Friday, July 31, 2009

From There to Here

Many years ago God blessed me with a good friend in Singapore. She was a school parent and happened to live in the same apartment building as us. We used to meet to pray for our husbands weekly. She had us for good ol' Southern dinners. But she did one thing for me that was by far the most precious. When I had baby #3 (pictured), my other girls were 2 and 1. I had my hands full. Though I had a 2 week old baby, a 1 year old, and a 2 year old (all still in diapers), Campbell Clansman was required to return to the USA for a few weeks. What would I do? He advised me to lock down the hatches, stay in the house all day and night, and just try to survive. Right about that time, my new baby started crying. She cried for about 2 weeks, the very 2 weeks I was alone with 3 babies in a foreign country. My sweet friend convinced me that she missed crying babies. So every night about 8pm, she would come and get my little newborn. Then she would rock her for 2 hours. During that time, I would do daily necessities...shower, brush my teeth, sleep. Then about 10pm, I would pick up my little bundle and settle in for the night. How can you repay a favor like that? Impossible! I told her I'd return the favor to a young mom once my babies are all grown. Recently they drove down from their Tennessee home to see us. She is pictured above with the very baby she used to rock. The neat thing was that when I shared this story with Esther (baby #3), she was so touched to get to meet the person who took care of her. That's a big deal for kids who move around the globe to see someone who used to be in their lives.
Here are all the adults at the gathering that night.
Thanks, my friend!
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Sweet Home Alabama

We had the privilege of a visit from our Alabama friends. They drove up for a weekend to see us.
The last time our girls were together, they were 2 1/2 years old.
This adorable guy stole my mama's heart. He ate 2 1/2 of her barbeque sandwiches and just kept telling her, "Thanks for those good barbeque sandwiches you made me." That will get you far in life with a Southern woman, young man.
When Campbell Clansman's college friend married this young lady, I got a new friend. Though we had just met once, she came to my wedding and was such a help to me. She has become a dear friend.
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Lake Day #1

My brother has a boat. He graciously offers to take us out to the lake when we visit. It's a time where the old (parents) try to feel younger, and the young (kids) try to feel older.
This year one of my girls even tried to learn to ski.
She popped right up on the knee board.
Cute kids + water + bright yellow ski jackets = good pictures every summer. Thanks, big brother.
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Our baby boy was dedicated this summer in our home church. This is a time where we, as his parents, make a covenant with our church to raise him to know and follow the Lord. As you know, he grew to be a big boy very quickly. Somehow the traditional little smocked boys' suits just didn't work for him. He sort of looked like a linebacker squeezed into linen. I brought back his little plaid tie and kacki pants. Somehow that didn't suit him either. After all, he is a baby, not a businessman. So, once we got to our hometown, I asked my mother-in-law what SHE would like for him to wear. This is her only "Campbell" grandson...a baby none of us expected after her own son hit 40. He's my 5th the time #5 arrives, you just sort of start to let those decisions rest with those who would treasure the chance to decide. She brought down a couple of things from the past. One of those was Campbell Clansman's own sailor suit. He wore it when he was a tad bit older than 9 months, but when we tried it on our boy, it fit perfectly. So, a 40 year old sailor suit it was. He even has the physique to look like Popeye! More important than what he wore that day was the commitment we were making. We are so thankful for him!
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dr. Bob

Some of you who read this blog will know this good man. For those who don't know him, I'll tell you some things about him. Dr. Bob, a retired veterinarian, came to Turkey for one year to fill a gap for us and teach Science. While there, he and his wife filled far more than a teaching gap. They loved on us, made us laugh, encouraged us. The few of us who remain from the original Turkey crew have all said we aren't sure how we would have made it through that tough first year without this couple. Dr. Bob always has a pocketful of candy and a coin magic trick for my girls. I don't think I've ever had a conversation with him that I haven't laughed so hard I've cried. One of my favorite stories on Dr. Bob is when he was in Turkey with us. He was teaching Biology and some of the guy students asked him if he would dissect a dog in class if they could bring him one that was freshly dead. Sure enough, they found a road kill (sorry to animal lovers...dogs have a rough life in our city). He wanted to preserve it, so he wrapped it in a plastic bag and stored it in the freezer in the teacher's lounge. That was my week for fridge clean out duty, but I was pregnant and had awful morning sickness. Every time I thought of that dog up there, I would laugh, then throw up. My sweet Campbell Clansman did my duty for me that week. This summer, we introduced Dr. Bob to our boy. They immediately hit it off, as I knew they would. Everyone needs a Dr. Bob, someone who thinks you and your kids and your husband are great. Thanks for being that for us, Dr. Bob.
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Tom Lee

