Thursday, March 29, 2012

He's a hitter

Some of you have already seen this pic on facebook. And I tried to upload my video of his at bat, but for technical reasons beyond my control (ie, I was too challenged to figure it out), you won't get to endure my screaming. And boy was there screaming. So take a minute and thank God that I have issues getting things from one apple device to another.

Could you not just eat that up with a spoon? I think I am in love. And, to my surprise, I think I love being a baseball mom (I already loved being a baseball sister-in-law, Uncle Will, really). And I think, if we can get Tru to focus on catching fly balls and not the flies and moths that are attracted to the big lights, he may be good at it. He has GREAT hand-eye coordination and a great arm. And he is just so dadgum cute in that uniform too. I am looking forward to the rest of the season . . . even if we pull a Patriots and go 0-fer.

(And can we stop for another minute and thank God that thus far I have not cursed any of my kids with my lack of athletic ability. And Mom and Dad, you don't have to tell me I was plenty talented at sports . . . I can run, I know that, but the other stuff and the dancing, just not my forte. If anyone needs proof, I can reminisce my 2nd grade soccer season for you where I ran to the stands more than the goal because I hated it, or 9th grade volleyball where, despite wearing the largest pair of glasses a 14 year old could find, I still didn't see the ball coming and they got knocked off my face, there was our 9th grade girls basketball team that could only beat the deaf school--seriously--or the 11th grade softball team where the coach would call the outfield in when I got up to bat during practice so they could work on something else since there was NO NEED FOR THEM with me up. I did however, master the art of daisy chain making in the OUT outfield and made the sweetest friendship with Jill. Sports playing was just not my thing.)

Anyway . . . we head back to Field 1 tonight for another game and I CANNOT WAIT. And maybe, if you're really lucky, I will get a video uploaded of him hitting and me yelling. (But only because Josh gets home tonight and can do it for me.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Jenny Caroline

10 years.

A whole decade.

How is that even possible?!

I remember the day that Caroline was born like it happened yesterday . . . I was sooo nervous that morning when I woke up, I threw up. True story. Josh and I got to the hospital at 5 in the morning and started the induction process. It was a looooong day, but so much fun! It was like a party (especially after the epidural), friends and family coming in and out and all of us DYING TO KNOW IF that baby was Jenny Caroline or Thomas Williams. FINALLY, 12 hours later, after an hour and a half of pushing, out came the most beautiful little girl I had ever seen.

True to form, Caroline came out with drama and charm. She was loved and adored and held and passed around from mom to dad to all 4 grandparents to Uncle Keith and Aunt Linda and then, she lost it. She freaked out and her heart rate wouldn't go down. For a couple of hours, I was not allowed to hold her as she screamed in the infant bed next to me while they monitored her. My legs were still numb from the epidural, so I was stuck in my bed too, and she and I spent a good bit of time crying together. Finally, a compassionate nurse gave her back to me, and as we soothed each other, her heart rate returned to a safe range and they eventually declared her "ok".

I never knew that I could be so scared. No one prepared me for the depth of emotions that would come with that baby. It was like my very heart had left my body and was all wrapped up in that little bundle. When she hurt, I hurt. When she cried, I cried. When she smiled, my heart exploded. And when she laughed, I did too, with sheer joy. Those emotions happened every time I had a baby, but there is something unique about that first time . . . the intensity of it all is so unexpected and tangible.

10 years later, I can't believe that I've been a mom this long . . . I still feel so inadequate and amateur. I find myself stumbling through each phase of her life with the same level of trepidation and desperate prayers as those first days. Being a parent is such a faith journey . . . we plant seeds and water and water and weed and fertilize (which is funny and amazing to me that God can use my bs for her good) and we hope and pray that we are doing enough and not screwing them up. And then we wait and watch and keep praying. And we thank God for His grace to mend and use our mistakes. Thank goodness it's not really ALL up to us.

