Monday, December 31, 2007

My Best Shot

Maybe not My BEST Shot, but definitely one of my favorites. I set up a fake photo shoot and made all my family participate. I'd like to introduce my sweet mom (M's Nona) and my even sweeter grandmother (M's GiGi). This is the photo where Nona and Gigi were the most relaxed and M is making her "cheese!" face. We all got so tickled by her silliness that everyone just laughed and laughed!

I can't wait to see what everyone else put up for MBS! Check out other posts at Tracy's site Mother May I? (
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Photo Shoot

My sweet, sweet husband got me lights for Christmas...the kind in a studio. He has far more faith in me than I have in myself! We played around with the lights when I was in Savannah. I dressed M up in her Easter dress (got at a GREAT bargain at the Strasburg store!!!!!) and made everyone pose with her. My favorite pictures in the world are the ones with my mom, my 87 year old grandmother and M. If you can't see these clearly, let me know. I'll post them individually so you can check them out.

H's birthday is Jan. 8. We've invited the nephews over to make cookies this weekend. I'm sure they're thrilled to know that they are my next photographic subjects!!!

I think I know why my pictures are a tad hazy. I think it's my diffusor filter. I'm going to take it off and take some pictures this afternoon. If they are clearer, crisper, then I'll know for sure that's the problem.
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Christmas Morning

The treasures from Santa: food for M's kitchen, a collection of "George" movies (as in Curious George), an art easel, and a train track carpet with Thomas engines.
M went straight for the Thomas track carpet and played for a while before moving on to her other treasures.
M discovered there were other things there! She found her crayons in her stocking.
Then she found her George puzzle and food!

Fun times all day. Unfortunately, M woke up with a case of the croup on Christmas Eve morning. She was in quite a funk after seeing her Santa stuff, so we put her down for a nap early on Christmas Day. That dramatically improved her mood, so we spent the better part of the afternoon opening her presents and playing. She got better every day while we were with my parents, so by the end of the week, she was her normal joyful self.
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These boots were made for walking...

and that's just what they'll do!

M will wear Mommy's boots and walk all over you!

There was some indecision on M's part. Should she attempt to walk or just sit there with the boots on? After several moments of consideration, she decided to give walking a try. But, she needed a little support, so she held on for dear life as she navigated around the dining room/kitchen wearing boots that make me cringe every time I attempt to wear them.

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Sunday, December 30, 2007


H and I went on a date last night. The real kind. The dress-up, butterflies-in-your-stomach kind. The he-planned-it kind, only I helped him plan it.

First, my entire family (brothers, sister-in-law, parents, and grandmother) met downtown at a beautiful park to take pictures--will post when I get home.

Then, my parents brought M home.

H and I took off like kids skipping school. He opened doors for me, drove aimlessly around town. We did a tad bit of shopping and lots of looking around. We ate at the most amazing little jazz tapas bar. The food was UNBELIEVABLE. We had two hours to kill, so we went to a book store and had coffee. Then we went to see P.S. I Love You. A CHICK FLICK! Silent, sniffily tears trickled a lot, we held hands and giggled.

It was a GREAT date.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Three Cups of Tea

I'm a veracious reader. I was the kid in class that got on the teacher's nerves because I was lost in the world between the pages. H has learned that when I'm reading, he must say my name before he asks or tells me something. As many books as I've read, I sometimes forget and might begin to reread one before I realize I've read it before. I also couldn't tell you much about the thousands of books I've read. Some stick out in my mind, others were simple reads that just occupied a few hours of my time.

For the past four days, I've had my nose in a phenomenal book: Three Cups of Tea. If you want to read a book that will change your life, get a copy of this book. If you want to read a book that will shake your soul, GET A COPY OF THIS BOOK. I'm a proud American--this book will challenge your belief in the goodness of our political system.

Patricia Polacco wrote a book title Christmas Tapestry. The main idea is that God has a divine purpose and everything in life is woven together in a beautiful tapestry. I like to think that I have an impact on my students' lives. That all the time and effort I put into my job, all the love I feel for my students, all the energy I spend on them, will somehow come to good for them. I hate all the beaurocracy that comes with public education, but I believe, in the deepest parts of my heart, that I'm somehow making an impact on the future of our country.

