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Monday, August 31, 2009

Four Years

Grandma,

It has been four years today that you left us to go hang out in Heaven. That’s so hard for me to believe. I bet for you, the time has flown by. Sometimes I think about how it must be for you, seeing your mom and dad, your brothers and sisters, friends. I always seem to end up at the same image--you sitting beside your ‘Mama’ somewhere beautiful like on the sand beside an ocean or in a field with snow falling and the two of you holding hands. I know how much you missed her. You told me so much about her. To think of the two of you together up there… it just seems like nothing could be more perfect.

There are so many things I want to tell you. Much too many to write here, but I’ll try to cover the big ones. Belle started first grade, Grandma. Can you imagine? Don’t you remember the night Matt and I tried to tell you that I was pregnant, and you just couldn’t catch on and we had to just blurt it out? Or the day she was born and she had so much hair, and it was blonde! and we just couldn’t figure out where that child came from? And remember when Matt was in Little Rock, and you came over and we dressed her up in my old baby dress and took pictures and laughed so hard at how silly she looked? When she got a little bigger she always wanted to go to “Memaw’s” and play on the bed with you and the music boxes. You’d have so many going at once that not one of their tunes was distinguishable from the others. Well, that little girl is a first grader. And she is so beautiful, Grandma. And smart. And so optimistic and such a lover of life and of people. I am so proud of her.

And Estella Dru turned five this month. Do you remember how we almost didn’t make it to the hospital for her to be born? And then she was there, and you thought she looked like our side of the family? You loved to hold her and sing to her and rock her in your blue chair. She has been a handful, Grandma. So sweet and so stubborn. There have been so many times that I’ve wanted to call you and ask you if I’m doing things right by her. I so often feel like I fail. But she is absolutely beautiful, Grandma. Her eyes got browner… as brown as yours, and she is just as precious as she was the day you left.

And, oh, Grandma. You would be so in love with Jeb. I write that with tears literally pouring out of my eyes. He is all boy, always into everything all the time, but he is so very very precious. He is incredibly sweet and loving and so handsome. When he was born, I wanted you there so much. It just didn’t seem right not to see him in your arms. It still doesn’t.

As for me, my life is so beautiful. I told you I was going to marry that boy the day I met him, didn’t I? You laughed at me until you met him, too. I am so glad you loved him so much. He continues to amaze me with his generosity and patience and love for me and the kids. I am so blessed, but you knew that.

Still, I miss you so much. Almost everyday that goes by I think of calling you, then remember I can’t. The other night I couldn’t remember how much sugar to put in chocolate gravy. It turned out awful because I had to guess. Clearly 12 tablespoons is too much. Sometimes in church we sing the old hymns that we used to when I was little, and I get a huge lump in my throat because if I close my eyes, I can hear your voice singing next to me. I want you there. I want to go dress shopping with you and laugh our heads off in the dressing room in Sears because something we picked out looks ridiculous or we’re just so tired from shopping that everything seems funny. I want to go to Taco Villa and share cheese dip and complain about how cold it always is in there. I want to sit at the kitchen table with you and talk about anything and everything while you eat your graham crackers and milk. I want to paint your fingernails with clear nail polish because obviously anything else would be much too dark and put make up on you and laugh because you CANNOT keep your eyes open for me to put mascara on your top lashes. When I feel sad and desperate and so alone, I want to sit on your lap in your recliner like the big baby I am, like I’ve done so many times, and hear you tell me that it’s ok. I want to know that you think I’m a good mom, that I’m doing a good job… that I don’t suck and this, and no ‘suck’ is NOT a bad word.

No, it’s not.

I want to crawl up in your arms and for one second, just one, feel like a daughter again… like I am beautiful and smart and good and… absolutely adored for just being me. Every insecurity I ever had, great or small, fell dead at your feet. I wish I could see myself the way you saw me. I don’t care what you say, that fifth grade school picture with my short permed hair, purple Izod shirt, and twist beads is embarrassingly ugly--still all you saw was beauty, and you showed it to everyone. I’m working on seeing it, too. I promise.

I remember one day not long before you left, we were watching Belle play and you said, “I’ve got to live long enough to see her through school.” I never for a moment doubted that you wouldn’t, but God had another plan. He called you home before I was ready to say goodbye, but you know what? I would have never been ready to let you go. And while my heart aches for you and my body hurts to be held by you, I know everything is as it should be. You are there, and I am here. And somehow He thinks I can handle that. Both of you always thought I was stronger than I feel.

