2.5.15 where we’ve been

I’m all, “Hmmmmm…what to say after so long???”  There are all kinds of holes in my story now…un-recorded memories and experiences.  My girls learned to snow ski in Breckenridge, Colorado for Heaven’s sake.  And all I have to show for it are a few Instagram posts…and worse…Facebook photos.  “Shudder.”  I hate it when…because of busyness or just plain laziness…important moments get logged as snip-its rather than stories.  I will get there.  I will get these Colorado vacations and Christmas and 8th Grade Basketball documented.  Even if it kills me.

Ok.  “Kills” is a strong word.

****

First things, first.

I have been up to my eyeballs in paperwork, classes, and smallish human beings.

September brought the start of a new school year, Fall, and on September 24th…an e-mail that changed our lives forever.

Chad and I have had countless conversations about adoption over the coarse of our 15 year marriage.  We have come very close to pulling the trigger on 2 different occasions…each time, Chad having to tell me that it wasn’t the right time or circumstance.  I would always be disappointed…but would eventually come around to trusting his leadership and judgement.  Adoption is certainly not something we can go into with only one of us on board.

After this Summer of healing and renewing my trust in Jesus being who He says He is…I had an unwavering faith that:

A.  He is good.

2.  He knows what He is doing.

3.  He is working for us and not against us.

4.  He creates life for his Kingdom…not just this Earth.

5.  He had something for our family on the horizon.

and 6.  I had to rest in Him.

(side note…I just love it when people go from letters to numbers when making a list.)

I started praying about adoption again.  And Chad did too.  I was ready…but Chad needed to be “sure.”

At one point, I remember specifically telling God that Chad needed Him to yell at him.  He needed a message from Him that was so obvious and loud that he couldn’t ignore it.  He thinks with his head…so he needed a practical message.  I am content with “feeling” that something is right.  Chad needed the head knowledge for a decision this big.  I told God that unless he wanted to do a miracle in my husband’s “thinking” mind (which he could totally do, by the way)…that there would need to be nothing short of a child dropped into our laps.  I kinda grimaced at that prayer that day…thinking that God was up there…all rolling his eyes at me, tisking, waiting to show me that He didn’t need me telling him how to run things.  But I closed my prayer…remembering that I was talking to my Father…and not some cold, disciplinarian…critiquing my every word.  He loved me.  He heard me.  He got me.  And I knew it.

About a week and a half later…Chad got the e-mail.

“Is there anyone who would be willing to foster to adopt a 28 month old baby girl?”

I remember where I was sitting when he told me.  I remember standing up…saying, “YES!  YES!  DID YOU E-MAIL THEM BACK AND TELL THEM YES?!”

He kinda smiled.

Then he said, “I e-mailed them back and said…DO NOT SEND THIS TO MY WIFE!”

He was kidding.  And he had e-mailed them back.

So.  Here is where I skip a whole lotta “stuff” and focus on the fact that the Lord was loud.  He was loud about what He wanted us to do.  He has been continuously readying our family to do this thing.  He was clear about what our steps were to be.  And it’s been a challenging and beautiful ride thus far.

We have completed our Foster/Adoption classes…and we are waiting on our fire inspection and home study and whatever child the Lord has for us to love for Him…for however long He will have us love them.  It’s an unknown road.  It’s a road that has to be traveled with nothing but blind faith and hope leading us.  There is no place for control on it.  Sometimes the road is made up of small, muddy trails…shadowed and dark and I can’t really see where we are headed.  And there are screeching whispers of turning around and heading back to where we were before…because it’s safer there.  And then sometimes the road is sunny and warm and bright…with bird’s singing and chirping. And there is someone bigger…who very obviously knows love… who is in control, holding our hands and reminding us that He is a faithful path guide.  And there is skipping.  (I love skipping.)   And it’s ours.  It’s our road…with our faithful guide leading our way.  And I am so grateful for each and every step.

****

It just so happens that several weeks before we had any idea that any of this was going to happen…I sat across from Chad in the “Lodge” room with my coffee and my we-are-about-to-have-a-conversation face.

He looked up from his laptop.

“What?”  He said.

“I have been thinking about something a lot.  And I really want to do it.  I’ve decided.”

He stopped me.

He said, “You want to get a boob job.”

