Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"When Evil Comes, We Morph!"

Warning: obnoxiously long post, but it's been a very long day! :)

Today, I took Joshua into Little Rock for his Therapeutic Recreation. He and his group of FRIENDS were staying at the Center and doing "team building" activities all day, so I didn't worry about getting him there on time, like I usually do.

I ran a couple of quick errands and met my friend, Ruth, for lunch. It's always such a sweet treat to visit with her. We talked non-stop for over 2 hours, and probably could've talked like that for at least 2 more. Such an easy, fun friendship. I really miss her. We live an hour apart. She has 5 kids, we have 4...things are busy.

I had planned on picking up Joshua early today, like around 2 p.m. Car tags were due on one of our vehicles, and I figured that it would be packed on the last day of the month. But I ran late with Ruth, which was fine...I just mentally prepared myself that when I got back to town, I might have to wait an hour or more at the "car tag place."

As soon as Joshua got in the car, he began to recount his day...moment-by-moment. He talked about the team-building exercises they had done. One activity they did was for each FRIEND to list...on a piece of paper...things about themselves that others might not know. Descriptive words or phrases. Then they put all the papers in a stack and mixed them up, and each person randomly chose one to read...while all the other FRIENDS tried to guess who they were describing.

Joshua said, "Jenni knew it was me from the beginning."
Me: "Oh, yeah? What did you put on your paper that described you?"
Joshua: "Natural born leader, peacemaker, Godly, wise and patient."

Alllllllllllllllllll...righty then.

And, he said that Jenni asked him to teach HER about being a leader.

Which, does anybody remember when he posted on Facebook about being the one and only spokesperson for his group of FRIENDS and how it almost started a holy war up at Therapeutic Recreation?

Joshua said, "I'm like Obi-Wan and she is like my Padawon learner, like from Star Wars."

The last activity they did before lunch was to be divided into two groups...and each group had to build a pyramid with cups and whoever finished first was the winner. They were not allowed to use their hands. The program leader, Mrs. Alanna, gave them shoe laces and rubber-bands.

The FRIENDS looked at her like she was crazy.

Joshua's group did not win, even tho Mrs. Alanna said that the winning group needed to listen to each other more.

Joshua said that they all encouraged each other and cheered for each other.

I'm really hoping all of this good-will lasts until tomorrow.

So, I had packed salmon, a baked potato, steamed broccoli and a brownie in Joshua's lunch. All left-overs from the night before. Joshua LOVES left-overs. He told me, "I ate so slowly that I couldn't finish my broccoli. But I ate my brownie."

Priorities.

We buzzed into town and I went straight to the "car tag place." I could not find my little renewal paper anywhere. UGH. I thought it was in my purse. So, the man asked me if I knew the car-tag number, and by the grace of God, I pulled it out of the air like a boss.

What WHAT?

Pretty amazing, considering we have 5 vehicles in our family. But even more amazing because it was on Holly's car. We agreed to keep the insurance and everything on it until she is out of nursing school in June. When we had to get new tags last time, I had Joshua with me...and an older (than me) lady was helping me. She looked at me...and looked at Joshua...and looked at me for a long time...which, not gonna lie, kind of unnerved me at the time. Then, she walked over to the stack of license plates and went through them one by one until she pulled one out. I won't tell you what she chose for us, but it is SIMPLE for me to remember.

Bless her.

So, when I told the guy the car number, he put it into the computer and it popped right up. We were in and out of the place in 3 minutes. TOPS.

We were almost to our house when we noticed something dead on the road. It looked like a coyote, and we both commented on it. Yuck. Joshua was right in the middle of telling me that we had a bunch of things to celebrate next May/June. Holly's graduation from nursing school, Clark's high school graduation, Morgan's graduation from college, mine and Jim's anniversary...and then he started listing all the birthdays. I told him that Morgan is graduating in December and he goes, "well, we'll celebrate it in May, anyway."

Oooooooooooookay.

He said that he was going to tell Jim to give me an anniversary present. I told him that if we could get Holly out of nursing school and settled in her new job...and Clark out and settled in college...and Logan accepeted into Occupational Therapy school...I would be such a happy camper and I wouldn't want anything else.

WHAT?

And then he said that if he could just get his first BOOK published (stand in line, buddy) and MADE INTO A MOVIE by next May or June, he would be really happy...and went off talking about his next book about some "extra" Pow-Pow-Power Rangers, "The Adventures of the Charcoal Gray Ranger."

He said, "Holly doesn't like me to talk about it all the time."
Me: "Oh yeah?"
Joshua: "Yes, but like I told her (and at this point he puts one arm straight out, fingers spread...and the other arm out on top of it with the hand making a fist)...when evil comes, we morph."

So there you have it..."when evil comes, we morph."

"...O LORD, who can compare to You..." Psalm 35:10

Monday, September 29, 2014

College Visit #2 for Clark

I think I'm in denial.

I remember when Joshua was a Senior. I was worried and stressed and wondering what the future was going to hold for him after graduation.

With Holly and Logan, it was ACT scores, grade points and class rankings...and where were they going to go to college?

And now there is Clark. And he is a Senior.

Last weekend, we went up and helped Logan and Morgan move...again. I thought I had written about that before, but I couldn't find it to link. Here's the deal: When they moved into their campus apartment in the married housing "village," it was right when they got back from their honeymoon in June. We went up there and helped lug all of their stuff up to the 2nd floor. And we were happy to do it. A couple of weeks later, we went BACK up there and hauled a washer and dryer up those stairs, so they wouldn't have to go to the laundromat, and we were happy to do it. BUT THEN, the "powers that be" at their university said that they were renovating all first floor apartments, in order to make them handicapped accessible. And that even if you lived on the 2nd floor, you would have to move out because they would need to shut off the electricity to the building to do the construction. Logan and Morgan were not happy. So that's why we had to go BACK up there and move all of their things out of their 2nd story apartment...and into a new apartment (still in the "village"). And we were happy to do it, but we were not happy ABOUT it.

All of the things we moved from their first apartment to their new apartment...was stuff that they had gotten for wedding gifts just a few months ago. Logan and Morgan said that it was just so frustrating to be given this news after they had worked so hard to make their place a home. If they had known they would have to move in a couple of months, they would've just brought the bare bones necessities and waited until they were relocated to do all of the "homey" things.

Logan lived in a house with two other guys during his Senior year of college. And, being a typical boy, he still had not moved all of his stuff out of his room at the house. While we had the truck and trailer, we decided to go over there and get everything of Logan's out of that house. LIKE WE HAD ASKED LOGAN TO DO BEFORE THE WEDDING.

And, it's fine. And it's done. But Logan and Morgan kept bringing us stuff from that house saying, "we thought Clark might like this in his dorm room." This lamp, that picture, the TV stand.

Ummm...excuse me, but Clark is not going to college. Like, EVER. He is going to stay home with me, because he's my baby and babies don't go to college.

And I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine and he shall be my Squishy.

Thank you, Dory.

Anyway, it seems like I'm going to be out-voted on the college thing, so we have taken him on a couple of campus visits.

Jim took him on the first visit to a small, private college in the NW part of our state. It was one that Clark chose and one we never would've considered. Clark was excited, because he had done it all on his own. And he was excited because he was with his Dad and had a good time. Jim enjoyed it because it gave him the opportunity to see Clark in a setting outside of home. He was impressed with Clark's "people skills" when talking with professors, and he was impressed with how easily Clark talked with his peers...how he found a common interest with them, and then wound the conversation around to asking about their personal relationship with Jesus. Pretty bold for an 18 year old kid that can be kind of annoying around here at times.

I'm kidding.

It's just that sometimes we see the mess and the forgetfulness and the cluttered car and the SIX...count 'em, SIX...pairs of shoes strewn all over the living room, kitchen and up the stairs. And sometimes we forget that we are ALL works in progress, and God isn't finished with any of us yet.

On Saturday, we went on a college visit to the University of Central Arkansas here in our town. We have 3 colleges here: UCA, and two private colleges. It's not what I envision for Clark at this point...maybe later, for grad school...but the campus is just beautiful. And BIG. Nearly 12,000 students go there.

