Sunday, August 31, 2008

Good news, bad news...

First, the good news.
What a great way to start the season! Am I ordering tickets for the National Championship game? No. Am I predicting a perfect season? Not hardly. But hey...considering the past few (6) years, I'll GLADLY take a reason to celebrate. RTR!
How do ya like my future Crimson Tide players? We are all sporting our John Parker Wilson jerseys. Daddy found out that the #8 Julio Jones jerseys are to hit stores in 2 weeks, so be on the lookout for those. I think Griffin's quote says it best, "Woe Tide WOE!" (gotta love that speech impediment)
My second mom Jane is embarking on a new venture. If you've never been to her house, you will just have to take my word for it, but she is truly gifted with the ability to decorate. She makes the most beautiful wreaths you have ever seen. So, she's putting her talents to use and she is selling wreaths. She has several out at different places in Pell City and they are going like hotcakes. She had me take an Alabama and an Auburn wreath to school to see if anyone would be interested. THEY WERE. I got an Alabama one, and it looks pretty fabulous on my front door. I'll post a pic shortly. (you can see K, Z, and G standing in front of it above) They are so fun for football season. Don't fret, tiger fans, there is an Auburn version. If anyone is interested, please let me know. I'm sure that Jane would be happy. If you are interested in her other BEE-YOU-TEA-FUL wreaths, I'll try to get some pics of them to post.
Now, the bad news. Gustav is heading straight for Wee-zee-ann-uh. For those of you that don't know, my brother and sis-in-law and nieces live there. They live in Covington, which is just across the Causeway (long, scary bridge) from New Orleans. They have been evacuated and are making their way here. It is normally a 5 hour drive. They left out this morning at 10:00. At 7:00 tonight, they had made it to Meridian, which is the 1/2 way point (normally a 2.5 hour drive) Please say a prayer for them, as well as Amy's (sis-in-law's) parents, brother, sister and her family, and Grandmother are all evacuated as well. With Katrina, they lost power for 3 weeks. My mom is expecting them to come tomorrow. It's bittersweet, bc we are happy to see them, just not under these circumstances. When it touches someone so close, it makes watching it on tv a whole different ballgame. This is their LIFE. It's not a day off of school or work, it's hoping that you'll have a home to go back to. It's deciding what to try and bring, what to move to the attic in hopes that the water doesn't rise that high, and what it's okay to risk leaving. It's making those crazy decisions over the course of 2 days. I can't even imagine. 2 days? I'd need at least 2 weeks to make lists of what to take, FIND IT ALL, pack it up, etc. 2 days? Could you do it?
By this time tomorrow, we'll know a lot more. Pray with me that lives are spared. Pray that the levees hold. Our Pastor had a wonderful point today. We serve a God that is bigger than this hurricane. I'm holding on to that thought. No matter what happens, God is in control.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


This is the face.
The one that makes me laugh.
The one that makes me smile.
The one that makes me furious.
5 years ago when I met him, he was someone else's boy. Legally, he and his brother belonged to someone else. I knew different. I knew that they were mine.
This is the face that I saw when I walked down the stairs in the church that February day in 2003. These are the eyes that peered at me and seemed to look straight into my heart. These are the eyes that I saw each night in my dreams when I would pray and ask God, "Are you sure that we can do this...can we adopt 2 boys?" My answer always came with a peaceful, calming feeling and a vivid memory of these eyes.
This is the smile that I longed for every Monday-Friday. I knew that we could pick them up from their foster parents and have them as ours for only a weekend at a time. We would drive up to find 2 dirty little boys playing in the yard, waiting, hoping, wanting someone to come and take them away. This is the smile that filled my innermost being with love when he saw me and realized, "She came back for us" every single Friday. When we had to take them back each Sunday night, I felt like my very soul was being torn in two pieces. As he cried, we would promise, "We'll be back in 5 days." He would take his stubby little hand and hold up 5 fingers, and say, "Dis' many?" We would kiss that little hand and say, "Yeah, that many." As the tears ran down his pudgy little face, this was the smile that radiated like pure sunlight.
This is the nose that I kissed each night as I rocked him to sleep. He was always restless, never at peace. Sleep never came easy for him. I would take him into the office and sit in front of the computer. He liked to watch the fish on the screen saver. That false underworld seemed to bring him comfort. I would rock him for hours, whispering my hopes and dreams for him. I would tell him that no matter what happened, I would always love him deeply. He would finally surrender to sleep, safe in my arms, momentarily at peace and willing to give up the struggle. This is the nose that I kissed and nuzzled, and prayed for a miracle.
My boy is turning 8, and I've only had him for 5 years. Mathematically, it doesn't add up. But it's a perfect equation nonetheless. I've had him for 5 years, but I've known him forever. Since I was put in this world, he's been with me. When God created me, He created Keith and Zack in my heart just as certainly as He created Griffin in my womb. Zack wonders why he doesn't have baby pictures like Griffin does. "Mama, where are my baby pictures?" I don't have any. All the pictures I have are from age 2 1/2 till now. It must be hard for him, having no beginning. Seeing a starting point for his brother, a measurable growth and development captured forever on film. He doesn't have that. Right now, as an almost 8 year old...that is hard for him to understand. But I am certain that as he gets a little older, he'll see what I see. We may not have baby pictures. We may not know when he took his first steps, what his first word was, or how he looked at his first Christmas. We do know that what we have is priceless. We have this amazing boy, transformed from a scared, wounded, abandoned baby. We have this nose, we have these eyes, this smile. We have this face. And we thank God for it daily.
This is the face.
Not captured in a newborn picture.
Not displayed in a first picture with Santa.
Not existing on film at all until age 2 1/2.
This is the face that is forever living in my heart. He makes me smile. He makes me laugh. He makes me furious. He makes me thankful that God's plans are so much bigger and better than any I can even begin to imagine. This is the face of a birthday boy ( on Sunday). Even though I didn't carry him in my belly, this is the face that I have always carried in my heart, even before I knew it. It is his birthday, but he is one of my 3 greatest gifts.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Let me introduce you to my new friend...

