Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A few forgotten things

We've had a blast over Christmas break!  I took the boys, and a friend, to see Frozen one Sunday afternoon.  They really enjoyed the movie...and the popcorn.

Honestly, is that not the sweetest face ever?  That tub of popcorn is bigger than him.  I could eat him up.  

I mentioned breakfast at Cracker Barrel on Christmas Eve, but I forgot to post the pictures.  
 A quick game of checkers while we were waiting on our food.  The game prevented Jack from melting down completely before our food arrived.
 Here's the kid that was "made for breakfast".  Too funny.  We will not list all that he ate, but I will offer up that he did not eat much lunch or dinner.
 Big boy that is growing up too quickly.
Our friend D came home with us from Paris for a few days.  The boys just picked right up where they left off.  We went to church, Sky Zone, Chick Fil A, Baskin Robbins and then met up with his parents to go to the Rendezvous and a Grizzlies game.  We really had the best time getting to visit with them...and eat ribs and watch basketball.  Good times.  How I love these people.  What a blessing to have friends who are more like family.

One of the many perks of living in town with family is that they can spend the night with grandparents if we have something the next morning, or even if we don't have anything.  Grin.  When we have a morning to ourselves we enjoy going to the gym together.  Gym times are a highly debated topic around this house.  One morning when Fred and Renee had the kiddos we got to go to a 5:15 am Boot Camp class.  I spent much of the class on the floor exhausted and laughing at myself, but we had the best time together.  Fred may or may not have almost tripped over the step he was using during one particular set.  The image of this gives me a great chuckle when I replay it in my mind.  Great chuckle.
I have grown up with my grandmother making homemade boiled custard.  It is delicious.  Delightful.  Beyond words.  I have never made it.  It seems complicated.  I mustered up the courage to try it and I think it may be a go.  We will know tomorrow once it's cooled.  I am beyond excited!  Fred is particularly fond of it. The following was our conversation via text:
After making it I now understand why this stuff was only made at Christmas.  Goodness in a glass.  Yum!

Sunday, December 29, 2013


Christmas started with Christmas Eve services at Ellendale.  A lot of our family came in, Dale and Tim, Christy, Fred and Renee, Elzie and Francis, and Mun and Janice for the service and then I cooked a little supper for us all.  It really was great having everyone here.  After dinner everyone but Mom and Dad and Christie left for the night.  We got the boys in bed and then quickly followed behind them.
Christmas morning Fred and I were the first ones up.  We just sat on the couch in the silence and looked at the tree.  It really was peaceful.  

 The boys woke up around 7 and we had wrapped all of their presents, stockings included, in one big box.
 While this was not from us each of the boys got a ticket (from the Burtons) to a Grizzlies game.  Part of the surprise is that they are coming from Paris to go with us.  They treated us to the tickets and now we get to go with them.  Clayton was excited to say the least.  The boys also got money to spend on food at the game.  I don't have Jack's expression, but he was excited about the money.

We had a big breakfast with Mimi, Tee and Christy: sausage pinwheels (a childhood favorite), ham, rolls, eggs, cherry turnover and fruit.  It was delicious.  Fred and Renee even came over since we now live in the same town...epic.  
After breakfast we headed to East Memphis to Fred's parents house.  This is how Fred spent the entire day.  Entire day.  He, along with 7 other family members, had some kind of stomach virus.  Nice.  Needless to say, we will be celebrating Christmas with the Shackelfords on New Years day.  Good times.  

The kids are hip on celebrating Christmas with the grown ups this week, but they did not really want to wait on opening presents.  Who can blame them?!?  
Here Andrew and Zachary are modeling their super hero attire from Uncle Dan and Aunt Tami.  Too sweet.  

