Every day the wonderful happens…

and I'm here to blog about it.

Riding With Strangers, Food Hoarding and the Cha Cha Slide January 29, 2014

Filed under: faith — Elizabeth @ 11:30 AM

Yesterday was just supposed to be cold.  Really cold.

Snow was predicted south of us (2-4 inches, which is a lot for South Alabama), but in Birmingham, we were just supposed to have cold.  As a matter of fact, Isaac had a field trip to a science museum yesterday.  The night before, I pondered (online) if his field trip may be delayed.  After all, there was a chance we may get a dusting of snow.  But even then the weather men said that there would be no problems on the road.

So I sent the boys to school as usual (but with undershirts for warmth).  I met some friends for coffee.  As we chatted, we began to see flurries out the window.

“eek!  Snow!  So pretty!” we squealed.  Then we drank more coffee.

“Whoa!  It’s kind of sticking!  Cool!” we exclaimed, as we put on our coats to leave.

My friends, whose kids are in different preschools, both pondered picking their kids up early to play in the snow that we assumed would be brief and transient.

I decided I would go home and sit in front of a window and drink coffee while enjoying the rare view.  Then on the way home, I hit a patch of ice.

That’s strange.  That wasn’t supposed to happen.

When I got to my exit, I wondered why the van in front of me was just sitting there not moving.  Then I realized that its tires were spinning on ice.

Hmmmm.  I bet they will close schools early.  Maybe I should head there now.  I sure hope Isaac’s class stays put at the science center.

Just then my phone buzzed.  A chaperone from the field trip letting me know that the bus was going to head back to the school before things get bad.  Immediately after, a notice that schools are closing.

Please note, that things got unexpectedly bad in our city in a matter of about 15 minutes.  All children were at school.  All parents were at work or home.  Everyone was told to get their kids NOW, but they didn’t realize how bad it had gotten.  Wrecks were happening everywhere.  Cars were sliding off roads, into poles, into ditches.  Not because we are Southerners who can’t drive in snow.  Because the roads were sheets of ice.  Because it happened in 15 minutes.  Because the few pieces of equipment we have to help with these kinds of emergencies were deployed elsewhere.

I got to the school, thinking that the buses would be there within the hour.  I waited in the library and pulled up Facebook.  I saw this picture/caption posted by a local news agency:

“Take a look at the Birmingham Metro. I’ve NEVER seen so many accidents at once. BE CAREFUL.”

wrecks

Not really what you want to see when your child is on a school bus without you.  In the heart of the Birmingham Metro.  But I told myself it would be okay.  I prayed.  I imagined the kids eating their sack lunches on the bus to pass the time.  Then I realized that usually a chaperone carries the cooler of lunches in a separate car.  A quick text to the teacher confirmed it.  They didn’t have any food on board.

A knife in my heart.  But okay, at least they are on a heated bus.  Things could be much worse.

As minutes turned to hours, and the snow continued to fall on top of the ice, I realized that Isaac may not make it back today.  That even if he did, the longer that Matthew and I waited there at school for him, we would likely be stranded at school.  While grateful for a warm place to sleep, I began to panic about food.  I had a pack of seeds and dried fruit in my purse.  I allowed Matthew to eat half of his lunch, but conserved the rest.  I realized that if Isaac made it back, his lunch would still be somewhere else and he would be starving.  Anytime a volunteer came by with random snacks, I would swipe anything I knew my kids could safely eat.  A box of raisins.  An apple.  A bottle of water.  I refused to eat anything because I just didn’t know how long we would be there, and all I could think about was Isaac.  Hungry on a bus.

After a few hours, it hit me.  What if the bus runs out of gas?  Right now they have heat, but what if they are hungry and then cold?  I looked at the room full of children, and realized–they have no idea that their parents may have run right off the road trying to get to them.  They have no clue that they will probably be sleeping here tonight.

That pretty much did it for my calm.  I made sure Matthew was watching the library movie, and I skulked off between 2 bookshelves and cried my eyes out.  Matthew found me there a few minutes later, which freaked him out, of course.  I pulled it together as best I could and we read some library books together.

