Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Well Lookie Here...
I gotta brag on The Money Maker and tell everyone his little business won a big award recently. The GWINNETT CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU named Lil' River Grill....
"Restaurant of the Year" for 2007.
And of course I'm gonna tell you what they said:
As Restaurant of the Year, Lil' River Grill has distinguished itself as one of Gwinnett’s most popular and successful fine dining destinations. Restaurant of the Year is a prestigious honor that is given to one restaurant per year for working hard to accommodate Gwinnett’s visitors and for adding appeal to Gwinnett dining.
You can click HERE to read the entire article and see who else was top dog in Gwinnett County. Poor little Money Maker works so hard up there so I'm glad to see him & the staff recognized for their effort! CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Sad Week

After such an exciting and memorable weekend, this week has made me feel heavy... like a load I can't shake. Some was personal... some was not... but sad just the same.

The week started off on a tragic note when a young Mom from our town was killed Saturday in a car accident. Tina Akers (seen left) was only 38 years old when she died Saturday afternoon after her car slipped on the wet, snowy road... spun & was then struck by another vehicle, after the car in which she was a passenger crossed the yellow line. She leaves behind two little girls... one a year older than my oldest, and one a year younger than my youngest. Her husband remains in critical condition in an Atlanta hospital this afternoon... perhaps not even aware that his wife & mother of his daughters is being buried.

Next, came the news Tuesday that actor Heath Ledger was found dead in his New York City apartment. Only 28 years old he also leaves behind a daughter... Matilda, who at only 2, may never remember her father. I happen to be someone who DID like the movie Brokeback Mountain (sorry, Mom) the movie for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. Though I, of course, did not know Heath Ledger personally... I'm sad that he was such a sad, troubled person... looking for help & peace in pills & prescriptions, instead of the only One who can offer true & eternal peace, joy & happiness. I am also sad that again... a young girl lost her father & will never know him.

The most personal tragedy to effect our family this week happened Monday afternoon. We are ( and by "we" I include everyone in our home EXCEPT The Money Maker) cat lovers. We have 4... who live outside but nevertheless bring us great joy. This past weekend The Money Maker brought home Bear. A black lab/ brown & tan coon dog mix, who although technically belongs to his brother James... has been passed around the family for the past year or so... due to the fact that James is currently living in a situation not conducive to dog owning. Bear is a sweet dog. Well trained. Obedient. Good with children. But Bear from the moment his paws hit our yard went biserk over our cats. I suppose he's never been around cats & thought of them as squirrels? rabbits? who knows? After running up trees... escaping under the deck... hiding out in the woods for two days... our beautiful & sweetest cat Weenie was caught & killed by Bear Monday afternoon. The most heartbreaking detail is that it happened IN FRONT OF MY CHILDREN who, as a result, had to witness their beloved pet being shaken & thrashed & sustain injuries that would take her life later that night. My precious big girl, Baby #1, received Weenie almost 3 years ago as a "Welcome Back Home to Georgia" gift from my Mom & Dad and has had a hard time shaking the image of her cat fight for her life in the jaws of a out-of-control dog. The scene was violent, vicious and horrific. Our wonderful vet Dr. Ben helped Weenie and the kiddos did get to see her... resting peacefully in an oxygen tent... before we left her for the last time. Dr. Ben called late that afternoon to say she was doing better, but when he returned to the office the next morning, Weenie was gone.

