John, Sara Beth, Callum, Haley, Kobe, and Samuel

John, Sara Beth, Callum, Haley, Kobe, and Samuel

Thursday, January 31, 2013

52 Home--Week 5

Kobe and Sam picked these for me this morning before school. They insisted that I bring them to work to put on my desk to enjoy all day.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Be Brave!

This morning, Samuel was in RARE mode. He actually woke up in a great mood and was being extra sweet and kind on the way to school. We talked the whole way to his school this morning and I really LOVED that. He shared the following with me:

"Momma, one of my friends at school was scared of the storms after we looked up the weather yesterday in class. I told him not to be scared. I told him that anytime he feels a little scared that he can be brave because Jesus is always with us everywhere. Momma, if Jesus lives in your heart when you don't feel strong He can make you strong."
 There is really nothing more that needs to be added here. He is wise beyond his years! I love that Samuel goes out and witnesses God's love to others...even in his little Kindergarten classroom!

A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That

I feel like I haven't blogged in forever ... but I did... just last week. I think because I have been so busy lately that I haven't kept up with some of my weekly blogs that I like to post. 

I brought the blog "up-to-speed" so to speak last week with some little happenings around the Rainey household. 

I am now in FULL party planning mode. I can't quit thinking about it. Seriously! Kobe's is easy. He is getting older and doesn't want a lot of "frills". He just wants to have five or six friends over to spend the night and for me to take them to play paintball the next day. No problem! I do have a super cute invitation that my best friend Lori is going to be making and I have my name on the best cake maker in town's  (thanks to Lauren at Capes and Crowns for the recommendation!) calendar so that is pretty much all he really cares about. A cake. Paintball. PS3 Black Ops 2. There you go! He doesn't even want me to buy him a gift...he just wants cash! Easy enough! 
Samuel has requested a cowboy/farm party. He requested the party to be at a barn and with animals to pet and look at and horses to ride! Good Grief! He is a child who knows what he wants! Luckily, I was able to secure a venue that is all of these things and more! I am really excited about planning this one. He is still little so I can decorate and make little party favors and he will still think it is cute and fun! I also have the cake for this party on the calendar with aforementioned cake lady! I have at least got the two biggest parts handled... venue and cake. Now, I have to try and get my creative side geared up for favors, food, and decorations! This is the first "real" party with friends from school. In the years past, I have always thrown him a party but it would mainly be adults friends of ours with their kids or friends from daycare and church. This year he wants to invite all of his friends in his Kindergarten class to come to his party. I am really excited and looking forward to this party! 

John and I are hosting a small life group at our home every other Sunday and it is a real joy. I am really loving getting to know these people from our church and fellowshipping, growing, and learning with them. We are currently talking about trials in life. I don't post much on the "hard" times on this blog just because it is some what of a blog for my boys to have memories to pour over after I am long gone. BUT, something one of our life group members said really struck me. She said we need to journal down our "storms" in life and the trials and hard times and then document how God saw us through it because that is a gift to our children and not only does it help to build their stirs and builds ours as well. I decided to post a few things that have happened over the last couple of weeks:

           We began our life groups on the second Sunday in January. Now, anyone who has ever stepped out in faith or got prepared to do something for the Lord (especially those things that cause freedom to be released in others and fellowship of God's people) knows that the enemy does NOT like it! You will be spiritually attacked from every angle and every direction possible. The enemy likes doing this because it takes our minds off of what we need to be focused on and in some cases, it causes us to question what we are doing, postpone it, or sometimes just back out all together! I knew that the life group was going to be GREAT! I knew that the Lord was really going to place the right people together and that we would all serve Him and live out some of our Kingdom purpose through this group and with these people. The Saturday before I was cleaning (which I do each Saturday) but I was cleaning a little extra... if I am being honest...and I am! I finally got done with most of the cleaning and decided to give the dogs a bath. It had been raining where I live for a week or more and the dogs are inside dogs but going out and back in had them so smelly! I just wanted to give them a little freshen up bath. I could not get the water to warm up all. I asked John to take a look. He said that the hot water heater was out and went upstairs to check it out. I went to preheat the oven and it would never preheat... heating element was completely broken in half! I moved on to laundry... dryer...broken! I went to the bathroom to find a puddle of water beside the toilet... plumbing issue. I mean, one right after another these problems presented themselves. I could have gotten down...BUT I didn't. I went straight into the kitchen and I ripped my tithing check up...and wrote it for more. I was determined that the old devil would NOT get the best of me. I loaded the kids up and we went to my mom's to take showers... each night for five nights in a row! This was on a Saturday so I could not get any parts ordered or on their way until Monday. I just had to suck it up in the meantime. Our group met as planned the following night and it was a great time in the Lord! Throughout the first of the week I was busy calling around trying to find parts and pieces and get them to our home so I could cook, take a hot bath, and do laundry! I found out that the part on our hot water heater was originally "faulty" and that they had made a conversion kit for I was able to get the part for free...just paid for shipping (expedited shipping!). On Thursday, I finally found a part for our stove at a nearby store. That same day the part we needed to fix the water heater came in AND (get ready) someone just gave us a dryer! Just out of the blue... gave us a dryer! John was able to fix the toilet issue. So, in one day all had been restored. I just felt the Lord telling me that the enemy may take things from us but He can restore them just as quickly. That wasn't just with appliances and household things either! 

