Wednesday, July 16, 2014

North Dakota - part 1

It's no secret Daddy works away from home for long periods of time. Since April he has been working in North Dakota. Since school let out, he's been saying the job he is working on will be over soon. One month and a half later, he was still saying the job would be over soon. I couldn't help but feel like our summer would be over by the time the job was really over. So, we decided to go visit Daddy.

With route advice from my truck-driving grandparents, we left Chandler at 4 a.m. on Monday, July 14. I woke you all up and loaded you into the car and we were off! Our first stop was breakfast at an IHOP in Denton. It was about 6 a.m. and you were all pretty hyper. No one had went back to sleep as I had hoped.

After leaving IHOP we made it to Oklahoma. It was about this time that I started to smell something from the back seat. I asked Riley if anyone had a dirty diaper, but due to the iPad she was a little too distracted to notice if anyone was dirty. So I kept on driving for about 30 minutes after I noticed the smell. My philosophy is, if they're not crying we're not stopping. All of a sudden from the back seat Riley starts yelling that Nolan was playing in his poo poo and that it was all over the place. Nice. In addition to using nearly every diaper wipe I had brought, Nolan didn't have any clean clothes that were easy to get to. The scenic overlook I happened to pull over at ended up being beautiful and a great photo opportunity.

Just in case I forgot I was about to drive straight through Tornado Alley...

After our road-side incident, Oklahoma was pretty easy. We stopped again for lunch just before we got to Kansas.

I hate to say it, but this picture was the best thing about Kansas. Kansas was boring!

When we finally made it to Nebraska, there was no welcome center to welcome us. Not too far in I noticed a historical marker would be up ahead, so we made for that. It turned out to be interesting and the picture turned out cute!

*note - Nolan is naked from the Oklahoma incident.

When we pulled into Grand Island, Nebraska, my planned stop for the night, we were worn smooth out. We had supper at Olive Garden because I knew the kids would eat pasta. Ha! I guess Nolan and Ella were too tired to eat anything. All Ella did was make a huge mess of her spaghetti and Nolan had his jaws clenched and wouldn't eat a bite. Again, Grand Island is about 30 miles into Nebraska. All it took was for me to order three sprites and a milk for the waitress to ask where we were from. Not to mention, it was cold and windy.

We bedded up for the night, which I knew would be a challenge alone with all three kids. Ella and Nolan are both very used to their own cribs, and it's hard to even get them to nap anywhere else. Forget rocking either of them to sleep. They just won't.

I was hopeful when I snapped this picture, but it didn't last. Ella finally fell asleep with me and Nolan and I was able to move her later in the night. But, that didn't last either. The little hotel refrigerator kicked on about 1:30 a.m. and she was up crying and back in bed with me. 

And Nolan... I thought it was strange that he didn't want to take one single bite at supper, but remembered that we had just driven 14 hours straight from Texas. Maybe he was tired? While I was trying to bathe everyone he was extremely clingy, unusually so. At some point I picked him up and immediately knew he had fever. I don't know how high and I hadn't even packed Tylenol (everything but!). He passed out really quickly and slept most of the night. I didn't sleep for worrying about him, plus, he and Ella are very wild sleepers. It was a long night for me!

The next morning we woke at 6 a.m. and headed for the complimentary breakfast. If there's one thing my Daddy taught me, it's to stay at a hotel with complimentary breakfast! I was still nervous about Nolan, but he ate just fine and the girls did too. We were off again. 

I think Nebraska is one giant corn field. It would be hard to convince me otherwise. These corn fields were different from the ones I'm used to in NE Louisiana. Nebraskan corn fields are located on rolling hills and aren't always ruler-straight in line. It's beautiful. 

I wasn't far from the Nebraska-South Dakota state line, when a little trouble happened. 

It's very hard to run the speed limit in Nebraska. The roads are board straight and seem to stretch on forever. The speed limit is only 65 MPH.  I'm not one to go way over the speed limit, but I didn't see any reason why the speed limit couldn't be 70 MPH. So, I decided to drive 73 MPH. This Nebraskan state trooper (the only one I ever saw), caught me and I knew it; I was pulled over and waiting for him when he pulled up behind me. He was really nice and after seeing my Texas license plates and all three kids in the back he asked where I was headed. He commented I was a long way from home and hoped I would have a safe trip. He let me off with a warning which was more than he had to do. We stopped for lunch in the next little town, Riley's favorite, Valentine, Nebraska.

