Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cajes recites the 23rd Psalm

For preschool Cajes was taught the 23rd Psalm and will be reciting this on January 20th in chapel. I didn't know he knew it and was caught off guard with the camera when he asked me to tape him. Well, after the first take I realized I had missed some of it and decided to do a re-take. This is what unfolded. A stamping his foot, angry version of one of the sweetest verses in the Bible.

Cajes sings the blessing

Giving Thanks (better late than never)

Note the date---expired in 1985!!
Sorry mama!

For most of you who TRULY know me-- you know that I love Thanksgiving! I love to cook, I love to eat, and most of all it's my mama's favorite of all holidays so it's special to me because it's special to her. I also like that there's no hustle and bustle that comes with the anticipation of Christmas....the frenzy of presents and having to see everyone in such a short period of time...some of them are the same people you see all year too....which is odd. Don't get me wrong I like Christmas with all of it's traditions well enough, but Thanksgiving has a laid back and relaxing feeling unlike other holidays. And this Thanksgiving was exceptionally enjoyable. We cooked and ate and relaxed, playing Scrabble (which I won at...) and then we roasted Marshmallows on the back porch with Cajes for the first time in his life...a sweet moment (no pun intended).

Collage of Love

~Please click on the picture to magnify the smaller images~

Below I've compiled a list of things I am thankful for
(in no particular order).
I suppose you could say
"These are a few of my favorite things".

1. Cajes laughing
2. Ben's faithful love
3. Wonderful family--immediate and extended
4. Great friends who are like family to us
5. My camera and having an archive of photographs all the way back to my childhood
6. Icing, but not cake
7. Birds in synchronized flight
8. Sushi
9. The smell of fresh cut grass, rain or Christmas trees
10. My job at Open Hearts (including our awesome staff and wonderful students)
11. Sand between my toes and hearing waves crash
12. Rock Stacks, Cairns, Inuksuk's
13. Live music and the memories we made at shows
14. Long baths in deep bathtubs
15. Eucalyptus & Lavender
16. Creating new things from old things--Altered artwork
17. My IPod and ITunes
18. Soft blankets and a bed to sleep in at night
19. The Screen Door and The L.O.F.T.
20. County and State Fairs
21. That Barak Obama was elected as the 44th President and we got to witness History in the making
22. Having a big front porch and a little pond
23. Rocking chairs....well, old chairs of any kind really
24. Finding a father when I was 35 years old
25. Pomegranate Martinis
26. Quiet time
27. Good books
28. Xanax (for anxiety--not for fun)
29. That people love me the way I am
30. Finding someone who can cut my hair the way I want it--not the way they want it
31. Having pets (Dempsey who is 11, and Lucy who is 15)
32. Memories of my childhood--making mud pies and wearing Hee-Haw overalls
33. Wild flowers in mason jars
34. Old friends....some I've had since elementary school
35. Folk art
36. Being at my mom's house
37. Love letters
38. Artwork Cajes has made
39. The smell of Cajes after a bath and how cute he looks in footie pajamas
40. Creme Brulee & Coca~Cola (not together--well, maybe)
41. Reliable transportation
42. Comfort and understanding when I'm down
43. The hope of our future
44. Good health ---relatively--- :)
{Some may disagree on this one -- but it could always be worse}
45. Rainbows and 4-leaf clovers
46. A little bit of TV...(esp. The Office, American Idol, Survivor, & Mystery Diagnosis)
47. That Ben is finished with school and we both have careers we care about
48. Cell phones--crazy but true...
49. A pool when it's hot outside
50. That my husband likes to keep the house as tidy as me (well, almost)
51. Keens
52. Spellcheck
53. Hydrangeas--more blue than pink
54. Facebook
55. Hardwood floors
56. Having a dishwasher
57. Miracles
58. Playgrounds--particularly swingsets
59. Living in Weaverville
60. Days I get to sleep late

Cajes makes Dempsey wear the Fire Chief hat...

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Friday, November 7, 2008


I know the name of my blog is It's the Little Things--well THIS is no LITTLE THING! This is HUGE and I felt the need to post my thoughts about it...

Over the course of the past 2 years I have been hopeful yet nervous, and excited yet reluctant to get too attached to the idea that we may get to witness the most profound moment in political history in our era...and yet we have!! And I am overjoyed with pride to have had a hand in making this happen because my vote was among the 62 million people who decided it was time for a change in the dynamics of our United States. It was worth being raked through the coals by many people who did not see the vision Obama had to relish this day of anticipated victory! Today George Stephanopolous likened this momentous event to Lincoln being elected in 1860, Rooselvelt in 1932 and Reagan in 1980. This is a man who was able to pull even staunch Republicans over the line with his sincerely inclusive mind frame.

