Friday, August 31, 2012

A Southern Girl's Dream Come True

 Hello, lovelies. 
Just wanted to pop in and share a little something with you today. 
Earlier this week, I stumbled across this really neat website that often allows you to create your own designs based on templates they provide. 
And, that being said, lookie what I made: 

Southern girls love monograms like teachers love apples. 
It's a proven fact. 

It took me about two minutes and may possibly be my new favorite thing. 

However, here are few other things I'm loving this week: 

- This blog post and her take on followers. 
-This adorable birthday party. 
-This post about having better mornings at home.....ummmm, seriously need this one some days. 
-This book that I'm reading which applies to how I've been feeling lately. 
-This post on making a custom facebook timeline cover photo. I'm still grumpy about facebook forcing me to transition to timeline, but maybe this will help with that.....

What are you loving this week? 

Today I'm linking up here, here, here, here, and here. Join me? 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Boy with the Finger

I've been planning this post for a long time. 
I've been writing and rewriting it in my head for the past month, trying to come up with a way that my truest of true feeling will come across over the computer screen. And after spending several days in the hospital with my precious grandmother during the past week, I think I might finally be ready to talk about the boy with the finger. 

You might recall the post where I talked about teaching take away at a school in Uganda. Well, what I didn't mention in that post is that one of my students that day seemed withdrawn. He was very quiet and would barely make eye contact as I proceeded to talk about subtraction (can't say I blame him on this one; I'd rather eat dirt than sit through a math class, so.....). As class went on and they started to work in their 'workbooks' (I use this term loosely, as their workbook are really nothing more than some paper stapled together in which their teacher writes some problems for each lesson-- nothing like the fancy, topnotch workbooks we are used to), I made my way over to him and tried to talk to him.
 I say tried because although he does speak some English, actually communicating was tough. 

He looked at me as I tried to help him with his work. He didn't smile, just stared at me with his big, beautiful brown eyes. And as he tried to do his work, I noticed that he wasn't doing much with his left hand. I leaned forward a little,and then I saw his finger. 

It was literally more than twice as big as his other fingers, and the skin and tissues were so stretched and damaged that it almost looked as if he had frostbite. It made my stomach turn and my heart hurt. That has to be painful. My kids freak out at the first site of blood and will put ice on any and everything that even remotely hurts, and here he was with his finger and all that entails. 

As soon as class was over and we went to break, I took him to see my friend, Marci, who happens to be a nurse. She proceeded to look at his finger more closely and go through almost a whole bottle of peroxide in an attempt to reach a point where it stopped such luck. 

She told me that the tissue was so damaged that it is literally dying. Not only is that NOT a thorn you see in his finger (only damaged tissue), but he will surely lose his finger soon. I can't even describe to you how this looks in person or the look on his precious little face when he realized that we'd noticed it. He was so ashamed, and I can only imagine how much pain he was in that day as Marci looked at and examined it and tried her best to clean it. He's six or seven years old and will soon have one less finger, not because he lost it in an accident or because it was removed safely by a doctor, but because it literally died from the inside out. 

I talked to his teacher about him, and she said that he used to be such a talkative, happy boy; 
now he is quiet, solemn, and somewhat withdrawn. 

I don't tell you this because I want you to feel sorry for him or to spur a conversation about health care in America or to say that America is somehow superior to anywhere else in the world. 

I do say this to make it real. 
I know for me that before I went to Africa the things I saw on television or read on blogs or talked about with friends who have been seemed only semi-real. I couldn't really understand the hurt that exists around the world; I couldn't see it; it didn't seem real to me....until the boy with the finger. 

Those kids you see on commercials or in pictures are real kids
They like to play ball and giggle and chase each other. 
They love bubbles and are afraid of the dark. 
Unfortunately, not every kid has a medicine cabinet, clean water,  and a pediatrician. 