Around that time, I noticed that the library was nearly empty.  Where was everyone?  I walked into the hallway and heard music.  We gathered our stuff and walked into the science lab.  All of the kindergarten teachers were there and the PE teacher was leading everyone in the “Cha Cha Slide”.  The kids were having a blast and I almost lost it again, right there.  Because here were the teachers who couldn’t get to their own families, but were making sure the kids were occupied, loved, having fun.  My heroes.

After observing the party for about a half hour, the librarian came to get me.  “Is your child in Mrs. King’s class?”.  Yes, I said.  She grabbed my sleeve and just said, “come with me”.

My whole body went numb.  Did the bus careen off a cliff?  What is going on?  Where is she taking me?  She took me to the vice principal who said that Isaac’s bus was rerouted to another school, and that I should go there.  You know, on the roads that no one should be on.  They asked if I wanted to leave Matthew with them.

Nope.  We are all going to be together in this.  I’m not going to leave one child to get another.

We got to the car.  I mobilized prayer through Facebook.  It took the car 10 minutes to thaw out enough to try to move.  I tried to explain the gravity of the situation to Matthew.  I prayed aloud for supernatural safety.

He asked if we could listen to the “Frozen” soundtrack.

I prayed for patience.

We pulled onto the solid white road and got started.  Friends, I am here to tell you, that we had not a single issue.  The roads were clear of cars and we went oh so slowly.  I passed some cars in ditches, a garbage truck on its side, a car slammed into a pole.  I made it to the school with not a single slip.

Isaac ran to my arms, having been fed a hamburger patty, raisins and an apple.  We were together now.

Anything else we get today is bonus.

I gathered up my boys and a field trip chaperone and her son who needed a ride back to their car at the elementary school.  We piled in the van to go back to our elementary school.  We picked up a mother and son and drove them a few hundred yards toward their destination.  As we turned onto a main road, I saw a woman walking alone.  She wasn’t even wearing a proper winter coat.  “Where are you trying to go?” we asked her.  She was walking to the middle school……about 6 miles away.

It worked out because the chaperone I had with me was going to try to get to the middle school after I got her to her car.  And the two ladies knew each other.  Divine intervention.

We made it back to the elementary school with no issues again.  How this was possible in the earthly realm, I have no idea.  A close friend, who is also a neighbor called.  He had been walking up and down our road helping people who had wrecked or abandoned their cars.  I told him we were going to try to make it to the CVS near our house.  From there things get very hilly and wrecks were abundant.  I felt confident that we could walk the half mile home from there.  It would be miserable but doable.  My friend generously offered to walk to the CVS and meet us there to help me get the boys home.

Have I mentioned that Jason is in Florida on business?

We prayed over the van and the situation again before heading out for CVS.  We prayed that if there was anyone who needed help that we would be able to help them.  We were able to give one more woman a ride to her home.  We made it to CVS with no issues even though there were hills.  I was tempted to just go for it and try to get home, but reminded myself that we were lucky enough already.  We were together and safe and we didn’t need a wreck.

My friend met us at CVS.  We sat in the car for a while so he could get warm and so that we could prepare ourselves for the walk.  I looked at my kids.  Isaac was wearing slip on canvas shoes and thin, unlined athletic pants.  He had 1 cloth glove (his other hand is in a cast).  Matthew had refused to bring his scarf or gloves.  But at least he had on thick tennis shoes.  I had no gloves, but good shoes and a scarf and a coat.  I had 1 pack of hand warmers.  I gave each boy one to hold.  We got out, leaving backpacks and non-essentials behind.  We walked across the road and Isaac’s shoes were already soaked through.  This was not ideal.

Right then a huge truck pulled up and offered us a ride.

He drove us slowly and safely home.  Right to our front door.

Where Matthew promptly asked if we could play in the snow.

I wanted to lay in bed and sob.

