A Wonderful Christmas Gift

We were lucky enough this past weekend, to be the secondary recipients of an early Christmas gift from my dad to my mom - she got to come visit us for almost a full four days!! We had so much fun, and it was such a wonderful, relaxing and joyous visit for us.

Mom and the kids by the front door with our beautiful, fresh balsam wreath (courtesy of our dear friends, Stephen & Dara).

My mom is one of those house guests that you just don't have to worry about having into your home. She's taught me, through her actions, what it means to be a gracious, helpful and pleasant person to be around, and we just can't get enough of her!

We even got some Mother-Daughter time on Saturday going Christmas shopping together for the kids! We finished all of our shopping, and didn't even mind the crowds since we had the pleasure of one another's company to enjoy. Collin took Moira and Ian to see the new movie "Bolt" while my Mom and I were out and then she treated us all to dinner at Chili's. On Sunday, she came to church with us and got to see the place we've made our Church home here, and meet some of our newest friends. After a nice dinner at home, we all made reindeer cookies together to package up for Moira's school friends and our neighbors. The kids really enjoyed the festive cookie-making time, and it was extra special to have Grammie there to help!

Moira hard at work, placing all those chocolate chip eyes in the perfect place!

Ian concentrating, almost as hard, on his little reindeer.

Showing off the cutest little reindeer cookies ever with Grammie.

Aren't they cute? (Oh, and that adorable Scotty dog shirt was a gift from Grammie while she was here too, complete with matching houndstooth print skirt and curly, red bow! [Ian got a cool Dino shirt with matching light-up hoodie, as seen above, which was equally as cute on him.] Gotta love Gymboree... and Grammies that spoil their grandkids!)

That night we all bundled up in PJs, and after a quick stop at Krispy Kreme, headed to the Botanical Gardens to see their "Galaxy of Lights" drive-through holiday light display.

Just one of the many brilliant light scenes we saw (excuse the bad picture).

We even got the added bonus of a cancelled flight for Mom on Monday night, which gave us another half day with her! She did make it home safe and sound last night, and we miss her already. Thank you, Daddy, for such a wonderful treat! We can't wait until June, when we get to see you BOTH! :)

We love you, Mom/Grammie - you're welcome any time!!

(Oh, and that would be Ian's newest picture pose!) ;o)


You Make My Heart Sing

This is an e-mail I got this afternoon from Moira's kindergarten teacher, about our beautiful little girl, and I just had to share it here:


How, oh, how can you let her leave you daily? She is the funniest thing I have ever seen! Everyday she is just so cute! Yesterday we were talking about all the reindeer names, when I got to Vixen she said,"Oooo I like that name." and then said the same thing about Blitzen, "Ooo I like that one too." And you know how her little eyes light up when she gets excited. On Tuesday, she sat with me on the bench outside, she asked me what I wanted to talk about and then we both said what we wanted. Then another little girl came and sat with us and Moira told the girl that we had been talking about birthdays and recalled everything we said and then asked the girl "What would like to talk about?" The little girl was off in her answer, like maybe she didn't understand what Moira was saying and Moira just paused, reasoned, and went on with what she was saying. She is precious.

Have a great day!
Ms. Stover

What could warm a Mother's heart more? It seems every adult that has interaction with her becomes smitten. We're so blessed with such a precious little girl, and I'm so grateful that she spends her time at school with someone who recognizes what a gift she is!

We love you more than words can say, darling Daughter!


Thanksgiving with Family

We had the pleasure of hosting Collin's whole family for Thanksgiving this year! We sure had a house-full, but it was wonderful to have his family all together for the holiday. It was the first time in our married life that we've been able to be with family for this holiday! We even had our Christmas celebration together the day after Thanksgiving (since unfortunately none of us will be together this year), with all the cousins in matching PJs, tree decorating and present exchanges. Unfortunately, as busy as I was during the whole week, I didn't get many pictures, but my SIL Suzann, got some great ones. Here are just a few of the many...
The grandparents decided to take the grandkids to the park while I was finishing up dinner, and Suzann went along and got some really cute shots. Click on the picture to see the album.

Our early Christmas, with all the cousins in matching PJs

Suzann was kind enough to take some family pictures of us on Friday. I didn't upload them all since there were a ton, but here are some of our favorites.

We hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving!!


