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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

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