Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Gracie Lynne Thomas

Well, it's 4:30 in the morning and I'm not asleep. For the last five months I've been asleep by 8:30-9pm and now it seems so hard for me to get to sleep. So much has happened in the last month since my last post. I have been wanting to write it all down, but it is just too hard. Sort of like if I don't write it, it didn't all happen, that it's just a bad, bad dream. But it did happen, and it is weighing on my heart to share it all.

My last post ended with requests for prayers for our ultrasound. I know God heard our prayers, but things did not go as planned. Our appointment with the high risk doctor and the ultrasound revealed some very serious problems with our sweet baby. He left us with very little (none really) hope that the baby would survive. I think a part of me died right there in that room. I kept watching the screen, knowing that so much was wrong, and yet not really believing that this could be happening. Mark and I cried and prayed and cried and prayed. We finally were able to come to the point where we were able to pray and ask God to heal our baby. But if that wasn't His will, then we prayed that God would allow the baby to not hurt and to heal our baby by taking it home.

We made a conscious decision to enjoy the time with the baby that we had. So we did. Each kick was a sweet and precious memory, a most perfect gift from God. We savored it all and did all the things we knew we wouldn't be able to do later. We sang the baby all the songs that we have sung to Jonathan, read books, played the piano, went shopping, snuggled, hugged, talked, laughed, loved. Love, that is what we did each day. We told our baby just how very, very much we loved him or her and how very glad that he or she had come to be with us, even if he or she couldn't stay for long. Jonathan felt the kicks, talked to her, kissed my belly, and was a wonderful big brother.

Two weeks later, she was gone. Her heart had just given out, and I lost another piece of mine. Watching another ultrasound screen, and seeing no more movement. Such an empty, empty feeling. We went in for delivery and it was such a different experience. With Jonathan, we were so nervous and excited and happy and scared. This time, we were just sad. The nursing staff at Baptist was wonderful and took such great and tender care of us. Our sweet baby girl, Gracie Lynne Thomas, was born at 12:55am on Tuesday, December 8, 2009 at 20 weeks. She weighed 1 pound 1 ounce, and was 10 inches long. She is beautiful. Mark and I have prayed for another baby for so long and we love Gracie with our whole hearts. We were very blessed to be able to hold her, to love her, to talk to her, to sing to her. My Mom and Mark's Mom were there with us and were able to hold her as well. The nurses took pictures for us to remember her by and gave us several beautiful things as mementos.

We buried our baby girl on Thursday. We buried our child. I went to the funeral of a little boy I had treated last year. I understand now, I feel the pain that was in his mother's heart for it is now my own. Mark and my Mom planned the entire funeral and it was beautiful. She had a pink dress and blanket, a baby doll, a pair of shoes, and pictures of our family while we were pregnant. So many people sent flowers that it was breathtaking. And so many people came. It was bitterly cold at the graveside and there were all these people. The absolute hardest day of my life and I felt so, so much love from our family and our friends. Thank you, thank you, for coming, for loving us, for praying for us. My heart will never never forget.

I've had a hard time finding God and His will. It just seems so pointless that she had to leave us. But Mark has been a rock for me and is helping me to find God in this and through this. He reminds me of little things that were part of God's plan to take care of us and hold us through our pain. He said, "Gracie's in heaven now and doesn't need anything. God's not worried about her. He's worried about us, He has His hands around us." We told Jonathan that Gracie was gone and he said, "She went to live in heaven with Jesus? Cool." The faith of a 3 year old child. The perfect, unfailing, unwavering faith. It is something to strive for.

We are slowly, slowly moving through this. I don't think that this hurt will ever go away. Those pieces of my heart went with her and I won't see them again until I am in heaven and can hold her again. I do know, though, that God has a plan for our lives. I am holding on to that promise. I want to seek His will and His plan for us. I just don't know what that is right now.

I finally downloaded all the pictures of her from the camera tonight. I wish you could have seen her, she is beautiful. She has Jonathan's nose, and what a cute nose it is. I miss her every day. I miss her kicks and the little bit of her personality that we got to experience while she was in my tummy. From the first ultrasound, she was a mover. We said she was going to be the Dancing Queen next to Jonathan's Dancing King. I mourn for the fact that I will never get to see her dance, never see her run and play, sing, cry, play with Jonathan, give kisses, smile, or grow up.

Thank you for being a part of our family. For sending flowers, food, cards, emails, love, prayers, thoughts. They are all appreciated so deeply. I never expected such an outpouring of love. It really has helped heal my soul. Please do continue to remember us in your prayers. Two weeks later, we are doing some better. But we are not whole. Each day is a struggle of it's own. Jonathan brings us so much happiness. But there is a sadness of knowing that she is not here to share in that happiness. Pray that we can remember her without becoming consumed by the sadness. Pray that our hearts can heal. Pray that we can find happiness and joy again. Pray that this time will help us to grow stronger as a couple, and as a family. Pray that God will reveal His will for our lives to us and guide us on the true path for our lives.

December is always a busy month for us. In the midst of all this was Jonathan's 3rd birthday party and today was his actual birthday. My sweet baby boy is three years old. My heart is full of thankfulness for the gift that he is and will be. God truly heard our prayers with regards to Jonathan. Three years ago we were so scared and afraid when we learned of his birth problems. Now we can see just how wonderful he is. How God has and is healing his body. How far we have come. It gives me hope to know that God will help us in this storm as well. That he will bring us through it and above it for his glory. Thank you for always remembering Jonathan in your prayers. God hears them all.

Christmas is in just a few days. This year will be so different than what I had planned or hoped for. But I do hope that we can make it a happy one, that we can remember another baby, Jesus, that came to free us from our sins. Another mother who knew that one day her son would have to die as well. And we will make it happy for our Jonathan.

Hopefully I will feel like making another post before too long. I want to share about Jonathan's birthday and Christmas. The happy things are just so important right now. Thank you for reading our story, for being with us, for remembering us. We will remember you and your family and pray that each of you has a very Merry Christmas and a very blessed New Year.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Halloween Fun

Well, once again it's been awhile since my last post. I'm telling you, it is not much fun to feel so very bad. "Morning" sickness is such a misnomer for what I have been experiencing. All day nausea, vomiting, exhaustion would be a better name! Thankfully, it is starting to subside, and I am mostly feeling bad in the evenings. This is good in that I can work and not be sick, but bad in that I am doing NOTHING around our house. Thankfully, Mark is a trooper and has stepped up to the plate.
Anyway, on to what we have been up to! First, Halloween!! Jonathan was sooo excited about dressing up as Handy Manny. He was so handsome and had a great time trick or treating at school and around our neighborhood. After each house, he would look in his bucket and then look at me and say, "Mommy, my buckets not full yet. We go to 'nother house?" He had a wonderful, wonderful time as did Mark and I. We just love being with that little boy and enjoying life with him.
Handy Manny

Jonathan and his loot!
Jonathan and I also went to the church Fall Fest with our very good friends Karen, Katie, and Megan. The kids all play so well together and had a blast with all the games. It was also very nice to have Karen there to help me with Jonathan as I just got more and more nauseous as the night went on. Thank you Lord for good friends!!

Megan, Katie, and Jonathan

We watched a good bit of the World Series. Jonathan just loves baseball and had a great time "playing" in the living room. He has several baseball bats and a couple of soft balls, but no hard balls (not quite ready for that one yet!!). Anyway, one night he put his Cardinals hat on, backwards of course, and takes his bat, and goes after the soccer ball. Funny thing is, he could hit the silly thing across the living room! He was so incredibly cute and had a lot of fun playing with the team on tv. He kept telling everyone, "Swing batter, swing."

My baseball player

Mark's Mom came to town for the weekend and took this picture of the three of us after church at Olive Garden. We haven't had a group picture in a while and this one is decent, even if I do look nauseous and pregnant!

Our Family at Olive Garden

The next week was just about sick people! Mark flew out to New Orleans for a fast business trip. He calls me from down there and tells me that he isn't feeling very well. That same afternoon, Jonathan gets home from school and asks me to hold him. That is never a good sign as this boy is a mover and a shaker, not a sit and cuddle baby. I picked him up and he was a fireball, temperature of 102. Poor baby. Mark calls me from the airport to say his ears won't pop and he feels horrible. Needless to say they went to their respective doctors the next morning. Jonathan had a double ear infection. Mark had an ear infection and a sinus infection. I had an OB appointment that afternoon. The baby was doing great with a heartbeat around 140 beats per minute. I kept asking myself, "How did I get to be the well person in this house?"

Of course, never should have asked that question!! Never, ever question being well. I ended up with a stomach virus this week. Let me tell you, very lovely. Like I haven't been throwing up enough being pregnant, that now I got to throw up with a stomach virus!! I think the doctor is going to give up on me ever gaining any weight! I can't win for puking!!

On a happier note, we are going for our Level 2 Ultrasound and meeting with the Perinatologist tomorrow. They are doing a high level ultrasound to make sure that this baby is ok and not having any of the problems that Jonathan had. The doctors all assure us that it was a fluke and will not happen again, but still, we are checking to make sure. Please remember us and most especially this baby tomorrow. Please pray that all is well and that there are no problems. We are trusting in God's will and believe that all will be well, however, we do appreciate each prayer that you speak for our little baby. We will also be finding out if we are having a girl or a boy which we are very excited about!!!

Thursday, of course, is Thanksgiving, and we have much to be thankful for. Thank you for checking in with our family. I will post soon and let everyone know if it will be pink or blue!!

