Sunday, December 20, 2009

Favorite Christmas Memories-Vol. 5

It was the Christmas of 2002.  Our first Christmas in our house.  It was also the Christmas that Santa was bringing a puppy into our family.  Little did we know another member to our family would be added this Christmas as well.

That year, every month from September through November I went through the same scenario.  "I just know I'm pregnant.  There is all the signs.  I just know it."  And every month through that time frame the same scenario would follow. "Nope, pregnancy test just showed negative.  That's the third test..pretty sure I'm not pregnant."  This whole time I never said anything to Craig though.  We weren't desperately trying to have a baby.  If it happened, it happened. 

December came.  And like every December there is always sooo much to do.  Santa was contacting us about this puppy he wanted to bring to Dalton.  So we were helping him out trying to find the perfect one and to plan out how Santa was going to get it to our house without Dalton knowing it.  A week before Christmas, all of a sudden, I sat there and period is late.  "I'm not that late.  I don't feel typical signs...nope."  I had a couple days off before Christmas day and was busy shopping.  Then on Christmas Eve, I suddenly remembered I still hadn't started my period. 

I headed to Walmart, bought a pregnancy test, took Dalton through McDonalds drive-thru, and headed home.  I set him up with lunch and immediately took the test.  And waited.  I managed to take one bite of my sandwich before heading back into the bathroom to check the test.  I swear that walk down the hallway took forever.  And like in slow motion I picked up the stick. 

Is that what it looks like?  Is that two lines?  Well, but, that one looks a little light.  Is that positive or does two lines mean negative?

I think I read the directions five times before jumping up and down, praising God, and trying not to pee my pants!  Then I stopped....Craig still didn't know anything about this.  He didn't even have an idea that I was late!  Okay so how am I gonna tell him. 

I decided to wrap up the pregnancy test and that would be the gift he opened on Christmas Eve. seemed like the evening took forever before we got home with just the three of us and opened presents.  Dalton opened his, I opened mine, and Craig opened one of his.  Then I said, "Actually Daddy has another one to open."  He said, "No I don't...I'll wait till the morning to open it."  I wanted to strangle him.  "No you are not!  You need to open it now." 

He unwrapped the package and opened the box.  He stopped.  He stared.  Then looked at me and said, ""  I looked at him and said, "This CANNOT come as a big surprise to you."  I mean...seriously?  Was he not present during the making of this creation?  Then the initial shock went away and he said, "Awesome!" maybe I should have given him some hints so he would not have been so stunned.

The next morning as Dalton was opening up his presents and he discovered the new hairy family member.  I said, "Dalton we have another present for you.  Mommy is going to have a baby!"  Craig said, "Won't that be awesome...a little brother or sister!"  Dalton said, "We have a dog now why do we need a baby!"  We had to have a couple more discussions with him on this one.

Then to my parents house we went.  From a previous post you know that my parents open their presents first.  So in addition to what we already had purchased I wrapped another box.  My mom was opening the box which contained a simple note that said, "Your present is still in development but will be ready for delivery in September of 2003."  When she read the note she said, "You are kidding me?"  Nope Mom-no joke.  Then the tears came! 

I have lots of great memories of Christmas both from childhood and as an adult. But I will always remember the Christmas that God gave me one of the best gifts possible.  I thank God everyday for these two precious people that He gave me.  Every Christmas I relish in their delight over their gifts and the magic behind the season.  However, I am more delighted and in awe of their learning about the REAL REASON FOR THE SEASON! 

Merry Christmas everyone!  May God Bless You!

Friday, December 18, 2009

(Not so) Favorite Christmas Memories-Vol. 4

I'm going off track a little here.  Please let me make clear this particular Christmas IS NOT one of my favorite by any means.  It was actually a very HORRIBLE Christmas BUT it is still a very vivid memory that I thought I would share.  For two reasons:

     1.  Because of the events that took place.
     2.  This was the year that I had to TOTALLY give all my faith to God and let his strength, love, and 
          wisdom lead the way.

Christmas is a special time of the year.  Some say it is a time of miracles.  A time of hope and faith.  This is how we spent our Christmas of 2007.

It started on December 5th of that year.  I was on the phone with my Mom and she mentioned she was a little worried about my Grandma.  She hadn't been feeling well since a routine test and was having some difficulty with daily activities.  I tried to reassure my Mom that it was probably a touch of the flu and to give her some time to get over it.

