The main source of my chaos...

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?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Glimpse Into My World....

Randomness.  That's what this blog is about.  Just a few random things that have happened in my world over the past few days.

There was the night before Easter when the Easter Bunny finally had all the candy put out for the kids and then she noticed a note from Gigi....

Well, of course, the "Ester" Bunny had to say yes.  So she found herself in the front yard at 11 p.m. hiding plastic eggs in the bushes.

Willard's side of the family meets at the park for Easter lunch.  A mud puddle full of tadpoles and some red Solo cups made for great fun... but bad news for Aubree's BRAND new shoes.

Easter at the Randoph farm followed... How many of you had your Easter egg hunt around a John Deere plow?  (I think it's a plow... it's green and you pull it behind a tractor)

And then yesterday morning I had court for CASA.  I drove around the courthouse for seriously 20 minutes looking for parking place but I couldn't find ANYTHING. I finally parked in a spot that was clearly marked "no parking" but it wasn't blocking anything and it seemed like the only option. I wrote a nice little note and stuck it to my windshield that said "I am sorry for parking here but I couldn't find another spot.  Please don't give me a ticket".  In case you're wondering if it worked...

And then Willard was in a terrible accident.  With his razor.

A few months ago, we got this precious fluffy yellow cat from the vet. We named him Petey but we call him Fuzzy Cat most of the time.  He's the friendliest kitty ever and lets our girls torture him and dress him up and strap him in the doll stroller.  Willard pretends like he doesn't like him because he's not a "real" cat.  He says unless he catches mice, he's worthless.  Well, guess what...  our sweet kitty showed up at the kitchen window this morning with a prize for us.

A day of work, two dentist appointments, and a softball game today.  I'm sure there are more random moments coming!

Friday, April 3, 2015

It's Friday....

A few months ago, I remember reading something in my women’s bible study book that really stuck out.  The book is by Angela Thomas, and I believe she’s quoting E.V. Hill….

It’s Friday.  Jesus is arrested in the garden where He was praying. But Sunday’s coming.
It’s Friday.  The disciples are hiding and Peter’s denying that he knows the Lord. But Sunday’s coming.
It’s Friday. Jesus is standing before the high priest of Israel, silent as a lamb before the slaughter.  But Sunday’s coming. 
It’s Friday.  Jesus is beaten, mocked, and spit upon.  But Sunday’s coming…
And on that horrible day 2,000 years ago, Jesus the Christ, the Lord of glory, the only begotten Son of God, the only perfect man… died on the cross of Calvary. Satan thought that he had won the victory… BUT THAT WAS FRIDAY.

Even though I distinctly remember reading this a few months ago and it having an impact on me then, it has even more impact on me today.  Sometimes when you’re going through changes or have big decisions to make, it feels like Friday in your heart.  I’m so glad these words hit me again (in the middle of the night, of course, when I have my most important thoughts).  It may feel like Friday in your heart, but hang in there… Sunday’s a-coming!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

I found my thing!

You know how Jeff Gordon drives a race car.... and Keith Urban plays guitar.... and Colonel Sanders does chicken?  It's just their THING.  It's what they do.

Y'all, I found MY thing.  It's called CASA and I can't wait to tell you more about it.

Here's the official word:

What is CASA for Children?

