Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dreamgirl Growing Up
I have had requests for new, updated pictures of Dreamgirl who turned 2 during my blogging hiatus. If I told you all the things I think about her I would sound like the most conceited, bragging, obnoxious mother on the face of the earth... she continues to keep me mesmerized everyday. She has plenty of days of "terrible twoness" that make me want to scream, but mostly I still feel like the luckiest girl in the world because she belongs to me.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Time is running out!
The day that I have been dreaming about since mid-August is now coming too quickly. My final exam for my Women's History class is Tuesday night and my Ed. Tech. class closes the same day. Here is all I have to squeeze in:

1. Be a parent to 4 children who are not going away for the next 60 hours.

2. Finish a 367 page book on the Black Freedom Movement. I am on page 129.

3. Write an analysis on the book on the Black Freedom Movement. Just a little 'ol 3-pager... no biggie!

4. Finish the final copy of my term paper... a book review essay.

5. Study for my final exam. 7 weeks of material for an all-writing test. No multiple choice or fill in the blank.

6. Help host a baby shower for a good friend.

7. Attend a Christmas brunch for which I am responsible for bringing my mother's famous Wassail.

8. Create an Excel document with 5 new emerging instructional technologies. Who cares???

I am going to have to come to grips with the reality that sleep is not going to be an option until Tuesday night. I mean if medical residents can pull 60-hour shifts so can I... right? I also have to decide whether to continuously pop Adderall to stay awake and focus or Xanax to calm my nerves. That may be the biggest job of all!!!

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

This is what happens...

  1. You let your messy daughter wear your favorite black tank
  2. In addition to not cleaning her room, your messy daughter does not feed her guinea pig regularly
  3. You allow the laundry pile in aforementioned daughter's room to grow so large it encroaches upon guinea pig's caged home
  4. The guinea pig, due to insufficient amounts of alfalfa hay, celery and guinea pig kibble dines upon your favorite black tank

I only have myself to blame.

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Monday, November 30, 2009

I'm not sure how I forgot to mention that during my semi-grad school hiatus, my mom-mobile died. Yep, after 165,000ish miles and 3 transmissions she was finally laid to rest.... there were just too many other automotive complications to justify purchasing transmission #4. I was newly pregnant with My Baby Boy and sick as a dog when we got the old girl... I remember hoping I wouldn't throw up in my first brand new car ever! She paid me back for all the rotten sippie cups, missed car washes, marker drawings, trash pile-ups, baby puke, dirty cletes and closets worth of abandoned clothes I let ruin her interior by dying on me on the way to class on a rural Georgia highway. So, I am currently in the market for a new vehicular unit. I don't really want another minivan, but with a brood of 4 who are often accompanied by other friends, I really need the space. I sure would rather have a Surburban or something "cool." Minivans are practical... not cool. But then again I'm not that cool. I would more appropriately describe myself as tired... or grumpy... or busy.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Here I Am

I couldn't believe it myself. After a friend updated her Facebook status with a final farewell to my adventures I logged into Blogger out of my own curiosity. September 17th??? That was the last time I posted? Wow... where have the past 3 months gone? Were did fall go? If you'll look to the left, here is what I have been doing since August 13th. Reading, reading, studying, reading, writing... zzzzzzzzzzzz.... not fun. Well, I take that back. It would be fun if I didn't have four children, a husband who prefers clean laundry over dirty and hot supper over a bowl of Frosted Cheerios, and other responsibilities.
Let's see if I can recap:
  • August: Ordered too many clothes for Dreamgirl from home parties
  • August: Granger football began and loved new reserved seating and tailgate group
  • August: Finally got Big Daddy T to doctor for blood pressure that is a high as my Macy's bill... very high... almost ugly. Started medicine. No cure for Macy's bill found
  • September: Kids annual photo made... actually not painful and only had to threaten son with no supper once
  • September: Baby Boy starts football and now thinks he can tell people his last name is Tebow
  • October: Firstborn finally quits swimming. Sad, but glad no longer fighting daily
  • October: Fall Break vacay in mountains was rough, rainy, and almost disasterous. High point: I defended my Putt-Putt Champion crown
  • October: Husband quits blood pressure medicine.... diet begins so I can be prepared to snag Hubby #2
  • October: could not get excited about Halloween... tried to convince kiddos to wear last year's costumes and was considered mentally ill. Was finally worn down and purchased new which were quickly soaked on a rainy, cold Halloween night.
  • November: Happiness found as Big Daddy T takes all four kids hunting and camping so I can have study time. China is not informed that Dreamgirl has bullet shells in diaper bag
  • November: New shock collar purchased for dog in an effort to keep myself from ripping his tongue out with my bare hands. Sign oath in blood never to adopt another animal... EVER!
  • November: Lesson learned- cannot skip month getting hair colored
  • November: Disappointed missed Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade but first major holiday without mother was successful and celebrated with no tears.
  • November: Apathy towards Halloween contagious... dreading decorating for Christmas. Hopeful that Final Exam completion in 10 days will bring renewed excitement.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

To Push or Not to Push???
That is the Question!

