I Lost My Toddler Today.

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The #1 takeaway for me from the stories of the Cincinnati gorilla that was shot:

I really, really hope that none of my imperfect parenting moments happen in public or my normal good parenting moments make the news. My gosh, that mom was blasted. People out there (and on all social media) sure can attack people they’ve never met about incidents they never witnessed.

Today Noelle (2 yrs), Naomi (6 yrs), and I went to our local Atlanta Zoo. We were there 5 hours. At the end, they have an awesome splash ground. The girls got nice and wet and had a blast for about half an hour. Then, amidst much protesting, we went to the bathroom to change out of wet clothes.

The bathroom was busy, full, and we were shoved in a corner behind the door while I tried to dig out dry clothes for the girls. Naomi was dutifully changing her clothes right there without complaint. I got Noelle half undressed and then reached back into the depths of the stroller to get the shirt I thought I’d already grabbed. I finally freed it from under all the bags and turned around and Noelle wasn’t there. I stood there a second, looking around the big bathroom. Then I went to each stall and looked for feet. No Noelle feet. Naomi and I looked back at each other, panicked. I yelled, “stay there!” to Naomi, pulled open the heavy door, and ran outside. Looked left toward the train, not there. Looked right and finally saw her, all the way back at the other side of the splash ground. I guess when someone came into the bathroom, she went out. There would have been no way she could open that door.

She was probably out of my sight for a little less than a minute. So many things could have happened in that minute. She could have been abducted. She could have climbed somewhere she shouldn’t be (she’s excellent at that). Who’s fault would that have been? Mine for being inattentive and lazy? No, I was not. I was being a good parent. But I have had imperfect moments where I’m not paying 100% attention and SO HAVE YOU (parent or no).

Would it have been the zoo’s fault? No. There would be no fault to be placed. I’m not siding with any opinion in the gorilla incident. I am no gorilla expert and I’m the glad the child came out unscathed. But I do wanna ask this:

Do you know the mom? Maybe she IS lazy. Maybe she wasn’t paying attention. Maybe she was picking her nose or on Facebook or making out with her husband, I don’t know. Maybe she is usually a great mom. Maybe she was reaching for much needed water, tying a shoelace so there’d be no tripping, sneezing into her elbow. I don’t know.

Maybe this whole thing was easily preventable. Maybe it really wasn’t. Maybe the gorilla would have done nothing. Maybe he would have killed the boy in one swoop. I don’t know.

Where you there?

Must we so vehemently criticize her? Especially since we don’t know? We weren’t there?

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~ Fayelle

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The Royal Story Teller

Okay, so that sounds like a pretty cool job. A royal story teller. Like, you get to go to the castle, tell people interesting stories, have the king’s full attention, and be admired far and wide for your awesome stories. And of course, they’d all have very teachable morals and the world would grow wise because of your amazing story telling abilities. Heck, don’t stop there, then the wisdom spreads and hearts of the world grow 3 sizes and world peace falls like manna from heaven.

Okay, so maybe that’s a LITTLE far fetched, but royal story tellers were real occupations and I got to read a cool book that includes a pretty special story teller, Seth.

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The Royal Story Teller is a beautiful book written by Roe Bradley about a present-day class of pretty amazing children with special needs and even more special compassion and gifts. This unique book not only highlights the beauty despite special needs, but showcases the beauty because of special needs. I’ve never read a children’s book like this before. Reading it to Naomi (my 6 year old) the first time took a while because she had so many questions. She wanted to know more about the disabilities and she wanted to imagine life with them. It was neat watching her try to physically pretend she had some of the disabilities and we talked about how life would be different. The characters of the book are unique and very lovable and, even more, reading their reactions to a Bible story from 2 Samuel is really fun. I’ve read kids’ books, and I’ve read Bible stories, but I’ve never read kids’ reactions to Bible stories. It’s great.

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The illustrations are simple, but effective – Naomi saw Seth on the mat and it reminded her of the man on the mat that Jesus healed. She was sad that Jesus wasn’t there to heal him but that led to a discussion about how sometimes God doesn’t heal and while that’s hard, that’s ok. The characters in the book showed us that there is so much more to each person than a physical or mental disability. I really think everyone could benefit from this book. Not only is it relatable (in my non-special-needs opinion) to families with special needs, but is EXTRA great for families without. The book opened a whole new avenue of discovery for Naomi and she got to realize God has given everyone special gifts, and was reminded how precious each person is – even when something looks drastically different.
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(Cindy even looks like Naomi!)

