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Mandy Clay, a great friend of mine from work, is a new mother to Moxy...a precious little girl.  I must say Mandy is becoming a terrific mom...she just has a natural motherly instinct.   Moxy is so laid back and will give you the most serious look...but then she will smile and melt your heart.  Mandy has always been concerned that she give her baby every advantage (even while she was pregnant with her.)  She is breast feeding Moxy and pumps to be sure that there is never a time when her sweet pea goes without the nourishment that comes from breast feeding.

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There was never a doubt that when Moxy got old enough to start eating baby food...Mandy would make her own.  She knew that this would be much healthier and cost effective. She has sent several recipes and I am including them all.  I am sure you could vary them in any way that you would want to.


 
Tools:
Pot
Vegetable steamer
small mesh strainer
food processor
ice cube trays
freezer bags 

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*Carrots:
bag of frozen carrot
steam the carrots till tender. place in a food processor (or blender).
process till smooth.
add the cooking liquid 1 tablespoon at a time

*Peas:
bag of frozen peas
steam the peas till tender.
place in a food processor (or blender).
process till smooth.
add the cooking liquid 1 tablespoon at a time.
push the peas through a fine mesh strainer (this can be omitted as they get
use to the textures, I stopped doing this after the 1st month on solids)

*Apples:
5 apples (Macintosh, Gala or Braeburn)
Wash & peal & core apples.
cut into chunks.
steam the apples till tender.
place in a food processor (or blender).
process till smooth.
add the cooking liquid 1 tablespoon at a time.

*Pears:
5 pears
Wash & peal & core pears.
cut into chunks.
steam the pears till tender.
place in a food processor (or blender).
process till smooth.
add the cooking liquid 1 tablespoon at a time.

Banana & Avocado
Both of these you don't have to cook, all you have to do is mush them
up. I find adding a little breast milk helps with the consistency

The above foods are great for introducing you baby to solids

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*Sweet Potatoes:
2 large sweet potatoes
Wash & peal sweet potatoes.
cut into chunks.
steam the sweet potatoes till tender.
place in a food processor (or blender).
process till smooth.
add the cooking liquid 1 tablespoon at a time


*Zucchini:
3 zucchini
Wash & peal zucchini.
cut into chunks.
steam the zucchini till tender.
place in a food processor (or blender).
process till smooth.
add the cooking liquid 1 tablespoon at a time (I now leave the skin on)

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*Squash:
bag of frozen squash
steam the squash till tender.
place in a food processor (or blender).
process till smooth.
add the cooking liquid 1 tablespoon at a time

*Spinach:
bag of fresh or frozen spinach
steam the spinach till tender.
place in a food processor (or blender).
process till smooth.
add the cooking liquid 1 tablespoon at a time

*Mango:
bag of frozen mango
steam the mango till tender.
place in a food processor (or blender).
process till smooth.
add the cooking liquid 1 tablespoon at a time

*Blueberry:
bag of frozen blueberries
steam the blueberries till tender.
place in a food processor (or blender).
process till smooth.
add the cooking liquid 1 tablespoon at a time

/The above foods are great 2nd stage for your baby

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As they get older don't be afraid to mix the food. Moxy LOVES spinach and sweet potatoes. Also the fruits mix well with her oatmeal or yogurt.

Storing food
Get a ice cube tray and fill each cube to the top with food (the ones with a (*) can be frozen), each cube is 2 table spoons. Put the tray in the freezer for 24 hours. Pop out the cubes and place in a labeled freezer bag (food and date). When starting food 1 cube is a serving then it moves up to 2 cubes.

These are some simple and basic recipes for baby food. I have more if you want them.

 
 
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If it’s one thing every parent enjoys is seeing a sign that says: “Kids Eat FREE!” To give you a head’s up on your next family meal out on the town, check out this awesome list of restaurants offering FREE Kids Meals. *Remember – it’s always best to ask first, as participation may vary.

