Thursday, April 30, 2009

Kayci and Chuck: A Love Story

Kayci's love of Chucks goes back to when she was a toddler.  Ronny bought her a pair of bright pink high top All Stars for an early Christmas gift.  She wore the HECK outta those shoes, and the identical pair that followed.  This year for Kindergarten, she decided she needed All Stars again, but she couldn't find any that she just LOVED.  We shopped and shopped, and ended up with a shiny pair of Chuck knock-offs from Old Navy.  A few weeks ago the subject of Chucks came up again--her shiny shoes have bitten the dust and she wanted a new pair of Converse.  So we shopped and get the idea.  After much trying on, guess what we found?  Yup...but these are lowtops, white with pink & green polka dots.  Very Kayci.  I guess it's true what they say, a girl never gets over her first love.  P.S.  Nobley got some Chucks for $7--he'll have to grow into them, but blue & orange low-tops?  You know you can't wait to see them!  :)  

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Today Noble walked!

Kristi came home from the library and said he took three steps, so then we stood him up and, sure enough, he took a couple of steps. Then I turned him around and he stared walking toward me. I backed up a little with each step he took.

He took 19 steps in a row across the living room floor! Kristi and our friend Sherri witnessed the whole thing, so they can vouch for the fact that I'm not lying.

Then Kayci made a little sticky note and put it on Noble's back that said "Noble tuc [took] 19 steps."

He wouldn't walk again when we got out the video camera, so video will have to come later...

Then when we went out to dinner with the Bogans, he let go of the chair he was holding on to and walked across the floor to another table.


Even Superheroes...

...stop sometimes.  Bubby, well, he rarely stops, so this is even sweeter.  :)  

You Gotta Have Friends...

My friend Dee just left.  (I know, I know, I said I was taking a 2-minute blog break 30 minutes ago...looks like I'll be up late tonight to get in my 8 hours of work...oh, well!)  Anyway, she was dropping off some pants that she's gotten too skinny for and I hope to be skinny enough for soon...TMI, right?  Back to it...she also brought me a ball jar of sweet basil & lime laundry detergent that she made.  What a great girlfriend, right?  It just made me smile that she'd bring me something  :)  

She also brought a book that I'll pass along to Paula...I have to say, when we got home Friday evening we headed straight over to the Headley's to take Lydia her birthday gift.  Kayci was initially resistant to going in, but once the kids swarmed the car she was rarin' to go and we ended up playing for a good 45 minutes (well, the kids played, Paula and I caught up) until it was time to go home and see Daddy.  It felt very normal to be at Paula's house, and I had to smile when we left with our green bowl packed with brownies and yummy applesauce muffins she'd made for us.  (Have I told y'all about the friendship bowl?  A couple of years ago when I had surgery, our friend Katharine brought us dinner in this cool green bowl with a lid.  She wouldn't take it back, and let me tell you, that bowl has made the rounds since then.  We always somehow end up with it again, but Paula and I made a deal several months ago so now we pass the bowl back and forth, but we fill it up first.  It's silly, but it's always a fun surprise when the bowl appears...I guess it's just sweet to know a friend's thinking of you.)  Anyway, so that made us feel like we were HOME.  Today's library day, and I think taking the six (you heard me right) kids to the library will be another giant step toward normal.  :) 

And speaking of friends thinking of you...right before Easter, I got this awesome card in the mail from Sherri.  It's got seeds IN the card, so I'll plant it when the rain stops.  Can't wait to see the wild flowers!  Sweet, right?  She also sent a big bowl of chicken tortilla soup (and all the fixin's) home with James last week (which he ate, as we stayed in Houston longer than expected...sorry, Sherri).  And then when I got home on Friday, the first thing I saw was a really cute t-shirt that she saw and said it made her think of Noble, so she bought it...and a bookmark for me that she saw in DayStar.  For someone who's been where we are so recently, it just meant a lot that she's always there for us and thinking of us even when we're not together.  :)  

I could go on and on.  Being home this weekend was great therapy, made even better by an impromptu trip to Dairy Queen with the Trevinos after Joe Scruggs, and a last-minute dinner date with the Parkers at their house on Saturday night.  The bigger kids got to splash in the pool, and the grown ups got to catch up and enjoy some great quesadillas.  (Kudos, boys.)  

