31 March 2011

for the grandparents...

...and any of the rest of you that are interested!

Walker made three versions of this video. He was disappointed with the low-volume playback on the first two cuts. Thus the loud, somewhat angry sounding, read-aloud voice. Click here to see Wilson read the same book for the first time a few years back...

30 March 2011

powerful playlist

Even before I knew he was "the one," Brad melted my heart with music. We met in the summer of 2000. Right after I got back from Africa, we were on a wilderness trip together. Shortly after that trip, I was flying to AZ to meet my college roommate's brand new baby girl. I asked Brad if he had any cd's I could borrow, seeing as how all my music was a year old, and had been my major source of entertainment for the year I spent in Africa. He gave me a CD case with a bunch of burned CD's for my trip. CD's I assumed he had laying around his apartment. One in particular was labeled "Christian Mix Blue." Of course, the title intrigued me and I spent my flight listening to songs that stirred my soul and resonated with me. And I thought, "Wow, this guy has great taste in music." Every song I heard, I liked a little better than the song before. What I didn't find out until much later was that Brad had burned most of those CD's specifically for me - a fact that might've freaked me out a tiny bit if I had known it then.

Even now, Brad knows what a gift music is to me. Often he will surprise me by downloading a new favorite song to my playlist. Its always a treat for me. My current playlist jump-starts most mornings at our house. I often put it on when Walker and I are working on things in the kitchen or picking up around the house. It keeps my mind from lingering on things it shouldn't be (I'm an over-thinker), it lifts my spirit, and it gives me perspective.

All that to tell you about two things that happened with my playlist in the last week. Yesterday my heart melted when Wilson started out his Tuesday morning singing along to "I Refuse."

My prayer is that his 7-year-old heart would begin to comprehend the meaning of those words, and the beauty of a life that is lived wholeheartedly for God.

Last week as I was cooking and Walker was at the table coloring, we were listening to my playlist and I wasn't really paying that close of attention to the song that was on... I guess I was trying to stick to my recipe.

Walker looked up and said, "she's just kidding though, right?"
And I replied,"What do you mean? Who's just kidding?"
He said, "The woman's husband didn't really run away, right?"

Immediately I heard the song's chorus playing from the other room and knew that Walker was listening carefully to the words of this song. I then talked with him about the uncomfortable truth that sometimes people don't stay married forever. It wasn't a conversation I would've planned but I think it was a good one. I was thankful to have been able to chat with him about it in a way that he understood.

27 March 2011

a couple retreats

Remember when Brad got back from Africa and the Army sent us on two "reunification retreats" to the Great Wolf Lodge? One of the chaplain's stressed the importance of investing in your marriage. He suggested: a date night - once a month, a weekend get-away - once a quarter, and a week away - once a year. I might mention that this chaplain had no children so that makes his suggestion much less complicated for himself.

Still his suggestion has stayed with me. Thankfully our church offers Parent's Night Out once a month. Its like a little reminder to make time for one another and a gift to make it easier for us. We try and take advantage of it whenever we can. But a weekend away? That just seemed like a crazy idea, with lots of difficult things to figure out.

Sometime this fall, it occurred to me that I had made time for a weekend away with PWOC. But a weekend away with my husband seemed too hard? That was an uncomfortable realization.

So, finally, this weekend, we got away. The boys stayed with the Clements, so it was like a retreat for them too ;)

We stayed downtown Montgomery. We had a hotel reservation and no other agenda.

We arrived at our hotel in the evening, and knew we wanted to eat pretty soon. There was an Oyster House across the street so we thought we'd give it a try for dinner. While waiting for our buzzer (we were told an hour and a half wait!!!), we walked a few blocks around. We found the Court Square Fountain, which was dyed pink for a breast cancer awareness campaign.Naturally, we took a self-portrait by the fountain.
From where we were standing in front of the fountain. We could see at least 5 historical markers. Montgomery has such a dynamic history. There was a marker directly across the street where Rosa Parks had gotten on the bus after work back in December 1955. Down the street from that marker, there was a marker about the Slave Trade Market Square. Behind us there was a marker in front of the building where the telegram was sent that started the War Between the States. In that brief walk up the street waiting for our dinner reservation, we decided we might just spend some time exploring the town on Saturday.

