Monday, September 30, 2013

The North and The South Part 3: How to Recognize a Northerner or Southerner in 5 Easy Ways

I spent the first 20 years of my life in New Jersey.  The last decade and a half have been in the Deep South.

This makes me an expert on all things above and below the Mason-Dixon line. Obviously.

If you're just joining the party, please read The North and The South first. 

Then, head over and read The North and the South: Part 2.

Now that you're caught up, it's time for the third edition!

How to Recognize a Southerner: 

1. At any given point, they are wearing, driving, or toting around something with a monogram.

Any true Southern girl has an embroidery or vinyl lettering machine.  Nothing is safe from a monogram - bedding, dishware, purses, jewelry, luggage, clothing - if it's a flat surface, you can slap your initials on it.

2. Their children are wearing something smocked.

My Northern friends may be asking, what's smocking? Let me show you.

Worn by most little girls under the age of five on a regular basis in the south. Hand-made and sold in boutique stores, it's a rite of passage for girls AND boys alike.  That's right, smocking is for everyone!

If not smocked, monogramming is also acceptable for the kids. This little guy is wearing a blue velvet monogrammed jumper. Bless his heart. 

Note to Southern mamas: If for some reason you relocate above the Mason-Dixon line, leave your son's smocked outfits behind.  Sending him to school in one of those won't go well in the North.  Just trust me on this. 

3.  Someone in their immediate family has a double first name.  

Abbreviating or nicknaming is frowned upon for the Evelyn Grace's, Mary Margaret's, and John Parker's of the South.  Yes, those names are beautiful, but you know they harbor a little bitterness toward mom and dad for giving them a ridiculously long name to write for the REST. OF. THEIR. LIFE. 

4.  They assume that every restaurant on the planet serves Sweet Tea.  

5.  Ask them if they played field hockey in P.E. class.    

They didn't. 

Ask them if they know what field hockey even is. 

They probably don't. 

How to Recognize a Northerner: 

1. Ask them if they have Rotel in their pantry.

They don't.

Real talk.  I did not even KNOW what Rotel was until I moved to the South. While Southern girls my age had been whipping up casseroles and party dips full of this tomatoey goodness since they before they could embroider their own monogram, I'd been cutting up my own bland, boring tomatoes.  I smuggle some across the Mason-Dixon line every time I visit my parents in NJ.

*UPDATE: I've heard from my Northern friends and apparently Rotel is not that foreign to them. They eat it frequently.  It has become clear that this was a personal issue with my family.  It appears that  my mother chose to serve fish sticks and lima beans to me instead of Rotel and cheese dip all those years growing up.  I am not pleased with this news.*

2.  They abbreviate your first name. 

Southerners, don't be offended if your new Northern friend shortens your double name.  It's a term of endearment and just how they were raised.  Some examples: 

"Sar" (Sarah)
"Mare" (Mary) 
"Trish" (Tricia)
"Stace" (Stacy)
 "Er" (Erica) 

In the North, people address you by the first syllable of your first name. Everything else is apparently just a waste of consonants and vowels.  

Real talk. I did not answer to my full name, "Leslie," until I moved to the South. Growing up, I was called "Le," "Les," "Le-Le," and "Lesslehead." (Please don't ask about that last one...I don't even know, people, I do NOT even know.) Moving on. 

3.  They think Pepsi and Coke are the same thing. 

4.  They are unable to name every school in the SEC.  

This may be the quickest way to tell whether someone is from the South or not. Before learning their alphabet and numbers, every southern child learns about SEC football and is forced to align themselves with a team.  

Real talk.  Folks in the North don't care a whole lot about college sports.  


So. . . A Northerner may be able to list three or four schools at the most.  

Or, when asked about the SEC, they may answer with:  "The Securities and Exchange Commission." 

5.  They think "WaWa" is a perfectly acceptable name for a convenience store. 

The name rolls off their tongue as they rave about the hoagies and coffees at this staple in the Northeast.   If they are able to say "Wawa," in a sentence without giggling, it's a sure sign you're talking to a Northerner. 