"The Bun"

Today was my first OB appointment and ultrasound of the baby! Collin and Moira were both home for Veteran's Day, so we all got to go see the baby as a family. The "bun" looks great, everything is developing how and where it should be, and he/she is measuring at 9 weeks, so just a few days bigger than our best-guess due date. Both Moira and Ian measured bigger all the way through the pregnancy (we make big babies), so this was no real surprise for us. We all enjoyed getting to see the baby, even though the kids had a hard time seeing a baby in the blob on the screen! The heart beat was strong (at about 165 beats per minute) and he/she measured at just about 1 inch long. It was so amazing to see little arms and legs (and even an ear!) with a strong heart beat, all from a tiny being only an inch in length!! So cool. Here are the "bun's" first pictures in 4-D:

I thought it would also be fun to post the video of the ultrasound, since it's a truly amazing experience, and I thought some of you would enjoy it too! I edited the video to include just the good stuff, so it's only about 3.50 minutes. At about 1 minute, you'll see the heart beat monitor on the screen, but unfortunately you can't hear the little "whoosh whoosh" of the heart beat after editing, like we can hear on the original. Then, she switches to the colored 4-D ultrasound, which is super cool. That's when the baby really takes shape and you can see all the neat little details! If you watch closely at about the 3 minute mark, you can see the baby start to move his/her little legs and arms and wiggle around a bit!! Again, absolutely incredible - it's the 3rd go around and it still blows my mind! :o) I hope you enjoy the clip, almost as much as we did!


This week I'm thankful that Collin is back home after his 5 day business trip to Vandenberg AFB last week. Their mission was a success, he made it home safely, and we're all happy to have him home. I'm also very thankful for the sweet friends that we've made out here, that took it upon themselves to help me while he was out of town!

The kids and I were invited over to the house of one of our friends from church (Misty & Stephen, and their two kids Eli & Liza) on Monday night while he was gone, which was wonderful because the kids got some play time, and I didn't have to cook! Then, our friends/neighbors across the street (Jeff & Vicky, and their two kids Nathan & Joshua) brought over a huge dinner on Wednesday night for me and the kids to help out. I was so blessed by everyone's generosity and helpfulness!! Here's a picture of what we were treated to Wednesday night:

On the menu was roasted chicken with German-style red potatoes, onions and carrots, rice pilaf, rolls, an awesome salad, AND yummy fruit salad with sugar cookies for dessert!! Talk about a feast for the 3 of us - what a blessing!


Better Late Than Never?

Yes, it's far past Halloween now, and we're well into November and all things election, but I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to post our pics of my sweet little ones in their holiday spirit... despite being a few days behind!

Moira wanted to make treat bags for all her classmates again this year, so she helped me make these simple tags and signed the backs of all 18 of them. She also wrote each recipients name on the front of each bag. She's such a gift-giver!

Her class had a "Harvest Day" party with a cowboy/cowgirl theme, so this is how Moira attended school Friday. We made the shirt with iron-on rhinestone letters, found the bandanna and foam hat at Michael's... and voila - a genuine Cowgirl!
Ian dressed up to, since we went to the school for her party and younger siblings were welcome to participate. What a cutie!

At the party, Moira and her friend Celeste played up to our camera with their cute ways.
On to Halloween night and getting ready to go trick or treating! Moira was a Queen (I thought she was a princess, but she sternly corrected me) and Ian was a Ninja. Thanks to Uncle Stephen & Aunt Dara for the cute treat bags - they definitely worked out well!

We had perfect weather, not to hot nor too cold, and the kid's made it around most of the neighborhood before calling it a night.

They scored lots of candy, but we took a page out of Aunt Suzann's book this year, and gave them a choice. They could keep all their candy, or trade it to the "Tooth Fairy" for a new toy. After pigging out a bit Halloween night, they both decided the next morning to opt for the toy! Bye, bye to all that candy that we really didn't want around the house anyway!! :)


The Goblin Train

This post is a wee bit late, but I wanted to share pictures of our weekend adventure during Stephen and Dara's visit. We took the kids on the Goblin Train, which is an actual train ride where people were (supposed to be) dressed up for Halloween and given treats.

Unfortunately, it ended up being pretty lame, but I think the kids enjoyed it alright, so it wasn't a total loss. We had fun visiting with Stephen and Dara - so the 5 mile an hour ride in one direction for a mile, stop, and return by going backward 5 miles an hour - made it all okay. (Although I know we could've enjoyed each other's company for a whole lot less than $12 a person!!) Ah well, now we know and won't make the same mistake twice. At least we got some cute pics. As always, click on the picture below to see the entire album on picasa.

More pictures to come! Moira has a "Cowboy/Cowgirl" themed Harvest Party tomorrow afternoon at school, which Ian and I will be joining her for... and then of course, from Halloween night! :) See you then!



Today I'm thankful for our Freedom of Speech and the Right to Vote.

I hesitate to use this blog as a forum for political debate, but I believe we as a Nation are faced with a huge decision in this upcoming election - one that will affect our children and grandchildren for years to come. If you're able, please read this post (from Thursday, October 23rd) I stumbled upon from a friend's blog. It says very clearly and concisely what I would want to say here, and since she's already said it, I won't repeat it here but suggest that you read it for yourself.

I am not Catholic, although I have many dear friends and family members (whom I cherish and admire in their Christian faith) who are, but I think the point of this video clip should hit home to all of us who proclaim themselves Christian. I admire and respect the Catholic Church for holding fast in their moral standing, and I hope you'll vote your conscience come November 4th.