While I am so proud to be an American, the boy with the finger gave me such a new perspective. 
Never could I imagine that something as simple as a cut on a finger would lead to a lost appendage. Here we would put some antibiotic ointment on it and a band-aid and maybe go to the doctor, but I can't even imagine letting it get this bad. Dare I say, we take so much for granted.

How many times have my kids bumped their elbows or scratched their knees? Libby fell on the playground yesterday, as a matter of fact. But since we have clean water to wash it with and basic medicines, she'll be fine; it'll be forgotten in a week. 

And maybe it's just me, but I think all kids should have  access to clean water and band-aids, and I refuse to be the girl who takes these things for granted for even one more day. 
What if that was my little boy, who simply scratched his finger and will now deal with the consequences for the rest of his life? I'm sorry, but that's just not okay. 

So, when you stop me at Wal-Mart and find that I'd rather talk about Africa and orphans and clean water than just about anything, please know that the boy with the finger is the vision that is stuck in my head. With that in mind, can you blame me for wanting to do more to help? I certainly hope not. For while I sit here snuggling Hollyn and watching Beauty and the Beast for the third time this week (don't judge; it's raining, and the girl loves some 'Be Our Guest'), this boy is suffering. His finger is dying while I throw out three cups of water that my kids didn't finish. And while I am so very thankful for the fact that I can take a shower any time I want to, it's not fair that my kids have clean water, while this little boy and countless others don't. 

God made those children and loves those children just like he made my and loves my children, 
and He directly calls us to help those in need. 
He's serious about that, folks. 

Where you're born shouldn't determine the quality of your life. 
This is not okay today, and it won't be okay tomorrow. 
So what I'm left to think about it, what am I going to do to help children like the boy with the finger? 
And how can I teach my children to appreciate blessing like clean water and readily available medical care?
Because taking these things for granted is simply not acceptable any longer in our house.  

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Cake Batter Dip: New and Improved

So, almost a year ago I wrote this post  where I gave my cake batter dip recipe. Since then, that post has had...are you ready for this? 352, 918 views. Yes, I'm serious. Apparently people go coo-coo for cake batter dip. 
I literally make this all the time, partly because it's always a big hit and partly because it's the stinkin' easiest dessert ever in the history of ever. I actually made it for a church get-together last night, and people very scraping the bowl...literally. 
And in the past year I've learned a thing a two. So, in my infinite cake batter dip making wisdom (*cough cough*), I wanted to give you an updated version. 

You will still only need three ingredients: 
-Funfetti cake mix
-cool whip
-vanilla yogurt *much better than the original recipe, which called for plain yogurt, and I'm sorry but no matter how you spin it, plain yogurt is three shades of disgusting. This is much, much better. *

From there, the directions haven't changed much, but here they are again in case you're one of the people who hasn't seen this yet: 

Dump the whole box of mix into a bowl. Mix with one small carton of cool whip. Add vanilla yogurt to taste. I don't measure, but I'm guessing I use about 1.5-2 cups of vanilla yogurt. But to be honest, I've made this about five times, and every time I've added a little more or used a little less. And you know what? Every time people have asked me for the recipe and wiped the drool from their mouths over this one. Basically, I'm saying you can't mess it up. You got this. Be bold. I believe in you. 

We usually eat it with animal crackers, but I honestly believe you could eat it on cardboard, and it would still be delicious. Seriously though, fruit, teddy grams, you name it, it's great. I may have even eaten it like ice cream a few times. And this may have led to a conversation that sounded something like this: 

Lee: Ummmm....McCall? You do know that's supposed to be dip, right? 
Me (in a very non-sarcastic tone): Duhhhhh. That's why I'm DIPPING my spoon in it before I eat it. 

So, run and go make some. 
Enjoy it. 
Lick the bowl. 
Thank me later.

Today I'm linking up here, here, here, here,  and here. Join me? 

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Truth Is

This week has been hard. 
I've spent most of it in the hospital with my grandmother, whose body has a love/hate relationship with her pacemaker. 
This means hospital food, long days, and lots of time to think. 
I'm not complaining; in fact, I'm very thankful that she is getting good care and that I am in a situation where I can drop everything and go and be with her. 

