Thursday, December 31, 2009

All by myself...

New Year's Eve has begun and it is an unusual beginning. My mom wanted to spend time with the Brownies and offered to keep them overnight. I knew Big Brownie would be fine, however, I was concerned about Little Brownie. He has never spent the night away from home. He doesn't sleep well except in his own bed. Tutu came to pick them up, I gave out instructions, packed their bags and off they were for a sleepover at Tutu and Papa's house.

Once they left, we turned off the kid TV and the house was silent. A silence that I'm unfamiliar with. When the boys are here, asleep, it is a different kind of quiet. Tiptoeing around the house, phone ringers turned off, usually no television playing so that the Brownies can rest peacefully. Daddy Brown and I really didn't know what to do with ourselves. We are so used to our afternoon routine of Brownies up and down the stairs, books brought to be read, asking for snacks, juice, laughter, crying, running, playing, you know, the normal. We enjoyed an afternoon and evening just the two of us and it was nice. We had grilled cheese sandwiches and chips for dinner. We actually finished all our food without little munchkins eating it all. We watched a few movies, we talked and laughed.

I checked in on Tutu and everyone was doing well. Little Brownie went down without a fight. Big Brownie was a little more challenging, but she worked her Super Tutu powers and he too finally went to sleep. As Daddy Brown and I laid in the bed, we missed our boys. However, for one night, we slept without the baby monitor on. This morning when we woke, we didn't have to whisper, we didn't have to tiptoe and we didn't have to have the television on mute. Daddy Brown has left to ride his mountain bike with Uncle Berry today and I lay here in the bed with my laptop, watching non-kid TV.

Looking forward to my New Year's Eve with my boys tonight, but anxious to get out of the house this morning. I think I can do twice as much stuff since I'm not lugging the boys around with me. Can't wait to get into the car and drive with the radio on and go anywhere I need to without the worry of a meltdown in a store and getting home before nap-time. It has been an unexpected treat. Today, I'm all by myself. A luxury I don't mind having every once in a blue moon. However, I can't wait for all the noise and chaos to return this afternoon. Thanks Tutu Nani!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Family Traditions...

Family traditions are a fun part of life. It is a privilege that most of us take for granted because we really don't know any different. After talking to some of my family over the holiday season, it makes me thankful that I have a family and that we have each other to enjoy the festivities. Daddy Brown and I both grew up in households that held traditions.

When Daddy Brown's parents, Gran Gran and Pops were married, they began their first Christmas traditions. Gran Gran came from a family that really didn't celebrate at Christmas time. Pops family were farmers and with the exception of maybe something a little more at the table at Christmas, the land and animals still had to be worked. There wasn't a bountiful of presents, there wasn't a Christmas tree, there was no special Christmas meal or Christmas cards sent to the family and friends. So, when they got married, they decided that Christmas was a time for celebration. As Daddy Brown grew up, the home was steeped with love and Christmas filled the home with decorations, presents, food and laughter. Daddy Brown's most memorable Christmas was the year he got his first rifle. After all the presents had been opened, Pops told Daddy Brown he thought he saw something behind the piano. Daddy Brown went to look and there hidden behind the piano, a rifle.

My parents didn't have great family Christmas traditions as children either. My mom saved quarters all year long so that on the night before Christmas she could go down to the 5 and dime and buy everyone something for Christmas morning. Everyone woke up on Christmas morning with a small treat, everyone except my mom. There was no special meal, sometime no meal at all, no tree and no decorations. When my parents got married, they also decided that Christmas was a time for special traditions for us kids too. Every year, my dad would go out and cut a cedar tree. We simply couldn't spend extra money on a store bought tree. Myself, my mom and sisters would decorate that tree and the Christmas glow from the tree would fill the room. We had so many memorable Christmas years. My favorite was the year my sisters and I got 10 speed bikes. They were teal green. We went outside and didn't have a clue how to use them. Down the big hill we all went. Tumbling half the way down and getting scrapes and bruises to boot. There was the year we had snow and my mom dropped jingle bells from the reindeer saddles and used 2 by 4's to make sleigh tracks in the snow outside our door. The year of the Cabbage Patch dolls was huge as well. We mustn't forget the year my dad placed a present from Santa in the middle of the room after they had gone to bed and for a whole hour, my mom actually believed in Santa Claus.

Daddy Brown and I have no idea what it would be like to not have a family Christmas. We don't know what it would be like to not have a family to spend it with. Whether it be because our grandparents were products of the depression or just the times didn't lend itself to set traditions. Nevertheless, our parents made an effort to make sure we had memorable, loving, warm and fuzzy memories as kids. Neither of us ever had a want or need that wasn't met. Now as we have The Brownies, we are carrying on our family traditions and making new traditions of our own. Our Christmas Eve afternoon is always spent with Daddy Brown's family. Christmas Day afternoon is always spent with my family.

Christmas morning is preserved for our own family Christmas. Last night, Daddy Brown and I were up until 3a putting toys together that Santa had dropped off at our house. Wrapping presents, eating Santa's cookies and the reindeer food. Drinking milk and hot coffee to make it through the night. Our last prayer before bed was..."Lord, please let the boys sleep until 9a." And true to the Good Lord's word, Little Brownie woke at 8:57a and Big Brownie woke at 9:02a. Daddy Brown got the ambiance ready with the lights, video camera and digital camera up and ready to go. We changed diapers, gave out morning milk and waited until it was time. Time to see what Santa had brought us in celebration of Jesus' birthday.

We opened the door to the playroom and what did we see, Little Brownie got a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe and Big Brownie got a Radio Flyer old fashion tricycle. The trike ended up being about an inch too big for Big Brownie to pedal the wheel all the way around. Little Brownie was in the Cozy Coupe as fast as he could run and open the door. Then, Big Brownie asked, "Is it my turn?" Now, in the garage, Santa had a Little Tikes Fire Engine Cozy vehicle that was to be kept until his birthday. The warm and fuzzy Christmas glow was replaced with Little Brownie grabbing Big Brownie by the hair and pulling him through the window of his Cozy Coupe. Daddy Brown and I decided to keep the peace. Santa must have meant for Big Brownie to have the Fire engine for Christmas. Daddy Brown came downstairs, put it together and brought it upstairs to the playroom. We explained that Santa forgot to put this one under the tree. Happiness was restored and peace on earth, good will to our brothers resumed.

The laughter filled the room. Frosty the snowman played in the background and there was one more present under the tree. A present left by Santa for Baby Jesus. It was a book called "God's Christmas Gift" and was the story of the foretelling and birth of Baby Jesus. It explained that the greatest gift to us, was the birth of Jesus. And it ended with the explanation that the greatest gift to God is the gift of ourselves. The Brownies actually sat in my lap as I read the book in its entirety. It wasn't a long book, large font and lot of pictures. Daddy Brown and I, although exhausted, are so happy that our Brownies are able to experience Christmas embedded deep with our family traditions. I'm ever grateful that both sides of our family enriched our lives with the spirit of Christmas. Now, we get to teach and share with our babies the meaning of Christmas and the traditions of being a family.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's not too late...

