today: disney bound

mary claire has been counting the days and hours...winter break is finally here!

this year winter break means disney world! 

mary claire has been on her head for over a year now begging to take a trip back to disney. it's obviously all the talk on the third grade playground. but our guys have absolutely no interest in visiting disney this year... they will go, but they would prefer not to. and who should be forced to go to disney world? please! so the guys have some man things planned and the girls, honey and myself are disney bound without them. 
my guys don't know what they're missing... then again, maybe they do ;)
Disney 2010

Disney 2010

Disney 2010

Disney 2010

Disney 2010

Disney 2010

birthday kind of weekend

 bennett's birthday started off early saturday morning. he was scheduled to take the SAT. poor fella, had to eat his birthday pancakes a day late! right after he left, i crawled back into bed. sometime between 6am and 7am i had a dream. the kind of dream that is so vivid and real. i dreamed i had a baby boy. he was wearing a blue terrycloth sleeper, the kind with feet and smelled heavenly. we were at a picnic with strangers -- in the mountains. everyone there was trying to hold my baby.  and i was panicking! someone was going to take my baby. steal him away.  the same desperate feeling i had during those few days of postpartum depression. dreams are crazy, because i was screaming no like a wild woman, squeezing him, holding him tight. because if i let this baby go, he will be gone forever.  (no dream interpreter needed.) i woke up with an overwhelming feeling of sadness about how quickly time passes. no one knew, but my heart ached for most of the day.
after the SAT the day was full swing birthday;  facebook wishes were dinging,  grandparents calling, a precious letter arrived from the smoaks, his sisters bombarded him with silly string, decorated the house and made our favorite birthday cake. (cake recipe... so good)  then it was off to the y with his buddies to try out new scuba gear. i begged to tag along for pictures... but that was a swift no!

mary claire's birthday letter and coin kept us laughing all day!

one of bennett's best friend's sister and his sister's good friend 
(follow that?)
shares his birthday! and we saw her on their birthday.

one more surprise... because last sunday there was a fire and what's a sunday at our house without the threat of suffocation? :) 

a little background: after a couple scares running, i decided to start carrying a pepper spray gun. bennett researched a good one.  i now am convinced this gun is a great one that lives up to all it's hype.
  •  it is capable of incapacitating the assailant for up to 45 minutes 
  •  it will leave a room uninhabitable up to 3-6 hours
  •  and  the red gel it shoots will eat through paint 

yep. all true!

 we know this because mary claire decided to try it out.
 in bennett's room. 

and when i say my son is the keeper of random knowledge, this is what i mean;
bennett immediately knew the recipe to remove the sting from the air. 
"son, how and why do you know this? are you planning to get peppered sprayed?" 
i'm sticking to it's because he loves to read.

mary claire, being a good sister, kept guard outside her brother's room, helping any way she could.

between the coughing and tearing, jeff and i reminded each other that we are so blessed! 
i just wish time would slow down... even a little.

happy birthday bennett

dear bennett,
seventeen years ago you came into my life and changed it so totally that I cannot image it without you. you fill my days with every emotion possible :) but most of all you fill each day with your presence, your ever changing humor,  you are always on my mind and in my heart.
it is so hard to watch you grow up. each year i have watched you change and you are showing all the characteristics and character of a fine southern gentleman. people always tell me how charming and funny you are, how you are filled with humility and how interesting you are to talk to -- i love to hear these compliments -- but i can also see them for myself. there are many minutes, hours, days, when you are a very difficult teenager to live with -- but that is to be expected, you are mine :) and sometimes i am difficult. 
you have wonderful character. that i value and respect. your daddy and i often comment that you are a better person than we are.  you are an astounding and confusing mix of willingness to try new things and fear of failing at nothing. your eagerness to travel to the depths of the ocean astound me! (worry me) but we have always called you a living action figure. i love that you enjoy volunteering in the community. the joy you have in helping others, from our youth group to the fire department, warms my heart! you are almost instinctive in ‘people skills.’ you are insanely intelligent and honest to the core. our old soul.
 you make this a better place for yourself and those who love you. and we always will. happy birthday my sweet boy!
love Mom

before and after

while my husband was away, i texted him this picture from our youth trip. 

he texted me this:

"love the picture. YOU look really good."

 i knew exactly what he was really saying.

he didn't mean I looked good. 
what he was really saying was, 
wow, that's some great retouching
"why didn't you airbrush me,too?"
i laughed, because i did. airbrushed us both...
 same strength. 

i would show you the before and after... 
but i'm not that transparent ;)


 “Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.” 
Proverbs 20:11

first baptist camden's winter retreat was a huge success. snowbird was great! what an awesome youth camp! i was overly prepared for the cold temperatures. i wasn't prepared to arrive home to a very sick little girl, a husband having to leave for the week and then succumbing to the bug myself. it's thursday and praise God mary claire is finally off to school. my bags are still packed, the laundry is sky high, but i am so thankful my body is not begging to crawl back into bed. and jeff comes home tonight!

