Thursday, November 5, 2009

Needles, ugh

For those of you who don't know, I'm what the medical world calls "a tough stick." In other words, you better find someone good to stick me because my veins like to hide when someone is searching for blood. And may I add, because of this title, I know the misery and pain that come along with having to be poked multiple times by multiple people, with each time resulting in the professional fishing around in my arm poking at everything and anything trying to get a drop of blood. It is not fun. With low platelet levels during my pregnancy, I was stuck often during the last 2 weeks of my pregnancy, and then even there after. When I say often, let's say maybe 40 times, not exaggerating.
So, all of that said, today was Bryton's one year doctor appointment. He did awesome. He's in the 75% now across the board. He's doing okay on his milestones, and he was quite social with the doctor haha. But, thank you high lead county, 12 months also means his first blood test, like, real blood test. Turnicate, needle in the arm, blood test. And I was alone. (Thank you, H1N1 for taking my husband from me for this marvelous event.)
So we get to the hospital... and for it to be past nap time, I had a sane, wonderful child. But I found out today that if my child got no other genes from me, he got my veins. They stuck him 4 times before they ever struck gold. And I was the one holding my precious boy down. I was the one he was looking at like, "Why are you letting them do this to me," while tears streamed down his face. Don't get me wrong, I know it's for his good, and trust me, he's been fine the rest of the day, but during that moment, knowing he'd be fine when it was over, I fretted. Momma Bear was coming out as they fished and grinded that needle around in his arm, after minutes of it I heard myself (normally pretty soft spoken) say, "Ok, that's enough, it's time to try something different. This is ridiculous." I had had it. I'd set and held him for many minutes while they fished in one arm, and my shirt was soaked with tears. When they took the needle out and I could love on him he grabbed me around the neck and sobbed. My heart lay broken on the floor, I'm pretty sure. Then, we got to try again in the other arm. And then again, and then again. And I sat and watched, and even helped, as strangers who didn't love my precious son poked needles into his flesh and caused him pain. And I, as a parent, finally understood the "it hurts me more than it hurts you."
And it was just needles, not nails. How God stood by and allowed his son to be beaten and nailed to a cross by people who did not know Him, even knowing the outcome, I will never understand. When Jesus called out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" I feel like it would have been the look Bryton gave me today, "Why are you letting this happen? Aren't you supposed to protect me?!" Everything doesn't have to be a spiritual experience, but I think God has something to teach us in all of our experiences... and I have a growing awe of God as I continue in my experience as a parent.

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Huge Vent

I am tired... exhausted even... nope, I don't even know if that covers it. I've been working a lot lately, subbing that is, and was finally feeling like I was helping contribute to our finances some, Bryton was doing well at the sitter's house, etc. Then, apparently I bring home something more than just finances... some kind of bug... I think it's the flu. Of course, you pay a copay to go to the dr... sit there forever, and they write you a prescription for an antibiotic... gee thanks. So, I've been more ill this week than I have been in a long time. I stayed in bed all day (minus my dr appointment) on Wednesday... Thursday was not enjoyable, and I'm finally feeling like I may be on the other end of this. Bryton has been at the sitter's everyday (there goes those finances), and Aaron's been trying to play breadwinner and dad.
Well, Aaron comes home last night with a fever and a headache, has thrown up 3 times today, and can't beat the headache. (Exactly how mine started off.) My mom was taking Bryton for the weekend (currently the only one NOT sick), but she couldn't get him to nap, so he was there from 10:30 - 4 and she sent him home... so now I'm playing super mom, except my super powers are gone. I don't have the energy to play with him like I should, or the patience... laundry needs to be done... badly, I need to get grocieries, and I don't even feel like getting off the couch. On top of it all, the "mom instinct" in me says, "CLEAN, ALICIA, CLEAN" because I don't want Bryton getting whatever it is that we have (I still say flu), but where is the energy to do that... ugh.
Not to mention this all happens when we should be celebrating his birthday. Ugh, it is so... aggravating, frustrating, irritating... ugh
I swear, if Adam and Eve wouldn't have messed it all up (we would have eventually I'm sure), but I'm guessing there'd be no sickness... thanks a lot sin...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Most Likely To...

For those of you who know my Jesus story you know that my senior year was hard. To really comply with all of the convictions I held I was forced to stand out in the crowd I'd always wanted to blend in to. I consistently carried my Bible with me to class, my music choices changed drastically (they had to at that time, the other "stuff" had crept into my heart), I did not frequent the same places anymore, and, as a result, many of my friendships began to fade.
I can't totally say that I blame them. There was a lot of change going on in my life and in my heart all at one time. It would have to be a lot to take in. Afterall, it was in the matter of a week or so that my life made a complete flip/flop. Many said I had "went off the deep end", others made fun of me and called me Jesus (I cried, but realize now how unworthy I am of that title, but what a compliment it was), and others would not join in with the mocking but would not stand next to me either. Do I blame them? No. I hold no grudges, I harbor no bitterness, and I point no fingers. But do I make any apologies for my change of heart or direction? Absolutely not.
All of that is said to say this, when it came around for the voting of the senior "favorites" at the end of senior year, I would have put $1,000 on the fact that I would have been voted for nothing. Definitely not most popular, definitely not prettiest eyes, or smile, or class clown. I was smart, but knew many others who were more likely to succeed than me. What does book smarts have to do with success anyway? I'm learning, not a lot. So, I took a ballot, turned in my two cents, and went on with life.
And then the results came in. Not only did I receive votes in a specific catagory, I would have lost my $1,000 because I won that category for the girls... most likely to......................................... change after high school. Yep, you heard me right. At the moment of hearing this news I didn't know what to think, but it only took me a minute or so to feel the pain well up inside of me again. Please understand, I may have been a Christian, and God is enough for me, but I really needed a friend that year. I really needed a pat on the back. I really needed someone to say, "Whether I agree with what you are doing or not, I commend your passion, and I am your friend and I will stand next to you." And what I got was being voted most likely to change after high school. It felt like the ultimate blow. It felt like people thought I was fake, like I couldn't perservere, like I'd go to college and go nuts. Maybe they thought I might finally be fun again. Maybe they thought I'd turn my back on my faith. To be really honest, I don't know how else I could have taken it. What IS that category anyway? I had been voted "friendliest" in 8th grade, and now this? I couldn't believe it. I was just ready... for high school... to .... be .... over.
So here I am... 6 1/2 years after graduating High School. Every so often I think about that title I was given by my classmates. It has often been a challenge to me. Scripture talks about those who leave the faith. There have, of course, been times that I've questioned and backslid, as is with most believers, but I have not wavered. I have stood firm on Jesus as my foundation.
Have I been tempted? Sure. Have I had opportunities to wander? Absolutely. Do I feel like I've missed out on anything? Never. (Believe it or not, not even senior prom.)
On the other hand though, they are right, I have changed. I am no longer the timid senior who stood firm, but sometimes ashamadely on her Jesus, I am now a confident young woman who finds her confidance in Jesus alone. I am proud of my faith, I am proud of what makes me different, and I am proud of who I have become. It is my success. (I'm learning that being "most likely to succeed" is not a fair category. What may be success for one person may not be for another.) I believe I have become more loving and less condemning. I believe my confidence change has changed many of my classmates views of me. Confidence, (not arrogance), can do a lot for a person's character. I don't listen to just "Christian" music anymore, but I don't fill my heart with junk or language that is going to give me a false idea of love or happiness. In day to day life, I'm just like anyone... I love my family, a good laugh, a good time out, and my favorite tv shows.
So that being said, have I changed after high school? Absolutely! Was it in the way that was predicted? Probably not. But I believe I have changed for the better... but that I have a ways to go. God is still doing a work in me, and I am still making myself available to that.
Would I have done anything differenly in high school? Sure, lots of little decisions I'd guess, but the biggest, I would have loved myself more and loved people better.
One way or another, I couldn't be happier with how my life is currently unfolding, and my race is not yet finished. I have more perservering to do and more changing... hopefully for the better.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

