I Still Want (to) Hula Hoop!!

Due to a very late bedtime for Abigail given her CCGD concert last night, we are enjoying a light return to schooling on this Monday after the Turkey Day holiday…but I am insisting on the children completing some school work before we turn to other things.  Shortly after assigning Abigail some literature to study, I walked into the living room to this sight…

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And I can’t even bring myself to scold the child because I am so impressed with her creativity….I mean….on my best day, I am hopeless at making the hula hoop stay up around my hips. Heaven forbid I try to hula whilst reading the dictionary….how do kids do it?

CCGD Concert!

Tonight we attended a beautiful Christmas concert! It was Abigail’s first time to sing at the Meyerson Symphony Center with the Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas.  The children gave an excellent performance, and we were impressed with the broad range of wonderful music from all six different choirs that sang tonight.  Grammy and Grandy joined us, making the evening even more enjoyable.

It was difficult to take photos inside the symphony hall, but here are a few shots from the evening:

Shot of the pipe organ while we waited for the concert to begin:

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Can you find Abigail in this photo?

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The combined choirs with the directors in front:

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And some close-ups just after:

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I love this shot of our little songbird!

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Remembering Muffin

This morning, Abigail’s little pet gerbil, Muffin (named for the golden brown color of her fur) passed away. It has been a hard day for my girlie in many ways. The gerbils are the first pets she has had almost sole responsibility for: their cage was in her room, and other than occasional help from her Daddy cleaning the little gerbil house, she has been Muffin and Mitten’s “mommy” and done a great job caring for them for 2 1/2 years!

Here is Abigail in June 2007, soon after she and Jay brought home Muffin and Mittens – I love this shot of her and Muffin:

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Here are the gerbil sisters together:

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After Muffin died, Abigail and I looked at the verses in Matthew 10 where we are told that God cares for each little creature that falls:

29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.

Those verses brought some comfort to her in the midst of her sorrow, but there were tears aplenty all day long.

Jay arrived home early from work so he could dig Muffin’s grave before it was too dark. Abigail carefully chose a casket in which to bury her little fallen pet – this is a box which she loves, it was a gift from her Grammy:

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Our whole family assembled to have a small graveside service, and through tears, each of the children choked out a remembrance of little Muffin:

Abigail remembered that when she and Jay went to the pet store to look at gerbils, that she didn’t choose Muffin; Muffin chose her! by climbing into her open hand and resting there happily as if to say, “I’m yours…please take me home!”

Nicolas mentioned that he always loved Muffin because when he would try to hold her, she wouldn’t run away from him (like Mittens does!).

Jonathan, trying to be brave through his tears, shared the encouraging and wise, “It is very hard when things like this happen, but we must always trust God in what He does, even when we don’t understand.”

For my part, I am not a gerbil lover…but even someone who finds gerbils somewhat icky is moved to tears when their children hurt. So instead of sharing the notion that while I wasn’t a huge Muffin fan, I did actually prefer Muffin to her sister Mittens because to me, Muffin with her golden-honey coloring looked less like a rat…..I reminded Abigail that she helped a tiny creature have a warm, loving, and happy life here on this earth, and that we knew God was pleased with how she loved and cared for one of his smallest parts of creation.  And that though it hurt so much, to draw comfort from the precious times she shared with little Muffin and to be thankful she had such a sweet little pet.

Jay prayed, and we buried Muffin.

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I cannot believe I am sitting here sobbing as I write this…I will close with this last picture of Abigail at Muffin’s graveside. I love that sitting right next to her is another faithful pet.

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Shasha and Lucy stayed near to Abigail all day long in her grief, clearly sensing something was very wrong.  As sad as this picture is, it also makes me thankful, because it reminds me of the goodness God showers upon us when he gives us animals to love and share our lives with.

Sadness

Muffin the gerbil has gotten very sick today, and sweet Abigail is fretting over her with tears aplenty. I will not write much tonight, as I want to spend some extra time with my little girl…

More tomorrow.

When It’s Time to Change…

Anyone else remember that song from the Brady Bunch way back when?? Loved those singin’ Brady Kids!

