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Potter Place

Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8)

Updated: 2016-07-03T11:11:29.399-05:00


One down and one to go


I finished my first year of nursing school this week, and as I reflect on the past nine months, I am filled with a mix of emotions:

Disbelief. One year ago at this time, I was unsure of my prospects of ever becoming a nurse. My advisor at the local university had told me that my chances of getting into their BSN program were slim to none and warned me not to hold out too much hope getting into the community college in a nearby town, because their selection process was just as competitive. After putting my dream of becoming a nurse on hold during my baby-raising years, such news was extremely unsettling.

Amazement. I not only got into the program at the community college, I have maintained a 4.0 GPA thus far.

Gratitude. My success this past year has only been possible because of a support system of family and friends who love me and support me in any way they can. I was really nervous about going back to school full-time and the effect that might have on my husband and kids, but they have been unbelievably supportive and encouraging.

Hopeful. Having made it thus far gives me the faith to believe that God will see us through the next year and provide a job at the end of this journey that will be exactly what I need. I am continually amazed at His provision in my life and eagerly await the unfolding of the next year of my life.

Good Friday


If you've ever wondered why Good Friday could be called "good", go on over to see what CFHusband had to write about this day we observe the sacrifice of our Savior. His and Tricia's personal testimony is worth taking a few minutes to read.

A day of living and dying


If I live to be 100 years old, I will never forget the events of today. Never.Perhaps it was because it was the first death I’ve witnessed during my just-starting nursing career. Perhaps it was because it was such a sad retelling of the darkest chapter of my own life thus far. Maybe it was the deep compassion and professionalism I saw demonstrated today. Or because it was the first time I had seen that it is possible to die in comfort free from all the tubes and machinery of acute care settings.Although I’m not sure of all the reasons, I do know this: I left a hospice facility today a different person than when I arrived.I’d been looking forward to this experience since I’d first learned that we’d each be spending a day in the hospice setting. A group of hospice workers who spoke to our class last semester had piqued my interest in care for the terminally ill, and they had spoken so highly of their facility that I was eager to see it for myself.The hospice home proved to be everything they had described and more. Immediately upon entering, I sensed that this was indeed a home, not a hospital. The beautiful wood floors, elegant furnishings, and smoldering fireplaces welcomed me, and I noticed immediately that there were no hospital smells at all. Rather, the fragrance of bacon and eggs made me feel as if I were entering my grandmother’s kitchen, and I felt at home even before a single person spoke to me.I was assigned to Susan, an RN who has worked at the hospice home for six years. She was just about to check in on Ms. P, a 78-year-old white female with lung cancer who was about to get her next dose of morphine. “She’s actively dying,” Susan mentioned as we prepared to enter the room. And, indeed, she was. At first glance, it appeared that the patient had stopped breathing, but after a long pause, her chest rose and fell ever so slightly. Her son sat in a chair beside the bed, expressionless, holding her hand and waiting.Without warning, I was taken back to that night three years ago when my brother and I held an all-night vigil at our mother’s bedside, waiting … and hoping … for her to take another breath, yet at the same time waiting … and hoping … that the nightmare would end soon for us all.Susan administered the morphine, instructed the son to let her know if he needed anything, and we quietly left the room.Next door was a middle-aged Hispanic gentleman with continuous bladder irrigation whose pain was difficult to control that morning. Susan had already given him his regular dose of morphine, but judging by his facial expressions, the patient was still hurting.We went back to the med room, and Susan explained that rules pertaining to narcotic administration are a little more relaxed in a hospice setting than in acute care. The patients’ comfort is paramount, so they are given whatever they need to control their pain. Mr. G was eventually given two more injections before his symptoms abated and he felt like eating breakfast.From there, we saw Mr. K, a new admit who could not communicate except for grunts and head movements and Mrs. S., an elderly woman who was able to be moved to a chair and wanted to tell us about growing up in Iowa.Back in the med room, Susan noted that it was time for Mrs. P. to get her eye drops. “I don’t know if her son will want her to have them or not, but I’ll take them anyway,” she said.We went back to Ms. P's room, and the patient’s family members sensed by the look on Susan's face that the end was very near for their mother. All conversation ceased, and the adult daughters gathered around the bed, holding hands while Susan felt the patient’s pulse. After awhile, she put her stethoscope to the woman’s chest and listened for a full minute.Finally, she uttered the words they had known were coming. “She’s gone.”In those moments, I felt an awkwardness that is strange to even write about. Being present at the death of someone else’s beloved family member seemed intrus[...]