I'm still so new at this blog thing. My mom forced me into this addiction, so it's all her fault. :) Actually, I love it. My only regret is that I don't have the time to spend looking at all my new pals' blogs. I am WAY behind in linking to my fave blogs...I promise I'll catch up. Good Grief, I haven't even posted a link to Nadia's blog, my old BFF from school. I'll get there, Lattie...I'll get there.

The whole blogging thing has done wonders for friendships that I already had. I've talked more to Steffi, Ashely P., Tricia , Kevin, Nadia, Ashely B, and others than I have in a long time. That's been great. Another nice plus that I never imagined was that I would form actual relationships with people that I would have otherwise never met. I got into this blog thing figuring that I'd steal some awesome craft ideas and learn some frugal mom tips. I have, plus so much more.

Somehow, I started conversing with a lady out in Texas. She came across my blog about John Mark Stallings. I LOVED a post she wrote about people flippantly using "the r-word" (retarded). She has such a point. (you must go to her blog and read is SUCH A GREAT POST!) We started commenting to each other, and we have developed such a wonderful friendship. Let me tell you about my new pal Kele.

Like me, she is a mom of 3. Like me, her life revolves around ball. I was raised on a high school football field, she is raising her kids on one. Her husband is a HS football coach in Texas. I think pretty highly of Kele, but God really thinks a lot of her. When deciding where to place a special angel, he chose Kele and her husband. 6 months ago, they found out that their newborn daughter Presley has Down Syndrome.

Please visit Kele's blog and read about her family. While you're there, BE SURE to visit Presley's page and check her progress. She just underwent her open heart surgery. We are SO THANKFUL for God's amazing love and provision in their lives. Now, they are ready to take their sweet little butterfly HOME. It's about time, don't you think? She's almost 7 months old! It's time!

Kele has such a way with words. I love her honesty and I admire her courage. She is a friend that I know I will have FOR LIFE. She is what motherhood is all about. I haven't met her husband, but I think pretty highly of him too. (Read her post "the wink" and I believe that you'll agree with me) My mind is FULL with ideas of things that I need to blog about, new Martin boy updates, my own personal bucket list (thanks, Kevin) and I have the cutest darn ALABAMA wreath that you all MUST SEE! But tonight, I wanted to blog about my friend Kele. I want all of you to know her, to read her writings, and to check on Presley. PLEASE leave her a comment, tell her that I sent you. Hers is a blog that you will visit often. My mom shared a bible verse with me a while back. Of course, it's one of those verses that I cling to and feel certain that God wrote just for me. "I will give you treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by name. "Isaiah 45:3 I look at Kele's life, her life right now, today and the life that God has chosen for her in the future. It is a treasure. Some people might view it as darkness, but Kele knows better. She has riches stored in secret places. They aren't secret to her. To most people, an "imperfect child" is darkness. But not Kele. She is rich, wealthy beyond measure. She has Presley. She was CHOSEN to be Presley's mom. What an honor. What an immeasurable treasure. My life is richer having Kele in it. I've already told Shawn that we are going to HAVE to get out to Texas so I can actually meet her. AND I believe that I have her salivating to come to an Alabama game. (or EXPERIENCE as her husband says) In the meantime, our friendship will continue to grow via our blogs. Who'dve thunk it? Go and give her a shout. I don't know how to do these awards that my mom does, I'm not as technologically savvy as she (yet another sign of the apocalypse...God help us all, my mom has mad computer skills) So this post is my award for Kele. This is my gold medal. First awarded to Michael Phelps' mom. Now a gold medal for Kele. May she wear it proudly.
Later, Peeps!

Thanks a lot, Fay...

This is what I woke up to

I have a lot of relatives who are old pros when it comes to hurricanes. Uncle Gary & Aunt Connie along with Pat, Molly, Vince and Beth live in central Florida. Hurricanes are nothing new to them. It's just part of their lives. My brother Chris and his family live just outside of New Orleans. When Katrina came through, they all had to evacuate up here. I remember watching The Today Show with them on the next day when it showed the movie theater where they lived, or what was left of it. It was surreal. I never imagined that I would have a hurricane story from here in central Alabama. Now I do.