Sometimes I get frustrated because people who don’t know better can’t understand what you were to me. They see 'Grandma' and settle on that word. They don’t know that it was you who fed me, changed my diapers, held me when I cried, played with me, made me yours when you didn't have to, loved me/helped me through everything. It was you. My mother, my best friend, my constant, my place of shelter.

Grandma, I love you. You are so beautiful, and my heart is so full of you. Thank you for all you were to me and all you continue to be.

We have so much to catch up on. I know you’ll be waiting.

Angela

Thursday, August 27, 2009

No Words.

There just aren't any words for this one.

None.

Maybe a lesson, though. If one of the other children screams, "Jeb Alert! Come quick! Jeb Alert!," Matt and I need to heed the warning a bit faster.

If you will notice, he is stopping up the sink in hopes of filling it to the top.

Awesome.

video

Jeb's First Day of School

Ok, not school... Kids' Day Out. Close enough. He did great and just walked in like a pro. This is the first day I've had without any of my kids in a very long time. Mommies need a day like this.

Here he is with his 'stuff.' Doesn't he look like such a big boy (even though his backpack is almost as big as he is)? Don't worry... it's not for him to carry. I hope he's having fun, but I miss the little guy already.



Monday, August 24, 2009

Growing Up Boy in an All Girls' World

Even I can do the math. Matt and Jeb are outnumbered. They live in a girly girls' world. They are surrounded by Barbies, ribbons, My Little Ponies, Groovy Girls, make up, dress up, pink everywhere. As a result, Jeb sometimes enjoys the occasional ponytail...(ok, I'll say it)... and hair bow, along with other dress up accessories. Like purses. Or shoes. Sometimes boas. To say this drives Matt insane would be an understatement.

Not to mention that recently, whenever we've perused the toy aisles, Jeb asks (ok, pitches an all-out fit) for "bebes" (aka babies). So, the other day, I bought him one. I know! That's horrible, right? I should steer him toward trucks and army guys and other manly toys. But when the little guy said, "Bebe," and that one little tear escaped down his cheek, I was finished.

So after he toted his bebe around for several days, Matt's mom put some money in my hand and said, "Go buy Jeb a toy from Gigi. And no babies!" I discussed the 'no babies' part with Jeb, and he seemed to be willing to comply. We went to Target, and I avoided the baby aisle like the plague. When we made it to the boy toy section, he zeroed in immediately on this.


A big blue shark truck that moves and makes lots of noise. Lots and lots of noise. He was pumped. Ready to get that thing out of the box and away from the 793 screws that were keeping it packaged tightly in it's protective case. But since I didn't have a power screwdriver on me, he held it like this all the way home.


Since then, he has rarely allowed the shark truck out of his sight. We take it everywhere. I was all ready to do a 'Thank you, Gigi' blog post this morning--a 'See how ALL BOY I am' blog post. I told Jeb to go get his truck. He did. I went for my camera, but somehow got distracted along the way. When I finally made it to where he was playing, this is what I found. Jeb, the shark truck, a naked Groovy Girl, and My Little Pony. (And a bottle of Benadryl which has no baring to this story, but since it's pictured I thought I'd mention it only to reassure everyone that its childproof cap was functioning properly.)


This was not going to work. I needed to show Gigi and everyone else my ALL BOY boy playing with his shark truck! So I took away his Groovy Girl and My Little Pony. And this ensued...


Frustrated, I decided to distract him for a bit. We got dressed, played with the cat, then I tried again... this time with video. I thought I was doing so well. I downloaded my video, only to sit here and laugh out loud when I saw the ending. So, as it freezes at the end, just remember, this boy really is ALL BOY... he just can't catch a break today.

video

Precious Cargo


Don't worry. I wasn't driving when I took this. I was parked at Sonic getting Jeb a grilled cheese sandwich. Look at those sweet things in the backseat. Matt is always making fun of me for being an overly-cautious driver, but I don't think being overly-cautious is possible with this is my backseat. (Even if my boy child is in a leopard print car seat. He is EXTREMELY secure with his masculinity, ok?)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Greatest of These...

On Wednesday afternoon, I walked into a store in the mall and saw a tall, classically handsome young man standing there, probably about 17, very well dressed, extremely put-together--someone I would characterize as every young girl's dream. What bothered me is that he had his arms around someone, pulling them up close to his chest, kissing the top of their head. I immediately thought, “Oh my gosh. Get a room, Kid.” As I got closer, the boy whispers down, “I love you. Do you know that?” Then the person he is holding steps away, and I see that it is a boy with Down Syndrome. The boy looked up and smiled so big and just said, “Uh-huh,” then buried his face again. Immediately, my eyes filled with tears. The unashamed, unselfish act of kindness and love just completely overwhelmed me. The greatest of these is love. That's what it's all about, what Jesus showed us while here. It was amazing and inspiring, and I felt so blessed to have happened upon their moment, to have somehow been a part of it.

