Big week. I'm so very, very tired. But so very, very blessed.
Thank you for the responses to yesterday's post. Caroline is truly a blessing. She makes me laugh. For those of you who haven't had a chance to meet her -- I can't wait for you to do so. I'm just saying. . .you'll love her.
Here are some recent pics. I figured the picture posts are always more fun than just the "wordy" ones. Enjoy!
Birthday cake at O'Charley's. Very delicious.
After dinner, we went to Build-A-Bear to get our puppy. What a process. . . .
Picking him out -- it was narrowed down to two choices (maybe three)
Then we did the "Build a Bear" rituals for putting the stuffing & heart into the bear. It was really, really cool watching Caroline follow all the directions. (Yes, she has done this before. . .but still!)
Once he's stuffed, you have to brush & fluff him. She liked this part!
Then, it was time to dress him. Yes, he has Converse high-tops.
And without further ado. . .here's Murray. Yes, she named him Murray. (In all likelihood, she named him after the Red Wiggle.) Regardless, I still crack up at the name. :)
What's that? You wonder what kind of t-shirt he's wearing? Look.....
That's right, Murray is a NASCAR fan. Wouldn't have it any other way. But seriously, how could you say "no" to this face. . . ?
Okay, onto other pictures. . .
Two weeks ago, Mark and Caroline attended the DSAG Zoo Day at the Knoxville Zoo. There aren't a lot of great "people" pictures, but there are some good Caroline/Animal pictures. According to Mark, she and this monkey had a long conversation.
I don't really know what to say about this next picture, except for the fact that when I saw it, she just looked so "normal" to me. This is the kind of thing "normal" kids do -- and the more we encourage her to achieve, the more "normal" her life and testimony will be to the world. (I just like the picture) On Monday night, while we ate dinner, Mark got a phone call from his best friend from high school. Tim. . .or "Bob" as they call each other. . .Tim and his beautiful wife, Lorna, now reside in Memphis. Well, he lives in Memphis. She's still in Topeka--selling their house.
Anyway, I digress. Surprised? I thought not.
Tim called and said that he was doing some work in So. Kentucky -- and was going to stay in Knoxville, at a local hotel. We told him to cancel those reservations, and come to our house (Mom & Dad's actually) We're booked solid here. And, we got to enjoy an evening with Bob & Bob.
And finally. . . . Here is a picture of me and Jean (aka Lois) that I got to meet in Nashville this past weekend. I could have taken more pictures on our trip around town. . . but it was nice just to sit and talk and laugh and eat and laugh some more.
Well. . .that's it. I'm done. I'm tired. There will be more pics as we get more family in this weekend. Mark's brother and sister-in-law are headed her on Friday. There will be a HUGE birthday party/celebration on Saturday. Lots to do. . .lots to do.
...and I just realized. I have to go put some of these pics up on Facebook. Oh well, I'll eventually make it to bed!
Five years ago this morning, I was camping out at my mom & dad's house. We all were, actually. Knowing that Mom was taking me to the hospital for a planned c-section at the butt crack of dawn, we relocated ourselves to Grandma's house, and prayed that we'd all sleep. Some of us did. Others, not so much.
I remember the alarm was set for something like 4:45 a.m., which, in my opinion, is just criminal. But, there was an end in sight -- a goal -- something to strive for. And that, my friends, is what gets you out of bed at 4:45 in the morning.
Five years ago, everything I knew in my life changed. My view of myself. . .my God. . .my family. . .my world. . . every single thing I knew changed five years ago today.
In the past five years. . .
I have learned the value of friends. . . .I learned that there is nothing that God cannot do. . . I experienced the terror of putting my child's life in the hands of people more skilled than me.
I watched someone I have committed my life to become stronger and more brave than he thought he could be.
I have seen sensitivity and gentleness help turn a little boy into a young man.
I learned the value of a prayer warrior.
I became an advocate for a cause I never knew I'd care about.