A
Applebees – Kids eat for free on Monday Nights. 1 free kids meal per adult entree purchase but additional kids are only $1.00. Participation may vary.

B
Backyard Burger – Kids eat free on Tuesdays and Thursdays after 4 pm with adult entree purchase.
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s – Kids 10 and under eat free from 4-8pm on Tuesdays with adult entree purchase.
Bennigan’s – Kids eat free on Tuesdays with one adult entree purchase.
Bruster’s Real Ice Cream – Kids who are under 40 inches tall receive a free baby cone.

C
Captain D’s – Kids eat free restaurants offer the deal on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Limited to 2 free kid’s meals for each adult dinner purchased.
Champps Americana – For every paying adult two children can eat free.
Carrow’s – Kids 10 and under eat for free on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Chik-fil-A – On Tuesdays when you purchase a combo meal you get a free child’s meal.
Cici’s Pizza – Kids 3 and under eat free 7 days a week.
Culver’s – Children receive a free cup of custard with their meal.

D
D’amico and Sons – Kids eat free on Sunday Evenings.
Damon’s Grill – Kids 12 and under get a free kid’s meal on Thursdays. 1 free per adult entree.
Denny’s – Kids eat free on Tuesdays and (some locations) Saturdays. From 4-10 PM.
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit – Kids 12 and under eat for free on Sundays. 1 adult entree and a child’s drink is a required purchase.

F
Famous Dave’s – Kids eat free on Tuesdays (could vary by location).
Friendly’s – Kids eat free on Tuesdays (adult meals have discounts on Tues, as well). Can vary by location.
Firehouse Subs – Kids 12 and under eat free from 4-9pm on Wednesdays and Sundays. One per each adult purchase.
Fuddruckers – (not free but cheap) 12 and under can eat for .99 (drink is included) from 4-9pm on Mondays and Tuesdays. Locations my vary.

G
Gatti Town Buffet – Kids 10 and under get a free kid’s buffet on Wednesday. 1 free child per adult buffet purchase.
Godfather’s Pizza – Kids 10 and under get a free buffet from 11am – 2pm and 5-8pm on Tuesdays.
Golden Corral – Kids eat free on Tuesday Nights.

H
Holiday Inn – Adults always have to pay, but they do have kids eat free restaurants. Call your local Holiday Inn for details.

I
IHOP – Kids eat free everyday. Not valid at all locations.
Islands – Kids eat free on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

J
Jason’s Deli – Kids eat free at Jason’s Deli on Sundays.

L
Lonestar Steakhouse – Kids 12 and under eat free on Tuesdays – all day. 2 children per adult entree.

M
Macaroni Grill – Kids get a free drink and ice cream with their meals.
Moe’s Southwest Grill – Kids eat for free on Mondays with the purchase of an adult entree.

O
O’Charley’s – Kids 12 and under eat free every evening.
On the Border Mexican Grill – Free sundae with kid’s meal purchase.

P
Perkins – Kids eat free at Perkins all day on Tuesdays.
Piccadilly – Kids 6 and under eat for free Monday – Saturday.
Pizza Hut – Kids eat free on Tuesday Evenings – may vary per location.
Pizza Street – Kids 9 years and under eat free from the buffet on Tuesday from 5-8pm.
Planet Sub – Kids eat free on Tuesdays and Sundays with each adult meal purchased.
Ponderosa Steakhouse – Kids eat free from 4pm to close on Tuesdays.

Q
Qdoba Mexican Grill – Kids eat free at Wednesdays (some locations) and Sundays (some locations) .
Quaker Steak and Lube – Kids eat for free 5pm to 10pm on Mondays.

R
Red Robin – Kids 10 and under can eat for free on Monday and Tuesday from 5-9pm
Rock Bottom Cafe – Kids 12 and under eat free on Mondays and Tuesdays
Ruby’s Diner – Kids 12 and under eat for free Ruby’s Diner after 4pm on Tuesday (call to make sure your Ruby’s is participating.