We went on a tour with a group, and I became BFF with one of our tour guides. I had to walk at the front of the group because #1...I was trying to show Clark that I have an open mind about UCA, and one way to do that is to act very enthusiastic and interested; and #2...let's face it...I had to have an audience. I was being my usual self...trying not to embarrass Clark, but also using some well-timed, under-my-breath zingers to lighten the mood.

I was mainly cracking myself up...because, let's face it...we've been there, done that. You can pick out the "first-timer" college parents from the ones who have been down this road before. We are older, for sure...and wiser. We are checking things out with a realistic eye, and reading between the lines. "Free this" and "free that" sounds really good, but we know it's included in tuition...which is NOT free. Unless you have a full-ride. Which, Clark might have, at this school...but that little caveat was not mentioned. We are also way more relaxed about things because we've seen things work out for kids despite the odds...and we've seen things not work when circumstances are perfect.

And, you know, we are praying about all of it. Maybe GOD wants him there, whether we "see" it for Clark or not. And it's close...5 minutes away. If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know I am all over that!

Later this week, we are going on a college visit to Ouachita Baptist University. This is where I went for my first two years of college and I just loved it (I transferred to Henderson State University, right across the street, after Jim and I got married...and we both graduated from there). Our daughter, Holly, spent her 4 years at OBU and loved every minute of it. I can just see Clark there, but we are trying not to influence him in any way.

But, GO TIGERS.

I'm so excited for this visit.

We are just praying that GOD will make His will crystal clear.

"For everything there is a season,  a time for every activity under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1

Sunday, September 28, 2014

That Time I Almost Killed Clark

I don't talk a whole lot about Clark on here, because BOY.

And, because he is a Senior.

And because, in typical Clark fashion, he is on my list this week.

On Wednesday night, he came in from church and from seeing his girlfriend...and laid a piece of paper on the arm of the chair where I was sitting...and he said, "good-night, I'm going up," and went up to bed. It was about 10 p.m. The room was dark, except for the TV, so I turned on the light on my phone to see what the paper was. It was nothing important...just the form for the Senior Ads (that go in the yearbook...you know...with a special picture/pictures, a Bible verse, a touching message from the family)...IT WAS DUE THE NEXT DAY.

I do not receive that.

Because, I had to be in Little Rock with Joshua all the next day.

And that's how Marty died.

But then she resurrected herself and lunged at her son...and that's how CLARK died.

I'M KIDDING.

It was at this point that I did what any self-respecting mother would do: I called in reinforcements: Faith-the-girlfriend. I remembered that she only had one class on Thursday. She said she worked on the yearbook staff for 2 years in high school, and she knew how to do the Senior Ads.

Score.

I went to Little Rock and a couple of hours later, Faith-the-girlfriend called and said, "I'm sitting at your house...at your kitchen table...(no one else was home) and I've got yours and Mr. Jim's lap-tops up and running, and I just have a few questions..."

Um. Yes, please.

Any privacy issues I might have had were lost by this point, and I even had her digging through the desk in the kitchen to find a CD with photos on it.

No pride...no pride at all.

But she did it and it was turned in by the end of the day. Amen and amen.

And Clark? He came bee-boppin' in from school at 3:30...without a care in the world.

"God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy." Matthew 5:7

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Losing Our Minds

Is it me, or does it seem like the world is going crazy? Shootings, beheadings, kidnappings...

Just this week, a local Realtor went to show a house to an unknown man, and now she has disappeared without a trace.

And just this week, a woman was assaulted IN THE BROAD DAYLIGHT in the parking lot of a local mall. What in the world?

My husband is a huge news junkie, but it's gotten to where watching it literally hurts my stomach.

All of it has about made me want to get my concealed (handgun) carry license. Not even kidding. And this is my blog and my thoughts, so please no ugly comments. I'm not saying that I AM or am NOT. I am just thinking it all through out-loud.

I just want to keep my family safe.

I have Joshua with me every day, and almost every time I go out...and I love it that way and I plan it that way. Part of my whole purpose with how I've raised Joshua is education. I want people to see us interacting as a family and realize that people with Down Syndrome have soooo much to offer. And so much to teach us. So one of my goals is to connect with people as we are out and about. Joshua opens many doors and opportunities to share about God's faithfulness.

I pray that I am always aware of this.

Clark's girlfriend works in the coffee shop at her college. They had a big safety meeting one day right before school started. One of the scenarios was on what to do if an intruder came into one of the buildings. They were told to RUN if they could...or HIDE if they couldn't. And they were not to be confrontational.

I told Jim that if I have Joshua with me...running anywhere fast is going to be an issue, because I'm gonna be dragging 120 pounds of WHATISGOINGONMOM with me.

It's something I think about more often these days.

I feel like we...as a society...are losing our minds. George Clooney is getting married today and the news is reporting that his wedding cost upwards of 13 million dollars.

13 MILLION DOLLARS.

I'm all for people doing what they want when it comes to their own wedding...if they can afford it, what should any of us even say? I'm just having a hard time imagining what in the world costs THAT MUCH. And when they wake up in the morning, all the food and drinks will have been consumed, the flowers will have wilted, the pictures will have all been taken, the tablecloths will be balled up for the cleaners, the band will have gone home, the chairs will have been put up, the tuxes returned, the dress will never be worn again. And you're THIRTEEN MILLION DOLLARS poorer. It sounds like the dumbest thing in the world to me.

Whatever.

And another thing...the Duggers' have 19 children. If it's gonna be newsworthy every time one of them gets married, or pregnant...if we have to see pictures of their growing "baby bumps" on our news-feeds every minute of every day...then I seriously don't know how anything in this world will ever get done. I love the Duggers', and I know they are on TV...but LEAVE THEM ALONE.

I just feel like we will all be better off if we maybe spend as much OR MORE time investing in our marriages than on our weddings...if we don't model our behavior or our fashion after the Kardashians...if we don't get our theology from Oprah, or take parenting advice from Whoopie Goldberg.

No offense to any of them, but GOD GAVE US BRAINS, PEOPLE.

"Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength." Deuteronomy 6:4

Friday, September 26, 2014

The One Where Joshua Hates Restaurant Napkins

Joshua is a great kid. A great man. He is pretty much like most other people you meet on a daily basis...he just has Down Syndrome.

He has some weird things that he likes and weird things he doesn't like, just like you and I...it's just that sometimes the reasoning behind it makes no sense.

Take paper napkins from restaurants.

When we bring food home, like from Chick-Fil-A or Zaxby's or any place like that, they typically put their restaurant's paper napkins in the bag with your food. Joshua HATES them...like seriously hates them with a passion. He won't use them if we are at home. He will go and get one of OUR paper napkins and use it instead.

If it's left up to him, he will pitch them all in the trash.

In fact, just the other day, Jim said, "where are all of the napkins I had on the table?" I said, "what napkins are you talking about...do you need a napkin?" He said, "I had a stack of napkins that we got at Subway the other night, and I've been saving them on the table...to use when we eat."

He said, "Joshua, have you seen them?"

Joshua: (blank stare)

Jim, his voice a little louder: "Joshua, did you throw away my Subway napkins?"

Joshua: (blank stare)

Jim: "I HAVE BEEN SAVING THOSE NAPKINS, SON...DID YOU THROW THEM AWAY?"

Joshua: "I don't like them."

Jim: " THAT IS NO REASON TO THROW THEM AWAY. THAT IS WASTEFUL. I WAS GOING TO USE THEM."

Joshua: (crickets chirping)

Jim: "DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I AM SAYING?"

Joshua: (blank stare)

Jim: "FOR FUTURE REFERENCE, DO NOT THROW AWAY ANY NAPKINS THAT I HAVE BEEN SAVING."

Joshua: (shrugs shoulders and keeps on eating)

And this whole time, I'm trying to keep from dying laughing, because...seriously? I see Jim's point, but let me cross-stitch this on a pillow for your bed: LOGIC WILL NOT WORK WITH JOSHUA.

