Charlotte Brooke - 29 weeks

Yesterday, we had an ultrasound to check on Charlotte's growth thus far.  I never, ever get tired of seeing my children up on that ultrasound screen....just amazing.  To see them in utero just hanging out...yawning, breathing, kicking, being adorable.  In those moments, I feel so incredibly blessed to be a woman and be able to experience this miracle. 

Here is a profile shot we got of our littlest one yesterday.  Up until now, she has not been very cooperative, but yesterday we were able to get a good look. :)

This first thing I noticed was those lips.  I looked at Jeremy and said, "Look at those lips!  Whose do they look like?"  Right away, he said, "Collen."  All 3 of our kids have had those same lips/mouth structure.  They get them from me.  I guess my "lips gene" is very dominant.  She is looking more like Ayden to me, but I see a little Collen in there, too.  Of course, you really can't tell much by what you see at this point, but I was able to pick up on a few similarities.  She continues to remind me more of Ayden, though.

Here is what we found out from the appointment yesterday:

- She is measuring in the 54th percentile - so she is average for growth!  That is a huge, huge relief because with the 2 vessel cord, a major concern is growth.  She is weighing in around 2lbs 15oz.  If she continues to grow like she is, she is likely to top 8 pounds at birth.  That would put her right on target for "our babies" since we grow them on the big side. ;)

- She is breech right now.  At 29 weeks, she has more than enough time to turn herself around.  I was a little surprised by that but I had begun to suspect that she was in a breech position.  Feeling from the outside, I thought I could feel a head below my belly button, but I just wasn't sure.  The movements I feel in my abdomen were feeling more and more like little feet, though, so seeing that she is breech definitely made sense.  My midwife said that if she has not turned at 36 weeks, we have the option of choosing to have them turn her for us.  She said at that point, if we choose to do that, we have look at risks vs. benefits.  If we're in that position at 36 weeks, I don't think I will choose to have her turned.  With her cord already being a sensitive issue, I don't want to do anything that could cause her distress.  So, if we have to elect for a c-section, then that's what we will do.  I just want her here, healthy, and screaming!

- On my side of things, I have only gained 10 pounds.  This is the least amount of weight I have gained in my 3 pregnancies.  Typically, I have gained at least 15 at this point, and I normally top out around 25-30.  I'm thinking I'll still hit that range, but I definitely stay busier these days in my past pregnancies. I haven't had time to lounge around and be lazy this time around.  Collen keeps me very active...moving all the time.  I eat like there's no tomorrow....I just ate lunch and literally had to stop from gorging myself on whatever was in sight. (I didn't...I did good. :) )  I do indulge (McDonald's Mocha Frappes are my big craving....sooooo yummy.  But I don't get them often, and I plan my caffeine intake around them!), but I have been more conscious about eating fruit and veggies this time around.  Just trying to give her the nourishment she needs.

- My blood pressure is good. Weight gain is good.  No swelling.  Plenty of amniotic fluid.  A baby growing on target.  I couldn't be happier with the way everything is going.  I just pray it continues.

We have so much to do before she gets here.  I'm trying to stay optimistic and believe it will all fall into place. I CAN NOT for the life of me decide on bedding for her room.  And I can't choose paint colors until I find bedding.  I want to go with aqua and pink, but anything I find that I like in those colors is crazy expensive of discontinued.  I've checked Etsy to see about custom bedding, but their prices are insane!  I know what I want, and I don't want to compromise...grrr.  I love Damask print and shabby chic.   Her furniture will be white and distressed....I like that antique look. :)  It's proving difficult to find something that fits my expectations.  Sigh....I'll get there.

We have another ultrasound in 3 weeks to check growth again.  Please pray that she continues to gain weight and grow as she should.  2 vessel cord babies have a tendency to decline in growth, especially toward the end.  They decide they're finished growing.  As long as she does not drop below 10%, we're good.  So, we are praying she stays around the 50% range and continues to grow as she should.

Thank you for your prayers for Charlotte.  We are getting more and more excited about welcoming her into our family! Collen is going to be a fantastic big brother.  He loves babies and is so good with them.  I'm trying to spend as much time with him as possible before she comes...making special memories and being sure he gets all the attention we can give him now before it all changes.

