Sunday, June 29, 2008

Oh yea, my birthday...

My birthday was Saturday but we decided to celebrate on Friday night since all of the family would be there. My mom had cookout stuff and salads for everyone. It was nice.. but the thing I was really waiting for was my special dessert. Every year I only ask for ONE thing, just ONE thing. My sweet mother drove to Hunt Valley to the Amish Farmers Market to get my dessert - Strawberry Cheesecake! There aren't very many pictures of the night (but trust me it happened!) but seriously this is the only one that matters!


The Mc Andrew family

My and my BFF, Kari!

Michael, Mom and Kari

Me and my Momma

The GA family (L to R) Marianne, Beth, Emily, Elizabeth, Kevin, Kay, Michael, Chris, Kathryn, me and Abraham

Added to the pic - My mom (in the back) and Kari (next to me)

Not only am I truly blessed to get along with Michael's family - but our 2 families get along marvelously as well! My Mom and Kay are like 2 sorority sisters - they can talk forever! I really enjoy being around Michael's siblings and love watching Abraham with them. They sure do love on him and he LOVES the attention let me tell you! We had a really nice visit with them!

Kathryn, Michael, Elizabeth

The hikers - Kathryn, Chris, Kevin, Elizabeth

Playing outside

Abraham mooching some of Grandma Kay's cake!

Me and Beth

Chloe got in on the action too... like how she uses the corn tongs to eat her hotdog!!?? She is a trip!

Alex and Chloe adopted Abraham's aunts as their own. They sucked Kathryn into just about everything they did, and she was such a good sport. This was Candy Land night.

Packing the backpacks

More backpack packing

And more packing... you wouldn't believe how much planning goes into this trip. It is just amazing to me.

Helping Kevin and Ibby roll the sleeping bags.

Putting the sleeping bag away for Kevin and Ibby

Burrito Abraham!

Gymnastics on the sleeping bag - watch your head!

Playing with Beth and Emily

Playing with Kathryn

Georgia family time

Michael's family got here Thursday night and we were thrilled to see them. Abraham was not quite sure about all the people walking into our house... that is until he saw Kay and he got a big smile, saying "Grandma Kay!" That boy knows his Grandma Kay. We had a good time with everyone. Michael took us all down to the river for a little bit, before the skies opened up on us and started to POUR! Abraham, of course, loved the water and got soaked as usual!

Chris, Marianne, Abraham, Kathryn, Elizabeth (Ibby)

Kathryn and Abraham

Ibby and Abraham

Having fun in the river, as always!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cleaning for Grandma Kay and "all my aunts"!

Getting ready for Grandma Kay and "all my aunts" to visit. No folks, I did NOT put him up to this. I was in our bedroom and heard him in the bathroom. I asked him what he was doing and he said "I clean the toilet Momma!" Okay then! This is what I found when I walked in!

He also decided that he'd "help" put the silverware away for me... course he just heaves it up and over the edge of the drawer and I get to put it all away in the right place! But it is help none-the-less!

NBC's The Baby Borrowers

Okay, time for my 2 cents. Tonight NBC aired the pilot of a new show, The Baby Borrowers. I was interested in the show so I watched it tonight (Michael wasn't home!) I thought that the premise of the show had potential. Here is what NBC has on their site as a description of the show:

"NBC's upcoming reality series "The Baby Borrowers" is an intriguing new social experiment based on the hit British program that asks five diverse teenage couples -- ages 18-20 -- to fast-track to adulthood by setting up a home, getting a job and becoming caring parents first to babies, toddlers, pre-teens and their pets, teenagers and senior citizens -- all over the course of three weeks.

As the social experiment begins, the five young volunteer couples are asked to literally grow up overnight when they are each given a home in a quiet cul-de-sac outside Boise, Idaho and attend pre-natal classes as each "mother" wears a simulated "empathy" belly to prepare them for the arrival of their "baby."