And Logan says, "you know we have sunk to a new low when Dad starts hollering about napkins."

Joshua got his feelings hurt, because he wants more than anything to be just like Jim. He hates to disappoint him. And Jim probably should've let it go with the first comment and just asked Joshua to please not throw the napkins away...but he sometimes goes overboard because he is a Type A person and doesn't understand what goes through Joshua's mind. His favorite phrase, when Joshua and the other kids were younger, was, "What POSSESSED you to do that?" Joshua would just look at him.

We can't have Joshua throwing stuff away just because he doesn't like it.

So, Joshua quietly cleared his plate off the table and went upstairs...he did not ask for dessert or anything. I looked at Jim and said, "you hurt his feelings, and now you're in trouble." Jim said, "I know...he's probably calling my mother as we speak, telling her that I yelled at him." And I said, "yep...and the next time we meet up with her, I guarantee you she will have at least 10 packages of paper napkins for you!"

"But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ." Ephesians 4:15

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Kickball, Telepathic Messages and Left-Overs

This has been such a long week for some reason. I feel exhausted. I am really looking forward to the weekend.

Joshua went to Therapeutic Recreation 3 days this week. The first day, they were supposed to have ceramics, but the ceramics-lady didn't show up. I think they ended up doing some sort of "fall" craft at the center before lunch. After lunch, they headed to a local gym for some "active programming." This turned out to be kickball.

Which, what were they thinking?

And I don't know how it happened that Joshua ended up with the ball in his hands, since it was KICKBALL...and I don't know how it happened that the ball left his hands and sailed across the room, since it was KICKBALL...but it was and it did and it beaned Jenni in the head.

Right in her dome.

And you have to know that there was wailing and gnashing of teeth.

She fell out and started crying and everyone rushed over to her. Everyone but Joshua. He thought he had killed her and took off to the bathroom. So he is crying in the men's bathroom, and Jenni is crying in the women's bathroom...and all of the FRIENDS are beside themselves with worry and concern for both of them.

Joshua talked about it all the way home. He apologized to Jenni (she is fine and it didn't leave a mark or anything) for hitting her, and to Mrs. Alanna, the director of the program, for running off.

On Wednesday, they planned on going hiking and then out to Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch. On the way into Little Rock, I asked Joshua if he had texted Jenni to let her know that we would be there around 9:15. If we aren't there at straight-up 9 a.m., she will text him approximately 9000 times to ask where he is and if he's coming and is he ok.

Joshua said, "no, but I sent her a message telepathically." I said, "ooooooookay...does she get those?" He just grinned and said, "sometimes!"

Joshua said that some of the friends forgot their water bottles for the hike, and I will just tell you...it was a nice day...it was not hot...there was a lot of shade...they were not walking fast, or far...but if one FRIEND has a water bottle and another FRIEND does not? Well, they might as well be in the Sahara Desert...because someone is figgin' to die.of.thirst.

Fortunately, Joshua shared his water bottle with ALL THE FRIENDS WHO FORGOT. 

(gulp)

By the time they got to Buffalo Wild Wings, they were all near death.

Joshua said that when they finally brought out everyone's food, his order was missing. The waiter told him that he had dropped some of the chicken strips off of his plate. Joshua told him, "that's fiiiiiine." The waiter eventually brought him more, but since Joshua was eating very slowly, he ended up putting most of them in a to-go box to bring home. And, some of the other FRIENDS didn't eat all of THEIR lunches, so he just packed those up and brought them home for us, too. Just squished everything all in one box so that it was all mixed together.

(gag)

I told him that we really don't want him bringing home food that isn't from our own family, and he said, "I didn't want it to go to waste."

It's at this point that I want to wring Jim's neck for teaching him about not wasting things...because it's either he brings home ALL THE FOOD that's left-over from ALL THE FRIENDS...or none at all. Make up your mind!

Our dog ate well that night.

Today, they had fitness at the gym and then came back to the TR Center to eat. I ended up getting Joshua right after lunch and coming home. I was so tired and I was just ready to be home. Even tho I thought I had the house picked up and all of the laundry done on Monday...for some reason, I just got behind on everything. Joshua was out of Poptarts, which happens...NEVER. And he said he had to resort to using underwear "from his BOTTOM drawer," because the top drawer was empty. He also said he was "running low on towels." Not surprising, since the child uses approximately 3 or 6 towels EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

He's little AND clean.

I had a drink from Chick in my cup holder. Usually Joshua will ask if he can have a sip of my drink, but today he just grabbed it and started drinking. I said, "help yourself there, Mister." He said, "can I have some of your drink?" I said, "yes." And then I heard him making all kinds of "mouth noises." He has a small mouth and a larger-ish tongue and his "bite" is off. Sometimes, after he eats, he does this thing with his tongue that I call "tongue flossing," and it is so gross! So after he took a sip of my drink, he started the mouth noises. I shot him a look, and he said, "mmmm...trying to get the PB&J out of my teeth."

And then I threw up.

And then I told him he could have the rest of my drink because YUCK.

And, after we got into town, we made a quick trip to the grocery and bought Poptarts, Diet Coke, potato chips and Oreos.

That's a proud Mom moment right there.

"Do everything without complaining and arguing..." Philippians 2:14

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Clark's Convention: Destiny and the 4 Words

Clark spent yesterday at a conference for an organization that he's involved in at school. There were schools from all over the state represented. They left at 7:30 in the morning, and got back at school at the end of the day. He said it was exhausting, and I thought, "oh honey...you don't even KNOW exhausted..."

But then he started telling us about his day, and I will have to say that I no longer wonder about the state of the youth in our country...I wonder about the state of the leaders of the youth in our country.

The key-note speaker was a woman who left Clark kind of confused...until he searched through the program and saw that she was an "empowerment" speaker.

Oh, okay.

One thing she told them was that they need to DIP into their Destiny.

WHAT?

Clark said that she stood on the stage and stepped forward with her right foot, leaned her shoulder down and kind of body-rolled herself back into place. DEE-YUP...into your Destiny.

AND, he said that she spelled it "DIPPE," and said that it was an acrostic. Each of the letters stood for a word or phrase that would support her point of DIPPE Into Your Destiny.

One slight problem: she never told them what the letters stood for.

Marty is a fan of making sense.

Because DIPPE (Into Your Destiny) sounds a whole lot to me like "DIPE" (Into Your Destiny), which not only sounds weird but WHAT DOES IT EVEN MEAN?

And it sounds a whole lot like "name-it-claim-it" and envisioning your future...without envisioning all of the WORK it's going to take to get there. And I'm all for dreaming and all of that, but this makes me think of what Victor Melling told Gracie Lou in Miss Congeniality, "wear the crown, be the crown, you ARE the crown."

The other thing she told them was THE FOUR WORDS.

She said there are FOUR WORDS to say whenever anyone says negative or critical things to you or attacks your character or self-esteem in any way.

You hold up your hand and say, "I DO NOT RECEIVE THAT."

Which, hello? Five words.

DIPPE into THAT.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The In-Laws: Trees and Tea

Last week, Jim went down to his parent's house to help his dad. His dad had hired a guy to cut some trees on one side of the lake-house. The guy wasn't able to finish the job and left the branches everywhere. He made an appointment when he could come back and finish up. The mess was really bothering Jim's dad, so he was trying to pick it all up by himself. Unfortunately, the trees that were cut were on a steep incline...and the Mule couldn't park on it. My father-in-law could get DOWN the hill and tie up the branch with rope...but then he had to crawl up the hill to the Mule...tie the rope to the Mule...and pull the branches up the hill. One by one by one.

Well, Jim could not stand the fact that his Dad was out there CRAWLING up the hill. His Dad doesn't walk well on a good day. He has trouble with his hip, knees and one of his feet.

So, Jim went down to help him. He and Joshua left on a Friday afternoon. They got down there in time for dinner.