So Incredibly Blessed

Life is full of so many blessings. Sometimes we have to weed through and scrape around to find them. Sometimes they are as obvious as your child's smile. Sometimes realizing your blessings are a blessing in and of itself. There have been times in my life where I have found it very difficult to thank God for my circumstances. There have been times when I have been dissatisfied with myself, when my worry has stolen my joy, and when my outside environment was allowed to wreck a great deal of havoc on my joy. I am not naive. I know that these times will come once again.
Which is why I can praise God for the blessing of realizing the blessings.
It is a great blessing to go to bed at night with a laundry list of things in which to thank the Lord. It often overwhelms me. It brings tears to my eyes. That God would allow such great gifts in my life and would trust me to love and cherish them as His own, that is a blessing.
I dine with, commune with, parent with, and worship with my very best friend. The Lord has given me a husband whom I love and who loves me in return. I will never claim that he is perfect, and he would prefer me not claim that anyway. He has his faults, and I have mine as well. Together, we are two imperfect human beings clawing our way to the prize. I encourage him, he encourages me. We are imperfect, but together we serve as a beautiful illustration of the love of Christ for His church.
And God has made me a parent. I'd be lying if I said I had no reservations about parenthood. I definitely wanted my "married time" before any other person took my husband's affection away from me. (Seriously, that was exactly my thoughts for awhile.) Though I do appreciate, and do not regret, the 3 years, 3 months - 3 days, that Aaron and I were married before Bryton came into the world, becoming a parent has been the most life - changing, and one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever encountered aside from marriage. I love being a mom. The rewards that come with seeing my sons smile, seeing his new experiences, seeing his affection for me and his dad, and having that little head lay on my shoulder, even if for a moment, is priceless. I think now of the sacrifices I would make for my children and to be a mother, and it amazes me. A year ago I had a lot to learn about parenting, love, and sacrifice. Amazingly, the "motherly instinct" (that I believe comes from God), comes quickly and fiercly. My mom saw it in me the first time Zeke met Bryton. The dog, whom we had loved like one of our own children, very quickly became a dog again when Bryton was on the scene. My mom says she could see in my eyes the, "You hurt him, and I kill you," glare as he ran wildly into our apartment. My affections towards Zeke have returned to some degree, but he is, and forever will be, the dog.
Bryton has made me take life less seriously. He, in his 11 month old innocense, has instilled in me a love for fun and spotanaity. He encourages me to laugh at myself, to rough-house on the floor, to splash as much as we want in the bathtub (who cares if the floor gets wet... it seriously takes one minute to wipe up), to have family traditions and to do and see as much as a family as we possibly can. I truly believe that he has taught me to become a better wife, better youth worker, better aide at school, and better friend. My confidence is higher than it's ever been, and though there are probably more stressors in my life than there have been at other times, I find myself less stressed and more happy.
I never want to be my kids' friend at the cost of discipline and their moral character, but I'd love if my kids could consider me their biggest cheerleader and a really fun mom.
As far as friends are concerned, I have some pretty amazing women in my life who encourage me, boost my confidence, who make me take life less seriously, and whom I really believe will be behind me and beside me regardless of what obstacles I may one day encounter. Some of them I have known briefly, some I have known for some time, both are as valuable to me as gold, and they are always remembered as I reflect on my blessings. I love them dearly.
Thank God for opening my eyes to my blessings. Even when the times seem hard and the blessings seem few, they still exist, and it is a blessing in and of itself that my eyes have been opened to see the precious gifts in which I have been blessed. God is forever worthy of praise.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Italian Beef and The Simple Things

Well, you guys probably thought I'd given up on my challenge since I've been so busy... NOPE! This week was crock-pot italian beef. I should preface this to say that this was a huge step for me.
A. I've never fixed Italian Beef. Period.
B. The reason I've never fixed Italian Beef is because I'm certain, without a doubt, that my mom makes the best italian beef in the whole entire world :) (And doesn't know her own recipe, figures.)
C. I know my mom has never fixed Italian Beef in a crock pot, so that scared me in itself.
All in all... it was okay, and I would fix it again, but it sure wasn't like momma's.
Here it is:

2 lb chuck roast
I mixed all of the dry ingredients with the water, poured it over the roast (in the crock pot), cooked on low for 8 hours. Then I shredded the meat, put it back in the crock pot on low, added the small amount of vinegar and let it cook for another 1/2 hour.
So there it is. Aaron said it's worth doing again... we shall see :)

As for other news. I absolutely love this time of year. As if it wasn't great enough to begin with, having B this year (actually in my arms) makes it even more exciting. His b-day is coming up (in exactly one month from today), which means a 1st Birthday party, (which I'm totally excited for), not to mention Halloween (he's going to be a lion), pumpkin food, pumpkin smells, chilly weather, football, thanksgiving, Christmas shopping and then CHRISTMAS! Yay!
So, I've noticed myself (and this is a good thing), going to bed at night so very thankful for what gifts God has given me now, and so here are the simple joys I find in my every day life :)
-The loving promise from a savior (had to throw that in first)
-My son's smile
-My husband's hug / touch / conversation. I don't know that he understands the depth of the meaning of those things.
-The smell and flicker of a good candle.
-Fixing a nice warm meal... to enjoy together.
-Friendships of great friends
-Cozying up in a blanket
-My favorite show on tv (currently the biggest loser)
-A nice sweet, good, warm dessert... yum
-Pumpkin pie blizzards from DQ!
-A nicely made bed (which unfortunately does NOT happen everyday)
-Our comforter... the best $34 I've spent at Wal Mart
-A clean house and clean laundry
-Right now, a nice, crisp apple
-Playing ball with my son, and even moreso, Aaron and I both playing ball with him. There's something extremely attractive about your husband and your baby enjoying each other!
-Boardgames... and I don't do it nearly enough.
-The sunshine
-Getting a good deal
-Getting sweet, random, encouraging text messages or emails
-Taking sweet pics of my baby boy
-Homemade doughnuts!
-sweatshirts
-Wearing my favorite pair of jeans... I'm getting ready to start looking for a new favorite pair of jeans
-Shopping
-Planning for anniversaries, birthdays, and Christmas ;)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fruit and Chicken Skewers - New Recipe


Well here it is! This week's new recipe! Fruit and Chicken Skewers! This has been our favorite so far, and SUPER EASY! Scored an 8 on Aaron's scale, a 7 1/2 or 8 on Luke's (our guest taster ;) and an 8 on mine!

Marinade:
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • A dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup dry white cooking wine
  • 3/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
Wisk together in a medium bowl.

Skewers:
1 lb chicken breasts (boneless / skinless) cut into chunks
Pineapple, cored and cut into chunks
Maraschino Cherries
Fresh Whole Mushrooms
Red Onion (cut into chunks)
Other vegetables of your liking

Toss chicken breast chunks, mushrooms, onions, and other vegetables in marinade. Let marinade for at least one hour (mine sate for 5 hours in fridge). Skewer pineapple, and cherries at both ends, sandwiching patterns of chicken and vegetables. (We used metal skewers, if you use wooden skewers make sure you soak them well in water.)
Lightly oil grill grate and grill skewers 10-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
(We also took the leftover pineapple and cherries, put them in a pammed piece of aluminum foil and tossed those on the grill as well... scrumptious!)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Making His Lunch

I've learned a lot in the past week. It's the one reason I had a passion for taing before... because to some kids, school is the best part of their lives. Any encouragement, accolade, or treat they get there could be the only they get... period. You see this is all kinds of ways, but particularly, by kids who bring their sack lunch.
Now, don't get me wrong... there's nothing wrong with the hot lunch line. And believe it or not, some of the food actually looks pretty good, but when the school is serving scoop burgers, or whatever other food a child may hate for that matter, and a parent packs a lunch for the kiddo, well, THAT, is special. While standing at the sack lunch table last week I took a peek into some kids home lives. Little notes from mom, a sandwich with the crust cut off, orange slices, an extra thing of fruit snacks, even strawberry milk in some... that's my kind of lunch. And in an incredible, indirect way, that sack lunch says, "I know you, I love you, and I cared enough to take the time for you today. I hope it makes your day better." (Of course, I never realized this until I became a parent.)
Tonight, though B may be only 10 1/2 months, I stood over his diaper bag, packing into it what he'll eat for his breakfast and lunch at the sitter's tomorrow. It's a new nightly task that I loathe on one hand (it's something else to add to my already full day), but I cherish on the other. Though this little boy will never know, nor remember, that I put the effort and care into his lunch when he went to the sitters, it was my way, as a mother, to show my child that I love him, I care what he eats, and though I'm not with him, I wish, desperately, that I could be. I make sure not to pack the same thing two days in a row, that I know he'll enjoy it, and I try to throw in a little treat... it's his little "note" from mom. So tomorrow, I hope as B eats his cheerios and pineapple for breakfast, and his green beans, cheese (portioned the way he likes it), and orange jello (there's that little treat) makes him think, if even for a second, of his momma packed that lunch with every bit of love she possibly could.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Oven Fried Chicken and the Rollercoaster Ride

Well, tonight we had a new recipe (I'll post below), it was fast and easy, but good. It scored a 7.5 on the Aaron Gregg star rating ;) I guess I'll be doing it again. More on that later.
As far as the rollercoaster ride is concerned, well, I got a job. It was a 'temporary' position helping kids who needed some special attention. Well, that started Monday, I found out today (it was obviously veeeerrrrry temporary) that one of those children who needed the special attention needs special attention permanently, and in a special classroom. My job is not happening anymore. And let's just say, after two days having him for half days, I don't think I can do it for full days... and after one day being desperately sad and feeling... almost conviction... over leaving Bryton... I'm really entertaining the thought of subbing. I'd love the opportunity to get to be in different classrooms, in different grade levels, and will love having a more flexible schedule. If Aaron and I want to get away we can (we go to his rents a lot on Thursday nights and stay through Saturdays, can't do that working full time). Also, I'll get to be with Bryton during days here and there. I don't mind to work full weeks occasionally, but I know most weeks will be 2-3 days a week, enough to get me out, B with other kids, and for me to still feel like I'm the caregiver to my baby.
Anyway - my 8 - 3 days with 1/2 hour lunch has me very tired, so I sat the chicken out this morning, put it back in the fridge at lunch, and took the 10 minutes it took to combine ingredients to "bread" my chicken tonight. It went like this:
Mix in a zip-lock bag: (for 1 lb of chicken)
1 cup of dried breadcrumbs
1 tsp of thyme
1 tsp of ground black pepper
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of garlic powder
1/2 tsp of paprika

Cut fat off of chicken (I used skinless, boneless chicken breasts). Coat with mayonaise. Shake in breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 degrees in lightly greased pan for 45 minutes.