When a real baby (all aged six-11 months old) appears at their door -- courtesy of five pairs of real volunteer parents (some of whom were teen parents themselves) who entrust their infants to one of the couples -- the nervous, fumbling teens are in for three long, arduous days that make chilling out a distant memory. They must stick to rigid routines, handle the feeding chores, diaper duty and crying jags that might be shared by baby and teens -- all the while under 24-hour supervision by nannies and the real parents who are stationed next door, watching via monitor, and able to step in at any time. Plus, one teen from each of the couples must start a job, ranging from working in a local vet's office to a lumberyard, leaving the other alone as caregiver for the day.

After three surprising, intense days, each teen couple will bid bye-bye to the baby and receive a toddler as their fast-forward adult life progresses. They will have to cope with typical "terrible twos" behavior, including pouty tantrums, potty training and other messes. Three days later, the weary couples must face the reality of parenting several sassy pre-teens/"tweeners" at once -- each with a family pet in tow, adding to their responsibilities.

Seventy-two hours later, the teenagers arrive, thereby perhaps providing them with a mirror image of their own recent relationships with their parents. To complete the cycle of life, the experiment ends with as couples are graced with the opportunity to care for a senior citizen, including some with health issues, who represent what might be in store for them in the distant future.

Through this emotional, dramatic journey, each young couple will get a unique opportunity to peer into the future and see what they (and their partners) might be like if they remain together and decide to build a family. Tested by the everyday ups and downs of taking care of others and maintaining a relationship, most of the teens find themselves looking at all of their relationships and notions of parenthood in a new light. "

Initially I thought, "What a great way for young people to experience parenting than to "babysit" a child - hands on experience, you know?" What I didn't expect was the Momma Bear in me to come out roaring as I watched these teenagers, these kids basically, take care of a child for a day. Oh my gosh! There is NO way in God's green earth that I would "loan" my child out for a show like this. You can't tell me that this doesn't affect the child in some way. I get that the parents are across the street watching what happens in the house on a TV and are free to intervene any time that they feel their child is in need of them. I get that there is a full time, trained nanny on hand in the home to protect the child. I get that these parents wanted to help out young people to make good choices in life. Trust me, I get it. I just don't understand it. I could not sit by and watch some teenager talk about my child as an "it". I could not watch as my child's diaper wasn't changed all day or didn't have their clothes changed for bed time. I could for sure not watch as a caregiver loses their patience with my infant child. All of which happened on the show tonight. Forget it. Not happening. Not with my most prized possession - my treasure.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for teaching young adults about the sacrifices you make as a parent and that it's not all smiles and cooing babies. I do think that if more teens were aware of the difficulty it can be to have a child so young, it might deter them from getting into trouble. Especially on the heels of the story from MA about the 17 girls getting pregnant. I just know I wouldn't be able to be a part of the show.

I have read some of the posts on the NBC website and there are opinions on both sides of the coin. What do you think about all of this? Would you allow your child to be "loaned" out for the training of teenagers in parenting skills? I'm interested in what y'all think? Post your thoughts.

Here is another link that might be interesting if you didn't watch the show.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tiny Feet - Big Love

I was cleaning Abraham's closet the other day, getting rid of stuff that was just accumulating. And I pulled this out. It really should be in a fire safe box, because if I lost it, I would be devastated.

Aside from pictures, it is one of the only things I have left of Moses.

The day he passed away the amazing nurses at Hopkins made hand and foot prints and cut a lock of his hair for us to have. These are the molds that we received, wrapped in a blanket that was knitted for Project Linus (which ironically the 4th grade students at RFE participate in).

As I pulled out the box and unwrapped it, Abraham came into the room and asked what it was. I told him it was Moses' foot print. I told him that HIS foot was that small once. He promptly put his foot up next to the print and firmly stated, "I have a big foot now Momma." I willed the tears to not come rolling down my face. "Yes Abraham, you have a big boy's foot now."

