Wednesday, August 31, 2011

There's a brand new Senior in our house!

Daniel began his senior year of high school last week. He dreaded starting school, as he repeatedly stated in the days leading up to D-Day,  but he is extremely excited to be a senior.

The night before school started, Daniel spent the night with a friend. I asked him to come home before leaving for the Senior Breakfast, so that I could get pictures of him beginning this milestone. Sweet boy that he is, he agreed to come by at 6:15 AM! It's still dark at that time, (proof enough for me that no one should have to be up at that hour), thus the dark pictures.

And he's off! 
 Of course, while praying and giving him to the Lord, I had to shed a tear or two. Well, if the truth be known, more that one or two.  I don't think I'll ever enjoy this "growing up and leaving" thing. I know that I'd be devastated if they couldn't do it, but it is such a bittersweet experience.

His car displays the magic numbers!
Our high school has a few really neat traditions for seniors. The first day of school, there is a senior breakfast. They all wear the same senior t-shirt and after breakfast, they all caravan to the school. At the school lot they are greeted by a balloon archway.

Another tradition is car decorating. The seniors decorate their cars. There were some pretty creative ones this year.

Ones with stuff strapped on top:

This one was covered with tin foil. The are the Spartans, so this car is a spartan helmet.

I thought this was very creative

Daniel road with a friend and left his car at the breakfast spot.

He had a good first day. A bunch of the seniors converged at the same eating place for lunch. I'm sure the regular patrons really appreciated this invasion!

Their theme is "2012, the world's not ending, we're just taking over!"

Hmm...Lord help us all!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Listening Walk

Every week or so, we make a trip to our local library and bring home several books. The kids really get a kick out of picking out their own books and then reading them at home. One of the books that we got this past week was this one:

In this book, a little girl takes "listening walks" with her dad. During their walks, instead of talking, they only listen.

Since the weather has cooled slightly, I've been trying to re-institute my daily walks. Several times I've had to take Abbey and Elijah with me. On one of our walks, Abbey suggested that we recreate the story of the book. So we started our own, "listening walk". I was completely amazed at the difference. I'm 40+ years old and I've never really heard outside like I did that night. I heard all sorts of noises from crickets to cicadas to lawn mowers. It was mesmerizing.

After we got back home and sat on the porch sharing popsicles, Abbey, Elijah and I talked about the things we heard, and how we heard them. It really was a great exercise, and it made me think about listening in other areas of my life, especially my prayer life.

I wonder if I'd hear so much more from God if I would just be quiet for a spell? I became convicted by how many times my prayers consist of me telling God the things that He needs to do, or the things He needs to help me do. I'm convinced that I need to take time to sit and just listen. I think that I would be amazed and extremely comforted by hearing God, instead of hearing my own laments and suggestions, (as if the Lord Of All needs my suggestions)!  Just as the usually hidden sounds of nature are suddenly out in the open when I stop and listen, God's whisperings within my heart would suddenly be loud and clear, if I kept quiet and just listened. It became apparent to me that my walk with Christ needs more often to be a "listening walk".


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I could have written this

I saw this article on a blog that I follow, and it resonated with me so much, that I knew I had to provide a link to it. I could have written it, as it expresses a lot of my feelings. I encourage everyone to read it!

You can click on HERE to read it.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Emotional Protectant

Normally, Abbey's personality comes out like this:

She is bursting at the seams in everything she does. On the outside it looks as if she hasn't a care in the world.

Occasionally, though, that tough exterior cracks and I see a little bit of the vulnerability and self protective side of her psyche. Although she seems tough as nails, there is a part of her that is very fragile. Beth's visit and subsequent  move to New York brought that fragility right out in the open.

Every night after Beth arrived, Abbey would say, "How many more sleeps until Beth leaves?" We'd tell her and, at first, she'd say, "Ohhh, that's a long time!" (any number more than 1 is a lot apparently). Beth was leaving on Saturday. On Thursday night, Beth came in to hug Abbey "good night". All of a sudden Abbey ran away from Beth and into my arms. Beth asked to lie down and cuddle with Abbey before she went to sleep. Abbey shook her head, replying, "Nooo, I want to lay with my mommy." I could tell it was hurting Beth's feelings and I was more than a little perplexed. I encouraged Abbey to cuddle with Beth, but Abbey wasn't going to give. Abbey loves, loves, loves Beth, so I really couldn't figure out what was going on.