It was a fast easy dinner for us tonight, so it'll definitely get served again. Not to mention the fact that from a health standpoint it wasn't horribly unhealthy. (I know, I know, mayonaise, but it isn't that much.) So anyway, there's the scoop. More to come about the job in a few days.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A far stretch for spiritual analogy... but I like it.


Okay, so I know God used a donkey to get a point across, but check out this revelation I had today.

Have you noticed all of the squirrels lately? I have, unfortunately. It seems like when I see them they are making a mad dash across Washington Street, making it only by the hair on their chinny chin chins or, well, let's just say that I've seen several not make it at all (for those of you who are not Du Quoinians, Washington Street is our "main street" in town... busy and four lanes of traffic). I don't really care for squirrels, but I don't exactly enjoy watching them get hit on the road either. I'm one of those who, when seeing one attempt to cross, always watches in my side mirrors to see if it "makes it". I don't know, maybe I'm a romantic or something. I want the underdog to win, and in the case of a squirrel and a 2 ton piece of steel and machinery, I'm rooting for the squirrel.

So anyway... lets just say I've seen one too many squirrels hit lately.
Fast forward to today, I'm on my way home from Wal-Mart, traveling the infamous squirrel slaughtering street, when I just happen to glance up and there is a squirrel running across the powerline over the street. I even said outloud (I'm not kidding, I really did), "Now, that is a smart squirrel."

It amazed me... I hadn't even considered that path in how a squirrel could cross the road. Run up the pole, across the line, down the pole, TA DA! It's so simple, but many squirrels choose to run and dodge 2 ton machines traveling at a measley 40 mph.

Then I got to thinking, (Here is the far stretch for the spiritual analogy,) we are so much like the stupid squirrels. ("We" as in Christians.) For those who profess Jesus with their mouth but continue living in their sin, well, they are taking the low road, crossing with dangerous obstacles, getting from point A to point B is hard, difficult, and sometimes, fatal. But for those of us squirrels that take the provided high road, who have the wisdom (think Proverbs) to so choose it, well, it may be narrow, but it gets us safely across. Matthew 7:13-14 says, "You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it."

The analogy is really two fold -- there are the unsaved squirrels that don't have the wisdom to take the high road. They are the ones crossing at their own risk, oblivious that there is a better way. THEN, and almost more scary, there are the saved squirrels, they've chosen to follow Jesus but with all of the squirrel peer pressure they choose to continue doing things their own way. They bypass the high,narrow, safer road, for the low road littered with obstacles and death.

Proverbs 16:25 - There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.

Moral of the story: Be the wise squirrel.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Chicken and Andouille Sausage Jambalaya


Week 1 of the Cooking Challenge = success. I'm making an effort to get Aaron's opinion, Bryton's opinion (whenever it applies right now), and the opinion of an honest innocent bystander, who this evening just happened to be Steffanie. (And Luke called the leftovers, we'll see what his opinion is after trying!)
I'm asking for a star rating from 1 - 10 with 1 being "You can't pay me enough to eat it again," and 10 being "that's the most wonderful thing I've ever eaten in my life."
So, that being said, tonight's dinner was chicken and andouille sausage jambalaya, honey cornbread, and fried apple pies.
Overall I thought the meal was good. I was going for a comparison to the "House of Blues" jambalaya. Though I don't think I succeeded in that area, I'd cook the meal again, and Aaron has requested it again.
Steff gave a 6 out of 10 star rating, Aaron a 7. (Bryton tried a small taste of the rice... and his face turned bright red, so he didn't get much more than that... too spicy for his pallet at the moment.)
I'll be honest and say the fried apple pies didn't fry long enough. I fried them in a fryer instead of a skillet so I couldn't watch them well. Luckily I tried first and made the others refrain from eating... so there is no star rating. I'll try those again differently.

So here are the recipes:
Chicken and Andouille Sausage Jambalaya
1/2 lb - 1 lb of boneless / skinless chicken breasts (I used 3, about 3/4 of a pound)
1/2 lb - 1 lb of Andouille Sausage (I used the Johnsonville brand and used all but one link)
One can Rotel died tomatoes and green chiles
1 cup diced white onion (or yellow, or green)
2 cups white rice
2 tbsps cajun seasoning (buy in seasoning aisle or see the recipe I used below, recipe or amount can be adjusted to taste)

Boil chicken until done. Save 4 cups of broth. Cut sausage into coins, dice onion and cube chicken. Add sausage, onion, chicken, rotel, and seasoning to broth in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Once boiling add rice and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover and allow to cook 20 minutes or until rice is tender. (Adjust to the taste of your family by adding more or less cajun seasoning or substituting andouille sausage for regular.)

Cajun Seasoning Recipe:
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
5 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons salt

Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Store in sealed container.

If you all try it let me know what you think!!!

-Alicia

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Planes, Trains and Automobiles... and Balloons and Boats


Awwww vacation. Such a beautiful word. I love traveling, experiencing new things, relaxing, and having the freedom to spend time with my family outside of our normal constrains of work. (For me consisting currently of worrying about housework and B.)
When I graduated college Aaron's rent's gave us (I know, I have such wonderful in-laws) vacation, our choice of resort to exchange for their time share. Since I was pregnant when I received this wonderful gift, and we both wanted to go skiing, we thought we'd wait until the baby arrived and take a 2nd honeymoon to Colorado :) Fast forward about 9 months from that decision and it was January of 2009 and it was time for us to decide where we were going to go by the end of October. Well, there's no guarantee for snow in October in Colorado, so we explored other skiing options, again, no guarantees that early in the season. So we started thinking beach (my fave of faves), and we started looking gulf area (think Orange Beach, AL), to no avail. All we could find in the way of resorts, well, wasn't exactly our idea of a good resort vacation. So, after days upon days of looking we finally decided to find the best rated resort that was an even exchange, which brought us to Orlando.
*Sigh* - Okay, now that I've explained what got us there... As time moved on in B's little life our "2nd honeymoon" for me began to look grim. Not knowing whether we'd have other children or not, and already spending a week away from B in July, I was soooooo very concerned I'd miss some of his "first" things while we were gone. Not to mention we'll have to leave him for four days again in November... and frankly, I didn't have a child so I could drop him off for two or three weeks a year before the age of one. So, our 2nd honeymoon became a family vacation with my in-laws, who graciously agreed to go to watch B so Aaron and I could have "our" time and time with him.
And it all worked out wonderfully! (Minus Aaron's episode with gout -- yeah, I'm going to stop traveling with people, it seems like everywhere I end up someone else ends up diagnosed with a lifelong ailment of some sort.) Anyway, Aaron and I got to golf 3 times (ok, I golfed twice and cadied once - and that was on an Arnold Palmer course), hit the driving range, have a great dinner out at House of Blues, explore the pools, hit downtown Disney (with and without B), and soak up some sun. As a family we had the opportunity to do the pool thing (wait until you see the pictures... B LOVES the water!), go to the ocean (only my favorite place ever), take B up in the "hot air" balloon at Downtown Disney, and enjoy several nice meals together. We really had a great time!
As far as missing any "firsts" with Bryton, there is the obvious things... he wouldn't have had his first plane ride (in which he did GREAT both times), train ride (actually a monorail experience at the airport), ride on a boat (downtown disney), balloon ride (downtown disney), experience on the golf course (see facebook pics), trip to the ocean, Disney adventure, trips down the lazy river, etc. BUT, I would have also missed the first real crawling, first real pulling up with no help on everything, first clapping, fake laughing, peek-a-boo (on his own), clapping to Patty Cake (on his own - not very well, but he at least has the idea), and little indian sounds (think sound coming out of your mouth and hand hitting it) with his hands and anything else he could get his hands on, sitting up in the crib, and standing up in the crib. One week folks, one week. I swear had I got home I would have never known he was my kid. When we left town B's crib was still on the top position... and we had no reason to move it down. The FIRST thing we did when we got home, moved the crib bed down. Praise God we took him. I'm afraid I would have had a very hard time enjoying myself knowing all he was doing without momma seeing it :(
I never thought I'd say that vacation changes everything, but this one did, my son went a baby and came back a little boy, I'm afraid. Very mobile, into everything... life at the Gregg household has changed forever... for the better, but another large adjustment. Again, parents, take lots and lots of pictures, babies don't stay babies long.
-a

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Whole New World


What you see here is our next purchase in the realms of parenthood! This particular purchase means that we have finally and certainly crossed that threshold into mobility. Bryton decided Friday, at 9 1/2 months, to finally make some bit of an effort to crawl. Please don't get me wrong, however, it isn't because he wanted to crawl, it was simply because that is what happened when he was trying to stand up in the middle of the room on his own! We figured he'd never crawl, so we'll take anything we can get!
Fast forward three days and last night he decided he try again to stand up in the middle of the room on his own. (Keep in mind we've crawled from time to time now.) Well, this time the little booger almost pulled it off. He got up on both of his feet, bent over completely at the waist, legs almost straight, hands on the ground. He just couldn't balance himself enough to stand all the way up without falling over.
Here he is trying!