And while I was there, I was very well taken care of by my friends who live in the area. They brought me breakfast, met me for dinner, and gave me a place to stay when she was moved to a part of the hospital that doesn't allow overnight guests. 

And while staying with some friends, I had a much needed conversation with a friend of mine who recently spent three months in Uganda. And by 'much needed', I mean that I'm pretty sure there's no one else who could have understood me like she could. 

To just put it out there, since I came back from Africa, I've become somewhat of a hermit. I have been the most anti-social I have ever been in the past month and a half. If you know me in real life, you'll know that anti-social is one of the last phrases I think anyone would ever use to describe me...unless of course, we only just met, in which case I think it would be very appropriate. 

Why do I not feel comfortable talking to my friends? 
Why am I avoiding conversations and social outings? 
Why do I think I'd feel more comfortable in Africa with a big fat language barrier than I do here at home? 

I wish the answer was simple, but it's just not. 
Basically, I think I can break it down into two key areas of concern. 

1. I'm just disgusted. 

I'm so bothered by the amount of waste in our country. 
It hurts me to see us (my family included) taking so many things for granted or spending our money on things we just don't need or doing so little to help those around us. 
It upsets me to hear people complaining when we essentially have nothing to complain about. 
I am so disgusted with the racism that still exists in this world in which we live; we can give someone a new heart from a pig and grow a baby in a tube, but yet we still get hung up on skin color. 
It breaks my heart to see people not appreciate all we've been given. 

Please know that I realize God has called all of us to feel passionate about different things. I also realize that how people choose to spend their money and their time is their business. But it still hurts. And yes, I realize that a little over two years ago, I didn't see Africa as a priority either. In fact, I don't know that I would have gone had you given me a free ticket.
 I was completely indifferent and unaware not only of the hurt of these people but of their beauty. 

But God has opened my eyes; 
I see differently now. 

2. I'm afraid people just won't understand

Our trip was not fun. It wasn't supposed to be. We worked in a children's prison, for peet's sake.  We didn't go because we were looking to have 'fun'. We went because God tells us over and over again in scripture that we are to do for those who can't do for themselves.

 So when someone comes up to me and asks me about my trip, one of two things will happen. 

Either I'll say 'fine', simply because I know that no matter what I say, I am incapable of fully explaining what I saw and experienced; there simply aren't enough hours in the day. 

Or, I'll try to explain, to which the poor person I'm speaking to will leave feeling completely overwhelmed as I've just thrown two tons of hurtful, unimaginable images at them in big, rambling sentences. I've probably cried and talked to them for thirty minutes about something that is simply impossible to fully imagine and understand. It really is a YOU HAVE TO SEE FOR YOURSELF experience. This happened last week at Old Navy. I ran into a former social club sister and talked her poor ear off. The poor girl was just enjoying her morning, and I left her mind reeling and her heart hurting. 

It's hard when you feel so passionate and so strong about something that others just aren't that aware of or don't know what to do with. 
I have changed.
 My heart is not the same as it was two months ago.
 But the world around me is the same. 

I have some of the best friends in the world. 
I am sure of it. 
They are wonderful and Godly and supportive and understanding. 
They aren't doing anything wrong; they aren't being insensitive. 

It's me. 

Do I regret going to Africa? 

No, no, and certainly not. 
In fact, I've currently praying hard on an opportunity that has arisen that would allow me to go back soon. 
I'm literally itching to step foot on Africa soil again. The other night  I started thinking about it and got so excited that I couldn't sleep, in spite of the fact that I was well past exhausted. Will I go? Not sure, but I'm praying about it and am willing to do whatever God has planned.

And I am very thankful that God has given me a few close friends who also have a heart for Africa.
 They've been.
 They've experienced it. 
They understand.  
And I have no problem taking their pretty little ears off. 