As reported by CBS News on November 5th:
"As far as epochal moments of a nation are concerned, the election of Barack Obama to be the forty-fourth President of the United States is virtually certain to rank near the very top. While the historical, sociological and political meaning of campaign 2008 will be written about and analyzed for a generation or more, the immediate impact of the election results is this: A sweeping mandate for Obama’s campaign mantra of change.

Indeed, Obama’s election arguably represents the most dramatic break from the status quo ever in presidential politics. The first black president, one with a less-than-familiar name, is in so many ways a complete repudiation of everything about the presidency of George W. Bush.

The once-improbable Democratic candidate has ridden the twin themes of “hope” and “change” into the White House, and that, combined with his juggernaut of a campaign operation fueled by unprecedented fundraising, has helped his party extend its advantages in Congress to the point where there is a real possibility of sweeping changes in the country’s direction. The sheer size of the victory would be mandate enough, but Obama’s is a promise of fundamental, radical change, not incremental adjustments, giving even more impetus to his agenda.

Throughout the course of the election, Obama became a symbol for the frustrations, anxiety and concerns of a country in the midst of economic crisis and war. He systematically sought to connect himself to transformational leaders and moments from the nation’s past - Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and the Civil Rights movement were among those most commonly referenced - he even spoke kindly of Republican icon Ronald Reagan.

Now, with an election victory the size of which has been unseen in presidential election in decades, this young President-elect has the expectations of that lineage to fulfill.

“There will be setbacks and false starts,” Obama cautioned in his victory speech early Wednesday morning. “There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.”

Obama will have time. Americans traditionally afford their new presidents a honeymoon period. Considering the massive problems his new administration will face, it can’t possibly be enough. And after all the confetti is swept away, Americans will not let the promises Obama made fade. They elected him to fulfill those promises, and they are many and big. But he has a mandate to try."

And I personally count myself among the ranks of Americans who are willing to try something different and get behind a President that embodies passion and determination. I'm excited to support the man who has given a warm and inviting face to the fact that we can overcome boundaries to becomes anything we desire if we really want it badly enough---and that we can have unity even through diversity!

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer."

"A new dawn of American leadership is at hand!" (Obama)

I no doubt wept as Obama spoke eloquently (as always) and I began to think of all of the historical figures that paved the way for his success. From Abraham Lincoln to Rosa Parks, and Medgar Evers to Dr. King, Lyndon B Johnson, John F Kennedy and especially Barack Obama's precious grandmother who passed one day short of his victory. In the words of my friend Van "I'd like to think that somehow she knew that he could pull this off, and that she didn't have to hold on any longer than she could." Lord knows there was celebrating and mass jubilation in Heaven on Tuesday night!

Finally I want to conclude with a quote from Cornel West (Princeton Professor) on Bill Maher last Friday night-- 10/31/08. This quote touched me so much that I had Ben rewind the DVR over and over to listen carefully and write it down word for word.

“It’s an exciting time….when you see this kind of desperation. It really is a last gasp of the conservative era where the economics of greed, the culture of indifference and the politics of fear have been brought together in such a way that it hides and conceals the plight of poor people and working people…..The real question is –Can we generate a commitment to fairness and justice in the face of greed—Can we generate compassion in the face of indifference and can we generate hope in the face of fear? That’s what Brother Barack is all about!”

On a lighter note: I don't idolize Obama by any means....I'm just celebrating the joy of a new day....a breath of fresh air was much needed in the stuffy and stale White House. Despite all of the nitty-gritty political jargon....I'm just happy to see a family in there---with a husband and wife that have real connection with each other and their children...and they seem to embody what the family structure should represent. It's nice to fincally see some love.

I LOVE Fall!

Pumpkin Carving, Snow Before Halloween
and NOT Trick-or-Treating

A few weekends back we had a pumpkin carving party with some friends... Below are some of the images but there isn't much to say about the event that hasn't been said before. We Eat, Drink, Socialize, Repeat. :) Not to discount our entertaining evening or anything--we no doubt had a good time as always...but the end result was that it was more for the kids than the adults---but we did drink some great wine...