This book is available for purchase from Amazon here. Go check it out!


~ Fayelle

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for my honest opinion and review. No other compensation was given and I was not swayed in any way. My opinions are my own and completely truthful!

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The Leap Days

Friday March 18, was my husband’s and my 10th wedding anniversary. A whole decade, I can barely believe it. Ten years of wedded bliss.

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Oh it’s bliss alright, but bliss comes in many varieties. The wedded kind isn’t identical to, say, the creamy, dark chocolate kind. Wedded bliss involves more struggle and growing pains and arguments about really stupid stuff, but the good times are amazing (however, like chocolate, wedded bliss can affect the size of the hips – but I don’t mind). I don’t think every marriage has wedded bliss, but a good, mostly healthy marriage is a lot of crazy work and lots of satisfying, happy times and that’s some bliss right there.

For those that don’t know, my husband and I have a pretty unique love story – here are the very bare basics:

-2000 become pen pals (him in Ghana, me at college in Alabama)
-2004 He asks me to marry him
-2006 I travel to Ghana for 5 weeks, we get married
-2008 He finally moved to the U.S. as a permanent resident (that’s a whole ridiculous, expensive process my gosh – and please note, I didn’t get to see him once during that full 2 years of working to get him here)

If you want more specifics, you can check out an article a friend of mine wrote about us over at Southern Bridal.

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I like to reminisce on special days and I was thinking last night how, on whatever day it was in the year 2000, I received a fun letter from a guy I would end up pledging my undying love to 6 years later, and who would do things like annoy the absolute crap outta me and also make my heart grow patience and a servant’s attitude in ways I never thought possible. The guy who would make me roll my eyes so many times I wonder sometimes if they’ll get stuck that way, and yet who can literally still take my breath away with a single word or gesture. The guy who STILL doesn’t know that the small appetizer bowls go on the bottom shelf and the bigger cereal bowls go on the top shelf but can (and does daily) save people from death. Odd combinations but I’d never trade em.

Recently I had some extra questions come up about our story and I thought some of you might be interested in hearing the answers too.

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Did you continue to write/call during the 2 years apart? – Yup. We called more than wrote. I had a decent-ish job and could afford the $15 – $20 a week on prepaid calling cards. How much talk time does a $20 card get you when calling to Ghana (back in 2006)? About 2 and a half hours, assuming you don’t lose the connection repeatedly (story of our lives). So we’d usually talk every Saturday morning and a couple times during the week. He’d call a little too, but it was mostly me doing the calling.

What was the reunion like when he first got to the U.S.?
I lived in Colorado at the time and he arrived in Denver. I paced the waiting area for over two hours while I watched the status of the plane go from
“landed” to “unloading” til I finally saw him. We grabbed each other and hugged and kissed and then he immediately had to go to another part of the unloading area I couldn’t go to because one of his bags hadn’t made it. And while he was dealing with the paperwork involved with that, I sat down and sobbed like a baby (I think I freaked out a woman sitting near me). I hadn’t realized just how stressful those two years had been til they were over. It was such a relief. Then he came back out and there was nonstop grinning for a couple weeks.
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How was it finding work when he arrived?
He had to wait for the gov’t to issue a social security card and that was supposed to take 3 weeks but took 2 months. But we weren’t surprised, because the whole immigration process was supposed to take 6-9 months and took 2 years, so, WHATEV. His first job was at a 5-star/5-diamond resort called The Broadmoor. It’s pretty much the fanciest place I’ve ever seen in every way. He worked hard and well and that job made it pretty easy for him to get hired subsequent places – because he had such an amazing work ethic, he had excellent references.
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Is he a citizen now?
No. To do that he would need to relinquish his Ghanian citizenship since there’s no legal reason why he needs dual citizenship (political, business, etc). And neither of us want him to do that. It’s not holding him back from anything too crucial anyway.
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Have we been back to Ghana since he came here?
Sigh. Nope. It costs a LOT of money to fly to Ghana. And stay in Ghana. And miss work. So that also means the first two grandkids of his family haven’t seen their Grandfather and Aunts and Uncle and cousin in Ghana either. It’s been 8 years since my poor husband has seen his family other than skyping, 8 years since he’s seen his best friends and neighbors back home. 8 years. Previous anniversaries went by with little fanfare because they were so bittersweet for him, reminders that another year has passed far away from those he loves. I was a little nervous about this anniversary for that reason, but he was way more happy than sad this time. We’re really praying that this year a miracle happens and maybe he and our oldest can fly to Ghana this summer.