Almost a year ago and Abigail and I talked about the possibility of participating in the Locks of Love program. If you’ve not heard of it you can read about it here. Basically, it is a non-profit organization that exists for the sole purpose of helping disadvantaged children who have permanent hair loss due to medical issues. The organization makes beautiful wigs from hair that is donated by individuals all over the US and Canada.  Prostheses of this nature are expensive to purchase, but Locks of Love makes it possible for children who would not normally be able to afford them to enjoy the sense of “normalcy” that comes with having hair again.

Which makes me consider: how many times have I complained about my hair for whatever reason? The idea of not having any is shocking, but many of us, if asked could probably list off several things about our hair that bugs us.

Well, one thing the women in the Horne household are blessed with is LOTS of hair!! And thinking about all those children who don’t have any at all made Abigail and I want to help, so after a few months of growing our hair out to longer than we’d normally wear it, we called a local salon and made appointments to each take off a long ponytail for donating to LOL.  We knew we’d each be losing 10-11 inches of hair so yes, we were a little nervous about the whole thing, but also very excited!!

Awhile back, we took some before shots to chronicle this momentous event:

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Well…..today was the day!! You gotta have the shot with her holding up her 11 inch ponytails!!

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Abigail was kind enough to take a shot of me preparing to lose about ten pounds, er inches of hair:

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And then another:

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She really had fun with the camera!! Here she is getting her “shampoo”:

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The salon we used made it easy to send our donated ponytails in to Locks of Love: they provided the paperwork, and packaged and mailed everything in for us.

And….when we were all finished….

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Isn’t she cute with her new ‘do??

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WOW!! I cannot remember when i have EVER had my hair this short!

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Note: if you are in the Dallas area, and interested in participating in Locks of Love, the Artistik Edge Salon in Lake Highlands partners with this organization, and will cut and style your hair free of charge if you are a donator. I am happy to tell you their services are not only free, but excellent!! Both Abigail and I received beautiful cuts from a lovely young lady today.

More importantly, it makes us really happy to think about a child somewhere, someday in the not-too-distant future getting their new hair, and knowing we got to have a little part in making that happen for them.

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Listening to…

…beautiful music: my 9 year old playing the piano, my 6 year old accompanying her with the guitar, and the both of them plus my two year old all singing “Nothing But the Blood”.  Priceless!

Abigail sings

The video that Tricia mentioned was forthcoming is finally here.

Stuff Around Here..

It has been a very full week. Lots going on, and in the midst of it all, the Mommy has been dealing with a debilitating head cold and cough that she’s been fighting since mid-January. Off and on, but mostly on, including during the time she had the flu. The cold has become so commonplace that she is calling it “My Cold of 2008″ even though it is probably comprised of at least three colds, maybe even a sinus infection thrown in just for a little fun.

But enough about ailments; back to our week. In addition to all our regular school and other activities, both older kids had semester projects due this week: Abigail was given the task of constructing a working volcano and reporting about it. Jonathan created a model of the Amazon River Dolphin (did you know they are pink?) and presented several facts as well as wrote an original tale about aforementioned dolphin. There was a glorious, school-wide field trip to a local church to hear their very talented and charismatic organist introduce us to the beauty and intricacy of the instrument and its variety of musical styles, and it was amazing. Let’s see, what else? Teacher birthday (yes Auntie Jamison, we do these up big at Covenant!), Sonatina Festival for the little budding pianist, touch of a tummy virus for two of the kids, and much, much more.

But….the most exciting event this week by far took place on Tuesday night. Our own little Abigail was given the honor of singing the National Anthem to kick off our Covenant Boys’ Varsity Basketball playoff game, and the whole family went to cheer her (and the Covenant Knights!) on, and enjoy the evening.

Please indulge my parental pride for a moment, and allow me to share with you the itsy-bitsy detail that as of the Friday afternoon before the game, my daughter did not even know the Star Spangled Banner, let alone have the ability to perform it solo for a crowd sans musical accompaniment. After we got the boys in bed last Friday evening I sat down with her and taught her the song, using only my voice and a printout of the lyrics as teaching aids. The girl is a quick study; within less than an hour’s time she was singing it from memory, and hitting all the right notes. We spent our free time over the next three days alternately practicing like mad, and listening to various renditions of the anthem (mostly on YouTube – everything from Jordin Sparks’ SuperBowl rendition to this little 3 year old kid who really is a hoot and you should watch him sing it, he is SO FUNNY – and really, really good despite the fact that he cannot pronounce most of the words in this very challenging song – listen for ” the rampers we wash and the gallery screaming”!).