Collen these days...

I was looking through my recent blog posts and realized I hadn't posted about Mr. Collen lately.  Shame, shame on me....terrible mother not bragging on her pride and joy. ;)

Collen is up to A LOT these days.  My mom always told me, "Lindsay, I hope you have a child just like you one day."  She said this because I was quite a handful.  Very busy.  Very talkative (those who know me now might not believe that one...).  Had to be entertained at all times.  Never stayed still.  My response to my mother has always been, "Me, too."  And I got a kid just like me in Collen.  Whew.  He keeps us busy from the moment he wakes up to the moment he goes to sleep.  Never a dull moment, and we enjoy every second of it!!

Collen turned 22 months Friday the 22nd.  It's so hard to believe we are 2 months away from having a 2 year old (and a newborn...eek!).  You're probably wondering, is he acting like he's almost 2?  OH YES....but I wouldn't call it the terrible twos.  There's nothing terrible....just challenging at times but always learning moments.  I have to say, he requires a lot of patience.  It's a good thing we have a lot of patience most of the time.  He tries to push the boundaries and test his limits.  He's a kid.  He's learning.  Which is why I said we consider it learning moments.  He's going to push.  He's going to be persistent. He's going to be a typical kid who is trying to figure out his own independence as it fits into a relationship with parents who expect him to mind and listen.  He's getting it, and he's definitely learning from these trying moments of his.  He's getting great at saying, "Please" when he wants something.  He is also doing well with "Thank You" and "Yes Ma'am."

Some things about Collen that we love (well, that's everything, but here are the highlights):

1. His compassion.  He has a sweet, kind spirit.  He doesn't like to see characters in books, on tv, or people get hurt or cry.  He'll ask, "Okay?" (Are they okay?) with a look of sincere concern.  We are quick to assure him that all is well and tell him how sweet it is of him to be concerned.

2. His humor.  This kid is FUNNY.  He likes to look at a book of animals and try to name each animal as fast (and loud) as possible!  He'll go down the whole list, "Monkey, donkey, pig, dog, horse, peacock, dolphin, elephant, "pottamus", etc."

3. He loves to dance!  His new move now is the "wiggle."  When he is sitting in his chair and eating, he starts wiggling his shoulders and arms saying he's dancing.  Such a cute little dance move. :)

4. He enjoys learning!  He is very vocal and has a wide vocabulary.  He is saying several full sentences and associating things such as getting into a car means someone is going to work, or when he sees a bus, he'll say it goes to school, dump trucks carry dirt....etc. He can count to eleven, and he knows all of his letters.  We are trying to get him to say his ABCs.  He will join in on the song, but he will only pick out certain letters.  But, show him the alphabet, and he can tell what each letter is. :)

 He picks up a lot of things by observation and listening to us.  I talk to him ALL the time...if we're out driving or just playing...he likes to talk and be involved in conversation, so he and I spend a great deal of time talking.  He also LOVES to read, so I know that all of this combined is where the vocabulary comes from.  I was very verbal at an early age as well.  He comes by it honestly.

5. He loves animals, being outside, kids, music, and his family.  He talks about family members all the time and prays for them often.  After his prayers, we ask him to say thank you for people who come to his mind.  We'll say, "Thank you, God, for who?" And he'll answer with a list of people who come to his mind.  So sweet.

6. Speaking of prayers, he is learning to say his blessing at each meal.  We do the usual, "God is great, God is good..."  We have him fill in the blanks, so we will say, "God is great, God is ______" and he fills in the last word of every other line.  He has this down pat, so we're hoping to get him to say more of it.

I could go on forever.  Collen is such a joy and blessing in our lives.  I love him more and more with each passing day.  I'm so thankful for summer vacation and the time I get with him every day!  We have been doing some fun things and have other activities planned for the summer.

