Tuesday, February 27, 2007

To Linda

Around 7:30pm, a dear sister in Christ went home to be with her Savior and Lord. It was an honor to be Linda's friend. To know her. To be a recipient of her kindness. To see the joy of the Lord radiate from her eyes despite her tiring fight with cancer. Linda has left a legacy with her children that is irreplaceable; she rejoiced in the Lord always, loved her spouse to distraction, looked proudly on her children, and, most importantly, lived for Christ first.

Linda always included hymns in her emails that spoke what she felt. So, as a tribute to her, here is a hymn that brings me such comfort. I looked over a bunch of hymns and felt this was most appropriate for her. To Linda.

Almighty Father of mankind,
On Thee our hopes remain;
And when the day of trouble comes
I shall not trust in vain.

In early years Thou wast my Guide,
And of my youth the Friend;
And as my days began with Thee,
With Thee my days shall end.

I know the Power in Whom I trust,
The arm on which I lean;
He will my Savior ever be
Who has my Savior been.

My God, Who causedst me to hope
When life began to beat,
And, when a stranger in the world,
Didst guide my wandering feet.

Thou wilt not cast me off when age
And evil days descend;
Thou wilt not leave me in despair
To mourn my latter end.

Therefore in life I’ll trust in Thee,
In death I will adore;
And after death will sing Thy praise
When time shall be no more.

Almighty Father of Mankind - Michael Bruce

Monday, February 26, 2007

10 months...

Mallory was 10 months old eariler this month. I've been WAY behind in the pictures, but better late than never! The day I took these pictures, it had snowed the day before and it was REALLY muddy outside. I took hardly any pictures because of the weather and we were leaving that afternoon to go to Charlotte for a QUICK trip. Patrick had a training class there for a few days and we were able to spend some time with Patrick's folks and a few other friends. It was nice, but a LOT of driving!

Anyway, our little girl is growing so fast. She's now crawling, pulling up, and cruising...all within the past week! She's been a challenge to figure out lately since her sleeping and eating schedules are not what they used to be. She doesn't sleep as much as she used to and isn't finishing her bottles either. Yet, she still is busy in her play and still has a sweet disposition. I think back over the last 10 months and I still can't believe all that has conspired. Whew!

Happy 10 months, Mallory. Mommy loves you.

Happy Birthday, Aunt Amanda

My sister's 30th was this past Saturday, the 24th. While I was taking this picture of Mallory, she was REALLY fussy...unusually so. It was after I put the camera down that I realized she had a slight fever. So, I didn't get a chance to post anything until now (Mallory's fever cleared up before she went to bed that night, Praise God!).

Though this is belated, we wish you a very happy birthday!!! Love and miss you lots!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Mallory's new trick

My life has now changed, now that Mallory can pull up. She's changing so much, so quickly.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

4 years ago today...

Well, 4 years ago today I remember waking up thinking that I was in a dead-end relationship but was still hoping that Patrick may still want to marry me eventually. I remember feeling depressed and down, yet I was still looking forward to going out with Patrick later that evening. He could still propose, couldn't he? I mean, could what he had said to me the night before just been a line? But Patrick isn't like that. I was playing ping-pong in my brain...the ball was our relationship being whacked back and forth, yet I was both players doing the whacking.

It was supposed to be chilly that night with a chance of rain, but we had still planned to go uptown to a nice dinner at a little French restaurant and hopefully enjoy the romantic ambiance emulated along the night-lit streets of Charlotte. When Patrick picked me up, I was still a little in the dumps and I think he was getting a little frustrated by my reaction to his "schpeel" the night before. He told me that I was going to enjoy the evening, so just relax ("so...did that mean that he could possibly propose?" asked ping-pong player #1).

We headed off to Freedom Park first for a stroll around the pond. It was the first time I had been there and it was pretty crowded with runners, walkers, dogs and SCORES of geese (leaving behind their trail of poo we had to dodge). BUT, it was really nice. We ended up sitting on a bench watching people walk by while the sun was setting (a seemingly perfect time for an engagement to occur, thought #1). Patrick suggested that we go ahead an leave for our dinner before it got to late, so we got in the car and headed to the restaurant ("he's not going to commit...this is so lousy!, thought #2).

