Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Last week Braxton turned 39! My sweet husband is so many things to our family. He is a leader, encourager, challenger, tickle monster to Emma Sanders, supporter, comedian, etc... We were excited to celebrate him last week.

My friend Erin is possibly the kindest person on the planet. Not even joking. She can find a smile and a rainbow in just about any situation. If you know her and her story can I get an Amen? Well she also encourages people well and so for Braxton's 39th she kept saying, he is turning thirty-fine not thirty nine. I can't wait to see what she comes up with for 40.

So I thought it would be fun to have a few of our friends over with some pizza, cake and ice cream. I also thought it would be funny to put Happy Thirty Fine on the cake. Sometimes things are funnier in my head than in real life.

I went to Kroger and picked out the cake and proceeded to take it to a lady who might have had the worst day at Kroger ever. I don't know this for sure but her face, body language everything told me her top 10 places to be that day were not behind the counter of the Kroger Deli/Bakery. I smiled and said, "Can you write Happy Birthday Thirty Fine on this cake?" I then proceeded to explain to her how funny my friend Erin is and how we have this inside joke about how he is not turning 39 but thirty fine...blah blah blah.

Her expression did not change one single time the entire conversation. Not even when I was laughing. Stoic. Then she said, "You want me to put Thirty Fine on this here cake?" Insert me laughing, that embarrassed chuckle of a laugh more than the "you don't think this is funny do you?" laugh.

I just said, "Yes Ma'am" and walked away. I picked up a few other items in the store and in my head picturing this being done to the cake. "Happy Thirty-Fine Birthday"

This is what I got:

And along with it a stoic face and greeting of "this what you wanted?" To which I responded, "Exactly." Mainly because I thought it was funny but also because I'm pretty sure she was packin.

Now according to where you put the coma on this bad boy you could read it many different ways.

Happy 30, fine. Like fine you turned 30, so what.
Happy 30 Fine'  Maybe she misunderstood me and thought I was telling her someone's name. You know, like Finay.
Happy 30 fine! You did a fine job of turning 30.

I am not sure what she was thinking but she did not get the joke but for us it was one of the funniest memories ever.

Happy Birthday Fine' we love you more than you could ever know.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Transient-"Lasting only for a short time, impermanent."

About 6 months before we moved into our community I remember listening to Robert Montague, director of the BDC, talk about the biggest problem with Binghampton. Contrary to popular belief it isn't drugs, alcohol or even crime. No, the biggest problem with our neighborhood is apathy. Mixed feelings of despair swirl with a feverish state of indifference.

It's that dark place when you hit rock bottom and you don't care and most importantly you don't feel like anyone else cares either. Which in turn leads to things like not taking care of your home, yard, family, bills or yourself.

The result? Transient people, living transient lives. It is rare for someone to move into our neighborhood and live more than about 6 months to a year. We do have several neighbors who have been here for 40+ years but I am talking about the people who have moved in and out over and over in the last 6 years we have lived here. It is mainly young people who have given up.

So they find jobs that last about 6 months, they move into rental properties owned by slum lords who don't care anymore than their renters, they charge an exorbitant amount of rent on a run down home because they know what we all know, in a short amount of time the renter will no longer be able to pay the rent and they will inevitably disappear. And the cycle continues.

The casualties? The kids. Kids like Madji who walked over this weekend to tell me he doesn't like his new place because he is scared of the neighbors in the apartment complex.  Kids like Tevin, Elante, Erik, etc...they move from home to home and school to school almost as often as the seasons change. Who more than likely will end up in a gang, because for some of them it is the first time they have heard about being a part of something, and being in a gang feels like belonging.

Then these kids turn into apathetic adults who don't care because they've never been given anything to care about. They make poor decisions and continue down the same transient path. And society wants to point fingers and say things like, "they should've stayed in school," or "they should've worked harder."

The system is broken, the world is broken. And it is hard to breathe some days from the thick fog of callousness.

The answer? I'm still working on that. Not sure there is a clear one this side of heaven. I do know what helps. Neighbors who put a stake in the ground and say "I'm here for the long haul." A community of believers who step outside and take their neighbor by the hand and say, "I care about you, you matter to me, how can I serve you?" It takes loving people with joy in their heart to spend 30 min-1 hour a week investing in a child in an inner city school. Helping to break the cycle and put hope back in their lives. Offering stability in their ever transient world.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Intelligent with a side of crazy

I turned 36 a couple of weeks ago, which puts me closer to 40 than to 30, which then puts me also past the middle point of 70. So according to my calculations I am like 6 weeks away from arthritis and cataracts. Lovely.

