Sunday, August 31, 2008

Asher's self-portrait

About a year ago, I transformed one wall of our laundry room into an art area. I used chalk-board paint to create a chalk-board, and I also installed a small dry-erase board. In the beginning, it was scary, because Asher drew on things he shouldn't have. Now, he just draws where he should. He loves the art area. In the past couple of weeks, his artwork is starting to actually look like art, instead of haphazzard lines intersection moons. Below is an example. Yesterday he drew 2 "boys". He told me one was him. I thought this art deserved some exposure. (Maybe he'll paint beautiful artwork like his Daddy someday!)






I love to see the creative spark in my sweet Asher. He's too precious for words. By the way, these masterpieces are for sale. Hurry up and get yours before it gets erased!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Catching UP and Down

Aren't most weeks of most peoples lives sprinkled with ups and downs? It's nature. It's ebb and flow. It's life.

My ups this week..........got to see Jimmy Fallon perform at Zanies with 3 great friends on Thursday night. My face still hurts from laughing so hard. That was super fun.
I've enjoyed a little pleasure reading, having discovered the author, Anne Lamott. She is my new fav and I'm on the 3rd book. (Not typical for me).
I've started my new missions blog, as I answer the call to go and serve for God. I'm both tormented and excited about the directions God is choosing for me.
I got to see Spencer smiling one day this week, after a couple of weeks of not seeing him at all.
My mom retired on Friday, which brings her much happiness. I am so happy that she does not have to continue to spend all of her energy in a job that doesn't offer much reward.
I got to eat at Everything Bagel, at star Bagel, with a side of cream cheese.
I got to see my little friend, Amaya, who is 7.

My downs this week..........both Asher and Shawn have been sick with colds.
My pain in my neck, shoulder, back, wrist, and forearm from my wreck on 8/3 is not getting better with physical therapy.....so we seek new treatments. Yuk.
My car was supposed to be repaired, but it is not.
I said "shit" at least twice....but not in front of my children. I also cursed at a bug at Pam's barn when it would not leave me alone. (3 curse words in one week is 3 too many for me.)
I learned this past week that a precious and dear woman I know and am priviledged to do business with on a regular basis was diagnosed with breast cancer.
My sweet cousins, Julie & Scott, lost their dad this week. He took a shower, got dressed, sat on the sofa, propped up his feet, and died. He was too young (I think under 60). I can't go to the funeral in Arkansas, despite my efforts at working out all the conflicts. I hurt for them. And I am reminded again, that life is brief.

It is simply no secret that life is marbled with joyful moments and then deep despair. Everyone shares this lot in life. There is no escaping hardship. No one is immune to pain. I do believe that God equips us to use pain for good, in life. I do not believe though that everyone believes that, nor do I believe all things are wrapped up in neat and tidy packages, when it is all said and done. I do believe though, that there are opportunities in despair and there are gifts in both life and death. We just have to be willing to know that.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

New Blog

Ok peeps. I'm keeping this blog and will dedicate it to family, faith, and career matters (mostly family and faith). But I have also started a new blog that will be dedicated to topics involving mission work and service projects. Please visit me there regularly. www.everydayisnew.wordpress.com

Or, just click here.

Smiles

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Feelin It - The Kenny Loggins Concert at Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville, TN

One of my favorite things to do in the whole world is to sit in a music venue and enjoy incredible music and musicianship. The energy does something to me that nothing else can quite accomplish. I love the true artist....one who writes music and lyrics, sings, and also plays an instrument. Throughout my life, I have always identified my favorite artists this way, naturally. Something about it all connects. When a person writes, sings and plays a song....they birthed it...and for me, it's a phenomenal process.

I love acoustic guitar and piano. But I also love percussion. I love the voice. I love the lyrics. It blows me away at times when I hear some religious people suggest that music is sinful (by its very nature). David sang and danced in the Old Testament, songs inspired by God himself. And David was a man after God's own heart.

