Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Building a Family; Molded By The Master's Loving Hand...

I knew from an early age I wanted to adopt and foster.  My mom thought it was strange at first, but like most things with me, she accepted that I just didn’t see the world like most of the people who surrounded me.  As my brothers so un-tactfully put it, I was “different” and “weird.” As we’ve all gotten older, not much has changed in that respect.  They still think I am weird and different, and there are parts of my life they honestly don’t quite understand, but that’s ok.  Occasionally, when they aren’t paying attention, they learn a something from little sister, not that they’d ever admit to it. 

I feel like our little family is proof that a family isn’t always given, provided, or made, but sometimes built, created, and adopted.  The majority of our immediate family has come to know our children, while there are still those who don’t even know their names.  Fortunately, we have extended family and friends who have come to know and love them as only a family can.  I have always had a strong belief in the importance of family, but I also know that sometimes you have to find/create your family.  We have blood relatives that we know we can always count on, and those we know better than to ask.  But we also have a large family of people in our lives that we have adopted along the way and know we can always rely on.  I have always heard that blood is thicker than water, but blessed water will wash away a multitude of sins. We have truly been blessed with some people in our lives that have become family over the years.  Some of them have adopted us, others we have adopted, and those people have not only been a blessing to R and me, but also to our children. 

It’s hard to believe it’s been 4.5 months since E came into our lives.  Shoot, it’s hard to believe that C has been with us for 4 years now.  Yet, both feel like they’ve been here a lifetime.  Our menagerie continues to grow and change in accordance with God’s plan.  It’s not traditional by any means, but since when have I followed what most would consider tradition.  God has always had me on a different path.  I don’t always understand it, I don’t always like it, and He and I have regular conversations about it; it’s been filled w/ more hills, bumps, mountains, hurdles, briars, jams, valleys, and challenges than I care to recall. But Mama always sang, “Lord, don’t move that mountain, just give me the strength to climb,” and each time I find my way to the top, or rather at the end of a difficult challenge, I am able to “survey all the beauty that comes to me from above, I can count all the blessings from the storehouse of love,” and realize just how much God’s hand really has been guiding me through it.  It’s often not until we get out of a “valley” that we are able to see that the path leads to the end goal, even when we doubted, questioned, became frustrated, and asked God why.  Don’t get me wrong, there are things in my life I am still waiting to understand their purpose, and I may never understand.  It’s not always for me to understand; sometimes I just have to accept.  I just try to do as I feel lead/called. TRY being the operative word.  My Little Audrey shows at times and I try to get things to bend to my will, and then God reminds me it is not my will that is to be done. 

Image result for adoption isn't a birthmother's rejection
He always has a plan/purpose for the chaos and trials.  As they say, today’s trials are tomorrow’s testimony. There’s a lot that I know I will never understand, but it doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a blessing. I cannot understand how a mother could cast out her child, but had she not done so I would not have known the wonder and artistry of C.  I cannot understand what a mother had to be going through to be driven to leave her newborn at a hospital in hopes he would be able to find a better family, but had that had not been her situation I would not know the joy and laughter of E.  While I will never understand what had to happen for these two women to relinquish their rights to these two amazing boys, I am grateful to them, for without them a very valuable part of our life would be missing.  C & E were meant to be ours, we may not understand it, I may not like the experiences they had to endure in order to get to us, but they are where God ordained them to be. 

C is weathering the storm that is college.  He’s in his Junior year, seeing peeps of the light at the end of the tunnel and hoping it’s not a train.  Once he graduates, if he is willing, we plan on adopting him.  Adopting C before he graduates would cost him a large part of his financial aid, and we all know how valuable that is and how quickly it adds up.  He has put in the work and maintained those grades to keep them so far, I’m not about to take that from him.  We’re so proud of him. 

E has another court date coming up at the end of the month.  He’s officially been moved from the foster to adoptive status, so our next date is pre-trial.  At that point, they will likely start the process for termination of parental rights.  Once that is done, we have to be prepared with lawyers to start the adoption process.  The mountain of paperwork, boxes of band-aids, and a plethora of paper cuts will all be worth it to give E an actual name.  I want E to have a knowledge and understanding of his story, of how amazing it is, and what a blessing he is, but I also want him to know that he’s always had an identity.  Recently a family member unknowingly referred to him by his “government name” and I realized just how much it means to me to be able to give him a name.    