I have always been ordinary. Always straddling the fence between being a "C" type person... average and "B" type person... above average. There have never been any "A" moments in my life... EXCELLENT! I am not a knockout beauty, I am not remarkably talented, nor do I posses exceptional character traits like abundant generosity, unconditional mercy or consistent self-sacrifice. I am simply ordinary. My parents never pushed me to be more than average. Though, I was never expected to be below-average, just being mediocre was o.k. They never sought to develop any hidden talents, never signed me up for a S.A.T. course to get in a distinguished college and never counseled me on how to ensure success in the professional world. And that wasn't wrong. I had a great childhood. I am a happy, well-adjusted adult. But I sometimes wonder what I could have been? Instead of being a moderately good cheerleader, maybe I could have harnessed the power of my height and been a star basketball player. Instead of an honor graduate, maybe I could have been salutatorian? Instead of going to a small school maybe I could have braved a large university or even grad school?

And now, I am the parent. I have four of my own children who I assume have great potential. They do not all possess the same talents, but each of them I am sure can be extraordinary in something. So how hard do I push? How do I translate the "what ifs" of my childhood into developing my children's fullest potential. And yet I don't want to relive my childhood through theirs. I don't want to make them run for class officer because I wish I had. I don't want to run them ragged from activity to activity because I want them to experience all I did not. Here is an example of my dilemma. Baby #1 is a good swimmer. Different coaches have suggested she may possess college scholarship potential... big college potential. My first impulse is to make sure she has every possibility to do that... send her to expensive camps, get her private lessons, make sure she is at training every day. Well, after two years of such a schedule Baby #1 is wanting to buck my system of swimming development! What to do? Her dad and I know that would be an amazing opportunity. She has a gift that has the potential of being something EXTRAordinary. Do I act "knowing what's best for her" or do I let her call the shots? Where is the balance between my ordinariness and her potential for extraordinariness? Where do my dreams overshadow hers? Does a kid even have the ability to realize the benefits of hard work in order to develop their fullest potential? Will she thank me for not letting her waste her childhood sitting on the couch watching "Witches of Waverly Place" every afternoon or for pushing her to excel at something other than backyard trampoline jumping? Or is being ordinary O.K.? Is it o.k. to look back and say I was good at lots of things but not really awesome at anything? Is being happy and well-adjusted the ultimate success? Having faith and family and friends and being content with God's extraordinary gifts.

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Monday, August 31, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

*Update: Carley is going home from the hospital today, Friday 8/28.

My Silver Lining Needs Help

My Mother's death has been a dark cloud in my life this year... her illness the two years prior. But there is always a silver lining to each dark cloud. Silver linings come in many shapes and sizes. As I announced a few weeks ago, my father remarried. His wife, Judy, is a mother of 3 and "Nanny" to 4 (with #5 one the way.) I have new family. Judy was a friend before she was family. Did you know my parents named Judy & her first husband Jim as my brother & sisters' guardians in their will, if my parents had both died before we were 18? Not my grandparents... not my Dad's brothers... Judy & Jim. Growing up Judy's daughter was a good friend of mine... as good of a friend as you can be at 5. It was fun to visit her when we would return to Michigan. Her parents had a pool... how cool was it to have a pool??? Totally! And she was pretty and fun and had her own room. We were pen pals until high school... when we abandoned the ritual for boys & cheerleading & driving in cars with friends. She began her family before I did and I watched it grow through annual Christmas cards from her parents to mine. A daughter followed by two sons and another baby girl as the caboose. Now... all these years later we are both the mother of four... and old friends reunited when my Dad married her Mom... sisters of sorts... a silver lining.

