Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mad Skills

Matt here.

This weekend I was showing a friend of ours, Delane, some work I did on the house. After seeing the hardwood floors I installed in our master closet (see below), she turned and said "Matt, man you have Mad Skills!"

One part of me was all bashful (aka self-shaming), thinking "oh, it was no big deal, I'm not as good as...." The other part of me, the new me that is trying to get out of my shell and LIVE, was saying "Damn right I've got Mad Skills!!"

So, let's take a look at the mad skills I've learned while rehabing this house:

  • I can demo a house (if I get lung cancer it is because of the plaster, and not the smoking I did in high school)

  • Don't give breakfast money up front to a crackhead that's working on your house (I think he's still eatn' at the Waffle House)

  • Don't have an open pit fire with 12 ft boards burn during the day, the fire fighters didn't like having to drive the truck in the alley and hose it down

  • I can plumb a house
  • I can install a tankless water heater (next time I won't need JMac's help)
  • I can install any fixture, light, sink or toilet known to man
  • Trim, not a problem - as long as you have a ton of caulk

  • Hanging a door is as easy as a politician spending my money

  • Siding is a piece of cake

  • Don't believe the tenant who lives upstairs is really smoking a cigar that just happens to smell like pot
  • Don't hire a painter who is off thier meds (can you believe he painted the outside of my house in the rain?!)

  • 40 ozers aren't that bad (if you understand this, go to AA tonight)

  • Matching the stain of a mantle and hanging the mantle (even if I procrastinated for about a month) isn't that hard

  • Thanks to Eloy Saban (Temp Control 615-586-2495), I can install electrical plugs and run wire
  • Don't leave two claw foot tubs in your back yard, they will get stolen. But if you do, get a homeless man to live in your house while you renovate- great security. Also, came to be a good friend.

  • Most important, I learned how to back-up my trailer with my big 'ol van
Mad Skills I taught my kids:
  • how to paint trim

  • how to cut back wires from the plastic coating

  • how to think ahead before you start a project (what you need, how you will do it, how to properly set-up your workspace, and how to keep safe)

  • why caulk is so important

  • how to start a fire in a 50 gallon drum!!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Seven Things

I'm stealing this from Michelle Brown, my neighbor when we lived in Spring Hill, TN.

7 things I want to do before I die
1. Learn Spanish.
2. Have a Beach House.
3. Be a Grandma.
4. Have a fabulous sanctuary of a flower garden.
5. Own a bookstore.
6. Learn to watercolor.
7. Skydive.

7 things I can do
1. Bake great cookies.
2. Type really fast.
3. Connect people with other people who know the answers to their questions.
4. Homeschool 4 children, so far.
5. Get places on time with all the kids.
6. Dream. I'm a great dreamer, as in setting lofty, lofty goals.
7. Find great deals on Craigslist.

7 things I cannot do
1. Anything technical, DVD players, computers, cell phones.
2. Sew.
3. Paint a room without making a mess.
4. Manage dust.
5. Make a homecooked meal every night.
6. Throw a great birthday party.
7. Relax. I really struggle with this one, but I really long for this talent.

7 things I say most often
1. Stop.
2. Pick up your shoes.
3. Flush the toilet.
4. Get in the van.
5. Quiet.
6. Wait your turn.
7. Love you.

So, let me hear from some of you!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

For a Good Time, add Helium

the kids and I went to a local bookstore that opened today called FairyTale Bookstore. Everybody got balloons, cookies, lemonade, and had a blast looking at all the cool stuff. Think "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" on a smaller scale.

Anyways, on the way home they discovered they could make tiny holes in their balloons and suck out the air. We were all busting a gut to Chipmunk tunes and ABCs in helium-voice the whole way home. I wish I had a helium tank around for rainy days.

Nia's creativity never ceases to amaze me. She was making a jacket for Isabel's Diego doll, but Isabel wanted the fabric to be blue instead of white. So, Nia put the jacket in a bowl of water, dipped her blue magic marker in to turn the color, then put the bowl in the microwave to heat it up for dying. I just never would've thought of that. Ever. Not even on a good day.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Yesterday was another hard day with Nia. After these days I feel like I've been hit by a Semi. It takes everything out of me to listen to how God wants me to handle her. I am required to exercise extreme self-control over my own anger and rage. If you've ever had anyone in your life who just pushes your buttons, who sometimes bullies others, and who is just plain mean occasionally, then you'll know what I'm talking about.

The whole thing started over a bottle of nail polish. A BOTTLE OF NAIL POLISH!!

After 5 hours of dealing with her drama, she finally came to me ready to talk about the morning. She asked forgiveness and admitted her wrong-doings. Her face had softened and her demeanor was approachable. We talked about how yucky it feels to hold on to our anger and how the enemy uses it to steal our joy and energy. And how good it feels to repent and be forgiven, and have our relationships restored with our family.

I felt like I was watching Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. She joined in with her siblings and played like a little girl again. It's like I lose her during these bouts of Dr. Jekyl, and then I get her back after a while.