I spit out my sip of coffee.  “NOOO!!!!!!”

He laughed.  He’s a funny one.  He will kill me for telling that.  It’s ok though.  Totally worth it.

I recovered.  “I want the girls to share a room.”

“Why???  What would we do with the other room?” He reasoned.

“I don’t know.  Maybe it could be a guest room.  But…I just know that I always wanted a sister.  And I always thought that if I had a sister…we would share rooms like on the Brady Bunch.  And Aiden will be in Jr. High in TWO YEARS and then she won’t want to share a room with her 1st grade sister!!!!” ( I was getting all “fast talking” and dramatic at this point) “And I think that it will really bond them and be a time that they will cherish and never forget!  And I think it will help keep Aiden young when society is screaming at her to act older than she is…and I think it will help Annslee not be so scared of her sister being out of her site if she knows they will be together at night. (Annslee had been suffering with a lot of attachment issues after her friend passed away)  And…I just really want this for them.”

Chad looked at me…and I knew what he was thinking.

“Huuuuuuuhhhhhhhhh.  I’m going to have to move a bunch of furniture.”

But what he said was glorious!

“Ok.”

So we did it.  And I had no idea if Annslee’s room…the room that had always housed the “baby”…would ever be occupied again.  And that was super hard for me on the first night that it was empty.  But I focused on the sister bond thing we had going.  And also how darling their shared room was.

My mother made that dress for my cousin before she was born…25ish years ago.  They gave it to Annslee and her first “official” baby picture was taken in it.

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That was the first dress I bought for Aiden when I found out she was a girl.

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I kinda have an obsession with Holly Hobby.  And dolls.

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Those cups and saucers belonged to Chad’s Grandma Margaret.  Aiden collects bells.  I just love that.  One is my Great Grandma Florida Nation’s (yes! that was her real name!!)  It is engraved with “Happy” on it…because that is what everyone called her.  Can you even take it???  Happy was her nickname!  Like people really called her Happy!  One is my grandmother’s.  One is Chad’s grandmother’s.  It’s just plain awesomeness.  The instrument playing angels were my mom’s.  Her grandmother gave them to her and they were in her room when she was growing up.  She happened to be in the room when I was setting them up.  She said, “That’s funny.  That’s exactly the way I always arranged them.”

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Dolls from Alaska, Ukraine, and all over Texas.

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My mom stitched those Holly Hobby’s and they were hanging in my room until around Jr. High.

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I love this space.  I love everything about it.  I love that I hear them whisper at night.  I love that they argue over who gets to have the remote.  I love that we gather as a family here at bedtime to read the Bible together.  I love that I hear frozen music blaring from in there when I send them up to clean it.  I love that memories and sister bonds are being made in that space.  and I love that without us even knowing it…God was freeing up a room for a child that needs it.  Whoever that child may be.

Blind faith.  It’s a magical thing.

12.23.14 Let your hearts be light.

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Merry Christmas From our Family to Yours.

outtakes:

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Have yourself a merry little Christmas…

Let your heart be light.

From now on…our troubles will be out of sight.

So…have yourself…a merry little Christmas now.

****

Words I’m living by this Holiday season.  Sending love out there tonight.  To you…and you…and yours.

12.2.14 Making Seasons Bright

Annslee:  “I know what I’m gonna wish for for Christmas this year!!!”

Me:  “What??”

Annslee:  “My lucky day!!!!!!!!”

Go for it, Sugar Plum.

****

This year, Annslee is 5 years old.  And I’ve decided that 5 years old is my favorite age to watch celebrate Christmas.  She’s all in.  Everything is amazing to her.  She bounces everywhere she goes and her eyes are wider and her laugh is…laughier.

She has conversations with her elf…whom she has re-named “Elsa” but whom she calls “Elizabeth” sometimes too.  The elf’s name used to be Elmo…so you can see that there is a pattern to her naming tendancies.

And she sings.  She sings all the time.  Her favorite is Jingle Bells.  And she is serious about it.

“Jingle bells…jingle bells…jingle all the waaaaayyyyy!  Oh what fun…we wish we were…in a one horse open sleigh…HEY!”

It’s awesome…really.