Nothing I do will EVER compare to Greg Mortenson. If you've never heard of him, google his name. Take ten minutes, right now, tomorrow, next week, to learn about him and the impact he is having on our world. He's an American hero. He is single-handedly having more impact on the war on terror than the past 6 years have had with the billions of dollars our government has spent protecting us. ***

Greg Mortenson has dedicated his life to building schools in rural Pakistan and Afghanistan. Since 1993, he has established and supported schools in the most rural parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan, in spite of wars, hostile armies, and religious fatwas (vendettas, decrees).

I'm pretty dense, so it took me about 200 pages before I realized how in the world these schools would help eliminate terror: These schools are secular. These schools are for boys and girls (which Islam does NOT prohibit). When boys and girls are taught in secular schools, they are not brainwashed into believing in jihad. They are not taught by extremist Muslims. They are taught by moderate Muslims who believe in the true words of the Koran. If two generations of children are educated PROPERLY, they can not be brainwashed! When extremist schools (ie: army training camps), are the only schools available, and they only accept boys, then terrorists will continue to be trained.

This, however, is not the only reason to educate girls in rural Pakistan and Afghanistan. With only the equivalent of a fifth-grade education, girls in rural villages are able to lead healthier lives. They learn how to properly take care of food, provide water, birth babies, etc., to prolong and improve the lives of the people of their village. In villages that do not have schools, only 1 in three babies born live until their first birthday. In villages where schools have been established, the infant mortality rate has been drastically reduced. People are healthier.

I'm not a political activist. Very little about politics interests me at all. As an educator, however, this story, Greg Mortenson's story, must be told AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN. And people must listen. We will forever live in the shadow of 9/11 if we don't tear the roots of terrorism away. Our country will never be safe, our WORLD, will never be safe unless we recognize the importance of the work Greg Mortenson is doing.

check it out:

***I, of course, support our troops and the sacrifice they make for our country. I am immensely proud to be American. I am distressed that our goverment, the most powerful in the world, does not fulfill its' promises and is not taking interest in the most common-sense approach to fighting terror.


Christmas Morning, my brother and his wife wanted us to open cards from them before we started the whole Santa and open gifts thing. We weren't allowed to peak and my mom had to read the little poem before we opened the cards. It was a brilliant way to give us the news that they are pregnant!!! I'm so excited to be an aunt to my little brother's child!

On the flip side of that excitement is a small dose of bitter disappointment. By this time, we would have known if we were having a boy or a girl. We would have been celebrating the upcoming birth of our own little baby. To rub salt in the wound, we tried to get pregnant last month (strategic coupling, you know), but I started my period on Christmas Eve morning.

With the blessing of the expectant couple, we will try again this month so perhaps cousins will be born close together. We are completely thrilled to be expecting a baby in the family--next year at this time, we'll all be cuddling a precious little baby!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

What would you do?

What would you do when no one is looking and your mom has confined you to a high chair?

Here is what M decided to do:

She was SO proud of herself. I couldn't help myself. I busted out laughing. My little artist!

My brother, Zach, has started his own blog...please drop by there and give him some encouragement! I know he'd love to know about some other blogs that are written by guys.

I'll post Christmas pictures when I get home. M and I are spending some time with my parents. H had to go home to work for a few days. He'll come back for us this weekend.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Handmade Gifts

Each nephew gets a home-made knot pillow...two UGA, one GA Tech. I always try to make them something special. I think they'll love these. They are so soft and they look GREAT in person.

All the women in the family are getting sets of 5 note cards with their first initial on them. They are all the same color scheme (red/cream) with a different patterned paper for the back ground.

This is my FAVORITE home made gift this year. I made each teacher on my grade level a clipboard that is painted white, brown polka dots and a brown initial on the back. My clipboard has purple polka dots. Each teacher has brown dots and dots in her favorite color. These turned out FANTASTIC even though it was my first attempt. The only SLIGHT thing is I wish I was a better painter. Our initials are a little wobbly.

I thought I uploaded the scarf I started for my grandmother, but am giving to my SIL. I'm going to work REAL hard tonight and tomorrow so I can give one to my grandmother, too. It is very beautiful.

Everyone will also get home made hot chocolate.

