Kayla was so excited about Christmas that she woke up at 4:30 a.m. We opened presents around 6:00 a.m. I haven't been up that early for Christmas in years. She was so excited at everything she got. Santa brought her an American Girl doll and she had two stockings full of stuff. One was taller than she was. My dad cooked us Christmas breakfast and then I was off to bed again by 9:00 a.m. Later that afternoon, we all went to see Marley and Me. Having read the book, I thought I would be prepared for how sad it would be but my mom and I were both bawling in the theater. Marley looked exactly like our precious lab Lady who died a few years ago.
Even though I was not feeling good, I did manage to get to the mall the day after Christmas. Not even an illness will stop me from shopping good sales! I found a lot of good bargains and Kayla and my niece got to spend some of their Christmas money.
We had a wonderful holiday spending time with family and eating good food. Kayla feels like a part of the family now for sure and everyone has embraced her. I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas and enjoy the rest of 2008.
I've been slow in updating my blog over Christmas because I caught a Christmas day virus and have been sick ever since. There were several sick people in our household over Christmas so it was not as fun a holiday as it could have been...at least I got some rest time.
and all through the house not a creature was stirring not even a mouse...and certainly not Kayla! Kayla is so excited for Christmas. Her excitement starts building all day and by the end of the night she is totally hyperactive. And of course this is the time of day when I am wiped out. Makes for interesting conversation ;). However, it is wonderful to see Christmas through the eyes of a child this year....to them it is something really special.
We had dinner at a Japanese restaurant on Friday night with Kayla's aunt and uncle and little cousin whom she lived with the past year. We exchanged Christmas presents and had a good time seeing them again. Her little cousin gave me a ring which I proudly wore all night.
Saturday, we went to see my 94-year-old grandmother and gave her her Christmas present. We spent time sitting and talking with her. She's lived an incredible life and it's neat to hear her tell stories of my dad growing up.
Saturday night we went to eat Mexican food and see a movie and called it our Christmas dinner. I also gave Kayla her early Christmas present she has been begging endlessly to open. It was pajamas from Limited Too, her favorite store. The poor girl has no winter pajamas so hopefully she will be warmer now when she sleeps.
Yesterday, we got up and went to church and had communion for Christmas. The sanctuary was decorated so beautiful and the big screens showed snow falling. I left there feeling like it really is Christmas and remembering the reason why it is Christmas.
Last night we had Christmas dinner with the woman I call my "Little Rock mom" and her husband. We exchanged presents and Kayla loved the little angel dancer they got her. We sat down to a fancy dinner complete with glass tableware and excellent food...we both felt special. We ended up hanging out at their house for almost four hours we had so much fun.
And now we've got two more days full of Christmas parties and Christmas dinners before we pack up and head north for the holidays. With the Christmas shopping done, I hope I can remember to stop and savor the moments this Christmas week.
We woke up this morning to streets full of ice. Kayla's school is closed and my office is closed so we got to sleep in in our warm, cozy beds. It's freezing outside! However, during the night I managed to cut my eye with my fingernail and I have been in excruciating pain for the last five hours. My favorite thing to do in my down time is read and I can barely open my eye. Not fun. I hope I can find a good movie to watch...
I received a call from the school nurse Friday that Kayla had thrown up in her English class. She proceeded to throw up constantly all day Friday but Saturday it was gone and she was worn out. We had to cancel all our fun weekend plans but I think it was good for both of us to get some rest. I'm crossing my fingers that I don't come down with this stomach virus.
I finished all of my Christmas shopping yesterday and wrapped everything up. So now I'm just waiting to see if this winter storm will keep us trapped at home the next few days...
We had another wild and crazy weekend. Kayla had a friend spend the night Friday night and they were actually pretty good, freeing me up to watch some TV shows that I wanted to watch and catch up on some reading. We had a baby shower for a good friend on Saturday and then afterwards we went and ate Chinese food at Kayla's favorite restaurant. Saturday night, we built a gingerbread house together and watched Christmas movies. We laughed and had the "I want a cell phone" conversation. Then we had the "I want a dog" conversation. I'm guessing these conversations never end.
Sunday, we went to a 1-year-old birthday party for another good friend of our's baby. Kayla loves little Caroline and Caroline loves her. They both had a big time. Sunday afternoon, we, along with our friend, Angelia, raked leaves. Yes, I said I raked leaves. I know that's surprising to some of you but I did it. I just thought of it as good exercise. Kayla helped some but she was more interested in making sure we got hot chocolate at the end. She did make us some good hot chocolate, though!
Today, Kayla has officially been in my care for six months, which is the legal time in Arkansas that a child must live with you before the adoption is finalized. Our court date, for whatever reason, has been set in February. But I still can't believe it has been six months. It has gone by fast. I remember thinking when she first moved in that there is no way I can do this all day every day and yet I have been doing it for all these months. We went through the inevitable ugly transition period this summer and survived that period and since then it's been pretty smooth sailing with a few bumps in the road. Now, it feels like she has been in my life forever and I can't wait until she is "officially" mine forever.
Kayla created a website this weekend to help hungry babies. She created the site all by herself and only asked me to do a little editing. She wants everybody to go see it and she's trying to figure out how she can get comments added because she wants everybody to "say something about it." The website is http://www.warmilkforsmallhearts.synthasite.com/. It's called "Warm Milk for Small Hearts."
We had a great Thanksgiving weekend. We picked up my grandparents for the drive up there and back. Kayla really enjoys them and they love being around her. We had the whole family over on Thanksgiving day and stuffed ourselves, passed out, then went to see a movie--our holiday tradition.
My 3-year-old niece, Isabella, has fallen in love with Kayla and begged to come over and hang out with her everyday. Kayla taught her a dance they are going to share with us Christmas Eve. Isabella followed her everywhere and cried when she had to be apart. Isabella has found a new best friend.
We watched the Razorbacks come from behind in a miraculous win over LSU. My dad, Kayla, Isabella and I even left early because we were sure the game was over and we had lost. We were so wrong and we had to listen to the winning touchdown on the radio. I am glad for Casey Dick that he got to go out a hero.
We shopped, ate leftovers, watched movies ("Australia" was by far the best one we saw and the best one I've seen all year), slept, read, and ate some more.
And we will be back in three weeks to do it all again...
Kayla and I had yet another busy weekend and I am sure we will stay busy through the holiday season. She had a friend from her old school spend the night with her Friday and they went to a school dance together. I think they stayed up most of the night while I went to bed early.
Saturday night we went to see the much-anticipated Twilight. It was pretty good...the casting of Bella made me like her more but I'm still not sure about Edward's casting. I loved the rest of the Cullens, though, especially Alice. I thought they were perfect.
Sunday we went to a friend's birthday party for her son and then to see my friend Carrie's newborn daughter. She is so little!
We also got out the Christmas decorations this weekend. We decorated the tree together while playing Christmas music. Kayla realized, however, that we do not have anything to go on top of the tree so we are now on a mission to find something. Kayla also has us watching ABC Family because they are playing Christmas movies nonstop. So it is Christmas at our house and we haven't even had Thanksgiving yet!
Kayla and I attended a celebration party for National Adoption Day on Saturday, November 15. It was a gathering of all the people who adopted children this year in Pulaski County and all those who are wanting to adopt children. They had the Heart Gallery on display of all the beautiful children that are available for adoption. They also did a slideshow entitled "This is Home" of all the families that have recently adopted. A professional photographer held a photoshoot in September and took our photos specifically for this video. She took a bunch but my favorite shot is the one I posted above. There was not a dry eye in the house during the video. When they showed "The Gray Family," all the caseworkers cheered real loud. They love Kayla and call her "Miss Diva" and "Drama Queen." We also gave our caseworker, Monica, one of these pictures because without her I wouldn't have Kayla. They also let all the adoptive parents take home our children's "Heart Gallery" photo because "they don't need them anymore because they all have a home." It was a special night and also put a desire in my heart for maybe another one...a little one this time. I guess I'll just see what God has planned for me.
Kayla and I went to the Reba McEntire/Kelly Clarkson concert Saturday night. Reba is my absolute favorite singer and she was at her best. This is the fourth time I've seen her live and she is still an awesome entertainer. Kayla didn't know many of Reba's songs but knew all of Kelly's...it was a great show and we had a blast. We had been looking forward to it for the past couple of months and hard to believe it's here and gone.
