Monday, November 29, 2010

A Peaceful Road

I don't know about car trips with your children, but mine can get rather harried at times.  Bickering can run rampant between S and J - especially when they can't agree on the DVD to watch.  A three and a half hour trip between our town and Pawleys Island can seem endless.

But this trip home was different.  This photo I found online was titled "A Peaceful Road". 

I had met "Fun Dad" (aka biological father) on Friday to take the boys and myself for a weekend with my parents, sister, and her girls at the beach.  (S and J spent Thanksgiving with his family.)  The weekend was too short as I packed up the boys and myself for the trip back to reality.  Of course none of the headphones worked for the DVD, but instead of whining, my boys found other things to do.  S was engrossed in The Horse and It's Boy, and J played multiplication and spelling games on my Droid.  Reading?  Math?  Spelling?  Yes, and they were content as could be for a good hour or so.  I loved peaking in the rear view mirror at the two of them.  You could just see their minds working.  They were oblivious to the world around them...

Now I know that a good DVD can do the same thing.  Believe me, we have between five and ten of them at any given time in the Odyssey.  But it was the fact that this time, they were not just "plugged up".  They were "plugged in".  And plugged into something that made them better.  I know that sounds ridiculous, but it made me happy.  I can remember reading and working out brainteasers (until I got slightly carsick) on car trips as a child.  It just brought back memories of my childhood.

I was also able to really look outside the window and marvel at the beauty of the trees with their beautiful leaves outside.  I was able to think about the fun the boys had with their cousins, creating their very own USC/Clemson tickets for the Pawleys Island "satellite stadium" before the big game Saturday evening.  I was able to smile as I thought of my short visit with my sweet friend, Laura, at church that morning.  I played car games with S and J, quizzing them on South Carolina and United States history.  I planned with them how we were going to decorate the tree and house over the next few days.  I got excited with them as we talked about their upcoming hunting trips with their grandfather at our cousin's plantation.  We laughed and talked and planned the whole rest of the ride.

And finally, I was able to to see that sometimes the best part of a trip can be the trip home...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thankful for all the OTHER days

It's too quiet right now. Mike and I are watching the local news while pasta is boiling for the salad I'm taking to the citywide Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow afternoon. The house is almost ready for our family's celebration on Thursday. Our Gratitude Tree is almost full and looks perfect in the breakfast room. And I just need to collect some more leaves and grapevines from the yard to complete the dining room centerpiece. And maybe a bit more polishing of the silver. The house is pretty clean except for one more go of the Dirt Devil over the hardwoods.

But there is one thing missing. The boys are not here. Nor are they ever for Thanksgiving. For them every Thanksgiving is spent with "the other family" (their biological dad and his parents). And I hate it. Every year I hate it more and more. I hate that the boys are shuttled back and forth this holiday. I hate having to work out the visit during the Christmas holidays. I hate that, as they are getting older, they are not as excited as they once were. I hate that they are seeing that their relationship with their dad is really just surface. I hate it for them. And selfishly I hate it for me...

But it also makes me think about how thankful I am. I don't have to wait for holidays or a weekend here and there to spend time with S and J. I wake them up every morning. I tuck them in every night. I share everyday conversations and experiences with them. I watch them do skateboard tricks. I play "horse" with them. I make bets with them (the latest the S can't read the first four Narnia books before The Voyage of the Dawn Treader comes out in theaters). I'm able to be a mom all the time. And I am thankful for all those days... all the other days.
Fall, 2006

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thanksgiving Tree

I can't believe that Thanksgiving is next week. I have seen all of your lovely autumn decor and have been so impressed. I've never done much in the way of decorating for fall - other than the jack o'lantern on the porch or a few mini gourds, pumpkins, and witches around. And we've never held Thanksgiving at our house. Until NOW.

This year we will have Mike's family (totaling 18) over for Thanksgiving dinner. The venue was changed to our house as it has the best flow for that many people. Thank goodness that I am only responsible for yeast rolls and dessert. However, I want to have something festive on the table. And with Christmas coming earlier and earlier every year, tasteful Thanksgiving decor is all but gone. What to do? I want a pretty table. I need a pretty table. Isn't Thanksgiving all about the table?

Yes... But especially when the centerpiece is one that is all about Thanksgiving - the real meaning: gratitude. I found an idea online that combined the two perfectly. I'm sure you've either seen or made one yourself.

Here is what our "Gratitude Tree" looked like last week.

