Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Historic Stagville

We spent last Friday at Historic Stagville in Durham. It was great. If you live in our area and have a free day, we highly recommend a visit. Our tour guide was Frichelle and she was excellent. A quick run down of the place for those who aren't going to check out the link:

Stagville was a HUGE estate owned by the Bennehan-Cameron families. It isn't what you typically picture a plantation home to be, somewhat modest compared to many antebellum homes, but this was an incredibly wealthy family as evidenced by the 30,000 acres (47 square miles) and around 900 enslaved people. This, of course, is the most interesting part to us. There are four slave houses still intact on the grounds (two pictured above) and if you happened to see the news piece done on Stagville last year then you know about the finger prints in the bricks left by the enslaved men who made them. Here's a picture...

You can see how the homemade brick molded to the fingers as it was set into place. It is very moving for a family like ours to stand there with our black children knowing the incredible freedom they enjoy and the progress still to be made.
It's a beautiful place and a great history lesson for the kids. Check it out!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Pretty in Pink

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Thank you cards...

I despise them. I'm sure that somewhere in their origin and even occasionally today they were/are true heartfelt sentiments of gratitude. But for the most part, I believe they have become akin to the obligatory form letter you might receive after submitting a college application:

"Thank you for your interest in attending Harvard University. Unfortunately all applicants are required to have a brain. It is apparent to us that you do not meet this qualification otherwise you would not have bothered to apply in the first place."

Or perhaps the letter you might receive from a perspective job interview:

"We appreciate your consideration for a position within our company. We take great pride in staffing our facility with highly skilled individuals. You are not one. Have a great day."

When Tim and I got married (almost 13 years ago) we had great intentions. Yes, we all know what they say about that. And thus, we never sent out thank you cards. To all those who may be reading this post even now having been victim to our neglect, let me offer you a sincere "THANK YOU". And be encouraged knowing that at long last I have begun thinking ahead.

I am starting now on a collection of cards to be mailed out shortly after my death to those who I presume will be in attendance at my funeral. Final thoughts from the dearly departed. With the help of my good and almost equally demented friends Heather and Shelby, here's what we've come up with so far... (imagine simple, blank cards stamped with these tender notions)

"Wish you were here!"
"See you soon"
"I can see you naked."

And my favorite so far: "Sorry you won't be joining me."

Move over Hallmark. Make way for a new theme in greeting cards. I call them "FUNerals". Oh yeah, we are gonna make millions with these and finally be able to move out of the barn! Ready to place an order? How many boxes do you want? Visa and MasterCard accepted. =)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Mamoune's Story

Today is Mamoune's birthday and as such it seems fitting to share her story with you. It's a long story so I'll try to condense it without skipping the important parts.

In June of 2002 Tim and I went on a mission trip to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. We'd found an orphanage there which hosted short-term teams and signed on. We met our fearless leader and now lifelong friend, Kris Meadows, for the first time in the Miami airport. The trip was wonderful and horrible all at the same time. Most of the team stayed in a local hotel. Tim and I opted for the cheaper and more "authentic" accommodations -two foam mats on an uncovered porch at the orphanage. It was great! (we were taking anti-malaria medication in case you were wondering.)

We didn't go on this trip with the intention of adopting again. Well, we were always open to the possibility but it wasn't our focus. Over the course of the week we spent time with many children and each fell in love with certain children but never the same one. We took this as God's "not now." That being said, it is an incredibly grueling experience to walk through a place over flowing with kids and know that half of them have adoptive parents waiting for them and the others do not. What's worse -the kids new exactly who was "chosen" already and who wasn't.

So, by the end of the week as exhaustion set in and our brains were working overtime to sort through all that we'd experienced so far, we found ourselves drawn toward the kids who were already being adopted. This way we were still ministering but playing it safe emotionally. This is how we came to know Mamoune. She was being adopted by the director of the agency and was a bundle of entertainment. She was also fully infested with parasitic worms which made for an interesting bonding moment. "That's all I have to say about that."

We loved the trip. We fell in love with Haiti (and still love Haiti despite recent events ;-)). But adoption? It just didn't seem to be on the horizon until... about six weeks after we'd returned home, we got a phone call from Kris Meadows. The director decided not to adopt Mamoune and she was now available. They knew we had spent a good bit of time with her and wanted us to pray about adopting her. We agreed to pray but there was much more to it than that. Adoption costs money and international adoption even more so. We didn't have any of the $10,000 or more that it would take to bring this little girl home. We went to our Pastor looking for advice on the difference between stepping out in faith and just being foolish. He basically told us to keep praying, stay in the Word, and wait to see how God might use the body to provide an answer. One week later and two days before the agency needed us to give them our decision, we got a call that an anonymous church member had just written a check for $10,000 to pay for our adoption.

