Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happy Birthday to my Dad!

I'm wishing my Dad a very Happy Birthday today. He's one of the most talented people I know!

I love this picture of Evan and my dad. I took it at my grandmother's house and my dad was showing Evan how to play the mandolin. Evan was about two. Look how curly Evan's hair is here. You can definitely see where he gets it (and where I get it, too). =) My dad is a musician and has his own band and entertainment business. He can play just about every instrument and every style of music there is. His specialty is the saxophone and the "fiddle". Too bad I didn't inherit any of this ability. I'm still holding out hope that Evan and Ella Grace will get the musical inclination gene! =) Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Our Summer So Far

We are having a pretty good summer so far. It's been a busy and hot one, but we are finding ways to have a little fun in our schedule and trying to stay cool.

Evan is really enjoying his A-Camp and his program at Easter Seals. He just finished up two weeks at Easter Seals and he did fantastic with the STAR (Strategies for Teaching based on Autism Research) program. At the end of each week, the parents get to meet with someone who has worked with their child over the week to give feedback. I have to admit I had tears when the occupational therapist that worked with him was saying how smart Evan was and how quickly he picks up on things. I know this about him, but it was so nice to hear someone who doesn't know us well also make that observation. It made my day! Autism makes Evan's brain work differently, and I'm so thankful we have found a learning style that works so well for him. That can be the difficult thing about autism...what works for one child, doesn't necessarily work for another.

Everything he does at Easter Seals is a learning opportunity. He has come home with some incredible crafts he has made and treats he has prepared in cooking time. I thought this sushi roll was SO cute.

It is made by balling up Rice Krispy treats. A gummy fish is on top and it is held together with a fruit roll-up. Adorable!

Here he is going to Easter Seals. On Fridays, they get to wear these shirts. I think they are hysterical with the body of the player right underneath their heads!

This was his first day going into A-Camp. He looks so big! His favorite thing here so far is the playground and the fish tank that is in the classroom (all boy I tell you). They are doing great things here, too. Evan was only there a week before Easter Seals started and he had the best time including a private concert by Brian Kinder (who is a well-known children's musical artist). He'll be having fun at camp for the next three weeks. =)

We are having THE best time in our swimming pool. We are so busy in the mornings, we usually don't get out there until about 2:00. The water is nice and warm by then. =) Derek got to swim in it all of two times before he had to go out of town for a month with work. The kids and I get in it every single day. We are planning on spending most of the day out there today, and Ella Grace is having her friends over this week for a playdate. The hardest part is the kids being patient enough for me to coat them with sunscreen. They hate it! Evan is tanning right through it though. He is already brown as a berry. I used to be that way when I was little, too. I took these pictures the first time we were able to get in the pool.

I love this sun ledge. It's almost like a baby pool for EG!

Derek going down the slide. Ha! He is the biggest kid of all!

Poor guy. Pool just got finished and he had to leave! =( He was covered up so he wouldn't get a sunburn. A sunburn covered up with flight gear is not a good mix!

Oh, and lastly, something Ella Grace said to me this week, "Momma, I like your hair. It's just like a puppy dog!" Ummmm, ok, I'm taking that as a compliment because she loves dogs, but REALLY? Ha! Happy Summer, y'all!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

I want to wish a very Happy Father's Day to my very sweet husband! What a great daddy Derek is. He is a great playmate, makes boo-boos disappear in a flash, makes bath time a complete riot, wrestles and runs on command, plays kitchen on command, and makes all three of us feel completely loved all the time.

Showing Evan the helicopters

Meeting Ella Grace for the first time

Shopping with EG and Momma

Playing computers with Evan

Taking us to church

Happy Father's Day, Derek! We love you!

I also want to say Happy Father's Day to my dad and Derek's dad! We had a fun day celebrating with my dad today and got to see Derek's dad on Friday. We are lucky to be surrounded by such loving men!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Two Year Portraits

I just got Ella Grace's two-year-old portraits back from the photographer. I was a little late getting them made. She was actually 2 1/2 at the time we had them made. The photographer (Cunningham Photography for all my local friends), did a great job. He took us to a local park, and it was gorgeous there. Ella Grace did so well. She would pose and smile when we asked her to. It also helped that he had a bag that was full of stuffed animals! =) I took pictures of the portraits with my camera, so it's not the best quality or even that straight (ha!), but I wanted to share them. I'll be getting them framed and hung soon.