Before dinner, Patrick suggested we enjoy a coffee. How nice! So, we went to the Starbucks across from the Blumenthal Theatre, ordered coffee, and sat out by the waterfall infront of Bistro 100. The sun had set, the water sounded nice, the street lights were bright...a perfect time for us to enjoy the evening sipping some joe. Again, nice moment for a...well, I won't go there again because it was time for us to go eat dinner.

Patrick took me to a quaint French restaurant called Bijioux. It was located near Capital Grille uptown, but has since closed it's doors and is now another fine dining establishment. We had a table upstairs in a back corner away from all the other couples enjoying their meals. It was private and secluded and would, again, be a perfect spot for a couple to discuss serious topics in life without the intrusion of a stranger's listening ear. We had a nice meal, though conversation was strained and close to nothing. I'm sure I didn't help at all, because I was still holding a chip on my shoulder from the night before and the one side of my brain that was still hoping for a ring was loosing badly to the other. Our meal was good, the bill came, and it was over.

As we walked out of the restaurant, it started raining...one of those cold rains that will chill a person to the bone. As we started walking in the direction of the car, Patrick casually asked me if I wanted to walk around for a bit. Oh, yeah...in 40 degree weather in the rain? That sounded perfectly lovely. "Sure, I guess", I hestiantly replied. We walked down to the corner of Trade and Tryon and went over to the beautiful waterfall that is near the center city clock. I was shivering a bit and was wondering why we weren't headed to the car, since I was pretty cold and wet. But, the waterfall was really pretty at night all lit up. Patrick stopped me and gave me a hug. He said to me "Melanie, I love you." And then he pulled away from me.

He loved me? He was running out of time, didn't he know? I had a plan, a life, a future to think about. Did he still want me to wait around? And as I was whacking these thoughts around, I almost didn't see him drop on his knee. I think the sparkle of the diamond caught my eye and made me focus on the question he was asking me. "Will you marry me?" WHAT?!?!?!?!?

I think I stared at him for about 5 seconds not knowing what to do. He was holding out this beautiful ring, offering it to me, and letting me know he was ready to commit. Why did I fear? Why did I potentially ruin this night because of my unthoughtfulness and controlling attitude? Patrick had known all along and my pestering questions the night before caused him to think fast to somehow get me to not think about us and our future. I'm sure I put him through a lot too. But, I'm so glad that God kept my act in check because it started as one of the worst days, but ended up being one of the best days of my life.

4 years ago today, I said yes to marry the man God had selected for me.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"Malentine's" Day

...which I've been referring to today with my lovey daughter.
It was fun to have a baby in the house for Valentine's Day this year. She was all dressed in pink and hearts with a bright pink bow in her hair. She got Valentines from all of her favorites...Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, Grandpa, Gram and Pops. Though I think she liked the envelopes and wrapping paper more than what was actually inside, it was fun to give to her.

Mallory - you are my sweet little Valentine. You give so much to us by being yourself! We love to receive your gifts of smiles, laughter, cuddles, and squeels. I wish we could give back to you all that you give to us. We try every day! Love, love, love you!

4 years ago today...

My friends Kelly and Dana have made posts on their blogs about Valentines memories. Valentine's Day in the past always included a card and candy from my parents, but never anything special from the opposite sex. Since I met Patrick, Valentine's Day has been celebrated on the 5th, so this day has been just another day in the life of us. That will change, now that Mallory is here, but I digress. There is one Valentine's Day I will never forget: V-day 2003. Though most Valentine's Day stories between boyfriend/girlfriend are often sweet and filled with stories including candies, roses, cuddles, cupid, white, red and pink, this story is not. Well, not at first.

Since Patrick and I had already celebrated our Valentine's Day on the 5th, we weren't planning on doing anything special on the 14th. We did have a date planned on the 15th, though, and we really just wanted to have a fun time that night. So, we ended up getting together with some of our friends (from our Sunday School class, of course) and attended a hockey game that night. It was lots of fun and it was one of the only hockey games I had ever seen...all I really remember about the game was that it was LONG, as most hockey games tend to be (side note - I'd rather go to a hockey game than a NASCAR race...at least you can TALK at a hockey game). After the game, Patrick and I went to Jackson's Java to have a cup 'o joe, play a game of chess, and talk.