Snow on 10/28/08

So...Cajes had a Halloween party at his preschool called a Noah's Ark Party and they could only be animals or Biblical figures. He wanted to be Jesus nailed to the cross but I explained that it probably wouldn't go over too well with his teachers and friends at he opted for an alligator. We looked high and low for an alligator costume and I ended up having to alter an dinosaur suit to be alligator-ish. Anyway....he took the costume to school and then would NOT wear it during the party or any other part of the day. He went the entire day with his classmates in costumes as his hung on the door all by itself. Then that evening we were supposed to go Trick-or-Treating in BeBe and Bob-Bob's neighborhood--the Rose Garden. Cajes had been excited all month because he was going to be a race car driver (not Kasey Kahne though because they don't make Budweiser costumes for 4 year olds) and he couldn't wait to wear his outfit!!! ---but before we ever made it to the first house Cajes had a total meltdown. He never even got 1 piece of candy. It turns out he was getting sick with a cold and got up the Saturday morning with a fever and shivered all weekend. So much for Halloween 2008 and 4 year old Trick-or-Treating memories. The only thing we have to show for it is when he tried his alligator costume on Thursday night....and his crying episode when we left to go Trick-or-Treating. ~~Oh well.... maybe next year.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Cajes started real preschool this week... No more of the 1/2 days, a couple of days a week or month.... Nope! This is the real dealio. Already working on his vowels and the consonants b, l, and t.... Sound like something I love.

"See my name!"

"Scissors, I really like scissors!"

Well, he loves it! Especially having his name on the table where he sits. A tangible way to identify his commitment to this big endeavor for a four year old who is very comfortable as well as used to Mamaw's House of Love.... Now he's thrown in to coloring with specific crayons, singing vowel songs, having chapel on Tuesday, Show-n-Tell day on Wednesday and practicing writing and identifying letters, learning to read and write numbers, as well as practicing phonics and story retention. We think he loves it. The first day I went to pick him up he threw his hand to his hip and announced "what are you doing here so early?"....but it was time to go. So that's a good sign I guess. Anyway---we'll keep ya posted on what he learns.....

Concentrating on building a Silo (what else?)...

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Tip of a Mountain

"The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome.
The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valley to traverse."
Helen Keller

Most of you have watched the Price is Right and hopefully remember the game where the little hill climber goes steadily up the mountain as some giddy yodeling music plays in the background...well--if I could pinpoint the feeling of our climb to the place we have arrived at today that is similar to what I envision. However, on the Price is Right when the little mountain climber reaches the top of the hill he helplessly topples over the tip of the mountain, yet I feel like we are standing on the top of Mt. Everest waving a big red flag that says "WE FINALLY MADE IT"!!!

Ben got sworn in as an official attorney in the historic Buncombe County Superior Courtroom this afternoon--a monumental moment for us all. When asked why he wanted to pursue this career path he said "it is a job that I can enjoy and that has some redeeming societal value knowing that I can help people". Being a service provider myself I find this special as well as comforting knowing we have this similar, yet different, view of taking care of others.

After 3 years of law school, living hundreds of miles away, preparing for the bar and then the grueling month of waiting for the results, a cut and infected leg, and a rigorous move home we are finally at the end of the cycle of frustration and are relishing in the victory of RELIEF! I say "we" like I got sworn in too...but truly, I feel as happy as if it were happening directly to us as a family as much as it was to Ben personally, and it was. We did this together and it's so nice knowing that we can check this very big goal off of the "to-do" list of our life.

Thank you to our parents, family, friends and my co-workers (who are among my very closest friends) who encouraged us and loved us even when we were grouchy, tired and unlovable --because we recognize that it was through your support that we are where we are today!

Cajes swearing to ALWAYS "tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."
(I may have to keep this picture on the refrigerator as a reminder of his oath, especially when he is a teenager.)

~Cajes on the witness stand~


"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
Martin Luther King Jr

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Celebrating 4 Years of Cajes!!

"Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous.
It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body."
Elizabeth Stone
Don-Don came up in the middle of the night to set up his birthday swing set and then drove home before Hurricane Hannah....

Cajes turned 4 last Monday and we are so proud of the little man he is turning out to be. He loves his new swing set, playing outside, going to pre-school, helping me and his daddy with anything we may be doing and playing with toys. He still loves Kasey Kahne, Indians, Pirates, being an Artist, Diego, Thomas the train, any fire and rescue vehicles, as well as any construction equipment, and especially Jesus and angels…

We had a little party on Saturday the 6th to celebrate with some of our friends and family—please forgive me for not mentioning everyone by name— then Sunday we went downtown to the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival with Aunt Kim who came in to town especially for the party. On Monday Mamaw wanted to take Cajes to the fair for his actual birth day and that was a lot of fun, minus the freak show component located conveniently in the kiddie area nonetheless. Cajes enjoyed the few rides he rode, especially pretending he was a race car driver and mostly just playing the silly rigged games that the fair gouges families with. We did take home a plastic sword and a stuffed bear and that made it all worth the while for Cajes.