That's all for Part 3! Anything else you'd like to add? 

Would love to hear your thoughts from both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line! 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Travels and a Little Lyme Update

My husband has a life-long dream to see a football game in every NFL stadium.  I don't necessarily share that dream.  But, I do love that man of mine and I do love SOME of the cities where those football stadiums are located.  Each year, we take a weekend trip to one of those cities that has a team and that I find appealing.  So far, it's worked out well.  We both know that eventually we'll run out of fun cities and he'll be traveling to Detroit and Minnesota by himself to watch a football game.  

This past weekend we headed to Dallas to catch a Cowboys game and see the city.  Let me clarify that I went to the game under protest.  I was raised right outside of Philadelphia and have been an Eagles fan my entire life.  That automatically makes the Cowboys one of my least favorite teams.  After enduring watching a game in which the Cowboys won easily, we then waited for an hour and a half afterward to see some of the players.  The things I do for that man. 

The day before we left for Dallas, I had a follow-up doctor's appointment in Atlanta.  Many of my levels had improved.  Based on my first test results in July, my body was behaving like I was 60-65 years old.  This time, I was in the 30-35 year old range.  There are three strands of Lyme still hanging out and a pesky parasite that hasn't gone away yet, but the Doctor was pleased with my progress.  From the very beginning, he's said to expect the treatment to take 6-9 months and I'm about half-way there now.  I decided to throw my gluten and dairy free diet out the window for the weekend and I went CUH-razy.  It was glorious. 

For the record, I also ate meat and vegetables, but they are much less exciting in pictures. 

It was a wonderful weekend away for us and my saint of a mother-in-law and her sister took care of the boys while we were gone.  As to be expected, J-man got sick 2.2 seconds after we walked out the door and stayed sick all weekend.  After some sleepless nights and long days, they cheered when we got home on Monday night. (They also had the car packed to head home immediately. Bless their hearts.)

We've already been Chicago, Charlotte, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Nashville for NFL games.  San Fran, San Diego, Boston, and Seattle are on the list in the coming years.  

Any other must-see NFL cities out there? 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Meet Jasmine

I apologize it's been silent around here lately! But, I'm back and I have a beautiful, young lady you need to meet. 

 Let me introduce you to Jasmine.

"I wish to be adopted.  I wish to have a family." 

Jasmine, born July 1998 is a sweet young girl who loves to be around others. She is caring, outgoing and makes friends easily. She is into fashion and would like to be a designer when she grows up. She likes to go shopping and pick out clothes that show her personality. 

Her favorite food is pasta. Jasmine has a strong desire to be adopted. She describes her ideal family as a mom and dad who are nice and loving. She would like to have siblings. Jasmine desires to have a forever family who will not give up on her.

Friends, let's share Jasmine's story.  She's a teenage girl who knows what she wants in life. One of those things, though, is a desire that many children already have been given.... a forever FAMILY.  

Please pray, share, and advocate for Jasmine.  To learn more about her story, please head over to her Heart Gallery page

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Meet Patrick and Andrew. Brothers longing to be reunited together in a family...

It no secret that I have a soft spot for older foster children needing families.  This week is especially urgent to me, as Heart Gallery of Alabama is spotlighting two brothers, currently living in separate foster homes, longing to be together in a family.  

This is do-able, friends.  These boys are biologically connected, but physically separated because of circumstances beyond their control. 

Let's be their voice.  They WANT to be together, but are WAITING for someone to make that dream a reality for them. 

Could YOU be their family? 

Meet Patrick and Andrew. . .

Patrick, born July 1996, is a sweet young man. He loves video games and basketball. He enjoys spending time with his brother as long as it is an activity that they both can participate in. Patrick is a very intelligent young man and makes awesome grades at school. 

Andrew, born July 1997 is an avid Alabama fan. He loves video games His brother, Patrick, is an Auburn fan so it is a brother's divided situation. Andrew enjoys spending time with his brother and although they are currently separated he cannot wait to get back together. Andrew is a thoughtful young man who longs to have a forever family who will give him and his brother the family they so deserve.