Last Monday was our first day at Kindermusik.  It was fun!  Collen is not used to being around a large group of kids outside of Sunday School, so it was nice for him to have the chance to interact and watch other kids his age.  He enjoyed the music part and participated most of the time.  I was appreciative that the teacher did not discourage kids who were squirmers from getting up and wandering around.  Collen doesn't sit still often - it's something we will start working on as he approaches preschool.  So, he was up and wandering around part of the time, but he was watching and interested in what was going on.  I was impressed that he sat with me and participated as much as he did.  He was not shy, and he went right up when puppets were used and when "rug time" came in for reading a story.  He kept me in sight, but he did venture out with the other kids. So proud!

We will do swimming lessons in July.  I'm interested to see how that goes.  I want him exposed to and comfortable with water as early as possible.  Stories of toddlers drowning terrify me.  I keep an extremely close eye on him around all kinds of water - even the tub.  He has a little pool outside, and one of us is always right there with him..never walking away and leaving him alone.  So, I want to introduce him to "swimming" and survival techniques as early as possible.  I know at his age, there is only so much he will grasp, but if he picks up anything at all, I will be happy and a bit less anxious!

We met up with Lori, over at the blog "Lori Does Maryland", and her son Luke on Friday for a trip to a local aquarium.  For us it was a 2 hour trip, but with Jeremy already doing football this summer, we plan to make Fridays (his days off) our family days and get out and do fun things together.  So, this past Friday was a trip to the aquarium.  It was a good (busy) visit.  Collen wanted to run around freely and not stay right with us.  He struggles with understanding why Mommy and Daddy tell him he must hold our hands and stay with us in public.  The kid doesn't know a stranger (just like me....goodness), so we are working on getting him to understand that he has to stay with us for safety....not just because mommy and daddy aren't letting him have fun (the way he sees it.).  Anyway, he tested his limits at the aquarium, but once he understood he wasn't going to run off...he was a bit more cooperative.  He took it all in at a brisk pace (ha...don't take a 22 month old to an aquarium and expect to take your time and learn anything), and definitely used up a lot of energy.  After grabbing lunch with Lori and Luke and heading out, he was asleep within 5 minutes of leaving.

Here are some recent pictures of Collen.  I'm a little biased, but I think he's the most beautiful child ever... :)

On the turtle at the aquarium

"I sit in box!"

"I get stuck!"

Our exhibitionist will actually keep the towel on for a few minutes these days.  

Looking at the "dinosaur" with Luke :)

7 Years

June 18, 2005 - The day I married my best friend.  

I didn't know that day just how much I would come to rely and depend on this man.

We were ignorant to all that this life could/would throw our way.

We had no idea that we would be holding each other up through difficult times.

We promised it in our vows, and we meant it, but living it out is the real test.

7 years later, and we're a stronger team than I ever imagined.  

I always admired our ability to work together so well.  We compliment each other and can read each other without a single word.  He knows when I need to be silent and when I need time to myself.  And I know when to the moments when he just needs to talk it out.

We certainly aren't perfect.  No marriage is perfect.  I think we've learned, beyond all else, that selflessness is a major ingredient in a successful marriage.  You have to be able think beyond yourself and look at what is best for the relationship...for each other.  Most importantly, we believe keeping God as the head of our household and leaning on Him is what has made it all work.

I am so proud of the man I call my husband.  I've watched him grow from a 17 year-old boy...who was a typical 17 year-old boy...through the college years when everyone is just trying to figure themselves a newly married man doing his best to provide for his wife and be the husband he has promised to now living out those promises and more as a husband who is a spiritual leader, a patient and loving husband and father...and a man who is good and kind to others.

I couldn't imagine my life without Jeremy, and I am so thankful that God brought us together.  I pray that we have many, many years ahead of us. 7 years of marriage and 3 kids later...I am constantly amazed at what this life has thrown our way and how we continue to stick together and see the blessings in it all.

The Nightmare Scare

I'm playing catch up with my blog right now.  Just trying to get it back up-to-date with all that has been going on.

I am now 27 weeks  (28 on Tuesday) pregnant with Miss Charlotte Brooke.  It's crazy that I have 2 full months left.  That's it.  And the poor child has a lamp, a shelf, 2 head bands, and boxes of hand-me-downs.  And that's it.  We HAVE GOT to get to work on her room.  She will be rooming in with us for the first few months, so we'll get there.  It's still so strange to think that a little girl will be entering our lives soon....