In light of Cajes turning 4, I felt compelled to share the story of Cajes’s birth, as it was the most pivotal and important moment in all of my life—also one of the most memorable and amusing in hindsight. For those of you who know this story don’t feel obliged to re-live it through the narrative below…but for those of you who haven’t heard this story or who have forgotten it, feel free to read and laugh…as it is hard not to.

This excerpt was taken out of the front of Cajes’s baby book:

"Your birth was a surreal experience that began at 6PM on Monday the 6th (of September 2004 for those of you not familiar with this story)… Labor Day nonetheless…When we went in to Labor and Delivery they wanted to “ripen” my cervix overnight with medicine called Cervadil. At 6AM on the morning of the 7th a nurse resembling Attila the Hun comes barreling in to our room where your dad and I were sleeping comfortably and announced that if I had any intention of getting an Epidural that day that I needed to go ahead and get the line put in now because there were back to back C-Sections lined up for the day— and I had to decide right then, without wiping the sleep from my eyes, whether I wanted one or not. Erring on the side of caution I agreed to go ahead and get it because I had been a labor coach twice before and I was not disillusioned enough to think I could possibly push something the size of a football (or maybe larger) out of me without medication. By 7AM I had been visited by the anesthesiologist and was prepped and ready with the Epidural line hanging out of my back.

By this time Hurricane Frances was starting to flood Asheville, as water was rising in Biltmore Village at a rapid pace and the nurses were all buzzing around discussing the effects of the storm and comparing notes on who had it the worst at their house—whose road was washed out, whose barn was flooded and how many other nurses weren’t showing up for their shifts. Meanwhile I am hooked up to a Pitocin drip and labor progressed. By 2PM I had only dilated to 3 cm. Dr. Travis thought we could and should speed things up by breaking my water. Keep in mind I had not received any medication at this point, only gotten the line inserted….I should have thought about that before allowing my water to be broken because for those of you uninformed about obstetrics it requires the doctor to insert their hand and a hook into places that strangers aren’t welcomed gladly. Once that agonizing procedure was complete real labor became very painful. Contractions were coming rapidly—one on top of the next and I finally decided I wanted the drugs…tap my line. The rest of the day was spent….well, laboring.

When midnight arrived and I hadn’t dilated beyond 4 cm. Dr. Travis highly encouraged us to get a C-Section as the window of opportunity for Cajes to arrive on his own was slowly dwindling and his heart rate was going up and down. For hours the one sweet nurse who wasn’t immersed in the frenzy of the Hurricane kept coming in a flipping me from side to side to keep his heart rate in a normal range—God love her.

At 12:05 AM I was wheeled into the operating room shaking like a leaf from major fear combined with lots of medicine…at 12:26 AM on the 8th of September Cajes was born. All I remember of that moment was laying on the operating table, arms spread out like Jesus on the cross, and feeling certain this was the closest I had come to death in my life. However, in the background of my comatose state I could hear the nurses and anesthesiologists prepping me, talking about what was going on with the flood, who was coming to assist from what department all the while Paula Abdhul’s “Do, do you love me--tell me baby?” played on a radio. Then I heard Boys II Men…”So we’ve come to the end of the road…” and began to get more concerned that maybe I already was dead. At that point I was slipping in and out of consciousness until Ben arrived and the surgery began. Within minutes I heard Dr. Travis saying “He’s solid” and I mumbled trying to ask if they were sure he was a boy and if he had hair. Then he was passed to Ben who immediately began to console him as they stitched me up.

Lots of people were there to greet Cajes into the world—all of whom had waited since early morning and it was now the middle of Wednesday night…my parents, Ben’s parents, Mamaw, Aunt Carol, Uncle Ted and Heather. Cajes was like a king being born—the first grandchild on both sides of the family and the first boy on my mom’s side of the family in 53 years—hence me asking if they were positive he was a boy. Ben and I were overcome with love and were awestruck from the moment we saw him.