Last night, we had to rush my dog, Reba, named for the above-mentioned singer, to the emergency vet clinic. She had been coughing all weekend and last night started wheezing and struggling to breathe. Kayla kept saying "Reba, you're scaring me." They did x-rays and discovered she has a collapsed trachea. I was really scared last night because the doctor didn't sound too hopeful but we saw our vet today whom I absolutely love and she made me feel a bit better. It turns out Reba has kennel cough that exacerbated the collapsing trachea. The vet thinks that if we can treat her infection then she will probably be okay. So she is on antibiotics and cough meds. I took her to work with me today because I was too scared to leave her alone in case something happened. She's been resting most of the day and seems to be doing better. I hope so because I'm not ready to let go of her yet.
I've been so exhausted lately...the time change and total darkness by the time I leave work leaves me drained at night.
We had another busy weekend. Kayla went to the movies with some of her friends from school Friday night and was excited to be asked to go. And for me, I got to catch up on some much needed rest.
Saturday, we had brunch with my grandparents. They were excited to see Kayla and get copies of her school picture. We sat down with them to watch the Razorback game but then left after the first interception which led me to believe, rightfully so, that it would be a long game.
Saturday afternoon, Kayla and I both stopped into Supercuts and got our hair cut. Neither of ours had been cut since the early summer so we are sporting much healthier hair now.
We went to the Arkansas Repertory Theatre's Young Artists Production Saturday night and it was awesome. I think Kayla really liked it and would love to be in it. They hold auditions in the spring but she isn't sure she can do the singing part.
Sunday, we went to church, the grocery store and a two hour adventure to find some decent winter shoes for Kayla. She kept asking me "What are winter shoes?" and I told her "You keep telling me your feet are freezing so to me that means you need some shoes that will cover your feet and keep you warm in the winter." Myself, I learned never to go shopping in heels again and bought me some moccasins so I wouldn't have to...my feet feel much better today.
Kayla got her first report card yesterday since she's been living with me. She had 5 As and 2 Bs--which is a 3.75 GPA. I was pleasantly surprised and very proud of her. We went to the mall last night to buy me some jeans that will fit me since I'm apparently gaining some weight (it pains me to say that) and we found a great sale on some velour sweatsuits and Kayla talked me into getting matching teal outfits for us which she wants us to wear to our upcoming National Adoption Day party. It was money I didn't need to spend but how can you resist your 12-year-old daughter wanting to wear the SAME outfit as you. I don't think it will ever happen again and it shows how far we have come in these few months. That is priceless.
We had another busy fall weekend. Halloween night we trick-or-treated in our dear friend's neighborhood and visited with her and her husband for a while. We even brought the dog. Then we had a late dinner at On The Border and a visit to Barnes & Noble. Saturday we had a baby shower to go to and then we went to see High School Musical 3. Kayla said it was better than the other two and I thought it was a really good feel good movie which is nice to see in these scary times. We also found a new dog store in the new shopping center where the theater was that is so cute. They had Razorback everything and we bought Reba a Razorback treat which she loved. Sunday we got up and went to church and then did our weekly chores--laundry and grocery shopping. The extra hour we got was wonderful. Kayla even cleaned out Reba's doggie room and the laundry room yesterday AND the back porch "just because." The weather has been beautiful but I'm ready for some cold--it is November after all.
This week we will have a new President. I'm getting up early tomorrow to be at the polls when they open. I hope everyone gets out and votes for the most important election of our time. We need change now more than ever.
Kayla and I went to "Boo at the Zoo" last night, a great event our local zoo has every year. They had lights strung everywhere, a lighted pumpkin patch, trick or treat stands and carnival rides. We rode the train, called the "Haunted Express" for Halloween and Kayla grabbed onto me and screamed as people in costume jumped out at us along the way. We also shared a funnel cake and had a really good time walking around getting treats and looking at everyone's costumes. And tonight's the real deal. I'm still not sure exactly what we will be doing besides trick or treating but we'll figure something out. I hope everyone has a fun day!
It is officially freezing outside...and I can't breathe. I'm apparently allergic to heat so as soon as it's turned on in the house I become stopped up.
Kayla had two big birthday parties to go to this weekend. A slumber party on Friday and a costume party Saturday night. I didn't see her from Friday morning until 10:00 Saturday night...and I missed her. I didn't know what to do with myself on Saturday so I was absolutely lazy in a way that I haven't been able to be for months. I stayed in bed and read books and listened to the heartbreaking Hogs game and did nothing! I don't think I'll be able to do that again for a long time. I'm so glad that Kayla is making friends. She seems to fit right in with all the kids at school. She said last week that someone told her that she "was the most fashionable girl in school." I had to laugh at that because of the extreme budget clothes buying we do, but hey I do know how to find cute clothes at a bargain!
I attempted to bake pumpkin bread on Sunday and it was horrible. I don't know what I did wrong but I guess I'm not meant to be a baker. This is why I buy ready-to-eat food at the store...I apparently am missing the cooking gene.
Our local anchorwoman, Anne Pressly, was murdered in her home last week and Kayla has asked a million questions about it. She was on the station we always watch and lived not far from us and real close to some of Kayla's friends. Kayla wanted to drive by her house last night to see all the memorials, etc. It is a horribly sad and unimaginable crime that has left many of us, including me, sleepless all week. It's hard to answer your child's questions about why someone would do something like this....because really why would someone do something like this?
It's offically Halloween week and we've got pumpkins to carve, Boo at the Zoo to go to, and Halloween night to contend with so it should be another busy and hectic week at our household. Will it ever slow down?
I can't believe it's almost Halloween and then the holidays are upon us. Kayla is invited to two birthday parties this weekend. A slumber party on Friday and a costume party on Saturday. So last night we went shopping for a costume. She had her heart set on being a Ladybug but Party City was out of the costume. We then went to Halloween Express and she found some cute striped thigh highs, a hat, and some jewelry and has decided to go as an eighties girl. She kept asking me what did you wear back then--lots of bright, loud colors. I'll post some pictures when we take some. So again she has an eventful weekend and I get some time to myself.
Wow. We have had a very busy weekend. Kayla had Friday and Monday off from school for teacher work days. We went to the Arkansas State Fair Friday and had a wonderful time. It was perfect fall weather. Kayla has been talking nonstop about the fair for the last month. She was so excited. We met up with her uncle and cousin and I'm soooo glad they were there because I got sick on a ride and Kayla would have been bored to death with just me. I can't believe I can no longer tolerate all these rides I used to spend hours on. I guess I really am getting older! We stayed at the fair for almost eight hours and Kayla rode just about everything on the Midway and we toured the Hall of Industry and got free stuff and we pet llamas, sheep and goats. And she kept thanking me over and over for taking her.
Saturday we went shopping for much needed winter clothes. I think and hope that she is set until at least Christmas. I still can't believe she came here with no jeans or winter clothes to her name. Saturday night, Kayla's friend Miranda stayed over and I took them out for pizza and then to see The Secret Life of Bees. Great movie and we all cried.
And then today I have been kid-free all day and all night long. Kayla went to Miranda's this morning and will be there until after work tomorrow. So I finally got a Sunday to rest and take a real long nap and read a really good book.
Kayla surpised me yesterday by making Sunday brunch and she did it all herself. She scrambled eggs "just like Papa does" and made waffles and toast to go along with it. She set the table and wouldn't let me come in there until everything was done. We sat down and had a wonderful breakfast together thanks to Kayla. It was a great ending to a beautiful weekend.
Kayla and I spent the weekend on Petit Jean mountain with some friends. It was a beautiful weekend and tons of fun. It was so good to get away from all of the bad news in the world and just appreciate the beautiful world God made for us. Above is a picture of Kayla with my best friend's daughter, Skylar.
Twelve years ago today my niece and nephew were born three months premature. They had to live in the hospital for those three months and then were sent home with heart monitors for their first year of life. I can't believe they've gone from those little bitty frail babies to the almost teenagers they are today. Carley is athletic, smart, social, pretty...and is an awesome basketball player and friend to everyone she meets. Johnny is super intelligent, a reader, emotional...and is addicted to video games and current events. I'm so glad they are a part of my life...and grateful Kayla has awesome cousins she can grow up with.
I can't believe we just had our last weekend in September but I'm so looking forward to October which is one of my favorite months of the year. I've already got a few Halloween decorations up and Kayla talks nonstop about Halloween, the fair, football games and all the things we have coming up this very busy month.