As he walked out of the room, I thought of my sweet Moses. How his little feet had walked into the lives and hearts of so many people: Michael and I, our families, nurses, doctors, church family, friends... Those sweet feet brought more joy and happiness in one month than any other child could have. He only had a short time on this earth but no little boy was loved more than Moses was. His feet and his life left a lasting impression on our hearts.

Moses has been on my heart a lot lately. I think about what he would have been like. I wonder if he and Abraham would have looked alike. Sometimes in pictures of Abraham I see him, or what my mind thinks he would have looked like.

I see Downs Syndrome children and I smile wistfully, wishing for him to be with me.

I am drawn to other women who have lost a child. I feel a kindred spirit with them that I'll never be able to explain to anyone, not even Michael.

Not many days go by without a thought of Moses. It has been 2 1/2 years since Moses returned to Jesus. I've heard that time heals wounds, but I don't know about that. I'm not sure that I will ever be over his death. I'm not sure that I have really dealt with the emotions of that time in my life. So much was left unsaid. Stuffed deep inside. Maybe one of these days I'll get it all out. Maybe.

As for me, I have my sweet Abraham who is a constant reminder that I am to take each day with him as a gift from the Father and a day to treasure. I love on him doubly as much, I hug him tighter, I tell him I love him more, and I spend all the time I can with him. He is my miracle boy and I love him with all of my heart. He is a blessing!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Appalachian Trail Hikers

Chris, Kathryn, Kevin and Elizabeth

Speaking of our GA family, 2 of my sister in laws and their boyfriends have been hiking the Appalachian Trail for the past 3 months. They have been planning for this hike for a number of months before setting out. The entire trail runs from Georgia to Maine and they intend on doing the whole thing,which takes about 6 months. My first reaction was one of shock "Are you crazy??" but the more I thought about it I thought - Hey, why not? Right? Young, outdoor loving, nothing to tie you down, up for a challenge - that describes them to a T. I really admire them for taking this on and pressing on!

Luckily for us, the Appalachian Trail runs pretty close to us. They are in Harpers Ferry this week and are coming here for a few days to visit. I'm sure they'll appreciate a few days off of the trail - in a home, instead of a tent! This will be the only chance we get to see them for another 3 months at least.

My mother in law, Kay, and her sister, Marianne, will stay with my mom. And the girls and boyfriends will stay with us, along with Michael's other sister and her friend - sleeping on the floor.... hence the steam cleaning yesterday.

Check out their blog if you get a chance!

It had to be done...

This past Sunday Michael and I did something that we haven't done in over 3 years - clean our carpets. This might not seem like a big deal but since we live in an apartment, our space is small. And when it is dirty you can really tell. We have our GA family coming to spend time with us this week and a number of them are planning on camping out on our floor. I couldn't bring myself to make them sleep on that disgusting floor. So we rented a Rug Doctor from the store and steam cleaned our entire apartment. Oh, the dirt and grime that came out of the carpets was gross and beyond disgusting!! I am truly embarrassed! This needs to be done more than every 3 years!! It took us all morning but we tag teamed it and were done in about 2 hours. I have such a great hubby! Abraham liked the cleaner about as much as he likes the vacuum - not at all! The carpets look great now and to top it off, they feel really good too! It is amazing what those machines can do!!

I've Been Tagged!

My friend Mel tagged me in this meme on her blog so I thought I'd go ahead and oblige her by participating in her questions!

Favorite person (outside family)? Can I plead the 5th on this one? I don't have ONE favorite person...

Favorite food? Mexican food and Strawberry Cheesecake (great combo eh?)

Quirks about you? um.. exactly what do you mean quirks?? I talk loud when I get nervous, I sometimes bring my job home with me, I enjoy routine, the red gas light in my car means I can drive for another 2 days without filling up... bad I know!

How would the person who loves you most describe you in ten words or less? Great wife and mother, corny, not a great cleaner, determined, fun, friend - do I have to continue? This is weird!

