Sunday, April 28, 2013

I blinked and look what happened.

This baby..
A happy baby who pushed the limits of the expected from
  • rolling over at 8 weeks
  • crawling at 5 months 
  • walking at 9 1/2 months 
  • and even graduating from high school early...



....he grew up.

(disclaimer- this is the part where I,  the momma gets to be brag on him for just a bit)
He is over 6 ft. tall now and he makes my heart flutter when he picks me up and throws me over his shoulder.  He's a strong one- both physically and emotionally. 
He remembers his manners and can carry an adult conversation with integrity. 
He's a genuinely nice "redneck" kind of a guy. 
 He's tough and tender in his own skin.  (he won't like that I said that, but it's true)
He says he hates it when I sing it to him but I can't resist belting out  "you are my sunshine" when I see him. 
He brings more joy and fulfillment to my life than I could ever have imagined and made the long eight years it took to get him here worth the wait.
 I've been preparing for this day since the doctor put him in my arms yet I can't believe it's here.My son is 18 and it happened way too fast.
How do you begin to let go of someone you love so much?

I'm not sure I'll get that right, but I feel confident that if there was ever a kid ready to take on the world, this one is.
As decisions for what's next roller coaster for him I'm taking advantage of the days I have with him and enjoying every minute as a gift. 
Don't tell him that I still sneak into his room and watch him sleep, pray over him and dream big for him 'cause that might embarrass him.
Shayne Patrick Allen- Happy 18th Birthday!
You make me and your Daddy so proud. 
We pray that you'll always "make good choices" keep God first, and do everything as unto the Lord.
We love you more than you can imagine and we will be your biggest fans wherever you go, whatever you do.
Happy Sunday y'all!
p.s. these last three pictures were taken by our friend, Mary, check her out over here.. because its joy.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Happy Happy Birthday Birthday!

It's birthday week around the Allen house and these two are celebrating first.
Energy- never a lack of.

Mugshots- nah, but most days I wonder if they should be.

Dance- oh yes.  They don't need music to dance- they can turn it on and move and bring a smile faster than anybody I know
From different rooms in the house, they can pick up a tune and get the beat going and before you know it, they are in the same room breakin' it down (did I get that right?)
We didn't teach that.  Sadly.


Elijah gets his energy from good healthy food- like carrots and celery and anything I cook.
Isaiah gets his energy from brownies, chicken nuggets, hot dogs and "fench fies"
Bacon, did I mention Bacon?  It's a favorite for both of them.
Elijah is the tender hearted one.  He feels everything for everybody.  He could be the biggest drama king ever.  He is so smart and quick he even gets me confused if he's arguing his case.
Isaiah, he's my anger management kid.  TEMPER.... We're working hard on teaching "vengeance is mine, says the Lord" - right now he is sure the Lord wants him to get even on his own.
Isaiah loves being outside- throwing a football, building a fort, moving dirt. It doesn't matter.
Elijah is most content in front of the TV watching Netflix.
Did I mention they adore their big brother Shayne?
Baths- torture for both. 
They both already care way too much about girls and "going out"
- we didn't teach that either.
They still fall asleep in our laps most every night.  Isaiah calls it Family Fun time. 
They are more fun with each passing day and our world wouldn't be complete without them. 
Happy Birthday Elijah and Isaiah!
We sure do love you.
p.s. these awesome pictures were taken by our friend, Mary, check her out over here.. because its joy.
Happy Tuesday y'all!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Moving forward and celebrating life.

I think we can chalk this week up to an emotional roller coaster.  In the last seven days we-

  • spent all night last Sunday saying goodbye to and later in the week burying our dear friend
  • spent two days with our youngest son in the hospital and the other three in and out of doctor's offices
  • got to write a check for more than $1200 for car repairs
  • celebrated two of our son's birthday's with a  party that couldn't be postponed
  • welcomed a new puppy into our home

In between all that we tried to work honorably at our full time jobs and keep some normalcy for our boys.

To say it's been a difficult week doesn't begin to describe. 

I know part of me and Rex both just wanted to stop everything- turn life off for a bit so we could catch our breath and grieve. 

But life doesn't stop for us because it ended for our friend.  So, through the heaviness of heart we kept moving.  From what seemed like one crisis to the next, we kept moving with Psalm 61 close to our thoughts and hearts..

"Hear my cry, O God, attend to my prayer.  From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I....  I will trust in the shelter of your wings"

With Danny and his wisdom on our minds we were intentional not to miss an opportunity to say I love you. Our steps this week included a little more appreciation for little things and the people we may have taken for granted.  

So we went forward and celebrated life. 

And there was a glimpse of healing in the Son and in the laughter of children playing and friends chatting and bats swinging and his new puppy.  And cake.  Lots of cake.



Thanks to my sister for dropping everything and coming "home" to help us put one foot in front of the other this week.  With our hearts torn between our boys and our friend- we couldn't have done it without you.  You've blessed us abundantly.

Renee.  The sister. 
Happy Sunday y'all,

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"Not so good, Danny died"

That was Elijah's response when I asked him how he was doing.