I realized that there are some things I simply cannot control, or change. . . I became intimately acquainted with the Wiggles. . . .I overcame the stigma of words like "therapy" and "disability."
Five years ago today, I became the mother of a little girl that has forever changed my life, and the lives of many people around her.
She is honest. She is creative. She is imaginative. She is stubborn (to a fault). She is beautiful. She is precocious. She is talented. She is musical. She is mine.
Caroline. . . You are loved more than I think you will ever realize. . . and today, more than ever, I see how you have completed me, and how our family would not be the same without you!
"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord, "Plans to prosper you; not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
I know. . .this may be the most cryptic title of all. You can chalk it up to me having the sense of humor of a 13-year old boy.
Let me explain. . .not that it will help.
Tonight, Mark and I went out on our "internet dates" with our online friends. I went out with Lois, and Mark went out with Brian, who manages a bagel shop and plays Battle Master.
I know. We should scare you.
I had fun. I think Mark did, too. He just got home -- and went into the restroom after handing me my cheesecake from Noshville. (I will be eating it shortly) So, we really haven't had a chance to talk.
He met Lois, just before she "whisked" me away on a wonderful tour of some of the most beautiful homes in the Nashville area. We saw current/former homes of the following people:
Waylon Jennings Tex Ritter Dolly Parton (her current home) Hank Williams (and Hank Junior) Al Gore -- that one made me kinda dizzy.
. . .and many others. She showed me the neighborhood where Kathy Mattea allegedly lives, and the subdivision where Tim McGraw & Faith Hill lived. (Whoa. .. nice homes!)
I even got to see where Peter Cetera (former lead singer of Chicago) currently lives. :)
Then, after my whirlwind tour of Franklin, Brentwood, and Nashville, we went to a really fun restaurant called Wei Pei. And now you see the definition of my blog title for today. If you've ever eaten at a P.F. Changs. . .this is the carryout version of P.F. Changs. It's not nearly as expensive as Changs -- and the stuff tastes, smells, and looks just like Changs.
We had an awesome talk -- and it was so much fun putting her face and voice with her writing. And I have to say -- it was like reuniting with a friend I've known for years -- and picking up where we'd left off. Only, this was the first time that we'd been together. It will not be the last time.
In fact, she and Hank (her hubby) will hopefully come over to our end of the state, and let me treat her to some East Tennessee hospitality. Of course, I don't have any celebrity homes to show her. So, I'll have to come up with some sort of tour.
Well, I have pictures, but there's this piece of cheesecake. And it's right next to me. . . you won't hold this against me, right?
I didn't think so.
And, for the record.....Melany, Beth, and Jeannette--as God is my witness, our day(s) is/are coming. Each time I meet a blog friend, I think of each of you guys. I don't know when or how I will make the Canada connection, but it's going to happen. Wonder Woman, we don't have an excuse -- we're just one state away from each other! :)
I plan on taking pictures there tonight. We ate there the first time when Caroline underwent open heart surgery in 2004. Coming back now, not having the medical stuff hanging over our heads, is wonderful.
They have awesome sandwiches:
And did I mention that they fly in cheesecake from the Carnegie Deli??
Yeah, dinner is gonna rock!
It's been a long day, and there are many adventures in front of us for the next couple of days. We are attending the Tennessee State Down Syndrome Conference. Of course, while we're here attending the conference, Mark gets to meet one of his baseball card blogger friends, and I get to meet HER.
I refer to her as "Lois" on the blog, because that's the pen name she used when we first met. Now I know her as "Jean" and tomorrow (probably -- we haven't worked out the details) we are meeting in person. And, as she put it on her blog, there will be one of "those" hugs. . . the kind where you feel like you have known someone for a long, long time (but in reality have never met in person!)
So, there you've got it. . . .a very full, but hopefully relaxing weekend.
We have learned that there is some form of Country Music Awards at the Grand Old Opry in town (tonight) plus Dave Ramsey is doing his "Town Hall for Hope." So, I'm optimistic that we might see a celebrity or two. Noshville is over near the "music" side of town.
