The main source of my chaos...

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Today is my daddy’s 69th birthday.  It’s hard to believe he’s been gone 5 months.  I miss him every single day, but at the same time, I forget he is gone.  If that statement doesn’t make sense to you, then you probably haven’t ever lost someone you loved with all your heart. 

Last week was especially hard for me.  I was trying to get ready for Mother’s Day and that’s something Daddy would always end up helping with.  As I would mentally make/check off lists in my head, I kept catching myself thinking, “I’ll get Daddy to bring the tables and chairs over” or “I’ll ask Daddy to run to Corum’s and get me some mulch”.  Of course, as soon as the thought hit me, I’d feel like somebody kicked me in the stomach. 

We played a song at the funeral called “STRONG”.  It’s by Will Hoge.  You should Google or YouTube it.  Here are a few of the lyrics:

He’s a twenty year straight to get to work on time
He’s a love one woman for all his life
He’s a shirt off his back, give you his last dime
He’s strong…
He’s a need to move something, you can use my truck
He’s an overtime worker when the bills pile up
Everybody knows he ain’t just tough
He’s strong…
He’ll pick up you up and won’t let you down
Rock solid inside out
Somebody you can trust
Steady as the sun
Ain’t nothing gonna knock him off the road he’s rolling on
He’s strong…

When we were listening to songs to play and we heard this one, I think we all just felt like it was perfect.  Except I believe he was a 35-year straight get to work on time, and I didn’t realize at the time that this song was actually used in a Chevrolet commercial.  I don’t know how Daddy would feel about that since he was a pretty hard core Ford man.  Sorry, Daddy.

I started thinking yesterday about doing a birthday blog and so I asked the little girls what the remembered most about Pappaw.

Yuri said she remembers that he could whistle really loud.  (Loud, as in bust your eardrums. It was pretty annoying actually)

Gigi said she remembers that he would come in from outside and his hands would be freezing cold and he would chase her around trying to put his cold hands on her.

Aubree remembers that he always gave her “yellow” gum (Juicy Fruit).  I try to buy yellow gum nowadays, to keep that memory alive for her. 

If he was here, he wouldn’t want us to make a big deal about his birthday.  That’s just how he was – didn’t like the attention.  And if we bought him a gift, he’d sneak money into the pockets of all the grandkids before they left to pay us back for whatever we got him. 

Happy Birthday, Daddy.  You are loved and you are missed. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Haley Rae is moving....

Most of you have heard by now - Hay Ray is moving to Guatemala.  She has been there several times before, but this time it’s a one-way ticket.  I’ve had several people ask me what I thought about this.  Let me start at the beginning…

When Amy told me she was pregnant the first time, I told her I didn’t want to find out if it was a boy or girl until it was born.  When I told her the reason, it made her mad. I told her I wanted a boy and if they told me it was a girl, I would be disappointed.  She asked me what was going to happen if it came out a girl.  I told her that I would think it was the best thing in the world and would love her with all my heart, but in the meantime I reeeeaaaalllly wanted a son and if I found out otherwise 6 or 7 months beforehand, I would be very disappointed.  We did not find out, and sure enough, it was a boy. I thought it was awesome and if we hadn’t had any more kids, I would have been fine with that.  Boy, did God have a lot in store for me. 

As much as I love Amy, any parent will tell you that there is no love like the love you have for your children.  It’s a love that nothing will diminish, no matter the circumstances.  You will do anything for them.  Since Hay Ray is my oldest daughter, she is the first female I ever had these feelings for.  The first time I saw her, I knew my life had changed forever.

In the last 21 years, I have said many times - if a man only has sons, he really doesn’t have the full “Dad Experience”.  I didn’t know why God put me here until Hay Ray was born.  My job is to take care of her the rest of my life – and now her 4 sisters too.  Hunter is a grown man.  If he needs me, he can call and I will help him in any way I can. Hay Ray is my baby girl, 1 of 5 (or maybe 6).  She doesn’t have to call.  If I see her hurting or in need, I’m going to take care of her.  If you are the one to hurt her or cause her need, me and you have a problem.