Because I was Strep B positive and he had a slight temperature (less than 2 degrees) the Pediatrician felt like he should go on antibiotics until meningitis could be absolutely ruled out. I was so still delirious they could have told me they sold him to the circus and I wouldn’t have put up a fuss…because when I say they gave me drugs I mean major drugs like morphine combined with other mind numbing medicines. Thank God Ben had the wherewithal to follow the Doctors and Cajes up to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and make sure he got settled in comfortably. I was in a recovery room as they prepped a room in the Mother/Baby unit for us. I didn’t realize they intended on keeping Cajes in the NICU for 4 more days…but later found out it was precautionary.

As Cajes was getting settled in the NICU they attempted to get us settled in Mother/Baby. Just as soon as all of our family left to go home and sleep in their nice cozy beds the power in the hospital went out because of Hurricane Frances. Now I’m sure you are thinking—they must have back up power, and yes they do…but it runs only a minimal amount of electricity. This does not include the air conditioning!! After the major surgery of a C-section I was forced to lie in my own sweat and filth feeling like spiders were weaving a web in my hair as bugs were coming out of my skin from the Morphine leaving my body. Ben was so exhausted that he started snoring obnoxiously on the little couch in our room. At this point I was miserable and began throwing things at him to startle him in an attempt to stop the snoring long enough for me to go to sleep—to no avail. Finally I called the nurse and she got me some sleep medicine and a sip, and I mean SIP of water to take the pill. I begged for ice chips or anything to help cool me off—but they were already under alert that the hospital would likely lose water as a major pipe had busted somewhere up the road. So, I lay there frustrated until I got so mad I literally got up and hobbled down to the nurse’s station. They stood in shock, looking at me like a deer in headlights, as I had only been stitched up 2 hours ago and I was bent over like I suffered from acute Osteoporosis. Thank God I knew one of the nurse practitioners and she helped me back to my room with a BIG cup of ice this time…and the rest of the night I relished each piece of that ice as I knew it would be my last for several days.

Biltmore Village on Sept. 9th

Morning came and we were able to visit Cajes as much as we wanted but I was forced to lug around an IV and a bag of my own urine until they took the catheter out later that day. As we got upstairs the first time that morning we saw that the water had risen to the windows of Wendy’s and McDonald’s in Biltmore…by lunch it was to the roof. The whole hospital was stirring with panic as they had just gotten the air back on when they lost water and had no way to flush toilets, make meals, wash linens, etc…and this wasn’t just for that day…this was the case for the rest of our stay with Mission/St. Joseph’s. Whenever we needed to go to the bathroom Ben had to go out and retrieve a 5 gallon bucket of water from a community trash can full of water located in the middle of each hallway, come back and dump it into the toilet. For the rest of our visit we were allotted 1 gallon of water per day to use in our room as needed, (i.e. brushing our teeth, sponge bathing, etc). On top of that we were only served boxed meals that required no preparation or clean up. After being without food since Monday night’s induction, by Thursday I was pretty hungry. My mom and Aunt Carol were gracious enough to bring me homemade chicken and dumplings and to tote jugged water up to my room to wash my hair over the sink because not only had I not eaten a hot meal, I also had not been able to shower or bathe due to the water outage. Now for some people this might be okay…but I take a shower daily and even if I didn’t after being in the hospital since Monday, going through labor and delivery of a 9lb and 5oz bundle of love then sweating out the drugs like I was in Celebrity Rehab, rest assured I needed one. But no. No shower for me until I actually got released on Saturday with baby in tow and returned to our home in Weaverville where my new challenge became climbing 15 stairs to get to our bedroom and bathroom. "

All in all I can laugh about this now— but believe me, when we got the hospital bill I felt like they should take a little bit off our tab for the lack of water, air, hot meals, and nurses who couldn’t focus on their jobs. After all, we could have bought a new car for the price of Cajes… But we surely wouldn’t trade him for the world, or a new Honda!

Four years later Cajes continues to be a source of pure joy and happiness and has been the most incredible thing that’s happened in our lives! Just the other night after we tucked him in to bed he said “Mom-mom, come here.” And I said “Yes honey?” Then he said “I like you…” and I leaned in to him saying “not as much as I love you” as I kissed his forehead. He then said “why do you kiss me so softly?” and I replied “because I love you.” Then he said “I like your soft kisses,” smiled his contagious smile, turned over and went to sleep. And as I shut the door to his room I was brought to tears as I thought of how special those memories will be when he is a teenager, a young man and then a father himself one day. And I thanked God for his sweetness when I went to bed that night.


Birthdays Gone By

~Cajes turns 1~

~Cajes turns 2~

~Cajes turns 3~