Budding talent


I've spent the better part of spring break trying to eliminate as much clutter as possible from my house. Some of the treasures I've unearthed this week have been priceless. I'm going to have to take pictures of the love notes from G-man to really give you the full effect of his creativity. This morning, my great find has been a "song" (and I use that term very loosely) written by one of my daughters. The lyrics are so ... um, inspiring, that I really couldn't wait to share them with you all.

I'm sure you will agree with me that S may just be on the brink of a career as a songwriter. I'm keeping the spelling just as she had it.

Girls Rule, Boys Dule

Girls Rule
Boy Dule
Girls Rock
Boys wear dirty socks.
Girls are made of sugur and spice.
Boys are made of dog drool and farty backsides.
And girls have the power to do what they need to do.
Need to do.
Boys lay around all day laughing at girls
Hee Hee Hee.
Hee Hee Hee.
And girls always turn back and that's why
Girls rule.
Boys Drool.

Sing out!

Where in the world did I go wrong???



I made it through the first semester of nursing school and lived to tell about it. Can't say it was fun, but I learned a lot and had the most amazing Christmas break to recover.

Now it's on to the second semester which is already shaping up to be 10 times worse than the first. The sheer volume of information overwhelms me, but Jeff says I can do it, and I'm choosing to believe him.

I realized over the break that in putting all my knitting, sewing, and crochet projects aside, I had neglected a very important part of who I am. All books and no stitching make Sheryl a very dull girl. A friend introduced me to Ravalry, the coolest site for crafters, this morning. I plan to start uploading photos of my projects in the next day or so and will post them here as well.

My mantra lately has been, "I wish I may, I wish I might, Stitch a stitch or two tonight". One of my New Year's resolutions was to do that very thing. Even if it's only for 5 minutes, there's something so therapeutic about picking up the needles and yarn, I just don't think I can suppress all my creative urges for the next three semesters!

Somebody tell me what I was thinking


Okay, so I haven't posted in WEEKS. It's because of a little thing called nurs1ng school. Oh, I forgot to post about that, too? It's a long story that I really should preserve for posterity, but the short version is this: I GOT IN. Finally.

And now I hate it. Absolutely hate it.

The classroom part is just fine. I really love the material, and my classmates are wonderful. I have several new BFF's, and things within the four peaceful walls of the classroom are just peachy.

It's clinicals that are making me second guess my whole decision to want to take on the nurse role.

And third guess.

It's been a pretty crappy experience overall (and, no, I don't mean the kind you clean off bottoms, haha!).

Until grades come out in a few weeks, I don't really feel the freedom to share too many details. Because I really want an A, and talking about the details of all this crappiness might jeopardize that A.

As soon as I see it posted, though, I'll probably feel inclined to share all kinds of details. Like how I thought I was going to get kicked out of nursing school last week. And all kinds of other juicy tidbits.

So, if you happen to be considering the idea of going to nursing school, give me a call first. I'm wishing right now some of my RN friends had loved me enough to tell me about all the similarities between Marine Corps boot camp and nursing school.

I'm moving to Mexico


Dear Mr. President,

I'm planning to move my family and my extended family into Mexico for my health and I would like to ask you to assist me.

We're planning to simply walk across the border from the U.S. into Mexico, and we'll need your help to make a few arrangements.

