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Welcome to My Mommy Thoughts. I originally created this blog to document our lives hosting foreign exchange students in our home but I quickly discovered a passion for writing and blogging. This blog has become a little bit of everything.

So sit back, relax with a cup of coffee and enjoy!!

~Randi

Me and My Hubby

Me and My Hubby

My Loves

My Loves

The Princess - Maggie

The Princess - Maggie

Me & my Meg

Me & my Meg

Monday, October 24, 2011

A New Adventure


That's right -- I am now a Tastefully Simple Independant Sales Consultant. I am having so much fun giving girls night taste testing parties, meeting new friends and making some extra moolah in the process! No, this doesn't change anything else except adding one more thing to the plate. But I'm ok with that because I am having fun doing it!!

Have you ever heard of Tastefully Simple? It is awesome food products! A few of my favorites include the key lime cheeseball, beer bread, onion onion seasoning, garlic garlic seasoning and now the potato soup! I just ordered me some tender pot roast sauce and I can not wait to try it out on a roast! The food products are great - awesome to cook with, entertain with and just about anything. There are some awesome drinks, hot chocolate, chi tea, slush fruit drinks, etc.

So - if you or someone you know would like to help a friend out, let me know and we will get you a tastefully simple taste testing party in the works. Check out our website to see some of our great products!!

~Randi

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

{Semi} Wordless Wednesday - Mommy Needs Help!


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I'm linking up today with Daphne from Flip Flops & Pearls for her weekly {Semi} Wordless Wednesday. Most of the other links are "pins" from Pintrest. While I do love Pintrest (and will partake in the pintrest pins next Wednesday) but I caught my son out of his bed last night and thought this was adorable!!


Noah is trying to transition to his toddler bed but he won't go to sleep in it. And if he does, he doesn't stay all night. We tried to "cry it out" last night but this is where I found him when I went to bed ... yes, that is tucked in my bed (I thought he had quit crying a little too easy!) Sweet baby! At least he knew where he would get a good nights rest!!

Any advice on transitioning to a toddler bed is GREATLY appreciated!!!

~Randi

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Whole New Wardrobe

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."
~Colossians 3:12-14

I learned something last night -- I need a new wardrobe. A complete new set. I must be walking around naked!

Our ladies group at church has just started a new bible study -- Kelly Minter's "The Fitting Room". From one session I can already say this one will be eye opening. If you have not figured out yet but my new wardrobe will not consist of physical clothing (though I do wish!) Our character clothes us - and by character, I mean what people see on the inside of us. Sometimes what people see is also not the real clothing. I know that I am guilty (100%) of putting on a front that looks like I am this or that when honestly I may be completely broken inside.

One of the key phrases last night that was discussed was "Most of us know WHAT we should do but not HOW to do it! We need more heart TRANSFORMATION." (thanks to Mrs. Nancy for being an awesome bible study leader!) This hit me like a ton of bricks. How many of us also know what we should do but don't know how to do it and do not want to do what we have to do to have the transformation? 

God quickly threw a verse in front of my eyes last night and again, quickly showed me what I needed to change. Verse 5 of chapter 3 says:

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming."

OH, WOW!! Boy, have I been guilty of that or what?? During this "time of transition" (time of Keith without a full time job) I often look at people and wonder what it would be like to be financially sound. I know Satan has worked his magic and let my mind wonder why have things happened to people for them to get certain things? I know that made no sense whatsoever, but let me elaborate (and let me stress that I am not judging in what I am about to say!) It's no lie, Keith is looking for a full time ministry position. We know of people who this time 3 years ago were not living their lives according to Christ. Through a certain life situation, the man in that family is now serving in a church with a full time position. His wife is able to stay home with their children and all is well. My mind has to ask HOW? How in the world is it possible that this person is serving in a church before my husband. (This is where God threw this verse in my face!) It is so easy to be discouraged during this "time of transition" - a time of wondering IF when will Keith will get a full time job, where will it be, what will he be doing, etc, etc. My greed could not be any more. God is truly teaching us me a lesson. I can't tell you exactly what that lesson is right now, but I know that we will come out so much stronger on the other side.  

I am so excited to see what God will teach me through this new bible study. I am ready to wear a new wardrobe, one that is filled with "forgiveness, peace, kindness, humility, compassion, and patience, with a sassy feather of joy in our hearts." (Kelly Minter).

I'm gonna close with one last quote from Max Lucado that Mrs. Nancy gave us last night. He says "God loves you just the way you are but He doesn't want you to stay that way."

Waiting ~ Willing ~ Able


~Randi

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I decided to link up with This Kind of Love today for her "What I'm Loving Wednesday." I think this is an exciting post because I can put all that I am loving on this beautiful fall day!!


I'm Loving these 2 boys more and more each day! Did not know it was even possible but I do. I love that Keith likes to spend time with Noah even if it is just to sit on the pier while Noah "bishes".


I'm Loving this baby girl - even in all of her glory. My Maggie will forever be my "first child". I love that she snuggles with me and hugs me (yes, a dog can hug) and I love the excitement she gives when I get home from work each day. Makes a tough day happy!


I'm Loving getting to know Joon. Each day gets better and better. He is such a sweet young man and I am certainly going to miss him when he moves to his permanent family. We sat and talked for a couple of hours last night, and MAN IS HE COOL!! (By the way - this picture is his first kick off for Clay Chalkville! He is the one kicking with the lime green shoes!)


I Love that this Saturday is mine and Keith's 11th anniversary of dating. I know that you don't count a dating anniversary, but 11 years ago this Saturday, my life changed forever and I had no clue what I was in for. For that, I do consider it worthy to count! 


I'm LOVING my "Brother Jack". (Yes, I named my sewing machine!)
Jack and I are still learning to get along but we are certainly getting there. He's not quite the model that I want but he's all I have right now and so he will have to do. I do plan to upgrade to "Brother Frank" one day. (Brother Frank would be Innov-is 1250D Sewing/Embroidery Combo Machine!)

I'm Loving that my craftiness is finally coming out of me. It has taken it 30 years to come out, but here it comes! I saw a picture somewhere and fell in love and decided to make a ribbon wreath. NOW I have a few people interested in purchasing them. This one was made for Rinda for her lake house! ROLL TIDE!


I'm Loving the material in this wreath that I made. It is called a "Rag Wreath". I got the idea from an Hobby Lobby customer while I was trying to figure out a cheaper solution to my ribbon wreath. Let's face it, ribbon ain't cheap!! I'm working on a fall rag wreath -- I can't wait to show it to you when I finish it!


I'm loving so many other things as well but I figured this was a good place to stop. Let's face it - I like this "link up" stuff and I'll be doing it again next week! Let's see what I can come up with for next Wednesday.

~Randi

Monday, September 12, 2011

One Small Step for Man; One GIANT Leap for Noah!!!

We had a milestone weekend - it's been a while since we have done that! But boy was I excited!! Let's just say we now longer have a baby bed being used in our house!!!

That's right. Noah gave up his crib Saturday night. I am SO proud of my big boy! Now if I can just get him using the potty consistently and we would have it made!! We've tried the big boy bed several times with zero success. He just did not care. It was a game to him. Dr. Miller had told us it was fine to keep him in the crib until we needed the crib (HA!) or until it became an issue. Not once (thank goodness) did Noah try to crawl or climb from his crib. Yes, he could have if he wanted it, but he never tried!

So, what was the trick this time?? Honestly, it was simple! We have had his big boy bed frame in his room for about 6 months now. As you can tell, it is not the biggest space so it was quite cramped! But I pulled the mattress from the crib Saturday afternoon and when Noah fell asleep in my lap for his nap, I laid him down in the big boy bed. He napped there for almost 2 hours and woke up in his big bed. I think that was my key. We talked the rest of the afternoon about his big boy bed and he went to sleep in it that night. Fortunately he only got up once when he first went to bed. He did our usual "Mommy, I need more b's" (paci!) and then was in bed. He would always try to distract from going to sleep by asking me to get him more "b's". I would answer "ok, buddy!" and he would conveniently go to sleep after, thinking I was looking for more b's.

Yesterday, Noah, Joon and his Daddy took down the crib and stored it under Joon's bed. We officially set the big boy bed up, rearranged some things and viola! A big boy room with LOTS of room to play!! GrandDanny is working to make a bookshelf for both Owen and Noah. We are in desperate need of a bookshelf for our many books that we have scattered everywhere!

Getting Noah's crib down has just made me itch for more cleaning, organizing and rearranging of our house. Poor Keith -- I am sure this will start many projects to come!! 

Here is his bed a little closer up! He has a mixed bedroom theme going on here - Lightening McQueen and the Alphabet from his infant bedding! (Thomas and Salty are on the floor beside his bed!)