Check out Jonathan's picture website for a TON more pictures. Just not enough room here and it takes me waaayyy too long to upload them.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Big News!

I cannot believe it, but it has been two months since my last post. I promise we haven't fallen off the face of the Earth, but in some ways it does rather feel like we have! It has been an eventful couple of months to be sure.

Our biggest news is that we are having another baby! Jonathan is going to be a big brother and he is so very excited. Hopefully, he will continue to be this excited once the baby gets here!! Our new little one is due to arrive on April 24, 2010. Of course this date is fun to me as Jonathan was due on December 24th. Obviously the 24th is a good due date in our family! Jonathan came on the 21st, so we'll have to see if this little one comes then too. Mark and I are both very excited as well to have another little one and to have a little sister or brother for Jonathan.

Of course this pregnancy will tell you the reason I have been largely absent from my computer for the past three months. This pregnancy has been VERY different from the first one. Unfortunately, I have been very sick with lots of nausea and vomiting, all day, every day. We kept hoping it would subside by now, but unfortunately not so much. I am feeling better in the mornings, but afternoons and evenings are just not good. I just keep reminding myself that the end result will be well worth it!! Thankfully, Mark has been in town lately and has really stepped up to take care of me, Jonathan, the house, supper, and everything in between!! I am sure he will be glad when I do feel better. I have lost several pounds as of our last appointment. All you girls out there will understand when I say it was quite depressing -- The only time you get on a scale and DON'T want to have lost weight! Of course, I know I will as the nausea subsides, but still!! I wish this wasn't the diet that worked for me, ya know??

I am seeing the same OB as I did with Jonathan (Dr. Hubach) and we just love her. She is very calm and easy going, but very on top of things. As ya'll know, calm is not usually a word associated with me, so she evens out some of my craziness which is very nice. I am 14 weeks now and just so very thankful that things are going well. The first ultrasound at 9 weeks was just so precious as our little one was squirming around and you could see the little heart beating away. Jonathan never moved during that first ultrasound. Mark said we might be in trouble if this baby is a mover already!! We went back for another appt. at 13 weeks and got to hear the heartbeat at 154-158 beats per minute. We took Jonathan with us and he thought it was pretty neat to hear the heartbeat. Of course that was a little bit of an adventure for us trying to keep him still, so that may be his one and only visit with us!!

So much other stuff has gone on that it is hard to remember everything. Jonathan is really liking his new class at school. They sing fun songs in circle time and it is really fun to peak in the window and watch him doing all the hand signals and faces with the songs. He is also a BIG fan of being a 'helper.' They have a lunch helper, nap mat helper, line leader, weather helper, etc. He thinks it is pretty cool and loves to tell me all the helpers when he gets home.

We went on vacation over Labor Day and the next week. We spent the weekend in Gulf Shores with Mark's parents, sister, her boyfriend, and his little girl at the beach. Everyone had fun lying around the beach and being bums. The girls spent some time at the outlet mall but unfortunately we didn't come home with very much. (The joy/pain of being pregnant is that there is no point in looking at clothes for yourself). We left from there Monday and went to Pensacola for the rest of the week. We loved the condo we stayed at and had an absolute blast just hanging out as the three of us with no set agenda. We spent one day and saw the Blue Angels flight team due a practice set at their air base. It was fantastic and Jonathan absolutely LOVED it. They signed autographs afterwards which he thought was pretty cool as well. They have a wonderful naval air museum there that we spent the rest of the day at. The only down side of our vacation was how nauseous I was the entire trip. Did limit some of our dining out, but we still had a nice time. And Mark ended up with a sinus infection while we were gone as well. Luckily we were able to get him some drugs and he felt better after a few rounds.

The next weekend I flew to Dallas for one of my best friends from college, Liz's, baby shower. It was so much fun to catch up with her and be there as they get ready for their little one. Of course, I was sick most of the time, but that is just the underlying theme of everything right now. She and her husband have decorated this little girl's room so beautiful. I have to admit I have been thinking of copying some of it if this one of ours turns out to be a girl!! Little Madeline Grace was born this week and is just beautiful. Now I need to go back to Dallas to see her!!

The next Friday we took Jonathan to Alltel Arena to see Playhouse Disney. They had Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Little Einsteins, Tigger and Pooh, and Handy Manny there. Of course, that is ALL the kiddo watches on TV so he was in hog heaven. He had an absolutely great time and we bought him WAY too much stuff at the souvenir stands. We obviously need to go to Disney World!! I think half of Little Rock who has a child under five was there as well. It was hilarious how many people we ran into!!

I was supposed to scrapbook that weekend at Petit Jean but had to cancel as I felt so bad. I also canceled out the next weekend on my planned trip to New Orleans for Melissa's birthday. Being sick is no fun!!

We took Jonathan to the Johnston Pumpkin Patch in Greenbrier the second weekend in October. He LOVED it. Of course, it has done nothing but rain here for weeks on end, so the pumpkin patch was really more of a muddy mess. Thankfully, everyone was dressed for this so we just had a good time and didn't worry about it. They had a great petting zoo, a hay ride, jumpy houses, and of course...pumpkins!! Jonathan spent the entire time looking for Spookley the Square Pumpkin. If you have not read this book to your little ones, then BUY IT!! It is an awesome little story about a square pumpkin who is different from his friends but saves the day in the end. Jonathan loves this story and I love the underlying message. We didn't find a square pumpkin, but we did come home with a BIG pumpkin, a small pie pumpkin, a Cinderella pumpkin, several mini-pumpkins, and a few gourds as well. Can you tell that we get in to this whole holiday thing!! And that Mommy feels very guilty for having been so sick lately that she hasn't done much with her little man?

Mark spent last Saturday at the deer camp. He hunted with his muzzleloader but didn't have any luck. He saw quite a few turkeys, but of course AR canceled the turkey hunt this year. Poor Mark has the absolute WORST luck of any hunter I have EVER known.

Tuesday, the 20th, Jonathan had another outpatient surgery in OKC. This is all a continuation of the problems from when he was born. Hopefully, though, this will be the last surgery. This one was much shorter and less traumatic but still scary to watch someone put your child to sleep and know they are about to cut them open. He did very well though and they discharged him that afternoon. We spent the next day at the hotel in OKC and came home. Mark's Dad was able to come with us which was nice to have the extra help. I, of course, threw up the entire time, so we were very glad someone was there to help Mark out. Jonathan has done very well and is just a little tired and sore. We go back on Monday for a check up and to get the stitches out. We are so very thankful for God's healing of Jonathan's body now and over the past three years. God has been so infinitely good to our family. It has definitely been a test of patience and faith but it is nice to see the fulfillment of the promises He has given us. We are also so very thankful that God led us to Dr. Kropp and that God has guided him in how best to care for Jonathan. Thank you to everyone for praying for him. We know just how much each of those prayers mean to our family.

Next Saturday is Halloween and I hope we will be ready. Jonathan is going to be Handy Manny and I have pieced his costume together but he hasn't tried it on yet! I really need to work on that soon!! I do love this little boy and enjoying things like Halloween with him are just such a joy to me.

I know this post has no pictures. I will try to add some soon. Half of them are on my computer, half on the server, and half are still on the cameras. Just thought an update would be a good start. Thanks for checking in with us. I hope that each of your families are doing well.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mississippi, Deer Camp, and Preschool...Do those go together?

We have been so busy these last few weeks that I haven’t had to time to even get the pictures downloaded off the camera, much less blog about them!

We went home to Mississippi the first weekend in August for my UMC Physical Therapy class reunion. We had so much fun visiting with old friends and seeing how much everyone’s family has grown in the past six years. We had a family pool party lunch in the morning and then the adults had dinner at Mint in Madison that night.

Pool Party Fun

We went to a really nice park in Madison Sunday morning. Jonathan loved it. We had the whole park to ourselves and he had so much fun running all over the place. It was a really nice and big park/playground. Wish we had something similar here in LR!

Fun with MaMa Deb

Playing with Daddy and Grandad at the Playground

My parents are living in Madison now, so it worked out really well for us to be close to everything. Jonathan was sooo excited to be at their house and play. They had a ton of new toys for him to play with and they even set up a baby pool outside for him to play in. They kept him while we went to dinner, so it was a nice night out for us as well.

Little Pool at Grandad and MaMa Deb's House

Jonathan wanted EVERYONE to get in his pool!!

Playing tools with Grandad

The next weekend was the Croppin’ 4 Kids scrapbooking fundraiser weekend for Easter Seals. This one is always a lot of fun and for a good cause (since I work there and all!!). They give out a lot of freebies, have a silent auction, and enough food to feed an army!! My friends Edie & Jodi, and Linda that I work with were there, so we had a great time.

Sunday afternoon, I went to the first of the big children’s consignment sales here in Little Rock. When we first moved to LR, all everyone could talk about was Duck Duck Goose. We went while I was pregnant, and were completely overwhelmed by how much STUFF was there. They have it at the State Farigrounds (inside) and it is HUGE. Since Jonathan was born, he and I have hit them as often as we could. We are usually able to find a ton of cute stuff, some new, some used, but most of it in good condition. Usually get Gymboree, Gap, Janie & Jack, smocked church outfits, etc. Anyway, all that to say that I hit Rhea Lana West Little Rock on that Sunday. Now that Jonathan is getting older, it is harder to find good quality stuff. Little boys just wear everything out!! But I did find some stuff new with tags, so we did good. Of course, now it seems like there is a sale every week for the month of August & September (everyone’s trying to capitalize on this game). I won’t hit all of them, but definitely do my share to keep Jonathan’s clothing budget low but quantity and quality high!

