Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Memories 2009

Christmas Eve we went to church for a service and the Lord's Supper. Afterward we ate at the Macaroni Grill and hurried home to get the kids in bed. Christmas morning everyone got up at 6 to open presents (Briggs- a PSP and some Star Wars Legos and Max- a baseball machine and the tiny green "Cars" tractor he has been wanting for months) and to have a french toast breakfast that Briggs had declared was a tradition. After that we drove to Dothan. After Christmas with my parents (Briggs- a bicycle and Max a charger for a Leapster) we went to my grandmother's house where we ate dinner and the boys got even more presents (Briggs- PSP games and Max- a Mickey Mouse Train and a case and games for a Leapster). The funny thing is, Max never actually got a Leapster (well, until the day after Christmas)! Mom accidentally bought the charger instead of the Leapster! He was so funny walking around with all the accessories looking very confused. He was really fine and had fun playing with all of his cousins: riding piggy back with Jessica and Samantha and playing with Hudson and Eli. Granny's house was filled with children laughing and playing for hours. It reminded me of when we were little, playing with our cousins at her house at Christmas.

This year, Mom and Dad got a new, enormous-hang-on-the-wall-TV. Last year, their TV was having problems and the screen blinked on and off every few seconds. Well, this year the TV is great, but because we had to do some rearranging of furniture to accommodate it, the cable could not be accessed and we could only get one over-the-air HD channel. So, for the entire week if we wanted to watch TV, we were at the mercy of whatever came on ABC.
Max also got a sleeping bag and a little tent from Mom and Dad. All the boys loved playing in the tent and even sleeping in it; Briggs and Max slept in it almost every night and Briggs and Hudson slept in it together one night.

All week Rod has been in constant contact with the weather channel to plan a perfect camping trip on the Brown's 140 acres for him and Briggs. They had to keep rescheduling because of the cold temperatures until finally they settled on a warmer night, but with a chance of rain. Yesterday we watched as Rod set up the tent by the pond and chopped firewood to build a fire. Just as we had all made s'mores, it began raining and eventually put out the fire. They decided to brave the weather and camp out anyway. About midnight Rod woke up and realized his feet and head were getting wet. He would have bailed, but Briggs was warm, dry, and snoring (or as Briggs put it, "I was a log"). So he fixed the leaky places and toughed it out until morning when Briggs woke up and was completely confused as to where he was. He woke up with a funny look on his face and asked "where are we...the back yard?" After getting up and looking at the pretty sunrise over the pond, Briggs asked what was a redundant question for him, "Monet could paint this couldn't he Dad?" It was a pretty sight. They walked back to Uncle Scott and Aunt Sue's house about 7 and Rod was grateful to sleep a few extra hours in a soft, warm, dry bed.

At lunch, we met everyone at Huggin' Molly's in Abbeville for our annual family lunch. We all had a great time eating, talking, laughing, and watching the kids run around (we had a private room). After eating too many cheesy fried biscuits, French onion soup, burgers, sweet potato fries, chocolate malts, and caramel cappuccinos, we headed back to prepare for the New Year's festivities. We watched a great firework show and rang in the new year from the other side of consciousness, we were just too tired to stay awake!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


'Tis the Season For:





More Decorating












Sunday, December 6, 2009

Max the Donkey Blaster

I'm not sure where this exactly started from, but lately Max been fascinated with the ton of imaginary donkeys that apparently live in our house and throughout the community. It seems like no matter where we go there's always some crazed donkey in need of blasting by imaginary blasters that pop up out of Max's forearms on command. At least a few times a day he's disintegrating donkeys to smithereens and saying "I keeled that donkey!" and then he proceeds to tell us that he saved mom, or me, or some oblivious pedestrian who didn't even see the dubious donkeys on their march of impending doom. I'm not sure what their motives are exactly, but Max obviously knows that their scheming hearts are downright nefarious in nature. Thankfully, we can all rest a little easier at night knowing that Max the donkey blasting machine is on the job, whether you know there are evil donkeys out there or not...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thankful Hearts

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year with our family. A couple of weeks ago, we made a "Thankful Tree" to help us be more intentional about being thankful for God's blessings. I got the idea from a family that I am helping with an adoption. They have five children ages five and under ( plus one more soon from Uganda!) and every night they asked each of their children what they were thankful for and they put it on the tree. It was so fun to see what the boys would say; I think I am going to leave it up until Christmas so it will help us stay in a thankful frame of mind! Some highlights from the Thankful Tree are:

Briggs- family, God, school, food, cousins
Max- cookies (his #1), toys, leaves, colors, trees, mommy, daddy, and Briggs
We went to Dothan for Thanksgiving, as always. I helped mom cook more than usual since she has very little use of her thumb right now, due to the parade mishap. We had Thanksgiving at Brooke and Tim's house and it was so much fun. Everyone ate too much turkey, dressing, rice, peas and butter beans, yeast rolls, and casseroles (chicken, sweet potato, vegetable, and broccoli) plus pecan, chocolate, and pumpkin pie! My cousins Blake and his wife Megan came with their three girls and my other cousin, Clint, came later with his wife Angie and their two girls, which made 9 children ages 7 and under running around everywhere!