I have always wanted to try making homemade Christmas cookies.  And when I say “always” what I really mean is “ever since I started watching, on average, 2.2 Hallmark Christmas movies every day.”  It seems that they are always making homemade Christmas cookies.  I’m not gonna say that they tasted the greatest.  But I will say that I handled the mess way better than I anticipated.  So I’ll consider that a win.

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Outdoor decorations are up.  And someone is very happy about that.

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She couldn’t get her arms around him for a hug fast enough.

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We took our Christmas pictures…although I think we may skip sending Christmas cards this year…as much as I hate it…and try to save money where we can.

This is the behavior that I deal with during family pictures.  And that’s from Chad.  So you can imagine what it’s like when you add all the kids and (this year) the dog in the mix.

I honestly didn’t feel him put that up there!  Unbelievable.

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The elves came.  As much as I love all things Christmas…I’m not a huge fan of the whole elf thing.  So…we do it a little differently.  UK comes and helps them “arrive” while we are all out somewhere.  He does it up good for their seasonal debut and then we peter out pretty fast.  I do over hear the kids saying things like, “Our elves really don’t move around very much” or “I wonder if they will move tonight?”  And I’m fine with it.  I don’t try to sell all that ridiculousness about not being able to touch them, etc.  I figure…sleep with them…cuddle them…let them watch movies with you…and take them in the car.  That gives me a good excuse as to why I don’t have to jump up at night right as I’m about to fall asleep because I forgot to move the elves!  They are always under their arms…asleep.  And that’s why they don’t move!  That seems to be a sufficient answer.  To them…and me.

However…I will also tell you that Annslee… my biggest “believer” …asked me the other day when I was going to get them out.

I shockingly answered, “Don’t be silly!  I don’t get them out!  They come from the North Pole!”

She flatly replied, “But they are stuffed animals.”

I decided to avert the question by shining a light on the fact that I didn’t think her elf would appreciate being referred to as an animal.

So…I may not have the best plan concerning the elves.

It didn’t diminish her excitement when they finally showed up, though.

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I figure what UK did there buys me about a week of elf loserness.  They are bound to still be too tired and sugar hung-over to do anything else for a while.

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I’ll leave y’all with another intellectual conversation that I had with Annslee concerning her Christmas wish list.

Annslee:  “I know what I wish for for Christmas!”

Me (thinking…I know! Your lucky day!):  “What????”

Annslee:  “A toilet in the car.”

I can’t argue with her logic.  And it could happen.  Aiden and Colton are asking Santa for an RV.  Those things have toilets.

****

I’m hoping that your Season is looking bright tonight.

11.8.14 Definitely.

Halloween was like a Norman Rockwell image this year.  I am longing for simpler times.  I can’t help myself.  And lately…I have been pleasantly surprised at how frequently I capture an image of my life in my mind and realize how neatly it fits into an old Rockwell or Kinkade painting.

Case in point.  Sure…important children are missing from the picture because they are either eating lollipops, being too old to dress up, or perfecting their home-made Freddy finger knives off camera…but still.  What a perfect image here.  Adorable, traditional costumes…orange sprinkled Halloween cookies…wind blown piggy tails…and big pre-trick or treat grins.

And good friends, of course.  We can’t forget about the most important thing.  Good friends.

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Twin witches who called their boots “witchy boots” and a pirate fit for a Caribbean ship lit up the sidewalk…and our night.

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For the record…I never tell her to do these serious poses.  These are candid shots.  And I adore them.  Because they capture her.  She can be so serious…and then break into the greatest laughter on a dime.

In this particular shot…she was looking across the street to see if her friend had come out yet…and her awkward, crossed footed stance is just soooo her…and makes me smile.

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UK pulled his trailer for a hayride.  Can we all just agree on how amazingly fun hayrides are??

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UK dressed the part as our driver…eliciting squeals of laughter from his nieces and looks of sheer embarrassment from his nephews.

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I just think he wanted an excuse to wear all that hair.  But I didn’t tell him that.

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This morning…I called my dad.  We joked that I was already watching Hallmark Christmas movies…allowing the Season to roll in, in full swing.  He said, “You know what’s gonna happen…don’t you???  You know how you get…”  And I laughed and knowingly replied, “I know Dad.  I know.”  Because he was referring to my inability to control my Elf-like spirit and Christmas cheer to the point that when the day actually arrives…I’m too sad to enjoy it.  Because I’m more focused on the fact that it’s going to be gone within a few hours than I am the joyful fact that it has finally arrived.  I think I suffer from PTHD.  Post Traumatic Holiday Disorder.  It’s the Christmas blues.  But I assured him that this year was going to be different…because I am learning the discipline of letting go of the seasons passed…instead of holding onto what was or what could have been.  And it is a discipline. I will always have that choice to make.