I had a great birthday and felt very celebrated and loved by my friends and family. I really don't feel like I'm 36 or what I used to think 36 should feel like when I was 18 and was so grown up and mature.  Back then I thought 36 was ancient and close to the nursing home age. Now I see much clearer that 36 is actually twice as good as 18 ever thought about being.

I did have one conversation close to my birthday that got me thinking. I was talking to a mom of a friend of Preston's and she was telling me about this homeless lady she works with. She had helped get her in a shelter, got her on a plan to get a GED and even helped find her a job. Then she says this, "You know, she is intelligent but with a side of crazy." She then paused and said, "Do you know what I mean?"

I thought for a second and then blurted out, "Do I know what you mean?" YES!! You just described me!! That is me for sure....Intelligent with a side of crazy. It was revolutionary and it explained soo much of the past 35 years of my life. I couldn't wait to get home to tell my sweet husband that I had found myself and he would no longer have to wonder why I sometimes talk to myself, hate wire hangers, snap over the silliest of things, insist that our bed is made everyday even if it is 5pm before I get to it, have trouble finishing a thought without starting to bring up 10 other things, can't stand the feel of panty hose, love lists and checking things off, abhor those DA?!# squeeze it juices that when you twist the top off they splash everywhere, and the list goes on.

Whew! I felt like I needed to pay her a counseling fee.

And shortly thereafter my Aunt Lisa found this picture.
Turns out some people have known this about me all along. The troubling part is that the older I get the crazy sometimes starts to win out over the intelligent. And I'm more like "crazy with a side of intelligence." I am not sure which is scarier.

And you want to know the worst part? It's hereditary.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Not Really What You Would Call a Runner

I'm not really a runner. But I like the idea of running. I told myself at the beginning of this year I was going to run some races for exercise. I got the Couch to 5K app on my phone and started training. Well about mile 1.5 into it I realized I did not purchase the app and had downloaded the "short" version of the app and so I thought I was doing really great but really just running the same amount I had the first day. It had looped back around to run 2 mins rest for 5, now that is my kind of running. It almost caused me pause enough to loop right on around back to my couch.

I did continue to run and since we have had such nice weather I have really enjoyed it. I can't really run in our neighborhood, well I can but the police tend to stop white women in new kicks from Fleet Feet, sporting new jogging wear from Target, and ask, "Ma'am are you okay, do you know where you are?" That might partly be because when I run I tend to look like someone who is gasping for air and panicked, same look you get from someone who has just had their purse stolen, so really I don't blame the police.


So my first race came up this past Saturday. The weather was beautiful which was great because my app did not teach me how to run in the rain only sunshine. Preston decided he was going to run the race with me. Which was sweet and fun until we got about halfway to mile marker 1, approx 5 mins in and he looked back at me with this look like, "hey mom, can I go on, because that man with the walker just passed you and I'm getting a little embarrassed." He did not say those words but he didn't have to. So I gave him the nod and he took off. Like so much faster than me that I began to wonder if he had cheated and cut through a side street.

I did take a shower and put on make up for the race. You know, just in case Bob Costas showed up and wanted to interview me. Every year when he commentates the Iron Man I cry. I don't know if it his voice or those people running through that finish line after that incredibly grueling race but I cry.

 I finished, don't even ask because I am not about to tell my time but I finished. And I am really excited about the next one. Now Bennett has gotten the running bug and wants to run. He said, "Mom, I don't know how to ask you this but I want to run with you, but is it okay if we don't run together? Like I might beat you by about 15 min like Preston did."


Here is our picture from the race. And let me ask a serious question. If my hair was brown, would I look like Dora the Explorer in this picture? Not telling you which one of my children suggested that, but really?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dear Crystal Meth User

I am not sure if any Crystal Meth users read blogs. But on the off chance that one happens upon "life in the hamp" (honestly not that far of a stretch to think they might, considering where we live) I would like them to read this letter:

Dear Crystal Meth User,

I would like you to know how you have created great stress, anxiety and a guilt complex to my mundane, not so - suburban housewife mom of 3 life. It is Spring and for us that means that 2 of my family members have terrible allergies. The thick golden yellow that covers our cars also covers their nasal passages and eyes. They wake up unable to breathe well, congested, itchy and quite miserable. But aha! A company created a cure and a respite for my beloved allergy sufferers. Zyrtec D. This is where you come in.