As all my Alabama pals know, we're in the middle of another drought. Yesterday (Saturday) was the first time we've seen rain in FOREVER. And we saw a pile of it. It rained and rained and rained...all day and night. This morning, Griffin was in the bed with me. (We'd already kicked Shawn the snorer out) I looked at the clock, it was 6:30. I remember thinking that I needed to get up soon and start ironing our clothes for church. I closed my eyes and then heard an incredible sound. I thought it was a car accident, right in front of the house. It was a long, loud crashing sound. I got up and looked out my window, and this is what I saw. One of our tall oak trees had just fallen. Right in front of my bedroom window. Well, about 30 feet in front of the window. I got Shawn and we stood there staring, we couldn't believe it. We figured that it was one of the dead trees that was struck by lightning earlier this summer. Wrong. On our way to church, we saw that it was actually uprooted. I now know that when there is a drought, the root systems of trees weakens. So, when the rain came like it did yesterday, it was too much for our old tree. And it fell. Thankfully it was far enough in the little wooded area in front where it didn't hit our house. It did, however fall on another tree, that is also weakened. If that tree falls, it will land right in the middle of our dining room. I've been wanting to redecorate it, but I'm not sure that a tree through the window is what I had in mind. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

In Honor of Michael of my Olympians

Here are a few gems for of K, Z, and G taken at Uncle Chris' this summer. (Memorial Day weekend, actually...before they got their tans)



Monday, August 18, 2008

M. Phelps is my new hero...

We're deep in the throws of Olympic hysteria, so I must give my opinion. (as my cyber audience waits with baited breath) I really enjoy gymnastics. Track and field has lost its luster, thanks to the rampant occurances of doping. Baseball and softball are being DROPPED as Olympic sports in favor of BMX biking and trampoline? Are you KIDDING me? (but the trampoline stuff is COOL! We have found Zack's future Olympic sport). Keith's teachers have required him to watch each night, so he has enjoyed it. And like 98% of Americans, I have fallen in love with Michael Phelps. I, along with everyone watching, teared up when he won that last gold medal. What an accomplishment! While everyone else was emotional with patriotism and pride, I was experiencing a different feeling. I watched this American icon capture the nation and realized, he used to be exactly like my son. Wild. Distracted. Judged. Michael Phelps has ADHD...extreme ADHD. Michael Phelps is my new favorite success story.

Michael's mom was a teacher. She grew tired of teachers telling her about all of her son's shortcomings. "He can't concentrate." "He'll never be able to focus on anything." "I can't get him to do anything." Oh, Ms. Phelps...I feel your pain. Now, let me say that Keith's personal teachers have NEVER said anything like that. If they thought it, they did know better than to actually verbalize it to me. Wouldn't be a good idea. We have been SO BLESSED with amazing teachers every year. I assure you, they are hard to come by. Even today, so many teachers don't view "kids like mine" as valuable or as promising. They are nuisances. Distractions. Wastes of time. Sidebar here...if you are reading this, and you are a teacher, and you feel this way...CHANGE OCCUPATIONS! Back to my this excerpt from an article I found about Michael and his mom.
“We worked as a team to overcome ADD”
No doubt about it, Michael Phelps has made waves in his chosen sport.
Yet Michael might not have loved swimming at all, were it not for the ingenuity of his mother, Debbie Phelps. “At age seven, he hated getting his face wet,” says Debbie. “We flipped him over and taught him the backstroke.”
Michael showed swimming prowess on his back, then on his front, side, and every way in between. But in the classroom, he floundered. An inability to concentrate was his biggest problem.
“I was told by one of his teachers that he couldn’t focus on anything,” says Debbie. She consulted a doctor, and nine-year-old Michael was diagnosed with ADHD.
“That just hit my heart,” says Debbie. “It made me want to prove everyone wrong. I knew that, if I collaborated with Michael, he could achieve anything he set his mind to.”
Debbie, who had taught middle school for more than two decades, began working closely with Michael’s school to get him the extra attention he needed. “Whenever a teacher would say, ‘Michael can’t do this,’ I’d counter with, ‘Well, what are you doing to help him?’” she recalls.
After Michael kept grabbing a classmate’s paper, Debbie suggested that he be seated at his own table. When he moaned about how much he hated reading, she started handing him the sports section of the paper or books about sports. Noticing that Michael’s attention strayed during math, she hired a tutor and encouraged him to use word problems tailored to Michael’s interests: “How long would it take to swim 500 meters if you swim three meters per second?”
At swim meets, Debbie helped Michael stay focused by reminding him to consider the consequences of his behavior. She recalls the time when 10-year-old Michael came in second and got so upset that he ripped off his goggles and threw them angrily onto the pool deck.
During their drive home, she told him that sportsmanship counted as much as winning. “We came up with a signal I could give him from the stands,” she says. “I’d form a ‘C’ with my hand, which stood for ‘compose yourself.’ Every time I saw him getting frustrated, I’d give him the sign. Once, he gave me the ‘C’ when I got stressed while making dinner. You never know what’s sinking in until the tables are turned!”