We plan to skip all the legal stuff like visas, passports, immigration quotas and laws. I'm sure they handle those things the same way you do here. So, would you mind telling your buddy, President Calderon, that I'm on my way over?

Please let him know that I will be expecting the following:

1. Free medical care for my entire family.

2. English-speaking government bureaucrats for all services I might need, whether I use them or not.

3. Please print all Mexican government forms in English.

4. I want my three kids to be taught Spanish by English-speaking (bi-lingual) teachers.

5. Tell their schools they need to include classes on American culture and history.

6. I want my kids to see the American flag on one of the flag poles at their school.

7. Please plan to feed my jids at school for both breakfast and lunch.

8. I will need a local Mexican driver's license so I can get easy access to government services.

9. I do plan to get a car and drive in Mexico, but I don't plan to purchase car insurance, and I probably won't make any special effort to learn local traffic laws.

10. In case one of the Mexican police officers does not get the memo from their president to leave me alone, please be sure that every patrol car has at least one English-speaking officer.

11. I plan to fly the U.S. flag from my house top, put U S. flag decals on my car, and have a gigantic celebration on July 4th. I do not want any complaints or negative comments from the locals.

12. I would also like to have a nice job without paying any taxes or have any labor or tax laws enforced on any business I may start.

13. Please have the president tell all the Mexican people to be extremely nice and never say critical things about me or my family or about the strain we might place on their economy.

14. I want to receive free food stamps.

15. Naturally, I'll expect free rent subsidies.

16. I'll need Income tax credits so that although I don't pay Mexican taxes, I'll receive money from the government.

17. Please arrange it so that the Mexican government pays $4,500 to help me buy a new car.

18. Oh yes, I almost forgot, please enroll me free into the Mexican Social Security program so that I'll get a monthly income in retirement.

I know this is an easy request because you already do all these things for all his people who walk over to the U.S. from Mexico. I am sure that President Calderon won't mind returning the favor if you ask him nicely.

Thank you so much for your kind help.

You're the man!

What I WISH my nuptials had been like


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Now here are a bride and groom who are obviously SO delighted to be tying the knot, they can't make their feet behave.

Can I just say there is something about their unbridled joy that makes me jealous?

When I married Jeff at the ripe old age of 28, I was keenly aware of the standards of propriety to which I was expected to conform. I smiled at the right times, made certain that "The Kiss" wasn't, umm, passionate enough to raise any eyebrows and that my new husband didn't raise my skirt TOO high when he removed my garter at the end of the reception. I was a Southern lady through and through.

I'm not sure what's happened over the past 14 years, but I'm not THAT girl any more. I dare say if I'd known then what I know now ~ how rich married life can be, how delicious and satisfying the experience of sharing many years together, the rapturous thrill of gazing upon the face of a newborn that we created together ~ I'd have been dancing all the way to the altar and back.

Somehow, I don't think I could have ever gotten my groom to somersault in a tux, though.

A glory explosion in the teepee tonight


I was kissing G-man goodnight tonight in his teepee ~ a wonderful sixth birthday present a few weeks ago from his Nana ~ when he looked up at me with a puzzled look on his face.

"Momma, you wanna know what I prayed for tonight?"

"What, baby?"

"I prayed, 'Lord Jesus, thank you for this wonderful day. Thank you for my wonderful family and home. And when I die, do you think you could let me bring ALL my Webkinz to heaven with me?'"

"And what do you think He would say to that?" I asked, really not feeling like a big debate on exactly why we can't take all our material goods with us to our mansion in the sky.

"I think he would say no," G replied sadly. And then he brightened just a bit and said, "So I asked him just to fill them with His glory, so I never have to be apart from them for a SECOND!"

The boy does love his Webbies.

Yes, women ARE born this way ...


This is for any man who has ever wondered if the women in his world were hardwired to talk incessantly ...

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My six-year-old son is fascinated by this video. He has asked me to replay it over and over since I first watched it yesterday morning. Each time, he stares at the screen the entire time with a look of curious delight on his face.

