Sunday, November 14, 2010

Because our family is funnier...

There is a certain branch of my family that you can trace way back to a handful of '89ers. These '89ers must have been some seriously funny folk because the Heller/Stoner side of my family has that bent for hilarity. I am pretty sure we were born with a specific gene for a dominant funny bone. Individually we are fairly clever people, but get us together and your sides will split before the evening is over.

This weekend was no exception to the family rule. Several generations including second gen '89ers, my mom's generation, and my generation gathered for a cousin's wedding. Her wedding was intimate and exquisite all at once. She was stunning in her ivory gown with her red hair down her back. The ceremony was emotional and personal. The reception was 5 star with good wine flowing. All of these things would have made for a great time. But we Hellers have to twist things up and make them funny. It's what we do.

While discussing how to get to the reception with some of our family, a cousin offers the address portion of her Google Maps print out. Just as we are discussing putting the address into our GPS, my great-aunt (who was a riot before age fogged things up a little) chimes in with her observations. "Well, in our car the radio talks to us and tells us where to go. I keep telling them they better hurry up or she's going to leave us behind." And how do you not laugh out loud at that? The real kicker is when we are walking away, after getting her secured in the talking car, her son mentions, "You ought to see her talk back to the thing." I am laughing out loud right now with that image in my head.

After that they just kept on coming. This same aunt suggested to her granddaughter that she might date that nice looking man right over there - yup, a cousin. My sister and I had been making fun of each other all night suggesting that the other had done something just like our mother (no offense mom, but it was really funny). At the end of the evening my grandfather's cousin remarks on how much my sister looks like my mom. ZING! This particular cousin of my grandfathers is an absolute hoot. I think she spent more time on the dance floor than anyone else and don't ask me why she knew all the words to the hip hop songs. At another point an older wedding guest (not a member of our family, but a notable funny moment) was dancing with a single cousin significantly her junior. The dance was meant for married couples only and I am proud to say that Brian and I were among the last few couples up there based on years married. Someone told her that she was cheating by still dancing. To this she replies, "I'm not a cheater, I'm a cougar!" I die. I wet my pants and I die because this is funny stuff.

So, there were many other moments that had me rolling on the floor (besides the moment that we were actually on the floor looking for the great-aunt's hearing aid - those things are expensive after all), but it would take all night to recount. Literally every second was punctuated with laughter. At the end of the evening the Bride was saying her goodbyes to us and she mentioned that her new husband was so happy that her cousins came. Apparently he thinks we are a lot of fun. He's so in with the family now.

Chimpanzee Mating

We thought some further investigation was necessary with the recent talk of mating - specifically regarding Reba's Chimpanzee report. Reba informed us that mating is when two chimps get along really well. She says it's like dating. Jacob then chimes in with, "Then they go on a romantic honeymoon." What?!?

Yup, that's the conversation around our dinner table these days.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sounds like a blog post in the making..

So many months have passed. So much parenting has occurred. But some things never change. My boy child has a propensity to say very funny one-liners and my girl child doesn't even know why we are laughing.

I called my youngest sister the other day to regale her with my boy's latest blurt when she replied, "Sounds like a blog post in the making." Uh, right. My blog. Sounds like I better dust this old sucker off and boot it up. I've missed you old blog. You are the keeper of my kids' funnies, my parent heartache, my blessings, my creativity, and my honesty. Blog, I have undervalued you. Won't happen again - for a while...

Here are the latest Miller kid funnies:

1)We were at a park for Reba's softball team party. Nearby the pavilion we had rented was a group of Crossfit types doing their thing. As we were leaving Jacob asked me if I had seen them. I replied, yes. He says, "Yeah, you should do that, Mom," in his most 8-year-old sarcastic tone. My 8-year-old told me I needed to work out! He's right, of course, but show your mom some respect, dude.

2)Reba is doing a report on Chimpanzees for school. This has been the source of a couple of funnies. First she told us that the other top reader in her class (Adam) was not even close to being done with his report. She, of course, has typed hers and is ready to present. She told me the other day, "Adam is just holding me back." We laughed pretty hard considering Adam has been in love with Reba since their Pre-K days. Her next announcement about her report came yesterday when she was going over what she would present. "I am NOT talking about mating - there would just be way too many questions that I am not prepared to answer." I died. I am pretty sure she has no idea what mating means.

OK, so maybe those are only funny to us. We are finding humor in the little things these days to keep our spirits up and our minds off of the impending changes. Our 3rd set of amazing foster babies are moving on this week after 5 months with us. We have another awesome story to tell that involves healing, growing, learning, and love. These two precious children will be going to their forever home this weekend if all goes as planned. We are blessed beyond words by their presence in our home. Their absence will leave a hole in our hearts (because they all take some of it when they leave) and some empty beds in our home. We pray for their new family and thank God that we got to be a part of their journey to them.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Legacy of the Little White Car

In 2001, when Brian and I were just graduating college and getting married, with not a penny to our names, friends of ours did a hugely generous thing.  They gave us their little white car.  That was our first Honda Accord - our first car at all that belonged outright to us.  We drove that sweet little stick shift for 6 years and loved it.  When we moved to Texas, it stayed behind (a tuckered out A/C couldn't hack the TX heat), and we were forever grateful for the years it gave us. 

Then, less than a year later, the unimaginable happened.  Those same people gave us another little white car, their newer Honda Accord.  I kid you not, two Honda Accords, same people.  Generous beyond measure, these folks have been family to me since I was in high school.  I have been blessed many times over, not just because of the gifts of cars (among other things), but because of my relationship with them.  Go on, you can be jealous that I have friends like this.  Everyone wishes that they had friends like this.  I have learned to knit, quilt, parent, love, accept, cherish, organize, think outside the box, and be generous, many thanks to these people. 