Oh, how I love Debbie Phelps. She deserves to be up on that medal stand with Michael. She deserves a gold medal herself. If I had one, I would give it to her. That just goes to show you that you can't dismiss a child because they don't fit the mold. As to why Michael is able to focus in the pool, there is a medical explanation. It's called "hyper focus." And if any of you are either a. a teacher, or b. a mom of a kid with ADHD, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

“Single-Minded Focus”
Michael Phelps won the Gold Medal in his first swim in Beijing! There seems to be some confusion and wonder at how and why Michael Phelps was able to overcome so many odds to not break under so much mental pressure. Michael is described in countless articles to have laser like focus on his swimming and single mindedness on being the best. His concentration has even been described as other-worldly. Yes, Michael has the body makeup of a perfect swimming machine, but in competition it is always the mental aspect which allows someone to step above the rest – in Michael’s case, way above the rest – domination.
Michael Phelps has ADHD. I am not the least bit confused by what others are describing about his laser like concentration, this mental part of his makeup, believe it or not, is rather normal for most people with ADHD. It is called Hyper Focusing. Hyper Focusing allows us to concentrate on something so intensely that we cannot break away from whatever we are focusing on, it can provide supreme drive and motivation. Before I go on about how this helps Michael, let me first be clear about the reality of Hyper Focusing for most people with ADHD. Hyper Focusing is a major cause of dilemma and strife, it can be more of a distraction than anything else. It is often said that kids with ADHD cannot focus and concentrate in school, that’s not entirely true, it is just that these kids are focusing on other things – day dreams, that butterfly outside the window, or maybe something they want to do outside of class.
It is when we start Hyper Focusing on something which we have a talent in, and can make a career of, that Hyper Focusing becomes a benefit. People with ADHD can be the best at anything they set their mind’s to, well, not just the best, better than anyone who has come before them! This has been proven time and time again, this is not a myth or made up wishful thinking, it is a fact. Find someone with ADHD who is doing what they Hyper Focus on in which they have talent and you will find someone doing amazing things which defy all logic. Michael Phelps is the latest proof. Sadly, Phelps is the exception, not the rule. It doesn't have to be that way. Finding the next Phelps shouldn't require one to look any further than any school across America. Don't necessarily focus your search to the top of the honor roll, best behaved lists, or teachers' favorites. This search requires something that is sadly, hard to find. Teachers who see past the "disability" and dig for the "ability," and parents who refuse to accept defeat. Phelps had 1 part of the equation. Can you imagine if he had both?

Here's to you, Michael Phelps. You're amazing. You are deserving of all the attention and press you are receiving. You are now the hero of MILLIONS of kids and adults alike across the world. (My Keith included) And while I have loved watching your rise to fame and your amazing success, you're not my hero. As I stated in my title, M. Phelps is my hero now. And the M. doesn't stand for Michael. I love ya, Mike...but my new #1 hero is your mom, Ms. Phelps. In my opinion, she is truly the one to be celebrated. I hope that I can be as determined, as focused, and as driven as she has been.

Rock on, Ms. Phelps. This mama of a little wild boy salutes you. And while I'm giving out medals, here's to you, Mrs. Arledge-Byrne, Mrs. Ritch, Mrs. Costello, Mrs. Winslett, Mrs. Levine, Mrs. Tidwell and Miss Tisdale. You are champions in my book, and stars in my boy's eyes. YOU are what teaching is all about. My gratitude is endless. My blessings are ineumerable. My disaster is BEAUTIFUL.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Update on my flip-flops

Obviously, I'm not the only one who is in love with my houndstooth flip-flops. I have been inundated with emails, posts, even phone calls wanting to know where I found these sweet little treasures. I found them at one of my new fave sites...
Once there, look around at all the cute things they have. Then, get down to business. Search on houndstooth flip-flops. Order them SOON because each pair is custom made, it took mine about 2 weeks to arrive. Football is right around the corner. ORDER NOW, and ROOOOOLLL TIDE!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Mama's Got a New Pair of Shoes...

There are 2 things that I obsessively love...
the CRIMSON TIDE and shoes. You can imagine my utter exhilaration when I found these little delights online. HOUNDSTOOTH FLIP-FLOPS! They arrived yesterday, on my birthday. To quote Coach Saban, "Aight."
I wear flip-flops well into October, okay, November, so I will get some good football season wear out of these jewels. I shared the site that I ordered them from with some of my fellow teacher BAMA FANS and I must say...they fell in love at first sight too! So, it looks like casual Fridays in the fall, aka, hardcore, obsessive ALABAMA vs. auburn apparel wars are on.
Top these shoes, tiger fans.

Monday, August 11, 2008

It's just so hard to pick...

what to blog about!
Sorry it's been a few days since my last update. I am starting to believe that teaching is truly a full time job. :) Seriously, the beginning of school is INSANE. Plus, I have my 3 little guys to feed, do homework with, read with, and oh yeah - have fun with. So things are a little bit crazy until we get back on schedule. All 3 boys are love love LOVING school. That is a blessing. Here's a funny little Keith story for you. On the first day of school, his teachers had the kids fill out job applications for classroom jobs. Keith decided that he wanted to be the tv monitor. When he came home Thursday night, he was so excited and could hardly wait to tell us about applying for the job. The applications were cute, they had to write their name and personal info. (address, phone, etc) They had to complete a references section. This consisted of his parents names and last year's teachers' names. Then he had to list the skills that he thought that he had that would enable him to do the job. Anyhoo, over supper, he told about his hope that he would get the job. (of tv monitor) He said, "Daddy, you know it's a real important job." Shawn said, "Yeah, I know." Keith said, "Cause nobody can watch the tv without the monitor. No morning announcements, no DVD's." We thought the application was the only deciding factor in naming the new tv monitor. We were wrong.
The next day, Keith's teachers conducted job interviews. These took place in front of the class. (public speaking skills - I told you, awesome teachers here) Keith had to sit in front of the room and state his name, personal information, and talk about his references. He then had to answer questions about what skills he felt that he had that would work in the position. (He told them that he was tall, so that would make it easy for him to reach the tv, he promised that he would always turn it on or off quickly so nobody would have to wait on him...HOW CUTE IS THIS KID) But here is the kicker. Lastly, they threw in a question that the applicants weren't prepared for just to see how they could think on their feet. They asked him something like this, "Keith, the TV monitor is a very important job. If you were to get the job, what are some behaviors that you think that the tv monitor would never have? What are some things that the TV monitor wouldn't do?" Here's why I just love my boy. His teachers said that he thought for a minute, tilted his head and touched his finger to his lips. Then, in all sincerity, he replied with this poignant answer. "Well, the tv monitor should never kick anybody in the privates." And with that heartfelt answer, my son got the job.
I tell you, they never cease to make me smile. I hope that all finds you well. And follow the TV monitor's advice. Don't go around kicking people in the privates.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