Now, today, he's into everything. He's completely figured out how to get from his belly to his butt on his own, which has him all over the place and pulling up on everything. I've said "no no" more than I thought I ever would. He looks at me with these innocent eyes like, "Are you sure, mom? Your exercise bands sure look like a lot of fun!" It's really hard not to laugh at him!
There's that face!

There is such pride that comes from this mother's heart. With the pride comes this whole new sense of fear. It's time to go nuts baby-proofing the house. And no more leaving him in the floor to play while I go downstairs to get the laundry or shower. Today, in a five minute time period, I came back to find him chewing on that exercise band. Uh - huh. Time to baby-proof. Well, technically, the right time to have done that would have been long before he was able to get to the exercise band.
So anyway, that's Bryton's whole new world! :) It's on now!
And I had to add this because I thought it was cute!!!

The Ugly Existence of a Migraine Sufferer


I’ve had migraine headaches for, well, as long as I can remember. I was diagnosed as a child and never quite understood how misunderstood migraine headaches could be for those who aren’t sufferers. So for those of you who don’t understand the debilitating effects of these headaches, here is a look into the window of my life.
My childhood was littered with the memories shared by most kids, flashlight tag and swimming at the neighbor’s house, catching fireflies in the summertime, and many trips to grandma’s on the weekend. In my childhood, though, I can pick out of a pile the exact sheet my mom used to lay on the couch for me when I was sick, and the exact trash can that sat next to me. I can pinpoint the smell of that trashcan. It smelled like dryer sheets, and can distinctly remember how nauseated it often made me. I have the vivid memory of cold wash rags pushed into my eyeballs like a mask, and the swishing of the fan overhead. My poor parents, as if it wasn’t enough to see their child in such pain, were confined to the kitchen for most of my childhood, where they watched tv in virtual silence in between checking to make sure my rag was still cold enough.
I can remember nights when I would cry, half because the pain was so horrible, and half because I was frustrated at what my life had become. I look back now and can’t imagine how much of my childhood I missed due to these headaches.
In kindergarden my doctor okayed the change from children’s Tylenol to adult extra strength Tylenol every four hours, which never helped the pain.
In the first grade I underwent my first ct scan to check for brain tumors. I would have eight more before the age of 9.
During the 2nd grade I was referred to an ENT. I had also had many sinus infections in my life and one particular test showed my sinuses miserably blocked. The day after my eighth birthday I underwent sinus surgery in hopes of relief. Though my sinus infections dramatically decreased, the headaches did not. A straight A student, I was almost held back my 2nd grade year because I had missed so many days of school. Which led to the “play it right” game of 3rd grade.
In third grade I had a miracle teacher. Her room was empty in the afternoons, and she just happened to have a room in the middle of the building, which meant no windows. In order to assure my “graduation” from 3rd grade, she would lay out a pallet in a corner, get me a cold rag for my head, and let me lay down on the days I had headaches until 2:30 rolled around and I could be counted as being there for an entire day of school.
During these years it was normal for me to have headaches 4 – 5 times a week. 3-4 of these headaches would often require my sleeping them off, and just as many would result in nausea and vomiting, which we later found out made a dramatic difference in the health of my teeth.
In the 4th grade I was referred to a neurologist at a children’s hospital in St. Louis. After several appointments I was finally diagnosed with migraine headaches at the age of 10. My mother began a 3 month journal tracking every food I ate, looking for foods that would trigger my migraines. Imagine her joy when she had the privilege of telling her 10 year old that she could no longer have chocolate or anything with caffeine in it. Beautiful. The diagnoses also led to a daily prescription medication, Inderol, and prescription pain medication, midrin, and three visits a week, for 6 weeks, to a therapist to undergo biofeedback. The exercises I learned there helped, but my most valuable information gained was learning what it felt like when a headache was coming on. If I caught them early enough it seemed I could beat them completely, with no sleeping and no vomiting (which often made my head feel a little better.)
The hopes by all of my doctors was that, like most children diagnosed, I would begin to grow out of these headaches as I got older, which for me, is exactly what happened.
In the 8th grade they began to wean me off of the inderol, and by my Junior year of high school I was able to beat my migraine headaches with an over the counter migraine medicine.
As I graduated high school and for several years following, the 4-5 headaches a week gradually became 3-4 headaches a month, and only 8-10 a year that resulted in the vomiting and required me to sleep them off. I finally felt like I was winning... I had gained my life back, or possibly, I had gained a life I had never really been able to experience.
Still now, though, I’m plagued by bouts of these headaches, just as bad as I once remember. Sometimes the bouts last a few weeks, sometimes a few months, and the one I’m currently fighting seems to be longer.
Now I’m back to the game I’ve played all of my life. What will work this time? Migraines seem so easily diagnosed, but so impossibly treated. Nothing ever works forever. Eventually medicines stop working and something that has never worked before does. Sometimes it is a trip to the ER... sometimes it’s a cold room and an hour of quiet.
For me, now, the pain is different than ever before, which opens a whole new chapter of trying to figure out the relief. My over the counter drug no longer works, and sleeping it off is now not only an option (due to my duties as a mother), but also has a counter effect and makes my headaches worse. The door has now opened to night guards and more prescription medication, chiropractic visits, massages, and possibly even surgery if we so believe it would be a permanent solution.
And here I sit, another stage in my life where the wonderful memories of life, now my son’s childhood, will be littered with more cold patches for my head, bottle after bottle of Excedrin, and more vomiting than I’ve done since my childhood. Looking back I wonder what I missed out on in my own childhood with headaches so debilitating that I was forced to sleep through most of it. I refuse for my memories of my son’s childhood to be clouded by the same fog. It’s time to find relief.
Many people, thankfully, will never personally understand the physical pain that a migraine sufferer experiences, but many will also never understand how a headache can so greatly impact an individual’s life. That’s why I felt this was so important. As a 24 year old mother and wife I have endured the pain for nearly two decades now. It is most certainly the thorn in my side, and I’m out to give a voice to those who are suffering.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

And so the vote goes...

Today was a big day for our church. Huge in fact. All of today relied upon years and years of work and prayer. It's required long looks at our budget, long looks at our heart, and long looks at our current building. We went from an elevator, to a building, to no building, to a different building, to plans and finances, to today, the all or nothing vote... we either do it -- or we don't. Well, we're doing it.
FBCDQ has voted and "okayed" to start building "Phase 1" of our new building as soon as all of the funds for that phase are in. That vote means lots of sacrifice on the part of the church, both financially and in their prayer life. It is imperitive that we now all get on our knees and pray about what we can sacrifice to allow work to be underway. It is imperitive that we pray harder for our staff, that they would be united, for our church, that we would be united, and that this project would unite our church and not cause division. The vote doesn't mean the hard part is over, it means it has just begun.
Building new homes can divide families. Building new church buildings can divide churches. Aaron and I saw it on the road, and our prayer for our church and church family is to love one another despite differences and preferences and to trust that regardless of our vote that God's will is being done... that's been my prayer all along.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Ultimate Challenge

(This is Aaron on one of our "in" date nights we had for our Christmas gifts last year. That in the pan is the HOMEMADE wonderful PF Changs lettuce wrap filling :)

I used to LOVE to cook. When I say "used" to I am referring to that time period between 6th grade and, well, maybe Freshman year, and I can't even say for sure that I can include that year. It was that time period where I was home by myself all summer long and had nothing better to do, so I cooked. I cooked dinner often, I baked all of the time. My parents never knew what they were coming home to. I found recipes in some of my mom's old recipe books and went at it. I can remember numerous phone calls to my mom at work saying, "What is EVOO?" or "What is oleo? Why couldn't they have just written margerine?" Anyway, you get the drift. My dad even bragged to his buddies at work about having all of this great home cookin' when he got home.
Fast forward about, wow, I cringe to even say this, 10 - 12 years and I relish the summer so we can throw something on the grill, throw some veggies in the microwave (steam bags are the greatest), and toss a little salad on the side. It's healthy, it tastes good, and it requires very very little effort on my part. I guess that's what happens when you are busy, and, to be truthful, are a little embarrassed to disappoint the gallery with any new creations.
BUT - in the same turn - when I do make that little extra effort and fix something new and enjoyable I bask and take pride in any pleasure I've given those who have eaten it.
SO here is my challenge: (we'll see if I stick to it in this crazy life we lead). I'm going to try one new recipe every week for a year. That's right 52 new recipes to toss or add to the arsenal of nighttime eating. The goal is for them to be main - courses (though I'm up to doing good, home-made sides with these main courses), that are tasty, healthy (to some degree), and allow us to branch out of the chicken / hamburger routine. I'm all about trying foods cross - culturally and about trying things we don't normally eat (or that I don't normally cook).
SO - to put extra pressure on myself, I'm going to try to post a link to or the recipe for each new creation I try. We haven't decided on a "day" yet, and I don't know that we'll have a set "day". But check back. I'll let you know if it's a dud or a do :)
Mostly, I try my best to give well to my family in my attitude and in the time that I spend with them, I also think it's important now for me to provide food to nourish them and not just fill them. In the hopes of someday having more children, I want to provide both my husband and my kids with good food that contributes to making them strong, healthy men. :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Little Prayer Request