The following Monday when I got home I saw John pacing in the yard on the phone. The look on his face wasn't a good, welcoming kind of look. I knew something was wrong but I had no idea what. I walked over to try and see what was wrong and he kept walking away and talking on the phone. I stood there and waited. Finally, he told me that the utility company had contacted us to let us know that our main water line was technically placed on our neighbor's property ( I have live in this home for twelve years and never once heard a thing about this) and that we were responsible for moving it. John had gotten a rough estimate on how much that was going to cost... oh around $400-$500! He told me and without getting upset, down, or mad I just said, "Oh, OK! Let's go in and fix dinner!". I went on in the house I did not give this one more thought. I just wasn't going to let it steal my joy. The very next day, when I came home I noticed a HUGE muddy "trench" in my front yard. I walked in and asked John what happened. He said, "A miracle for God!" When we came home we found that for whatever reason...the utility company had come out and moved this water line for us free of charge. These are just a couple of examples of God's promises and goodness. He is a good, good Father. He keeps His word. He provides and takes care of us. He blesses us when we give Him our first fruits in our tithes, offerings, talents, and time. 

I hope that you can find something in this tiny little testimony that can tug your heart strings and realize that God really does care for people. He cares about what we care about...even appliances! 

Sorry for the completely random thoughts today. I just had all of this on my mind and wanted to jot it down. I have been neglecting my blog lately and I need to get that under control...quickly!

I do have a prayer request. John has been invited to go on a mission trip to Haiti. It is just a guy that he serves with in ministry and he goes every few months. It will be John and three other men. The cost is pretty steep and there is a short amount of time to get this kind of cash together (a few weeks). I would like to ask for prayer for John to be able to get these funds together so he can go be a part of being Jesus' hands and feet!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Playing a Little Game of Catch Up

The second semester of school is in FULL swing. I am back to work and the kids are all back in school. 

Callum has entered his second semester of tenth grade! He is taking Driver's Ed this semester. This makes me excited and sad all at the same time. I am excited for him! This is a BIG milestone in his life but it makes me sad because it is true... time goes by way too quickly. I am praying NOW for protection over him as he drives. Maybe I can get a little "reserve" prayer in now! HA! Callum is also starting to work TODAY. He has been wanting to find a job to have some spending money. At first, I was very hesitant but I think it will be a good experience for him and I am proud for him and very happy that he can start saving and have a little left over too.

Kobe is now coming up on the 6th grade. He will leave elementary school and go to the middle school. I am SO not ready for this. I still see him as a 3 year old when I look at him. It can't be possible! He is on the Math Olympiad at school (which he LOVES), in the H.O.P. club (Helping Other People), and has remained on the honor roll ever since he started school. I have watched him open his mind up to reading (for fun) this year. He still is required to read the books for test grades but he is actually picking out books that he thinks he will like instead of a book based on "points" or the first one he came across in the library! He has a love (and is quite good) for math and science. I really hope to nurture this love and keep it alive. I know that those two combined can take him places in life. He is currently playing basketball with the local Recreation Center and is loving every minute of it! Last year, we played travel ball. Kobe seemed to learn a lot but the situation just didn't mesh well with our family and so this year I was so relieved to hear him say he wanted to play rec ball! He killed his first deer this season. He took it to be now I have a whole "basket" in my freezer full of venison. I am cooking the first round of it tonight. He will be so pleased. He and John were in the shooting house together so they got to experience Kobe's "first kill" together and I think that made it special, too. Kobe also HOUNDED me until I said yes to him having a smart phone. I took him a couple of weeks ago to get an iPhone after he got his report card. He is really growing up on me!