Friday, we went to Uncle Scott and Aunt Sue's house to watch the Iron Bowl, where there were more Auburn fans than Alabama, but it all worked out in the end! After the game, everyone ate chili and turkey sandwiches and then we went on a hayride! I hope it will be the first annual Brown's Crossroads hayride because it was so much fun and I think we should do it every year! It was the longest hayride ever on the trails through the woods on Uncle Scott's land. There were lots of tree branches to duck under (one large one that broke off as we pulled out that nearly killed us all if Rod had not saved the day! haha) The boys howled at the moon like wolves and recited lines from their favorite movies. At one point Max (for unknown reasons) yelled, "we're all gonna die." It must also be from a movie but it was so funny coming from him. I have no idea what the little girls were doing in the back, because all I could hear were the loud boys around me. I think everyone enjoyed the hayride and were grateful to Uncle Scott and Clint ( and Blake for the idea) for taking us.

That night, Hudson and Eli spent the night with us at Granny and Papa's house and all the boys slept on the floor in their bedroom, except for Max who got in the bed with them as soon as the lights were out.
Saturday, Rod and Brooke took all the boys to the movies to see Astro Boy and then the boys played at Brooke and Tim's house until supper and bedtime.
Sunday we got to go to church and eat lunch with everyone before it was time to go home. It was a great weekend.
As I look back over Thanksgiving, here are some things I am thankful for:
That everyone is healthy
That all of the family was together at Thanksgiving
The fun, late night talks that my sister and I have every time we go home
The relationships that I have with each of my family members
That Alabama beat Auburn (just kidding)
That Rod, my parents, my sister and her husband and my extended family are all Christ followers
That God is sovereign over all.
It truly was a happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Cosmic Birthday

What a difference a year and some better planning make for a birthday party. Last year at this time we were all freezing our tails off at a park with some unseasonsably cold rain, wind, and near freezing temperatures. This year we decided to go indoors and what a great decision that was. Briggs chose to go to the bowling alley and it was really one of the best parties ever. He had six kids from his class come, his cousin Brayden, as well as some of the siblings. The bowling alley was setup all "Cosmic" style and the kids loved it. The alley prepared the food and drinks and took care of pretty much everything. Leslie the super-mom made a bowling ball and pin shaped cake into the wee hours of the morning because we had some oven issues that delayed her a bit. She did all this despite me telling her to just go buy a plastic pin to go along with the cake ball. At midnight she insisted that she press on and that I apparently don't "get it". Big cake turn out great as far as me neanderthal brain know.
The only difficulty was holding Max back from trying to tote around a 10 pound bowling ball with a broken collar bone whilst insisting "!".
Several parents commented on what a great host our little seven year old was. Completely unsolicited, Briggs, the future politician, spent a large portion of the party going around making sure everyone was having fun and telling everyone thank you. Happy Birthday Briggs, what a fine young man you are growing up to be, too quickly I might add :-(

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Everyone Needs A Redeemer, Even on Their Birthday

I (Leslie) had intentions of writing about Briggs turning 7 with words describing how sweet, loving, and wonderful our first-born son is. And he is all of those things that I wanted to say. But after a very long day on the day marking his birth, I was also reminded that he is a sinner in need of a Savior.