About 2 weeks ago, I had a terrible dream.  I woke up at 4:30 in tears.  In my dream, I had gone to the hospital for an ultrasound.  I didn't see the ultrasound, but a doctor called in with the results and used some big medical terms that I didn't understand.  Then my midwife explained what those words meant  - Charlotte's kidneys were failing, and she would not survive after birth.  Needless to say, I was a wreck.  Babies with 2 vessel cords are at a risk for kidney and heart issues, so you can imagine the places my mind was going after this dream.  So, at 4:30, I texted my midwife....telling her that I was incredibly sorry if I woke her up, but that if it was at all possible for me to come in and get a quick look at Charlotte, I would be beyond grateful.  Being the wonderful person that she is, I got a text at 8 am saying for me to come in and we would see what we could do.

I went in that afternoon, and as the day went on, I began to feel irrational and foolish.  It was just a dream.  However, I couldn't just let it go.  Everyone was so gracious and completely understood my fear and concern.  I told my midwife that I just needed to see that she does in fact have 2 kidneys that appear to be working.  So, I went in for a very brief ultrasound - I think it lasted 2 minutes max - and my fears were relieved. Two kidneys.  Enough amniotic fluid.  A growing baby - she looked twice the size she was last time - who was hanging out and enjoying herself.

I was instructed to relax and stop having bad dreams.  I have definitely slept better since that day.

So thankful for an understanding OB practice where they tolerate my paranoia.

We go for another ultrasound on June 26th for a longer session to check growth and development.  I will have frequent ultrasounds from this point on to measure Charlotte's growth since 2 vessel cord babies tend to be smaller, and we could be looking at IUGR (growth restriction).  So far, I continue to measure on target, so I'm hoping that that means her growth is also where it should be.  Thank you for continuing to pray for Charlotte.  I grow more and more excited every day to meet this little girl - our unexpected blessing. :)

Putting Up Walls

Obviously, difficult events cause us to put up walls.

Over the past 3 years, I have put up a lot of walls in an attempt to guard myself (as if that was ever in my control, but that's a whole other issue).

Losing Ayden = Wall - I shut a lot of people out.  It took a long time for me to be comfortable around other babies.  I was thankful for my friends who were understanding and "got it."  Their patience and just giving me time helped me begin to break that wall down.  When Collen was born and we made it past the one year mark, that wall was completely torn down.

Losing Ayden also caused me to put up walls of distrust.  I chose to stay home with Collen because I just couldn't bring myself to put him in daycare.  Let me first say, I do not/never did blame Ayden's daycare provider for what happened.  I feel so badly that she lives with those memories....that I'm sure she holds herself responsible in some way, although she shouldn't.  However, losing Ayden in that way caused me to distrust anyone but myself.  Logically, I knew it could have just as easily happened while at home, but it didn' my mind's way of making sense of it all was to try to believe that as long as Collen was in my care, he would be okay.  SO, when I went back to work after Collen turned one, I was incredibly selective.  Any daycare I considered had to be super high in approval.  I was picky beyond belief and finally found one that I felt secure with - top-notch security, high level training in SIDS education and knowledge, organic menu (that was a plus!), and high reviews.  The only thing to deter me from choosing this daycare was the price and the early schedule kids were put on.  I completely understand having a works best when working with a larger group of kids.  However, Collen being home with me for a year meant he made his own schedule.  I worried that the transition would be difficult, and with a larger group, he wouldn't get individual attention.  I realize this isn't realistic - in a daycare, it's impossible to give each child one-on-one attention.  It's just one of the things that comes along with a daycare.  And someday, yes, he will need to be a setting where he is with other children his age, but at 12 months....and me going back to work....I needed a little more time.