Samuel is on the homestretch of Kindergarten. My little baby will go to the first grade soon. That is something I am REALLY not ready for or looking forward to. I want to keep this one little! He is such a little sweetie sometimes! He is learning more and more every single day. He is learning to read, to write, and do math. I am very proud of him.  Samuel also "killed" a deer this year. He didn't actually shoot it, but he was in the shooting house when my dad shot it and he went with him to track it. He was so happy! He told me right before he left to go that he was going to kill a deer so he was super thrilled! This week he had his first school project. He had to make a calendar for the 100th day of school. We got a blue poster board and he put 100 Robot stickers on it... his idea! Tomorrow at school they will have a "100 Day Parade" and they will dress up like 100 year olds and walk around with their posters. How cute! Friday night they are having movie night at his school and he wants to go. PLANS? ALREADY? He loves his little friends that he has made this year. I couldn't be happier...well, maybe if he would get up and get dressed without fussing in the mornings!

Last weekend, John and I ended up having not one but TWO nights to ourselves. Friday night after Kobe's basketball game, Callum went to a friend's house, Kobe went to a birthday party (his first girl/boy party...another first!), and Sam wanted to go with my mom for a little while. John and I did what any grown up married couple would do: We went to Panera Bread and to Publix! After that we just went by and picked up Samuel and went on home. Callum and Kobe both ended up spending the night with friends so it was just the three of us. Saturday Kobe and Samuel ended up spending the night with my mom and Callum was off with a friend for the night so we got ANOTHER date night. This time, we just went and rented a movie, bought some ice cream, and hung out in our pajamas. It was a fun, fun time and I am so thankful I got that little time with him to just be US. 

It looks like this weekend is going to be the same deal. Callum will be working, Kobe will be hunting, and Sam wants to go to his school's movie night. Looks like we just might have a dinner date again! I could definitely get used to that!

We are all doing well and I am about to start the planning of all of their birthdays. Callum on May 29, Kobe on April 25, and my little Sam Man on May 30. I love planning their little parties. This year, I think we are doing something a little different though. I would like to throw Callum a surprise party since he is turning 16 but I don't know how well he would really like that so I am still thinking! Kobe has a couple of options he is throwing around but not any BIG parties like in the years past. Just a couple of friends doing something a little "bigger" instead of 30 kids running around acting like crazy kids! Samuel wants to have a cowboy birthday and ride a horse. 

So, there you have it, my life right now. Full of busy schedules, activities, obligations, but most of all LOVE.

52 Home--Week 4

This past weekend, Sam found himself an only child for most of the time. The older two had "plans" and things to do. He got pretty quiet and I walked in to check on him and this is what I found. It makes me smile because it reminds me that even though he is getting older...he is still my little boy!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

52 Home--Week 2


National Championship Game Night. Please excuse the garlic butter sauce Samuel poured spilled down the front of his shirt. Roll Tide!


Just Because...

Kobe holding the "lucky" game ball. My dad got this championship ball with Paul Bear Bryant's signature along with the rest of the team's signatures in 1979.

52 Home--Week 1

Samuel's 2nd Report Card! *so* proud

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Remember this boys...

Christmas Time Is Here....

NOT REALLY! I am late getting our Christmas festivities in my blog, as usual!

Our Christmas festivities began on Christmas Eve. I was greeted on Christmas Eve by a laugh. Samuel was kind of moping around and whining. I finally asked him what was wrong. He said his stomach was hurting. I asked all the "mom" questions and he said no to each one. He finally told me that his stomach was hurting because he was afraid he was on the  Naughty List. He then got so upset he started crying and looked at Kobe and said, "Thanks a lot Kobe! You made me mad and now I am on the Naughty list!" I laughed until I cried. I guess reality of Christmas Eve was very real to him since it was finally here. Nothing like waiting to the last minute! 