Today, we buried our friend, Daniel Taylor aka Danny or Dan the Man.  I can remember the first time I met him but can't remember life without him.  He's always been there.

From playing goofy games in our small apartments because we were too poor to go out, to moving our furniture again without ever being asked, to bringing gas to my husband after he'd ran out, to painting my mother-in-laws bedroom, to changing my son's diapers, to walking me through my husband's hospitalization- he was there.

Danny's the guy that walked through the door, flashed his famous grin, asked where his hug was, and then got to the business of doing whatever was called for.  He walked through the door for happy celebrations, heartaches, illness and death's.  His quiet presence was guaranteed. 

He loved his coffee and drank it hotter than anyone I know.  He always got the perfect amount of creamer and sugar in my cup for me.  He joyed in making our coffee for us so we'd sit and stay a little longer.  

I remember the day when Danny gave his heart to Jesus.  He was burdened for his family to also know Jesus. He openly and joyfully shared with anybody about His Lord. 

Danny was a man full of character- who chose the right thing whether anybody was looking or not.  My sister said "if you knew Danny for five minutes, you loved him" and that is a perfect summation.  He was the most selfless person I know.

He had a way of slowing life down to the pace it's supposed to be lived.  He didn't care what  people thought about him, he was interested in what God thought of him.  He loved fishing- on the river with his family or being a fisher of men. 

I'm sure when Danny got up Sunday morning he had no idea it would be his last.  He sent me a message about coming to the kids birthday party and he posted the following on Facebook before he headed to church:

"As I wake today I pray that the Our King, Jesus Christ, fills me with His Joy, Love and Grace"

The thought of Danny dying never crossed our minds.  He was 49, young and healthy and full of life. Even standing around his bed as he met Jesus, we couldn't believe it was real, and at the same time we experienced the peace that passes earthly understanding. 

But, Peace doesn't mean without pain. 

Today we celebrated his life and his love for Jesus. We laughed a little and cried a lot.  It was a beautiful worship service.  The message didn't come from his Pastor, it came from Danny himself - his life a living example of how God chose Danny to be a chain breaker. Instead of it being just about Danny, it was about Jesus and how everyone could know that they know Danny's Jesus and five people prayed to accept Jesus as their own Savior today.

Jeremiah 29:11- his favorite verse tells us God has a plan. Many times, like Danny's death it is way different than our plans.  But it is always better. 

The bookmark in his bible read- never miss an opportunity to say I love you

Danny and Julie were a beautiful example of marriage- of the two becoming one flesh.  She's shared with us how she feels like her flesh has been torn apart but she will continue to worship God and trust his plan. Her strength has not been her own and she's the first to tell you that God is holding her up and He will not let her down.   If you want to see God's grace in skin, she's your girl. 

But, Peace doesn't mean without pain. 

It'll take a while before we stop looking for Danny to walk through our door. There will be more tears and hard days to come.  But we can rejoice knowing that one day we'll get to see Danny again- and the next time it will be without tears and never  anymore goodbye's.

Until then, the Allen's sure do love and will miss him desperately.

Rex, Danny & Julie - May2012
celebrating Iris' 90th Birthday with us

Not a happy but peace filled Wednesday y'all!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Momma never told me there'd be days like this.

It will soon be one year since Emeritus became home for Iris and what a year it has been. 
Some days are better than others- this wasn't one of the better.
Alzheimer's is ugly- but not the people we love who live each day with it.
She's still beautiful and precious.

And we're still thankful for every day we get with her.
Even the rough ones.
For more information on what you can do or for support for your own loved one's journey, check out
Happy Sunday y'all!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

We've decided to Exit....

I had a meeting at school today to re-assign Isaiah's disability for his IEP eligibility.  (Individualized Education Plan- or Special Ed) Since moving to Garden City Elementary the IEP meetings have just been easier.  So the stress I felt before each meeting last year is gone, but when your child's future is being scrutinized and his abilities documented it can still be a little un-nerving.

And since Rex couldn't go with me I was going it alone today. 

Isaiah's had an IEP in place before he started Kindergarten- mostly to accommodate his Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) but about a year ago his teacher approached us with concerns over his ability to process and retain information.  It wasn't clicking.  He could count to 100, but if you wrote the number 23 and asked him what it was, he was lost.  His struggles crossed over into reading and spelling.  And after some testing, he was showing way below average.  Since identifying this concern, he's been getting academic support services in addition to his sensory accommodations in the classroom- as well as during his weekly OT appointments.

I walked into a full room-- the social worker who recently spent a couple of hours with me, the principal, his teacher, his special-ed case manager and the school psychologist who I met for the first time today.

I listened as they each reviewed their own reports and explained what they meant.  It wasn't the first time he had been evaluated- terms like Woodcock-Johnson II, BASC-II  and WPSI-III (pronounced wispy) were familiar.  And other terms like cognitive ability, verbal processing, academic achievement assessment, visual-motor and social emotional-behavioral functioning, summary of standard scores- it wasn't my first time hearing those, either.

