Sunday, May 15, 2011

Travel Lessons learned from MawMaw Boots.

I loved Curtis' Grandma. He called her MawMaw Boots. This was his Dad's mom...and if you know Curtis' Dad, you should know that his mom was just a female version of him. Funny as can be, could light up a room with her smile and big laugh, and had a heart as big as you could imagine. I loved every minute I got to spend with her.

Unfortunately, she is no longer with us.

When Lexi was 4 weeks old, we traveled to West Virginia so she could meet Lexi. We knew MawMaw Boots wouldn't be with us much longer. She was very sick, but still had a little life left in her.

One night, I volunteered to drive her up the hill to her son's house (they lived directly behind her on the same property, but she was too fragile to walk.) And as we drove, she looked at me and said how much she appreciated us making the trip...knowing it wasn't easy on our family. Then she went on to talk about how traveling with your family is so important...and how those memories will last a lifetime. Her eyes were filled with so many memories, it was as if I was reliving them with her. She had 5 boys, so money wasn't always easy...and she said that. She said, "We didn't have a lot of money...but we always found a way to travel and be together." And then told me that we should always do the same. I promised her we would.

I think about that conversation a lot. Especially when friends tease us about going away all the time...or taking too many vacations. The truth is, I learned from MawMaw Boots and I learned from my parents and my in-laws, that getting away is sometimes the best thing you can do for your family. And it is in those moments, away from jobs, school, the house, chores, bills, and responsibilites...that memories can be made. Memories that were strong enough for MawMaw, whose mind was failing her, to remember with vivid clarity.

We made memories like that this weekend. And as I was sitting here thinking about them, my mind wandered back to my drive with MawMaw Boots nearly 5 years ago now. And I know we made her smile.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Escaping Nightmares: Headed to Jibberland.

Yesterday, I asked the good people of Facebook for advice on how to take care of my baby when she has nightmares...which are about 6 out of 7 nights a week. So many of you gave me great advice. And I thank you. So many of you talked to me personally and I'm thankful for that too. Several of you offered to pray for Haley, and for that, I'm more than grateful...but honored you would think of my family.

I got one email last night from a friend of mine who I had talked to at church yesterday. She has two daughters of her own, one of whom has experienced bad nightmares also.For some reason, her words just made me tear up...I'm even doing that now as I type this. I can't really explain why. But what came out of her email inspired me to take up the blog again...and that's a big deal.

Before I go into her advice, I will tell you that I feel like I have tried everything. Praying...which is what I do when I wake up from a bad dream. We have encouraged her to do that also, but what a pang in my stomach when I heard her say through her tears, "I keep praying to God...but he's not answering me." Man...that is so hard to explain. And so heartbreaking too.

We've taken away tv, video games, scary books...anything that has seemingly promoted fear. Doesn't change anything.

We've let Molly (our dog) sleep with her, left the light on, left the door open. Nothing.

She does ask us each night to sleep with her. And while I know that is a temporary solution, it doesn't teach her how to self-soothe...or put herself back to sleep. And I want her to learn how to do that as well.

We've read with her, snuggled with her, prayed with her. Still the same.

I used to tell her not to talk about her dreams, because I was scared it would make them more real. But we've started talking them out more...helping her understand that most of what she is dreaming about could never happen, and that mommy and daddy are here to keep her safe. But when she told me that she is dreaming about a "monster trying to steal her soul," I was left a bit speechless.

There is heavy stuff going on here. And I am taking everything you have suggested to heart.

I have several new things I am going to try. I tried the first one last night after reading my friend's email.

I told Haley that her friend Jeselyn had the same experience. And one night, Jeselyn crawled into her sister's room. And her sister made up an imaginary land called Jibber. There are no monsters or bad things there and there is lots of candy. So I began to tell Haley about this land. And this is what we created together.


A land where the streets are made of chocolate chip cookie dough. And you have to walk on your hands so your mouth can be close to the cookie dough ground at all times, so you can eat while you walk.

A land where the trees are pink cotton candy.

A land where the rainbow is made of laughy taffy.

A land where there are NERDS (the candy). That was my suggestion since it is my favorite candy. Haley asked me where the NERDS would be, and I said, "in the library of course."

A land where birds poop gum packets.