My in-laws eat out for dinner pretty much every night. They have their regular haunts, and they form relationships with the wait-staff in most of the places. Most of them know that my father-in-law will down 2 glasses of tea while he looks at the menu, and to keep 'em comin' or leave the pitcher...and they know that my in-laws like lots of bread. They also know that my in-laws are good tippers.

One thing they may not know about my in-laws is they do.not.like.to.wait.

I mean, like for even 5 minutes.

And God forbid if my mother-in-law can see empty tables in the restaurant while she's waiting to be seated.

"Well, there's one right there...and another one right over there...excuse me, honey...can we just sit there?"

I love my in-laws half-to-death, but why are they so impatient? Probably be Jim and I in a few years.

One time, we ate at a place that had "call ahead" seating. When we all got there (we were coming in different cars), my mother-in-law went up to the desk and said, "we're here."

(blink-blink)

The hostess girl said, "yes, ma'am...thank you."
My mother-in-law said, "we called ahead and we are all here. And it's 6:30." And she just stared at the hostess-girl expectantly.
The hostess-girl said, "yes, ma'am, we'll seat you as soon as we can."
My mother-in-law said, "well that's why we called ahead."

Then, my mother-in-law sat down at a place where she had full view of the hostess girl, and proceeded to bore holes into her head with her eyes. She sat on the edge of her seat, holding her purse close to her with both hands. She told my father-in-law, "there are plenty of tables available." He said, "WHAT?" real loud, because he can't hear.

This went on and on...until they were seated. And then they talked about how long it took to get their tea and how long it took to get their salads and how long it took to get their meals...unless it all comes out together at the same time and then KATIE-BAR-THE-DOOR.

Jim said that on Friday night, they all went out to eat...he and Joshua, and Jim's parents. He said they went to a restaurant and had to wait 5 minutes. His parents were going NUTS about the wait and the available tables and WHY weren't they seating people at all of those empty tables?

I mean, seriously...they are retired. Why are they in such a hurry? Where do they need to go? 

My in-laws have a "regular" waitress there and she knows them and knows what they like and how they like it. She also knows that they are good tippers, so she was upset when my in-laws were seated in another section with another waitress. My in-laws weren't too happy about it, either, but really...how happy were they going to be at this point?

Jim said their waitress told them she was "new." She had only been there A MONTH. Hello? You are not new. She was also a "low-talker." (Ever seen Seinfeld?) And the quieter she talked...the LOUDER my father-in-law got. So Jim and my mother-in-law were EACH repeating everything the waitress said or asked, both of them...at the same time. Joshua said it was making him a nervous wreck.

Did you catch that? JOSHUA said it was making him a nervous wreck.

After the waitress brought them their tea, my father-in-law drank his in about 2 seconds...as usual, and then began to harp about wanting more tea. Jim looked around to try and get their waitress's attention, when he heard a loud racket. He turned around to see his dad, SHAKING HIS GLASS IN THE AIR. The spoon was clanking against the side as he shook it...CLINK...CLINK...CLINK. And everyone was looking.

Jim said, "PUT.THAT.GLASS.DOWN!"
Jim's Dad said, "I want more tea."
Jim said, "well, then you wait and ask for it like a normal person."

Annnnnd there you have it: role reversal.

Joshua said he was "mortified" and that he wanted to GO SIT WITH ANOTHER FAMILY.

The whole thing was like an "Everybody Loves Raymond" episode gone wrong.

Way, way wrong.

In the end, they got their food, they tipped the waitress well, and they went home full and (hopefully) satisfied.

Until next time.

"A patient person shows great understanding..." Proverbs 14:29

Monday, September 22, 2014

That Time I Kept My Christmas Tree Up For A Year

The year was 1998.

My baby, Clark, was 2 years old. After a difficult pregnancy, an extremely premature delivery, and 7 weeks in the hospital...he was thriving. No sign of the 3 lb 2 oz boy I'd given birth to just two years before.

And then...a lump in his little tummy. There was surgery, and the dreaded word: cancer. And there was chemo...and lots and lots of doctor's appointments.

And then my Mom died.

I don't even know how I made it through that year. Honestly, without the constant presence of God, and the family and friends He used to hold us up, I don't know where we'd be.

You have to know that the very last thing I wanted to do in 1998 was to put up a Christmas tree. In fact, I would've been fine if we had just scrapped the whole thing...but KIDS.

And I love Christmas, I do. I love what it represents: God sending His only Son to be born of a virgin. God sending His Son to be born for you and me. Born to die.

I don't love that it has turned into a huuuuuge commercial holiday, but I do love a lot of the other stuff that goes along with Christmas. I love the decorations. I looooove the lights. I do not love shopping for presents because I want to give each person something special, and I don't always know what that is...but I DO love giving gifts. Love.it.

I love the music of Christmas. I could go to a Christmas play or musical or choir special every day of the month.

And honestly, what about the FOOD at Christmastime?

I also love the spirit of generosity that seems to be more present during the Christmas season. People give more to others...they seem more aware of others...they reach out to family and friends.

So, I put up a Christmas tree in 1998. I cried as I put it up BY MYSELF because my rat-fink children don't love all the decorations like I do (well, disclaimer: Holly loves it now, because she's older and married. And I"m guessing Logan will love them more this year, as he helps Morgan decorate their home for their first Christmas together). It's not that my kids didn't love the decorations as much as they didn't see the necessity of them.

I cried as I got out the decorations...we try to get one from the places that we travel, and so each ornament has a memory attached with it. I had ended up with a few of my Mom's ornaments, and that brought on a whole 'nother set of emotions when I pulled them out of the box.

But then it was done and it looked beautiful and there it stayed...until the first part of January. I just couldn't bring myself to take it down. I did not think I could handle packing everything up and putting it in the attic. Everything that year seemed so hard...but it was also so good. We had our baby boy and his treatments were over...and all of his cancer was gone. He had loved the Christmas tree this year. At night, when the room was dark, he would stare at the lights on the tree as I rocked him. I was not ready to take that experience away from him.

My friend, Paula, read a magazine article about a lady who kept her tree up year-round, and just changed out the decorations according to the seasons/holidays. That really perked me up, because I thought, "I can do that!"

I decided to make my January tree all about snow and ice, and I bought a lot of white and silver ornaments I found on sale during that first week of January. The kids and I cut snowflakes out of paper and those went on the January tree. February was all about pink and red, and hearts. March and April were spring colors. I used Easter eggs and fishing line to hang them all over the tree. In May, I went all patriotic with red, white and blue and little flags ALL over the tree. I kept it that way until the first day of August, when I changed it to back-to-school stuff. Apples and small chalkboards and pencils all tied on the tree. The kids loved it when they came home from school and the decorations were changed out. September all the way thru the first part of November was fall colors, punkins and gourds. I went from sunflowers to leaves to pine-cones, as the weather got cooler.

And then it was Christmas again.

And it had been a year.

And this time, at the first part of January...I packed up the tree, and put it up in the attic. My living room felt empty, but it felt open...fresh. If that makes any sense.

That time I kept my Christmas tree up for a year...it was a conversation starter, that's for sure. In January, I would hear my friends say how they had lugged their tree up to the attic...or how some of them had taken their real tree down on the day after Christmas. I would just smile and say, "I'm leaving my tree up all year." And people looked at me funny, but people always look at me funny. But as time went on, people couldn't believe it. They would ask me, "do you still have your tree up?" And I would tell them I did, and what was on it at the time.

Everyone grieves differently, but this opened a lot of doors for me to talk to others about the faithfulness of God during a very dark time in our family. People who didn't know us well, would ask about the tree, and I was able to talk about what God had done in our lives with our baby, Clark, and also how He had been our solid rock and anchor during the unexpected death of my Mom.

God doesn't waste an experience. If it happened to you, He brought to you. Or He allowed it to come to you.

Tell your story.

"These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children." Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Dogs, Grandchildren and the Praise Team

We've had a good weekend so far. Jim and Joshua went down to help Jim's dad at the lake-house. I will be writing about that verrrrry soon because where there's Mammaw Jack and Papaw Genie...there's a story!