Recently it came time in our family to increase our number of seat belts.  Since we have had 4 children consistently for almost a year now, we decided it was time to increase capacity.  We bought a Honda Odyssey, capacity for 8, and suddenly we had an extra car.  What to do, what to do? 

In the spirit of our good friends' generosity, we could not simply sell this vehicle.  That would not do.  It was very clear that the car needed to go to someone that would benefit from the gift as much as we had.  It sat in our driveway for a month or so as we looked for who to give it to.  Who would be our Sarah and Brian?  Then last week, the answer was as clear as day.  My cousin and his wife, still considered newlyweds, moved to our area on just a wing and a prayer.  He landed a job with a local fire department and she is still looking for a school district with openings for an elementary teacher.  A car would make a BIG difference for them.  A little white car, in particular, would really fit the bill.

So the Legacy of the Little White Car lives on.  We are grateful for the miles it gave us.  It has served us well.  Thank you, friends, who were so generous to us, you have given us the gift of passing along that generosity.  Being able to give the car to someone, just as you had given it to us, has blessed us twice over.  Let me assure you, the new owners of the little white car are just as grateful.  Look what you have started...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Good Story

One day in April my sister, Jenny was going out of town - I don't even remember why, but probably for business 'cause she's all important like that, and she asked me to take her dog to the kennel for her.  I said, "No prob," which I had said before and forgotten completely about, but this time I meant it. I was up bright and early on the Saturday following Easter weekend.  I got my girls up, Reba and our two current foster daughters, dressed them all cute in their matchy outfits they had all gotten for Easter, and headed out in the still cool morning of April 10th.  Reba always likes to go along when we take the dogs in to the kennel and I figured that the little girls would love the kennel and the endless supply of affectionate dogs.  What possessed me, all before eight on a Saturday morning?

We arrived at the kennel where I saw the owner, Jana, sitting at her desk in the back office.  I know Jana.  We have had our dogs boarded here before.  I have met her sister and her parents and they are all adorable.  My sister, Jenny, and I could talk with them for hours swapping animal rescue stories of our youth (ahem, and our adulthood).  I wave at Jana, because I don't even know why, and motion for her to come out and meet my girls.  She's slightly confused because she can't see Reba, and I am holding the 2-year-old, and how did my kid shrink?  So she comes out.  We talk briefly about fostering, and the girls, and she asks some very benign question,s and we leave.  And if nothing more ever came from that I would not have been surprised at all.  But something more came - something I couldn't have even known to hope for or imagine.

Jana called me the next day.  My sister's dog was fine.  Good, because I was the emergency contact.  Whew!  But she had some questions about the girls. Jana and her husband were interested in how they might have a shot at adopting them.  It's a long shot, I said, hoping it wasn't, but knowing the improbability.  I gave her all the info.  She was at the agency the next morning, and within 3 days of meeting the girls she and her husband, Dave, were taking classes to become licensed foster to adopt parents.  Wow.  They might be the only people that have finished their classes and licensing faster than Brian and I.  They were able to very quickly provide us with babysitting and take the girls for overnight visits.  What a Godsend - literally.

This next part is awesome.  Today, June 2, we were in court regarding the girls.  The judge, the girls lawyer, the CASA volunteers, and the CPS caseworker all agreed that the children would be placed with our friends, Jana and Dave, with everything looking like they will ultimately get to adopt them.  For reals!  At the end the judge asked how Jana and Dave came to know the girls.  "It's a good story," CPS said.  I have to say, it definitely is.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Thanks, Mom

Mother's Day already?  How does this sneak up on me every year?  Last year I posted on my fantastic Grandma Lu and earlier this year I posted on my dear Grandma Bette, but I haven't regaled you yet about my amazing Mom, Marie.

Now, if you are the mother of a daughter that looks just like you, and occasionally thinks just like you, and more times than is normal and despite thousands of miles can even feel your feelings, you might understand my relationship with my mom.  I looked in the mirror just this morning and saw Mom looking right back at me.  Whew, that was weird.  Oh, but how grateful I am to have such an awesome mom.

Thank you, Mom, for teaching me the value of children and especially how to love the ornery ones.  You had a little plaque that sat in that little niche by the phone (or where the phone used to be back when they had cords and tape recorded answering machines).  I don't remember what exactly it said, only that the gist was that children were 100% of our future.  That is how you live out every day.  You are a visionary, seeing the possibility in every child.  Countless children trace back their success to you, the teacher or principal that they had years and years ago.  I was privileged to be your student but even more so to be your daughter.

Thank you, Mom, for teaching me love - that friendships and relationships will sometimes end and often hurt, but that not to love in the first place is the real loss.  You comforted me through the drama and chaos of middle school, high school, eesh - college (that was a biggie), and then again in motherhood when the greatest thing I would do would be to love and let go.  Thank you for knowing the heartache even when my words couldn't express it.

Thank you, Mom, for being the example of an educated woman.  I believe it is a testament to you that your three daughters are pursuing Master's Degrees.  Education, we learned, equals empowerment.  And, well, we are all kinda brilliant and certainly very strong women.  Just saying...

Thank you, Mom, for being there every Sunday, teaching us the Word and showing it to us daily by your actions.  My faith is strong because my foundation was sure.  I appreciate the years of your life you spent sharing Christ's love with children.  I appreciate even more the way you lived to show Christ's love to everyone from every background, color, and creed.  I believe when all is said and done, He will say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

Thank you, Mom, for being that slacker mom that didn't do all my laundry (that little cherry chap-stick issue really sealed the deal on that one), didn't make my lunches, let me make dinner when I was in middle school (if you can call sloppy joe Boboli pizza, dinner), let me fail a thousand times, so that I would learn.  I love that you gave me that book when I grew up and you realized that I was totally a slacker mom and struggling with my own identity as a woman and a mother and feeling like I might be totally screwing up my kids. But you didn't judge.  Oh, thank God it is okay to be a slacker mom.