I feel just as humbled and amazed telling you about it today as I did four years ago. We took this as a very clear "yes" and proceeded with the paperwork. A year and a few months later, we flew (covertly -that's a whole 'nother story) to Haiti and brought back Yakira Mamoune Sexton. It was the culmination of countless prayers, many tears, and even a song that continues to convict me to this day. (Thanks Ron =)) Life with Mamoune has not been easy. There were language barriers to overcome and we are still working through emotional barriers, but for good or bad she is ours. And when I look back on her story and the multitude of "coincidences" that got her home, I have no doubt that she is exactly where God means for her to be.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day

Some warm, fuzzy thoughts you aren't likely to see on the shelf at Hallmark:

whew -that wasn't so hard.

p.s. My therapist says hello.

You're the best mom I've ever had! So far.

Dear Mom, the following coupon entitles you to one full day of pampering and relaxation.*

*Offer not valid on weekends. Coupon must be presented at time of redemption. Offer excludes the following services: peace and quiet, back massage, pedicure, manicure, mud bath, facial, makeover, bubble bath, napping, reading, tanning, etc. Offer subject to change without prior notification. Available at participating locations only. Void where prohibited. Prohibited everywhere.

A truly Happy Mother's Day to my mom and mother-in-law! We love you both!

Friday, May 11, 2007

okay, okay

I've been called down for cheating by not really listing seven things. Where is the love? the grace? Well, I can't believe I'm going to admit this but...

#7 I cried at the end of Cars when Lightning McQueen pushed "the King" across the finish line!

There. Satisfied?! =)

Okay. I was tagged by Tara Livesay to post seven things most people don't know about me. This is not easy since we live pretty transparent lives but here goes:

1. I failed geometry in 10th grade and had to go to summer school.

2. I was an introvert through out middle and high school and ate lunch alone on a regular basis.

3. I backed into a Cadillac in a parking lot when I was sixteen and fled the scene. Crappy, I know. But it was completely Tim's fault. I had just been told that he was taking his ex-girlfriend to the senior prom after dumping me one week before. It is difficult to sob hysterically and back safely out of parking space at the same time. Oh, and fyi, we got back together two days before prom but he didn't feel it would be "right to break it off" with the other girl so he still took her and I sat at home. Please feel free to post your scathing comments to his attention. I'm not bitter. ;-)

4. I own a Barbara Streisand CD.

5. I have been forever banned from watching "Bad Boys" because Tim says I get way too excited about the scene where Will Smith runs down the street with his shirt unbuttoned --in slow motion. What can I say? I'm drawn to men with big... ears. =)

6. My first kiss was HORRIBLE. It wasn't Tim, for the record.

7. I can't think of anything else and I need to feed a baby. Sorry, no cute pictures of myself.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Drum Roll, Please...

The winner of the "what is it" contest is...


I was sure we had pinpointed this hairy little varmint but then I started researching all of your answers and I am more confused than ever. We had settled on river otter. The feet were right, the proximity to water, the climbing but now, I see that Marmots and Martens and more have the same characteristics. In looking at a gazillion photos and trying to pull from my distant and ever fading memory of the thing, I think we were looking at a dadadum

That's right. I am going with woodchuck and eating crow, as it were, for Mrs. Bobbey Sakoman who rightly guessed first thing. What can I say except, Bobbey you sure do know your over sized rodents. Perhaps it comes from all these years living with Chris. ;-) And since I've learned that the woodchuck is a subspecies of the Marmot family, I must also give props to Leslie who apparently can spot a marmot butt from a mile away -way to go Leslie and Bobbey!
Thanks to all who played. Thanks to Borba who did not play but will suffer nightmares at the thought of her grandchildren being mauled by a rogue woodchuck. You worry enough so that we don't have to! =)

Friday, May 4, 2007

What the heck?

Are you thinking we should change this blog to "the Sexton Zoo"? Maybe you are right. Here's the animal planet update from yesterday. While observing a mysterious wildlife visitor from the living room (more on that in a minute) we looked down to find these two critters sunning on the concrete patio:

Not impressed? That's okay. The kids were thrilled and got to see the lizard down a few unfortunate bugs that wandered by. But these guys were just icing on the cake to what we saw first.