And to make matters worse... when I got home & went to clean up all the cat fur that littered the floor from Bear ripping Weenie apart... my &#$@ vacuum cleaner had died.
When we found out my Mom was sick last spring we began to see & understand the fragility of life. Only 57 years old... young, active, "healthy"... we never suspected that she was so ill. Since that time we have treasured each day with her as a priceless gift. And the lives that have been lost this week... (and I know Weenie was just a cat and please don't think I value her life the same as a human's soul... I'm not that nuts)... are another reminder that we are NOT guarenteed tomorrow. Heck, we're not guarenteed suppertime or even the next half-hour. As much as I like being an optimist... I do want to encourage everyone to live each day... live each moment as if it were your last. Because it just might be.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Today's installment of "Love IT" is for my girls out there. Girls... if you don't have one... go either A.) to your nearest or most favorite shopping destination or B.) on your computer to shop on-line... and buy yourself a RACERBACK BRA. Ahhh... the sweet satisfaction it provides holding up our boobs and yet not allowing the straps to annoyingly slip off our shoulders all day. I especially love the RACERBACK BRA because not only do I have small boobs... I have slender shoulders... which makes it a pain to carry a shoulder bag pocketbook & wear a normal bra. I look like a tacky mess all day pullin' up my bra straps unless I have the straps adjusted so tightly they dig into my shoulder and have my boobs pointing straight up. The RACERBACK BRA is a miracle. The other day I was walking through a store just a smiling to myself about how happy I was to have on my RACERBACK BRA. I had been a while without one. Don't know why I denied myself the joy of wearing one & not being annoyed...frustrated...driven insane by saggy conventional straps... but I did. I got mine at Target... and for my girlfriends, like my Bountiful Bossomed Beautiful Kim, you can find yours easily on-line... because in this day you can find anything on-line.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Snow Dummies

The kiddos were in a total frenzy to get out in the snow Saturday. I had accumulated all our hats, mittens, scarves, coats & warm fuzzy socks and loaded them onto the kitchen table. Once I gave the A-OK to head outside they piled on (or so I thought) the cold-weather goods and dashed out the door. I 'bout freaked when I saw this....

Here's Baby #2 (A.K.A. Dummy #1) outside in HER PAJAMAS... a flimsy DENIM JACKET... and FLIP FLOPS!!! Yes, FLIP FLOPS!!! Sweetie, that scarf & those mittens ain't gonna help that much... especially now that your mittens are probably soaking wet since you've been making snowballs. Notice the wet, muddy knees... that dummy had been slippin' & slidin' around in the SNOW dressed like that. I had a total conniption after I snapped this photo. (P.S... what's our basketball doing in the pool?)

Next, I spotted Baby #3 (A.K.A. Dummy #2) running around in the front yard also dressed inappropriately. He had been at basketball practice when the snow began. Upon arriving at home, The Money Maker obviously let him out of the truck (I suppose because of his snow-induced euphoria) without making Baby #3 come inside... change out of his practice attire... and bundle up in snow playing attire. Hello??? Those tennis shoes were a soaking, frozen mess about 30 seconds after this photo. Look at that big smile. Baby #3 don't care... he's so happy no cold can cool that excitement.
The Older & (I suppose) Wiser Baby #1 escaped this post by doing a pretty good job of dressing herself for the elements... (or by doing a worse job of escaping my inspecting eye.) Babies #2 & #3 caught my wrath for the rest of the day... having to pass a 10-point inspection before stepping any more (now) well- snow booted toes out into the snow!
Before & After
Oh we had a big time this weekend with the SNOW that came to town. I prayed so hard Friday night that it would snow & God answered my prayers with a YES! The kids had a blast (more on them later) and I tried to soak up the beauty of the day... which we don't get much here any more like we did when I was a kid... Al Gore may be on to something with his Global Warming warnings. Rain can be so loud... and the the sleet coming through the trees. But when it changes over to just snow... there's a beautiful silence.

As I step out my front door, here's a look at some of our shrubbery. You can see a little snow beginning to accumulate.

A few hours later, here are the same shrubs. Bye, bye leaves & pinestraw... hello snow!

Here's looking off our porch out into the backyard. Look at that big, blue, hideous monstrosity next to the trampoline. It's The Money Maker's boat. I'm sure the neighbors cuss us having to look at that all winter.

Oh... how pretty.
Now we need a blizzard to dump 10 feet and cover up the boat.

Here's looking out the front door. It's about 10:30 a.m. and the sleet is changing into snow. I'm so excited!

A few hours later I brave the elements and go take a picture from the street. You can see where the kids made a snowman... see the snow ball roll marks all around the yard? It's around 3:00 in the afternoon and snow is beginning to taper off & I'm sad. But thankful.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Heavy Snow Warning!