Thank you, Mom, for all the laughs you provide when you allow us to use you for comic relief (okay you can dish it out too).  I will never forget when you told me that if I didn't like the teasing I needed to find another family.  My 15-year-old self would never have dreamed in a million years I would ever say that to my kid.  But guess what?  I did.  Also, remember that you wanted us to tell you when you get old and we make fun of you?  Though you are definitely not old, I am just saying, be advised, it's happening.

There are many many more things, but really, we could be here all night.  So, finally I would like to say thank you, Mom, for showing me how to hold my head high through the tough things in life.  You have not failed me, you have only strengthened me.  Happy Mother's Day, I love you.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


We are believing around here for something big.  I believe that each child that comes through our house, be it through birth, friendship, or the foster care system, has a plan from above for good and not for evil.  Specifically I believe that the foster children that come through our home will have only positive outcomes and that the courts and CPS will work only to their best benefit. 

As you might remember, our last set of kids went on to be placed with their forever family.  The sequence of events that led these children to their forever family are too perfect for coincidence and too great for a mere human to have orchestrated.  We like to believe that we were chosen to be part of their plan.   These children are now lovingly matched with the parents that did not birth them from their womb but truly birthed them from their hearts.  We were honored to have been privy to that miracle. 

We feel that same powerful force moving in our current children's lives.  I prayed when we first got them, for His grace to cover them, and for their forever family to come along.  We had the children for approximately 11 days when they met their hopeful forever family.  It was a meeting too coincidental to be coincidental and there was an overwhelming sense by the hopeful mother that these were her children.  This couple will complete their licensing in record time and now have a developing relationship with our kids (logging many babysitting hours - willingly!). I hope that you, my dear friends and family, will join me in praying that these wonderful people will soon be our girls' forever parents.  Oh, if you knew them, you would love them too! (For all you dog people - I know there are many of you, these folks are our friends that own the only dog kennel/doggy daycare that we would ever trust with our four legged family.)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Could it be three weeks already?

Sheesh, where does the time go?  I am not sure how three weeks passed so quickly.  I do know that we have been in an upheaval mode since my last post.

Three weeks ago today we knew for sure that our precious S & I would be going to their forever family on March 15.  That week we spent doing a whirlwind of preparation.  For a couple of kids that came with next to nothing in clothes and one ball for toys, we had to take two car loads of stuff over - and then we still found stuff that they left here.  We did therapy, we did many hours of phone preparation with the new family, we did lots of fear calming and behavior dealing with.  Seems once S sensed there was a change in the air she was all out of sorts and we saw some behavior regression right before she left.  One night that week all four kids were crying for different reasons - the two oldest were crying because the two little crying ones would be leaving.  We realized that night how hard this was going to be for all our kids.

When all was said and done our two little ones were placed with their forever home on Friday the 12th and after a tearful "see you later" (because it's not goodbye forever), Brian and I decided that it was a must for us to get out of town and fast.  We had loosely been toying with the idea that we really needed to see our grandparents (as in our children's great grandparents) and by late Friday night I had clothes packed and a plan in place to drive to CA.  The kids had no idea, our CA family had no idea, and we were giddy with anticipation.  Jacob had a baseball game Saturday morning and while the kids and Brian were at the ball game I finished packing and loaded the car.  My sister came over after the game and took our lab "puppy" under the rouse that we were picnicking with the other two dogs and it might be late when we got back.  The kids didn't question the suitcases in the back of the car and assumed the ice chest was for our picnic.  About an hour into our drive we admitted we would be going a little further than the lake for our picnic.  Reba was ecstatic, Jacob was beside himself - we had not let him mentally prepare.  Our family still didn't know.

24 hours later we were cutting off Brian's dad as he was driving down his street.  He didn't look too happy until he realized it was us - which took a minute because what the heck were we doing in CA? We spent the rest of the week surprising the great-grandparents.We got to spend a day with each of our grandparents.  It was a special treat.  We even were able to be there right over my mom's birthday and she got a great shock when Jacob and Reba showed up in her office the morning of her birthday.  CA was a wonderful trip and the perfect medicine for a couple of kids (and parents) missing their foster kids.

This week has been spent just trying to get back to normal.  We have been playing baseball, softball, we have been working, cleaning house, and noticing how dreadfully quiet it is around here.  The last two weeks with only our two kids gave us just enough time to realize how big our kids have gotten.  It helped us appreciate how darn funny Jacob is and how sweet and responsible Reba is.  This time has been just enough that when we got the call two nights ago for two more kids we said YES almost immediately. 

So, now our adventure begins again.  Two more kids, a 9 month-old and a 2 year-old, and the second go round has been just as fun as the first.  We are thrilled to have babies in our house once again.  The two older kids are thoroughly enjoying their big brother/sister rolls and Mommy and Daddy are remembering (after a nice long vacation) what sleep deprivation feels like. 

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Best and Hardest Day as a Foster Parent

I have the most amazing foster children.  Along with my biological children, they are the reason I believe I was put on this earth.  They came to us broken, abused, and neglected.  They will be leaving us whole. 

"S", though sometimes a typical 3-year-old, challenging her parents and talking back, is a joy.  When she came to us, she was a foul mouthed kid with no boundaries and teeth rotting out of her head.  Today she is bright and energetic.  She learned how to use a computer and is her favorite website.  She loves puzzles and can complete them on her own.  She is inquisitive.  Her favorite thing in the entire world is to be read to.  She is empathetic.  She has a knack for complimenting.  And I love her.  From September 15 until March 15, I am her mommy.  It has been an honor.