This year has really flown by. I can't even tell you how much I feel like I've lived and how quickly 365 days seem to pass. So here I am, on Christmas Eve...holiday cheer is abundant. Proud to say Daddy Brown and finally put up our Christmas tree last night. The Brownies were SO excited. When Big Brownie found out we were bringing a Christmas tree inside, he started alternately pumping his fists in the air and saying...AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME!!! and ALRIGHT...OUT OF SIGHT!!! Um, not sure where these tidbits come from, until I hear them come out of my own mouth. There are very few ornaments on our tree, as most of them are glass and breakable. Little Brownie was more interested in attempting to eat the Christmas lights and Big Brownie put little bells on the tree. It was a great night.


I rose early this morning to assess our gifts and see what still needs to be finished. Wrapping paper...check, tape...check, scissors...check! I'm ready to commence the wrapping...then Big Brownie woke up. So, I'll have to wrap with Santa tonight. I finally took down the "Everything is fall" decorations and have put up our Christmas decorations on the mantle. At 8a this morning, Big Brownie and I started decorating outside. I want the Brownies to come home from Gran-Gran and Pops tonight and see the lights outside at our house, like they have seen all season. Now, we had to do our best with what we had available. So, we have garland with white lights on the rails, twinkling red lights on the some shrubs and multi-color lights on other shrubs. Yes, it is very much out of the Clark Griswald book of holiday decorations, but we are okay with that. It is fun and Big Brownie loved it. Daddy Brown came out to assist and towards the end, Big Brownie perched up in one of our trees.

Now, let the baking begin. It really doesn't feel like Christmas unless there are plenty of cookies and treats filling the house with yummy smells. I'm so excited to spend our Christmas with two Brownies that walk, kinda talk and love all things Christmas. Daddy Brown is a good sport for all my craziness, and I love him more and more everyday for that. It's definitely not too late to put up your decorations and enjoy the sweet smiles, giggles and laughs! Merry Christmas Eve to you all.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Daddy's Hands...

Today is my father's birthday and he is 57 years young. Papa is the youngest of two children. He was the first man and male role model for myself and my two sisters. I think all young girls are marked with a special imprint of their father. Our Dad is the measuring stick that we, as young woman, used to define our relationships as we grew up. To say that my dad is brilliant, is really an understatement. Although he was never sent into war, he was in the service, where by chance, he met my Mom. As a child, I remember my Dad working midnights at the water plant and going to college during the day and sometimes evenings. He worked so hard to earn his college degree to better not only himself, but to be a better provider for our family.

I have so many wonderful memories of my Papa from when I was a child. I remember when I was, I think the age of seven, there was a beautiful dress at a fancy department store that I drooled over. It was a one piece drop waist dress, with a blue and green plaid pleated skirt. The top of the dress was white with puffy short sleeves and ruffles and buttons down the front. Oh how I desired to have this dress. One day, he took me to the store...and bought me that dress. I STILL LOVE THAT DRESS...and if memory serves me correctly, I believe I still have the dress stored away. It is possible that this was a reward of some form for good behavior or good grades, I'm not sure. However, I do remember that moment of awesomeness vividly.

As a child and teenager, I always thought we were abundantly rich. We never seemed to want for anything. Like a lot of families of the time, we had our share of hard times too. As an adult, I learned that there were times that my parents had to decide which bills would get paid and which bills would go delinquent so that we could buy groceries that week. My mom tells me the story of when I was born and they had no health insurance. The hospital told my Dad that he would need to get a loan from the bank in order for me and my mom to be discharged from the hospital. The high pressure tactics of the 70's didn't work on my Dad. He kindly told them that he would not get a loan and he would be happy to visit his wife and daughter as often as he could, until he could pay the bill in full and bring us home. That one truly makes me smile. I can imagine the hard, serious look on my Dad's face and the stunned look on the face of employee. I'm sure the hospital had never heard that one before...and as you might guess, they worked out a payment plan and discharged us both.

I remember he would ask me if I wanted to run an errand with him in the afternoons after school or on the weekend. On the way home, he would treat me to a hamburger or an ice cream cone. I remember the "I love you" from my Dad on the day of my wedding. There are so many wonderful times I've shared with my Dad. Before the Brownies were born, we tried to have breakfast at least one Saturday a month. We would end up spending the majority of our day together sharing our day to day lives.

I'm reminded of the old country song Daddy's Hands by Holly Dunn...

Daddy's hands were soft and kind when I was cryin´.
Daddy´s hands, were hard as steel when I´d done wrong.

Daddy´s hands, weren´t always gentle
But I´ve come to understand.
There was always love in Daddy´s hands.


I look at my Dad's hands as they have aged over the years. They are a little rougher than I remember as a child, but they always have love and kindness as they wrap around me. If you can't tell from my post, I love my Dad. I am ever thankful for every day I have with him. Some people are not as fortunate as my family to have a father and friend like my Dad. He has a heart of gold and a mind of intelligence. I'm proud of the man my Dad is to my mom, my sisters and especially...to me. Happy Birthday to my Papa!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

ICE, ICE BABY!

Sadly today, we have a sick Big Brownie, but yesterday was a blast. Aunt Apple and I left out in the late morning to do a little Christmas shopping and ended up going to see Charlie Brown on ICE at Opry Mills. It was AMAZING! It was also extremely COLD! Our first thought was to let Big Brownie walk and put Little Brownie in the stroller. It was like a scene straight out
of the movie, "A Christmas Story" with how bundled up they were. Not 1, not 2 but 3 layers of coats. I had put on their lightweight jacket plus their super warm down winter coats with hats and gloves.

When we stepped up to go in, the worker looked puzzled and said, "You know it's like 6 degrees and below in there?" I added the parka the facility provided and Big Brownie couldn't even walk. Down he went for a face plant, just like Ralphie's little brother, and he couldn't move, he couldn't get up, he could only cry. So, we put them both in the stroller and covered them up with blankets on top of the 3 layers of outerwear, sweater and turtleneck. I was concerned they would get too hot, until we walked in and the little bit of spit on the corner of my mouth, began to freeze. I realized they were snug as a bug in a rug!

The boys loved it. Little Brownie couldn't move his head in any direction and his arms didn't bend, so we moved them around a lot so they could see all the beautiful ICE carvings. Again, it was AMAZING. Aunt Apple and I had our winter coats on with parka and 2 layers of gloves and were still a bit chilly while in the exhibit. If you get a chance to go, it is open until January 2nd and I would highly recommend going on a week day during the day. We didn't have to wait in a line and it was not crowded. We were able to take pictures without strangers being in them. It is $2 cheaper if you go Monday through Wednesday and I think you can get a $3 off coupon from Wendy's. Children under the age of 4 are free. And the best part is that it didn't take us but about 20 minutes to get through the whole thing.

After we left, we did go to the Cool Springs area and do some Christmas shopping. It was a pleasant day and I'm glad we got to share it with Aunt Apple. May your Wednesday be very merry and bright!




Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Deck the halls...

Today started much earlier than expected. Daddy Brown had to get to work early this morning. Big Brownie notified me at 4:30a that he was out of juice and Little Brownie decided he would like a bottle around 6:30a this morning too. So, I've basically been up and at 'em since 4:30a. Since I didn't technically go to bed until almost 1a, it seems to be par for my golf course lately. So...hot coffee, fully leaded with caffeine and a few shots of my favorite creamer on tap today!