Caroline, sweet Caroline, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I get to be your mom. I am learning so much from you. You have a kindness and a generosity of spirit that is so pure and genuine and amazing. You are truly selfless and I love to watch you care for others and wrestle with how to best help people. And you are FUN! You have a great sense of humor. You are fearless, too--are you kidding me riding the Barn Swing by yourself?! Daddy and I really enjoy seeing all your talents surface . . . you are a reader and a writer and a dancer and an athlete. You are a self-motivator and enjoy giving it your all and a little more.  No one can clean and organize like you can--or have as much fun and satisfaction from it. I can't list it all, but you are gifted and you don't waste your gifts--I'm proud of you for that. You are the best big sister Tru and Bo and Sascha could have ever asked for. You are an amazing friend. And as a daughter, well, you are everything and more I could have dreamed of.

I am having a blast in this new phase--this delicate balance of mother/daughter with a little bit of friendship thrown in there too. I love watching "our shows" together and, as much as I love watching you dance, I am pretty sure that I love the excuse to escape with you several weekends a year even more. We have made some great memories!

You are beautiful on the outside, but the glow that first catches people's attention comes from the inside of you. Jesus lives in your heart and your compassion and love for others is a reflection of that.

I love you so much. I am so torn as I watch you grow up because I want to slow it down, to go back in time for a bit to those early days and weeks and months and years. At the same time, however, I could never have imagined this time of life being so fun and I look forward to all we have ahead of us. We have dreamed some fun futures together!

Happy 10th birthday, angel. You are a gift to us and to every life you touch!

I love you . . . Mommy

(Here are some pics from her big day)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Shasha Stories

First of all, let me say that if you were in Target yesterday between 2-2:30, I am sorry--very, very sorry that you probably witnessed little sister in ALL HER GLORY. Mercy. Pray for us, please.

As maddening as times like that are, girlfriend can be funny, too! She is TERRIFIED of ants. Lizards and birds and all other creatures she will chase with glee, but an itty bitty ant turns her little self upside down. Occasionally, the weather will drive the ants in through an ant size space of the playroom door to the backyard. 8 or so ants were marching around the door and she ran upstairs SCREAMING. While comforting her, I said, "It's ok, baby." To which she replied in a most pitiful voice "I don't yike ants. I yike butterflies."

A few weeks ago when I went to pick her up from dance, Mrs. Kristen and Ms. Kaitlin had another "Sascha in ballet" story. I've come to expect Sascha stories most places I leave her, take her, or go with her, but this one, well, it captures her. To help these precious little 3-4 year old girls learn their sweet ballet recital piece, Mrs. Kristen and Ms. Kaitlin have put masking tape spots on the floor for them. Each girl could pick a little picture to go on her spot . . . anything they could imagine. So what did the little girls pick? Princesses, hearts, flowers, and sweet Sassy . . . she asked for a dragon.

My current favorite right now, however, happened Saturday. Sascha decided to "help" Tater out. I guess she thought he looked hungry, because she dumped THE WHOLE NEW BAG OF DOG FOOD into his crate. Of course, half of it also went under the washing machine. And all over the laundry room. And Tate ate untold amounts of food before Josh got him out of the laundry room. While we were cleaning up, I said, "Oh, Sascha." kind of as a sigh. And she replied, "What? You killin me, Smalls?" Josh and I both had to stop cleaning and recover from laughing. It's a little phrase from the movie The Sandlot that Josh and I use (apparently frequently) when someone is, well, killing us, so to speak. Her correct and adorable use of the phrase was just what Josh needed to get over his frustration---well played, Sascha!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ears pierced


It is with bittersweet emotions that I type this post.

My sweet, 1st born, darlin' girl is growing up.

This is her last week in single digits . . . a week from tomorrow, she will be 10.

How is that even possible?!

There is a landmark activity that happens for her at 10 . . . why Josh and I chose 10 is either a mystery, a forgotten reason, or an arbitrary number we chose in the heat of the moment to appease a little girl.

However and whyever, though, we have been telling her for YEARS that she could get her ears pierced when she was 10.

We gave in a week early, and this morning, she went from this:

necked ears

To this:
even more beautiful than before (who knew that was possible?)

And it was with a minimal amount of cringing . . . see:

I will be honest, we were all a little worried since she has been known to take out a nurse or two for a strep swab . . . she was nervous too . . . can you tell?

But there was no screaming, karate chopping, or holding her down! Congrats, Care Bear!! You look so grown up and I am proud of you for not complaining or begging or pleading. You were a patient waiter and it made today even more fun!! I love you bunches and bunches!