Noah and I were taking self portraits and this is what I got! He was keeping his eyes on the football game - must have been a bad play!

Then we decided to make funny faces -- but he still had to keep his eye on the game!!

~Randi

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I'm just a passenger in the car!!!

Those of you who know me really well know that I am not a reader. My daddy has always tried to get me to read and it has never worked. It once took me 3 months to read a book - a book that I was not forced to read but one that I had chosen to read. Sad, I know. I have just discovered a passion for reading, and would you believe that I read an entire 5 book series in just 6 weeks.

The women of mom's and dad's church go on a retreat/conference each Spring and I have had the privilege of going the past 2 years. This year we had the opportunity to hear Karen Kingsbury speak. I had read one of her books but did not really grasp who she was. I know my mom has always enjoyed reading her books so I attributed her to a "mommy author". Well, I am now hooked into reading those "mommy books." Karen's speaking at that event was phenomenal. She had me intrigued the whole time. She talked about her famous serious of books that became known as the Baxter Family Series. She talked about the time that she was writing one of the books and her husband came into the room and she was crying. He instantly asked her what was wrong and she replied "Irvel died." He gives his sympathy to her and proceeds to ask who Irvel was -- come to find out, it was one of her characters in her book. Well, my curiosity had me and I had to find out who Irvel was.

The first book I set out to read was "Redemption." This book is the first of 5 Baxter family books. I was instantly drawn into the book. Could not put it down. Would you believe that I read that book in less than a week! Would you believe that I ended up 5 days behind on watching my soap because I read at night instead of watching "One Life To Live".

Karen has an amazing way of describing the characters in a way that you know exactly who they are. You feel like you have known the character your entire life. And she does a great job bringing a twist on new on a new story line.

I just finished the final book in the Baxter family series. It was called "Reunion." It was definitely the most intense book of the series for me. Not to give too much away but Elizabeth, the mother, is diagnosed with cancer. Karen does an amazing job detailing Elizabeth's illness and puts you in the minds of all of the characters as they face this trying time as a family. She also does an amazing job introducing the next series of books by incorporating the same Baxter family.

Karen does use lots of scripture in her books - and that I truly enjoy. In this particular book, she uses an analogy that really hit me hard. Here is what she says in the book: this is Elizabeth remembering something her father had told her as a little girl. (I hope I am quoting it correctly since I am taking it from Karen's book!) " ...her father told her, 'Sometimes things just aren't God's will.' And then he'd given her a word picture she remembered still. 'God's will,' he told her, 'is a little like taking a Sunday drive with God behind the wheel. God's driving.'"

" 'He might turn where you don't expect a turn or go through a valley that feels too dark,' her father said. 'But you don't have to worry about a thing, because you're just the passenger. Whatever happens, God will get you home in the end as long as you let him drive.' He patter her on the head. 'That's God's will.' "

These words hit me like a ton of bricks. Keith and I keep praying for a job situation to open up. He gets an inquiry from a church and I instantly start researching. But then we get discouraged when nothing comes about it. These words made me realize that our life is GOD'S WILL - not ours! It is just not God's time for us to be serving in a church. That does not mean that Keith won't get a phone call tomorrow and off we go, but for right now, we are where we are supposed to be. So, I have turned everything over to God and told him "Lord, your driving this car that we are in. Yes, the road may be bumpy at times and we won't like it, but we are with you. We know that you will not take us down a path that we can not handle because we have you on our side. Lord, you have taught us so much over the past month. You showed us that we were too far out in the ocean and you have reeled us in. So - here we are. Take us. Use us. Lead us. Your driving, Lord and we are ready to ride!! We are in the passenger's seat with you driving and we are ready for this adventure you are taking us on!!"

~Randi

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday Wisdom

I'm not sure if you will take much "wisdom" out of today's post, but you will certainly take some laughter with you. My first story will be about Joon with my second about Noah.

Life with Joon is very opposite from life with Ahmed. That is a good thing for me because I miss Ahmed so much! Honestly, my first couple of days with Joon were near emotional for me because it reminded me what it was like to be a family of 4. So - anyway -- not to make any more comparisons. But one I will do is food. Ahmed ate a lot like Keith does. He does not eat many veggies and he will eat any form of chicken. And he did not eat pork - not because he did not like it but because of religion, and I respected it! Well, Joon will try just about anything. Momma and I took him and Noah for an outing on Saturday to sight see downtown Birmingham. We drove through Northside, saw the Alabama Theater, drove through Southside, saw Railroad Park, UAB (hospital and school) and eventually made our way to Dreamland BBQ. We introduced him to good ole southern bbq. He really enjoyed the ribs, bread and sauce, baked beans and potato salad. I have learned with all exchange students not to ask if they like something - they will probably say no as they do not understand what you are asking. This was the case with baked beans - said he didn't like them but ate a 2nd helping. SO - anyway - back to my story. Last night we had a pork tenderloin, pasta salad and fresh veggies. He saw the meat and asked "what is this we eat?" I explained it was called a pork tenderloin. He told me he didn't understand and dummy me said again "pork tenderloin" as if he didn't hear me. DUH! So he looked at me with a huge question look on his face. At that point I realized I needed an explanation of pork but I did not want to say "PIG". He said "well, I will google it later and learn more about it." Then, I  laughed!!! I finally said "PIG" and he said "OH! ok!" Then I explained that it was the same kind of meat as dreamland the other day. Why did I not think of that at first??? I'm sure I scared him when I said "PIG"!

I just wonder how many things is he really not understanding and turning to google for? Then my brain really gets the best of me when I think about how amazed I am that he (and hundreds of other students, Ahmed and Elle included), at 17 years old, packed up and moved half way around the world, away from his family just to be able to go to school here in America. How scared would I be if I had moved to another country, one where you don't completely understand the language; one where you have to trust the people who you are told to live with. What a process. I know that I would pray hard for God's blessing on me or my child. Praying that they would be with a Godly family, one who would take care of them or me as if I or them were their own. Kind of a humbling thought.

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Now to my Noah story. I was in the process of taking Noah to bed last night (about 9:10ish - later than his bedtime!) when his Daddy told me that Noah had mentioned wanting to sleep in his big boy bed. Yes, Noah is 2 1/2 TODAY and he is still sleeping in his crib! Dr. Miller had told us that it was ok to let him sleep in his crib as long as he was not trying to climb out. Fortunately Noah has not tried to climb out once (knock on wood!) Well - Noah heard his Daddy mention "big boy bed" and off he took. He did not listen to the rest of his daddy's words when he said we would take the crib down this weekend. I found myself taking his mattress out of his crib and putting on the toddler bed. Let me tell you - we fought for a hour and a half. I was SO tired. Finally about 10:40 I had had enough and gave him a small dose of benadryl and put the mattress back in the crib. Against his better wishes he finally caved and laid down. I'm not sure if I will try it again tonight (if so, it will be much earlier in the evening!) but I may just wait until Friday night where we can all sleep a little late if need be! And let's just say that I got a lot of reading done in that time frame of waiting on him to try to go to sleep. I sat in his room at his request for 30 minutes or so trying to to talk him into going to sleep. He would get real close and then pop up. Several times he made fake snoring sounds (which sounded so funny!) so that I would think he was asleep. Little stinker!!

So - any words of wisdom from my mommy friends would be greatly appreciated!! I have no idea how to tackle this! Next tackle will be the "b" or paci as some people call it! We keep talking about giving it to Owen when he joins the family in October. I just hope he will leave the "b" at the hospital for Aunt Jennifer to give Owen! BUT I will have a spare just in case!!! If that doesn't work, snip snip for the "b"!!!

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Well, this post ended up being all about wisdom after all! Wisdom of knowing to go look for something or research something that you don't understand (which I admit, I am not good at! Fortunately my bestie is a bestie with Google. I can always count on their tight bond to pull me through!!) And also wisdom that I need from experienced Mommies. We can always count on depending on each other's past experiences for future advice!!!

~Randi

Monday, August 22, 2011

An Artist in the Making

I've realized that I have not done a blog post in a while that is completely dedicated to my child. My sweet baby boy. My goodness, I can not even begin to write about how much I love him. He is my absolute world. I now completely understand why my parents were the way they were with me. We were a very "lovey-dovey" family. We always hugged each other (often for no apparent reason) and we never left each other without an "I Love You" and a kiss goodbye. Even when I was in high school and my dad drove my school bus, I would always lean over and whisper a goodbye with a kiss on the cheek. Now I completely understand. I often wonder how I lived my first 27 1/2 years without my sweet boy. What was my life like? Everyone is starting to put pressure on having another baby but it is just getting good with Noah. I know it is possible, but I can't begin to think about loving another little baby as much as I do Noah. Like I said, I know I would - don't start thinking I'm mental or something. Well, ok - so no smart cracks on that comment. But, you know where I am going. My sweet boy can tell me what he wants and he can do things to help me out.

