Monday, June 30, 2008

An Example To Behold

Today is my parents' 47th wedding anniversary. Forty-seven years! That sounds old, doesn't it? But they aren't old at all! Especially when you consider the fact that they started their family when they were 12.

In all seriousness, I can only speak of their marriage from the perspective of the youngest of their three children. So whatever trials and tribulations their marriage may or may not have gone through over the years was completely non-existent to me. And that in itself speaks volumes.

My childhood was blissfully normal. We were a happy family. But it didn't come out of the box that way. There was some assembly required - and my parents did an awesome job. My mom made sure that the last thing we saw as we rounded the corner walking to school every morning was her face in the window as she waved goodbye. She is the reason that all three of her children and our families now all have God at the center of our lives. My dad made sure that every single year we went on our family vacation in August and stacked years of memories on top of one another. He taught us that you take care of your family no matter what, and that there's nothing we could do that would make him ever leave or even think of hurting us. I had no idea there was a whole world out there with families that weren't like mine, and didn't realize how fortunate I was until much later.

It's not that our family was or is perfect. We've had issues to deal with, and when we were growing up, my parents certainly had their hands full with one or the other of us at various times. The difference is, we don't treat each other badly, dig our claws in, or insist that it's "my road or the high road" when interacting. There are few harsh words. We don't have the desire to hurt one another when we are upset. We work through things because we love one another deeply and know that we couldn't live without the influence of the others on our lives. Our daily lives. I am not who I am without who they are.

That attitude and way of living came straight from my parents - both from how they treated us and how they treated one another. And that education is ongoing. They have taught me by example how to be so many things: wonderful adult children to their aging mothers, a good daughter-in-law (hopefully!), awesome in-laws to their children's spouses, and best of all - terrific grandparents. Some of this I am already trying to put into practice, and others I cannot wait to! That's right - I already, at 37, think about what type of mother-in-law I will be to my boys' wives; and nearly can't wait to be a 2nd generation Nana!

They are the reason that my brother and sister and I and our families (along with them) cannot wait to all pile into a vacation house somewhere every year (all 17 of us!) to spend a week together. Christmas is also major chaotic fun.

You would think we all live around the corner from one another by the way I talk. In reality, none of us lives within an hour of the other. My parents are an hour away, my sister is two hours away, and my brother is about 11 hours away. Just a few years ago, my family lived at least 18 hours away from all of them. But it doesn't matter. The love that my parents bound us with is the same strength whether it has to stretch across the street or across the country.

So it's been 47 years since the two of them walked down the aisle as kids themselves; and through 3 less-than-perfect kids, 9 grandkids, illnesses, broken bones, surgeries, adoptions, kids moving away, coming back, moving away, various pets (mostly mine), deaths, countless hours driving to and from various locations, college tuitions, daughters' bad boyfriends and numerous other phases we went through - not only are they still standing, but they have been rock solid.

Thank you, God, for giving me these parents and their neverending love.

Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad! You so totally rock!

Friday, June 27, 2008

BELIEVE In Yourself, My Son.

Following is a link to Alexx's senior high pastor's blog post a few days ago. The piece of art you will see is what Alexx drew last Sunday at youth group. I recognized my own son's work the instant I saw it (you can click on it for a close-up).

Alexx has been an amazing artist since he was around 5 years old and he just keeps getting better and better. I love the talent that God has given him, the only problem is - he doesn't see it. I guess really talented people often do not see what they can do as extraordinary, so it's a little frustrating. He could go so far with it, but it's like a $1 million treasure stuck away in the back of the attic right now.

Also - hearing your parents rave about something isn't exactly the catalyst that makes most teens take off on something ...

Here is a sketch he did of Eddie Van Halen recently - and we have tons more where that came from. My mom commissioned him to draw their house (my childhood home) for each of us for Christmas and it turned out beautifully. I don't think I have a scanned copy of that right now. I'll put that on my to-do list and post it at some point. (Don't hold your breath.)

We have no idea where this artistic skill came from - both Sean and I are talentless hacks.

So if you see Alexx sometime - encourage him to follow his talent. It is so rare that someone has something that makes them so happy and could be their career.

I pray that the Lord gets through to him on this one!

It's The Little Things

Little things excite me. Really. Tiny, seemingly insignificant nuggets of life are what I love the most! I don't wait for big things to happen to say, "Ah yes - see? There is a God!" And this is the attitude I hope my kids are picking up on.