We haven’t given up on getting pregnant.  We just want E to at least be out of diapers before we jump on that boat.  So we’ve pumped the breaks a little, but not abandoned it.  We actually started looking at the possibility of a larger vehicle.  Our little 4 seater Element is quite full with A, C, E, R and me.  A gets quite crowded on the floor.  A isn’t as jealous as he was of E and will actually sit next to him from time to time.  E is finally old enough to realize A is around and be fascinated by him.  Neither of them is willing to make contact with the other yet, but you can see the thought is there for them both on occasion.  For now, A is happy with his spoilage from C but I figure once E is old enough to play a little, A will start demanding some of E’s attention too. 

So for our family, both biological and adopted, we hope that you will be a light in the lives of our children.  It takes a village, and we are honored to have you as a part of ours.  For our friends who support us from afar, we appreciate your encouragement and kind words.  They are often needed, always appreciated, and, most of the time, come at the exact right/needed moments.  We know you’d be here when and if you could.  Just be sure to stay in touch.  Life has a way of coming back around and you never know when one of us might need that long-distance reach.  But all of you, please keep us in your prayers.  It has been an arduous journey and we’re not nearly through.  There have been many hurdles and plenty more in view, but it’s the ones we don’t know about that concern us most.  Pray for our family as well.  Not all of our biological family has embraced our children, which has been heartbreaking.  They haven’t even asked for or seen pictures since our boys first came into our lives, yet wonder why we haven’t traveled the distance of 2 states to come to visit.  But this is another of those things that I will never, and hope to never, understand.  Every parent does things a little differently, but as previously stated, there are just some parents I will never understand.  

Monday, June 04, 2018

New Addition

We finally did it, we bit the bullet and got a's driving Austin nuts.  He thinks Austin's tail is his personal entertainment. Needless to say, the cat fits into our crazy little menagerie.  So we now have a Deaf cat (DC), Seeing Eye Dog (Austin), a Hobbit (roommate), a 20-year-old (C), and a newborn (E). Yep, you read that right, the cat is deaf...oh, and we have a newborn. But it's worth noting, I'm still the only B-EAutiful female in the house.

As you may know, we have been fostering for the past 3 years. Being a foster parent has its ups and down, but like most things you get what you put in.  So we persist. We were blessed to have C come into our world and he’s truly become a part of the family. Once he graduates we plan on making him official if he still wants to be around this crazy crew. But until then I cannot share pictures or identifying information/markers. 
December was hard. Between a misdiagnosed brain tumor and the fleeting chance of an infant adoption, it was a challenge to feel the magic of Christmas. So those of you who missed your Christmas card - now you know why. But we raised the proverbial sand and changes were made in how they approached the process. C was our bright spot through it all. He continues to be a blessing to us. I’m ready for him to finish college so I can share him with you. 

Thursday of last week, May 24th, we got a call about a potential foster to adopt. We were to be the only call they made if we said yes. Still feeling the sting of December but hopeful, we said yes with little hesitation, but much apprehension. Friday and Saturday were spent making necessary preparations, Sunday we went around and set up baby registries, Monday Robby set up the bassinet in our bedroom, and Tuesday we built the crib. All the while we hoped for the best and prepared for the worst, guarding our hearts. Wednesday I took off work and we drove hours through rain, crazy traffic and saw a total of 4 different rainbows, to pick up a perfect baby boy, E. Needless to say we are smitten and over the moon

That being said, all babies are worth celebrating. I know there are a few who have asked about doing a shower or a “sip ‘n’ see” to meet him. We would love that once he’s old enough for crowd exposure. We firmly believe that it takes a village to raise a child, and with babies, extra hands are always needed. But please understand, just like with C, we cannot share pictures or identifiers about E until the official adoption paperwork has been filed. If you do see us and snap a photo of our amazingly adorable family, please respect that and 
(i.e. texting, IG, FB, Twitter, KIK, any other social media you can think of, as well as public events, or anything that could be seen as public). Doing so can cost us the adoption, no matter how well intended. I will happily share an email, airdrop, or any other means of privately sharing your pictures with us to make sure we get to see and have your amazing pictures. But please understand the importance of them being yours to enjoy privately until we have the final adoption. At that point, please expect to see pictures of both our boys plastered all over our FB. But we cannot share those until the adoptions are final. 

I am sure that once things are set up, invitations and calls will be going out for you to get to know our growing brood. If you’re interested in setting up something or just want to stop in for a visit, you know how to get in touch with us. However, please know, in the event that a family member does happen to come forward, anything you give to E is his. His things would go with him.  So please keep our little niche in your prayers.  We will need them all as we navigate this new adventure.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Summer Stay-Cation Athens Food Tour: Cali -N- Tito's

Cali -N- Tito's was a great place to start our Athens summer food tour.  Doing a stay-cation food adventure in Athens is always probably done best during the summer and/or holidays.  Athens is after all a college town so when school is in session the streets are typically bustling during the semester.