Advocate. Pray. Share. 

These brothers need to be together. 

For more information about Patrick and Andrew, please head over to their Heart Gallery of Alabama page here

Thursday, September 5, 2013

New Mercies

A little over two weeks ago, God started preparing Brian and I for something.  We just didn't realize it at the time. 

I had written this post on a Saturday night.  So many friends are walking through some difficult seasons of life that I wanted to let them know they weren't alone in the trenches.  

That same night, Brian was outside grilling and felt the need to sit and just pray for our family and specifically for J-man. 

Two days later, on Monday morning, I got a phone call from our social worker.  Though the news she shared was not completely unexpected, it changed everything. 

There have been some big things happening in the past week that I can't share here, but that have caused me to go back to that post over and over again.  

Through each day, with new developments popping up at a rapid pace, I can say without question that God has been asking me if I REALLY believe what I written just a few weeks ago.  

Do I truly trust He's good? 

Do I believe that He loves J-man more than we can fathom? 

Is He involved in every single conversation, action, and decision regarding J-man's life? 

Through my tears, prayers, pleadings, and brokenness I can say that I absolutely do. 

On the other side of some heavy conversations the past few days, we can see how our prayers are being answered for our boy's life in ways we never could have imagined.  God is writing J-man's story in a manner that completely BLOWS ME AWAY.  
I hope to one day be able to share it with you. 

It is evident now that God was preparing Brian and I for these past two weeks.  As with so many other times in my past, I can see the way God orchestrated events to provide comfort, refuge, and reminders of His goodness amidst times of utter uncertainty. 

What a reminder that nothing is a surprise to Him.  Though the events that have unfolded recently have thrown us for a loop, ultimately, they have brought us a hope for amazing opportunities in J-man's life. 

The story is not yet over.  The potential for plot twists and turns abound, but we are resting on today's page.  It's all we can physically and emotionally do.  

But, isn't that how God intended it? His grace and his mercies aren't supposed to last us for the years to come.  They are new every single morning.  

Friends, as you are waiting, hoping, striving, or trying to control your circumstances, may you be comforted that God has given you His mercy and grace just for today. 

That portion is exactly what you need to get through the anxiety, heartache, waiting and uncertainty for this day. Nothing more and nothing less. 

Striving for answers to next week's or next year's problems always end with us coming up empty. 

I'm clinging to today's mercy and grace.  Joining with you as we wait to see what God does with our questions, our uncertainties, and our future hopes and dreams. 

As always, holding on to this verse: 

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.   
Hebrew 10:23

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Meet Acacia

I've written about the Reality of Aging Out of the foster care system in a previous post.  For children without a permanent family, the statistics associated with life after foster care are grim. There are not adequate resources in place to help successfully equip the thousands of teens who end up on their own each year.  

Everyone needs an ally in their life. Someone to lean on, cry with, and to help them dream as they head into adulthood.  

This week, the Heart Gallery of Alabama child is Acacia.  She's beautiful, intelligent, and hoping for a forever family and a teenage girl.  She's facing some tough odds simply because of her age. 

But I believe she is the perfect fit for a family.  Just ONE family.  That's all it will take to provide her with security and a place to call home. 

Meet Acacia. . .

Acacia, born January 1998 is an outgoing and personable young lady. She enjoys attention she receives from others and takes pride in her appearance. She enjoys making new friends and adjusts to new situations easily. Acacia is very artistic and enjoys working on arts and crafts projects. She has very good verbal skills and has the ability to do well in school when not distracted by others. 

Acacia requires close supervision and needs to learn appropriate boundaries with males. She will need to be monitored closely, as with any teen, with electronics. 

Acacia is the oldest child in a sibling group of 6 children. While she has met all of her siblings, she does not maintain regular contact with them. Three siblings have been adopted and two are with relatives.

If you are interested in learning more about Acacia please head over to her page on The Heart Gallery of Alabama.

If you would like more information on available waiting children in the state of Alabama, please head over here

Friends, let's advocate, pray, and share Acacia's story to help her find a forever family.