A land where the ice cream store only carries her favorite brand of ice cream.

A land where the playground is made of gobstoppers and the houses are made out of cookies.

This is the land that Haley can go to whenever she gets scared. A happy place. I told her Jeselyn invited her to go there anytime...and it sounded so good, I would probably be in there too.

We laughed and smiled and talked and cuddled before she went to visions of Jibberland danced in her head.

She was so happy. She never woke up.

So one night down.

No nightmares. We'll see what tonight may bring. But at least I am armed with ideas, prayers, and a passport to Jibberland.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lexi's Thoughts. (Age 4)

While driving home with my sweet Lexi today, this was our conversation.

Lexi - Mom, are we driving on the freeway?
Me - No Lexi. This is "Adams".
Lexi - Oh.


Lexi - What's the next street name? "Eves?"

Monday, September 27, 2010

When did my daughter's hands get so big? And other things I've learned about the First Grade.

This morning, I got some snuggle time in with Haley. She's 6. And she's growing so fast. I swear kids age in dog years.

So while we were laying there playing with Star Wars Figurines (don't all 6 year old girls start the morning playing with Star Wars Figurines?) I was just staring at her hands. Taking apart C3P0, putting him back together again. Holding the Storm Trooper & shooting his tiny gun. And all I kept thinking, was how big her hands were. Those could not possibly be the sweet tiny hands that used to grip my fingers, could they?

Yet here she is...6 years old. A first grader.

She's doing so well. She loves her class. She loves her teacher. I have learned that people are very opinionated about what teachers they like and don't like at Haley's school. (Though I'm sure that is universal). All I know is that I think her teacher was made for her. She is very structured and very strict. But she pours out her heart to those kids and loves them all so much. Haley used to volunteer in her classroom after school last year, and she really wanted her as her teacher. I'm so glad they were paired up. On the first day of school she came home and announced, "Well, I'm not going to get away with ANYTHING this year!" My heart might have done a little leap of joy. And it's true. She hasn't gotten away with a thing. And I love it!

Here are some pictures from her Back to School Night

Our Family Tree

On Friday, I was in the classroom helping. I think my favorite part of that morning was when I was doing crafts in the back with the kids and Haley was at the craft table with two other boys. As soon as they got there, they started talking in Star Wars Lingo about different toys they had. "I have the Storm Trooper Blaster Snow Lego Man Hans Solo Death Fighter Starship Something"... I don't know. It all sounded like the teacher in Charlie Brown talking to me. " Waah Waah Wahh Wahh Wahh... " But apparently, it was REALLY exciting to them, cause' their eyes were as big as saucers... in awe of each other's Star Wars Collection. Then Haley stands up quietly and whispers, "And I have some of these..." and proceeds to put her hands in her pockets and pull out two Darth Vader toys that she smuggled from home! "Haley, where did you get those?" I asked. She said, "I snuck them from home...I didn't want you to see them cause I thought I would get in trouble." To which I say, "But you know that you're showing them to me right now, right?" She smiled. Then the other little boy stands up and gently pulls a Boba Fett character out of his pocket. WHAT IN THE WORLD? It's like the Black Market for Star Wars toys in that first grade class.

So Haley has found herself in a classroom filled with Star Wars Freaks. They have matching backpacks, lunch boxes, and folders. They wear uniforms, so there are no matching clothes. But I'm sure they would be wearing the same underwear if I let Haley buy the Star Wars Underoos from the boys section that she wants. But you some point you have to draw a line.

One other thing I've learned about first grade...they seem to be really diving into the idea of nutrition at her school. Which I'm all for. However, maybe they've learned a little too much when Haley points out people that are on the heavier side and says, "I think that person has had too many trans fatty oils." REALLY? Trans-Fatty Oils? Wow. Okay. Score one for Nutrition.

Also, score one for Reading. I love what a fabulous reader Haley is now. She wakes up every morning and reads to herself. It's a great activity that quiets her down and focuses her. I love to sit next to her and listen to her read. Hard to believe a year ago, she only new her ABC's, and now she is reading entire books.

