Sunday, February 8, 2009

This is how a 5-YEAR-OLD rolls...

Griffin turned 5 on Saturday. *sniff sniff* Is it true? Is my baby really 5? He chose to take his peeps bowling on Friday night. A great time was had by all. He got the best gift EVER...a "real ah-tist aht easel." Pictures to come soon. BTW - have I mentioned that my baby is READING! Yep, he is. Not just a little bit, he is reading whole books. The other night he was reading the Dick and Jane classic WE LOOK, and the only word he stumbled over was "something." Be still my heart. Happy Birthday to my sweet surprise, my miracle baby Griffin.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

i'm still here

Regarding my last post...thanks.
Thanks for all the sweet comments, emails, and calls. Each one was appreciated and came at just the perfect time.

Regarding the prayers...THANKS.
They are appreciated more than you will know. I ask that you do continue to remember Keith in your prayers. He is the neatest kid and the most amazing gift. He is a harder worker than most adults I know. Sometimes, as his Mama, I get to that point where I am tired of watching him struggle and I wonder why things aren't changing for him. I just have to remind myself that God is working on Keith's behalf. He created Keith and is working a good thing in him. :) I believe that all 3 of my boys have a calling on their lives, but especially Keith. (Matt I right?) Shawn and I have committed our sons to the Lord, they are His. We believe and stand on the promise that God will use them for His glory. Sometimes, I have a hard time remembering "hands off, Mama...God is in control." Even when I can't feel Him or see Him...HE IS IN CONTROL.

I like to go into the boys' rooms at night when they are asleep and speak scripture over them. I find verses that I feel "fits" them, and I whisper them over my children as they sleep. Call me crazy, it's like my deal with God. I figure that I am "reminding Him" of His word, and claiming it for my boys. For Keith especially, I look for scriptures that deal with "the mind" or "peace of mind." Dyslexia is basically confusion of the mind. (my term there) I am CLINGING to the following scriptures for my oldest boy.
You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
But there is a spirit in man, and the Breath of The Almighty gives him understanding. Job 32:8

That's all for tonight, kiddos. I have LOTS more to post on a later date. Circus pictures, Griffin is turning 5 this week *SOB SOB*, and lots of other funny stories. Hope all is well with you and yours. With me and mine - it isn't perfect. But it is BEE-YOU-TEE-FUL.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

still looking...

I read these blogs almost daily.
I pretend each one is a window to that friend's house.

The curtains are pulled back.
The shades are up.
For a few moments I can see inside their homes.

I see a lot of cute, precious moments. (thankfully not the figurines, I hate those things)
A lot of sweet happenings.
Beautiful and funny. "Awe...isn't that cute?"
Happy, sweet, precious.

I love looking in every day.

Sometimes I can identify. Sometimes I can play along because I know all the parts. I know when to smile. I know when to laugh. I know what comes next. Sometimes it is all familiar.

Then isn't.

Sometimes those windows seem to belong to families in far away lands. The language is foreign. The moments are distant. The setting is unfamiliar.

Just once, I'd like to see something that I can relate to.

A home where the children are just as beautiful, but are scarred.

A glimpse of what being born to a mother addicted to drugs can do to a child, even 8 years down the road.

A mother who stays up at night crying because she try as she may, she just can't *fix* her child.

A kid who works and works and works and rarely sees the effort pay off.

A mom who can help other people's kids with Autism achieve and perform more than anyone thought possible - but can't help her own kid read without tears and hearing him ask, "Why can't I do it Mama?"

A house where common words whispered late at night aren't "precious" or "amazing" or "brilliant" but are "dyslexia" or "neurological" or "WHY?????"

A kid who wants more than anything to be invited to somebody's...ANYBODY'S house. But the phone call never comes.

A boy who DREAMS of being a soldier or flying airplanes, but because his brain is wired differently he will never be given the chance to do either.

Kids who hear "You can do anything you set your mind to" but who LIVE with the daily reality of "No...I can't."

Lack of control.
Shift of focus.
TRUE appreciation.
Parents who question.
And wait and wait for answers.
And love them unconditionally, nonetheless.
And are still WAITING. Hoping. Praying. Begging. Pleading. WORRYING. Waiting.

