The Gill Family Webpage

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hike countdown

Safe Haven's Hike for the Homeless is this weekend and we've been busily preparing for it. We've hit a few bumps along the way, but we'll pull it off - we always do.

I like working for the shelter. It makes me feel as though I am making a difference in this world for at least a few people (besides my family of course).

Right now there is a mother at the shelter with 3 little girls - a 5 year old, a 3 year old, and an 18 month old. I know their ages because they come up to me and tell me how old they are by holding up their little fingers and showing me their big toothy smiles. The baby is a doll and is doing all the things that Zoe is doing: eating, walking, babbling. And the mother is just trying to find a job and a place to raise her three young daughters. She tries to be positive despite her situation.

What an inspiration.

The hike this weekend is sure to be our best yet! The weather looks to be gorgeous! There will be a rock climbing wall! And pumpkins to paint! And lunch to be eaten! And a hike - a glorious hike through the woods!

And some very grateful families will benefit most of all.

If you're in town, click HERE to join us.

If you're not in town, click HERE to sponsor Zoe's hike. So many people have already graciously donated and we thank you!

To read my previous post on this, please click HERE.

And thanks.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Busy work

Zoe is a very busy little girl, not unlike a certain favorite spider. We call it her "work". She enjoys stacking things, carrying things from one part of the house to another, gathering things all in one place, etc. It just cracks me up because she's very intense when she's doing her work, walking with purpose and jabbering away.

Today I watched her help gather up sticks in our yard and bring them to the stick pile in the back of the yard. There she was, picking up sticks not longer than 3 inches long from the driveway, and walking them all the way to the stick pile. She picked up about 5 sticks in a row and just walked back-n-forth, content as can be.

The other day I watched her as she brought her smaller toys one by one to the sewing machine table in the living room and place them squarely next to one another in a very orderly manner. We'd say, "Good job, Zoe!" And she would give us the biggest, toothy smile!

Hopefully this positive reinforcement will lead to a lifetime of Zoe picking up after herself!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Toys are us

Zoe loves margaritas, uh I mean, toys. That is, she loves toys that are not toys - like plastic margarita glasses and taco holders (that's what she has in her hands in the top picture)! You can see all the other real toys laying around, un-played-with while she picks up the cup and holders with reckless abandon.

She's taken custody of our tupperware cabinet where these particular toys usually live. She takes out all the mismatched lids and bottoms and scatters them about the kitchen floor. I try not to step on her as I clean or cook in our cozy little kitchen nook. I don't mind though. She's content when she's playing and that makes me smile. Which brings me to a funny little story about our drive home yesterday...

My car is littered with books, stuffed animals, and plastic dwarfs. I try to keep it all contained in a white plastic trash can in the back seat. When Zoe starts fussing, I reach behind the passenger's seat (provided it is safe to do so) and hand her something from the bucket-o-treats.

Inevitably, when I hand her a book, she makes a noise and the sign language sign for "more" because she wants me to read while I am driving. This is not safe and I never do it. BUT, I can recite quite a few of her favorite books from memory. So after the recitation of The Very Busy Spider ("The spider didn't answer. She was very busy spinning her web."), she was still fussing away.

I reached into the car compartment between the front two seats to find my special arsenal of distractions. I keep stickers and other novel things in there to occupy her in a pinch. I didn't grab a sticker though. I grabbed something else. Something that mommies use during a special part of the month, if you know what I mean. I thought, "What the heck?" and handed her the paper covered "stick".

Well you would have thought I had handed her a million dollar bill with Elmo's face plastered on it! She loved playing with it, crinkling the outside paper and waving it around like she was conducting an orchestra!

Hey man, whatever works! Now can you bring Mommy a 'rita?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Poor cat

Poor kitty, kitty, kitty.

While Zoe may say "woof woof", she adores the Kitties. They don't quite feel the same way.

Maggie wants nothing to do with her. As soon as Zoe starts toward her, zoooooooooom, Mags is off!

Colmar is at least interested in Zoe. She still runs away from Zoe, but she'll keep a closer distance.

The pics here include one of the Colmar Kitty struttin' her stuff in our yard. As soon as Zoe saw her, Zoe ran after her. Cole tried to hide from Zoe under the car, but Zoe's too smart - she knew she was there and she was determined to find her!