Mark’s Dad also came up Sunday afternoon to keep Jonathan the next week (August 10-14th). Preschool was closed so they could get ready for the new year. They had a great time at home and played and played. I don’t think they ever got bored. I do think Jonathan wore Paw Paw out!
Tuesday afternoon, we had the ultimate pleasure of meeting baby Kate. Our friends from church, Jennifer & Chris, have been trying to adopt a baby for the past two years. They have been so faithful to God, trusting in His guidance and in His timing for this child. She was a week old when we met her. She is absolutely beautiful and such a blessing. Jonathan loved playing with her too! He laid her blanket out on the floor and then insisted that we lay her down so he could talk to her. He brought her cars to play with and then got his musical instruments out so he could make music for her. It was so very sweet to see him with a little baby.

Friday night we all drove up to Mark’s deer camp. Mark has been trying to plant his food plots for this season, but things keep conspiring against him! I was a little apprehensive about us ALL going, but we ended up having a nice time. There is a playground up there, and Jonathan and I spent the morning playing on the playground, playing in the dirt, and looking for animal tracks. We even had a deer grunt at us. I told Mark that was probably as close to a deer as he was going to get! Poor Mark just does not have good luck deer hunting. Obviously not in planting his food plots either. Some piece on the tractor broke on the tiller. He was able to mow the grass down, but could not till the field. Mark and his Dad spent most of the day outside trying to fix it. Jonathan was “helping.” I spent the afternoon working on my scrapbook and reading. Worked out really well for me! Not so much for Mark.

Sitting on the tractor with Daddy

Playground at the Deer Camp

Jonathan started his new year of preschool this past Monday (17th). He moved up to a new class with new teachers and some new friends. It was a BIG change for him and for me as well. He has been with the same teachers for the past two years, since he started preschool at Easter Seals. They have taken such good care of him and he just loves them so much. The new teachers are very nice, they just don’t KNOW him yet. I know it will work out, but still a little sad in the meantime! He decided to see who was boss and ended up in time out three times the first day. Now if you know Jonathan, you know he can be bad, but usually/mostly is a very well-behaved child. The teachers were very apologetic of having to put him in the corner. I was ok with it, get that attitude under control ASAP, but still love on my baby! He also is trying to play them with the potty training as well. Wet most of the day Monday, drive 5 of 7 times on Tuesday, and 50/50 the rest of the week. Ugghh!! He did, however, really like the new room and seems to be adjusting well to the new kids and the teachers. He gets to play on the big playground now and he REALLY likes that part to be sure. Now, if only I can get all of his teachers to spell his name correctly!!!!!
First Day of Preschool

Mark went to New Orleans for a big meeting this past week. He was really busy but had a good time eating his way across the city. His Dad drove down for a few days to be with him. I think he had fun relaxing around the hotel. Mark came home Thursday night and is leaving again tonight (Sunday). Needless to say, we are all a little tired of him being gone and ready for him to stay home for a while! The house could use a little love as well. It is just hard to keep up with everything without any help!

Jonathan and I have had a stomach virus this weekend. Welcome to the first week of school! He, of course, has been much sicker than I have been. He ran a fever yesterday afternoon, so we didn’t get to go to church today. He started a new class at church last week as well, so he was sad that he didn’t get to go back again today. He is feeling much better today thank goodness. Just hate him to be sick.

Thanks for checking in with us!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Summer Fun

Nothing really exciting to report. I just had a few minutes, so thought I would write a quick post. My in-laws came to visit last weekend and Jonathan had a great time playing with them. He has decided now that Grandma needs to put him to bed whenever she is here. This is a nice break for me, but the never-ending bedtime! They read a dozen books, sing a dozen songs, and have a wonderful time together. No wonder Jonathan loves her putting him to sleep. Drags it out a lot more than our three stories, a couple of songs, prayers, and bed!

Saturday afternoon, Mark, my MIL, and I went to see the new Harry Potter. It was a really great movie and I was glad to have the chance to see it. My FIL and Jonathan stayed home and took a nap. They were both happy with that arrangement as well! Saturday night, Mark, Jonathan, and my FIL went to the AR Twisters Arena Football game with the interns from Mark's work. They had the Entergy suite so they had a good time. Food, private bathroom, and enclosed area for Jonathan to rip and roar, what could be better! My MIL and I went shopping instead. Good choice for us too. We got her birthday present and then had dinner at U.S. Pizza (I just love their salads!!).

I got a new necklace this week that I have been wanting for a loonnngg time. I got a Mommy necklace to remind me of Jonathan, even when he's not with me. I kept looking for one, but never could find what I wanted. Finally found this one. http://julianandco.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=122
Jonathan calls it "my baby feet neck-lass." He loves looking at HIS baby feet. It is so funny. The necklace is small enough to wear everyday, which is what I wanted. The only thing is, I have all these everyday gold earrings, and they don't really go with this necklace!! Oh well, just have to get some new silver ones!

Mark went to the deer camp this weekend to do some work to get ready for deer season. Jonathan and I stayed home and just chilled and played. We did go shopping a little on Friday. Went to the Inviting Co. wearhouse sale. It was fantastic!! Jonathan had a great time climbing up and over all the boxes. I bought a TON of stuff, for not much money. We got wrapping paper for a $1 a roll, cute plates & napkins for birthdays, baby showers, Christmas, etc., thank you cards, note cards, monogrammed stuff, and more! Even Mark was impressed with how much for how little I got (and that is saying something)! We stayed home Saturday and played. Also worked on potty-training. This is an adventure, that is about the best thing I can say about that. One of those roller coasters that seems to go on for forever, that you just wish would END!! Oh well, I will be patient. I know it will happen eventually.

We went to church today. A friend of mine and I filled in for Sunday School for four year olds. It was a lot of fun and completely amazing to see how much these little minds have already soaked up about the Bible and God. They are amazing! We went out to eat lunch with her as well and that was a lot of fun. We are so very blessed to have made some really good friends here in Little Rock. I know that this would be a completely different situation without the support and friendship that we have found here.

God is so good to us. I have definitely been learning some lessons in patience, trust, and faith lately. I know that God is in control and that He has a plan for us and our lives. But sometimes, it is hard to see that plan when you are in the middle of it and it just doesn't seem to be working out the way YOU planned. Of course, that's the point, right? God's plan is infinitely better than our plan. Oh man, but the waiting is hard! Please say a prayer for us that we will be faithful in our paitence for the fulfillment of God's plan, and that we will continually seek His will (not ours) for our lives.

Love to you all! Jonathan has his last week of the summer program at his preschool this week. They are 'going' to China, so it should be exciting. Last week was Africa and he absolutely loved all the animals on the wall and the 'safari' that they went on. This coming weekend we are going to Jackson/Madison for a reunion for my PT class. I am excited to see all my friends/classmates and catch up on their lives. It is so hard to believe that it has been SIX years since I graduated. Man I am getting old! Could I really have been practicing that long??? And that is all a fulfillment of God's promise and guidance. I do believe that God laid this path out for me to be a PT and to work with children. It does give me a purpose to be working, even when sometimes I would REALLY rather stay at home with Jonathan or just be a bum!

Thanks for checking in with us. I hope that everyone has a really great week!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Vicksburg Fun

I know, I know, Long Time No Post! Well, here goes the check-up!

As of my last post, both of my boys were sick. We did end up taking both to the doctor the next morning with a general consensus of the $49 fever virus. (This is about what it cost to see a pediatrician and for them to do absolutely NOTHING for your child). I know, I know, "antibiotics are overused and becoming ineffective," but seriously, so is my pocketbook!! Anyway, the doctor declared them both ok and not contagious, so off we went to Vicksburg!
We had a wonderful time being with Mark's ENTIRE family. It does not happen very often, so it was really nice to see everyone and spend time together.
Lucy - my niece

Mark's brother's family came from Atlanta and his sister and her boyfriend came from Hattiesburg. We took Jonathan out to the levee on the lake for his very first fishing trip. He LOVED it. He was not very patient waiting for the cork to go under, but thankfully the fish were biting, so he didn't have to wait too long.
Jonathan's First Fish!

He also tried out the little kid rod and reel and did very well with that. We decided he is going to be a bass fisherman. Lacey had a great time fishing as well. We all fished until we ran out of crickets! Since he had done so well and had so much fun, we took him back out in the morning. Unfortunately, it got HOT fast and we didn't stay out there too long. Still fun, just very hot.
Jonathan & Paw Paw Fishing
Saturday night was Mark's parents' 40th Wedding Anniversary Party. We had the party at the Walnut Hills Nogales House.
The Thomas Family

It was a great location with wonderful food. Everyone seemed to have a really good time. The only problem was that the air conditioner was set on 83 degrees when we got there to set up. Unfortunately, MS heat being what it is, and being an antebellum house, it never really cooled off. You can tell from the pictures just how hot everyone was. But we survived. Mark and I put together a slide show of their lives together which turned out really well. Mark is so talented at these things. Mrs. MaryAnn Artz made the cake. She made our wedding cake, and everyone was really excited about tasting her cake again. The leftovers barely made it home before the rest of the cake was devoured.
Mark & Jonathan at the party.
Poor Mark is soooo hot!

