Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Karson!!!

***Update - Thanks Lauren, for helping me figure out how to change the date! Also, I've added pictures of the birthday fiesta!

Dear Karson,

5 years ago today, at 1:03 pm, you took your first breath in this world. And I became a mommy. Oh my goodness what a special day! I still remember seeing you for the very 1st time and bursting into tears because I already loved you so much. You have been a blessing from the moment you arrived, and it is so hard for me to believe that you are already 5! The years have gone by so fast, and yet there are so many things that are already foggy in my memory. This, I do have made me a better person.

You were a very easy baby. You slept through the night when you were 7 weeks old. You didn't spit up very much. You hardly ever cried. You were a happy baby. The only real "issue" we had was that you entered the stranger anxiety phase with a bang. It was hard to leave you in the nursery because you always cried. They always told us that you got over it quickly - thank goodness. Other than that, you were a 100% perfect baby - not that I'm biased or anything.

Now, I must say, that for the most part you have been a very easy child to raise... except when it came to POTTY TRAINING. Oh my goodness! Girlie, you nearly put me in the loony bin! We tried everything we knew to do. You just wouldn't do it. Your big trick was to "hold it" all day. By all day, I mean ALL DAY! We told you not to go pee pee in your big girl panties, so you didn't...but you wouldn't go on the potty either! It was a very drama filled time. I just knew you were going to start school in a diaper! Eventually, you decided to cooperate, and once you did it, we had 2 accidents. Isn't that amazing that I know how many accidents you had? Truly, 2!

We've also had our set of scares with you. About a week after your 3rd birthday was when we found the lumps under your chin and began the process of finding out what was wrong (microbacterial infection of the lymph nodes). You had 2 surgeries (one on November and one in April) to remove them. After that you stayed on some REALLY yucky antibiotics (3x a day) for over 4 months. You were such a trooper through it all, and never complained. I am still so thankful for all of the wonderful doctors that led us through that scary time. I'm even more thankful, looking back, that it was nothing more major than it was.

I worry about you, my sweet girl. You have done such a great job of starting school and being so brave this year. But you are still so painfully shy. Sometime it hurts my heart to watch you have to try new things. It makes you completely nervous and scared - to the point of tears many times. You are such a silly, crazy girl at home. I so wish that others could see this side of you. I feel that so many people that have met you are robbed from knowing the "real" you. I'm so proud of you and how hard you try to overcome your fears. I know it will only get better with time. Please know that you are constantly in my prayers. God will protect you and guide you. You need not be afraid.

Your 4th year of life has brought so many changes. You became a big sister, you started dance, and, you started big girl school...just to name a few. You have handled all of this amazingly well. Each day seems to bring something new for which I have to be proud. I depend on you much more than you probably realize. You truly are my helper at home and at preschool. I couldn't do it without you, and I never want to try!

It's hard to imagine that someone could love you more than I do. Oh, but baby girl, there is someone. Jesus loves you more than I could ever comprehend. I want so much for you to know Him in your heart. I want to share more of Him with you and teach you more about Him. My prayer for you this year is that you would come to know Him more. This will always be my prayer for you. That is the greatest gift I could ever give you.

Happy Birthday, my sweet girl. I love you more than you'll ever know. Thank you for blessing my life every day. You are truly one of my life's GREATEST gifts.

I love you so much,
For the "big 5" birthday party, we went to see High School Musical 3! Such fun! (Excuse the photography/editing skills - my picture WILL NOT rotate!)

Mommy wasn't all that sad that help was still needed for reading birthday cards!

Here's a pic of Daddy and Karson trying out one of her new Easy Bake Oven!

Being born around Halloween has its perks! Today was pajama day at preschool. Since Kars comes with me in the mornings, both girls got to sport their MATCHING (I know you're shocked) jammies! Cams wasn't much in the mood for a photo shoot after school.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Change - It Is A Comin'

Tomorrow will be Rus's last day as a teacher and coach. Wow. That seems so weird.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that some things we had been praying about were coming to fruition. This is it! Monday, October 27th, Rus will report to work at Samson Resources. It is an oil company based in Tulsa. This will be a HUGE change for him. We are excited, nervous, scared, anxious, and blessed to be beginning this new adventure. God has been in complete control of all of this, and we can't wait to see where He leads us.

A little background...

If you know Rus at all, you know how much he loves baseball. It is one of his GREAT passions. He played in high school, college, and professionally. He has always said that he felt coaching baseball was his calling. God has allowed him to impact so many lives while coaching this sport. At first, he was the coach that taught history; but gradually he became the history buff by morning and the baseball coach by afternoon! When he got his first teaching job (6th grade World History at Bartlesville Public Schools - wow), he was scared to death to enter the classroom. It was simply something he was doing so that he could coach. By last year, he had the entire school board in his room to watch him teach a lesson to his sophomore US History class using Web Streaming. Needless to say, "the coach that taught history" was impacting just as many lives off the field as he was on!

In his 10 years of teaching/coaching, we have been blessed with 2 beautiful daughters. Because we felt that God called me to stay at home with our girls, Rus took on more and more extra-duty roles at school in order to make this possible. Even during his off season, this kept him away from home many nights out of the week. By the time baseball season would role around, we were already used to being "without" him at home. As anyone could possibly see, this took its toll. It took his toll on him. On me. On the girls. On our marriage. On our family. Something had to give.