South Dakota was next. I think everyone should try and drive through South Dakota. It was beautiful.

I rely on the 'range' function in my car to tell me when I should stop and get gas. I pushed things too close in South Dakota and could only think of my Grandad.  My range was getting pretty low and after passing two signs that said "No Services" for many miles (50+) I finally found a spot to get gas and use the restroom. The pump in Howes, South Dakota was an older model, I don't think I've seen one of these since the 90s. Anyway, I ventured in to the general store/post office to use the facilities. The proprietor told me they didn't have running water and that I was welcome to one of the two outhouses in the back. This caught me off guard and all I could do was stutter. I forgot all about the gas and the bathroom and hoped to make it to the next town about 15 miles away.

We did in fact make it to Faith, South Dakota in time for the restroom and gas. Supper on the second night was Lemmon, South Dakota, just nearly in North Dakota. This last stop took much longer than any of our other stops due to baby diarrhea. Ella AND Nolan. I started to realize that maybe an upset stomach was Nolan's problem the day before. I had to unload my big suitcase and find the diaper wipes buried deep within. We entered North Dakota with one clean diaper left. (I tried finding a Walmart in Nebraska and South Dakota with no luck.)

We left Lemmon, South Dakota and entered North Dakota on a high. Our long trip was just about over and we would again be reunited with Daddy. For the first time the whole trip I resorted to singing nursery rhymes to distract fussy babies. Riley is such a good sport in these situations.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

June 2014 Newsletter

Nolan: You have a new love this month: pony tails. You don't care whose pony tail it is, as long as you can grab it. You don't let go very easily, either. I'm sure you can imagine, this pony tail-grabbing infuriates your sisters.

I guess you have two new loves, pony tails and balls. I think you can say 'ball.' You really like to throw balls and chase after them. I hope you get a bunch for your birthday. It's hard to believe you are almost 1!

You haven't decided to start walking yet. You seem to be taking your time, analyzing the process of walking, and then when you finally start, I think you will be off. That's just you and your personality. You are a quiet thinker and very smart. 

You love for me to sit and hold you. You are a Mama's boy, at least until Daddy gets home.

Riley: I think you are having a great summer being Big Sister to Ella. Y'all play together all day long. It's not often that you and Ella fuss, and you both seem to want Nolan nowhere near where y'all are playing. You are pretty bad about slamming the door in his face. He's still pretty little and gets in the way sometimes. He will toughen up. 

Since it's summer I've let you stay up late. This is apparently a big deal. You think it's important to note that Ella and Nolan don't get to stay up as late as you. We go through this ordeal every night. You simply can't believe you get to stay up late every night and almost act surprised when you find out it's 9 or 9:30. 

You've had a couple play-dates so far this summer and really, really enjoy those. You are still talking about your fun with Mollie, and are eagerly awaiting a sleepover with her. Everyday you ask what day it is and then walk off mumbling that on Monday you are spending the night with Mollie. 

Every once in a while you get a little out of hand. You seem to act out in spurts. When it's bad, it's almost too much for me to handle. It's not just you, but add in your brother and sister and I've got too much on my hands. I don't expect you to sit like a soldier and barely breathe, but I do expect you to do what I ask and be respectful and calm (if the situation calls for it). I know you don't act like this at school. When I mentioned this to you during an episode the other day, it really made you stop and think. I could see the wheels spinning in your head. You agreed! 

But Riley, when it's good, it's great. The majority of the time you are the sweetest, best behaved five year old in the world. For instance, when you get a sucker in Sunday School, you always get an extra sucker for Ella. You are usually very gentle around Nolan and it breaks your heart if you accidentally step on his finger or something like that. (It probably doesn't help your feelings that Nolan has the loudest, most monotonous cry on the planet. Even the slightest bump causes him to wait.)

Ella: Screams, screaming, screamer. That's pretty much you! Especially when we are in the car driving somewhere. You just scream, a lot, all the time. If something doesn't go your way, if someone else is playing with a toy you want, if I don't do just exactly what you had in mind, you lose it. And scream. This behavior is pretty effective at getting you what you want; I guess I wouldn't stop either. 

When you aren't screaming for some unknown reason, you are probably talking. Your most used phrase is, "I want it." And let me tell you, you want everything. "I want it." You say it real fast. If you want something really bad, I'll prompt you to say please and you tilt your little head and say, "Pwweeeeessee." Don't break my heart! It's the sweetest thing. 