We had plans to go to my grandmother's house that evening for dinner and gifts. Each year while we are gone to Granny's house, Santa stops by. He leaves all of the kids brand new Christmas pajamas and a note telling them that he stopped by but saw we weren't home and ready for bed so he decided to leave some new pajamas and he asks us to make sure we go to sleep so he can come back by with some goodies. 

This year was no different... EXCEPT... This is the first year that Kobe knew the truth about Santa. The first thing he asked me about was his Christmas pajamas. He wanted to insure that he would still be getting those. I assured him that I would lay them out as always and that he would just know that they were from me and not Santa. I did remind him that we didn't want to ruin it for Samuel so we would just all play along. He quickly came up with a bright idea and suggestion. He said I should pretend to leave something inside once we are in the car and then go back in and get it but really go back in and lay out the pajamas. Well, thanks Kobe. I never would have thought of that without you! I reminded him that I always "forget" my purse or the dish I am bringing with us and that is when I always lay them out. It was one of those "light bulb" moments.

 We used to all draw names and buy each other gifts...but our family has gotten HUGE. I have four kids and my cousin has two I always ended up drawing two of my own kids names and it just got to being a bit much so thankfully, we decided to stop drawing names. My grandparents get gifts for everyone (which I wish they would only do for the kids...but there is NO telling my grandmother that!) and we all bring gifts for them.  We all sat down to dinner and I sat with my PawPaw. He sometimes has a hard time remembering common things and so that time with him is something that I know I will cherish one day. The kids began  going crazy getting excited as soon as they were finished eating so we went to the living room to open gifts. My grandmother did such an amazing job. She buys for about 20 people and I don't know how she keeps it all straight! She got Callum and Kobe a gift card to GameStop and Kobe some pajamas and Monopoly Millionaire board game. She gave Callum some pajamas and a pull over. Haley got some makeup and a jacket, scarf, and gloves. Samuel got his most wanted item of the year: Pop the Pig board game, a remote control Jeep, and a cute little pair of jeans and a sweat shirt. John and I were pleased with our gifts as well. We always take granny and pawpaw a couple of gift cards to their favorite restaurants as a gift from us. We had our annual Christmas wrapping paper war where everyone throws wrapping paper everywhere...and then... we make all the kids clean it up! Once the mess was gone my grandmother sat down at the piano (as she does every year) and began playing Christmas songs for the kids to sing along to. She loves for them to sing with her around the piano. Sam was NOT shy at all about getting up there and singing loud! A great time was had by all but we needed to get going... after all... we had surprises to get home to.

Singing around the piano

Paper Fight is getting started!

Once home, the kids found that Santa had come while we were at Granny's house. He left a note with their pajamas telling them that they might want to get those comfy pajamas on and check on the dining room table for a surprise that I had left for them. On the dining room table I left an envelope with each of their names on it. I Santa instructed them to get their new pajamas on and then open their envelope and meet up in the living room. While they did that I went to the kitchen and popped popcorn and made hot chocolate. I then met up with them at the warmed up car. They each handed me their golden ticket (except Kobe...he couldn't find his. We later found it in his pocket!) for the Christmas Express (our SUV) and were boarded into the vehicle. We had Christmas music playing and we drove to one of our favorite traditions on Christmas Eve...the house on Lonnie Drive.  Once there, I distributed popcorn in little clear plastic cups that I had drawn on to make them look like a snowman and cups of hot chocolate. 

This house has a HUGE set up of lights. It is synced with music and you put your radio station on the station that the sign in their yard tells you to and then you get to watch the lights dance to the tempo of the music. I really enjoy this. Carol of the Bells is one of my most favorite Christmas songs and so I always get excited when that one comes on. This was probably one of the highlights of the Christmas festivities for me. The kids loved it, and that made me smile on the outside and on the inside.

Creative Kid Snacks Blog

Their "Golden Tickets" (SOURCE)
I know this one is kind of dark but it is the boys in the car once we got to the Christmas lights. I love it because they are so happy and have a "thumbs up".

This one just cracks me up!

Even Buster Bean watched out the window!

Once the Christmas light show was all over we headed home to leave some homemade cookies and milk out for Santa. We left apples and carrots for the reindeer and we even sprinkled reindeer food on our lawn. 

Sam and Kobe came up with this note together.