Sunday, we had an early birthday party for our niece Lucy. She will be one at the end of the month, but we just went ahead and had a party while everyone was together. She had a GREAT time with the cake. It was hilarious watching her go at the cake. She really got in to opening her presents as well, which was fun. I made a scrapbook for her first birthday. I thought it turned out really nice (fun to do girl stuff for a change). Hopefully she will enjoy that in the years to come.
Lucy LOVED the cake!

Jonathan had so much fun playing with Lucy and with Lacey. We brought a little drum full of instruments, and he and Lucy went to town playing with everything. After the party Saturday night, Jonathan and Lacey played with Kim's old Barbie dream house. They crawled through it 100 times (yes through the house) and ran all around the house. Or at least, that's what I was told. I, unfortunately, came home from the party with a migraine, so I went to bed!

We went to visit Johnson Sunday afternoon. Jonathan had fun playing at her house and we had a really good time visiting with her. Unfortunately, we just do not get to Vicksburg as often as we would like, and when we do it is always too short!
Johnson & Jonathan
We ate dinner at our local Taco Casa, a true Vicksburg necessity. We love their chili con queso and crushed ice cokes. Their bathroom does leave a little to be desired though, so we drove up to the overlook to potty before hitting the road. We took a TON of pics by the river and up by the cannon. Jonathan loved the river, loved the boats on the river, loved the cannon, loved climbing on the cannon, and especially loved the train crossing the old bridge. All in all, a great 30 minute stop before our trip even started! Needless to say, it was quite late by the time we made it home Sunday night, but it was well worth it!!

Mississippi River Overlook

Happy Fourth of July!

The next weekend was the Fourth of July. We were both off on Friday, and we just enjoyed the weekend at home together. It was nice to just have some time at home without an agenda. We took Jonathan bowling for the first time on Saturday. There was no one at the bowling alley, can't imagine why?
Jonathan learning to bowl.
We went to Millennium Bowl in NLR and it was very nice and clean and family friendly. They have bumpers that popped up when it was Jonathan's turn to bowl and then went down for my and Mark's turns. (Of course, it might have been better if they had stayed up!) Jonathan loved bowling and kept telling us, "I do it by myself." He carried his 7 lb bowling ball for most of the two games. They also had one of the ramps that you could roll the ball down. That was a big help so it did not take the ball soooo long to get down the lane. We played two games and all three of us were completely exhausted.
Notice Jonathan won the Second Game!!!!

We discussed taking Jonathan down to the riverfront to watch the fireworks show, but it was just so hot and we were all just tired. So we started watching the different shows on TV. After a while, a couple of kids in the neighborhood started shooting off some bottle rockets, so Mark took Jonathan outside to watch (at a safe distance of course). Then they both come running inside for me to come. Our 'neighbors' two streets over were having a party and had bought a TON of fireworks to shoot off. We ended up sitting in lawn chairs in the back yard and enjoying their show. A Redneck Fireworks. It was hilariously silly, but we had a blast. We were far enough away that Jonathan wasn't scared of the noise, which was very nice as well.

I was very blessed to go on a Girl's Weekend to Branson last weekend with my friend Jennifer from church. Her parents own a condo/duplex up there so we had a free place to stay. We had a great time just being girls and taking a break from our boys! We drove up Friday night and ate dinner at the Outback that's not a chain Outback. It is a good place to eat. The next morning we got up and began our shopping adventure. We shopped for 12 hours with only a minor stop for lunch at Dairy Queen. I have done some major shopping in my life, but this might be a first. We did three malls: Tanger Outlet, Factory Merchants Branson, and Branson Landing. We had so much fun and completely filled up her Honda Pilot. Found a ton of good deals and some great Christmas/birthday presents for Jonathan. Of course, my feet were just tingling by the end of the day and my poor knees were shot. I was just groaning each time I stood up! Sad I know, that a 30 year old cannot hang any more than that! We ate dinner at Joe's Crab Shack that night. It was delicious! We had those new steampots that they have been advertising on television. I got the New Orleans one and it was actually good!! (Always afraid to try Cajun stuff when we are not down South).

While I was gone, the boys played! Mark took Jonathan to the movies Friday night to see Ice Age 3. He loved going to the movies again and especially loved the popcorn. Saturday they went to Wild River Country and had fun in the sun. Sunday they went to church. The other big news was that Jonathan stayed dry ALL day Friday and Saturday. Of course, as soon as I got home Sunday, he was wet. How is that!?!? And then Monday, wet all day long at school. Had been staying dry 75% of the day, then all day at home, then none at school. This potty training business is a little trying to say the least. I know it will happen, but it gets old fast.

I had some use or lose vacation time at work, so I took off Thursday and Friday of this week. Jonathan went to school yesterday and I tackled closets. I beat the bathroom cabinets, but our bedroom closet beat me! That thing has grown a life of it's own. I will have to continue working on it though, I am determined to clean out ALL the closets in the house this year. Jonathan's is always an ongoing process as he outgrows his clothes so fast!! We are all home today and just have been running some errands and playing around the house.

Thanks for checking in with us. Miss you all so much!
P.S. Does anyone know an easier way to do these posts? I am going crazy trying to keep the text centered/left justified and the pictures centered, appropriate lines between paragraphs, etc. This is a PAIN and time consuming. Any/all tips would be MOST appreciated!! I have got to learn how to do this an easier way!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Same fever, both boys!!

So now they are both running low grade fevers. Mark was running a pretty good fever last night and ended up staying home from work today. He slept most of the day away and seems a little better tonight. Jonathan has randomly been sitting at 99 off and on this week. He has gone to school though, and been happy and playing. I brought him home to Mark this afternoon and went to get my nails done for the party this weekend. I call them as I'm leaving the salon, and Mark tells me that his fever is at 101 and Jonathan's is 99.8. Yeah. Way to ruin my relaxing salon visit! The nice thing is that Jonathan feels completely fine. Showing no signs of illness except that he is warm when you hold him. So weird...

So now they are both sick...sorta...and we are supposed to be leaving in the morning for Vicksburg!!!! Mark has an appointment in the morning with his doctor. I guess I will be up at 7:59am calling the pediatrician to try and get Jonathan in as soon as possible in the morning. (You have to start calling before 8am so you can be the first on the phone with the receptionist when they open. Otherwise we'll get the 4:30pm appointment or the crappy doctor and NEVER get to Vicksburg.)

Oh, and we're completely NOT ready to leave. Of course. Too much drama to get anything together. At least the majority of the clothes are washed and their are piles on the floor waiting to go into the suitcase. Well, back to packing. Please pray for my boys that they feel better and that this is just a virus. And please pray that we have a safe and fun trip to Vicksburg and that the party goes well for my in-laws.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Mark is doing better today. He wasn't running a fever this morning so he went on in to work. Crazy I know, but he has this HUGE project going on all week that they have been preparing for. He thinks he might have had a low grade fever off and on, but he worked all day. Came home and took Jonathan to his Gymboree class. After Jonathan went to bed, his fever was at 99.5. Gave him some more Tylenol and he seems ok now. Of course, this is almost exactly how Jonathan acted this weekend so I am sure it is a virus and will run its course in the next day or so. I just hope that Mark hasn't infected his entire office in the last two days. Could be a mass exodus!! So far, I feel fine, so knock on wood I hopefully will miss this one! It does help that I work with kids all day, every day. I have definitely developed some immunity to kid germs over the past six years. I think it helped Jonathan in the beginning to not be so sick in day care as a little baby. Ahh..the power of nursing immunity! At least, I like to think so anyway! Who knows, I could be full of it!!

Anyway, I am totally rambling now and it is way past time for bed. There is so much to do before our trip to Vicksburg, and I just don't know how I'm going to get it done!! So therefore I am just spending time on things like this to escape/ignore those things that really need to be done. Night!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Same Fever, Different Boy...

Thanks for the prayers for Jonathan. He is feeling so much better and is pretty much back to normal. He is still a little tired, but he is pretty happy. He doesn't have an UTI, just a virus.

Unfortunately....now Mark has the same virus. He sent me a text from work this afternoon saying he didn't feel very good. By the time he got home, his temperature was at 102.5 and made it up to 103. Tylenol, cold water, and bed in short order. Jonathan was so sweet and tried so hard to help his Daddy feel better. He tried to take his temperature with the thermometer and brought him a blanket and tried to get him to drink his water. I finally got him out of the room so Mark could get some rest. Temps now at 102 two hours later. Advil in an hour and hopefully that will help to bring it down. So please say a prayer for Mark that he will feel better soon. And someone please take the thermometer away from him! I swear he has taken his temperature a dozen times since he got home. So funny.

I just got finished watching Jon & Kate. Now this isn't a show that I normally watch. I have watched it from time to time but never a devout fan. TLC has done a good job though showing previews for the "Big Announcement" tonight. Unfortunately, it all played out the way people thought it would. I was just so sad to see their family falling apart. Makes me so thankful for my husband and the peace that I have in our relationship. Not that I am arrogant in any way to think that I am better than them or that it could not happen to us. I know how hard we have worked at our relationship and I also know just how much I love him. We've been and continue to go through some tough times; but, yet, I have never waivered in how much I love Mark and I have never doubted his love for me. I pray that Jon & Kate can find some resolution and happiness and peace. Hopefully some Christian counseling can be pursued to help their relationship. Ugghh...hate for anyone's relationship to fall apart. Having one child, much less eight, I know just how important each of us is to our child. I do admire their devotion to TRY to maintain some semblance of normalcy for their children. Here's hoping they are able to succeed.