"I" came to us as a baby with a blank stare.  He rarely laughed and barely ever made a noise - good or bad.  He had not spoken his first word.  He could crawl, but at 30 pounds and almost 1, he could not walk.  Today he is a child of many expressions.  His laugh is contagious.  He says "Momma, Daddy, uh oh," and most importantly, "Dog."  He runs, chasing all of us around the big circle in the house.  He is incredibly smart and likes to carry around a stool to reach all of those forbidden places.  He can point to his shoes, his head, his nose, his ears, and his mouth.  His best friend is a 60 pound yellow lab.  His eyes light up when you walk in the room.  And I love him.  From September 15 until March 15, I am his mommy.  It has been an honor.

Today we learned that they will move on to a wonderful family.  It is what we had hoped and prayed for.  We are blessed to have their new parents as friends - or something closer (it's an unexplainable relationship).  Once I talked to this family about the possibility of being our kids' forever home, I knew with certainty that everything would be okay.  God had a hand in this from the beginning.  We were meant to be "S&I's" foster parents just as they were meant to be their forever parents.  I wanted these children forever. I begged God and Brian and they both said, "No."  I was crushed and despondent then, but of course, this was the plan all along. 

Brian and I will continue to foster.  It is our mission.  This is what we were supposed to do.  We see that more clearly now than ever.  However, I will never stop loving these first two.  They hold a special place in my heart.  So today, as we learned "officially" that our kids would be moving on, it has been absolutely the best and the hardest day as a foster parent.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Here's the thing about Second Graders

They are so gosh darn funny.  I had the privilege of being home yesterday as my big kids came home from school (not typical for this working mama).  The way they come in the door is so indicative of their personalities.  Reba comes home, neatly hangs up her backpack, promptly takes out her lunch box and deposits it in the proper place, and immediately takes out her folder which no doubt contains some piece of pressing news that she will not forget to tell us.  So. Reba.  Jacob comes home, I swear, tires on the scooter squealing, top speed straight into the house, scooter likely dropped at the door, running like a banshee, shedding backpack in the middle of the floor right outside of the bathroom, which he enters with his helmet still on.  I laughed out loud as I realized what kind of scene every afternoon must be for their father.  They both, apparently, do this every afternoon. 

This evening Brian and I were chuckling about it to ourselves in the front seat on our way out to dinner (a rare treat but we needed to get out of the house since one of our little one's has been sick and is finally feeling a bit better).  Jacob, chiming in from the back, yells, "What? I can't take any chances!"  That darn kid is hysterical.  The vision of him sitting on the pot with his bike helmet on has me doubled over laughing all over again. 

Jacob, you may not have a baby book, but at least your mama has a blog so she can write all these fabulously embarrassing things down for posterity.  I am pretty sure you will thank me someday.  You're welcome, son.

Monday, March 1, 2010

I Heart Faces Challenge #9: "Hillarious Outtakes"

This was from Reba's birthday party.  Note the look on her face and the fact that this child is not Reba attempting to open Reba's present.  I love it.  So classic for this child.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Boy Strikes Again

But not literally - he actually hit very well tonight.  Baseball season has officially begun.  We are back at the fields for another round of Live and Breathe Baseball and Softball for the Spring.  Ah, don't you just love it?  I am particularly fond of freezing my rear off on the metal bleachers.  Also one of my favorite things is red baseball mud tracked into the house on the bottom of cleats.  Ah, I digress.  The reality is that I love baseball season especially because of the families that we play with.  We have played with most of these folks for almost 3 years and many of them have become our extended family. 

Thank goodness this group is understanding and family like, because sometimes my funny boy can say some doozies.  Tonight he comes over in front of the bleachers and all the parents wearing his catcher's gear (his favorite position).  He proceeds to show us all the chest guard part of the gear and demonstrate what the flap hanging down is for.  Swinging it back and forth he announces, "It's the PEEPER FLAP MOM!"  Ah, yes, son, that is designed to protect your peeper.  If I wasn't certain my fellow baseball parents thought this was absolutely hysterical, I would have been more embarrassed.  I wish I had a picture of him in his gear - maybe next time.  We can educate you all on the various pieces of gear and what they are meant to protect.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Pitch White"

If you haven't already heard, let me inform you: Central Texas got SNOW yesterday!!  Yes, right here in the Austin area we were graced by the white stuff.  It snowed several inches and stuck, which I have never seen here - ever (which means the 2.5 years we have lived here, it hasn't snowed).  Anyway, it was quite a sight.  We did not have a snow day (what the heck?), but we did get a two hour delay of school today.  Most of the parents at my school came and picked up their kids early yesterday to go home and enjoy the crazy day.  My poor children had to wait until after school to commence frolicking about in the snow.  Jacob announced when he came home, "It's pitch white out there!"  I love when kids mess up old sayings.  It cracks me up.  But seriously, snow in Central Texas?  It was awesome!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fishes and Loaves

Remember that story about the fishes and loaves and feeding like 5000 (not including the women and children  - if I were a Gospel writer I totally would have included them, because, hello, we count)?  Remember how they had just a teeny bit of food to feed all those folks, but they collected what they had and Jesus worked a miracle to multiply what they had?  I am just gonna say that He still works those kind of miracles.

I hesitate to tell this story because, 1. It's pretty personal, 2. I don't want y'all to freak out, 3. I don't want y'all to think I am looking for handouts, 4. You need to know we are all okay and were never at risk for starving - if we were, we would have asked for help.  But, I am going to tell it anyway, because sometimes, I just have to report on how good God is.

At the beginning of February we had $41 in our checking account.  That was it.  $41 and no anticipated income until, at the earliest, today's date.  We were smart and we put what we needed aside for one big bill in savings.  But we still only had $41.  That was supposed to cover groceries, gas, and whatever else might come up.  And things come up.  Believe me.

We had $41 for three birthdays.  Mine, Brian's, and Reba's.  Brian and I can do without, a six-year-old needs a birthday party and presents.

We had $41 for 3 weeks of gas (we usually fill up each car once a week).  I commute 35 minutes every day one way.  We needed gas almost immediately.  Of course.