Happy St. Patrick's Day and Happy Ear Piercing Day!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Kung Fu Tru

Tru has started Taekwondo (or karate, I get them confused . . . martial arts with belts). He is loving it and excelling at it. It's super fun to see him gaining confidence and skill in something other than the Wii! (Haha)

Last Saturday, he tested for his yellow belt. I will take a minute to brag on him because he has only been doing this a few weeks and really shouldn't have been ready to test, but being Tru, he caught on quick and impressed his teacher (coach? sensei?) and was offered the chance to test early. The kid knocked it out of the park (kicked it out of the dojo?). He did awesome--and all with an extremely loose tooth. We are super proud of him!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lessons learned from the blackout of 2012

Thursday night we lost power for about 6 hours due to some local thunderstorms. The power went out around 4 or 4:30 and there was still some light outside, so the kids finished their homework and worked puzzles and read and it was fairly normal.

By 5:30, I realized that we were going to have to go elsewhere to eat since all of our dinner choices required an electric oven, stove, or microwave or would mean opening the fridge (and I would not allow that because I wanted the food to keep.)

Around 6, Josh agreed that the power outage won, and we got some Mexican food to go and had a picnic at home. This is also about the time we found out that the power would be out until around 2:30 in the morning.

Oh, Laura Ingalls, how did you pioneers do it?

So . . . the kids got in their pajamas and we had a family talent show by flashlight. It was lots of fun--especially when Bo showed us some of the moves they do in Creative Movement at his school. (Oh, and Mrs. Kristen, we are already praying that Sascha does the real routine for the recital and NOT the one she ad libbed for us.)

All in all, it was such a first world problem to be without power for a few hours, but I did learn a few things. . .

#1--never let your phone, laptop, and husband's i-pad run out of juice at the same time. The technology crickets were chirping loudly. It's weird to feel cut off from the world when normally everything is available at the touch of a screen.

#2--keep extra batteries around for flashlights . . . especially if your kids like to play with flashlights

#3--hide some flashlights . . . especially if your kids like to play with flashlights

#4--stay off of treadmills in questionable weather (that's for you, Tracy)

#5--turn the lights and technology off more to "practice" and enjoy being a modern-pioneer. When the power did come back on around 10, Josh and I turned the lights back off and finished our conversation by firelight. Our crazy world seemed a little calmer without power.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

anything called extreme is, well, maybe too much

Ok . . . so yesterday on facebook, I posted this prediction:

72% of people featured on TLCs extreme couponing will later be featured on TLCs hoarding show.

And if you think about it, it's a brilliant strategy--what better way to ensure programming in the future? But it got me thinking, too. (I know, uh-oh.) There are definitely some extreme couponers who use their excess and stockpiles for good by donating to foodbanks or homeless shelters. That is awesome. And there are others who have an abundance of toilet paper, paper towels, toothpaste, razors and canned goods in the event that they lose their job or end up in District 12 or 13 after the Uprising. (oops, that's the Hunger Games, sorry.) And I guess that you can never really be too prepared in our world or economy. I guess the Y2Kers were the original extreme couponers.

Here is where I get annoyed or concerned or some emotion I can't quite identify--people who buy umpteen boxes of cat food and cat litter because they are getting them for free, but THEY DON'T ACTUALLY HAVE A CAT!!!!!! What do they plan to do with it?

And that can't help the economy for 2 reasons--1) who is paying for it? someone is paying for it 2) inflated demand will drive the prices up, won't it? I mean, I didn't do so well in Howie's micro and macro economics classes, but still . . . (econ wasn't my strong class unless you count the limericks that Mary and Billy and Andy and I came up with--if we had been graded on limerick creativity, I would have so aced that class).

Anyway, no offense to those of you extreme couponing with a side of sanity. I am somewhere between amazed and appalled by the phenomenon. I am definitely all for saving money, I am just unsure that buying 130 boxes of couscous that will expire in a year and you have never tried couscous is a good thing. I think that we have Americanized coupons--bigger has to be better right?

That is all for soapbox wednesday. I am off to take Spider-Man to occupational therapy.