I got some much needed time to myself this weekend. Kayla spent the night with a friend Friday and stayed there most of the day Saturday. I actually got to go out on the town Friday night and had a nice dinner and saw Les Miserables--and it was fantastic. Saturday I did my major fall cleaning and changed out my wardrobe. Now I'm just waiting on the weather to change! Kayla and I went to a friend's house Saturday night for some homemade chili and hung out with a bunch of neat women. Then we headed to Harvestfest in the neighborhood near our house. They had a big fashion show on the main street Saturday night and showcased Korto's collection who is a finalist on Project Runway. It was a beautiful night to hang out on Kavanaugh and watch all the people and families.
We have another busy week and then head up the Hill this weekend praying for a Razorback miracle.
I can't believe it's already Thursday. The weeks are starting to fly by now that we have settled into our routine. I went to the gym the last two nights for the second week in a row and I'm glad I started back because I'm going to need that extra energy. It seems like we stay constantly busy and there's always something to do, somewhere to go, something to buy. And it's just going to get worse as we head into fall and the holiday season. Most of our October weekends are already taken up with activities. At least I can say life is no longer boring or mundane!
I'm exhausted today because I was up most of the night with a sick dog...she ate too much of something she shouldn't have and threw up all over my sheets. Not a fun night...but I did get caught up on my reading and love Edgar Sawtelle. Now if only I can get caught up on my sleep.
Kayla's counselor called me yesterday informing me that she was in the wrong math class. The registrar made a mistake and put her in a ninth grade Algebra I class and she hadn't even taken Pre-Algebra. I thought that was a very advanced class for her but without having access to all her school records, I just had to trust that the school knew the right placement for her. Well, apparently they didn't. But I'm glad they caught it now rather than at the middle or end of the school year. I'm impressed that she was hanging in there with Algebra I when she's never had any algebra concepts before. Now, though, she doesn't have to worry about a 7th grade class going on her high school transcript...eeek.
I need a day of rest to recover from my weekend. We were going nonstop all weekend long. Kayla had a visit with the psychiatrist after school Friday. She is required to go to be in therapy. He was an odd man and his accent was hard to understand. I laughed out loud when he asked her if she heard voices in her head and Kayla said "Say what?" She was glad to hear she won't have to see him again.
Friday night, Kayla went to a Y-Teens dance at the YWCA. Y-Teens is a social and civic club at her school. She had a great time and said it was much better than the school dances. She said four boys asked for her number and she told them she didn't have a phone. I told her she could have given them the home number and she said "No way. Then you would answer the phone and that would be embarrasing."
Saturday morning we had our photos professionally taken. The Pulaski County Adoption Coalition is sponsoring a National Adoption Day event on November 15 and invited all new adoptive families from this year to have their photographs taken for a video they are going to show at the event. The photographer is also going to sell the photos taken at a discounted rate. I think we got some really good photos. They were taken outside at the Covered Bridge in Burns Park. I'm looking forward to seeing the proofs in a couple of weeks.
Saturday afternoon we watched the Hogs disintegrate. Can you call that football?
After the game, we went to the mall where I exchanged a sweater I bought the previous day for another one...the first clothes I've bought for myself since Kayla moved in. Then we went to Target and I bought some cheap Halloween decorations and Old Navy where I bought Kayla a few things for fall, which she desperately needs and needs more. After all that shopping, we headed to Outback for dinner. I had a gift card to use and we got to be waited on by my friend, Eme. We had a really good time at dinner. Afterwards, Kayla wanted Starbucks so I conned her into going to Barnes & Noble where she could get her Pumpkin Spice Frappucino and I could look at books. I purchased the next book in the Twilight series, New Moon, and The Story of Edgar Sawtelle after Oprah picked it for her book club and hearing her rave about it as the best book she's ever read...plus I'm a sucker for books about dogs.
I thought Sunday would be a day of rest, but no. Sunday we got up early and went to church and took our friend Angelia with us. Afterwards, we had lunch at Chili's. Then I had to do the dreaded weekly grocery shopping, then one of my friends came over. By this time, it was 4:30. I then proceeded to almost burn down the house. I boiled some eggs and then promptly left the house to go run an errand with Kayla--she wanted stuff to play in the backyard with so we headed to the dollar store--and I completely forgot about the eggs. We came home to a smoky kitchen and exploded eggs--not a pretty sight or smell. I then headed to a meeting and Kayla did homework outside on the bench. Came home, fixed supper, finished laundry, and finally finished reading the paper about 9:00 last night. Needless to say I need another day to my weekend so I can rest....
So I've begrudgingly had a Facebook page for the past year in an effort to keep up with all these teenagers in my life, but in the past couple of weeks I've had a full-blown high school reunion on Facebook. I've reconnected with over 50 people from my high school class and yesterday I had lunch with one of my very best friends from high school who I have not seen in over 15 years. And the amazing thing is she has lived in this city since graduating college and we have never once run into each other. It was so neat to catch up with her and hear about her life since high school. It was also weird to try to reconcile in my head those 17-year-olds of yesterday to the mature, responsible, family women we are today. It really makes you wonder where did all the years go? It's been over 17 years since I graduated high school. 17 years!!! On the one hand, it seems like just yesterday and on the other it seems like eons ago. A lot of life has been lived since then. And I think of all those teenage dreams of what I was going to do with my life....not many of them panned out...the best-selling novelist, the English teacher, the wife...I did become the world traveler and the mother and maybe there's time still to complete the other dreams. Yet I wouldn't trade the life I have today for any other. I had to go through everything I went through to get where I am today. But wow it is so crazy to see all these 17 year olds become mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, career men and women, world travelers, city dwellers and live in a 35-year-old body. It's really put a spin on my perception of things.
Kayla has dance two nights a week. She takes a modern class Tuesday nights and a combination class for two hours on Wednesday nights. In the combination class, she has one hour of ballet and thirty minutes each of tap and jazz. She loves her modern and jazz classes which are taught by this young guy who was a semi-finalist on So You Think You Can Dance? and who played a dancing Barack Obama in a play at the Rep. She said her ballet teacher is mean...i.e., she won't let them talk during class, they must wear proper attire and have their hair in buns with no hair sticking out, and they can't let go of the barre for any reason. Kayla said she let go once for a few seconds and the teacher immediately lifted her back on the bar. I think it is great for teaching discipline. Every girl should take a ballet class just for the life lessons it teaches you.
Last night I arrived after my meeting to pick Kayla up and there were ten minutes left in her jazz class. She was really hamming it up and was clearly one of the best in her class. I was watching her through the window and one of the other dance teachers sitting nearby said "Look at that blonde. She needs to be in my hip hop class. I would love to have her in there." I told Kayla what the teacher said and Kayla said "Did you tell her she's mine?"
And yes, I'm late to this party too. I've at long last succumbed to the Twilight craze. Kayla finally relinquished her copy of the book this weekend and I had the whole thing read in a few hours. It's an easy read and will satisfy your inner teenage girl. I'm curious to see how Edward is portrayed in the movie. It comes out 11/21/08 as Kayla frequently reminds me. And so now I guess I have to go get the next book in the series, then the next book, and the next one...am I now a Twilight mom?
So I'm a few days late to the party, but this video of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler portraying Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton in the premiere of Saturday Night Live last Saturday had me laughing out loud. Tina Fey is so much like Sarah Palin, it's scary. If you haven't seen this, you must watch it or watch it again for a good laugh.
I am going to the gym today...I am going to the gym today...I am going to the gym today. I have to keep telling myself this so I will actually go. It was a year ago that I finally summoned up all the strength and determination I had to sign up for a gym membership. I begrudgingly went and then surprised myself by falling in love with it. No matter how tired I was before I went, I left each workout with that magical "high"...pumped up and energized. It did wonders for my depression that rears its ugly head every once in a while. I was at the gym 4-5 times a week. Then Kayla moved in and there was no longer any time to myself...However, now we are in a routine with her dance classes which meet two nights a week and I realized that is precious me time. I have one hour and two hours to myself each Tuesday and Wednesday night and the gym is right down the street from her dance studio. So I have no more excuses. I will go to the gym today.
My 11-year-old dog and love of my life, Reba, had to get her teeth cleaned yesterday. The vet didn't sedate her because of her age but Reba ended up losing a bunch of teeth in the process. Apparently, she has been in a lot of pain and no one knew. Hopefully, she will feel better now. Hopefully, she is still able to eat...
