Archive for July, 2011

A little too close for comfort

On Saturday, June 25th around 5PM, Aaron was out in the backyard grilling, Elijah was playing with his basketball in the backyard, and I had poked my head out the back door to ask Aaron a question.

The next thing we here is “pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop,….” There were some screams, but it also sounded like laughter as well. We both just stop and look at each other and say, “Surely that was just fireworks, there were so many of them.” After all the Caribbean Festival had just ended and it was a week away from July 4th, had to be fireworks.

After just a few minutes passed, we heard sirens. We knew then that it was most likely gunfire.

We later heard via news reports online that more than 20 rounds of an automatic weapon had been fired on the street behind our house.

Four people were shot.

Three of those four were bystanders.

One of the bystanders died.

We also later learned that one of the bystanders was a friend of our neighbor’s who had just been visiting him. She just walked out of his house, to her car and the shots came. The gunshot went through her purse, into her stomach and braised her liver. She was in ICU for a week and had three surgeries. She’s expected to be released this week.

The guy who did the shooting has been caught and will most certainly get life in prison for killing one and wounding three. After all, it was 5PM in the evening and at least one of the neighbors got the whole thing on video.

When things like this happen, it reminds me that living in our neighborhood is a choice that we’ve made.

God has called us here.

We have responded by saying “Yes!”

However, when there are shootings so close to us, it also reminds me that we must completely rely on God to be our protector. If any of those bullets would have strayed just a little further, Aaron, Elijah or myself could have been shot.

It is our desire to see lives like those of the gunman changed, and we believe that God has the power to change those lives.

That’s why we’re here and why we’re willing to put ourselves “a little too close for comfort.”




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Potty Party

Before Natalie arrived, we almost had Elijah potty trained. He was doing so well, but then we got matched with a birth mother and had a baby in our home before we even had time to think. So, all the potty training we did prior to her arrival, kind of went out the window.

I got a new book called, Listen for the Tinkle, written by a psychologist here in DC at Georgetown. One of the suggestions from the book was if you’ve already tried to train your child and for whatever reason it hasn’t really worked, then have someone your child looks up to give it a shot.

Knowing that Elijah had to be potty trained by August 22nd, before he goes to the pre-school he was accepted into, I was desperate. I recruited two of my friends, Austin and Jordan, who are both teachers and Elijah loves them. I asked if they were willing, and surprisingly they said yes! Up until the day before, I was skeptical that they’d actually go through with it. I gave them the book so they could know exactly what to do. I also sent them several emails with tips and hints specific to Elijah.

The book suggests a 2.5 day experience.

The first day is a half day and is all about going shopping, getting big boy underwear, snacks, rewards, treats, etc. At 9:30AM on June 27th, a Monday morning, Austin and Jordan came and picked Elijah up and the three of them headed to the store. Other than feeling slightly self-conscience of being thought of as a gay couple with an adopted son (which is quite common in our neighborhood), I think they had a great time together.


Austin and Elijah on the way to the store.

Austin helped Elijah pick out Big Boy underwear!

Now, take note, I am no where to be found. This whole shopping experience was just with Austin and Jordan.

Day Two: Potty Party

After Elijah went to bed on Monday evening, I blew up some balloons and hung them around the house. When he woke up Potty Party was all that we could talk about.

Elijah was ready (at least I hoped). Jordan and Austin arrived around 8:30AM ready to go.

Aaron, Natalie and I left the house for the day!

Austin, Jordan and Elijah kicked off the party listening to and singing, “Single Ladies” by Beyonce, one of Elijah’s personal favorites. To get the party started, they threw away all the diapers in the entire house. They made a very big deal about throwing the diapers away. It was awesome.

Throughout the day I would get an update here or there from the guys about how things were going. Elijah knew that I was going to return for dinner and would be bringing Chick-fil-a and a cupcake to celebrate a day of potty successes.

All day long I was worried that Austin and Jordan would be completely frustrated, overwhelmed, and ready to give up. Not necessarily just from potty training, but also just from watching Elijah. Elijah’s awesome, but he’s HIGH ENERGY, and if you’re not used to it, it can totally wear you out!

I returned home to stories of many successes and lots of accidents. Jordan basically went through each room and told me where I needed to clean, including most of the couch cushions. He also said he needed to get home and take a shower, because Elijah had pretty much peed all over him!

I was completely impressed and excited about the prospect of Elijah moving forward trained. After all, there were no more diapers in the house!

