Beautiful Life

Hey child up and go; A big world is out there waiting for us to live in every day. Outside you will find, there is love all around you; Takes you, makes you wanna' say; That it's a beautiful life and it's a beautiful world and it's a beautiful time to be here, to be here, to be here. -Fisher

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

From St. Louis

This is will be my last post from St. Louis for a while. We will leave in a few hours and head towards our next adventure. CHICAGO! I have been looking things up and there is sooooo much to do there. I know we are going to have fun and we can't wait to see our friends again!

Yesterday was so nice in St. Louis that we just couldn't waste that good weather inside. Charleston is so hot and humid by now that you can't do anything we wanted to take advantage of the warm and breezy day! So, we wandered over to the zoo again this year. Did I mention that this place is free....another reason to go! We only had three hours and I knew I wouldn't be left feeling like I didn't get my money's worth since I didn't spend any!

Boy what a difference a year makes. Last year Claire was in the stroller with a blanket over her head. She was very afraid of animals and did not want to see any of them! This year she was out of her stroller and pointing and looking and getting close. She loved it! I loved watching her enjoy the day. Fun was had by all!

And, right at the end she conked out in the stroller. The End!

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Godsend!

Dr. Dobbs is a Godsend, I tell you! That man is worth every mile we drive to get Claire here to the Shriner's Hospital in St. Louis to see him. He examined her this morning, complete with pictures and x-rays. She cried, of course. But, she got over it quickly. Her feet look terrific! Everything is as it should be. And, about her hips? NO SURGERY!!!!! He said he would absolutely not do any surgery on her hips now and probably not ever! Of course, she will need hip x-rays every year to follow her, but he really didn't see why she would ever need hip surgery! Praise God! He expressed the same thoughts that Mrs. Denise, our physical therapist, had...that you could take a perfectly mobile child and change everything by doing hip surgery. He said that she is a mylo child (meaning she has spina bifida), and that their hips are different. Period. You can not expect her hips to do what normal hips are going to do and if you try to make them "normal" with hip surgery, you can make them stiff and leave her unable to walk on her own! Can you imagine???? Thank God for Dr. Dobbs!

Oh, happy day! I just think, what if we didn't have internet? What if I'd never heard of Dr. Dobbs or the Ponseti method? What if Claire had had foot surgery and was about to have hip surgery? Would she end up in a wheel chair forever? Would she have ever walked? What if???
I just thank God so much for leading me in the direction we have gone with Claire. It has all been an answer to our prayers! Thank you to everyone that was kneeling with us! You have no idea what a relief it is to know that Dr. Dobbs doesn't think she needs hip surgery!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Not Long Enough!

Parker, Anna, Isabel holding YoYo, Shane, Noah, Me Claire and Paul

We made it Tennessee in record time......for us. Let's see. That would be 7 hours from my parent's house. Give or take. Anna, Shane and YoYo came to get us at our hotel and it was so wonderful to see those guys! Our visit with them was not long enough and we miss them already!

Don't these kids look so great!

Shane and Anna took us on the coolest tour of Franklin. Who knew it was such a cute place? I loved the historic downtown Franklin. And, we go to see their house and visit with Shiloh the dog. They are practically neighbors with Steven Curtis Chapman and Michael W. Smith. Okay, not really, but they did show us the direction in which those cool people lived!

And guess what this blur is? That is Toby Mac's HOUSE!! Right there on the main drag in Franklin! HELLO! Okay, maybe that is only cool to me and my kids.

Then we went out to eat and bowling, which was a total blast. Isn't that guy the cutest?? I mean, Really! It doesn't get better than watching a four year old bowl. YoYo really got into the game and I so love his deep voice! So CUTE!

The kids had a great time and YoYo warmed up after a little time.

Claire is so cute when she bowls! She has to pick up her foot like the grown-ups do it!

YoYo really took to Isabel....which is not how it's supposed to happen. But, whatever!

We had a really great visit, but like I said, it wasn't long enough. We are going to need to plan a whole vacation up in the Nashville area so we can spend more time with the Caudills.