When I picked him up from school Thursday, he was so excited about the treats I had brought him for his special "Birthday in a Bag" snack to school. I had filled it with a Spider man cupcake, a balloon on a stick, and some animal bracelets. He was so excited, until Max asked to look at the green ones. He refused to share and then started begging me to make Max take a nap when we got home because he wanted to "relax and watch TV alone." I informed him that if he wanted to be alone he was welcome to go in his room and close the door, since that is his space, but that I would not forbid Max to go in the playroom. Of course, he did not want to do that because there is no TV in his room. Briggs kept on complaining until Max got very upset and started crying, "Briggs is not my brother anymore." His little feelings were so hurt that I think he meant, "Briggs does not want to be my brother because he is being so mean to me." I told Briggs that he was hurting Max's feelings and that all day Max asks when we can go get him from school because he misses him during the day. Briggs continued on saying that it was his birthday, not ours, and he wanted to watch TV alone. So when we got home, I gave him one more chance to be kind, give Max a chance to play with him nicely, and share. Briggs refused and even became more determined to get his way. So, I gave him what he asked for (sort of). I sent him to his room to be alone. For nearly an hour, I would not let him come out of his room. He cried, he screamed, he stomped on the floor. He was so upset, I thought he was going to give himself an asthma attack. As much as I wanted to go in and make him calm down, I refrained. Finally, I knew his stubborn will was broken and I went in to see if he was ready to be with the rest of the family. He was very contrite and repentant. We talked about how God created us to live together in families and we have to share our space. I told him that it is okay to want to be alone sometimes, but that it is not okay to hurt others in the process. We talked about sinful hearts and forgiveness. We talked about our Redeemer who loves us through our rebellion and brings us back into fellowship with Himself through our repentance.

But, for the rest of the day, I dwelled on the fact that I was so disappointed that his birthday had turned out so badly. I just wanted him to have a good day, without any problems or concerns. And then God changed my perspective. He reminded me that, this very day, I had said that my goals for my son are not for him to be happy and successful with an easy life free from difficulty. My goals for him are for him to love and follow Christ with his whole being and to glorify Him with his life. This "bad day" was in fact an opportunity to point him to the cross. To help him understand his sinfulness and his need for redemption, for forgiveness, for Jesus. Although I do this frequently in disciplining him, for some reason this time was different for me. I have to admit, usually when I discipline him, I am angry. I know you are not supposed to let your emotions take over and never "spank" out of anger, but honestly, I am nearly always angry when I have to discipline him. It is something that I have struggled with for a while ("why else would I want to spank him unless I was mad at him?" was my honest feeling.) I feel like the worst social worker in the world! I could tell other people what to do, but when it came to my own child, I struggled to do it. I needed a Savior too.

That day, God changed my heart and genuinely gave me a different perspective. I was not angry with Briggs. My heart grieved for him. I even cried because of the sadness I felt for the way he was acting. But I also saw it as a "good thing"- an opportunity that I was given to disciple my son. Although I knew that this is what disciplining should be, after all, they are basically the same word, I finally really "got it." It was not about punishment, as it has been many times in the past, but rather about teaching. Discipling. Sharing Christ. I am so glad that God forgave me for so many times of disciplining the wrong way and for teaching me His way.

We are all just sinners in need of a Savior. I don't want to miss His grace, or for my children to either.

"But God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Heb. 12:10b-11

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Halloween, The Peanut Festival, and Broken Collarbones 2009

Wow where does the time go!? I've been on the road a lot (for me anyway) lately and it seems life is going by entirely too fast. I do my best to slow it down, but despite my efforts this year is flying by. I'll throw a lot into this post just to document recent months. I am very much looking forward to a little holiday break this year.

Let's see...we finished fall baseball with Briggs. It was a lot of fun b/c they play pretty much normal baseball and it's a little more laid back in the fall. Briggs did fine as always. Max during each practice would take the tee into the batting cage, hit a ball, tell you to tell him to "Run Max! Run!", he would proceed to mock run bases, go get the ball, and the do it all over again. Good times. We're skipping basketball this season to try to slow things down a little bit and spend some quality family time together before spring ball picks back up.

For Halloween we decided to go to a neighborhood not far from here with a lot more houses than ours. Briggs wore his Obi Wan Kenobi costume and Max was a frog (hand-me-down from Briggs that Max wanted to wear). The boys had a good time going from house to house and seeing the other kids in their costumes. They racked up on candy but the only one that ended up eating any of it was Leslie, the rest eventually was thrown away. I guess they inherited my non-sweet tooth...

We were excited to finally get to go back to the Peanut Festival this year after being home-bound last year with Briggs being sick. Unfortunately however things didn't go exactly the way we planned. On the morning of the parade we were walking toward our seats (myself, Briggs, Leslie, Max, and Grannie). We had to park a couple of blocks away and took a shortcut across some rail-road tracks to get to the next street over. I thought that would be the "dangerous" part of the trek, little did I know that the next street over actually had it in for us. While walking down the street, Grannie was walking and holding Max's hand, at some point she tripped, fell, and took Max down with her. Long story short, she's going to need some surgery on her thumb area after the swelling goes down and Max has a broken left collarbone. He's been a real trooper through all of this though. The first day he was understandably pretty pitiful just wanting to be held all day, but by the next morning once he realized he could still get around without too much pain, we couldn't slow him down. The good news is that it'll heal up just fine in a few weeks and all he has to do is wear a sling (easier said than done) and stay out of the trampoline. Briggs was able to enjoy the whole parade and got to go to the fair to ride rides with his cousins Jessica, Samantha, Hudson, and Eli; they had a blast. I really hate Max had to miss it but he'll be plenty big next year to enjoy pretty much everything that he would have had to skip this year. Sue and Samantha (along with some graciousness of the carnie after hearing of Max's untimely disability) won Max a monkey that he has loved playing with.