Do I think I'll maintain hermit-like status for forever? 
Heavens no. 
But for now I'm focusing on the fact that I like this person, this girl I've become who loves a country that she's only been to once, this girl who would rather talk about Africa than just about anything. I dream about it, I think about it, and I am truly passionate about doing what little I can to make a difference,
 even if it's only for one.

 I like having my eyes opened; 
I like seeing,
even though it hurts. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mighty Fine

This weekend was mighty fine. 

Despite the rain, Libby and I headed out of town, where we visited our honorary fifth family member...the one Lee says we should claim on our taxes. Apparently, the rain does good things for my hair. Wish I could say the same for my shoes, which may never recover. 

 which tugged at our heartstrings in the best possible way. 

And we potty-trained like we were getting paid for it. 

What was the highlight of YOUR weekend? 
Here's hoping your weekend was only the start of a awe-to-the-some week.
Here's to praying for panties and the best kind of friends. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Our $4 Afternoon

See this face? 
It belongs to a girl who used the potty not once but twice today. 
See that thing she's holding?
It's a celebratory snow cone. 

We spent $4 on snow cones for the whole family and road the back roads listening to John Mayer's new album, which happens to be my new favorite thing. 
It was pure bliss I tell ya.

Even Lee, who isn't exactly a JM fan, loves this song
in spite of what I consider to be an unnecessary thirty second intro.

We laughed, we danced in the car, and we celebrated what is a pretty big deal for our wee little family member. 

What was the most fun thing YOU did today with your family? 
Do tell; I'd love to hear and get some ideas. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Kinda In Love

Today I have a million thoughts swimming around in this little head of mine. 

Here are a few I'd like to share: 

* I am madly in love with this picture that my friend Erin from Erin Norman Photography took recently. Like I dream about it. And want it to be the background on my phone. It's love, I tell you. 

* I have officially started planning for Libby's upcoming eighth birthday party. That's right, I said EIGHTH. And although we have plans all our own, I do so love this party.

*Speaking of parties, I think all of the back to school parties I've seen floating around the Internet lately are just too cute. Too bad Lib's birthday is so darn close to the start of school. But maybe one day.....

* Know what else I'm loving? This girl and her hair. However, I'm pretty sure it's illegal to have such cute hair all the time. Good thing I am strict rule follower in this category; no cute hair too often around these here parts.

* I am also loving this site I recently found. I often feel totally inept in the whole 'make yourself look cute' department....perhaps this will help a little.

* Oh, and did you know I have a facebook page for this here blog? Sure do. And I often post good sites and blogs and whatnot there. Check it out if you like. I'd love to have you.

*At some point in time, I'd really love to make some of these for my blog. Agreed? I'll see if I can get on that soon.

*This looks melt in my mouth delicious. I see a first attempt in my near future.

* I think this looks like a great idea. I wonder if Jessie from Toy Story counts as a Disney character? She's Hollyn's favorite.....

* Love this blog. Love this lady. She is simply amazing. And this summer she hosted an orphan from Russia in her home. And their story is knocking my socks off. Seriously, grab some tissues and read about all that God is doing in their lives.

* I continue to be amazed at how much toilet paper my little family of four goes through each week. Am I the only one whose tp seems to run away while we're sleeping?

*Tomorrow I have a job interview. I'm pretty darn excited about it, as it seems to have great potential to be exactly what I've been looking for...Please pray that I don't trip over my own words and that if it's not a perfect fit, I will have the nerve to say thanks but no thanks. I want me to fit them and them to fit me equally.

Here's hoping your Tuesday is top notch, and if it's raining where you are, then I hope you have a snuggle buddy with skills as good as Hollyn's. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

This Week, In a Nutshell

This was Libby's first real week of second grade. 
One would think that this would lead to lots of only child fun at our house, consisting of hours spent sitting on the  floor playing with Hollyn, reading her book after book, finger painting the hours away until Libby comes home. 