I have not been nice to any young man since Hay Ray was born.  Amy gets on to me about looking “mean”.  I don’t even have to try to look mean anymore – it comes naturally now.  All Hay Ray’s life, I have let any male she has crossed paths with know that she is my baby.  I don’t trust any male with my daughter and, if necessary, I will hurt you.  On two different occasions, a young man crossed a line with her that I felt needed to be addressed.  I addressed the first incident by phone because the young man very intelligently refused to tell me where he was.  The second incident I addressed in a high school gym and if Amy hadn’t been there, it could have turned out really bad for the young man.  In both cases, I got my point across and these young men were kind enough to spread the word about Hay Ray’s crazy dad. 

When Hay Ray first expressed interest in boys, I told her she didn’t need them and they couldn’t be trusted. I told her if she wanted to go to the movies or out to eat or bowling, that I liked all those things.  She didn’t need a boy, she had me.  Basically, I’ve been dreading the day when she chose another man over me.

Now back to Guatemala, most of you know Amy and I have adopted two girls of Guatemalan descent.  Because of this, we developed an interest in Guatemala.  In 2009, me and Amy (along with Hunter) went on mission trip with Danville Baptist Church to Guatemala.  We fell in love with the country and the people, and we decided we wanted all our children to go on a mission trip to a Third World country before they were grown.  When Hay Ray saw all the pictures and heard the stories, she was extremely jealous.  All my daughters have an extreme “baby” infatuation, which they get from their mom.  It is not unusual to see any female in my family go up to complete strangers and ask to hold their baby.  And there were a lot of babies in the pictures from Guatemala.  The first time she went she also fell in love with the people, especially the children. 

When she is in Guatemala, she is a different person.  I love her all the time, but she is not always very lovable. She can be a very mean person – you should try waking her up sometime if you want to really meet the bear.  In Guatemala, she has a servant’s heart.  At home, she can be a hateful, selfish brat. 

I’m not worried about her safety in Guatemala.  I’ve been to Grace Ministries three times and I know the family that she will be staying with.  I am comfortable that she will be as safe there as she is here.  I would rather her be in Guatemala, in God’s will, than be here and be miserable.

Her job in Guatemala is to help run a feeding center.  They will feed about 75 children, ages 5-9, Monday through Saturday.  These children are the poorest of the poor in the community.  In addition to feeding them, they also help them with school work and teach them the English language.  But, first and foremost, she will spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I vaguely remember being 21.  I can’t remember what my life’s ambition was, but I know that it was not to leave the comfort and convenience of everything that I knew to go 2000 miles away and show some of the poorest children in a foreign county the love of Jesus.  Hay Ray has numerous accomplishments in her life. She has won several beauty pageants, she was on the best public high school basketball team in 3A her junior year, and she was an All-State volleyball player her senior year.  But, I have never been more proud than I am right now.
She is mighty young, and there’s no telling what God has in store for her.  She could be in Guatemala for 6 months or she could be there for 40 years.  It doesn’t matter to me… I am going to love and support her for the rest of my life.

I love you, Hay Ray, and I’m really gonna miss you.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Big Shoes....

For the first time since I started this blog, I have a GUEST BLOGGER.  

The post below was written by Willard.  

There have been several tributes in the last few days for my father-in-law, Charles Randolph.  His children, grandchildren, in-laws and friends have all paid written respect to him and they have all had the same theme.  Charles was the greatest father, grandfather, friend and neighbor that anyone could ask for.  I agree with every word that has been spoken or written about him.  I am going to give the son-in-law perspective.

I drove down County Line Road for the first time ever on February 14, 1986, to pick up his oldest daughter, Amy, for a date.  It was exactly one week before her 16th birthday.  The significance of that day did not register with me for about 24 years when my oldest daughter went on her first date.  He and I never talked about that day, but I imagine that he had been dreading it for a long time.  I am guessing that he immediately knew that this cocky, mullet-haired young man was not good enough for his daughter, and he had no idea what she saw in him or why she would want to be seen in public with him.  I immediately had a fearful respect for him.  He never threatened me, but I knew that I had better treat his daughter properly.

