Saturday, November 5, 2011

Double Baptism...

Emma and Reagan turned 8 this week, on November 3rd...we chose to baptize them on Friday evening, November 4th...
Clay and the twins before the baptism

Becoming a young lady before our eyes!

As with any major event, stress was a constant companion...couldn't have done it without the help of my family, yet again!  Thank goodness I learned from Zach's baptism and it went more smoothly this time...It also helped that I didn't just give birth (the case 2 weeks before Zach's baptism - and I was on painkillers!)...
Me with my miracles!

Anyway, we have two brand, spanking new members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in our home.  It is a wonderful, scary thing to be parents...Things went pretty well - Reagan had a few key moments, including stepping into the cold water and trying to get back out, then capping it off with "I'm gonna die" right before Clay dunked him under!  Gotta love him.
So handsome in his suit!
We sure love these kids.  As their Aunt Kristen mentioned in her talk, we prayed for them for years and years...having them come into our family was nothing short of a miracle.

Congratulations on your baptism and confirmation, Emma Elizabeth and Reagan Michael...We love you so much and are so proud of you.
Our "little" family

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Happiest Place on Earth...(vacation part 1)

This is the first of probably several vacation posts...too much to cram into one blog!

Labor Day weekend, we headed back to our favorite place...Disney World.  We went last year and had an awesome time, so we decided to do it all again...We didn't go alone this time - My sister Karen, her husband, Adam, and their son, Campbell also came along...

The drive is super long, but it is well worth it, once we get there.  We hit quite a few snags this time...Ashleigh was really sick that morning, Kristen ended up saving the day and taking her to the doctor for me...she also cleaned out our car for the trip, kept Ashleigh all day, and finished some bows for the girls so that I could finish packing...the biggest snag was- my van, which has a ton of cargo space, was benched for this trip - it had to stay behind at the Dodge dealership for over two thousand dollars worth of repairs...we missed the space, but were so blessed that my parents had a van that we could use - that got us there also has better gas mileage than our van, so that helped the budget a little bit!

On the way, Clay looked into the backseat and found that Miss Troublemaker (aka Ashleigh) had gotten into my purse and painted herself with my lip gloss...Apparently, a 12 hour drive was a bit much to ask of this 2 year old!
Ashleigh's war paint
We left on a Thursday afternoon and drove all night.  We slept a few hours and then drove the next morning to the Orlando Temple.  We visited the distribution center for some "supplies" and took a few pics...

Orlando, FL temple
Reagan wouldn't cooperate

Again, he didn't cooperate - but the rest of us look okay!

 After the temple, we went to lunch at a very overpriced McDonald's, then checked into our hotel.....

 To BE Continued...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Happy Birthday, Alyssa!

Okay.  I suck.  Alyssa's birthday was actually on September 19th.  What can I say?  It has been a rough month!  I was sick for most of September with a nasty sinus/bronchitis thing, and I finally feel better now.

But, enough about me...
Minnie Mouse cake that was a labor of love...
She wore her new outfit to school on her actual birthday...
Our little Miss Alyssa turned 4 this year.  Where does the time go?  I am amazed at how much faster my kids birthdays come around than my own did when I was a kid...Things that make you go Hmmmmm....

Anyway, Alyssa is BIG!  Well, not compared to other 4 year olds, really...but, she is so big to us!  She just started school and is learning so darn much it is amazing.  She still has a major diva attitude like she always has - but, she is learning and growing.  I'm pretty proud of her.
Here's the loot!
For Alyssa's birthday, she got a tricycle and a little miniature Beauty and the Beast castle thing that she absolutely loves.  (Craigslist is an awesome resource!)  Grandma and Grandpa gave her a new fleece Cinderella blanket that has completely overtaken my Tinkerbell quilt that I made her last year...She got a super cute outfit from Aunt Kristen and a Belle doll from Aunt Karen...In other words, she hauled....again!

Modeling her new blanket

Monday, August 29, 2011

Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend...

A few days ago, my mom called me and said that their dog was acting like she had suffered a stroke.  She couldn't walk, was having accidents, was shaking, etc.  Belle was over 15 years old - 112 dog years.  Years ago, when Clay and I were first married, several of us went to the pound to try to "win" a small dog in a lottery.  They had to pull a number because so many people wanted a small dog.  I happened to be visiting from Utah that weekend and went along, to "up" the numbers - so we would have more of a chance to win her.

Wouldn't you know it, I won the dog.  And instantly wanted her for myself!  I reluctantly left her with my parents and over the years, many people have offered for her.  Pretty much any one of us kids would have taken her in a minute if my parents hadn't wanted her.
Time marches on, and Belle grew older, as we all must do.

We have been expecting her to leave us for a while now, but we were all really hoping that she would go in her sleep...a fitting end for a good pet.