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Cultural differences?
This took me a while to answer. There aren’t so many now so I had a hard time remembering, but yes, there were in the beginning while he was adjusting to being here and I was adjusting to… him. For example, pets. Majority of the population over there have none. Cats? Their jobs are to roam around killing rodents. Dogs? They roam too (and he doesn’t like them much anyway). I had 2 cats when he moved to the states and it was pretty comical to see him adjust to them. He was shocked to see that I spent actual money on food for them and vet visits and stuff. He did say there was one kind of pet he’d like to have and that’s a parrot (or some other kind of bird) but I really, really, really don’t want any birds, so, no pets for us. Well, he DID agree to fish so we might be growing our family by a few fins this summer. And Christmas trees! Yes honey, we pay money for a tree to be cut down and brought into our house and decorated and then taken down a month later and thrown away. What in the world. Church here lasts a specific amount of time. In Ghana, church can go for hours and hours and some just come and go as they please. He was amazed at how precise things are here. Events start and end at mostly specific times, things that cost money usually can’t be bargained lower and there are SEASONS (Ghana has 2 – rainy and dry).

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What was your favorite part from when you visited Ghana?
Oh my gosh, what a time. I was so unprepared for so much, no matter how much I studied. It is HOT. You’ve never felt this kind of hot unless you’ve been south of the U.S. His town is super close to the equator – I’ve never felt sun penetrate my skin like that before. I’ve never before felt like I was drinking the air 24 hours a day (humidity like a BOSS). I was not prepared for the level of poverty I saw in many parts of the country I visited. But my gosh, that’s not even what I remember most vividly despite it being so prevalant. I remember the joy. I remember the hospitality. I remember how jovial and honest and full of life these people were. There were so many who had no idea where their next meal would come from and yet they were full of joy. It all came from Christ, of course, but I’ve never known how one can truly depend on the Lord they way they did. We, as 1st world citizens can say we depend on the Lord but very, very few of us know what that REALLY meams. Whereas, a majority of those in Samuel’s hometown (including his family) know EXACTLY what that means. Actual life and death, not just a loss of comfort. And the honesty! They could argue loudly and passionately with each other one minute and the next minute go back to being friendly and go get coffee and joke around. There was so little drama (unlike the U.S.), no one cared what you looked or smelled like (did I mention it was HOT?), and they all just genuinely wanted to spend time with each other and help each other and love each other and praise God together. It was beautiful. I think about that often – the liberty of just being yourself. Yes, a place without #firstworldproblems.

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These 10 years are so little like I ever thought my 1st ten years of marriage would be like. They’ve been harder, and sweeter, and I’m a much better person because of them. Thank you, dear Lord, for this man and all that came with the “I do”.

“Oh how the years go by
Oh how the love brings tears to my eyes
All through the changes the soul never dies
We fight, we laugh, we cry
As the years go by”

-Amy Grant, Oh How The Years Go By

~Fayelle

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On the 21st Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me…

I took some pictures on the 2nd of January, intending to write a blog post that day. That didn’t happen – apparently my toddler doesn’t understand me when I say, “get away I need to update my blog with silly stuff” but whatev. I didn’t delete the pictures, despite deciding it was too far into the new year to write what I’m about to share with you now. And then something I found this morning changed everything. But first, some prefacing!

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This was my Christmas tree the day I took it down on January 2nd (I originally got it the Saturday after Thanksgiving). It’s a live tree, I don’t know the type (anyone? Bueller?).

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I usually leave my tree up longer than the 2nd day of January but it started losing needles like nobody’s business about 5 days prior. I say losing but more like ejecting needles. Vomiting needles. Spewing needles all over the place. So, you can kinda see the barrenness of it all because this tree wanted to be NAKED.

