Monday, September 29, 2008

Writing with a Heavy Heart...........

First I'll let you see the pictures from the wedding this past Saturday of Zoe's daycare teacher Amanda. Zoe really enjoyed being part of Miss Amanda's special day. I think she realized how neat it was that Miss Amanda picked her to be the flower girl when she could have asked anyone...........I might also add that Zoe looked pretty darn cute too!!!!!

In front of some of the decorations....

What a smile!

Posing without being asked!

Mama's Little Cutie!

Lovin' the dress!

Zoe & Patrick, the ring bearer!

The entire wedding party.......

Zoe & Miss Clara (another of her daycare teachers)!

Zoe & Miss Brittany (another daycare teacher)!

Zoe & friend Courtney dancing at the reception!

Zoe with a new bouquet of flowers that she collected off of the reception tables!

Why a Heavy Heart?...............This morning a farming accident in our little town of 1,400 claimed the life of a young husband/father. Nick, age 27, lost his life when he became buried in a grain bin full of corn. Nick & Erica had been married a little over two years & have a 6 month old son named Braxton. Our friend Sue, who happens to be Nick's neighbor says it best:

Just when you think things can’t get any worse, they do. Today we lost a friend, fellow firefighter and our neighbor, Nick R. at approximately 9am. He was only 27 years old and a young dad, Braxton is 6 months old. Married just 2 years to a great gal, Erica. Nick and Erica made you feel like family every time you were with them. I worked with Nick’s oldest sister, Camille. She worked part time at the bank before leaving for college several years ago. Today is her birthday. My son Jimmie was a classmate of Nick’s youngest sister Chrysse. Nick and Erica were to be in Erica’s brothers wedding this Saturday.

Nick was the kind of guy that would do anything for you; he worked hard at farming and he loved every detail of farming. He also was said to be one of the greatest basketball referee’s in these parts. I don’t have any personal experience with basketball, but I’ve been told that he wasn’t far from refereeing the NCAA Division I games like his uncle Greg.

My husband Lyle
was first on scene and did everything he could to try to get to Nick. Nick was buried in a grain bin full of corn. He didn’t have much time before suffocating. They just didn’t have enough time to save him. Even cutting holes in the sides of the bin and using a trackhoe to dig into the bin; there just wasn’t enough time.

I’m sitting here in my office at home watching the huge grain trucks rolling by filled with corn. My husband Lyle, and sons Jim and Luke
are among some great neighbors and friends that will haul all the corn to the elevator all night if they have to, just because they want to help. By helping you feel better. And Nick would do that for anyone else too, ANYONE.

I don’t know who is going to mow the weeds on the sides of the road now. Nick was a stickler for mowing. He never let the grass in his yard get too long. And he took care of the neighborhood making sure the weeds were cut down in the ditches.

He was a fireman too. When Lyle, Luke and Jim
would get a call, they’d holler as they were scrambling to get out of the house, “hurry, if you want to beat Nick.” They never did.

Nick beat them all today; I wonder what kind of task God needed him for??

As I leave you with this post, I have a prayer request: Please keep Nick's family & friends in your thoughts & prayers. It's going to be a very tough week for all of them. Perhaps some peace & comfort will come to them as we storm the gates of Heaven asking for God's blessing.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Catching Up is Always Hard to Do

As you know, it was a crazy week for us. Not only did we have something going every night, but Paul ended up getting three calls (for those of you just joining us, my husband Paul is a funeral director) during the week. So, that had us rearranging our schedules.

The highlight of the week was the wedding that took place yesterday that Zoe was the flower girl in. The wedding had a harvest theme & was held outside. I was a little sceptical at first about the site, but I do have to admit that it was probably one of the prettiest weddings that I've ever witnessed. It helped that it as in the low 80's with a light breeze. The decorations were gorgeous! I apologize but you are going to have to wait until tomorrow to see pictures of Zoe, the bride & groom, decorations, etc. I accidently left my memory card reader at school on Friday so I have no way of uploading my pictures.

Zoe also had a great first piano lesson. She was thrilled to have Lyndsay spend a half hour with her showing her where to put her fingers on the piano & explaining to her about using both her right & left hands. Immediately when we walked in the door from her lesson, she went straight to the piano & started practicing. I know she's only 4 & is very excited, but we haven't had to tell her to practice yet. So far, she practiced every day at least once a day.