We were sitting at the table when this mystery creature went scampering across the front yard. I hurried the children to the window to see what I initially thought was a beaver. It wasn't. By the time I grabbed the camera he was too far away to get a great shot of him. What was he? Well, after hours of searching the Internet and watching various videos of animals like....wait a minute! I'm not telling you! =)

Here's the deal. I'll post the crummy picture that I took of him and we'll see who can figure it out first. The winner will receive a HUGE, MAGNIFICENT PRIZE!!!! (well, you'll get your name mentioned in the next post and a big fat kudos from us. Sorry, actual prize has no cash value.)

I'll tell you what we saw and you can go from there. He scampered across the yard. Climbed a wooden post. Grabbed a tree branch and strip some leaves/acorns off of it, climbed back down, then disappeared into the tall grass. That's all I can give you for now. Any guesses? I told you it was a horrible picture. Even so, leave your entry in the comment section.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Isaiah - the Snake Whisperer

For those of you who know Isaiah, the title of this post is either terrifying, hilarious, or both. For me, it is only terrifying. I don't know why this blog has suddenly turned into the Nature channel except that living in a barn lends itself to frequent wildlife encounters. And so, this morning, those dreaded words came ringing through the rafters -again! "MOM! There's a snake in the barn!" Nathan quickly adds, "not a scrawny snake like the other day but a great big, black snake." Ooh-kay. The adjective black is of some comfort; dropping my heart rate from 210 to about 195, but BIG? Coming from 7 and 5 year old boys this could mean anything.

I put on tennis shoes not flip-flops. Then reach for my trusty snake handling tools and secretly wish our machete was three feet longer. During this time, more of the story unfolds...

Amie: Are you sure it was black?

Boys: Yes, maybe with white spots.

Amie: White SPOTS? huh?

Nathan: White spots or sort of rings but mostly black.

Isaiah: Yeah, he w-w-was black. I touched him.

SCREEEEEEECH! There are now permanent skid marks somewhere in my brain matter.

Amie: You WHAT!?

It's one of those moments when you find yourself saying something so unnatural for a mom... "You BETTER be lying to me, boy!" He wasn't lying. dang it. Isaiah not only touched the snake but picked it up. My stomach lurches just to think of it. We went over the scenario again and again. I threw a belt on the floor and said show me how and where you picked it up. He picked it up right in the center of the "body". I asked, "what did it do when you picked it up?" His response: "it w-w-wobbled around and then I d-d-dropped it."

The consequence for lying in our family is serious but reasonable. The consequence for mindlessly picking up snakes...potentially exponentially worse! What was the boy thinking? He wasn't.

So what of the snake? Your guess is as good as mine. By the time we made it down to the barn he was long gone or at least well concealed. My search of the area was more of a visual scan. I did not dig through the wood pile or under the hay bails. I ain't no stupid. If it was just a black snake, I can deal with that. Though I think I nice barn cat would be sufficient and less intense for rodent control. Perhaps even a nice mongoose...where is Rikki Tikki Tavi when you need him?

And can I just add...where are all these creatures when Tim is home, for cying out loud!?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Introducing Mr. Bumble

Guardian of the back porch.

No, this isn't his actual picture. He's not really into publicity stunts. He has much more important things to do like buzzing around the back porch guarding his nest and terrorizing the children. I like Mr. Bumble. Thing is, he's not really a bumble bee. He's a carpenter bee. I don't think he minds me calling him Mr. Bumble, though. You see, we have an understanding. I understand that he is just doing his job and more importantly, that he has no stinger. I don't bother telling the kids this because I get way too much pleasure watching them run and jump as he zooms by. What's his part in this arrangement? Well, he should understand that I am protecting him from my husband who would like nothing better than to send him reeling through the sky with one whack of a tennis racket.

So far, we are living peaceably. Though there was that one day when, in the midst of fighting off another bee, he flew directly into the side of my head. I passionately reminded him of the afore mentioned tennis racket scenario and he kept his distance for a time.

More recently, he not only seems to have adapted to my presence but may have even adopted me into the family. No matter where on the porch I sit, he will incorporate me into his flight path. He zips right over my head and then hovers within a few inches of my face. He's not looking at me but out in front of me. He chases away the occasional wasp and even those scary butterflies don't stand a chance. I feel safe out there.

Well, there's the buzz around the Sexton place. ;-) Not so exciting but that's a good thing! Have a great day.