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22 Mar

Thank you, It’s Time for Christmas

24 Nov

It’s Thanksgiving night and that means it’s time to begin the Advent season in our house.

One of our favorite parts of the season is preparing the Christmas tree.  This is usually the very first thing we do the day after Thanksgiving.  Although we put up several trees for various rooms in our home, we carefully and thoughtfully select a live tree for our main tree.  It is usually a Fraser Fir and it fills our home with the aroma of winter.  Lovingly wrapped gifts are heaped beneath the tree for every person we can possibly remember during the season.  We decorate this tree with special ornaments, many of which have been given to us by special friends.  Choosing the tree is a main event to start the Advent season, and it starts the very minute we have cleaned the Thanksgiving turkey leftovers off our plates.

In 2004, Joseph’s first tree was in our rental house in Huntsville.  Since that time, we have tried to get a picture in front of the tree at some point during the season.

Photos from 2004 December

In 2005, I decided to combine the tree tradition with another of our favorite traditions, Christmas greeting cards.  I thought it would be a most fabulous idea to take the now-annual tree-shot and make it our Christmas greeting card.  We so look forward to getting Christmas cards during the Advent season, and we have always looked forward to the day when we could share similar joy with our friends and family near and far.  What better way than to put the tree photo as our Christmas card picture?

Oh my.

I hardly took into account that my almost-two-year old would not cooperate with looking at the camera…

Photos from 2005 December Christmas

…or would make extra special faces when he did…

Photos from 2005 December Christmas

…or would laugh with such gusto that his cherub face would blur…

Photos from 2005 December Christmas

…or would disassemble the tree, one ornament at a time.

Photos from 2005 December Christmas


The following year I gave him a chance to work out a little energy before we even started the photos:

Photos from 2006 December christmas

And, seeing that we had a little sister involved this year, he was pretty proud to show her off once we settled down and came inside.  Thank goodness for the year 2006.

Photos from 2006 December christmas

In 2007 things were not so easy.  We had to nix the tree shot.  Ornaments were flying.  I was pregnant with our third baby and I just really couldn’t fight the battles like I used to.  I gave them an activity and didn’t even care that they weren’t looking at the camera.  At least they weren’t crying, fighting, or dismantling the tree.

Photo from 2007 December Santa shirts

The next year was a total nightmare.  Anna Clare wasn’t old enough to sit up on her own, so she had to sit in the exersaucer to keep her upright.  I hired a photographer to get the annual tree-shot.  She came to take the picture but my children simply wouldn’t cooperate.  She didn’t get a single picture!  I was left to my own devices.  Just before we took this annual tree-shot, everyone was crying.  Belle really did unwrap the gift in her hand during the photo shoot.   My pre-printed card said “Joy! Joy! Joy!” on the bottom.  All I had was a card of three children screaming.  It just wasn’t going to do.  I took one last shot and–bingo–this is what I got:

Photos from 2009 December Belle

Not perfect, but it would have to suffice.

However, I learned a very important lesson:  Call a professional.

From that point forward, it’s no more tears.  We just call our favorite photographer and let her do the work.  She takes all of five minutes, and the kids love her.  We get a perfect shot every time.  She only takes outdoor, natural light photographs, but I’m willing to leave my tree out of the shot to achieve this:

Photo from 2009 December Cobb Christmas Pictures

I mean, we can always get the tree for our scrapbook, (and who really cares what we wear if it isn’t going on the Christmas card?!)

Photos from 2009 December J3

Here’s our “fun” tree the following year, 2010:

Photos from 2010 December Christmas

So our tradition has changed a little over time, but the ideas are still the same.  Here we are now on Thanksgiving night.  We have given thanks and counted our blessings and we are ready to prepare our hearts for Christ’s birthday.  We will begin tomorrow with our tree shopping.  As we are out selecting the perfect tree to decorate, many of our friends and family will find this in their mailboxes:

Photo from Nov 4, 2011

We hope it brings them — and you — much joy this holiday season.

Merry Christmas!

Full Circle

28 Oct
Last year about this time we were preparing for Boo’s surgery.  It was the first time one of our children would have surgery, a simple tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy/ear tubes, commonly done in children of her age, but I was a wreck nonetheless.  You see, we’d spent three and a half years chronicling every sniff and sneeze, every half-degree rise in her temperature, every abnormal movement she made.  Her hair was not normal.  Her blood work was not normal.  Nothing was out-of-bounds so much that it could be categorized as “eyebrow-raising” which, on one hand, made us very, very thankful. But on the other hand, this meant no doctor could follow her condition long enough for a true diagnosis.  Her first pediatrician said she’d possibly grow out of it, whatever it might be.  Three local dermatologists had differing opinions, ranging from “there’s nothing wrong with your daughter” to “there’s nothing we can do for her: better learn to live with it.”   Our second pediatrician was nothing if not persistent, which paid off in the long run.  She sent us to a slew of out of town specialists, many of whom consulted more specialized physicians than themselves.  Meanwhile, Boo endured test after test, doctor’s office after doctor’s office, needle stick after needle stick, and even the child psychologist, because after all, maybe it did originate in her head after all.  I mean, when I think back on it all, we really did do everything humanly possible, and all that time the answer was right under our noses.
It’s no understatement to many when I say that God’s time isn’t our own and this was no exception.  It took this level of persistence for us to have the opportunity to exercise our faith.  We were able to demonstrate to our God that we did in fact trust He would have an answer for us, and goodness knows we were going to stick with Him until He provided it.  I prayed over that child every day, and once we even layed hands on her at church and prayed over every precious strand of hair on her head.  Didn’t take too long, as there weren’t many. 