This past summer we began to pray that God would open doors and provide a way for us to be able to be together more as a family without it being a huge financial strain. We recognized the fact that for the past 4 years God had provided a way for us to make things work out financially and we gave Him praise for that. But we also prayed about the fact that in order to make things work out financially it was coming at a sacrifice to our time together. From there, we began to talk about the possibility of him leaving the field of education and coaching. I clearly remember staying up late one night talking about it and asking him how he felt about having to give up coaching. His reply was, "Honestly, it feels like cutting off my leg. I can't imagine life without it."

As the school year approached and doors began to close on other possibilities, we decided that God was leading us to stay where we were. Rus started the school year and began off-season with his boys just like always. In the meantime, my mom asked if it would be okay to write a letter to a man in her church that is a VP with Samson. She said she simply wanted to tell him about Rus and about what we had been praying about over the summer. We talked about it and told her it would be fine to write the letter. Since the school year had begun, we didn't really think much about it, and kind of put the thought out of our minds.

Well...a few weeks after the letter was sent, Rus got a call from Samson asking him to come in for an interview. I'll spare you the details from's pretty easy to figure out what happened. What I will tell you is that between that 1st interview and tomorrow there have been COUNTLESS prayers said and MANY hours spent trying to make the right decision. We are so humbled and blessed by God's grace for us. We are so grateful for His provision and wisdom. While this would never have been our timing, He knows best and we can't wait to see what this new adventure brings.

As a wife, I am incredibly grateful to be married to a man that would be willing to give up one of his great loves just for our family. As a mom, I am proud to parent with someone who puts his children first. Our girls don't realize it now, but they have an incredibly unselfish daddy who just did something amazing FOR THEM!

I know how scared I am to begin this new stage of life, so I can't even imagine how Rus is feeling. To start something completely new and foreign...well, that's just flat out BRAVE.

So, next Monday morning at 8 o'clock, when you're heading to work or fixing breakfast or driving your kids to school, please say a prayer for Rus. He will be entering Corporate America for the first time, and you know what? I think Corporate America will look a little bit better on Monday morning, due to a certain new employee at Samson Resources!

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Turnip Reunion

The 2 years I spent at Kilgore College are 2 of the best years of my life. I learned so much about dance, discipline, life...and friendship. The dorm where we lived as Rangerettes was organized into suites. You had a room mate, and then shared a bathroom with another room...your suite mates. My freshman year I roomed with a very dear high school friend. We are still friends to this day, but we were NOT cut out to be roommates! :) My sophomore year I found myself living with 3 of the most precious girls on earth. We nick-named our suite "the turnips"(it makes sense to us). We only lived together as a "suite" for one year, but we formed a friendship that is one of my most treasured possessions. That was 13 years ago! Since then, we have gone through marriages, babies, jobs, moves,! I wouldn't trade them for anything.

About 5 years ago, we decided that we needed to start getting together once a year. We made a plan and have actually STUCK TO IT! We take turns going to each other's hometowns. The weekends we spend together go by way too fast, but are always such fun! Our husbands have grown to be friends, and our kids treat each other like cousins! This past weekend was our "Turnip Reunion 08". It took place in Longview, Texas home of Jana Cloonan Horne (and her precious family). Jana was my roommate. Our suite mates, Amy Mays Jeter and Colleen Mock Stapp joined us and fun was had by all. Our itinerary was:

Friday - arrive around 4ish; kids and dads hang out at the Hornes; girls go out for LONG dinner and LOTS of chatting (I don't think there were more than 5 seconds of silence).

Saturday - eat breakfast as a "gang" at the hotel; go to a nearby playground to let the kids play; eat lunch at Taco Bueno (thank you Rus and Kate); eat ice cream at Shake's (yum); split up for a little down time/rest - guys go golfing; meet up at the Horne's house for a FALL EXTRAVAGANZA!!! (cook-out, hayride, pumpkin carving, roasting marshmallows, costume parade, FUN!!!!!)

Sunday - eat breakfast as a "gang" at the hotel; hang out for a while; time to leave :(

Too quickly our time was over and it was time to go home. I must say that both of the girls did incredibly well in the car on the way there and back - thank you, Lord! We had an awesome time. Thank you, Horne family, for such a fun weekend!!! Here are a few pictures to recap!

These are the girl "turnip greens" (aka kids). They are quite a sassy bunch!!!

Here we are ready to go on the hayride (Jana, I'm sad you're not in this picture). From L to R - Colleen (holding Wilson), Amy (holding Kate), Me (holding Campbell), Jana's son Ryan, Colleen's daughter Madalyn, Karson's head/bow, Jana's son Will. That's Jana's precious husband, Justin driving the tractor! SO MUCH FUN!!!

Okay, so not much scenery, but isn't she cute?!!! This was half-way through our hay-ride when we stopped to "pick pumpkins". Campbell was a bit confused as to what we were doing!

ALL of the "turnip greens" in their Halloween costumes! L-R - Kate, Will, Wilson, Ryan, Madalyn, Karson, and Campbell. Do they look like a fun bunch, or what?!

Here we are, carving pumpkins. Jana was the QUEEN of cleaning them out!!! We tried to get Amy to get her hands dirty, but she was not having any part of it.

Here's how our pumpkins turned out! Karson was too funny - she stood behind "her" pumpkin for quite a while..."guarding it". I don't know what she thought was going to happen to it!

Jana was so sweet and gave Karson a "Build-a Bear" kit. Karson was insistant that we put it together AS SOON AS WE GOT HOME!!! didn't happen last night, but we (and by that, I mean 'I') put it together today. Colleen, I want you to send my a picture of Madalyn's...I know you don't have anything else to be doing! :)