If somewhere out there
There is somebody like them.

I haven't seen the t-shirts
Or the bumper stickers
Or the blogs

That remind me of my life.

So in case you run across one.

Just let me know.
Because would give comfort.
Just to know...

That somewhere.

In one of those houses.

Is a family like mine.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

the letter

Don't you love getting a letter? I do. There is nothing like opening the mailbox and there hidden among the junk and bills it waits. A personal thought brought to life with actual motion and touch of hand. Not email. Not a phone call. A letter.

A letter brings with it a connection. A familiarity. A relationship. Someone cares enough to slow down and pen their feelings. Letters are alive. Letters are warm. Letters are emotion.
On a day when EVERYBODY has an opinion, I have chosen the following as my favorite.

When Sasha and Malia Obama entered their new home they had a gift waiting for them. I'm sure there were many gifts; many tangible objects intended to welcome them to their new home. While all were no doubt enjoyed, I would guess that none will be as treasured as much as the one left by Barbara and Jenna Bush.

What they left may seem simple; it may seem insignificant. It isn't. The gift they left is priceless. They left a letter for the Obama girls. They also had it printed in today's Wall Street Journal. I am posting it tonight. Regardless of my acceptance or disagreement with President Bush's policies; he is still human. He is imperfect. He is chosen. He is somebody's Daddy.
It is my hope that today, people across the country will come to this realization. Regardless of their acceptance or disagreement with President Obama's policies; he is still human. He is imperfect. He is chosen. AND...he is somebody's Daddy.

This gift, this sentiment is beautiful indeed. I am certain that the Obama girls will one day cherish it and find it as eloquent and beautiful as I do now.

Sasha and Malia, we were seven when our beloved grandfather was sworn in as the 41st President of the United States. We stood proudly on the platform, our tiny hands icicles, as we lived history. We listened intently to the words spoken on Inauguration Day service, duty, honor. But being seven, we didn't quite understand the gravity of the position our Grandfather was committing to. We watched as the bands marched by -- the red, white, and blue streamers welcoming us to a new role: the family members of a President.
We also first saw the White House through the innocent, optimistic eyes of children. We stood on the North Lawn gazing with wonder at her grand portico. The White House was alive with devoted and loving people, many of whom had worked in her halls for decades. Three of the White House ushers, Buddy, Ramsey, and "Smiley", greeted us when we stepped into her intimidating hallway. Their laughter and embraces made us feel welcome right away. Sasha and Malia, here is some advice to you from two sisters who have stood where you will stand and who have lived where you live:

-- Surround yourself with loyal friends. They'll protect and calm you and join in on some of the fun, and appreciate the history.
-- If you're traveling with your parents over Halloween, don't let it stop you from doing what you would normally do. Dress up in some imaginative, elaborate costume (if you are like us a pack of Juicy Fruit and a Vampiress) and trick-or-treat down the plane aisle.
-- If you ever need a hug, go find Ramsey. If you want to talk football, look for Buddy. And, if you just need a smile, look for "Smiley."
-- And, a note on White House puppies--our sweet puppy Spot was nursed on the lawn of the White House. And then of course, there's Barney, who most recently bit a reporter. Cherish your animals because sometimes you'll need the quiet comfort that only animals can provide.
-- Slide down the banister of the solarium, go to T-ball games, have swimming parties, and play Sardines on the White House lawn. Have fun and enjoy your childhood in such a magical place to live and play.
-- When your dad throws out the first pitch for the Yankees, go to the game.
-- In fact, go to anything and everything you possibly can: the Kennedy Center for theater, State Dinners, Christmas parties (the White House staff party is our favorite!), museum openings, arrival ceremonies, and walks around the monuments. Just go. Four years goes by so fast, so absorb it all, enjoy it all!
For four years, we spent our childhood holidays and vacations in the historic house. We could almost feel the presence of all the great men and women who had lived here before us. When we played house, we sat behind the East sitting room's massive curtains as the light poured in illuminating her yellow walls. Our seven-year-old imaginations soared as we played in the enormous, beautiful rooms; our dreams, our games, as romantic as her surroundings. At night, the house sang us quiet songs through the chimneys as we fell asleep.

