Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mom's Surprise Party!

Yesterday, the culmination of months of hard work and secrecy came together perfectly to surprise my Mom with a 60th Birthday Party! I've known for years that I wanted to throw my mom a surprise party one day. I had always planned on it being a 15th anniversary party for her lung transplant (which will be Feb 1st) but really didn't see how I could justify doing it so shortly after her 60th birthday without it looking like I just hadn't thought about it before then. So when I found out about my pregnancy with Brax, I went ahead and told Josh to start saving a little each week so that he could help me out with the costs associated with it and that we'd talk about details as it got closer.

Well the fall was a little big busy for us, with Brooke's first birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, 2 baby showers and just getting ready for Brax in general, so I didn't get plans finalized for date/time/place until the week before Brax was born. I went ahead and put down a deposit on the place and waited for Braxton's arrival to do the invites. I also had my sister's baby shower that I was throwing a month after Brax's arrival, so that first month was jam packed! I finished the invites one night, and had Mitch check them, just to tell me that there was a typo. I was pretty much ready to shoot myself. Just saying. Anyway, I printed them again and got them out the next week.

As a gift, we decided to make a memory book for her with different memories or letters from her friends and family. So after the invites went out, I started receiving everyone's imput and compiling pictures to start her book. I spent hours typing, proofing, editing and adding page after page of people's memories with, thoughts of and letters to my mom. It was such an encouraging project for me, because while I know how wonderful my mom is, you never know if others see that too. What a blessing to know that they do!

I then got started on decorations and planning the food. I checked prices, waited for sales, bought materials and made centerpieces. For the centerpieces, I wanted to incorporate the pictures and stories that I was getting from others and somehow display them on the tables, so I thought about Easter Egg Trees. I bought some at Micheals, spray painted them white so they would really pop, and pulled out all the branches so that I could put the pictures and stories in them like they had gotten 'caught' in the trees. They turned out really well, unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of them. :(

The week of the party was very hectic, trying to get everything ready and done and trying desperately not to leak it to my mom! I'm telling you, this was a hard secret to keep! But when the weekend came around, we went to running! Friday I met Josh and Amy at Costco to buy the food, and Amy took a good amount of it back to her house to prep for us. (Thankfully) I headed home and tried to rest up enough to have the energy for the next day!

We got up bright and early Saturday morning, and I got the kids to take an early nap. I loaded and loaded and loaded up the car some more and when the kiddos woke up, I loaded them too! lol. We all met at the community center at 1 to get started on the decorating and food prep. Mr Larry had gotten a smoker/grill from his bank so that he could cook all the chicken, and Mrs Teri and Sarah had come with Amy to help out. I was so overwhelmed that they would both give up their whole days to come and help us, it was just so sweet, and GREATLY needed! :) Sarah got put on baby duty and had some one-on-one time with Brax as well as some ball-rolling-time with Brookelynne while Amy and I pulled out the tables, and Mrs Teri got started in the kitchen. With all the help we were rolling along splendidly! It was looking great!

Josh was helping Mr Larry season, and cook the chicken outside and coming inside occasionally to check up on us or get more drinks. Before I knew it we were almost done! I had to leave at 4 to go and pick Mom up, and had thought that might be rushing it, but everything was pretty well done when I loaded the kids up to head out. I left Mrs Teri and Amy in charge and got on the road! The kids did well until about a mile from Grandma's house and then Brax lost it! Needless to say, the drive back was a little loud. Mom didn't blink and eye when I called Mitch and asked him to meet us at the car since Brax was crying! When we pulled in, there was a spot right out front, what luck! :) Mitch opened Brax's door and said "Oh, he's really crying" And I wanted to be like, um, YEAH! ;) But Mom didn't hear him, so no harm, no foul. With everything in hand, and Mom carrying Brookelynne we walked to the door. Mitch opened it for my mom as everyone inside yelled "Surprise!" :) It was priceless!

She started to back up and I had to push her so she would go inside! :) She was looking around like "What in the world?" and started crying as soon as she started to recognize all the people who had come to celebrate her!

These are some of the hugs and hellos she got!

We all gathered around and Josh asked the blessing over the food and thanked the Lord for Mom and all of the 60 years that He's given her so far, and everyone dug in! There was chicken, green beans, corn, salad and several appetizers, so everyone had plenty to choose from! And the star of the meal was definitely the chicken! I don't know how he did it, because I've never had a piece of barbqued chicken that wasn't dried out, but Mr Larry's was DELICIOUS!!! And everyone said so! Mom got to visit with everyone and while everyone was eating, Josh and I read her our entries in her book. (I'll post them in a separate post). She cried, as did Josh (I love my sweet brother) and everyone loved them. It was a sweet time of honoring my mom and the woman and mother she is.

After the food, we had her blow out the candles, :) She was obviously very excited about doing so! (and about the fact that I didn't actually put 60 individual candles on the cake! lol.