Today a family who mean the world to us traveled to a land far away to practice this same kind of love. While I am so sad to be without them for several months, I am certain the impact they will leave on that place will be above and beyond any of our expectations. Our friends will be doing the very same thing the young man did in the store. They are unashamedly looking at those who need to be cared for, and they are saying, "I love you. Do you know that? Here, let me show you." Again, we are so blessed to call them friends and to be a part of their amazing, inspiring moment.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What's the problem?

As I sat getting some work done, I thought to myself, "Jeb is being much too quiet." I jumped up from the computer and found him sitting in the middle of the bar. Apparently, he had scaled the barstool, climbed on up, and was just sitting there being as quiet as he could in an effort to remain undetected. Of course I run back for my camera, and when he sees me coming with my angry expression, this is the face his gives me--like, "What? What's your problem? Isn't this ok?"

Oh, my boy child....

Monday, August 17, 2009

You know I'm gonna...

I mean, what mom who blogs doesn't post pictures of her kids on the first day of school? It's like an unwritten rule. The universe might cease to be if I didn't do it. I can't have that sort of guilt on my shoulders.

So here they are... my precious girls ready to go to school with Daddy and WITHOUT those giant see-through plastic backpacks. Thank you, Lord, for that change in school supply requirements! I love these girls. I pray this is a wonderful year for both of them.




Saturday, August 15, 2009

Beautiful Summer

There are things in life that I simply am not concerned with… that if I ever aspired to, I don’t anymore. For example, I am never going to be that girl who loves to be social… go to parties, have parties, mix and mingle. It’s just not in my blood. In fact, I truly believe I am a hopeless introvert in disguise. I am also never going to be well travelled. I want to see the world, but if I have to ride on a plane to do it, it’s probably never going to happen. I will never do math. I will never play the piano any better than I do right now, and that’s really, really awful. I will never appreciate some of the classic literary writers like Whitman and Hawthorne. Or Melville. (I really hated Moby Dick.) I will never know what it feels like to be daddy’s little girl. I’ll probably always have an excess of self-doubt. And I seriously doubt that I will ever become the girl version of Indiana Jones (what I always wanted to be when I grew up). Those are things I just am… or am not. And I’m ok with that.

But the purpose I aspire to that cannot be lost is to be a good mother to my children. The thought of failing at that role is enough to bring me to my knees. I believe it’s at the end of things that we tend to reflect on what we’ve done right and what we’ve done wrong. As this summer is coming to end, I hope my children can look back on it and have only wonderful memories of the places we went, things we did, time we spent together doing absolutely nothing. I so want them to be happy and know how loved and adored they are. I want to do right by them in every way. I know to some, those aspirations seem miniscule and limiting. I don’t get up everyday and leave the house to go to a high-paying job. And most of the time, the only way I put my education to work is correcting the girls when they say “go-ed” instead of “went” or “eat-ed” instead of “ate.” But it’s not limiting to me. To me, it's everything. A few weeks ago an old friend from grad school sent me a message on Facebook. Part of it said, "I never thought you'd just be a mom. I thought you'd have it all." My message back to him simply said, "I do."

So, in case I forget, maybe my children can look here someday and remember the summer of 2009. And though the Slaughter sisters fought a lot. And Jeb fussed a lot. And there were a lot of time-outs. And frustrations. It was a beautiful summer. I wouldn’t change a second of it.

We had our first family pictures taken with the Jebster.

We baked a lot.

And made lots of home made ice cream!

We spent a week at the beach.

We watched fireworks on the 4th of July.

We went to the lake. E Dru learned to ski.

So did Belle.

Matt and Jeb just looked cool.

We were in the Jeep. A lot.

The girls went to art camp.

The kids hung out in their favorite laundry basket.

We spent a lot of time in Russellville with Pawpaw when he needed us.

We fished at Pawpaw's and caught tons of these whoppers.

We played in the sprinkler in the front yard.

More sprinkler.

We celebrated a special girl's 5th birthday.

We swam!

Well, some of us just hung out on the steps.

Most of all, we loved and laughed. What can be better than that?