S
Salsarita’s – Kid’s eat free with purchase of an adult entree.
Shari’s Restaurant – Kids eat free on Saturdays and Sundays from 4-9pm.
Shoney’s – Kids 4 or younger eat free everyday with an adult entree purchase.
Souper! Salad! – Kids 4 and under at free and kids 5-12 eat for $2.49 on Sunday.
Space Aliens – Kids 10 and under get a free kids pizza along and 10 game tokens on Tuesdays with the purchase a regular price adult entree.
Steak n’ Shake – Kids can eat free (12 & under) with a purchase of an adult entree valued at $8 or more.
Sweet Tomatoes-Kids under 2 eat free

T
Texas Roadhouse – Mondays or Tuesdays (check your location) kids 12 and under eat free.
Texas Land & Cattle – Kids 12 and under eat free on Saturdays from 11am – 4pm. 2 free kid’s meals for each adult entree.
TGI Friday’s – Kids 3 and under eat for free on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Tropical Smoothie Cafe – Kids eat free on Sundays (participating locations).
Tony Roma’s – All of Tony Roma’s Kids Eat Free Restaurants offer the deal for 12 and under on Tuesdays.
Tumbleweed Southwest Grill – Kids 12 and under eat free on Sundays. 1 kids’ meal free for each adult entree.

Z
Zebbs Grill & Bar – Kids 10 and under eat free on Sundays with each adult meal purchased.

Thanks, FamilyFrugalFun!


 
 
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Just one of the fun days I had with my children.

   We went to Sam A Baker Park to camp out in a cabin :) I was loving it because we got a cabin located by the basketball courts for the older kids and also by the play ground for the younger kids. I could set by the fire or be working on dinner out side and see the kids playing.

   Now maybe some would call me over protecting my kids, but I wanted to keep them safe. That's the mom in me.

On the first day I told the kids that the older ones could go play basketball while I prepared our lunch for us to go to the water.  The younger ones could go to the playground, BUT, they had to wear these whistles I had bought. I had put them on a piece of ribbon,so I put them around there neck.   I said to the younger ones, "Mommie can see you... so don't worry, but if you get scared of something blow the whistle." Everyone went their way, except for Shawndra... she was only 18 months old so I kept her with me.  I got her looking the other way at something and pointed so that the other kids could take off to there play area.   You see, if they didn't sneak away... they would have to take her, haha, and like they really wanted to do that....so they know the drill.

Now the fun began!   I was getting lunch ready, and Shawndra went back to playing, but not before she checked around for the other kids.  I am sure in her little head she wondered how they could make themselves disappear like that :)  Then I heard it, the whistle, loud and clear, going off tweet tweet tweet tweet ect..   I picked up Shawndra, and ran as fast as I could, down a small hill and across the lawn to the playground. The older kids Dawn, Shawn, and one of Dawn's friends Kelli who came with us on vacation, and Chana, my third born, ( I had made Chana one of the big kids that day so she could play basketball, she loved being one of the big kids :) anyway, they heard the whistle too and all came running to the play ground. 

Amanda had climbed up one step on the cross bars and was pointing down with her whistle in her month tweeting over and over.... "What's wrong Amanda?" I said as I ran over to her. "A spider, it's down on the ground Mommie... it tried to bite me!"  I looked down and of course I saw nothing, (what spider would stick around with all that tweeting going on...:) I looked at Kendra... saying nothing... because as soon as I looked at her she said, "Don't ask me Mommie, I didn't see it, I just climbed up the ladder on this end cause I was scared!"   The older kids just looked a little bit mad then laughed and ran back to the basketball court. I told Amanda the spider was gone and to just blow the whistle when it was something real bad... like a strange dog, or if one of them fell and there was blood. 