He started 2K week before last at Noah's Park. I can not believe that my baby will officially be 2 1/2 in 2 days. We laugh at how smart we think he is. I know every parent thinks that their child is the smartest child in the world, but let me tell you, this little one is so smart that it scares me. He is definitely going to keep me on my toes in life. He does things that just amaze me - things I don't think he should be able to do yet. Example: we had parent/teacher chat night last week. It was a time for the parents to come to school to talk to the teachers to get to know them and a time for us to ask our questions. It was not a conference to talk individual students but the teachers did a great job to help personalize some questions to individual kids. One of the questions was regarding drinks at school. I send a cup of apple juice/water for Noah but I also send a little bottle of apple juice in his lunch. Noah is just like his Daddy and is a big drinker. Well, during the chat, the teachers talk about how they handle lunch and drinks and she looks at me and says Noah does great with the bottle in his lunch. Um, excuse me? My child is drinking from the extra juice bottle? without making a mess? Talk about impressive for a 2 1/2 year old. I had no idea. They were not using his cup in his bag thinking it was for when Nina picked him up. But, hey, whatever works!

Another thing they talked about was craft/art time. They stressed the fact that the kids do their own work. They are doing all they can to prepare them for 3K where they will have to do a lot of independent things. One thing they do now is glue by themselves. One of the craft projects they have made was a school bus. All of the school buses were lined up around the room on the correct "lily pad" that had the kid's name on it. I looked around the room amazed at the art. I instantly found Noah's - and what did I do? I did what any other parent would do... I compared it to all of the other school buses around me. My mind instantly had questions. Did the teachers help them? If not, did they show them what they would be making? The teachers start telling stories of glue disasters, parents laughing, but I had to ask. So I did ... "If they kids make the crafts on their own, do you show them what they will be doing and explain it to them?" They answered "yes" - which is what I assumed. The school buses were obviously of all different shapes and forms. Not one school bus looked alike. But let me show you our school bus:

It scares me - it really does. But in a good way of course. My baby's bus was the best one up there. Only one other bus actually looked like a bus. Now, I know Noah's is not perfect but it is as close as I would expect a 2 year old to be. I was very proud. Some of the buses had the windows with 2 on top of the others, the nose of the bus was much higher and the wheels were not even half like Noah's are. I think he did an excellent job!

I am so proud of the little man my buddy is becoming. He is growing up before my very eyes.

Here are 2 other pictures from this week. Noah, Joon and I went to dinner with Nina and Papaw Friday night. Daddy was working for Fun Source Friday and Saturday so it was just us. We walked through Kmart after dinner and Noah found his Christmas present. He is asking Santa for a bike for Christmas -

Yes - he looks at that bike every time we are in Kmart. He walked up and said "Nina, here's my bike!" He went and got the helmet himself but he did need a little help to climb on the bike. I do think he needs to start off with a little smaller bike. But it won't be long before we are here at this size!

Here is another picture of Joon doing his homework. Noah had to do his homework too!!


Joon isn't much for having his picture made -- he would not even let me take a picture of him from The Club with Birmingham in the background. I'm really gonna have to get a picture of us with him before he moves to his permanent family!!!

But until then ... Loving my full full life!!

~Randi

Monday, August 15, 2011

Having fun with a South Korean Norwegian

Joon arrived late Saturday night. He is such a sweetheart! We are quickly adapting to the new normal for a couple of weeks. Poor Joon... he has never been around a toddler, so Noah is being quite the show off of course.

Since Joon arrived so late Saturday night, Sunday was our first real time to spend with him and really get to know him. We took him to church with us and he loved it. He said he likes our church better than a Norwegian church. How cool is that?!?! We left church and headed to Aunt Jennifer's house for a yummy family lunch. We had KFC Fried Chicken, fried okra, squash casserole, fresh black eye peas, and mac n cheese. Can you get any more southern? For dessert, I made brownies with ice cream and a sugar free peach cobbler. I have finally realized that my dad's diabetes is not going to go away so I have decided to start trying a variety of sugar free desserts!

We enjoyed talking to Joon, getting to know him and learn about his family, cultures and country! I am having SO much fun introducing Joon as the exchange student from Norway. Several people have looked at us so funny and have even asked where the blond hair is. HAHA! We explain that he is South Korean but lives in Norway. I have told him he is going to have so much fun with that this year.

He is still so jet lagged - bless his heart. He went to bed super early last night and I know he is still exhausted! Kathy has taken him to the Jefferson County Dept of Health this morning to get his blue form and a tetanus shot. Hopefully he can get registered for school this afternoon or tomorrow morning and then will be ready to go Tuesday or Wednesday. We took him outside to meet the son of our neighbors. Clayton is really sweet and has offered to let Joon ride with him to school -- that would be SUCH a blessing. I hate the thought of Joon on the school bus! But Clayton would also be there to help him find his way around the school. I almost can't imagine the fear of being in a new country, in a new school, not knowing your way around and to have such a language barrier between you. Must be very scary!!

God has brought him this far to Birmingham, Alabama from Norway so I know that he has great plans for him. We are still actively looking for his host family... got a couple of good leads, just praying they can follow through.

We unofficially got a lead on a possible job for Keith this morning. Not sure if it is something or not, but I am gonna pray hard. This would for sure keep us in Birmingham -- and that would be a "God-send" in itself!!

~Randi

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Life's Updates

Gosh - I really thought I would be a better blogger. I have obviously failed! :-( Internet is now better at work (thank goodness) so I hope I will be able to get a blog or two done every now and then. At least a lot sooner then I am now! HAHA!

So - last I wrote it was the weekend for Ahmed to leave. We made it through that painful weekend. It was SO tough!! I never imagine how hard it would be. I cried, and cried and cried. Ahmed left us on Sunday, June 26th and he arrived in Egypt on Saturday, July 2nd. Yes, it was a long week for me. But he is now home and settled. He is trying to figure things out so he can come back in the fall. So far, everything is working against him. We keep praying for things to work out. I keep reminding him to have faith. God is in control.



Keith and I had originally decided this past winter that we would not host a student full time this year. Kathy had told us that instead of being a permanent host family we could be a welcome family.  A welcome family would host the student for their first 6 weeks here. That sounded great to us! We would still be involved with the students but not be committed to a full year of financial responsibility. (Lets face it -- Keith is still without a full time job. Quite honestly, we expected him to be in a job by now!) Some financial things happened in July and Keith and I felt that we could not even be a welcome family. It was such a tough decision, considering we had committed and this student was making plans to be in Clay, Alabama, USA. We prayed and prayed AND PRAYED that God would intervene in the situation and fortunately he did. It was such a relief. Kind of confirmed the decision we had made. Well, Kathy has been unable to find a permanent home for the student so he will be with us for 2 weeks. We are again praying VERY HARD that the family he is supposed to be with will be found. I know God has amazing plans for him, he would not have made it this far if not!!

So, let me tell you a little bit about Joon, since he will be with us a short time!!
This is Joon. He is from Norway -- now, I know what you are thinking. He looks a little Asian and not Norwegian. And you are correct. Joon is actually originally from South Korea but his family moved to Norway because of jobs. As you can tell from the picture, he loves photography. He also loves to play soccer. I know -- as Ahmed calls me "Soccer Mom" I need to get used to the fact that I will forever be a "soccer mom". I just need the minivan to go with the title. Literally, I NEED the van! Haha!

So, today is Thursday, August 11th and Joon is leaving Norway. It will take him 3 days to arrive in Birmingham. I am not sure of his flight schedule - wish I did so that I could follow him - but I know he arrives in Nashville Saturday afternoon and he will be in Birmingham that night. He starts school on Monday - I think - but I am not sure of the registration process. I have never been through this side of it.

I think the thing that I am most excited about is being the family that Joon is excited to meet. We have made small chit chat over facebook - planned to Skype, but that never worked out. I am SO nervous about getting attached (like I got with Ahmed) but I keep telling myself that I have to do what is best for my family. Noah comes first! But, I also keep praying that God gives us a loving, Christian family for Joon that happens to be in the Clay area. Keith and I will become his "aunt/uncle" when he gets to his new family, so we will still be involved with his year here in America.