I talked to the older kids this year and asked if they would rather have more things left out unwrapped from Santa or if they would rather me wrap their things up under the tree. All three of them said wrap them! So, this year I only sat a few little things out from Santa and wrapped most all of their goodies. Christmas Eve night was ROUGH. John wasn't feeling well so he was up and down all night. Kobe and Samuel woke up at 2:30, 4:30, and 7:00 wanting to unwrap gifts. We made them wait until 8:00. Once everything was unwrapped we headed over to my parent's house for Christmas our pajamas! We have never gone in our pajamas before, but this year, we just wanted to be very comfortable.

Santa Came!

It was cold, raining, and windy. We got over there and we helped my parents finish up the food and then we all sat down to eat. The kids took turns going around the table telling what all they had gotten for Christmas. Finally, their favorite time of the day... present time at Nana and Poppa's house! My parents insisted on playing "Santa" and handing out the gifts this year. The boys made forts and surrounded themselves with the gifts that were being brought to them. We all had a great time being with my parents and hanging out BUT a couple of little boys I know needed a nap from waking up too early...three times! So we headed home. We all took naps! I got up and started preparing for a birthday party that we were having at our house that night. I made all party foods. Pizza crescents, cocktail weenies, a deli tray (bought that!), cookies, and of course birthday cake! The guest of honor? JESUS! My parents came over and we all celebrated Jesus' birthday. We had a very fun time and they got to look and play with all of the toys the kids had gotten earlier that day. 

Some small little things from Santa for Callum and Haley. In the middle is the RAINEY gift I put out each year. It is a bowl of popcorn, candy, and movies for our family to enjoy. I took a permanent marker and wrote RAINEY FAMILY CINEMA on it a couple of years ago and we sit it out each year to be refilled. This year the movies were: The Dark Knight Rises, Diary of a Wimpy Kid : Dog Days (prank pack that came with fake dog poo, the cheese from the cheese touch, and a fake ice cube with a fly in it), Brave, and The Amazing Spider Man.

Chief celebrate Jesus' birthday too!

Two little boys I know "stole" this tray off of the party table and took it to the living room to eat! I think their faces are priceless! CAUGHT IN THE ACT! You can see what Sam's shirts says: Hello, My name is Trouble!

This year, I decided to get my house back in order a lot sooner than I normally do. Normally, I wait until after New Year's but I just couldn't this year. I was ready for some normalcy. As I began to take down all of the decorations, I thought I would post some pictures of the ornaments that my kids made this year. There are MANY, MANY more that I have collected over the decade of my mommyhood. I love them all. They all make me want to cry when I unwrap them each year. I couldn't take pictures and post them all so I decided I would just go with what was made this year.

 Snowman Ornament that Kobe made me last year. His class didn't actually make any ornaments this year. He painted all of this by himself and it is so special to me so I wanted to include it.

Ornament that Samuel made for me at school this year.

Once all was said and done, we all had a good time. We had a great time of family and fellowship and just enjoying being with each other. 

Our Tree 

The boys' Batman themed tree. Their favorite part? The Batman helicopter tree topper!

Me and the boys!

Samuel's beginning collection of Nutcrackers. He has developed a love for Nutcrackers so we started buying him one a year and writing the date on the bottom.

I say it every year, but THIS was the best Christmas ever.

Christmas wore this little boy out!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Most Important Thing

Today Samuel came to my office to hang out for a little while after school. I gave him some paper and markers and he took off drawing me some incredible pictures. He even wrote a story to go along with one of the pictures. 

He drew a mermaid and then wrote:

Then she turned into a mermaid 

on his picture. I thought that was clever for five years old.

After that he colored a page all blue. He said, " You know what this is?" I answered no. He said, "Well, it is the most important thing in the world. It is the sky. Want to know why it is the most important thing in the world?" I answered yes. He said, "Because, it is where Jesus lives". 

Hip Hip Hooray for Christmas Vacation!

I got out of school earlier than the kids this year so I had a couple days all by my little lonesome. It was pretty nice being able to leisurely go about my day and eat cereal for lunch if I so chose to do so. I mainly cleaned, did laundry, watched shows that I have been saving on the DVR, and of course, wrapped presents.

I still had to get up super early since I had to take the kids to school. By the time I had been driving for approximately 45 minutes, I never seemed to go back to sleep when I got home. I did curl up on the couch and watch TV for a while and do housework during commercials.