I think God is shortchanged so much by us humans. I mean, seriously. I wonder sometimes if he's sitting up there next to Jesus, rolling his eyes at how conceited we are down here on earth. We think we are in control of so much.

And this one drives me crazy. When a huge disaster happens - Hurricane Katrina, Midwest flooding, typhoons, tsunamis - I always read somewhere some writer pontificating on how it must be God punishing us for this or that. Why don't I ever read the same writer, on a daily basis, talking about how God must be behind the Dow closing at an all-time high, scientists finding the gene that is responsible for a deadly disease, or the awesome afternoon he had with his kids last weekend?

On the other side of all of that is the fact that I also believe that it's the little things that matter when I'm dealing with others. I try to think of the little things - well, I don't really try, it's actually just how I'm wired. I actually enjoy talking to cashiers about how their day is going because I imagine that a good portion of the last 15 people who went through their line were probably grumbly or perhaps barely even acknowledged his/her existence. That's unfortunate.

Where am I going with all of this anyway? I have no idea - I just had to get that off my chest.

I guess - just please stop and let the little things have an impact on your attitude. And take a different perspective the next time something tiny makes your day and acknowledge who's really behind it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Check Your Priorities At The Door

Two and a half days until girls' weekend at my sister's house in Cincinnati.

Six women taking a parenting sabbatical from TWENTY kids ranging in age from 6 months to 17 years.

One nice pool, one blender (at a time) full of fruity, frozen drinks, one big-screen TV for viewing chick flicks, ZERO testosterone around to clutter up the place.

My dog, Heidi, and my sister's dog, Ella, both get to be there because they have ovaries.

You know what the neatest part is? These are all my friends, but they don't all know one another. Yet. I can't wait to spend time getting to know my friends even better and watching them make new friends, as well.


Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept ...

We got Daddy an ice cream maker for Father's Day. So far he's made peach - which was out of this world good.

Normally, his favorite flavor to purchase is cookies & cream. So we purchased some Oreos and I gave the boys a mission - remove the cream from the middle of half the package of cookies for Dad to make his own cookies & cream ice cream.

They happily obeyed for once.

My dudes can put away the cookies! Well, except Seth. He's never had a cookie. Never. Not once.

File that under "weird sensory issues of the autistic one" (and that's one large file).

Anyway, mission accepted and accomplished (in about four minutes).

Sometimes You Just Gotta Dance

Thank you, Chandra, for sending me the link to Matt Harding's website. I don't know what he believes or what kind of person he is, but dang the guy gets around.

I love that he's been all over the world and no matter where he goes, he's doing the same thing and loving it. There really is a common thread among all humanity - even if this particular one is just fun, bad dancing.

Please scroll to the bottom of page to watch his 2008 video - and be sure and go to his website and read "About Matt" to learn what in the world this is all about.

As a side note - Joel has a very similar dance that he used to do to make the little ones (Seth, Gus, Marco, and Ana) crack up. The first thing I thought upon viewing Matt's video was, "Oh my gosh, that's Joel's dance!!"


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Yeah . . . AND???

My fortune from tonight's chinese take-out: You will always get what you want through your charm and personality.

Well. I don't know about you, but I thought we had already established that.

Psalm 133:1 In Action

Joel is the most nurturing big brother I think I've ever seen. I love watching him from afar when he is working with Seth when Seth is having a particularly hard time dealing with life.

Here he is trying to calm Seth down by distracting him from whatever was getting under his skin a few mornings ago.

I really do believe God put this autistic child in this family for a reason. We are each equipped differently to bring out the best in Seth to maximize his outcome, though there are definitely days where we are all off our game and things just run amuck around here.

Thankfully, today was not one of those days. :-)

"How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!"


These two just have a bond.

I love having kids so far apart. :-)

It Takes a Village To Install a New Floor

Last evening we all engaged in a family project - a new floor for our screened-in porch. Originally we had planned to tile the floor, but decided to use pavers instead since they were on sale and the project would be much less time-intensive.

It was a whole family effort, and even Seth helped move the edge pieces. No one was injured (amazing), and nothing broke except for two pieces that actually broke in the van during transport. These things weight 42 lbs. a piece! Not an easy task, but Alexx and Joel rose to the occasion with little complaining, moving them first from the van to the back yard, and then to their final destination (along with Sean). Now that's progress!