In continuing to Advent the Season, I decided to spread the holiday cheer as much as we possibly can. We are preparing almost 3 full boxes to ship to our American soldiers today. Things like socks, throws, hot chocolate and soup as well as our Christmas card and pictures colored from our children will be included. It makes my heart happy to know that hopefully on or before Christmas Eve, a few soldiers will have a taste of home for the holidays. Tomorrow, I plan to go through our own cabinets and come up with a donation for a local food bank. Thursday, I hope to have my Brownies voluntarily donate 1 toy to Goodwill for another child in need. I'm thinking that on Friday and possibly Saturday, we will try to get our Christmas tree and decorations up so that we can enjoy our Christmas week in the full swing of things. Then on Sunday, we will be caroling with our friends to spread the joy of Christmas to our neighbors. It should be a lot of fun and I can't wait to plan next weeks adventures.

On that note, we live behind a neighborhood that truly "Decks the halls with balls of holly" each year. This year, like years past, one house in particular seems to have every inch of grass, tree, brick, shingle and fence post covered with all things Christmas. This Friday, they will even have their very own Santa Claus available for children to visit and have pictures. I'm so excited. I can't wait to see the boys reaction. I love this season and I love all things Christmas. Let the spirit of Christmas fill your home, your family and most of all, your soul!

Monday, December 14, 2009

I believe in Santa Claus

Today, we mustered together some holiday cheer and the Brownies and I ventured to the Galleria Mall to see Santa. Tutu Nani joined us for added support and extra hands. When we arrived, Santa was off feeding his reindeer and was to return at 2p. Tutu Nani walked around with the Brownies while I waited in line holding our spot to visit Santa.

To my right, were 2 grandmothers waiting with their grandchildren and all the while, complaining about everything Christmas. The lines, the noise, the lights...if it had to do with Christmas, they were complaining about it. One grandmother said, "You know, I don't know why I even do this...why do I even bring them to see Santa?" As I listened to their conversation, it made me reflect back on when I was a child and the holiday memories my Mom and Dad made for us. The tree was always amazing. The gifts were always wonderful and thoughtful. We never wanted for anything. My Mom and Dad always made sure that we had the best Christmas every year.

As I'm in my own little world, the grandmothers turned to me and said, "Do you really get excited about all this Christmas jazz?" I replied, "You know, my tree isn't up yet, I don't have hardly any of my shopping done, but YES, I do enjoy watching the twinkle in my boys eyes." I went on to tell them that Christmas isn't just about the "Christmas Jazz", but that it is also a time to teach our children that it is Jesus' Birthday. They both looked me, stunned and speechless. It was as if I said that reindeer were my primary form of transportation. Tonight at a gathering, this very topic came up again. There was some discussion about whether we as parents should tell our children there is not a Santa. I know and understand that there is a fine line for children, to believe in something like Santa. I also have to say that I do enjoy all the "Christmas Jazz", the Jingle Bells, the caroling and yes...we even believe in Frosty the Snowman. Is that wrong?

I don't think so. I feel like there are small treasures in life that are captured only at certain times in life of our children. The Brownies and I have a conversation at least once a day about Santa, Christmas and yes, about Jesus. I still believe in Santa. Yes, you heard me correctly. Santa to me is not necessarily a person, it is a season. It gives me an opportunity to have open ears from my Brownies to hear and learn all the stories about Jesus, and to actually talk to them on a level they can understand. If talking about eggs gave me the same effect, we'd talk about eggs...then talk about Jesus. But that is not the case. My children are 1 and 2 years old. They understand more and more every day.

Deuteronomy 4:10 says, "especially concerning the day you stood before the Lord your God in Horeb when the Lord said to me, 'Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.'" and Deuteronomy 6:7 says, "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." The season of Christmas offers us as parents an opportunity to talk to our children about Jesus.

When we finally do put our Christmas tree up, I want our Christmas tree to be an illustration that Jesus is eternal life. Our Christmas lights on the tree to represent that Jesus is the light of the world. I hope to teach our children that the exchange of wrapped presents are an example of God’s greatest gift, his Son who came wrapped in swaddling clothes. We talk about Santa, however we also talk about Jesus. Oh yes...I believe in Santa Claus. I believe in Christmas and I believe that God has given us this opportunity to use this season as a teachable moment. Thank you Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Gift of a Child

Reading my title, please don't get too worked up...I'm not referring to the Brownie family. I've been waiting all week to share of a new family member to our extended family. My sister and brother-in-law, Aunt and Uncle Berry have added a new Berry to their family one week ago today.

Aunt Berry is a photographer and she taught at a youth camp in Kentucky this past summer season. There were 3 sessions, 1 week for elementary school students, 1 week for middle school students, and 1 week for high school students. Because her Berries are currently in elementary and middle school, she was able to take 3 Berries (Cranberry, Strawberry and Raspberry) to week 1 and 1 Berry (Blueberry) to week 2. Not having children in high school yet, she made the third trip without any Berries in tow.

Aunt Berry has a special heart for children in middle/high school. She loves this age group and when she is able to teach a bible study in church, she always picks this age group. She has a special ability to connect with these kids on so many levels. While sharing time with some of the kids at camp, 1 kid stood out above the rest. A beautiful 16 year old girl with blonde hair and beautiful smile. Aunt Berry felt an immediate connection with this teenager. After talking to her for about 30 minutes, she felt as if she were talking to her own child. She spoke with some of the counselors and found out this teenager was in the foster care system right here in Tennessee and had been since the age of 10. She became burdened by this teenagers situation and commented, "I wish we had the means to adopt her." She text messaged Uncle Berry and surprisingly he replied, "Well, let's talk about it when you get home, maybe we can." Upon leaving the camp, Aunt Berry wrote this teenager an anonymous letter to let her know that she was loved, cared for and to keep her chin up.

This was the beginning of a long fight for the Berry Family. We all prayed for God's hands to be on this decision. Many roadblocks from the agency the State of Tennessee in trusts for the placement of their foster care children. Over the next 5 months, personnel changes, incorrect information given, classes scheduled then canceled indefinitely, were just a few of the many problems they encountered through this process. At one point, they considered whether these difficulties were God's hand closing the door. Then...a light. Uncle Berry made a final phone call to the State of Tennessee and explained their issues. They were immediately placed in the necessary classes and the ball was officially rolling.

Now the process to become a foster and ultimately an adoptive parent is an arduous process. Several home study classes and interviews from a social worker, 6 weeks of what are called "PATH" classes and of course the invasion of all things private to be disclosed. The Path classes were to conclude on December 19th and it would be possible that they would have this teenager in their home by Christmas. Hopeful is the best description of what my sister and her family were feeling.

The first week in December, they received a phone call from the case worker. If they were willing, the state may place the teenager in their home that week, even before all the classes had been concluded. The state felt comfortable enough with what they had seen so far and their commitment to this young girl, who is now 17 years old, to place her. The journey was almost over, she would be safe in the arms and home of the Berry Family. But unfortunately, heartbreak was to follow. 2 hours later on the same day they agreed to take the teenager into their home, the case worker called and told them there are now 2 families interested in this teenager and it would be January possible February, if ever, that she would be placed in their home.

A roller coaster of emotions...sadness, despair, hopelessness. Here is a teenager that has a family that wants her, is now stuck in the system because as chance would have it, someone else has seen what an amazing young lady she is and wants her too. But wait, there was one more phone call one day later. There had been an incident in this teenagers foster home that forced an immediate extraction from the home. An emergency placement into a group home within 10 minutes of my sisters home. The case worker told the teenager that their were 2 families interested in her and when the case worker told her a little about each family and told her to choose where she would like to go, she remembered my sister from 6 months ago at camp. A 30 minute conversation that made an impression on this teenager...and she chose to be apart of the Berry family.