This really is going to be a great school year. Curtis stepped up to be Room Dad. I was in a meeting one day, and he kept texting me about how big Haley was getting and how he wanted to spend some extra time with her this he signed up to be Room Dad. And he's loving every minute of it. We have a great class, great teacher, great parents, and we have a little girl that we adore.

... A little girl whose sweet hands have reminded us of how quickly time goes by and we need to treasure every minute.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

God talks to me in the Garden.

...or maybe I just listen more when I'm in the garden.

Last weekend, Curtis and I spent a couple days re-doing our front/back yard.

There was one area where we used to have a little garden... but our lovely Golden Retriever decided she rather make that her territory, and basically trampled our plants. And the truth is, we got lazy at tending to it. So it got kind of grassy/weedy...and by "kind of", I mean, we were one step away from finding large animals hiding in there and re-opening our backyard as a zoo.

So, I finally said, enough is enough! Plants can't grow there, but we can pull up the weeds and put some mulch down and at least it will look nicer.

So we did.

And that was hard. I mean really hard. And it was hot. I mean really hot.

I believe it was approximately when I pulled up the 1,029th weed, I started to draw a parallel between weeds and sin. We never intended for that section of our yard to get out of control. But before too long, things just started to grow. And the roots started to get deeper. And when I finally got around to cleaning it up, the roots were so deep in some areas, it took all my might (plus a lot of sweat, and manly grunting) to get them out of the ground.

Isn't that the same as sin? It starts innocent enough. Maybe you mess up once, and don't really think about it. Or maybe you think you got away with it, so you do it again. Or maybe you rationalize that it's no big deal. Or maybe it just feels really good, so you keep doing it. It doesn't really matter how it starts... what matters is, if you don't tend to it...before too long, it takes over your life. And then it requires some major intervention to get it out of your life. I had my kids helping me... Curtis was bringing in mechanical tools...I mean, It had really gotten out of control. But with help, the weeds were gone.

Sometimes, we need help to get the junk...the weeds...the sin out of our life. That help begins with surveying the damage...looking out and seeing an ugly, messed up garden, and deciding something's gotta change. Then asking for help to start pulling out the weeds.

The result can be something beautiful. And it will stay beautiful with constant

The same is true with our lives. We can't allow the roots of sin to find a place in our heart. We've got to constantly tend to our soul. In a sense, we have to allow God to be the gardener...supplying us with His light and His living water. Let him trim away all the parts that are not of Him...that are not eternal.

The result will be something beautiful.

John 15 1-8
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Monday, June 28, 2010

So you wanna know, huh?

I mentioned something about my menus for the week and how I stayed under $100 bucks to feed our family. Inquiring minds asked me to post some I thought I'd share with you how it went down.

Backstory... Curtis and I have spent way too much on food recently. You know, like pretending we have money, and then spending it. It's really ridiculous. We don't buy clothes, toys, or anything else other people do. But we really like to eat. And apparently, we REALLY like to spend money while doing it. So we get carried away every once in a while and come back to our senses and remember we have a budget and we need to stick to it.

So here's how we pulled it off.

Last night, I got out all the grocery ads. I went through each one and picked out the good deals...on things I would normally eat. Now here's the thing... I love me some Trader Joe's...but I decided not to go there this trip. Their produce can get spendy...and sometimes I don't like how it's packaged. Like if I only want one pepper, I should only buy 1. Not 3. So I looked to the other ads for some inspiration. And when I found the veggies I liked that were on sale... I based menus around them.

So for tonight... the menu was:

Chicken/Sour Cream/Green Chili Enchiladas.
Mexican Rice
Avocado/Corn Salsa with freshly squeezed lime / salted chips.

So how did I get there?

It started at 9:30am.

Trip to the (GASP) 99 cent store. Yep I did it. And I'm so not ashamed. It's full of great deals.

Here's why I went. The same pack of tortillas that I would buy in the store for $2.69. = 99cents.
12 limes - 99cents.
Bag of onions - 99cents
packaged red and orange peppers - 99cents
Organic black beans - 99cents
Watermelon - 99cents
Tomatos - 99cents

Need I go on?

There's no shame in my game. As long as you carefully select your produce... it's really the place to start your trip. So many deals. And most of it is local, so that's good too.

Then we went to VONS...

Here I got numerous other things... all of which were ON SALE... most of which I had COUPONS for.