We've had several occasions for you to be around Riley and her friends for just a few minutes. You act just like one of them! You follow them around everywhere. You have no idea you are just two and they are four or five. 

Yep, two years old. Your birthday was a few days ago and I teared up looking at pictures from two years ago. You were the sweetest little baby! You're also the sweetest little girl. We had quite a bit going on and didn't have a big party, just you, me, Nolan, Riley, Paw-Paw and Grandmom and Grandad. The only thing that would have made your birthday party any better was if Daddy was here to enjoy with us. 

You are pretty crazy about Minnie Mouse right now, so a Minnie Mouse doll was perfect. After the traumatic birthday song Minnie Mouse brightened things up. 

Two other little girls have celebrated birthdays in this kitchen, at this same bar. 

I'm pretty sure the big sister was opening all the presents back then, too. I love the smile on my Daddy's face. 

We also had a great trip to Louisiana. I love our trips to Louisiana and wish we could visit more often. Let's just say, you three kids are indulged over there. What ever it is that you want, that is what you get. Ella, you loved swinging in the front yard and Aunt Margie. Riley, I thought you were going to become Siamese twins with Stephanie; you were in her lap the whole time. Nolan, you went from being a 'Mama's Boy' to a 'Mamaw's Boy' and that was fine with her. You were both happy to just sit together on the couch. 


This is my new favorite picture. Let me tell y'all about this picture and the day we had... Y'all are generally fussy in between the end of afternoon naps and supper, unless I take you outside to play in the water. However, you all expect supper waiting on the table when we get back inside. This day was no different. So out we went for fun in the sun. It didn't take Nolan long to crawl out of the water. I let you crawl around in the grass for a long time. You chased your ball back and forth through the grass. Girls, you just played and played together in the water. You both love to splash each other. Ella, you really like to fill the buckets up with water and then dump them out. Riley, your face in this picture says it all! You were having a great time. We played for about an hour and then rushed in to have hot dogs. Sweet summertime! What makes this picture most special is that there is a Daddy in North Dakota making it possible.

We love you, Riley, Ella, and Nolan.

Love, Mama

Sunday, June 1, 2014

May 2014 Newsletter


Finally, you graduated pre-K for the last time. You're a little apprehensive about starting Kindergarten, but I know you'll do great. You can read tons of words and can sound out a bunch, too. You're ready. You love school. Sometimes in the afternoons you can be found "doing my homework."

There are nearly four years between you and Ella. This doesn't stop you from playing with her all the time. You and Ella are best friends.


Your speech is improving so much! You constantly say "What's that?" Even when you should say "Who's that?" I answer your question, and tell you what the object is, and you ask again. And again.

You hate loud noises. Our neighborhood is fairly quiet, but let a loud truck or motorcycle come into the vicinity, and you have an episode. You can't stand the vacuum cleaner. However, you are the loudest person I've ever met. Your cry/whine is loud and monotonous. You love to walk around drumming and singing. Constant noise. You are a noise maker.

And a mess maker. Bless your little heart. You want to eat cereal or yogurt for breakfast, but it is entirely too messy. I'll make special allowances, but I may as well get ready to clean up a big mess. Eating in general is a battle with you. When it's time to sit down and eat, you either don't like what I've prepared, or you don't seem hungry. If you happen to want to eat a few bites, you want to carry the food into the living room. Ugh. Another big mess! When we eat, it's our family all together, and no one but you gets up during the meal. If the t.v. is on you will go back and forth between the kitchen and living room. So naturally, I now turn the t.v. off.


While your sisters are making messes, you are usually somewhere close observing everything. You play right along with them. You are just as loud as Ella when you sing/yell. Your cry is pretty loud, too.

You're a bit of whiner of late, probably because of three new teeth. I didn't think you would ever get any teeth, and finally this past month I felt one coming in. You've been the puniest and whiniest while teething. Mostly, you want to sit in my lap and be held. You're a little bit spoiled. But you're the baby and that's what my baby gets.

You're pretty good at making messes, just like Ella. You're by far the messiest eater that I've had.

You're an expert crawler, and you're starting to cruise around on furniture. You're really proud of your newfound mobility. It's funny when you get in a hurry.