$41 for groceries for 6 people for almost a month.  We did have fish sticks.  No bread.

As of this morning we had 42 cents.  We. Made. It.  I deposited a paycheck tonight.

How did we make it?  He did it.  It could only have been Him. 

We sold a table that we didn't need anymore to our friends who just happened to notice we had an extra table because they were at the house for a totally different reason.  Check gas for the month.

Brian and I each had birthday money from parents and grandparents (thanks, guys). Check Reba's birthday (fairy party, school party, and birthday dinner out).

Fish sticks or not, we somehow made it with the food we had in our pantry and freezer.  Sometimes I am a genius with random food that we have on hand.  Our. Fridge. Is. Empty.  But we are full.

We have managed extras like a classmate's birthday party (handmade gift), the darn tooth fairy (would the kid just keep her teeth until we have some money?), a well check co-pay for the birthday girl (and ears pierced because we promised), diapers - wait, that's a regular occurrence, it just surprised us, and softball equipment (generously bankrolled by Aunt Jenny, our team's new sponsor).  42 cents.  Seriously.  

We didn't feed the masses, nor did we end up with much left over, but I will chalk it up to a miracle that we are still standing in the black.  There are many good things on the horizon.  Don't send donations yet.  Brian's business is looking very promising, my paycheck is coming in, our refund is on its way.  We will be better than okay.  Sometimes it just takes months like this to remind us that when we end, He begins.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Boy

I love this boy.  He is my funny kid.  As a second grader he is full of jokes, riddles, and a mouth of unruly teeth.  First of all, he is all boy, but he surprises us every other minute.  The other day he and his best friend "Jake" (yes, Jacob and Jake are best friends) were watching an Olympic medal ceremony.  Jacob exclaims that it is "so romantic!"  Brian, wondering what he is talking about, questions Jacob.  It was the women's skiing medal ceremony and Jacob pointed out that they were given flowers and the men kissed the women's hands.  Oh, how romantic... Where did he even get that word?

Fast forward to last night.  We were watching the Olympics - again, and Jacob is getting impatient waiting for his favorite event.  We happened to be watching my favorite event, Giant Slalum (um, hello, Aksel) and Jacob was antsy to get to ICE DANCING!  What the heck?  He loves those skaters.

The funniest moment yet came when Bob Costas appeared on the screen for the umpteenth time and Jacob says, "I'm getting sick of this guy.  Who is he anyway?  He speaks like every 10 minutes."  Uh, yep.  About every 10 minutes up pops Bob Costas.  Brian agreed.  It was way better when Katie Couric reported on the Olympics. Oh, boy.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Why you shouldn't groom your own dog and other ramblings...

First of all, yesterday was Brian's birthday which should explain why I didn't post - except, really it doesn't.  We officially did nothing for his birthday.  After experiencing a slight cash flow issue (as in, it doesn't seem to be flowing in at all) we decided to clamp down on all spending.  I did splurge and spend the $6.95 at Starbucks for his peppermint syrup that he loves for his coffee, but going out was absolutely out of the question.  Since he scheduled softball practice for last night (being the head coach and all) we also didn't exactly have time for dinner.  So, we quick fed the kids, headed off in 10 different directions, and met back up in the late evening for my sister to come over and make malts.  If you are not a member of my family, you need to know, malts are tradition, a classic dessert item, cherished by all, and made popular in our family by my grandpa (who knew just the right combo of ice cream, chocolate malt, and milk).

After malts, which apparently was going to actually be our dinner since we never got around to real food, we sat around the couches to just chill and muse about what it was like to be old.  Then it happened.  Brian got a bee in his bonnet to trim the dog.  (It was probably because of my post from a few days ago.)  He got out the clippers (human hair clippers) and guards and proceeded to attempt his hand at grooming.

There are reasons why we have paid a groomer upwards of $30 in the past to beautify our Little Dog.  #1: He's an ugly little dog, it takes a professional.  #2: His hair is strangely thick and wiry on top - you should use dog clippers.  #3: They bathe him.  #4: He is an ugly little dog.  Seriously.  Our final product may look only slightly better than what we started with.  Yikes!  As I said to the groomer the last time (when we had money to do things like that), "He's an ugly little dog, if I get him back an ugly little dog, I won't be disappointed."

Monday, February 15, 2010


When I was a child I lived in what I believed was a typical suburban home.  I have since learned that we were anything but typical and everything exceptional.  Some of my fondest memories (also some of my most embarrassing memories) include our menagerie of pets.  At one time we had 3 dogs, 3 cats, a rabbit, and a gerbil.  I would like to report that I am much more conservative in my pet adoptions as an adult - but I know I am beginning to border on ridiculous.  Check out our latest addition (bottom) - a gift for Reba's birthday.

King Tut, the best dog ever.

Bailey Jane, the most destructive dog ever (but soooo cute).

Little Dog, the ugliest dog ever (partly my fault - he needs groomed).
Cleopatra "Cleo", the cat.  She stares at closed doors - it's weird.

Travis, the hamster.  Our newest addition. Reba's baby.

And yes, he/she (we aren't sure) is sitting on top of Mommy's desk right now.  Am I crazy?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Valentine

The second best Valentine I have ever received: 

She kills me, that girl.  This sentiment is so sweet, almost as good as the one my sister gave my mom more than 15 years ago.  "Mom, I love you more than my bed."  If you knew my little sister...

Oh, yeah - the best?  She came a day early (which was really 4 days late - since she was actually due on my birthday).

Saturday, February 13, 2010


My baby is 6!  We told her she was not allowed to turn 6.  We even tried to cancel her birthday - but February 13th came around anyway.  So, we did what any good parents would do, we threw her a Fairy Birthday Party.