I can either focus on the fact that December 26th is the day my grandfather died and, coincidentally, the due date for a baby that I didn’t get to hold here on EarthorI can focus on all of the wonderful that December 25th brings with it.  Because the truth is…that December 25th brings the most important baby of all…the Savior of our world…of our pain…of our sadness and suffering.  He is the same God that holds that baby now and listens to my Grandpa’s soft stories and laughs with and loves the people that I miss.  And that will always be.  Every year.  December 26th has always been a sad day for me…even as a young child.  And now it holds new meaning…and new sadness.  But December 25th brings the hope and the truth that makes it all okay.  And it is.  It is all okay.

So I am letting the cool, Fall air usher in a new season…and with it, new promises of dreams coming true.  You just never know what the Lord has in store day to day…month to month…year to year…for His children that love Him.

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You just never know.

And there is nothing but joy in that.

This year will definitely be different, Dad.

Definitely.

10.11.14 Contentment and Hope Can Be Friends

October is already in full swing and I haven’t even located my orange storage container with the black lid yet.  I’ve kinda scaled back.  In an o.k. way.  I’m paying more attention and answering the question, “Is that what I want to spend my time and energy on?”  I am being more selective.  I am asking God every day:  “Who?  What?  When?  Where?  Why?  and How?”  And I am paying attention to His answers…like never before.  There is lots and lots on my mind these days.  There is lots of communication with God.  There is lots of trust and peace and anticipation.  There is lots of looking at my 4 kids…while having, “Oh-my-Gosh-I-am-an-old-mom-now” thoughts.  I don’t want to be an old mom.  I may have touched on this before.  In fact…I’m sure I have.  But I’m telling you…there is nothing like having TWO in Jr. High combined with a sweet toddler girl who somehow managed to magically become a 4th grade tween (what does that word even mean???  I sort of hate it), combined with the last year with the baby at home…combined with the daily knowledge that our 5th baby is in Heaven instead of in the now empty nursery upstairs.  I don’t like dreading things.  But I dread next year like I dread hearing that there is a stomach virus going around.  And there is always one of those things going around these days.  I can’t catch a break.

Anyway…I don’t really know what to do with all of these feelings…other than to feel them…and then decorate them with twinkly lights to make them prettier.  Examples…celebrate the heck out of Annslee turning 5, becoming “friends” with all of their “friends” on Instagram, and focusing on the fun fashion that comes with being a tween (Ugh…that word, again.)

And hope.

I realize that God, not only created me for contentment in Him…but also for hope.  He created me for hope in a future.  I am slowly learning how to introduce my contentment with the preset and my hope for what the future holds…and teaching them how to be friends.  Because when those two things are at odds…I start feeling really unbalanced and insecure.

****

Twinkly lights are all over the place…in the form of:

Clemson cheerleaders:

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Finding her asleep in a self-made cocoon:

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Little House in the Big Woods inspired outfits:

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Driveway nights:

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Kids in a bounce house:

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Girls playing dolls in a tent in the backyard:

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5th Birthdays (and twirling, for that matter):

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and do-it-yourself 4th grade pictures:

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Sparkly lights…indeed.

Contentment and hope…

they are all over this page…in these words and these images.  They are everywhere.

10.3.14 September Birthday Favorites

Chase is 12.  Which is crazy.  Like…really crazy.  And to keep from getting overly emotional about his last year of non-teenagerness…I’ve decided to just not dwell on numbers this year.  At all.  Which works out great for me…because on October 24th…I turn an ungodly number that I have very negative connotations with.  But that’s enough about that.

Chase has been counting down the days for about 2 weeks.
“8 more days, Mom” and so on…

And we always pretend that we don’t know what he’s talking about.

“4 days till what, Chase???”

But he calls our bluff every time.

What a kid.  I’m telling you…if you are privileged enough to know him…then you know…

…what an amazing kid.