It is getting more and more leaves every few days as we write those things were are thankful for on them. Beside the tree, I have a basket with cut out leaves, black pens, and raffia. We have been doing this during our family dinner time devotion. A few things listed were our family, God, encouragement, great haircuts and color, my friends, a husband who texts me just to tell me I'm pretty and that he loves me, my wife, a son who helps clean the kitchen, and making each other laugh.

I can't wait to see it in all it's glory...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Men in Skirts

This month my hubby was given the highest honor by our metropolitan issue of Skirt magazine. I'm sure most all of your cities have Skirt or a magazine like it. They are those free newspaper-ish monthly issues that spotlight local stores, trends, fashion, and the like. Ours is the Columbia/Augusta area.
Every month, the magazine chooses a man for their "He's So Original" piece. Mike says he really doesn't know why he was picked, so I'll give you my reasons. He's very active in our town's community. Tea Garden is a favorite store of many women around here. Also, I think he's pretty easy on the eyes!

And now for the moment you've all been waiting for...  
My husband - in a SKIRT!
Double-click on the picture to read parts of the article.

And yes, he is wearing MY Lilly skirt. 
(Thank goodness he couldn't zip up the back!)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Author, Author!

How timely that I've been tagged by Entertaining Mom to join the ranks and list my 15 most favorite authors. After my two latest posts on J's dyslexia, it makes me realize how much I enjoyed reading as a child. My list is rather eclectic, bringing together authors from my childhood as well as those who who continue to lure me late at night (on my Ipad's Kindle app).

So here I go, and in not particular order at all...

1. Ludwig Bemelmans I love the Madeline series, and have since I was a child. My favorite line was "twelve little girls in two straight lines". I would look at all of the little girls and match them to the following pictures in the book. Funny how I was never that enamored with Madeline, but loved the little girl with the curls!

2. C.S. Lewis is the amazing author who wrote the Chronicles of Narnia. I read the entire series when I was young. They touched my heart with the Christian allegory, and I later wrote my senior thesis on the the Biblical parallels throughout The Magician's Nephew, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and The Last Battle. His book Surprised by Joy is an account of this former atheist's transformation into a Believer.

3. Pat Conroy The quintessential southern author. His story telling is phenomenal, with character descriptions so vivid, you feel you are inside them.

4. Virginia Lee Burton will always have a special place in my heart. My mother must have read Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and The Little House to my sister and me hundreds of times. I loved hearing about how the Little House changed and watched as her surroundings changed with the "progress" all around her. Don't worry, there IS a happy ending!

5. Chuck Swindoll has written numerous books and devotionals throughout the years. His
Growing Strong in the Seasons of Lifeis the only thing that got me through the summer I was a counselor at a camp the summer of my deb season. I know that sound a trite, but I was miserable and homesick, and I found great comfort in his words.

6. Jane Austen Need I say more...?

7. Harper Lee for
To Kill a Mockingbird. Yes, I JUST read it... And she is on the list.

8. V.C. Andrews I know she is no Jane Austen or Harper Lee, but her books captivated my friends and me during our teen years. Who can forget
Flowers in the Attic?

9. John Irving's
The Hotel New Hampshire...

10. Ann Rivers Siddons captures the hearts of women everywhere - especially in the south. She just "gets" us.

11. Edith Wharton I remember reading
Ethan Fromein high school and weeping.

12. Sidney Taylor Her stories of a Jewish family of five girls are heartwarming and tender in her portrayal of life on the Lower East side of New York at the turn of the century. It was though these books, this cradle Episcopalian from the south learned about children of a different faith. Give me any Jewish holiday, and I can probably tell you at least a little about it!

13. John Grisham Great beach reads when you aren't interested in Chick Lit!

14. All of YOU Your blogs give me such insight in your lives and, in a way, my own. I look forward to reading them all the time. Your strength, faith, and wisdom amazes me and makes me want to be a better wife, mother, and friend.

15. God His book is the guide for my life.

So now it's time to tag my fifteen... Take a look in your libraries girls!

Twist of Lime
One Fabulous Mom
Monica's World
Mama Henley
Weasel's Journey
Note on the Screen Door
Southern Belle
Lizards and Lollipops
Tickled Pink Design
The Road We're On
All Things Bright and Beautiful
Eat, Drink and Be Mary Douglass
Home of a Magnolia
Create the Life You Love
Have Map Will Travel

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Our Reading Angel - Part II

Mrs. Coats entered our lives two years ago, when J started first grade.  His confidence level was at an all-time low, and he would frequently tell us he was the "stupidest kid in his class in reading".  He didn't get it.  He would do anything not to have to read - or at least try to.  Now I mentioned in Part I that I cognitively understood this.  I've had experience and training with dyslexic children, specifically with the Orton-Gillingham approach.  (If you haven't heard of OG and have a child who may be dyslexic, click this link!!!)