Well, I'm looking to increase my blog followers. I figure, what is the point of writin' if no one is readin'? (Like the grammar? I thought so. :) So, I'm still trying to blog more often. So here is today's:
It's a prayer request. (Don't you love it, I invite you along, take some of your precious time and then ask you to give me more of it ;) I hopefully have a job interview coming up. I've submitted my resume as a Classroom Coordinator for a grant-funded Abstinence program for schools. I don't know all of the details so to speak, but I know that I have to be detail oriented, organized, have experience with youth, a BS, and feel comfortable public speaking. I figure I qualify, and given my history, am a very strong candidate for the position. As far as zeal goes, I'm over the top. I'm not sure what they are looking for... but I'm excited for the opportunity (if so given the chance) and have a lot of great ideas of things to say and ways to encourage students to practice abstinence.
So, my plea is that you'd join with me in praying about this. I'm a little nervous about it anyway, as I had originally planned to go back to work part time so that I could really parent -B- the way I want to, so part of my prayer is that God would absolutely shut this door if He feels it would be better for me to be home with him at least some of the time. Some parents feel as if both parents working full time is wrong and irresponsible parenting... my prayer is that if God wants me home with B, then He'll keep me home with B. This position looked too much like "me" not to send in my resume.
SO - long story short, I sent in my resume and received word back that I should hear from Family Advocacy Services during the week of August 24th to set up an interview and the position starts the middle of September.
Pray for strength, courage, God's will, and no stammering if I get the interview :)
I'll keep you posted!
love ya'll
-a

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Man on the Park Bench


Everyday at about 5:00pm I see the same man on the same park bench in town. He's never with anyone, and he never seems bored. We have obviously never talked. When I see him I am usually driving by with Bryton in the backseat, on our way home from errands or trips or all of the other chaos of life. It never fails though... as we drive by, probably going a little too fast, there he sits. Sometimes he has a book. Sometimes he's just sitting. Though we've never talked, I'd imagine he's pretty content. After all, he does this day after day after day.
And I don't understand it. On one hand, my life is so chaotic and so full of "things to do", I don't know how anyone just has the time to sit on a park bench... whether they are reading or not. On the other hand, I don't know why anyone would WANT to just sit on a park bench. How... boring! I mean, even when I have "down-time" I'm going to do SOMETHING during it, facebook, cooking, shopping, on a real pampering day maybe a hair cut or color. Something.
But on the other hand (pretending I have three), as I drive by the man on the park bench I am almost jealous. Jealous that he not only has the time to sit on a park bench, daily, but that he has the patience and "off-switch" required to do so. I must imagine that this particular gentleman, regardless of what has happened prior to 5:00 pm, finds his relaxation on that park bench. When the rest of the day is chaos, life happens for him there. I wonder what in my life is of the equivalent. Even when I'm resting I'm going. For pete's sake, I grind my teeth in my sleep, even when I'm sleeping I don't stop "going". Which brings me back to... my coffee house fetish. My coffee house fetish, though currently untapped, is my park bench. I may not be able to sit on a park bench and watch cars go by, or people go by, or birds for that matter. But I could sit in a coffee house, whether with a group or even by myself, and just sit. And not think about anything. Or worry about anything. Or want to go anywhere. I'm so glad Du Quoin has park benches, but seriously folks, we need a coffee house.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

How Do Parents Do It?


So I'll admit it; I was one of those really insensitive females that would listen to the "sob stories" of the older, much wiser, females who were just heart broken that their children could do... *fill in the blank*, because they were getting so big. You know, they are the moms who cry when their babies go off to kindergarten, or the moms who take forever to start feeding their kids 'real food' because they just can't be that big yet. I mean, come on, growing up is part of life. I never understood it... until now.
So, granted, take Bryton's food away and the world may end, but I can but only guarantee that I stand no chance of making it through day 1 of kindergarten without shedding at least one tear. Five years old seems SOOOOOOOOOOOO far away... but my-lanta, he's almost one. My baby boy, our huge life adjustment, our "keep us up all nighter", is this stage ever gonna be over little boy, is almost one. The first year goes by soooo fast, and the changes that come so quickly give you little time to blink, let alone adjust. It seems like as soon as I figure out something he likes or doesn't like he's moved on from that and is ready for bigger and better things. I have a feeling I should just get used to this as his little life moves on.
From day 1 I've been VERY hesitant to "wish away" any stages. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't always easy. I don't exactly love being woken up 4 or 5 times through the night, but I tried to relish in it while I could just sit and hold him while he ate. I know someday he probably won't want me to hug him in public. I didn't enjoy his "collicky" epidsodes, but I'd be lying if I said that it didn't feel reallllly good that I was the one person who could calm him. I know that each little stage, each little moment, is going to come and go and I may never ever get that experience again. The thought that we may never have another baby to hold and love still shatters my heart, but it makes me ever more diligent to make sure I miss as little of Bryton's life as possible. I want to see the first steps, the first crawling... the first straight A's, his first basket, his first homerun, etc.
Our lives are really but a vapor. I don't know that I ever understood that until B came along. I mean, seriously, to go through life stages so quickly is something I had never seen before. I know I don't get it all right, but I know that I'm trying. God is teaching me more and more through my marriage and through parenthood, and I know that I'm going to be a better person because of the lessons taught to me by the world's sweetest little boy and by my amazing husband. God willing I get the opportunity to experience the firsts again.
-a

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Almost Anniversary Time

I am a hopeless romantic. I can't help it. There is something in me that desires this "dancing in the moonlight, long walks on the beach, passionate pursuit" that, well, girls like. I guess it's no surprise, then, that I crave anniversaries. I look forward to it every year. It's another celebration of "we've made it", and love. It seems every year we can look back at obstacles and joys, difficulties and triumphs, but where would we be without both. The difficulties make us stronger and are opportunities for us to grow closer together, whereas the triumphs and joys give us something to celebrate, to dance around, to relish in. They are all important. Marriage has taught me so very much, mostly, that I am the sinner that I, at one time, thought I might not be. Even measuring myself up to my husband's "righteousness" can sometimes seem daunting and make me feel as a failure... and as far as scripture is concerned, his righteousness too, is as filthy rags. If I can't even compare to my husband, how can I ever begin to compare to the righteousness of Christ. Alongside that I can feel the constant struggle to be the "bride in white" that Christ desires, having the temptations of the world pull my from my bridegroom. Whether they be pride, busy-ness, self dependency, selfishness, and the list goes on, all can pull apart this relationship I've formed with this man that God had designed for me. I've learned that marriage isn't "for" us. Sure, we have the privilege of enjoying the benefits of it, but, as is everything, marriage exists completely to give God glory. When God isn't glorified in our marriage, how is our marriage to thrive? We are missing the soul mission of matrimony. (Say that 3 times fast.) Marriage holds analogous meaning time after time after time in scripture. Think about Song of Solomon. Think about the roles men and women hold in families. Think about the bride and the bridegroom meeting. Marriage has been a constant lesson, a constant blessing, and constant work. Not bad work, but work none-the-less. (I slept and dreamdt that life was joy, I woke and saw that life was duty, I acted and behold, duty was joy. - Tagore)
So, with that being said... I'd like to wish my husband a happy 4 Year Anniversary! Thanks for the hard work you put into our marriage and may we never cease trying to make each year better, more passionate, and more purposeful (giving God glory) than the one prior! I love you!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Don't know where this is headed...