Okay, so we are all back to our thing. And there it went again tweet, tweet, tweet, I picked up Shawndra and ran to the play ground again, along with the older kids.  Kendra was sitting at the bottom of the slide on her bottom crying, Amanda was blowing the whistle for Kendra.   "Are you hurt? What hurts honey?" I asked, as I stood Shawndra down beside me.   Amanda taking Shawndra's hand saying,"Be careful baby you can get hurt around here!"  Looking from Amanda back to Kendra, I said again, "Where are you hurt... are you bleeding somewhere?"  "Yes Mommie I must be bleeding on my butt cause it hurts, the slide just pushed me to hard!" Then Dawn with her hand on her hip said, "Mom... you really think this whistle thing is going to work?"  I looked at Kendra and ask, "Wheres the blood honey?"  Kendra said, "Mommie, I haven't looked, I just know there must be blood... you look!"  I stood her up, dusted her off and couldn't see anything.  The older kids ran off laughing, "Kendra" I said, "I don't see anything... I think your okay."  And she said, "We are going back with you Mommie, this park is just to mean!"  Taking my hand... we walked slowly behind Amanda who was holding Shawndra's hand saying, "Come on baby, this park is mean, we are never coming back here again."  Smiling I walked slowly back with them, They played around me while I finished packing lunch.

The rest of the day was fun, and yes... the whistles were put away.  We hiked to the shut in to swim.  On the way, Amanda said her legs hurt, so Kelli carried her.  Their dad had Shawndra on his back... and we all hiked, rested and hiked.   The shut in was beautiful!  As I watch them all playing in the water, I thanked God for them.  What a boring life I would have without them, I loved every minute of raising my children.  Oh yes... while watching them play in the water, Kendra came up and said, "Mommie I think I need that whistle, there are things moving in this water!" :)  Laughing, I said, "I will sit with you."   So Shawndra and I waded out a ways in the water and sat down, while Amanda and Kendra played happily around me.

   Having six kids and always taking extra kids along, I could tell you a lot of storys, but this was a very fun time  camping at Sam A Baker Park.
_____________________________________

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My Children and other kids would tell you the story of how sometimes when I was ready to mop the kitchen floor, (I had an older house when they were all younger and the rooms were large.) I had taken the chairs all out of the kitchen.  It was raining out side so I told them to put their swimsuits on. When they all came down they were ready. My cousins daughter was at the house, this is something Dianne remembers even today. This was something I did, it was fun for them on days when they couldn't go outside. I pored the bucket of soapy water out on the kitchen  floor, and Shawn slide across the water on his belly and the girls all sit or somehow started sliding around on the floor also, once in a while there was a bump but they were all having to much fun to holler about it. The older ones would pull the younger ones around on wet soapy towels, they loved it, and my floor was getting clean :) Then I would send them to the tub or out in the rain to get the suds off them. I would then mop up my floor and it would shine like the top of the Chrysler building. HaHa.

   My Children are all grown and living their life, and prayerfully making memories with their children. I will cherish the days of raising my children. And would do all over again.  Kay

 
 
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Dear Kids,
When asked to write a letter to you, I thought of each of you individually, and how much you mean not only to me and this family, but to God.

Christopher, you were my first…my first-born son.  You know, first-borns hold a prominent place in God’s heart and in His word.    You came at an unexpected time in my life, but were never loved any less.  Your big blue eyes and chubby features had you wrapped around my heart the moment I lay eyes on them.  Positively precious!

You were always the stubborn one, ready to argue at a moment’s notice, yet underneath was a kind, caring heart, willing to serve.  I know now those qualities are what help you succeed in your profession as a police officer.  I am proud of you and it especially warms my heart to see the man and father you have become.  Stay the course, son, you are dearly loved – by me, by God.

