Monday, June 30, 2008
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
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!
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
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.
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).
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
Here he is trying to calm Seth down by distracting him from whatever was getting under his skin a few mornings ago.
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
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
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
Thursday, June 19, 2008
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!"
Who could resist this face?
Heidi finds the remnants of a dead bird further deepening her obsession with our feathered friends.
She's quite the cuddler, and also has a few adorable tricks up her sleeve. We are in love!
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
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
A brand new store just opened five minutes from my sister's house in Cincinnati. Five minutes.
I am so back in the game.
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.
But there was nothing ordinary about the path that opened up for Gustavo to be the newest member of our family in 2003.
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.
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
Joel doing his self-named "pencil dive".
Mr. Happy Seth
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.
Monday, June 16, 2008
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
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
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.
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.
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."
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.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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!
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.