But that meant I would have to look at in-home care.  I didn't want an in-home daycare because I needed it to be different from what we had with Ayden.  Finding in-home care is difficult...especially when you're looking for one-on-one.  Who do you trust?  Do you fork out big bucks for a nanny?  Do you try to rely on friends and family?  Well, providence stepped in on this one, and a friend of mine happened to suggest her back-up sitter.  She had been taking care of kids for years but preferred small scale...preferably one-on-one when possible.  Jeremy, myself, and Collen met with her and her husband, and it was apparent right away that this had been God-sent.  Collen took to them right away.  He was so at ease and felt at home.  Seeing his comfort helped that wall to lower, and it turned out to be perfect for all of us!  Collen will continue to stay with this sitter for another year, and she will also keep Charlotte. :)  I was going to get Collen enrolled in a half-day preschool, but I missed the registration period.  I think it will be good for him to spend time with his sister.  He does great in Sunday school and socializes well with everyone!! Preschool will be an easy transition.

Subsequent Fear = Wall - So, my walls were coming down.  Little by little.  My biggest wall is the one I still struggle with.  Fear. And I don't see an immediate solution to this one.  Jeremy and I have been doing the "Not a Fan" study with our small group.  It has caused me to think a lot about my relationship with Christ.  I know I am more than a fan.  I know I do more than "going through the motions."  But I also know that I have put up a wall of fear that causes me to be unable to fully trust God the way I used to.  When Ayden was born, I totally in the mindset of "He is yours, and if you see fit to take him, then I know I will have to accept that."  Until it happened.  Wall up.  And since then, I have had to take very small steps in placing that trust back in Him.  It is a daily struggle.  I have to tell myself multiple times a day that I am not in control.  I can not change anything that God purposes to happen.  He doesn't intend to harm me.  I need to trust Him.  It's going to take time, and I hope He can be patient with me.  I choke with fear at times when I look and Collen and he is doing something so silly and funny, and I find myself soaking that entire moment in because my first thought is, "What if this is the last memory I have of him?  What if he's gone tomorrow?" Then I think about losing Jeremy...or my mom...or my sister.  I find myself repeatedly telling God, "Please...I can't lose anyone else.  Not now. Not for a long time.  Please spare us; give us some time."  This is going to be the wall that takes the longest to break down.

My Dad's passing = Wall - After losing my dad, I noticed myself putting up a wall of indifference.  And this one made me battle with myself.  I got to the point where I just couldn't care.  It wasn't that I didn't care....I had friends going through such difficult things...people I wanted so badly to reach out to and check on....and be there for.  But I couldn't.  I was barely making it....I felt so lost.  Taking on someone else's hurt just couldn't be considered, and I felt like a jerk for feeling that way.  I didn't understand it, and I was disgusted with myself.  But looking back, I see how that makes sense.  I was crushed....again.  I had just made a major transition...going back to work...uncertain about everything, and in a new job that was challenging me daily.  And then, the rock of our family....the glue...was all of a sudden gone.  My counterpart - the one I was compared to my entire life - the man I admired completely and had modeled my life against....was gone.  One of a few people who knew me better than I knew myself...a man I absolutely adored and needed in my life was taken too soon.  Nothing made sense anymore, and while I could empathize and sympathize with others, I simply could not take on any more hurt or loss while I was feeling so overwhelmed with my own. Trying to balance my own loss with those of so many others was daunting, and while I frequently found myself praying for them and making notes to myself to contact them....I just didn't.  There were some days when it was all I could do to just make it through the day...only to come home and breakdown.  Trying to form a coherent thought was too difficult at times.  I just wanted to sit. In silence. And just block it all out.  In turn, I lost touch with people who I knew needed a kind word....needed to know, really KNOW that I was thinking of them daily.  Yet, I stayed silent.  Never voicing those thoughts and prayers and the aching I felt for them in their personal losses.  Some understood and knew that I was just doing the best I could to make it through each day.  Others seemed to just let me go....I know they lost faith in me, and I deeply regret that.  I knew I needed to take care of myself, but it hurts to know that there are those who lost faith in me and now see me differently.  I needed people to understand...and continue to has only been 7.5 months since I lost my dad.  He was in my life for 28 years.  It's going to take time for me to work through that.  It's getting better, but I've said here several times that I know I haven't handled this loss well.  I haven't dealt with it, and I'm hoping to take part in a grief share class at my church to help me work through it.  On the outside, I'm the same Lindsay....smiling, happy, doting mother, proud wife, balanced, calm coworker...but on the inside...completely different story.  This wall is getting better; it's a work in progress, and it's the one I hope people can try to understand.