My friend generously took Matthew outside to play while I texted and Facebooked to let people know we were home.  Safe.  Together.

So many of my friends didn’t have it as easy.  The 2 ladies I had coffee with both had to abandon their cars and walk miles through terrible conditions with children younger than mine.  All of our husbands just happened to be traveling.  The two other school buses on the field trip weren’t as lucky as Isaac’s.  One made it to an alternate school around 6 PM.  The other ended up at Children’s Hospital downtown for the night.

My sister in Atlanta was creeping along until 2 AM with my nephew in the car.  My sister in law was rescued on the interstate by a school bus in the middle of the night.

More and more are not nearly as lucky.  It hurts my heart and my spirit to hear the desperation on Facebook and to know there isn’t anything tangible I can do to help.

But I am praying.  And if yesterday taught me anything, praying is the most important thing I could be doing.

Please join me in praying for my city.

 

Winning at Carpool November 21, 2013

Filed under: everyday life,Matthew — Elizabeth @ 12:46 PM

I worry about Matthew.

Anyone who has been here for any amount of time knows this.

Last year, he was the smallest kid by far in his class…..in kindergarten for that matter, which basically made him the smallest kid in the entire school.  Add his ridiculous cuteness and crocodile tears o’plenty to the mix and you can imagine how teachers and students babied him alike.  Matthew will often rise to the occasion when people expect things from him, but last year, the bar was set low.  And he cried throughout the year, and everyone fretted and babied.  And he didn’t make much progress at all.

Which is why he is repeating kindergarten this year.

We started out the year right, with a more no-nonsense teacher who knows our family (she was Isaac’s teacher last year).  We explained that many times his crying is a simple side effect of his neurological condition.  Many times it comes and goes for no reason whatsoever, and drawing attention to it draws it out much longer.  It is best to move forward, offering him help as needed.  She has been awesome with this and on the rare occasions that he does cry, it is very short lived and (other than making sure he is okay initially) there is no fanfare drawn to it.  This, in addition to the fact that he is much more confident (being a student who knows the ropes) has led to a much better year for him.

There are still issues, of course.  One being his refusal to acknowledge his friends in situations outside of his classroom.  If we see a friend at a store or even on school grounds, but with us there, he will absolutely pretend he doesn’t know them.  If they persist, trying to get him to acknowledge them, the tears come.  I try to tell him gently….this is hurtful.  They are thinking that there is some reason you don’t like them.  If you would like to be their friend, you should at least say hello.

But he struggles.

I chaperoned the first field trip his class took.  Right when I walked in the classroom, I was smitten with a boy in his class:  Joe.  Joe is the smallest.  And he is PRECIOUS.  So cute and animated and you really want to squeeze him repeatedly.  I immediately understood why everybody was so over the moon about Matthew last year, because here I was swooning over teeny, tiny Joe.

Anyway, what Matthew never told us (because he doesn’t really tell us anything about what goes on at school) is that he and Joe are big buddies.  They spend all of their time together at recess (per Matthew’s teacher).  Apparently one morning in the Good Morning Room, Joe even sat in Matthew’s lap because he was scared (per Isaac).

All of this background info brings us to this morning.  Jason helped me with the boys this morning and we were ready much earlier than usual.  So when we got to school, the safety patrol wasn’t even out yet.  When the safety patrol are out, they say good morning and there are usually also some adults there making sure everything is running smoothly.  But today, it was just an empty sidewalk with an open school door (when kids are early they go to the Good Morning room where there is usually a DVD on).

So while my kids are getting out of the van, I see little Joe.  He is standing in the vicinity of the school door, looking concerned and confused.  No one is there to tell him good morning or to guide him indoors towards the Good Morning room.  My kids are already out of the van and the door has closed and all I can do is send intense psychic signals to Matthew.

Be a friend.

Take his hand.

Please, my mind pleads with the back of his head.

I sit there, frozen.  I see Joe recognize Matthew.  His face breaks into a smile, and I see him mouth “Matthew!”.  I have no idea what Matthew’s face looks like or how he is reacting.  I say a thousand prayers in one nanosecond.