My dad has been in the hospital the last couple of days for another procedure for his heart. It didn't go as planned but I think they got taken care of what they needed to get taken care of...hopefully. As for dad, he is not happy about having to be confined to a hospital room for days on end.
My brother who lives in Houston is nowhere to be found. He's not answering phone calls, emails or text messages. So we hope he is out of the country on business and not being drowned by Hurricane Ike.
I had to wait in line 30 minutes! for gas this morning as the radio kept issuing reports of $5.00 gas sightings all over the region. I got a full tank of gas for $3.49 and I pray to God I don't have to pay $5.00 for it next time. Insane!
The news said there will for sure be power outages in Little Rock this weekend as well as major rain and strong winds from Ike...we just went through this a week ago and I'm not looking forward to the soggy, windy weekend.
Kayla and I went to her Open House at her school last night. It was interesting. We all met in the auditorium and then followed their schedule around to all of her classes where we listened to the teachers talk about what they were doing in the classroom that year and their expectations for 10 minutes and then the bell rang and we moved on to the next class. The kids went with us to all the classes and the teachers didn't give you any extra time to talk to them but they did give us their email addresses and phone numbers. I've also got the secret code now to go look at Kayla's test grades and homework scores every day...I'm sure she's not happy about that! I can understand why she has a hard time following her English teacher because I did too. Kayla said she told us (the parents) way more than she ever tells the kids about what she is doing. Her Algebra teacher is very young but is supposed to be really good which I hope she is because Kayla has her work cut out for her in that class. Her science teacher is a National Award Winner and said this school is by far the best in the city. She had about 20 animals in her classroom including a tarantula, and our hermit crab, which Kayla gave to her after realizing she had no interest in one. I think he's much happier now in his huge glass cage than he was on the bottom shelf of her bookshelf in a tiny cage. She's taking Planet Earth as her elective. It's a science course where they focus on new technology like web searches, Google, MapQuest, wikipedia. She's also going to teach them how to read maps and do GPS. She said she wants to teach the kids how to do the latest technological advances because that is the way the world is going and they will need to know this stuff (I agree). She also throws some global warming and other earth topics in there. I really liked her social studies teacher who said they are focusing on World History and will have a big project they will be working on for National History Day in January. Her other classes were Health and Keyboarding, which seemed to be fairly easy as long as you show up. I also got to meet some of her other friends and their parents. There's a girl who is new at the school also this year and has her locker next to Kayla's and her mom said that Kayla helped her get into her locker the first week of school. After we went to all the classes, they had a reception in the library where they had a massive book fair. I don't remember having a book fair like that when I was in school--they had everything. All of that took over two hours and we were starving. It was 8:30 before we drove through Chick-Fil-A for our homecooked meal ;).
Seven years ago today, I woke to a glorious September day full of sunshine and promise. I had just moved to Washington D.C. and was starting my second week at my new job, which I loved so far. Everything was falling into place-I had a great apartment with fabulous roommates, I had a new friend who moved from Boston to D.C. the same day I did, and this great job. I was ready and excited to start my new life in our nation's capital.
I got off the Metro and walked in that beautiful September sunshine to my office in downtown D.C., two blocks from the White House. I hadn't been there long when my friend from Senator Kennedy's office e-mailed me and said a plane just hit the World Trade Center. As I was trying to get on CNN's website and find out more information, I heard a blood-curdling scream from down the hall and then "OMG, the Pentagon has been hit." We rushed to a window and could see the flames and smoke from this massive building which was three miles away from where we were. After that, the TVs got turned on, the radios got turned on, the rumors started ("the State Department's being bombed," "the Metro's being bombed"). Nobody knew what was going on. All I can remember is the radio and TV announcers saying over and over "We are under attack. America is under attack." And all I could think is the city I am in right now is under attack. What do I do? I kept trying to call family members and friends but no phone calls were going through because everyone was trying to call someone. It wasn't too much later when someone ran down the hall screaming "Get out now...get out of downtown...a plane is headed for the White House." As soon as we heard that, we grabbed our stuff and rushed outside. There I was standing on K street and it was pandemonium. Cars were in a gridlock with everyone honking their horns, people were screaming and crying on the street. I came to work on the Metro and I didn't know how else to get back to Maryland but on the Metro which everyone was convinced was going to be bombed next. But not knowing what else to do, me and two of my co-workers hopped on the Red Line and held hands the whole way home. It was eerily silent on that train ride home...I think everyone was in shock or praying. I did make it to my apartment in Silver Spring in one piece that day. Unfortunately, not everyone did.
It's amazing to me that I can remember almost every detail of that morning in crystal clarity. It's almost as if time stood still for a while. I remember feeling fear like I never have before and it was very different from any fear I've ever felt. Knowing that what happens is out of your control, that external forces are invading the city you live in, sleep in, felt secure in and you don't know what they are going to do or what they are capable of, and that you honestly don't know if you are going to live through this day or not. It's a fear I hope I never have to live through again, I hope none of us do. We take for granted our security in this country and our freedom. Seven years later, 9/11 seems almost a distant memory. However, on 9/11/01 our country's security was violated and our sense of freedom was threatened...and it may very well happen again. This is why we must never forget.
Kayla met the therapist for the first time Friday afternoon and I think she liked her enough. She liked the idea that she wouldn't have to sit in an office and "talk about her feelings." The therapist instead is going to take her out and do their nails, play games, etc. and perhaps talk about stuff in the process. Friday night, Kayla and I went to eat mexican food and see a cheesy chick flick. Saturday, the grandparents came and we went to lunch and shopping before leaving for the Razorback game. It was an exciting game and beautiful weather. Sunday, Kayla slept all morning and then we went to a picnic fundraiser where she got to see Anna throw a pie in my face for $125!
Kayla came in last night as I was watching Sarah Palin's speech and said "EVERYONE now wants McCain and her to win because her life is like The Secret Life of the American Teenager." For those that don't have a tween or teen in the house, The Secret Life... is the new hit show for that age group on ABC Family about a 15-year-old pregnant girl. It is disturbing to me that middle schoolers now think it is "cool" to be 17 and pregnant like Bristol Palin and Jamie Lynn Spears. While I applaud them for keeping their babies, all the media attention is glorifying teenage pregnancy and making it seem normal and cool to very impressionable young girls. But then Kayla went on to say, "Not me...I don't want her or McCain." So maybe there is hope for her.
I met with a therapist this morning who is going to meet with Kayla one-on-one and both of us for some family counseling. I've been on DHS's backs for two months to get this going and finally got an appointment. I think that every kid going through such a major life change and transition needs therapy and especially one that's 12 years old. 12 years brings a multitude of issues to work out. I really like the therapist. She's young and energetic and has a lot of experience working with foster kids and adoptive kids and families and she's also starting TheraPlay training, which is THE attachment therapy designed to help kids with attachment problems. While I don't think Kayla has major attachment problems, I think she will benefit from therapy in dealing with her grief and loss issues and strengthening our attachment so that we can weather the teen years ahead together...and in one piece.
I would never want to see a hurricane...a tropical depression is bad enough. We have flooding, trees down, power lines down, schools closed, businesses closed. My work is closed today due to the power being out...Kayla's school was open...so that means a free day to do whatever I want! which is sleep and read and sit in peace and quiet. I'm so excited! A rainy day reading in bed...it doesn't get any better than that.
We had a great weekend, which I wish I could extend because I was getting some much needed rest. I arrived at my parents' house with a horrific sinus infection but was able to get into a walk-in clinic the next morning and get a steroid shot and some antibiotics so I was all pumped up by the time the football game started. It was Kayla's first Razorback game and she had a grand time. Me, not so much, because we barely pulled the game out and I went through a whole thing of kleenex while sitting there suffering with the Hogs. My niece Carley spent the night with Kayla the whole weekend and they had a blast hanging out with each other and entertaining each other while I caught up on some much needed rest. Sunday was a blessed day of rest. I didn't do anything I didn't want to do and caught up on some sleep and book reading. My parents had a cookout Sunday night and my three-year-old niece Isabella spent the night with the "big girls." Kayla had a great time and didn't want it to end...I didn't either. It was nice to get away from daily responsibilities for a while and just rest and be with family.
Now we are back to the daily grind and Kayla starts her first dance class today and has another tomorrow so we will have a couple of late nights. And Gustav is here with wind and rain for the next three days so I will miss my much-needed sunshine this week.