1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone -- 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior... (1 Tim. 2:13 NIV)


Tate Farms

We took a trip out to Tate Farms on Saturday, for a bit 'o Fall fun and pumpkin picking! We all had a blast, and were really impressed with all that there was to do and see. Next year, I think we'll go on an afternoon during the week, so it's not so crazy busy, but it sure was a lot of fun!

Once again, click on the picture to see the full album (with captions) of our day!


What's in a Name?

This is going to be a big shocker for those of you who've known us through the last two pregnancies, and remember that we wouldn't even hint at name possibilities before, but we're actually going to be open about it this time! We think we've decided not to find out what this little one is going to be, until his/her birthday, so we thought we'd let people know what our name options are for a boy and a girl. Of course, it's still very earlier, and 8 months can change things a lot, but here are our top two (that we agree on) for each.

For a boy:
Declan - meaning "Full of Goodness" and "A Man of Prayer"
Liam - meaning "Valiant Protector"

For a girl:
Meghan - meaning "Pearl" or "Pure"
Ciara - pronounced Kee-ra, meaning "Saint" or "Dark"

Now we need some help with middle names. What names do you think go well with these first name options? Here are the rules. I really don't want to hear that you knew someone who knew someone in 5th grade that was a bully named Liam... keep it to yourself. We'd appreciate positive or constructive opinions only, if you feel like giving them. Otherwise, I'd love to hear your thoughts. And, as you may have noticed, we have a certain propensity toward Irish/Celtic names, so we probably won't go with Sally... sorry Moira. Okay... discuss.

And finally, for your viewing pleasure, here is Moira's most recent depiction of our family. That's us, with me holding our new baby up - apparently the baby is going to be a girl - with Daddy holding Ian's hand, and Ian holding Moira's. Under the rainbow, near our house, of course! (I'm not sure why Daddy's got a fro.) Pretty sweet, huh?


Our Big News?

Yup, that's right! We've got a bun in the oven!

I got the best birthday present this year... a positive pregnancy test! Collin, the kids and I are all very excited about our new baby. We just found out yesterday (so I'm only about 4 weeks along), but it was just too exciting not to tell everyone right away! My first OB appointment and sonogram will be on November 11th, so you can bet there will be a picture of the newest member of the McCann Clan then. Of course, then we'll have to wait until mid-June to meet this new little boy or girl. Ian's already said he wants a baby brother and Moira wants a baby sister (whom she thinks we should name Sally)! We'd be honored if you'd pray for a safe and healthy baby & pregnancy for us. Thanks for checking out our good news here!!
For those of you who are wondering, the [more to come] note in my previous post really wasn't about this big news! And, when I said "not that I know of" in the comments, that was true. We just found out, so I really didn't know at the time. Did I suspect? Well... maybe. But we couldn't do our family the dishonor of posting it here without telling them first. Besides, that's not what the "Who Am I?" post was really supposed to be about anyway. :)



Today I'm thankful for Fall Break! Moira is out of school all week long for "Fall Break", which is a new idea to us, but I guess it's just like Spring Break, only in the Fall. However you want to look at it, I'm enjoying having our big girl home with us this week. Yesterday we went to the Botanical Gardens with some church friends, and we've been doing some fun crafts and activities around the house. Take a look at what we've been up to so far:

Ian bounding across the colors of the rainbow at the botanical gardens

Moira observing our group from her perching spot up in the 2 tiered terrace

Moira and Ian pulling up a bucket of water at the Fairy tale wishing well

Having lunch with some new friends at the gardens
(left to right: Kim, Hannah, Eli, Misty, David & Michele)
Lots of dressing-up going on. Ian can't decide whether to be a doctor, fireman or handy-man!
We made brown lunch bag puppets one afternoon. One of my favorite crafts from childhood! Here's Ian with his creepy spider and silly snake.
And Moira with her cute kitty and squeaky mouse. Notice the made-by-Moira dresses that were needed to accessorize her puppet friends!

Grammy J sent the kids special coloring books in the package with Mommy's b-day present - thanks Grammy, we love them!! :)

Bet you didn't know that the kidlets (and their Mommy) are flower stalkers! Well, here's the beauty we found flourishing on one of the rose bushes out back this weekend.
Lots more planned for a week of fun, including a birthday celebration tomorrow and a brunch play date with more new friends from church on Friday! We have so much to be grateful for! How about you?


Who Am I?

I've been working on this post for the last few days now, if not on paper, in my head. God has gripped me... taken me by the heart and lead me in His direction over the last year, but especially the last few months. All of the sudden, I'm hearing Him just a little more clearly over the world's din that has increasingly grown fainter. Like Moses, I'm suddenly finding myself covered with His hand, only to see His back, as His glory and goodness pass over me. (ref. Exodus 33:18-23) I'm in awe over the presence of the Almighty God, Abba Father, in my life. Who am I?