Soooo ... I decided to have a little fun with him last night.

"G, you don't know this, but that's the young lady you're going to marry one day," I told him.

Very quickly, the look of delight turned to one of fear.

"NO!" he exclaimed. "She talks too much!"

Oh, honey, we ALL do.

Little dancers



Aren't they BEAUTIFUL? The one on the left is mine, and I'm so proud of her and all her friends for the way they danced on Saturday. Such a sweet group of girls.

And what would YOU tell her?


The girls and I journeyed down to Little Rock this weekend for the Little Rock Feis. Along the way, S(9) was reading billboards aloud and asked, "Mom, what's an adult?"

"It's a grownup," I replied.

"So ........" she paused, furrowing her brows and obviously thinking hard about the next question. "An adult supercenter is a big Wal-Mart where they sell grownups?"

"Not exactly," I said, thinking VERY hard about how to answer the question I knew was coming next.

"Oh!" C(7) replied. "Stuff like wine and beer?"

"Yeah. That's it!" I answered, thankful she had bailed me out on this one.

It was an answer all three of us could be satisfied with.

Changing names


My blog has turned into nothing more than kid stories ... I would apologize for that except for the fact that I don't scrapbook or do a very good job of keeping up with baby books, and so this is ~ in a very real sense ~ my children's only record of their childhood.

Two stories about G:

School conferences were held today and as is my custom before meeting with teachers, I always ask the kids what they think I will hear when I ask how they are doing.

Driving home from school yesterday, I asked G what Mrs. B was going to tell me. "That I'm a perfect angel and she wishes she had a whole kindergarten class full of boys just like me," he immediately replied. The kid didn't even stop to think of his response which I found funnier than his actual answer.

"And how hard is Ms. B going to choke on her coffee when I tell her what you just said?" I asked him.

Again, an immediate response.

"Pretty hard, Mom. Pretty hard."

Can you stand one more??

This afternoon, he asked me out of the blue if it was too late to change his name.

"Yes, G," I answered. "Dad and I picked your name very carefully when you were born, and I don't want to change it. What would you want it to be?"

Wistfully (and very seriously), he answered, "Wrestle Fart Toot."

The things they say


S was talking to her Grandma Judy a few days ago and telling her that there are a number of Irish dancers from her dance school who will be competing in the Irish Dance World Championships being held next month in Philadelphia. This is the first time Worlds have been held on this side of the pond, and I believe if someone offered S a ticket to go, she'd be there in a heartbeat.

As the conversation went, Grandma Judy asked S if she had dreams of competing in Worlds some day.

"Oh, yes!" my girl gushed. "Maybe it will be in Ireland, and I can go see another country!"

Grandma Judy agreed that it all sounded like fun and asked if she might come along, too.

"Yes," S agreed. "If you're still portable, we'll be glad to take you along!"

Good night prayers


I was tucking G into bed tonight, and he asked if he could say his night-night prayers one more time. He'd already prayed with his daddy a few moments before but apparently had a few more things he needed to talk to God about.

After thanking God for the wonderful day and asking for a good night of rest, I was surprised to hear my precious five-year-old boy speak these words: "God, thank you for my wonderful family and my BFF's."

He went on for another couple of minutes thanking the Almighty for just about everything a little boy can be thankful for (including his sisters, can you believe?? and finally said "Amen" and snuggled deeper under the blankets.

"G, what was that other thing you thanked God for after your wonderful family?" I asked.

"Oh, my BFF's," he casually replied.

"What are BFF's?" I asked, playing dumb.

"Oh, you know, Mom. There are friends and then there are BFF's which are friends you like a WHOLE LOT MORE than your other friends."

"Oh," I replied.

And then he melted my heart with this: "Mom ... If you weren't my momma, I'd let you be my BFF."