The morning of December 7th started off with snow on the ground.  I went to work early that morning, as I do with any snow day, because when dealing with snow days there are a lot of call ins and staff issues on these days.  I decided I would run to the gas station after arriving to work to get my daily dose of Diet Coke.  As I started to pull out of the parking lot I noticed one of my staff running across the parking lot towards me.  She said, "Your Mom just called they have your Grandma at the ER and your Mom doesn't sound good."  I immediately headed to the ER.

Upon arrival Grandma was unconscious.  My Grandma's significant other, Papa Claude, was in the room along with my mom, my dad, my aunt, & my uncle.  The doctor looked at my mom and Papa Claude and asked if Grandma had a DNR order.  They both said no.  The doctor asked them if they wanted him to do everything possible in case she coded to get her back.  Of course they said yes.  They barely got the 'yes' out when she started to code.  We were losing her.  My mom started to refuse to leave the room.  I grabbed her and said there wasn't anything we could do and that she didn't need to see Grandma this way.

I immediately started to pray and pray like I never did before.  I knew God was with us.  But I wanted Him with those doctors and nurses.  I wanted His love to overwhelm me and my family.  I wanted them to know that He was in our presence.  I felt it.  And then the doctor came out and said they had got her back.

The family spent the weekend at the hospital with Grandma in ICU.  The following Tuesday, December 11th, the ice storm hit.  We lost power for four days.  We were blessed to obtain a hotel room for those four days and firmly believe that God had a hand in that too.  It was a place that my Mom and Aunt was able to go take showers, nap, or try to relax.

The next two weeks were extremely rough.  Grandma didn't make much progress and was unconscious most of the time.  She was on a breathing machine, tubes all over, etc.  The doctors were not giving us much hope of recover.  With all the trips to the hospital and the depression set over the city because of the ice storm no one in the family was in the Christmas spirit. 

The week of Christmas she started to make some comebacks with making eye contact and squeezing hands.  On Christmas Eve, Mom decided to go home for the night.  I told her we would stop out and stay for a couple hours after the Christmas Eve service at church.  When we arrived I went back to see Grandma and she was awake but still in that 'ICU state'.  I asked her if she wanted to see Dalton and she smiled at me and shook her head yes.  After some explaining to Dalton what he would see we walked into her room.  She instantly lit up and smiled at him.  She squeezed my hand and was very responsive to us both.

On Christmas Day we had our traditional dinner and then the entire family immediately headed to the hospital.  My mom couldn't believe her eyes.  Grandma was responsive, alert, and seemed to be making great strides.  Our Christmas miracle.

We spent the entire month of December in the ICU and then a week in a regular room.  The next month Grandma spent in the nursing home going through therapy and preparing to return home.

As I said, this was by NO means a favorite memory but one that will always be with me.  I thank God for bringing Grandma back to us.  I thank Him for surrounding us with His love and strength during that time.  I thank Him for showing us His miracles.  The real lesson I have learned that in every situation there are blessings...even in bad situations.  We just have to step back and take a hard look but they are there.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Favorite Christmas Memories-Vol. 3

As I reflect back over the years, Christmas has always been about tradition.  There was always cookies and milk put out for Santa.  There was always going to bed early and getting up even earlier.  There are traditions that you start on your own and traditions that you continue from your own childhood.

This reflection is more of a collection of memories.  As I have grown up and started my own family we have continued some family traditions and started some new ones.  It is really quite funny that out of all the conversations that Craig and I had about family while we were dating there was really no conversation about how our families handled Christmas.

The compromise started the very first Christmas of our married life.  As I started to set up the Christmas tree and place my color-coordinated balls on the tree along with all white lights Craig looks at the tree in total disgust.  "What is your problem?"  I said.  "Well, that is not how we decorated the tree when I was growing up.  We used multi-colored lights and ornaments that my mom made."  Well, if you have read my previous blog about Craig's mom and how important she was to Craig, how was I suppose to tell him I wouldn't put his Mom's ornaments on our tree.  So her ornaments joined my color-coordinated balls.  The tree never looked so good!!!

Just so happened that I was also 6 months pregnant our first married Christmas together.  (That subject may appear in a different blog...but yes if you do the math he was a honeymoon baby.)  Well, Christmas Eve came and Craig said we were going to continue another tradition that his family had.  When he was a child they all opened one present on Christmas Eve. 

Seriously?  I never heard of such a thing!  I would beg my parents to allow me to open JUST one present.  I didn't even care if it was clothes!  But they never did!  And here was my wonderful husband just giving me permission to do what I had wanted to do the whole time I was growing up!  So that DEFINTELY became part of our Christmas tradition.