The Thursday before Christmas was jam packed. I woke up early to get the boys off to their (three) separate schools (in two different cities!) and got home just in time to get a shower and get ready to go back to Kobe's school for his Christmas party. As I was loading my SUV with bags of goodies, treats, and gifts for the class and teachers, my phone rang and it was Callum calling to say that he was all finished with his exam and needed me to pick him up. Well, as usual, I was running a little late right on time. {I always seem to make it where I am going literally right on time. Never a couple of minutes early to have time to breathe...just in time to run in and be in place at the very moment I am supposed to be there...which I guess is better than being late (which I am sometimes too)} I ended up having him walk over to Kobe's school (on the same little street...just a couple of blocks. I live in Alabama so it wasn't that cold!) so I wouldn't be late getting to his party. I parked in the back where I found the closest spot ever! I was so thrilled to get such an awesome parking spot since I had so much to carry in the school. Well, this was less than a week since the horrific shooting that took place in Newtown, Connecticut and I didn't think of that... all of the doors were locked! It was super windy, not really all that cold but very windy, and I tried about three different doors until I finally found one that I could get open. I was so thankful for this. It made me feel very good that our school was being proactive. I do wish it didn't have to be because of things that have taken place over the years, but non-the-less, thankful that I felt like my child was safely inside. I finally made it down to his classroom (on the opposite side of the building) and was greeted by a room full of anxious kids and not-so-anxious parents. Of course, one of the last parents to get there...but the point is... I made it there! I helped pass out drinks and helped kids fix their plates. They had a little breakfast party. This year, Kobe's homeroom teacher, Ms. Thomas, decided to do something a little different. She had each kid bring a stocking with their name on it and each child brought a small gift for everyone in the class. I was so nervous when I first heard about this and had no idea what to send. UNTIL, I searched Pinterest. I found the cutest idea. I adapted it to my own little way and send Snowman Soup. I just bought the big box of Nestle Mini Marshmallow individual packets of hot chocolate and typed up some "Snowman Soup" poems with little snowmen around the wording and taped it to the packet and tied green and red shiny ribbon on it and let Kobe sign his name at the bottom. Voila! Cute gift for less than a quarter a piece! Ms. Thomas played a little gift game with the kids with a gift bag from her and they all had so much fun  playing. After that, Kobe was pretty much ready to go. Leave it to me, to not take any pictures! My cousin, Michelle did happen to get a picture of Kobe and her daughter, Ashlyn.

Cousins. Kobe and Ashlyn in the hallway at school
Arent' they adorable?

After that Callum, Kobe, and I went straight to Florence. I had some errands I needed to run before we went to Samuel's Christmas party at his school that afternoon. We went shopping for a Christmas gift for my dad. We picked up apples and caramel dip for Samuel's party and after that we went to McDonald's for lunch. 

This was the ONE time I was actually early for something. I was TWENTY minutes early. I went ahead and signed in at the office and we went on down to the Kindergarten room. Once there, I took Samuel around the school and let him hand out gifts to all of the teachers and office staff. He loved playing "Santa". We met up with his class in the hallway and he went with them to play in the computer lab and I went to the classroom to help set up. The kids had a lunch party. They seemed to enjoy everything. The big hit was the McDonald's chicken nuggets that some one's mother brought. Someone else's mom made snowman cookies and they were so cute! Everything was. Me? I went the easy route. I stopped at Publix and picked up a bag of pre-cut apples and a tub of caramel dip and once I got to the school I put it in my festive red with white polka dots chip and dip! I got green apples so it looked adorable! The kids ate the "lunch" and then went into the gym for some cute "Christmas Reindeer Games". They loved that! They got to wear red noses like Rudolph and do a relay race. After that the sixth graders came in to give their buddy a Christmas gift. {Explanation of "buddies"} Each Kindergartner is assigned a sixth grade "buddy". This buddy helps them adjust to coming to school, getting their lunch tray, knowing what to do in the library, etc. It is also a familiar, older face during times that can seem uncertain/scary/busy/confusing during the school day. It is also someone that finds them on the playground or in the gym and makes sure that they have someone to talk to or play with. Isn't that sweet? Have I mentioned how much I LOVE Samuel's school?? Sam's buddy is Garrett. I laughed when I first saw them together because it looks like they chose the biggest (I mean height-wise) and the smallest (in all aspects) kid in the school and paired them up. They are adorable together. Garrett will make his way through any crowd to see Samuel and talk to him. He is the sweetest kid and Sam loves him. He is the topic of many conversations in our home. The kids had their pictures made with Santa that morning and each Kindergartner and their sixth grade buddy took one with Santa together. The sixth graders then decorated a frame and brought it to the little ones. Samuel hugged that frame so tight! He loved it! He gave Garrett some snowman soup! I wish I had thought of getting him something...but I am new at this...what can I say? I will get him something at the end of the year for sure! After that, we were all ready to go. Callum had been through TWO elementary Christmas parties, Kobe had been through two parties, and shopping. My head was starting to ache and it was raining... I just wanted to go home. It was a nice day and the parents were able to get $200 together to surprise Mrs. Frederick with a class gift of a gift card to her favorite store...Target! She is a sweet lady and loves our babies. I was happy to see the smile on her face. She totally deserved it!

