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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Happy 3rd Birthday!

Turner turned three last Monday, December 5th. We had a week full of celebrations!
When I dropped him off at school, I felt guilty that I hadn't brought a treat for him. So, when he and I left to run some errands (pick up some trains at Toys R Us and lunch just the 2 of us), we picked up a cookie cake for his class.
When I picked it up it said "Happy Birthday Tuner." That's what I get for waiting until the last minute, I guess. The lady adjusted it after I told her, but this is what we ended up with. I guarantee none of the 2 and 3 year olds noticed or cared.
Well, my little crackhead did not enjoy the cake celebration. He wanted no part of the singing and cookie. He retreated over to the play area and played with his new trains instead! Whatever. Everyone else (especially a visiting John Burke) enjoyed his cookie cake.
That night I tried to think of something fun we could do for dinner. I haven't been to Chuck E. Cheese since I was a child and it was called Showbiz. But, I thought we would give it a try. I didn't tell the kids where we were going, I wanted to surprise them. Heath met us there and he called when we were about to pull in and told me that our girl Kina from school was there with her fiance Neal and daughters. Neal and Heath thought we had planned it - I should have! - but it was purely coincidental. John Burke thought it was his birthday he was so excited!
The boys had a BALL! And I must say, Heath and I were definitely impressed. It was much cleaner and brighter than I ever remember from my childhood. They were very organized with the tokens and the pizza (which tasted good), and the people working there were very helpful. Luckily, it was relatively empty on a Monday night. Kina told me this was a good thing, that it gets crazy in there. I believe it.
When the boys walked in, their eyes were as wide as saucers. They were taking everything in, and they were thrilled that they could run around and play - what is their phrase, "Where a kid can be a kid?" So true! They loved the ball pit/play area, the rides, the games (even Burke Burke could find some he liked), and especially the mouse. I highly recommend this - for at least one time a year!
Then this weekend we had a birthday party with our buddy York at Jump Zone! (Turner and York are just 12 days apart!) We tried one more year of a relatively small party - mostly family and this year we added 4 or 5 friends from his class at school. Don't worry that as we were talking to him about the party and who was coming, he insisted that Wes (York's dad) and Jim (Brooks' dad) be there. I tried to explain to him that they would, but that the party was for his friends his age. He looked at me like I was crazy - he needed adults there. Weirdo.
Evan and I were so impressed with how easy this party was! The Jump Zone people did essentially everything! I kept thinking I should be doing something more or that I was forgetting something.
When we got there, they ushered us back to our party room in the back. I think everyone had fun!
Turner and Ellie were not scared! And John Burke was thrilled because he got to stick close to the side of his favorite person - Daddy.
The younger kids were brave in the play areas and moonwalk (do they still call those things moonwalks?)
Uncle Derek made sure to have a good time - on the jumpy and at the games
Dunking at the basketball game - Derek requested this be put on the blog
I think all the dads had fun - this is our friend Jim right after a front flip. I didn't catch him in air
They set up a party room upstairs for us - the Jump Zone people brought the pizza, we provided cupcakes and drinks. So easy! Evan made the cute collage of Turner and York over the last 3 years and I made some chocolate suckers for party favors. Done.
Turner took a break from the party to play with his obsession - trains. Walked away from the jumpy and all his friends and family to play trains. I guess I should expect that from a 3 year old, but he is crazy!
Blowing out their candles
This cat had fun sneaking his own Sprite can - I let him in the madness of pizza, cupcakes and mayhem
Pop Pop and Morgan were much calmer
The party was a blast - easy for the mommas to plan and enjoy, the kids could run wild legally, and they were very organized. What a wonderful 3rd birthday!!
Now - a Christmas snack since it is the middle of December. A friend needed 3 dozen cookies for something she was doing, and I volunteered to help. They were to be homemade, but I cheated a little. I found these on pinterest - I am not addicted, but it sure is wonderful!. But, I thought these turned out cute!
They called for peanut butter, but I used some sugar cookies too. I skipped the homemade part (just for the sake of time - I always love a homemade cookie!). But, all I did was use the slice and bake and roll them up into little balls. Then, I flattened the top with my thumb, and narrowed out the bottom a little. They looked like little light bulbs on the cookie sheet.
Then, right after they cooked for about 9 minutes at 350, I stuck the chocolate pretzels on as antlers while the cookies were still very soft. After all the antlers were on, my assistant John Burke and I stuck on M&Ms for the red noses, and then followed up with green, blue or brown for eyes. Voila! So easy - and then I stuck them in the fridge for a little bit so the chocolate antlers wouldn't melt.
Merry Christmas!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Our MeMe