What a sweet girl she is. How two years has flown by! What joy she brings every single day!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Do any of you guys remember Benji? If you were a 70's/80's kid like me, I bet you remember him. Well, I have recently introduced Benji to Evan and Ella Grace, and they LOVE him! They haven't picked up on the jazzy 70's music, clothes and cars yet. Wooowee! Ha! They just love watching him solve crimes and help those in distress. You can get 4 Benji movies for $10 at Best Buy. What a bargain!!! =)

Sunday, June 14, 2009


One of the many things I have learned from our journey with Evan's autism is there is always something in which to be thankful. I'm thankful he can run, play and have fun. I'm thankful he is healthy, beautiful, and can learn. I'm incredibly thankful for every word he says. The list goes on. We know so many families and children with disabilities, and some are extremely difficult situations that definitely put things in perspective for me. I guess it is like that with anything in life, you can always measure your pain against someone else's pain and find that you have a lot indeed to be thankful. BUT, pain is pain and God's grace is sufficient!

Last night at church we had a speaker, Nick Vujicic. He is from Australia and was born without arms or legs to parents who were in ministry. He shared his testimony and the joy he has in the Lord. He was amazing, and I wanted to share some things he said that I found profound.

When talking about how he would pray to God as a child that He would give him arms and legs, he said it would have been sad if God would have answered that prayer because through his story and the way God made him, others were coming to know Christ. He said, "If God doesn't give you a miracle today, you are a miracle of God." He also said, "What God doesn't change, he has a plan." "Remain the miracle God made you to be." "Be thankful for what you have."

I also wanted to include the verses he said have helped him through some depressing times in his life:

"11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11,

" 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31

" 1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" 3"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." John 9:1-3.

I found his testimony incredibly encouraging (and of course I bawled like a baby through most of it). It was just incredibly touching and I felt like I could definitely relate, not just because I have a child with special needs, but in the ups and downs of life in general.

Attached is a video I found on YouTube. There are tons more if you want to see more.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Visit with Harper

Today was such a fun day! I got to go with my friend, Kandi, to see Kelly and Harper! Kelly lives about three hours from us. I had the best time catching up with Kandi on the way to and from Kelly's house. The entire drive seemed like it only took 10 minutes.

Harper was excited about our visit. Ha! This is the first time I have gotten to see Harper in person, and believe me, she is just as beautiful as her pictures.

She is just the sweetest little thing! I could have taken her home with me!She was so tired but didn't want to take a nap. I guess she thought we were just too exciting. Ha! She did let me hold her, but she really preferred Kandi. Blondes DO have all the fun! Ha!

My pretty friends, Kelly and Kandi

Kandi and Kelly were roommates and I (and my roommate, Jennifer) was their suitemate. This is us in about 1992 before we went to the homecoming game. I was evidently in my Brooke Shields eyebrows phase. Hee hee!

Thanks for having us, Kelly! We had THE best time with you and Harper! I also enjoyed the scrumptious lunch you made for us! YUM!

The pool is STILL not complete. They were installing the liner and realized we weren't sent the right one, so they left the wrong one in to protect the bottom from the storm we had today. When I got home, Evan had turned it into a waterslide. =) I'm appalled he was sliding into that nasty water. SIGH! Boys!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pool Progress

Several of you have asked for a pool update. I haven't really updated on it because honestly not much was happening while we were getting all that rain. The "pool man" told us we should be in it by this weekend, but this is what it looks like right now at 2:15 Thursday afternoon. I have a hard time believing we'll be swimming on Saturday.

They just finished the inside of the pool and are supposed to drop the liner in today. I think then it will start to really feel like it is almost done. While it was cool and rainy, it didn't both me that it wasn't complete, but now that it is hot and sunny it is a different story. Last weekend was torture because Derek was at drill and the kids and I were stuck in the house all weekend because the backyard was/is a construction zone and it's not safe for them to be out there. It was a long weekend with two little ones that had lots of energy to burn and nowhere to do it! =) Hopefully, this weekend they will get plenty of exercise swimming like little fish.

I think even more than the swimming pool, Derek is mostly excited about his square of concrete that will be his little basketball court. Derek is quite the b-baller and is known by a lot of his friends as a mean 3 point shooter and was often called "D-Rock" or "D-Train." Ha! Anyway, I had told him I would really love to engrave our initials in the concrete of the ball court and was shocked when he agreed! We almost waited too late, but we did get our initials in there before the concrete got way too hard. I put a big "H" with all our initials and the date around it. I think Derek was okay with it because he is covering the entire thing with this stuff that makes it look like an actual court with a lane, 3 point line, etc.