It wasn't to happen, and today, the difficult decision was made to help Belle pass over to the other side.

Clay went over this afternoon to help dig the hole in the rocky ground of Mom and Dad's property.  When the kids came home from school, they wondered where he was.  I chose to tell them that Belle was really sick and old and was going to die today.  Dad was over helping to dig a hole so that she could be buried.

The kids took it pretty well, then Emma decided that she wanted to say "goodbye" before Belle went to live with Heavenly Father.  Knowing that Kristen was taking her kids over for the same purpose, I piled them into the car and we went to pay our respects.

I'm not sure what I expected - but it was evident when we arrived that Belle really did not have much more time - she was very disoriented and lay very still.  The kids went to say goodbye and pet her.  Emma said something like, "Goodbye Belle.  Have fun with Heavenly Father.  I hope you have a happy ending!"  Mom kind of grimaced and said, "Gee - I hope I have a happy ending!"

I came into the room and said her name, and darned if the old girl didn't try to sit up as straight as she used to in order to greet me.  I patted her head and had her rest her weary soul on the pillow.  Tears came into my eyes as I remembered all of the times that she cuddled with me when she came to my house when my parents were out of town, or how she would scavenge the floor after the kids ate something for a treat!  It's funny - you don't think that you can feel the spirit when a pet is getting ready to pass to the other side, but I swear that there was something in that room.  Peace.  Kristen felt it too, so I know I'm not crazy.

 At 5:45, my dad, Clay, and Adam went to the veterinary clinic and stayed with Belle while she passed.

At 6:45, my "little" family arrived at my parent's home.  We chose to use this as a family home evening lesson - we talked to them on the way about what happens when we die. The kids were all in their pajamas.  Clay began to fill the hole, then I asked Zach if he wanted to try.  He did.  One by one, all of the littler kids lined up behind Zach to take their turn filling the grave.  Tearjerker for us adults.  A stone was placed on top and the kids put flowers on top.  Then we had a few prayers (from the kids).  Emma prayed that Belle would have a good time with Heavenly Father.  Alyssa blessed the food.  We all sang "I Am a Child of God" and said our final goodbyes to a loyal little friend who will be remembered.
Rest in Peace, Belle. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

1st Day of School - Times Two...

So, everyone knows that school has already been going for a little while here in good old Tennessee, right?  Yes, I know...I am a bit of a late bloomer in the blogging world - but, here are the kiddos on their first day this year!

We actually had TWO first days of school.  One for the three older kids (Zach, Reagan, and Emma) and a second one for Miss Alyssa!  And it was extra special for the little miss, because it was her 1st day of school EVER!  Where has the time gone...Okay, I know that she is only four (almost), but she is going to pre-k, which is 5 days a week and 6 hours a day.  May not be kindergarten yet, but that is full fledged school in my book...
Aren't they cute? My Big Kids...
Zach, Reagan and Emma are continuing their education at Christiana Elementary School...Z is in the 5th grade (Gulp...middle school starts next year - and he is already wearing deodorant) R and E are both in the 2nd grade...CRAZY to think about since they started out so little and it seems like only yesterday when they were in the special care nursery and couldn't come home until they were almost 5 lbs.

Alyssa - 1st day of pre-k

Alyssa goes to Pre-K at Eagleville School, which we absolutely love - but totally hate the 14 mile drive each way.  She has the same teacher as Emma did 3 years ago - and this teacher is wonderful.  We expect to see Alyssa grow and develop so much in this next year - and are very excited to see what she learns!  So far, she seems to love it, but is a little grumpy when she comes home because the day is a little bit long for such a young scholar.
She wouldn't smile until Emma jumped in the picture!
And, where does that leave our little Ashleigh?  LOST.  She doesn't know what to do with herself.  Every bus she sees MUST have one of her siblings on it.  The other day, I heard her talking to herself in the car...

"Where Emma?" - she answered herself sadly, "At School."

My little sidekick!
"Where Yissa?"...another woebegone, "At School."
She proceeded to do this until everyone was named...she even included Clay and answered that he was "at work"!  A little pathetic, don't you think?  However, she is enjoying the extra cuddles with Mom at naptime and all the attention to herself when we run errands, etc.
Best buddies - when they aren't trying to kill each other

I am excited for this year - and a little sad that almost all of my kiddos are old enough to leave me!  This school year is bound to be chock full of fun anecdotes and happenings, so - STAY TUNED!!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Where does the time go??? 2 years already!

Blueberry Picking

Our sweet Ashleigh is two today...actually, in about an hour, it will be official.

Amazing how the time baby is growing up so fast!
We haven't done any of the birthday festivities yet, those will get their own posts...this post is to celebrate Miss Ashleigh Kate and how much we love her!

Today at breakfast - such a cheesy girl!
This little girl is so loving, independent, smart and fun...we pretty much adore her most of the time...and hope it doesn't change much now that she is 2!