So, I guess you would like some updates on Keith and the job situation. As I said, he is still without a full time job. Yes, it is easy to become very discouraged, but we know that the perfect job is there somewhere and it is gonna be incredible when we get there. He still has his resume all over the place at different churches. He even had a phone interview with one church. We were waiting on a phone interview with the senior pastor but that never happened. We do know that the church has recently hired a youth guy as well, so I keep saying they have put the childrens search on hold. He has answered questions for 2 other churches - all at the same time. It is so amazing to realize that Keith's resume is getting so much attention with these churches but nothing is following through. So we keep praying. He does have an interview today with Lifeway Christian Bookstores. We are very excited about it but I'm wondering if that is necessarily a good thing. I mean, have you seen the awesome things that Lifeway has. HAHA!!

My baby boy is all grown up -- just about. He started 2K yesterday at Noah's Park. We are potty training, which is frustrating by the way. We have good days and then not so good days. Papaw keeps telling me that you do not see 1st graders in diapers and it will come with time. My baby boy will be 2 1/2 in less than 2 weeks. :-( He is talking so much now and having conversations and telling me what he wants and doesn't want. Its like he changed over night! He is definitely all boy! He loves his hot wheels and monster trucks and anything that is a ball. I am hoping he can play rag ball at Clay next Spring!! Yay for being a ball park mom!! (See - even more reason that I need the soccer mom van!)

I guess I have made my post long enough for now. I promise to keep better updated -- hopefully with some awesome news here soon!

Keep us in your prayers as we still determine God's plans for our family. And keep all of the exchange students in your prayers as they leave their families to come to America for a year!

~Randi

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Dreaded Weekend

Well, it's here. The weekend that I have dreaded for the last 6 months. In 2 short days, Ahmed will leave us and begin his journey home to Egypt. Actually, it is less than 36 hours. My gosh - where has the time gone.

Why am I blogging when we have such few time left, well, it is 10:45p on a Friday and he is out with friends. My heart hurts when I think about the pain that will come so soon. I know he has to leave, but that does not make it any easier.

The last 6 months have been incredible. Better than I imagined. But I am not going to lie. There have been a few trying times, but nothing that we couldn't make it through.

We have experienced so much... and yes, I have lots of pictures to post... but we have had some major computer issues. 2 laptops are now down, 1 with a cracked screen, yikes, and the other now has a major virus, double eek!! We have had to revolt back to the good old classic desktop that is slow as Christmas. I do promise to get some pics loaded real soon.

So much has been happening the last couple of months. Keith is still very actively searching for that full time ministry position. We know that it will come in God's timing. But like I have said in the past, patience is not my best virtue. There was a position open recently that we all just knew was the perfect position for Keith. No seriously, I don't think there could have been a more perfect one. Well, I guess there is one out there, just haven't found it yet. But anyway ... this position was with a well know Baptist Association and it happened to be the Marketing Director. It was the perfect mix of ministry work with TONS of churches plus marketing, photography and videography - all of Keith's years of experience. There were 6 up for the position, then down to 5, then down to 3 and quickly narrowed to 2. Keith was one of those 2. Our prayers were strong but that was not obviously God's plan. We soon received a letter that said they had chosen the other candidate. Of course we were heartbroken. Just devastated.

I knew at that instant that the chances of us staying in Bham were slim to none. Or, should I say, I knew the chances of us having to move from Birmingham were higher. Oh the pressure. Well, just a few short days from receiving the letter, Keith got a set of questions to answer from a church that had previously emailed him. Then he got an email from another church asking if he was still looking for a position. Then a 2nd set of questions came from a 3rd church. Wow, Lord, is this really happening? We had gone so many months with no response and all of a sudden 3 different churches interested in 3 different cities and states.

So much is happening so fast that who knows where we will be. It scares me SO much to move from Birmingham, but I know that God will help calm those fears if that is the plan he has for us!

But for now, we focus on our last time with Ahmed, spend some much needed quality time with Noah and then prepare for our next student who will come in August. No, we are not hosting full time next year, again, a much needed break, but we will have a student for 6 weeks and for that, I am excited. We have just about decided that we love hosting and know that is a great ministry for our family, but will probably be something we consider every other year so that we can also focus on our little family.

Please keep Ahmed in your prayers over the next week. He leaves Birmingham on Sunday and heads to Nashville. From Nashville, he will fly to Washington, D.C. He spends a short time in D.C. then travels by bus to NYC where he waits on his plane to Germany and then to Egypt. It will take him a full week to return to Egypt - yikes!!

Please also keep Noah (and our family) in your prayers. We have gotten quite attached to Ahmed and it is going to be so hard to say goodbye. We do not know when we will see him again. Could be just a few months, could be years, could be ... well, I won't go there. But Noah has gotten attached to his "bro" and I almost dread explaining Ahmed having to go home to his Mommy. In Noah's eyes, I am Ahmed's Mommy. And pray for Maggie -- she's fully accepted Ahmed into her "pack" by not eating her dinner until everyone is home for the night. She may not eat for a couple of days and I'm really nervous. Guess that will mean extra treats for Maggie!!

Well, good night, friends. My Ahmed has gotten home and I'm off to tell him goodnight for the next to last time!! (sniff, sniff!)

~Randi

Sunday, June 19, 2011

By God's Grace

I have yet again failed at the blogging world. I specifically created this blog to tell about our family, brain thoughts that I have, our family ministry, and the experiences/challenges of hosting an exchange student in our home. I feel like I have done none of that. So, where do I start?

Since I have last blogs, life has been a whirlwind. A major natural disaster hit our home state, and let me tell you, that has totally changed my thoughts. I sit here in the comfort of my home, typing/writing my blog and yet my home should not be here today. It is only here because of God's AMAZING GRACE! A major tornado came through Alabama on April 27th. Just 10 days after my last blog post. April 27, 2011 will forever be a day that I remember vividly. Weather people kept predicting that weather would be bad that day. Then it progressed to a moderate risk of sever weather. We left work at noon so that everyone could get out of the warehouse before the storms. Moonwalks are not first priority when they are talking about tornadoes. School was obviously closed that day, as it is when it either snows 2 flakes or tornadoes. Keith, Noah, Maggie and Ahmed had already packed up and headed to Gigi's house earlier in the day. Storms started off pretty bad that morning causing our power to be out. I left work and swung by the house to get a few additional things - diapers, wipes, juice, and Bo, my beloved stuffed dog. I headed to Gigi's for a day of waiting and weather watching. We do not have a basement at our house, which I hope to have resolved in the near future, so we head to Gigi's so that  we can get to a basement if need be. It was about 3:30/4p when we needed to get to the basement. We watched the tv as a tornado tore apart Tuscaloosa. It was probably the most frightening thing to watch. My bestie lives in T-town and it was horrible to watch this F5 vicious animal rip through the town. We headed to John and Melissa's house for cover! Dorinda, Jamie and Meghan were on a bus headed to NYC for a band trip. I kept her up to date on the weather, often texting her pictures that I had taken from the tv. Dorinda called to ask where we were and if we were ok. I told her that the tornado was headed straight for Trussville. It was probably in the Pleasant Grove area at this time, completely shredding an entire community. My sister told me to please be careful and that she loved me very much. I hung up the phone with tears in my eyes, swallowing a huge lump in my throat. I honestly did not know if my sister would ever talk to me again. We hunkered down in Melissa's basement. Pillows all around us. My bag of "items" was around my arm, Maggie's leash held tight in my hand, and Noah in front of me, ready to lay on top of him when the time came. I knew it was coming, just a matter of time. GrandDanny, Keith, Ahmed and John stood at the door, watching the weather on the tv in anticipation. Hoping they could give us a 30 second heads up. The sound came but the boys never came in the room. I never had to lay on my child. Keith said that he heard the freight train as it crossed in the sky above us. Ahmed said that was the most terrifying thing he had heard. (What a story to go back and tell in Egypt.)

It eventually passed. We walked outside to a very grey area. It was the calmest I had ever seen outside. Very eery. Almost indescribable. My phone would not let me call out to family. I borrowed a phone to call Mom and Dad and let them know that we were ok. They were manning a storm shelter in Lincoln, where a tornado had gone earlier in the day. I was unable to call Dorinda to let her know that we were alive and well. She finally did check-in a little while later ... but she called me scared to death. Someone on the trip had found out that there was tornado damage on Old Springville Road, the road we live off of. When she told me this news, all I could say was, "oh, I don't doubt it." Finally, she said, "no, Randi, we've heard that (our neighborhood) had been destroyed." I silenced myself for a second. I finally replied with "I'm sure that it is. (Again, swallowing lumps in my throat...) It's just a house. We are a live, that's all that matters, house can be replaced but we can not." Keith, GrandDanny and Ahmed rushed in the car to discover that our house was perfectly fine. Not a tree was down. We have no idea where the wrong information came from, but it didn't matter. We still had a home to go to. So many others were not so fortunate.