Sam, Garrett, and Santa. How sweet!

On Sunday, John traveled to Elizabethtown, Kentucky (half way point) to meet up and get my stepdaughter, Haley. She came down to spend the Christmas holidays and break with us this year. John left out early that morning. I got up a little later and got us all ready for church and met a friend there. We sat up close to the front and I am so glad that we did. It was a wonderful service! The band played all of my favorite songs (all time favorite, O Come O Come Emmanuel) and their was a monologue performed by "Mary". It was very neat to hear the Christmas story from Mary's point of view. It really provoked my thoughts about how committed and trusting Mary was of God's plan. Pastor Steve gave a great message about the love of God and how He showed that to us through His son, Jesus. While Pastor Steve spoke, Pastor Cliff (our youth pastor) painted the most beautiful picture of The Christmas Star, the manger, the cross, and Jesus' face. I wish so badly that I didn't leave my phone in my car during church because I would have love to have a picture of that painting.The kids got up and sang Joy to the World with Lenny (Lenny Leblanc is our worship leader) and it started off soft and sweet and then, it sped up and became more of a "rock and roll" version and the kids got up and danced around on the stage... and it began "snowing" in the sanctuary. It was so much fun and a great memory! Afterwards, Pastor Steve introduced one of the church members to the whole church. He is a divorced dad of two. A boy and a girl. He was diagnosed with cancer and it is stage 4. Because of the disease and the toll it (and the treatments) has had on his body, he hasn't been physically able to do much. He said he has had to pass up some valuable memory-making time with his kids because he just couldn't physically do anything. He seemed to be feeling somewhat better but you could tell it was a real struggle. He was visibly upset at the time that has been stolen from him and his children. Faith Church gifted him and his two precious kids (and another adult to help out, I am sure) with an all inclusive trip to Disney World. They called the dad and kids up and gave them balloons and Mickey and Minnie Mouse stuffed animals. There wasn't a dry eye in the place. It was incredible. I am really proud to belong to a church that doesn't just talk about what they need to do or talk about being about their Father's business... they are actually being about their Father's business.

Pastor Steve announcing the gift to the family at church. You can see in the background the heart shaped picture Pastor Cliff painted. 

After church I told the boys we could do anything they wanted to do. They said they just wanted to go home and play. They wanted me to make them their favorite meal. Hamburger helper, corn, mashed potatoes, and a roll. After that they asked to make a gingerbread house. Once that was finished, they asked me if we could watch a movie and eat we did. They asked me to make potato soup, cornbread, and I did. We had a very fun and special time, just the three of us that day. John got home with Haley and Callum (he went to keep John company) just in time for dinner. 

Our Gingerbread House

"JOY". I thought that was very clever of Kobe. I later learned that he got this idea from Duck Dynasty!

Samuel's Side. SO SWEET! He ate a few of his pieces off of his side.

We had a busy start to our Christmas vacation. Other than a couple of family get togethers, we pretty much laid low. I think I only left the house to go grocery shopping and rent movies. It rained almost the entire time we were out. If it wasn't raining, it was freezing! So, we had the perfect conditions for staying indoors and cuddling up watching movies and being just pure ol' lazy! We enjoyed having all this time together. The boys had their moments were I thought I might kill them they might kill each other...but other than that... it was a great time of family memories being made.

52 Home--Week 52

Levi and Sam on New Year's Eve. A boy and his dog.

52 Home--Week 51

Chief. Our Boxer on Christmas night at the Birthday Day Party we had for Jesus.