Thanks for a great time, Shane, Anna and YoYo!

We left Franklin after breakfast this morning...well, not right after. I think we got on the road by noon! But the important thing is that we made it into Missouri in time for dinner! Toasted ravioli, people! This is not something you can get down in good ole South Carolina. Never even heard of it until we discovered that all the Italian restaurants in St. Louis serve it....tried it, loved it! So, St. Louis mean toasted ravioli to me! Tomorrow morning is Claire's doctor's appointment and then we leave for Chicago and our favorite friends (just kidding, Anna), the Gulkes on Tuesday!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Wouldn't You Know...

When I woke up this morning I was ahead of the the time we left for our trip, we were THREE HOURS behind schedule! Paul left for the vet's office around 9:00am this morning. We knew that we needed to get Georgia in before we left for this trip. He didn't get back until 1:00pm! Apparently every animal in Charleston also needed to see our vet! The vet said she's a....and I quote "cow". Yes, thank you! Our girl weighed in at 105lbs of pure black lab love. She also has an ear infection (thank you, Michelle for the early diagnosis)....actually, a yeast infection in her ears. That would be thanks to the little dogs licking her ears all the time! Ewwwww! Otherwise, she's as healthy as a horse....ummm, cow!

Anyhoo! As luck would have it, we also discovered a nail in one of our tires while Paul was rotating them this afternoon. Nothing like waiting until the last minute to do the car maintenance. But, what can I say, that man is busy! So, off to Wally World to get a tire plugged. That cost us another hour.

At least we had a nice smooth drive with no bad weather. We made it to my parents in the customary three hours and are currently trying to get everyone wrangled into bed!

So, it's off to Tennessee tomorrow! See ya later gator!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What could this mean?

Yes, yes, that I have a clean van.
But, what about this?

That could only mean one thing!

Road Trip!

We leave tomorrow and will be on and off the road for the next 10 days. Yes. I said 10. But, it should be really fun...except for the part where we are spending 36 hours in a car over the course of the 10 days....that's 2207 miles folks. That's a lot of pavement! Where will our travels take us this year? Glad you asked! When we leave on Friday, it's just to get a head start on getting to Tennessee Saturday. We are going to overnight at my parent's house and then hit the road Saturday morning. Our plan is to get to Franklin Tennessee as early in the afternoon as we can so we can spend some quality time with our Friends, the Caudills. The Caudills were in our travel group last year in China. Their son is YoYo. Affectionately referred to as "The Betrothed". If you want to get a peak at Claire's future husband, feel free to check out all the cute pictures here.
Where was I? Oh yeah...after that, we are moving forward to St. Louis. ST. LOUIS! I love St. Louis. I have no idea why. It's just an American city. But, I just love seeing that arch when we cross the river to Missouri. I can't wait to have me some toasted ravioli and I can't wait for Dr. Dobbs to see Claire walking! Claire has an appointment on Monday morning with the good Doctor. This is a follow-up to all he did last year. But, we are also having him give us a second opinion on her hips. Dr. H, our orthopedist here, has stated that she wants to do hip surgery on Claire in the near future. This surgery is "controversial" according to her own Progress Notes and we were advised by Claire's physical therapist to seek a second opinion. So we are. With Dr. Dobbs. Please be in prayer on Monday, that we will have peace with his recommendation. And, even more importantly, that we will know what to do if he suggests surgery as well. I really, really trust Dr. Dobbs judgement, so there will be no need for a third opinion. The problem is that if he also believes she needs surgery, who do we let do it? Him or Dr. H? Paul would rather Dr. Dobbs do the surgery. But, if we let him do it, that will mean lots more travel and quite frankly we don't have the funds for that. It would also mean insulting Dr. H. Now, I know what you are thinking. Who cares if you insult Dr. H. Do what is best for Claire. It's not that simple. See, we can't up and jump in the car to head to St. Louis every time Claire needs to see an orthopedist....which is no less than twice a year. She has to have a local doctor to follow her progress for the rest of her life. There are many orthopedic issues to do with spina bifida. Spine, hips, legs, feet. That's a lot to cover. Dr. H is our best option for that here and if we insult her, we will have to deal with that for years to come. HELP!