Within 24 hours, we have a new Berry in the family...Mulberry. We are so pleased and happy to have an early Christmas gift of love and compassion of a young girl who has experienced so much in her young lifetime so far. She is enrolled in high school and is all honors classes. She sings in the choir and had her first recital with her new classmates last night. She is thriving.

Because my sister and brother-in-law had hopes of having her in their home before Christmas, when they ordered their kids stockings, they ordered her a stocking too and had her name embroidered on the stocking. Did I mention they have 4 children of their own, ages 8-12. When she walked into her new home for the first time, she saw her stocking and was puzzled. She asked, "Why do I have a stocking on the mantle?" My sister replied, "We have been preparing for you since July and this is your new home." From that moment, Mulberry has been calling them Mom and Dad. This is her new home and finally, she has a family. One that will love her unconditionally, provide for her every need and probably every want.

Matthew 21:22 says, "And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." and Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Endurance and determination describes the Berry family over the last 6 months. It has been a journey of happiness, pain, heartbreak and love. An early Christmas gift of child is always a blessing. A blessing that will impact a young teenager at a critical point in her life. Hopefully, we can show her what a real family is like, that we love, encourage and support one another through all the trials and triumphs in life. Welcome sweet Mulberry to our family.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Off to bed...

The last few nights, Big Brownie has been coming out of his room at about 3:30a and making me aware that he is out of juice. I place him back in his bed, get him some juice and then sing him back to sleep. 2 nights in a row, I fell asleep in mid song and before I knew it, Daddy Brown was gone for work and it's time for everyone to wake up.

Yesterday was a big day, which I will share details in a later post. Little Brownie and Daddy Brown had come home early since Little Brownie was having a complete come-apart at dinner out with the family. When Big Brownie and I finally made it home around 10:30p and since we hadn't been home all day, he needed to decompress for a few minutes before we proceeded to bedtime. About 11:30p or so, we began our bedtime routine. The next thing I remember is waking because nature was calling my name. I assumed it was around 1a and realized Big Brownie was already out of juice. Thinking I would refill his cup and go to my own bed, I came downstairs and realized it was 3:30a. By the time I made it back up to Big Brownies room, he was awake and wondering where I had gone.

It is funny that Big Brownie has a full size bed and in that bed, we can fit...myself, Big Brownie, 2 body pillows, my personal pillow and no fewer than 20 stuffed animals of all shapes and sizes. I gave him his juice and he asked me to sing him a song. Now knowing my history of falling asleep with him, I snuggled up next to him and sang us both to sleep. As we are drifting off to sleep, Big Brownie begins to ask me, "Where is my rabbit? Where is my mama duck? Where is my pig?" and we go through the whole list then finally, I say enough. Off to sleep we both go.

This morning, I'm a little stiff. With everything in the bed, I'm literally hanging on the side of the mattress for dear life most of the night. Big Brownie is laying on me, next to me, feet in my back, foot in my ear, hand on my head. He steals my blanket and then throws it off. He nudges under my chin and before I know it, he has taken my pillow. Oh me...I'm praying to sleep in my own bed tonight, with my electric blanket, my 2 soft pillows with peace and quiet in my ears. Hopefully Daddy Brown won't snore...keep your fingers crossed, knock on real wood and pray for Mama Brown to rest well tonight!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Advent: Day 1

We had a fantastic beginning to our Advent of the season. It went as well as could be expected with the Brownies, since they are 1 and 2 years old. We opened our night with a prayer and then Daddy Brown read from Luke 1:26-38 as the Brownies and I began frosting angel and star cookies. Big Brownie complimented Daddy Brown and said, "Good reading Daddy!"

The frosting of the cookies, turned into eating the frosting. Eating the frosting, turned into fistfuls of sprinkles to the mouth and now...can you say SUGAR BUZZ?! What a wonderful experience on Day 1!!! Towards the end of our evening, Big Brownie asked, "Can I read it?" I asked, "Read what?" He said, "Can I read the bible?" So, we opened the bible and read our verse for the night again and when we finished, he complimented me too saying, "Good reading Mommy".

So excited to share this with Daddy Brown and the Brownies. Can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring on Day 2 of Advent.





Monday, November 30, 2009

Tis the Season

So in a few minutes, it will officially be December 1st and I cannot believe how quickly this year has flown by. It seems like yesterday that Big Brownie was 6 months old and it was his 1st Christmas. We came downstairs Christmas morning and opened our gifts. Big Brownie got a Build-a-Bear that I slept with for 2 weeks prior to Christmas. I wanted it to have my smell so when we moved him into his crib in his own room, he would have the sense that I was there...and I washed it in my favorite Brownies detergent, so to me, it was like having him with me too. He also received an Elmo walker and some other fun toys.

Last year for convenience, we decided to place our Christmas Tree in our playroom. Little Brownie was 2 1/2 months old and on his first Christmas, he slept in his swing wearing his candy cane striped pajamas as we opened our gifts. In between feedings, he received some flickering and blinking toys that sang and talked to him. He too received his first Build-a-Bear, that of course, I slept with as well. Big Brownie received a Semi-Truck that was loaded up with matchbox cars and a slue of other cars, trucks and balls.

Big Brownie is finally understanding the concepts of Christmas. He now knows that there is a Santa Clause, but he only thinks he is coming to visit us. He knows that there is a Baby Jesus and that we get to sing "Happy Birthday to Jesus". We have been talking about Jesus and how his life and death saves our lives. It completely AMAZES me when something actually sticks and I realize how smart and astute Big Brownie really is. This morning, after a long discussion about Santa Clause and Christmas, I was making breakfast in the kitchen. I heard Big Brownie talking to Little Brownie. He said, "Wanna go to the store to see Santa? I want to give him a BIG hug and a BIG kiss." I smiled and started to walk in, but then I heard, "Close your eyes, put your hands together and let's pray...Jesus, help us go to the store to see Santa, in Jesus name we pray, AMEN!"

I'll admit, I started to cried. Little Brownie all the while is sitting there just listening to his big brother and imitating his actions. He exclaims "AAAAMMMEENNN!" and then "YAY!!!" It made me so happy to know that Big Brownie understands the concept of asking Jesus for his wants, and to him, his needs. And further, that he is also teaching Little Brownie as well. Moments like these help me to know that the Brownies are understanding what I say, even more so than I ever knew.

About a week and a half ago, I heard several people around me say things like, "We are going to Advent the Season". I had heard of an Advent Calendar, heck, I even put one out for decoration each year. But I'll be honest, I really didn't know that meant. So I called Gran-Gran and asked. She explained that it is a time to prepare for the birth Jesus. A time to teach our little ones why we even celebrate December 25th to begin with. Traditionally, Advent is done either on the 4 Sunday's before Christmas or as a daily offering beginning on December 1st. But certainly, I think any time dedicated to this, anytime of year, applies.

So beginning tomorrow, we are starting a daily Advent of the season. I cannot wait. I am making a paper Christmas Advent Chain and on each link, I'll have a scripture to read and a quick and simple activity. I know and do not expect that this will go well every evening, when we sit down to read the bible together as a family and then try to have a discussion with our 1 and 2 year old. However, I believe every year, it will get easier and they will understand more and more. I want them to understand that the holiday of Christmas is not only about the gifts and Santa Clause, but more importantly that on this day, the day that Christ Jesus was born, was the beginning of our Saviors life. 'Tis the Season for a new family tradition.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sisters...

