Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sharese Casteen, 1961-2009

The morning was supposed to go something like this...

Sharese's dad (Mr. Allen) was to drop off her mom (Mrs. Bennie) to relieve me from Monday night's night shift at hospice while he took Sharese's niece (Ashley) to the airport to catch her flight back to Hong Kong.

But, as we know, sometimes God has other plans...

Just before they arrived, literally right before they walked in the room, Sharese took her last breath. Being there for her death was not nearly as difficult as being there for her mom afterward. Mr. Allen had to leave to take Ashley to the airport. They were going to try to get her on a later flight (which they did). I stayed with Mrs. Bennie and later took her home. What do you say to a mother who's just lost her child? The rest of us saw a 48 year-old woman, Mrs. Bennie was looking at her baby. I wasn't going to pretend to know what she was feeling. She kept saying she would have traded places with her, that a parent should never have to bury a child.

I've never felt such conflicting feelings at one time. I was so very sad by Sharese's passing and my heart was just broken for the family but, at the same time, I was excited for Sharese that she was finally out of pain and had a new and perfect body. Her hands and feet are no longer crippled from the effects of rheumatoid arthritis, she no longer hurts from the excruciating pain she endured for so many weeks before God took her home.

Sharese was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at age 15. Through the years she also developed rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, a liver disease and within the last year MSRA, a staph infection that would never be completely cleared.

My thoughts and prayers are with her family now as they must adjust to life without her.

Sharese planned her own funeral. She chose her own dress, asked specific people to do her make-up and hair and wrote her own obituary. She only chose one song to be played at her funeral and it could not have been more appropriate. I can't yet listen to it, it's just too hard, but I thought others might enjoy it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Another Birthday!!

Happy Birthday to my hubby, Mike!! He turns a young 35 today and still looks just as good, dare I say better, than the day we met! We will be celebrating with a family dinner on Saturday (following Matthew's party). Here's a few pix of him. See our boys' likeness in any of them?

6 years old

senior pic

with our first born

Happy Birthday Baby!! I love you!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Happy Birthday Matthew!

Our baby turns 11 today!! Where has the time gone? In 5 short years, he'll be driving!!
I can't remember what we ever did before he came along. It must have been pretty boring. Matthew was so much fun when he was little. He had all these faces he used to make (as you will see below) and it was sometimes impossible to get a decent picture! He's always been pretty independent, insisting on doing everything himself quite early on. "Me do it." I must have heard that thousands of times!! He's still very independent and acts like an adult when he gets off by himself without Tanner. Matthew is a thinker. He analyzes everything and asks lots of questions. He struggles with school I think only because it's confining to him. He has bigger ideas! He's very hands-on and likes to figure things out for himself. He loves taking things apart and trying to figure out how they work. He's very intelligent, it's just not always reflected on paper!

Here are a few (ok, many) pics of Matthew through the years. I know it's a lot but how do you narrow down baby pictures?

This is Matthew about a month ago. He chose this picture for his 'now' pic so I went with it. He didn't want his picture taken this morning. I still see my little baby boy when I look at him.
Matthew's birthday party is not until Saturday. I didn't want his actual birthday to pass as just another day so I made his favorite chocolate chip muffins for breakfast and put a candle in it. Tanner and I each made him a handmade card and sang Happy Birthday to him before he blew out his candle.

O.K., time to get out the tissue!
Here is Matthew and I just minutes after he was born. It's not the most flattering of myself but I love it 'cause it's our first picture together. Though he was 9lbs. 1 oz. when he was born, he still seemed so small and fragile to me at the time.

Random pics along the way...

This was the day of his first birthday party. He was walking already! Every time I tried to take a picture, he kept walking toward me.
There was a period of time, probably about a year, that Matthew always wore a hat. We would bathe him and put his pjs on and he would go to his room and put on a hat. Oh, the struggles we had trying to get him to take his hat off for church! It's funny now, but it wasn't at the time!
I don't know what this look is for but I love it!

This is Matthew's very first haircut. He was almost 14 months old. I've often regretted getting those curls cut off so early but everyone thought he was a girl!

Look at that sweet face!!

Christmas picture.

This is Mike's favorite picture of Matthew, so I had to post it. Mike had built this 'souped up' engine for a friend and one night they sat Matthew on it and he just made this perfect face! I recently took out the reflection marks on his face and had this blown up to poster size and framed it for Mike to hang in his shop. He loves it!

I don't know why, I just like this pic. He'd been out helping daddy. He had his work boots on and, of course, a hat!

This is when he was in the hospital to have tubes in his ears. This is one of those faces we could never get a picture without! And, of course, he had his hat on at the hospital (and his Elmo shoes).

Here he is in my hospital bed as we were packing up to head home with Tanner. As you can see, he is not really interested in his new little brother, but rather what's on TV! Some things never change! :)

This is another pic I just love. No reason.
This is his new harmonica and he played that thing day and night for a little while until it finally, to our delight, fizzled out. And, what little boy can play a harmonica without a hat on? It just wouldn't sound the same!