Sometimes I sell out the kitties. I tell Zoe where they are peacefully lying down, minding their own business, in order for Zoe to chase them. I feel bad when I do it - after all what did the kitties ever do to me? Well, besides accidentally breaking Zoe's changing table (not really). Anyway, I think deep down the kitties like the attention and exercise they get from the Zo-ster, even if I do provoke her!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rainbow Bright

Zoe reminded me of a Strawberry Shortcake doll in this outfit!

Remember those dolls? The way their hair smelled? Kind of nasty, yet sweet all at the same time? And if you were lucky, when you sniffed, you may have inhaled a stringy piece of their glittery hair?


I like the way Zoe smells. She makes a way better Strawberry Shortcake doll than Apricot, Plum Puddin, or Blueberry Muffin. Even if she does pee her pants and cry sometimes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Express Yourself

Zoe has discovered the garden. She loves the pick the cherry tomatoes - one for each hand. The tomato doesn't have to be ripe, heck it doesn't even have to be slightly-not-green, it just has to be within her little arm's reach. Yesterday she gave me one and I showed her that you can eat it by popping the (ripe) tomato into my mouth and smiling while making "mmmmmm" noises. Zoe laughed and then did the same without skipping a beat. But when she bit down and the innards of the tomato squished in her mouth, she decided she didn't like it so much. So she spit it out. And wiped the tomato goo on my shirt. I'm such a messy Momma.

Well as you may know, in addition to the 6 tomato plants we have, we had about 5 cucumber plants that did wonderfully this summer! Zoe didn't quite get into picking them, but I decided to give her a taste of the cukes one night at dinner. She didn't quite take to them either, but she did enjoy playing with the ends of the cucumbers that I cut off. She liked sticking them onto her chest and laughing. She got such a kick out of it! I did too, until I realized that maybe listening to the Madonna CD in her bedroom and dancing to "Vogue" rubbed off on her a little too much!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Flash Dance

Zoe has a CD player that she can turn on from her crib. The other day when she was waking up from her afternoon nap I heard music emanating from her room. I went in there and found Zoe dancing on the other side of her crib, arms wide open and swinging, knees bent and bouncy, and a big ol' smile on her mug. Of course, she was dancing on the mattress, and while firm, did not make for a sturdy dance floor. So she kinda looked like she was drunk as she bounced up and down and ricocheted off the sides of the crib. While I couldn't catch that on the video, I managed to catch her doing her new favorite thing: twirling!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hike 2008

Hi all! It's beginning to feel a lot like...Fall time! And that means it's time for the 4th Annual Hike for the Homeless benefiting Safe Haven Family Shelter. Safe Haven is the only shelter in Middle TN that allows families to stay together while they recover from their unfortunate bout of homelessness.

I know the issue of homelessness isn't sexy. It doesn't automatically garner compassion since some people think that "these people deserve what they get for being so lazy". It doesn't automatically leave you with a pit in your stomach as you picture the homeless vagrant laying on a street grate trying to stay warm as he sleeps. It doesn't automatically compel you to give your hard earned money to a group of people who should "just get up and get to work".

The fact is that being homeless is lot more nuanced than "just finding a job". It involves securing affordable housing, schooling or day care for one's children, and finding sustainable employment. These are not easy things to come by, especially when you may be in a domestic violence situation or experience an unexpected medical emergency. These are the types of situations that the families at Safe Haven find themselves in before they reach out for help.

Safe Haven offers a helping hand, not a handout.

They help families find affordable housing. They help families find good options for day care or schooling for their children. They help them find sustainable employment. Along the way, they provide them with budgeting, parenting, and other life skills training.

Our annual Hike for the Homeless event was something I thought of 4 years ago as I drove to the shelter as a volunteer. It's grown each year in terms of hiker participation, money raised, and families helped.

If you live in or near Nashville, consider participating in the hike; click HERE to register. If you live far away, consider sponsoring Zoe's hike by clicking HERE.

On behalf of the families that Safe Haven serves, I thank you most sincerely.

To read more about Safe Haven, click HERE.
To see a short video about Safe Haven, click HERE.
To read one man's experience of being homeless, click HERE.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Giving you the red eye


What is wrong with this picture?

It wouldn't be the red eyes that Zoe's sporting because the picture was "auto-corrected" for red eye.

Thank goodness for technological advances in photo processing.