Shortly after this we headed home and got Fred in the bed.  In total he slept about 18 hours on Christmas day.  In an effort for the rest of us to not get sick we left him to recover and headed to Jackson to celebrate with my parents, Aunt Christie and my brother's family.  It was a crazy fun time.  We ate, played and marveled that the house was still standing when 5 boys left it the next day.  Fred rolled in Friday morning just in time to open presents.  Then later that day we headed to my grandmother's house to celebrate with the Thomasons.
One of the joys of the Thomason Christmas is having my Uncle Jim in town.  We always go on a long walk together and get a good visit in.  Typically our walk takes us to the campus of Union University, where we both graduated.  I found these while we were there.  Sweet, right?!?  Seems like a lifetime ago...
There will be more celebrations this week as we brought our friend D home for a few days.  We'll go to the Grizzlies game, the Rendezvous, Incredible Pizza and just generally be lazy.  We may still have a few tricks up our sleeve before the end of 2013.

Friday, December 20, 2013

This week

Eleven days before Christmas we decided to get a tree. We actually cut it down it down ourselves. It was ironic to me since we just moved from rural area to a city. While in the rural area we never cut down our own tree, but once we moved to a city we cut one down. Funny. (We took Clayton into the woods to pick out this beauty while he had a fever.  Yes we did.)

Since it's Christmas it's time for us to be sick. It just wouldn't be the holidays without it. It started with Clayton last Friday night. He started throwing up, fever, headache, etc. The next morning we thought maybe he was fine, but no..Higher fever and then Jack started Sunday morning. I kept all three home with me. Fred spent Sunday afternoon at a walk in clinic. He had a sinus infection.
Our church had our Christmas program Sunday night and then they had a welcome party for us. Mr. Fred stayed with the kids so I could go to the party. It was unbelievable. Our transition here has just been seamless.

Monday morning I thought everyone was better. Wrong. A quick check of temperatures proved that Clayton was still sick. I called a doctor and made an appointment. In the mean time Andrew crawled up in my lap and felt warm. Yep, he had a fever too. I called the doctor back and made another appointment for Andrew. Off we went to a new doctor. Diagnosis: C had a viral infection and Andrew had an ear infection.
I was not feeling well, but just kept willing it away. Once we returned from the doctor I started with the stomach virus that the boys had. The next five days were a series of fevers, crying, throwing up, changing sheets, etc. And that was just me...I kid.  Miserable.
Honestly, I wouldn't know how to celebrate the holidays without it!  I'm thinking our Christmas card should just look like this from now on:

You know you have some sinus problems when you carry your own roll of toilet paper and use the entire roll by noon.

I never like my kids being sick. Never.  During the holidays are especially difficult, because we don't get to do any fun things and make memories. Don't get me wrong, we make memories. They're just not memories that will we treasured. Maybe they will be treasured though. Come to think of it...we've all been together. I've gotten to hold little boys that don't ever sit in my lap anymore.  We've laughed and laid by the Christmas tree. Schedules and agendas have come to a screeching hauls. Someday well laugh about our holiday "memories" that don't quite look ideal.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Five on Friday

1.  Our new gym has IPhone docking stations on all the equipment in the cardio room.  To quote our good friend, "We are not in Kansas anymore."  
2.  As a welcome to Memphis present Fred and Renee treated me to a membership to Costco.  Fred and I are going to go soon on a date night.  Seriously, does it get any better than being able to buy 36 rolls of toilet paper, a slice of pizza and tires for your car in one store?!?
3.  Since the move I have been home schooling the boys.  I've ordered a book for Clayton to begin studying Latin and Greek root words.  When I told him we would begin this in January he responded with an excited, "Yes!".  He is not my child.
4.  The boys get up early and start their work.  They work on a lot of things independently.  I found Jack like this working on his spelling.

5.  The boys all got haircuts this week.  Andrew asked the girl cutting his hair if he could have a mohawk (faux hawk, really).  She laughed out loud and did it for him.  He left with the biggest smile on his face.  He keeps lightly touching the top of his head to make sure it is still there.  Too funny!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

List of things going on...