Jim and Joshua came home yesterday after lunch, and we all settled in for a nice "game" day. I wrote about that here.

Holly and Aaron are taking a few days of vacation because Holly has a week off from nursing school. We are keeping their dog for them. We love Marley, we do...but we are "outside-dog" people. Mainly because I'm allergic to dogs, and also...we are just used to our Labs. We can leave them outside in pretty much all kinds of weather and they are FINE.

Not Holly's half-a-dog. He has to be inside (most of the time) and he is spoiled rotten. You know, only child and all. Altho, one of my sisters-in-law, who IS an only child, once told me, "not all only children are lonely." Which, has nothing whatsoever to do with Marley being spoiled, so I don't know why I even wrote it. Saw-reeeee.

And, my Dad was an only child, and he most definitely was NOT spoiled.

Marley, however, is an only child-dog, and he most definitely IS spoiled.

He has to sleep in the bed (YOUR bed, not his), or under the bed (YOUR bed, not his). He wants to go outside...and come back in...and go back out...and come back in. And he has trained his "parents" to jump up and cater to his every whim at the drop of a hat. He also has to have his food done a certain way. He likes his dry dog food mixed with a little water. And it can't be the dog food that we feed OUR dogs. OH NOOOO...our dog food "gives Marley gas."

Well, God forbid.

So they bring his food with him. The last time we kept him, Jim was in the kitchen and I asked him if he would feed Marley and he said, "yes." I said, "his food is in that special baggie." Jim said, "oooookay," and put some in Marley's bowl. Then, I said, "you have to add a little water to it and swoosh it around."

It's at this point where Jim's voice got a little louder and a little higher, and he said, "I think it goes without saying that I WILL NOT BE SWOOSHING ANYTHING AROUND. FOR A DOG. If he's hungry enough, he'll eat it the way I fix it."

About 3 minutes later, I heard him running water and looked up to see him adding a little water to the food. Uh-huh. That's what I thought.

We don't mind keeping him at all, it just requires a little bit of thought. We can't leave him in the house and go to Kroger or anything. He would pee on everything just cuz. So, we try to work it out. No biggie. I just told Holly that I expect equal time, including the 5 years Marley lived at our house before she and Aaron got married, with any and all future grandchildren. Day.for.day. And then some.

This morning, we had SS and church. Holly and I typically sing in the choir for both services. We go to SS a little late every week after the early service, and then we go sit with our family in the late service, after we sing.

This week, our music minister was sick on Wednesday and so another guy led the rehearsal. Our regular music guy got better and asked that we come extra early this morning. Our choir special had drama that went along with it, and he wanted us to do a run-thru so that we wouldn't be distracted by seeing it for the first time.

Good thing, because one of the teens from the drama team was dressed like a "death-eater," (Joshua's words) and if they had sprung that on me first thing this morning, there would've been no way I could've gotten thru the song.

This Sunday was also Holly's first time to sing on Praise Team. And I know it's not about who sings out front. There are many ways to serve and this is no more important that someone who is watching the children in the nursery. It's just that it meant something...to me. When she walked out, the grin on Joshua's face...well, I can't even tell you. I had to look away because I thought I was going to cry. Oh, to have that kind of love from someone. He loves her SO MUCH. He pretty much grinned the whole time.

Until the death-eater and "satan" came out.

My Mom was a singer, and she had a beautiful voice. She sang in school, in pageants, and in church when she was growing up.

My whole life, I remember her singing in front of the church. At one church, she even led the music for a time. At her last church, she formed a women's ensemble, which she both directed and sang in (grammar police need not comment...I know I messed that sentence UP). She also made a record. Now, you'll never find it anywhere...she wasn't THAT well-known...but it was a dream of hers, and I am so thankful she got that opportunity. I loved hearing her sing.

My personal beliefs are that people in Heaven don't get to "look down on us." I just don't believe it. I mean, if there's "no tears, no death, no sorrow, no pain" in Heaven, how could they bear to look down at life on earth?

But I just know that if there was a way for her to see...if there was a way for her to know...seeing Holly on stage this morning would've made her so very happy.

"I will sing to the Lord as long as I live. I will praise God to my last breath!" Psalm 104:33

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Arkansas Game & Links For YOU 9-20-14

We spent the better part of an hour and a half tonight, trying to get the stinkin' Arkansas football game on our TV. At first, it was supposed to be on ESPNU, which we don't get. We DO, however, get the SEC channel and so why in THE world it's not on that channel...

Anyway, we figure out how to get the game on Holly's lap-top. Six people watching on a Mac Book.

Good times.

Then, Jim pulls it up on his computer. I asked if there was a way to get it from the computer...to the TV.

WHY, YES. YES, THERE IS.

After getting out cables and cords and plugging in and loading up and waiting...we FINALLY got the game where we could watch it on TV. Cords are strung (is that even a word?) up everywhere like clotheslines for the Dugger family.

Red.neck football fans. Because that's how we do.

BUT THE PICTURE
                                     KEPT

FREEZING

                            UP
   
                                                  ON THE SCREEN

Annoying, much?

And then...POOF! The Arkansas game was gone! And scrolling across the screen was a note that it could now be watched on ESPN2. Which we have.

So we changed over there immediately, and Jim unplugged everything and then POOF! It was gone...and BACK on ESPNU.

I know those of you who are not football/Arkansas football fans have now gone to bed. Can't say I blame ya.

And Aaron-the-son-in-law...his head was about to pop off. He is UofA alum and a huuuuge Arkansas fan.

We finally got the game back on and were able to watch it in it's entirety without too much trouble.

Praise Jesus, because I thought we were gonna lose Aaron.

Here are some links for you...just some posts over the past couple of weeks that I really liked:

This if you are a "ministry wife"...or you know one.

This if you are restless for more and your life seems small. Love this wisdom from Jennie Allen.

This by Lisa-Jo Baker on what kids learn by watching US. (eeek!) (also, "Surprised by Motherhood?" AWESOME BOOK)

This because...don't y'all just love The Nester? I do!

This, when you wonder why God allows what He could prevent, spoke to me on so many levels...as a mom of a son who has Down Syndrome; as a mom of a son who had cancer as a child; as the friend of a couple who lost their first child; as the friend of one who entered Heaven way too son (by my account) because of many health difficulties.

"Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth." Colossians 3:2

Friday, September 19, 2014

Boots and The "Athletic" Calf

Yesterday, I met Holly for lunch after her clinical rotation at the hospital.

I needed to run by the mall and pick up some jeans for Clark, so we decided to have lunch at Cheddar's, which is right across the street from our mall. We had such a fun time. We got right in without waiting, even tho it was 12:30, and we were seated at a table right by a couple who had the CUTEST blond-headed Downsy girl. Holly could barely even function while we sat there because STALKER.

The other thing that happened there was that I had one of the best salads of my life. I got an Asian salad that was huge and ah-may-zing. I ordered it without mangos, because ain't nobody got time for that, and man...it was so good! It's in my Top 10 of salads.

I'm starting to talk like my Grandma Ellen, maysherestinpeace. She always talked more about her food than anything else.

After lunch, we went over to the mall. Holly had some Dillard's gift-cards she was dying to use and she wanted a pair of boots. She picked out a pair that she really liked, and after getting a different size and modeling them while wearing her white scrubs, she decided she would just "think about it."

We went down to American Eagle, where I chose 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of khakis and 1 pair of blue pants for Clark. Holly picked out a shirt for him. It took less than 5 minutes and we were done.

Boy shopping. It's soooo different.

I was just sure I would be bringing everything back, because shopping with Logan or Clark = your.worst.nightmare. BUT in a moment of good fortune, he liked everything and it all fit.

That has NEVER happened.

After we were done at AE, we went back to Dillard's. Holly found a sales lady and asked her to check the balances on all of her gift-cards. It turned out to be more than what she thought, so she said, "I might have enough money to try on those OTHER boots."