We had heard a great deal about Cali -N- Tito's but never had a chance to get by there.  Unless you are just on or around campus it's kinda out of the way.  None the less locals were always flabbergasted when they heard we hadn't been there.  So needless to say there was a lot of build up for this joint.  Initially I was doubtful that it would live up to all the hype I have been hearing, but gladly it did not disappoint.  The place is literally a little hole in the wall kind of place.  It's nothing fancy, there are no big flashing signs, parking isn't a premium, the decor is cheap Latin throw back with espresso cans serving as lampshades and vases, coffee bean bags hanging from the ceiling, and plywood bottom chairs with their logo seemingly hand burned with a kit.  It's totally a jeans and t-shirt, serve yourself, kind of place.  The staff is friendly and helpful but typically the only time you see anyone at your table is when they bring out your food.  There are recycle bins beside the trashcan, always great to know a place likes to keep it green, and a sign at the trashcan asking that you be sure not to toss their plates into the trash.

There are a few things you need to know before you go.  They only accept cash or checks, NO CREDIT CARDS.  There is an ATM at the BP next door to procure your cash if necessary.  If you are someone who drinks a lot during a meal and you prefer soda, grab your own while you're there.  You generally get a drink with your meal, but if you get soda it's a can with a cup of ice.  Not sure if you can get extras and their choices are limited.  It's worth noting that they do however offer a few Latin/Hispanic soda drinks but you can often get these at grocery stores as well.  If you order tea or lemonade you're golden as they have a serve yourself station set up to get as much as you please.

The perfect lunch date.
That's not a can on his head,
it's the can shading the light.
For my differently-abled and handi-capable friends, it is accessible.  Know that parking is kinds strange but manageable and they have 2 designated spaces.  The accessible entrance is in the rear, and it is the only accessible entrance/exit.  The walk up entrance from the sidewalk leads you through the picnic table area with narrow walkways between the tables and the water feature/old boat through a river rock garden.  When you enter from the rear, you'll come through the side door and place your order at the counter.  The inside seating area has large accessible isles that would be no problem for chairs of any type.  There are a few picnic tables outside near the side door that have enough space to be accommodating for a wheelchair but the tables around the front are a bit crowded in terms of the isles between them.  I didn't have an opportunity to check out the restrooms so I can't speak to that, but will point out that to access those you again have to go out the back entrance that you can into around to the backside of the building.  Also know that to leave you have to go back around the counter, excuse yourself through the line of people waiting to order, out the side door, to get to the wheelchair ramp that leads out the back entrance.  There is a door that you could easily slip out the other side if you're sitting inside, but it has no ramp, so if you're dependent on a chair it's restrictive in that manner.  For those with service dogs or service dogs in training, we had no issues concerning LD Austin.  There were other people there with their dogs sitting outside so it's seemingly encouraged.  We chose to sit inside and the only comments received were from customers talking about how awesome he was and wishing their dogs were so well trained.  The tables are a variety of types, some with four outer legs and others have the center pole with 4 feet which makes it a little difficult for service dogs to sit under which is where we sat without thinking, but since we were sitting at a 2-seater table he sat on the outside of the table in the isle.  Again, the isles on the inside are large, accommodating, and had plenty of space for him to lay and not be an obstruction.

R. had the steak quesadilla with sweet potato chips.  It came with a sauce on the side that was too hot for our pallets.  One dip of a fork to taste and I was reaching for an ice cube.  The mix of spice and cheese with the steak in the quesadilla was wonderful all their own, so not having the sauce for it was not a problem. The sweet potato chips were tasty and crunchy in a way you can only get from a deep fryer. I ordered the chicken empanadas with fried sweet plantains.  It was quite flavorful with a mix of peppers, green onions and the sauce in which it was cooked.  Yum.  It also came with a side of sauce that married quite well, lending a little sweetness to the mix.  Good stuff!  The fried sweet plantains were a desert all their own.  Total cost of the two meals were a little less than $15.  We both left full, satisfied, and as always, with a little to bring home.  They have carryout plates at the ready for anyone to grab on the shelf under the tea station.  The cardboard carryout plates no less.  Once R. finishes it off for a snack later we can rip off the top to recycle and the bottom to be used as fodder to start up the fire pit.  Definitely a place to check out and become a regular.  Without a doubt, we will be back.