Here's a picture of our hotel:
And here we are before we headed out to go exploring on Saturday. Somehow my curling iron was still at Fort Benning, but I made do with what I had ;)
OH! And of course, I must tell you about this... When Brad went to check in, he said he noticed this sign while he was waiting. Then the clerk told him he was the "Guest of the Day." And handed him a bag with bottled water and some candy and a little note of appreciation. You know me, I was thrilled that we had "won!"
We had a really great time. We walked all over downtown Montgomery. We went to the Rosa Parks museum then walked up to the State Capital. We walked past the church that held the meeting to organize the bus boycotts where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to a crowd of 5000. We wandered around to the old train station by the river, and ended up touring the first White House of the Confederacy which is just blocks from the Civil Rights Memorial. There is so much history in that city!

For whatever reason, there were very few other people out walking around town. A few times, it felt like we were the only ones out and about. The weather was perfect for exploring.

We also stopped in at the RV show at the convention center. We found a couple 5th wheels that we were interested in and bought a $205,000 motor home, it was a good deal with only a $1400/month payment for 20 years. How could we pass that up? Oh, I kid. We are waiting to buy it for a 10th anniversary gift ;)

We had a great time. I don't know when we will retreat again, but I hope we can make it a regular thing, maybe not every quarter, but at least often enough to recharge and stay focused. We are so grateful that we were able to do this. Thankful that God has given us great friends that love our boys so well and thankful that He laid it on our hearts to be intentional about spending time with one another.

22 March 2011

a good good day...

We had such a great day Monday, well at least 3 out 4 of us did... For reasons I still don't know, Brad had Monday off! Always a fun treat for us! We were invited to go fishing with Walker's most favorite friend's family.

The boys had a blast...
The weather was perfect!

The dirt was dirty!
The boat was fast and fun.

We really enjoyed hanging out at the lake all day. The guys didn't catch a single fish, but we had fun chatting and relaxing and enjoying the beauty of the day. We did feel a little bad that Wilson was at school all day...

...even worse when he came home complaining of a sore throat and headache.

We found out this morning that the strep is back.

The doc said it would be awhile before we'd start talking about an ENT referral again. So we started on a little bit stronger antibiotic and I think we are going to be doing some research into building up Wilson's immune system. It seems like the strep is more prevalent around allergy season. Not sure if there is any science to support this momma's observation, but the last time he had it was in the fall. And now the yellow pollen is making its annual appearance...

So your prayers would be appreciated on Wilson's behalf. Also, wisdom for us to make sure we are doing all that we can to keep him healthy and strong.

21 March 2011

active weekend

Two boys on bikes! Walker got motivated after discovering that his friend learned how to ride without training wheels last week.One daddy running to keep the little one from falling...{too hard and too often} Walker's legs have quite a few bruises today. I think he estimates 100 million bruises, which might be a tad high ;)
Mommy running her 2nd 5k!

Thankfully Kelley (a friend from PWOC) was able to set a good pace for me. She just ran a half-marathon last month. Kelley's son and daughter are right next to us. We finally caught up to them with about 1/4 of a mile to go!

And here we are at the finish line. 3 minutes faster than my last 5k! Brad and the boys were a great cheering section! (Kelley's daughter won for her age group!)

18 March 2011

springtime science

Walker has been doing some "science" this week... We've been observing our magnolia bushes as the buds have been coming... He did some sketching of his observations this week...
He would study the bush for a bit, and then intently draw some more...
I didn't take a very good picture of his final sketch. He came inside and then transferred his sketch to a bigger piece of paper. Maybe I'll remember to take a picture of that this weekend...
Spring is my favorite time of year. It was fun to sit outside and watch Walker take it all in... we listened to the birds chirping. There was a little bit of chill in the wind, enough to make it still feel like spring, but the sun warmed our skin. I love that God designed seasons, the annual reminders of His faithfulness. I know the seasons aren't the same everywhere, but I am guessing that God's creativity lends itself to lessons of His faithfulness throughout the whole-wide world.

and I really couldn't write this post without adding this video to it... another Steven Curtis Chapman song, from his latest album. "Spring is Coming" Its a beautiful song, with beautiful lyrics, a great encouragement to me right now.

14 March 2011

Birthday wishes

Today after Wilson finished his homework, he started telling me about a project they were working on at school...

Wilson: "It's about Birthdays. I said I would want a trip to the U.P for my birthday."
Me: "Oh, you want to go to the U.P.? Huh?"

Wilson: "But that was my second thing. My first one was a new cousin."
Me: speechless, maybe slightly teary-eyed with a big smile.