I felt a little sorry for him as he was putting up his "official" goal and got to the part of mounting the backboard and noticed he was shorted a part. Spaulding said it was on backorder at first, but thankfully a nice lady (I think the third person he talked to) said they DID have the part and would send it right out.

The lone pole

Well, the pool guys are back from lunch. I'll post a picture at the end of today to show where we are and if we are on track for the weekend. Derek is getting ready to be out of town for a big chunk of the summer, and it would be terrible if he doesn't get to swim or play basketball before he leaves. Bless his heart.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Funny Girl

Ella Grace is one funny chick! It's so cute to see her little sense of humor emerge. It's amazing to me that she already knows how to tease others (in a cute way of course). She loves to tell me I'm precious (and, no, I did not and do not coax her), but my mom and sister love to tell her they are precious, and she will tell them they are NOT and will say, "Momma precious." Ha! Then, they will ask her who is precious. She will start answering me and then go down the list of every family member not to include the person that is asking. The whole time she is sporting a grin. It's just SO funny!

Tonight, she dropped some spaghetti on her foot at dinner and said, "Momma I got "sketti" on my big toe. Will you lick it?" I laughed out loud (and, no, I did NOT lick it).

When I tickle her, she says, "My pits are closed," meaning not to tickle her under her arms.

She STILL says, "Momma, I love you all the time," and I eat it up! I hope she never stops saying it!

She told me Monday, "My brother is so sweet." Hope she always feels that way.

She begged for me to paint her fingernails for the first time this week. We have painted her toenails lots of times but never her fingers. Well, I did it, and she LOVES them. After I painted them, she said, "Just like Emily," her friend. We haven't seen Emily for about two months. Amazing she remembered that. She remembers EVERYTHING (especially if has anything to do with fashion or accessories)!

She calls Target "the circle store" because of their logo.

She wanted to order cheese dip at Chik-fil-a.

Just wanted to jot down a few things I don't want to forget.

Oh, and PLEASE don't be jealous, but guess who I get to see on Friday...

The one and only Miss Harper

Not that I am trying to rub it in (well, maybe a little-ha!). This will be the first time I have seen her in person, and I am SO excited. I just can't wait to get my mitts on her (that is if I can tear her away from her mommy for a minute)! =)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

"I Found Jesus!"

I miss my old blogging routine...writing about what we've been up to every other day and then getting to read all my favorite blogs. So much is happening...babies being born, rooms getting redecorated, kids graduating from Kindergarten AND high school. It's hard to keep up. I'm just missing y'all. Seriously!

Last Tuesday was Evan's last day of school. It was so bittersweet. I am thrilled how well he has done this year and all he has accomplished, but I am also sad to leave the sweet teachers, therapists and paraprofessionals that I know God placed in our paths. We will miss them. I stopped by a little early and brought them each a plant, note and little picture of Evan. I thought the little plants turned out so cute. The florist did them, so I can't take credit. I just love the little buckets! I made it out of there without crying. Now, that was a miracle (I did come a little close a couple of times though)!

We celebrated several days later with a trip to The Jump Zone. Fun was had by all.

My three kids.

My girl and me taking a break.

Thursday we got to go to the school Evan will attend next year, and I have a feeling (after meeting the teacher) that we will be equally blessed next year. Tomorrow starts his first day at A-Camp. I'm so excited about it. I just know Evan will have a blast!

Isn't this just the cutest little logo? I can't wait to take a picture of him tomorrow in his little camp uniform.

Saturday morning, I awoke, like most mornings, with Ella Grace's head in my back. She has gotten into a habit of sneaking into our bed at night. We have the best of intentions of moving her back to her bed, but lately it just hasn't happened. I guess Momma and Daddy are just tired! Well, Friday morning, the kiddos and I slept in. Derek was already gone for the morning when EG and I woke up. I had no more opened my eyes and she said, "Momma, I found Jesus!" I was so surprised at this statement by my two-year-old. I asked her, "What did you say?" She said again so proudly, "I found Jesus. Let me show you." Well, she had indeed found Jesus. Remember this? Well, he is found and has been getting lots of loving over the past several days.

Jesus has been found!

I love this picture. This evening I found her curled up reading to her baby, "Abby." She always wants to cover up with this tablecloth she drags out of the China chest. I guess she just thinks it is a comfy blanket. Wow! She looks so big here! Time please stop!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Who is Your "Star"?

My sweet friend, Kandi, sent this to me today. It was a copy of Ben Stein's final column. Wow! I wanted to share it with you, too. It made me think about my husband, my son, and Evan's teachers and therapists as tears flowed down my cheeks as I read his words. If you have a few minutes, read it. Well said, Ben!