She had kind of liked these other boots, but they were more expensive. Plus, she was concerned that they didn't have a zipper and she would have to pull them on. We couldn't find the first sales girl, so we had this young guy helping us and bless his heart. He didn't really have a clue about shoes. Holly tried on one pair of boots and she didn't really like them as much as she thought she would. She said they felt a little tight, and made several comments about being worried she was going to "zip up her flesh" in the zipper. And THEN she tried on the boots without the zipper.

I have never laughed so hard.

First of all, you need to know that Holly is perfectly proportioned. She is tall and beautiful, and WHY DESIGNERS DON'T MAKE BOOTS TO FIT OVER THE NORMAL WOMAN'S CALVES, I DO NOT KNOW. This is America, people.

Anyway, she was trying to be all cool, but she is dressed all in white like the Good Humor Man, and she is tall and blonde. She stands out all on her own in this shoe department. She has pulled her scrub pants up to her knees, and she is hopping around, trying to pull these boots on with all of her might and they.will.not.go.on.

And then the shoe-guy says, "I think we have some boots for the more...uhhh...ATHLETIC CALF."

And that's how Marty lost it.

LOST.IT.

I don't know...it just hit me funny, and it reminded me of the time my Mom got ticked over a glittery dust-pan. Because, haven't you heard of athletic cut shirts? They make it sound like only the guys who are really buff can wear this cut of shirt. Everyone else has to wear the "classic cut" shirt...you know, for the Pillsbury Doughboy in all of us!

I laughed and laughed and laughed. I had tears streaming down my face. The shoe-guy did not know what to think and other women in the store were just staring at us. I didn't even currrrr.

I intend to use the heck out of that phrase for the rest of my life. Or, for as long as I can remember it.

I need an athletic cut recliner...an athletic cut seat on a plane...an athletic cut parking space...an athletic cut chair at choir practice...athletic cut skinny jeans...athletic cut yoga pants...

In the spirit of the song from Titanic, this phrase could go on and on.

And it shall.

And then, last night at choir, Holly asked me about my watch...how much it cost and all of that. I bought it last year after Christmas, with two gift-cards I'd received. I said, "why do you ask?" She said, "forget the boots...I may just get a watch!"

Hoping and praying all of you out there have a good weekend, and may all of your boots fit over your calves.

"A joyful heart is good medicine..." Proverbs 17:22

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Joshua's Thoughts on Italy

This semester at Therapeutic Recreation, they started a new series on Wednesdays called "Around the World." The FRIENDS divided up into two groups and each group spent some time learning about another country. Joshua's group chose "Japan." They got computer time and learned about the culture. Part of the series is that the group then had to present it to all of the other FRIENDS, and teach them all about Japan. They did some Japanese art-work during their art time.

Joshua has already decided that he wants his group to choose England as the next country to study, because he wants to "learn more about the land of Harry Potter."

So there's that.

This week, the other group taught the rest of the FRIENDS about Italy. Their hands-on project was to cook an Italian lunch. Everyone had a different job. Some grated the cheese, some cut up stuff for salad, some made the sauce.

This morning, on our drive to Little Rock, I asked Joshua to tell me what he learned about Italy. He said, "a LOT." And I said, "like what?"

He said, "well, one...the Sistine Chapel." I asked him what that was and he said, "some painted church or something."

He said, "and, two, the Colosseum." I asked him, "what's the Colosseum?" He said, "it's a place where the Romans had games and crucifixions...stuff like that."

(OHMYWORD)

He talked about a lot of their culture being B.C. He explained to me that that meant it was "before Christ."

(slow blink)

He said there was a lot of pasta in Italy, and a lot of sauce. And lots and lots of cheese.

He said that they watched a video about Italy, and some of the buildings and ruins in the pictures were from 70 A.D.

He said, "yep, A.D. That was after they killed our Lord and Savior."

He also said, "we learned it takes 15 HOURS to get to Italy on a plane. Whew! It takes 15 MINUTES for us to get to Wal-Mart. I'll just take my chances at Wal-Mart. It's more closer."

"...the LORD is a shelter right by your side..." Psalm 121:5

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Clark's Appointment...Good AND Fun!

I know I mainly talk about Joshua on the blog, but Jim and I do have 3 other children.

A fact they never let me forget..."YOU HAVE OTHER CHILDREN, MOM."

It's a fine line to walk in the blog-o-sphere when it comes to my kids...I want to protect their privacy on certain things, but I also want to chronicle our lives for our family.

Our youngest child, Clark, is 18 years old and a Senior in High School. He was born 12 1/2 weeks prematurely, and I wrote about it here.

When he was 2 years old, he was diagnosed with cancer. I wrote about that here.

For the past 11 years (since he was declared "cancer free" at age 7), he has gone to Arkansas' Children's Hospital once a year for an oncology check-up...and today was that day.

As I pulled up in the parking lot, I got that nervous feeling.

And walking into the hospital and smelling that smell...I instantly felt that sick, butterfly-y feeling in my stomach. Ugh.

Will that ever go away?

We walked in and went straight to the Oncology clinic. There were several other "children" in the waiting room...all in various stages of cancer and treatment. Lots of littles with IV's...lots of little, bald heads.

Be still my heart.

We spent at least 45 minutes in the waiting room...before he had his vitals checked. Then we were put into ANOTHER waiting room...for 30 more minutes.

At least.

I'm not complaining. Clark is healthy and well. His girlfriend, Faith, was with him and she helped keep him distracted.

The doctor came in and he and Clark had ol' home week, discussing football, track, ACT scores and college choices.

Clark is doing well, but his doctor did not release him from the Oncology Clinic just yet. He said maybe one or two more years.

We are just so thankful. We have been going to ACH for 28 years. First, with Joshua, and then...for the past 16 years...with Clark. I can't say enough nice things about the people and professionals at ACH that God has used to minister to our family.

Not all of our appointments have been easy...not all of them have been fun.

But today?

Today was good...AND fun.

"I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me." Psalm 13:6

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Demi Moore Can Sing?

The other day on our way to Little Rock...after the conversation about what he's writing in his stories...how he's a big, fierce wolf and Aaron-the-add-on-brother is a fawn...Joshua looked at me and asked, "do you wanna build a snowman?"

And I just laughed, because that's code for "turn on the FROZEN cd."

There's a certain part on our trip when I usually start the FROZEN cd. I want him to get to hear all of his favorite songs, and I want to be pulling up at the Therapeutic Recreation Center when "Fixer Upper" comes on.

This particular day, I started the cd at a different time...because that's when he asked. As I pulled into the TR parking lot, "Let It Go" was just finishing, and Joshua was BELLOWING at the top of his lungs.

I never in a million years thought he would like the FROZEN movie or the songs. He has never been one for animation...even when he was little.

But, I ain't mad about it. I love FROZEN!

I parked the car and he started gathering up his backpack as the song was ending. He said, "I like this version 'more better' than Demi Moore's version."

Who knew she could sing? (wink!)

"Sing for joy in the Lord..." Psalm 33:1

Monday, September 15, 2014

Nine-Eleven

So, one day last week, our local meteorologist predicted rain and some storms...and I convinced Joshua to stay home from Therapeutic Recreation (TR) that day.

And I don't feel one bit bad about it.

I love that Joshua has a group of FRIENDS that love him and he loves them. I love that he can hang out with them and learn with them (and fuss with them).

I vowed a long time ago to do my best to give Joshua a good life. He is just so precious to our family, and he is dependent on others for a lot of things. He would be "fine" for us to just drag him around with us to all of our (and our other kids') activities.

And we have...and we do.

But I want for him to be more than "fine." I want for him to have opportunities and experiences that are ALL HIS.

Some days, the 35 minute drive to and from Little Rock gets a little taxing. But then I look over at those brown eyes and see that sweet smile...and, I don't know, my heart just melts and my attitude changes. Most days, anyway.

I know that Joshua would love to be able to jump in a car and do his own thing, but he can't. And, you know, as frustrated as I sometimes get? It takes a lot of patience on Joshua's part to constantly wait on someone else's schedule and timing to work things out for him.

He is just so sweet.