It is a horrible title for a blog isn't it? I really don't know what else to say though. Somewhere hidden inside of me is this creative, passionate, lyrical side of me that is being repressed by something. Fear maybe. Maybe regret. Maybe busy-ness, or worry. Or maybe a little bit of all of the above. So I feel like I'm this maze of a person, trying to find where I'm headed on the outside, but trying to figure me all out on the inside too. It is a difficult, complicated, tedious task. So when I title my blog "Don't know where this is headed," well, it's because I really don't.
We just returned from World Changers, Evansville, IN. As far as the World Changer's organization is concerned, I was extremely disappointed. The trip in general I would deem as a success. Our group united in an incredible way. It is like no group we have ever taken before. We (the girls) made some incredible friends from Montgomery, Alabama (we know, we're incredibly attracted to accents ;), and grew closer together as a church family / youth group. If nothing came out of WC besides these two things, it was successful. I've been very much inspired to "hang out" with the girls more... to not just invest in their lives but to be a part of them... that's really what it's all about, right? Being the visible Jesus to the best of my ability, well, let me rephrase, to allow Him to make Himself visible through me. I fall so short in trying to imitate Him.
We're now getting into the swing of things back at home, getting ready for VBS and then on to our anniversary, Aaron's birthday, and our vacation. (Which I'm really excited about... I desperately am in need of some romantic moments with my husband.)
As far as I'm concerned, I feel this great hunger inside of me for the Word. World Changer's left me empty. I need a fresh Word from God... a fresh revelation, a fresh promise that he hasn't forgotten me. I see Him working in my patience and I see Him teaching me a ton through parenthood (just like He has and is continuing to do through marriage), but I feel I need more. As hungry as I am for Him, I desire to be even more hungry, more empty, so that when God so chooses to fill me up I oooooze His goodness, His love, His Words.
I've found myself praying and thinking about Bryton often. I'm so afraid of this world that he will be living in during coming years. I pray daily that he'll find Jesus early and yearn and thirst and long for Him. It reminds me of our good friend Mark McConkey's song about his little girl. I'll post the lyrics below. Lord only knows what He has in store for this little boy who has my heart tied around his little finger. He's this little ball of potential that I have the privilege of holding, loving and nurturing. I pray God makes Him a mighty warrior, a winner of souls.
Here's the song:
The shade of morning
The light shines through
The sun rises quickly and kisses you
I've never witnessed a more beautiful sight
Than you waking slowly, your blue eyes seeing the light.
These early days, my wish for you
That you grow up righteous, grow up to be true
You'd find Him quickly, as your strength and your guide
Jesus revealed to you, your blue eyes seeing the light
May the Lord be your shepherd, may the Lord be your fill
May the Lord make you lie in green pastures
May he lead you by waters and restore your soul
May he guide you in paths of righteousness
Even though you may enter the valley of death
I know you will not fear, for you know he is near
He annoints you with oil and your cuppeth overflows
With goodness and love all the days of your life and you'll dwell in the house of the Lord - forever
Now this life goes by quickly I want to know
that you love Jesus more than your daddy,
jesus more than your mom
through trials and temptations may you always do right
with your gaze fixed upon him - your blue eyes seeing the light.

Pretty amazing huh. Yeah, I thought so.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Curveballs


Sometimes life throws them at you. Or God throws them at you. Or life throws them at you and God helps you through them. It's that whole perfect will / permissive will thing, and personally, it's not something I have the energy to think about right now.
One way or another, life takes some unexpected turns and it seems to happen at somewhat inconvenient times.
Just recently I was contacted via facebook by my real dad's fiance. For those of you who don't know, it's been about 20 years since I've had ANY contact with my real father. Bruce has always been my dad, will always be my dad, and has been the only one who has shown much interest in me. Well, this contact obviously came as a great surprise. She had contacted me for him (he doesn't have facebook, though is considering it now, beautiful), to tell me my grandmother (who I greatly enjoyed and was the ONLY one I have any memory of from that side of my family) had passed away. They informed me of the times of the visitation and funeral and put the ball in my court as to whether I wanted to come or not. For those of you who don't know my dilema, imagine for yourself for a moment that an individual denied you time and time again and then finally said, "hey, gonna be in town friday if you want to meet up... with all of my family, with brothers and sisters you didn't know you had and a whole lot of ppl who remember you but you don't remember, yeah, the day after tomorrow... Friday." Ummm, difficult. Not to mention on top of the whole scenario I worry completely about my dad... Bruce's... reaction to my decision. If I did choose to go what kind of hurt would that bring him. A great deal as I'm told. And of course, here comes my Biblical perspective.
It's the biological dad and the adoptive dad, in every sense of the word for me. The adopted dad raised me... brought me, went to dance recitals and ball games, congratulated on straight A's and on celebrated on birth days, took me to the zoo, to tropical sno, sat with me when I was sick. The biological one, well, he did nothing of value except assist in bringing me to be. And the thought, from the adopted dad, if I then wanted to find out what this biological dad was all about, can't be good. It's like us, as Christians... we are adopted into God's family. We relish in all of the rewards of the family, all of the joys of being a part, made His own, loved as if I'd been born in myself... and then temptation rears its ugly head and I become curious to what this other side of me is. It was the sin I was born into... isn't that who I really am? You see the correlation here?
Anyway, I decided not to go to the funeral. Not because I think my real dad is sin or anything... I just didn't feel like the appropriate time to meet and greet with family I've not seen in 20 years was at my grandma's funeral. I want it to be a time to celebrate her life... not our reuniting.
So anyway, there's my two cents.
-a

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Another Side of Me


There’s something you all don’t know about me, something I barely know about myself as I’ve only experienced this “other” side of me temporarily, at different times on the road. I don’t know what exactly I would call myself, but I’m a sucker for the city (though I don’t know that I would want to live their permanently), but I’m also a sucker for coffeehouses. Yep, coffeehouses. The amazing thing, I really don’t like coffee. When we visit Starbucks I consistently order the Strawberries and Crème Frappacino. I’ve wavered from this only once in my life, during the Christmas season, and ordered basically some steamed apple juice with cinnamon flavoring and whipped cream. I retreated quickly and went back to my Frap.
Nonetheless, there’s something wonderful about coffeehouses. I don’t know what it is, but the environment enthralls me. To be able to go in, hang out in your own secluded little corner, comfy corner I may add, hang out on your Macbook and carry on small talk (if accompanied), or just be (if you’re alone) is beautiful. I love the freedom of it. In fact, I can assure you if there was a coffeehouse near my home, I’d pack B up in his stroller in the morning, throw my hair up in a bun, grab my Macbook and off we’d stroll to hang out for an hour or so. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? In fact, I think if I could pursue my dream career, like, really dreaming here, ok, I would write, write, write my little heart out for publications and periodicals, newspapers and newsletters, by myself every morning in the comfort of a coffeehouse. I like to get out too much to stay at home, and the nostalgia of the coffeehouse would be the perfect environment for an aspiring writer, don’t you think? In a perfect world I’d make enough with my writing to afford to take Bryton to a sitter for a few hours, and to enjoy my morning cup of... well, whatever I could find that’s not caffeinated, and write. I’d be a part time writer, full time mom, and full time helper of my husband in the youth. The glory shines around the idea. What a thought.
Maybe I’m a nerd, but the idea really intrigues me. Even when I think about “fun” nights out I even consider poetry bars or jazz clubs, just to hang out, mellow out (without alcohol of course), and enjoy my kind of good “art”. Maybe I’m eclectic, or maybe I enjoy too much a slower more easy going lifestyle. Either way, I would love to pursue the thought of it all. Now someone just needs to open up a coffeehouse a few blocks down, and I need to land some writing gigs that pay well enough for me to frequent them and give me something to ponder over while I’m there.
Until next time –
A

Monday, June 8, 2009

Addictions Can Be To More than Just Substances

They can be to swaddlers too. Hi, my name is Alicia and my son and I are addicted to swaddling. They tell you a lot of things as new parents, when it comes to sleep, a lot of times you hear, whatever works (except putting them in bed with you). Well, I can honestly say that Bryton has not once slept the night with us in our bed... not even a nap. However, what worked for his sleeping, was swaddling. It has worked since 3 months. He hated it when he was smaller. But at three months it did the trick. And at four. And at five. And at six, and well, now at seven. When he turned four months we got him an actual swaddler instead of using a blanket. We got it big so he could have it forever, and he has. Now I have nightmares of my 18 year old waiting patiently for me to swaddle him before he can take a nap on Sunday afternoon after church and every night before bed. AGHHHHH! What have we done!? Apparently too much of a good thing is still too much. So, we are currently, and when I say currently I mean right this very second, trying the transition to the sleep sack. He is still "in" something, but his arms are free and free to flail him awake. So far we've made it an hour into what is usually a two hour nap. We're going to fight this addiction if it's the last thing I do. After all, he's become quite the Huidini at getting out of the stupid thing... I'm literally winded after I've wrapped him to the point of his not being able to breathe so that his arms stay in at least until I leave the room. It's time to cross the threshold here.
So anyway, that's the newest adventures in the addictions of the seven month old.
Until next time ...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fond Memories

Our memory is an incredible thing. I guess I'm noticing it more because of Bryton's lack of memory. I can't wait to have family traditions that he'll remember, enjoy and hopefully carry on through his life. I feel for those Alzheimer patients. If there is anything devastating to lose, it's the memories that bring you happiness and joy every time you think of them, you know, those memories that make you smile. That being said, I have compiled some of my fondest memories after much thought and have listed them below. What a great place to come and remind myself of some of the greatest times in my life... small times and big times. I hope you enjoy reminiscing with me.
(Starting with the longest ago)

1. Swimming at Casey's house during the summer. EVERY summer! That's a classic. (Not to mention me always getting mad at Cole and going home, then Casey having to be mediator to make it better. Poor guy.)

2. Neighborhood flashlight tag. (Ditto the Cole thing here.)

3. Helping my dad make rice krispy treats ( I get my awesome rice krispy treat skills from him, my mom can't make them to save her life) and Snowballs with my mom during Christmas time. (She dominates the snowball category.)