I woke up yesterday, earlier than usual, the house still quiet and peaceful in the early morning hours. It wasn't until a few minutes later, that I realized the track playing in my head. I woke up with this song streaming unconsciously through my mind, like my Spirit had been in worship in the stillness of night, despite my body's slumber. It struck me how personal God is with us, that this was indeed a gift to me, to prepare me for the day ahead. Right then and there, it was God making His presence known, and inviting me to worship. Throughout the day yesterday, I'd smile as I remembered my very personal moment with my God, and my soul welled up to praise Him again.

He's broken through the darkness in my soul, shining His cleansing light, and leaving me more fulfilled through Him than I could ever have imagined. He's repurposed my life for His glory, and restored the joy of my salvation. He's taken my selfish heart, and made one that has bloomed with love anew for my dear husband. He's reformed my vision of Motherhood, to realize the sanctified mission He's entrusted me with. [more on this to come.] He's given this precious gift of children that I've too long taken for granted. He's given me peace and joy again in my calling as a Wife, Mother and Daughter of the King!

This is such a personal post for me. Something I didn't need to share here to have heard by the One whom this is for. But I'm overflowing - my cup runneth over! How could I be silent? How could I stand still instead of falling on my face to worship?!

I am yours.



I have a dear friend back in California that's been doing something wonderful on her blog almost every Tuesday. She's reserved "GratiTuesday" for vocalizing some of the blessings in her life and her gratitude for them... the name's coming together now, right?! ;o) I think this is such a great idea, as reading her posts have really caused me to look at my life and see the blessings that I've been gifted with. It's downright infectious - and something I'd much rather pass on to all you out there, than so much of the misery and complaining we tend to pass on instead! So, I thought I might take up the torch and continue her tradition here on my blog on a somewhat normal basis. I think in the future I'll focus on one topic individually, but today I feel compelled to give thanks to my God for all of these sweet blessings, so here goes:
  • Collin, my beloved. A man that knows my heart and every expression's meaning. One who loves, protects and provides for me and our children, not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. A man created to be my other half!
  • My precious children, Moira and Ian. Wow - words can't begin to express the blessing that they've been to me, and how thankful I am that God's entrusted their precious little lives with us. I only hope God will bless my efforts to Mother them and train them up in Him, knowing that we've dedicated them to Him.
  • My family. God took such care of me from the beginning in choosing my Mother, Father and Siblings, knowing exactly what I'd need to grow up strong in the Lord. And now, He's given me such a precious gift in group of incredible in-laws that I honestly lucked out with!
  • My friends. This is such a rich blessing - icing on the cake, if you will. The Lord has brought friends into my life that have nurtured, encouraged, supported and loved me as I am. He knows our need for fellowship (He created us that way, after all) and He's seen fit to place such incredible people in my life for me to grow with. I'm thankful daily for this.
  • Our home. God has truly shown himself as Jehovah Jireh (meaning "The Lord will Provide") to us over this last year. I hope to never again take for granted His provision and promise to meet our needs. Not only has He met our needs, He's given us a beautiful home that we hardly deserve... God is good!
  • Our church. As we settle into our new state, I've prayed in earnest that God would send us a church home that we may get involved in. That we'd find fellowship there, find support in training up our children, and truly grow in Him and give to His ministry. For the first time in our married lives, since leaving San Antonio, I believe we've found that very church, and my heart is overflowing with joy!
  • Him. His precious gift of Himself to us. Not only in creating us and the world, but choosing to be involved in our lives and to dwell among us, as Sovereign God and Father. The ultimate price was paid for me, and I'm so thankful that He first loved me, and drew me close to Him. If that doesn't shake your world, I don't know what will!

What are you thankful for?


"This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!" - Psalm 118:24


US Space & Rocket Center

Our day started out with a real bang... literally!! We were getting ready to head to the Space & Rocket Center while Moira and Ian were running around playing, and all of the sudden we heard a loud THUMP immediately followed by crying. Not good. I ran out of the room to find Moira in a heap on the floor, having slipped and slammed right into the bottom of the wall at the baseboard, poor baby. She got a huge knot on her head with this dark red line (which still hasn't faded, by the way). She was a trooper though, and decided she was ready to head off for the day anyway - that's our girl! :)

To see all our pictures (with captions) from Saturday at the US Space & Rocket Center, click on the picture below and it'll take you to our Picasa album. We had a great time - thank goodness for free tickets for Smithsonian Day! Moira is now thoroughly convinced that she must have Space Camp Barbie (oh goodie) and Ian has learned the joys of yelling "3-2-1 Blast Off!" at the top of his lungs and taking off in a full on sprint. Quite a fun day for the whole family!