I'm overly excited that school is finally out. I hope we get to have lots of fun this summer! I'm already feeling better than I have the previous two years since I'm not pregnant.

In general, you kids are beating me at everything we do. I can't keep the house clean. If I happen to clean the kitchen, I turn around and Nolan has somehow got a bowl of raspberries off a table and is squeezing them all over the place. That was nice. I finally get everyone in the bath tub, only to turn around to Riley saying, "Ella pooped in the tub!" That was a nice mess. I just can't keep up and that's hard to accept.

We've got a great life. It's fun and always interesting. I hope you three babies know how much your Daddy and I love you, and the lengths we both go to to provide for you. It's not easy, but we would do anything to give you the lives you deserve. We love you so much!

Love, Mama

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

Riley, Ella and Nolan,

Mother's Day is a tough day for me. I know I have you three kids, and I'm so very thankful for you all. Without your love I wouldn't be who I am today. I love you three babies with everything I have.

Even so, I don't look forward to Mother's Day. Not having a mother who was there for me as I grew up and being estranged from her for most of my adult life has always made the celebration of mothers seem unnecessary. I've always had my Grandmom, who mothered me. Because of her I always had someone to honor on Mother's Day. But, I've always felt sorry for myself because I didn't have a real mother to honor on this special day.

Now that I'm almost 30, the women in my life that I look up to have changed. Two in particular have filled parts of a deep void.


My first memory of Shanna is her taking me to Walmart and telling me I could buy whatever I wanted. That really made an impression! So did Grandmom's face when Shanna and I walked in with a huge fish tank.

Morgan and I thought Shanna was IT! We loved spending the night with her on the weekends. We've sat at Saia Motor Freight many nights waiting on Shanna to get off work. Morgan and I loved staying up late with Shanna at night just talking and hanging out, or organizing things.

I can remember Shanna coming to basketball games, birthday parties, putting a perm in my hair, and giving me all of her old stuff. One time she gave me some old concealer. I was about 13 and had pimples on my face. I think I used Shanna's old concealer for a year afterwards! I really liked the used nasal spray Shanna gave me one time. Grandmom didn't buy us that kind of stuff, so I thought I really had something.

I have laughed more with Shanna than just about anyone else. Whatever I go through, Shanna is always there for me. Shanna listens and understands when others don't. She is the most selfless person I know, and would give me anything she had if I asked.

Anytime Shanna would come to Grandmom's, Morgan and I would hang all over her. These days I see my own two girls going silly when Shanna walks in the room. I completely understand the feeling.


Growing up, the highlight of my summer vacation was going to Brennan, Blair and Bryce's house. This was a really big deal. Waynette's house was the biggest house we'd ever seen, and running up and down that hallway was so much fun. Even today, I still look forward to going to Waynette's house. I don't want to run up and down her hallway anymore, but visiting with her is a wonderful get-a-way.

When I was 21 I went through a difficult time and was eventually diagnosed with severe depression. I guess Grandmom told Waynette about it, and Waynette mailed me a little care package. The thing I most remember in that care package was a little pink prayer book. I was in the depths of despair and Waynette's gesture made things seem not so bad.

As I've grown older, I've come to look up to Waynette in so many ways. I want to treat my mother-in-law the way Waynette treats hers. She once said, "That is his mother and I need to honor her for that." I've thought of this so many times, and I want to honor my mother-in-law for being Henry's mother. I want to be a Christian woman the way Waynette is. She's been a great example of a mother, and one I've needed to see.

Mostly, what Shanna and Waynette have done for me is love my children. Both of my aunts LOVE my children. They care about me and my kids, and, they show they care. I am grateful to have them in my life, and even more grateful my kids have two amazing grand aunts.

So on this Mother's Day, I honor my aunts. I love you both so much, and thank you for your love, kindness and friendship.

Riley, Ella and Nolan, we are all better because of Aunt Shanna and Aunt Waynette.

Love, Mama

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

April 2014 Newsletter


You are growing up. Our conversations are even changing. When before, you would just ask random questions in no coherent stream, now you are asking questions that mean something and that explore ideas in depth. As we were driving the other day I noticed that I was enjoying answering your questions, and that was even on the way to work! Normally I would have told you Mama needs quiet time. Sorry.

It's not often that you nap anymore, much less fall asleep beside me. I couldn't resist this picture! You are the kindest, most caring little girl. You put up with so much; from me, from Ella, and now from Nolan, too. You don't complain often, and you help me out more than you know.