Last night, my mom and went to see/hear/experience Kenny Loggins perform live at the Wildhorse Saloon. It was UH-MAY-ZING! He changed guitars on every song, and sometimes during songs. They jammed for extended periods of time. His voice was perfection. To this day, 2 of my favorite all time songs just happen to be his, "Celebrate Me Home" and "Conviction of the Heart". He sang both, so for me, Heaven was on earth in the Wildhorse saloon for a little while. His voice is like an instrument, finely tuned.

A few years ago, my cool husband catered an event in Nashville where I got to hang out in the green room with Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald. They were busy being normal, but bigger than life in the center of it all, and I was hard at work holding up one of the walls. Two of my favorites, feet away....and all I could do was hold up the wall. I never have been one to approach the stars, even though I have had many opportunities. Last night I thought, one day Kenny is gonna wake up dead and I'm gonna cry like a baby (unless I wake up dead first). I'm so happy that I got to see him perform live again. He's the real deal......oozing talent and incredible musicianship. WOW. What a great night in Nashville, Tennessee.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Shawn's First Day at Pre-School

**Update** Please notice that below is a VIDEO of Shawn, not just a lonely looking photo. My sweet pastor told me at church tonight that he didn't realize it was a video. And I thought he was soooooooo high tech. I guess he didn't notice the arrow, a universal symbol for "play". Go ahead, give it a go. And Pete, when you rewatch the video that you once thought was a photo, don't forget to add a new comment telling me how precious Shawn is! I laugh.***

In just one week of pre-school, Asher's manners have improved as well as his identification of the letters of the alphabet. He absolutely LOVES his 1/2 days at school. He hasn't quite fallen in love with the lunch menu.... His classroom is called "Polar Pals"

Shawn has loved his classroom too. His room is called "Busy Bees". What I love about this school is that each classroom has children with special needs right alongside children without. The teachers are amazing...and that is an understatment. Here is a video of Shawn on his first day. I picked him up at noon and he was in the middle of lunch. Look at him sitting in this tiny chair at a tiny table. And with a PLATE! Normally, I feed him in a high-chair with his food directly on the tray.

Everyday, Asher says "Mommy I hope Shawn has a great day in Busy Bees". He also expresses his thoughts of his baby brother to his teacher, Miss Ashley. You can see here that Shawn does indeed enjoy his days with the other busy bees.

video

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

the sappy passionate friend, in me

Here is a letter I wrote today to my bible study group. We're getting ready to celebrate our 2 year anniversary together. They let me be me....and here I share the me that I am with them, with you. We are taking a tiny break before we begin our next study. I missed them.

Dear Sujette, Pat, Julie, Sharon, Pam, Wyndi and Elaine (in no particular order, for all are winners)

It is the eve of Thursday, which is nothing to be excited about, right? Right! It was just a day. A day without my girls and bible study. A day without my community that helps hold me together like glue holds together a broken treasure. I am beginning to see myself like a treasure to the Lord. I see you all that way too. Treasures to me and to Him, but mostly to Him because He loves you perfectly.

In my new routine of the taking the boys to their precious pre-school at Vanderbilt, and my un-routinely week of not gathering together with the brood of you this morning, I decided I might need a filler…..you know….something to hold me over until our lunch next week. I decided on Tuesday to bounce into Borders to use the gift card that you gave me so unnecessarily. In keeping with the spirit that the card was given me, I decided I would peruse the Christian section, which is not a Christian section, but a Religious section and I was reminded there are other religions…(who knew?). The Beth Moore section was small. The Joel Osteen section was big and smiley. My eyes were drawn to 3 books by Anne Lamott, “Traveling Mercies”, “Plan B”, and “Grace, Eventually”. I did not know a thing about Anne. I had only read another author had written somewhere that if she could have lunch with anyone besides Jesus, it would be Anne Lamott. My expectations were not large, but of somewhat significant height.