I think it turned out great, there's only one problem. There are a couple of pavers that are right in the middle of the floor that I have discovered this morning that are off balance and rock slightly when you walk on them. Oh, no. Those of you who know me know that this will drive me mad. I thought I had fixed any that did that while we were putting them in, but I apparently missed a couple.

This will not do.

I haven't figured it out yet, but rest assured, I will. Oh yes, I will.

Here's the floor.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Unexpected Benefit (The Best Kind!)

Some of you may remember that our 12-year-old golden retriever, Hunter, died in January. It was quite traumatic for the whole family.

However, I never really realized what a fixture in our family he must have been to Seth. He was obviously just there from the beginning to Seth. He was older, so he didn't "play" much. He was really just a big, ol' lap dog, just wanting to be with us and lie on us! We really only used the leash on him when we were in public (for other peoples' sakes), as he would just stay with us wherever we went.

After Hunter died, we briefly talked about the idea of raising the money for an autism-trained therapy dog for Seth. And I do mean briefly. The dogs can cost up to $15,000. They cost so much because they choose and train each dog according to the specific issues that each autistic child struggles with along with their personality traits. The benefits we've read about are amazing and would be awesome for his emotional and sensory issues, but the fundraising would be rigorous. It would take a huge, whole-family committment for nearly a year - and honestly, I'm not sure this family is up to it at this point. We're dealing with a lot right now, and adding something monumental like that would probably stretch us entirely too thin. I'm sad to say (for Seth) that I don't think we could do it. And we obviously don't have the money to pay for something like that outright.

What is interesting, though, is that now that we have Heidi, Seth is reacting to her in a way I hadn't anticipated, or really even much thought about. He is playing with her, loving on her, taking her for walks (since she's so little, he can handle her with no effort), and generally really paying attention to her and her personality. She is engaging him.

Now, she's no therapy dog, mind you. But she is providing something for him that is affecting him in a positive way. I hope it's not just the novelty of a new dog. But if it is, well, we'll take what we can get!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Told Ya!

Great sunsets - almost every night. You ought to come some night and sit on my swing with me.

We could listen together. Yep - I said listen.

My (Much) Better Half

I am one of those blessed people who really, really is married to my best friend. We have a long history together, and the love just keeps getting deeper. We have known each other since 7th grade and have been married for 16 years.

We truly believe this was a match made in heaven - and always have. It's the only thing that explains why we are even still together. It is amazing to both of us that, having gotten together at such a young age (16), that we have even grown in the same direction over the years. We know it is rare, and I honestly wouldn't guide another young couple to take the same route.

Just when I start to think I couldn't possibly be any more in love with this dude, we turn down another winding road leading to more challenges, more twists and turns, more years of memories to make, and new areas of ourselves (and one another) to discover.

Without going into a lot of boring details here, I've been dealing with a situation recently that is puzzling, upsetting, disheartening, and more than a little frightening. A week ago today, I hit a wall. Not only did he drop everything to get me over that wall in ways that only he knows how, but as I was lying on our bed in tears, he prayed over me with all of the faith that I am so thankful that he now has.

Five years ago that never would have occurred to him.

Like I said, just when I think I can't love him more, I fall even deeper.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Waffle Schmaffle. I'm Havin' a Tower.

Joel knows two ways of existing - larger than life and over the top - where anything at all is concerned.

And food is no exception.

Dude knows how to indulge!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Not Quite A Crop Circle

I wrote this message last night for Sean to see when he left for work this morning. (We've never really grown up at all - our bathroom mirror also has a message from him to me written in soap.)

So this morning Seth came tearing into the house yelling, "Mommy! On the sidewalk there are WORDS!"


I Finally Have A Girl!

Heidi is the newest addition to our family. She is a three-year-old maltese/poodle mix (aka maltepoo), and we adopted her from a sweet woman who is going through a divorce and is having to move to a small apartment with her nine-year-old son.

We are over-the-moon happy to have Heidi, as she is the sweetest, funniest little thing ever! We've never had a small dog, so this is all new for us.

She has quite quickly assimilated into this crazy, chaotic family. She had to be nearly shaved a few months ago, so she's not looking her maltepoo best. We can't wait to see what she'll look like with her long hair!