4. "Forking" all of the meat that went on the grill. Didn't matter what I was doing, after mom would season meat she'd call me in to fork it to death :)

5. Fastforwarding some - Hanging out with Amy 8th grade - Senior year. Hanging out at her house in general, but specifically, driving to Pooh's to tan, almost dying after having a full soda bottle chucked at us, her taking me to church (the whole reason I'm where I am today), going up town and dressing up to go out, jamming to some christian music in her room, making food in her kitchen, hard candy, fortune cookies, chicken strips, french fries and heinz ketchup :)

6. Hanging out with Carrie B and Jabbi - both at school, on the weekends, after school, etc. Carrie and I made an awesome cake for the rink once, and Jabbi spent the week with Aaron and I in Myrtle Beach over New Years.

7. Kristin Duncan and I and our nights at Long Branch, and the night she introduced me to Aaron, and going with her to Chicago... we had great times.

8. Me and Mindy Piper -- too many nights in Pinckneyville, hanging out with Nipper, decking ourselves out for football games. We had so much fun together.

9. Dagan - praise God for him my senior year. We did a lot of talking and he hung out a lot!

10. Sabra and our trip to Steak n Shake after working the rink. And poor Super in the back... that's all I have to say about that.

11. Speaking of the rink... every bit of it. Hanging out with friends, stealing trolli burgers & dogs (right Matty?), Lance and Aaron playing washers, Zeke flying across the rink floor, me getting tied to a pole, Rachel, Sabra, Heather H and I trying to play hockey with just the four of us... awww bliss ;)

12. Cherry Vanilla Fruitopia - and swimming at the Morris'. Those were great summers.

13. 3 words, Par 3 Course. We had such a great time there, girls driving the cart and hitting a few shots, struggling to find golf balls, fighting mosquitos, getting home at 1:00 am. TOO fun!

14. Rachel and I meeting our boyfriends at Kokopeli for dinner. Then going to miniature golf. Wish there was still miniature golf around here.

15. Aaron rink and personal duties: Sam's trips, buying flowers for the Valentine's Day skate, going shopping during a blizzard on December 23rd because he had done NO shopping for Christmas yet. This was all before we were dating, but we really enjoyed each others company.

16. Our first dating Christmas at Aaron's parents house when his whole family was there (he's going to think I'm crazy) or just when his whole family is there in general. I loved being there with his family. Going to hear the orchestra downtown, loving Neno's quirkiness, and Chuck's, well, Chuckness, helping his mom prepare meals, hanging out with Mark and Jayden, Jayden's hippopotmus for Christmas. I just love it... I even remember having a headache and sitting out on the porch, and playing cards with the family late at night. I just love... family. Maybe that's why I'd like a bigger one myself.

17. Visiting Aaron's parents during the summers of our dating. Vividly I remember taking late night convertible rides, looking at the Fenton Castles, eating custard at Fritz' and Ted Drews. Playing in the sprinklers in the morning... playing with Zeke... going for walks in their park, etc.

18. Traveling with Wild Week in 2004. Meeting so many amazing people, feeling needed, having amazing new experiences, missing Aaron like crazy, him sending me his sweatshirts when we were in Glorietta, feeling better in my own skin then I ever had. (The 2nd best time about feeling good in my skin... now, weird after just having been pregnant.)

19. Helping in the youth group. Working hard all day with 1st graders and still being so excited to have Stomp on Wednesday nights and Fuel on Sunday nights.

20. Getting married. If I could relive any one week of my life, this would be it - wedding and honeymoon. I'll never forget how I felt walking down that aisle, or seeing Aaron watch me walk down the aisle, or talking during one of the songs about how funny it was going to be leaving in the convertible when the wedding party had decorated the truck, and that I had lipstick on my teeth :) And that he thought I was beautiful. Even Ken's message was perfect. Then staying up most of the night in the hotel room talking... and then flying together for the first time the next day. And everything that went wrong, our luggage getting lost, Aaron leaving his credit card behind... it was awesome, and perfect. Going golfing, and hiking, and watching movies, and playing miniature golf, and eating ice cream... and enjoying each other -- it was awesome. We saw an amazing double rainbow... we joked that it was God's blessing on our marriage :)

21. Newlywededness: waking up early on a Saturday just happy to see each other and going out for breakfast. Coming home to a clean house and candles lit. Our first married Christmas together... listening to Christmas music, eating cookies and decorating the tree -- a family tradition :) Playing Tiger Woods golf, and watching everwood, 7th heaven on Monday nights.

22. Select times on the road.

23. Telling Aaron I was pregnant on Easter. Plastic eggs with a puzzle that said, "The Easter Bunny brought more than eggs this year, we're having a baby!" And seeing his face... wonderful!

24. Watching the 2008 Olympics in the comfort (on uncomfort) of our upstairs air-conditioned apartment, eating yogurt covered pretzels. Did I mention I was 7 months pregnant? Loved it!

25. Bringing Bryton home. I would say "having Bryton", but lets be real, you push for 2.5 hours and then be too tired and exhausted to enjoy your child... it was very much worth it, but not my fondest memory :) Giving him his first bath, Aaron enjoying him. Touching his little toes / hands.

26. And... currently. There are just times in your life when you can feel that they'll be times you'll remember forever... and I'm living them... and I know it.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

He Doesn't Need My Help

I don't know about you, but I appreciate feeling needed. To know my husband, and my son, wants and needs me by their sides means a lot to me. I love feeling like a task could not be performed as well without my being a part of it. Maybe it's a pride thing, maybe it's just the satisfaction of feeling that you have something to contribute, either way, I'm trying to revamp my thinking.
Pastor spoke this morning on worry. That's like me, the pot, calling the kettle black. I found humorous (as did my dad) that Joe began the sermon with "Don't Worry, Be Happy" *do do do do do do do do do do doooooo, do do do do do do doooooo, do do do do do, Don't worry, be happy now*. You know the song. So do I. Why? Because it was my theme song when I was growing up.
I worried about EVERYTHING. To the point of my mother making me listen and learn the lyrics to this particular song probably 5 out of 7 days of the week. Really. I'm not kidding. Sad huh?
Anyway, I worried about not having teeth when I was old, about ever finding the job I wanted, about never getting married, never having kids, dying. I worried about where everyone was and why they were there, I worried about money. I worried about that a lot. I got used to ordering the cheapest thing on the menu and then feeling guilty for what that would cost my parents. I worried about everything... and, I've carried that into my adult life.
Until I met Aaron, I did the same thing at restaurants. He brought me out of that a little. What is $2.00 to get what you realllllly want? After all, we wouldn't be eating out if we couldn't afford it. But I still worry about my teeth falling out... I worry about being alone, with no family, in my old age, I worry about ever fulfilling my ultimate purpose, I worry about a career and what that will entail. I worry about never finding my niche. I worry about what I wear, the to do list three miles long, and the fact that my basically black furniture is dusty... AGAIN. I worry that I'm not doing enough... and then I worry that I'm doing too much. I worry that we'll never be able to retire, I worry that my kids will never understand how much I really love them, that something might be wrong with one of them, and most of all, that if I don't worry about these things nothing will get done, I'll never find that job, I'll never love my kids enough, and I'll be alone forever.
And what good comes from all of this worrying? Nothing. Nada.
Worrying doesn't produce the job I've always wanted... it doesn't make my kids healthy, in fact, it makes me sick! Worrying doesn't put money in a retirement fund, it doesn't give me a huge family when I'm 75, and it doesn't add any fulfillment whatsoever to my life. In fact, it steals from me the joy of my baby's smile. It steals from me the joy of my savior's grace.
So why do I continue to do it? It seems, I feel as if I don't worry, things won't get done. Without worry I'll never finish that to do list. I consciously know that completing that to do list will eliminate that worry, thus, I've began to use worry as a motivator. The same with a career. Looking for a job currently (during a time when they are virtually non-existent), my searching for a job comes because of the motivation that comes with worrying about it. I don't want to worry about it anymore, so I look a little harder and make it something to not be worried about.
It's about me. I have to solve my worry. It's my way of "helping" God out... taking care of it. You know that verse that says, "God helps those who help themselves," yah, it doesn't exist, but I may as well make a t-shirt that says it because that's how I live.
But what happens when I'm worrying about things that I can't fix -- the death of my family, my death, sickness, life circumstances... if I can't "fix" them, then I am unable to stop worrying about them. No motivator will fix those problems. So how am I supposed to handle them when I don't let God handle anything?
You see, He doesn't need my help to meet my needs. I don't need to feel like God needs me... I don't want to feel like God needs me. If God needed me, He wouldn't be God... I would be, and I can't handle all of that stress.
I feel like I've kind of rambled on about this, but it's really been self-discovery for me that I use worry as a motivator. Knowing this forces me to address worry as it stands in my life and allow God within me to guard my heart and my mind from worry.

The Greatest Fans in Baseball

I have finally learned first hand the purpose of a rain check. You see, it has been my experience with rain checks that they typically have nothing to do with rain. When someone asks you to dinner and you have prior arrangements, or in some cases simply do not want to go, you quip, "Oh, rain check." In other words, we'll do it some other time.

Well, Aaron and I, along with our good parent pals Brian and Jill, had tickets to Friday night's Cardinal game vs the Milwaukee Brewers. The forecast did not look great, but according to weather.com, who I have since found to be quite unreliable, there was less than a 10% chance of rain up through 10:00.