Last year we celebrated Halloween at Disney World.  Last year precious Boo had little hair.  There was tiny bits of growth due to the high-powered antibiotics she’d been on since August (and pretty much all year, sporadically) but it was sparse, coarse and prone to falling out without a moment’s notice.   She was still a precious and beautiful little girl, no doubt, but she was really missing a major component of who she would really become–I had no idea until lately how true this would be.  And she was so sick!  We spent much of our trip in first aid stations all over the Disney World parks and even consulted the Disney Doctor (who knew?!).    

The week we came home Boo had her surgery.  It was no small thing.  Though it wasn’t even “medically indicated” as they say, turns out the surgeon was stumped by the whole procedure.  He said those were the ugliest tonsils and adenoids he’d ever seen!  He sent them to pathology–the whole things!  Wonder of wonders…it wasn’t anything scary like cancer or lymphoma.  It was strep.  Good old garden variety.  Blown to such proportions that it was a wonder Boo was even able to harbor it all. 

With all of that gone from her system, he said, she’d sure feel a lot better.  He couldn’t make any promises about her hair, but he knew she’d have to feel better.

Well that was a year ago.  A year later we had to send a letter via mailbox to our pediatrician because it had been so long since we’d seen her.  Not only that, but Boo has grown a full 4 inches and the thickest, curliest, most beautiful head of hair you have ever seen on a little 4-year-old girl.  We really are the blessed recipients of a full-blown miracle.  It took faith and persistence and belief that God would answer our prayers to do this.

Last year, Boo was not able to do the Bibbity Bobity Boutique because she didn’t even have enough hair to brush, let alone put it in a princess bun atop her head.  This year, at Disney World, Boo–with hair far too unruly to be tamed into one of those little buns anyway– got her hair glittered at the Barber shop on Main Street.  

Then she got it wrapped by the Island lady in Adventureland.

Pride may be a sin, but we were sporting some serious happiness that day.  We have come a long way, sweet baby.  And I will never, ever let you forget the prayers we said over every curl on that rich little head.

Ten on Tuesday

5 Oct

October 2010

1.  It’s fall, y’all.  Our heater is on, but I also left the doors wide open all afternoon to let the outside air in.  I love the fall!

2.  A couple of months ago I planned a trip to Disney World but told my kids we couldn’t go until AC was potty trained.  Today is a landmark day.  I can make good on my promise. 

3.  I am not sure how I feel about #2.  It will be awesome to be diaper-free!  And I am excited to find new uses for the changing table.  But…AC is our last child.  Our babies are gone!

4.  We’re going to Disney World!  Next week!  Talk about good timing.

5.  My friend Susan suggested a new planner/calendar that she likes–A LOT.  After reading about these awesome calendars I realized how much I missed my old planner.  (Funny, because said-friend-Susan is a former teacher-friend, and our former school supplied us with planner calendars that we were required to use…perhaps this planted the seed to be bound to paper calendars forever?)  Anyway, it has been TEN YEARS since I have used a paper planner.  TEN.  In that ten years I have become massively proficient at using the computer, and extremely dependent on my Outlook electronic calendar.  Last week I bought my own version of the family_time.mine calendar.  I have been using it for a week, computer-free, and I love it!  Check out the whole line here.

6.  As a result of #5, I have become much less dependent on the computer.  I feel free as a bird!

7.  I’ve also factored out a lot of unnecessary things in our family’s life.  If I had to write it down a gazillion times on the paper week-by-week portion of the calendar, it better be worth the effort.  If it wasn’t, I just scratched it right out of life.  Just like that.

8.  Have you read this book?  You should.

9.  My friend and I are dieting together.  It’s a financial diet.  We are trying to see where we can shave the most money from our budget and sock it away for our individual goals.  She wants lots of new furniture for their new house.  I want an addition on our house.   It’s fun already.

10.  As a result of #9, today I used something for the first time in 9 years (maybe more).  I usually send my pressing out.  Today…I used the iron.

The Preschool Years: Easter

19 Apr

March 2007

I love it when they do exactly what you tell ’em to do.  “Hide your eyes…”

The Preschool Years: Palm Sunday

19 Apr

March 2007

Palm Sunday.  While I know it isn’t right to be prideful, I can’t help but have a full heart to see my children dressed in their finest against this lovely backdrop before worshiping on this most special day of the year.   Dressing in coordinating outfits is something of a Sunday tradition, and my goodness, they do look beautiful today!

The Preschool Years: Snow

19 Apr

February 2007

Our first real snowman!

The Preschool Years: Thanksgiving

18 Apr

November 2006

Nobody loves having a party more than me.  And no one loves hosting a holiday more than me.  It is no surprise that J3 likes to get “the whole family” together, probably for the same reasons I do.  In fact, he’d like for us all to live under the same roof.  ALL of us, both sides, all generations, as many as we can pack into one compound. 

For Thanksgiving anyway, we made it happen.

The Preschool Years: Halloween

18 Apr

October 2006

Halloween was fun at Botanical Garden.  (Belle with fingers in mouth as usual…)

Fireman and pumpkin (traditional first Halloween attire)

Testing out the firetruck (at the real station)

And acting like goblins.

J3: The preschool years

18 Apr

January 2005

Suddenly “getting into everything” has a whole new meaning.  This is in our rental house.  This drawer beneath the oven keeps J3 busy while I cook.

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