Who could resist this face?

Heidi likes to swing with us.

Heidi loves to chase birds. I don't have the heart to tell her that those little legs cannot make her fly.

Heidi meets Rapto, Joel's dinosaur robot.

Heidi finds the remnants of a dead bird further deepening her obsession with our feathered friends.

Silly girl!

She's quite the cuddler, and also has a few adorable tricks up her sleeve. We are in love!

The Beauty of Giving

I love seeing acts of kindness and compassion in action. But what really moves me is when I see it coming from the youngest of us.

Yesterday when I was getting my hair cut, beside me there were two little girls with the most gorgeous long hair, one dark and one blonde. They looked to be around five and seven years old, and their hair flowed far down their backs - you could tell they had been growing it for quite awhile.

As I nervously had four inches cut off of my own head, I watched as each of them sat in the chair, let the stylist put their hair in pigtails and cut them clean off. They were donating their hair to Locks of Love.

Suddenly I felt selfish and almost wished that I'd had the stylist cut off all of my hair, as well.

Kids are awesome

Limb Down - Take Three

In March, we lost about 1/3 of the ash tree in our front yard to heavy ice. That was sad - we love that tree and sit under it on the bench a lot when it's nice out watching the kids play in the big common area in front of the house.

Then in May when we were in Ft. Lauderdale, an even bigger part of it fell during some high winds. After that, it looked like a gigantic sling shot. We knew we probably needed to get an estimate to have it taken down.

Then laziness set in.

Last Sunday evening when it stormed really hard - craaaaack, womp.

The remaining little bit of tree has nowhere to fall but on the house. Ya think it's time? Yeah. It's going to cost a bazillion dollars to have it taken down, have the stump ground, and any sizable tree at all put it its place. I'm so sad.

I like my big shade tree in the front yard. But I like my money, too.

So we got the estimate today for taking it down and grinding the stump. Just as a I thought - $1.2 bazillion.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Welcome To The Jungle

I found a welcome mat on clearance at Target that is so fitting for our home, I had to get it.

Isn't the resemblance uncanny?

The Mecca

Can you hear the angels singing?

When we lived in Houston, Ikea became one of my favorite stores. Because I'm cheap. I have missed it very much since moving to Indiana.

A brand new store just opened five minutes from my sister's house in Cincinnati. Five minutes.

I am so back in the game.

Jackie O!

My sister and I are a lot alike in many ways, but one way we very much differ is our taste in sunglasses.

For years, I have relentlessly made fun of her larger-than-life choices in eyewear, calling her "Jackie-O" and "Old Navy Lady" (remember those commercials with Carrie Donovan?)

Well, I guess the joke's been on me, because it seems my sister was way ahead of her time in the eyewear fashion area - just look at what's in style these days!

Anyway, I still can't wear those big honkin' glasses and still tease her every chance I get, because that's how we roll.

Last weekend I forgot to grab my glasses before we left to go somewhere, so I HAD to wear a pair of hers - and I felt like every person in every car we passed was snickering at me behind my back.

So she made me pose for a picture in them. Big sisters are mean.

God Hard At Work . . . Again

My nephew, Gus, turned five last week. We celebrated his birthday in very ordinary, American ways by having cake, singing, beating the snot out of a pirate pinata.

But there was nothing ordinary about the path that opened up for Gustavo to be the newest member of our family in 2003.

Take the time, if you will, to take a glimpse at the process and miracles that brought Gus home, in the words of my sister, Aimee.

Five years ago today a baby was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala at his birth mother's home with a midwife in attendance. I was not present for his birth. I did not hear his first cry or see his scrunched-up newborn face. I do not know how much he weighed at birth or how long he measured. There was no apgar score. There was simply the miracle of a new life being born.

While we do not have many details/facts surrounding Gustavo's birth family, we do know certain circumstances of his birth mother's pregnancy which let us know that the very moment he was born was truly a miracle. The moment Gustavo took his first breath he had beaten the odds. I wonder if my heart skipped a beat the moment he was born.

Miracle #1 - Gustavo was born, alive, and with a future promised by the Creator himself. The adoption process itself was in turmoil throughout Gustavo's adoption. While Mark and I were fully aware of the situation, we decided to move forward with our eyes wide open. In our hearts we knew God was calling for our family to grow. I will share just a few highlights of the many events from that tumultuous time in 2003.