Mrs. Coats had this same background and training and had just moved to the area a few months earlier.  He husband had been transferred, and she had to leave the specialized school in which she worked.  When we first met her, I felt an instant connection.  She took J under her wing and encouraged (and sometimes in the first year had to coerce) him to learn and utilize the strategies that would help him overcome his dyslexia.  She was both honest and optimistic with me.  She was loving, sincere and patient with J.  The strides J has made these past few years are just incredible.

Now this is enough to make Mrs. Coats an amazing women.  But really, there's so much more.  You see, this woman gave us the gift of her faith as well.  When she started working with J, she told us how she was praying for him - and for him to learn to read.  Now I am a strong believer in the power of prayer.  I take my Christian faith and walk very seriously.  It embodies who I am and all that I do.  For her to share this with J and me spoke volumes.  How blessed were we to have her in our lives and to work with J these years...

But we received some heart-breaking news a little over a month ago.  As a matter of fact, I got the phone call as Gabi was driving me to the Boston Airport after our Nantucket adventure:  Mrs. Coats was moving back to North Carolina.  Her husband's work contract was not renewed.  Stunned silence.  Intense worry.  Both she and I were devastated.

J's last session was a few weeks later.  As we were saying our goodbyes, J gave her a card in which he wrote, "Thank you  for helping me learn to read".  I handed her a gift and card from Mike and me.  I couldn't even talk as the sobs were choking me.

We received a letter from Mrs. Coats last week.  I want to share part of it with you.

"...I do believe that God placed me in your world 
for a reason, and I am deeply grateful to our Lord 
that you allowed me to help you.  My desire is to 
serve Him by guarding others from suffering the 
debilitating effects that my brother suffered and is 
still suffering from being unable to read. I did not 
know what I would do to use my training when we 
moved to A****, and God opened the door and 
used you to show me."

J continues to get help from a specialist at school.  He is doing very well and loves third grade.  I attribute his success to many people.  However, it is Mrs. Coats, our "Reading Angel" who is in our hearts, who was placed in our path for a reason, who shared her own special ministry and faith with us...

Friday, November 5, 2010

We Interrupt this Blog...

We interrupt this blog series to breathe a sigh of relief.  You don't hate me!  You aren't ignoring me!  You haven't abandoned my Golden Day!

I wrote my last post with much thought and care.  It's the first of a "two-parter", and I am working on the second installment.  Imagine my sadness that no one (OK, two sweeties, Beth and Monica somehow found it!) was reading it.   Feelings of middle school angst were creeping around my psyche...

But I now know why... after reading and commenting on your blogs.  Oh horrors among horrors!  My latest post was not showing up on your blog rolls!  Does Blogger not know how much this hurts?!?!?

Never fear...  Our Reading Angel - Part I can be read here.

Thanks sweet friends!

Our Reading Angel - Part I

Have you ever had someone come into your life... and then you have to let them go... like an angel?  We have.  For those of you who may be new to my blog, or may just not know, our youngest son, J, is severely dyslexic.  For more on this, I wrote this post last year. But I'll give you a little background anyway...

We had a feeling something was wrong four years ago when J's 4K teacher said he didn't know all of his letters by the end of the year.  I was teaching in a private school that catered to children with dyslexia, so I was able to recognize some signs.  By December of 5K, J knew only five letters.  He said they moved around on the page.  He said they were the color red.  In talking with his sweet teacher, we learned that she was worried. If he didn't progress faster, he would not be ready for first grade. I felt a pit in my stomach.  I knew this cognitively.  I really did.  But it's not until you internalize it and it hits your heart that it becomes a reality.  You wake up in the middle of the night and tiptoe out of your bed so that your husband does not hear you weep uncontrollably. 
But I God to thank for the blessing that I work where I do.  There are perks when you teach where your children go to school.  I'm sorry, but that's the reality.  My wonderful and supportive principal got the ball rolling to get J tested.  It took about two weeks to go through the process and get the results.  Testing showed a large gap between his cognitive ability and his performance.  A BIG RED FLAG for a learning disability.  To get more information, we then had him evaluated at a private learning center.  Confirmation:  DYSLEXIA.

And this is where our angel, Mrs. Coats appears....