In late December, when snow blanketed the front lawn, all of our cousins overtook the White House. Thirteen children between the ages of two and 12 ran throughout her halls, energized by the crispness in the air and the spirit of the season. Every room smelled of pine; the entire house was adorned with thistle; garlands wound around every banister. We sat on her grand staircase and spied on the holiday dancing below. Hours were spent playing hide-and-go-seek. We used a stage in the grand ballroom to produce a play about Santa and his reindeer. We watched as the National Christmas Tree was lit and admired the chef as he put the final icing on the gingerbread house.
When it was time, we left the White House. We said our goodbyes to her and to Washington. We weren't sure if we would spend time among her historical walls again, or ever walk the National Mall, admiring the cherry blossoms that resembled puffs of cotton candy. But we did return. This time we were 18. The White House welcomed us back and there is no doubt that it is a magical place at any age.

As older girls, we were constantly inspired by the amazing people we met, politicians and great philosophers like Vaclav Havel. We dined with royalty, heads of states, authors, and activists. We even met the Queen of England and managed to see the Texas Longhorns after they won the National Championship. We traveled with our parents to foreign lands and were deeply moved by what we saw. Trips to Africa inspired and motivated us to begin working with HIV/AIDS and the rights of women and children all over the world.
Now, the White House ballrooms were filled with energy and music as we danced. The East sitting room became a peaceful place to read and study. We ran on the track in the front lawn, and squared off in sisterly bowling duels down in the basement alley.
This Christmas, with the enchanting smell of the holidays encompassing her halls, we will again be saying our good-byes to the White House. Sasha and Malia, it is your turn now to fill the White House with laughter.
And finally, although it's an honor and full of so many extraordinary opportunities, it isn't always easy being a member of the club you are about to join. Our dad, like yours, is a man of great integrity and love; a man who always put us first. We still see him now as we did when we were seven: as our loving daddy. Our Dad, who read to us nightly, taught us how to score tedious baseball games. He is our father, not the sketch in a paper or part of a skit on TV. Many people will think they know him, but they have no idea how he felt the day you were born, the pride he felt on your first day of school, or how much you both love being his daughters. So here is our most important piece of advice: remember who your dad really is.

Monday, January 19, 2009

3rd time's a charm

3 posts in one day...whoo whoo! This is really just a continuation of the ALDI post. Today while Griffin was eating lunch, I took some shots of a few of my ALDI deals. Here they are! BTW, if this works, it will be my first successful posting of a link. (Thanks Gigi)

More pictures/bargains to come. While we're at up on ALDI for yourself. I think you'll be impressed. I'm already planning my next outing; we already need strawberries and we will soon need carrots. Gigi is with me. Kristin is too. How about you? Any other takers?

Happy MLK Day!

Today is a holiday. REGARDLESS of how you feel about it, it is a National Holiday. I always wonder about people who make comments about MLK Day. Do they not see the value of the contribution that Dr. King made? What about his life/legacy isn't worth celebrating? He was a peaceful man. He only wanted equality for his children. He wasn't about putting one race above another; he didn't want to be treated better than white people. He wanted to be treated equally. So...the next time you're around somebody that has a comment/crack on the validity of MLK what I do. Think about their integrity. Think about their TRUE feelings. They are showing.

Now...on to a brighter subject. SAVING MONEY! Who loves ALDI? I DO! You all do know about ALDI, right? There is one in Trussville, but I go to the one on Greensprings. It's a grocery store and it is unlike any that I've ever been in. I first heard of it on a frugal mom blog this spring. The selling point for me was the gallon of milk for $1.99. heard me right. I was sold. Everything there is pretty much cheap. Now, there are no "national brands." Everything is generic. I used to be 100% brand loyal. Then I had 3 growing boys. Goodbye loyalty. Now don't get me wrong; there are a few items that I will NEVER buy generic. Mayo for one. We ONLY eat Bama mayonnaise. And dental floss. I've tried them all, but I will only use Johnson & Johnson waxed mint floss. I like my Sun Silk shampoo. I like my Redken hairspray. I like Purex for my clothes. I like A1 Steak sauce. And we are 100% Heinz ketchup people. We eat Hunt's at Gigi's, but we secretly long for Heinz. I'm sure there are a few other loyalties, but nothing comes to mind now. I'm sure they will later. ANYWAY, everything is bobo (my term for generic). And, you have to pay 25 cents to "rent" a buggy. You get it back. I really don't get it, but that's the rule. Also, the store doesn't have actual shelves. All the food is put out in boxes. It is like shelves, but it is all actually in box/tray deals. No coupons. Of course, there are no coupons for bobo stuff. And no bags/baggers. You can buy bags, or bring your own. And, you either pay cash or debit. They keep the overhead low with all these rules. It works for me!