Happy Birthday little Miss Ashleigh!  

You bring a smile to even the grumpiest faces!  (This we proved this week at the ENT, when she walked down the hall, even the grouchy nurses had to look and grin at her!)

Oh - and if you scroll down a bit, you will see our blueberry picking adventure...

A Blueberry Pickin' We Will Go....

Yesterday, we went blueberry picking for the 3rd year.  It has now become an annual event at our house.  Kristen and I rounded up 9 kids and ventured out into the heat...

The crop this year wasn't as good as it has been in years past, but it was still a fun outing.  The kids favorite part, of course, is the playground that is on the property that they were able to utilize at the end.  My worst fears came to pass this year and my daring Alyssa, the climbing fool, fell off of the slide right onto her back.  Not gonna lie, I had visions of some scary results from this, but luckily, it just knocked the wind out of her.  Then, she went right back to climbing...of course.  

Kids everywhere!

Zach was my best picker this year...

They were hot and faded fast!

Emma looks like she means business - but maybe picked about 5 blueberries total...

Sophie gets her drink fix...

Playground fun

Evil Canevil

Wish I had a yard like this!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011


When I was a kid, a new primary song came out.  The song is called "I'll Walk With You" by Carol Lynn Pearson.  I thought it was kind of a lame song - not because of the content, but because the tune wasn't quite as catchy as some of the favorites such as "I Hope They Call Me on a Mission", "We'll Bring the World His Truth", etc.  Now that I have a child who is special needs, this song means a lot more to me.  It still isn't the catchiest song in the Primary Songbook, but the words are very powerful.

Having a child with Autism has been a difficult road.  We are constantly assessing things, figuring out new avenues and ways to help him.  It is so hard for me to watch my little boy have such a hard time grasping new concepts and to also watch him be a total social mess.  There always have been and always will be people who do not understand Reagan.  There are always going to be people in the grocery store who look at me weird because he talks funny, or because he is throwing a fit because he doesn't understand something.  I am learning to look the other way and ignore...but it hurts.  It isn't embarrassment, so much as my profound grief that he will never be like other people and just "get it".  Sometimes, I just want to hide myself and him away in our own little world so that he can't be hurt.  Even though Autism is a "social" disorder, Reagan is very aware when people are making fun of him or being mean.  There have been days when he has come to me, crying in frustration.

If only people could see what I see and what we deal with on a daily basis, there would be a different understanding.  I get frustrated with him sometimes myself...and usually, I am knocked to the ground by something that he says or does that helps me to know how lucky I am to be blessed with such a good little spirit.  Is he perfect?  No.  Can he be a brat sometimes?  Yes.  Are there people who will never understand?  Of course.  Would I give him away, if I had the chance?  Never.  Do I wish that he and I both did not have this cross to bear?  Sometimes.  I will not lie - I wouldn't wish being locked into a social prison upon anyone.  Reagan's life would be a lot easier, if he were just "normal".  Our family life would be easier...we wouldn't have to come up with something to feed him with because of his weird food habits; we wouldn't be thinking constantly about how to handle certain situations; I wouldn't dread going to public places - in case they are an unknown trigger to an overstimulated meltdown.

People look at him, and see a 7 year old.  What they don't see is that he has the social abilities of a 3 year old.   Milestones are usually hit - but much, much later than a normal child would hit them.  Yes, I get frustrated at times, but I have learned over the years that my role as Reagan's mom is to teach him, love him, fight for him (a lot) and accept him for who he is.  Sometimes, he is the glimmer of sunshine in an otherwise dark day.  Other days, he is the cloud that covers the sun (because of a particular bad mood he may be in).  

Most of the time, I am left in wonder at some of the things he has accomplished and that he has had to deal with in his little life.  A lot of surgeries and therapies, etc. etc. and people still can't understand him.  He wants to be understood, though...and if you listen closely enough - he just may surprise you.  This year, he has just started to say prayers by himself...yes, something that others do years before this...but he is doing it...and he wants to do it...Sometimes I worry about his future and I wonder what will happen - and I can't face it or think that far ahead.  I just live in the present right now...and do the best that I can as the protector of a courageous little spirit who is fighting to be heard.

Here are the words to the song - if you haven't heard it perspective these days has changed drastically.

"I'll Walk With You "
by Carol Lynn Pearson

If you don’t walk as most people do,
Some people walk away from you,
But I won’t! I won’t!
If you don’t talk as most people do,
Some people talk and laugh at you,
But I won’t! I won’t!
I’ll walk with you. I’ll talk with you.
That’s how I’ll show my love for you.
Jesus walked away from none.
He gave his love to ev’ryone.
So I will! I will!
Jesus blessed all he could see,
Then turned and said, “Come, follow me.”
And I will! I will!
I will! I will!
I’ll walk with you. I’ll talk with you.
That’s how I’ll show my love for you.