All the girls were to come in their Fairy Best - minus the accessories because we would provide those.  We spent the afternoon crafting wings and wands.  The wings are two pieces of 12x18 stiff felt cut into wing shape, sewn together, with elastic also sewn in for arms.  They were decorated with foam stickers, pom poms, glitter fabric spray, tool, ribbons, and the occasional sharpie (all with the help of a few moms and hot glue guns).  The wands are wooden dowels with foam stars on the top.  One little girl had only done the basic foam star and wooden dowel wand.  She handed it to her mother and asked "for an upgrade" meaning she wanted ribbons on that too.  The finishing touch was "Fairy Dust" that we sprinkled on everyone.  All I can say is, the Head Fairy is tired.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Because store bought Valentines are just not as nice...  I totally stole this scarf idea from here.  The kids were super excited about this.  Who wouldn't want a little red scarf (that used to be a red fleece throw from Ikea)?  Spent only $10 on Valentines this year, too (for four kids worth of classes).  Sometimes my creative genius (even when ripping it off from somewhere else) astounds me.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

When it rains, it pours

It is true that we have been experiencing inclement weather across the country these last weeks, but I am talking about blessings here.  Besides all of my birthday wishes (which I treasured, y'all) today has been an incredible day.  First of all, you all know my love for sewing.  I make no bones about the fact that my Bernina and I have a very close relationship.  Quilting has been known to keep me sane at times.  I love to think them up (because Lord knows I can't follow a pattern), make them, and then lovingly give them away.  This week, while discussing with a friend how I wanted to make a quilt to auction for Relay For Life donations, she mentioned her sister was interested in passing along some quilting items.  We both were thinking it might be some fabric or some simple notions, but no.  Oh, no. 

Today I got an email from my friend's sister.  She wants to GIVE me her Gracie quilting frame and her PC Quilter.  I kid you not.  Okay for everyone that doesn't sew or quilt or have a clue what the Gracie and PCQ are, they are stinking super cool (and not so cheap) machines to help make those awesome patterns you see sewn into the "quilting" part of a quilt.  Get it now?  This is serious stuff here.  This is what will take my quilting to the NEXT level (really like 10 levels up - who are we kidding?).  I am blown away.  Her generosity astounds me.  This world is a good and loving place. 

Next (as if all that weren't enough), my precious babies (foster) will soon be moving to a more permanent home.  This is a good thing but also a seriously heart breaking process.  I want them.  I want them forever.  But that is not what we agreed to and that is not part of God's plan for us.  I have been tormented by the fear of them leaving.  If I talk about it, I get emotional, and my voice comes out all squeaky.  My mom was right; I don't know how to love but to love completely.  Today, out of the blue, I got a call from a potential adoptive parent.  She's the one I was hoping and praying for.  Their family is interested and I am praying hard that this is the right thing for them and for our kids.  I feel like God is showing me that He will still be taking care of these babies and as tough as this is I am excited at the possibility.

Now, if only I could get the weather to cooperate and give us a late start to school tomorrow.  That would really be a blessing!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

31 is good

Y'all, 31 is good.  Lunch with Brian at an actual restaurant without our 4 kids.  Missed a major poo-saster (that a very sweet teacher and lovely secretary cleaned up themselves) at school while I was gone to lunch and no one called me to come back for it.  Felt like I did my job as a "nurse" assisting a teacher with health concerns.  Came home to eat a wonderful dinner prepared by my sister.  Went to Bible study with a dear friend.  Was blessed by sleeping children and a loving husband when I got home.  Had over 50 messages wishing me "Happy Birthday" from friends old and new.  My cup runneth over, big time.

Monday, February 8, 2010

We Heart Kisses Photo Challenge - Week 6

Because this picture was too good to not enter.  This was taken at a wedding this past June.  The happy couple announced their engagement this fall. 

Check out the other "Kisses" at:

My 30th Year

What some may characterize as a critical of coming of age year (it gets older every generation), I felt as though my 30th year was less about coming of age and more about celebrating life. 

30 meant:
  1. Becoming parents on another level.
  2. Re-examining our work life.
  3. Re-organizing our priorities.
  4. Opening our home to friends and children.
  5. Following our dreams.
  6. Knowing who our friends are.
  7. Knowing what our limits are.
  8. Challenging our faith.
  9. Challenging our sanity.
  10. Acing, like 99% acing, my first graduate course.
  11. Realizing potential.
  12. Understanding heart break.
  13. Witnessing miracles.
  14. Celebrating love.
  15. Walking with each other in love.
  16. Watching heroes fall.
  17. Forgiveness. 
  18. 10+ pounds that came out of nowhere and landed on my waist.
  19. Realizing that I was only human.
  20. Leaving a job that I really loved.
  21. Commitment.
  22. Bernina.
  23. Nikon.
  24. Drinking lots of coffee.
  25. Learning to drink a little less coffee.
  26. Driving grown up cars.
  27. Accepting and loving baldness (Brian's, not mine).
  28. Challenging ourselves (Game On! among many other more important things).
  29. Giving Thanks.
  30. Receiving Grace.
30 was not what I expected.  I loved harder, hurt more, and received more Grace than I had ever before in my life.  30 really was an epic year for me.  I look forward to 31 - I think...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Bible Coffee Holder Bag

Don't be jealous.  You know you want one too.  This was all my husband's genius.  The above pictured bag was based purely out of need.  Let me explain.  We started going to a church where you actually had to bring your Bible with you every week - and, uh, use it.  No kidding.  This new church also has this deal called the casual venue where you can be in church but without all the "liturgy" (that's church speak for "old churchy stuff"), you can dress in your jeans, and if you really wanted to, you could sit around a table and drink your morning coffee during worship.  Now, we worship, we sing, we listen to a good sermon every week, so don't be thinking I went all "weak church" on you here.  "Casual" just implies the ambiance of the setting.  I digress.