The cards and e-mails and phone calls we've received this past two weeks have made a huge impact, although I still have to apologize if I haven't replied.  Still busy playing catch up, as evidenced by this wreck of a house.  (See today's Mommygirl post about that one...I'm not grumpy about that anymore as much as I'm just grateful to be home.)  

So here's to all of our friends, here, there and everywhere...there are tons more of you I didn't name here, and I apologize...we appreciate all of you.  Thanks for making me feel at HOME again.  :)  

Monday, April 27, 2009

Fun for the whole family...

I apologize in advance to the best Daddy in the world if this at all affects the status of your man card...

...but I have to say it, folks.  We LOVE Hannah Montana.  Yup.  The whole family.  Love her.  Until James bought us the new Taylor Swift CD, we'd been listening to the HM movie soundtrack for a solid month.  We all packed up and headed into Houston on Good Friday to make it to the first showing of the HM movie, and we all loved it, even Noble.  James and Kayci even went to see it a second time with Penny and Emma last weekend.  I don't know why I'm blogging about this...probably because I sat down on the couch waiting for my yard-mowing headache to go away, and sitting down on the couch reminded me of sitting here last night laughing out loud together, watching Kayci's new HM DVD.  Kayci's just about got me talked into taking her one more time this week to use the free ticket that came with her DVD.  And yes, they say "butt" more than I care to hear in front of my 5 year old, and that Miley's a sassy gal...but all in all, I'm grateful that there are things we can enjoy together as a family.   

Sweet niblets, I've gotta get in the shower before James gets home for lunch...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Joe Scruggs!

We're going to see Joe Scruggs today...Ronny's kids introduced us to him years ago, and he was one of Kayci's most favorite things when she was little.  When we heard he was coming to Brenham, we got out her old Joe Scruggs DVD to see if Noble would respond to the music and sure enough, he's a fan, too.  Somebody posted an old Joe video on YouTube...he's been around way longer than 12 years.  And I suspect he's not quite as um, spry, as he is in the clips.  We'll let you know tomorrow...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Good China

The kids and I had breakfast on the patio this morning, and it was really nice (eating outside is one of our FAVORITE things to do at home).  Anyway...earlier this week, I bought the kids new child-sized cups to keep here.  Kayci was drinking milk out of hers, and for some reason she lifted it up to look at the bottom.  

Hey, this cup was made in China.  
You know, they put kids to work in China...
...whoever made this one did a GOOD job!

And the child laborers of China thank you, Bitty, for noticing.  :) 

P.S.--Noble is on a tear this morning.  I made the mistake of leaving my purse down low where he could pull stuff out of it.  I brought him back into the bedroom to use wipes to clean the grill/grease off of his hands (don't ask) and when I got out the laptop he got busy on my purse.  I figured I'd only be a second, so I let him empty the outside pocket...but I made a rookie mistake.  I forgot my new Clinique lipstick was in there, and you know how Nobley loves his lipstick (sadly, not kidding).  I heard him say, "Na, na!"  (no, no!) and looked up to see that he'd not only opened my lipstick, but bitten the top off of it.  I guess the "no, no!" was because it didn't taste as good as he hoped, because he didn't argue at all when I took it all away from him.  These kids...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Town Hall for Hope

Tonight I attended the Town Hall for Hope, a simulcast from Oklahoma City that over 1 million people watched at more than 6,000 locations - not including on radio stations or on the Fox Business Channel.

It focused on dispelling some of the myths behind the current recession and economy and was very informative and entertaining. It was presented by Dave Ramsey, whom Kristi and I have really come to like in the past several months after attending a Financial Peace University class at our church.

Kristi originally planned on attending with me, but couldn't because she's still in Houston with her mom. And we also have some friends who wanted to go, but couldn't. So I recorded the event on my iPhone and am presenting it here so Kristi, our friends who wanted to go but couldn't or anyone else who wants to hear it can listen.

It was a free event, open to anyone, so I feel pretty comfortable in posting it here. It also looks like they're going to post the event to watch at, so watch that space if you want more than just the audio.

Overall, it was a very good presentation that explained a lot about the economy, gave some good background information and most importantly, gave a little perspective. I highly recommend downloading the audio and listening. It's an hour and a half, so grab some popcorn and enjoy.

Find the audio here:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I meant to post this last night...