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Cameron, you were my little toe head.  Your dad and I knew from the start that you were destined to be different when your first words were, “Grey Poupon!”  :-)  You always made me laugh, even when I wanted to string you up by your ears.  I remember you sitting in your room for hours reading your Bible, and somehow I secretly knew that God had His mighty hand upon your life.  Now look at you!  You are in Bible College training to be a Pastor or Missionary.  What a blessing…what a gift.  May He always be the wind that carries you, the strength that lifts you up, and the power that moves you forth.  You make me proud, son, but prouder is your Father in Heaven.

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Meghan, I prayed for you.  I dreamt of having a little girl to hold…to do all the girly things that mommas and daughters should do.  When I found out I was carrying a girl, I literally danced with joy, and joy you have brought me/us from the very first day.  God knew.

With you, life has been a series of unending dramas…some difficult, but mostly all good.  Your determined spirit has definitely tried my patience at times, “Me do it…let me!” Yet, you have grown into a young woman with the kindest, self-less heart – one that believes in all things, hopes in all things, and trusts in most when others would not.  You love God and seek to please Him; how that warms my soul.  I know that God has a plan for you, and will use you to do amazing things.  Listen to Him, and let Him do it.

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Amber, you are so precious!  When you married our son, I couldn’t believe my child was old enough to be a husband, but you stole his heart and from day one we loved you.  Now today, you are the wonderful momma to our precious grandson.  I see your great love for Landon and smile, remembering what I have always felt for my own kids.  You are one of my own, and don’t you forget!  But more importantly, you belong to God and He loves you more than you could ever know.  Never take Him for granted.  Stay close to Him and He will guide you on your journey of motherhood, wife-hood, and womanhood.  He has a plan and wants to enjoy the simple moments with you.  Relish in it!

Landon, my precious grandbaby.  I absolutely adore you.  You rocked my world the moment you came into existence, but especially at your first yelp in this new, strange world.  Your smile leaves me breathless and I absolutely want to drink in every moment we have together, for I know you will grow up and not need grammy as much later on as you do now.  Trust Jesus, baby.  Follow Him.  Thirst after Him.  If you do, your days will be filled with joy and fulfillment, and your eternity secured in the heavens.  I love you always.

With these words, I encourage you all to stay the course, fight the fight, and finish the race.  My prayer is that I have given each a little something to last a lifetime…my love…God’s love.

Forever and always,

Mom

 
 
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Dear Heavenly Father,

I thank you for the blessing of a child.  You knew what was needed for my life to be impacted from the inside out, and You allowed me to care for one of Your treasures to guard and return to You.  I will do the best that I am able, and I ask for you to help…because efforts alone will not win the prize. 

I love you!
Thank You again Lord, in Jesus name I Pray…Amen.
________________________________________
Lex,

Life has definitely been full of blessings at every turn, and you are on the top of the blessing list.  There is no way to imagine life without you.  You are TOTALLY amazing!! You always make me laugh, and you never cease to amaze me.  The spirit inside of you is so full of love... & giving is part of who you are.  A mother could not be more pleased to say “Alexis is my daughter”. 

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Life definitely has its fair share fun!  One of my most favorite memories was at Six Flags.  You had earned a Six Flags ticket because you had read 6 hrs, and you were ready to cash in!!  I remember sitting next to you while you rode your first roller coaster. 

Alexis screaming, “AAAHHHH AAHHHH AAAHHHH AAAHHHH!!!”. 

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PRICELESS!!  And all I could do was laugh the entire time.  Then the last roller coaster ride of the day was a complete different reaction from you.  You were yelling, but because you were having so much fun!!

I’m sooo glad we got the pictures to capture that moment.  J

I’m so thankful for you, you are wonderful, you will do amazing things, and you will touch many many lives!

Super Proud of you!!
Love, Mom

 
 
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Aimee and Jason with their mom Vikki.
LOVE LETTER TO AIMEE & JASON...