First Feis


S began studying Irish dance at the beginning of the school year, and this past weekend she competed in her first feis (a competition of Irish dancers and musicians; pronounced "fesh") in Branson. It was held at the absolutely gorgeous Chateau on the Lake. S had a blast and did very well, bringing home a medal for participating in her first feis and two first place medals for her performances.

We can't wait until the next feis in Little Rock in April!!

Our sweet dancer:


Applying the all-important sock glue to hold up the poodle socks:


Doing a jig:


Photos of campus


C and I ventured up to the university on Thursday morning to see how things were looking. Here's what we found:


On any other day, Old Main would be clearly visible from where we're standing.


A closer view of Old Main.


Just one week later, I couldn't believe the difference. Very spring-like weather brought out hundreds of volunteers, and nearly every stick of debris was removed from the campus. It was a neat sight watching so many people work together to accomplish the back-breaking work that needed to be done.

What a week


I know this is old news now, but the ice storm last week deprived us of power for several days, then I discovered that my computer had died a painful death, we took off for a weekend in Branson, and in general, it's been like a thousand degrees of crazy around here.So, pardon me while I relive the drama of our ice storm.We live in an older neighborhood of homes that are 30-40 years old. We have lots of well-established big trees, and they were not happy under the weight of so much ice. The sleet started on Monday afternoon, and by the next day, it sounded like a war zone in my neighborhood. Even indoors, I could hear the trees groaning under the weight of so much ice before they gave up their limbs. It was the creepiest thing I've experienced in a long time. At one point, something VERY LARGE fell on the roof over the office, and I heard one of my daughters scream. I was just sure something had broken through into the house. Thank God, that wasn't the case.One of our neighbors lost a particularly large section of tree right outside their garage.We camped out two nights in front of the fireplace. This was the first night playing Scrabble by candlelight.I ventured into the hospital at 5:45 a.m. on Wednesday since I couldn't work from home. This is a view of the fountain area where many hospital employees enjoy eating in prettier weather.Since we couldn't cook on our electric stove, Jeff snagged a bottle of propane soon after the outage so we could grill. We had a "discussion" on Tuesday about whether it was okay to put Pyrex on the grill (I didn't recommend it; he disagreed). We successfully warmed up a casserole for Tuesday night's dinner, but on Wednesday night when he tried to cook enchiladas, this was the result:He cooked a great breakfast for us on the grill Thursday morning. What a great way to celebrate his 39th birthday![...]



In case anyone's wondering about us, we're surviving the ice storm. The Great Ice Storm of 2009 as it will forever be known in our family. Northwest Arkansas looks like a war zone, and it will take weeks, if not months, for the devasation to be cleared away.

I have plenty of stories and photos to share, but they will have to wait until we have power. I'm typing this from a coffee shop right now. You will hear great shouts of gladness when the power is restored. I'm not counting on that happening anytime soon. Reports are that over 100,000 people are in the same boat we're in.

A hot shower will feel wonderful.

Please pray for us and all those who have been affected by this horrendous storm.

My guys


(image) It's been so long since I posted, I nearly forgot my login a few minutes ago. The past few months have reached a new level of busy, and although I find myself in the midst of various situations thinking often, "I really should blog this," I fizzle out so early at night that writing is the last thing on my mind.

But when I downloaded this picture of my boys tonight, I knew it was time to post. These two guys have me wound around their little fingers in ways I can't even describe. They make my heart beat funny, and I get lightheaded when they kiss me.

Perhaps I should feel a little guilty about carrying on with two men at the same time. But I just don't. There's enough love in my heart for them both. And they're both okay with that :-)

From our family to yours ...


A little holiday merriment for your viewing pleasure! Enjoy!

American Girls, part 2


So much for my intentions to post the next day. Right before I left to take the girls to dance last week, my computer started smelling like it was on fire, and I've been having to beg, borrow, and steal computer time from the husband and kids. None of them are as unselfish with their machines as I wish they were (ha!)

So, the rest of the story ...