On Thursday, I knew his group of FRIENDS were supposed to "hike" at Pinnacle Mountain...and I am using the term "hike" loosely. They stay on the flat path that goes at the base of Pinnacle, because two of the FRIENDS are in wheelchairs and a couple of them use canes. Most of them have physical issues of one kind or another that make it difficult to walk on hilly, curvy, unfamiliar surfaces.

Anyway, it was raining and storming on Thursday morning, and I knew their plans would change to an indoor activity...so we just stayed home. We "hanged around" (Joshua's words) the house all morning, and it was glorious! I got a lot of writing done, and worked out in the garage. Then I asked Joshua, "what would you think about going to Kroger...and then maybe to Chick-Fil-A for lunch?"

Probably the fastest he's ever gotten ready.

The boy loves him some Chick.

In the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru line Joshua was looking at Facebook on his phone. He said, "I saw on Facebook that Marci is wearing her red, white and blue shirt to TR for 9/11."

I said, "I saw that."

Joshua said, "Darn-it (DAH-NET)...I'm not there."

I said, "Well, let's see...you're wearing a white shirt, and I'm wearing blue jeans, so we're kind of representing America." Then, I looked at myself, and looked at him and what he was wearing. "But I don't think either one of us is wearing any red."

Joshua looked me up and down, looked at himself up and down...and, then, I kid you not, raised up one leg of his shorts and looked...ummm...up them.

He said, "nope. Wearing blue undies."

"Treat others the same way you want them to treat you." Luke 6:31

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Saga of the Rotten Milk

I'd like to give a report on the rotten milk.

Oh? I haven't told you about that?

Get ready. It's riveting.

I've written before about my in-laws. I love them. They are the most interesting and eccentric people I have ever known.

Like, ever.

They are also very generous people. Especially my mother-in-law. There has never been one time that we have been down to their house...or met them at a restaurant...or had them come to our house...that they haven't brought and offered us groceries and "house supplies."

My father-in-law goes NUTS because my mother-in-law...she has a problem.

Which, him going nuts about her? POT. KETTLE. BLACK.

My mother-in-law, we call her MAMMAW JACK, she loves her a bargain. And if you can 20 boxes of Cheerios ON SALE, well then...sign her up. She buys tons of groceries, and she used to share them with all of us...Jim and I, Jim's two brothers and their families...back in the day when we had young families and all. And we appreciated it so much.

It's just that now, with only 2 boys at home...we don't use as much as we did when we had all 4 kids and their friends here...but Mammaw Jack continues to buy the same amount.

She loves Kroger. She calls it The Krogers and she goes on Tuesdays because not only is it Double "Coupin" Day...it's also Senior Citizen's Day. It takes her over 2 hours to shop, and that is saying something because there are some days when she won't even get up to walk to the front door. But once a week, she is at The Krogers with bells on.

It's a social thing for her. Before she even goes, her sister, Aunt June, is on the phone calling her...asking her what is on sale.

LOOK IN THE PAPER FOR YOURSELF, AUNT JUNE.

And then my mother-in-law goes to The Krogers. And Aunt June goes to the same store. And they see each other and talk like they haven't seen each other in a year. My mother-in-law is so happy to be at The Krogers. She says that she saves so much money that it's like they are PAYING her to shop there.

She likes to brag that, on more than one occasion, the checker has called the manager over to check her ticket because there is just NO WAY she could've saved that much money. NO WAY.

So Jim was at his parent's house on August 25th, and he brought home a bunch of groceries, including three 1/2 gallon jugs of skim milk. Which, blech.

And secondly, they all three expired on August 26...the very.next.day.

Well.

You have to know that my boys are not drinking any rotten milk, and when they told that to Jim, he got all defensive and said, "FINE...I'll drink it myself."

When I went to the store, I bought a gallon of 2% that didn't expire for 3 weeks. I came home and put it in the refrigerator in the garage, and we have all been sneaking out there to get fresh milk.

"Fresh milk."

It's like Little House on the Prairie around here. 

"Go out to the back porch and get yer fresh milk."

Jim has been drinking his rotten milk, because he will prove his point or die trying.

I would like to say that it is September 14th, and he just finished up his last 1/2 gallon...and he has not died.

Praise Jesus.

"Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Joshua's Thoughts on Crosses on Football Helmets

I live in Arkansas, and one of our larger colleges is Arkansas State University. One of my children may or may not have graduated from there in May! (Hallelujah!)

This week, ASU has been in the news because of some small crosses on the back of the Red Wolves football helmets. And apparently someone complained about the whole "separation of church and state," and ASU is a state university...and now the crosses have to come off the helmets.

The crosses were put on the helmets this year in memory of two former ASU team members who died last year. Each of their initials are on one of the small bars of the cross...the "arm" bars.

Now, the university says they are being forced to remove the crosses, but will choose to honor these players in another way. They are talking about removing the up and down part and just leaving the horizontal line with the team members' initials on them. One of the dad's said, "they are removing the cross and leaving a flat line. And do you know what a "flat line" means? It means you're dead." Their son IS dead, unfortunately, and they are in support of keeping the crosses on the helmets in his memory.

The story of the helmet crosses is on the national news now, and everyone is talking about it. And people are getting up-in-arms about expressing their faith and restrictions and America and all of that. I don't know...I think it's gonna end up being a bigger deal than just having a small cross on a helmet. Way bigger.

And I hope that it doesn't develop a life of it's own that veers away from the original purpose of the crosses...and I pray that GOD will be glorified in it all.

This whole removing-the-helmet-crosses controversy? Joshua is FURIOUS.

He said, AND I QUOTE: "our country was founded on religion."

I said, "well, our country was founded on Godly and Christian principles, yes, but our founding fathers wanted religious freedom...for everyone...even the ones we..."

Clark held up his hand to stop me mid-sentence...and Jim just shook his head. I mean, there's no talking to Joshua about any of this, and really...it will be 5 minutes of my life that I can't get back and it.will.not.change.his.mind.

Joshua loves Jesus, and Jesus died on a cross for our sins. And Joshua loves football...And if someone...wants to put a cross on their helmet, well, Joshua is all about that.

Joshua said, and he got his hands going and fingers pointing for emphasis as he spoke, "I think that the ones who are against the crosses should go out...gather some sticks...build a teeny-tiny bridge...annnnnd go-go-get over it!"

"If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18

Friday, September 12, 2014

Downsy Boy and the Foot Lady

The other day, I was able to meet Holly for lunch after her classes. I love being able to do that.

I love that we actually like being together, and I love that I have been given this opportunity to be close to her during this part of her life. I love that we live in the same town and go to the same church. I know that it may not always be this way, so I am going to enjoy every.single.minute of it while I can!

So, she got out of class early, and we met for lunch and shopping! So fun!

At some point, we ended up at the mall to just walk around and kill some time before I had to pick up Joshua. I almost always park in the same place. I've been coming to this mall since I was pregnant with Joshua. I know that there's a bathroom right inside the door, which is gold if you are young and pregnant...or if you have little ones.

OR, if you are old(er) like me and not pregnant, but you have let 4 small humans reek havoc on your innards...it's good to know where the bathrooms are.

I'm just sayin'.

And it's right by the baby department.

Holly and I walked in the door and were walking by the baby department on our way into the mall when I saw him. And I stopped dead in my tracks and went into full-out creepy, old lady, stalker mode. He.had.Down.Syndrome.

I'm not trying to brag or anything, but I can spy a Downsy boy or girl from a mile off. Or, at the very least, across a store. My Downsy senses are like a bat that fly in a completely dark room...darting around columns and racks of clothes and other people until ZING...I'm locked in on my target.

Holly's pretty good at it, too.

And, you know, usually I just walk by and smile to myself...especially since this Mom has no clue that we are watching her and her baby. (que the Psycho music...reek, reek, reek)

But we walked by and the Mom wasn't looking at us, but her little boy was. And I started to just walk by even tho I really wanted to say something...but there are just so many times that I second-guess myself and I end up walking by and not saying anything, and I don't know...I just remember the days when I would have loved a word of encouragement because I got a LOT of different comments. Just sayin'.