If it were not for her quick recovery today (yes, 5 hours is quick for her. It used to be days), I would be losing hope with her. In November she will have been home a year. I cannot forget the progress we've all made in dealing with her woundedness.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wanna share your story?

This is a request from my friend, Shelby Rawson, one of the authors of "Daddy, Do You Love Me?"

She writes, "I am a part-time web content manager for a Christian parenting website. Normally, I write about pre-school parenting issues, but they’ve asked me to write on parenting adopted children. Would you mind if I cited some entries from your blog if need be? Do you have any other recommendations for me? I was just informed of this request on Friday and I have to get all of my articles in by 9/30. Niiiiice. Plus, I’m 38 weeks pregnant. I need to get my hands on all the material I can in the next week. Let me know if you are aware of any other blogs, newsletters, etc. that might be helpful."

So, if you'd like to share your adoption blogs with Shelby, just post your blog address as a response.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Trying on Jeans

There's nothing like trying on jeans that will drive a woman to drinking.

I thought I'd give it a whirl today since I had some time by myself (thank you, Matt). So, I started out at Old Navy. I knew deep in my heart that anyone past puberty shouldn't try on jeans there. But I thought, maybe, just maybe there might be a chance for me since I'd been working out for 6 months. Six l-o-n-g months. But I was wrong. In fact, I've never been more wrong.

Then I went to the upscale mall to try out Lucky jeans, which came highly recommended from a friend. Never mind they cost about $110, for the right pair a woman will eat beans and rice for 3 months to afford a pair of jeans that look good on her. Anyways, I walked in, told the sales clerk I'd never set in foot in the store before and needed help. She cheerily went to work pulling out all manner of jeans for me to try. Although I felt shrink-wrapped in her selections, she insisted that they would loosen up after a couple of days. So, what was I supposed to do during those 2 days when I couldn't breathe?

My mood was plunging to depths that would require huge amounts of chocolate to self-medicate as I left Lucky empty-handed. Whatever happened to good ole jeans that were your best friend? Jeans that had a zipper longer than 1/2 inch? Jeans that didn't gap open at the back of your waist? Jeans that were high enough in back to cover your butt crack when you sit down? Jeans that left something to one's imagination instead of revealing every single body flaw known to womankind?

Tell me, please! What jeans have been your faithful friend?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Love Hunger

We're all born with Love Hunger. Babies in orphanages who are only fed bottles without being held have a greater chance of dying than those babies who are held, hugged, and cuddled while being fed. It's part of our survival.

There have been times when I've felt like Nia must have been born without that Love Hunger. Seems like she fights any affection and love we offer to her. And she really doesn't return any towards us.

Last week I had another Come To Jesus Meeting with her because her behavior had gotten out of hand. The attitude of jealousy, ungratefulness, pride, superiority had reached a climax. I just can't ever tell if I'm getting through to her when we have these talks.

So, I was putting her to bed with the usual kiss on the forehead, followed by I Love You, Nia. I started to leave the bedroom listening for her standard, "Good Night." But instead she said, "Good Night. I love you." I hesitated at the door, turned and smiled at her. I was so taken aback that I didn't know what to do! She has only ever said this one time before, right after she came home 9 months ago. That's it.

It didn't happen the next night. Or the next one. But tonight it happened again. And I just fell completely apart right there and then. I simply put my hand on her shoulder and wept. She DOES have Love Hunger. And so do I.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


We've been back in our homeschooling schedule for 3 weeks now. The first week there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth. I am thrilled to finally have an actual school room this year with absolutely everything I need contained in one place. No more kitchen table schooling, no more bookcases in the hallway, no more maps on the kitchen wall.

Jacob is 3rd grade, Clive and Nia are 2nd, and Hudson started Kindergarten. The older the kids get, the more time it will take to do school each day because the level of difficulty increases in their subjects. At some point I'll need to hire tutors when the subjects surpass my knowledge. For example, I don't know Spanish, but we can use Rosetta Stone on the computer up to a point. I'm also not very good in Science.

My biggest challenge is trying to make up for all the lost lessons that Nia never got. As parents we teach our children things from Day One that we don't we realize we are teaching. We lay building blocks of knowledge that later prepare them for math and reading. When a child like Nia doesn't get that foundation, it makes teaching so much harder because I didn't ever consciously teach my others what they needed to know. They naturally learned sorting, grouping, matching, counting, language, etc. Nia has difficulty understanding the value of numbers. She doesn't know which is greater, 5 or 8. She doesn't understand that if I add 1 to 7, then I have 8. The other day I had her lay out 50 numbered cards from 1 to 50 in order. It took her 30 minutes and several tries. It just hasn't clicked that there's a pattern to the numbers that continues over and over. Since I like math and took lots of it in school, I feel like beating my head against the wall sometimes when we spend 10 minutes on 2+3. Just another opportunity for me to grow, I guess.

Otherwise, Jacob and Nia start their golf lessons next week (check out First Tee; it only costs $20 for 8 lessons). Awana has started back, and my Precept Bible Study kicked off, too. Our schedules got full in a matter of days. Keeping margin in this family is a constant struggle. If we didn't monitor our activities, we'd be on the go constantly without any Down Time.