Here's some video from a small piece of our time there:

All in all we had a good day, topped off with a trip to Pizza Hut for dinner. We think we might go ahead and get Annual Tickets for the family - that way if any of you want to do see the Space & Rocket Center when you come visit, we'll have some discount tickets ready to go! So, come visit!! ;o)
Today we went to Sunday School in the morning, followed by Church, and were invited out to lunch by two couples from our Sunday School class. We went to a new Deli here called "Newk's" with them and their children, and had a lot of fun for 12 people in a party! We're thankful that some of the members from the church are really starting to warm up to us and make room for us in their lives. God is good! Tonight will consist of a small dinner at home, getting the kids to bed early in preparation for school tomorrow, some laundry, and relaxing before the start of another busy week. Thanks for stopping by and checking in on us - we love ya!


Alabamians by Residence, Texans at Heart!

Collin took a couple hours off of work today, so that we could go get our vehicles registered in the State of Alabama, and get new Driver's Licenses too. Yup - we're officially residents of Alabama now, and we'll have to give up those precious Texas license plates... again. I was thinking of a way we could still claim our Texan-ness on our vehicle, and I found this window sticker:

Perfect, right? :)

So, it's been about three full months since we moved here, and I must say we're feeling pretty content. Life is good - or perhaps I should say God is good! Huntsville has plenty to offer in the way of activities and culture, we're settling into a church that we're considering joining, our home is wonderful and we've met some nice neighbors with young kids, Moira's loving school, and Collin's job is going well. Man, remembering back 4 short months ago, when our entire lives were up in the air, it all seems so distant now. The thing I haven't forgotten (and hope I never do) is the provision, hope and comfort God gave us during our 6+ months of uncertainty. We've been so thoroughly blessed, and it's more than we deserve. Again, God is good! Amen?

I should have some fun stuff to post this weekend, as my brilliant hunk of a man found free passes to the US Space & Rocket Center for tomorrow! We've wanted to do the whole NASA museum/discovery center thing, but it's pretty pricey. So, this will be a good opportunity to go check it out and see if Annual Passes are something we'd like to get. The Annual Passes aren't too expensive, and we'd get some discount/free tickets for visitors (might be a good activity for us, Suzann, when y'all come for Thanksgiving! What do you think?). Anyway, more on that to come.

We've been invited over to our neighbor's house tonight to help celebrate their oldest son's 8th birthday with cake and ice cream. Should be fun - the kids are definitely looking forward to it. Until then, I suppose I should go get some cleaning done around here so I can enjoy the weekend thoroughly. Thanks, as always, for caring what these new Alabamians have to say! :)


It's about time!

I finally started potty training with Ian this week. Well, really we started on Friday, but the weekend put a damper on our progress with our trip to the caverns and other stuff, so we're back to it in full force this week. I figured it was time when I kept getting well-meaning comments like "how's potty training going?" to which I'd be forced to reply "well... it's not." Yes, he turned three in May, but can you hardly blame me for waiting until we were settled after a move, a brief stay in an apartment, and all that unpacking?! But, now we're really working on it. We've had quite a few "accidents" (I'm suddenly very thankful that our entire house has wood floors!) but I think he's really starting to get the hang of it now. We had one big oops this morning, but since then he's successfully told me of his need to tinkle and performed marvelously four times!

There are definitely benefits to waiting until the kiddos are a bit older - they just get the hang of it much quicker. Sure, we could've really pushed them to go potty at two years old, but I guarantee you we would've had a lot more work and accidents along the way. Just my thoughts on the matter; although, each kid is different, and each Momma is gonna know hers best! So if you had your infant going in the potty, more power to you - but I think I'll wait a couple years, thankyouverymuch!

So proud of the big boy pull-ups. He especially loves the dinosaur undies he gets to wear around the house too!

Ian's "tinkle treats" - he gets to pick 3 each time he goes.

Funnily enough, Collin got this funny short story e-mailed to him this week, which he promptly shared with me:
My little guy, Cade, is quite a talker. He loves to communicate and does it quite well. He talks to people constantly, whether we're in the library, the grocery store or at a drive-thru window. People often comment on how clearly he speaks for a just-turned-3-year-old. And you Never have to ask him to turn up the volume. It's always fully cranked. There've been several embarrassing times that I've wished the meaning of his words would have been masked by a not-so-audible voice, but never have I wished this more than last week at Costco. Halfway, through our shopping trip, nature called, so I took Cade with me into the restroom. If you'd been one of the ladies in the restroom that evening, this is what you would have heard coming from the second to the last stall:

''Mommy , are you gonna go potty?

Oh! Why are you putting toiwet paper on the potty, Mommy?

Oh! You gonna sit down on da toiwet paper now?

Mommy, what are you doing?

Mommy, are you gonna go stinkies on the potty?'

At this point I started mentally counting how many women had been in the bathroom when I walked in. Several stalls were full ... 4? 5? Maybe we could wait until they all left before I had to make my debut out of this stall and reveal my identity. Cade continued:

'Mommy, you ARE going stinkies aren't you?

Oh, dats a good girl, Mommy!

Are you gonna get some candy for going stinkies on the potty?