Then I see Joe reach for Matthew, and I know that it all comes down to this.

Matthew reaches back.

They embrace.

We all win.

 

 

That Amazing Thing September 18, 2013

Filed under: faith,goals — Elizabeth @ 11:57 AM

You know that thing where someone calls you out of the blue?  A stranger?  And a conversation leads to a meeting, which leads to a job?  A job where you get to set your own hours, where you are given lots of freedom.  A job doing exactly what you love.

And then you get hired, officially hired on a Friday afternoon.  And you’re not sure of all the details, but you’re excited…..and then on the following Wednesday morning the fruits of your labor are ready.  And available for sale to the general public.

And you’re like, is this really my life?

September 18, 2013 073

And you know that every bit of it was God?  Because you could never have done this on your own.  You wouldn’t even have dared to dream it.

September 18, 2013 077

Yeah, that’s pretty much where I am right now.  Shocked.  Grateful.  Proud.  Humbled.  Excited.  Nervous.

THANKFUL.

 

The Things He Says September 11, 2013

Filed under: everyday life,Isaac — Elizabeth @ 1:23 PM

Today I was having lunch at school with Isaac (after returning from chaperoning a field trip for Matthew’s class).  As Isaac packed up his lunchbox, he stuck his fork inside and said, “now THAT’S how a mathematician does it”.

Isaac:  Matthew, do you know what sticky notes are for?

Matthew:  no

Isaac:  they are for if someone is sleeping, but you need to go somewhere.  So you write a note that says I’ll be right back and you stick it on their face.

Last night we went to a church near our house for a transracial adoption support group.  Isaac asked if we had ever been to the church.  Jason and I told him that this is where we go to vote.  Oh, did you vote for George Washington?

Matthew (to me):  You the best mommy in the world.

Me (feigning humility):  Oh I doubt I’m the best in the world…..

Isaac:  True.  She is probably the best mommy in {insert our community}.  Or at least the best mommy on {insert our street name}.

He asked me to buy him skinny jeans.  Orange ones.  And a belt.  I obliged, but then when it was time to get dressed for school, he told me that he couldn’t wear his skinny jeans to school, because when he sits criss cross applesauce, it pulls his underwear down.

Isaac:  Mom, I can’t wait until Christmas, so I can kiss you under the rosemary.

 

Things are Good August 30, 2013

Filed under: Isaac,Matthew — Elizabeth @ 9:43 AM

Sometimes, when you haven’t blogged in a long time, it’s hard to come back.  Because–where, oh where to begin?  And you get overwhelmed because there is just too much to say.

But then you just decide to sit down and write, and act like it hasn’t been months and months.

So how are you doing?

Things are good here at our house.  Really good.

I don’t know if it’s that the boys are back in school and having such a great time and back on a routine, but they are doing so well.  Not that I’m surprised that Isaac is, but Matthew is doing AMAZINGLY well at school.  I’m so glad we decided to have him repeat kindergarten.  He has so much more confidence this year.  His tears have been very, very minimal at school.  His success so far could be attributed to a lot of things:  maybe we finally hit the sweet spot on his seizure meds (which also help stabilize moods).  Maybe it is the deep pressure vest that we have him wear in the morning or afternoon that is keeping him calmer.  Maybe it is that he is no longer the smallest in his class–the kids aren’t babying/mothering him.  Maybe it is because I sent a letter to the school asking that every single person not fawn over him and to please just treat him casually and like everyone else (even though he his clearly the cutest kid at school ;) ).  Maybe it’s because his teacher this year is much more structured, therefore her class runs a lot like our home.  I have no idea, but can we all just say

THANK GOD!!!!!

