Sunday, May 15, 2011

4 Years and Counting

Joshua is playing t ball for his 4th season this year! He is a Cardinal for his 3rd season! I love how the guys over the league always let Jason have his pick of his team. :)

2008 Cardinals #14

2009 Marlins #9

2010 Cardinals #5

2011 Cardinals #4

I love that Jason has been Joshua's coach since the beginning. Joshua looks up to his Daddy like none other. It has been a blessing for me to watch the two of them interact on the field. 

This year, we are entering our 4th year playing t ball. Joshua is still in love with the game and takes it very seriously. We've tried holding off on the intense competitiveness of the game, but he has figured it all out. He will very proudly tell you that he hit a home run yesterday and even though we don't keep track of outs or runs, he knows all about it. 

And of course, I am one proud momma! I took several pictures yesterday of Joshua's first game. It was a bit overcast, then the sun would shine brightly, and then our game was called after we had a downpour of rain. I can't wait for a nicer weather day to get some really good shots. 

 The cheering section

 Coming in to make a play

 Fielding a hit

 The turn to throw to first

 And the throw

 Joshua made the play and is running to tag the runner out at third.

 Eyes on the base

 Fielding another play at pitcher

 He has the ball and is looking at home to get #3 out at the plate.

 Running to home

 Getting closer

 And Joshua makes the play at home!

Proud little brother!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bed Time

Jackson has a hard time going to sleep at night ever since we converted his toddler bed to the full size. He likes to have his humidifier running, his lamp on, and his door cracked. If you accidently close his door on your way out, he is instantly in a crying fit. He is always coming up with excuse after excuse to come out of his room and delay bed time. Although, my favorites are when he opens his door and says, "Mom, I love you". Definitely melts my heart.

He likes to play and color and look at books and do anything but lay down to sleep. He also doesn't usually last in his own bed at night. He's made his way into our bed at least the last 15 nights. Poor baby is just too scared to sleep alone, or though he says. I personally think that he is just looking for a little more snuggle time with mom and dad. I know that it won't last forever and I am enjoying it while it does.

These pictures are from a few months back, but I wanted to record the way that I found him playing in bed after putting him down for the night.

And not too much longer after the previous picture was snapped, I walked in and found him tuckered out.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Our God Is Bigger Than The Storm

Last Tuesday night I received an email alerting us about the potential for bad weather. I put my phone by my bed just in case I received a call delaying the start of school. Wednesday morning, I woke to the sound of tornado sirens. We quickly turned on the tv and I made the call to my coworkers about our 2 hour school delay. The kids were not up yet, so I savored a few more minutes of sleep while Jason headed off to a breakfast meeting. The kids and I woke a little later and we took our time eating breakfast and getting ready for school. I left for school and while waiting at the red light to cross a major intersection, I noticed the clouds moving the opposite direction from their normal path. About that time, the radio announcer was telling everyone to head back home and not to get out to take their kids to school. The tornado sirens began sounding again and the kids started asking a ton of questions.

When we moved to Alabama 8 years ago, we quickly realized that the people here take their weather very seriously. A deadly tornado tore through our town some years back claiming the lives of 23 people. We've grown accustomed to the threats and never really took them very seriously. I remember one of my friends moving into town a few years back and getting really scared with the weather in a bad thunderstorm. She said that by the 4th time of getting her kids huddled in their safe room and the mattress off the bed, she figured out how seriously people take the potential for bad weather here.

I dropped the kids off at school and headed up to take care of my students. We were able to eat lunch in our rooms and were beginning a spelling lesson when we had to go downstairs as the tornado was moving through the area. Parents began arriving and fortunately my kids were brought up to me. As soon as we could, we were in our car and on our way home.

We passed by trees that had been uprooted, trampolines that were crumbled, signs that were down and then we sat for about 30 minutes while they cleared a tree that had fallen across the road. We turned on the road behind our house and soon found trees on houses, more uprooted trees, fences that were down and a flooded entrance to our neighborhood. We were relieved to arrive home and see that our house was completely fine, but we couldn't believe the damage just one road behind us.