The next night, Friday, after we got home from eating out, Abbey came home from the princess show. She was excited recalling the princesses she had seen. Beth and I were sitting on the couch. Beth reached for Abbey to sit in her lap, and Abbey bolted over to me and said, "I want my mommy!" I took her in my arms and started talking to her. I asked her what was wrong; she didn't answer. I probed deeper. "You know that Beth is leaving tomorrow, right?" She shook her head. I said, "That makes you sad, doesn't it?" Again, she shook her head, and then she said, "Are you going to cry?" I told her that I might, but that it was ok to cry when we are sad. I also explained that it is ok to be sad when someone we love is leaving. It dawned on me that it was the crying that was bothering Abbey.

Crying doesn't come naturally to Abbey. She very rarely cries. When she does, she doesn't burst into tears, she just sort of grimaces, and tears just ooz out. No bellowing or screaming, never. When she was a baby, I had to train her to show pain when she got hurt. So, now I think I need to show her how to express sadness and that it is normal to be sad sometimes.

This all is just another piece of the puzzle of Abbey. I'll never know what her life was like before she came into our lives, but based on what that I've seen--her big bald spot on her head, her lack of muscle control, her self-soothing actions, her high pain tolerance, her fear that I won't be here when she wakes up and her fear of getting hurt emotionally, all point to a time of neglect for my little princess. I wonder if she was punished if she cried? I wonder if it's just that she cried, but no one ever came to answer her cries?  I always knew that early stimulation and love were essential to proper development, but I never realized how much is formed in the first year of life. (We got Abbey when she was 10 months old)

She has gotten better in some areas. She will now express pain and she openly loves her family, as long as they aren't about to leave her, then her protective mode takes over and she will ignore and distance herself from them. I feel certain that she will master and rise above her months of neglect, but I'd give anything in the world, if I could have prevented it from happening. The thought of my precious baby girl, (or any baby for that matter), laying in a crib and crying herself hoarse, to no avail, just breaks my heart! One of my friends said that adoption was a beautiful tragedy. I so agree. It is tragic that Abbey's life had to go through the start it did. But, it is beautiful how much we love her and Elijah and how much beauty they bring into our lives. God really does "make beauty from ashes" (Isaiah 61:3)

We love you so, Abbey Grace!

I pray for our little ones, that the Lord will show us how to overcome their issues. I am certain that He will do just that!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Truly a gray day

I woke up on Saturday, 8/6, and saw this

don't know if you can tell here, but it was raining

a gray, dreary, rainy day. I thought, "Well, that fits. That is exactly how I'm feeling on the inside. Gray. Dreary. The day I had been dreading for months had arrived."

packing up

Beth was moving to New York. We've been so blessed to have her and Greg right here in NC for a year, but a job was dictating a move to New York.

Greg had to be at work the previous Monday, but their stuff would arrive sometime within the following week or two. So, Greg spent one night with us and then took a plane to the big city. The plan was for Beth to stay with us, then drive to DC. Greg was to take a bus to DC, and they would drive to NY together.

John and I thoroughly enjoyed our week with Beth. We had lots of talks, laughs, pool time, times spent with the little ones, and thanks to our good friends' taking Abbey and Elijah, we even got to enjoy a dinner out with Beth and John, Jr. Isn't it ironic that just when your kids become wonderful people that you like to be around, they up and move??

So, the day had arrived. I couldn't put it out of my mind anymore. Our oldest daughter was no longer going to be a few hours away. She no longer would be able to jump into a car and drive home if ever we needed her to. We no longer would be able to stop in and see her when we traveled to or through Charlotte.

She lollygagged as long as she could but there came time to do some "one more's"

Run for Bella

Picture by the mailbox



and more hugs

Then, with Bella, the copilot

and one more wave,

she drove off.