She should've been mine...

She's opinionated, independent, and she's been known to stretch the truth. Example - the last time we were in "Wee-zee-annuh" (Louisiana) she and I were putting together a puzzle. The only people at the house were the 2 of us, Gigi, and baby Emma. Maddie is a whiz at puzzles. That's just an extra that I am throwing in...girl can flat work a puzzle. Anyhoo, she picked up a piece and made sure that I was looking at her, and she goes, "Dis piece sucks." A few minutes later she broke off a few of the edge pieces and slid them in the floor. I said, "Oh no...somebody broke the puzzle!" She didn't even look up, she goes, "Yeah...Keef did it." I said, "Maddie, Keith isn't here. " She goes, "Yeah...BB did it." (BB is Breanna). And Breanna was gone on the boat...with Keith. So she stretches the truth. She truly IS her father's daughter. I love it bc she pitches fits and wears glittery shoes and dance outfits all the time and can be mid-fit and look at you and say, "I want gummy" and expect a piece of gum. That's my girl. In this picture we were at the beach and she had on her BAMA bikini. She went in my closet and tried on all my shoes. Please look closely at her left foot...the toe thing is in between her 2nd and 3rd toes. That's my Cupcake!

And...we're back

Here is Keith with his FABULOUS 3rd grade teachers, Mrs. Tidwell and Miss Tisdale. I am THRILLED TO PIECES that he is going to have them both. They are AMAZING, and are the kinds of teachers that Mama's pray for. I am so looking forward to a great year!
School is back in session. I am exhausted already. It's kinda like childbirth - you remember how tired you are the first few days, but you actually block the degree of the utter exhaustion. I am running on fumes. The boys are glad to be back. Keith is in 3rd grade, Zack in 2nd, and Griffin is with us in our new pre-k class. Finally, we're all under 1 roof. I can't believe my baby is in "big boy school!"

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Seeing the angels...

I love my job. I love the kids that I work with, and almost all of the adults. :) Being a Special Education teacher, I know that what I am doing is making a difference. ALL teachers make a difference. It is such an important job. Today was another "meeting day" to get us ready. What we NEED to go to get ready is to actually work in our classrooms. But the decision makers feel that we need to sit in the library for 6.5 hours listening to people talk. ANYHOO....everyone in that library was feeling exactly as I was. Anxious. Distracted. Even angry. There is SO MUCH to do...the kids will be there Thursday. We've already been staying until 7 each night, working on the weekends. We didn't need another day of meetings.

One thing that we had to do was to watch a quick video about perspective. It was one of those warm fuzzy things that is intended to have us look at our jobs differently, to make us give 110% of our selves instead of the usual 100%. I'll admit, it was good. One quote really stuck out. I wrote it down and thought, "I am TOTALLY adding that to my blog. This was it...

"I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." ~Michelangelo

The guy in the video talked about how people looked at Michelangelo's sculptures and were amazed, even moved to tears. He was asked how he could make something so breathtakingly beautiful from stone. His reply was simple, but spoke volumes. He didn't see the stone. He saw the angel, and worked to set it free.

That is what we do; what I do every day. I carve away, trying to uncover the angels. So many people walk by and see the stone. They don't even take the time to look for the angels. Their mind is already made up. Stone. Only stone. Not even a quick glance. THEY MISS THE ANGELS.

Once again, someone has made an ignorant statement regarding my job and my students. To say that I am tired of hearing it is an understatement. I am physically weary. I work hard. I have an education that I AM STILL PAYING FOR. I go to countless workshops, trainings, etc. I am constantly developing my craft. And 1 flippant comment manages to completely bring me down. Crashing down. Left in a heap. My mom tells me that people used to say the same things to her when she was a teacher. It isn't the first time. It will happen again. I will get over this, move on, and someone, somewhere down the road will do the same thing again. Nothing changes. More of the same.

I am in such a surreal place. Mom. Sp Ed teacher. Mom of Sp Ed student. So many hats to wear. Which one comes first? They are all so heavy. It's getting harder to hold my head up. God knew all along where I would be. He thinks I am capable of wearing them all. Sometimes I wonder. Sometimes I just want to consolidate. Why are some people just wearing 1 *normal* hat? Why do I have to wear 3?

But then, I start to think. I might be wearing 3 hats, 3 HEAVY, uncomfortable hats. But at least I can see the angels. Some of those with only 1 hat don't see the angels. They only see the stone. They are missing out on the angels.

So...I guess I'll survive. I still have my hats. All 3 of them. My heart may be hurt. My anger will subside, but my heart will always hurt. Lucky for me, I get to carve out the angels.