Ben Stein's final column --

For many years Ben Stein has written a biweekly column called 'Monday Night At Morton's.' (Morton's is a famous chain of Steakhouses known to be frequented by movie stars and famous people from around the globe.) Now, Ben is terminating the column to move on to other things in his life. Reading his final column is worth a few minutes of your time.

Ben Stein's Last Column...
How Can Someone Who Lives in Insane Luxury Be a Star in Today's World?

As I begin to write this, I 'slug' it, as we writers say, which means I put a heading on top of the document to identify it. This heading is 'eonline FINAL,' and it gives me a shiver to write it. I have been doing this column for so long that I cannot even recall when I started. I loved writing this column so much for so long I came to believe it would never end.

It worked well for a long time, but gradually, my changing as a person and the world's change have overtaken it On a small scale, Morton's, while better than ever, no longer attracts as many stars as it used to. It still brings in the rich people in droves and definitely some stars. I saw Samuel L. Jackson there a few days ago, and we had a nice visit, and right before that, I saw and had a splendid talk with Warren Beatty in an elevator, in which we agreed that Splendor in the Grass was a super movie. But Morton's is not the star galaxy it once was, though it probably will be again.

Beyond that, a bigger change has happened..? I no longer think Hollywood stars are terribly important. They are uniformly pleasant, friendly people, and they treat me better than I deserve to be treated. But a man or woman who makes a huge wage for memorizing lines and reciting them in front of a camera is no longer my idea of a shining star we should all look up to.

How can a man or woman who makes an eight-figure wage and lives in insane luxury really be a star in today's world, if by a 'star' we mean someone bright and powerful and attractive as a role model? Real stars are not riding around in the backs of limousines or in Porsches or getting trained in yoga or Pilates and eating only raw fruit while they have Vietnamese girls do their nails..

They can be interesting, nice people, but they are not heroes to me any longer. A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who poked his head into a hole on a farm near Tikrit, Iraq . He could have been met by a bomb or a hail of AK-47 bullets. Instead, he faced an abject Saddam Hussein and the gratitude of all of the decent people of the world.

A real star is the U.S. soldier who was sent to disarm a bomb next to a road north of Baghdad . He approached it, and the bomb went off and killed him..

A real star, the kind who haunts my memory night and day, is the U.S. soldier in Baghdad who saw a little girl playing with a piece of unexploded ordnance on a street near where he was guarding a station. He pushed her aside and threw himself on it just as it exploded. He left a family desolate in California and a little girl alive in Baghdad .

The stars who deserve media attention are not the ones who have lavish weddings on TV but the ones who patrol the streets of Mosul even after two of their buddies were murdered and their bodies battered and stripped for the sin of trying to protect Iraqis from terrorists.

We put couples with incomes of $100 million a year on the covers of our magazines. The noncoms and officers who barely scrape by on military pay but stand on guard in Afghanistan and Iraq and on ships and in submarines and near the Arctic Circle are anonymous as they live and die.

I am no longer comfortable being a part of the system that has such poor values, and I do not want to perpetuate those values by pretending that who is eating at Morton's is a big subject.

There are plenty of other stars in the American firmament... the policemen and women who go off on patrol in South Central and have no idea if they will return alive; the orderlies and paramedics who bring in people who have been in terrible accidents and prepare them for surgery; the teachers and nurses who throw their whole spirits into caring for autistic children; the kind men and women who work in hospices and in cancer wards.

Think of each and every fireman who was running up the stairs at the World Trade Center as the towers began to collapse. Now you have my idea of a real hero.

I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters This is my highest and best use as a human. I can put it another way. Years ago, I realized I could never be as great an actor as Olivier or as good a comic as Steve Martin or Martin Mull or Fred Willard--or as good an economist as Samuelson or Friedman or as good a writer as Fitzgerald. Or even remotely close to any of them.

But, I could be a devoted father to my son, husband to my wife and, above all, a good son to the parents who had done so much for me. This came to be my main task in life. I did it moderately well with my son, pretty well with my wife and well indeed with my parents (with my sister's help). I cared for and paid attention to them in their declining years. I stayed with my father as he got sick, went into extremis and then into a coma and then entered immortality with my sister and me reading him the Psalms.

This was the only point at which my life touched the lives of the soldiers in Iraq or the firefighters in New York . I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters and that it is my duty, in return for the lavish life God has devolved upon me, to help others He has placed in my path. This is my highest and best use as a human

Faith is not believing that God can. It is knowing that God will.

By Ben Stein