Let me see doze stinkies, Mommy!

Oh ... Mommy! I'm trying to see In dere.

Oh! I see dem. Dat is a very good girl, Mommy. You are gonna get some

I heard a few faint chuckles coming from the stalls on either side of me. Where is a screaming new born when you need her? Good grief. This was really getting embarrassing. I was definitely waiting a long time before exiting. Trying to divert him, I said,

'Why don't you look in Mommy's purse and see if you can find some candy. We'll both have some.

'No, I'm trying to see doze more stinkies.

Oh! Mommy!'

He started to gag at this point.

'Uh - oh, Mommy. I fink I'm gonna frow up.

Mommy, doze stinkies are making me frow up!!

Dat is so gross!!'

As the gags became louder, so did the chuckles outside my stall. Quickly flushed the toilet in hopes of changing the subject. I began to reason with myself: OK. There are four other toilets. If I count four flushes, I can be reasonably assured that those who overheard this embarrassing Monologue will be long gone.

'Mommy! Would you get off the potty, now? I want you to be done going stinkies! Get up! Get up!'

He grunted as he tried to pull me off. Now I could hear full-blown laughter. I bent down to count the feet outside my door.

'Oh, are you wooking under dere, Mommy?

You wooking under da door?

What were you wooking at?

Mommy? You wooking at the wady's feet?'

More laughter. I stood inside the locked door and tried to assess the situation.

'Mommy, it's time to wash our hands, now. We have to go out now, Mommy.'

He started pounding on the door. 'Mommy, don't you want to wash your hands? I want to go out!!'

I saw that my 'wait 'em out' plan was unraveling. I sheepishly opened the door, and found standing outside my stall, twenty to thirty ladies crowded around the stall, all smiling and starting to applaud. My first thought was complete embarrassment, then I thought, 'Where's The fine print on the 'motherhood contract' where I signed away every bit of my dignity and
privacy?' But as my little boy gave me a big, cheeky grin while he rubbed bubbly soap between his chubby little hands, I thought, I'd sign it all away again, just to be known as Mommy to this little fellow.

(Shannon Popkin is a freelance writer and mother of three. She lives with her family in Grand Rapids , Michigan , where she no longer uses public restrooms).

Hmm... on second though, a six-year-old in diapers wouldn't be out of the question, would it?!?


Cathedral Caverns

We spent our Saturday at Cathedral Caverns, about 45 minutes outside of Huntsville. It was so much fun to have the kids experience this kind of adventure for the first time! I was really impressed with how well Moira listened to our tour guide and how much she learned from his fun facts, and Ian was such a trooper with all the climbing and walking (about 1.5 miles in all) and I only had to carry him a couple of times. Click on the picure below, and it'll take you to all of our photos from the day in our Picasa album - enjoy!



First this...

...then this!

Well, kind of. I actually gave Ian the scissors and paper to cut while I was working on putting my craft room together. It was just so funny that after I snapped the picture of him cutting the paper (unbeknownst to him) he looked up startled, as if to say "I didn't do it!" Of course when I laughed at his reaction, his face in the second picture is what I got in return. I could eat him up - he's just too cute for words. Mommy loves you, little guy!


There's a crispness in the air

...and we're loving it. I woke up this morning and let Cailin out to find our patio thermometer reading 59 degrees, and I immediately planned on making warm coffee and donning a sweater when I returned inside. I love days like this. Although I don't expect it to last quite yet - Summer will inevitably push it's way through a few more times before Autumn takes a stronghold - this is the first hint at the changing of the season. A season when I dream of cradling warm drinks between my fingers and cozying up by the fire on chilly nights with a good book, the comfort of woolly yarn running through my fingers as I knit to my heart's content, the excitement in the air as the children begin to plan Halloween night and the perfect costume, and the feeling of family togetherness that the anticipation of Thanksgiving always brings. These are things that we're doing, as Fall, easily my favorite of all seasons, is approaching.

  • Both Ian & Moira have made it their personal missions to collect all the beautiful leaves they come across. We haven't seen much change in color from the trees yet, so I was quite surprised to see some of the gems they found in our backyard. Definitely a sign that Autumn is coming!!

  • Moira can't stop drawing. It's like a disease - she eats, sleeps and dreams in crayola washable marker colors! Collin and I have been so impressed with her improvement in this area over the last month. She's drawing with such detail and takes such time and care on each individual picture. Here is an example of that. This is a depiction of herself in the library (which is quickly becoming one of her favorite activities at school). Notice how each book has it's own unique design on the cover? I also love the ladder-backed chair she drew to the side of the left bookshelf, and the simple things, like the bow in her hair - so cute. Looks like some of drawing genes from her daddy have been activated! I'm always so amazed by these little people, and their unique talents and ambitions.