...yesterday, we were at Hobby Lobby when we noticed that not only was there a BLACK bruise on Bubby's forehead (right on top of the yellow hook-shaped bruise from the weekend), it was raised.  As the day wore on, it got darker and bumpier.  Finally we realized it wasn't a delayed reaction from falling off the bed this weekend, it was a NEW mark from slamming the cabinet door into his head yesterday morning when he was playing with the gumbo pot.  Whoops.  So that ties up the mother of the year, I think...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Big Ol' Pot O' Bubby...

Noble's always good for a bit of comic relief, and this morning was no exception. We had the gumbo pot out and he decided he would test it out. Exhibit A:

Wait, wait...I've been in here 10 seconds and I'm bored. I'll just help myself out...

...almost there...


What's even funnier (and I'm wrong for laughing, I know) is that he crawled right over to the entertainment center and pulled the cabinet door open...right into his own face. It was just the timing that was so perfect...cracked me up. Mother of the year, I know.

Monday, April 20, 2009

One More Thing...

Out of respect for my Dad's wishes, there won't be a service.  He just wouldn't have enjoyed being the center of attention like that, we think.  We will honor him, though, every time we sit down to the table with our family and give thanks for our blessings...and every time we make gumbo, or fish, or shrimp, or a cake from scratch or one of the many things he cooked for us in sickness and health.   In our family, food is love (insert joke here...we're sad, but we're still warped, right?)...we even titled our last cookbook "It's Food That Makes Us Family."    

 Thank you so much to all of you who have called, e-mailed, texted and even facebooked, if that's a verb, your sympathies and support.  Please don't be offended if you haven't received a reply, but I know you understand.  We are truly blessed with great families (we have lots of them) and friends (we've got lots of them, too)...thank you all for loving Grandpa and for your prayers for Mom and the grandkids.  If there was anything at all we needed I promise I'd tell you, but right now we've got everything we need.  Time should take care of the rest.  :)  

Thank you all--we love you BIG!  

Grandpa photos

For those interested in seeing some fun shots of Grandpa playing with the kids and the family, check out the following flickr photo sets:

James & Kristi's set

Ron Clarkson's set

Grandpa's Little Guard Baby

One of the hardest things for me to think about is the fact that Noble won't remember Grandpa.  Hands down, Grandpa is one of Nobley's favorite people in the world, and has been since day one.  When I think about the past 13 months and all that we've done, all the places we've been, there aren't many memories that don't involve my Dad, even before he got sick.  That's just how lucky we are, I guess.  Anyway, of course I've digressed--the point of this was to talk about memories.  Some of you may know that our Grandpa Weseloh passed away when Ronny was just a few months older than Noble is now.  And while Ronny doesn't have memories of knowing Grandpa, my Mom and her family have memories of baby Ronny from the time of Grandpa's illness and death.  Life truly is a circle, friends.  We keep coming back to the same points again and again, birth, death, and all of the wonderful and not so wonderful things in between.  We see so much of that in our kids and parents, and how so many things are the same in our family histories.  There's a lot of comfort in that.  

Our kids are an amazing source of comfort, as well.  Noble has been my constant companion as we've traveled back and forth for Grandpa's doctor visits, hospitalizations, etc.  Of course Kayci and James have been around as much as school and work would allow, but many days and nights it was just Noble and me and the old folks.  I was--and am--grateful that Noble had so many opportunities to make memories with Grandpa, because even though he won't remember them we'll always have stories to tell about how much fun they had together.  Having the kids here with me this past week has kept me sane and strong, and even in the harder moments, focused on the fact that Grandpa was and is so much more than a cancer patient, and that life will truly go on.  Oh, but I'm away from my point again.  A lot on my mind right now, guys.

Here's what I started blogging to share, as it's kept me smiling these past few days...

We came in on Tuesday night, thinking it would be a long couple of weeks and not knowing really what to expect.  Wednesday was a long day for all of us, most especially Grandpa.  Unfortunately he was in a tremendous amount of pain.  But luckily for all of us, hospice is wonderful and even though his regular nurse was out sick, another nurse came out at Mom's request to evaluate Dad Wednesday morning.  Man, my sentences are even longer than scattered brain must be channeling Hemingway?  Anyway...Noble was NOT happy that the nurse was messing with Grandpa, and he was right at her heels and in her way.  So I moved him away, but that didn't stop him.  