Time to get off the computer. Need to clean the house and get packing for our trip to Vicksburg this weekend. Everyone needs clean clothes!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Visitors, Swimming, Fever, and Father's Day

Mark's parents went with his Aunt and Uncle on vacation this year to Yellowstone. They had a wonderful time and we were just sorry we didn't get to go with them. They were able to stop by our house on the way home. Mark's Dad stayed here for a few days to spend time with Jonathan. They have such a good time playing and just being together. It was pretty funny to watch Jonathan. He did not want to let his Paw Paw out of his sight! Mark had a meeting in New Orleans on Tuesday so he dropped his Dad off in Vicksburg on his way down Monday.

Mark's Mom couldn't stand not getting to spend time with Jonathan, so she came up Tuesday afternoon!! We had a really good time with her, and it was nice to have a little company and help while Mark was gone. She went with us to Jonathan's Gymboree class on Tuesday, and he made sure she was VERY involved! We were able to go shopping Wednesday to look for dresses for their Anniversary Party next weekend. Lucky for me, I found a dress, but we didn't find one for Mark's Mom. She stayed til Friday and left after Jonathan got up.

Mark came home Wednesday night and was off on Friday. We decided to go to Wild River Country water park Friday afternoon after Jonathan's nap and after I got off. We had a wonderful time. Jonathan just loves swimming pools of all kinds and was so excited by all the options there! He was a big fan of the wave pool. Sat, walked, played, pushed the tube all over the place. It was hilarious. And didn't get scared, even when the waves were on. He also liked the lazy river tube ride, but was ready to get out by the end. Of course, Mark and I could have spent the entire day on the lazy river! Jonathan's favorite thing though was the Little Kid Tube ride. One of us would get in the tube, put him in our lap, and go down the slide/ride. He was so very excited and just squealed every time. He LOVED when the tube would turn us backwards. Jonathan was very democratic and wanted Mark and I to take turns on who would ride with him. He would get off the ride with Mark and tell me, "Your turn now." After we would come down, he would look at Mark and say, "Your turn now." Hilarious. Of course, he was quite serious about it. Mark started walking with us one time and Jonathan stopped and told him, "No Daddy, Mommy's turn now." Turned around and continued walking back to the starting point. He definitely has his own ideas!! We probably rode the ride 20 times but it was WELL worth it for all the fun that he and we had. We ended up closing the park out and were one of the last ones to leave, he was just so excited that he had to tell every slide/pool good-bye on the way out.

Saturday morning, Jonathan woke up at 6am. Now he is NOT an early riser but I just thought it was one of those fluke things. He was happy all morning and took a good nap. When he woke up from his nap though, he was running a fever. Poor baby just wasn't feeling well. Mark and I got freaked out thinking he was getting another UTI and made an appointment at the After Hours Clinic. Ran him up there and did several tests. He has a red throat and enlarged lymph nodes, but the strep test came back negative. The urinalysis showed a possible infection, so we are waiting on the culture to come back. Of course, that meant that we came home and I had to call OKC to check in with his urologist. Needless to say, not how we planned to spend our Saturday night. However, after one dose of Tylenol, it has not gone back up that high. So, more than likely, NOT an UTI. His fevers always spike really high with that. Now we are thinking he just has a virus or cold and that we jumped the gun on taking him to the clinic. Oh well, better safe than sorry. And I know he would have gotten super sick if we hadn't have taken him. He has felt fine today and just had a low grade fever around 99 off and on today. Hopefully he will continue to feel better. This is the hard part of not having any family close by. We have to take off or someone has to drive 5 hours to keep him. Ugghh.. And of course, Mark and I both have a lot going on at work this week. Makes it hard sometimes. More importantly, though, we just want our little buddy to feel better and not get any sicker on us.

Today is Father's Day and I am so proud to have Mark as my husband and the Father of my child. I am so very blessed to have this wonderful man in my life. God has truly blessed me beyond my wildest dreams. Mark takes such wonderful care of us. He works so incredibly hard at his job to provide for our family and to prepare the way for our future. He commutes an hour to work each way so that we can live in a better place for us and Jonathan. He comes home and plays with Jonathan every day, cooks dinner most days, and has enough energy left to watch TV or talk to me after Jonathan's in bed. Mark keeps Jonathan home with him on his days off so they can have that quality time together. He never balked when I wanted to cut my hours after Jonathan was born, he just made it happen. Mark truly has stepped up and been the rock for our family. He never faltered through all of Jonathan's medical problems, he just did what needed to be done and never wavered in his commitment and love for Jonathan and for me. He loves his child unashamedly and prays for God's guidance in being a better Father. I am so proud of all that he has done and accomplished.

Also just like to send love out to my Daddy and Mark's Dad. My Daddy is a great man and a great Father. He always showed me love and guidance. I always hoped that I would be lucky enough to find a man like him when I grew up. I love you Daddy! Mark's Dad is a great man as well. He has always been there for Mark and I in our marriage and especially for Jonathan. We are so lucky that he is retired now and is able to help us out. God has placed each of these men in our lives and in Jonathan's life. They each teach him something wonderful and shower him with love. Love and thanks to each of them!

Mark's parents are celebrating their 4oth Wedding Anniversary this year. We are having a party for them next weekend in Vicksburg. We are so excited to be going home and spending the weekend with them, Kim, Russ, Katherine, Lucy, and the rest of the family. Should be a lot of fun. Plus the party's at Walnut Hills so we are guaranteed good food!! Love that place!!

Thanks for checking in with us. Please remember Jonathan in your prayers. We should have lots of pictures and stories next week after our weekend in Vicksburg. Hope that everyone else is doing well and that each of you has a wonderful week!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Finally added some pictures to the posts: Family Fun, Rain, Rain Go Away, and Never Ending Fever. FINALLY! Still need to add pictures to the most recent post! But it is WAAYY late and time for bed now. I did, however, add a bunch of pictures on his picture website so check that out for many more pictures. I had to pay and upgrade our picture storage on Google as we had exceeded the free amount for the picture website and the blog! How funny is that, I think we take a lot of pictures. But I love every single one of them! Hope everyone is having a great week, things are smooth so far at our house which is a really nice treat.

UPDATE: Added pictures to the Praise God post. I think I might be caught up!! Oh wait, still need to organize the pics out of my temp drive and add them to his picture website... Well, still making progress anyway!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Praise GOD!

So sorry to not have updated/posted sooner. Seems like the older Jonathan gets, the busier we get. I was under this misconception that as he got older, things would get easier, and life would slow down. Not really the way it works! In some ways, he is much easier, but he is also much busier!! Of course, I love it and him and all the things we do together.

ANYWAY!!! First and foremost, praise God!! We had a wonderful appointment in OKC. The appointments are always so stressful as we never know what they will say. WE think he is doing well, but you never know what they will say. It went well though and we are just so very thankful to God for the powerful healing of Jonathan's body. His kidneys looked great and they were very impressed with his progress. He will be having one more touch-up procedure in October. This is something we had known would need to be done, but they have been putting off til he was older and ready. So it is oddly satisfying to have made it to this point. This SHOULD be the last thing that will need to be done. Hopefully after this, then we will just be going for yearly check-up visits. How wonderful that would be! Thank you for praying for our little man. Please continue to remember him as we gear up for this last surgery.

May 25th was Mark and I's Eighth Wedding Anniversary. It is so hard to believe that it has been eight years!! since we got married. They have been wonderful and I just love Mark more and more as the years go by. The good Lord definitely knew what he was doing. Here's hoping for 80 more together!! We had a rather low-key anniversary as it was Labor Day as well, but we really enjoyed just staying home and being together as a family. We went out Friday night for dinner at Riverfront Steakhouse in NLR. They have a great steak and a really nice salad bar. The staff is always very polite and sweet to Jonathan, so that is always a plus as well.

My parents came to visit that weekend and Jonathan had a lot of fun playing with them. He is always so excited to be with them. Saturday morning was his friend Ali's third birthday party. The party was at Wonder Place and he had a great time playing with all the children. Ali's Mom, Edie, had done a great job on the invitations and party favors (she is my digital scrapbooking friend, and had done everything on the software we have).

Jonathan & Ali.

The party favors were very neat. The theme of the party was ladybugs, and for party favors, she had a bug catcher full of ladybugs for each of the children. They also got a huge bubble wand and bubbles. Jonathan loved the ladybugs. We released them Sunday afternoon and he thought that was so much fun. Did not particularly like the bugs landing on him, but other than that, he had a great time with it.

Jonathan & MaMa Deb. He was most insistent that she sit with him!!

Saturday night we took Jonathan to his very first movie at the theatre, UP. He LOVED it!! He sat so big in the booster seat and never moved. Had his eyes glued to the screen and would only move them for a few seconds to tell you something about the movie. He was VERY well behaved so I guess we will start going to a few more movies now. Hopefully there will be some acceptable movies coming out sometime soon! My parents went with us to the movie and had a great time experiencing this first with him.

Sunday night was the Burton's baby shower. Jamie has been on bedrest, so it was nice to see her and bring some goodies for the baby. The guys and kids stayed outside most of the night and had a great time playing. The girls had fun sitting inside and visiting. She's got seven weeks to go, so hopefully baby Jackson will stay in for a few more weeks!