What we later found out was the tornado came through Tuscaloosa, came through Pleasant Grove, went through Pratt City and then Fultondale. It hit the ridge/mountain between Fultondale and Pinson, right by my office, and picked up in the sky. It stayed up in the air and came back down in Ashville, again where it destroyed communities. This massive killer tornado went above our house. In one day, we could have (and should have) lost our home and my job. Fortunately, both were spared. Only by the Grace of God!!!

We spent the next several days picking up tornado debris from our backyard. This massive thing destroyed these other cities and threw parts of houses down in our yard. We found some paper from Tuscaloosa in our yard, and pieces of roof, shingles, wall paper.... even more eye opening several days later.

Thank you, Lord, for your hand around us. Instances like this reminds us that only God is in control, we are not.

~Randi

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I think I fell off the face of the planet....

...and I'm sure you think I did. Wow.I was blogging every day there for a while and now it has been 3 weeks, almost a month since I have blogged. - Goodness. So, where do I begin???

Life has been, well, a little crazy latey. I have been out of town more in the last month than ... ever, it seems like. I was in Gatlinburg in March with mom and dad's church, then 2 weeks later in Mobile with Meghan, Dorinda and Jonica and then the next week in South Carolina for Esther's wedding. I spent more weekend nights in a hotel room in a month then I did at my house. That has got to be some kind of a record. Ok, no not really but it sure is a record for me.

Mobile was pretty incredible. My sisters, Meghan and I did something that we have never done before in our lives. It was a wonderful first of many to come! We left after work and school that Friday and headed South on 65. My sweet Meghan graduates from high school in a short 5 weeks. I can not believe it. I am in such disbelief! She has decided to attend the University of South Alabama. USA was having a college preview day and she was just dying to show Jonica and I the campus - so, off we went! It is such a beautiful campus. I am really excited for her (and jealous at the same time. A good jealous, might I add!!) I never experienced the "going off to college" so I am thrilled that Meghan will be. I do worry about her. It will be such an adjustment for all of us. I just pray that she finds good Christian friends, and great Christian roommate and all that goes with it!! I pray that she does really well down there!!

Last weekend was the FIRST TIME ever that both Keith and I left Noah. Believe it or not, we actually did really good. I think being gone the other weekends helped me, but then it was hard to be gone again. I was so honored to be standing with Esther on her wedding day. We had a blast! Keith and I headed to Greenville, SC on Friday. Enjoyed a wonderful dinner with Esther, Sarah (her sister), Ava and Max (Esther's amazing kids), her friend, Hope and her Dad and Step-Mom. We headed for the rehearsal and then to Esther's house for dessert. Esther asked Keith and I to stay at her houseFriday night and I am so glad that we did. It gave Esther and I more time to enjoy each others company! I will add.... Esther's neighbor has a rooster. Yes, you read that right. A rooster! The rooster started crowing about 4:30 AM and did not stop until after I got out of bed at 8:30. In the city of Greenville, a pet rooster. The FRIENDS episode with the chicken and the duck and the chicken is going through some "changes" and it starts crowing and wakes Rachel up -- yeah, that's what I felt like. It is so funny -- only Esther can get away with living by someone with a rooster!

The day continued with a much needed girls trip to the spa. We enjoyed AMAZING facials and hair appointments. It was so much fun being the one that got pampered. I did not know how to act. The wedding was beautiful, of course. The reception --- oh my gosh, was wonderful. We were greated at The Lazy Goat with horsdeurves and champagne. It was a true cocktail hour. Dinner was served - it was almost a 3 course dinner. We had a wonderful salad then the main entree. Of course, dessert was a wonderful red velvet, absolutely beautfiul wedding cake. Keith did manage to take some pictures for me, so I will post them when I get them from him ... which may be never!! :-(

Life is over all pretty good right now. We have a beach trip coming up in May so we are looking forward to it. Keith has sent in his resume to a local place -- we are really praying hard for this one. It would be TOO PERFECT!!! Please keep us in your prayers that this may be the answer. I know that he has started getting discouraged, but he must press forward. He has sent his resume to at least 50 different Baptist Associations in the Southeast. He has gotten several phone calls, several emails but nothing is panning out. We feel that we are where God needs us but we are not sure about the job situation. Something must change, so we continue to pray!!!

We hope you are doing good. We would love to hear from you. Leave us a comment and tell us how you are!!

Much love to you!

~Randi, Keith, Noah, Maggie & Ahmed

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Unfinished Story

Hi My Friends!!
I have been MIA for the last couple of weeks and I have truly missed my blogging time. Crazy, I know... but for some reason I have found a true love with blogging and it has bothered me that I have not been able to write. Work has gotten VERY busy (thank goodness!) and our internet at work is not working right so our internet usage is limited to business only!

I've had a post thought on my brain and heart for a couple of weeks now but just have not had the time to share it. Keith and I often get into deep conversations, as I guess most married couples do. It is no secret that God has called Keith and I into the ministry. I say "I" because as Pastor Ron says, God calls the wife to minister as well. I have truly felt this calling lately - and I am VERY excited about. I really am. Again, my issue is PATIENCE! I have none! Zero. Zilch. Nada! My momma will tell you that I have always wanted what I wanted yesterday ... and if it is something that I really want, then I will do nothing until I get it. Sadly, she is correct. The good thing is once I put my mind to it, it will be accomplished! But this is a totally different situation. I am SO ready for Keith and I to be in a church, whether it be here in Birmingham or in Texas (I say Texas because that is really as far away that I want to think about being.) I am ready to be there. I don't know where God will have us land, but I am ready!!!

Keith and I recently moved our membership back home, to Huffman Baptist, and God is doing glorious things for us there now. We are prayerfully considering starting a new Sunday School class for "our age" - those who do not fit in with the college and career but those who do not fit into the Young Adult 3 group. Don't get me wrong, we love the people of Young Adult 3 - but for someone who is fresh out of college does not belong in a SS class with 36 year olds with 2 kids. Personalities do not fit. Keith and I learned so much about each other when we were at CrossPoint in a SS class with 15 couples our age, in the same points in life we were in. It makes a huge difference in not only your Christian walk with Christ, but also in our marriage. We learned that there were other couples who struggled daily in their marriage. DO NOT GET ME WRONG -- Keith and I did not and do not have marital struggles, but every marriage struggles in finances at some point or personality conflict, or "he doesn't put the toilet seat down in the bathroom". It was comforting to know that other marriages also have hard times!

Keith is fully involved in Children's Church and Children's Choir, I am on the newly formed Women's Ministry team - and loving it and Noah is having a blast playing with Jake at church each Sunday. He has recently learned how to give his offering each Sunday -- it is SO precious watching him give Mrs. Linda his envelope each Sunday. I am honored to be able to teach him this.

I say all this to say this ... who knows where we will be this time next year. Who knows where we will be in 6 months. God knows! Keith and I keep telling each other to be positive each day. We had a conversation a while back talking about our ministry. I mentioned to him that I don't have an "exciting testimony", at least I thought. Keith helped me realize that I do have an exciting testimony and God is not through with it yet. He is still building it. Keith and I can not wait to minister to young couples one day to tell them our stories of failed businesses and financial struggles and the positive of overcoming it all. (Side note: we have not overcome all of it by any means - I am still paying off a business and will be for a while!!) But God is still building our story!

I went to Gatlinburg this past weekend with Mt. Calavary (mom and dad's church) and had a blast. It was 12 women, me included ready for a Women's Weekend Getaway. It was incredible. Friday night started off with a wonderful worship service and ended with Donna Gaines speaking to us. Saturday was Donna again as well as a Christian female comedian. Sunday was again, a wonderful worship service with Karen Kingsbury speaking. Both Donna and Karen did an amazing job. I sat there just amazed listening to these women. God has used them in incredible ways. Donna is the wife of a pastor of a very fast growing church and Karen is a Christian fiction novelist. I thought about this possibly could be me one day. Who knows. (I just pray that if it is, God, please give me the words to say. I don't know what I would say -- but then again, look at the length of this post. HaHa!) My point is ... my story is not finished yet. God has some INCREDIBLE things to come for me and my family. I feel it. I know it. Don't know what or where it is but I am ready to tackle it and all that is to come with it!!

Please keep us in your prayers. Please pray that Keith and I do stay positive each and every day. Please pray that God is preparing the hearts of where he will have us serve. Please pray for our hearts that they are prepared for what is to come. Pray for our families to be open and receptive - for in case it is further than Texas (haha!). Lord, we are ready. Use us as you would have us!!

In HIS Service!!