Have you ever seen the movie, White Christmas with Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra? It is a favorite at our house around the holidays. There is a number in the movie called Sisters. I remember as a child, acting like Vera Ellen and Rosemary Clooney, a.k.a, "The Haynes Sisters" and singing this song with my sisters. I have two sisters, Aunt Apple and Aunt Berry. I also have a sister-in-law, Aunt Fudge that is as much of a sister as my biological ones.

Aunt Apple and Aunt Berry are twins and are three years older than I. We are all very similar creatures and we share more than just our dark hair and dark eyes. I think we are all each others best friend. It is true that at times, I will feel closer to one sister than another. Not for any particular reason, we simply all relate on so many levels. We all share a love for the same music and a lot of the same movies. I love sitting and sharing with them. They are the keeper of so many secrets...good and bad. They are the keeper of so many emotions...good and bad. I don't know how I would have been able to make it through life without them and they are so good with my Brownies.

Aunt Fudge and I are very close too. She is a few years old than I. She is a great mother and she has the best laugh around. I love making her laugh and I enjoy our conversations. I think we have really grown closer over the last few years as I've become a Mama. She loves my Brownies like they were her own. She is a great sister to Daddy Brown. They can joke and give each other a hard time, without a hard feeling afterwards. I love to see them hug each other. There is a different bond that a brother and sister have and they share a close one. Daddy Brown is still very much a protective brother, even though he is the baby.

The good thing about having sisters throughout my life is that I could always get a hold of one at just about any given moment. Of course in the new age of technology, I can communicate through text messages and emails as easily as picking up the phone. However, there just is nothing greater than having a sister to sit and share or to call upon when you are in a crunch time to get the house clean for company or to help with the laundry or to pick up a child when you are having one of those days and need to breathe...or, or, or. I know I can call any one of my 3 sisters at anytime day or night and they would be here to help me in a flash. I'm pretty sure they know they same about me.

However, that is not always the case. Some families have sisters that are in competition with one another. Either for the parents love and affection, or careers. Some siblings have problems relating to one another, or communicating at all. It makes me sad to know that some family members choose not to be apart of their own families. Be it an argument, a regrettable word spoken or an action that causes irreconcilable differences, it makes me wonder how they don't pain to be apart of their family. As with every family, you have your peaks and valleys. You have your moments where your limits are met and you need a break. However, I yearn to be apart of every member of my families life.

It is Thanksgiving Day and I'm so thankful to have my family. I'm so thankful that I have sisters. If the Good Lord decides that our family is complete, I'm glad Big Brownie and Little Brownie have each other to lean on. I pray that they are close to one another. Once Daddy Brown and I are gone, hopefully many years from now, I pray they will lean on each other the way I lean on my sisters. It is, to say the least, comforting to be apart of their lives. "Sister, Sisters, there were never such devoted Sisters...", I think I could still belt out this song and give Rosemary Clooney a run for her money. But I don't have to...I know that my sisters and I are devoted beyond measure.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Green Squared...

I am proud to say to date I have yet to "spank" either of our Brownies. This doesn't include the time I have popped Big Brownies hand for spitting his medicine in my face or when he began kicking me while trying to put his pants on him. However, there has to be some form of consequence to bear for unacceptable behavior. Back in early Spring, I found a couple of colored carpet square samples and decided I needed these as "time-out" placements. So now anytime Big Brownie is exhibiting poor and unacceptable behavior, he gets to sit for 2 minutes on the "Green Square".

That being said, to date, Little Brownie has not exhibited such unsatisfactory behavior that has warranted such discipline...until last night. I knew it was coming in part, because he had only had about a 15 minute nap, but still not an excuse for unacceptable behavior. Big Brownie was playing with his cars and Little Brownie decided he wanted one. Because he is just learning that the world doesn't revolve around him, I'm trying to teach him not only to share with Big Brownie, but to also put out his hand and ask Big Brownie if he wants Big Brownie to share with him. This is not going well, but I'm trying to be consistent with this teaching. He reached for a car and decided he wanted them all. When Big Brownie reacted and told him "NO", Little Brownie reached out his hand. For a moment, I thought it was working, I thought we was asking Big Brownie for a car. The word "Psych" entered my brain when he reached out and grabbed a handful of Big Brownies hair and not only pulled hard, but began thrashing around so that he could really inflict the pain.

As this is unfolding before my eyes, I realize, Little Brownie isn't so little any longer. I have known for several months, he has a tendency to be more physical than Big Brownie. As the youngest and I may add, sometimes meanest baby of my family, I know that sometimes in order to get what you want, you have to fight for it. However, Little Brownie being only 14 months old, I wasn't expecting to deal with this so early in his little life. I ran to Big Brownies aid and Little Brownie had a good firm grip on Big Brownie. I finally got them apart and I swooped Little Brownie up for immediate discipline. Not having to officially discipline him before, I looked around in dismay. Like a traffic light appears at night so bright and colorful, the "Green Square" called my name.

We haven't had to really use the Green Square in quite a while. I took Little Brownie to the square, I placed him firmly on it and I told him that because he was mean to his brother, he had to sit there for 1 minute. Of course, he has NO clue what I'm saying. I walk away to attend to Big Brownie and he gets up quickly. I put him back on square and explained again that he had to sit there for pulling hair. I knew in the back of my mind that he didn't understand the concept, but I needed to be consistent and that I needed to put him there a maximum of 3 times to try to instill in him there is a consequence to his poor behavior. After the 3rd time, I brought Big Brownie over and told Little Brownie to say he was sorry. He made a good attempt at saying what I like to believe is "I'm sorry" and then we all hugged and kissed each other.

This was very difficult for me...why? Because my natural reaction to most extreme behavior is to spank. I was spanked as a child and so was Daddy Brown. We do very much believe in the punishment. However, we want to make sure the punishment fits the crime and we only want to inflict this punishment when there really are no other options. I hear myself in my head, often when the Brownies do something unacceptable, think..."I COULD BEAT YOU!!!" or "YOU ARE KILLING ME!!!" However, I have to take a step back, take a deep breath and realize that I need to teach my boys how to resolve conflict and be kind and respectful to one another and each others belongings.

We've made it 29 months with Big Brownie, hopeful we can do the same and more with Little Brownie. That being said, Little Brownie is now very much aware of the Green Square. And by the way, Big Brownie is getting a hair cut today.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mom...the Medicine Woman

Yesterday, the Brownies and I went to visit Tutu Nani for a few minutes and we had such a good time, we ended up visiting for a couple of hours. When we left, Little Brownie fell asleep on the way home. I drove around to allow Little Brownie to rest and in hopes that Big Brownie would also fall asleep, but he was a nap holdout. Once Little Brownie woke, Big Brownie was starting to get really cranky so rather than coming home and dealing with cranky Brownie, we went to our favorite store, Super Target to look at the Christmas lights and get some milk. We spent about an hour and Big Brownie got his second wind. We came home and started watching the movie "Up" that Tutu Nani let us borrow. The Brownies were really enjoying their first full-length feature film at home and it gave Daddy Brown and I a chance to catch up on our day.

Daddy Brown has not been feeling well the last couple of days due to sinuses, so I have been trying to step up my evenings as Super Mom and allow him to rest and relax as best he can. About 7:30p, Little Brownie was done, done, done. He wanted his bottle of milk, a fresh diaper and his bed. I was happy to oblige this request. Big Brownie was now on his third wind and I could tell he was running on fumes. We kissed Daddy Brown good night and went upstairs to read 3 new books, say our prayers, sing our nighttime songs and off to sleep...this is not what occurred!!!

