Every day the wonderful happens…

and I'm here to blog about it.

Protected: Kamsahamnida April 30, 2011

Filed under: adoption thoughts,Matthew — Elizabeth @ 10:51 PM

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After the Storm April 29, 2011

Filed under: and that's how I feel about that — Elizabeth @ 4:03 PM

So unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that parts of Alabama were recently decimated by tornadoes.  But I’m guessing you already know that, because if you are clueless due to rock inhabitation, then how are you reading my blog right now?

Anyway, I think most of you also know this, but I live in Alabama, specifically Birmingham–one of the cities that was hardest hit.  Our family is fine.  Our house is fine.  We are very, very blessed.  But here’s how it went down.

We knew that severe weather was predicted for Wednesday.  I usually don’t know ANYTHING because I hate the news, but even I knew that.  So when we were awakened by sirens at 5:15 AM on Wednesday morning, we took it seriously.  We turned on the TV (because sometimes the sirens are going off because your county is in danger, but not necessarily your part of the county).  We seemed “in the clear” so we laid back down, but left the TV on.  About 10 minutes later, I heard the newscaster say, “if you are between downtown and Alabaster, get to your safe place now”.  I said, “that’s us.  we have to wake the boys”.  We shot up in bed and grabbed the kids.  Isaac chose 3 cuddly toys to accompany him (and took his sweet time about it too).   I scooped up Matthew and he said, “tomato sirens??”.  We went down to our basement stairwell and I brought my netbook and ipod touch so they could play games.  They weren’t scared at all.  I was kind of scared, but also thought it was just a precaution.  As the wind got loud, I felt an overwhelming maternal urge to lay on top of my children.  But I didn’t want to freak them out.  I casually asked if anyone wanted to sit in my lap.  Matthew was deep in an Angry Birds session, and he declined.  I think Isaac took pity on me and climbed in my lap and I tried to wrap myself around him as best as I could.  As far as I can tell you, the scary noises seemed like they only lasted about 3 minutes.  We stayed in the stairwell until the weatherman said we could leave, which wasn’t long.  Our power was out and we had some large limbs down in our yard, but we weren’t concerned.

I started packing lunches and getting the boys ready for school (by candlelight).  No school closings were reported, so Jason left to take Matthew to school.  He called me shortly after telling me that there were 2 trees across the road right near our house.  And the traffic lights were all out.  At Matthew’s school, it was a madhouse.  They had no power and were sending everyone home.  Jason came home another route (that I told him not to go, because it is a neighborhood full of old trees and I knew it would probably be bad), and it was way, way worse.  On the way to Isaac’s school, they called me to tell me they had no power and I passed even more downed trees.

At 8:30, I called my mom to check on her.  She answered and when I asked if she was okay, she said, yes, I just woke up, but I think we may have had some bad weather.

You think? (sigh)

I had a dentist appointment that morning and called their office.  They are located in my old neighborhood that we left in August.  Where my mom still lives.  They had calls forwarded to a cell phone and told me that they couldn’t even get to their office for all the trees.  I later heard that area was like a “war zone” and now I am beginning to see pictures and hear stories and it seems to be true.  That neighborhood is devastated.

So my aunt was lucky and she still had power and near her house, everything was business as usual, which was just weird because just a few miles away, everything was trashed.  So I took the boys there and got some coffee at Arbys, and went to the mall of all places because we are getting family pictures taken on Saturday and of course I am trying to coordinate us all, and can’t find a shirt for Jason.  Anyway, all the while we are hearing that the worst is yet to come and that another weather system is coming through that evening.

We decided to stay at my aunt’s since she had power and since their place had fared so well.  She is in a 3 story townhome on a huge hill that looks over the entire city…maybe even the whole county (remember that info for later).  Jason came there from work and brought our dog and I fed the kids early because I knew we would be hunkering down in the dinner hour.  We were glued to the TV and watched the mile wide tornado decimate Tuscaloosa.  That’s when it got scary, because you couldn’t watch it happening without thinking to yourself:  anybody in that is dead.  I don’t care how safe your safe place is.  And we knew it was coming our way.

I was freakishly calm.  We all were.  I made everybody put their shoes on.  I was thinking that once it was over, if we could still walk, if we were still alive, we would be walking through glass.  We brought down electronic games for the boys and a bowl of snacks.  My aunt and I conspired to wrap them in foam mattresses and stuff them in a broom closet if and when it was about to strike.  Jason and my uncle stayed upstairs watching TV and looking out the window.  Waiting.  I thought to myself, if we die, it will be fast.  We will all go together.  I know where we will spend eternity.  This will be okay.

