Friday, August 27, 2010
2. Cooper Baffles with his Extensive Vocabulary It's true. I know that every Momma worth her salt can pick out the absolute best about her little chickens, but one of Cooper's is his ability to communicate. Seriously. The quintessential politician, he remembers every one's name that he meets and can usually drum up an interesting fact about that person during the conversation. There are no strangers in Cooper World. He remembers song lyrics, (get him to bolt out, "Hello, I Love You" by The Doors), movie lines, and anything that is said in our house. Which can get you in some sticky situations sometimes. (the Momma and Daddy quotes usually come out when we are in public, refer to #1 for mischievous!) There are no words too complicated and he seems to enjoy it when people comment on this fact, which also leads to the fact that he loves being the center of attention. He likes all eyes on Cooper, and whatever he has to do to achieve that, is done. Whether it be acting like a wild man, running, talking, or even dancing. (He dances like Elvis Presley...just ask him) He soaks up admiration like a sponge, and usually that attention warrants more antics, which leave me tired until.....
3. Cooper Grabs your Heart with Unabashed Affection Huge hugs. Loves to snuggle and be held. Cooper has loved to be close to me ever since he came into the world. After he gets in trouble or if he is sleepy or if he is watching a movie, he wants to sit in my lap and be held. See #2 about his name memory, and that, combined with his uninhibited affection, gives him the ability to make any person at any time feel special. He honestly loves and cares for all of God's creatures, and he is always doing what he can to bring smiles and happiness. Also, he loves to bury his face in my neck and when he is tired, twirl my hair with his pudgy fingers. In fact, that is how he goes to sleep. He lays in bed right beside me and runs his fingers through my hair until he drifts into a peaceful slumber. (There is nothing peaceful about my hair when he is done,though, I come downstairs looking like I stuck my finger in a light socket) He will periodically throughout the day..every day...come to me and say, "Momma, I love you sooooo much." And my heart soars. He will put his arms around my neck so tightly and I, for a moment, do not want to let him go. This week, we were in the grocery store, and I put popsicles in the buggy. He announced loudly and repeatedly, "Thank you, Momma" and repeated his "so much" mantra. And gave me a huge bear hug. Over a box of rainbow popsicles. So at the end of the day, when he is being such a two year old, that is what you need. That is what keeps you going. When Cooper loves, I am no longer tired or frustrated, angry or exasperated. I simply feel joy.
There it is. A tiny glimpse into the roller coaster of emotions that I roll around with every day. Sometimes, even when he is misbehaving, it is funny. When he scolds Sissy and tattle-tales (which I strongly dislike), and then he says, "Mommy, Sissy is aggravating me." Or when Woody leans down for a night night kiss and Cooper decks him with a right cross to show Daddy how tough he is, I hide my snicker. And sometimes when he is being lovable, I want to cry. Because one day he will not want to hug on Momma as much. In that same vein, I am just fine with that. I want him to grow and prosper and stand on his own, without my help. I just need to make sure he has a solid foundation on which to stand.
And then roll my eyes, because when you are late for church or school, and you need Cooper to hurry......
Monday, August 23, 2010
1. God's Amazing Grace I am an unworthy sinner. This is a fact that I have known growing up in church and have bandied about for years. But here lately, I have realized how truly unworthy I am of God's love, and I wept. I wept for the despicable person that I am and for the undeserved blessings that have been bestowed on me throughout my life. Then, the Holy Spirit hit me. You can't earn God's grace, none of us are worthy. And that is what makes it so amazingly wonderful. God's love is unimaginable, our human brains can't even fathom this type of love. And in the place of my grief, there was remaining, a great joy, independent of outward circumstances. God created me, God loves me, and no ebb and flow of life's sorrows can change that.
3. Riding Around with my Husband This one is a classic. Without realizing it, when Woody and I get a few hours alone (which is rare) we love to pile up in the vehicle, stop at the gas station and get two cold cokes (or Diet Dr. Pepper for me) and ride. To nowhere. Preferably a small town or a back road where we have never been. We happen upon landmarks and small forgotten towns left to dry up by the end of a railroad. We see old graveyards and historical markers. We admire the change of landscape and marvel over rows of farmland or high peaks that look over bends in the Alabama River. It's relaxing and makes you realize how much more interesting everyday life is "off the interstate".