Today was spent trying to get everything caught up around here. Not only laundry, but there was mail to go through, phone calls to return, e-mails to answer, etc. Seemed like everytime I turned around, I was adding two more things to my "To Do" list. It's hard to get caught up when there's so much to be done.

Paul & I received an e-mail from Half the Sky, the organization that provided Zoe's nanny while she lived at her orphanage in China. Anyway, we try to do some type of fundraiser each year with 100% of the proceeds to be used specifically for Zoe's orphanage through Half the Sky. Well, this year we held a golf tournament & raised over $4000. Now Half the Sky wants to feature our fundraiser on its website. So, in the next day or so, I have to get an article together along with a picture of Zoe & e-mail it to them. We're pretty excited about it; hoping it will inspire others to host their own type of fundraiser for the children living at orphanages world wide.

Speaking of inspiration......our little friend, Gunner Gillespie, is really having a tough time right now. Gunner is suffering from an inoperable tumor on his brain stem. The type of tumor he has is called a pontine glioma. It is highly aggressive, highly malignant, treatment resistant and recurrent. It is an exceedingly rare form of terminal cancer that mostly affects children between the ages of 4-10 years old. Please keep Gunner & his family in your thoughts & prayers.

Did you know that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month? You might have, but most people do not. Why? Because there is not much about it in the media. According to an article in the New York times, “Cancer is the No. 1 disease killer of children in the U.S. ...We tend to talk about it in hushed tones instead of screaming for help. But scream we should.” The article goes on to say, “The funding for pediatric cancer clinical trials has gone down every year since 2003, and is currently $26.4 million. By comparison, funding for AIDS research was $254 million in 2006; funding for breast cancer topped $584 million the same year.” Pretty unbelievable, huh? I can't imagine the frustration & dispair these families must feel. Will you help promote awareness to this devastating disease? Together we can bring it to the fore front.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Busy Week Ahead

Wow! It's gonna be a crazy (& I'm afraid - a long) week. Here's the schedule thus far:

Monday - Zoe has gymnastics from 4 to 6 PM. It's always a challenge to get there on time since I can't leave school until 3:05 PM, drive 25 minutes home to pick her up, & then make a mad dash to the gym which is 1/2 hour away!

Tuesday - I have detention after school (No, I am not in trouble, I proctor detention at my school for those students who DID do something to warrant such a thing) & then Paul has a village board meeting.

Wednesday - I have to go pick up Zoe's flower girl dress at the dress shop in a nearby (30 minutes from us) town. Paul will be taking Zoe to her first piano lesson at 7 PM.

Thursday - I have a school board meeting at 7:30 PM. (Yes, I am on the local school board in the town in which we reside.) Paul has a another village board meeting at 7 PM but he thinks it won't last very long.

Friday - Rehearsal for the wedding that Zoe is the flower girl. Haven't heard any of the details yet.

Saturday - Wedding day. Zoe is getting her hair done at 11:30 & then she must be at the wedding site at 1 PM for pictures. The wedding is outdoors & starts at 3 PM. The reception follows.

Sunday - REST. We will all need it!!!! I can already pictures it now - laundry, laundry, & more laundry. Hopefully I'll be able to get a nap in there somehow!

And, to top it all off, Paul just got a call. (My husband is a funeral director.) So, we will have to wait & see what the arrangements will be. Never know, we might be rearranging our tentative schedule!

Friday, September 19, 2008

It's Never Too Late for a Pepsi!

Paul got a sweet tooth tonight & wanted a Payday candy bar. He asked Zoe & I if there were anything we would like from the convenience store. Zoe then looked at me & said how about a vanilla Pepsi? I debated for a few minutes since it was after 9 PM, but then replied that since it was a Friday night & I have several more chores to do before going to bed that I thought it would be all right for her to have one tonight. Her reply?----"It's never too late for a Pepsi, is it, Mom?" (You talk about cracking up!)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A First in My Teaching Career

Before I began with my story of the day, I want to ask each of you to prayer for this dear family. They are currently in China adopting their little girl, Susannah. When arriving to meet her, they were informed that she is in the hospital clinging to life. They are trying desperately to get her home to Vanderbilt in the United States so she can receive the medical care that she needs. Please keep Charlie & Leslie in your thoughts & prayers.