This spring, Mom and I went just for curiosity sake. Of course, we bought milk and such. We went a few weeks in fact. Then gas skyrocketed. I couldn't justify driving so far for a savings in milk when I was spending the saving in gas. Anyhoo, gas is back down. So yesterday, after church, I felt ALDI calling my name. So I went. Hello, old friend. SO NICE to see you again.

Milk has now gone up, regular is now $2.59 a gallon. Beat that ANYWHERE around here. I got so many other things as well. Strawberries, 99 cents a container. Baby carrots, 99 cents a bag. CEREAL, CHEAP! We go through the cereal. So, I bought 7 boxes. I am now buying the frozen juice concentrate deals. They are 99 cents there. I got lots more, I need to go back over my receipt to get specifics. Today while Griff was eating his feast, I took a few pics of some ALDI finds. Mom and I are going to make it a weekly outing again. If any of my blog pals want to meet and make an event of it, we'd love it! We could probably justify eating Mexican before, you know - we'll be saving so much dough once we get there. :)
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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Who needs Chef Boyardee...

when you have these 3? Tonight Daddy had a board meeting at church, so I decided to enlist some help with dinner. Their favorite thing to do is eat; second favorite thing to do is cook. So...I decided that we'd get our cook on. And the grand menu: homemade pizza and fruit salad. (yummy yummy) All you Wiggles fans out there will most def. appreciate that last parenthetical number.
Here she is...the almost finished product. I put the pizza crust on the stone. The boys spread the sauce (almost independently). I shredded some fresh "farmer's cheese" from Miller's Cheese House. If you're a cheese fan like the Martins are - you simply must go to Miller's. Farmer's cheese is a white cheese, it's a milder version of their butter cheese. DEEEEEEE-LISH. Anyway, I shredded some for them to add to the "pre-shredded" colby/monterrey jack that we had. Add some garlic salt and Of course, we had to make 2. Growing boys eat a ton. Plus we had to have something for Daddy-o when he got home.

Now for the fruit salad (yummy yummy). Here's the deal-e-o. My boys love some fruit. LOVE IT. You know how most kids love candy...that's how my boys love fruit. We made our own version of fruit salad (yummy yummy) and they learned many lessons in the process. We washed the strawberries, sliced them (yeah, they even used a "real knife" with assistance), used a can opener for the mandarin oranges, learned the hard way how and why to drain a can, peeled and chopped an apple, and added Keith's favorite - dried blueberries. I wanted to take a picture of the fruit salad (yummy yummy) when it was finished because it was so beautiful. I see all these pictures on many blogs of people's wonderful dishes, step by step. I could probably do that, if I didn't have 3 apprentice chefs beside me giddy with excitement. Picture it in your mind; it was a lovely side dish.

I don't remember the 1st time I used a can opener, but I imagine it was hard. Zack just couldn't hold the handle AND twist the top (in the right direction), so Keith had to help out. Look closely and you'll see Griffin's hand. He is VERY ANIMATED and talks with his hands, eyes, eyebrows, etc. Here you can see one of those sweet hands while his is telling "his bwuddahs" how they should open the can.

Finally we ate. By candlelight, mind you. Here Keith and Griffin are toasting with their apple juice, and Zack is showing off his pizza. Would Little Caesar's hot and ready have been easier? You bet. Would it have been better? Probably. Would I trade tonight for yummy pizza and easy clean up? Not for a million dollars. I'll take "homemade" pizza and fruit salad (yummy yummy) by my 3 boys any day.