At this time in our relationship, we had mentioned the "m" word and had talked about when we might approach the alter, but nothing was ever sure. While we were sipping our coffees (and I was beating Patrick in chess, but we won't go there...), I asked him when we would possibly be married. I mean, let's get to the truth, here. I was 24 years old, I was getting more established in my career, I was about to close on my first home purchase at the end of the month, and I was wondering when I'd finally be married. I loved Patrick and wanted to know when I could anticipate a wedding. I knew he was interested...or so I thought!

Before I continue, I need to give you a little background on what was happening with Patrick at this time. He graduated with his Masters in PT in '02 and got his first job in the summer at an outpatient clinic up in Concord, NC. One day in Jan '03 while he was working with a patient, the FBI came into the office, told him to finish with his patient, and shut the doors. They apparently were investigating his boss for insurance fraud and interogated Patrick for almost 2 hours that afternoon. Needless to say, Patrick did not want to work for his employer anymore and he quickly turned in his 2-weeks notice and quit his job at the end of Jan. So, at the time we were having coffee and I asked him the question about marriage, he was still unemployed and looking for a job.

OK...so, here I am, asking my unemployed boyfriend when were going to get married. Patrick looked at me with all seriousness in his eyes and told me that he wasn't sure if committing to marriage was something he should do at this time. He needed to find a job, get more established in his career, and just take some time out for himself. *blinking in surprise...trying to to choke on my coffee* WHAT?!?!?!?

I was so furious with him for not giving me any clue as to why he would do and say such a thing. I mean...just a week or so earlier, my sweet roomie at the time had asked me what my ring finger size was. I mean, why would she have asked me that if he wasn't planning on asking me to marry him? How DARE he string me along and not let me know that he wanted to have some "time for himself". Needless to say, I wanted out of the coffee shop and away from Patrick, but I also wanted to hug him, not let him go, and ask him why he didn't want to be more serious with me. I was so discouraged. And we were supposed to go on a date the next night? Ugh! He told me that I was overreacting and he just wasn't ready to talk about marriage at the time. He still wanted to take me out the next night because he enjoys being with me.

He enjoys being with me? And after over a year of dating, he still wasn't ready to get married? Should I still go out with? I mean, was I supposed to wait for him until his "life got all settled" again? I was plagued with the questions. But I agreed to go out with him again. At least one more date.

And what a date it was.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Misc Pics

Mallory is now on all fours, but mainly rocks on her hands and knees instead of crawls. She'll get the hang of it eventually.

Here, she's suffering from a bad case of bed head. Cute!

Getting a bath from Grandma and Grandpa!

Playing with her pizza toy on Grandma's kitchen floor.

Annual Traditions...

I've been talking a lot lately about memories I've had with Patrick. Well, there's a tradition that I have going on with my dad that I hope will continue for a long time. Every Christmas for the past 6 years or so, I have bought him tickets to the FL/GA basketball game in Athens for us to go to together. It's really the only time I get to spend with my dad alone and it's a date that we've really enjoyed over the years. This year, the game was this past Wednesday, Feb. 7th (the games are usually in Feb...sometimes on weekends, but mostly on a week night). Mallory and I drove down to Elberton on Wednesday morning and spent the afternoon with my mom. Oh - I also got a haircut, which was the first in a LONG time!!! Dad and I left for the game in the early evening and enjoyed our time in the car. It's always nice for me to have some one-on-one time to share with him about my challenges, joys, hopes, feelings, and other cares and trials that life has placed at my feet. In turn, I get to hear his. I love to confide in my dad. He's a great listener and will give advice when asked, but not push to hard on what he thinks I should do, since He knows that's between me, Patrick and God. He's quick to praise and always reminds me how proud he is of his girls. My sister and I have always felt confident in our father and I'm sure we both will feel that way for as long as we live.
Dad has instilled in both my sister and me a great love for sports...especially Gator sports! Amanda and I just love the Gators and we enjoy calling Dad after an awesome play or a hard-fought victory. This game we just saw was the first time I watched a defending National Champion and the current #1 team play LIVE...and it was even cooler that it was OUR team to boot! We sat in the midst of other Gators and we were ALL stoked that our team whooped the Dawgs.
I had a nice time at my parents and they liked spending time with Mallory. I left there on Friday morning with a promise to return in a week, where we'll be celebrating my sister's 30th birthday together as a family. Can't wait!!!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Update on house...