Isaac is….Isaac.  He is happy and joyful and confident and excited about life.  He is bursting with ideas every day–he want to open a toy store, have a dog show, an airplane contest.  He writes books and designs logos and makes art incessantly.  He draws blueprints and plans and asks if he can build things out of metal and wood.  He makes me so proud and completely exhausts me by 8 AM.  He still carries his Silky everywhere.  He says they are married, and that she is also his granddaughter.  He advanced to the next level of karate and he will be testing for his gold belt next month.  He wants us to open a restaurant together and he wants me to make the meals and he will make the desserts (which all revolve around my waffles and strawberry flavored cod liver oil supplements).  He marches to the beat of his own drum, and it is beautiful music to my soul.

Jason finished his masters degree this past spring.  I am so proud of him and it is so nice to have him home every night….not staying late at work studying.

As for me, things are good. Really good.  Frankly, I am on the verge of bursting with joy.  I have some opportunities on the horizon, it seems, but nothing is in stone yet, so I can’t talk much about it.  But you know when things happen and you’re like:

OH, so that’s why I’ve been going through all this, and that’s why I spent all last year doing that, and OH!!  I was made for this.

That’s pretty much where I’m at right now……and I can’t wait to tell you more.

 

Whatnot Saturday June 15, 2013

Filed under: whatnot — Elizabeth @ 11:36 AM
  • I know, I know!  I haven’t done a whatnot post in forever.  But Thursday night, I got all hopped up on bone broth and found myself reading old whatnot posts until about midnight.  I was giggling so hard that I was crying.  Those posts were fun and funny.  And the funny hasn’t stopped around here…..I’ve just been busy.
  • But my aunt kept the kids overnight last night so I have a quiet hour this morning and I have some whatnot to churn out of my brain.  On that same note, I am here to tell you that on the one night that your kids are gone and you and your husband stay up til nearly 1 AM drinking prosecco…..that is the night that your dog will get diarrhea and have to be let outside multiple times at 4 AM.
  • So yeah, like I said, I’ve been busy.  Blogging isn’t the only thing that’s taken a backseat.  Laundry is low on the priority list.  So much so that on Thursday, I was wearing my last pair of clean underwear, Isaac was wearing his last pair of clean shorts, and my husband wore corduroys to work…..in 90 degree heat.
  • Don’t feel too bad for Jason though, he had no idea that corduroys in the summer were a faux pas.  #engineerbrain
  • #dontyoujustlovehashtags  #iamkindaobsessedwiththem
  • So Isaac has lost 4 teeth so far.  His first two teeth were collected by the tooth fairy and now reside rather creepily in my jewelry box.  But his hoarder instinct kicked in after that and he started leaving notes for the tooth fairy, asking to keep his teeth.  He keeps his teeth in an old plastic Easter egg.  A tooth maraca, if you will.
  • There is a yummy popsicle joint here locally and they make great popsicles with natural ingredients.  A fun, affordable treat.  But they happen to be in a part of town that we just don’t go to all that often.  I took the boys once last year for popsicles and I guess it made quite an impression on them.  We were over in that neck of the woods last week and I told them we were going to go get some popsicles.  Isaac asked excitedly–from the same place we got popsicles last year??  Yes, I told him.  Whoa, can we go here EVERY year??? he asked.  We’ll see, I told him mysteriously.  Yes, my friends.  $3 popsicles are a yearly treat around here.  #Keepingexpectationslowfor6yearsandcounting
  • I joined a gym.  And I didn’t just join.  I’m working out and everything.  Pretty crazy.  I took a class called Body Sculpt and I thought it might be kind of challenging, but fun.  OH MY WORD.  Well, I almost threw up during the 5 minutes of ab exercises, if that tells you anything.  We did a lot of arm work though, which is something that I really need.  I noticed something kind of odd though.  When using the arm weights, there was one exercise that was seriously so hard and grueling that every time I lifted the weights (5 pounders, mind you), my upper lip would curl.  I seriously couldn’t control it!  My face was contorting like a crazy person!  I looked like Sylvester Stallone, but jiggly-er!!  I can tell you that because of the wall to wall mirror I was facing…..which I am here to tell you–if given the option to watch yourself during a body sculpt class, opt out, friend.  Just.Opt.Out.
  • Isaac has this new thing where he says, “awk-ward”, in a sing-song voice.  But he isn’t quite sure what awkward really means.  So I will tell him I’m making an omelet for lunch and he will say “Awk-ward”.  We keep trying to explain what awkward means and why it isn’t awkward to have an omelet for lunch.  I mean, it might be awkward to have an omelet for lunch if you were having a chicken over for lunch, but other than that, it’s just plain delicious.
  • Isaac knows 4 girls named Ella.  So the other day he said, that Little Ella at karate moved away.  She is different than Weird Ella from school.  I had never heard of “weird Ella” and I immediately started asking questions, trying to find out why he was calling her weird, which I told him wasn’t nice.  He said, well I’m weird.  (true)  Turns out, he calls her weird because they play a weird game together.  I could tell he was embarrassed about the game, but I finally got it out of him.  He said, she pretends to be my mom and I try to kiss her.  Which is when Jason and I looked at each other and said, “AWK-WARD!!!!!”.