We received our final dossier item, approval from US Immigration, toward the end of June and were matched with Gustavo when he was 10 days old. When I called the Immigration Office to inquire about our paperwork a human answered the phone (unheard of) and told me she had signed our approval that very morning. I immediately blurted out "can I come down and pick it up?" After being stunned that I had the nerve to make such a request she said she had already sent it to the mailroom and we would receive it in about 10 days through the mail. She then paused and said she could ask her assistant to see if she would track it down and would call back. Yeah right - like I would ever hear from them again.

About an hour later my phone rang and a lady stated she had tracked down our paperwork and I could indeed come downtown and retrieve it in person. The office was closed to the public that afternoon but she gave me instruction for ringing a buzzer at a side door (I kid you not) and they would give me our paperwork. Marco and I were downtown in about 30 minutes ringing that buzzer! A woman opened the door, just a crack, and peered out at me. I told her who I was and the reason for my appearance. She gave me that paperwork and commented "Wow - that was fast!" Lady, don't get between a mama and her mission.

Ten days after receiving Gustavo's referral agencies stopped matching children with families. Ten days. You know the same ten days it would have taken for our final piece of paperwork to arrive in the mail. Had we waited for the paperwork to arrive it is possible we would have missed out on being matched with a child and the adoption moving forward.

The process did shut down during Gustavo's adoption. Things came to a grinding halt. Our family spent 10 long weeks not knowing if we would ever meet the precious boy we hoped would be our son. The rumor mill was ugly, and it was difficult to not be shaken at what we were hearing. One of the most frightening rumors heard was that the Guatemalan authorities were going to take all children in process of being adopted, remove them from their loving, nurturing foster homes, and place them in orphanages. We knew if this came to fruition there would virtually be no possibility of finding Gustavo. Not only would he be lost to us but also spend his childhood in the institutional setting of an orphanage. I still get sick to my stomach when considering this possibility.

At one point during the ten weeks of not knowing if the adoption would continue, I removed Gustavo's picture from the front of the refrigerator. It was too painful to see his face peering at me everyday. I found it difficult to talk about him on a daily basis. However, during a much-needed girlfriend weekend away I concluded that my heart was not going to be anymore broken over this little boy if I talked about him, dreamed of our future together, and plastered his picture all over our home. God was at work on my spirit.

Of course I prayed without ceasing for Gustavo. However, I learned to pray for the Guatemalan authorities and those who were responsible for the shutdown of the adoption process. Once adoptions opened again in September I prayed for each person who was working on our file. I learned about faith. I learned how difficult it is to completely turn over a burden to God and trust that his answer is best.

Once adoptions resumed I was allowed to go to Guatemala and visit Gustavo and his foster mother. As he was placed in my arms for the first time (sitting poolside at a hotel in Antigua, Guatemala) I felt instantly at peace. While he was not yet legally our son, I did not need a legal document to cement our bond. I spent 5 glorious days getting to know this precious baby that had been so lovingly prayed for since the moment we knew of his existence. Leaving him behind in Guatemala was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I left Gustavo and Guatemala having seen a miracle with my own eyes and experiencing the fruit of prayer.

There were more twists and turns in the process but on December 1st we received THE telephone call. The adoption was approved. Our boy was coming home! I was in Target Christmas shopping when I answered the call. After hearing the news I literally stopped breathing and then started the UGLY cry. My hands were shaking as I called Mark to share our news. Our son would be home – at 6 months old and just days before Christmas.

Mentally we were prepared for a long drawn-out process and hoped to have him home for his first birthday. There was even high drama the last two weeks as the US Embassy made mistakes on our paperwork. However, on December 18, 2003 two very joyous parents and one sweet baby walked down the concourse at the airport to greet grandparents, 2 brothers, and a sister all anxious to meet Gustavo Adolfo Davis.

I believe in miracles and the power of prayer. For this is exactly what it took for a baby to be born despite circumstances unfavorable to his life, be relinquished by a birth mother who had the courage to give him what she felt she could not, to make it through an adoption process which was shut down and then resumed, to immigrate to a foreign country and join a family who would have moved mountains to bring him home. It didn’t take moving mountains – just trusting in God’s plan.