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His birthday was on Tuesday…and on Monday afternoon…the school nurse called me to come get his sister.  By Monday night…she was running a very high fever and very obviously sick.  When I tucked Chase in that night…it was no longer…

“1 more night!!!”

but…

“Mom…I’m really worried about Aiden.  I’m really worried that something bad will happen to her.”

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There are glimpses throughout our days that remind me that our kids will forever be changed after losing a sibling during my pregnancy (no matter how early it was) and watching their little sister’s best friend die.  And I realized that he was going there.

I kissed his forehead and told him…

“Chase…Aiden is ok.  I think she has strep throat…and she will get medicine tomorrow and she will be ok.  You can be excited about your birthday.”

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But that is just Chase…more concerned with his sister than himself.

He decided to cancel his birthday dinner at BJ’s and have their pizza brought home for supper instead.  He wanted his sister with him.  And isn’t it so true…that it doesn’t really matter where you are…but who you’re with that’s most important?  He is someone that understands what love is.  He always has been.

What a kid.

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Annslee told me a while back, “I know what I want to get Chase for his birthday.  I know where we need to go.”

She lead me to the mall…to a store that has movie posters and pictures of old movie stars.  She had remembered Chase noticing an Elvis Presley picture there months ago.  And she was going to get it for him.  I didn’t even care that she had no idea that it cost actual money…and that you couldn’t just walk in and take it.  She was so excited.  She had been thoughtful.  She had been aware.  She had been diligent and intentional.

What a kid.

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Tonight, we are taking Chase and his two closest friends to Jumping World to celebrate.  We aren’t leaving until 7.  But at noon…he said,

“Welp…I might as well go ahead and get ready.”

I think he’s excited.  And boy oh boy…do I love that kid excited.

****

School pictures happened up at the ole’ Jr. High.  I don’t buy those things anymore.  They are just awful…and awfully expensive.

I told them…

just tell the photographer that your mom is a photographer.

Because really…who can’t be a photographer if they really want to be?

So…they did.  And I was.

I took their pictures when they got home from school that day.

6th and 8th grade…chronicled.

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And speaking of birthdays…the back and forth sack between me and UK is still going strong.

This was his t-shirt from me on September the 8th.

The sack is taped together.  Which I love.

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Happy Birthday.  All around.

9.13.14 Iowa…you make me smile.

We spent a considerable amount of time in Iowa this Summer.  I’m quite certain that it is the most consecutive days I have spent in Iowa since my time living there…which I have affectionately termed

The Cold War.

A.  It was cold.

B.  I was at war.  Internally.  During that short phase of life…I had one too many major, life transitions happening to remain sane.

Examples:  Getting married.  Moving across the country.  Meeting my new family.  Graduating from Graduate school.  Getting pregnant.  Planting a church.  Making all new friends.  Having a baby who became very ill during the first week of life.

Not any one of these things…maybe even two or three of these things is too much to handle.

But you put them all together…

WHAMO.

Instant crazy person.

The cold war was not my finest year and a half.

And I’d like to take this time to make a public apology to my mother and father in law…who probably took the brunt of my coo-coo for cocoa puffs attitude during this time.

I didn’t like Iowa.  I wanted to go home…(wherever home was now that I was married.)  The only real home I had known was with my family in Texas.  Clemson was a fun filled couple of years in Grad school…but it wasn’t home.

And that’s the  kind of thing that TV shows and movies and Nicolas Sparks books don’t talk about when they romanticize falling in love and getting married.  They don’t tell you that all of a sudden…you’re home isn’t your home anymore.  And that was super hard for me.

BUT!!!!  The good news is…I really like Iowa now!  And it turns out…I probably didn’t like it then…not because of it…but because of me.  I was mad at it for being my home when it didn’t feel like my home.  I resented the ridiculously cold weather…the gray skies…the icy roads…the shoveling of the driveway…the having to get dressed in my ski clothes to go to Target.  I resented the fact that we were a mile from Chad’s entire family and I couldn’t see mine without traveling across the country.  I resented that my parents had to travel 1000 miles to see their first grandson.  The list of my resentments goes on and on.  But the truth is…it wasn’t Iowa’s fault.  And that Iowa ain’t so bad.