The afternoon wore on and we soon found ourselves tuned in to our tv watching the coverage of the storm. We heard the report of Cullman and Tuscaloosa and knew the tornadoes were heading our way. I don't really remember the time that it was when we headed to our closet, but I do remember my cell phone dinging every couple of minutes. We lost power and the only connection that was through our text messages. I had several friends texting asking if we were okay and my sister-in-law kept texting me. After about an hour, Jason and I ventured out of the closet and looked out the front window. I remember the sky to my right lit up a neon blue and as I watched the clouds, I quickly noticed that they were moving to the right and the left. The cedar trees visible out our front window were practically bowing to the wind. Jason opened the front door to rescue my ferns and we instantly felt the nastiness of the air. It was unusually quiet and very humid. We instantly shut the door and heard our power come back on. It was at that instant that we heard the tornado was one street over; then...our power went out again. My sister-in-law texted that it must be bad because the Nashville news was now covering what was happening in our town. At that point, I was scared! We were back in the closet and it was so unbelievably quiet.

I don't really remember when we felt it safe to come out, but Jason ran out to check everything and said that we could come out. We checked everything outside and saw that one of our shutters had come off and we had lost a lot of shingles, but other than that we were okay. A man walked by and asked us if we had seen his door to his storage shed. We quickly gathered our flashlights and candles knowing that our daylight was diminishing and not knowing how long our power would be out.

It was about that time that I received a text message from my co-worker telling me that she was fine, but that her house was gone. I was in shock! We had no tv or power and I didn't really know what had happened, but I knew that my friend (who lives not to far from me) had just lost her house.

As I write this, I am amazed at how little I remember about the rest of that night. The day seemed to go by so quickly. I know that we put the kids to bed as soon as the sun went down. I know that our phones were not working, but we would get an occasional text here and there and I could check fb for a few seconds. I saw one status that read that TVA was guesstimating that we would be without power for 72 hours. We received a text telling us the main connectors had been destroyed. We were without power. And, we had no idea of the damage that had occurred. After we put the kids to bed, Jason and I played a game of Monopoly by candle light. We moved the kids to our room before we headed to bed. We were worried about the house being so dark and it was almost eerie how quiet our house had become without electricity.

We woke the next morning and quickly realized what had happened with the tornado. School was canceled and our neighborhood became busy with talk of no gas, stores being without power, no ice, no generators, downed power lines, TVA connectors gone, the possibility of no power for days, and the list grew from there. We got in the truck and heard a press conference updating the city on what had happened. We soon realized the severity of our situation and the devastation that the tornadoes had caused. We thought it best to try and drive to the town over and get gas, but after sitting at a couple of busy intersections as a four way stop, we soon realized that our attempt for a gas run would be in vain. We went to Publix and I walked in to a dark store that had no carts, was out of bread, all of the cold or frozen items were sectioned off so that no one could buy them and I began thinking about what I would need for our family of five. I was relieved to know that they took my debit card and came back out to the truck with a loaf of bread, some jelly, capri suns and a bag of chips. Of course, the kids wanted to know what exactly had happened and kept asking a lot of questions about tornadoes and if another one was coming.

We headed home and drove by several downed trees and lots of downed power lines. It was pretty scary driving past the power lines that had been snapped in half and were barely hanging on. And it was even scarier driving under the power lines that touched the antennae of Jason's truck.

We arrived back home and the kids ran out to play and Jason got up on the roof to fix our shingles. Our neighbors brought out ice cream and started talking about grilling all of their meat and the offers of sharing food came pouring out of everyone. As we were finishing up lunch, I remembered the load of laundry that had been drying when our power went out and the load that was in the middle of the wash cycle. The only thing that I knew to do was to hang it out on our pergola.