Any regrets in life? Not managing our money better when we were first married, sometimes I have regrets about Moses...

Favorite Charity/Cause? March of Dimes because of their work for premature babies, and the Johns Hopkins Childrens Center because of the connection with my family.

Favorite Blog recently?

Something you can’t get enough of? recently, Sleep!

Worst job you’ve ever had? Not really had a bad job, worked at 2 food places and I got tired of it really quickly but it wasn't horrible.

What job would you pay NOT to have? Garbage collector

If you could be a fly on the wall, where? My students homes, to see what REALLY goes on there. Maybe that would help me understand them better.

Favorite Bible verse right now? "For you formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." Psalms 139:13-14

Guilty Pleasure? Shoes

Got any confessions? None that I'm willing to share!

If you HAD to spend $1,000 on YOURSELF, how would you spend it? Clothes, shoes, jewelry...

Favorite thing about your house? I don't have a house yet :(

Least favorite thing about your house? It is an apartment - too small!

One thing you are bad at? Anything artistic.

One thing you’re good at? Abraham

If you could change something about your circumstances, what? I would have managed our $$ better so we could have a house with a yard for Abraham.

Who would you like to meet someday? Bono (from U2) - he does amazing charity work.

What makes you feel sexy? New haircut with a new color

Who is your real life hero? I have three - Moses, because he is my fighter and angel, Abraham because he overcame time in the NICU to be healthy, and my niece Chloe whose stubborness and strength through what could be really difficult times are beautiful to me.

What is the hardest part of your job? Dealing with non-involved parents, understanding my students home lives and how it affects them at school.

When are you most relaxed? At the beach, BY MYSELF! (like that ever happens!)

What stresses you out? Procrastination

What can you not live without? Other than the obvious, chapstick!!

Do you agree or disagree with the recent article that reported that blogs are authored by narcissists? What article? Truthfully, I don't care either way.

Why do you blog? I started out doing this to keep track of what we were doing here for our family that doesn't live close to us. But it has become a way for any of our friends to keep track of us! It's sometimes really hard to connect, so this makes me feel better. Plus, I like having a record of Abraham's growing for me too!

So the rules are:
1. Answer the questions.
2. Link back to whoever tagged you.
3. Tag 8 bloggers - 2 from each category
New/Newer Bloggers
Bloggy Friends - Laura
Blogger's you'd like to get to know better -
Blogger's you don't think who will respond but you hope will - Kathy

**I don't know anyone else to add to this! Sorry!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Eco-Friendly, Playground Lovin', Book Readin' Family

With the price of gas so high and the desire to do my part in being eco-friendly, Abraham and I decided to walk to the public library this week. Wednesday was GORGEOUS and too nice to be spent inside. The library didn't open until noon but there is a playground 2 blocks behind it. So we left a little earlier and had time to run around and then have a picnic lunch. It was delightful to watch Abraham play with the other kids and me. He "drove" me around with the play steering wheel for a good 15 minutes. He sang to me like he was the radio!

Getting ready to walk to the library

Ouch! My butt! This slide is bumpy.

Too busy climbing to look at momma

Picnic at the playground

Me and my boy

So after our playground visit we headed to the library to sign up for the summer reading program. For the little ones they have a Read to Me program. Being the teacher that I am, we checked out some good books! Except this one.. the dreaded book, the hated book in our home (but only by Michael and I!) I have this theory. Richard Scarry was a man out to get every parent who bought their child one of his books. Have you ever SEEN one of his books? There is stuff EVERYWHERE!! It is like Where's Waldo? but 100 times worse! And give it to a nearly 3 yr old boy who loves books... good God, shoot me now! Every time Abraham goes for one of these books, we try and pass it off on each other. "Daddy/Mommy wants to read with you!" They drive us crazy but he loves them!
Interesting enough a quote from Scarry says it all --- "I'm not interested in creating a book that is read once and then placed on the shelf and forgotten. I am very happy when people have worn out my books, or that they're held together by Scotch tape." –Richard Scarry
Well that folks is what Abraham's Richard Scarry books will look like pretty soon!
(p.s. He lied when he titled the book "Best First book Ever"!)