Anyway, so at this new church we began toting back and forth our Bibles and our two coffee mugs (spill free, of course).  This became quite an ordeal when you have four kids ages seven and under.  Brian and I would begin doling out our coffees for the kids to carry and then trying to make sure we got it all back as we delivered all four to Sunday School.  From the beginning Brian was prodding me to make him a "Bible Coffee Holder Bag".  I laughed.  He did not.  So this is the result: a tote like bag with a sleeve for the big Bible and two elastic loops to hold our coffee upright.  There is then space for a second Bible or all the things that the kids bring home from Sunday school.  We are two Sundays into carrying this and so far, so good.  Brian calls this Prototype #1.  Apparently he feels there are still some tweaks we could make.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Can you even be Texan without boots?  I don't think so.  So, after the destructo dog ate my beloved pair of butterfly boots, I was left with a sort of identity crisis.  Am I just another impostor implant to this beautiful place?  Would they find me out by my improper footwear?  After a long delay, the situation was finally remedied tonight. 

My dear sisters (because they are wonderful to their big sister and they know me well) got me gift cards to Cavender's for Christmas this year.  For some reason, tonight, it became urgent that I purchase a pair of boots.  Perhaps it was the posse narrowing in on my lack of sanctioned shoes, or it could have been my dearth of good church appropriate kicks.  Maybe it was that I just really wanted boots and since my birthday is on Tuesday I decided to get 'er done.  Whatever it was, I got my boots.  Check 'em out.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

In a mood.

It's a don't cross me, I will bite your head off, kind of night for me.  I have very few of them.  Really, I am being serious.  Ordinarily I am very even tempered.  But tonight, no way.  I got on the elliptical to work out my frustration (get it, work out as in workout, never mind).  I burned more calories in 20 minutes than I ever had before by like 50 calories.  Um, yeah.

The cat just looked at me and I hissed at her.  I am not proud.  I'm going to bed and praying for a new day.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

It was very important - the Girl Scouts were at the door.

Last week sometime Jacob (age 7) was on the phone with my mom (Queen Ree).  They were chatting away, Jacob pacing in his normal fashion when he talks on the phone, when suddenly the conversation stopped.  Jacob said an abrupt goodbye and returned the phone to the base.  I must have looked puzzled so he decided to explain, "It was important, Mom.  She had to go.  The Girl Scouts were at the door."  I questioned why that would be so important.  "Because they have cookies, Mom! And those things are good!"

Pardon my stupidity, child.  Clearly I have not grasped the importance of the Girl Scout Cookie.  Really, what the boy doesn't know, is that I have long understood the power of the Girl Scout Cookie.  I was a Girl Scout once - Troop 14 in the San Gabriel District.  We went defunct by the time we were all in the 7th grade, but never mind that.  I failed at cookie sales.  My mom would buy a couple of cases so that I could, at the very least, earn my stupid badge.

Those cases didn't last long in our house.  We could devour sleeve after sleeve of Thin Mints in one sitting (or standing, because who sits when eating a sleeve of Thin Mints?).  We would finish our cases by, oh, a couple weeks out of cookie season.  If my mom was really smart she would hide a couple of boxes in the deep freeze - but once discovered, those were demolished too.  Invariably, just as the last cookie was polished off, my dad would be standing there, proclaiming that he "didn't get any of that!"  You snooze you lose, Old Man.  Girl Scout Cookies were fair game in our house.

This brings me to my adult home.  Stupid Game On! has me rationing my Thin Mints to 2 a day (allowed by the 100 calories of anything rule) and I have managed to stick with this plan.  My husband (who like my dad would wait until all cookies were gone to decide he was going to partake) has a different approach (see photo above).  Stupid man.  Like labeling your box keeps people from actually eating it.  These are Girl Scout Cookies, and "those things are good!"

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I made a commitment

I made a commitment right here on this blog that I was going to write everyday for a while until I found my creative sweet spot again.  Little by little I feel the fog lifting and that thing inside of me reigniting.  I don't have much to say tonight - I will probably be able to put it together better tomorrow.  I promise a post on whatever it is I'm not posting on today.  But since I made that commitment to you, me, and well, to my Game On! team (and you know how I hate to lose), I needed to write just a little something.

Oh, shoot, I have to go to bed immediately - I am about to lose my sleep points for this darn game.  Gotta go, I'll catch up tomorrow.

P.S. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the beautiful comments yesterday.  I am truly touched.

Monday, February 1, 2010


The hardest part about being a foster parent is not what most people think of.  Sure, dealing with tantrums, bizarre behaviors left over from a abused or neglected former life, hearing horrible words shouted at you only because they are scared, frustrated, and scarred, sucks.  But I can take that part of it.  What kills me and eats me up inside is loving, healing, molding, and mending these children and then giving them back or giving them away to another family. 

These children have become my babies.  They have been part of my family for these last 5 months.  They are my other children's siblings.  They are our parents' other grandchildren.  They are my sisters' other niece and nephew. How do they un-become mine?  Is it pride that tells me that I am the best Mommy they will have - that I know them and can offer them the best life possible? 

We aren't there yet, thank goodness, but it's coming.  I know it's coming.  And I am not looking forward to it.

And as if the dagger wasn't already sticking out of my chest, it twists at the toughest times.  Last night the 3-year-old and I were doing her school project together.  She was answering questions like "What's your favorite thing to do?" and "What is your favorite place?"  We got to the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" She answers, "A mommy, like you."  Oh, my heart can't take much more.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Her Mighty Throne

Not the toilet, get your minds out of the gutter - oh, was I the only one thinking that?  I am talking about my grandmother's chair.  This is the chair which supported the backside of the matriarch of our family while she did things like sew six granddaughters matching Christmas dresses, or my cousins' first communion gowns, or jackets that went with our prom dresses, or hem oodles of choir robes. 