You both are so special to me, and I love you so much.  Having you at such a young age, and raising you by myself made life difficult at times, but also make the three of us very close.  I do wish I could have had the time and energy  to enjoy you more, but I guess that is why I so enjoy spending time with you both now.

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Young Aimee
Aimee Jo Michelle, my first born, you were such a beautiful baby and I fell in love the minute I saw you.  We moved from Dallas,TX to Jackson, MS when you were 6 months old, and I had to learn to be a mother without help from family.  You were always the serious one, and you wanted everything to be just so.    

Aimee, I am so proud of the woman, wife and mother you have become.  I am so happy to have David in my family. Your girls are sweet, smart and beautiful...and so precious to me.  I have so enjoyed living in the same town and being a part of your lives.

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Young Jason
First words I heard when Jason was born... "It's a little red headed boy".  You hated your red hair & freckles, but I thought they were adorable. The emergency room doctors knew us well... because you were always getting bumps on your head from spending so much time on your bicycle. You had my personality....just go with the flow.

Jason, I really wish you lived closer, but Ranee is a good reason to move to California.  Despite the distance, I am happy to say I talk to you every Sunday, and you usually call me once during the week.  I really enjoy spending time with you and your family in California.  You have become a good husband and a good father.  The best compliment to you my son is "you are the father you didn't have to be", and Callie and Talor love you. 

 
 
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A letter of love for three of the greatest blessings I ever received. The love I have for you girls started long before you were ever conceived.  God started showing me the many facets of his love, through the relationships I had with friends and family.

 I was gifted by God with a heart so full... that often I couldn’t contain the love I felt for those around me.  When I met your father, I knew that he would be a new lesson in the many aspects of God’s love.  And he was.  God taught Issac and me what it meant to be willing to sacrifice for love.  The sacrifices we faced in life were nothing compared to the sacrifice God made for us, and yet it has helped me to see God so much clearer. 

The love that God planted between your father and I, is like the trunk of a mighty oak tree.  What we both feel for you girls are the big thick branches which are good for climbing and resting in.  I pray that with God’s help we can cradle you in that love the way the best climbing trees can.

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Alana
Alana Eve, my big girl, you were born during one of the hardest years of my life.  Your Papi had been forced to move to Mexico 2 weeks before your birth.  Your warmth, your skin, your eyes, your smiles, your breath is the only thing that kept me above water in those next couple of years.   You were amazing and always so loving. You still are..as I watch you love on your sisters.  My life changed forever the day you were born and I’m sure that I will never be able to express to you how much greater it is now. I have to say I think you are amazing.  The most fun I have with you is when you talk to me.  I love to hear about your day at school, and what you learn about. When you talk about things...your eyes and smile light up a room the way others never could.  You’re only five, so I know... in the years to come, you will be the highlight of many people’s day.  I look forward to being able to stand by and watch you take flight.  I also love when you and I have time alone and I get to read to you.  I’m amazed that now you can read to me to.  All your teachers and day care helpers say you are so smart and such a good girl.  Like my mom always says to me, I want you to never forget that you are so beautiful to me, on the inside as well as the outside.

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Joslin
Joslin Ray, my itty bitty.   Possy, I love you so much.  You have a spunk in you that I know came from my side of the family.  When you were born, life was still a little confusing because it was mine and Alana's first year living in Mexico.  You were the only baby I was able to stay home with full time, and I don’t regret on second of it. One of my favorite memories of you being a baby is laying you down for your naps. You always had so much energy.  I had to sit in the bed and read while you tossed and turned until you finally wore out enough to sleep.  I would then put my book down and just watch your angelic face as you relaxed.  I would just watch you breathe, and fight the urge to kiss you all over your perfect little face.  You are now almost three years old, and so much fun. You still have so much energy and are so silly. You make me laugh so hard, and the look of accomplishment on your face afterwards is just like your Papi.  You are so strong willed, and I know that will take you far in life. You told me the other day in the car that God made you.  I want you to know that God never makes mistakes, and He made you perfect.  When people meet you, they instantly fall in love with your spunk.  You my dear... are perfectly made.