You can thank me later when he can save the world because he has overcome his sensory issues.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


So, yesterday we went to the zoo.

Or the ba-zoo as Sascha kept calling it.

Until Bo corrected her and insisted it was "kazoo".

And since we went with our cousins, I decided he was right, we went to the cou-zoo. (Get it, cousins + zoo = couzoo.).

Whatever you call it, we had a blast with my aunt and uncle and 2 of their grandkids who are in town for the week. Hudson, Hendrix, Bo and Sascha fit right in with those crazy animals, and after 3 hours there, Sascha was so tired, loud, and belligerent, I thought maybe I had accidently taken home a chimpanzee.

Here are some pics from our fun day.

 Hendrix and Bo (both 5)

 Sascha (3) and Hudson (2)

 Bo was particularly fond of the penguins and they seemed to like him too!

 Hudson pulling the princess around

 Bo's impression of the giraffes 

 We watched one of them sit down . . . amazing

 Hendrix and Sascha trying to move a log

 Bo, Hudson, Sascha and Uncle Keith (or Papa as his grandbabies call him)

 Tractor, tractor, harvesting the wheat

Aunt Linda with the boys

Monday, March 5, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dad!

I'm a lucky girl--how many people get to write 2 honoring posts about their parents in 1 week? I do not take for granted how blessed I am to have them!!

Yesterday was my dad's birthday and we had fun celebrating him! Saturday night, Josh and I went out with my parents and sister for an adults-only (and baby Davis) dinner. It's always great to have some time with them when the kids aren't around. (We finished most of our conversations, hahaha.) My dad is easy to  celebrate because, like my mom, he is also an amazing person who gives his life away. I cannot tell you how many people tell me how much he means to them, how he stepped in during some crisis in their life, or how he knew just the right words of wisdom to impart to them. He is a gifted advisor and is compassionate and wise. He blows me away with his discernment and integrity. My dad also loves learning and reading. It's not a holiday til he gives you a book! He instilled that in me as well and between the two of us, we could probably launch our own library!

I was recently telling someone one of my favorite memories with my dad. It's one that I'm not sure I have shared with him lately, either. When I was in the 5th grade, my dad asked me what I thought I would like to be when I grew up. I told him maybe an FBI agent/crime solver or a writer. Not long after that, he and I spent a day together visiting the crime lab here in Little Rock and a local magazine office. He set up appointments for me to meet with professionals in each office who answered my questions and described their days, their jobs, and the education/training it took for them to be there. I specifically remember Greg Patterson, an author at the magazine, encouraging me to read above my level and do crossword puzzles to increase my vocabulary. He told me a good writer was also a voracious reader. That day stuck with me, and here I am 24 years later still wanting to be a writer. What meant so much to me was that I believed that my dad took me seriously and believed I could be a crime solver or a writer. Why else would he have done that? It gave me so much confidence.

My dad is great at making me believe that he thinks I can do something. When I wanted to transfer to UGA, he never blinked or told me it was too much trouble or too much work, we just processed through it and tried to see if it would work. Grad school was the same way--he was willing to financially invest in my decision (I promise I will finish my thesis one day, Dad, and make those text books worth it.).

He is wise and genuine. I will never, ever forget when he had cancer and said, "I just don't want to miss what God has for me during this time." Wow. I just wanted to get through it and him have a clean report, but actually gain and grow from it. Wow. I was challenged and humbled by that.

He is compassionate too. And sometimes I don't want a hug from him because I know that I am likely to lose all composure in his arms. He is tender with me and with my kids and they are big fans of their Papa.

I could go on and on and on about him . . . about how I didn't stand much of a chance to date in high school because no guy stood much of a chance getting through him. The few who did were solid guys and a couple of the "bad ones" are probably still a little scared of him. (I love that :)  ) or about how fun he is or how generous he is . . . on and on and on.

Dad--happy birthday!! I love you so much! We all do. We are blessed to call you Dad, David, and Papa. Thank you for investing in us, for making fun memories, for showing up at events, and for leaving us an amazing legacy. We are so thankful for your 63 years and hoping for many, many more.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Ripples . . .