This past Thursday was the Easter Seals Preschool Graduation. I usually go to see all the kids I work with. This year was especially special for a couple of different reasons. I was able to walk one of my kids across the stage in her walker to receive her diploma. To have seen where this child came from, it was a very special moment to see her actually walking on the stage. They always do a slideshow of the graduates and some of the kids in preschool each year. This year there was a wonderful picture of Jonathan from preschool. He is such a ham and just looked so cute! The real highlight though was a big surprise. I was the PTA Vice President this year. The President ended up moving to NC a few months ago, so I became the President. As a thank-you, the preschool made me a beautiful piece of framed art. When I went to accept it, they told me that Jonathan had made the art! It is just so wonderful and so unexpected. I cannot wait to hang it up in my office.

We had lunch today at Pinnacle Mountain with the co-op students from Mark's work. Mark ended up grilling the hamburgers and hot dogs. They were delicious and it was nice to visit with some of his co-workers. Jonathan had a great time throwing rocks, sticks, etc. into the little stream. He was also a HUGE fan of the M&M cookies. At last count, I think he had four. Only ate 1/2 of a hot dog, but four cookies! Not really a balanced meal, but oh well, he'll survive.

Once again, no pictures. We have had multiple computer problems lately and Mark doesn't want me downloading the pictures until he can fix our back-up drive. He's been working on it, so hopefully it will be fixed soon. We would be in so much trouble without his computer skills! Hope everyone is doing well. Send us a note when you get a chance and let us know how you are doing!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Family Fun

Well, the weekend's not over, but we are having a good time so far! Thought I would write a quick blog post while everyone is sleeping!

Jonathan has a doctor's appointment Monday in OKC. We usually drive here Sunday afternoon after church. It is a lightning fast trip and not much fun. We have been trying to take a mini-vacation for the last few months. We wanted to go to Branson, but could never really make it work out. So, since we were coming here anyway, we decided to just make a weekend out of it. Not really the best of vacation places, but it works!

Of course, nothing with us really ever goes according to plans. Just see some older blog posts for evidence of this!! We had planned to leave Friday as soon as I got off work. Of course, that didn't happen. We were not really packed, so we had to do that first. Left the house at 2:30pm. Everything packed, we were off! Didn't even get across the river before we turned around and headed back home. The A/C in my car has been acting up lately and it was already blowing hot air that soon. So, back to the house at 2:35pm. Had to move EVERYTHING to Mark's car which took about an hour. Jonathan had fallen asleep in that few minutes we had been on the road, so of course, that made moving everything even more exciting and time consuming. Plus Mark's car is much smaller than the Jeep, so that also complicated things. Moved the car seat last while I held Jonathan. Left the house for the SECOND time at 3:30pm. Of course, Mark's car didn't have any gas (never does), so we drove up to Sam's to get gas. While filling up, we realized we had left stuff in the center console of the Jeep. Back to the house. THIRD time was the charm and we got on the road around 3:45-4:00pm. Due to all our delays, Jonathan's nap did not work in our favor as we had planned. We had hoped for him to sleep two hours of the trip. Instead, he slept about 1 hour. Oh well, that's what TV's are for! After several potty break stops and one stop for a suspected flat tire (stupid OK roads), we made it to OKC at 10pm!!!

The wind started blowing as soon as we started unloading the car. Evveerry single time we come here it is some kind of bad weather. We had barely made it inside before the rain started. And by rain, I mean torrential downpour.

Saturday morning, we slept in. It has been a long week for all of us and we just needed a break. Surprisingly, I was the first one up at 8:30am. Mark and Jonathan didn't get up til 10:30am!! Unfortunately, we slept through the good free breakfast at the hotel. We got dressed and headed to the Oklahoma Science Center. What a neat facility! Kind of like Wonder Place and Museum of Discovery in LR on steroids. They had tons of hands-on exhibits and displays and all kinds of fun stuff. Mark's favorite thing was riding the Segway. I was a little wobbly on it at first but caught on. They even let Jonathan do it while they steered. He did fantastic! Jonathan's favorite thing was the water table and the gymnastics mats. Of course, I'm thinking we could have done the water table at Wonder Place at home but hey, he was happy, so it works. I think my favorite area was the American Indian exhibit. They had a stuffed buffalo/bison that was so impressive. Also a couple of beautiful, beautiful headdresses and papooses. Just some amazing authentic things.

Mark on SegwayNorth American Bison

Came back to the hotel for a much-needed nap. Got up and went to the Oklahoma Redhawks minor league baseball game. Thankfully, I had brought a long-sleeved shirt and jacket for Jonathan. It got COLD at the game. Mark had refused to bring a coat, and he paid for it. He was cold by the time we left. The game was bad, they lost 8-3, and they were just a bad team. Completely deserved to lose. We had a good time anyway, and Jonathan ended up on the Jumbo Tron...again! He has been on the one in LR twice, I think. I know, he's just so stinking cute!! We got him a soft bat and ball that he had a wonderful time with. He even took the bat to bed with him last night! Mark and I love going to baseball games, and have really enjoyed the team in LR. The Travs are a good team and win more than not. Also, if you don't buy advance tickets, you will be sitting in the grass. There was just not that many people at this game. They have a beautiful brand-new stadium in a perfect location, and just did not have the crowd. Plus, it was so cold, and they were losing, that people just kept leaving. There were probably only 200 people there by the end of the game. Sad. We had fun and Jonathan was glad when the crowd thinned out so he had more space to play.
Jonathan & Mark at Baseball Game
Jennifer & Jonathan at Baseball Game

We got up a little earlier this morning, but didn't get out of the hotel any earlier. We are staying at the Embassy Suites (thank you Mark's work points) and we had to enjoy our breakfast first. Yummy, yummy, yummy! Then we left for the OKC Zoo. They have a really nice and BIG zoo here. We have been here before when Jonathan was about 6 months old. That time, we came in August, and it was just unbearably hot.

Jonathan on monkey statue.

We have another pic of him at six months on this same monkey!

This time, it was cool in the morning and perfect by this afternoon. Of course, we feel the need to do the ENTIRE zoo, so we wore ourselves flat out trying to see everything. We didn't. Not even really close. We did see all the things Jonathan wanted to see. He has said for the last few days that he wanted to see: Monkeys, Giraffes, and Turtles. So funny, but that is what he wanted. He loved the huge Galapagos turtles, the Gorillas, the giraffes, the zebras, and the rhinoceros. He is such a big boy and wanted to walk or push the stroller through most of the zoo. We rode two kid rides, the choo choo train and carousel that he greatly enjoyed. The end of the day was probably the best, we rode the BIG train that went through the grazing animal part of the zoo. He was so very excited to ride the train. The conductor was stop at the gates to let them open and again when through them to make sure nothing got out when they closed. Each time, Jonathan would yell out, "Stop just a min-ute!" He is such a sweet little boy. We each got an ice cream on the way out and he was VERY excited about that as well. New toy and t-shirt from there too. Can you tell that he's the only child and that we aren't going on a big vacation this year?

Jonathan and the big train.

Now, we are just hanging out in the hotel. Jonathan passed out in the car on the way back. Did not even move as we came in, up the hotel, changed his pull-up, and put him in the bed. Mark passed out shortly thereafter. I should probably take a nap, but just enjoying a little free time to veg out.

Jonathan in the swimming pool (after nap).

I have had that moment today where I am just filled with love and awe and gratitude for the beautiful family that God has given me. Thank you Lord for all our blessings and for loving and caring for us. Thank you for a turning a 2nd choice vacation into a wonderful time to spend together as a family. Thank you for the opportunity to have this time together. And as much as we hate coming here, thank you for the doctors we come to see and their God-given talents that have helped our son. Thank you for leading us to this point in our lives and in our walk with you. It is truly amazing to look back and see all the things that have happened that led us to this place. Thank you Lord.

Please remember Jonathan in the morning and pray that his appointments will go well. First one at 8:30am and next one at 10:10am. Thank you for praying for him. We could never repay any of you for the many prayers that has been said for our son. We know that God hears them all and answers our prayers. We have faith that God is and will continue to completely heal Jonathan's body.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rain, Rain Go Away!

I think I may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder. It has done nothing but rain here for weeks!! It is just yucky outside and so dark and dreary. Our grass is loving all the rain, but it is so wet that Mark hasn't been able to cut it. A little concerned we will end up with a snake in our yard, so want it cut as soon as possible. He was able to cut the front yard last Friday, and it already needs to be cut again! The back yard is just too wet to even try.

All this rain means that the playground at school is also too wet for the kids to go outside and play. Jonathan and his friends are a little stir crazy. Child needs to get outside and run off some of his energy!!

Jonathan and I have been enjoying spending time together this week while Mark is gone. We went to his Gymboree class last night and he did really well listening and staying on task. (Sometimes the need to run and play freely is just too strong to stay on task with the teacher.) This week is Teacher Appreciation Week at his preschool. We went to Home Depot today to buy some plants for his teacher. Within a minute of walking into the plant section, he found a rock and a puddle of water. By the time we left, his shoes and pants were pretty well soaked and he had mud all over his shirt where he kept wiping his hands. He likes to play in it, but he does not really like for his hands to be dirty. Funny boy! So we came home and got straight in the shower today to clean him up. He did well in the shower for the first time. I had him stand up on the little seat and he did better being a little higher up. He usually takes a bath, but I didn't want him to be sitting in all that nasty dirty water. So shower it was today!