I used to be able to frequent my local drug store or even my counseling center (aka Target) and get Zyrtec D off the shelf. But oh no, not now. Now I have to go to the pharmacist and give them my driver's license, my blood type, my ACT score, and where I have spent the past 24 hours in order to purchase said drug. They question me of my symptoms and this is where it goes south because I'm not the one with the symptoms, so I stumble around over my words and say things like, "well, it is not for me, it's for my "son." And he is super congested." And then I turn all red and blotchy and my palms get sweaty because the way the pharmacist is staring at me makes me feel like I am a stone cold killer the police have put a warrant out for. Then the pharmacist says, "just a minute" and takes my license with her and does something on a computer while I form sweat rings and think "don't drug users sweat a lot?"

Then I look back over my shoulder at my 4 year old who is asking yelling "when we leave here can we go to happy hour?"..at Sonic but she leaves that part out all the while the security guard is making his rounds and headed toward the back of the store. I think for a minute maybe I should make a run for it just forget the Zyrtec, but then I think, well that won't work, the pharmacist still has my license and and that will make this all look REALLY bad. And now she knows my address, which looks so suspicious because I live in the hood. Holy Moly. So I nervously start chewing my nails....then I think, "stop, crap, don't drug users have nervous twitches?'

So I stand there, feeling guilty, like I have done something wrong, or that the computer is going to pull up my last 2 speeding tickets or that time I almost smoked a cigarette in 6th grade in an empty house. The pharmacist comes back and sells me the Zyrtec and I leave the store thinking the Crystal Meth User owes me something.

Yes, you owe me something. I am not sure if it is a cut of your money or doing my laundry for a year but you owe me.


Crazy Non-drug user

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Today Bennett Dale Brady turns 9! We cannot believe it. It seems just like yesterday that we were in the hospital holding this new baby boy in our arms. With his redish brown hair and big eyes. Not soon after that redish brown hair all fell out and came back in snow white. He was a cotton top for about the next 5 years and then although it has started to get darker in the past couple of years it has stayed mainly blonde. Especially in the summer, it really lightens up. So my blonde blue eyed boy....until 2 weeks ago that is.

PDS has a tradition in the 2nd grade called Yipes Stripes. Each 2nd grader pulls a president's name out of a hat and then has to do a report on that president. They research the president, do a sandwich style poster board and write a 2 minute speech and dress up as their president when they give their speech. Bennett's president was James Monroe. The 5th President of the United States. What do y'all want to know about this guy...because believe you me we (yes we) can tell you whatever you want to know and more. I'm still not clear on exactly what the Monroe doctrine does but we just made it up the best we could for the speech.

James Monroe's hair was brown. And so Bennett wanted to get into character for his speech and asked if he could dye his hair brown. I said, sure, why not? So I headed to Walgreens in search of a temporary hair dye. Found it, came home and dyed my then 8 year old's hair with it. It has been 2 weeks and we are still brown....brownish red.
He is now washing it twice a day in hopes that it will lighten up quicker....I am not sure. What I am sure about is that I would have never let my first born dye his hair. I am not sure we will ever see that blonde again. Braxton thinks we should just shave his head and see what grows back. I mean technically it was the color that he was born with so who knows. There is a lesson in here somewhere, something about long term consequences for quick "temporary" decisions. I'll keep you posted.

I do think someday we will all sit back and laugh about, "hey, remember that time mom let you dye your hair brown and it turned out sort of red, so you would look like that President?" And everyone will laugh and no one will remember exactly which President it was or what he did. But I will remain the cool mom. At least that is how I play it out in my head.

Happy Birthday Bennett!!! We love you so much and are so proud of you. You are smart, witty and fun to be around. You have great empathy for others and such a kind and sensitive heart. You make a great little brother and a great big brother. As your aunt Lauren would say, "the middle child is the perfect child." We hope you grow to be a God fearing man who uses your gifts and abilities for HIS glory!

Friday, February 17, 2012

2 Years Ago Today

2 years ago today we were moving into our 2nd home in the "hood." It was a long weekend filled with boxes, window blind hangings, friends doing things that only friends would do for you, and a flood. Yes, a flood. Day 2 of moving I decided to start a load of sheets in the washing machine so I could make the beds. My being OCD and all I wanted to get my beds made because I knew that would make me feel a little bit better. A little bit more like this was a home and not just sheer chaos.

But about 5 minutes into the wash our entire downstairs started to flood with water. And Tide. Which is the upside really because our house smelled like Tide with a hint of Downy for about a week. If life gives you a flood make sure you wash with downy or something like that. Anyway, we got it all mopped up, again with a lot of friends that literally held me up and even a special one that said, "Let's go to Target" in the midst of it all. And you know what, that little trip to Target kept me from the looney bin and jail, I am quite positive. So thank you sweet Courtney.