  • Yesterday was Moira's day for the book fair at school. I decided to bring Ian up to the library with me, so they could each pick a book. We discovered that a 15 minute time slot for a Kindergarten class of 16 is way too short!! Poor Moira could not decide which special book she wanted to choose to bring home within the time frame, and was in tears when she had to leave her task and line up to go back to her classroom. I told her I'd bring her back later, so she'd get a chance to pick, but it was no consolation to her. Her sweet teacher, upon seeing her tears, let her stay with me a little longer to pick her book, while the other children returned to the class with her for rest time. I'm so thankful that God's given her a gentle, sweet-natured teacher who understands my sensitive little girl. Moira chose a Fairy Princess repositionable sticker book, we bought a Corduroy book from Ms. Stover's wish list for the classroom, Ian picked a Star Wars young readers chapter book, and Mommy (having the foresight that a chapter book was perhaps a bit above Ian's current attention level) picked a book called Charlie Cook's Favorite Book. As you can see, Mommy's instinct is usually spot on!

  • As for me, I started a women's bible study on Monday mornings with the church we've been attending. It's one of Beth Moore's, A Woman's Heart: God's Dwelling Place, and I'm already amazed at how much I've learned. I've eagerly completed the homework every morning without fail, and I'm so excited to see God's Word in the Old Testament with new eyes. I've decorated the house for Fall, and started putting my crafting space together out of the half of the office I've been given. I'm volunteering some of my time helping with the Teacher Appreciate Committee, and I've taken on a project to help the "Enrichment Specialist" at Moira's school put together some portable activity centers for students who finish with their work early. In addition to that, and my normal child-caring and home-making responsibilities, the desire to scrapbook and knit has hit with a relentlessness known to many crafters during this season. This basket of yarn patiently waiting by the hearth beckons me to sit and give in to my desire to do nothing but let it be my muse the whole day.

(If this picture makes your heart skip a beat, or you have a compelling desire to reach out and lovingly caress the yarn, you might be a knitter who just doesn't know it yet - go with it!)

  • Collin is diligently pulling himself away from his cozy home and making his way to work daily. He loves Fall just as much as the rest of the family, and he finds time in the evenings to play with the kids, love on the puppy and enjoy relaxing after a hard day's work. He's looking ahead to a business trip for a week in early November, back to Vandenberg AFB, for a "Glory Trip" (that's what they call them). It pleases me to see him enjoying his work, and being treated like an asset to the company. I'm so thankful for a hard-working husband, and to see God blessing his efforts and His ever-faithful provision for us.

So that's what we're up to. I know I haven't been as good at posting as I usually am, and I hope this post will serve to get me back into the swing of things. We've got lots going on, and lots to post about, so stay tuned for more soon. Mmm-k?


Happy Birthday, Mom

my mom as a child

In honor of your special day, here are a few quotes that have rung true to me about you. Thank you for your gifts of time, patience, prayer, forgiveness, support, kindness, wisdom, sacrifice, and love. Today I'm rejoicing in God's gift to us of you!

"All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my Angel Mother." -Abraham Lincoln

“A mother understands what a child does not say.” -Jewish proverb

“When I stopped seeing my mother with the eyes of a child, I saw the woman who helped me give birth to myself.” -Nancy Friday

"A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take." -Cardinal Mermillod

"God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers." -Jewish proverb

"Most of all the other beautiful things in life come by twos and threes by dozens and hundreds. Plenty of roses, stars, sunsets, rainbows, brothers, and sisters, aunts and cousins, but only one mother in the whole world." -Kate Douglas Wiggin

me as a child, with my Mom

I love you - happy birthday!



This journey with Cailin, since the beginning, can best be described as a roller coaster ride. I can think of at least 4 times when a Vet has told us "this is what is going on" just to come back later and say "no, that's not what's going on after all" - it's been completely exhausting and emotionally draining. This is the latest twist and turn on our ride, since my last post...

I called the Surgical Hospital in Birmingham yesterday morning to see if Cailin would be allowed to come home that afternoon. The Tech informed me that they had pulled her catheter that morning, and she was urinating on her own, so the doctor approved her release. Great news - we'd finally get to bring our puppy home! We arrived at the hospital around 4:30 yesterday and waited in an exam room for the Surgeon to come have his post-surgical talk with us, we were both feeling a bit apprehensive about what we'd be told, since we'd gotten a smidgen of not-so-great information from his nurse on Tuesday night.

Dr. Ballagas sat down with us moments later to tell us how it went, and this is a summary of what he said. Basically, there was indeed a large, bleeding tumor located in a safe-for-removal spot at the front of the bladder. He was able to remove that "safe" portion of the bladder, leaving about half of her bladder remaining. Here's where it gets interesting... he noticed some thickening in the bladder wall around the tumor, possible evidence of either the tumor spreading, or in his opinion, more likely just inflammation from being beaten about by the tumor when she moved. He also noticed a couple of tiny nodules at the ureter (where the kidneys dump into the bladder) that didn't look the same as the tumor he removed, and figured they might also be spots of inflammation. He shaved them off for good measure and included them with the tumor to be sent for biopsy. Generally speaking, this was all relatively good news.