To check out what else Athens has to offer or to plan your next trip check out the FlagPole's Guide to Athens.  Feel free to offer suggestions, thoughts, comments, and such for our next adventure, or share one of your own.  

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Bathroom Mini Makeover

This isn't my typical blog post.  But since I haven't posted in over a year and I felt like sitting down and writing I thought I'd share something a little different. Thus far 2014 has been thankfully calm and, within the usual chaos we call life, we have managed to do a few things here and there so that we may be able to enjoy our environment a little more.  We are big supporters of doing the little things so that the bigger things don't stack up.  This applies both to relationships and things around the house.  So when we find something around the house we would like to improve in some way we usually make an effort to make those changes together.  The only exceptions to this are the rooms that we consider our own.  For me it is my office/crafting space and for R. it is his loft/game room.  We help each other to achieve the desired look, hang items, and provide an alternate perspective or idea, but the set up is person specific. 

As many of you know, we moved house Aug. 1, 2013 and the next day football camp started.  Needless to say we still have things to do.  Slowly but surely we are getting things around the house unpacked, cleaned, and organized the way we want.  Now that football and wrestling seasons are over, and I have an entire month of being able to leave work after final bell and weekends free, I should be able to devote more time to getting things settled and organized in a manner that is suited for us both.  I know those who are local are ready for me to have a party or some sort of gathering, but we are not there yet but I'm hopeful for the summer.  Those of you who are distant have gotten glimpses through pictures posted on Facebook or Twitter through Instagram, and some of you have actually been by to visit.  For those of you who I don't know personally, I figure you are probably like me and just enjoy seeing what other people do with their spaces so that you can gather your own ideas.  So as we get spaces done and up to snuff I will try to post the pictures. 

One of the things we, or should I say I, have been wanting to do was frame around the mirror in the master bathroom.  Having the mirror bare just made it seem unfinished and stark.  It's a small thing but gives a nice finished look with a personal touch.  So of course, thanks to Pinterest, I found an idea I liked and thought easy to implement.  However, since we are renting the house, we were told we could not make any permanent changes to the house, that included framing the mirror (yes I called and asked specifically).  With this knowledge I began searching for ways to frame out the mirror that would be easy to remove if/when we move again.  Beyond just framing it though, I also wanted some shelving between the sinks to control the chaos while still keeping in mind the need to be not permanent. 

While helping R. hang things in the loft/gamer cave/geek haven, I discovered just what I was looking for.  Command Strips!  DUH!  Why didn't I think of this before.  They pop right off with a snap, leaving no sticky mess behind, meaning things are NOT PERMANENT!  Just what I needed!   Finally I knew how I was going to achieve that finished look I wanted.

So it was with this revelation we went to Lowe's and purchased everything we would need.  Excited and determined I had my plan.  We bought the white molding and corner squares and knowing there would be a gap between the molding and the wall next to the light switch, we also purchased a 1/2 inch 1/4 round strip.  Since the strips were already white, no painting was required.  Believe it or not, the most expensive part of the purchase was the Command Strips.  Everything totaled out to be around $30.  R. was kind enough to cut and hang them while I was at work as a surprise.  It was a wonderful thing to come home and discover.  This weekend we went to S. GA and happened to stop in Alco where I found a wonderful Closetmaid© mini storage cubical.  The shelf was $15 and the baskets were $8 for a pack of two.  It was exactly what I was looking for.  It fit perfectly between the sinks without making it feel like there was a wall between them. I think the finished look makes it a warmer, more inviting environment, well worth the cost.  R. likes that he can, and plans to, arrange the baskets into various Tetris shapes.  So it's a little something for the both of us.  

We both liked the over all effect enough to go back and spend another $5 for another strip of molding and using the leftovers from the master bath we were able to do the same to the guest bath. (Now if only I could do something about that wallpaper.) Plus, should we want to redo something or move, all we have to do it snap it off with no damage to the property.  So the total cost of framing both bathroom mirrors was about $35, adding in the shelf in the master bath grand total would be approximately $65.  Cost efficient, not permanent, is reusable, creates organization and beauty - I'd say all together well worth the cost.  Not to mention the organization and ease it created makes for more sanity and easy mornings for me -- that my friend, is priceless.   

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fallacy Of Limited Perspectives

Few things make my skin crawl like hearing someone say to my husband or students how amazing it is that they can be "so involved/independent/intelligent even through their disability."  Or even worse giving me credit for it as if I did the work, because I'm apparently so "amazing and they surely couldn't do it without me."  The fact that people are so narrow minded is maddening.