What strikes me the most looking back over these pictures is that I am the one behind the camera. I am the one that got to see it all happen. Every moment. Every smile. All of it. I have said it before, but I will say it again... I am truly undeserving of this life He has given.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thanks, Matt!

I adore my husband. This came in the mail for me today. Sadly, it does not smell like Taco Villa, but I love it just the same. Thanks, Matt! I feel better already. Can I wear this with heels?


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Wedding Weekend

We were back in Russellville this weekend. Grandpa seems to be doing much better. Please continue to pray his progress continues. Also, while at home, we had a wedding to be a part of! Seth and LeeAnne were in our youth group when we were at Oak Grove. They were just kids then, and now... all grown up and getting married. So hard to believe. Matt helped officiate the wedding, and Belle was the flower girl. Estella Dru was given the very important title of Assistant Wedding Coordinator. (She got to tell everyone, including the bride, when it was time to walk out.) Very key position.

The wedding was at the Lake Dardanelle marina, and the setting was just perfect. We were honored to be part of Seth and LeeAnne's day.

At the rehearsal. What a pair.

These two were also quite the little couple.

Belle at the river. Her hair was extra curly when we first did it, but the humidity was just too much.

I bought an entire bag of jelly beans and stuffed them down Jeb's face throughout the ceremony. I knew it was my only chance to actually sit and watch the wedding. Don't judge me.

Beautiful little flower girl.

The flower girl and her ring bearer. These two were inseparable.

Gorgeous setting for a wedding.

Other than it being 175,000 degrees outside, everything was perfect. Look at that sunset.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Food Network Friday: Grilled Peaches with Brown Sugar Sauce

Conversation between Matt and I, sometime last week.

Matt: If my name was Bobby Flav, and I was a professional cook, I would just go ahead and call myself Bobby Flavor.

Me: It's not Bobby Flav. It's Bobby FLAY.

Matt: No, it's Flav.

Me: FLAY.

Matt: Flay? That doesn't even make sense.

Me: Speechless silence.

He may not get the name right, but he rocks at this recipe. He says he saw it on an episode of Bobby Flay's Boy Meets Grill, but I can't find it anywhere on the net. Here's what he does.

Slice up a peach and put it on hot grill, dry. (No butter or anything wet.)

In a small skillet on the grill (or on stovetop) add 1/2 stick butter, big handful of brown sugar, and a teaspoon and 1/2 or so of dark rum or Grand Marnier. (A substitute for those might be vanilla extract--another blog I saw just used a little water.) Whatever liquid you decide on, let it all simmer until sugar is dissolved. Afterwards, drizzle over the peaches and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

I ask him to do these almost every night. We have gone through a ton of peaches this summer, and this is why. They are SO good. My only suggestion is do not pour the sauce over the ice cream. It tends to freeze up quickly and get sticky. Drizzle it on the plate and over the top of the peaches for a great presentation.



As a side note, a couple of people have asked me if I plan on continuing to do our little recipes each week once school starts back. I hadn't thought about it really. If you have an opinion, let me know.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

All About Estella

Today, Estella Dru turns 5 years old today. It seems like only yesterday we were racing down 1-40 trying to make it to the hospital, lights flashing and Matt driving about 100 mph. Luckily, we made it, but just barely. Five years later, and nothing much has changed. This little girl definitely keeps us on our toes, always in a hurry and always surprising us. Estella Dru Slaughter gets more beautiful every single day, and even though everyone seems to think she looks like her mommy, I know I could never aspire to such beauty. I love that girl.

Let me apologize ahead of time for the barrage of pictures I'm about to post. We have already had a very full day.

It began with a good morning/happy birthday kiss from the Jeb Man.

Next, she found star shaped donuts (her name means 'star'), a big balloon, roller skates, a pixie cake, crown, and birthday outfit (that I would have NEVER picked out for her in a MILLION years under normal circumstances!!!).


Then she was off to try out her skates, still in pj's.


Jeb attacked her several times, but she managed to keep from crashing.


After skating, she got all gorgeous in her new outfit and crown.


We waited around until the doorbell rang with a delivery from NWA Florist, compliments of Daddy.


Then we set off to the mall where she and her sister had their nails done. Again, I was not involved in the choosing of the colors.




Afterwards, the birthday girl chose Taco Bell, and we ate in the mall food court.


We are still planning a little party sometime next week, so hopefully the festivities will be continued then. Tonight, we are taking them bowling and to the restaurant of her choice--I have a feeling it will be Rockin' Chicken, but I've already started praying against it. I hope my sweet girl has the best day ever. I swear, it feels like we JUST took her in for her one year pictures. Where does the time go?