As I listened and looked at his scores on the papers I could see that he was doing pretty good.  His scores were solid "average" with several above average areas. 

Average may not be a big deal to everybody, but for this boy he's had to work hard and come a long way to get here.

The Social Worker who was hearing the information for the first time, kept commenting that she was amazed and kept reminding the team about Isaiah's biological history- medically and socially.   She said she never sees scores like this at these meetings. 

At one point, they asked if I had a question, but I was tearing up- how different from what I was expecting to hear, and how proud I was of my son.  I told them I was just having a Proud Momma of her Baby moment.  That's when they brought up the "Nurture vs. Nature" argument and how Isaiah was proof that his family environment and our love and parenting had changed what should have been his course based on documented medical facts.

Maybe, okay apparently the hard days and sleepless nights and crazy car rides and non-stop talking is worth it.  All that talking, life and experiences happening around him and even the arguments in jest have soared him to above average in overall knowledge.  He really is a sponge taking everything he hears in and is able to pull from that knowledge when needed.

While I was enjoying the comments about how well he's doing, I was still waiting for the new eligibility and I didn't see the decision coming.

"We've decided to exit Isaiah from Special Ed and terminate all services"

whoa Nellie, hold up.

You mean we're done.  He's promoted to average- normal?  We're going from 20 - 40 minutes of extra support a day to- so long see 'ya later?


We'll still need to implement a 504 (accommodations only- not based on disability)to meet his SPD concerns, but other than that my baby is no longer in Special Education.

Back to that nurture vs. nature thing- I give a lot of the credit to Garden City Elementary.  They treat kids as individuals, not cookie cutter kids so each child, whether they're in SP Ed or not gets to learn in the way they need to learn.  The teachers and Principal do an excellent job and don't mind the humming and the wiggles as long as the kids are learning.

When I told Rex the good news- he suggested letting his Kindergarten teacher know.  She kind of broke the rules and loved him special while encouraging his need to learn a little differently than her other students.  She overlooked his flaws, but didn't miss his need for some help in kick-starting the click in his brain when he was faking us out.

She was thrilled to hear he had been "exited" and agreed that rarely happens.  She asked me to bring him for a visit, admitting she really missed him and actually looks for him whenever she's out in public.

Teachers who aren't afraid to love their students and encourage them to be who they are instead of fitting into a mold- well they'll get my vote every time.  I bet you can pick them out at your school too. 

I'm not a fan of the "it takes a village" philosophy but in this case it certainly took a team and Isaiah sure had a good one. 

When I think back to all the trauma little man went through to get here and all the hard work he himself has done- it makes me smile.  Did I mention he's been on the A-B honor-roll all year.

Moral of this story for you- don't give up, keep fighting the fight for your kids until you get that "this rarely -never happens" moment. It'll be worth it, promise. 

Happy Tuesday y'all! 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Saving lives with the Spring Fever.

I am so ready for Spring.  So when the B E A U T I F U L snow came unexpectedly Thursday, I had mixed emotions.

But mostly, I felt exhausted and just wanted to sleep.  I chalked it up to Spring Fever.

So Friday, when the sun burst forth and the temp's rose up as they should in Spring, I was happy.  But still exhausted and just wanted to sleep. 

I figured if I could just get my hands in the dirt, prep my yard for planting flowers that I so love, I could move past the blues and exhaustion of winter. 

I finished up my work for the day and headed outside armed with my shovel.

I should interject here that I hate snakes.  The last time I encountered one we were living on the mountain.  He was in the road.  I was in my car. 

I ran over him about  a lot of  times, parked my car next to my front steps thrilling my husband that I made a driveway in our grass, and called Rex to rescue me.

Back to the saving lives part.

I dug up the ugly flower bed, turned over the sod, threw out the yucky dead grass (into our creek- not sure I should do that) when I noticed the rocks weren't in a perfect circle. 

Now I have the least OCD of my siblings, but some things just have to be right.  That's when I saw him.  He slithered out from between the two rocks and I saw tail and stripes. 

For a minute, I thought R-U-N.  But I'm a momma and we live in a farmhouse now and there are woods and creeks and all sorts of living creatures and what would my sons think if I took off screaming.  In a split second, I decided I must be super mom, find my courage and kill this snake.  My boys lives depended on it, (and mine) 

I flashed back to childhood when my own momma killed a snake in our front yard. If she could do it, so could I.

It must have been a sight for the landscaper working at the church across the street. 

Wham, Wham Wham-- I got the tail- but that sinful creature was still hiding between those two rocks. 

I gathered my courage and slid the rock over (with my shovel) and there he was.  Wack,  Wham, Wack!   Take that!

I was feeling pretty good- getting that shovel in such a small space. 

I got him. 


But that tail was still wiggling for all it was worth. 

And then I looked closer.

Turns out, it wasn't a snake. 
It was a lizard. 

Turns out my exhaustion wasn't Spring Fever, it was a real fever.

With my fever and the creatures gone I know just what to do.

Let's plant some flowers!

(but I'll be keeping my shovel close just in case)

Happy Spring y'all!
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