Okay, on with the story...(I always say I should have written down all of my school stories since I've been teaching. I would definitely have a best seller!)..............In all nine years that I have been teaching, I have never had a parent come to school with their child for the day. That is until today!!!!! Apparently mom came in towards the end of school yesterday to speak to the principal & superintendent about the problems her son has been causing at home as well as at school. She asked & received permission to attend school with her son. She told the administrators that she had been warning "Ben" that if his attitude did not change at home & school then she was going to take a day off of work & go with him to school & hold his hand if need be. Well, she did it (except for the holding of hands). I think he was a little embarrassed. Mom arrived at school this morning right when the bell was ringing at 7:55 AM & walked beside her son down the hallway when school was letting out at 2:45 PM. She followed him from class to class & sat right beside him (as well as in the cafeteria). Not sure her attending school is going to change her son's attitude, but it was quite comical! I personally enjoy having "Ben" in my class so it was extra special to have mom today also. Not quite so sure that "Ben" thought the same though! Perhaps he will straighten his act up. When leaving school the mom did tell one of my co-workers that she had a delightful day & would decide tonight at home if she would be attending school again tomorrow. Can you imagine being a 7th grader & your mom go to school with you, following you from class to class? Would that be enough for you to change your attitude?!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Nothing Like a Parade after a Storm

UPDATE ON MAGGIE: The vet checked Miss Mags out & said she did not feel a break of any kind. She gave Maggie a shot & sent her home with pain medicine for five days. (It could be a hair line fracture, but there is basically nothing they will do for that.) She told Paul if Maggie's walk has not improved in a couple of days then to follow up with our regular vet. As of this AM (Tuesday), Maggie was putting pressure on the leg. Still limping, but she is getting around!!!!

Well, Zoe's year as Jr. Miss 2007 is over! She did great at the pageant Friday night. Ella, one of her buddies from her first gymnastics class last summer, was crowned the new Jr. Miss for 2008. Her good friend Kaidyn was the first runner-up. It was fun watching all of the little girls do their song & talk to the emcee. Renee was named Queen for 2008, Alyssa was the first runner-up, & Lindsey was the second runner-up. I would've hated to have had to make that decision. All of the candidates did a super job.

Zoe had the opportunity to see several people at the pageant:

Brandy & Chuck (our neighbor kids) home from college!

Janelle (who sponsored her in the pageant last year) was also home from college!

Molly, Miss Illinois County Fair 2008, whom she met in January.

Saturday Zoe had to get fitted for the wedding that she is the flower girl in at the end of September. The dress is soooo cute - tea-length, cream colored, outlined in chocolate. We found the perfect shoes in chocolate no doubt!

Sunday we woke up to terrible storms. In fact, our fence was knocked down in two places, one where a tree fell on it. We are waiting to hear from the fence company that originally installed it to see what they say. Needless to say, the parade went on like usual. About two hours before parade time the storm moved out of the area. (It ended up being a gorgeous day!) Zoe was not too thrilled about the parade still happening because she was scheduled to be on two floats. The theme for the parade this year was - Many Countries, One World. So, two different organizations were doing China themes so they asked if she could ride on their floats with a Chinese outfit on. So, she picked out a Chinese dress that we had actually purchased while in China. I put her hair in a bun & then added chopsticks to it. She looked so cute. What do you think?

Here she is on one of the floats:

Well, as I was typing this our puppy Maggie just broke her leg. She had climbed up on the recliner & attempted to jump off (like she has a million times). Well, her back leg got caught in the foot rest part of the chair & just snapped. Her leg is definitely broke & possibly her hip. So, after making a call to the vet, Paul is on his way with Maggie to the Animal Hospital about 30 minutes away. As soon as he finds something out, he will call. I'll be sure to update when I know something.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pageant Practice

After picking Zoe up from school yesterday she & I made a mad dash to Subway for dinner. We didn't have much time so we ate quickly & then returned home to freshen up for the pageant rehearsal. Zoe wasn't real thrilled at first about going, but once we were there & she saw Kayla, Kaidyn, & the other girls, she was all into it. Practice went okay. We have to work on getting Zoe to talk to the emcee. There is a part during the pageant where Zoe takes her last "walk" down the runway as Jr. Miss 2007. She then meets Jim, the emcee, at the end of the catwalk for a little question & answer. She acted very shy, twirling her hair the entire time. Now, we all KNOW that she is not shy. So, after the rehearsal Zoe & I discussed what she would like Jim to talk to her about. Here's what she came up with - Hooters, cheerleading, our puppy Maggie, & gymnastics. Wonder how she'll do tonight!
Here are some picture from last night's practice:

Zoe before practice began.....