Kayla and I are headed north for the Razorbacks' season opener tomorrow night. It's an exciting time on the Hill with our new football coach and hopefully our young team can contend with the best of the SEC this year. We'll have a full weekend with the grandparents and nieces and nephews. I'm also looking forward to sleeping in and finding time to read and relax. It's the end of summer...and what a life-changing summer it's been.
I'm ready for Fall, though, and football season signals the arrival of my favorite season. Cool days and nights, sweaters and boots, pumpkins, holidays, colorful leaves, cider...the list goes on and on. Here's to a season of change....
The sun is out today which I think has lifted my mood considerably. Too many cloudy days in a row and I'm ready to build a cave in my bed and hide from the world. I'm also on a mission to walk 30 minutes every day. I've been eating too much kid food--mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, hamburger helper, popsicles, popcorn, etc. It's taking a toll on me along with my allergies. I miss my gym! Before Kayla moved in, I was a dedicated gym goer and would be there every day after work. Since then, well....so I have to get back on track with some sort of exercise program. The hard part is finding when to do it. Last night, I told Kayla we are going to walk the Big Dam Bridge and we did, along with Reba. It was a beautiful night and we capped it off with a Sonic Slush. So I am 2 for 2 on my walking days since Sunday. Hopefully, I can get a walk in this evening...but as you with a kid that's totally unpredictable.
I have a feeling the dreaded allergy season is upon us. Every year from late August to the first freeze, usually in November, I feel like crap. It started Saturday with a sore throat. Now it's constant sneezing and not being able to breathe every night and morning. And major fatigue. All I want to do is lay in my bed...something I no longer have the time to do. So I'm using my neti pot and taking my Zyrtec and praying for energy and looking forward to the cold weather so I can breathe again.
So, we made it through the first day of school after I sat in traffic for half an hour to pick her up. Never again. I will find a different route. Whoever thought of putting an elementary school right next to a middle school in a heavily populated neighborhood served only by one way streets was a genius. Not. I think she did okay. She didn't talk much about it at first but I think she was tired of waiting on me to get through the traffic. Later she started talking all about it. She said her English teacher is mean. She's apparently foreign and hard to understand...I don't understand why a foreign person would be teaching ENGLISH? Sounds backward to me. But I think the kids bonded over trying to understand this teacher. One girl told her, "You're my favorite white girl..." She said she didn't know if that was a compliment or not. She's also one of two 7th graders in her math class--the rest are all 8th graders. I'm worried about this class being too hard for her--not really sure how she ended up in here. But, she did say she got two out of three of the problems right on the first day and hardly any of the other kids did. We had to go back and get more supplies last night--they're killing me. She didn't say much about other kids except for Miranda, a girl she had met previously and I am so glad she did. They appear to be getting close--eating lunch together and talking on the phone every night. And I know Miranda's family so I can rest assured that she is a good kid. She has a different set of classes today due to block scheduling so we will see how Round 2 goes.
I'm going to a funeral this afternoon for the father of two special girls who have been in my life for the past six years. Bill Gwatney, chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party, was shot and killed last Wednesday. Please pray for Christian and Chase as they try to come to terms with the senseless loss of their "daddy" and for the rest of the Gwatney family.
Kayla spent all weekend anticipating the first day of school. She dressed in her new outfit and was ready to go 45 minutes before we left! I dropped her off in the midst of the madhouse surrounding the school. Tons of cars, school buses and children everywhere. Hopefully, it will calm down in a few days. I definitely have to leave earlier tomorrow. I hope she does well and makes some friends and likes her teachers. Oh how I don't envy being a 7th grader, especially in a new school!
Kayla gave me my birthday present and the best part about it was the card where she wrote "Mom" on the front of it. Mom as in me, I'm a mom, someone's calling me mom. It can't get much better than that. She did good on the present, too. She secretly conned a friend of mine to take her out shopping for me and came back with a Barnes & Noble gift card, a Starbucks gift card, and a DVD and book of "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants." It didn't take her long to figure out I love books.
I wanted sushi for my birthday because I hadn't had it since Kayla got here because she's never tried it or been interested in it. We went to my favorite place with a bunch of my friends and lo and behold Kayla tried some sushi and really liked it. I had a great night being with the people I love, eating the food that I love, and then coming home and watching Michael Phelps smash another world record. It doesn't get much better than that.
Kayla and I went to Branson Friday for a back-to-school bonding mini vacation. I hadn't been to Branson in years and it is still just as crowded as ever. We loved our hotel, though, because it was off the main road with easy access to traffic relief routes. After checking in Friday, we went to Branson Landing--which was a very nice new outdoor shopping center on the lake. It had just about every store and chain restaurant you can think of and a huge water fountain show. We walked around for a while and then ate dinner at Joe's Crab Shack. Afterwards, we got in the traffic line and headed to our show. We saw The Haygood's and they were wonderful. They are seven brothers and one sister--all in their teens and twenties. Their harmony was incredible and they played all their own instruments. It was a very entertaining show. We left and sat in traffic again and decided we had done enough for one day and went back to the hotel and watched the end of the Olympic opening ceremonies.
Saturday, we got up really early and had the free breakfast at our hotel and then headed to Silver Dollar City. I made sure we left way before it opened to beat the traffic and it worked. We were in the park by 9:00 a.m. (it didn't open until 9:30) and got to look through some stores and listen to music before they opened the gates. Once we were in there, we were able to ride a bunch of rides without waiting too long. They had way too many spinning rides though and I started getting sick. I had to time-out on the rides for a while. After we got a little bit wet on Fire in the Hole, we decided to just go for it and ride the Log Ride and the Lost River. I thought we got really wet on those rides but then we rode the Toboggan and got drenched--drenched as in jumping into the pool fully clothed. At that time, it started pouring down rain which didn't matter to us except the temperature was only about 65-70 degrees. We were freezing and decided to head out...along with everybody else in the park. We got back to the hotel and I had the best shower of my life. We then headed out to eat and turned into the first restaurant we came to on the strip--a little Mexican place which turned out to have some of the best mexican food I've ever had. After dinner, we headed to our show, Spirit of the Dance. Kayla loved it because it was all dancing--Irish step dancing, tap and jazz. Then we fell into bed exhausted.
Sunday we slept in and missed our free breakfast so we ate brunch at a country buffet. We then decided to go to the Titanic museum before we left. Kayla loves the Titanic movie and asks questions about the real Titanic all the time so I thought she would enjoy it and she loved it. The museum was in a big ship that looked like the Titanic and it had a lot of artifacts from the real Titanic and a real iceberg you can touch, an exhibit with costumes and set designs from the movie, and lots of pictures and video of the real Titanic. Then we headed home and collapsed from exhaustion last night. But we came home with lots of good memories and good experiences.
Registering for school is an arduous process. Going to the library to find your name on the list but no forms, waiting in the office and filling out more forms, talking to the school counselor and getting enrolled in the right classes, back to the library to fill out more forms, and then pay a bunch of money and have no idea what we've bought except for gym clothes and a PTA membership.
Kayla's really excited about school, though. Her counselor is someone I've known for years and after talking to her old middle school put her in all pre-AP classes. She also chose a creative writing elective as her first choice (yea! she wants to be a writer!). The school nurse, who I've also known for years, offered to give her rides home when she needs it. And the principal, who has done so much for us, gave us a personal tour of the school. She asked him if they had talent shows, if she could get a top locker, and if she can be tardy the first day of school. So I think she's in good hands. We go back next week for orientation and to pick up her schedule. But I ask you this...how does a class schedule that goes from 8:35 to 3:45 supposed to help a working parent. I have no idea how I am going to manage all this....I have to work some time!
And dance registration was a whole other nightmare. Who knew finding an appropriate dance class could be so difficult?
And to add to our day, my caseworker calls at 10:30 a.m. to say "Oh by the way, can you be at court at 2:00 today?"
I'm glad this day is in the past....and we get to go on our mini-vacation in two days!
We did not stop moving for one second this weekend. We got the car Friday, grabbed a quick cheeseburger and then went to see The Dark Knight. It was everything a movie should be and didn't scare me near as bad as I thought it would. I was worried about Kayla but she thought the Joker was hysterical. The worst part was Two-Face--I had to cover my eyes every time he came on the screen. That face will give you nightmares.