First off let me make clear that the students I interpret for excel because they are driven individuals who set goals, reach for the stars, and blow off small minded people who have low expectations for their potential.  They work hard, don't give up, and follow through.  For my students, I make sure they have the necessary tools and skills to use them, and just as any other student, their teachers/coaches make sure they have the needed knowledge.  And, just like anyone else, the students I interpret for put in the work necessary to achieve their goals.  I do my job, I advocate, I teach them to advocate, I give them the reins, I make sure they know how to use interpreters appropriately, and I attempt to connect them with multiple forms of community support.  I do my job.  I love my job, but know that if I wasn't there to do it someone else would be.

Secondly, how is it so hard to believe that someone can adapt to their surroundings.  Species have have been doing it since the dawn of time.  So they are deaf or visually impaired - why should that diminish their ability to learn to adapt?  As far as R. is concerned I helped him find needed resources, made sure he is well aware of his rights, and do my share of advocacy.  But again, his ability to achieve is all on him.  He is the one who will complete his degree in Computer Networking in a few months from Western Governors University. He's the one that has passed the multiple computer certification tests.  He's the one that has taken over the kitchen and adapted it to his unique preferences. The fact that you think these things an impossibility for someone with a significant visual impairment shows only your ignorance.  However, ignorance we're willing to work with, it's when ignorant people refuse to come out of their box and be educated, or when the educated continue to create perceived limitations that we have problems.  At that point you are the limited, as well as limiting, one - not others. 

I guess the point I'm getting to is this:

Encouragement and praise as you would offer any "normal" person is always welcome.  Your amusement caused by your inability to see outside your box is information you're welcome to keep to yourself.  I also don't need to hear your insistence that they couldn't have done it without me.  That is a fallacy that not only shows your limited perspective but also tells me much of your views of the human spirit.  Frankly, I have enough of my own issues to work through without adding your jaded humanitarian expectations to the pile. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

I Am My Father's Daughter...

Truer words have ne'r been spoken.  If anyone in my family is straight-forward, honest, and at times bluntly so - it's me.  Yet there are those who still doubt me when I say, "it's not about you."

Again, if this applies to you - check yourself.  There seems to be many of you of late, so you are not alone.

Anyone who knows me - not knows of me, knows my name, or thinks they know me - truly knows me can verify that if you think it's about you then you're probably wrong.  I'm not a person who leaves issues to doubt.  I will let you KNOW when it's about you.

Those of you who feel the guilty or angry need to respond, reply, retort, ect. - DON'T.  I'm not leaving this open for discussion.  Why? Because this is about ME and my ability to vent and let go.  This is for my sanity and my own ability to move on.  At this point your issues with whatever problems you have with me are of no concern.  You have sealed your fate as far as I'm concerned and this is simply my way of once again assuring you that if or when I do have issue/problems with you I will come to you and handle it responsibly, appropriately, and probably with more respect than you've ever shown me.  I may occasionally vent in vagueness or pick at others and you perceive that it's about you - but if it were I can promise that you'd KNOW and the likelihood that I would call you out and discuss the topic in a public forum is slim to not happening.  Chances are I have already personally addressed it with you or have plans to do so at an appropriate time and place.  I am not one to hold things in for extended periods.  I did that once and it proved unhealthy.  You're not worth my health and sanity.  I reserve that for the people who actually give a damn.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Hopes and Prayers

Our hopes and prayer for the coming year is of continued safe travel, finding the perfect place to move, good fortune, eliminating more debt, and being fruitful.  Most of these are things we were blessed with last year and we are hoping those blessings will continue.

The new blessings we hope for are fertility/fruitful, and perfect place.  I think you all know of our difficulties with conception, but despite it all our household continues to grow.  Last time we gained Austin.  This year we are blessed to have R.'s brother, N. moving in with us.  This is why we pray for the perfect house.  I believe in planning for a harvest you intend to reap.  I have no doubt that we will eventually have a child to fill that space but we also enjoy hosting those that currently fill our hearts.  Many of you have enjoyed the comforts of our spare bedroom.  We also have the plethora of others who use it as a safe haven or crash pad.  We're also blessed to have a few who have basically adopted us as additional parents.  (We apparently have one in college already.  Go MARS HILL!!!)  So in order to be able to continue to provide comfort for those who seek it at our door, and prepare for children, we are seeking a 3/2 or more house in our perfect local - which is no easy feat.  But God has always put us exactly where we needed to be and I'm sure He will continue to do so.  Keep us in your prayers.

Update: We have found a house.  Great neighborhood, kid friendly, close to a park, dog park, and shopping.  We move in Aug. 1.