Iowa provided a safe haven for my family this Summer.  It provided love.  It provided healing from loss.  It provided sweet time with old friends…and game nights with family…and music and dancing and laughing.  I went to Iowa so sad from a year of loss…broken and faltering.  And I came home whole.  Iowa was my respite.   And for that…I will forever be grateful.

Iowa:  at a glance…

cousins…

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we met baby brand new cousin.

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We continued 4th of July traditions.

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We cheered.

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We rode our first roller coaster.

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We swam…and talked Uncles into slushies at swim up bars.

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We made fairy food.

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We relaxed at Lake Okoboji.

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We went across the lake in the evenings to Arnold’s Park.

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We watched the sun set.

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We watched the Bobbsey twins.

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We had cousin sleepovers.

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We got Grandma Sue on a trampoline for the first time in her life.

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We rode in the Cobra.

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We played dress up.

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We got staples in our head.

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We healed.

Thank you, Iowa.

8.28.14 Farmhouse Kitchen

Today was the fourth day of school and the kids are home and are doing well.  The first day of school and all of it’s pressure has come and gone…and I have permission (from myself) to sit back and relax into the rest of the year.  Perfectionists, like myself, will understand.  The first day of school…like any monumental occasion (and let’s be honest…I can make an everyday walk to the mailbox a monumental occasion)…comes with high expectations.  And the expectations are for myself!  Perfect outfits.  Perfect shoes.  Perfect backpacks.  Perfect lunches packed in perfect lunch kits.  Perfect spirals and perfect pencils.  Perfect penminship on perfectly stapled forms.  Perfect pictures.  Perfect night before tuck in’s.  Perfect prayers.  Perfect goodbyes.  And perfect memories.  I don’t really care if I seem perfect.  No…I’ll go to the grocery store in a get up and hair due that’s down right embarrassing to anyone who’s with me.  And I have no problem telling the room that I completely dropped my basket and yelled at the kids like I was starring in a movie about an exsorsism because they didn’t clean their room after the 3rd request.  (No perfect parent here.)

But for some reason…I’ve associated making things perfect for them with making them feel perfectly loved.

And at times…it can be exhausting.  And a little ridiculous.  Because I know that perfection doesn’t equal love.  But at other times…the meticulous attention to details pays off.

Sometimes…I have to tell myself to just “stop.  Just let this one be relaxed.  If you don’t get the photograph…it’s okay.  Just focus on being present for the memory.

And then at other times…they notice the attention to the details and they smile really big and say thank you…and they feel…

well…

loved perfectly.

All of that to say…

I’m aware of the problem and I’m working on it.

****

Let’s re-visit Summer, shall we.

We painted the living room, kitchen, and our bedroom and bath.

The house was becoming very dark.  The kitchen was a dark, brick, rust, red color.  When I originally painted it almost 10 years ago, I loved it.  It was exactly what I was going for…rustic and ranch-ish.  It off-set the white washed cabinets and mingled with the darker counter tops.  At the same time…we painted the joining living room a chocolate, brown color.  I wanted my house to feel like a cabin in the woods instead of a cookie cutter house in the burbs.  I loved it.  And over time…we slowly replaced couches and inherited antique furniture that added to the look.  But at some point, I went a little crazy with the dark wall colors.  Colt decided he wanted a navy room.  Chase picked a dark, woodsy green.  Until one day…a couple of years ago…I told Chad…”I feel like we are living in a dungeon.”

We finally decided to paint.

I’ve been really pulled toward the color gray.  And I thought a putty color…kind of like river rock…would lighten things up without completely changing the established look of the house.

However…I wasn’t expecting it to throw off my Texas, ranch kitchen so much.  It’s like nothing went in there anymore.  At first I thought I really didn’t like the new color.  But then…I had vision.

Operation farmhouse kitchen went into full effect.

I woke up one morning and thought, “Today…I’m going to take off some cabinet doors.”

So…I did.

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Then…my brother trimmed them out and I stained the trim to match.

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And then I thought…”What should one do with a few nice cabinet doors?”

So…I screwed them above the windows instead of messing with curtains.

I really hate curtains.

And I really love wood.  So it worked out.

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I went on the hunt for some simple decor that would make my kitchen a place that represented the things that I love.

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And used some of my old stuff as well.

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Now…I’m completely in love with the wall color…and the kitchen.