Okay, now that I've gotten that off my chest....the rest of the trip. On Tuesday we are heading north from St. Louis. North to Chicago! More importantly, north to the Gulke's! If you don't remember them, go back to this post. We are so excited to get to spend time with this wonderful family of friends! We met our second day in China and clicked right away. Scott and Paul are like peas in a pod. Hilarious! Karla and I have so much in common...besides our nutty husbands! And, they have great kids. GREAT KIDS! I love my kids to be around their kids! We will be staying with the Gulkes from Tuesday until Sunday, when we hit the road again. For that long, two day, drive home. But, I'm not complaining! It will be worth it to get to see good friends and have fun times in old and new places! Can't wait to share it will you guys!

On that note, I was reflecting on our travels from last summer. Claire had only been in our family for a few weeks when we hit the road to St. Louis last June. We learned to cath her TWO DAYS before we left. Boy was that fun! Not only did we not have clue what we were doing, but now we had to do it in public restrooms from here to Missouri. Every three hours! Back then, it took two of us to get it done too. Paul has seen the inside of every women's restroom in six states! Plus, that kid screamed the whole time...thanks to a lovely UTI she got immediately after we started cathing her! Good times, people! New baby, special circumstances, language barrier, bonding issues...bad recipe for traveling. But, you know what. We still had a good time!

Claire didn't talk back then either. She really didn't. She just watched us and pointed to things. But, it was on those trips that she started to talk. I think it's because we spent so much time all together in very close proximity (read shoved in a van full of stuff). How could you not learn to talk with five other people saying so much, in your face, all the time! Now she doesn't stop talking. I know I've said that before, but it's true. When I strap her in the car seat, that's her cue to ask 100 questions......"Where are we going? Where is that? When will we be there? What are we going to do? Why are we going? Do I like it? Can I walk there? Who will be there? Is Daddy going? Is Parker going? Is Noah goingisIsabelgoingamIgoing?" Breathe child!!! By this time we have turned out of our neighborhood onto the highway. So she starts over! Boy, this year is going to be different!

So, the house is clean, the luggage is filling up, the petsitter has been alerted......we're outa here tomorrow! Prayers for safe travel and maybe some extra patience would be a great thing right now!


I have some stuff to blog about, but everything and anything I have to say can wait. What can't wait? Landon. Landon can not wait. He needs our prayers now. Please, Please go here to Significant Source and read about Landon. If you need more background, go here.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Kitchen Table

You know the saying, You don't know what you've got until it's gone? Well, a very, very, very, very long time ago 3 months and 3 weeks ago, we gutted our kitchen, for the oh so amazing transformation from the 1980's "contemporary tract home" look to 21st century chic something nicer! In doing so, we had to remove the table from the kitchen and for a while, it found a new home in the boys bedroom upstairs. This provided a place for the kids to eat their meals, but was too tight a squeeze for Paul and me. *sigh* We ate at t.v. trays in another room. Then the summer arrived, and the table was disassembled and stashed in the attic to make room for the floor to be turned into a giant know, so all those visiting kids would have some place to sleep. That has made for a big fat mess an interesting dining experience at our house! Let. me. just. tell. you.

I finally broke down....on Father's Day. My kitchen is not complete yet, but I had to have a table. And chairs. We had invited the in-laws for a Father's Day dinner, and I just couldn't see Frank and Marie Glen and Dianne sitting on the floor with their plates in their laps! Ahem. Can you?

Part of our Un-Extreme Makeover was to buy a new kitchen table to go with the new kitchen. Nothing expensive. I had two had to BIG and it had to have lots of sturdy chairs. We found one that fit the bill at a local "massed produced stuff" store. You know what I'm talking about. I don't care if my furniture has a history............can it seat 10 and will the chairs still be functional in 10 years???? That's what I care about!