Wilson: "Do you think he will be on July 11th?" (Casey's due date!!)
Me: "Well, we won't know for sure until it gets closer."

Wilson: "How long are people usually pregnant for...after they find out they are pregnant?"
Me: "Nine months." I replied abruptly, hoping the conversation doesn't take a less-heartwarming turn for a more scientific inquiry into pregnancy details.

Wilson: "OH! So that's 3 quarters of a year? Right! It is because 6 months is half a year and half of 6 months is 1 quarter." Walks away.
Me: Speechless again. Puzzled by the way this boy's mind works. Feeling blessed by how sweet he is.

Who knew he was so excited about a new cousin?

gone fishin'

This weekend, I had a PWOC retreat, so the boys and Brad had some guy time. (My retreat was great, LOTS of information to take in. Processing it might take some time.) Friday night they got to go eat at Chick-Fil-A, then they went to Toys-R-Us and Dick's Sporting Goods. Oh, and they brought home a dozen hot donuts from Krispy Kreme. When I came home Friday evening, I told Brad that the boys were going to want me to have a retreat every weekend...and then I ate a donut. ;)

Saturday the boys and Brad went fishing. The pond that they intended to fish at had a sign that said "CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE" I know this because they told me in great detail...Which is surprising, because nobody mentioned the sign in this picture... "WARNING Alligators May Be Present." Nice.
No fish were caught, and I am guessing no alligators were spotted. Surely they would've told me about that... They had a great time together, of course. They'll probably be sending me on another retreat ASAP!

OH, and for all the non-headband-haters out there... here is a link to the tutorial...

11 March 2011


Have you ever wished you could UN-know something?

Sometimes I do miss having cable. I could watch TLC and HGTV and all other forms of meaningless entertainment, and maybe gain some home decor tips or style info... fluffy& happy!

But we don't have cable. And sometimes our best option is on PBS...

A while back Brad and I watched a documentary on PBS about coffee... you can read about it here (but be warned, it might bother you).

Brad and I aren't exactly coffee-snobs. We brew it at home in our Micheal Graves coffee pot from Target. We drink it black. Brad has one cup a day and I have two. That is the extent of it. You might remember that as an anniversary gift the year Brad got back from deployment, he bought me a bag of "From Africa, To Africa" coffee from Starbuck's. And HE really liked it... as did I. Its part of Project Red and $1 from each bag is donated to Project Red.

So we've tried other African blends of coffee from Starbuck's as well. We Like the "From Africa..." one the best, I think.

But here's the thing. Grocery prices are going up, which makes our grocery budget tighter. So we've been looking into alternatives. Right now we have some Folger's Breakfast blend on the counter. Brad is unimpressed.

Mom got us some fair-trade African coffee from the church she works at awhile back, so we started pricing that... As Brad did some searching, we found out that the African coffee from Starbuck's isn't even fair trade.

And I sort of just wish I didn't know about the people that can't get fair prices for their coffee beans so they opt to grow a drug-like plant instead that they can sell for a higher price. I wish I didn't know that hard-working coffee farmers can't feed their families because they get so little compensation for their crops. And I wish I didn't know that African coffee farmers can hardly even get their beans to market outside of Europe.

I wish I hadn't spent 7 -8 minutes reading every single label at the Commissary, so I wouldn't know that there is not a single African coffee on the shelves.

I whine about my grocery prices going up. I wish I didn't know how shallow that makes me.

Maybe its time to stop wishing I didn't know things and start living as though everything I do impacts other people. Because it does. I am rich in this present world. How I spend my wealth matters.

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. " 1 Timothy 6:17-19

09 March 2011

wacky Wednesday

the week'o'fun celebrating Dr. Seuss continues... today was "Wacky Wednesday" it was tough for Wilson to find something WACKY in his closet, then we came across the poncho he made last year in 1st grade. He even added a wacky expression to go with the outfit for the picture... (He had it on when he got off the bus!)So, this isn't really wacky, just cute. Still in his pj's this morning, being super. Love it. I had the privilege of making 3 super hero capes this week... I always hope the kids that get them enjoy them. (I know two of the boys, their mom is giving them as big brother gifts, because she is due with baby boy #3 very, very soon!)
And then I whipped this thing up today. As I was getting off the phone with Barbie, I joked that I didn't have to do my hair because of the rain. Then I made a headband to hold back the crazy from my face.
The lady at Bit of Benning said I should make some for the shop. I thought Brad would roll his eyes when he saw it. That would've probably been slightly better than the look he gave me. I must say, I did get an old-school-Madonna song stuck in my head after I looked in the mirror.