My Christmas card pictures arrived today. Instead of stressing about it, I'm going to take them to my parents and work on them during the week. I'll get them out by the end of th next week. Who doesn't enjoy a late Christmas card??? Especially with cute M on it!!!
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Major Post Coming Soon...

with pictures of most homemade gifts. H has the van at the car repair shop (grinding breaks) and my camera is on the front seat of the van.

Until pictures are taken and uploaded, here is a mom-story for your amusement:

M loves to wash her hands. Now that she's a grown-up two year old, I usually let her play in the bathroom for a while with not-so-frequent check-ins from the mom. I'm embarrassed, but must include that confession in this story. This morning, M was washing her hands and laughing, laughing louder, really laughing. I didn't think much about it as she's learning how to amuse herself lately. One small, important detail before you read on: I could have prevented this entire story if only I'd been a little more interested in my daughter and a lot less interested in finishing the Christmas present I was working on! Then I heard a rather strange sound, sort of like the sound of OVERFLOWING WATER.

Only then I realized IT WAS OVERFLOWING WATER.


And the outrageous giggles of a two year old.

This fat mama moved pretty darn fast to get in there and shut the water off. At first, I couldn't tell why the sink was completely full of water. The stopper was on the counter beside the sink. Then I looked more closely and realized M had completely...COMPLETELY...filled the entire drain with toilet paper.

Oh, boy, did I have fun cleaning that one up.

On the other hand, this is my first "mama story" that involves a mess of some sort. M never unrolled the entire roll of toilet paper or powdered her bedroom or anything. I guess a stopped up sink is pretty minor.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Just wait...

Until you see what I've made my co-workers. I LOVED it so much, I made myself one!!!

I'll post pictures tomorrow. One of my co-workers is a reader and I don't want to ruin the surprise!!!!

I LOVE great surprises!!!! Shhhh....

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Merry and Bright

Look at these sweet pictures!!! How in the WORLD could you not feel merry and bright looking at them??? We went to a local restaurant tonight for FREE pictures with Santa. I didn't know Mrs. Claus would be there. She was the MOST HELPFUL person in the world. When M went straight to Santa, I dropped to the floor to start snapping pictures. Mrs. Claus grabbed my purse and M's poncho and was super helpful. I took pictures of other friends that were there and she helped watch M. M had been so scared of Santa Claus. In fact, she specifically told me that "Ho, ho, ho 'care me." (Santa scares me.) On the way to the restaurant, I told her that she was going to sit on Santa's lap and say cheese and Mommy was going to take lots of pictures of her. She flat out REFUSED and reminded me that "Cris Claus 'care me." (Santa Claus scares me.) I told her he most certainly does not. Imagine my complete and profound shock when she marched her cute little ponytailed self right up to him, gave him her book and climbed into his lap. It was a priceless moment.

Now to gripe for a moment: I HATE MY CAMERA LENSE!!! Do you see how much editing I had to do??? Every SINGLE picture is so hazy. I feel like I don't get any clear pictures. I dropped my camera when I was out of town a few weeks ago and the other lense now sticks a little. It still works, but the zoom is catchy, which frustrates me. This lense was on my old 35 mm and is supposed to be compatible with my DSLR--I got this Tamron lense when I was pregnant with M, so about 2.5 years ago. I'm not entirely sure that it is compatible with my DSLR. When I edit, I get noise. Does anyone have any advice? Why did I used to get clear, sharp images and now everything is hazy?
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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Make-believe Meme

Okay, I'm totally making up a meme. I got this in my in-box and I couldn't resist. I haven't seen this on blogs, so I thought it would be fun, particularly after my last post. So, I'd love for you to play along. Leave me a comment to let me know you played and I'll come visit!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping Paper

2. Real tree or artificial? REAL tree--had a fake as a child for a year or two. The kids revolted and we got our live tree back.

3. When do you put up the tree? Sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve

4. When do you take the tree down? Between Christmas of this year and Christmas of next year. We've never left it up for months or anything.

5. Do you like eggnog? Very much

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Smurf village my dad made when I was about 4 or 5, Cabbage Patch kid babies, BOOKS

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Sadly, no. I really want a nice one and I REALLY want a Fisher Price one for Meryt.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My sister in law.

9. Easiest person to buy for? Meryt and my dad

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? A teacher bag--the bag wasn't bad, but the comment from the person was.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail them--and they are handmade!