I love a list. So, here's a few things happening in our world:

-We said good bye to our church/friends of over 9 years last Sunday night.
-We loaded up our necessities from the house and drove to Bartlett Sunday night to our "new residence".  Home, sweet home.  We are so grateful for a place to lay our heads during this time of transition.  The playground in the front yard doesn't hurt either.
Coincidentally, this house feels like we are just on vacation since we don't have the majority of our stuff here. The only thing missing to make it feel like a vacation is the beach/ocean and perhaps a hot tub.  I can't really do anything about the beach, but a hot tub...now that's different.  Maybe I'll bring it up at our next business meeting?!?
-The boys and I started home school Monday morning.  They started school at 5:30 am.  By 8:00 am Jack was finished with the majority of his work and asked what was for lunch.  At 8:00 am.
-We went to IHOP one day for breakfast.  I ordered food for all of us to share.  Jack was very upset with the prospects of sharing breakfast.  He gave several reasons as to why he could not share and then he said the ultimate..."I have mono.  I can't share."  I told him I would divide the food before he ate any.  To which he responded, "I'll just lick it before you have a chance to divide it."
-Fred has been settling in to his office.  You know, unpacking 25 boxes of books and what not.  While the boys were at Mawmaw and Pawpaw's house I helped him decorate it a little.  We are making progress.  Hopefully, I'll be able to convince my mom to make some curtains sooner rather than later. :-)

-Our good friends from Paris came this weekend to Incredible Pizza.  Of course, we had to join them.  Of course.  Incredible pizza + Incredible friends = An Incredible Time
-Sunday morning was Fred's first Sunday.  It was a great day.  We even had a blast from my past with the White Christmas March for Missions.  Good times.
-We have a contract on our house in Paris.  Pending inspection and appraisal it should close some time in January.
-We made an offer on a house in Bartlett.  We have not heard anything yet, but I know God has a plan for us.
-We went to a Christmas party last night with our Sunday School class.  We played a game that was so much fun!  Fred and I came home with a Christmas toilet seat cover and a strand of Christmas lights.  It was great!
-Since our trip I am still not right on my times.  I've been waking up at 3:58...on the dot almost every morning.  I usually go back to sleep until 4:30 or so.  You can really get a lot done if you get up at 4:30.  It's a good thing, because when you get up that early you are ready for bed at 7:00 pm.
-Fred and I got to go to dinner Friday night.  We took the kids to Mawmaw and Pawpaw's house.  Bliss.  They spent the night because we were running St. Jude Half Marathon the next morning.  It actually ended up being canceled so we had the next morning off.  Good times.  Fred slept until 8:45 am.  I was up at 5:00 am.
-I tried two new recipes this week.  You too can try them by clicking here and here.
Andrew would like to give a testimonial.  He called it deliciousness.
-I have bought about 5 Christmas presents so far and have addressed zero Christmas cards.  I am not even stressed about it.  It can be nothing but the Lord.
-I had to go to the grocery Monday mid-morning.  I chose Super Target.  It did not disappoint.  It did not.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Clothes Closet

Monday Tami and I went to volunteer at a local clothes closet. It provides clothes, minor medical care and other services to Syrian refugees. The refugees had to be registered to receive any help. Because of the demand from the refugee community the women are only allowed to visit the clothes closet once a month. They are given a tote and six minutes to pick out 5 clothing items for each of their children, only five items. Many of these refugees leave their native country with the clothes on their back. Sure, some people take advantage of the system, but for the few that were helped that Monday there are thousands more in a city of 14 million. Can you imagine not being able to provide for your child's most basic of needs? Basic needs. I'm not talking about a failure to have the perfect pair of shoes or accessory to match their outfit for our Christmas card photo. Basic needs: food, shelter, proper clothing. I cannot.  
Said all that to say...I have a lot to be thankful for.  I am thankful for the country we live in.  I am thankful for the freedom we have. I am thankful that we are not a refugees.  I am thankful for my husband and sweet boys.  I am thankful that I was able to travel with my man.  My list could go on and on...and it should.  Most of all, though, I am thankful to God who makes anything on my list possible.  Sometimes I just need a little perspective, you know.    