We were excited to see our friends drive up and they even helped hang up my laundry. :) We visited with them for awhile and the kids had fun playing together. My friend took down my parent's phone numbers and my sister-in-law's phone number and told me that she would text them to let them know that we were okay. (After visiting with my family, they went on and on about how much that text message meant to them. We didn't have cell phone service until we were about 25 miles from our house the next day.) I found some batteries and loaded them in Joshua's radio and found a way to hear what was going on. We finished out our day by visiting with our neighbors, watching all the neighborhood kids play together and grilling some hot dogs. After a long day in the sun and play outside it was time for baths. Unfortunately, the bath water was COLD!!! The kids did not like it one bit and neither did I. We were all bathed and in our pjs before the sun went down. While we were sitting around in our dark living room, Jason bounced around the idea of leaving for Nashville. We entertained the idea, but knew we couldn't leave because of the curfew for our county. Jason, Abby Kate and Joshua were sound asleep by 8 and after a quick back rub and the low volume of the radio, Jackson was soon fast asleep too. I didn't want to risk falling asleep with all the candles burning, so I picked each of the kids up and took them to our bedroom for another night's sleep. For as fast as Wednesday seemed to fly by, Thursday was a beautiful day that seemed to last forever.

Jason got out Friday morning in the hopes of getting gas. We realized the night before that my van had all the gas, so that helped us with our decision to head up to Nashville since we had half a tank. :) Anyways, Jason had tried to make a gas run and I was once again listening to the press conference on the radio. My hopes were getting up because I heard that some places were getting power back on in the neighboring cities. Jason arrived back home though and told us that we were leaving. The line at Kroger for gas was at least 30 cars in length on every pump. He had then tried driving to the next town, but turned around when the traffic stacked back miles from the next town. Jason saw more destruction and thought it best to get us out of town.

It was a bit weird packing up to go to my mom and dad's without telling them we were coming. We drove down the road and were completely speechless at the destruction and devastation. I've always seen damage from tornadoes on tv, but NEVER had I seen it just a few miles down the road from our house. Joshua instantly wanted to pray for the families and we rode on in silence trying to process the horrific scene of foundations with no houses, belongings strewn for miles, and piles of wood and brick that once stood as a house. We were about 25 miles from home when our phones came back to life. We received text after text after text. Oh, and one thing I almost is amazing how long our cell phones lasted in the red zone. My phone died during the night, but got a little bit of juice while we drove around Thursday morning. It died again on the way up to Nashville, but I was able to get a call in to order new medicine for Joshua.

I spent the next 5 days staying with my parents. Jason came back home Friday after getting us situated up in Nashville. I was delighted to wash my clothes and fold them. My mom and dad were happy to see the kids and have us stay with them. I got to see my sister-in-law and we enjoyed having an unexpected trip to visit family. I hadn't realized the need to turn on the light switches and it definitely made my mom laugh.

Our town and state have suffered so much loss! My friend lost her house, several students lost their homes, and there are others that lost loved ones. The destruction and devastation are beyond words. I am now scared of storms and so are my kids. They keep asking questions and we've even had some nights of sheer terror in their eyes as they wake up screaming. I am so proud of our community and the way that we have all come together to help those who have suffered great loss. I love that my children were right there alongside us today serving those who have lost everything. It is my prayer that God will continue to heal all of those that have been affected by the tornadoes.

Our theme this school year, has been John 3:30 - "He must become GREATER, I must become less." Yesterday's chapel had a very powerful message that I will treasure in my heart. You know, the only thing that I lost was power for 6 days and a refrigerator and freezer full of food. I am grateful that my family is safe and well. We had a little glimpse of pioneer life and it wasn't bad at all. In fact, it was really good. Our focus was off of our tvs, computers, cell phones, and facebook. Those were taken away from us. I couldn't work around the house and wash clothes or dishes. I couldn't run the vacuum cleaner (even though I really wanted to). I couldn't cook on the stove top. Things were very simple and I was able to focus on what was really important. My family, my friends, my community, and my God. God MUST become greater, and I MUST become less.

Praising God for safe keeping in the storm. 
Praying for my sweet friend whose house is now gone. 
Praying for all those who have buried their loved ones. 
Praying for all of those who are trying to pick up the pieces and begin again. 
Praying for those that have lost so much.

Our God is bigger than the storm!