We all have walls.  Different things cause them, and we all have to find our ways of breaking them down...even if it's one small step at a time.  I know that God deserves my full trust.  His word instructs us not to fear.  To rest on His promises - that He has plans to prosper us, not to harm, to give us HOPE and a future.  The only thing that helps me even begin to tackle these walls is HOPE.  Through all of the loss and challenging times, I am so glad that I above all else, I've been able to remain hopeful.  I can feel His hand guiding me...gently...nudging me back into trusting Him completely.  I'm getting there.  And I'm so thankful to have a heavenly Father who remains constant, patient, and loving.

Mrs. Fussell

On May 26, my beautiful sister became a MRS.   And I have to say, it looks wonderful on her.

It was a beautiful wedding.  A beautiful day.  With a beautiful couple - inside and out - vowing to love each other for a lifetime.

While our minds were all a-buzz with the wedding timeline....making sure Collen was in a good mood (eh...he was a bit of a handful that day!)...and just being sure everything went off without a hitch,  the other big thought in our minds was: "How is this day going to go....without Daddy?"

I spoke to many family members that day who commented that Daddy would have filled up the place with his personality, smile and laughter.  It still feels unbalanced.  I guess it will for a long time. I looked around the reception and saw so many family and friends and the one who was missing was so, so missed.  Daddy would have been right in the middle of everyone....laughing, carrying on, bragging about his new son and his beautiful daughter.  He would have given a corny and sappy speech that would have left everyone simultaneously in tears and laughter.  

But,we made it.  We spoke a lot about the obvious fact that Daddy would not be there physically, but we made sure he was there and remembered in spirit.  Megan had a little charm attached to her bouquet - a small picture of me and her kissing daddy when we were little.  She also had a canvas where she had a tree painted on it.  The guests were to put their thumbprints onto the tree to make the leaves.  It's such a great idea and fantastic memory maker!  On the tree, she had our dad's name inscribed, and she also had a butterfly floating by the tree that had Ayden's name on it.  Lastly, at the end of the ceremony, Megan and DJ released butterflies in honor of Daddy and Ayden.  We knew the day would bring tears, and it did, but it also brought so much joy!  We know how happy Daddy would be/is for Megan and DJ.  And like someone said, "He already gave his approval when he told DJ yes - when he asked for Megan's hand."  Daddy saw where Megan would walk down the aisle.  He decided where the tent would go.  He had a hand in it all, so while he wasn't there in person, he helped make it happen.  

Jeremy walked Megan down the aisle - which I thought was quite fitting.  He has known Megan since she was 16.  He is a big brother to her and would give his life in a second if someone was threatening hers.  Jeremy stepped in and spoke on behalf of Daddy/our family.  I was proud to see him step up as a leader in our family.  And now, DJ will take the adjoining role.  We feel so blessed to have DJ join our crazy family. :)  He fits in perfectly!  He has such a fun, light spirit, and he keeps us all laughing.  He adores Megan and cherishes every moment with her.  I am so, so thankful that God has blessed Megan with a man who loves her so completely.  She deserves it.

Here are a few pictures from Megan's photographer.  The pictures (all 500+ of them) are gorgeous and captured the day perfectly.  If you're in the Eastern NC area and need a photographer - check out Misty Hudson.  She's awesome!!