One time when we came to town, we stayed (literally) behind Noshville. We woke in the morning, and learned that Willie Nelson's band (and maybe Willie) was in the same hotel as us. We saw some of them at the continental breakfast. They were unmistakable.
So, we'll see. I can assure you, if I see anyone, I'll try to maintain my composure, and meet them.
Until then, I'll try to relax and enjoy the time away. Oh, did I fail to mention?
A few years ago, my friend Jean (Lois) and her husband met my PCB a couple years ago at Home Depot here in Nashville. I have this hankering to go look at potting soil! :)
In case you forgot what he looks like. . .here's yet another picture. Enjoy!
If you're like me (and I pray that most of you are not like me!) you can gauge some of the big events in your life through episodes of the Brady Bunch. Example:
"Ouch! My nose!" "She sells sea shells by the seashore" "A wise man forgets his anger before he lies down to sleep." "He fits the suit."
Just about every life lesson can be taught in one form or another by the world's most famous blended family. And of course, if you know "the Bunch" you know that next line of the song title in my blog post title is ". . .it's time to rearrange. . .who you are into what you're gonna be. Sha na na na na na na na na na. . " and now you're humming and/or singing along.What? You're not singing along. . . here you go:.
Things certainly are changing around here. Kids are growing. Cast-off clothing and house sundries are being donated to the church rummage sale. Furniture is coming and going around here. And with new furniture comes the challenge of re-arranging furniture.
This afternoon, my dad brought over two new end tables that he and Stan have been working on for my house. They were made to match my entertainment center -- and they are beautiful. They have drawers built into them, along with storage space beneath the drawers. Honestly, they are beyond words gorgeous. And, very shortly after their arrival, they were put in place to be used and enjoyed. Of course, this meant moving around furniture (recliner, *my* chair, the sofa sleeper). You know...the small stuff! It's totally different, but it's starting to grow on me.
Another change (or transition) that we've muddled through this week was Caroline's IEP transition meeting today. We met with representative from her current preschool and representatives from the primary school where she will be enrolled in the fall. Mark and I actually visited the school yesterday -- and the thought of my baby girl in a sea of over 600 K-2nd graders (No, I am not kidding) is daunting. But after spending just shy of an hour in the school, I feel better.
Our meeting today was positive overall. Some of the arguments or discussions we've had with her current teacher over her progress up until today weren't an overriding factor in today's meeting. The only true disadvantage Caroline seems to have is that she has this independent (or stubborn) streak which manifests itself when she is asked to do simple tasks that she finds unimportant. We also agreed with their assessment that she's easily distracted. I'm not sure what can be done about that. She's my child, for Heaven's sake.
Hey look! A pony! See. . . ?
But, overall, the path we've carved out for her is very well suited for her current and future needs. And the best part? We can call a meeting. . . and they have to comply within 10 days. So, we'll be able to work through some of the issues as they arise.
The biggest hurdle was her entry into a "regular" Kindergarten class. The plan is for her to spend the first couple of weeks centered in the Special Education class -- but pulled out for "special" classes (Art, Music, PE, etc.). Then, after a couple of weeks (or more, if necessary) she will begin spending academic time in a true Kindergarten class. And, during those first couple of weeks, when she's pulled out for "special stuff," they'll purposely match those times with the class she will eventually be a part of.
Her goals are fairly straightforward. The biggie? They want her writing her first name by Christmas. . . .and her last name by this time next year.
She can do it. She will do it. As she likes to say, we'll do it together.
I only cried once -- and it wasn't a matter of sadness. I was just overwhelmed as I sat there in the meeting, and realized there were people (literally) all over the world praying for her. I felt those prayers while I sat in that meeting. How did I know?
I maintained my composure while hearing them say things that she "couldn't do" that I know she can do. I very gently (as did Mark) remind them that she does many (if not all) of these things at home. And I stated that our concern has shifted some, from communication skills to social interaction skills. That, my friends, was prayer in action.