He crawled on top of his truck to peek over the oxygen machine to keep an eye on the nurse...and when I was busy e-mailing this picture to myself, he got down and went back over to the couch and stood there telling the nurse "ah ah!  ah ah!"  (that's Kristi for "no!").  It was so funny, and she didn't take offense.  Later that day, the nurse and I had to move Dad into his hospital bed, which was very painful for him and stressful for the rest of us.  But, for his safety and comfort, we had to suck it up and get it done.  God truly gives us what we need, and what we needed must have been a smile because Noble came at me and didn't want me to touch Grandpa.  I handed him off to Mom and she held him while we moved Grandpa.  It only took a few seconds, but the whole time Noble was yelling at us, "bop!  bop it!"  (Noblese for stop and stop it.)  I'll never, ever forget that.  What a silly, loving boy.

Grandpa's little guard baby.  :)  

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Goodbye, Grandpa

John Timothy Clarkson
November 14, 1943-April 19, 2009

See you later, alligator...

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. 
There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, 
for the old order of things has passed away."
Revelation 21:4

Finally a college graduate

Well, yesterday it happened. Kristi and I finally graduated from college!!!!

We both started college in 1993 at Sam Houston State University. Kristi graduated in 1997 and I in 1998. Well, that's when we got our diplomas, anyway. But I don't believe that you truly own something until it's paid for.

Last night we paid off the rest of both of our student loans!

After almost eleven years, what a weird coincidence that both of our student loans finally terminated in the same month. It's an awesome feeling to have finally conquered that debt in our lives. It's been a long, long, long road that at times seemed would never end. There were so many months that we felt like we weren't getting anywhere, just spinning our wheels.

It's been horrible. There were a lot of times that we thought about how much better off we would be if $500 a month didn't come straight off the top of our salaries. Our goal now is top save enough money for the kids college so that they won't have to go through the same thing.

When we were little, saving for college was a luxury reserved for richer people. Our parents were too busy busting their tails just to keep our families fed and clothed and housed (and they did a great job), nevermind worrying about saving for college. I was the first college graduate in my family and Kristi was the second in hers. Back then, you didn't have to go to college. You could get a pretty good job without it. But times have changed a lot since then. Geez, I sound old, but it's true. The trick is to start saving enough early enough so that going into debt isn't necessary to make it happen. We've got a little more other debt to pay off before we get to college saving, but by this time next year we should be there.

I feel smarter already.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Easter Fun...

We had a great Easter at Mom & Dad's this weekend--here are the kids 
with the traditional Clarkson bunny cake.  :)  

All the Way, Baby!

My phone rang a few minutes ago; it was my brother, Timmy, calling from the playground.  Guess who made it all the way across...twice??  :)  

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Rich Heritage

My kids are so blessed to be part of a family of great fishermen.  Um, and Daddy. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Morning Glory

Yesterday was a long day.  I woke up this morning a bit leery of what today would bring...and for an hour, while James was a good boy and finished a freelance job and then hit the gym, I lay in bed just thinking and enjoying the quiet before the rush of the day began.  Noble, of course, was cuddled up beside me (he's been sleeping until almost 7 AM...big news for Nobley.  Now if we could just get him to sleep straight through...)  Anyway, so there I was, thinking a lot and worrying just a little, wondering a lot and planning a little.  And then it started--my favorite part of the morning.  (Let me backtrack here if you haven't been to the little green's little.  The two bedrooms share a wall and while sound doesn't carry through the walls, it totally carries through the air vent--ah, the wonder of an old house.)  So I was laying there, wondering what the day would bring and I heard one of my favorite sounds in the world, Kayci singing in her bed.  She started it when she was a baby, and that's how we knew she was up and happy.  In the past couple of years, the singing  has ceased to be an everyday occurrence...just some weekends, if we're lucky.  But there it was this morning, and the sound reminded me that I need to shake yesterday off and be grateful for today, for the opportunities that come with each new morning.  And yes, of course, the hope.  So here's hoping today's a great day, for all of us.  So far, so good here in the little green house.  Time to get back to it... 