Since the kids have come along we have added others, like getting a family ornament every year or making brownies for Santa instead of cookies.  "Santa has cookies at everyone else's house let's make our house different and make brownies.  He will remember us better."  This was my reasoning to the kids.  They love it and every year we talk about how Santa will remember us better because we make brownies.

Our tree now is covered with ornaments from everything.  Ornaments made by the kids in their schools.  Ornaments that the grandparents have given them every year since they were born.  Our family ornaments.  Very few of my colored balls.  And of course....the ornaments Craig's mom made still hang proudly on our tree.

So while this season brings about traditions and reflections it makes me curious....what are the traditions that your family celebrate?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Favorite Christmas Memories-Vol. 2

As I continue my track down memory lane I have come to the realization that although I have had many, many great Christmas holidays, my all-time favorites are more from my adult life.  Tonight I look back just a few years ago.

My siblings and myself usually tried to get together to find presents for my parents.  We would spend time discussing what to get, can we find something for them together, how much do we spend, etc.  This particular year my Dad was taking care of his Uncle's farm.  My Mom had taken a picture of an old barn on the farm to which my Dad shared with many and cherished the picture.  With my Mom's help us kids decided to have the picture blown up and framed.

Hey, hey you are probably asking what is sooo special about that?  We decided to have the frame custom-made from a piece of wood from one of my Dad's barns.  So I found someone to do some creative editing to the picture and they blew it up.  Then one evening I drove up to my Dad's farm and tore a piece of wood off of his barn.

The funny part is it felt like I was on some top secret mission as 007.  I had to call people to ensure that I would not be arrested for trespassing,  find someway to get a 8 ft. long board in my car, and then try to discretely drive into the VERY small town without being noticed and drop off this 8ft board to they guy to make the frame that just happened to live next to my Grandma's house.  Oh and did I mention that all this time I was also transporting a 4 year old and a 4 month old?

As this was going to be a great gift for my Dad I just kept thinking, "What about Mom?"  I was stumped.  Then my sister-in-law mentioned that awhile back my Mom had secretly told her that she had lost the mother's ring we had gotten her YEARS before for Mother's Day.  She was upset and didn't want any of us to know.  Boy was I glad my sister-in-law couldn't keep a secret!!  So to the jewelry store I went and picked out another ring.

What was best about this was the fact that my Mom was getting a kick out of the mission we were going through to get my Dad's present completed.  She knew all about it and also couldn't wait for him to see the finished product.  The whole time I kept thinking, "Just you wait Mom, you won't believe your own eyes!"

That morning, as with every Christmas morning, it is tradition that my parents open their gifts first.  My Dad was first and I think us kids had every camera and video camera going.  My Dad being the very joking man was making jokes and laughing as he was opening the gift and then he ripped off the paper and turned it over.  He was speechless.  He just stood there and looked at the picture.  Then preceeded to show it off like any child that just received a great gift would.  My Mom just smiled and relished in the fact that she had a little something to do with it.

Then it was her turn.  We gave her the box and she just looked at us and said she wondered what it was.  She unwrapped the box and opened it.  She was speechless.  I said, "A little birdy told us you lost your other Mother's ring so we decided to have it replaced."  She looked at my sister-in-law and lost it.  She started tearing up, then I started tearing up.

I think I will always remember that Christmas.  Yes we got my parents some great gifts but it was gifts that MEANT something to them.  Those gifts were so much more than a shirt or perfume.  They had meaning behind them.  My Mom still wears her Mother's ring everyday and that picture is hanging in their dining room.  I know it is cliche but giving is always better than receiving.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Favorite Christmas Memories-Vol. 1

We all have favorite memories of Christmas, whether it be something special we received or how we spent the day, there is always something that stands out.  I decided that I would tell some of my favorite memories from now until Christmas.

I don't remember the year but I'm sure most of you will know the time frame.  It was the year of the Cabbage Patch Dolls...and I wanted one bad!!!!!  I do believe I started asking for one six months before Christmas so Santa knew, without a doubt, that was what I wanted.  Who didn't love these little dolls?  They're adorable...round faces, diapers, adoption papers...even the 'Xavier Roberts' signature on thier cute little tushy was priceless!

I asked and hinted.  I did every little chore and task that was asked of me.  I mean I was beyond good...I was golden!  I told every mall Santa I seen that I wanted one of these dolls.  I just knew Christmas morning I was going to wake up and find one of them under the tree.  There was NO way I wasn't going to get one of these dolls.