Monday, April 11, 2011

So Thankful....

Well, despite being a total IDIOT and not backing up any of our pictures, we have been blessed beyond our expectations...I found a company that was able to completely save everything that I had lost...

Heck, they even saved some stuff that I deleted that I'd rather not remember...such as, thousands of cookies and temporary internet files that I now have to delete from everything...but - I am not complaining...all of our vacation pics, baby pics, random cuteness pics are accounted for!  It actually was a pretty cheap lesson - it cost a lot less than I thought it would...

To celebrate the joy that filled my heart this afternoon when the little UPS guy came to the door with our new external hard drive full of memories, I am going to post some random pics - just because I can!  When I look at other people's blogs - I really go looking for new pics, so here you go...

The family at the zoo - summer 2010

Emma and her favorite, Cinderella - July 2010

Love this pic!  Kids at Cocoa Beach in FL - 2010

The 3 that weren't afraid of Mickey and Minnie

Alyssa may have eaten sand - not sure

Zach testing out his strength...
Ashleigh - when she was still afraid of the grass!

Reagan dancing to the sound of the surf - Love this kid!

Monday, March 28, 2011

When the Cat's Away....

So, when the cat is away at your house, what do the mice do to pass the time?

Here is a hint of what the female majority in our house did today while Dad and the boys were at soccer practice...

It is pretty difficult to hogtie two toddlers while waiting for nails to dry - but I did prevail!  And now we all have spring-like/sandal ready toes...If it ever gets here, that is!!!  (Spring)

I sure love my little beauties!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

High Aspirations...AKA: "When I Grow Up"

Reagan has been pretty funny lately, telling us about his plans for the future.

Honestly, it is nice to know that he is making plans for his future - I was pretty sure that there was going to be a bonus room full of super heroes and comic books, complete with Mom and Dad downstairs!  Not a bad plan, but his are much better to listen to...

The other day, he went to Clay and said, "Hey Dad, When I grow up, I am going to be a Red Box worker at McDonalds..."  We thought, "Hey, why not - it combines his two greatest loves...redbox movies and the McDonalds restaurant...could work - except there really isn't anyone that mans the redbox station, but it's a start, right?"

Then, tonight he brought me a pad of Post-It notes and a crayon - and asked for some tape.  He said, "I'm making a book.  When I grow up, I'm going to write books...this one is about the ABC's."  He then said, as if reading the title of a book..."The ABC's, by Reagan, Doctor Reagan." (He learned about Dr. Suess today at school - it is his birthday, I gather.)

Clay turned to me and said..."Hey, we're moving up in the world!  Sure beats a Redbox worker at McDonald's!"

Friday, February 25, 2011

887...The sweetest number I know...

A few weeks ago, I woke up and turned on the computer...It wouldn't boot up.

Dun Dun say?  Yup.  You are right.  My hard drive crashed, and in a big way.

I was am completely heartbroken.


Because I was a moron and didn't back up ANYTHING.

Yes, I am the type who always puts things off for tomorrow, figuring that there will always be another day - and nothing will happen, right?  Wrong.

The worst part about all of it is my pictures.  The computer is 2 1/2 years old - and there were 2 1/2 years plus worth of pics on the computer.  So sad.  Baby pics of my last two babies, Christmas a few years worth, our Disney vacation last summer and tons of random shots...thousands of pictures.

At this point, it is looking like nothing will be able to be recovered.

Today, I was organizing/cleaning/gutting my house and I ran across my old digital camera.  My new Rebel is only about a year old, so I found this camera and my heart began to race.  You see, not only do I not back up hard drives very well at all, but I also am pretty lazy about emptying my memory cards.

I popped that memory card into the laptop of doom and tears came to my eyes.  887 pictures still on that card!  I am really only missing a year's worth of photos instead of the 3 plus that I was originally missing.

Even though I still don't have our vacation pics and countless others, I have pictures from the births of my last two babies, a lot of baby pics and other sweet shots of the other kiddos...I am choosing to look at this glass as half (heck 3/4) of the way full!

This incident brings to mind the parable of the 10 virgins...and yes, I am among the 5 who were unprepared.

Next time, I am going to be more prepared...and this goes for a lot of things in my life that, upon reflection, I need to work on.

Oh, and what would this story be without a public service announcement???


Today, 887 is the sweetest number I know...

Here are a few of the gems that I found today...
Emma at age 4

Reagan, telling us all about something

Little Miss Diva Ashleigh

A very scruffy Mr. Miagi, trying out the walker - and yes, he jumped in by himself!

Alyssa's 1st piggies

Zach shows his pearly whites

Wait a did that get in there?

Clay, trying out a new ride

Ashleigh and I on our girl vacay in Sept. 2009