~Randi, Keith, Noah and Maggie

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Kids Say the Cutest Things!!!

Keith often laughs at me because I always say "Oh, I can't wait until Noah does ____." And then when we reach that milestone Keith says "And you couldn't wait until he did ____." Somehow it always bits me. People did look at me crazy when I said I couldn't wait for Noah to walk -- it seriously made life so much easier!! My latest one was "I can't wait until Noah really starts talking." That one quickly turned to the "I can't wait until Noah really starts saying cute/funny things" --- Well, it finally happened.

Let me show you the picture first:
You might recognize this plate if you have ever been to an Applebee's Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser. Applebee's lets schools or church groups come in a wait tables at breakfast to raise money. The Clay Chalkville Band does a fundraiser each year so we loaded up and went Saturday morning since this would be our last one to support Meghan for. $5 pancakes and sausage breakfast -- not too bad. Not bad at all when you go at the end and the weather has kept people away and it becomes an all you can eat pancake breakfast!!! Noah was excited to go eat "cancakes" with Aunt Rinda, Nina and Papaw. Our plate came with an extra "cancake" and sausage for Noah. Ok - look at the plate really well before I tell you the next part. I took the 3rd pancake and 3rd sausage and put it on his plate. He looked at his plate intently. I tore apart his pancake, drizzled a little syrup on it and told him to eat. He pointed at the sausage and said "woof-woof poopie." (He calls Maggie woof-woof.)  We just died laughing. He could not figure out why Mommy had put woof-woof poopie on his plate. And when you go back and look at the picture - it really does look like "woof-woof poopie". Oh my goodness -- we had tears we were laughing so hard. Aunt Rinda prayed that the cook did not hear us!!! And needless to say -- Noah did not eat any of his breakfast!! Nina worries about him now trying to pick up "woof-woof poopie" from the back yard and eat it -- Oh, I hope not!!

So, here it was -- my son finally said his first "cutest thing" and I was so excited.

Saturday ended up being such a wonderful day!! Nina, Meghan, Noah and I left Applebees and went on an adventure. We went to the sewing place in Trussville (where my newest addiction took place) then headed to David's Bridal -- I am in Esther's wedding in 4 weeks and HAD to get my dress!!! We left David's Bridal - had a wonderful lunch at Wings (yes, I know, none of my food Saturday was on Weight Watchers) and then back to JoAnn's Fabrics. My mother, being the brilliant woman that she is, has thought of an wonderful thing --- now it is my job to take her vision and turn it into a reality. So, I have been busy learning to sew and trying to create this "thing". I'm not gonna say what it is yet because if it works, we want to market it!! OH - but I am SO excited about it!!!! That night, Momma, Meghan and I played with the sewing machine (oh, and Keith and Dad because we couldn't figure it out by ourselves). It was soon time for Noah's bath and you will never guess what he did -- HE TEE-TEED IN THE POTTY FOR THE FIRST TIME!!! Let's just say there was TONS of excitement in our house. I was thrilled -- beyond thrilled. He has not done it since but I am just going to keep trying!!!!

~Randi

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

This Supermom is TIRED

Do you ever get SO tired of playing Supermom?? I feel so guilty for wanting just 1 day to myself. Don't get me wrong -- I love my little buddy with all of my heart and would not trade one thing for him. I am not even sure how I lived life without him. Keith and I often talk that we are not sure we could do it that perfect again. But this momma is exhausted. I am so tired of doing for everyone that I want someone to do for me. Again - don't get me wrong, my Momma (above all) does so much for me, and like Noah, would not trade anything for her. But, wow!!!

Yesterday was a trying day! Keith woke up sick with a fever (a fever virus obviously since Noah had one) and all wives would probably agree that when the husband is sick - just go ahead and put him in the hospital. He wasn't that bad of a patient but still, just in general!! So - I had to rearrange my morning and take Noah to GiGi's house - which ran me late for work, SORRY FUN SOURCE!! I had a busy day at work - thank goodness, had to make a trip to City Hall to drop something off - but an overall good day at work. I left here at 5 going to pick up Noah. Ahmed had a soccer game at Shades Valley that was supposed to start at 5. I knew that Noah and I would be late to the game, but that was ok. Ahmed only plays the last part of the game so timing was going to work out perfectly. I have come to enjoy the soccer games, and I am slowly figuring it out but 2 - 40 minute halves with a 2 year old is quite the challenge. Noah and I got to Shades Valley about 6:15 - which should have been about 25 minutes left in the game. Boy was I wrong. I walk up and they have 35 minutes left in the first half -- we had only missed about 4 minutes of the game. Thank goodness Noah and I didn't get there at 5:30. Noah and I sat in the bleachers as long as we could - made it until 25 minutes left in the game and had to go sit in the car. It was too cold for Noah and I to sit outside - especially with Noah just getting over the fever virus! We were excited to see that Clay won 2-0. We left Shades Valley about 8 pm, went back to GiGi's house to get Maggie (aka: pretty pretty princess) and headed to Publix to get something to cook for dinner. We got home about 8:40, cooked dinner and ate and cleaned the kitchen. Then got Noah in the bed, changed the sheets on the bed and crawled in bed myself. I was exhausted. THEN, of course, it was one of those nights where Noah wakes up at 4:30 and falls back asleep in the bed with me at 6:30 - just as the alarm was going off. Go figure.

So, I am dragging today!! Keith and I have tickets to see RAIN tonight, I think I told you that yesterday, but I know that tonight will be a late night. We have soccer again tomorrow night at Spain Park and THEN IT'S FRIDAY!! Yay!!

Saturday will be spent looking at bridesmaids dresses for a bestie's wedding in April and pattern shopping for a sewing class that I go to on Monday. Still busy as a bee!!!

I know I am ranting and raving and I shouldn't be, but MAN am I down today! I keep telling myself that this is again the ENEMY working on me and I feel like I am letting him win. I read a friends blog today... she and her family have just recently became foster parents and her post talks about highs and lows to fostering, excitement from friends and family and then negative comments from friends and family. She is using this opportunity as a ministry for the kids and families of these fosters. How amazing - what a reminder it was to me to keep going. Check out Catie's blog if you would like.

I've got just another bump in the road -- I will climb this mountain and make it successfully over!!!

~Randi

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits

I hope this b-e-a-utiful March day finds you doing well!! It is absolutely gorgeous weather here in 'Bama and I only wish I that I could be outside with my little man playing in the weather!!!

  • We've had a crazy weekend. Noah ended up sick with what we can only assume to be the FEVER VIRUS!! He "threw up" a couple of times in the middle of the night Friday night/Saturday morning but it was only really congestion that he threw up. He had 1 really bad diaper Saturday morning and then was fine the entire day. He went down for his nap about 1 pm - fought all the way down but he was told that he could not go to Shawn's birthday until he had a nap. Well, he woke up with a fever of 100 and kept the fever until last night. 48 hours with a fever was crazy. The weirdest part was he kept eating, kept drinking and kept playing. The fever never slowed him down -- just caused him to be at home a lot. So, needless to say, we sadly missed Shawn's birthday. We missed his first birthday, obviously, because Noah was only 4 days old and I was not in physical shape to go to a birthday party! I was so devastated because this was a very special birthday. 2 of Shawn's biological half siblings were there with their families and I really wanted to meet them. :-( Oh, well, hopefully next year.

  • Keith is now sick. BOO! Don't you hate it when the man is sick. Makes everything so terrible. Doesn't matter that Mommy has to keep going when she is sick but Daddy, NO! Well, he woke up in the middle of the night with a 101.? fever and it has finally dropped to the 99s. Hopefully his is just this fever virus but I am praying it doesn't stick around as long as Noah's did. Keith and I have tickets to see RAIN tomorrow night at the BJCC. This is in celebration of his birthday and this is also as close as he will ever get to a Beatles concert. So I am REALLY praying that this virus leaves his body and does not come anywhere near mine!!!

  • Keith also got an inquiry from a church but this time it is for a Youth Pastor. He is starting to wonder if God is trying to tell him something??? I did mention that I could relate to youth really well -- I mean, I think we have done a decent job since Ahmed moved in. Keith is excellent with youth boys. He had done a great job coaching a senior high basketball team at CrossPoint and the boys really respect him. I reminded him of this yesterday and he agreed and had not thought about it that way. My concern with this particular church is that it is only part time and it is a little bit of a drive from our house - so I have no idea. I don't really want to move to the "other side of town" - especially for a part time position. But I am keeping an open mind that if this is where God has us, then my heart will be softened! Keith also sent his resume in to a church that is not in our area and would require a move --- but, again, we will see!! We both feel God's calling to the ministry, we just have to figure out where and what it is. I know that God has great things in store for us and our ministry. We are very excited about it and ready to get moving on it!!