5. Full Moons Not the dropping the drawers kind, but the actual full moon. The moon that seems to have punched a hole in the inky black night. The luminescent orb that turns the earth around you into a silvery glow that makes an ordinary night seem more magical. It's when the pale light drifts through your windows and you have to stop, look out, and drink it in. My whole life I have loved the moon. Dating back to when I slept on the top bunk and my bed was even with a high window. I would gaze out this window on a full moon whenever it shown down on my upturned face. It represented hope and a watchful eye, a possibility that God was showing you His power to make the dark less scary for a little girl. I could sit on my porch at night bathed in moonlight for hours. Everything just seems better.
6. Late afternoons watching the sun set on the Gulf of Mexico Pick a town, doesn't matter. It has the same lure, no matter which chamber of commerce brags that theirs is the best. I love to be on the beach all day,skin kissed by the sun and sunscreen. Small granules of sand stuck to every thing that you own. Then, to come in, shower it all off, and sit on the balcony overlooking the water. It is something about that moment. Hearing the waves crash on the sugar white sand while the sun flirts lazily with the water. At this point, you are relaxed. You allow yourself to think of...nothing. And this is happiness.
7. Music or The Right Song at the Right Time I am a music lover. Unabashedly singing to the top of my lungs in the privacy of my car. (I didn't say I was good at it, just enthusiastic) And there is nothing better than the right song at just the right mood. If you are sad, happy, bored, thoughtful, restless, etc. the right song blasting from the speakers that really says what your mood is thinking is nothing but joy. I love all music, and I have eclectic mix of "mood" songs right on my Ipod. They range from Smokey Robinson's "Tracks of my Tears" (which reminds me of my friend, Meg) to KC and the Sunshine Band's "Give it Up" (which just makes me happy). Music speaks and stirs one's soul if you will really listen. When I here Elvis Presley's version of "How Great thou Art", I tear up thinking of my precious Saviour and his mercy and wonder how anyone could truly listen to this song with a dry eye.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Once upon a time, in Montgomery, Alabama, there lived me. And Woody. I was a rookie fresh out of graduate school starting a new job at a CPA firm in town. Woody had been out of college three years and was a senior auditor at the very same firm. At this particular firm, a different division of the company took the rookies to lunch every day of their first week at work. One of the days in question, another newbie and I were taken by the utility division group to Tomatino's pizza for lunch, a crowd favorite. We were escorted by a manager and two staff members, Woody being one of them. As we rode along in the car, we all laughed and talked the usual get-to-know-you talk of young professionals in the South. Such as: where are you from? What football team do you pull for? After discovering that Woody and I were on the same side of the gridiron, the manager, who clearly enjoyed humor at Woody's expense, suggested that this may be the springboard of a lot we had in common. We both laughed it off. Upon arrival at the esteemed pizza joint, the manager looks down and discovers that when Woody takes off his coat, he has popped a button on the cuff of his dress shirt. Woody, having already been aware of that fact when he got to work, had cleverly "tied" it together with a paper clip. The manager apologized profusely to me saying that he would have a hard time convincing me how good the firm was when his top senior was wearing a paper clip for a cuff link! It was clearly meant to tease Woody, but my future husband never missed a beat. He replied, " I just thought that you would praise me for my ingenuity, not every firm has staff this smart." The quickness of his retort earned my admiration, but it wasn't until several months later that the spark would turn into flame.
|Caroline snapped this picture of us all by herself at Disneyland. I felt inclined to include it in this blog.|
So on February 22, 2002, Woody proposed. We were in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, celebrating the end of our busiest season. He had told me that the trip was my Valentine's present and I was completely surprised. He had gotten me a card for Valentine's that read, "I was going to write something sappy in this card, but I thought that just wouldn't be me. Love you." That was one of the sweetest things that I had ever read. It said to me, "I know that you love me just the way that I am" and I did.
When it came time for planning, Woody did not want to be involved AT ALL. To reinforce this point, one day I asked him did he have any song suggestions. He suggested that the bridesmaids come in to "It's Hot in Here", and I come down the aisle to "Man on Constant Sorrow" from the soundtrack of "Oh Brother, Where are Thou?". It worked. No more questions came his way, and the Constant Sorrow song story traveled far and wide through the family, making it now a staple of the West family folklore. Even today, eight years later, Woody has it on his phone as my ringtone. I can't complain, it could be "Fat Bottomed Girls".
There you have it. The beginning of the sitcom that has been the marriage of Mandy and Woody. Since Constant Sorrow, we have had two beautiful children and still laugh and carry on today just like we did back then. We still share the same love of sports and our favorite date is an Alabama football game, bar none. On a more serious note, Woody makes me a better person. He is a strong Christian and loves the Lord. He would walk on glass for the kids and I, for our happiness has always come before his own. He is smart, funny, and yes, handsome. He is a hands on Daddy and loves playing with the kids. And he still thinks I'm beautiful...even after two kids. (at least he better!)