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

It's 6 PM, and the Pharaons are still in pajamas!  In Kayci's estimation, this has been one of the best days EVER!  :)  We had Easter with all of the Clarksons yesterday at Grandma and Grandpa's, but we came home late last night so Kayci and Noble could have Easter morning at home.  Kayci started lobbying yesterday for a pajama day today, and Noble helped her out by starting to run a fever yesterday evening.  (Yup, we assume it's another ear infection.)  So, here we are.  We slept in fairly late by Pharaon kid standards, so we started our day at 7 AM instead of the usual 5 or 5:30.  (Perhaps that's what Mommy & Daddy got for Easter?!)  We heard Kayci's door open at 7 and James caught her before she started Easter without us, and we all went out to the dining room table together to see what the Easter bunny brought.  Kayci and Noble were both very excited to see the goodies in their baskets.  Kayci had fun a little while later telling her very patient cousins every single thing that the bunny brought, and Noble fell in love with his bubble gun and the various wind-up hopping/walking chicks and bunnies.  (He's discovered wind-ups this Easter season...he'll bring one to you and hit you with it until you realize he wants you to wind it up, then you have to wrestle it away from him so you can wind it...then he snatches it up before it can go very far...over and over and over again...)  

We've had a great day watching movies, taking a nap, spending a bit of time outside with Sami and the swings (in PJs, of course) and just being HOME.  I can't think of the last day we've all been home together, all day, and we've taken time to just BE instead of getting caught up on chores or work or getting things done.  This day has been a blessing, and we're so very grateful for this and all of our blessings.  Happy Easter to you, too--if you're reading this, you're on our list of blessings, as well!  :)  

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Kayci's Easter Egg Hunt

TGIT, as my friend Teresa said this morning.  :)  It SO feels like a holiday around here, and has all week.  The kids and I are playing in the office right now, waiting for Daddy to get home.  The Bogans are bringing pizza over in a bit and we're going to dye eggs tonight...we're so excited!  It's been a great day, start to finish, and a great start to our Easter.  

Today was Kayci's Easter egg hunt at school, and boy, did she have an egg-cellent time!

Here's Kayci, waiting for the signal...

She's so MY daughter. They were told that each child could take 10 small eggs and 2 large eggs she kept stopping to count to make sure she wasn't getting too many eggs. 
Sweet, but still...sigh.

Guess who surprised us?? What a GREAT surprise, Daddy...
I felt so bad that he had to be at work instead of with Kayci, and I knew he felt bad. 
I just didn't know how bad until he showed up! :) 

We brought bubbles for Kayci & her friends...the wind did the work, mostly, 
but the kids had a blast!

Last week, we made Easter egg sidewalk chalk with Kayci's class--it's a project I've been dying to try for years. When I told Kayci about it, she was all gung-ho...I have to say, I was disappointed with the project until I saw how much the kids loved it, today, and how well the chalk worked! Not dry and icky at all, but kind of creamy and just right...

EVERYONE loved the sidewalk chalk...

...and yes, maybe there was just a little monkeyin' around. 
Happy Easter!

Where's Noble?

Where's Noble? He's standing, staring out the window (or maybe trying to escape, as usual). What's that he's standing on? It's Daddy's subwoofer. At the end of the clip, see Noble standing on his own and take a step!

I just noticed that Pink Floyd's "Is There Anybody Out There?" is playing in the background. Pretty appropriate for a little Noble looking out the window, trying to figure out how to get ... out there.

1000 words...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Shiny, Happy People...

I'm fairly low-maintenance as girlies go, I think, and Kayci DEFINITELY thinks so.  We have a family friend who's always fluffed and puffed (as Jenny says) and coordinated, from her heels to her bag to her jewelry...she's very SHINY, as Kayci says.  Today I went to work, so I dressed in one of my dresses and my silver ballet flats.  Kayci was very pleased.  She said, "You're not usually very shiny, Mommy.  You know, I can't believe you even have silver shoes."  Gee, thanks...  :) 

So then a little while later I'm driving her to school and we're talking about her fingernails.  She's determined to grow them "long like Savannah's."  As of yesterday, she's going to quit biting her fingernails.  Wait, no, she said, just bite them LESS.  So we're talking about her fingernails and how we'll paint them when they grow out, and the conversation turns to a teacher's toenails.  Kayci was trying to describe Mrs. M's toenails...they're white just on the edge (mmm hmm, French manicure...well, pedicure...) and they have something on it a picture?  No..."Oh, I know!" she said, "You know how you can bedazzle stuff?  That's what's on her toenails!"  Bedazzled toenails....what'll she come up with next?