  • I have started a new adventure today --- not sure where or how far it will go!! I saw a new direct sales jewelry company is making their debut this month and people can sign up to be a consultant for FREE!! No parties, no inventory, just your website. So, I signed up. Just thought what did I have to loose?? Nothing!! The company is Bamboo Pink and my website is www.bamboopink.net/randi. Check it out and see what you think. There are no prices or individual products on there yet. If you think you might be interested in selling, there is a link on my website and you can be in my "downline". I know that we will have so much fun trying this out together!!!!

  • SO - I am addicted to THE BACHELOR if you didn't know already. I have watched almost every season since it came on. There were a couple of seasons that didn't interest me but now the producers have figured out how to keep it interesting and bringing back the next Bachelor/Bachelorette from the previous season. It really keeps my interest going. I spend each Monday night narrating the episode via email for my cousin, Angie. She is a country music dj in North Carolina and her show is bright and early in the morning so she can not stay up that late to watch every episode. I have SO much fun giving my input on the show for her to use in her own show. I only wish I could listen to her to see what she has to say! :-) I was SO happy to see Ashley leave last night. She definitely grew on me through the season but she was not my favorite pick for Brad. I was very happy that the finale comes down to Chantel O and Emily. Emily is by far my favorite pick but I do think that Chantel will make the better choice for Brad. Emily is so sweet and so precious and SO beautiful but I am not sure that their lifestyles will click. Chantel -- I can definitely see her packing up and moving to Austin and starting a new life there. It is very obvious that she comes from money so I am sure that she can easily move. I know Emily has some money too - it is kind of obvious considering who the grandparents of her daughter are!! Um, can we say multi, multi MULTI billionaires! Not millionaires but BILLionaires!!

I guess I have bored you enough with tidbits of life!! Ahmed has a soccer game this afternoon so Noah and I will be headed to Shades Valley to yell "GO BLUE" and "Yea #7"!! Noah has his 2 year "well baby check up scheduled for Friday -- I will be excited to see how big my baby has grown in 2 years and hear what his expected size will be!!!

I hope you enjoy the rest of your afternoon!!!
 
~Randi

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Baby Story -- Part 3 -- Happy Birthday, Noah!!

The procedure that Dr. Snowden performed did trigger my labor - but I was totally ignorant to notice what it was! How dumb do I feel now?? I spent the weekend not feeling too good but decided that I had to keep going. I remember going to church on Sunday, the 22nd - GEORGE WASHINGTON'S BIRTHDAY. We were in the worship service when I noticed something felt a little weird. Didn't really think 2 things about it. Went to the bathroom in between worship and Sunday School (because we went to worship first at 9:30 and then Sunday School at 10:45.) I wanted to go to the bathroom just to make sure everything was ok -- make sure I wasn't bleeding everywhere. It NEVER occurred to me that my water may have just broken. I did not experience a "gush" like I thought. You know, tv always makes it so dramatic and not to mention a friend of mine delivered a preemie 10 weeks early the September before and she had "the gush". We went on to Sunday School and I am not sure where we went from there honestly. I remember waking up that next day, kind of having the same "little issue" and it finally occurred to me -- what if it is water leaking. I mentioned it to Keith and he said that he didn't know - only I would know that. Hum - the typical boy answer. We got ready and headed on to Bubbles & Bells, taking Maggie with us. I decided to call the doctor and they asked me to come in around 2 pm - which was just a couple of hours later. We didn't want to tell the family and get everyone excited for nothing. We obviously had to tell my dad - since he works in the store with us and since we had Maggie. Kind of needed to get a game plan if I was admitted.

We headed off to the doctor to see not my doctor but another one who had just returned from her own maternity leave that day. She examined me - asked me why I thought my water had broken, told me no, there were no signs of amniotic fluid, sent me on my way and said to come back for my scheduled 8 am appt the next day. I went home SO disappointed - and let me tell you - I do not like that doctor!! We went back to Bubbles & Bells, grabbed Maggie and other items that we needed and told Dad that we did not feel like working anymore that day -- yes, that was the advantage to owning your own business that I miss dearly! We stopped by the grocery store, picked up food for soft tacos for dinner and headed home. It was such a leisurely night at home. I remember sitting on the couch with Maggie, curled up and we had girl time and watched The Bachelor. We finally did tell our family that we had been to the doctor but did not obviously receive the news we wanted to hear.

It was an early to bed night for me since I had to be back at the doctor at 8 am. Let me tell you - I was so glad that I went to bed early. I woke up around 2:30 am with a weird pain and rushed to the bathroom. Kind of felt like I was going to be sick but not throwing up. I kind of went, hum?? and went back to bed. A few minutes later, I had the same pain. I just laid there, again going hum?? I looked at the clock to see what time it was - 2:40 am. I just laid there. Again, a few minutes later - the same pain. The clock now said 2:49. I was having contractions and they were 9 minutes apart. I remember in baby class the nurse telling us that labor is a long process - a person would usually labor at home for several hours with contractions 20-30 minutes apart and they were starting at 9 minutes apart? The nurse also told us to come to the hospital when they got 10 minutes apart. I decided to wake up Keith - or better yet, attempt to wake up Keith. It was a harder task then I thought. I do remember Maggie waking up but she must have had the instinct going on because she got under the covers and hid. Some help she was. I finally got Keith awake by basically yelling - I'M HAVING CONTRACTIONS. He asked if I was sure -- um, ya think? Every 9 minutes I have a "party" in my tummy?? Yes, I'm sure. We watched for a few episodes and then called the hospital. They asked how far away we lived, told them 25 minutes and she said we needed to head on towards the hospital to be sure we missed rush hour -- keep in mind, it was 3:30ish by this point. Rush hour - are you kidding me? I begged to take a quick shower and wash my hair and you know - Keith wouldn't let me. That is my one regret the entire day! He was hilarious though - "the nurse said we needed to come on now. we have got to go." Blah! Ok - whatever!

So we got dressed, grabbed the bags, double checked the list that I had made to make sure we had everything and we headed out the door. Poor Maggie did not understand why we got out of the comfy king-sized bed in the middle of the night and she had to be put into her crate. It just was not fair. I gave her lots of kisses, told her she would have to be a big girl in her bedroom a lot today and told her that when she saw Mommy next, she would have a baby brother. Off we went.

We decided to call the parents on the way - just to give them a heads up. The entire pregnancy - Keith kept talking about wanting to call the family in the middle of the night - and that is just what he did! 4:15 am and he calls GiGi and GrandDanny and Papaw. Nina was at Grandma's house that night so Papaw waited about a hour to call her. Keith also wanted to turn the emergency flashers on as we headed down the freeway -- with no other cars and he even wanted to run some red lights -after making sure it was clear. He had the full "father driving the mother to the hospital" experience!!

We got there to find out that I was having contractions but was not dilated enough for them to formally admit me. The nurse suggested that we walk the halls for 30 minutes or so then come back and be checked again. If still not to 3 cm, then walk some more. They didn't want me to leave the hospital since we lived 25 minutes away and rush hour really would be here soon. We started wondering - where will we go if they make me leave?? We started walking and I soon saw my dad pulling into the hospital. He came up and walked the halls with us -- said he was home alone and was wide awake and decided he would just come on over with us. I remember walking and walking and walking - leaning up against the wall during the contractions - breathing. Finally my 30 minutes were up and we headed back to the room. It was somewhere between 6 and 6:30 now and I was at 3 cm - Praise The Lord - I was having the baby today and they could admit me.

We made more phone calls - I called Dorinda first - and she panicked! Why? Because Meghan had colorgurard tryouts THAT DAY - Seriously!! She was excited though - Meghan cried because she couldn't be there. I called Jonica - she was ready to come but had to get Shawn situated. I text messaged Jen, Jennifer and Carlie! We were on our way - ready to have a baby!!

My nurses were great! I was privileged to have 2 LDR nurses - one was Dani and I honestly do not remember the name of the other one - I know I have it written down at home, but she was wonderful. She was new to St. Vincents Hospital so she sat right there with me the whole day watching my progress! Dr. Lassiter came in and said that she would be my delivering doctor and she proceeded to break my water. I started telling her my water situation and guess what - when she broke it, there was NO water!! Hum, was I right or was I right?? I know I didn't go to med school, but I knew that was my water yesterday when Dr. Heaton treated me ugly!