All the girls who had been chosen met in September for the first of several rehearsals and the moms were given a list of shoes, tights, slips, and other assorted accessories our daughters would need for the shows. What fun S, C and I had going shopping for all their necessities!

Even more fun was meeting such fantastic young ladies and their moms. For the duration of the rehearsals and performances, I ceased being "Sheryl" and became "Samantha's mom". Likewise, the other stage moms were known as "Kit's mom," "Addy's mom", or "Josefina's mom".

The only part of being a stage mom that I really didn't enjoy was not being allowed backstage once I dropped my daughters off for their call times. They entered through the stage door, and that was the last I saw of them until they appeared onstage, completely transformed by the hair stylists and a team of ladies backstage into young ladies from another era. Any mom who tried to sneak past Miss Nikki, the director, was quickly shown to the door. That was tough.

What was wonderful was seeing the amazing growth in confidence in S and C from the time of the audition until the time of the performances. S was so nervous on audition day, I was a little apprehensive she might throw up. None of that on show day, though! She awakened with a broad smile on her face and not one ounce of trepidation at the prospect of walking down a runway in front of a few hundred people. That alone made the experience worth it.

S summed it up best as we drove home after the second show on Saturday. "Wasn't today just magical, Momma?"

Yes, my American Girl, it surely was.

We were not permitted to take pictures during the rehearsals or shows, but I "sneaked" a few. Most were very dark and blurry, but here are a couple of the better ones. (There was a professional photog there, and I will be ordering better quality shots from her).

(image) Each historical girl modeled several different outfits. This is Samantha's Christmas dress.

(image) And this is the back view of one of Samantha's every day dresses. This is a big-girl version of the dress the Samantha doll wears when she arrives on some lucky girl's doorstep.

My American Girls


(image) A few months back I was browsing the web site of an area arts center to see what kind of theater classes they offer for kids, and I saw a notice for upcoming auditions for an American Girl fashion show. They were looking for young ladies to model clothing in just two sizes, 6x and 10.

Completely convinced that neither of my girls would fit the height requirement, I decided that the experience of auditioning alone would be good for them. I have a theory that the sooner in life kids experience a little disappointment, the better. Nothing is ever gained by being a spectator in life, so I did a quick spiff-up after church one August afternoon and drove them to the arts center. I prepared them along the way that they would probably not be chosen, and if they weren't, it was no big deal. I told them that half the girls of northwest Arkansas would probably be there for auditions, and since there were only a handful who would be chosen, just to be prepared for anything. I assured them that I would be very proud of them just for trying.

We arrived about 15 minutes before the doors opened, and the line of mothers and their nervous daughters, many clutching American Girl dolls, already wound down the street. What we discovered was that not only had half of northwest Arkansas shown up, there were also girls from eastern Oklahoma and southern Missouri as well. This was a bigger deal than even I had imagined.

When the doors finally opened, and they allowed us in, it wasn't long before we saw little girls being turned away. Some didn't fall within the required height range. Others didn't have the necessary measurements around their midsection. When I saw a very beautiful girl sobbing, nearly having to be carried out by her mother, I began seriously questioning my own judgment. What were my motives for subjecting my own daughters to this?

We saw that scene repeated several times over the next half hour, and as I deliberated the pros and cons of taking S and C out of line and driving them home, I realized that both had made it through all the hurdles and were being invited into the auditorium to speak with the judges. They were given a brief set of instructions on how and where to walk across the stage, then given a question or two by the judges to answer. After that part of the process ended, we were allowed to leave with the promise that we would hear from the judges within a week.

At this point, we were hopeful that at least one of the girls would get a part but never dreamed that it would be both. You can only imagine my surprise the following week when I received an email notifying me that S had been cast as Samantha, one of the historical girls, and C as a Bitty Baby.

What an exciting moment it was as I shared with the girls the exciting news.

To be continued tomorrow ...

And I thought I was the only one


This guy could have been writing about me.

Changing the collective consciousness


Does this creep anybody else out besides me? This guy is NOT the messiah.

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