Laura showing Zoe where she needs to walk.....

Zoe practicing down the runway.....

Kayla helping Kaidyn out....

Amy, Kaidyn, Brileigh, & Zoe singing - "It's a Small World".....

Zoe singing as loud as she can......

Allison, Abby, Ella, Zoe, Amy, Kaidyn, & Brileigh

Kaidyn is smiling now that practice is over.....

Queen Kayla & Kaidyn

Zoe at the top of stairs leading to the runway checking out the big girls practicing!

Paige, Alyssa, Lauren, Kayla, Lindsay, Lindsey, & Renee

Who will be crowned the next Fair Queen and Jr. Miss 2008? We will find out tonight........

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What Will You Be When You Grow Up?

This evening before dinner Zoe & Paul were playing cards at the dining room table. First, it was Go Fish & then Paul taught Zoe how to play War. It was quite comical when she beat him each time. In fact, the first game of War (with Paul shuffling the cards), Zoe somehow ended up with all four Aces!

This Friday night Zoe will crown a new Jr. Miss at the Wheat Festival Pageant. When introducing Zoe, the emcee will say a few things about her. Well, the pageant director dropped a paper off at our house the other evening that had Zoe's information from last year. (favorite: book, song, movie, etc.) She asked if we would update any information that needed changed. So, Paul & I asked her everything over again. Of course, every bit of information had changed, including what she wants to be when she grows up. Last year when asked she said that she wanted to be either a police officer or a teacher. What do you think Zoe said when Paul asked her this year???????

"I want to be a cheerleader and work at Hooters!!!!!"

So, that's what we put down on the information sheet. Paul & I are both anxious to see if that will actually be read at the pageant. It wouldn't surprise either of us if it's left out. Those of you that know the pageant &/or pageant director, what do you think? Will we hear about Zoe's future plans or not?

Monday, September 8, 2008

We're Staying Up

Well, looks like Zoe had decided that she wants to stay in the Monday night gymnastic class. She attended her first two hour session this evening & loved it. So, we'll somehow manage to get Zoe there by 4 PM each Monday. Today I left school right at 3:05 & met Paul & Zoe at the interstate in the next town. That worked out great. Let's just hope Paul doesn't have business on Mondays!!!!!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Super Saturday

Well, the swimming birthday party went off without a hitch. I think all of the kids had a great time even though the water was only about 78'. That didn't stop anyone from getting in. In fact, the kids said the water was warmer than the air. Who would have thought it would be 60ish degrees the first week of September in the Midwest? This time last year the local school was getting out at 11:30 AM each day for heat. Anyway, here's a few pictures from Garrett's 13th birthday party last night.....

Momma Denise showcasing a cupcake!

Jodi trying to escape with a piece of watermelon.

Shaina enjoying the nice cool swimming pool...

One big picture of all the kids.

This morning Zoe & I attended Zack's football game. Once again it was a good game, but Zack's team ended up losing with 1.9 seconds to go. It was a bizarre play to end the game. Nevertheless Zack played very good & had about a 60 yard punt return & 3 hard hits. He doesn't play much offense, but rather defense, & I just can't understand why. He can catch so well & run so fast. Maybe in time the coach(es) will realize that. (I know, I'm a little biased!)

After the game, Zoe & I rushed back home to get her ready for her last parade as Jr. Miss 2007. She was excited to get to ride in a convertible & throw candy out. She also got to see quite a few people she knew sitting along the parade route. Her friend Kaidyn is running for Jr. Miss this year so she was also in the parade.

Kaidyn smiling her pretty smile!

Yesterday on my way from school I stopped at Dollar General (also known as DG according to Zoe) to get a few things. Well, I saw this Tinker Bell costume & had to get it. Zoe was so surprised. She immediately had to put it on. The battery in my camera was dead so I had to charge it before I could take some pictures this evening. See what you think of our little Fairy in Pixieland!!!!