Yesterday, my sweet mom received a well-deserved award from a local law agency. For those of you who don't know, my mom works for Bethany Christian Services. In short, Bethany is an adoption agency, but what they actually do encompasses so so so so so much more. I could never do as eloquent of a job describing them as my mom did yesterday, but their goal, the heart of this ministry, is for every child to have a safe, loving, permanent home. PLEASE click on this link after you read this post and learn more about Bethany and ways you can partner with them if you feel compelled to. Mom has been an employee of Bethany for almost 21 years, but we first came into contact with them when we fostered a baby when I was 11. We had Jeff for 6 weeks--he came home from the hospital to us. When Jeff left us for his forever family, my heart hurt in a way I didn't know possible as a young girl. After Jeff, we had a little baby named Christopher briefly.

Fostering was just the beginning because Bethany saw gold in my mom and brought her on to do contract work and 21 years later, she has played many different roles in that office. She started working with birth moms. Girls she calls her heroes. And they are heroes. They make the most selfless choice in the world to deny their bodies comfort and lovingly grow another life. Then, they choose to allow grief and loss to become their constant companion as they choose a better life for that baby than they believe they are able to give him/her. I always believed that must be so hard, but when I was pregnant with Caroline, I realized that there is probably not a word in my vocabulary to adequately capture the pain and love it would take to place her in someone else's arms. To trust that 2 strangers could love her and raise her well. To believe that God had a plan for her that didn't physically include me on a daily basis. Heroes.

Mom has also worked with families. She has walked along side couples painfully struggling with infertility. Husbands and wives desperate to become dads and moms. She has partnered with families who are burdened for the orphans of our world--both domestic and international. There are families who have a heart for children that are hard to place because of disability or age or other hardship and Mom has matched them, changing all of them forever.

She stepped into the director role several years ago and now oversees it all as well as going into the community to raise awareness and money to keep this ministry going. It's not an easy job, but she is really good at it. Many days, Mom comes home with red eyes and a heavy heart. No matter which side she is working with, there is deep pain and loss in this process. She has met with adopted kids as well, helping them process the loss they feel because their birth mother chose not to raise them. An amazing life doesn't erase that real wound. Grace and dignity and wisdom allow her to find the right words for all of the people God brings across her path at Bethany. (And, somehow, she still manages to be an amazing and present mom and, now, Nana to us.) Her hours are not 8-5 . . . babies are born at all hours of the day and night. Birth moms don't all live in West Little Rock. But she faithfully treks wherever she is needed.

None of this is news to me. (Or anyone who knows her.) But, it is so nice that someone else noticed her. Of course, Mom hated the attention. We have teased her that we are amazed she told anyone she got the award. She told my dad last week and emailed me. She is just not one to toot her own horn. Which is admirable too. But yesterday, her closest friends and family and colleagues got to witness someone in our community publicly praising her and thanking her for the difference maker she is. They call their award the Ripple Award, because, like the picture at the top of the blog, her life has created ripples. Ripples of blessing and life and healing and hope. Ripples in ponds that might have been stagnant and moldy without her presence.

I know firsthand this is true. She is selfless and motivated to do the right thing even when it is hard. She has compassion and is tenderhearted. I am lucky to have been one of the first ripples. (And I know you well and truly believe this, Mom.)

From a young age, I have known that in some way I wanted to be a part of the fostering and adoption process. Thus far, Josh and I have only felt called to support others doing it. Maybe one day we will be called to do more, but we are thankful for places like Bethany that allow us to participate on many levels. So, in honor of Mom's Ripple award, Gifts from Granny has given a gift towards Bethany's efforts in Haiti and Ethiopia. One of the neat things that Bethany is doing internationally right now is helping equip these countries to foster and adopt their own so that children can be raised in their own culture and, hopefully, grow up to be leaders there. I am excited that there is hope for these children who have been abandoned because of death or disease or famine or poverty to have safe, permanent, loving homes here in America with people like my cousins, Josh and Liz, as well as in their own communities. It's like that song my kids come home from church singing--our God is a big, big God!

Congratulations, Mom! Believe it or not, you deserved the award. And Robert was right, your Saviour is pleased with you. We are blessed to be a ripple and I love you so much.

(And, yes, WAH.)