So I stopped and turned around and spoke to the lady whose back was turned to me. I told her how cute her baby was. The whole time, he was just smiling and HE LOOKED EXACTLY LIKE JOSHUA. Not even kidding...crinkly brown eyes, stinkin' up brown hair, big, BIG smile.

As I talked to the Mom, I held up my hand to let her son give me "five." I totally think he would've jumped into my arms...and if he had, I may or may not have run out the door with him.

I'M KIDDING.

heeheeheehee

The reason I was hesitant about speaking to the lady, besides STRANGER DANGER, is because you just never know if they think that we...can't tell.

I remember looking at Joshua when he was a baby...and honestly, I was so in love with him that I was blind to anything and anyone else. And, with him being our first child, I really had no comparison. I thought he was beautiful and wonderful, and I just didn't think anyone out there could...TELL.

But they could. And they can.

And I can.

She asked us some questions about Joshua, and then we let her go. She said that she appreciated us talking to her...and that she always loved hearing other people's stories.

We walked away with our hearts full and happy, and Holly spent the rest of our time at the mall...looking for that lady and her baby.

SEE? It's not just me.

ANYWAY, we headed to this section of Dillard's where Holly likes to shop, and the sales associate came up and asked if we needed any help. We were looking at the sale items...because this particular designer is pricey, and we were hoping to score some end-of-season deals. She was excited to show us more items in the "sale" section.

And home-girl would NOT leave us alone. She was super friendly and talkative, but give it a rest! I couldn't even think. She commented on my leopard Toms, which...thank you, Sheaffer, because I bought them back in September of 2013 because you told me to.

And I bought a pair for Holly, too.

She kept talking about how cute my leopard Toms were...I seriously thought she was going to ask me if she could try them on, and I was thinking of ways I could get out of it because...in the words of one of Holly's nursing school class-mates: "I don't know you like that." She kept saying that she would lovvvvvve to wear my Toms, but that she had recently had a cortisone shot in her foot because of foot arthritis (gag)...and so she has to wear flat slip-on shoes until the swelling goes down (GULP).

She started telling us about the cortisone shot she got and how bad it hurt...how she was grabbing onto the bed and the doctor and the nurse and anyone else she could get her hands on. She said her doctor said, "I think that's the worst you've ever done." To which she replied...to the doctor, "I think that's the worst YOU'VE ever done."

And then...you will not believe what happened. Girlfriend TOOK OFF HER SHOE AND SHOWED US HER TOE.

I threw up a little in my mouth.

Because FEET? Please...for the love of all that is holy...KEEP YOUR FEET TO YOURSELF.

I didn't know if it was because Holly was still in her scrubs from school, or if this lady was just really uninhibited (or on pain meds), but oh my word. She told Holly that her son was a nurse and what floor he worked on AND HIS NAME and to please look him up and tell him that you met his mom.

Ooooooooookay crazy lady.

Not gonna happen.

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever." Psalm 118:29

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Just Like Dad (Joshua)

Jim had to go out-of-town for 3 days this week. Whenever he has to be gone, Joshua goes into hyper protective man-of-the-house role.

He is checking the doors to see if they're locked and feeding the dog (without telling me, so let's just say that Maggie has been eating like a Queen this week!). He's been bringing in the newspapers each morning, and taking out the trash.

Okay...he takes out the trash a lot already, but he's even more conscientious about it when Jim is gone.

Joshua has always emulated Jim. People comment all the time about how their mannerisms are the same. It's all Joshua. Some of it he may have been born with, but most things Joshua does just because it's what Jim does.

I've written about some of Jim's crazy unrealistic maddening infuriating helpful energy-saving suggestions here. Joshua does these same things. I will come into the kitchen and he will be sitting at the table in the dark with the blinds open for light...eating his breakfast. If Jim eats with Joshua, he will turn on the light. Joshua gets so mad and will mutter, "it's wasting electricity. Dad should know this and LEARN TO ENJOY THE LIGHT OF OUTSIDE."

Joshua shuts doors, and turns off lights and fans like a maniac. I can be in the kitchen cooking, and all of a sudden *CLICK* the light will go off and I'm standing there in the dark.

Momma is not a fan of cooking in the dark.

Joshua also doesn't run the water while he brushes his teeth, and fusses at me if I leave the water in the kitchen sink running for too long. He will sing this song, "are YOU a waster-woo?" I think it's a song from Sesame Street from 20+ years ago...about not being a waster-water-woo. Whatever that is. He has remembered that song all these years later.

And it's just precious. (eye roll)

Except when you've spent half-the-day cooking a big family meal that took your people less than 10 minutes to devour...and you have a stack of dishes and you've told everyone that you don't need any help because you want to serve them and want them to relax and visit with each other and EXCUSE ME FOR RUNNING THE WATER, JOSHUA.

Joshua's eyes do this thing...there's a name for it but I'm not smart enough to remember what it is...where they quickly dart back and forth. Getting a family picture for our Christmas card is always a challenge. I always tell the photographer that if they can get a good one of everyone else, I won't stress over the fact that 9 people are smiling and facing the camera...and Joshua's eyes are looking to the right (or left) like there's something really interesting going on in a field somewhere.

I am convinced that because of his eye-thing, he is able to notice more details. Out of all 4 of our kids, he can tell by looking at my face if I'm sad or mad or sick. He notices when I get my hair cut or colored...if I change my lipstick color...if I get new earrings. When I am talking to him (when anyone is talking to him) he is looking intently at my face.

And when he says something that he knows is inappropriate or something that we won't like...or something he thinks is really funny...he will stare at your face to see your reaction.

He likes to wear clothes that match Jim's. He tucks his shirt in and fixes his hair just like Jim does. Except for the days when Joshua spikes his hair up to Jesus. Jim does NOT do that (he doesn't have that much hair! Ha!). Joshua sits like Jim. He watches how Jim folds his hands...how he crosses his legs, folds his arms across his chest, how he stands...and he does it the exact same way.

Joshua wants to work for ENTERGY like Jim. He wants to get married and have 4 children. He wants a car and a home and to be a deacon in the church. Just like Jim.

Joshua eats the same type of food that Jim does. Jim loves to eat healthy things that the rest of our family wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole: vegetables, fruit, Greek yogurt. Jim takes a vitamin every day. Joshua takes a vitamin every day. Jim likes to go to the gym, so naturally Joshua likes to go as well. Jim started running a couple of years ago, so Joshua started running. Now, I am not a runner, but I can WALK as fast or faster than Joshua can run...but he gives it his all and he thinks he is doing great! And he is!

If you notice, a lot of people with Down Syndrome are overweight. A lot of times, it is because they have difficulties that make it challenging to get a good cardio work-out: heart issues, stamina issues, thyroid issues, transportation difficulties, slow metabolism, hip issues, balance problems. And it may be hard to know all about healthy foods. They are usually dependent on someone else's help with shopping and preparing food. It's hard. But Joshua is physically able to walk and run and lift-weights. He loves it, and it is something that he and Jim can do together, so it works out great!

On Wednesdays when I'm at choir, Jim has started making dinner for him and Joshua. Clark is usually at Youth and not in on the fun. They usually have fish tacos and Joshua thinks it's the best thing ever. He just loves being with his dad.

The other night, I told the boys that we would go out to dinner since their Dad was gone...and that they could pick the restaurant. Since they had chosen Chicken Express the night before, I was wanting a really good salad. I suggested several places, but gave them the final choice. They chose IHOP. Seriously?

The waitress came to take our order. Clark got chicken and waffles. I got plain pancakes...no syrup, no nuthin'. Joshua ordered the 2x2x2, because that's what he and Jim always order. It comes with 2 pancakes, bacon or sausage, and eggs.

The waitress said, "how do you want your eggs?" Joshua said, "scrambled." She said, "bacon or sausage?" I totally predicted he would say "bacon." He said, "sausage." I looked over at him, surprised.

He grinned as he shut his menu and said, "just like Dad."

"Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4