I am blessed!

I am not one of those insane people (like some of you) who sit and read a book in one sitting. It isn’t possible for me. My eyes grow weary and my brain spoils and I give up after 25 pages. I finish books, but it takes me a while. I am a slow reader. God had so designed that you would give me a gift card and that it would be for a non-Christian bookstore so that I would really have to weed through the garbage to find the pearl that is Anne Lamott. I read “Traveling Mercies” in one day. I read ½ of “Plan B” today. Ask me if my house is clean….no wait…don’t ask.

My gift card was for $50. The three books cost $49.10. I have .90 cents left to blow but will save it for something special.

Thank you for my 3 Anne Lamott books. Thank you for thinking me opening my door on Wednesday mornings is a big deal.

I love ya’ll, for real!

a box with wheels

I confess, I am a car person. If you have to ask what a car person is, then likely you are not one. But I'll explain....a car person is one who is physically attracted to an auto, either for its shape and design, or possibly for its power, and probably mostly for what it might symbolize (eh hemm...maybe wealth?) If you are simply drawn to practicality, effeciency, economics, etc, then you are not a car person....you are a sensible person, and I congratulate you.

My draw is not that of all three. I care little about the power of a car. What is torque? I don't care how quickly it may go from 0 - 60, but I do notice design. I am not interested in owning a car that my symbolize wealth, prestige or power. For me it is all about design. I'm attracted to what I'm attracted to. Some of my attractions are toward expensive vehicles and some of them are surprisingly simple. Why does my eye like what it likes? And why would I think owning any particular box rolling on wheels would make my life any better, or even sillier, increase my position in any way? I want so desperately to see a car for what it is. It is transporation. It needs to have some quality safety features and it needs to get me where I need to go, and it needs to not cost me a fortune in maintenance. That's it! Well, maybe it needs to be comfortable for my clients, because they do spend a lot of time in my car, but just basic comforts, not ridiculous comfort!

For over a year now, I have been feeling God's calling in my family's life for simplicity. He is showing me that the more simlply we live in this world, the more extravagantly we can live for HIS purpose. I have fought this theology. I want what I want, and is that so wrong? We don't live extravagantly to begin with, but I have had a deep desire to live extravagantly. My heart has been all wrong. My selfish and materialstic wants have drastically gotten in the way of even enjoying some of the basics. It's just a truth I have to confess. I'm not as responsible as I should be. And I'm certainly not self-less.

I'd rather be complimented on my heart rather than on my car. I'd rather be remembered for my spirit than for my social status or position. I'd rather be identified with Jesus than to be identified with this world.

For the past week I've been driving a rental car since my real car was crashed and smashed up in an accident. This little car has no leather, has only 1 cd slot, no heated seats, doesn't sit up high, has no sun roof, and its shape and color blend into every other car and i cannot find it in a parking lot. It's just not a cool car. It isn't noticable. It isn't sexy. I'm not attracted to it. But it gets me to where I want to go...and as ridiculous as it might sound....I've been affected by this. It's just a box on wheels. It serves it purpose. And in some small way, it has opened my eyes.

There are many material things I would like to have....many of those things I've never purchased. Some of them I could have purchased and some of them are just out of my financial league. I have always wanted more. I have never ever caught up to where I have wanted to be. I am always behind my desires and my goals....always. I never get the material prize. Never. There is a simple solution. Stop wanting. Just stop wanting. Could that be the cure?

The more I pray, the more I study the Bible, and the more I grow in deep personal relationship with Christ, the more I want to stop wanting. Giving up wants isn't a cold turkey kind of a deal. It feels like a painful and exhausting practice. It feels like I'm being sifted. It feels like I'm being molded, literally bent into shapes and positions that are not natural for me. Sometimes it feels like a lie. Sometimes it feels oddly true. When I stop wanting, I'll be simpler and I'll be more useful. I look forward to that.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Mischevious Laughter

There is this particular laughter that comes out of Asher. I'd recognize it anywhere. It is the specific laugh that indicates Shawn is doing something bad and Asher is enjoying watching the process....almost as much as if the bad behavior was his own....only better, because Asher will not get into trouble for something clearly carried out by his angelic baby bro.