07 March 2011

building; crazy socks; & add-on prayers

On Saturday, we took the boys to the Home Depot to build "something useful" as part of the Wolf Cubs achievement... Race Cars are useful, right? I think Thomas the Tank Engine would think they are useful. Very useful. The boys loved it...I can't for-the-life-of-me figure out why we haven't taken advantage of this free activity before. I have a feeling we'll be doing it again... Maybe the next project will be even more useful? Stay tuned.
This week Wilson's school is honoring Dr. Seuss. Today was crazy-sock-day... this is about as crazy as boys' socks get, I think. Wil wore jeans to school so he doubts anyone will even see them.

And this morning at breakfast, Walker said he "prayed in my head."

So, Wilson prayed for himself & me. After Wilson finished praying, Walker added something on, "and please help me not to sneak any candy from the candy bowl today."

Wilson and I both smiled.

(background: Last week Walker got out the step ladder so he could help himself to the candy bowl (on the top shelf, inside a cupboard.) I walked into the dining room, not aware that Walker was up on the counter and startled when I saw him moving, which made him jump and almost fall. He got busted after that.)

Later this morning, as I thought about Walker's little add-on-prayer, I thought about how often I neglect to ask God to help me avoid temptations. Such a simple, obvious thing to do; and I often don't.

So, I guess, in a round-about-sort-of-way, I'm glad Walker got into the candy bowl last week.

04 March 2011

good stuff

Y'all! We've had a pretty great week! I hope you have too!

Did I ever tell you that we were officially approved by the State of GA for our adoption? I can't remember if I did tell you that or not... We found that out in January. That was good news, I feel bad if I hadn't mentioned it before.

So we're still waiting. And in the waiting God is just reassuring my heart. We got a sweet email from our caseworker this week. She said she thinks of us often and that God will bring about what He has promised at the right time (His time). I think that is a pretty sweet email from a public government office worker. No doubt God had arranged for it to arrive in my inbox on a day that it was especially appreciated.

Also, I tried my hand at patching jeans. Four pair of Walker's jeans have holes in the knees (FOUR PAIRS!!!) I didn't think I could actually use my machine to sew around the patches in those little legs so I just used heat-n-bond. It totally didn't work. Not even a little bit.

And today the little hole in these jeans... got a lot bigger.You should've heard his explanation for how that happened... Something like, "Well, I didn't remember that there was a hole in this pair and I put my hand on here, and then, and now look at them." Hmmm? Questionable story Mister.

Behind Walker in that picture is Brad's reward for his first trash-picking venture. I seriously ran upstairs to grab the camera when he was walking down the sidewalk carrying it. I was too slow though. Our neighbor put it out to the road because he's moving. Of course, Brad didn't just go pick it off the curb and bring it home, he went up to the door first. I figure its a good first step, maybe someday down the road, he'll be OK with me picking up treasures from our neighbors' trash too. Maybe. Someday.

And this week was the last week of our Bible Study group. Barbie thought of a great little gift idea for the ladies, so she helped me make these tiles when she was here... My only job was to think of a word for them. And I couldn't Finally I remembered that the co-teacher had come up with a single word to sum up each chapter. "Chosen" was the word for the last chapter... which made for the perfect way to remind the ladies of the lessons in this study. They really liked them.
There were some lovely nuggets in the last chapter too... here are a couple of my favorites...

"This moment - whether you are preparing for a deployment, experiencing one, or looking forward to its close - {or waiting for an adoption, or whatever else your day entails} - is your time. Today, with its joys and frustrations, makes up part of the road God intended for you."

"While the purpose God has chosen for you in this moment might not seem so glamorous, you can know that He will use it for good."

"Courage comes from God, but we must choose to accept it. As we consider the purpose God's given us, we may not like the idea of feeling uncomfortable with some of the things He may ask us to do. Maybe we don't want to try new things, we don't want to risk anything, or we don't want to disappoint others or ourselves; so we worry and fuss rather than asking God to show us how to step up to the plate. But by whining and balking against the purposes the Lord has for us, we reject His gift. In choosing to reject courage, we choose to miss out."

See, I told you, good stuff, huh?