Sorry I haven't posted an update on our housing game. We couldn't come to terms with the seller on the house, so the deal fell through. We actually both feel good about it and know that God has something else in store for us. Keep us in your prayers.


I spent the afternoon with two of my girlfriends that I've known since I had first moved to Charlotte. They were part of my Sunday School class back at the first church I went to and we've remained good friends over the years. These women are SOO dear to me and I love them so much. Courtney (left) was my roomie for just under a year and we both got engaged while we were living together. She's an awesome photographer, too!!! She's expecting her first child in July. Erin (middle) was Courtney's roomie before me. She and her husband were missionaries in Europe for a while before they settled in Asheville last year. Erin's daughter is 10 days younger than Mallory. She has great taste in home decor and keeps a beautiful home. We all met at Erin's house for some girl-talk and baby-talk. It will be so much fun when lil' Courtney comes along!

I love these girls!!! You both are such dear friends and I cherish the relationship I have with you both. I hope our kids will be good friends through the years!

Our Valentine's Day...

was yesterday, Februrary 5th. When we first started dating back in '02, Patrick was in his last year of PT school and was supposed to go up to VA for a 6-week clinical during the majority of Feb and March. He was scheduled to be up there for his first day around the 11th, which meant that he would be gone on Valentine's Day. I was bummed, since it would have been my first V-day with a boyfriend. We decided to celebrate on the 5th instead, since it worked into both of our schedules.

Patrick arrived at my apartment with a dozen long-stemmed red roses, which was the first time I had received roses, too. I was just SOOO excited! I had made dinner for him - Ritz Cracker Casserole - and this meal is still one of his favorites today! I had also made a few other things for him...a picture frame with red-hot hearts glued all around it and a "thought box". The "thought box" was a heart-shaped box that had a pen inside and a stack of little papers that had "My Thought..." and "Date" written on them. I told Patrick that whenever he thought about me, I wanted him to write it down and put it in the box. He could either keep the thought or give it to me at a later time. I had made myself a box, too, and I had the same rules. I wondered if he this idea would make me seem too obsessive, but he really liked it. Over the course of the next several months, we traded thoughts with each other. I especially liked the ones he gave me that were from weeks or months prior. I have all the thoughts he's given me in the past, though they're now packed away in a box for safe keeping. You know, we should probably start that up again...it was so much fun to receive a thought!

Anyway, after dinner, I pulled out a stack of "Conversation Cards" that had a mixture of funny, serious, deep, and even shallow questions on them, which we enjoyed reading through and talking about. Before Patrick left for the night, we danced to a few love songs that I had put together in honor of our first Valentine's Day. It was very romantic.

So, we agreed that if we were still together down the road, that we would continue celebrating Valentine's Day on the 5th of Feb instead of the 14th. And now, 5 years later, we still continue on in the celebration. Last night we had our good friends, Josh and Rosanna, sit with Mallory while we had a nice dinner at a local Italian restaurant, Alta Cucina. It was very romantic and we REALLY needed some time to ourselves. I had pulled out a few "conversation cards" and talked about things other than life's challenges. It was fun to hear what he would name an island if he discovered one, what he would do if he came across a bear in the woods, if he would ever consider writing a book, if he would ever take a bullet for someone else, and his favorite subject in High School. It was fun, off-beat, relaxing, romantic, and VERY refreshing.

Happy Our Valentine's Day, Patrick!

Thursday, February 1, 2007

How to fold a fitted sheet...

I used to get the Martha Stewart Living magazine before we moved and one of the issues had instructions on how to fold a fitted sheet. I never knew how to do until I read this article! My sheet sets were always bulky in the closet and very wrinkled when it was time to change the bedding. These instructions helped me SOO much!

So, in case you're wondering how to get your fitted sheets folded smoothly (leaving your closet more orderly!!!), follow these instructions. Happy folding!