We are so excited in West Central Georgia right now that we can hardly stand ourselves. The National Weather Service has issued a "Heavy Snow Warning" for the counties south of the Interstate 85 corridor... THAT'S US! (Those of you in the North... please hold back your laughter... understand to us Georgia Peaches... a couple inches is miraculous... stupendous... and overall outrageously exciting!) And as I look out my office window it is SNOWING... not flurries... SNOWING. I have my camera charged up & many pictures will follow. YIPPEE!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Should I feel old since my baby sister's best friend & my former student is now a Mommy? Look at this angel.

Natalie Muse Sprinkle

Friday, January 11, 2008

Love It!

Time for another installment of "Love It!" Today's column is especially near & dear to me because it makes my life easier and ANYTHING that can make my life easier is a true friend. I saw this product featured in an In Style magazine article about "The Best New Products" yada, yada, yada... back in the fall. I originally thought this would be a great product for me. It's called "Heat Tamer Protective Spray" and since I use numerous heated styling objects on my hair, I thought I'd give it a try... plus it only costs around $3.00 a bottle. Basically it's a leave on conditioner that I suppose puts an extra layer of protection on your hair before you sizzle it to death trying to make yourself look good. Well... it wasn't too long before my girls got a hold of it and started using it as detangler in the mornings getting ready for school. (My girls want long hair, but hate to wash, brush & style their hair... that's a formula for lots of tears and gnashing of teeth.) It works great. It smells great... and not like watermelon or bubble gum like a lot of the kid detanglers.) I even spray my son's hair down with it in the morning and it smooths down his pesky little cowlick and makes him look all handsome strutting off to kindergarten. So what started out as an experimental beauty product for me... has turned into an indispensable morning ritual. We don't run out. When we get low I sprint to Wal-Mart for more. We love it. Maybe you will too?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Salt on our Wound

If it weren't bad enough that they've slowed down the adoption process to a snail's pace, the CCAA has decided they will no longer allow us (the general public) to have access to the information on where we stand in the process. The box you see to the left has been on the bottom righthand corner of the CCAA's website (http://www.china-ccaa.org/frames/index_unlogin_en.jsp) for as long as I can remember in the almost SEVEN years I've been researching & involved in the Chinese Adoption world. It usually contains who is out of The Review Room and which families have received their babies. You've probably seen the box here lots of times. No more my friends. The CCAA is stickin' it to us. Now it's in the oh-so private "Work System" and our agencies begin to start screening annoying calls from their very impatient clients wanting what little information is available. Thanks China!

Monday, January 7, 2008

I suppose it's "officially" the New Year now 'cause the kiddos went back to school this morning. And along with each New Year comes the annual making of New Year's Resolutions. Some I keep... most I don't. Nevertheless, this year I'm going to make a few and hope for the best that I keep them. The first resolution on my list is necessary because quite honestly... I'm pathetic. As I spent last week cleaning out my junk drawer (... really drawerS) I was disgusted by what I found. Cards, gifts, envelopes... bought months, weeks... years?... ago and never mailed. Here's an example:

Here's a list of gifts I received at my baby shower for Lilly. You can see I started my thank you notes... some are crossed out because I did write & send those... but you can also see there are notes still left in the package & names still UNcrossed off on the list. (P.S... this is only the front side... the back is worse.)

Here's a huge stack of birth announcements & graduation announcements I received last year.

Here's the huge stack of cards, gifts or gift cards I bought to send to the above graduates & new babies. Nope, never got them in the mail.

Now this is the worst... here's a group of cards I stamped but just never found the address. One I found the address but didn't stamp. If I had just switched one I would've had a completed card... but them I would've actually had to walk to the mailbox... wonder if I could handle that?

Here's a envelope full of pictures of my kiddos & their cousins I copied & compiled this past summer for my mother-in-law. Not only did I never mail them... she's been at my house a dozen times since and I never even handed it to her.

Here's a letter I wrote to the local school board telling them I was no longer planning to homeschool my kiddos but sending them back to school in their school system. Guess they've figured it out by now?