Relections of London

My grandmother, Helen, loved all things London. For my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary my grandfather surprised her with a trip to the United Kingdom. As we toured around, I thought about them often. I wondered how a couple in their 70's made it through public transport. They came home with 4 or 5 rolls of film with only scenery. There were one or two pictures of my grandmother out of all those pictures. While they were in London, my grandparents came across a carport sale (of sorts) raising money for a local humane society. She purchased some china. I'm sure it's not of much value. There were only 4 place settings so she took it to Castner Knott and matched it to a similar pattern. That china is what I have in my dining room today. She was fascinated by the culture of England and so was I. They have such an air a of formality that we are lacking in the states. So, I'm starting a campaign. We're going to call it Project Helen in her honor. With this campaign I am going to start conducting myself like a lady. I'm going to start wearing panty hose. I'm going to start using words/phrases like "Brilliant," "proper," "mind the gap","rubbish," and "Holiday," just to name a few

Feel free to join me. I'm bringing the UK back to the US. Yep, I'm doing it. Well, maybe not the panty hose. Those things are awful!  Oh, and I'm going to eat more scones.  Yes, more scones. Those are delicious!

London, Part 2

Before we left for this trip, we booked tickets for Les Miserable at Queens Theater in London. I will have to say, minus a delay in our flight, running like crazy to get there, not eating dinner until 10:30 pm and then having a major snafu with our transportation home, it was really a cool date! I'm not sure how Fred will top this one with our current date night budget.  

We woke up the next morning and headed out from London on our way home. Traveling the world is always fun, but traveling with my best friend is beyond a blessing.

The trip from London went well...until about an hour before we landed in NYC.  I started feeling crummy.  I figured it was jet lag.  Nope.  I spent the majority of our layover in NYC laying on the floor covered in a blanket and shivering beyond control.  These bouts of shivering were briefly broken up by several trips to the bathroom to vomit.  It was a good time.  Only I can add throwing up in the JFK airport to my list of "things I experienced" on our trip.  Classic.  We made it home that night exhausted, but still smiling.  It really was a once in a lifetime opportunity for us.  Or at least a once in a lifetime of while are kiddos are at home.  Many, many thanks to our family in the states who took care of our three precious boys, one of whom contracted mono while we were gone.  We couldn't have made this trip without their tag teaming efforts to love on them.   

Istanbul, Part 3

The next morning the girls and boys split up to divide and conquer. Tami and I hit public transportation for a little work at a clothing shelter. Refuges (mostly from Syria these days) are serviced here. They usually leave their politically charged country with the clothes on their backs. They were allowed to look through small bins of clothes for 6 minutes to pick out 5 items of clothing for each child. We ran out of warm clothes quickly, especially coats. One mother looked at me with the eyes only a mother can have for a child and across language barriers made the point that her child did not have a coat. She will not get to come back to the clothing closet for another month. I pray it does not too cold between now and then. My heart broke for her.  Really broke for her.  

After serving there for most of the morning we headed for a little relaxation at a hammam (Turkish bath). I will spare the details of the bath and pictures. You'll have to google it to get all the details, but let's suffice it to say that I have not giggled like that in a long time. Once that experience drew to a close we treated ourselves to a cup of corn (a common street food) and started our journey home on the metro. While we were at the hammam, the boys visited the ruins of an ancient castle. Fred was telling Sierra where they were going. Shortly after that conversation this sweet girl disappeared and quickly returned with this garb...

Princess indeed.  Is she not the cutest thing?!?  There may have been a little stress over the fact that her pink crown did not match her purple shirt.  Grin.

Not to be left out the boys hit the hammam the next morning. Tami and I waited at home to hear about their experience. Fred loved it and vowed that if he lived in Istanbul, he would go once a week! 
Dan and Tami had heard of a market relatively close by so we headed there. It was basically a giant flea market. We did not buy much, but enjoyed the sights. Before the big kids came home from school (their school day runs from noon to 6pm) we went to Real (basically an international Walmart). I love a grocery store. I really do.  We walked up and down aisles and I oohed and aahed. (I know. I'm pretty easily impressed.)