Mark is coming home from Atlanta tomorrow. Thank goodness! We miss him!! He visited his brother and family while he was there and had a great time playing with our niece. She will be one in July and is just such a pretty little girl. Jonathan and I were jealous that Mark got to go without us!!


Nothing else to really report. A short one!! Who would have thought it was possible!! Hope ya'll have a great rest of the week, and hope it stops raining...at least for a little while!!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Never Ending Fever, Swimmin' Pool, and Snakes!!

Well the never-ending fever saga continues. Jonathan continued to feel better through the weekend after Disney on Ice. The following Wednesday was our last day of three times a day antibiotics. By Thursday night, he was running a fever again. So frustrating for everyone and just breaks our hearts to see him not himself. I kept him home on Friday and started the phone calls to all the doctors. Of course, they keep telling me that it is an unrelated virus, but the timing just seems to scream UTI again. And, of course, it all goes down on the weekend I am supposed to go out of town. I never leave, and the time I do, he gets sick! So, lots of drama later, the doctors decide to just watch him. Mark convinces me to go on my trip. As he kept telling me, he is perfectly capable of giving Jonathan Tylenol and Motrin. He ran fever Friday, low grade Saturday, and only right before bed on Sunday. (see end for the continuing saga...)

So off I went for a fun scrapbooking weekend on Petit Jean Mountain. It was just beautiful up there and so much fun to have a break, even if I did worry greatly about my little man. Mark finally told me they were fine and to quit calling so much!! Of course, it did rain the ENTIRE weekend. And being at a church camp, it was soaking wet and muddy and well...fun! Running through the rain in the middle of the night in your pajamas, umbrella, and flashlight. So silly but fun. I did get a lot done though during the weekend. I made a special present for my niece's birthday and made a Mother's Day card for some special ladies in our lives. (Have to post that next week sometime!!) Also did quite a bit in Jonathan's First Year Album Volume 2. Finished Volume 1 at the last scrapbook weekend- can only put 100 pages in each book.

This week is the Art Show and Basket Auction at Jonathan's preschool. I am the PTA President for his preschool and this was my first function as president. I was very nervous, in this economy, that it would not go well. So I was very excited when we ended up with 22 baskets plus the children's art work. Friday was the last day and I cannot wait to see how much we made. Several of the baskets went pretty high, Razorbacks went for $200, Darren McFadden signed shirt for $100, Jermain Taylor hat for $75, huge art supply basket for $180, game basket for $90. Plus, one lady bid $550 on four pieces of the kids art!! So exciting to know we will be prepared for next school year and all of our projects. Plus it is always fun to watch everyone fight over the baskets, just cracks me up! I ended up with a basket of note cards that the children in Jonathan's class made and a Baby toys basket that we are going to give away as a gift. So, all in all, a successful week.

Jonathan's class artwork - handprint sheep

I got my hair cut and colored yesterday. Be careful what you ask for and be specific. Obviously I did not FULLY explain what I wanted. No pictures of the hair as I am not in love with it in any way. Waaayyy too dark, waaayyy too dark. The cut is good, but the color is not really what I was wanting. I don't blame her, she just interpreted what I said in a completely different way than I meant it...unfortunately for me. Oh well, it is just hair and will grow.

Now for a couple of Jonathan stories!! Much more fun than stuff about me!

Thursday afternoon the little boy across the street came over and asked if Jonathan could come out and play. He is six, but plays well with Jonathan as long as none of the other big boys are around. If they are, he sort of forgets about my sweet baby. Unfortunately, Jonathan is starting to realize it and it just breaks my heart. The little boy isn't trying to be mean, it's just that he can actually play more with the bigger kids. Anyway, they started playing and were soon joined by the little boys next door. Eventually they all ended up in their backyard on the trampoline. Mark got in too (supposedly to keep Jonathan safe) and jumped with them. One of the little boys asks Jonathan, "Do you want to go see the dead snake?" So, of course, we all go to the front yard to see the snake. Sure enough, there is a dead snake in the gutter. Looks like the yard guys ran him over with the lawnmower when they cut our neighbor's grass. There was probably 4-5 little boys standing around this snake. They wanted so badly to touch the snake. Of course, I keep telling them NO, we are NOT touching the snake, regardless that he is obviously VERY dead. Mark goes to get a shovel and the boys wait for him. When he goes to pick up the snake with the shovel they got soooo excited. It was one of the funnies things I have seen in a very long time. They were just giddy and giggling and running after Mark as he took the snake over to the woods. Mark throws the snake into the woods and, of course, it got hung up on a tree. They loved that even more and were beside themselves when he had to take a few steps into the woods to knock the snake out of the tree. Then Mr. Eagle Scout proceeded to give a safety lecture on NOT touching snakes, dead or alive, and informing an adult of any snake sightings. He was so serious and it just really made me smile to see him as the grown up. Reminded me of something my Daddy would do and I just see over and over again: 1) what a great Daddy I have and 2) what a great Daddy Mark is and is becoming. For the last two days, Jonathan has been talking non-stop about the snake and the shovel and the woods. He cracks me up!!

The other great story from this week is about the "swimmin' pool." My MIL had given me a Gymbuck to Gymboree that she had gotten from the outlet mall in V'burg. I also had one from the class that he takes at the Gymboree Play & Music. I would be remiss if I let free clothes slip by, so I bought him a couple of new outfits and t-shirts and matching socks (being a boy, socks are about the best accessory we get). I haven't let him wear any of them as it has been so nasty outside. Finally, on Thursday, I put him in one of the new t-shirts, shorts, and new socks for school. They were working on Mother's Day presents at school and took the kids on the playground to put dirt in the pots with our flowers. Of course, Jonathan thinks playground=play so he takes off with another boy to find some fun. They make a beeline for the sandbox. Of course, it has done nothing but rain for a week. The sandbox was completely FULL of water. They don't worry about that and get in anyway!! I'm coming down the hall at work and see his teacher leading the both of them into the bathroom. Noticing how WET they both are, I ask Jonathan how he got wet. He tells me, with a HUGE smile, "I in swimmin' pool Mommy." So I ask him where the swimming pool is. He just smiles, but his teacher tells me how they were in the sandbox. So, not only are they wet, but they are quite sandy as well. Just cracked me up. They both had to be changed from head to toe and obviously we got a bath that night when we got home. His teacher didn't think it was that funny, but I rather did. Especially since I didn't have to clean him up. And Jonathan was quite proud of himself. No remorse for that one. We did have a discussion, though, about taking our shoes off before getting in the "swimming pool" next time.

Other stories...

  • As we are pulling up to the house after work the other day, Jonathan gets my attention and says, "Mommy, our house is pretty." Now how sweet is that. I get emotional of course and tell him "Thank you, I think our house is pretty too!" He smiles at me, turns his head, and says "Get mail now please." We get the mail and he stops and looks at the house again before telling me, "Put lights up there." He wanted the Christmas lights back on the house. Try explaining May vs. December to a 2 year old. But I was just so surprised that he even remembered them being up there.

  • After getting in trouble for not listening, he comes into the living room to play. A few minutes later he comes up to me and says, "I sorry Mommy. I be nice now."

He is such a talker. He is talking in complete sentences 90% of the time and is probably 80% understandable. Poor baby does get quite frustrated when you can't understand what he is trying to say. And when you finally do figure it out, he is doing a good impression of the word. He is also becoming quite the artist and loves to color. He has moved from scribble all over the page to vertical and horizontal strokes and circles as well. He loves to draw on his Magna Doodle board and for you to draw for him on it as well. Especially Christmas trees. Don't know if it is because that is when his birthday is or what, but he LOVES him some Christmas trees. Wants you to draw them with a star on top and presents underneath. (smart kid). Of course, I love to color too, so it has been fun to have a new activity that we are both enjoying. Makes for a fun way to pass some time.

The potty training has been going very well. The preschool staff has really jumped on board and it has made all the difference in the world. As long as you take him every hour, he is staying dry for most of the day. Still not consistently pooping on the potty, but it is progressive. He has even started telling us occasionally when he needs to go. That is HUGE for us and really means that things must be going well medically for him to be doing all this. We are so very thankful for all the blessings and healing that God has shown our little boy. Wow. Of course, now that we are going at this, we are becoming well-acquainted with the bathrooms at our most popular destinations. Thank goodness for Elmo and Diego potty covers!!

We bought some new furniture a few weeks ago and had it stained to match Jonathan's bedroom furniture. Mark borrowed Cliff and his trailer and they went to pick it up today. I am so excited and can't wait to see it in place. We got a bookcase for Jonathan's room to hold his books and, hopefully, some toys. He loves to read and we just have not had a great place to put his books. We found a really pretty bookcase that is wide and short, so he will be able to reach his books and toys and won't be tempted to climb all over it!! We also got a toy chest that we are going to put in the dining room/music room/new play room. We have his train/car table in there and are trying to transition some of his toys out of the living room to that room. So we got this toy chest to hold the toys. It is actually a hope chest, but it is going to be a toy chest at our house. And it matches his furniture, so if we ever move to a bigger house, we will probably put it in his room then. Mark found a special toy box lid support that will prevent the lid from slamming down on his fingers. He is working on that now, so hopefully it will work and we will be able to load it up this evening.