So, we took the ornaments off, the lights, and I unscrewed the tree stand and drug the poor tree through my living room, down the hall, through my dining room and out the back door. As I type these words I am just now realizing I could have taken it out the front door that was 10 feet away but, as Elsa would say, the past is in the past. Moving on…

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Look at this insanity. My oldest scooped up as many needles as she could and put them in a box. Why? 3 reasons:

1. I love my vacuum. I wish it to live a long and prosperous life. Vacuuming up a forest of needles does not perpetuate that wish.
2. My kids get bored. This helped.
3. SURELY there is some Pinterest-y craft I can do with these, right? RIGHT?!?

I find it a little hard to believe this tree had any needles left. Good news, I have a pretty good idea what my living room would look like with pine green shag carpet and I have to say, I’m not adverse to the thought!

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I vacuumed for a solid hour. I have never labored so hard for a tree. This thing dropped nary a needle til, like, 2 days after Christmas. The struggle was, indeed, SO VERY REAL.

I continued to vacuum up needles for about 4 more days, finding them in my shoes, upstairs (thanks, toddler!), under the couch, all sorts of places. If you have ever had a real tree you understand. That’s part of the insanity magic of having one. THANKFULLY, this tree was not sap-ful or I’d have been an instant artificial tree convert. Anyway, I’ve caught you up, here is where this morning’s find comes in.

Ready?

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I purchase eggs at least once a week. This dozen was purchased on January 12th. No one touches the eggs but me because no one cooks but me.  The eggs are out of reach of crazy pants toddler too. I used some eggs in a recipe on the 12th when I came home from the store and then they were closed and put on the top shelf of the refrigerator til this morning.

What in the ever lovin’ heck? A rogue needle crawled to the kitchen, to the fridge, opened the door, flip-flopped itself up the condiments to the top shelf, squeezed under the Styrofoam flap, and then lay in the empty space waiting for me?

No, really, WHAT.

I intended to recycle the tree but really was held back by the inevitable needle excrement being all over my car, so it sits, upside down, in my backyard. The cats occasionally use it for shelter or for clawing so it’s not a total waste, right?

Am I getting an artificial tree next year to spare me future insanity magic?

No way.

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~ Fayelle

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Blame It on the Rain

This was such a different Christmas than I expected or am used to.
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Leading up to Christmas, I wasn’t in the spirit as I usually am. I wasn’t as giddy as I usually am. I wasn’t as warm and cozy as I usually am.

There was unease, anxiety, something unsettling I was having a hard time identifying.

I could blame the lack of many friend/family get togethers.
I could blame our lame, warm weather.
I could blame being unable to go and do many Christmas-y outings.
I could blame current events.
I could blame a host of things (Man, I’m pretty good at placing blame).

So what was it really?

And then… Christmas day came and Christmas spirit arrived, and I was overjoyed! I had such jubilee! I was overcome with the joy and sweetness of what the holiday was about. Christ has come! It was beautiful! A release, a salvation of the season, and all the warm fuzzies I loved showed up! It was like being rescued!

And yet, underneath, there was still the conflict of anxious-ness, still the unease. What was it?
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As we went through this book this season, I realized how obvious the recurrent theme of the Bible was so in my face: God wants to be man’s friend, man forgets about God, God reconciles, man forgets again, God reconciles, again and again… you get the drift. It’s exhausting and sad and yet I was so amazed when I really thought about how patient God is.

I realize now that this Christmas was more Christmas-y than ever. The weight of the world’s hurts, knowing so many I love were choosing to be without God’s peace – it was, and still is, such a time of despair. And then Christ comes and it is SUCH a joyous time, it is such a time of rejoicing, such a time of jubilee. And still, STILL, I feel pulled between the two – the despair and the joy.

And honestly? I think that’s the truest place I could be.

This world is not our home, this time of joy is surrounded by the despair of the world who has not come to know Him and the desperate desire of my heart that all my know. It’s hard for the heart to handle, but it’s right. It’s true for this world. My joy of the saving grace Christ brings never leaves, never ends, and at the same time, my heart breaks for those without that grace, and even those with it that still suffer. It’s a lot for this weary heart to hold.

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As 2016 barrled in fast, I am tempted to make some goals. You know, eat healthier, take more pictures, get outside more, learn more Spanish. But it’s really different this time. Those are just my secondary desires. I have something bigger in mind.