Obviously, that was not my only trip down County Line Road.  Amy and I dated 4 ½ years and then got married.  During our dating years, I helped Charles on the farm several times.  I was in my late teens and in a lot better shape than I am now, but I was in no shape to begin to keep up with Charles.  If you held a gun to me and said you were going to shoot me if I didn’t match his work level for a day, I would tell you to go ahead and pull the trigger.  There would be no need for me to expend my energy and then be shot after I failed.  I have known a lot of hardworking men, but Charles was the hardest working man I ever met.  He taught me that you do whatever it takes to provide for your family.  Charles loved to work, especially on anything associated with farming.  In the beginning, he worked hard because he had to.  In later years, he worked hard because he wanted to.  I never heard him fuss about how much money Momar spent on kids or grandkids.  Granted, he never knew just how much Momar spent on kids and grandkids, but no amount was too great.  There was literally nothing he would not do for his family.

My position in Charles’ legacy was secured on July 7, 1992.  That is the day Hunter was born.  Hunter was the first grandchild and the fact that he was a boy, after having only daughters, made him even more grand.  Since then, his daughters and son-in-laws have given him 10 more grandchildren and he has made each one of them feel like they are the greatest being ever to be born.  Three of mine and Amy’s children are adopted, but in Charles’ eyes they were HIS grandchildren exactly the same as the other eight. 

From watching Charles over the last 30 years, I have learned how to be a father.  I will never reach the bar he set, but he showed me how it is supposed to be done.  I have never had to worry about failure.  I knew as the caretaker of his daughter and grandchildren, Charles would always be there to pick me up if I stumbled.  I have heard many stories in the last few days about Charles helping friends and neighbors when they were in need.  If he was willing to help friends, you can imagine how willing he was to help family.

Charles never once tried to tell me what to do.  He never got involved in mine and Amy’s personal business.  When I had enough sense to seek his advice, he always gave me sound direction.  I’m sure that after seeing some things I’ve done, he thought to himself – if that moron would have asked me, I could have told him that was a mistake. 

I have asked Amy to get me a pair of Charles’ shoes.  I don’t intend to ever put them on my feet.  I just want a visible reminder of the fact that I will never be man enough to fill his shoes, but when it comes to my family it’s my job to try.

I could add many details about Charles and his life, but as I sit here and think about him, the most profound thing I can say is, “I am a better person for having known Charles Randolph”. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

My Daddy...

Usually when I get the urge to blog, thoughts rumble around in my head and when I sit down to type, it just kind of all flows out.  I woke up this morning, on the morning we lay my Daddy to rest, thinking about a blog to pay tribute to the greatest man I ever knew.  The problem is, I don’t even know where to start. 
Do I start with how he lived his life with honesty and decency, and exemplified the meaning of good character?

Or how he put his family above all else – always. 

Or how he was as dependable as the sunrise.  He worked 37 years and nobody can remember him ever taking a sick day.

Do I start with the fact that somewhere close to 200 people showed up at my parents house within a couple of hours after he died? How does that even happen?  What kind of impact does a person have to make on a community for TWO HUNDRED people to drop what they’re doing and rush over to comfort the family, pitch in on the farm, and cook more food than 10 families could ever eat?

Or how about all the men who came through the visitation line and told me how my daddy had worked with them at Monsanto and taught them everything they know, in the most patient and respectful way imaginable. 

Or all the farmers who told me how many times he just showed up and started working with them because he knew they needed the help.

There were 5 or 6 different people who said to me, “Your daddy was my very best friend”… That’s the kind of man he was. He made everyone feel so important that they all claimed that best friend status.

And his grandchildren.  He thought they hung the moon.  And they knew he did. 

I find great comfort in the fact that he died like he lived – working hard and never complaining.  I never had to see him get old or get sick.  I thank God for that. 

I think Aubree, who is only 4 years old, has the best perspective on it.  Yesterday I was trying to explain and answer questions to Yuri and Gigi when Aubree piped up, “Pappa is soooo lucky.  He gets to live with Jesus and the angels.”