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Lily
Lilian Andrea my baby.  When you were born, we were blessed to have your Maw Maw Kay here in Mexcio with us.  Being able to see my mom love on you filled my heart with so much joy.  You are seriously one of the cutest little things I have ever seen, and anyone who sees you falls in love instantly. You are now 15 months old and are really coming out with your own personality.  It’s a bit feisty and we love it.  My favorite thing to do with you is to growl and act like I’m going to eat you up.  You laugh so hard that it’s addictive.  Even your sisters love to get you laughing, because it’s just so stinking cute. You are really so easy going, and always adjust so readily to any changes that happen in our lives.  I can tell that you are going to be an amazing child as you grow up.  God loves you so very much baby girl, and with His help... Papi and I hope we can help you to see a bit of the love He has for you.

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Making Cookies
Girls I can remember when I was pregnant with Joslin worrying that there was no way I could ever love someone as much as I loved Alana.  Once again God has shown me a bit of how His love works.  I love you each so much, and in your own way that there is no way to put it all in words.  

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Amanda's sweet family
My love for you is unconditional, and even when I have to get on to you it’s only because of that love that I do it.  I cherish every day that I am given with you and look forward to these coming years of getting to watch you each grow into lovely children of God. My prayer will always be that he guides Papi and me... and that He allows you to see His love as clearly as He has shown it to me.

 
 
Dear Children,

When Paula asked me to write about my memories of your childhoods, I almost panicked. You are all adults now, so your childhoods are somewhat in the past. Having 4 children, there are so many memories to sort through. My mind was spinning, how could I choose a few favorites?

You all are so different, even your births, which went from excruciating pain [Mia] to easy peasy [Patricia]. One of you wanting to enter this world backwards [Beau} and the last one [Autumn] who couldn’t wait to get here, coming 6 weeks early. Each of you started your journey at your own pace and have continued that path into adulthood.
We hadn’t lived in Northeast Tennessee long when one winter we were snowed in for the month of January. You older girls were out of school for the New Year break and excited to go back to school. You were up early waiting for the bus when we saw the first hint of what might be little snow clouds moving in. You were only at school for about 3 hours when the words parents do not want to hear, came out over the TV. “School is out due to snow”. The date was January 3rd. The next time I saw you off on the school bus was February 2nd.

While it was thrilling to see the first storm leave up to 18 inches of snow, the next three weeks, not so much. Each storm started about the same way, snowing on the week-ends, melting during the week. By Friday hopes were raising that school would be open on the following Monday, only to be crushed when the snow hit again on Saturday or Sunday.

Power would come and go. By the second storm we were living mostly in the basement, where the wood stove was located. We kept warm, cooked and played games around this little wood burning stove. It was the center of all we did that January.

Mia and Patricia, do you remember keeping the little ones entertained, helping carry in wood and even walking to the local store for supplies? We lived over a mile from the store, so it was a long task for you two to undertake but somehow you always came back with smiles and laughter.

The second time that comes to mind was when Beau was in kindergarten. Beau came home from school with the Chicken Pox. He loved his sisters so much he wanted to share everything with them, including this. Autumn was the next one to catch it and then she spread the joy to her older sisters. Mia, at this time was a freshman in high school. To say she was a little upset about catching this “little kid” illness is an understatement. For the next 3 weeks, I was blessed to have all my babies under one roof, in different stages of itching, laughing, crying, eating, not eating and just plain grumpiness. Age made no difference, chicken pox proved to be a lover of all.

While both of these memories might seem to be of hardship and trouble, it is rare that we have a family gathering that one of you do not bring up a story from one of these special times in our lives. Hearing the stories from your points of view always seems to end with laughter and making more memories.