And the fever saga... We got up this morning and decided to just have a lazy Saturday. We don't get too many of them and we are all excited to just hang out around the house. Jonathan was sitting with me watching TV and felt a little warm. I took his temperature while he was eating lunch and it was 99-100 degrees depending on which ear you take it in. So that worries me that the UTI is coming back OR that he has one of the numerous fever viruses running rampant around here. Neither is good and I hope it doesn't go up any higher. Poor sweet baby tells me, "I feel better" when I asked him if he was feeling bad or hurting anywhere. We would appreciate your prayers that he will not get sick and that this will just pass on by. We are teaching his Sunday School class tomorrow at church so I am really hoping that he does not get any sicker and can't go to church. I don't think I want to keep 10 two year olds by myself!

My computer (Vista) has major problems and Mark is having to redo the entire thing. So I haven't downloaded the pictures off of our cameras. Hopefully he will have it fixed this weekend. He is going to Atlanta all of next week for work. He also gets to see our niece Lucy so I am jealous about that! Then we are going to OKC for the weekend and doctor's appointment on Monday the 18th. Please pray that they have good things to say and are pleased with Jonathan's progress. We know that God is healing him, and we have faith in His continued healing, but these appointments are always hard and scary and stressful.

Love to you all, and thanks for reading another one of my LENGTHY posts!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Happy Easter...Finally!

Easter 2009

Oh my!! I have been meaning to write a post for several weeks now and just haven't been able to make time to get it done. Things have just been busy and crazy and all over the place! So, Tyanne, you are not the last to post about Easter, I am!!

We had a wonderful Easter week. The week started with fun pictures with Heather. She has posted several on her Blog and several more on her website. Password is Thomas1 if you want to check them out.

Jonathan had an Easter Egg Hunt at Preschool on Wednesday. Last year he had to be shown the eggs before he would even think about picking them up. This year, he was a man on a mission! It was so fun to watch him. The only thing was, he wanted to HOLD all the egg. Was a little afraid they would disappear if he actually put them in the basket. And did not want to hold the basket either, much better for Mommy to have that job! Of course, I didn't mind, it was too much fun following him around trying to convince him to put the eggs into the basket.
Paw Paw came to visit on Monday and Tuesday. Jonathan was so glad to see him. They had fun hiding Easter eggs in the yard. Jonathan wanted to hunt them, then he 'hid' them again for Paw Paw to find. So funny!
Hunting eggs at school...not putting any of them into the basket!

Paw Paw came to visit Wednesday through Friday. Jonathan was so glad to see him. They had fun hiding Easter eggs in the yard. Jonathan wanted to hunt them, then he 'hid' them again for Paw Paw to find. So funny!
Paw Paw holding the basket.

On Thursday, Uncle Harry's Country Critters Petting Zoo came to Preschool. This guy is so nice and so easy-going with the kids. They love when he comes. Jonathan got to pet the bunny rabbit and gave the pony tons of hugs. He talked about it for days. We saw Uncle Harry the next week at Larry's Pizza. Jonathan didn't quite know what to think about seeing him out of context, but when Uncle Harry told him he was going to come back to school in the fall, Jonathan was VERY excited!

Petting the bunny with Uncle Harry

Saturday morning was the church Easter Egg Hunt. Jonathan had moved up an age division this year and was in the 2 to 5 year old group. Poor baby just didn't have much of a chance. The five year olds mowed the yard. They were a force that the two year olds couldn't keep up with. Fortunately, Jonathan was not too worried about how many eggs he got. He was MUCH more concerned about what was IN the eggs. And by that, I mean the ones with the candy, not the ones with the Bible verses or stickers in them. Luckily the 'mowers' passed over a few on the back side of the trees, so we did manage to get some. After, he had a good time on the playground with all the kids from church. And, for the first time, he actually sat with the Easter Bunny...well, he sat in my lap and I sat with the Easter Bunny. Close enough, first time to go near someone dressed up so that was fun. My parents came in for the weekend and went with us to the Easter Egg Hunt. I think they had fun too.

An actual picture with the Easter Bunny!!

We hunted eggs at home Saturday afternoon. By the time we put all his eggs together from the various hunts, he had plenty and had a great time hiding them all over the yard. We hid them all several times and he just thought it was so much fun. When we came inside, he dumped the bucket all over the floor and just played with them there. And we still have eggs everywhere. Of course, I always loved hiding Easter eggs when I was little so we will just keep them out a while longer to play with.

Sunday morning the Easter Bunny came and brought Jonathan a basket of fun. He had some eggs with Little People Easter people in them and a Thomas the Train Easter train. He thought that they were lots of fun and insisted on taking Thomas to church with him. My parents and Mark's parents also got him several things for Easter. This child is not hurting for love or expressions of love, that's for sure!! We went to church and Jonathan had a great time talking about the 'stone roll away'. We have been trying hard to teach him about the TRUE meaning of Easter. It is a hard thing to teach a two year old, but he is getting a little of it I hope. Mark and I filled in for some friends and taught 4-year old Sunday School on Easter. So we were very blessed to have a small opportunity to help some other children learn about Easter. We also had to Escort new people around the building before the service, so were quite busy! Brother Gary preached a great message that morning that was just very uplifting and very confirming of God's power and glory and ultimate love for us. We ate at home for Easter lunch and had a great time just being together as a family. I was just so very thankful for our many blessings.

MaMa Deb & Grandad with Jonathan

The next weekend we packed up the car and headed South. We went to the Seal Family Reunion. They are Mark's Grandmother's Family. She passed away shortly after Jonathan was born and before he was able to meet her. So it was nice to see her family and meet lots of family that we had never met before. Jonathan completely charmed everyone there. We were in Luling, which is right outside of New Orleans. Some true Cajuns came in and cooked some wonderful food. We had Corn and Crawfish Bisque, Jambalaya, and Chicken & Sausage Gumbo. It was great!! We then left there Saturday night and had dinner at Middendorf's on the way back to Vicksburg.

The plan was to get up Sunday and go fishing on Paw Paw's lake before we came home. Of course, if you know us, then you know that our "plans" rarely come to pass as we thought they would. Jonathan woke up Sunday and almost immediately got sick. He was complaining of his back hurting and did not want to go to the bathroom and then started throwing up. I knew he probably had an UTI so I got on the phone with OKC trying to get a resident to answer the phone on a Sunday morning. As you can imagine, he was ooohhh soooo helpful (sarcasm) and would not call anything in. We started him on Tylenol and Motrin, packed the car, and headed home. He finally fell asleep and we booked it back to LR and a decent doctor. I called ahead to the After Hours Clinic at Arkansas Children's Hospital and they were able to see him. He did have an UTI and they got him started on an antibiotic. They were so nice and so helpful and got us in and out in about an hour. Fastest that has ever gone, that's for sure! We hightailed it to Kroger and got there with five minutes to spare before they closed. That night he started running a fever and kept running one continuously for three days and sporadically til Friday. Needless to say, it was a completely exhausting week and he just did not feel well at all. They had to switch his antibiotic on Wednesday after the culture came back. Of course he would be drug resistant to the first one. Mark was wonderful and kept him at home Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. We sent him to school Wednesday and Thursday thinking he was ok, but he just was so worn out that we kept him home again on Friday. Please say a prayer for our sweet baby that he will feel 100% better soon and that this medicine will do it's job and that this will not be a setback for him medically. We have come so far and this has just been hard. Everyone agrees that this happened because he is starting to try and potty train and that we just did not give him enough opportunities to stop and potty on the way down and back to Louisiana. Never been a problem before, he just would go in his diaper, but now he wants to go in the potty. Mark and I felt so very bad that he got sick, but who would have thought? He is feeling better, but still just really tired, as are we all.

Friday night was our true happy spot of the week. Mark had bought tickets several months ago for us to see Disney on Ice. I am so glad he did too, because we definitely needed something fun to do as a family. After the last month, we were all just a little down. We were on the second row from the stage and the show was just great. Mark and I enjoyed it as much as Jonathan did. Mickey and friends introduced each segment and Jonathan was just beside himself to see them. I would not have been surprised if he had gotten on the ice to get to them!! They then did an ice skating thing to a couple of Disney movies: Lion King, Lilo and Stitch, Little Mermaid, and Peter Pan. They were all amazing but we liked Lilo and Stitch and Peter Pan the best. Jonathan loved the aligator coming to get Captain Hook. He thought that was hilarious. Of course, even here, we had to have a little drama. Mark took Jonathan up to the bathroom at intermission (as you can imagine we are a little potty happy at our house). I could see Mark carrying him back down the stairs holding his shoe. I'm thinking, "Oh no, he peed on his shoe." Mark gets to me and says, "I can't find his other shoe." And the sad thing is, I had thought before we left the house, No crocs, he'll lose one, so he had on his tennis shoes. Now how they lost a tennis shoe, I have no idea. So Jonathan sat through the second half of the show with only one shoe on. Luckily someone turned the shoe in to the Lost and Found and we were able to get it after the show. Jonathan got a new spinny light toy, I got a picture of him with a plastic lifesize Mickey and Minney, and Mark got Jonathan's shoe back! So everyone left happy which was nice. We took it easy the rest of the weekend to let Jonathan's body have time to heal.

Jonathan with his light up spinny toy wearing Mickey Mouse of course (and two shoes!)

Back to school and work today. Busy as always. Mark presented at the student meeting for IEEE tonight at Lousiana Tech. Weird to be old enough that someone wants you to come back to your college and talk to the students. But also very nice that someone thinks that highly of him and his work.

So there you have the ups and downs of the last month. As always a little excitement (wanted or otherwise) here at the Thomas house. Thanks for reading, I know that I get too wordy. That's what happens when Mark goes out of town and I'm left to my own devices!!