april 2011 002-1

 

 

Generosity on Display April 23, 2013

Filed under: and that's how I feel about that,faith,friends — Elizabeth @ 12:17 PM

It’s not something I talk about much online, but for almost 9 months now, I have been doing some specialty baking for friends and family.  Once I started baking grain-free for us, other people got interested, and it kind of snowballed from there.  Until recently, I was using any money I made as profits to buy newer, more efficient kitchen tools.  But once I got my kitchen up to par, I felt a new desire growing in my heart.  The desire to give.  The desire to bless others with my excess.  My initial thought was to use some of the money I was making to buy healthy food to donate to vulnerable families.  This is something that I am very passionate about and it made sense considering that I made the money initially by selling healthy food.

While I did feel a green-light from God about the food donations, I also felt like he was telling me to bless someone else first.  There is a family nearby (The Hammonds) that I have met twice, and I knew that they were working to adopt 2 children from China.  I really felt like God was wanting me to give them the first bit of money I had to give.  So I was obedient to that urging.  And I sent them a check.

The very next week, The Hammonds held an online auction for fundraising.  They listed things that people donated to them, like scarves, jewelry, children’s items.  And I bid on some small things that I didn’t really need.  Then one day, they added a piece of art to their auction.  The art was valued at $175 and right when I saw it, I knew it was mine.  I just knew it.  It was a picture of that ride you see at fairs or carnivals.  The one with swings, and when you ride it, you feel like you are flying.  That was always my all-time favorite ride.  I had a visceral reaction to this art and I wanted it.  The bidding started at $45 and I bid $50.

The next day, someone outbid me and I upped my bid to $65.  Please bear in mind that I wasn’t gushing about this piece of art during the bidding process.  I was just posting my numbers and hoping I would win.

And then the day before the auction was over, someone else bid $175.  Her post talked about how much she loved this and how this was always her favorite ride.

I did not have the money to outbid her, and she seemed to love it so much that I figured even if I did, she would outbid me again.  So I let it go.  I wasn’t devastated, but I was a little sad…..although I was very happy that someone was giving $175 towards the adoptions!!!

Let me stress here that The Hammonds do not live in my town.  We met at an adoption banquet, and we only have one mutual friend (who I also met at the adoption banquet), who lives in a third city.  So I did not know any other people who were participating in this auction.

A few days went by, and Erica Hammond (the adoptive mom who held the auction) sent me a Facebook message.  She said, Guess what?  Wendy, who outbid you on the art, wants to give it to you as a gift.  She has already paid for it.  She just wants to bless you with it.

I do not know who this Wendy is, and she doesn’t know me.  But she felt God telling her to do something, and she obeyed.  And I am humbled.  And now this hangs in my living room……

april 23, 2013 119

a reminder that God really does care about the desires of our heart.  A reminder to listen when God asks us to step out in generosity.  A reminder of the goodness in people when it feels like there is evil all around us.

Thank you, Wendy.

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full–pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. (Luke 6:38 NLT)

 

 
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