Yes, baby, he is lucky.  And so were we. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Hi Strangers!

I haven’t blogged in a while (August 28 to be exact), so I thought I’d throw out some random thoughts. 

It’s a rainy Saturday on a huge college football day and I am curled up in my chair.  
We had a good (but long) week and I’m so grateful for this quiet relaxing day at home.
As I was listening to the little girls playing house and school this morning, I remembered something Yuri said earlier this week.  She was eating in the kitchen with Gigi.  They were talking about boys and the state of her current relationship.  I won’t name the boy to protect his identity (and save his life since Willard frowns upon boyfriends).  I heard her say, “I broke up with him because we can’t date ‘til we’re 16.  I’m just 9…. So that’s 12 more years…”.   Shaking my head.  I blame Common Core. 

Can you believe it’s November already? It seems like this year is flying by.  I was driving through downtown Hartselle this week at like 5:30 a.m. and it was still dark.  Y’all… Main Street is LIT UP with Christmas lights.  I literally drove down the street with my eyes closed.  I know the holidays are right around the corner, but it was November 2nd.  THE SECOND!  I was really bothered that Christmas was being forced upon us so early until I saw these bad boys in Kroger. 

I’m okay now.  Move along. 

Most of you know that we have a foster baby right now. I haven’t mentioned her much on social media because we really aren’t supposed to say much and I’m a big rule follower.  Okay, stop laughing.  Sometimes I really am a rule follower.  Anyway, we’ve had her since April and she’s 8 months old now.  She has the entire family wrapped around her little finger, but Aubree has a special bond with her.  Aubree has called her “my baby” since day 1.  She has also INSISTED since the beginning that her name is “Peppa”.  Yes, as in Peppa Pig.  Peppa started crawling this week and oh my word.  I forget how much daily life changes when a baby stops staying where you put them! 

The big news of the week was the announcement that Haley Rae is moving to Guatemala.  Yep, she flies out January 2.  This is not a mission trip… it’s a call to the mission field.  There’s a beginning date but not an ending date.  If you ask her how long she’s staying, she’ll say “forever”.   I’m sure I’ll do an entire blog soon dedicated to her new life, but now is not the time.  I am still wrapping my brain around it.  I know all the things I’m supposed to say and the way I’m supposed to feel… I’m just trying to make my head and my heart stick to the same story.  I’ll get there, don’t worry.  Mama just needs a minute. 

Roll Tide.  

Friday, August 28, 2015

I am a terrible sick person!

Lots of random thoughts have gone through my mind today, so I decided to put them in a blog. 

Author’s note: I have taken cold medication this morning, which may explain things.

·        I am a terrible sick person. I don’t get sick often, and when I do it makes me irritable and very impatient. Not a good combination when you’ve got a whole pile of kids.

·        I’ve always heard the old saying “Starve a fever, feed a cold”.  Well, what if you have both?

·        Would it be inappropriate to have Stitch Fix scheduled weekly?  I mean, help me think of a way to justify that.  I see other people getting theirs and I feel really, really jealous.  I currently get one shipment a month.  They should do HALF orders. I would be happy to get 2 items a week.  But I need them to free, if possible. Please and thank you. 

·        I’ve mentioned in previous blogs how much I love Pepperidge Farm Coconut Cake.  I’ve loved it all my life.  When Willard wants to do something sweet for me, he brings me flowers, coconut cake, and (used to!) Blue Bell ice cream.  I don’t buy it for myself because… well, because… I eat the whole dang thing by myself in one day. Anyway, he brought one home to me this week.  I noticed immediately that the box was different, which didn’t really BOTHER me, but I immediately wondered if they changed the cake too.  I am sad to say that yes, they did.  Change is not always good, people.  