I don't know how much I slept that night but I'm sure it wasn't much....I just don't sleep much on Christmas night.  There is WAY too much excitement.  I awoke and jumped out of bed and headed to the living room.  And there under the tree was.....a HOMEMADE Cabbage Patch Doll?  What?! Seriously?!  A homemade doll....I mean that was like getting coal!  I was a good girl...I'm the ONLY girl...don't I deserve a real one.  I put up with my big brothers bashings and verbal abuses...didn't I deserve the real thing.

I have (and always will be) a very gracious person.  I said I liked it and made over it.  Then as I continued to open up the other presents my mother handed me another one.  I tore off the paper and there it was....THE REAL CABBAGE PATCH DOLL!  Oh my stars!  I was overjoyed! 

I played all day long with THOSE dolls.  I carried them around, changed their diapers, and overall loved THEM.  As I was told parents had tried to obtain the real Cabbage Patch Doll before Christmas and because of all the rage over them everyone was always sold out.  So my parents got a rain check on them with the hope that one would come up before Christmas.  Not wanting me to be disappointed on Christmas morning if the real thing hadn't arrived, my Mom had a lady from our town make me the other doll so that I would have something similar.  The day before Christmas the real doll arrived at the store.

The irony in all of it....I think I played and enjoyed the homemade doll more than I did the real thing.  Either way it stuck with me all these years!  Sometimes the best gifts are the least expected!!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Murphy's Law

You ever have a day where Murphy's Law applies:  If anything can go wrong, it will?  I haven't had just a day of Murphy's Law it has been going on since last Monday.  As I looked back on the last several days it makes me chuckle at all that happened.

Last Monday I received a 5 a.m. wake up call from my opening staff member. 

"Huh.....Michelle....we have an issue." 

And in my best pretend-I'm-awake-voice I said, "Who called in?"

"Well....we have water all over the place."  That woke me up! 

"What do you mean we have water everywhere?"  After a couple more questions I directed her to make some phone calls and I pulled on the first articles of clothing that I could find, slipped on a pair of flip flops and out the door I went.  Long story short here is what we found....I opened one door to find a small pond in the middle of the carpet floor.  I went to walk into one of the classrooms and when I stepped down the water covered my foot (thanked God for the sense to wear those flip flops).  By  mid-morning the water restoration company had cleaned up all the water and had the dehumidifiers and blowers moving in the building so off to home and a well deserved break I went.

Then I picked up my son from school.  I took one look at him. "What is wrong with your eye?"  He looked at me and said, "I dunno....why?"  His eye was swollen and red and upon further inspection had a rash around it.  Suddenly the father-son hunting expedition was replaying in my mind.  "I do believe son you have poison ivy."  Called the doctor's office and got the answer I figured I would get.  Couldn't see him until the morning.

So next morning (Tues) woke up to find Dalton's face is swollen even more and the rash has now spread to the other eye.  Great!  To the doctor we go. And of course, Momma was right...poison ivy.  Took three trips to Walmart pharmacy to get the prescription correct.  No big deal..move need to get upset is what I keep telling myself.

On Wednesday the chaos continued with a trip to the ER.  As I'm sitting in the ER I call back to the office only to have my supervisor answer the phone and tell me a parent had her purse stolen from her car.  As it was parked in front of my office at the preschool.  At this point I am considering having the building blessed and/or prayer service to be held there.

Well I should have called the priest right then and there because we received a call from the restoration company that was trying to dry the building.  They were going to have to rip out the drywall and replace it because the walls were just not getting dry.  "You are going to have to close." Oh...there are going to be some upset parents but what were we to do.  It had to be done.

Friday was spent dealing with painters, carpenters, and drywallers. I did get to go home early and start the weekend. Then Craig calls me on his way home from hunting. "Did you know the SUV has a crack in the bumper?" No way. Sure enough it has a crack and several scrapes across the front. Evidently it has been hit. GREAT!

Anyway you look at it this is not how you want your week to go but here it was.  It was one heck of a week. In some respects I have learned to give it up to God. He is the one in control-not me. In situations of chaos it amazes me how I can have the ability to forget all feelings of 'Oh my gosh what are we gonna do?' and just step up and get things done. It is because God is on my side. He doesn't give me more than I can handle. And looking back God was right there beside me the whole time. Any of those situations could have been MUCH worse than they were but He was there. He helped us through and consistently does. I place my faith in Him.

So while it may seem like one bad thing after another may be happening in your life just remember one have help. God's hand is in every aspect of your life.  I couldn't be more thankful or blessed that He is.