We were supposed to go to a wedding reception tonight, but Paul & I just decided that we were just too tired. We haven't really had any down time lately so we agreed that staying home & relaxing sounded pretty good.

Tomorrow is the kick-off for this year's Sunday School. Zoe has decided that if I would go with her then she will stay. So, I guess we're headed to Sunday School in the morning. I'm hoping that eventually she will stay there on her own. (I'll let you know how that goes.)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Moving On Up?????

Well, Zoe had gymnastics tonight & I was approached afterwards by Miss Emily, her instructor, that they would like to move Zoe up to the Minis. (If you remember right, we tried the Minis in the summer & Zoe absolutely hated it. She kept telling us she didn't like the big gym.) Anyway, the class that she's been in this session has also been in the big gym, but with Miss Emily instead of with Miss Brittany. Paul & I think Zoe was intimidated by Miss Brittany because she is loud. (Okay, I know what you're thinking, I'm loud also so how could Zoe not be used to that? Am I right, is that what you were thinking?!!!!) Anyway, after discussing the option with Zoe, she is willing to try it next week to see whether she wants to move up or not. One plus is that Miss Emily will be her instructor. We'll check it out & let ya know what Zoe decides.

Tomorrow night our friends' son Garrett is having his 13th birthday party (swimming party) at our house. Not sure how many friends he invited, but they'll have a good time. I'm just hoping that the rainy weather that we've had the last two days leaves our area. Otherwise, it won't be that fun & might even be best if it was rescheduled.

Saturday is going to be busy. Zoe & I are headed to my nephew Zack's football game (again in a neighboring town) in the morning. Then we will rush home to get Zoe ready for a late afternoon parade. The night will end with a wedding reception at a winery about 20 minutes from us. I can guarantee you that I will be trying to sneak in a nap Sunday afternoon!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Are You Ready for Some Football?

Nothing thrills me more than a Friday night high school football game. I love the excitement, the energy, the togetherness. The season starts out with temperatures perfect for short sleeves & a jacket. However, by the end of the season you're bundled up & drinking hot chocolate just to keep your sanity. Nothing like it!!!!

Living in a small town (population 1,400) doesn't warrant the high school to have a football team. So, I must get my fix some other way. Thankfully my nephews - Zack, Blake, & Caleb - all play football, just not on Friday nights. Zack is a freshman this year & happened to play his first career high school football game last night in a town about 25 minutes from us. As you can imagine, I was excited about going. Zoe & I had fun watching Zack as well as visiting with Grandma Mary, Aunt Tracy, & Uncle Brent. Even though Zack's team lost by a touchdown, it was a good game. Zack played great. He had an awesome kick-off return & a couple of hard tackles. He is so quick & such a natural athlete. Of course, I had to take my camera & snap some pictures......

On the Side Line Watching the Action

Ready to Return the Kick-Off

Listening to Instructions from the Coach Boldt

Love the Orange Mouth Piece!

Going Back to His Position

After a Tough Play

At the game Zoe met up with two of her friends from the summer, Ahnna & Danielle, whose brothers both played on Zack's summer select baseball team. (Sorry, Janelle, but Ahnna doesn't remember you!) Anyway, while watching the game, Zoe talked Aunt Tracy into letting her have some lipstick & face powder that was in Aunt Tracy's purse. And, since I was taking pictures of Zack, Zoe thought I needed to take a few pictures of her.

What do You Think?

10 Minutes Later.....Looking at her Reflection to see if the Make-up is Still On!

(Don't you just love the outfit? She's into picking her own clothes out & this just happens to be her favorite outfit right now!!!!)

Zoe & I are off to the dentist again today for her 6th month check-up. I know, I know, she was just there last week. You would think they could have done everything in one appointment, but that's not how it works. In fact, Zoe has to go back to Dr. Kevin again next week for one more filling. I'm hoping nothing new is found at her appointment today. With her teeth though, anything is possible.....After the dentist we have to do a little shopping for parade candy. Zoe is in her final parade this Saturday since being crowned Jr. Miss last year. In just a few weeks she will be crowning the new Jr. Miss at this year's pageant.