Today, don't just be content to see the stones. Look closely. You just might find an angel.

Monday, August 4, 2008

7 things my boys do that make them the coolest boys EVER

You will be hearing so much about my boys, Keith, Zack, and Griffin. (9, almost 8, & 4) Today, as I was sitting in a wonderful workshop about Asperger's Syndrome, my mind drifted to them. And why I am so lucky to be their Mama. I was trying my best to pay attention and take notes. (in all seriousness it was an amazing workshop) So in between my notetaking and occasional head-nodding (to prove that I was listening intently), I comprised a brief list of today's top 7 things my boys do that make them the coolest boys ever. Here it is..

#7. Blessing fights. It never fails, our meals can't get blessed without a brief fight. They will fight over who's turn it is. If it is Keith's turn, Zack will argue that he didn't say it loud enough. If it is Zack's turn, Keith will try to race along and say it with him, but faster. Then they both will get louder because EVERYBODY knows that Jesus only hears the prayers that are offered up at the loudest level possible. Then there is Griffin. He doesn't believe in the "God is Great" method. Oh no. He must SING his blessing. With feeling. And volume. And sometimes, if we're lucky...with facial expressions. At his little preschool, they sang this blessing..."OHHHHHHH the Lord's been good to me, and so I thank the Lord, for giving me the things I need, the sun and the rain and the apple trees oh the Lord's been good to me." But Griffin places emphasis on certain words, raises and lowers his voice at certain places, and REFUSES to say "Amen." I always say "Amen" at the end of his musical interlude, and he always says, "No, Mom-tee...we don't say that." By this time Shawn has had to separate the 2 other boys who are still "God is great-ing" at the top of their lungs at record speed. It's a vicious cycle, blessing our meals.

#6. Calling me "Mom-tee." This is only Griffin's little deal. For as long as I can remember, he has called me "Mom-tee." Why? I don't know. But I like it. My mom (Gigi) has tried to correct him. She will say, "Mommy. Her name is Mommy." He just goes, "Nope, she's Mom-tee." I kinda like it. Lord knows I've been called worse.

#5. the "Grass-hole" incident. This priceless little diddy is made possible by Zack. Once upon a time, we were all sitting around the dinner table (I kid you not). There had just been yet another argument regarding the blessing, or something like that. Seriously, I don't remember what the argument was about. It wasn't the blessing, I don't want people to assume that our prayer fights lead to cussing. Anyhoo, Shawn was his usual referee self and we thought that everything was over. We were eating, it was quiet, and all of a sudden, Zack leaned over to Keith. In his best possible pseudo-whisper, he goes, "You a grass-hole, Keef." Use your imagination as to what he was trying to say. At this time, Zack was 4. And I was choking back my chicken casserole trying not to laugh. We told him that what he said was very ugly and asked where he heard that (all the while praying that he wouldn't say, "From you."). Thankfully, he said that he heard it from Gigi. JUST KIDDING. He didn't say that. He said that he heard it at school. For all you public school haters, he was attending a Baptist Church Preschool at the time. happens everywhere. You Grassholes.

#4, "MUSTANG!" I don't know who created this game, but whoever did - I secretly hate you. It started with Keith and Zack...every time they would see a mustang while we were in our car (van) they would scream at the top of their lung, "MUSTANG!" Do you know how many mustangs are on the road? LOTS. I finally wised up and trained them to whisper it. They quickly came up with another twist to this addictive little game to drive their Mama insane. They might "whisper" call it, but then the shouting ensues. "That's 49 for me." "Oh yeah, I've got 72." Yeah, they keep a mental tally of how many mustangs they've seen. Total lies. Complete fabrications. But a matter of life and death to them. Believe me, I don't care how expensive gas is, I'll drive 84 miles out of the way to avoid a Ford dealership. I just don't think I could stand it.

#3. "Punchbug!" I know what you're thinking, we've all played this game. Yeah, we have. WITH VOLKSWAGONS. Zack is so stinking smart, book wise. Street-wise - not so much. The other day, he saw a PT Cruiser and excitedly yelled, "PUNCHBUG" and hauled off and knocked the crap outta' Keith's arm. Keith looked and looked for the Bug, it wasn't there. Shawn explained to Zack that he was punching on the wrong car. Keith stared at him with a look of disbelief on his face. Until a stinking Mustang drove by.

#2 AWESOME musical skills. Let me assure you of boys are super gifted in the musical realm. HOW? I'll tell you how. How many 4-year-olds do you know that can sing Eagles tunes word for word? MINE CAN! Tom Petty - a breeze. Griffin could sing "I Won't Back Down" before he gave up his blessed paci! I mean, he knows it ALL. We did alter the lyrics a tad. He goes, "You can stand me up at the gates of WELL but I'll stand my ground, and I won't back down." Keith is more like his Daddy...he likes to get his groove on. I remember well the day when I strained to hear what he was singing in the back of the van, and this is what I heard...."They see me woe-llin...they hatin', twy an catch me widin' dirty, twy and catch me widin." I had a little talk with Shawn after that. That sweet, tone-deaf voice also jams on "God of Wonders" and "Lifesong" and both are the most beautiful, heartfelt renditions you will ever hear. He sings them when he doesn't know that anyone is listening, word for word. Nothing is sweeter than standing outside his door and hearing that. And if you stand their long enough, you're sure to hear this follow afterwords, "Apple bottom jeans, boots with the fur..." ( he learned that one from Cousin Maddie)