There are millions of other memories, large and small, from each of you that has made being in your lives a thing of joy. Of all the titles I have had in life, being the mother of Mia, Patricia, Beau and Autumn is the one I have loved most.

Love Mom

 
 
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Dear Kristian, Brooke, and Hayley,

There is such a story behind me and y’all. Each of you have your own little story. I am so very proud of each of you. I could not have asked for a better set of kids.

Kristian, you are my bub. From the time you were born, you have the most caring, loving, laid back kid I have ever met. You are so much like your father, and you should be proud of that. I remember when you were about 5 and I had just gotten home from work.  You and your sister Brooke came over and crowded around me. Out of the blue, Brooke asked me if she could have boobs. I told her, yeah all girls get boobs when they get older.  And you, well you made me laugh till I cried.  From behind me, you asked me if you could have boobs too.  I started giggling and saying "no boys don’t get boobs."  Your response was priceless. Straight faced, you said "but my Daddy has boobs." You are 12 now, and I still don’t know how to respond to that. Your dad is a big guy is all I can say. When I told your Momma Cindy, she laughed so hard on the phone I could hear her crying. It didn’t help that you were in the background saying that your dad had big boobs. I love you bub, with every bit of my heart. So smart, so special, everything a mom could want in a son.

Now you Brooke, you are the sweetest little thing God could have created. From your birth even now, at the age of 10 ½, you have been just as sweet as apple pie. When you were little there is a little story that I remember. I had gotten home from work with a headache. I was sitting on the couch and you came up and asked me what was wrong. I told you my head hurt, that I had a headache. You quickly gave me a kiss on my forehead and said there, all better now and skipped off.  Honey, yes that little kiss made my whole week better. You said it so innocently, so matter of factly.  All I could do was sit there and smile. To this day, that is one of my favorite little stories about you. I am not being bias when I tell people that I have the sweetest little girl in the world for my daughter. So smiley, so sweet, my baby Brookie.

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Oh Hayley, the stories about you are priceless. You never cease to amaze me. God gave me you to teach me a few lessons. And yes, you really have taught me a whole lot. Where do I start? You were born with cleft palate. It scared me, I had never encountered that. Feeding you and caring for you was life changing.  I had to learn how to be more patient than in my past, to let other people help me even if I didn’t ask for it. You had corrective surgery in July 2010, and it went off without a hitch.  Me and your dad were so scared.  We paced floors, and wandered the hospital hallways. When the nurse came out and said you were out of surgery, I hit my knees. Thank you GOD for doing us and her this favor. You were pretty out of it for awhile, but when you were taken to your room, you woke up a little bit. I told you how proud I was of you, and I didn’t expect you to talk at all. The best words I have ever heard were your first words that night. You said, clean and clear, "Thank you." You went back to sleep through most of the night. You have taught me much, and are still teaching me. You have given me a run for my money. So happy, so determined, my little monkey jumping on the bed.

Each of you have taught me something.  I love you all so very much.  My babies, that is what y’all are. Thank you being my babies.

Love always,
Mama

 
 
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Dear Boys, 

I would like to tell you all, and the world, that raising you four boys was my greatest accomplishment. 

Nothing feels better than frying up ten pounds of chicken, creaming ten pounds of potatoes, and cooking four cans of green beans and seeing you boys and Daddy clear the table...wonderful times and good memories.  Our conversation was so boring that I could sleep thru it...but you guys and Daddy could talk about History or Science from beginning of supper till the end.

Every night was family night at our house..we ate our nightly family meal at the table, all together.  There weren't many excuses accepted when someone wanted to be absent for our evening meal.  We knew each other very well...I thought those days would never end, but they did, and now things are so different...Daddy is gone and all you boys have your family but I have my memories.

I loved our time together and it was worth every dish I cooked and every tear I have shed over you boys to have the privilege of being your mother. 

I love you very much and hope you give your children the legacy we left you boys...not money, not fame but family...

What more could anyone ask for in this life....
Mom