Heath's precious mom, Melissa Grimes Henderson, went to be with Jesus at 12:50 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on April 6th and has been fighting hard ever since! She has taken chemo like a champion and still been back at work (she owned a Lighting and Supply Store in Andalusia), but also working as a devoted wife, mother and grandmother. She was handling treatments EXTREMELY well, until two Thursdays ago when she developed a high fever. They drove her to Pensacola and she was put in the hospital. The first week she was walking around the hospital and frustrated because she was ready to get back home! They couldn't ever pinpoint why it was getting worse - she stopped responding to antibiotics, and it was more and more of a struggle to breathe each day. By last Sunday, they had to put her in Intensive Care. In the end, her lungs were just too infected by pneumonia or the effects of chemo plus pneumonia - we are not sure exactly. We just know God was ready for her.
When I say she delighted in her children and grandchildren, it is an understatement. She joked with us from when we were early married that she was ready to be a grandmother. I now see why. I am not exaggerating when I say she was the best grandmother I have ever seen.
Kate (my sister-in-law) has been saying all week that she was the grandkids' biggest fan. How true that is! She fell in love with them from the minute we told her we were pregnant. Seriously - I told her about Turner at a Cracker Barrel on Mother's Day in 2008. She literally stood up and screamed in excitement. If you knew her, this was completely unlike her tiny, quiet self!
She marveled at their tiny newborn selves, infancy and thought them perfect even as they were wild toddlers! We could call her to tell her that Turner pooped in the potty (rare occurrence) or went swimming without fear or that John Burke said "Daddy" or put his bottle in the sink - silly things that NO ONE else would care about - and she would throw a party over the phone. She LOVED to talk to the boys over speaker phone and tell them how proud of them she was and how much she and Pap loved them. A couple of weeks ago, Turner begged to call MeMe. I told him we would wait until Heath got home, and he said "But MeMe is sick, and it always makes her feel better when I call her." I don't want him to forget that. As I look at these pictures, I notice that Turner couldn't help but smile every time he was with her!
The boys have been lost this week in Andalusia. We have been here since Tuesday, and they looked confused from the minute we pulled up and they didn't have their MeMe to run to and snuggle up with. Turner and Ellie have both said multiple times "Where's MeMe?" I selfishly have been trying to call everything "Pap's house" and "Pap's room", etc. but it didn't fool them. Turner has woken up about every day here and says "I'm gonna go play with MeMe." The day before she died I found him wandering around in the backyard by the big tractors (his favorite thing). He looked at me, put his arms out and said "Mommy! I can't find MeMe and Pap anywhere!" I told him Pap was at work (easier than saying he had not left his wife's side in the hospital for 2 weeks) and I said "Baby, MeMe is really, really sick. She is going to go to heaven with Dink and Gordon." He looked at me, smiled and said "Oh!! Okay!" and wandered off. That is one refreshing thing - that childlike ability to be resilient and so innocent.
When John Burke heard MeMe's name the other day, he pointed to a big group of pictures of her and the family we had made this summer. They were hanging on the wall, and he either looks there or points there each time we say her name. I know he is 18 months old and won't remember much, but it has been so comforting to know this trip how much his baby self enjoyed and loved her.
To know Melissa was to know how generous she was. I don't just mean with the grandchildren - because she spoiled them rotten! Clothes, toys, beach trips, hugs and kisses, story times - anything she thought they would love. And they did. But, she did that for all of us, too. She showed love to us by giving - they have taken us on countless trips (including the National Championship this year - thank God for that time together as a family before we even knew she was sick!), and opened up their homes in Auburn, Andalusia and the beach for any and every time we wanted to come. Her favorite thing ever was having all of her little chicks and chickadees all in the same place - be it for a Fall football game, a holiday or time at the beach. She and Pap invested in things that would provide quality family time, and I am looking back forever grateful for that.
But she also was generous in time. She considered it joy to stop whatever she was doing to talk to Heath (or Jay or Kelly or any of us for that mattter) on the phone each day on his way home from class in college or work these almost 10 years since I have known her. Heath told me the other day that the greatest legacy his mom left was the time spent loving him and his family, and that is evident. He was equally as close to her before her diagnosis and afterward, as were his brother and sister.
Melissa had a strong faith in Jesus, and that has been our comfort this week. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is dancing in Heaven with Him. When she found out she had terminal cancer, she fought it with every ounce of her 100 pound being. She enjoyed every second of life she had left - she didn't let fear encompass her. She believed Psalm 23:4 - "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Thy rod and thy staff they will comfort me." She told their pastor a few weeks ago in the hospital that she wasn't scared of dying, she was just sad to leave her family. That was very true - and she made the most of the time she had left without having to change the way she was already living.
We were able to say goodbye to her in the hospital, and she was sedated but conscious. We were able to tell her how much we loved her and how thankful we were for her life, and I swear Frank had to wipe tears from her eyes. How comforting to know that she heard us! I hate that she had to fight such a battle with cancer, but what closure to be able to affirm her in those last days! And, praise God that she had 7-8 very normal months with a debilitating disease, and then only 2 weeks of true defeat at the very end. She turned so quickly, but in hindsight that was such an answer to prayer that it was not drawn out and that God ultimately healed her so fast.
As I sit here typing this, tears are streaming down and her little namesake is kicking the computer through my belly. What a weird but refreshing feeling to remember that God "giveth and He taketh away." We weren't near ready to let go of our mother/mother-in-law/grandmother, but we are secure in God's perfect sovereignty and plan.
As we head back to Birmingham today we are so many things: heartbroken, bewildered, exhausted, stir crazy, ready for cell phone service :). But overall, we are blessed. We are loved and we are grateful - for her life, for the legacy and memories, for the family and friends who drove hours in the rain to hug our necks and stand by us in the visitation and funeral, who sent flowers or food, or those who texted, emailed or even just prayed and called out to God for us. What a showing of our brothers and sisters in Christ - we could not be more overwhelmed with gratitude or comfort.
God tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to "Be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances. For this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." We will claim this as we try to mend the MeMe sized hole in our hearts:)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

She has a name!