Saturday was back-to-school shopping day and Kayla needed a whole new wardrobe. We found some great deals at Old Navy, Target and Belk and she was so excited to get new clothes for school and already laid out what she is wearing the first week. We watched August Rush later that night and Kayla now wants to go to Juilliard. She looked it up and found out she needed $55,000 to go and vowed to save her allowance for the next six years.
Sunday we went to church and then to my best friend Mollie's little girl's 5th birthday. It's hard to believe Skylar is 5--I was there when she was born. Then Kayla went to youth group and we came home and I was so exhausted I could barely move. I was so looking forward to getting a good night's sleep. Then I was awoken at 11:30 at night to find the power out. The house was pitch black and getting warm fast. I lit a candle and laid on the couch waiting for it to come back on and bemoaning the fact that I just spent $100 on groceries that are now going bad in the powerless refrigerator. The power did not come back on until 5:30 this morning and I maybe got 3 or 4 hours of sleep. So I am now looking forward to a good night's sleep tonight and crossing my fingers that I get one.
I said goodbye to my Mercedes Friday. For two years, I got to pretend I was rich and beautiful driving around in my silver Merc. It was fun while it lasted but like all pretty things eventually the luster wears off. And boy did it ever. It was in the shop no less than seven times this summer. And Mercedes are not cheap to repair. So in addition to adjusting to a new daughter I was having to deal with a car that would not go anywhere and lived in the shop and took all my money. So I waved goodbye to the beautiful, luxurious Mercedes and to living the high-life, then hopped into my brand-new 2008 economical, practical, reliable and high gas mileage Honda Civic. And I love it. I just feel like a normal girl with a normal car...and that's alright to me.
Kayla has come down with a cold this week. Now, I'm the type of person who when feeling uncomfortable throws all sorts of pills etc. at my symptoms until I no longer can feel a thing. So when Kayla was feeling bad the other night I had her take her prescription allergy medicine...it didn't work. So I gave her some OTC nighttime cold medicine...it knocked her out. I was worried that was too much so I was relieved when she woke up the next morning. However, I knew she couldn't take that medicine and function at her day camp. So we went to the store and got nasal spray and daytime cold medicine, which I promptly told her to take both at the same time, and prayed that I'm not overdosing my kid. But she headed off to the Y this morning where they were going to Wild River Country for the day. Playing in a water park for 8 hours...yea, that will really help her feel better!
After almost thirty years of service to the University of Arkansas football staff and athletic administration, my dad has officially had his last day of work. Wish I could say the same for myself, ha! Enjoy your freedom, Dad, and do some fun things for yourself. You deserve it. And remember you'll always be a Razorback for life.
For those of you who have been following the school drama, we got a call yesterday that Kayla was approved to go to Pulaski Heights Middle School. We had to file an appeal for her to go to this school, the top-rated middle school in the LRSD, and I wasn't sure if we would get it. For those of you familiar with the LRSD, there's maybe two middle schools that are decent and the rest are well...not any place I would want to put my kid in. And seeing how I cannot afford private school tuition, I was praying for a miracle and we got it! Thank you to Dr. Daniel Whitehorn, the principal of PHMS, who wrote a letter on our behalf that I'm sure swayed the committee. I owe him big-time. So now Kayla's in the best school for her and I also personally know the principal, school counselor, school nurse and 8th grade English teacher so we will have a lot of support...and she won't be able to get away with anything! I'm so thankful to have this worry off my mind. Kayla is so excited and wants to buy school supplies now. She also needs a whole new wardrobe...I just discovered last night that she has no jeans or pants. None! So we've got a lot of shopping to do. If anyone has hand-me-downs, send them my way.
I'm officially kid-free for the week. I dropped Kayla off at the Y Day Camp this morning and her uncle is going to pick her up this afternoon. She is then off to St. Louis with them until Saturday. She is so excited about it, especially going to the Cardinals game! She told me at dinner the other night that she wished I would win a million dollars so I could go with them. I thought that was a good sign that maybe, maybe she's starting to attach to me. Also said at dinner the other night, "You need a vacation." Trust me, kid, I know. Little does she know that this week is my vacation. I feel like I have so much to do and nothing to do at the same time. I'm going to catch up on my meetings and spend time with my teenagers that I haven't got to spend quality time with lately...I'm going to take naps...I'm going to read books...I'm going to get Reba's hair cut...I would love a massage if anyone wants to give me one! I'm going to rest up and recharge my batteries and enjoy the silence...and see how long it takes for me to start missing this little girl.
We had a busy but fun weekend. Friday night, we went to dinner at Chili's and gorged on their awesome queso and then went to Mamma Mia! What a fun movie! Saturday, we ran errands in 100+ degree weather. Kayla got her hair cut. We walked into Supercuts and Kayla wanted a drastic change so she got her hair cut to her shoulders and layered all over. It's very cute and she officially looks like a 7th grader now. Then we had to go buy her tennis shoes because she had outgrown the ones she had. We finally found some orange and pink Nikes she loved at Shoe Carnival. We also went and bought CDs at Target. Camp Rock for her and Mamma Mia! for me. We then used our gift certificate at Cold Stone Creamery. Since it was still early and so hot, I suggested we go see the last showing of Kitt Kittredge: An American Girl. It was a cute movie and even made me cry. Then I fixed tacos and we watched Penelope. I think with all that we had some really good bonding time. Yesterday, Kayla was excited about going to the lake with her church youth group but when we got there, they told us they had changed the time to earlier in the day. No one ever notified us! She was disappointed but got over it quickly. We went and ate pizza and she was so excited about today that she was bouncing around the house all night. We definitely had fun, though, which I wanted her to have before I send her off to her aunt and uncle's for vacation.
So we went to see Casino Royale at Movies in the Park last night downtown. Is it just me or does anybody else not get the hype for James Bond? I was confused from the get-go and had a hard time following what was going on...and I am a fairly intelligent person. It was all chase, chase, blow things up, kill some people, chase, chase. And I couldn't even figure out who he was chasing or why. Granted, he was nice to look at but I won't be first in line for the next one. Kayla gave up and went to sleep. But it was a beautiful night and we got to be with friends and enjoy the stars in the sky. I'll be first in line for Mamma Mia! though. Definitely the best musical I've ever seen...I'm eager to see how it is on the big screen. Give me something fun and uplifting rather than boring car chases. The Dark Knight is on my list to see also but considering it is sold out until 2010, I will have to practice patience on that one.
Kayla told the caseworker that one of the best things about living with me is that I cook good dinners! (Those that know me, know that cooking is one of my weakest spots so this is absolutely hilarious to me).
Don't take your dog walking across a huge pedestrian bridge when it is almost 90 degrees out. She will sit down and refuse to move. Then you will have to carry her hot furry body the rest of the way (but hey it was a good arm weight).
You can spend $70 at The Container Store in less than 10 minutes and barely buy anything.
Kayla asked for a Facebook the other night...since when did 12-year-olds need Facebook, MySpace, cell phones, Ipods, laptops, etc....there was no Internet or cell phones when I was growing up and I survived. No wonder kids don't read today and have no idea how to spell.
A tank of gas (premium gas at that) doesn't even last me a week anymore...I want my new car!
We had a good weekend. We went to see Journey to the Center of the Earth Friday night in 3-D. It had been ages since I had seen a movie in 3-D and it was awesome. The movie was kind-of cheesy but the special effects were a lot of fun and Kayla loved it. Some friends of mine took her to a pool party with some other kids Saturday and I got some much needed rest. It's amazing how much better you feel after a few hours of recharging--I haven't been able to do that in so long. Saturday night, The Children's Theatre held open auditions and we went, along with 100 other kids, but she really enjoyed it. She talked about it all night and showed me the dance they taught her. The odds of her making it are slim and she knows that but she wants to try again so that's a good sign. Sunday night I took her to youth group and told her to just try it out and if she absolutely hated it she didn't have to go. As I left her there, I just knew she was going to hate me for dropping her off with a bunch of strangers. However, one of her old school friends was there that she thought she'd never see again and she came home all excited about it and looking forward to the swim party they are having next week. We pretty much drove all over the city this weekend using up good quantities of $4.00 gas so I am counting down the days when I get off the waiting list for my new 36 mpg car. I hope it happens sooner rather than later.