While in Memphis, we took 'the cousins' (my kids and Campbell Clansman's sister's kids) to Tom Lee Park down by the river. While there we learned a little about Tom Lee, the man for whom the park was named. Unable to swim, he was able to pull many (on a sinking boat) to safety from his small boat. This courageous man has had a sculpture built in his honor. Here the kids are re-enacting it. His monument also provided the only shade miles around!
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Picadilly Pull

My middle daughter, also known as Miss Middler, had a loose tooth. It was REALLY loose. Campbell Clansman doesn't 'do blood,' but I think wanted to prove he had the stomach for it, so he asked her to let him pull her tooth. All this was in public, at Picadilly Cafeteria. She said she was scared, he begged, she teased. Then I threw a bone to her...let him pull it and I'll let you have a 2nd dessert. She bit for it. He wiggled it, then out it came. Technically she felt it in her mouth and spit it across the table. All this was in front of all the people who eat at Picadilly cafeteria (that would be those who have many mouths to feed like us or the elderly like we are going to be in a few years). Campbell Clansman gave me a good wink and said HE would take her for her 2nd dessert, that he felt she just might want a cherry cheesecake, one she might want to share with her Papa.
She came proudly back with a bowl of red jello. Atta girl. Love it.
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Monday, July 20, 2009

Why I Named Her Charity Esther

Many years ago, I was dating Campbell Clansman. It didn't take me long to realize that if I 'blew it' on this one, I'd regret it the rest of my life. In fact, I soon came to the conclusion that if I didn't marry this guy, I'd likely never marry. After all, how could I marry another guy that I always considered not-quite-as-good as Campbell Clansman? I had made my decision...marry him or stay single. It was during this time that he invited me to a play at the Jewish Community Center in Memphis, TN. The play was called simply, "Esther." We thoroughly enjoyed the acting and the story. The story is of a queen who was chosen for her beauty, who honored her husband, and saved her nation because of her bravery. During the play, CC said something to me (which I think I'll just save for a rainy-day-later-post), and it was at that moment that I realized, "I think he likes me." I thought to myself, in honor of this moment, this memory, this man...maybe I'll name a daughter "Esther" if I marry him. So I did.

So, when my little #3 was on the way, we had our 5th wedding anniversary. We were living in Singapore. Campbell Clansman treated me to a weekend in a beautiful hotel while some friends kept our other girls. We had decided that was the weekend to choose this baby's name. I had forgotten my Bible, so I used the Gideon Bible in the hotel. (That was when we lived in a country that lets in the Gideons!) I was reading I Corinthians 13 in the KJV. Instead of "love," the word is "charity."

Her name is Charity Esther. I think of her name as a sort of bookend. Charity for our 5th anniversary, Esther for the beginning of our relationship.

While we were in Memphis, we stayed near that very Jewish Community Center. Campbell Clansman took her over and took this picture for me. She's a pretty good example of our love, don't you think?

Visit from my buddies

While in Memphis, 2 of my very good friends visited me. Both these girls were in my wedding. I had 9 (yes, 9) bridesmaids. At my bridesmaids' luncheon, I assigned one fruit of the spirit to each of the girls who would stand with me the next day. Both Kim and Laurie's fruit was easy. Kim was faithfulness. Laurie was joy. The photo above was after some serious Mexican food and about 4 hours of straight laughter.
I think one little guy enjoyed his Aunt Kim, too. Thanks for coming to see me, girls. You always shave a year off my life I laugh so hard!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Perma Baby Turns 4!