Check out that profile - and that creepy eye socket
We figured out a name for our baby girl (still weird to say!) about 2 or 3 weeks ago. It took a while - things we had loved in the past just weren't the same this time around. So, we FINALLY decided on Melissa Collins. She will go by Collins.
Melissa is Heath's mom's name. On a side note, please pray for her - she has been in the hospital this week with pneumonia! She has been such a fighter, and we are praying that she can rally through this and go back to taking care of us all for the holidays!
Collins is my grandmother's maiden name. My mom's mom is one of my favorite people in this whole world. Nanny's name is Elizabeth Collins Frech (what - no fight over Frech?). She has been sick this year and we have almost lost her 3 times, but luckily we have still been able to spend time with her. So, we will have a little namesake on both sides!
If you ask Turner where Baby Sister is, he says "in the neighborhood." What?! The last 2 days he has said "in Mommy's tummy" but that is about it. I like to ask him her name - so far I have gotten Harper and Harpy (his teacher's little girl is Harper) and Mamie? Hmm. Okay. A better mom would probably be talking to him and John Burke nightly and preparing them and such, but that cuts into my denial game.
Anyway, I should have been like most people and had a host of names ready, but I of course did not. So, we feel a sense of accomplishment! Now, to get her clothes, bedding, etc. I am only 27 weeks - that stuff will fall into place, right?
I meant to post this a week ago - I was waiting on a big ultrasound I had last week. At the gender ultrasound they couldn't see her heart, so they had to do another one to check all the parts of her heart. And I had my sugar test that day (Derek made fun of me for calling it that - excuse me, my gestational diabetes test). We passed! Her heart looked great, and it will forever freak me out to watch a little baby dance inside of me on the screen. But, so far, so good. And - she looks identical to Turner and Burkita Jones in utero! I didn't do the 4-D, just because I was already there this week, but I got to see some fun shots of her!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween 2011

What a fun Halloween weekend! We are tired, but full of sugar and great memories! The boys didn't fully grasp what was going on the last few days, but they loved every part of it. :)
On Thursday, we went to CeCe's house (that is what Turn
er calls Lindsey) to decorate brownie haunted houses. This was the cleanest moment:
Kate and Blake were definitely more careful and meticulous...
But we all had fun!
One of the masterpieces!
John Burke especially enjoyed eating it! And, he is obsessed with babies, Morgan in particular. I had to watch him like a hawk because he just has so much love to give, and doesn't know his own strength. Sweet Morgan isn't strong enough for his adoration yet! But I do love how much he loves her!
Friday we went to the Fall Festival at school. This was one of the only pictures I snapped in all of the madness. Turner and his BFF Rutland wearing the same thing. Sidenote - Turner and Rutland love to fight each other?! and they were scrapping yesterday on the playground and Turner bit him!!! So they may not be as tight! But they did hug afterwards and tell each other they still loved each other. Poor Rut was Turner's first ever bite victim!! So sorry, Rutland.
On Sunday night, Evan hosted a fabulous Halloween party! Elmo and Cookie Monster joined us, and we had a ball!
Pirate Evan with her parrot Perry
Uncle Derek was there with Chloe
Precious little Peacock
And Kate and Blake
Thank you sooo much, Evan! You outdid yourself with all the decorations, food and fun for all!
Party time - no CLUE how much sugar was consumed here
Then last night, for the actual Halloween, we went to Martha and John's house. They are dear friends, and I taught their son 5 years ago! It doesn't seem that long ago! Martha cooked for us, John and William entertained, and then we saw several kids that I used to teach while we were trick-or-treating. Sarah Beth was a God-send and helped us trick-or-treat!
This was the scene most of the night - Sarah Beth holding one child and walking with the other.
John Burke's post between houses - he had a death-grip on the candy
John Burke's first time to ever trick-or-treat, though he wouldn't say it - and then the view from inside one of the houses
We barely lasted an hour, but it was so much fun for everyone! The boys are going to be de-toxing today...should be interesting. At the end of the night when Heath and I were gathering costumes and shoes, etc. we caught John Burke helping John hand out candy on his porch.
Picture from the last house we hit. This was not posed, he was just done! We turned around and he was laying on the ground, resting I guess. That is how I felt, too!
Ring Pop in mouth - trick-or-treating did us all in!