I put Big Brownies pj's on, I began to read his 1st book, Roar with a Snore. All the while asking me for a snack, which we had, and his juice. I reminded him where his snack and juice were...in the bed. His response, "Oh, Oh right". We moved to our second new book, God gave us Christmas, and we began to really lose interest and began jumping on his bed instead. My temperature begins to rise as this is supposed to be our quiet night time routine. I ask him to sit down. We finish this book and go to our last book, Fancy Nancy. He was just done by this time and begins jumping off the bed and bumps his head on the side of the "soft" mattress. It was on from then on.

I kissed his head and it was "all better", as per Big Brownie. I laid him down, turned off the lights and laid down with him. We said our prayers and I began singing his favorite 3 bedtime songs...Hawaiian like me, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and The Itsy Bitsy Spider. Out like a light or so I thought. I tiptoed out of his room and into bed. Daddy Brown and I were watching a movie and we hear Big Brownie screaming, "I want to hold you"...translation "please come hold me". I spring from the bed and into his room. I lay down and put my arms around him. Back to sleep he went. I tiptoed out again, and a few minutes later, the same thing. So, I asked him if he wanted me to sleep in his bed with him. "Um-hum" was his reply.

As we finally get into our sleeping positions and as I kiss his head, cheeks and hands, I became curious...what does the Good Lord put in a Mother's kiss that can heal almost all wounds? The warmth of my hand that makes him know I'm there. What security does the Lord give to little ones that cry out for their Moms and Dads and they know and rely on us as parents to heal their "boo-boo's"? The assurance that we are here for them and that our kisses can "make it all better". As Big Brownie drifts off to sleep, I kissed his head one more time and in his sleepy voice, "thank you for helping me fix my boo-boo". I told him, "You're welcome and I love you." He replies, "I love you too Mommy".

As I lay there, I began to pray for all the blessings in my life. I thank him that I can hear these words from my Brownie. I thank him for giving me such wonderful Brownies, even when they aren't so wonderful. It reminds me to be thankful that Jesus died on the cross for our wounds and this heals us everyday. It reminds me that we truly are made in the image of him, and when we are less than favorable children to him, he will kiss us and make it all better. Finally, I thank him for giving me the special medicine of a kiss and that it can seemingly heal all wounds.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"T.G.I.T."...Thank Goodness It's Thursday!!!

The last couple of nights the Brownies have been suffering from runny noses and nasal congestion. This has caused a few interruptions of Mama Brown's sleep. And if you know me, you know, I LOVE MY SLEEP!!! The runny noses seem to be nothing more than the seasonal changes. In the midst of this, I have tried to remain positive and thankful. So this post is dedicated to all things awesome.

Today, the Brownies and I ventured out into the day to run an errand. We ended up at the Super Target to pick up a few ingredients for Taco Soup. As soon as we walk in, Big Brownie begins negotiating when we can go see the Christmas lights. He loves to see all the Christmas decorations and it is truly like kryptonite to Big Brownie. I explain that once we had picked up all our items, we can visit the light area. He begins to rattle off my shopping list..."paper towels, milk, orange juice, cheese...are we done Mommy?" Once we are done, we head to the Christmas light section, I allow him out of the buggy and watch as his eyes light up so wonderfully. He watches the trains go round and round, the reindeer heads move, Santa wave, etc. It makes me smile to see his excitement in the little joys of life.

When we say grace at the table before our meal, we have always recited the same prayer..."God is Great, God is Good, Let us thank him for our food, In Jesus name we pray, Amen." At the end Big Brownie has always been allowed to conclude our prayer with the "Amen". He is now able to recite the prayer by heart and that makes my heart sing. Little Brownie understands when we say, "Let's pray", this means to put your hands together. This week, Little Brownie has figured out there is a part for the littlest Brownie in the family. As we concluded our prayer, he exclaimed "AAAAAMMMMEEENNNN!" I choked back the tears and we all said "YAY!". He smiled back at me knowing that I was so proud of him.

Today, I have officially completed 4 loads of laundry and have like 40 more, not really. However, I opened the door of the garage to see if Daddy Brown had any laundry to be washed. I took my first step, second step and third step down the stairs and noticed a small movement out of the corner of my eye. In a mason jar at the bottom of the steps, a small mouse was stuck. I am 100% sure I scared him as much as he scared me. He ran circles in the jar and finally jumped out and ran under the steps. I ran back in to the house and to the phone. I stepped on a brown leaf on the floor and it crunched under my foot and I jumped again. I called Daddy Brown and told him of our little visitor in the garage. I'm thankful for a husband that can do the honey-do's and does them without complaining. I love the Disney movie "Ratatouille", but that is as close of a relationship I want to have to our furry friends.

I love to see the Brownies beginning to really interact with each other. Sometimes that is a good thing and sometime not so good. Last night for instance, Big Brownie wanted some Fruity Peebles cereal as a snack. I put some in a baggy and told him to sit on the couch in the living room to eat it. Daddy Brown and I were distracted until we heard sounds of glee coming from the living room. Big Brownie and Little Brownie were throwing Fruity Peebles in the air as if they were playing in leaves outside. I know I should have stopped them from making a mess, but what is life with a mess...besides, what the dogs didn't devour after bedtime commenced, I vacuumed up this morning.

Later in the evening, Big Brownie was done playing with Little Brownie, but Little Brownie wanted to do everything Big Brownie was doing. Big Brownie finally told him "NO" and pushed him down. I nearly had a come-apart. I can handle most anything, but physical altercations are the line in the sand. After a good talking to, a time out, an apology and a hug, we were all one big happy family again.

I'm also thankful that it is Thursday and it is a BEAUTIFUL day outside. I love the sunshine and the Good Lord knew that I needed it today.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

11th Heaven

Today, 11 years ago, Daddy Brown and I stood before a small group of family, friends and God and vowed to love, obey, honor, and cherish each other for the remainder of our days. Vows that to this day are the most precious and important words ever spoken to me by the love of my life.

There has to be a beginning to every relationship and ours began back in our teenage years. Although Daddy Brown and I lived within 5 miles of each other in a small town in Middle Tennessee, we had never officially met. Well, we were in a karate class when we were little kids, but he mostly kicked my butt and laughed at me, so we really didn't have a hopeful future. We went to separate schools and separate churches. Only by a mutual friend did we have an official chance meeting. An awkward introduction in the 10th grade at a Friday night football game that ended up with Daddy Brown teasing me over a silly stuffed animal I was carrying for a social group I was apart.

I'll be honest, I didn't give Daddy Brown a second look...I didn't. Daddy Brown was a big athlete. Many of the girls swooned around him, but I didn't. It wasn't that I didn't find him attractive or interesting, it was that I was dating someone else and had been for almost a year. My eyes were not open to anything beyond that initial meeting. However, Daddy Brown told me long after we were married that he knew there was something special about me. He called me shortly after we first met and I remember my sister telling me some guy that sounds like Forest Gump was on the phone. He was so polite, he even called me ma'am. We here in the south do have an accent. Because I just wasn't interested, I actually just blew him off.