Sorry I haven't posted in a while. Life has been very hectic and stressful lately, what with adjusting to a new daughter, a sick grandfather, major car trouble, etc., etc., etc. I have forgotten what peace feels like and can't wait to have it back. Adjusting to a new person in the household has been a lot harder than I expected. I went to classes, read books, researched the Internet and read message boards and thought I was ready but the reality of parenting is very different from reading about it. It's a 24/7 job where you have to be "on" all the time--no more running to the bed and shutting off the phone when you have a bad day and don't feel like talking to anyone. No more long Sunday naps and reading for hours at a time. It just takes time to get to know another person and what they are about and what they like and the process doesn't happen overnight. It hasn't with any other relationship I've been in so why should this be any different? It gets easier each day, though, and some days are even fun. Like last night, when Kayla and I watched "The Bachelorette" finale and they posted a number to call to nominate someone for the next Bachelorette and she called the number and went to the website and filled out an application on my behalf (but won't tell me what she said!). So I'll be looking for ABC to come calling soon. I also enrolled her in summer dance classes. She is taking a hip-hop class and it was so much fun watching her dance with the other girls. She really enjoyed it. Those are the good times and they make up for the days when you wonder how you are going to get through it. I'm hoping there are many more of these good days to come.
My grandfather had a heart attack late last week. He is still in ICU. Because he's in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's disease, surgery would not be good for him. If he made it through, it would accelerate the Alzheimer's and he would have to be put in a nursing home and probably wouldn't know any of us anymore. So my grandmother is going to take him home and be with him for however long he has left. He is at his best at home and with my grandmother so as heartbreaking as it is this is his best option. He will get to leave this world remembering the people who love him instead of forgetting that they did. I love you, Papa.
For those who know me well, know that I need my routine and I am an absolute mess without it. I need structure, discipline, order, rest, and time for myself. When I don't have that, it's a constant meltdown. Well, I was thrown so far out of my normal routine the past two weeks that I didn't know if I would ever feel calm again. But I must say that on this third day of the third week, we have established some sort of weekday routine that seems to be working for now...and I can finally feel a sense of peace and calm again. The alarm goes off at 6:30 a.m. and I spring out of bed-no more hitting snooze until 7:15 like I have done for the past four years. We are dressed and leave the house by 7:30 a.m. I battle the early morning Cantrell Road traffic and drop Kayla off at the Westside YMCA for her day camp and then head down the street to work. I am at the office no later than 8:00! (I never would have thought this was possible for chronically late for work me-who knew that having a kid would actually make you get to work on time, and not just on time but thirty minutes early!) I leave work by 5:15 and battle traffic again to pick up Kayla from day camp and head home. We are usually home by 6:00. The last couple of nights I have even been able to take a walk, thanks to these low humidity days. Then I cook dinner (which is a whole other post), but I am actually cooking dinner for all you doubters (even if it is Hamburger Helper every night). Then we watch TV or Kayla plays on the WebKinz and Disney Channel website, and I actually get to relax! And I get to read books and magazines! And talk on the phone! Oh and how much these little things really mean to me today. And I don't feel like I just want crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head because I can't deal with any more changes or crises. I feel like my life took a huge detour for a little while but is now coming back around to something that somewhat resembles normal. The new normal anyway.
Some semblance of normalcy finally returned this weekend. We got home early Friday afternoon from the lake and I did laundry and took a much needed nap. Kayla was all psyched for the Disney movie "Camp Rock" so we ate pizza and watched the Jonas Brothers movie. Much better than I expected. Saturday we went to an adoption carnival and picnic sponsored by the Pulaski County Adoption Coalition. It was geared more towards little kids but we got to see some people that we have met along the way. Kayla also got to see her first foster mother from two years ago which was neat for her. Saturday night we again did nothing but relax and watch TV. Sunday morning we got up and went to church. It was a good service on "Why Did I Spend All That Money?" That is a question I ask myself everyday. After church, we went to Cheeburger Cheeburger and then onto Kroger for our weekly shopping trip. The rest of the day we took naps, read books and watched TV. It was definitely my kind of weekend and I feel much more refreshed and ready to start the week compared to the comastose feeling I had this time last week. Here's hoping to more good weekends to come.
We just got back from a little family vacation to Lake DeGray. The entire Gray family was there and Kayla got to meet everyone. The best part, though, was the time spent with my parents and four nieces and nephews. We all had some good quality bonding time and they adored Kayla, especially little Isabella, who wants to be just like her. We ate good food, swam, went on a hayride, square danced, swam some more, and laughed so much. It was definitely good for the soul. Now hopefully we can get settled into a routine (I'm a mess without one!) and things will settle down some...at least for a while.
I learned this weekend that being a pageant mom is exhausting. We went from sun-up to sun-down Saturday and I have to say the highlight of my day was taking a nap on the floor of Lakeside High School library. The day just about killed me after the week I had but seeing all the pretty girls on stage singing and dancing and having a good time just about made up for it. Kayla was glad to see her old friends and had a good time. We both slept past 10:00 this morning and hopefully we'll have a crisis-free day.
Kayla moved in Sunday afternoon--the same day a rock cracked my windshield. Also, the same day the grocer at Kroger forget to pack 1/2 my groceries. On Tuesday, we had a power breaker trip in the house and were without power for over an hour while we tried to discover the problem. After that, we went to get cupcakes for Kayla's birthday and on the way home, the container somehow opened and they spilled all over my car trunk--blue frosting everywhere! Tuesday night, I broke my glass table top. Thursday, my check engine light came on in my car. Friday morning, I took it to the mechanic for a $600! repair bill. Needless to say I am exhausted beyond recall, not to mention broke. This has been one of the hardest weeks of my life but I know that if we can survive this week, we can survive anything and maybe that is the lesson to learn from it all. Things break and fall apart, we run out of money, but we always have each other. In a week where four boy scouts were killed in a tornado and people are having to be evacuated out of the capital city of Iowa, these little things are just that. We still have a roof over our head and food to eat and most of all, we have each other. There are lots of other people this week that don't have any of that. This is what I have to remember when I think I can't make it another minute and can't deal with any more crises. This too shall pass...and it's only the little things...and they are not as important to me as my family, my dog and my little girl.
In my panicked haste last week, I shot off e-mails to Senators Lincoln and Pryor, as well as to the director of the National Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC). For those who don't know anything about foster care and foster care adoption, it is not an easy process and a lot of support for these children gets cut off after they are adopted. Senator Rockefeller has introduced the Adoption Equality Act to the U.S. Senate to ensure that every child in foster care receives the same benefits and support after they are adopted regardless of their situation. There is also a companion bill that has been recently introduced in Congress. I didn't expect anything to come from my e-mails, but I've been willing to try anything lately. Saturday, I heard back from the executive director of NACAC and he asked me to call him. I called him last night and he was on his way to Washington, D.C. to meet with the Arkansas delegation about the Adoption Equality Act. He said my story is exactly what he was looking for and asked me to send him a summary of mine and Kayla's experiences and he would present it to Senators Lincoln and Pryor and the Arkansas congressmen. When I heard back from him today, he said he wished we were there with him because it is the exact story he is trying to get told to Congress. He said he will be in contact with me after his meeting to let me know how it went. He is hopeful of getting this Act passed soon so please write your senators and congressman and ask them to support this Act. If it gets passed before Kayla and I finalize our adoption, it will greatly benefit us...if not, it will definitely benefit other adoptable children out there and their adoptive families. Who knew what a quick e-mail could do?
Kayla has moved in and it honestly feels like she has been here forever. She has effortlessly fit into my life. Yesterday was a long and stressful day, but we made it through. We endured cracked windshields, 95-degree heat, packing and unpacking three dozen boxes, going to the grocery store, having to go back to the grocery store because they didn't give us all our groceries. So at 8:30 at night, we finally ate dinner and then collapsed. Today, we hung around for the Comcast guy and now Kayla has her own TV set up in her room and we now have a home phone. We then went to Target, JcPenney's and Wal-Mart looking for swimsuits and bedding. We picked out a comforter only to have to drive to three different places to find hot pink sheets. Apparently that is the in color right now because they are sold out everywhere. I still feel like I have so much to do but we are slowly getting there. Hopefully, tonight will be a relaxing one.