I haven't blogged much these past few weeks. I guess I've just been far too busy soaking up life around me. I have dutifully taken pictures and dreamed up the blog posts for later, however. I have so much to say, but just have to begin with the events of July 15. Perma Baby turned 4. Does that mean she is no longer a baby? As her Papa said the night we took her pacifier away, and she cited babyhood as her reason to keep it,"You'll always be my baby." But this birthday #4 she has talked about at least 5 times a week since she turned 3. The big day finally came. She only wanted a white and yellow cake (pronounced by PB as "lellow"). Her Fishstick cousins came down for a party. I got everyone a bubble maker as a party gift and out into the cool summer night they ran, chasing and blowing bubbles.
Perma Baby got a big baby doll with some great 0-3 month garage sale find baby clothes. She got a set of walkie talkies (which clearly were the desire of her older sisters and cousins!), a playpen for her baby, and several small treasures dug out of drawers and cupboards from her cousins. She also has a gift waiting on her in Turkey which I could not bring. I found a Dora the Explorer house and figures at a garage sale before we came. Also, she has a party in Memphis in her honor the weekend we return there.
She is holding up 4 fingers, not a peace sign! Happy Birthday, sweet baby. Campbell Clansman, are we SURE she's old enough to start school this fall?
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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sound the Alarms!

I have no photo with this post. And, dear readers, it is going to be that way for about a week. I am borrowing a computer and don't want to (or more truthfully, don't know how to) load a picture on my blog without loading it on this computer. But I have taken some nice juicy ones and I'll post them later in the summer. 

But for now, it will just be a story. A juicy story. (And I am not sure why I keep calling things juicy except for the late hour.) 

We are doing a little house sitting while we are in the US. But there were a couple of days between houses that we needed to stay in a hotel. Everything went fine until the 4th of July. Firstborn had been at camp, but had just returned. So for that one night, we had all 5 kids and 2 adults in our room. I do realize this is not legal, but we just strolled in non-chalantly and it seemed to be fine. There was no free breakfast or else it might have been an issue (My kids don't understand the meaning of 'continental breakfast' and would likely have eaten 5 croissants each.) 

So, I bathed everyone in assembly line fashion, sent them through the tooth brushing checkpoint, made sure everyone had used the potty, and they were promptly tucked in bed. After all, we had baby brother's dedication in our church the next morning and everyone needed to be fresh for that. We had a few "She's touching me." and "Get off my covers." issues. It was at that point that we realized we had put the 2 largest Campbell kids in the bed together. The wee ones were on floor pallets and were already sound asleep. So my very rational Campbell Clansman promptly placed the sleeping, tiny ones in the bed, then transferred the larger ones to the floor pallets. There, now she is not touching you. 

Soon, all drifted off. Campbell Clansman was on the laptop. I had washed my face and was ready to crawl in  my bed when the loudest fire alarm I have ever heard in my life sounded. Campbell Clansman scrambled up on a rolling desk chair to try to take it off the wall (thinking perhaps it was faulty). Then we peeked in the hallway and a chorus of alarms were sounding. It was literally so loud I had to cover my ears. I felt like I was back in 8th grade at a Rick Springfield concert. Only I was trying to keep 5 sleeping babies asleep also. 

Two kids woke up and 3 slept. How they slept through it still baffles me. We did have a hearing screening at the school, and they did pass. But still, I wondered, are they deaf?! Campbell Clansman took off down the hallway. It was then we saw the smoke. People started evacuating. Of course I'd have to evacuate. And wake up all those sleeping babies. Ugh. I shook their comatose like bodies and somehow managed to wedge Crocs on everyone's feet (after all, if I sent them out barefoot I'd have to wash 10 feet again). We filed down the stairs along with the 2 old black ladies in granny caps across the hall from me. All I had to say was, "They were all sleeping." and I got plenty of consolation. Perhaps the most devastating thing about it all was that one of my daughters (who shall remain nameless) had gone to bed without underwear. After her bath, I could not find the clean pair I had left out, and we'd already loaded that luggage in the car. I promised her I'd go out and get it before church the next morning. Bless her heart, she tugged that gown down and cut her eyes back and forth the entire time. She lived my worst nightmare. A fire alarm when I am not properly clothed. 