She was kind of amazing on the sewing machine - not because of intricacy but because of practicality.  She could make almost anything that was needed.  My mom tells stories of her brothers and dad dressed in matching dress shirts that Grandma had made.  There is a photo of my uncle dressed in a little man suit that Grandma had made out of Grandpa's old one.  She was re-purposing  long before it was hip.  Oh, Grandma, you clever woman, you. 

Sometime in the 1970s my grandmother received, as a gift from my mother, this glorious chair.  This particular chair is a sewist's dream.  Originally it had quite a cushion and the seat flips up to reveal a compartment for stowing all your notions.  Need a button?  Look in your chair.  Broke a needle?  Look in your chair.  Measuring tape? Chair.  And though I am seldom organized, I love the idea of organization like this.  Everything you need right under your butt!

Moving to my own sewing space I found that I didn't have the advantage of the chairs I used at the dining room table.  Since I haven't mastered sewing standing up, I set out to look for a sewing chair.  I thought about Grandma's chair and where I might get one of those, and it dawned on me, uh, ask Grandma for hers.  This would be huge!  To have Grandma's chair here - a little piece of her (ADDers frequently assign serious sentimentality to things).  She was happy to pass down the chair to me, sending it along with my Mom when she road tripped to TX at Christmas.  And here I sit, in Grandma's chair, making it my backside now that is firmly placed on the sewing throne. 

(A P.S. on the over-sentimentalizing things:  I don't over sentimentalize dates as I noted in a previous post - usually because for ADD mind time is categorized as "now" or "not now" therefore negating a reason to sentimentalize it.  However, THINGS!  Oh things, how you get us in trouble.  Usually things remind us of a person and if we got rid of the thing it would be like getting rid of that loved one.  We are worried we will forget them without a physical reminder - just like we forget our wallets, keys, gift card for the store we are going to, diaper bags, checkbook, phone, or anything else we might daily misplace.  I am glad to report that I still have my Grandma so if I want to remember her I could just go visit.  But having her chair was something I thought about for a long time because I knew if I received it, I would keep it forever.)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Unfinished Business

This is my workspace in my fabulous sewing room.  I realize the desk is a mess, don't judge.  This is not what we are discussing today anyway.

When I moved up to the guest room for my full time sewing space I had the pleasure of going through all of my sewing things.  What I discovered was a plethora of projects I had almost finished.  I actually found 5 bibs for a boy - made long before I even had our bib wearing boy - that only needed snaps.  I found blankets I finished but didn't give away.  I found pot holders I had quilted but never bound.  I found jammy pants that I had cut out but never made up.  I found two pairs of shorts for the big boy that only needed a bottom hem and elastic put in.  This is the way I roll, people.  Lots of awesomeness, mostly unfinished. 

Currently I have two major projects that I got almost all of the way through and then left for the "Sarah Miller black hole of unfinished projects".  One is a quilt for my in-laws and another is a quilt for my sister-in-law, both were intended as Christmas presents.  Uh, Happy Valentine's Day?  I hope...

My goal is to finish - completely finish these two projects this weekend.  Those with ADD can relate - things rarely get finished when your brain changes channels too often.  By the time I get almost all the way done with something, I am bored.  The last few details are painful to complete.  This is why my most complicated and beautiful quilts are often given away with tiny threads to be trimmed.  My dear sister, thank goodness, understands this and gratefully trims her own threads.  Perhaps these two quilts will be given away with the same caveat.  You will receive something handmade and heartfelt from me, if you are willing to trim your own threads.  Work with me, here. 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Game On! Progress

I am totally rocking the Game On! diet.  I have had mostly 100 point days, which is the best you can have.  The only thing I didn't rock so much is the whole lose tons of weight thing.  I lost a pound.  A pound.  Really.  Whatever.  My teammates are attempting to convince me that it will all magically shed this week.  They had better be right.

The best part about this whole Game On! thing is that you play against your friends and there is this trash talk element that I thrive on.  Competitiveness is coursing through my veins and these PTA moms are all like, "No big deal, tomorrow is a new day, you can do it, rah rah rah."  So today when the enemy was talking about her completely bad habit day and the other ladies were all, "Oh, you can do it," I sent out an email.  It read, "And this is why we will win! Love ya, suckers!!"  I was so proud of myself.  That is what this is all about, right?  COMPETITION. I mean it even says that this is how the game is played in the book!

Uh, I am thinking that the PTA moms were a little put off by this.  Another, "You can do it!" email followed that one about how we all win, blah blah, blah.  Um, no, we do not all win.  Yes, there is that whole, "You are a better person now," thing.  But really in a game like this, there is only one winner.  And in this case, it's going to be me.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Yee Haw!

Don't you wish you had a cowboy?  I took this stunning picture (edited by the cowboy himself) during our fall visit up to West Texas where my cousins own a farm.  Besides, of course, the wedding which we were there to attend, the horses were the hit of the weekend.  Each of the kids got on a horse even though Jacob initially protested with howling that rivaled coyotes.  The girls shared a horse, delighted with these giant four legged creatures, they laughed and held on tight the entire time - hair blowing in the breeze.  I had visions of equestrian lessons in our near future.  The baby even took a short ride with his sister.  My horse sat in park for almost the entire time.  Apparently he was crushing on the horse that was tied up.  The love of a horse is no match for my reigns. 

The absolute shocker of the entire trip was my husband.  This is the man that swore up and down that he was terrified of horses - hated them, in fact.  He was absolutely not going to ride.  At some point I gave up on getting my horse out of park and went inside.  I came out to discover the man was doing barrel runs!  And the pole thingies, what are those called?  I don't know because my horse sat in park, remember?  Anyhow, the point is, my husband can ride.  What the heck?  I know we moved to Texas and all, but when did he go all cowboy on me?  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining.  Cowboy suits him.  Just check out the hat!