Over the next couple of years, we crossed each others path and exchanged pleasantries. He dated other people and so did I. The summer we graduated high school, I went to the movies with a friend and Daddy Brown was sitting on the curb of the local theater with his friends. We passed them with a wave and a smile. Later that night, my friend and I were enjoying ice cream at Baskin Robbins and Daddy Brown drove by in his silver Mazda RX-7, I still love that car. I yelled out his name as he drove past. Not knowing who had called out his name, Daddy Brown circled around and drove in. We all shared some small talk. He joined us as I ran an errand to Kroger to pick up rice for my mother. I had a friend that worked at Krogers that was chinese and his nickname was "Chops". I walked in and asked Chops where the rice aisle was located. Because Daddy Brown and I didn't go to the same school, he thought I was actually making fun of a china-man. He still makes fun of me for calling a chinese guy "Chops"...but that really was his nickname!

A few weeks later, I was washing my car in the driveway. I was not expecting to see anyone that day and I was not looking very presentable. To this day, I'm still a little embarrassed as to my attire. Daddy Brown was visiting a friend that lived in my neighborhood and happened to drive by my house. Being the gentleman that he is, he stopped and offered to help me. He teased me about the poor job I was doing and we laughed and giggled and smiled. Over the next couple of months, we talked on the phone, shared a movie or two and a few meals. We began to develop a friendship.

Then one day, he came to visit me at my house and I remember the moment I looked at him and I lost my words. I couldn't remember what I was saying, what I was going to say or what to say for that matter. I could hardly breathe. He was getting ready to leave and I kissed him. Yes people...I kissed him. It happens. In my mind, I had to know if he would kiss me back and...he did. From that moment on, it has been a journey together. We dated for 4 years and then we decided to spend the rest of our days discovering everything we could about each other, about life and about what was in store of us.

On the day of our wedding, I remember thinking, today I will be married to the man of my dreams. Married to the man that God has given me. What a gift, what an honor, what a life. When I stood at the back of the church with my dad, I remember looking at my husband to be and I cried. My dad looked at me and said, "Oh...it's not too late if you don't want to do this." I told him, "This is exactly what I'm supposed to be doing." Such a good Dad!!! My sister gave me a handkerchief and said, "I think you are going to need this. " Within 15 minutes, I became Mama Brown.

It would be nearly 8 years before we began a family. That was truly by design. Daddy Brown and I wanted to enjoy each other. We wanted to be just the two of us for the only time in our lives. When we got married, we had been together for almost 5 years but we needed to really get to know each other before starting our family. I think all newly married couples should wait and I'm glad we did. Of course, when we became pregnant and told everyone we were expecting, we shocked everyone...I'll share that in another post.

So...on this day, at 3:15p, we will have been married for 11 years. Not only am I in love, but I'm in like with Daddy Brown. I can honestly say, Daddy Brown continues to surprise me. He continues to make me laugh and smile. He continues to comfort me when I cry and he continues to make me feel like I'm the most important person in his life. I hope I do the same for him. I hope I am the best wife and life partner he could have ever imagined. I hope that I'm the person his parents prayed for their son. I pray we have the best years of our life ahead of us. I can't imagine our lives any different and I can't imagine it being any better. He is my best friend and he is my rock. 11 heavenly years down and hopefully many more to go.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thankful Thursday...

Taking a page from my friend over at With these hands, I wanted to express my love, affection and thanksgiving for my sweet Mama (Tutu Nani). It is her birthday and today, she is 56 years young. She was born and raised in Hawaii and moved at the age of 10 to Texas with her Dad, Mom and 4 brothers. Tutu Nani is the 4th and only daughter of 5 children. She met and married my Dad (Papa) in 3 months back in 1972 and 9 months later, gave birth to my twin sisters (Aunt Apple and Aunt Berry). Three years later by the hand of God, she gave birth to me. The Good Lord had a plan for all of us and I am so glad he did.

Tutu Nani and Papa were like most families, even today, struggling in the beginning to make it work. In her desire to be a stay at home mom, she began watching babies and kids in our home during the day. When she started, we had up to 20 kids in our home. This obviously was before she was licensed. Several years went by and she became licensed and began her true journey as an in-home care provider. Many of the kids that were apart of the day care, truly became part of our family. She began training other in-home providers and eventually began a non-profit organization to help support in-home providers. After 19 years in the business, and once I had officially left home, she closed her day care and began training full-time. She wrote a grant and received federal funding for the support of in-home providers and their continuing education. The grant is currently funded at over a quarter million dollars and has began its 11th successful year. She travels all over the State of Tennessee and has a presence in all 95 counties. She works extremely hard and has been recognized with prestigious honors from all over the country. She is asked to be involved as keynote speakers for many conferences and has even traveled to fight for children on Capital Hill in Washington DC. She is a rock, she is a defender, she is MY MAMA!!!

In the midst of building a successful career, she never took her first priority of raising us three girls lightly. She was very much an overprotective mom. She wielded a heavy hand if she needed but also has the softest touch and lightest kiss. I'm so very thankful that the Lord picked her to be my Mom and I know that because of my upbringing, I'm the best Mom that I can be to the Brownies. I thank God everyday for her and I am thankful for every minute I get to spend with her. So, on this Thursday, November 12, 2009, I am thankful for her, I am proud of her, I love her!!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

S'more Fall Fun anyone?

Ahhh...to enjoy one more beautiful evening!!! We had an impromptu bonfire this past Sunday and enjoyed one last day of yummy weather, food and family. Bonfire...check, hot dogs...check, s'mores...check, popcorn and a movie....check check.

What an adventure. Aside from a technical difficulty with the sound, we still enjoyed watching, "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" in the backyard. Since we were sick during Halloween, the Brownies got to run around in their "Indian" and "Horse" costume. We had so much fun laughing and enjoying one another over a bonfire. Something about the brisk fall evening air, hearing conversations between loved ones and watching the twinkle in a young child's eye makes me ever more thankful. This is what it's truly all about.






What a great night we had!!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Who am I?

Ever felt the Lord "slap" you in the face with a message that is undeniable? For almost an entire day this past week, I was not my normal self. I was in a less than desirable mood for all the Brownies. On this particular day I put the boys down for a nap and began to search for something to change my mood. Music usually makes me feel better, so I flipped through some old music CD's. What did I find...Who am I? by Watermark.

It is the last track of the CD, so when I put it in the computer to listen, for whatever reason, it went straight to this track and began to play. Tears, tears and more tears. I fell to my knees and asked for forgiveness. I haven't had a quiet time with my Father in quite some time. I was looking for something tangible to lift me, when all I need is him. I went to my bible. I read, I prayed, I cried and felt him cover me with his grace. Here are just a few of the verses that spoke to me...

Ephesians 6:24 says "Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love"

1 Thessalonians 5:11 says "Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing."

The lyrics are scrolling below of this song by Watermark...but here is the main chorus:

Who am I that you would love me so gently?
Who am I that you would recognize my name?
Lord, who am I that you would speak to me so softly
Conversation with the love most high
Who am I?

Renewed strength and renewed desire to know him. I've dedicated and enjoyed every free minute I have with him. Reading, praying and most of all...listening. It is in him that I find the most comfort. Who am I...I am a sinner. Who am I...I am imperfect. Who am I...I am HIS!!!



Lyrics | Watermark - Who Am I lyrics

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wonderful Wednesday...

What a beautiful Fall day in Tennessee!!! It truly could not have been a better day for the Brownies and I to have an adventure in our own backyard. We had over 3 hours of exploration, playtime, learning and fun. We began with swings and our new slide adventure. We ran with the dogs, examined the different colors of the leaves, found berries and sticks, and watched as the hay in the back field was cut by a HUGE tractor. The boys are exhausted to say the least and after a quick lunch and clean up are down for their very late naps. What a wonderful Wednesday this has been!!!










Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Silver Linings...

The definition of a "silver lining" is as follows...A hopeful or comforting prospect in the midst of difficulty. I think I'm blessed to have an optimistic outlook on life. It has been a huge week to search for the little silver linings or blessings around here.

This past week, our family came in contact with Hand, Foot and Mouth disease. Not sure where, not sure how, but neverless, it jumped up into the air and landed square on the Brown household. Without going into the specific gross and unappealing details, we suffered from mouth ulcers and painful sores on our hands and feet. Fevers, irritations, lack of sleep or the inability to sleep, created some pretty touchy moments. Myself and Big Brownie were the only two affected.

The blessing in a couple of ways. Even though I really wish I had not contracted the illness, I was actually happy to suffer with my Big Brownie. By being sick with the exact illness at the exact same time, I was able to know what he was going through and have the right amount of compassion and sympathy for his pains. So infrequently as parents, we have knowledge of exactly what our children are going through. When they are teething, we have a sense of the pain...but not really to what extent. We just know our children are suffering. Depending on our mood or our own amount of patience, we may react to certain symptoms and not so much to others that don't seem to be that big of a deal.

Since the Big Brownie's mouth was so tender from the mouth ulcers, he couldn't use his comforting "binky" the entire weekend. So, now that he is better, he doesn't need it at all!!! YAY!!! Little Brownie and Daddy Brown didn't get sick. This actually gave them time to be just with each other and bond. Little Brownie has been a BIG mama's boy, but now, he is also a BIG daddy's boy too.

Today, my sister (Aunt Apple), ended up in the ER. Myself, the Brownies, my other sister (Aunt Berry), my mom (Tutu Nani) and my father (Papa), all surrounded Aunt Apple with uncertainty of what was happening. Faulty equipment and an inexperienced technician at a physician's office, didn't make for a great medical experience. Once at the ER, she was given the proper tests by trained personnel and she is ok. The blessing? The obvious...she is ok. The hidden blessing...even though she had a poor reading at the physician's office by a technician and faulty equipment, she at least had a physician that followed through and contacted the hospital to find out what was the best course of action for Aunt Apple. So glad that the end result was good news, but what if the equipment wasn't faulty and the test they ran was accurate. The physician followed through with proper protocol based on what information was presented to her.

Life throws us all curve balls and sometimes...hard balls. How do you handle the difficulties in life? Do you complain? Do you have a bad attitude? Do you turn to the bottle or other things? OR...do you look for the positives? Look for the silver linings in life, it is what keeps me going. I admit, there are times that I turn to the dark side and complain about a situation that didn't go my way. Then I'm reminded that others may have a more difficult situation or life than me. I remember how blessed I am and what a hopeful life we lead. Silver linings are the little blessings from God that tells you he does have compassion, he does believe in you and he is ultimately in control of it all. Every cloud has a silver lining...have you found yours today? It's there...just look for it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Very Merry Un-Birthday to you...

Today has been an awesome day with the Brownies. We had a play date with a dear friend and her son, who is 6 days older than Big Brownie, at JumpZone in Franklin. It was our first experience and the Brownies couldn't get enough. I had to venture up a few of the "bouncy's" so that the Brownies would know what to do. I got a little dizzy and was quite uncomfortable, but had a blast. After the JumpZone experience and a quick bite to eat, we had an awesome early afternoon visit with Daddy Brown, Pops and the all the sweet ladies at the Franklin courthouse.

Naptime was a little challenging with all the excitement of the morning and early afternoon. Little Brownie flopped around in his crib until finally playing out. However, Big Brownie was persistent about coming out of his bed to tell me such tidbits like, "Mommy, I'm out of juice", "Mama, I hear a baby crying", and "Mommy, I need to use the Big Boy Potty" Ultimately, I had to lay down with Big Brownie in order to get his nap in for the day. We all woke in a much better mood.

After having supper, I decided to make some impromptu, super simple Pumpkin Spice Muffins that a dear friend made for us this past weekend. Once Big Brownie figured out I was baking "Cupcakes", he declared it a birthday party. We had candles and we sang Happy Birthday to Everybody. Now that the sugar buzz is finally dwindling, we are hoping for an uneventful, quick bath and bedtime. Daddy Brown and Mama Brown are pretty tired. Not sure how the Brownies are like the energizer bunny, because they do keep going and going and going. It has been a great day that ended with a Very Merry Un-Birthday to YOU!!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thank you, Thank you...


So...I've been officially blogging for what...52 days and I received an award!!! Thank you, thank you very much to my reunited buddy from WAY back in the days of high school...see her blog here...Memoirs of a Farmwife, for such a sweet recognition. Taking a page from her book, I'm apparently supposed to divulge 6 unknown things about myself (so difficult) and then I get to award 6 new blogger recipients...so here we go.

1. My mom was born and raised, until the age of 8 - (correction...age 10 as per my Mama), in the beautiful state of Hawaii. When my older sisters were born, they were given an official Hawaiian name at birth. Because my dad wanted me to have an all American name, I was named after my grandmother on my dad's side. When my mom took us to Hawaii for the first time, I met my mom's Godmother, Aunty NKS. When Aunty NKS found out I wasn't given a Hawaiian name at birth, she gave me hers...Kawailani. Kawailani means, The Heavenly Water.

2. When the boys go down for their nap, you can catch me watching Olivia on Nick Jr. It is one of my favorite little shows and I'm somewhat addicted. Sad...I know.

3. I loved being pregnant. Not that I'm having baby fever at the current moment, but I love the experience of carrying my baby with me 24/7 and feeling the movements. The only time in their entire life that you can literally take them everywhere.

4. When I was younger, my mom pierced my ears several times. I apparently have FAT EAR LOBES!!! Geez, couldn't I at least have skinny ears? Nope and they stick out! This was the apparent reason for the repeated infections and finally we gave up. When I was 22 and married, I finally decided I was old enough to try it again. Daddy Brown and I administered all the first aid care needed and finally, I have pierced ears. Even though they are pierced, you RARELY see me with earrings...KIDS!!!

5. Each year, I try a new vegetable to see if my taste buds have matured. This year, I tried a tomato and almost chucked. Well, I accidentally took a bite in a hamburger that hadn't had a tomato-ectomy. That counts right?

6. I am a stay at home mom and for the first time in my life, I feel like I'm doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing at exactly the right time.

Ok, that was so challenging. Now...here we go! And the winners are:

Baby Brown...no relation. Updates about their newest family member and the new trials of being Mr. Mom.

Team Martins over at With These Hands has a beautiful blog.

Tennessee Party of Five...just made it a party of Six this week...Congratulations!!!

I'm a huge Grey's Anatomy fan...most of the time I have to catch it online after the fact. If you are a fan...you should check out Sally Loftis blog review of Grey's Anatomy, Movie Reviews, Twilight Bible Study and others.

I love this blog for her creativity and wit. Check her out at Small Fry & Co.

And last but certainly not least...A Sneak Peak. Our children were born literally within days of each other. I love to keep up with...as she gracefully puts it..."of our often chaotic, sometimes boring, but we think exciting, loveable, beautiful life."

So...there you have it. Some great blogs to visit and not so interesting, unknown facts about me. Thank you, thank you...it definitely took an award for this post to happen!!!