But the items I needed for tonight... sour cream (store brand) - 1.50 and the secret ingredient to my dinner... a Rotissiere Chicken (cause I barely like chicken...I'm sure not going to cook one, then stuff my enchiladas with it). It was also on sale for 5.99.

After that we hit up Albertsons... where I bought the non-essential but such a good deal... 8 Starbucks glassed Frappucinos for 7.00. That's 8 for the price of 2 Frapps at Sbux. Yep. Good deal.

Then SPROUTs... where I hit the gold mine in fresh produce... LOTS OF GOOD DEALS TODAY! And All part of my recipes for the week! Only bummer... out of avocados. And their shredded cheese was WAY too expensive. So we had to go to Ralphs. Which I remembered from the ads had cheap cheese... and their organic avocados were only 1.50.

So in full disclosure... here's what I spent (rounded up)

99cent store - 12.00
Vons - 41.00 (bought sunscreen/toothbrushes too
Albies - 16.00
Sprouts - 23.00
Ralphs - 6.00

Total = 98.00


And dinner was divine. Everyone ate it. The in-laws even popped by to pick up something, and what started with "I'll just have a bite" turned into much more.

So that's how we did it.

I love knowing that the rest of the week is planned out. We have good food. And we stayed within our budget.

And if you'd like the recipe for the enchiladas... Please to enjoy.


12 corn tortillas
4 cups green chile sauce, recipe below
3 cups cooked minced chicken ( I just picked chicken off the store-bought rotisserie)
1 pound shredded Monterey Jack cheese (I only used an 8 ounce bag)
1/4 cup minced onion
1 to 2 cups sour cream
salt to taste
green chile sauce, below

Heat tortillas on griddle or in microwave or heat in oil until flexible; cover with a towel and keep warm. Make green chile sauce, below. Mix one cup chile sauce with the minced chicken. Put 1/4 cup of the mixture on each tortilla and roll up. (* I also added a couple spoons of sour cream to the mixture). Place tortilla rolls, seam-side down, in a baking dish, cover enchiladas with shredded cheese and add onion if desired. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas and bake at 350° for about 20 minutes. Top with sour cream and return to oven for 10 minutes or until all is hot. Serve immediately.

Green Chile Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil 1 clove garlic, minced 1/2 cup minced onion 1 tablespoon flour 1 cup water 1 cup chopped green chiles salt to taste

Saute garlic and onion in oil in a heavy saucepan. Blend in flour; add water and green chile and mix well. Add salt. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring frequently for 5 minutes.

* I added a bit of sugar to my green chili seemed like it needed it.*

Okay my friends... Hope you enjoy it. Thanks for reading! Now go save some money & eat home made food!!!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sea World Ban

Remember the movie the Matrix? Morpheous offered Neo two pills. If he took the red pill, he would realize what the Matrix was, and he would be pulled from it. He would know the truth. If he took the blue pill, life would go on as before. Nothing would change. Before Neo reached for the red pill, Morpheous said, " Remember, all I am offering is the truth...nothing more."

So, this week, I decided to choose the red pill. I wanted to know the truth.

Yeah, I know this sounds dramatic, but let me explain myself.

I have always loved sea life. Specifically dolphins. My room was decorated in dolphin decor throughout my childhood. I started college with a minor in marine biology so I could become a dolphin trainer at Sea World. (Yeah, that obviously did not work out.) I go to Sea World, and I cry at the mere beauty of these beautiful creatures. I LOVE DOLPHINS.

Perhaps you remember this little documentary called, "The Cove". It came out last year, and it won the OSCAR this year. I knew it was about dolphins. I knew it frowned upon captivity, and so I put off watching it because I didn't want to feel guilty about going to Sea World.

Turns out, everything I predicted turned out to be true. Time to cancel my Sea World Annual Pass.

Here's the story behind the movie...

Ric O'Berry who was the dolphin trainer in the old TV show, FLIPPER, is the man basically behind the idea of dolphins in captivity...and invented techniques used to train dolphins. He grew to realize that he had made a critical mistake in putting dolphins in captivity and has spent the past 30 years trying to undo the damage he created.