Not gonna lie, we all shed quite a few tears. In fact, it has been a couple of weeks now, but I'm getting misty as I recall it even now. Not fun stuff. But, life sometimes isn't fun. I just need to count my blessings and remember that it could be worse. She could be across the country, or even out of the country. There are many other "could be's" which would make things a lot worse. The main thing I need to remember is that God is watching over her there, just as He did here, and He loves her more than I do.

Beth is doing well. After struggling to fit their stuff in a much smaller space, she is discovering her new home. Greg is working killer hours, so my prayer was for Beth to meet a friend quickly. It seems that the Lord agrees with that prayer, because the next day Beth called and said she had met a friend possibility. Yay God! She's going to be just fine.

As for Mama... she's still struggling with the distance and unfamiliarity of Beth's abode.  But, I'm trusting in the God who gave her to me, that He will watch over her and Greg, guide them, and that He has a plan for their life that, at least for now, includes a little distance from us.


Friday, August 12, 2011

The epitome of egocentrism

Elijah has something that he is so proud of these days!!!

He is officially potty trained!!

But, notice his big-boy pants, they are on backwards. No, it's no accident, he intentionally wears them that way. Let me ask you, have you ever tried to explain to a 3 year old that you wear "Mater", "Lite-lite queen" or "Buzz Lightyear" on your bum, and no, you can't see them when you're wearing them???

Let me tell you that concept is totally foreign to his egotistical mind. The way he thinks, if he can't see it, then it doesn't exist.

So, he wears them backwards, and I couldn't care less. As long as he doesn't use the bathroom in them, he can wear them any way he wants!!!

Besides, he's just too darn cute. No matter what he's wearing or how he wears it!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A full cul-de-sac .....

Anna, Beth's and John Jr.'s cars

A full heart for Mama!!

 All of my babies under one roof. Too bad it only lasted for a few days, and who knows when it will happen again??


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Summer League Swimming is over

Our summer league swim season is just 6 weeks, and boy does it fly by. This year, our team certainly didn't win as many meets as they would have liked (only one), but I think the kids had a great time. We celebrated their accomplishments this year at our end of the season banquet. As the swim team coordinator,  it was my responsibility to see that this affair came off without a hitch. I had lots of willing help, and I believe it was a nice banquet.

The room looked festive:

There was plenty to eat:

Elijah certainly enjoyed his cake

And the awards were there:

Abbey, tickled with her trophy, stands with the other 6 and under girls
Daniel and the 15-18 yr. old boys

Awww, brotherly love!
Daniel won the boys' team high point, for scoring the most points.

He also got medals for placing first in breastroke and eighth in freestyle at the city-wide championship meet.

John, Jr. did an excellent job of MCing the entire evening.

I certainly breathed a sigh of relief when it was all over, but I actually enjoyed doing most of it. They also made it very worth my time. I was given flowers, a gift certificate to a very nice restaurant and a Starbucks gift card!

When we got home our two resident swim team members posed with their awards.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Road Trip to Athens, Georgia

Last month John, the little ones, Daniel and I set off for the University of Georgia in  Athens, Georgia.

With the weddings and the slow economy, this little trip to Athens may end up being the only vacation that we get to take.

Abbey doesn't care where we go, as long as she gets to stay in a "hoe-tale".

She watched a lot of the "dv-go player"

Getting ready to take a nap.
Playing on their "magic carpet"
Happy boy!
Daniel getting ready to go swim.
The trip was a success for Daniel in the pool. He cut 3 sec. off of 100 breast to swim a Jr. National time of 1:07.71, and he cut off another 3 seconds on his 200 to swim to acheive 2:28.55. He made it back to finals in both events. Making it to finals is no small accomplishment at this meet. The top 8 finalists in almost every event had their Olympic Trial cuts. Daniel is 3 seconds away from a Olympic trial cut in the 100 breast. He talked with several college coaches while he was there.

On the way home, we stopped by the see Beth in Charlotte. Greg was at work, so we just got to see Beth and Bella.

Proud Daddy
Me and my grand-baby dog!

All in all it was a nice little respite from the every day life at home. Daniel swam well, and we had some fun family times together!