Weird, right?

After the tornado left Tuscaloosa, it moved north of where we were.  Not much north, but we at least began to understand that it wasn’t coming AT us.  The men called us upstairs because you could see it out the windows (remember the incredible miles-long view they have at their house).  We watched it go from west to east.  It sat on downtown Birmingham for a while.  I couldn’t believe the high rises were still standing.

Then it was gone.  We got the all-clear.  Amazingly we still had power.  We sat down and ate dinner and let the boys watch a DVD.  It was eerily normal, but we all knew that terrible things were happening.  And not far from us.  We sat down to watch the news, and heard an anchor call in from a community called Pratt City.  She was almost hysterical.  She kept saying I’m sorry, I’ve never seen anything like this.  Please pray, please pray.  That’s when we knew it was gonna be bad.

And it is.

Parts of Tuscaloosa are decimated.  Leveled.

Over 200 are dead in our state alone and that number is only rising.

So many people have lost everything.  Every.  Single.  Thing.

You’ve seen the pictures on the news.  I haven’t taken many (some blogger I am).  I do regret not getting a shot of the tornado going across the skyline, but whatever.  I drove around yesterday in our neighborhood and took some pictures.

As you can see, some trees were broken in half

and some were pulled up by the roots

some were on power lines

and some had already been cut up

When I went a little farther, I came to an area that was so devastated, the roads kept getting re-routed.  Trees everywhere, and the power lines looked like cooked spaghetti that had been thrown up in the air and landed all over the place.  I was too frazzled to pull out my camera.

In the end, the worst thing that happened to us was being without power for 36 hours and having to chunk everything in the refrigerator/freezer.

(beer and bagels, anyone?)

In the end, I looked at it as a good reason to attack the fridge with Clorox wipes and get all new condiments–there’s no telling how old some of them were.

I spent all morning restocking and now we are good to go.

It is very sobering that all we suffered was a bunch of spoiled food, considering this picture we saw taken from our old neighborhood.

That is the street we lived on (we moved to our new home in August).  We can’t see our house in this picture (we should be able to, but there is too much debris), but the brown house is our old neighbor’s house.  Either our old home is gone or it is covered up in trees.  Scary stuff.

So we are back to normal, whatever that means.  For now, normal is going to be offering hot showers and hot meals to friends with no power.  Normal is going to be gathering donation items for tornado relief.  I have to admit, it stings to hear everyone abuzz about the Royal Wedding and the stupid birth certificate debacle (don’t even get me STARTED on that one) when there are people in our city requesting boxes because they are walking around trying to pick up their belongings.

If you want to help, but you are not local, donating money is probably the best thing you can do.  Here are some reputable agencies you can donate through that will be working with our communities.

Red Cross

United Way

Samaritan’s Purse

Church of the Highlands–our church has campuses in both Birmingham and Tuscaloosa and will be working with both communities in the aftermath.  You can specify in your donation and it will go specifically to tornado relief.

Even more importantly are your prayers.  So many affected, so much to pray for. So much to be thankful for.

Thank you to everyone who checked in on us, worried about us, and prayed for us.  We felt your love.

 

Whatnot Wednesday April 26, 2011

Filed under: whatnot — Elizabeth @ 11:42 PM

EveryDaytheWonderfulHappens

  • Jason didn’t come to the beach with us, and we returned home on Easter, so I asked him to hide some eggs for the boys and prepare their Easter baskets.  After the boys went through the baskets, Jason told them there were eggs out in the yard with goodies inside.  I was pretty impressed, but what I didn’t know is that he had decided to hide the resurrection eggs my mom had given us.  If you’re not familiar with resurrection eggs, they are a tool to use when explaining the Easter story to your children.  I hadn’t actually done it with the kids because it still seems a bit graphic to me (they know the story, but not the down and dirty details).  Anyway, Isaac found an egg and opened it and it was a donkey and I think cool, Jason got them a bunch of little animals to play with.  Then the next one is a spear….then a shroud……then a rock.  The kids were perplexed and I will forever question Jason’s use of the word “goodies”.
  • In keeping with the theme “When Daddy is in Charge of Easter”, this is the card that Jason got me.

Hands off, ladies.  That’s MY boo.