Five boxes. Three hours of labor. One power drill. Tada! Table. And chairs. And just for good measure, a bench!

Easily sat eight last night with room for more!

Yes, Paul had to put it together, and I know I should be ashamed for making him pick up a drill on Father's Day. But hey, it would have taken longer with a screw driver....

We put three kids on one side and could have put at least one more, maybe two small ones!

So, there is no trim in this kitchen yet. Not around the doors or the floors.

Some of the switches and outlets have been.....ummmm, switched. Others haven't.

The back splash? Most of it is still in the box. One piece is leaning against the wall. So, I can love it even if it isn't in place yet.

Ooooo, I love it!

And, that darned, so called "laundry room" still doesn't have doors.....or floor for that matter (interesting story there-ahem).

Notice anything else? No grout. Haven't gotten around to that yet. *sigh* But, we will. Soon. Maybe.

But, WE'VE GOT A TABLE dad gonnit!

And, we shared our first family dinner around it with Meme and Papa. It was very lovely!

Paul and I were both raised having dinner around a table and we know it's a good thing! We just almost forgot what it was like after so long! Weeks and weeks of sitting in front of the t.v. can eat at your brain I think. So, tonight there will be no Jon and Kate with our baked ziti. Hannah Montana is not coming to dinner. Those Jonas boys can go eat in their bus. It will just be Parker and Noah, Claire and Isabel......and me. Sadly, Paul will not enjoy our 2nd-family-dinner-in-the-new-kitchen. But, he'll be here for the next!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

To the Dad that trained my husband....

~Glen Stroud~

And the one that taught me what to look for.

~Parker Shaw~

And to the most amazing man alive,
my wonderful husband and the the father of our 5 children!
~Paul Gour~
to these three wonderful men
and to all the father's out there.
God Bless You!

Friday, June 19, 2009

I Missed It

Again. I missed the Wednesday Prayer Meetin' again. Oh, I have plenty of excuses for why I haven't been on here updating know, it's summer. Beach. Pool. Swim team. Kids. Groceries. Laundry. So, now it's Friday....but, I pray everyday and I bet most of you do too. So, please go here and read this and pray for Landon. Because Landon really needs us.....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Beach Bums

We have had rain nearly everyday for what seems to me to be the last month. Thankfully, even when it pours and storms at my house West Ashley, the beaches around here are sunny and clear. Thankfully. Because, we really are beach bums. We have enjoyed time at both Isle of Palms and Folly Beach recently.

As I write this, we are bracing for yet another possible severe storm over our house....and we have a swim meet tonight! So, I will get Claire up from her nap, and begin the chore of prepping for that. Even though it may get stormed out.....I can't say rained out, because they swim in the rain, just not the lightning. I will not take my camera and risk having it soaked. I am the sort of lame-brain that would forget I have it in my hand when it starts raining and let it get ruined. So, you can enjoy these pictures from our lazy beach days. I use the word lazy loosely. As if you can be lazy while taking 7 kids to the beach! Puh-leeeeze! It's a work-out just getting the van packed to go for a few hours....never mind keeping up with all the kids! But, do enjoy the pictures!

Friday, June 12, 2009

What Husband?

What husband would allow this "Cousin Invasion" that happens at our house every summer? What husband would actually enjoy having a house full of children that don't belong to him? What husband would look forward to this every year and claim that he misses them when they are gone at the end of the summer? What husband, indeed?

Obviously, he's brainwashed, right? Certifiable? I personally think that after the first few years he took an "if you can't beat um, join um" attitude! They were coming whether he liked it or not and he knew he didn't stand a chance of fighting it. Now, he not only enjoys getting his tail whipped at Apples to Apples joins us for game night and occasionally for chick flicks, but he plans some things he can do with them too!

'Cause what teenage girl doesn't need to know how to handle a gun? Right????

This is just scary.

Of course, the boys had a turn too!

Okay, so maybe she's a good shot and she even looks like she had fun.