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Gosh...that's a hard one. I LOVE all the cheesy Christmas movies. Right now, Lifetime is on and it will stay on until Christmas Eve lunch. The more sappy Christmas movies, the better.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I'm not sure this year. For the nephews, very early because something for their gift was on sale, but I just bought Dwayne's second present today (his first was in early November). Meryt is done, so it just depends.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Sadly, yes.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? All the delicious goodies my mom makes to share with her neighbors and church friends. Oh, and homemade hot chocolate. I get a new recipe every year from cooking class!

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Colored

17. What is your favorite Christmas song? I think Silent Night, but when Josh Groban sings Little Drummer Boy, I melt. And I also like that song where the man is singing and tries to get the lady to stay for a little long and she's saying she's got to go, but decides to stay a little longer.
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Travel...I'm not ready to give up waking up with my parents on Christmas morning. And I want Meryt to be with my grandmother as much as possible.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yes, I'm surprised I can!

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Mickey Mouse (Dwayne is a huge Disney fan)'s tasteful.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? When I was little, we were allowed to open one present on Christmas Eve (usually a movie or a game for the kids), but we haven't started that tradition with Meryt. We open all Dwayne's family gifts on CE, then we pack up and head to my parents.
23. What I love most about Christmas? Definitely sharing that time with Meryt. I love the sense of community Christmas creates.

Heavy Heart

This has been a heavy heart week. I've prayed more fervently this week than I've prayed in a long time. My family is dealing with a cancer scare (my uncle) and the negative effects of a wise decision (my brother).

Not only am I praying for my family, but others whose pain is so real, so NOW:
I've heard of more lost pregnancies this week--one friend lost her sweet baby at 14 weeks, another had a miracle pregnancy after 2 failed IVF's, only it was tubal and she lost her baby and a fallopian tube. When I was reading another friend's blog, she wrote about our mutual friend (I say friend, I've met her once and she's a very, very dear friend of a friend of mine) that lost her baby at 14 weeks, as well as three more who have lost their babies. That's five women whose hearts are broken right now--whose wombs are now empty and once were full.

I cry for them. I cry for the loss. The knowledge that their mother-arms will never hold their red-faced infants, that their breasts will never nurse newborn mouths. I cry because I KNOW. I know the dreams you have for a baby from the moment you know you are carrying a miracle. Yes, there might be another pregnancy, another baby, but nothing, NOTHING will ever take the place of the one that was lost. My heart will always love the baby that lived in my womb for 8 weeks.

Kyla (at The Journey) wrote a moving post about a dream she had that she was pregnant, only to wake to the ache of empty arms. I've had that dream. It sometimes haunts me when the sun is sleeping and my eyes are closed.

But my loss is NOTHING compared to a mother who recently lost her own mother and is now losing her son. Her sweet, precious boy is slowing fading from his family. He will be gone before Christmas, maybe today. I don't know her. I only stumbled across her through Kyla's blog. But I'm on my knees praying for comfort for her family. Please join me. Go there, comfort her when she feels so empty. I remember that emptiness--the blackness. She's hurting.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I wish...

I wish I had a day off to take care of some things. I thought those specific words Sunday or Monday evening. Little did I know that very wish would come true.

On the way to school today, M sneezed. The kind of sneeze that makes my mommy-heart freeze in my chest and causes my head to whip around so fast I almost get whiplash. Yep, her sweet little face was COVERED in the dreaded green mucus. I caused a traffic jam, stopping in the turn lane in front of the local college. I cleaned M up, took her to school. Two hours later, we were home again.

Not exactly the day I'd envisioned when I wished for a day off, but a day off none-the-less. And I am getting some things done. I'm going to grab a quick nap while she's resting.

What are YOU doing this wonderful Wednesday?

I'll post more pictures this evening.

Oh, does anyone besides us have problems with I-Tunes? If you do, would you please e-mail me so I can ask you a question? Pretty please! I'm very frustrated!!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Magic of the Season

Here are wishes of many magical moments this holiday season.