·        I shared this with a couple of friends this week, but I’ll share it here too.  If you didn’t watch “Sons of Anarchy”, you can skip this whole paragraph.  Me and Willard went to Bristol last week and as we are driving home, we pass a guy on a motorcycle wearing a “motorcycle club” jacket. As we pass him, Willard makes a comment about “passing Opie”.  Well, I immediately got sad and I felt like I was gonna cry.  I didn’t say anything for a while and Willard finally said, “What’s wrong? You still sad about Opie?” (Let me clarify, there was no concern in his voice… only mockery).  I said, “Actually, no, I’m not.  It suddenly makes perfect sense to me why Kurt Sutter killed off Opie.  Can you imagine how hard it would have been for Opie to see Jax after Tara died?? And the stuff Jax went through at the end of the show?? OMG. I totally forgive Kurt.  He didn’t want Opie to see Jax suffer.”  Willard just stared at like he’s wondering where the closest mental hospital is.  But, if any of y’all are true SOA fans, you totally get this.

·        I love HGTV, especially shows like “House Hunters” and “Love it or List”.  My question is this – HOW DO THOSE NORMAL PEOPLE HAVE BUDGETS OF $600,000?!?!  They’re like “I’m a pre-K teacher and my husband is a full-time student, and our budget is $450,000.”  What.  The.  Heck. 

·        Why do people have kids if they can’t take care of them?  Why does DHR have to step in and take your children away just to get you to do the MINIMUM that’s required to keep your kids?  I understand that people have the right to reproduce, but after you’ve lost custody of 3, 4, EIGHT children, something needs to happen.  No, it’s not politically correct to talk about mandatory sterilization but I’m not feeling particularly politically correct today.

·        I’ve heard the term “citizen’s arrest” on Andy Griffith. Is that a real thing?  Because if it is, I’m wondering if I can be a citizen parking attendant and write tickets at Dollar General.  We watch “Parking Wars” every morning before work/school, and I JUST WISH our dumb drivers would go to Philly one time and see what happens when you park wherever you want.  Chi-ching!!

·        THREE DAYS until Blue Bell is back on the shelf!! I am glad I finally got a date.  I had been calling Kroger every day and they seemed a little annoyed. One young man actually said, “We don’t have Blue Bell but we have other brands of ice cream.”  Ohhhh really, I never thought of that.  *rolling my eyes*

·        I’m a terrible sick person. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

One Hot Mess!!

“Wow… you have your hands full!”  I hear that a lot.  And it’s true, I do.  But it doesn’t usually get to me.  While my life is most definitely full of chaos, I like to tell myself it’s controlled chaos (for the most part).  There are weeks, though, when even *I* question my sanity.  This was one of those weeks. 

There wasn’t one particular thing that made it so crazy.  It was just EVERYTHING combined.  My job is crazy busy, my CASA cases required extra time and attention, my laundry was piled up to the ceiling, I was doing respite for another foster family, so I had 5 little girls and the oldest is 8.  There were 9 people living in my house this week. 

Wednesday was bad.  I was running all over the country taking kids to visits, had a couple of appointments, got chewed out by a client, had a crisis situation with a CASA case, kept having to pull off the side of the road to answer emails…. Just a crazy, crazy day.  I knew I would be gone all day so I disbursed my kids here and there.  Between daycare and sitters, I had kids scattered everywhere. 

As the day was winding down, I started making pickups.  I was in a hurry because Yuri, Gigi, and Aubree had been attending an evening VBS all week, and it was due to start in about an hour.  I’m running around picking up kids here and there, and when I get to Aubree’s daycare, I walked in to sign her out.  My first thought was hmmm… I forgot to sign her in.  Then I saw the daycare workers looking at me like I had two heads, and it hit me.  SHE WASN’T EVEN AT DAYCARE. She was at home with a sitter.  How do you cover that up?  Well, you don’t. You feel like an idiot and try to laugh it off, all the while making a mental note to Google “early signs of dementia” when you get home.  Fortunately, the girls at daycare were good sports and they laughed too (AT me, not WITH me). 

So, maybe my hands ARE too full.  I’ve given it a lot of thought and it’s with a heavy heart that I need to announce that I have to give something up.  I just can’t do everything anymore. The problem is, there is nothing I do that I can just walk away from.  I have to have someone ready to step in for me, or …. I don’t know what… but SOMETHING bad would happen.  Having said that, I’m turning to you for help.

Who wants to volunteer to take over my laundry?