Now, I’ve read enough to know that night time and nap time are exceptions, and we have pull-ups for those times.

Day Three: Reinforcement Day

In the book, it suggests the same person who is with him during the potty party stay with him during the day of reinforcement, but I decided that Elijah and I could handle it.

We stayed home all day and he did great, for the most part. Only 1.5 accidents, which happened in the morning.

By the afternoon, he was a pro at the potty.

Thursday  – We knew we would be traveling, but we wanted to try and do the potty on the road. Well, he just wasn’t ready for this jump. He had two accidents during our 3.5 hour trip.

No big deal, just keep looking forward.

During our church leadership retreat, where Austin and Jordan just happen to be as well, Elijah did fantastic! Only one accident and that was because he was out for a walk and couldn’t get to a potty in time. Otherwise, he used the potty every time.

Sunday – this was going to be the real test. We had to be at church for four hours in the morning. Typically Aaron and I are super busy, so someone, anyone, is watching Elijah. It’s organized chaos at it’s best. I had no idea how he would do, but he did fantastic! He used the potty four times, and stayed dry the whole time we were there. The rest of the day, he stayed dry.

Monday – The 4th of July – We were preparing for a cookout of what we thought would be around 45 people at our house, which ended up being 75 people. Aaron took Elijah on two different trips to get food for the cookout. The first trip, to Save-a-Lot, Elijah did number 1 and number 2, letting Aaron know both times that he had to go. The second trip to Target, Elijah told him one time that he needed to go potty. Elijah stayed dry the whole day. Even when we had a house full of a bazillion people, and he went to the potty three times by himself (with a little help from either mommy or another bystander).

Tuesday – one week from the potty party, I think we have a son who is officially potty trained!!! I have a feeling we’ll still have accidents here and there, but for the most part, he’s trained.

While the rest of the country was celebrating our freedom as a nation, I was celebrating Elijah’s freedom from diapers!!!

Thanks be to God!

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Fibromyalgia and The Cleanse

For 15 years I have suffered with the effects of Fibromyalgia. I’ve tried prayer, medication, acupuncture, massage, exercise, and lots of different diets to combat the pain.

In February, my good friend from church and from our street, Austin, had started reading Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal. He said that he wanted us to do the cleanse together. He told me that the book mentioned people with Fibromyalgia experiencing relief from the pain by doing the cleanse.

Since I’m usually up for trying just about anything, I thought I’d give it a shot.

The Clean Program encourages you to start with a week of eating only foods on the elimination diet first before you begin the cleanse, and that’s what we decided to do. The elimination diet is basically no flour, no processed sugar, no dairy, no eggs, no red meat, no pork, and several other things that might surprise you. The actual cleanse is only 3 weeks, so adding the elimination diet, I thought “It’s only four weeks of my life. If it doesn’t work or I can’t handle it, then I can go back to eating whatever I want when it’s over.”

So, here I was with a 3 week old baby, who was certainly not sleeping through the night, and a two-year-old, starting a very strict eating program. If I had not been doing the cleanse with Austin, I would have quit after the first day. My cravings were so strong and my life so hectic, I definitely did not want to do this cleanse. I powered through, with only one or two minor cheats the first week.

After only four days, my fibromyalgia pain was almost gone. I couldn’t believe it! Now, I’m smart enough to know that the food I put in my body obviously affects me, but I’ve tried other diets before, and nothing worked. So, I was SHOCKED when this diet, albeit extreme, was having such a tremendous affect on my pain. It was the first time in 15 years that I found something natural that was actually working. Of course, I wanted to see if my pain free would last the whole time.

The next three weeks were actually easier for me because I’m the type of person who likes to have things laid out for me. Knowing that I was to have a shake for breakfast and a shake for dinner with a lunch in compliant with the elimination diet, I thought at least I know what I’m going to be eating and don’t have to be too creative.

For 3.5 weeks I was virtually pain free.

I lost 11 pounds.

I had a lot of energy, even though I was getting up in the middle of the night to feed Natalie.

I felt great!

I did still have cravings, but the results I was experiencing helped me forget about the cravings.

Austin lost 20 pounds in 4 weeks.

It was a HUGE help that we had each other to lean on during the cleanse. When I felt like giving up, he’d motivate me to keep going, and vice-a-versa.

If your interested in doing the cleanse and want some of my helpful hints, please email me and I’ll help you get started: amyrosegraham (at) gmail.com.

It’s totally worth it! 🙂

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