#1 Their version of Rock, Paper, Scissors - They have been playing this classic childhood game FOREVER. Even Griffin. It always amazed me that even as a 3-year-old, he understood it and played it with "his boys." Just Saturday I was watching them play. They were playing it with Shawn, and he was cracking up. Here's what they were doing. It was the usual, 1, 2, 3, shoot and then you had to give your sign, rock, paper, or scissors. Well, it seemed that they had made up some new signals. Shawn gave rock, and Zack made his hand "roll" as if he were attempting to start an arm-roll (classic breakdance move for all of you who are wondering). Shawn said, "Hey buddy, what is that?" Without missing a beat, Zack said, "It's a tidal wave, Daddy. It washes away your rock." Well, they go again. 1, 2, 3, shoot. Shawn gave scissors, Zack gave a fist with the thumb sticking up. Shawn said, "Okay, what's THAT?" Zack said, "It's a bomb, Daddy. It blows up your scissors." One last time...and the world championship was on the line. 1, 2, 3, shoot! This time, Shawn thought that he had him. He turned Zack's move on him, Shawn did "the tidal wave." (breakdancing hand move from earlier) Without missing a beat, Zack did the move of the pointer finger and "tall man" finger walking on his other hand. He goes, "I win Daddy...I beat you." Shawn said, "Wait a minute, I had tidal wave...I won." Zack goes, "Nope, I had Jesus. He can walk on the water. I win."

Don't you just love it!!! More to come. I've got LOTS more material.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

John Mark Stallings

Oh my Sweet Lord in Heaven, I love Gene Stallings. When I was pregnant and found out that it was a boy, we SERIOUSLY considered naming him Griffin Stallings Martin. I loved the name, I loved where (who) the name came from, and I figured that I was the one carrying around the blessed miracle so I should have final naming rights. In the end, we named him after my brother, Griffin Christopher Martin. Obviously there is really something to choosing a name, bc Griffin now acts an awful like dear Uncle Chris. Anyhoo, I love me some Coach Stallings. LOVE HIM. I love him because he is old school. I love his gravely voice. I love that he gave us our last National Championship. More than anything - I love the way he loves his son Johnny.

Reading his book Another Season was seriously a major factor in my becoming a Special Education teacher. If you haven't read it...go to amazon RIGHT NOW and order it. One of my most favorite students, Rand, was born with Down Syndrome. When he was born, someone contacted Coach Stallings. He took time from his busy schedule to call Randy and Shannon (Rand's parents) at the hospital and congratulate them. Phenomenal. He told them that their path wouldn't be easy, but that it would be worth it. And he knew firsthand what he was talking about.

When I was a sophomore in high school, UA still played some games in Birmingham at Legion Field. In 1992, we all knew that something was different about this team. When Bama played in Birmingham, they would stay at the former Sheraton on hwy 280, and they would see a movie at the Colonnade on Friday nights. SOOOOO....on many occasions, Amy and company would also go to the movies on Friday nights. We would wait outside in the cold until we saw our team descending down the hill coming our way. Amid the "Roll Tides" and "Hey Jay, will you marry me's" were smiles and nods from the players. It was obvious, Coach Stallings had laid down the law, there was no "hot-dogging" (as my dad would say) or no "show-boating." (another Haroldism) In all honesty, we came out to see Jay Barker, David Palmer, and George Teague. Seeing them was the goal, but it wasn't the highlight. The best part of these trips was always seeing John Mark Stallings.

He and his Pops were always the last in line. Coach Stallings was always stoic, serious. Very gracious and cordial, but very business like. Not John Mark. He was grinning from ear to ear. He was pumping his right fist in the air, all the while he was holding onto his Pops with his left hand. He made eye contact with everyone he passed, and gave us all a big "ROLL TIDE!" He was just so happy, so proud. It was a victory parade and he was the grand marshall. He was content to follow behind, reveling in the accomplishments of those before him. He was happy, he was proud to cheer for the team that he loved dearly. If the truth be known, he would have been just as proud had we never won a game. What an awesome devotion.

I was "going to get my nails did" this past Saturday when my cell rang. My ringtone? "Yea, Alabama" of course. I answered to hear Shawn quietly say, "Amy, I just heard that John Mark Stallings died." I teared up. Right there in the nail place, I got teary. I said, "Let me go, I've gotta call Chris." Like it was a family member or something. I called my brother and told him, "Chris, John Mark Stallings died." It was heartbreaking.

I am well aware that John Mark is in Heaven, probably looking for Coach Bryant and other Bama people. He is strong, and whole, and fine. His sweet dad, however, is devastated. I watched a clip on youtube tonight from about 12 years ago. The woman doing the interview asked Coach Stallings, "Can you imagine life without Johnny?" Coach Stallings quickly replied, " and I don't want to."

We Alabama fans love tradition. We love stories, the line of statues outside our beloved Bryant Denny are prime examples of the grandeur of our program. These statues cast shadows that are reminders of the exploits and impact these giants of our tradition cast upon our program. While the men who are immortalized in stone appear larger than life, I believe that the greatest shadow cast belonged to a man who was small in stature but who lived life in a giant way. He loved his Crimson Tide unconditionally. Standing beside his father, John Mark Stallings was physically much smaller. But standing together, they were a shining example of love, devotion, and pride. To quote the stadium jumbotron - THIS IS ALABAMA FOOTBALL.