Plus…I kinda want a farmhouse sink now.

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****

Up next…the master bedroom and bathroom.

I’m gonna have to clean them and make my bed before I take those pictures.

Happy Thursday.

8.25.14 Back

I took the Summer off.  From so many things.  I just took off.

I don’t think I’ve ever done that before…not that I recall, anyway.  I’m not a runner.  I never have been.  And I don’t mean “runner” like…fitness runner.  I mean…

“there-are-too-many-things-that-are-hurting-my-heart-so-I’m-getting-the-heck-out-of-dodge” running.

The past year has been the hardest of my life.  And that includes 7th grade…which royally sucked $@*#.

There was one too many losses…

one too many heart-aches…

one too many “oh-my-heavenly-Jesus-I-cannot-do-this-agains.”

Some of you know every detail…some of you are left guessing.  And that’s okay with me.

I took my family…and we ran.  Some of us…of the shorter kind…don’t even know why we ran.  And that’s okay with me too.  Preferred, actually.  I’ve decided that a young faith doesn’t need a lot of testing.  And let’s be honest…going out into a broken world every day is test enough.   So…by God…I’m gonna protect them from it the best I can.

I’ve learned a lot this Summer.  I’ve learned that sometimes…I am the one who needs the support instead of being the one who is giving it…and that I don’t have to feel guilty about that.  I’ve learned that people come in and out of your life at many different times and in many different ways and that just because someone is gone…it doesn’t diminish the importance or love from when they were there.  I’ve learned that sometimes…I have to choose to narrow my focus to just my husband and my kids…because I won’t always have the strength for the “world.”  I’ve learned that putting my phone and my computer down silences a good majority of the noise.  I’ve learned that my family is there for me.  I’ve learned that I happen to be very superstitious and that entertaining superstition has affected my understanding of God’s love and His truth.  I’ve learned that I’m strong.  And most importantly…I’ve learned that I really, really trust Jesus…and that I can rest in His truth and goodness and love for me.

I have missed writing.  I have missed photographing my life.  And I hope that with the preparation and start of school…comes a refreshed desire to come back to reality.  As good as running can be for the soul sometimes…like pounding feet on the pavement is for the body…at some point, you have to stop.  Muscles tire.  You can’t run forever.  But I’m going to be honest…the scenery during my run was beautiful.  And looking back at the images and remembering the stories in the days to come will be a great way to spend the first weeks of this new school year.

But for today…I will stay in the present.  Today…I will breathe in and survive on all of the little details that make life beautiful here…exactly where I am.

Aiden started 4th grade today.  And I’ve decided that instead of dwelling on the thought that she might as well be a junior in high school…I will concentrate on the ways that my 4th grade baby is still, very much, a little girl.  Like…at least she’s not wearing make-up.  She’s not getting her hair colored or highlighted.  She’s not driving…or dating.  She’s not in any danger of getting engaged this year.  She still plays with her American girl doll…and her sister…and laughs at her brother’s fart jokes.  And best of all…she will still…….

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….hold my hand while she lets me walk her to her classroom.

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Chad snapped these.  And when I looked back at them…I was so glad he did.  There is proof out there that my oldest daughter and I spin the exact same way when our names are called for an impromptu picture.

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She walked into school the lone sibling for the first time this year.  She has always had a brother or two to go with.  And although it made me sad…I also caught glimpses of her individuality and her strength.  My girl knows who she is and is confident in her worth.  And I love that.  Plus…it wasn’t but a second before she was joined by friends.

After her drop off…it was the boy’s turn.  The fact that Chase is in Jr. High is mind boggling to me.  I really don’t know how that happened so fast.  I think that the way time speeds up once you have children is beyond any kind of human understanding.  In fact…I’d like to have a word with God about it.  He created spinning planets, for Heaven’s sake.  Surely He could create a slow down button.

Anyhow…I thought he may be a little nervous.

Nope.

It was business as usual this morning.

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It was quite comforting to me…that after 2 years…my boys were going to be walking the same halls again.

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Now…we are not unlike any other family in the sibling squabble department.  There are times that I feel like I should be wearing a black and white striped shirt and those hideous black bike shorts that referee’s have to wear.  In fact…I just decided to buy a whistle.  Every time they argue over mind craft worlds or who needs to get out of who’s room…I’ll just start blowing the whistle really loud.  It will be like a fire drill……for fighting.