Of course, when they went to her classroom to get her -- and she reunited with us, she stated very clearly, "Hi Mommy & Daddy. I want to go home with you." (And to Mark) "Are you going to take me to my home?"
Literally -- every professional in the room stopped talking. They stared at each other. Then her (new) vice principal said: "Boy, she really does talk well with you guys." They saw it. They heard it.
God answered another prayer.
Thank you for your prayers for us as we've gotten to this point. We have had some very discouraging moments, and times when we felt like we were at our wits' end. We've been concerned that the school system was just going to put her in a box -- and leave her there -- and not challenge her. They may not push her as much as we want them to -- but they're going to work with us, and that's all that matters now.
Oh! And the best "change" of today was a change I didn't have to make -- twice!
During her IEP, we talked about her need to finalize potty training. One of the teachers said something about the fact that it's probably just a matter of Caroline not feeling like it's that important. . . and something about 'autonomy' playing a role here. (Sound familiar, Beth?)
Another told a story about how with their typically developing child they just thrust him into "big boy" pants out of need (no diapers on hand) and he was literally, suddenly potty trained.
So, what did I do? Yep, you guessed it.
I pulled out her Dora the Explorer big girl panties, put a pair on her. . .and decided we'd go for it. And yes, I know this was a dangerous thing to do with freshly-cleaned carpets. But sometimes you just have to take a chance. This time. . . it paid off. Twice. She not only stayed in those undies until she got in the bathtub -- she stayed dry, and used the potty TWO TIMES from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. I am not claiming victory -- just a mini triumph!
So, there you have it. Changes are happening all around us. As I type, Mark is installing a new toilet seat for the kids' bathroom. (ugh -- I cannot describe the previous seat without throwing up a little in my mouth -- so I won't!) A new floor lamp/reading lamp is about to be assembled and installed in the living room because part of the re-arrangement leaves one corner of the living room kinda dark.
Oh, and to top all this off? Edison's voice is (finally) changing. I say "finally" because he's been getting increasingly worried about the fact that it hadn't happened up until this point. Personally, I have avoided every possible verbal interaction on this topic with him -- but this is unmistakable.
Kinda like Peter . . . and that infamous song. . . from the Brady Bunch.
That subtitle will make sense if you were a teenager in the 80s, and listened to Michael Jackson -- at least on that last one.
I have to be honest, I hesitated to put a new post on here because it meant that the picture of Michael McDonald would no longer be at the front/top of my blog when I opened it up. And since I use my own blog to navigate to the blogs linked on the right -- it's been a win-win since Friday!
If you read the last post, and its comments, you saw Michael referred to as my "pretendcelebrityboyfriend" from my friend, Melany. And yes, I have to admit that I get a little weak in the knees when I think about the fact that in just over two months, I will be in the same room as Michael McDonald. I get a little weak in the knees when I think about him two states away.
I just get weak in the knees.
I've been in an arena with him before -- key word: arena. That was enjoyable -- but this time will be a smaller room...and I'll be on the 10th row. I can live with that distance, really. (Of course, I *had* tickets reserved for the 7th row -- but couldn't get ahold of Mark -- and by the time we agreed to go, and buy the tickets -- we ended up in the 10th row). But again, I can totally live with that.
But, Melany's comment -- coupled with a discussion on Facebook last night -- brought up the subject of what many refer to as "pretend celebrity boyfriends." PCBs.
Not to be confused with PCP (a drug) or PYT (Pretty Young Thing -- a single by the self-proclaimed King of Pop from the 80s).
There are a couple of (ahem) gentlemen that cause my knees to go weak. The aforementioned piano playing/soul-singing sultry Michael McDonald is one of them. And say what you will -- but when you hear his voice, it's unmistakable.
I listen to him when I scrapbook. . . when I iron. . .when I sew. . . and when possible, in my office. The only "weird" drawback I have? For some reason, I have this bizarre notion that he has bad breath. And, bad breath is one of those things that IMMEDIATELY turns me off when talking to someone. Seriously. Like, I nearly pass out or puke -- simulataneously (if the halitosis is really bad!) So, part of my psyche tells me that although I find his voice utterly dreamy. . .he probably has bad breath. And that, for whatever reason, keeps my emotions in check.