Mommy on the other hand got some books of her own. Can you tell what author I really like? I decided to read a few Karen Kingsbury books that I have missed out on. She is an amazing author with such a way of telling stories. I had already read Sunrise but started and finished Summer in the past 2 days. Let me tell you what folks, when my sister warned me that I'd need a Kleenex for this one - I didn't realize she meant to say I'd need the WHOLE blooming box! I will post more about this later but suffice it to say, the book involves a baby being sick so it hit close to home with me. Plus one of the characters names is Kari - spelled just that way - which of course is my sweet sisters name. When I have enough umph in me I will tell you my thoughts on the book. For now,I'm beginning Someday, which I went to Barnes and Noble tonight to buy so I could keep my momentum in these stories!!

Anyhow, when I finish these I'll be on to my other favorite author, Jodie Picoult, to read some of her books I have missed.

Bragging Rights

Stacy Harrison, Donna Zavacky, Me, Diane May, Sherri McLean

I just have to brag for a minute about some women who are among some of my dearest friends. It has been 8 years since I started teaching at RFE. My first year was really hard on me. It is a wonder that I didn't quit. I owe my sanity and me staying in education to these amazing women and educators. The ladies in the picture above were the ones that kept me going. They were my mentors in the beginning but have grown to be dear friends.

Here is what I appreciate about each of them.

Stacy: She is always up for something new. I only taught with her one year before she moved to 2nd grade. She is resourceful and very technology savvy. She is a good teacher who laughs easily. I am privileged to call her my friend.

Donna: She was always willing to help me in whatever I needed. Poor me just didn't ever know what to ask! Donna is a quality teacher who loves her students. She is a woman of faith and it guides her life. Donna and I have had many deep conversations about God and for that I am grateful.

Sherri: This is a woman who truly loves people, even me! She is an amazing caretaker. Always bugging me to stop squinting and to wear my glasses! I think of her not only as a dear friend but a 2nd mom. Which apparently I need! I have come to love and admire this woman. I value her advice about school and life.

Diane: She is truly one of my best friends. I couldn't ask for someone more like me who understands me. We have gone thru many of the same life experiences together and know what each other is thinking before we say anything. She and I keep each other sane. She is my sounding board - I value her opinions about school and life also. I don't know that I would have stayed teaching if it weren't for her. We get mad together, cry together and laugh ALOT together!

Then there is the newbie! This year we had an opening on the third grade team and we (Diane, Sherri and I) were blessed to welcome Stacey Homsher to our team. It has been an amazing year of growth for the 3 of us. We have learned so much from Stacey. She is a wealth of information and strategies. I feel I have taught 10 times better because of watching her teach her class. It didn't take long for Stacey to fall into our team dynamic. She can roll with the punches.. and give some of her own! :) I admire Stacey for her incredible presence in the classroom. She is a fantastic mother to her 2 kids on top of all her responsibilities at school.

Diane, Stacey and Sherri

The Father has been gracious to give me a job that I love. The bonus for me is the friendships that I have developed over the past 8 years. These women keep me going when I don't think I can take another day with my class! We are a team and act like it. We work so well together because we each see the glass as half full. I am thankful for each person that has had an impact on my teaching career - but mostly for these women! I just felt today that I wanted to brag on them!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Happy Father's Day Babe!

Father's Day for us was very chilled and laid back. We ran to Target for a few things and then had lunch at our absolute favorite place to eat, La Tolteca. We all crashed when we got home and took naps. Then we took a dip in the pool. It was a really great day together with lots of laughter and hugs. There is nothing better than spending time together as a family.
Happy Father's Day Michael! Abraham and I love you bunches!

Treating Daddy to lunch at La Tolteca

Sharing a soda

I Like Chips and Dip!