I have read many moving pieces written about John Mark and his passing, from BAMA fans, Auburn fans, Tennessee fans, etc. Their beautiful story transcended team factions. People looked at Coach Stallings and Johnny and didn't see Alabama, per se, they saw love. And you know what the Good Book says...Love Never Fails.

In all the things I've read online about the Stallings family, 1 theme seems to reoccur; I've read it countless times. It is simply this, "God Bless the Stallings Family." I will close my tribute to Johnny by giving my opinion - He already did. He blessed them with the incomprehensible gift of John Mark. What a blessing indeed.

Today, as ALWAYS - so proud to say ROLL TIDE!!!

I Finally Did It...

I created a Blog! My mom has been on me since May to start a Blog. She would say, "Aim, you love to write, and you say the funniest things. You really need a Blog!" I would reply, "Yeah, I might." All the while I was thinking, "Good LORD Sue, you know that I don't have time! I barely have time to check my email." And then...I started visiting other Blogs. AND THEN, my MOM created one. I knew that 1 of two things was sure to follow: a. the apocapolyse, or b. I had to do it. So here I am! Blogging! On my very own Blog! HOT DOG, I've got a Blog!

Now a few housekeeping matters that we must address. Firstly, I'm new to this. I need a brief tutorial. Do I capatilize Blog? Is it permissable to have a lower case "b" blog? I know enough from email that I will never BLOG in ALL CAPS, bc that means I am shouting. However, I have shouted a few times already (LORD, AND THEN, MOM, HOT DOG, etc). But unless I am terribly angry or experiencing a stroke or something, I will never post in all caps. I PROMISE. :)

Now, on the the name. In all honesty, I would have created this Blog/blog much sooner had I thought of a name. I have been running several doozies around in my noodle, but nothing stuck. "My 3 Sons" seemed like an obvious choice, but what if I decided to post about my job? Not exactly son-esque. I considered "Where the Wild Things Are" and truthfully, almost went with it. It's one of my thousand favorite books, and it is PERFECT for the ole' Martin household. But finally, it hit me. My Beautiful Disaster. Here's why...

I am a music FANATIC. Yes, I am screaming that. FANATIC. I LOVE MUSIC. Kelly Clarkson, aka American Idol #1 had a fabulous song on her first cd (or second...I can't remember) called "Beautiful Disaster." The first time I heard it...I just cried. *quick sidenote...for those of you who know me you know this isn't a rarity. the rest of you will soon find out that Amy cries a lot...sidenote over* I KNOW (screaming) that it is written about a boyfriend; not about her son. But I immediately thought of my sweet boy, Keith. Some observers may see him and think *DISASTER*. He is a wild thing, a loose cannon, a hand full, etc. (all real descriptions I've heard) He isn't easy. But he is BEAUTIFUL. I am really screaming now...HE IS BEAUTIFUL. Here are the lyrics...
He drowns in his dreams
An exquisite extreme I know
He’s as dumb as he seems
And more heaven than a heart could hold
And if I try to save him
My whole world could cave in
It just ain’t right
It just ain’t right
Oh when I don’t know
I don’t know what he’s after
But he’s so beautiful
Such a beautiful disaster
And if I could hold on
Through the tears and the laughter
Would it be beautiful?
Or just a beautiful disaster
His magical myth
As strong as with I believe
A tragedy with
More damage than a soul should see
And do I try to change him
So hard not to blame him
Hold on tight
Hold on tight
Oh cuz I don’t know
I don’t know what he’s after
But he’s so beautiful
Such a beautiful disaster
And if I could hold on
Through the tears and the laughter
Would it be beautiful?
Or just a beautiful disaster
I’m longing for love and the logical
But he’s only happy hysterical
I’m waiting for some kind of miracle
Waited so long
So long
He’s soft to the touch
But afraid at the end he breaks
He’s never enough
And still leaves more than I can take
Oh cuz I don’t know
I don’t know what he’s after
But he’s so beautiful
Such a beautiful disaster
And if I could hold on
Through the tears and the laughter
Would it be beautiful?
Or just a beautiful disaster

Now, before anybody leaves me hate comments regarding the "he's dumb" lyric, let me say this. I didn't write the flippin' song. Kelly Clarkson did. I said that it reminded me of my sweet boy. And, it reminds me of my other 2 boys, Zack and Griffin. Come to think of it, it reminds me of Shawn as well. And of me. And of my job. And my home. And my family and friends. Aren't we all, in some ways, at some time, disasters? But if you take the time to think about it, you will probably see what I've seen - my disasters are almost always BEAUTIFUL. And the more I think about it - isn't this PRECISELY (screaming) what we are to God? Come on yall, we are DISASTERS. But if we are in Christ - we are beautiful. No, we are BEAUTIFUL. Christ Himself clothes us with His Righteousness and when Our Father sees us, he sees our beauty. Well, He sees His Son's Beauty. And when I look at my sons, my Keith, Zack, or even Griffin, I see beauty. In the future, when I am posting about something crazy that they did, or I am crying in frustration or anger or fury...remind me of this. Everything may seem disastrous, but my goodness, it is BEAUTIFUL.

More later peeps. I still have a lot to say.