Despite some serious nerves on Tuesday evening (hey – I’m talking about me here, and it was torturous!), oh and yes, Abigail was pretty nervous too – after all, EVERYONE was LOOKING at her!! (as she later told me when it was all over) – she sang beautifully. Really, really beautifully. I know I’m her mommy, so I’m necessarily biased, but I was so proud of my girl, and thought she did an amazing job. We were all thrilled she got such a wonderful opportunity to support her school by doing something she loves so much!

I would love to show you the video of her singing, but my Tech Guy is having quite a bit of trouble streaming the tape from the camera onto a medium we can actually watch. Argh. Something about old technology, new interfaces, blah, blah, blah. Clearly it’s time for a more modern camera, one which will actually allow us to watch the videos it takes! But I have faith in my Tech Guy, and as soon as he solves this little dilemma, we will post a clip of her song.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Abigail!

My little girl is nine. Where, oh where has the time gone? Nine feels so big for some reason. In another nine years, our daughter will be an adult by legal standards. She will likely fly from the nest that year, be off to college and other adventures. I know that as their parents, our goal is for our children to grow and learn, and become adults eventually, but sometimes life feels like it flies by so fast.

We conceived Abigail after almost a year and a half of trying, actually during some fertility tests, a round of which my doctor was conducting to see if there were any measurable “reasons” we had not yet gotten pregnant. During those months we asked a lot of “What if?” questions. What if we never got pregnant? What would we do then? And our answer without hesitation was that God willing, we would most certainly pursue adoption. We desperately wanted children, and a family of our own. After what seemed like forever, but wasn’t actually all that long relatively speaking, we got that positive pregnancy test, and to say we were elated is an understatement. How completely surprised, how excited Jay and I were at the thought of a little Horne arriving to join our family.

I still remember the day of my sonogram so vividly, the day we were to learn whether this little Horne was a boy or a girl. Though I honestly did not care too much about gender, so thankful was I that we actually had a little baby on the way, I had pretty much assumed we would only have boys. I had learned the scientific fact that the father is responsible for determining the gender of the child (see here for a little biology lesson on the topic), and I had done a little family research and learned there were no girls for several generations directly back in Jay’s, his Dad’s, or (I think) even his Dad’s Dad’s generation. His only brother was at that time father to two boys himself (neither we nor they knew that was about to change!). Of course, being the highly trained scientist that I am, I extrapolated and came up with my own theory: that we were not likely to bring any daughters into this world. I was actually pretty convinced of this! So, when the nurse performing my sonogram announced to us that there was indeed a baby girl hanging out in my tummy, my very surprised squeals of joy could be heard all the way back to the waiting room (so they told me). I was ecstatic, and could not wait to meet this little lady of ours.

From the time she was born, Abigail, true to her name, has been a joy to us. I feel as if we were given a very special gift the day God placed her into our care. She is a delight, a sweet, kind and mostly very patient big sister to her three crazy little brothers, an encouragement to her Mom and Dad. She cares tenderly for all the little animals and creatures she comes into contact with, is a loyal friend, and has an air about her that is far older than even her big nine years. It is such a blessing to have another girl in the family besides myself!!

Throughout our next pregnancies, I never again remembered my very false assumptions about children’s gender. And secretly, I sort of wished for another girl to join our family, but that has never happened. Even the little baby whom we lost before ever having the chance to meet him is a boy, whom we someday look forward to seeing face to face in Heaven.

Abigail’s special day took place on Saturday, and her treat was going out with Mommy to have her ears pierced. Afterward, we celebrated with some family in town over pizza, cake, and presents, and it was a wonderful evening.

I am so thankful for our precious girl, our only daughter, our Abigail, our joy. I pray she may grow in grace, in her love for Christ and the people around her, and that she may always know just how deeply her family loves her.

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