So you see it would be wrong of me to not share a bit of our story and truly acknowledge God’s powerful hand in our family. I’ll close with a favorite quote: “We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life. But those who make their journey home across time and miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us by God's very own hands.”

When you see Gustavo please whisper a prayer of thanksgiving and tell God how cool it is that he uses a brown-eyed adorable boy to remind his people that miracles are real and the power of prayer is awesome.

Gus with his birthday pinata.

This was actually their 2nd Guatemalan adoption ...

Big brother Marco on his first day of school.

and you would think their last, right? Nope! With their trust in God and faith in His callings, they brought Ana Lucia home in March, 2006.

The first time I ever held Ana.

The two of us last weekend.

God brings families together in all kinds of ways - birth, adoption, fostering, marriage, friendship . . . but no matter how He does it, the bond is no less strong - and the love no less binding.

So here's to family, and the many beautiful roads we are taken down to become one.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Fantastic Fun-Filled Family Father's Day (say that 10 times fast)

We spent Father's Day with my sister and her family lounging around their pool. Relaxing. It was very, very nice. Even with our eight kids splashing all around us. Yep - eight. They are 17, 16, 14, 10, 6, 5, 5, and 2.


Joel doing his self-named "pencil dive".

Sean and our niece, Ana Lucia.

Mr. Happy Seth

The disgusting cicadas that have invaded the Cincinnati area again this year.

(Read about them here.)

My sister, Aimee.

Joel with his crazy pool hair.

It's so wonderful to be back with family again after living so far away (Houston, TX) for four years.

Family ROCKS!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Brought To You By The Almighty

Another great ending to an otherwise ordinary day.

We have some absolutely beautiful sunrises and sunsets viewable from our screened-in porch swing. Although we are in a suburban Indianapolis subdivision, we're on the outskirts of town and our property backs up to a crop field (this year we have corn growing back there). And let's face it, we're in Indiana, so wherever you are, you are but a stone's throw from a corn or soybean field.

I absolutely love taking in God's handiwork from my back deck and porch every day. It never gets old, and I always feel like I'm closest to God when watching the sky change from blue to orange, yellow, purple, pink, and yellow - all within minutes - the whole sky ablaze. I can almost hear it. To me, it's like He's reminding me, "I'm here." If I miss it one night, I feel cheated. And my family knows it.

Someone in our home almost nightly, as the sun is descending in the sky, announces, "Look what God did!" because that's our way of calling the rest to the porch for the sunset.

God is one awesome dude. Have you met him?

Friday, June 13, 2008

I'll Miss You!

I'm taking a posting hiatus to go to my sister's for the weekend. Yeah - we'll see how long I can go without writing on this blog.

Oh - and it's day nine for the fish. That's gotta be a record!

Live on!

Do Your Mama Proud

You know how I've talked about in addition to Joel's big brain full of ideas is his big heart full of sweet, sweet love. Well, he balanced out his blow torch incident with some sweetness last evening.

First, as Sean and I were outside playing with the Zipps (neighbors), Joel was in here reversing the roles and cleaning up after dinner. No one told him to, he just does that sometimes. And if the dishwasher is full, he goes ahead and washes what doesn't fit. I don't even do that. Bless his big heart.

Next, a little background. I volunteer at my church every Thursday afternoon for about three hours doing the same job each week. Now that it's summer, I give Joel the option of coming with me to help me. Yes, help me. This means that he sits and actually helps me for about 10 minutes and wanders around the church looking for snacks that people have just left sitting out or bothering (I mean, engaging) any of the pastors or staff that he happens to come across for the rest of the time.

Back to last night. As I was sitting in the kitchen, he begins gathering up food products and asking if he can have them. After a few minutes of this, I must have gotten a puzzled look on my face.

As if he's confessing something, he says, "Mom, it's just that, today when I was at the church and I passed the empty cupboard for the food pantry, I just felt so bad. Every week, I feel bad that I forget to bring stuff for it, but then never remember at home. Now I remembered!"

My mama heart swells once again with what I so often see in this boy's heart. I cannot wait to see where it takes him.

It's the big brain full of ideas that might kill us all first.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Oh, Help.

A few days ago, I had some girlfriends from my Bible study group over for dinner and had made creme brulee for dessert, which requires the use of a small kitchen "blow torch." I usually keep it in a box on a shelf in the laundry room, but just haven't put it back up yet.

And now I have been reminded why I keep it in such a peculiar spot.