Instead, it looked something like this: 

Breathing treatments all the live long day. Sure looks fun, right? 
Well, add to that a terrible virus that seems to have come at me with a vengeance, and you pretty much have my week. 

Instead of finger painting book reading, there was lots of couch time and Tylenol. 
Try not to be jealous. 

On a positive note, it does appear that Hollyn is finally really understanding the purpose of the potty; 

that's right, folks. The potty is the perfect place to leave your baby. 

Here's hoping your week was more fun than mine and that this coming week will show last week who's boss in no time flat. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wheezing and Coughing and Hacking, Oh My!

First of all, I am MADLY in love with this picture taken by one of my sponsors,  Erin Norman. More to come on that soon and how you can get hooked up with her as well, but for today, this precious face is not so happy. 

She's sick. 
The breathing troubles have returned to our house. 
They were not invited. 
In fact, I am pretty sure I said, "Please take your stuff, get out, and don't ever come back," the last time they visited. 
Apparently they don't play by the rules. 

Funny how things change when we become parents. 
Nothing is about us any more, not our money or our time or our sleep. 

Lee and I took turns staying up all night to check on her. 
We debated an emergency room visit (haven't had one of those in a while; they probably miss us). 
And even when I tried to sleep, it wasn't really happening. 
After the several days we spent in the hospital this spring, I have no desire in my heart to go back....ever. 

Here's to praying this breathing machine kicks the healing into high gear. 
While I am very thankful for American emergency rooms, I really don't wanna go; please don't make me.

I love this little face, smiling or otherwise....but the smiles are definitely my facial expression of choice.
So, if you need me today, I'll be cuddled on the couch with Hollyn, fetching her orange juice, holding her breathing treatment mask, and watching Toy Story for the billionth time. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Living in Limbo

Living in limbo; that's what I feel like I'm doing these days. 
I'm waiting for the phone to ring or for an e-mail to come through. 
Heck, I'd even be happy with a carrier pigeon. 
But good things take least that's what I keep telling myself. 

I can honestly say that I was worried the first day of school might make me question my decision not to go back to the classroom. But I made it through Friday without so much as a blink. I honestly don't miss teaching.While I do love my kiddos, I am confident that I have made the right decision. I believe I would be being disobedient if I had committed to teach this year. But waiting to see exactly what He has in store for me is not easy. There are many things I'm okay at; unfortunately, being patient is nowhere near the top of the list. 

And today while Libby was at school, Hollyn and I had quite the day.
 Before noon, I had cleaned up broken glass, scooped poop out of the bathtub (Thanks again for that, Hollyn.), and scrubbed the masterpiece Hollyn had drawn for me in pencil off of her bedroom wall. And yet, not one time did I wish I was teaching.

 I am, however, longing for this like a crazy person: 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Back to School

Today was a big one for the Libster as she began her journey as a second-grader. 

I can't believe how much she's grown just this summer. 

Here's a look at her on the last day of first grade and then the first day of second grade: 

And here's to hoping that second grade is filled with good friends, great books, and a big adventures. 

And to my favorite second-grader on the planet, 

I love you mucho grande. 

Can't wait to see all the fun that second grade brings. 

But do me a favor: 
no more growing up, mkay? 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

These Two

These two have been best friends since before they could walk. 

They have laughed together. 

And shared every major milestone. 

They've stayed up late giggling....

...and fought over who gets the red popsicle. 

They've given two tons of hugs.....

....and have missed each other terribly. 

And today, they're going to be reunited. 

Lily is on her way. 
Libby is pretty darn excited. 

And her mom, who happens to be my other half, is coming along for the ride. 

And I can't freaking wait to see this face:

There is guaranteed to be lots of laughing until I almost pee my pants, lots of late night chit chats, and lots of catching up of the very best kind. 

Don't call. 
Don't write. 
Don't send a carrier pigeon. 

I'll be busy until Monday. 
The real world will just have to wait until then.