Thursday, August 12, 2010
|Caroline, with backpack, headed to preschool at Gulf Beach Baptist Church.|
Speaking of random emotions, I am not just a basket of tears. I am also excited. Kindergarten is so important and I can remember so many things about it that I can't remember about other elementary classes down the road. Their are a lots of firsts, and firsts always stick in your mind. It's these firsts and the wealth of learning opportunity waiting for her that I can't wait for her to experience. Although I have already figured out, her Kindergarten is going to be vastly different than mine. As different as mine was from Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie with her chalkboard slate and my fat pencil and actual paper. She learns computer, she learns how to read at a higher level, she learns science, social studies, the states, etc. She will have tons of homework (we have been warned) and a part of me is actually looking forward to sitting down every afternoon and opening new doors for her. And she is excited. She is a sponge and wants to learn and experience new things, and I am tickled that she is beginning her academic endeavors. I am also excited for her to see her first pep rally. We love football, and she will get to wear her Volunteer cheerleader uniform every Friday during the fall. Cooper and I can go also, and he has a football jersey, #7 of course, just like his Daddy, in Monroe Academy orange. Let's not even mention the actual football game!!
And to think it all started with a tear and a pencil box.......
Monday, August 9, 2010
Had to get away...to Disneyland! The happiest place on earth! You can call me the cheesiest person on earth but I actually believe that. I am not a cynical, every-thing-here-costs-too-much attender of Disney, I am a full-fledged, I-believe-in-magic, roller-coaster riding, character-seeing Disney enthusiast!! The place really is magic. The magic that you see in your child's eyes as she sees Tinkerbell face to face or as she is asking us to look at every single dancing doll on "It's a Small World". My a-ha moment is this: Caroline squeals in delight when she meets Ariel or when she is getting soaked on Splash Mountain. Woody and I then make eye contact over the top of her head, and without saying a word we know exactly what the other one is thinking, "This is why we came here, this is why you use your hard-earned cash to buy tickets, souvenirs, another stuffed animal (yes, another one!). At that moment, we feel like good parents. And we can't wait until Cooper gets old enough to go himself, it's a Christmas morning feeling that I feel when I see her eyes sparkle at fireworks or dance in a character parade. So there it is, we hit DisneyLand in Anaheim, California with enough zeal to start our on fireworks show, now let me give you some details.
|Caroline, me, Angie, and Olivia riding teacups. Woody doesn't do Teacups!|
|Woody and Caroline catching a breather outside Roger Rabbit in Toontown.|
Of course, it wouldn't be us if the last night in California just went off free and easy. We get back to hotel and see lots of young teenage boys in baseball uniforms. Our hotel is hosting all the teams in the 13 year old Pony League World Series. Four teams from the USA and one team each from Mexico and the Bahamas. Let me tell you something about 13 year old boys, they are loud at the pool. Here I am again, 10:30 at night (we have to get up the next morning at 4:30 a.m sharp) listening to "MARCO" , and the response, "POLO". I dreamed about it AFTER I went to sleep around midnight. That's OK. Tomorrow I was leaving on a jet plane to sweet home Alabama and my sweet, jolly Cooper!
So that's it. That's our summer adventure, 2010. The kind of vacation that you need a vacation from...oh wait, that's true with all of them, isn't it?
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
First things first. We set out on the first day and walked around downtown and Seaport Village, took in the shops and the WWII walk. Then, back to the hotel, because Caroline felt the need for a swim. Did I mention the weather? That is entirely too cold for any self respecting Southerner to be swimming, even at 2:00 in the afternoon. But my daughter wanted to swim and since you want the trip to be fun for her too, I don my suit, take a deep breath, and brace myself for the wind blowing off the bay. We head for the hot tub first. (which unbeknownst to Caroline is the only water that I intended to submerge myself in) She sits there for a few minutes, declares it boring, and wants to head to the regular pool. About the time I am searching for an excuse not to be her swimming buddy, a cannonball contest is announced over the loudspeaker, open to all children. Nice!! Caroline enters, makes a friend or two, and I am off the hook to watch from my lounge chair with my swim cover and a beach towel draped over my shivering frame. (she doesn't win, unfortunately. She is rather small and didn't create much of a splash, but I gave her a 10 for form)
|Caroline on 110 year old carousel in Seaport Village.|
|This is Caroline on a statue of an elephant.|
|This is Caroline with an actual elephant, not as enthused.|
Next stop: Disneyland!