Our weekend visit to Fayetteville has gone better than I expected. I could tell Kayla was overwhelmed at first meeting a bunch of new people because she got really quiet but by the time Keith Urban sang his last song at Razorback Stadium Thursday night, she was dancing with Isabella and part of the family. Yesterday we spent a girls' day out with my 11-year-old niece Carly. We went birthday shopping and to see Kung Fu Panda. Carly and Kayla couldn't get enough of each other. I am overwhelmed at times with the responsibility placed on me for this child but the more time I spend with her, the more I am in awe of her. She is such a great kid--very well-behaved and can entertain herself. She is obsessed with the Twilight book right now and spends all her free time reading it. We slept in today and we'll go to Isabella's dance recital tonight and then head back to Little Rock and move her in tomorrow. Tomorrow will be a big day for both of us.
I am trying to get Kayla in the best school possible for her and it has been a headache and a half to say the least. But thanks so much to my friend Carey, we may have a chance to get her into Pulaski Heights Middle School. Carey is a teacher at the school and spent all morning talking to the principal and other people to try to get Kayla transferred to the school. The bad news is they said they can't take any other transfers from other school districts. However, Carey gave me the number to Student Assignments and I explained the situation to the woman who answered the phone and she said because of her unique situation I can do an appeal for her to go to Pulaski Heights. So next week I am going to gather up all the information I need and head down to the LRSD office and cross my fingers that she will get into Pulaski Heights. If not, I will start going down the list of magnet and charter schools and just pray that she will get the right school for her. And this is my last night of freedom!
I just want to say thank you for all the emails and calls I've gotten from my friends and people at work in the last couple of days. They are the most heartfelt and amazing e-mails I have ever received. Every single person has offered their help and support and I've already gotten her a few babysitting jobs! And a personal meeting with the director of Shuffles Dance Studio. So thank you--I have the greatest friends and co-workers in the world.
I've been told Kayla has been packing for four days--ever since she first met me Friday night. She is ready to come to her new home. Meanwhile, I just dropped off half my life at the Wolfe Street Thrift Center to make room for her stuff so if you need any new clothes or shoes run down there fast. I talked to Kayla yesterday and she is so excited. We are going to Fayetteville Thursday to see Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban with all the nieces and nephews and stay for a few days. Sunday, we will go get all of her stuff and move her in and the caseworker will come over and visit Sunday night. I'll be off work next week and maybe longer to be with her and get us all situated. And hopefully her day camp situation will be settled by then. Her birthday is a week from today--June 10--so I've also got to plan something special for that day. Any ideas?
I talked to Kayla's caseworker this morning and she is planning on June 9th as a placement date for her. June 9th as in a week from today. Holy cow! Overwhelmed is not even the word. She's supposed to be with me for a weekend visit and trip to Fayetteville to see Carrie Underwood and then she'sll be with me forever. I have three days of freedom left to do whatever I want. Three days!!!! God help me.
I went to Kayla's dance recital last night. Have you ever been with hundreds of girls in one place? Wow. Being a backstage mom is pure craziness. I put makeup on her and did all the hair accessories. I'm so not good at the hair thing but I'm learning. Margaret met us at the recital. We had a fun time cheering Kayla on and critiquing everybody else. We also got to meet her half-sister who is a clone of her and loves her "big sissy." Kayla was so excited over the blue and yellow flowers I gave her to match her costumes. Afterwards, we went with the family to McAlister's and Kayla and I got some time to talk. She is excited about coming for an overnight visit next to see what her new house, room and neighborhood look like...and to meet Reba. What an adventure! I'm already worn out....
I met Kayla for the first time earlier today. I met the caseworker at her foster parents'/great-aunt and uncle's house at 4:00. Kayla had on a Razorback shirt and had made me a Razorback (she already knows me well) and a photo album of her life. The caseworker said that's the first time they have ever seen a kid make a photo album for the adoptive parent. She was absolutely beautiful and will have the boys sleeping on my porch in a few years' time. I took her to dinner at a Mexican restaurant and started finding out who Kayla really is. She loves lime green and purple, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, American Idol, shopping (we're going to be trouble together!), movies, and her favorite thing at school is boys. She hates chocolate and cake. She also "rocks" at science and wants to be a crime scene investigator. She is the reigning Miss Arkansas Young Miss. Her number one passion in life is dancing and she is incredibly talented at it. I watched her dance rehearsal and she was amazing and I'm not just saying that. I fixed her make-up and made sure she was dressed on time. I talked to her family who are absolutely incredible people--some of the warmest, friendliest people I've met. No one but God could have brought us all together. I am so blessed. I have never in my life felt with such conviction all the way to the bones that I am doing God's will and at times it is overwhelming to comprehend how much my life has changed in just a few weeks' time. I have yet to wrap my head around it all, but I've never felt closer to God than I do right now. How Great is my God indeed.
Today I got the call that could change my life forever. Kayla's caseworker called me and said she is so excited to meet me and doesn't want to wait any longer. She sleeps with the photo album I gave her! We are still waiting on her medical records but I'm going to do disclosure tomorrow with the records they do have available. However, I was told she is not your typical DHS child. From all acounts, she is a happy, healthy, normal little girl. Her passion is dance, she plays the flute, and she is a pageant girl. She is an honor roll student and excels at math and science (unlike the English major here). She is social and outgoing and very involved in her life despite what she has been through the past few years. I talked to her foster parents today, who are relatives, and, without going into any details, I will tell you it was an amazing, God-inspired conversation. I have no doubt in my mind now that I am supposed to be the mother of this little girl. Tomorrow afternoon, I am meeting her for the first time with her caseworker. And then I'm going to her dance recital rehearsal. If all goes well, I will attend her dance recital Saturday evening. What a weekend! And to think five hours ago, I had totally different plans for the weekend. But God knows differently.
Is it possible to be excited, scared, grateful, anxious, and overwhelmed all at the same time? Because that's where I'm at right now. The last month has been a whirlwind after a long journey over the last few years.
Over two years ago, at the age of 32, I began seriously contemplating adoption. I had finally gotten my life together after a self-destructive decade and made peace with myself and my God. I was ready for the next chapter in life and Mr. Right Then was on his way out of my life and there was no one waiting in the wings. And out of nowhere came the most incredible urge to be a mother. It wouldn't go away no matter how hard I tried to ignore it. In fact, it got stronger.
I began researching ways to make it happen and knowing I didn't have the patience to handle a baby, I began looking into older child adoption. And knowing I didn't have tens of thousands of dollars laying around, I began to look into foster care adoption. My parents had foster children while I was growing up so I was no stranger to the process. I have also always been a strong child advocate and have spent many hours working with troubled children and teenagers. I have seen kids and families at their worst from my experiences interning at Davidson County Juvenile Court in Nashville, Tennessee and as a CASA volunteer. I have also known first-hand some of the troubles these children face.
A couple of years ago, I told my parents, my AA sponsor and my best friend what I was thinking...and then set it aside. Two Christmases ago, I saw a picture of two beautiful twin girls on the DHS website and felt called to take action. I sent emails asking what I needed to do to adopt these little girls. I went to an orientation meeting held by DHS in January 2007. I had an initial homestudy done two months later and was invited to take PRIDE training classes for foster and adoptive parents. At this time, these little girls were no longer available for adoption (and now I know why). And so then I freaked. I didn't think I was ready. I got scared. I got involved in other things and let it go.
Then in August 2007, my dad had emergency open heart surgery. Around this same time, I was also struggling with my relationship with God and what He wanted me to do. I picked up the phone and reserved a spot in the next PRIDE training classes beginning in September 2007. I finished my classes in November 2007, except for two make-up classes, started my paperwork and had my references done. Last December, a social worker came by my house twice to evaluate me and my home and conclude my home study. In January, I took my CPR and First Aid training and turned in all my paperwork. I decided I wanted a girl age 6-12. Then I stalled. I succumbed to my end-of-winter depression and took no action. I started wondering what I was supposed to be doing all over again. I had another breast cancer scare and two more biopsies. I wasn't thinking about adoption--I was wondering if I was going to die early. After being declared healthy, I snapped out of it and decided to make-up my two classes and put the rest in God's hands. Like I have been taught in AA, if I just do the work, God will make it happen if it's supposed to happen. So I decided I would do all the work and if I am meant to adopt a little girl, it will happen. If I'm not, it won't. And I'll be okay either way.
At my second make-up class, my adoption worker handed me a picture of an 11-year-old girl named Kayla. I looked at it and immediately fell in love with this blond beautiful little girl who looks nothing like me. My homestudy was approved on April 21, 2008. At the beginning of this month, a scrapbook of my life was given to Kayla and I was told she couldn't wait to meet me. This blog will tell the rest of the story...