  • One of the relatives my boys got to know at our reunion was my Aunt Joann.  Isaac initially called her Aunt July (in total seriousness), but then excitedly told Jason on the phone:  we have ANOTHER Aunt Chris!  And her name is Aunt Joann!
  • When Matthew is being finicky about snacks, I will list for him the  snack options.  Sometimes he tells me (about foods that he likes), No, don’t want it.  Too tasty.  I wonder if he knows what he is saying makes no sense.  He may as well say that’s simply too delicious, and I can’t stand the idea of it.
  • On our first morning of vacation, the kids were up at 5:20.  AM.  The one bright side to that was that when a Percy train “drove off” off the 7th! Floor! balcony at 6:50 AM, there weren’t many people awake or walking around below.  Of course, they all woke up when Isaac screamed “PERCY!!!!!!  PERCY, ARE YOU OKAY??”.  Later on, in the elevator, I realized that Isaac was lucky not to be carted off to juvie, having committed a felony AND ignored a noise ordinance, all within 12 hours of arriving at the condo….
  • The upside to Jason not coming on this trip with us is that after  mornings at the beach when I was sandy, sticky, (and let’s face it) a little stinky, I would crawl in our king size bed and take a nap on the opposite side than where I was sleeping at night.  It was very efficient to have a  dirty side and a clean side to match my cleanliness (or lack thereof) level.
  • When I bought the groceries for our vacation, I was so caught up in the gluten-free frenzy and trying to make sure that Isaac would have plenty of choices and fun things to eat, I literally only bought myself 4 things :  coffee, almond bear claws, Mike’s Hard Mango Punch (I know I’m a dork!!!) and prunes (I know I’m old!!!).  And the nearest grocery store was 20 miles away.  Vacation food fail.

Need to clear your head?  Write your own Whatnot Wednesday post and link up below so that we can all see the randomness that fell out when you rinsed your brain.  Just don’t forget to link back here or grab my button–get your HTML on.

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Protected: Peaceful Moments

Filed under: Isaac,special needs,vacation — Elizabeth @ 4:29 PM

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Protected: Puzzled April 22, 2011

Filed under: everyday life,Matthew — Elizabeth @ 9:00 AM

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Where you can Find me on Thursdays April 21, 2011

Filed under: faith,goals — Elizabeth @ 9:00 AM

A few months ago, I mentioned that I had a goal to do some outreach work.  Through my church, I found out about a local DHR group home for girls, and went to take a tour.  I knew immediately that this place was a place I wanted to be a part of.  I have very, very little free time away from the boys though, so I worried if there would be anything for me to do that would work with my schedule.  I prayed about it and just asked God to find something for me to do if this was where I was supposed to be.

I filled out all of the paperwork–background checks, child abuse and neglect forms, and even got fingerprinted (think adoption paperwork all over again)–and from the volunteer options listed, I checked off tutor and mentor.  Once my background check cleared, I received a call from a woman named Arlene.  She asked me what kind of volunteer work I was looking to do at Grace House.

I initially told her that I thought I would be a good tutor…..however, the only time I could be there was on Thursday mornings….when all of the girls were in school.  My spirits were raised for a minute because she said they had one girl there who is homeschooled….but she already had enough tutors.  I was beginning to feel discouraged, and I blurted out, “I just want to help.  Is there anything at all that I can do on Thursday mornings?  Is there anything you really need?”.

As it turns out, Arlene is their educational director.  She said reluctantly that there is something she has been wanting to do, but just hasn’t had time–she wanted to start an in-house library for the girls.  I immediately knew this was for me.  I just knew it.  If I had tried, I couldn’t have come up with anything I would have loved to do more than start a library there.  That’s how I know it was God, because I never could have dreamed it up!

We set up a meeting and sat down together and she reiterated that this was to be my baby.  I would handle it all, down to bulletin boards and setting up whatever kind of database I wanted.  I made a list of supplies I would need and the next Thursday she had a bag waiting for me with everything I asked for.  For the past 3 weeks, I have sorted, labeled and made due date cards for books.  One Saturday, Arlene had 8 college volunteers there and I was able to leave directions for them to do some work and they were a huge help in the labeling and card-making process!!  I think I have about one more week to go before the due date cards will be complete, and then comes the task of entering every book into a database.

I have a secret though.  I really, really, really love arduous, busy work.  And I love working on my own (seriously, the group projects on Project Runway make me break out in hives).  I love walking into a room in chaos and slowly but surely (all by myself!!) making order out of it.  And this is exactly what I’ve gotten to do.  I wish I had gotten a before picture, but here is what it is looking like right now–

Isn’t it beautiful so far?  Everything is labeled and sorted by category.  Once I start the database, then I will move to alphabetical order by author’s last name.