we got a late start because bennett could not miss chemistry class. plan b was for him to ride up with us... which was very unpopular, the bus ride is half of the fun! thankfully the bus waited and we were left to follow the bus alone.  somewhere along the way we got ahead or behind the bus... not sure which because jeff and i spent two hours lost in the dark mountains. note to self: when using the gps on your cellphone and you do not have cell service... you also do not have a gps!

 the next three days were filed with fellowship, worship and bonding... 

my  roommates
awesome group of leaders!
moments between managing the children, it felt like a women's retreat.
love these ladies!

one day is a ski day.
last year i came home with hundreds of pictures, but few of my own children. 

we have been stressing to my big kids the importance of being a Godly role model for the younger youth. bennett spent time on the bunny slope helping others... before disappearing to the black diamond.

again, the camp was fabulous! if your on my side of the world and looking for a camp for your youth group, check out  snowbird

the yucks

we are back from an incredible youth retreat with our two big kids and 50+ youth and adults from our church. the camp was in the (icy cold) north carolina mountains. my mother greeted us monday night with a very sick mary claire. by tuesday morning this mom was under the weather, too. lots of catching up to do, once we can rid ourselves of the yucks! 

my house and everything inside smells as if a family of chain smokers live here.
and my car with it's brand new carpet smells worse.
 i haven't mentioned my guy surprised with carpet for christmas.
new carpet for my car {???} who knew you could re-carpet your car.
and for half of a day, it smelled like a new car.
now it smells like an ashtray.

after our fire scare, i promised jeff i wouldn't roll my eyes when he insisted on getting a burn permit for large bonfires.

we did have another small scare. the firefighters used a bulldozer to create a fire break right beside our house. mary claire thought this new unearthed dirt trench was coolest thing ever. 

during her explorations, she came running to tell us she found the coolest tunnel. 
"it has walls. and stairs."
 so we took a look.

it was an open well.
no stairs, but another open well.
this one much larger than the first.

pearing down with a flashlight made my blood run cold. approximately 30 feet deep. {gasp} and it is the second one we have found. jeff has been out of town the entire week, so as of now it remains open with a make shift cover until he can refill it with dirt.  again, thank God for keeping my children safe.

we are heading out of town for the weekend with the big kids. and honey and papa gene are heading to our house with a carload of little ones. charlie will be thrilled! we are chaperoning our church ski trip. it's such an awesome adventure! last year it was freezing cold! even with layers upon layers, i remember being cold for like four days. but this year... the forecast is a little different. {insert iced tears) we are headed into snow, freezing rain and icy-er temperatures... 


one a funnier note, i shared this on facebook: our bank called today. they cancelled our debit cards. seems there were 4 questionable charges in Nebraska. all four charges were to an adult escort service. one charge for $40, one for $24 and two for $14. 

four charges? on the same day? 
i would love to know the service rendered for $14 ;)

have a wonderful weekend and stay warm!

my new vitamix

well it's not reallyvitamix.  
but i did get a new blender. 
$15 clearance at the wal-mart!
 and on a good day, it blends almost 75% of the ice!
and occasionally it doesn't sound like an airplane coming in for landing. but only occasionally.
and from a distance, without my contacts, in a dim room... it looks just like a vitamix
 anyway, my clearance find is serving the purpose.
and i am loving the lean shakes from gnc.
here's a few of my favorite smoothie combos.

1 frozen banana 
chocolate protein powder packet 
1 Tbsp low fat peanut butter 
heaping spoon full fat free cottage cheese (my sister's suggestion and she has a vitamix)
spoon oatmeal
1 tsp cinnamon
skim milk and ice

this is the groovy green smoothie, tweeked by me.
1 frozen banana 
vanilla protein powder packet 
cored apple
spoon full of oatmeal
fat free greek yougart

rumor has it,  vitamixs are sitting on the shelves of costc.

like wild fire

i have a new appreciation for the term "spreads like wildfire" because yesterday we experienced just that. 
{a wild fire} 
it's a day that will be burned into our memory.

  it started as a grass fire. being a bright windy day, the fire came within 20 feet of our side door. in only minutes our house was filled with smoke and for a moment crippling us with fear. 
the girls, jeff and myself had come home after sunday school. ten minutes later, we noticed smoke, then fire in the neighboring field. 

our house would not be standing if we had not been home to call 911. 
it took only ten minutes for the fire department to arrive. minutes that seemed to stretch on forever. jeff attempted a fire breach with his tractor. i sprayed the trees with the water hose and as the flames inched closer, anna katherine made another call to 911. and my girls, they were hysterical. bennett had gone to worship service. several firefighters were in the service when the call came in. someone passed bennett a note saying, "your house is on fire."  being a volunteer fire fighter so he left too.

after the firefighters arrived and i calmed the girls (and myself), i grabbed my camera.
the antioch and charlotte thompson firefighters were incredible!
i wish i could call them all by name in appreciation.
we are so grateful!

pretty neat bennett was able to fight his first fire at his own house!

thank you Lord for hearing our prayers. 
thank you for delivering our family. 
thank you for the fire fighters. 
thank you for watching over and protecting us. 

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