I know. . .I'm bizarre. But YOU are reading it. So it's not all me. . .
PCB #2 (oh yes, there's more than one!)
Back in 2001, Dick Wolf, the genius behind "Law & Order" created a spin-off called Law & Order:Criminal Intent. And when he created this spinoff, he created yet another reason for me to forsake friends and family for time with my television. You see, he cast this guy
Vincent D'Onofrio, as the quirky and awkwardly attractive Detective Robert Goren. Within MINUTES, I was hooked.
In 2004, after the 2nd election where George W. Bush won (and half the nation was ticked off) word came through reputable sources that Vinnie wasn't handling the news of John Kerry's defeat as graciously as I might want him to do. In fact, he took a leave of absence from the show -- which brought in Chris Noth (not too shabby a choice) to alternate episodes with my "friend" that I adore from a distance.
Now, before I go any further, I have to acknowledge that my father (who could pass for Michael McDonald's older brother) calls Vincent "Mr. Wussy" because of his post-election distress. If you ever wondered how my dad leaned politically, this should clarify things for you! In fact, I believe my beloved father quit watching Criminal Intent when this happened.
I. . .can be more forgiving. Especially during the episodes where he cared for his dying mother. Yeah, I can forgive.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit (as you might have suspected) that this guy
would be my NASCAR PCB. He's just a nice, respectable guy. Kinda easy on the eyes. And, he's a good family man. He hasn't won any races this year -- but the season has just begun. And when you consider that my daughter cheers for him (while wearing Dale Earnhardt, Sr. pajamas) there's more than one girl in this house that finds Mr. Burton kinda dashing in a good old boy kind of way!
Okay. . .there you have it. I've admitted that there are three guys that make my knees like jelly. . . my palms sweat. . .and my mouth go dry.
I guess that's it. Well. . . . .
I would be lying if I didn't say that THIS guy. . . .
*the one on the left. I am not a big fan of over-sized cartoon characters (neither is Caroline)
This guy causes all those things, and so many more.
I love you, honey. Thanks for taking me to see Michael. . . .and Jeff. And, for reminding me when Vincent is on TV.
It's been a busy (normal) week. Nothing out of the ordinary. Even a couple nights at home (unusual for this time of year). Kids aren't as busy as usual. . .oh yeah, because it's Spring Break. But still. . . .I haven't blogged, and I feel bad about it.
This weekend will be no different than this week -- busier, in fact.
Edison is camping.
This image is actually Edison, Tim (youth minister - the driver) and Austin on their way to parts unknown. No, literally. . . I don't know for sure where they're going. But, thankfully, I trust Tim.
Caroline is still out of school this week. Today she spent the day with Caitlin (one of the sweet girls from church) who played with her -- and I believe they used EVERY toy that Caroline owns. When I came home, Caroline was wearing the most bizarre combination of clothes. All Caitlin said was: "fashion show" and I knew exactly what had been happening.
We're having a prayer conference at church this weekend--which means events for me Friday night, Saturday morning & afternoon, and Sunday morning (during our services).
Mark is going to clean our carpets tomorrow night -- while we're at the prayer conference stuff (cookout at Uncle Jeff's farm) and spending the night at Grandma's house.
Then, on Saturday, while I'm "Prayer-Conferencing" Mark is taking Caroline to the Knoxville Zoo for DSAG's Zoo Day.
Yeah. . . this may be the last you see of me until Sunday afternoon. And at that point, I'll be posting from a reclined position on the couch, watching NASCAR, and drinking a cold Diet Pepsi or Diet Mountain Dew.
I'm excited for the kids to go back to school on Monday. I don't have a plan (yet) for their summer activities. I need one. But for now, I don't have one.
So, until I see you again -- toodles. Here's to a deeper prayer life, a more rugged teenager, and cleaner carpets.