I have always thought he looked so old in this picture and it was taken 2 years ago. We went to Wal-mart to get his film developed and he noticed he had one picture left so I took a picture of him. It's turned out to be one of my favorites. Isn't he handsome?
This is Matthew at Graceland inside the Sirius Radio studio. This was just this past November.

They grow up so quickly! While I miss him being little, I have come to appreciate every new stage in his life. Seems like each new phase becomes my favorite. I can't wait to see what year 11 has in store!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Treasure Chest!

My in-laws gave me this old trunk that they have had and weren't using. It had been in storage for years. It was locked and no one had the key or combination but I figured I could take it to a locksmith and get it opened, not really caring if it ever locked back again. Well, I finally called the locksmith today. On top of being extremely rude, he told me that it couldn't be opened without drilling the lock and he couldn't guarantee that my chest wouldn't be damaged. It's an old chest and it's pretty scuffed up but I didn't want a hole in the front of it!
Discouraged, I got online to see if I could learn how to pick the locks. I looked up how to find a combination and how to pick a lock since it had both locks. Would you believe I got it open? No damage to trunk, popped right open!!
Here's the lock I picked:
The trunk, opened in all its glory!
No one knew what was inside since it has never been opened since Mike's parents had it. Here's a few of the interesting things I found inside:
This is a tax bill from 1944 in Appling County (which is Baxley).

These are a couple of old patterns for ladies dresses and tops.

This is one of my favorite finds. It's a book for infant care. It has a stamp on it that reads: SINCERELY YOURS JOHN S. GIBSON M.C.
I think it must have been given to a new mother by her doctor maybe. It is quite interesting! It has a schedule to follow when you bring your baby home from the hospital. Pretty rigid!
It tells how to prevent tuberculosis and scurvy. It says to start teaching 'bladder control' at age 10 months, by giving the baby the chamber regularly!! It also tells you what to do to get ready for the visit from the doctor and how to travel with baby. It's fun to see just how much things have changed! If only doctors still made house calls instead of us having to sit in their offices for hours!
This is an old girl scout uniform.
This is fun, it's an old cheerleader uniform. The bloomers were also with it. Rah Rah!!

This is a tiny little book for children with scripture in it and an uncashed $50 check that someone had written to donate to a charity from the Methodist church. These were in one of the church's envelopes. The check is dated 1944.

There was also lots of cards and cutout newspaper articles as well as a good bit of fabric that I plan to wash and someday use for a quilt or something. The uniforms I'll keep in tact. There was also a bloomer bottom thing that looked like it might have went with a majorette outfit, I'm not sure.
What fun it was going through all these treasures! Now, what to do with everything? I need the trunk for storage!!
Disclaimer: I in no way advocate the picking of locks that do not belong to you!! :)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Goin' to get my babies!!!

My babies have been gone since Monday. They went to my in-laws' an hour away to go to their church's vacation bible school this week. I'm going to pick them up this afternoon. As many of you know, this is the longest I have been without them. I'm doing ok. I've filled my week with lots of things to do, had people over and kept myself busy to make up for the loss in company. I guess since we homeschool I have just become so used to having them with me at all times that I really do miss them when they're gone. That doesn't mean they never drive me crazy or make me want to pull my hair out, but I must admit those times are rare.
While I sometimes, usually when going through pix, miss the cuteness of the baby stage, I really enjoy where they both are now. Seems like each new stage they get to I like even better than the one before. They are so fun to have conversation with now. Their thoughts and ideas amaze me sometimes! And, they never cease to crack me up daily!!
I thought I'd share a few of my favorite pix of them together.

A kiss from big brother. Tanner was only a few days old.

They may no longer look like babies to you, but they will always be my little babies! They are, by no means, perfect children, but I couldn't imagine our lives without them!

Soon-to-be winery

Mike has built (is building) a building at a (soon to be) winery. It is hoping to be opened by late next year. They are in the process of finishing the main building which will house a tasting room, a banquest room upstairs as well as a balcony overlooking the vineyard. It is owned by a man whose family has owned the land for hundreds of years and it is so full of family history for him, he could (and will) talk for hours about it. He has all kinds of artifacts. He has the ledger books from the corner store his great (maybe another great) grandfather owned with the lists of people and what they purchased. It's pretty interesting. What's amazing is seeing how excited he gets talking about it, knowing he's probably told these same stories a hundred times! Here's a few pix of our visit.

There's a pond behind the main building. It's so peaceful and calming. There's a gazebo next to the pond that he hopes people will, one day, take advantage of for weddings. It's made from the wood from and old grits mill that was on the property.
This is the winery owner. He has all this old equipment that he uses (or plans to use).
His drying rack.
Bottling equipment.
I loved these old barrels.
This was an old press that was given to him.
This is the front of the main building where his tasting room will be. It's kind of got a rustic, yet upscale feeling to it inside.
The property is full of old buildings used for many different things 'back in the day".

This old well sits in front of the vineyard.
The vineyard, taken from the balcony of the main building.

I can't wait to see it when it's done, he has big plans for this place! It'll be a great place to go with a group of friends and sit overlooking the vineyard or watch the sunset over the pond. Can't wait...