We have now lived in Binghampton for 6 years, in two different homes, two different streets, and many different friends and neighbors. One thing has remained the same though, our call to be here. We are so grateful and blessed for this community. We have seen good and bad, hurt and healing, light and dark. We have shed tears and we have laughed.

And it has been good. The lessons learned here, the relationships built, the seeds planted and the restoring of the broken both in our neighborhood and within our own hearts has changed us. We see things differently now, more clearly and for the better and I could not imagine my life without being here. I am grateful for a husband that trusted the Lord and followed His calling, it has made all the difference.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Might Feel a Little Tight

This is not a blog on my pants. Although it could be. Because as much as I try to remember I sometimes stick my pants in the dryer. The tightness has nothing to do with my eating habits and everything to do with my dryer.

But like I said, it is not a blog about that. I have had a couple of conversations with my two boys in the past week or so on what does or doesn't seem fair. Why one of them gets to do something the other one does not or why sometimes Braxton and I have to say "no" to something they want to do. Something that all of their other friends are doing, listening to, or watching.

The other day I explained something to both of them. And for the sake of me having to repeat it to them again. and again. and again, (because sometimes they don't hear me when I'm talking, I know...shocker) I decided to blog about it and then next time I can just send them to read this. Then we can count this towards their reading log. Killing two birds with one stone. I'm good like that.

Our goal as parents is to launch our kids. Braxton is amazing at this and says we are counting backwards, down from 18 years. At 18 we want to launch them like an arrow. We want them to soar far and high. We want them to have a solid grounding in faith, love and experience so that they will be able to be all that God has created them to be. And we are launching arrows, not boomerangs....

So this is what I said to the boys. You are at different stages in this process. I asked them what does it look like when a archer is about to shoot an arrow. From the beginning to the end. At the beginning he is setting it right in the groove, then he gets it steady on his hand and starts to pull back. The closer to launch time the tighter it gets in the bow. And right before he lets go it is at its tightest point.

So for Emma Sanders it is getting her steady at age 4. Teaching her how to respond in love and respect. How to treat others, how to realize that as much as she wants it to, this world does not revolve around her.

For Bennett at age 8 it is setting him straight in the bow, teaching him how to be responsible. That being a servant we do things for others without being asked. That we recognize our decisions have consequences and most of the time those consequences effect other people just as much ourselves. And it feels a little tighter for him sometimes that it does on Emma. But there are also things that he can do that she does not get to do yet.

And for Preston it feels even a little tighter. At age 13 we are about 4.5 years from the soaring off. And so sometimes with freedom comes great responsibility and that feels a little like pressure. Learning how to navigate that well now will be of great benefit in the long run. That as his daddy says, popularity does not always mean friendship. That athletic ability, academic achievement are great but we humble ourselves each day by remembering where those gifts came from. That becoming a man of honor and character far outweigh fast decisions that may just feel good for a moment. So it does feel tight yes, but you get more freedoms than Bennett and Emma Sanders and even when we have to say no we also get to say yes to you more.

And so we are in the launching process. And yes it sometimes might feel a little tight. But tight is good. Tight is best for you to soar.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

All in the Response

Before Preston could even say a complete sentence or walk well he could dribble a basketball. I have video to prove it. Now I can't show you that video because it is on VHS but someday when I get them converted to DVD I will show ESPN when they interview me before his NBA draft. Just kidding. I mean they will probably want the videos before then. All joking aside he really has loved basketball from the beginning.

During one of Preston's games a mistake was made in the official's book and Preston was given one of his teammates fouls. This caused him to foul out of the game. He was upset but handled himself very well. The neat thing was that earlier in the week we had talked about how it is not what happens to you that defines your character but how you respond to it. So after the game I told him how proud I was at how he responded to the situation.

Bennett loves it just as much. They both play with incredible excitement for the game. Over our Christmas break both of their teams have been in tournaments. So we have spent a lot of time in a gym. Bennett made the all tournament team. You could not have wiped the grin off of his face.

So fun. We are proud of both of them. They both are improving and learning. God has given them both such gifts and abilities and our prayer is that they use them for His glory and honor.

Their sister has gifts and abilities as well, her's just range more on the sassy, adorable, you know you want to be like me gifts or whatever you might call those. For example while we were at one of the basketball games this little boy walked up and said hi to Miss Priss, I mean Emma Sanders. Her response? She rolled her eyes. I quickly said, Emma Sanders that is so rude, he is just saying hi and wants to play with you. Now how should you respond? She then without hesitation looked at me completely serious and said, "Mom, I just rolled my eyes because I was chewing ice."  We have a lot of work to do...a lot of work.