After six days of fun we headed out of Istanbul.  We said good by to Dan and his family and headed toward home.  

Istanbul, Part 2

Sunday morning we woke up and headed out for the Eurasia marathon. Fred and I were signed up to run the 15k (9.3 miles). We ran across one of two bridges that span the Bosphorus, from Asia to Europe. This experience will go down as one of the top ten coolest things I've ever done. Over 100,000 people participate in this race and the city virtually shuts down. Getting to run next to my best friend was beyond amazing. He let me pick the pace. It must be love.  
 It is important to note that Dan and his family also participated in the 8k fun run. I think Zeke might be hooked!

This is kind of a Where's Waldo picture.  Can you find us?!?  Did I mention there were a lot of people participating?!?
Okay, see the blue globe thing?  To the right of that you will see Fred's yellow buff (Aunt Jemima) hat and my blue Memphis hat is right next to him.  Coincidentally, that Memphis hat has seen a lot of races.  Now it can add two continents to its list.  We met six Americans while running: four from Texas and two from Boston.  It was neat to see how your ears pick up English when other languages are being spoken all around you.  

Before the race began, they played the Turkish National Anthem.  Everyone around us was singing...loudly.  It made me smile.  Shortly after that we were ready to video and caught another song.  The video does not capture the excitement well, but everyone (except us) was singing in another language.  Good times.  

Once the race was completed we met up with Dan, Tami and family for a little lunch. Then Tami and I made the trek to get Kaiyah. Boy, was I thankful for Tami during these rides on public transportation!! Mercy. I have never seen so many people crammed on such tight spaces. Tami kept laughing at me. I think it was my facial expressions. We went from bus to metro to subway to walk to bus to walk. Please keep in mind that I had just run 9.3 miles. One way to get Kaiyah (in the same city with traffic) took 1 1/2 hours. The trip home took just the same. By the time we got home I was limping and laughing at myself.  For someone who really likes her personal space these bits on public transportation really were...what shall I call it...exciting.  

Istanbul, Part 1

We made it!  A little late, but better late than never!!  We arrived in Istanbul right on time...well, according to our new flight schedule. Upon arrival I took Dan and Fred's picture as they were embracing to see if it would evoke tears in my mother in law.  It did.  I know I will be paid back for this some day.  

Dan whisked us away and quickly introduced us to traffic. Lots and lots of traffic. We went to the Istiklal, met up with Tamil and the kids, and had a delicious Turkish dinner. After dinner we went to a meeting with the fam and were introduced to savory cookies...one of the two foods I did not care for. After a long day of travel we encountered more traffic and were home in about two hours after leaving. Kaiyah, who is normally shy, whispered to me, "I'm sorry I won't get to spend much time with you tomorrow. I have a sleepover at a friends house." It was precious.

The next morning our gracious hosts treated us to a traditional Turkish breakfast (yum! boiled eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, fried cheese, and fresh rolls) 

and then toured us all around Istanbul (after dropping sweet Kaliyah at her sleepover). We saw the Spice Market, the Grand Bazare, the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Basilica Cystern, and the Topkapi Palace and had another great Turkish meal in that area.
 We were probably not the most reverent visitors at the Blue Mosque the day we visited, but come on, who wouldn't laugh a little at this picture?  The lady in the marked prayer room was checking facebook on her Iphone so I didn't feel too bad for laughing and snapping a few pictures.

Fred got new running shoes right before we left and he wanted to break them in before the race.  As you can see in the picture they were bright orange.  (We do not buy running shoes based on color.  It's a formula based on price and shoes that match our running style.)  Anyway, it was cold this day and Fred wore the above outfit with his yellow buff on his head.  At one point during the day Dan told Zeke if he got lost to tell people to help him find the really tall guy with orange shoes and an Aunt Jemima hat.  Brothers are so funny!