The kicker is that Thursdays are my only me-day.  My only guaranteed 4-hour chunk of no-kid time I have all week.  And this is where I go.  Every week, as Thursday draws closer, I start to think that I must be crazy, that I have too many other things to do.  But I drive 20 minutes out there, and I settle down in the library with my ipod and I get to work.  And a few hours later, I see the fruits of my labor.

That’s something you just don’t get with parenting.  It is infinitely harder than any other work and it takes weeks, months, years to see progress sometimes.  So this is rewarding and peaceful, and I leave feeling happy and fulfilled, not worried about all of the things I didn’t get done.

I do have to show some self-restraint or I would just curl up on the couch with some of the books I’m coming across that are bringing back wonderful childhood memories…..

The funny thing is that I haven’t interacted with a single girl at this place since my orientation there.  But I know that what I am doing will eventually affect each one of them.  And that is totally worth it.

 

Whatnot Wednesday April 20, 2011

Filed under: whatnot — Elizabeth @ 12:04 AM
  • The boys and I are leaving for the beach today for a family reunion.  Simmer down, burglars–my husband and my attack dog (and attack cat, for that matter) will all still be home.  Do you want to know how nerdy I am?  I wrote 2 blog entries and scheduled them to post while I’m on vacation.  I know, I know, you thought you were going to get a break from me.  No such luck, my pretties.  You can’t escape my ramblings!!
  • We started the gluten-free diet with Isaac today–the day before vacation!!!  You might say I am a gluten for punishment!  At least that’s what my sister said.
  • Last week, my friend Jenny shared some pictures of her beautiful garden.  She is growing delicious fruits, vegetables and herbs for her family to enjoy.  She inspired me to post a picture of my garden!!!  It’s a work in progress.

  • Isaac got this new patch at karate class.  (Why aren’t these things iron on??  Like I have time to be stapling patches on every week!).  Please enjoy the irony…..

can you see it?  Made in China.

  • Speaking of karate, Isaac is loving it.  He told me that when he grows up, he wants to be a sensei and a daddy.  And he doesn’t call the senseis by their names.  He calls them “The Sensei Who Asks Me if I Left My Yes Sir at Home” and “The One with the Beard”.
  • In other karate news, as a spectator, I have learned a valuable lesson.  Kids raise their hand and want desperately to answer questions even when they have no clue as to what the answer is.  Evidenced in last weeks class, the sensei asked who could tell the class the secret to a good stretch.  Because I pay attention, I know the answer is “keep your legs straight and point your toes to outer space”.  Isaac raised his hand and then got called on and had to admit he did not know the answer (clearly because his legs were bent and his toes were pointed at the wall).  Later the sensei asked who could tell him what country this flag was from:  Again, Isaac raised his hand.  I was cursing that the question wasn’t to identify Korea’s flag, because Isaac knows that one.  Again he was called on.  This time, at least he had an answer:  The Red Circle Country. Other guesses from the class were Canada and Africa, but I think Isaac was the closest.
  • The ants are back.  This week, they bombarded the boys’ bathroom.  They scoffed at my bay leaves this time.  I think they even flipped me a tiny little bird as they defiled the Dora the Explorer toothpaste dispenser.
  • I bought some of that Jergens lotion that is supposed to make you “glow”.  It has the added bonus of supposedly firming your skin.  With summer coming up, these legs of mine need some help.  I put some on this morning after my shower and the bottle said that I had to wait 10 minutes before putting on any clothes.  So now I have to work 10 minutes worth of nudity into my morning schedule?  Like I have time for this!  I better have some firm, tan legs at the end of this bottle, and that is no small order.
  • Now that Isaac knows the days of the weeks, he has asked to learn the months.  I decided we would try to learn 3 on the first day:  January, February and March.  When he recites them, he calls them:  January, Monthuary, and March.  I love it almost as much as when he thought one of the days of the week was Foursday.
  • Isaac was looking at a dollar bill the other day.  Out of the blue, he looked up at Jason and, pointing to the picture of George Washington, asked, “Is this a picture of you when you were young?”.

Need to clear your head?  Write your own Whatnot Wednesday post and link up below so that we can all see the randomness that fell out when you rinsed your brain.  Just don’t forget to link back here or grab my button–get your HTML on.