Last couple of notes. Briggs has started wanted to take showers instead of baths lately. The other night he told me "Dad, I can do it all by myself, you just go sit down and relax." NICE. Max and Briggs have been playing great together and yet also getting on each others nerves a lot lately too, a sign of things to come I'm sure. Tonight they were playing some pretend rocket type scenario and when it was time to "go to bed", Briggs laid Max down on the couch, then told him it was time to read him his Bible verse, and then proceeded to read him all of Psalm 79 which he had randomly selected. I'm proud and yet am at the same time hoping Max doesn't have nightmares from it :-).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Parenting Day

Today was Parenting Day at Briggs' school. Parents were invited to come and make a time capsule with their children. We had to bring a picture of us when we were in the first grade and write a letter to them about our experience in first grade. Briggs was so excited, his teacher said he organized the reading center for her in preparation for all of the parents coming. Briggs showed me a poster on the wall with his name as part of the four member "Skinny Pencil Club." This exclusive club is for students who have mastered their penmanship enough to write with skinny pencils! So far there are only three other students in "the club" and apparently it is a big deal because at least two other boys came up to me to make sure I knew Briggs had made it in the club. First graders are so cute!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Allergy Tests & Donkeys

Last week we took Briggs to the allergy doctor to get a second opinion on the treatment of his asthma. Last Christmas, Briggs got sick, which turned into walking pneumonia. The cough never seemed to go away. It was worse in the spring and he been really bad this fall. When Briggs got the flu and then bronchitis a few weeks ago, he got an inhaler to take to school with him. We had been doing two different medicines in the nebulizer in the mornings, the inhaler at school, and sometimes another breathing treatment at night. Then, for the last two weeks he had been coughing a lot and the breathing treatments did not seem to help. So we decided to take him to a specialist. I did not really prepare him for allergy testing, since I was bringing the results from when he was tested at age 3. Apparently, they had only done testing for a few things and this new doctor wanted to to a complete testing for environmental allergies (everything but food). So, the nurse did the first one which was interrupted with kicking and screaming. He was pretty hysterical. Another nurse came in and tried to hold him down to do the rest of them, but I could not stand it. I asked them to stop. We decided that he might do better with dad there, so we scheduled to come back that afternoon. We had already been at the office for 2 hours. So we met Rod at the bowling alley and ate Chik Fil A and let the boys bowl. Rod talked to Briggs about finishing the testing and offered to get him a new game if he let them finish. Briggs agreed, but we still had to hold him down, but at least it was his mommy and daddy holding him and not a stranger. (That almost seems wrong, but it really was better). The doctor told us that he believed Briggs would be allergic to almost everything they tested him for (called pan-allergic) because of the progression he has shown so far of going from eczema, to nasal allergies, to asthma. Boy was he right.

It was even worse than it looks. It itched terribly and I had to fan him for twenty minutes because he could not scratch it. He was allergic to everything (38 things) except for 3 things: cats and two kinds of mold. The doctor recommended allergy shots to hopefully stop the progression of his asthma getting worse. He said that it is the closest thing to a cure and that he has a 50% chance of his asthma going away. The allergy shots would go like this:

3 shots once a week for 1 year

3 shots every 2 weeks for the next year

3 shots once a month for 3 years for a total of 5 years.

Dr. Soong reports that the shots are not that bad, since they don't go in the muscle, only under the skin, but I guess we will see about that. His first ones are on Oct. 21.

And not to forget about little brother. He got to observe the whole thing. He did rather well, considering we were there for over 4 hours total. He was very loving towards Briggs and very concerned about him. While we were waiting, I read a Winnie the Pooh book to him about Eeyore being sad. I think somewhere the stress of it all got in his head and made an association with Eeyore. That night he did not want to sleep in his room because he was scared of the donkey. He even dreamed that night about "that bad donkey." Poor Max. I hope he never has to have allergy testing, there won't be enough nurses to hold him down. For now, he'll just stick with entertaining everyone with his push ups.