Yes, this is the bulk of it. But there are more examples down stairs. I found a birthday card for my brother-in-law Adam... I bought it on time... then didn't send it on time so I wrote "Sorry it's late" on the back... and then never sent it anyway. Now, it's just too pathetic to send.

So, that's RESOLUTION #1. Follow through. Buy the cards & gifts. Sign or wrap. Address. Stamp. Send. Can I handle that? Heavens-to-Betsy let's hope so!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

I'm not really sure today is such a "happy" day. It was 2 years ago today... January 5, 2006, that our precious little dossier was filed & processed & logged in to the system at the CCAA's office in Beijing, China. And I NEVER would've dreamed on that day that TWO YEARS LATER I would be blogging (didn't even know what that was then) and wishing myself a "happy?" 2 Year Anniversary! At that times, babies were popping out of China like crazy... and I thought we'd be to China & back with our Lilly by Halloween. Whew... was I WRONG! I sure hope all our documents aren't turning yellow & crackly & so dusty you can't read all the important stuff.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Officially Pathetic
Well the CCAA updated their website today and officially confirmed that ONCE AGAIN they sent a measly... skimpy... lousy number of referrals. And you can see we did NOT "squeeze" into the January group as I had once thought may could happen & it's not likely, at this rate, we'll make the next batch or two... or three... who the he%$ knows! You can click HERE to see this month's group of gorgeous little girls... and you'll notice there are noticeably less to see. And again... as mentioned in last night's emotional vent... you'll notice most of these girls are older. (As always, thanks to the Rumor Queen for the pic.)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Natural Fear???

When I signed up to have a baby via International Adoption, I understood that there were no guarantees. None on timing... none on health... none on age. Just like life, I suppose.... like 'ol Ben Franklin said "Certainty? In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes. " But somewhere in the back of my mind, I felt "certain" we would receive a referral for a baby. And by baby I mean under a year old. That's a baby in the Chinese Adoption World. Cute... cuddly... needing a blankie and a ba-ba... not yet wild & sassy & temperamental & needing to be potty-trained. I have been excited about having a baby again. But lately, I've noticed more referrals trickling in for toddlers. 2 years old... 3 years old... even a rumor of a 5-year-old in Europe. And to be honest with you... that makes me panic. It puts a lump in my throat. I get a bit queasy. I feel sorry for these parents... especially when I see they requested a baby too. It makes me feel sorry for the child. Why for the love of Mary, has this child been passed over month after month and not been matched with a family? Is this fear natural? Am I being shallow? If I'm referred a toddler will I fall in love with it too or be terribly disappointed? Will the disappointment go away after she's safe in my arms? How do I bring a toddler home? A child who can speak & understand & remember. I'm freaking myself out here. Really freaking myself out. Breath... hee! hee! hoo!... hee! hee! hoo! And in the end I have to trust that this process is totally out of my hands. I do believe that if there is to be a Lilly... God, the One who created the universe... the One who created my children... also created Lilly... and chose HER to be mine. It'll be no accident. It'll be no random match. It'll be the hand of God... completing our family with the EXACT child He knows will fit our family best. But bet your bottom dollar I'll be on my knees until then praying for that baby... and for acceptance & happiness & excitement & joy if she's not.

Well... it's now 2008. And the CCAA is starting things off right by sending those new babies on quite promptly... first thing in January. Referral calls are being made today... some trickled in New Year's Eve. But... on second thought... the CCAA is not starting things off right... stickin' it to us by sending in a measly little crop. The "rumor" (the CCAA hasn't updated their site yet) is that they've only matched through December 19, 2005. That would only be 5 days worth of paperwork... and I think 2 of those days are a weekend? So... I'm going to quit saying when I think we'll get our referral & travel. At this pace, we're still another 15ish days away... that could be 3-4 months... AND they could always slow it down more... we've seen smaller batches. Who frickin' knows. I sure don't. So when you ask me... don't think I'm rude or being aloof or just plain dumb when I say "I have NO idea".... 'cause I don't! I will post the link to the websites containing pictures & stats on all the new little ones when their excited new parents get the information out. Congratulations to those families.