In this movie, he focuses on a small, coastal town in Taiji, Japan. A town that hunts bottlenosed dolphins. Why? It all comes down to money. Zoos and Aquariums are willing to pay top dollar for beautiful, bottlenosed dolphins that can be trained and used commercially... i.e, in Sea World shows. These dolphins will sell for an average of $150,000. The dolphins that are not selected are massacred. Literally, trapped in a cove. Left overnight. And then stabbed with spears the next morning. Leaving the ocean stained red with their blood. It is a horrifying image.

These massacres will continue to happen as long as people are paying for tickets and supporting aquariums/zoos who offer shows that feature dolphins or offer swim with dolphin programs.

The movie goes into greater detail of why dolphins do not belong in captivity. And you can also read more about it at:

As much as it pains me to know I may never again experience an interaction with a dolphin, I just can't support these animals in captivity anymore. I encourage you to watch the move and/or read these websites for more information.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Birthday Letter.

Dear Lexi,

I can't not believe you've blessed our family for 4 years now. Well, technically 4 years and 9 months.

I can remember the day I realized you were growing inside of me. I just knew. In fact, I knew before science. They have tests you can buy in the store that tell you whether or not you are going to have a baby. I took a test on Friday. I didn't even tell your Daddy. He might've thought I was being silly, so I didn't want him to know until I was sure. That test told me no. But I didn't believe it. So, I took another one on Sunday morning before church. And it said yes. I KNEW IT! And Lexi, I was so happy, I got down on my knees and started crying and praying a prayer to God just saying, "thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you."

That day when daddy came home from church, your sister Haley was wearing a shirt that said, "BIG SISTER"... and he was SO surprised! Then he had to go on a trip to help people in Louisiana, so I didn't get to see him the rest of the week. But we told Grandma/Granddad & Grandma/Papa & Auntie Jen and Dodo on Friday night. We hid a pacifier in the bread basket that said, "Surprise!" And boy, were they surprised!

It was fun to have you in my belly. Even though you like weird food like McDonalds. (YUK!) Then all I wanted to eat was fruit...and I ate A LOT of fruit. Enough to give me diabetes. So, my doctor said, "NO MORE FRUIT!" Which made us both very sad!!! But I still think that is why you like fruit so much.

I knew you were going to be a girl on Christmas day of 2005. We had our nurse put your ultrasound in a secret envelope and we opened it on Christmas Day. I really thought you were a boy...but Lexi, I'm so glad you are a girl. God knew I needed you.

Here's how we told the world what your name was...

That's you inside of my belly!

You grew and grew and grew until it was time to go to the hospital. Mommy had to have a c-section, so we picked out your birthday. May 12th seemed like a really good day to us. This is a picture of us when we got to the hospital.

This is a picture of Mommy before the surgery. I was a little nervous.

Daddy was soooooo excited to meet you. Isn't he cute?

They told me it's time for surgery! Time for Lexi to be born! Now, Mommy is excited too!

Here is a picture of the doctors working on mommy so you can come out and see us.

And just a few minutes later, we had our first family picture taken...

You were finally here....

You sure found your fingers quick...

Your sister was in love with you at first sight...

We all were...

It was finally time to go home.

Oh look! The stork announced your birth! All 9lbs and 2oz of you!

We walked in those doors and began our new life with you. You have brought so much joy, so much laughter, and so much love to our family Lexi Mae.

Your Daddy and I love you with all of our hearts Lexi. We are so thankful that God chose us to be your parents.

Happy 4th Birthday!


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Scratchy Dishes.

I got kinda bummed putting my dishes away today. I noticed a lot of them are pretty scratched up. They were a wedding present, so to be fair they are over ten years old. But still, the scratches are hard for OCD people like me.

But as I bent over the sink, holding a plate in my hand, I started thinking about how many times those dishes were used. How many birthdays, dinners with family, parties with friends...How many good stories were shared over dinner....How much laughter filled the room over many brownies were eaten while watching our favorite shows like Survivor or LOST.

And as each moment filled my mind, I started to like the way my scratchy dishes looked...because etched into each one, are sweet, precious memories.

Monday, May 10, 2010


While riding in the car, Lexi started singing a song. When she was done Haley said, "That was pretty Lexi. Sing it again."

Lexi said... "I can't. It's not in my brain anymore."