It is a telling laugh, and it makes me nervous. Has Shawn eaten the dogfood again? Has he taken a hefty bite out of the antique china cabinet? Recently, with all of his talented walking skills, Shawn has begun to reach for and grasp a beverage, take off on a smooth trot (not) and demonstratively spill a trail of evidence for as far as the eye can see.

I'll admit, I've seen him in action from a distance, and it is quite hysterical, until I have to clean it up.

Can I tell you that it is a gift beyond measure to see him walk? Could I stress to you that I can see in my small child, that his brain connects to the all knowing fact he is doing something wrong...and to see him know he is doing something bad is better than not. It thrills me to no end that his little hands need a spanking sometimes. It kills me (in a good way) that he has a strong will and a determination beyond what I thought he might have, not knowing anything about Down syndrome at his birth. I did not know who he would be. This kid is so normal! He's wild and energetic. He loves to have books read to him, to dance and to sing songs. He loves food (amen)........ and the monkey loves to sneak off with mommy's cold iced tea (southern style).

Here is a video of Shawn walking. I tried to get the older video clip to go first, but the newer one starts off. He really is doing a great job of walking! Enjoy this very short video.


video

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My Pain is BIG BUSINESS!

Annoying phenomenon......... okay so a little out of character for me...this is a complaint!

I was in an auto accident several days ago. Since then I have received random phone calls to my CELL phone just asking if I am okay, by people I don't even know. Fortunately, I am a sly dog, and I do not just willinging give out my personal info to strangers. Some of them are ambulance chasers, wanting to be my attorney, my doctor, my insurer, etc. Some of them probably represent the woman who caused the accident....to try and get on record that I am "ok" so that I won't sue in the future when I discover that I am "not ok".

Today, the kind sounding gentlemen on the other end of the line simply said, "good morning melissa, how are you feeling today?" I kindly, but suspiciously ask, "who is this?" and he states he is Dr. Taylor, just calling to check on me and see how I am feeling. How does this person even get my cell phone number? Seriously.....who does this...the police? It's a little nutty. I like to mess them a little and tell them, "I'm extremely sore and my head is still throbbing!" And oh by the way....since I don't know you, I am going to decline to speak with you further.

It irritates me that trauma is such big business. By law, as a Realtor, I am required to introduce myself as a Realtor and I am required to announce who I represent (buyer or seller). I can otherwise be sued. Shouldn't the medical, insurance and legal professions have to do the same?

Hmmmmmm....... any thoughts?

And hey...don't forget to watch the video of Shawn doing Itsy Bitsy Spider, below in my other post today. Thanks!!!

super fast itsy bitsy spider

I've been trying to capture some itsy bitsy spider action for a while. As with most experiences in life....once we get used to something, we tend to rush through it. Shawn no longer pays much, if any, attention to the detail.....so here is his lightening fast (and I mean don't blink or you might miss it) version of the ever popular classic, Itsy Bitsy Spider. Oh, and yes....he is sitting in a box. It's our family room toy box....which he likes to sit in.

video

In other Shawn news....the heart surgery has been put off until spring, because Shawn is too small and needs to fatten up and grow a bit. It will most likely be open heart surgery, verses the simpler procedure...but it will be the best choice for him.

Love to everyone.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Crunch Smash Boom Bam - Ouch

OK......so I'll get to the title in a moment. But first, let me tell you how wonderful I am. (You need to read this with a smile on your face!)


I am a saint. (remember, keep smiling)


Yesterday, I hopped in my car to go do some things, and as I was leaving my subdivision, I saw 2 familiar dogs just roaming around. They belonged to my neighbor. So, being the saint that I am...I pulled over and rescued them from their certain lonely life as strays and returned them to their home, where I found the garage door and one of the interior doors wide open. I locked them up tight. Good deed....done. (and yes i called them so i could appropriately receive my verbal reward!)