Well, long story short, at the beginning of the second inning you could see 40,000 fans watching a large dark cloud quickly move over the third base line. Notice, the beginning of the second inning, we had not even made 8:00 yet. Before we knew it everyone was huddled in the concourse awaiting news that the game had indeed been postponed and we went home to find out when the rematch would happen. (We joked that Albert and his buddies were hanging out in the Clubhouse playing Wii Sports -- you know, taking batting practice and all. Imagine it, it's really quite funny - Wii people striking out Pujols and Schumaker. Ahh, well, we thought it was funny.)

So anyway ---
#1 Greatest Fans in Baseball Moment - 40,000 fans hanging around for more than an hour to hear "the game is postponed". But this isn't the biggie.

Fast forward to Monday - the rescheduled game time.
Here we gather once more to watch the Cardinals go through eight, yes, I said eight, pitchers (that we know of, we left at the top of the 8th inning) and get a beating from the Brewers. However, one thing happened in the midst of that game that I hope to carry out in my own life. It is the epitome of being the greatest fans in baseball.

For those of you who know Braun of the Brewers - who despite his small stature and seemingly powerless frame has a pretty incredible batting average - you know he's quite the left fielder too. During last nights game, he made several amazing catches, all of which cost us several runs and the chance of even making the game a competition. After one amazing diving catch in left field the majority of those sitting near us (we have the privilege of being about 12 rows off the field, just to the right of being behind the visitors dugout) gave a standing ovation and a round of applause to this particular player as he returned to the dugout. Several men tipped their hats. What was a seemingly small gesture was really sportsmanship at it's finest.

And, me, being the analytical I am, can't help but wonder how this applies to those of us in the Christian faith. Would people look at us and consider us the greatest fans of our faith? I mean, 40,000 people who love the Cardinals (and maybe 2000 who love the Brewers) hung around for more than an hour on Friday night in hopes (and there wasn't much hope, let me tell you) that we could once again be back at our seats rooting on our teams. Many Christians I know wake up on Sunday mornings and if it's raining, they go back to bed. People spend dollar after dollar sporting all of the Cardinal attire they can - and we as Christians sometimes just find it hard to talk about Jesus. Several fans sat near us with score books. I really couldn't believe it... fans, keeping tab and tally of every move of the game. Yet we find it difficult to pick up our Bibles daily. Devout Cardinal fans can stand and applaud and support those on the other team, but we as Christians can get so stuck in our religious circles that we don't even know how to love people in the world.

Please don't misunderstand me, I'm not knocking loving Cardinal baseball, or your favorite team in general. I, myself, find baseball and hockey games to be two of my favorite things to spend my time doing. In fact, if some season tickets to either ever fell in my lap I would heed the opportunity to be one of those lunatic fans that knows everyone in all of the seats around her. I really just dig going. So I'm not knocking baseball or being a fan of it.
Instead, what I am questioning is our commitments, our priorities, because if those season tickets fell in my lap, I'd be selling or giving away Wednesday and Sunday games because I have a Jesus and a ministry He has given me that far outweigh my commitment to the Cardinals. I hope that people know that I love Jesus first, my husband second, my child a close third, friends, family, and church family, and then the Cardinals (and the Blues if we must get specific...). If people know me as a Cardinal fan before they know me as a Jesus fan, I've failed. It's that simple.

I do count it a privilege to be considered one of many of the greatest fans in baseball, but I can only pray and hope that I can one day stand before the Lord and He can greet me, "Welcome home good and faithful servant." That, my friend, is being the ultimate fan.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

My First Mother's Day

It’s my first mother’s day. I didn’t know I’d be so excited or care so much about such a day. Better yet, I didn’t know I’d be so proud to be able to celebrate the holiday. I mean, seriously. It’s the holiday of cheesy gifts. You know what I mean, the cheesy sweatshirts that say “#1 Mom” on them... or a fern. That’s a gift every mom wants. Personally, never before would I have even considered wearing some kind of “mom” shirt --- November 3rd has come and gone and now, well, if I could find one trendy enough, I may heed the opportunity. Better yet, I asked for Bryton’s gift for my mother’s day to be an Old Navy shirt that I found for him that had a foam finger on it that said “Mom’s #1 Fan”, with “Mother’s Day 2009” underneath it. I’m really looking forward to some pictures of him in that. It’ll do until little league when I can be like all of the other crazy mom’s in the world and have the acceptable mom shirts... you know, the same shirt that all of the kids have except mine says in big letters “BRYTON’S MOM’ on the back, with, of course, his number underneath. Awww, motherhood.
I don’t know, there’s just something exciting about it. I almost feel as if I’ve been allowed into a secret club that I didn’t even realize existed or that I was missing out on until I was initiated in. Just as there is no feeling like marriage and being a newlywed, there is no feeling like being a parent...
It’s work. Please don’t get me wrong. But it’s not work I would trade for any kind of liberty, be it personal freedoms, relational freedoms, even financial freedoms. For, the advantages and benefits of this role far outweigh the costs!
There are just certain parts of my day now that I can’t believe I went so long without, particularly, the morning. Walking into his room in the morning and bending over his crib to have this little person smile at me with such sincerity, well, as I type this it brings tears to my eyes.
You know in our world of “plastic people”, we smile at everyone out of obligation... our lives our too busy... we have too many things to do to stop and talk, or to even share a smile... but during the eight o’clock hour, this little boy, because he wants to, shows me probably the greatest means of affection I’ll probably ever know this side of heaven... a big, cheesy, gummy grin, simply because at that particular moment I’m exactly the person he wants to see. I have satisfied him, simply with my presence. Isn’t that what every girl wants? To be loved and adored simply by being present. He satisfies an innate desire in my heart, all with a smile. It is really nothing short of a miracle.
I cherish it now, before the backtalking and grounding stage, though I’m sure at that point there will be another trait to adore about him. But for now, I heed mother’s day. What a celebration... mothers – I’d be lying if I said they didn’t work hard, but we are so richly blessed, and to have a day where we can celebrate our blessings... well, that in itself is a blessing. For me, I am honored at the opportunity to be celebrated, but am more excited to celebrate for myself this beautiful family that God has so blessed me with. Bryton and his daddy, such blessings. My first mother’s day... it’s really a very sweet fragrance and I am both excited and honored to be included in such a celebration.

Trying to Get Our Attention - 1 Life to Live

I sometimes get sad during conversations. That is a difficult statement to start with, because currently you're wondering what in the world I'm talking about. Here's an example:
Aaron: (after a particular really nice car comes on tv) Honey, can I have one of those?
Me: When we get rich.
Aaron: Well, maybe in another life, because I don't think you and I will ever be that rich.
Don't get me wrong... it's not a greedy plea, because it really had nothing to do with the abundance of money or the lack thereof that made me sad. It was the reality that, as he said in not so many words, we have only one life. One life to experience all of the things we want to experience, one life to help all of those we want to help, one life to have all of the children we'll ever have, one life to see them get to grow up, one chance at having a career you feel fulfilled in.... one life. Ha, just writing that reminds me of a t-shirt I have.... it's my favorite. It has an outline of Africa on the back of it and says, "You have 1 life... do something." Five words and a number.... very powerful.
It makes me think of all of the people in dead end jobs... living paycheck to paycheck, hating their work. And all of those people dying of Aids or malnutrition in other countries... this is their one life. It reminds me of all of those people battling depression, tangled in their own self hate and darkness... this is their one life. It reminds me of myself... wishing I knew the answer to where my career path was... hating the fact that my little boy is growing up so quickly, praying I have the opportunity to have another, realizing... I only get this one opportunity, and when it passes, it's gone.
One life. Most specifically, what this blog is really about, it reminds me of a particular family member. I won't name any names, and in fact, I'll be quite vague, but this individual has had a really tough go.
In a nutshell:
He hee hummed around and lost the love of his life, settled for less, produced the new love of his life (a child from this particular marriage), got a divorce, has been under his ex's thumbnail for many years, has lost job after job after job (one for sure at his own fault, the other's not so much), has caught himself in the web of gambling... has struggled with depression, and has currently realized that this is his life. He's writing a book, and as it sits, it's a depressing drama unfolding before his eyes. If there's cards to be dealt, he's been dealt all of the wrong ones.
So what's up with this? There's this 'loving' God out there who cares about us, wants what is best for us, is looking out for us, and the one life that this particular individual gets dealt is bunk. What's up with this?
In this individual's instance, I wonder if God is trying to get his attention. He's not a believer, so he doesn't share in the joy and blessings that comes with knowing Jesus as his savior, so I want to say that God is waving red flags all over town trying to get this man to go, "Oh."
But what about in the life of the child born HIV+, what about in the life of the believer... the modern day Lot? What is God doing with their one life?
It's something I've pondered a lot lately. I know that God makes good of all situations... but it's just something to ponder.
And then it's something to act upon. This is our one shot... it's our one shot to get it right... we don't get a do-over after this life is over. God is the God of "do-overs" in the midst of life, but after our life is done... it's done. What are you doing with your one life? Do something.