Sweet Summertime

Today is my last day of school/work for the summer!  It's also my last day as a middle school teacher.  This year has been a challenge...personally and professionally.  However, I am a reflective thinker, and over the past week or so I have been looking back over this year and seeing the hidden blessings of it all.  Walking into teaching 8th grade after teaching 12th grade was a huge transition!  It took me a while to get accustomed to the middle school mindset.  13/14 year olds are interesting creatures.  So many ups and downs.  Hormones everywhere.  They can't sit still for anything!  So, so sweet.  At the beginning of the school year, I was looking for jobs frantically.  After 2 weeks, I was ready to quit altogether.  It just wasn't my cup-of-tea.  Plus, after staying home with Collen for a year....who could blame me?  But, I stuck it out.  Job interviews came and went.  I would be a final candidate but not the final choice.  After a while, I decided to just focus on my current position and focus on these kids.  There was obviously a reason for me being here, in this place, with these kids, this year.  Now, on my last day, I look back over the year, and I am so glad I stuck it out.  My kids grew to love me, and I grew to love them.  They attach so easily but don't trust so easily.  Towards the end of the year, I  noticed a shift in them.  They had begun to leave their 7th grade attachments and comforts....less and less time was spent wanting to go see their 7th grade teachers....less talk about "last year."  It suddenly became about this year and what they would miss.  And I was amazed to learn that I was at the top of the list of things/people they would miss.  And even more surprising, I realized I would really miss them as well.  I make it sound like a dreaded seeing these children every day...haha...I just spent a lot of time being guarded this year.  I found it difficult to make connections right away because I was so used to my old school and that community.  I already had strong connections there.  Here, I was starting over.  So, it took some time.  But boy did they grow on me.  High school can be a scary place...full of so many new and intimidating things.  More than anything, I spent this year stressing to them the importance of remaining true to themselves.  Not conforming.  Standing up for people and themselves.  And most importantly, being people of honor and integrity.  Respect does not come naturally to a lot of these kids; I learned that quickly.  However, they were quick to notice that I was not a typical teacher.  They took notice of my patient and calm demeanor....picking up on the fact that I remain calm in the most intense situations...I didn't let much push my buttons (that they could see).  From that, I was able to show them the importance of staying level-headed....considering consequences instead of being quick to react.  I saw a big change in a few who I thought would be trouble all year long.  Yes, they continued to get in trouble, but not in my class.  I'm always astounded when I have that one kid who won't work for anyone else, but he/she will work for me...stand up for me with their peers...stay focused and work.  No, I'm not a miracle worker.  I don't work any magic to make this happen.  A lot of the time, I think I just get lucky.  All I do is love them and tell them how much I believe in them.  It's probably a temporary thing with most, but with some, I hope it makes a lasting difference.  I will miss them all (most of them), but the ones I miss the most are the ones I was able to reach.  The ones I saw change for the better.  The ones who would come see me every morning...just to say hello or get a "have a good day" from me.  That's what makes this job so rewarding.

And while my kids want me to follow them to their high schools next year....I'm going a bit farther out of town.  I was able to get a position at Ayden-Grifton...where I was before. :)  Ayden-Grifton is home.  I have a connection there that is so special to me.  My best friends are there.  That's where I was when I found out I was first pregnant.  They were my school family when Ayden was born....where they gushed over his big blue eyes and friendly smile.  They were there for us when Ayden passed away. They honored my son beautifully with white shirts and blue ribbons and a candlelit ceremony in honor of SIDS awareness in his name. That's where I was I found out I was once again pregnant.  They walked with me, held me up in tough time, fought for me, made sure I was taken care of.  They supported me when I told them I needed to take a year off to be a be able to keep my sanity and not put another child into daycare where I would live in anxious fear of losing another.  And even over the 2 years I've been away, they've continued to support me.  They sent cards and visited when we lost my dad.  They continue to shower me with warm welcomes and hugs whenever I visit....usually followed by, "We need you back here!"  So, I am going back home, and although some things have students will welcome me in the fall....I'm so excited to be going back to a place I love and feel so connected to.

(Told you guys I would be writing again, soon.  Thanks for hanging in there with me.  I'll try to get to the other updates soon.)

Remember Me?

Yes...I'm still here.  It has been way too long since I've blogged....please forgive me.  If you're still out there, checking in, wondering how we are doing - bless you.

I promise I will update more.  I have had a lot of blog post ideas rolling around in my head....finding time/energy has been another issue lately.

But, be on the lookout!  Some posts are coming soon, with the following udpates:

School is out - Summer is IN!
New Job (woo!)
Nightmare Scare
An enlightened moment on the "sibling perspective"
My sister got married!
Summer trip planning...and even a family trip planned for Christmas!
Fan or Follower?

So, while I have been absent, my brain has been putting all these posts together.  Time will soon open up, and I will be letting you all in on what has been going on with the Joneses. :)  Hope you are all doing well and continuing to walk in HOPE.