Thank you to everyone who came out and who contributed to her book. She LOVED it and is so grateful for all of you!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Welcome Annaline!

My sister called several months ago, and asked me if I was I would be upset if she was pregnant too. :) I said that I definitely would NOT be! She was very surprised to find out herself, that she was expecting her third child. While Annaline was not planned, they soon were anxious to meet her! Since both of her other children had come at 37 weeks, Tricia was sure that Anna would make an early entrance, but at 39 weeks, they went ahead and induced since Anna hadn't come yet!

Here is the proud Mommy and Daddy

Me and my sis shortly before she started pushing!

After inducing at 7 am, Tricia was about ready to start pushing close to 1 pm. She was a champ and Anna came after only 7 or 8 pushes. She was precious and perfect. I was so thankful to have been able to be in the room and help (as much as anyone can really 'help' to begin with!) on this special day!

As you can see, she was 7 lbs, 15 oz!

Tricia, Chris, Annaline and the Doctor who delivered her!

Sweet Daddy-Daughter Moment!

Davis and Abbi were out in the waiting room, anxious to meet their little sister! This is them in their "Big Sister" and "Big Brother" shirts!

Just like Mama and Daddy got special bracelets that match Anna's, Davis and Abbi got special ones too! :)

And of course, we have to have a picture of Annaline and her Aunt Jenny! :) I put the bow on her, just because I can! lol

Saturday, April 2, 2011

ALS Walk...

Today we participated in the ALS walk for the second year. ALS is the devastating disease that took the life of my sweet friend Starr Bishop. So each year, as a way for us to raise awareness and money, Mitch, the kids and I join my best friend Sasha and her husband, as well as Starr's parents to do the local walk. We tye dye shirts for all of us each year (something that Starr loved doing was tye dyeing shirts) and wear them to the walk. Just like last year, we got a lot of compliments on our gear! :) It's really important to me that my kids be a part of things like this, not only to remember a good friend, but so that they always remember how very very VERY blessed we have been. I want them to know that there are people out there suffering and that we need to do what we can to help them. They need to know that we live in a fallen world, and because of sin bad things happen and diseases like this one exist. While we work toward and pray for a cure, or even a treatment, we praise the Lord knowing that he sent Jesus to redeem this fallen world! I'm so thankful that I have that hope, and can share it with my kids.

Please consider supporting me in this, the walk will be in April of next year, and its never too early to donate. Also, consider taking up a 'cause' yourself. Its so humbling to work with those less fortunate and be reminded that it doesn't matter what you have or how 'powerful' you are, a disease like ALS can affect anyone. Starr was 19 years old, and died less than 2 years after being diagnosed. The highest ranking officer at Mayport would have never thought that he would have to depend on someone else for everything, but after ALS, that's his new reality. How blessed am I! Thanks be to the Lord for all he has given us! And thanks be unto Him, even if he takes it away.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Day at Nay Nay's

Yesterday we went over to Mitch's Mom and Dad's house for the afternoon to hang out with them, Mitch's sister and our nieces. Alana is 6, Jaqlyn is 4 and Brookelynne is 18 months, but they played together so well! Alana and Jaqlyn loved doing things with Brooke and she's more than happy to follow the 'big girls' lead' :)

She got on the rocking horse and really liked it!

Of course Nay Nay had all of the toys out for the girls since Jaqlyn and Alana had been there all week, but she also pulled out the special ones for just Brooke. (You know the 'little girl toys' :) ) Brookelynne enjoyed the big ones though, like the big rocking/bouncy horse. Alana and Jaqlyn wanted to take turns a little more often than Brooke liked, but I made her share! If she had had it her way, she would have been the only one on it, and if Jaqlyn (below) had had her way, Brooke would have been a better listener! haha

Braxton spent the day inside, mainly because it was hot and, well, he's a baby. :) Alana took a break from playing though, to come inside and hold him! :) She was so sweet with him. Soon Jaqlyn was inside asking to hold him too! (I'm told she's a little mimic! lol) Here is a picture of Brax with his sweet cousins!

Of course we had to get a picture of all the current grandchildren, so Brookelynne jumped up on the couch too! With Me and Nay Nay pointing the camera at them, they were a little confused on where to look and when to smile! :) These were our two best shots!

Brookelynne also spent some time with Aunt Jen. :) She got to pet Aunt Jen's cat (Zoey) and Aunt Jen even let her drink from a big girl cup!

Nay Nay and Poppy with their only grandson!

While Poppy was holding Brax, Aunt Jen was playing peek-a-boo with him! He thought she was so funny! He wasn't quite old enough to laugh yet, but he sure did try to!

By the time we left, Brookelynne had decided she was 'at home' at Nay Nays and proceeded to go outside with out me, climb the slide by herself and she even went over and played with Poppy! :) This made Poppy very happy because she usually doesn't go to him very well.