I just walked into the kitchen to find Joel (10) using it to toast a marshmallow to make a s'more.

Dear God.

Now do you get it? NOW DO YOU SEE???

There are, like, three different buttons you have to put in just the right positions to even get it to work. I even have to read the directions every time I get it out to use it.

If I live through raising this child without being committed, it will be a miracle.

Gone, But Not Lost

I follow Steven Curtis Chapman's manager's blog, primarily now to follow how the family is doing after daughter Maria's tragic death. But truth be known, I follow it so as not to forget. I don't want to forget.

I don't want to only think of Steve and Mary Beth's heartache when it's convenient for me. Because if I forget about their pain and their heartache, I will forget to pray for them; and if I forget to pray for them, there is one less person in the world lifting up this family to God. And I absolutely believe in the power of prayer. We don't always hear the answer we want to, but I know God is there, taking in each word, each breath.

I now know of two other families who have lost children recently, both precious little boys, one four years old and one five. I cannot understand, and also know that I'm not supposed to. I can only pray and trust.

So now I lift up three families and pray that they push through and somehow come out the other side and continue to not only exist, but live again.

I wonder if Josiah, David, and Maria have crossed paths in heaven yet.

Jim (SCC's manager) has a quote on his blog today that is quite profound, so I must pass it on.

"Nothing is lost when you know its exact location. Maria is with Jesus."

Follow Your Talent, My Girl

My niece, Katie, has a real eye for photography. I love how differently she can see things and imagine how they will look in a photo long before she clicks the shutter.

I also loved photography at her age (she'll be 14 in about a week), and was given my first really nice camera for that birthday. Unfortunately, I didn't pursue learning it. File that among some of my biggest regrets in life.

Here are some photos she took with my camera when the whole family was vacationing in Charleston, SC, last November. She also took the photo of the star fish that you see above my profile photo on the front page.

New Look, Same Great Taste

I decided to "summer up" my blog. I love being seaside, I'm enjoying summer, so I thought I'd lighten things up for the season.

Can't you just feel the warm breeze?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

And A Child Shall Lead Them

Today when I picked Seth up from his therapeutic school and we were getting into the van, he stood with one foot on the curb and the other sttttrrrrreeeeecccching to get into the van without touching the ground below, I said, "That's not going to work."

As nonchalantly as I've ever heard him speak, he replied, "Yes it will, Mommy, you just have to believe."

We should all stand so firm.

You Know You Wanna Be Me

I have a souped-up new phone and now I think my poop doesn't stink. I've had it for a week or so, but I'm just now posting about it because it took me this long to figure out how to turn it on.

Go ahead. Admit it.

The Replacements

After the mass casualty situation with the carnival fish last week, we let Seth pick out three new fish at Meijer last Wednesday. Almost a week - and all three are still alive.

Wow. I have sustained the lives of three fish long enough to change the water in the bowl.

I'll bet there's nothing I can't do if I just try.

Color Me Fudgy

I'm up late watching "Juno" and making fat-free brownies. Fat-free brownies. How good can they be?

So I added fat in the form of chopped walnuts. This serves two purposes. One - they are no longer fat free, which instantly makes me feel less crazy; and two - no one else in my family likes nuts in their brownies, which ensures that I'll have the whole pan to myself.


Update: Brownie Reviews: Even with nuts, Alexx wanted one. He says they taste like they have soap in them. Good. Now get away from my brownies.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Wait For It, Wait For It ...

We are having trouble with our kitchen sink and faucet and need to replace them both. Our current sink is almond (bisque, whatever), and I want to keep it that way; and our faucet is the pull-out sprayer kind with a soap dispenser, and I want to keep it that way, as well (I'm not picky). But I'm cheap, well, frugal. Plus, finding great deals is a competitive sport for me.

So I've been trolling Craig's List for months waiting for someone to list my new sink and/or faucet for sale. No one is complying with my wishes. So last week I hopped over to ebay (I never get on ebay) to look. And what did I find?!?

Not only did I find my bisque cast iron sink, but it included the type of faucet I also want, AND it was local! Meant to be. We picked it up Sunday evening.

But here's the best part. Just for kicks (I have no life), I priced them out when I was at Menard's this morning for something else. The exact sink is $199 and the exact Delta faucet is $179.

Oh, sweet mother of all deals. We paid $47 for them.