I mentioned my old friend turned sister has four children. More family. I tell you this today to ask you to pray for her oldest daughter, Carley. Seventeen-years-old and a rising high school senior, Carley is active in sports and recently became aggravated by a sore right arm. Thinking it was probably a sports related injury, her mom & dad consulted a doctor. Physical therapy was prescribed. After several weeks there was no improvement. Tingling and loss of feeling began to develop in the hand. The therapy actually seemed to make the pain worse. The surgeon who operated on my friend's hand for carpal tunnel was contacted. The appointment at his office revealed a series of blood clots in her forearm resulting from THORACIC OUTLET SYNDROME. She was immediately admitted to the local hospital in Kalamazoo where she was started on heparin to try to dissolve the clots. After 2 days and 2 angiograms doctors realized the clots were not resolving and her condition was worsening and she was life flighted to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit where she had emergency by-pass surgery of the artery in her arm. The progress has not been good. She has endured several more surgeries, including another emergency surgery when the by-pass formed a clot leaving little blood flowing into her hand. We are asking for prayer that her hand will be saved. Doctors fear that her fingertips may already be lost... and are waiting to see how much more of the hand may not have enough blood flow to sustain it. She was moved to a regular room today after spending more than a week in Intensive Care. She will undergo more surgery tomorrow... a skin graft will be preformed to close the wound on her forearm.

When I was seventeen I was worried about how high I could tease my bangs and being the tallest girl on my cheerleading squad. The summer before my senior year I was worried about getting a good parking space and passing Mrs. Wilde's english class. My biggest horrors were not being allowed to go to Panama City Beach for spring break and having to drive my Mom's hand-me-down station wagon. Though those things may have seemed like big things... they were really small beans compared to losing part of one's self... literally. I can't imagine the challenge it would be to accept such Providence. Please pray. Pray for the miraculous restoration of Carley's right hand. Pray for her to accept the outcome. Pray for strength for her parents... can you moms and dads out there even imagine watching your child go through what they have over the past 10 days??? Pray for grace and hope and wisdom. Thank you friends.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Pop Quiz

What is the most dangerous?
a.) driving drunk
b.) texting while driving
c.) driving with this gorgeous distraction in your rearview mirror

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Trail Feet
This is how your feet look when you hike 5 miles in the Great Smoky Mountains wearing Tevas. Not the smartest thing I've ever done. Will shop on Zappos again soon and return to the mountain trails with appropriate footwear.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

She's So Close... but yet, So Far Away

Yesterday, I went to be with my Mother. I had not been to her cemetary since the day we buried my Grandmother... right beside her, just a little over a week after Mother died. It is so pretty there. It's out in the country. It's quiet. Cows graze in a beautiful pasture across the rural road. It is where my Mother grew up... near the things of her childhood... her family, her school, her church. We took her "home" in a sense. She lays next to her parents. I know my Mother isn't there. But her body is. Underneath that red Georgia clay is my Mother. In the pretty pink jacket she picked out, given by a friend to fit her shrinking frame. Gently folded are the hands that I held. Closed, the eyes that watched my children enter this world. Cold is the cheek that I rested my own upon in those last days when it was too painful for us to hug her. The ears that heard a gazillion of my problems hear no more. Silent, the mouth that always said "Hey, Aim" when she left a message on my voice mail. The arms that were the first to ever hold me are motionless. The ribs that were broken in a car accident 30 years ago no longer expand with breathing. The legs that rocked her babies are resting. The feet that walked around the kitchen and cooked my supper are still. They are there. And while she is gone... parts of her remain. Precious parts. Parts that will be raised and glorified and perfected. Parts of hope and anticipation. I loved being there. I loved seeing her name. But hated it at the same time as it served as a proverbial "nail in the coffin" that she is gone. I am glad my friend Kim went with me because I am afraid I may have not left before nightfall. Walking away was hard. I cannot wait to go back again.

I think it's beautiful.
My sister chose the first flowers for her headplate and I brought a small bouquet from her yard to lay next to her name.

My Daddy had her favorite saying put on the plaque.

Me smiling & happy with a broken heart.
The body that rests beneath me is not longer sick, but healed.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Introducing for the first time...

Bob & Judy Niedrach
July 20, 2009
Covenant Presbyterian Church
LaGrange, Georgia

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Where is Everybody?
Our end of the lake was pretty dead on Saturday. I took this picture in the middle of the afternoon and there's not a boat or a jetski in sight. Not even a stray duck or lone bird. For the biggest holiday of the summer, looked like maybe others stuck close to the pool or remained inside in the air conditioning. What did you do?

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

My Mother died 4 months and 12 days ago. She's been dead 132 days and my Dad is getting married. Yes... I mean married. There was a proposal, there is a ring on a finger and a tentative date. I will introduce her in the weeks to come but for now I will just tell you briefly that my Father's fiance is lovely. A dear friend of my Mother's for 35 years, she lives 800 miles away and has been a widow for six years. I have known her my whole life... for as long as I can remember, her family has been friends with my family. God does amazing things. But, again... more of that later. Today I just want to address the FACT that my Daddy is getting married.