But…to hear them last night…laughing and talking through open bedroom doors across the short hallway that separates them…was a mom moment I want to remember forever.  Chase was asking for Colt’s opinion on what shirt to wear with what shorts.  Colt was explaining how to wear the special Nike socks…and offering locker opening advise. They were going over schedules and making plans to meet in the hallway.  And I heard an older brother promising a younger brother that he would always be there for him.  And my heart beats harder…just thinking about that.  Because that’s the kind of relationship I started dreaming about when I found out that Chase was coming…and that Colt was going to be a big brother to a little brother.

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And always able to offer me some needed comic relief when my mommy emotions are swelling to the point of a possible embarrassing breakdown…there comes sister.

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She swoops in…displaying her, self described, “special outfit.”  Pajamas…good.  Vest…good.  Boots…very good.  Disheveled hair…well…we’ll have to work on that.  But somehow…it works for her with this ensemble.

And then…there was this moment.  I will never tire of this picture.

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I think I’ve handled all the emotion I can for today.  And…it’s not even noon.  I think I’ll go hang with my cowgirl, sidekick now.  Because…I’ll blink…and it will be her turn to spread her wings and leave the nest.  And at that moment…

you may all come visit me in the emotional breakdown wing of the local hospital.  You think I’m joking.  Just wait.

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I’ve never been more happy to hear Disney cartoons coming from the other room….

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…or be asked to put the doll’s shoes on for the 187th time.

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Hoping we all…(you included)…have an extraordinary day.

6.12.14 Recitals and an Ending

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The girl wore my old tap shoes.  There’s something about this that makes me very happy.  Those were my actual tap shoes.  That I wore.  When I hated dance.  When I was 4.

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And she loved that she was wearing them.  And I loved that she was wearing them.

I also think that I might could pick up tap dancing.  But that’s beside the point.

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The day of the recital was beautiful.  It was held at the Galveston Opera House…which just made everything seem more important.  The sun was bright in the sky and the ocean was around the corner.

It’s no secret that she had been saying all year that she “was not going to go to the recital.”  But after she picked out her wrist corsage…minds were changed.  We went from “Ow not going”…to “Don’t watch me or take pictures.”

I said, “We will watch you”…and “I will take pictures.”

She really didn’t argue anymore.

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Although she didn’t look like the picture of thrilled…she did get through it.

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What she lacked in I-love-ballet-pizzazz…she made up for with extreme dance move accuracy.  I mean…she is looking to that hand like nobody’s business.  Just like the teacher told her to.  And talk about a good toe point.  My girl knows how to do what she’s told.  And that bodes well for her in the teacher’s pet department.  I got a call a couple of weeks after the recital from her teacher saying that she was a very special student and she really wanted her back next season.  I told Chad that maybe we should encourage her.  I mean…what if she is supposed to be a star in The Nutcracker someday??  What if the teacher saw some serious potential in her??  He didn’t entertain these notions.  He also said that he wasn’t paying for her to do something she didn’t want to do.

Point taken.

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But I can’t argue that she makes the most beautiful ballerina I’ve ever seen.

And that any reason to give tiny pink roses should be respected.

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Everyone was very proud.  Her teenage brother even put her recital on Instagram for his friends to see.

Now that…that’s serious business.

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The very next day…Chase had his Spring piano recital.

He played a difficult number.  His teacher was a little worried when he first picked it out…but didn’t want to discourage him from trying.  He worked so hard.  He practiced all the time.  And by two weeks in…he knew it backwards and forwards.

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He amazed us.

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And then he graduated from Elementary School.

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This was a difficult day for me.  I can’t even put into words why it was so difficult.

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It snuck up on me.  And I just wasn’t ready.  He was.  But I wasn’t.

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I am so proud of who he is.

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And I know there are great things in store for him.  The next chapter is always exciting and worthy of all the celebratory hip-hip-hoorays…you’re off on your ways!!  With all the look how far you’ve comes and we are so proud of you’s!!  Next chapters are wonderfully freeing…and growing…and deserved.

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But with any ending…

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…there comes the reminder of the beginning…

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…and that beginning was just yesterday.  And the reality of that…made my heart ache.

And I just wanted to hold him a little longer.

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