Earlier in the day yesterday, I went to my friend Pat's house to feed her dog while they were away for a brief trip to visit family. My only responsibility was to feed the outside dog. A simple task. But, because I am a saint, I also fed her fish, and turned on the hose to water the garden. That is what saints do, afterall. Later, I returned to her home to turn off the hose. Am I precious, or what?


So....then, it was time for Pam to return home from her 2 week vacation. I have been taking care of her horses....(because I am a saint)..... My plan yesterday evening, around 5pm, was to go to the barn, give her horses baths, and brush the tangles out of their manes. I was also going to put a fresh clean awesome wrap on Moreau's injured leg (like I have been doing daily because I am a...saint)....


I was also going to take pictures of the horses to post on my blog so that you could see how gorgeous they are....but instead, this is the only photo I have to show you....





Ok, so now that I have gently informed you that I was in a car accident last night at 5:15pm, on my way to perform some saintly duties......you have gathered that I am okay, and so you should not be having a heart attack (MOM). By the way.....if my mom would keep her cell phone turned on, she might have gotten a personal phone call...but, nah.

But here is the real deal. It was horrifying. I was not part of the initial collision...but simply an occupant of innocent space, caught in the aftermath. I was so fortunate to have not been seriously injured, and even more deeply blessed that my children were not in the car. I am sore and still a little shook up....because the images of what happened before I got smashed, were pretty scary.

Please pray for the other 2 drivers of the other 2 cars. Both are young women, without life threatening injuries....however.....it is one of those accidents where you look at one of the cars and wonder how that occupant survived.... It was a high speed collision without warning. One of the other cars flipped multiple times and every side was smashed. The young lady that was paying no attention, and caused the senseless accident...has not yet even recovered from her last car accident....as was evidenced by the brace on her leg, the surgery scars, and her own admission. She will be uninsurable for a while...and probably should be. Her parents were furious (at first) and I witnessed that they forgot to tell her that they were happy she is okay. I am happy she is okay. Her life matters. I'm not happy that she smashed up my mode of transportation, but I am happy that I got to hug her and tell her, "it's just a car...life is all that matters".

So, why am I am saint? Well, I'm NOT! But my sweet neighbor saw me and said....you're such a good neighbor....you didn't deserve this. And well.....sure I did. I live in a fallen world where there are no guarantees. ((I should add here that I do definitely contribute to the fallen-ness of this world). Being a Christian does not protect me from harm, does not shield me from oncoming traffic, does not get me a pass on disease, and does not mean that I will never expierience loss, hurt or suffering. It does however equip me to be able to do life with some grace, only God given grace. It does increase my confidence and it does afford me joy and the ability to be blessed. I am blessed today and everyday that I wake up alive.

I hope you feel your blessings everyday. Is there something today that you can acknowledge as a blessing, that you otherwise take for granted?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Trees, Fleas, and Ponies

We bought 3 trees...rather, I bought 3 trees. Our back yard needs shade, BIGTIME. Soon, 3 beautiful magnolias will be professionally "installed" in our back yard. I can't figure out where I want them to go. I'm excited. I'm so excited about the trees.

Fleas....rather, ticks! Today I showed a house in the middle of the jungle (so it seemed). Ticks got us. I think we got them all...and I don't think I have any in my car....but let's just say, I will probably have nightmares tonight. I feel like things are crawling on me as we speak.

Tomorrow is the last day for the me to take care of my friends horses, Goober and Moreau. I have loved them and cared for them twice a day for the past 2 weeks...and I'm not ready for it to be over. Being around them has been incredibly therapeutic!

What is something you are excited about? Or something that is bugging you? Or something you dread saying goodbye to? Come on.....tell me.