As it turns out, someone (all I can think here is that they must have been drunk) decided to set off fireworks in their room. So it wasn't really a fire. It was just smoke. But as a good mom, I decided to use it as a training opportunity. See, girls,  we are taking the stairs, not the elevator. See, girls, we leave behind our things. Yes, they'll call the fire department. Yes, cover your ears. This is not a drill. And Firstborn dutifully piped up the entire time. "Stop. Drop. And Roll. Mama taught me that when she was my Kindergarten teacher." Over and over and over. Soon, we were given the all clear, and we returned. But not before I told the hotel manager that the Fire Marshall better give that soul a talkin' to, or I would. (Any moms out there hearing me? They were all 5 asleep!!!!) 

It didn't actually take them long to drift back asleep. And I suspect Perma-baby never really woke up. She was moving her legs, but not really her eyes, and I think she was back in her bed and asleep before I even got everyone else in the room. 

So, what is the moral to the story? Never stay in a hotel on the 4th with someone who doesn't have the good sense to set off fireworks outside? Keep your Crocs handy and ready to slip on in case of a fire? Always wear underwear to bed? Any of those could apply, I suppose.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Summer Fun

Summer Fun!

Perhaps we are having a little too much fun.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Chance to Meet

Here's a group of brave folks! These are our new teachers (minus one who was just hired and one who will fill the last spot we have). They are at an orientation this week to help them prepare for life overseas. This past week we had the great joy of meeting them and taking them to dinner. We headed to downtown Memphis and had fried catfish.
We were so impressed with each of them and left with a great hopes of bonding as a staff and family.
It didn't hurt that they couldn't keep their hands off my boy!

Friday, July 3, 2009

A First for Firstborn

This week I have been feeling much like I did about 10 years ago the very first time I left Firstborn with a babysitter. She was about a month old. I wondered what she was doing. I missed her, with a little excitement tossed in. I also realized she had begun those first few steps of independence from her parents. This week we sent our firstborn off to camp. She was so excited she could hardly concentrate on anything else. We'd be having a conversation over coffee, and she'd run up and jump up and down and say, "What about a flashlight?! Do I need a flashlight?!" By the time camp arrived, I was ready to get her off.

Her Mimi rode up with us to drop her off and even gave her a special camp necklace....a silver flip flop!

Her little counselors were adorable. I say this often, but God spoils me, He really does. When we got there, we realized they were from the same church as Ross' recruiter and were very familiar with our lives in Turkey already.

They seemed very capable and ready to be 'mama' for a week. I resisted the urge to whisper to them, "Do you know that this little person means more to me than anything I own or will ever own?"

Then on Wednesday, I received a letter from her. I breathed a big sigh of relief. She is having a great time. It reminded me of when I got a letter from some boy over the summer. I must have read the it 15 times. And I called other people to read it to them. Only this time, I was certain the one who wrote the letter would be in my life the rest of my life. It was so very cute, I thought I'd type it here...just exactly as she wrote it... " Hi, I'm having the most fantastic time! Instead of taking us on a long hike, we stayed up getting to dance. I got enough sleep mama, don't worry. PLEASE mail me a letter. I've made a few more friends, and I'm in my rest time. Right after this we're gonna go swimmin' FINALLY!! The Kizers mailed us, well Caroline aand your pretty daughter. Tell Annika she'll just love this camp! I ran through a hose and got the wetest you could ever be! Also, I'm in the green group witch is the Gadites group. Whoooo Gadites! Love, Mary Erin"
And, unlike those letters from boys so many years ago, this is one I plan to keep forever!

Big Ben meets the Campbells

I don't know about your summer, but we are having an absolute ball! Last Saturday we drove down to Memphis to see our Campbell side. Just before we pulled up, I said to Campbell Clansman, "Ok, either I will carry him in and YOU take a picture as soon as they meet him, or YOU carry him in and I'll take the picture. But I want a picture as soon as they meet." We drove on, and he didn't say anything. Then just as we pulled up, I said, "Ok, I'll carry him in, but you be ready with the camera, ok?" He replied, "No, I'm carrying him in!" So cute!
Big Ben was VERY happy to meet his paternal grandparents. And they were happy to meet their very first (and last!) grandson with the Campbell name. We are starting to balance out now...7 granddaughters and 2 grandsons on that side.

He went right to them and even sat in his Grandaddy's lap, back brace and all, to play cars for awhile.

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