So, we were confused. We told Dr. Ballagas that we were under the impression that the tumor had definitely spread into the muscle wall and the urethra, as the nurse had told us the evening of the surgery. He assured us that the nurse misunderstood him say ureter and not urethra (which means a HUGE difference in how much time she'd have left), and must've drawn her own conclusions about the nodules found there, in addition to the thickening of the muscle wall. We were shocked that such a dooming prognosis was given unnecessarily, but thrilled to find out that that was probably not the case! Now, that being said, we're still waiting for the ultimate word of the biopsy, but there is hope yet. Dr. Ballagas is hopeful and seemed to think it more likely that the thickening in the muscle wall and the nodules were simply inflammation, which is more reason to be hopeful ourselves. We should have the biopsy report in about 2 weeks, possibly sooner.

Meanwhile, our sweet puppy is home with us and seems quite happy to be so. She's resting under the computer desk at my feet as I write. Happy Sigh. We brought home an antibiotic, pain medicine, her Peroxicam (the cancer med) and the Misoprostal (to counteract the ill effects that can be caused in the stomach by the Peroxicam) - so she'll be given lots of pills four times a day for a while. She also has a horrid collar to keep her from biting or licking her incision, but we're only using it when we have to leave the house or can't keep an eye on her. Her exercise will be very limited for a while, no running or jumping. And because her bladder is half the size it once was, she'll need to go out pretty often (I woke up with her every four hours to let her out last night). Fortunately, the bladder is an amazingly regenerative organ, and we were told that it should, in time, stretch back to very close to it's previous size. We'll take her back to Birmingham to have Dr. Ballagas remove the sutures in 2 weeks, and hopefully get the results of the biopsy in person.

So, there's the most recent experience on our roller coaster ride with Cailin. Fortunately, the ride took our emotions up this time, instead of down, but there is that little part of me that's waiting for the drop at the end of the hill. Please pray it doesn't come, especially in the form of bad news about the biopsy. I appreciate so many of you staying tuned for news on our baby - I'm sure I've been long-winded about it all, but it really has been therapy for me to compile my thoughts and share them with others here. It seems that this topic will pretty much be coming to an end with the final news of the biopsy, at which time we'll return to your previously scheduled broadcasting.

Much love and puppy kisses from Huntsville, Alabama!


Cailin's Surgery

I drove Cailin down to Birmingham for her surgery yesterday, and left her in the caring hands of the Surgeon and his staff. No small feat in itself, I assure you. Although I called to check in at 4pm and again at 7:30pm, we didn't hear about the outcome of Cailin's surgery until very late (9 pm) last night. They started her surgery later than planned, because an emergency case came in, but they also had a complication in closing her up, so it took even longer. I guess they ran a stain through her bladder to make sure there were no leaks, and there was a small one, so they had to open her back up to reseal everything. She came out from the anesthesia fine and they had warm air on her and warm liquids running through her to help raise her temperature. When I called this morning they said she was in good spirits (as much as she can be in the hospital after surgery), she'd eaten breakfast, had a bowel movement and they thought they'd be able to remove the catheter Friday morning and we can come get her and bring her home that afternoon. We're definitely hoping they'll let us come get her before the weekend!

The surgery itself ended up being more intricate than they originally had planned. I guess the tumor was pretty large, and so they had to remove a good portion of her bladder. The nurse also told me that the tumor had spread into the muscle wall and urethra, so they weren't able to remove that portion. We'd been under the impression that it hadn't made it to her urethra yet, so that was upsetting news. We have yet to find out what it all means, but should know more when we have our consult with the Surgeon when we go pick her up. I was pretty upset last night, with the new information, but Collin and I have had a chance to talk and I've calmed down emotionally quite a bit. We'll just have to wait and see what the Surgeon says it all means, and I'm trying not to get ahead of the game or make assumptions that will upset me, and might not even come to pass. Please say another prayer that the surgery will help her, and that it wasn't all in vain. We're remaining hopeful, and God is in control. He'll allow to happen what He wills, which we know is what's best. He'll give us peace and grace enough to handle it all.
In other news, Moira woke up today with two red, gunky eyes and complaining of a sore throat and ear ache. Ugh. So, I kept her home and we're going to the doctor at 10 this morning. Not what I wanted to be faced with today, but you do what you've gotta do. Hopefully he'll get her some good meds to make her better and she'll be back at school tomorrow.

This is one of those times that life can just be overwhelming. Thinking about taking things "a day at a time" seems like too much right now, so I'm focusing on an hour at a time. Please pray for our family, our sweet Cailin and the outcome of all of this. Mostly that God's will be done and that He'll give us peace about it all. Thank you all for your loving support - your comments, prayer and encouragement has meant so much to us both. Each and every one of you is a ray of happiness and representation of God's love for me.