Every day in this country, 1,900 children become victims of abuse or neglect, and four of them will die. Every day. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children is a network of 951 community-based programs that recruit, train and support citizen-volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in courtrooms and communities. Volunteer advocates—empowered directly by the courts—offer judges the critical information they need to ensure that each child’s rights and needs are being attended to while in foster care or for children whose safety has been called into question by the court.
Volunteers stay with children until they are placed in loving permanent homes. For many abused children, a CASA volunteer is the only constant adult presence in their lives.
Do you know a child who is living in a meth house?  Or who is being abused by her mother's boyfriend? Or who has missed 18 days of school this year because Mom just doesn't feel like waking up to take him to school? If you answered no, then you are wrong.  You DO know a child in this situation because they are your neighbors. They are in your local elementary school.  They may even be in your church.  
At some point, if they're lucky, someone will notice that these children are living in danger and they will enter the juvenile court system. This can happen through a private custody case (such as a grandparent petitioning for custody) or through a DHR case (where the child has been removed from the home and is in foster care).  That's when CASA comes in.  We are appointed by the courts to help determine what is in the best interest of the child.  We speak with the child, parents, family members, social workers, school officials, health providers and others who are knowledgeable about the child’s history. The CASA volunteer also reviews all records pertaining to the child — school, medical and case worker reports; and other documents. We compile all our information and submit a recommendation to the court as to whether it is in a child’s best interest to stay with his or her parents or guardians, be placed in foster care, be placed with other relatives, or be freed for permanent adoption.
Since CASA of North Alabama was started in November, we have advocated for 35 children.  We have 9 active volunteers (and 11 more who have completed training and will be sworn in soon).  These volunteers pour their heart and soul into every case.  It's heartbreaking and exhilarating all at the same time.  It's exhilarating because you know you are making a difference, but it's heartbreaking because you see things that just should never happen.  Our volunteers become advocates, mentors, friends, and sometimes the only Jesus these children will ever see.  We take them Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, school supplies... anything we see that they need.  Maybe some young man needs a calculator for math class.  Or a teen mom needs diapers for her baby.  Or an 8-year-old can't enjoy the SNOW of the century because he doesn't have appropriate outerwear.  We pay attention to those kinds of things and we FIX it.  Maybe we just visit their school and eat lunch with them once a month.  It may very well be the first time anybody has ever taken the time to come to school and eat with them.  
I love my thing.  I want to do my thing forever.  And I want you to HELP me do my thing.  We need funding.  We are a non-profit organization and we depend on private funding to keep us afloat.  

Will you consider making a donation to CASA?  Any amount, no matter how small or how large, will be appreciated.

To make a donation

Please note that you can make a one-time donation (GREAT!!) or a recurring monthly donation (EVEN BETTER!!).

This is tax deductible for individuals and businesses.  If you own a business and a need a philanthropy project, please consider CASA.  

Thank you, my peeps, for all your support.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Bring on 2015!!

Well, 2014 is gone and 2015 is here.  Ready or not!  My resolutions are usually related to weight loss, exercise, and laundry management.  This year I’m going to be more realistic, and I’m also going to make resolutions that matter so much more than what size my jeans are.

I resolve to be more patient with my littles.  When Yuri asks me for the 10th time in 2 hours if she can download a new game, I resolve to still say no….. but in a nicer way.  I resolve to change the sheets for the third time in a week because of an overnight accident with a smile on my face.  I resolve to belly laugh along with Aubree when we are watching the same episode of “Peppa Pig” for the 4th time in a row. 

I resolve to do the little things that make my husband happy.  I’ll make that enchilada casserole that nobody else in the family likes.  I’ll watch “Machinery Pete” or “Pigman” without rolling my eyes and making sarcastic comments.  I will cross my fingers that he thinks going to Talladega this year is a great idea, but I won’t throw a fit if he vetoes it. 

I resolve to listen to my big kids.  I mean, really listen.  I want them to tell me their dreams and their plans… what makes them happy, and what makes them sad.  I want to support whatever they want.  I just hope it doesn’t involve obliterating my checking account. 

I resolve to advocate for children who can’t advocate for themselves.  Becoming a part of CASA (court appointed special advocates) was one of the best things that happened to me in 2014.  It’s hard and it’s heartbreaking and it’s frustrating… that’s for sure… but it’s necessary.  Now that the need is so apparent to me, there’s no way I can turn my back on it.  I want to be the voice of the child in 2015. 

I resolve to be more tolerant to those around me who are so absolutely so ridiculous and annoying that I want to punch them right in the face.  I haven’t walked in their shoes.  Who knows, I might be equally as obnoxious if I had. 

And finally, I resolve to stop and smell the roses.  Life is passing us by, folks.  The years pass so much faster than they did when I was younger.  I notice things now that I never noticed before.  Sunrises, sunsets, leaves changing, flowers blooming.  I promise to slow 
down and enjoy what God has created. 

I hope you all have a healthy, safe, and blessed 2015!