake batter flowing out of the pan and into my oven. Just imagine your seventh grade volcano project being fluorescent green and you've got the picture.

I didn't get the chance to work on it again until Wednesday when the boys were napping. I began making the next layer (going easy on the amount of batter this time!) around 2 p.m. The rest of the day my kitchen looked like this.That day I was able to bake the three other layers as well as make the frosting, carve the hat, put it together, and put the base frosting on all of them.

I pried myself out of bed Thursday morning at 7:45 a.m. to get the boys to school and the gift bags to the three hotels where our guests were staying. From there Mackenzie and I met mom and Heather at the spa to get manicures and pedicures. What was supposed to end at 2 for me and Mackenzie ended at 4:30. I got home in time to change clothes feed the kids, begin the hounds tooth and get off to the bachelorette party.

When they headed to the third destination of the night around midnight, I said my goodbyes and jetted home to decorate the hat. I knew I was up way too late when Nelson walked in from the bachelor party and made it to bed before me.

By Friday morning I was finally set to do the writing on the cake. I'm not sure if it was the lack of sleep, my nerves, my desire for perfection, or the fact that all three kids were awake and surrounding me on all sides watching, but my hands were shaking and my stomach was in knots. Whatever it was I was SO relieved when it was finished.

It was not perfect. And, the longer I looked at it the more imperfections I saw.

I found a willing friend to drive me, cake in lap, to the rehearsal dinner hall. I was an absolute wreck.
When Brian walked into the church that night for the rehearsal he found me and said, "That is THE COOLEST CAKE I have ever seen!" Suddenly, the lack of sleep and amount of hours invested seemed inconsequential.

I don't regret my decision to do the cake for Brian. I love my brother and I come from an Italian family where we show our love by feeding people. It's weird I know, but I do it anyway. I was honored to have the opportunity.

And, in the end, I have to admit. It was a pretty cool cake.

Is It Inborn?

We were outside this evening. All was peaceful. I was sweeping away the eternal cobwebs that pop up outside. The kids were riding their bikes.

My back was turned - just for a moment - when Mackenzie ran over. "Mama! Come look! Aiden is pee-peeing in his bike!"

"What?" I responded in disbelief as I turned around to see my perfectly potty-trained little red-head pants down peeing neatly into the basket of his Big Wheel, a devilishly proud grin plastered on his face.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Stay Tuned...

Okay, so I'm officially having Blog withdrawal. I haven't given up. I'm catching my breath.

What a week it's been! I had NO IDEA that I would be SO involved in all of the wedding stuff. We just sent the last relative off today.

My poor house is crying out, "Clean me! Organize me! I thought you loved me. What happened?"

My kids are crying out, "We haven't gotten a good night's sleep in four days. We're going to be testy until you let us sleep."

My husband is crying out, "How long will I have to dig through the clothes in the dryer for clean socks?"

My body is crying out, "What in the world made you think you could live life like a college student in the middle of finals? I NEED SLEEP!"

I will return. I will catch up. I will Blog again.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

What a Happy Fourth!

Yesterday we celebrated the anniversary of this great country in grand style. It started in the morning with a backyard festival complete with huge waterslides, bungee games (I have whiplash today...seriously!), cotton candy, popcorn and games galore. The kids had a blast and so did we.

We left there to have lunch at my house with Nelson's sister and her family. After that the boys napped while Mackenzie and I headed to the neighbor's pool to cool off. We went back in the evening for a big barbecue followed by entertainment.
Aiden and Mackenzie were part of the show. They sang a song from one of their favorite shows, The Backyardigans. The song was about how to be a pirate, the most important element being that you always have to say Arrr!

In front of an audience of several hundred people they both took the stage without one ounce of fear. There they proceeded to sing every word right on beat. They even managed a few of the motions we had practiced but truth be told, Aiden was much more interested in holding on to the microphone. I was afraid he might actually inhale it he held it so close! Needless to say, I was very, very proud.
We left the show to watch the fireworks from the top of one of the hospital's parking decks. By that time the kids were wiped out, but they managed to keep their eyes open.

I feel so blessed to live in a country that was founded on Christian principals and built by the sacrifices of so many great people before us. I am blessed to share this holiday with people who still believe in those principals. It was great to share it all with my family.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Wedding Countdown

And so it begins. The final countdown until my little brother gets married. Of course there have been lots of preparations up until this point, but this, the week of the wedding, is JAMPACKED!

It began Saturday night when my parents and brother asked Nelson to give them some dance lessons. I wasn't kidding when I said that Nelson is an excellent dancer. This is not the first couple we've instructed before marriage. He did Social Dance all through high school. He got my brother, Kevin, involved as well. It's funny that my two other brothers gave Kevin heck about taking dance lessons and now here's Brian in my kitchen, in a pink shirt no less, asking for the same.

I am baking the first layer of Brian's groom's cake as I sit here. I've done groom's cakes before but never one like this. Never for a family member. And, never while I had three sets of little hands dying to touch it. Pray for me...and the cake.

I'm also putting together gift bags and delivering them to the hotels for the out of town guests. Thursday we're all going to get manicures and pedicures (hey, we all need some time to just relax!) Thursday night we have the Bachelor and Bachelorette parties. Friday there's golf, the rehearsal and dinner and the cake. Saturday it's time for hair, make-up, pictures, and, of course, the wedding.

It brings back so many good memories for me. I loved my wedding. I really did. Everything about it was just perfect. But, Nelson and I both knew that it wasn't the wedding that mattered. It was the marriage.

I pray that Brian and Heather have the same focus. After all, the wedding is just one day, albeit important and life changing, but the marriage - that is forever!