I’m usually intimidated by the new year but this time, my desperate longings are leading me to be more bold, less afraid, more dependant on Him who wants what my heart longs for – more intimacy with Him. My word (#oneword2015) for last year was “intimacy” and despite having forgotten about it pretty early on in the year, my intimacy with Christ was still grown. Beautifully. And I want everyone to experience it. Every living, breathing soul on this planet, regardless of age, race, gender. I am feeling desperate for others to get to know Him. If I’m gonna have a role in all this, it requires a new word for 2016.

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I’ve learned when I pray to God, He listens and he answers and honest prayers are not to be said lightly. So I pray for God to use me and hope that it doesn’t hurt too much. Then I pray for God to help me look to His Son so that, whatever the hurt, it doesn’t matter. I want, at any cost, to be an example for my kids. I want to be a reflecting light for those seeking light. I want those not seeking to not be able to ignore the light in me any longer. I wanna LOVE my enemies. And not, just, you know, pray kinda for em, I wanna love them. I wanna be fearless when it comes to my faith. I wanna love BIG. I don’t know what the details may look like, and many of them may be hidden, and I’m a little nervous, but…

…here we go.

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~ Fayelle

P.S.- if anyone at anytime thought of Milli Vanilli while reading this, *HIGH FIVE*

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My Little Pony… for toddlers?

I’m sure, if you have any access to TV or children (or have been anywhere near a toy section of a store EVER), you’ve seen em – Rainbow Dash, Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, Applejack… I could go on and on. Yup, My Little Ponies! My 6 year old has a ton of em. She brushes their hair and acts out little scenes with them. 

What you may not have seen (and I hadn’t until recently) is the My Little Pony toys for toddlers! My toddler loves to play with big sister’s ponies, and when these toys came in the mail from Playskool for us to try, she was excited!

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These are great for little hands, and look so much like the bigger ponies, so she was excited to play along. The Friendship Bus (sold seperately) is super easy to roll and she loves opening and closing the doors.

The ponies integrate well with her other toys (think Little People and the like) and she’s been carrying them around all day!
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My Little Pony figurines

My Little Pony Friendship Bus

Thanks, Playskool!

This review is in response to being given these products by Playskool at no charge and is an honest review without any other coercion or compensation.


~ Fayelle

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Weave me a tale so true… (and a book review too!)

I am a Pinterest FAN. (And if you aren’t stay with me anyway, even if I think you’re weird for not being on Pinterest. Not everyone can be perfect, I guess).

I have way more ideas and ambitions than time and resources and I really am okay with that. It does not bother me that my craft/meal/decorating attempts look like my 6 yr old did em, what makes me happy are the ideas, the instructions, the process.

Unless it’s about Advent. I have started and stopped countless crafty Advent projects because it didn’t look/feel right. I have started and stopped so many daily Advent books because it just wasn’t right for kids/grownups/humans. I have this weird need for anything Advent-related thing to be “just right”. So what happened? Nothing. That’s the problem. *cue frazzled, guilt ridden mom who, once again, didn’t do anything for Advent*

And then I was given this to review.

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I read it slowly. I savored it.

I’m telling you, Christmas! The Whole Story of the God Who Loves isn’t good. It’s GREAT. It isn’t so wordy that my kids lose interest. It isn’t so dumbed down that I lose interest. It isn’t just a, “hey, let’s remember what Christmas is all about” book.

It’s an adventure.

It’s awesome anticipation.

It’s a telling of a rescue mission with a hero who not only wants to rescue us, but wants to be our friend. All in just a couple minutes a day.

It’s the best daily Advent reading I’ve encountered. I finished the book and immediately felt like gushing. The art is beautiful, the wording and recurring themes are captivating. I am really looking forward to reading this to my kids come December and getting caught up (again) in the adventure that is our hero coming to save the day. And then reading it EVERY December as part of our Christmas tradition.

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This isn’t just “great”. This is just right. And you don’t even need any kids to enjoy it. Read it with your spouse. Read it with your grandma. Read it with your dog/best friend/favorite steaming beverage and comfy chair.

It’s a treasure. And you know what? You don’t even need Pinterest.

Click here to get your copy just in time for Christmas!

**BONUS**:

A pretty awesome woman created hand motions to go with the stories (wha..? can I be that cool?!?) And you can see em and print em HERE.

If, NAY, when you get your copy, come back here and let me know what you think!!

Enjoy!

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for my honest opinion and review. No other compensation was given and I was not swayed in any way. My opinions are my own and completely truthful!



~ Fayelle

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