I had my epidural soon after and I was well on my way to feeling GOOD!! The epidural did not do so hot with my blood pressure - so they made me lie all the way down on my side for an hour. We talked Keith into going to get some food and mom stayed there with me while I tried to rest. Dr. Lassiter didn't like my readings either - she was monitoring me from her office upstairs - so she came to check me out. Apparently Noah was too high up in me... because of lack of water to bring him down!! Noah wasn't handling everything too well either, so she wanted to head on to c-section. Dani was in there at the time and begged Dr. Lassiter to give us 30 more minutes -- she wanted to try to flush me with bagged fluid and see if she could get Noah to slide on down a little bit. Thank goodness it worked -- within 30 minutes he was low enough and I had so much pressure that I was ready to push.

They were prepping me when Jonica rolled in on 2 wheels - literally. She had decided to stop by her office to finish something that had to be done that day - and everything kind of progressed so quickly that she was almost late. She made it just in time to give me loves and then they kicked everyone out of my room. Let me tell you -- if you know me well enough, you know that I do not like to miss anything. St. Vincents was genius when they first created the birthing suites that also serves as your room post delivery. It was wonderful being able to have my entire family in there while I labored! You know I would not have handled it well having everyone in the waiting room and me not knowing what was going on!!

I started pushing about 1:30-1:40. Dani was such a trooper working with me while I pushed -- she definitely knows the tricks of the trade!! She had me ready when Dr. Lassiter came in that basically she just had to catch! Noah was born at 2:31 pm weighing in a 8 lbs and 21 1/4 inches long and RED HAIR!!

The nurses began all of their work on him while Dr. Lassiter completed what she needed to with me. What I did not realize was Noah was not doing so hot on his breathing. The lack of water was really getting to him. Keith said he did look a funny color, thank goodness I was clueless! The nurses wanted to take him straight to NICU but Dani came thru once again. She wanted to try the mother/baby skin to skin thing and see if he would calm down. She unwrapped him and placed him on my bare chest and told me to talk to him. Sure enough, within a few minutes, he was calm and his breathing regulated. Dani was SO amazing and spared us so much! I will forever be grateful to her!

I wanted to feed Noah before everyone came in. In the process of trying to nurse for the first time - someone knocked on the door. The nurse opened it and it was my Nanny. I will never forget it. She told them who she was, she was a retired nurse and her Granddaughter had just given birth. The nurse asked if it was ok to let her in - and of course she came in. Nanny helped coach me thru the first feed. We told her that she got to see Noah before anyone else and then she asked where they were. We laughed when she found out that they were in the waiting room and she had walked right passed them. No one even knew Nanny was there. Keith walked her out to where they were -- and they were not so thrilled that Nanny had seen Noah before they did. Oh my goodness, we laugh about it now! Only my Nanny could get away with that!

Keith brought our mothers in first, since I was still attempting to feed then our sisters and then everyone else. It was such a joyous night!



Our first family picture
(can you tell how tired we are... we had been up almost all night!)

We came home from the hospital 2 days later - on Shawn's 1st birthday. I do remember Momma Gena and GrandDanny and Aunt Dorinda being at home when we got home. Maggie was there waiting on us - even though she ignored me!! She was not too thrilled with what Mommy and Daddy came home with, but she soon warmed up - after I gave her the new blue bear toy and the bag of treats!!

She soon warmed up to her new brother!!
This is the first night home from the hospital... wish Noah could sleep like that now!

Maggie is getting her first formal introduction to Noah

She seemed quite interested in what Daddy had!!

And today is my baby boy's 2nd birthday - and I can not believe it is here already. I have no idea where the time has gone. I am so thankful that God chose Keith and I to be his parents, and better yet, I am SO thankful God chose him to be my son. He is so full of life and I love every minute with him. I can not wait to see what adventures we will go on and can not wait to see what God has in store for him. He is such a treasure.

So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NOAH!! Mommy and Daddy love you SO much!! Thank you for blessing our lives!! <3



~Randi

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Baby Story -- Part 2 -- It's a ?????

September finally rolled around and it was time to find out what kind of baby would be joining our family around George Washington's birthday. Would it be a boy? A Girl? Either way we were excited. I admit that I had convinced myself that I was having a girl. I just knew Maddie (Madison LaRue) would be coming! Pink was about to throw up everywhere!! If we were having a girl, this would be one of the few girls on Keith's side of the family. Jennifer is the only granddaughter out of 6 grandchildren. If the baby was a boy, then he would be the first boy born on my side of the family in 50-something years. We knew we were excited either way!!

We thought long and hard about fun ways to tell the family what we were having. We decided that the family would go to dinner together and they would ALL find out at the same time! It seemed only fair! We went to Logan's and I had ordered a cookie cake from Great American Cookie Company.

The day finally came -- and I couldn't stand it. I think my appointment was at 2 and so I thought it would never come! There we are - in the ultrasound room, the tech doing all the necessary measurements and looking at what she needed to look at before getting on to the fun part. She seemed quiet during the ultrasound but I thought she was just really focused!

The time finally came and she starts showing us the spine, the fingers, the profile, the foot, the toes, and I'm thinking "ok, go to the important part - show me, is it there or is it not??" She finally works her way up the leg and there it was. I saw it - clear as day. I would be having a Daniel Noah. Oh, what a beautiful site he was. She went back and showed us other things and got the most beautiful profile picture of him.


There he was ... a little person with a little identity. It was just breathtaking for me.

We patiently waited to see the doctor where she congratulated us on a boy! The talked with us about the ultrasound and told us some news that could have devastated me. The tech had found a cyst on little Noah's brain. What I did not understand at the time was this was very common in babies. Most all babies have this cyst at some point in the womb but it was the matter of if there is an ultrasound done at the right time to see it. The good news was this cyst "should" dissolve itself and we would get the opportunity for another ultrasound. We spent the next 8 weeks praying and praying and praying. What if this cyst was one of the few that did not correct itself. The "what ifs" kept pouring in.

Now it was on to tell the family about Noah and enjoy a wonderful family dinner. Keith and I decided to play a game and let them figure out what we were having. We stopped at Paper Works Outlet in Birmingham to buy our "accessories". I bought numerous size boxes, tons of reversible wrapping paper, and some adorable blue plates for our cookie. Oh, and I also called GAC to tell them to decorate the cookie with blue icing!

We headed home -- ignoring tons of phone calls from friends and family. We did text our parents and said - appt was good. We will see you at dinner! If I remember correctly, Keith even took my phone away from me! HAHA! Our game plan was to wrap a ultrasound photo of his "it's a boy" picture and then wrap that box, and wrap that box, and wrap that box, and, well you get the idea. While in the process, Keith decided that was not daring enough! SO - we came up with questions to write on the box that the family members had to answer before unwrapping the box and passing on to the next person.

Google became our best friend. We wrote things like "I will be the first of my "kind" in my family in a long time." Both answers, Noah or Madison could be the answer. "There is a town or county with my name" There are both cities - Madison city and Daniel city -- don't remember where they are though. We also wrote Noah in Japanese and Chinese just to see if they could figure it out. The reversible paper that I had was pink on one side and blue on the other. Of course, I wrapped every other box in opposites. One was pink, the next was blue, then pink, then blue. We had the family in circles - literally. Finally, the box made it's way around the table and it ended at Momma Gena and GrandDanny. I don't remember what her question was but when she opened the box, she found the photo. We did not tell her what it was but she had to look and see for herself. It took a second and THEN she saw it. She was happy to announce that we were having a BOY!

We got to see our precious baby boy again in November where we learned that the cyst had corrected itself. Praise the Lord - my prayers had been answered. Thanksgiving and Christmas both came and went, construction of the nursery was well underway and then the baby tea. I had so much fun at my tea. I don't remember how many people we invited, 200-250 I think and I guess over 100 came that day. I was so overwhelmed at the love people showed to us that day.

Monthly doctor appointments turned into bi-weekly appointments and those turned into weekly appointments. I rotated and saw several different doctors. Dr. Hudson knew that I really wanted Noah born on Sunday, February 15th since that would have been my GrandDaddy's birthday. He didn't offer to help by inducing me but instead gave me several home remedies for getting a baby out. Let's just say, none of them worked. The next week, I saw Dr. Lassiter. She ordered another ultrasound (YAY!!) to see just how big the baby was. Of course, I don't remember the numbers but I think he was 7 1/2 lbs then. The following week, I saw Dr. Snowden (my doctor) -- Thursday, the 19th - and she said that if Baby Boy had not graced us with his presence by the 24th (Tuesday) then we would induce the following day, the 25th. I had progressed enough for her to strip my membranes. Let me tell you, that was the most painful thing I have had done, at this point. Oh my goodness. I swear her elbow was inside me! She warned me this would cause bleeding, which it did and we hoped that it would trigger my labor, and guess what... it did!!

Stay tuned for A Baby Story -- Part 3 -- HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NOAH!!!