The other day as we were driving:

You: I thought camels lived in the desert, not on grass.
Me: (realizing you were talking about the alpaca farm we just passed) Those are alpacas, not camels.

Then when I called to tell your daddy, you really liked that. You love when I tell stories of something funny you've said. You love to be bragged upon. We have a lot to brag about, too.

Recently I heard words come out of your mouth that I've never heard. I was in the other room and heard you say, "Get off of me." Haha, Ella crawls all over you all the time.

April was a tough month for you starting out. On a Thursday when you came into my room after school, you complained that you were cold. I didn't think much of it, but turns out you had a fever that would last for five days. It was non-stop fever and feeling puny for five days. I finally took you to the doctor and you were diagnosed with adeno-virus, also known as the plague of death. Not really, but it was bad. Then I contracted this plague. We lucked out and no one else got sick. This was the sickest you've ever been. I think, even worse than some of your bad asthma attacks.


I love you. I want you to be happy. You are the sweetest little girl in the world. And you are the biggest handful in the world. If Ella isn't happy, no one is happy. I try so hard to make you happy. I try so hard to read your mind and give you what you want.  But I constantly feel like I'm letting you down. You rarely seem to be happy. It seems like I never please you. I am trying so hard! And it's because I love you so much! Before I was pregnant with you, I wanted a baby. I wanted you. God gave me you and I'm so very thankful for you. I realize that I have to resolve to try harder, to love you more, and to make you happy. I have to work harder for you than I do with your brother and sister. That's fine, and I can do that.

Last month I did find something that you enjoyed. See, the problem isn't that you hate every activity I offer; most of the time the problem is that you don't want to quit when it's quitting time. When Aunt Ma (you call her Mi-Ma) and I were little, we loved Easter. We would spend countless hours hiding our Easter eggs for each other in the back yard at Grandmom's. Over and over again. Those are some of my best and favorite memories with my sister! We loved hiding and finding Easter eggs. Turns out you and Riley loved hiding and finding Easter eggs.

Haha, and finally, you just started stealing eggs from Riley. We couldn't hide eggs all day long, and you found this unreasonable. 

There are times when you prefer Riley over me, especially when your feelings are hurt or you've just gotten into trouble. You lean into her for a hug, wrap your little arms around her back, and pat. Your little pudgy hand just a patting breaks my heart! 

We are still fighting a war on pacifiers. I may have already mentioned that you've named them "bobbies." You are known to have a bobby in your mouth and a bobby in each hand. Nolan's bobbies are not safe, even in his mouth. His bobby can be snatched right out of his mouth if you feel the need. "Where'd bobby go?" is your most used phrase. 

You also say, "What's that?" Constantly. Any noise you hear, any car or truck in our neighborhood. Any object you've never seen or don't recognize. "What's that?" 

You also have by-words that you say all of the time, too. These are 'ow' and 'no.' "Ella, are you having fun?" "No." Most of the time you don't even have time to consider the question before you answer no. It just shoots out of your mouth! 


It's going to be tough growing up with two big sisters. They are already abusing you. Riley dresses you up in her glitter hats and Ella snatches bobbies right out of your mouth! You can't eat a meal without Ella demanding a bite of whatever it is that you're eating. You don't like it when you get skipped. 

For the most part you are just the happiest little feller there ever was. You love to play with toys, especially any toy in Riley's room. The smaller the toy the better. You're not happy until every toy has been thoroughly gummed and slobbered upon. You like to flap your arms. I think you're trying to wave, but it just looks like you're about to take flight and fly away.  

You are pulling up on everything. You get really excited and proud of yourself, of course until you get ready to sit down. You hate getting stuck standing up.

Spending time at Grandmom and Grandad's is something that all three of you love. The toys are new and there are no rules. Nolan has new places to explore, Ella can drink all the Ensures she wants, and Riley can help Grandad. It's just about the best place to ever be!

I need to find out what the story is behind the big sink in the laundry room, mostly known as the 'utility room.' Why did Grandmom want this big sink? Did she ever think that her great-grandchildren would use this sink for a bath tub? Maybe not, but all three of you have been plunged into this sink and scrubbed down.


I can't wait until school is out for the summer. I'm ready to spend some much needed time with my babies. Love you three kiddos more than you'll ever know. I think about all three of you throughout my day. 

Love, Mama