You Should Know We're Interviewing For Your Position

We are still having trouble with Seth going to his classrooms at church and at his therapeutic preschool. And now that it's summer and his routine is all different, it's even worse. Routine change for even the most mildly autistic child=lots of emotional upset.

He loves school, he loves church. He's always quite happy when I arrive both places to pick him up, excitedly telling me about his time there. He's just having a hard time with drop off these days.

So Sunday morning at church when I was trying all of my "moves" to coax him into his classroom without either of us coming unglued at the seams (he was having none of it), he looked me square in the eye and said, "Church is for WORMS."

I have no idea.

Then when I finally peeled him off of me and convinced him (somewhat) to go on in, he turned to look at me one last time and said, "When you come to pick me up, you're fired."

I looked at his teacher's daughter, who had been helping me get him in the room, and said, "Fine with me. Someone else can have this job!"

Monday, June 9, 2008

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

Today is my grandma's 89th birthday. She is one awesome chick. I grew up with her living just down the street, so I spent about as much time at her house as a I did my own. I could write an entire book about the memories I have of being there with her.

She has never spoken an unkind word to me, or treated me with anything less than the unconditional love she has for everyone in our family. She is also the reason I grew up in a Christian home, because my mom began attending her church (the church I grew up in) after my parents were married. She is more deeply rooted in her faith in God than anyone I've ever known.

She passed on to me my blue eyes, my blonde hair, my body type, and the laugh-so-hard-until-you-cry gene. I also apparently have a bit of her stubbornness (I don't really see that) and look exactly like she did when she was younger (I've never seen the photos myself). When I look down at my own hands, I see hers.

I will be amazingly lucky and blessed if, at 89, I'm as fun, clear-headed, independent, and sassy as she is today.

Happy Birthday, Grandma! I love you all the way around the world, and back again!

Fondue and Underwear

Hello, Monday morning! Y'all know I'm not a morning person, so why so chipper? Because it's actually 12:12 am (Sunday night, really). But you will read this Monday morning, so there you go. Besides, if I really wrote this in the morning (and on Monday, no less), it would be something much grumpier with a little bit of snarliness added for good measure. IHATEMORNINGS.

So tonight Seth was up pretty late because he fell asleep in the van and slept while we drove for about 45 minutes this evening. We were picking up a kitchen sink and faucet that I bought off of ebay for a STEAL, but I digress ...

When it was time to go to bed, Seth was not so tired. Sean told him to come downstairs and kiss me goodnight and come back upstairs. Of course, he came down and began drawing on a tablet of paper. Isn't that so much better of an idea?

Knowing that at some point, it would become obvious he hadn't returned to go to bed, he wrote this on his tablet:

"Pees not bee mad at Seth"

Bless his little disobedient heart! I'm so darn proud of the progress that he's made; I'm so proud that, right now at least, his learning isn't being compromised by his autism. I'm just, well, a proud mommy. Something like this moment makes the emotional upsets that have increased lately easier to take somehow. You take the bad with the good and move on. By the way, he also wrote a note that said, "I [heart] Mom." Now I must go weep.

But first something else.

Once a month, a group of girlfriends and I get together for girls' night at one of our homes. We kick the husbands and children out - or banish them to a whole other floor of the home, not to be seen or heard. We all grew up together and have ended up living pretty close to one another - except one, who loves us so much she drives an hour to see us. But we love her so much right back that we all drive up to her house when it's her turn to host. It's just a love fest.

Anyway, last month we decided to break the rules and actually go out for girls' night and went to the Melting Pot. Oh. My. Was it ever delicious.

Dama, April, Michelle, Lisa, Me

It was so good. If you look closely at my shirt - you can see my buttons popping because I ate so much.

And before I sign off, I must publicly acknowledge that my dear husband is totally awesome. After church today, I was not feeling great because I haven't been sleeping well for a few weeks and it has caught up with me. I slept from around 1:20 until almost 5pm! And when I got up, he totally knew where all the boys were.

Now that's a good man. And to make you more jealous? He's downstairs doing laundry right now. Now, granted, he said it's because he didn't have any clean underwear. I asked him why he needed underwear, anyway. I mean, he's just going to work - and he's just an assistant vice president. I mean, it's not like he's the vice president.

If he was, I'd totally make sure he had clean underwear.