The Bensons
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My camera was hooked up to the computher until Saturday morning. Between Saturday morning and last night, I took 368 pictures. I have AT LEAST 15 shots I want to post today, but I love this one so much! Last Christmas, H gave me several pair of funny glasses. When you look through them at bright lights, the lights look like snowmen, Christmas trees, etc. As we finally finished decorating our tree yesterday, I found this pair in the ornament box. How fun, I thought. I'll take a picture wearing these. DUH. So, then I put the lense of the glasses in front of the camera lense and got this fun image!!!

For other MBS, visit Picture This.
little bsm button

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Monday, December 3, 2007

7 Random Things Meme

"Harridon's" Mom tagged me for a 7 random things meme. I've done it before, but I LOVE reading them about my blog friends, so I'm always game to play along. I promise I'm not tagging anyone this time, so you can read and feel safe. I'm super tired, so this will be COMPLETELY random.

1.) I waitressed one summer while I was in college at a local seafood restaurant. I'm a terrible waitress. One time I shorted a guy a dollar's change and he said that was my tip. Another time, I dropped a whole entire tray of glasses with water on a guy and he laughed--and left me a huge tip.

2.) Another summer I worked in the post office on my tiny college campus. That was probably my favorite job I ever had.

3.) I love to type. Not love to type a little...I REALLY love to type. Almost as much as I love to read.

4.) I want to own a children's boutique with my friend, LL, and call it "My Favorite Things" from the song These are a Few of My Favorite Things. If I owned a women's boutique it would be called Razzle Dazzle and I can envision it in my mind.

5.) I hated spinach and mushrooms growing up. When I was in college a friend of mine asked if I like the white pizza from a local pizza parlor. I responded, "Of course!" even though I had no idea what it was. Just so I didn't look stupid, I ate some and I LOVED IT. Now I'll eat spinach and mushrooms on anything.

6.) I love to get real mail and e-mail. I don't like to check my answering machine, but I do like to talk on the telephone.

7.) Somtimes I really, really like to eat barbeque and others times it completely grosses me out. I never know how I'll feel about it until I get to the restaurant. When H first made me eat it, I couldn't get it enough. Now I'm hot and cold about it.

Bonus: 8.) Until I wrote my thesis, I only enjoyed a Starbucks coffee every now and then. I wasn't a huge coffee drinker. I'm a hot tea snob (only loose tea for me, thank you very much...and water boiled to the perfect rolling boil). Unfortunately, now that my thesis is complete, I find that I need one cup of coffee to lift the fog each morning. I think I allowed that stupid thesis project to cause a coffee addiction.

Okay, more random things about me. I understand if you run away screaming...I might when I read this in the morning. H is waiting to tuck me in so he can go watch his TiVo'd football games, so I'm off to bed. I know I promised pictures...I'll get them up soon for you. I didn't even have MBS this week. Maybe next week.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Glimpse into our afternoon

One little M Benson woke up on the wrong side of her crib this afternoon. Tears flowed forth for the better part of our afternoon and evening. Finally, I'd had enough.

M was walking around crying about something AGAIN.
I was TRYING to have a moment of quiet in the bathroom.
She walks in SOBBING about some injustice. She was trying to tell me what it was, but of course I couldn't understand because she was blubbering through her tears.
I was at the end of my mommy-patience-rope. I'd heard ENOUGH of the whining.
"M, stop crying NOW. Mommy has no idea what you're talking about."
M stomped her foot at me and continued to cry.
"M, Mommy said stop crying. You are not allowed to stomp your foot at Mommy."
More tears as she stomps out of the bathroom and sits on the floor by my sewing machine (leaving the once closed bathroom door wide open so I'm STILL listening to the whining/crying.)
My voice reaches almost screaming level--not quite, but almost.
"M, that's ENOUGH. Go sit on the red chair until you are done crying!"
The tears stopped. *snap* Just like that. Not another tear the rest of the evening.

Can someone PLEASE explain this to me?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Happy Hearts

Tonight I hosted my annual Christmas Card Stamp-a-Stack. As stressful and busy as life has been the past few months have been and as disconnected as I've felt from my friends, it felt WONDERFUL to have a houseful of friends again. My heart was bursting with happiness as my unique, individual, funny friends stamped and visited. I'll post pictures of the cards tomorrow. I'm so excited about doing my own Christmas cards now...seeing the excitment in my friends is such an encouragement.

I hope you find something encouraging this holiday season. I hope something makes your heart very happy.