I had a friend tell me recently "if your Dad thinks people aren't going to talk... that they aren't going to raise an eyebrow... he's crazy!" To her I would honestly say... I hope they do talk. But what I want them to talk about is probably different that what she intended with her comment. I want people to talk about the fact that my Father was a loving, committed and faithful husband to my Mother for 38 years. I want them to talk about how hard he worked to provide for her and her children... that she loved him unconditionally and that it broke her heart to think about having to leave him behind on this Earth. I want them to talk about how he was her greatest cheerleader during her illness. He encouraged her and fought beside her and prayed for her. I want them to talk about how he made her protein shakes of every flavor and consistency to help her gain weight. I want them to talk about how he poured over articles on the Internet about pancreatic cancer trials and studies and treatments. I want them to talk about how he took her to any restaurant she wanted on "chemo days" because he knew her appetite was best on those days and wanted her to have as delicious a meal as she could get down. I want them to talk about how he sat in the recliner next to her couch for days & weeks & months keeping her company when she got too weak to be up much. I want them to know how he mixed Miralax into her Starbuck's Frappacino every single night before she went to bed. I want them to talk about how he knew her pills and prescriptions backwards and forwards... for them to talk about the countless pills he dispensed with precision and care so that my Mother would be comfortable. I want them to talk about how he cared for her bed sores and helped my Mother to the bathroom and changed her clothes... without passing the buck on to someone else. I want them to talk about how my Mother in her final days would perk up when he passed by her bed... the smell of his cologne rousing her to consciousness. I want them to talk about how he laid in that hospital bed with her... patting her gently and kissing her forehead softly... telling her how beautiful she was. Call ME crazy... but those are the things I hope they talk about. He fulfilled his vows to her. He loved her for better & worse as long as she lived. He never broke his covenant vow made before God.

And now this man is alone. Not lonely... but alone. When people want to "raise an eyebrow" at my Dad's quick engagement I want them to think about how many times they have raised the phone to call and see how he was getting along? How many times did they raise a pen to write him a note of encouragement? As we all go about our busy lives do we think about those who come home to an empty house? Who's social calendar has been erased by the death of their partner? My mother would not want him to be alone. She would not have wanted him to be forgotten. She loved him and wanted him to be loved.

It is going to be different seeing another woman married to my Daddy... perhaps even painful at times. I'm not denying the fact that it is soon for him to be moving on with his life. Widower-hood is almost like a purgatory... no longer in the first life, but without "permission" from society to move along to the next. Him being alone isn't going to bring my Mother back. No amount of tears is going to bring her back to life. She is gone and he is here. Would I change it if I could? Yes. But I can't. So we go on and pray for the grace to be gracious. We hope for the best... being thankful for God's provision for my Father... and to wanting be a friend to his new wife.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

You can't be surprised...

This is "Mommy's" Beach Trip... no kids or a husband... only fun friends, good books and cold drinks. I gotta savor every minute of it because these true vacations are few and very far in between!

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tiny Dancer

Bustin' those kind of moves requires some serious rehydration! Dreamgirl collected all the kids' drinks for herself while they continued to light up the dance floor!


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Monday, June 22, 2009

Reunion: Day 2

On Thursday we headed west to Gulf Shores to spend the day with Family Mendelson's dreamgirl, Miss Addie, and her beautiful big sister Eloise. We had a very fun day watching the little travelmates get to know each other once again. Dreamgirl has no biological family. No mother. No father. No sisters. No cousins or aunts or grandparents. But, she does have Addie... and the thousands of other girls who are Daughters of China living here among us. Keeping my Dreamgirl in contact with these girls is important to me. It is a small, yet monumental connection to her homeland. Roots. History. Addie joined her family the same day My Dreamgirl joined ours. She has and will experience the same things My Dreamgirl will... things other American children will not and cannot understand. When we left Addie's family in China I was so ready to come home I would've said good-bye to my right arm. But this time saying goodbye was harder. I didn't want to say "see you next year!"... I wanted to say "see you tomorrow at the pool" or "see you Sunday at church." Having this family as our friends is a gift and I hope to see them not only next year... but the one after that and that and that and.....

The day was HOT but the kids had a nice mini-ocean of their own.

There was LOTS of playing in the sand.

And building of sandcastles.

And fun before saying Good-bye.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009


When we found out friends from our China trip, Kelly & Brad and their daughters Eloise & Addie, were going to be at the beach... only 18 miles from my family's condo... we hopped in the car and came for the week for the chance to see them and catch up. These are some then & now shots... from our trip & then our first meeting on Tuesday. I took a gazillion pictures today when we spent the day on the beach. Will sort & post.



In China...

American Girls!!!

My fun friend Kelly

New Baby Adelaide

Big Girl!!!

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