Saturday, December 20, 2008

Blogging and other Things on My Heart

How I do love to blog.

I look at it as something I do for myself.
Like taking a hot bath.
Or getting a pedicure.

That's how much I love it.

It's my opportunity to express myself, record my memories and be creative all in one.

I get to write poems, (try to) be funny and extract those emotions that are running rampant inside my heart.

One other bonus: your comments! I love reading them. They make my day sometimes. Did you know that?

I also love, love, love to read your blogs. I'd like to name all my favorite blogs here, but I don't want to leave anyone out... because your words really make a difference!

They influence me.
They make me laugh.
They make me think.
Your blogs are truly wonderful and delightful.
They inspire me in many different ways.

I have this habit of thinking in terms of blog posts. I'm sitting there actually experiencing a moment, thinking... boy, I'm gonna have to blog this. Sometimes, the title jumps right into my head at the very moment.

For instance, today, I was itching to get to the computer to blog about this picture... My wild child daughter decorated herself with a fancy mustache, unibrow and chest hair. Don't ask me where she gets this stuff.

I also have wanted for a long time to share with you about our two aquatic pets: a red eared slider turtle and a catfish.
I mean, who has a pet catfish? We even have a stocking for him. I also wanted to tell you that I try to be real careful in the mornings not to wake turtle up. If I come in to the laundry room (where he stays), and I can see he's all tucked up into his shell, I just cannot turn on the light and jolt him into his 10 gallon aquarium of reality. I mean, that's not how the sun comes out, instantaneously, and I guess out of respect for mother nature, I try to tread lightly around turtle in the mornings.

I'd love to tell you that a week ago, I was running up to my sister's door (it was COLD!) and tripped and fell HARD knee-first on the edge of her concrete step. I don't think my knee will ever be the same, but what is really bothering me is that I put a hole in the one pair of skinny jeans I have. Ok, I am not skinny; however, they are the closest thing to a skinny jean I will ever have... they look good tucked into boots and with my BFL diet, I was actually feeling semi-cute in them... and then, the only pair of true designer jeans I own... ripped. I have seen pics of celebrities in ripped jeans, but I guarantee you they paid money for special rips. Sigh.

I'd like to share with you that we're having a rough basketball season. It hasn't been this rough in quite a few years. I guess that's something to be thankful for -that our last few seasons have been good ones-, but it is H.A.R.D. to watch your husband and his players lose game after game. It's difficult to listen to his voice on the phone when we just got whipped and he won't say it... but I know that all he wants is to come home and see his family. It makes me anxious when we start losing so much, but ironically, it's the one thing that consistently gets me on my knees - right where God wants me.

Which brings me to my last point. As much as I love blogging -and tend to obsess-, I am going to take a bit of a break. I am feeling in my heart that as much as I love it (and it's ok to love it!), I need to take a step back from it and focus on the One who makes it All Possible.

I wonder (because of YOUR blog posts)... am I truly helping my children focus on the REAL meaning of CHRISTmas? Am I giving them opportunities to serve others? Am I spending enough time with my King? That's what I'm going to focus my heart upon right now - the birth of Christ - my Father, King, Savior, Protector, Rock. Have a peaceful, relaxing, lovely and wonderful Christmas!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Somebody Watching a Little Too Much HSM?

Extraneous Commentary:

Yes, my dog has a Christmas sweater on.

Do you like the new polka dot rug from Pottery Barn?

And, yes, we have a basketball goal in our front room. Do you expect anything less from a basketball coach? Come on now.

Our front room is "under construction" - thus the unhung frames and drapeless windows.... hoping to get it finished up next Tuesday. plllllleeeeeeeeeeassssssee! I feel so undone!

Thanks for your great response on my "living out loud" description of my 2 youngest kiddos. I'm proud to say it's now a LABEL!

He can bust a move. This is only the tip of his iceberg. He can do some pretty impressive head spins and pop and locks (or something like that - help me Nicole)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

She Grew Horns

Here is Ellie as Lil' Faun and her friend Cambri as Lil' Centaur. They just finished up their performance of
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe @ the Spotlight Theater. My niece Hallie was also in the cast; she played a fairy. And, she will KILL me for this, but my sister was asked by the director to play grown up Lucy in the final scene of the play. She got to speak in an English accent and everything. It was pretty funny. Not to make light of the fantastic acting job she did; however, it just tickled me to see her up there pronouncing, "Ah, it seems to me a strange adventure awaits on the other side of the lampost!" Love ya sis!

Monday, December 15, 2008

This is What I Meant

Hang out with Ellie for about 5 minutes and you'll see what I meant when I said that she lives out loud.

Tonight @ Blockbuster-
She walks in wearing her Santa hat, safety goggles and a deadpan expression. Not trying to be funny; just being herself. She has an honest affinity for goggles of any kind.

What totally got me, though, was when she walked by the movie Step Brothers, and noticed the guy on the cover (Will Ferrell)... she declared with complete sincerity...(while still wearing her safety goggles and santa hat):

"This guy is the
greatest actor of all time."

"What?" I asked "Him?"

"Oh yeah," she replied...
"He played Buddy in the movie Elf!"

She's Here!

She made it! I cannot tell you how great it made me feel knowing she (and I!) had your prayers today. The sweet relief to see her walk in the door! No airport nightmare stories after all. Gotta run... more later!!!!

Solid as a Rock

As I sit here and watch the clock tick painfully by, waiting for airline updates (Kami's flight from Raleigh just boarded - see previous post for Kami's flight problems!)......

I'm thinking about telling on myself, a bad mom story, involving Kami.
Rena did it last night, as did Roxanne a few days ago... so here goes...

When Tom is out of town, my strings get pulled a little tighter. I talk faster, I think harder and I don't laugh quite as much.

This was a day that he had been out of town for several days, so I was probably pulled as tight as Grandma's clothesline.

Kami had quite a busy schedule that day:
12:00 - bball game in Jenks
1:00 piano recital @ Barnes and Noble,
2:00 bball game @ Central H.S.

We obviously had to be well-prepared, and I drilled Kami on her bag... making sure she had everything she needed in it.
Long story short, the first bball game was running late and Kami was crushed... PLEASE Mom, can I play longer than we planned? A quick call to the piano teacher got Kami last on the recital list and all was well.

UNTIL... we were about 3 miles from the bookstore and Kami realized THAT SHE HAD FORGOTTEN HER SHOES!!!!! All she had to wear for her recital were her Nike high tops OR bare feet.

To a piano recital @ Barnes and Noble?
Oooh Hoooo. I don't think so. (Pride speaking)

At this point, I was pulled so tight, I was about to break and I started yelling (yelling!) WHY DID YOU FORGET YOUR SHOES? We are NOT GOING TO MAKE IT!

Unfortunately, as I raced the streets back to our house to pick up her silvery little flats, I continued to harrass her. I now cringe. But I truly thought it was over. I thought there was NO WAY we could make it back to the bookstore on time.
(especially given 71st and Memorial traffic!)

And only by the grace of God did we. I drove up to the bookstore, tires smoking, only then realizing that my poor child who I had been so angry with for the last 10-12 minutes, was supposed to play 5 piano pieces in PUBLIC! Something she had never done before. How could she pull off such a feat?

With a minute to go and memories of mom's words certainly ringing through her ears, the sweet baby walked up to the piano and pounded out 5 pieces, some by memory.

Not a mistake made she.
Solid as a rock. A testament to HER strength of character, not mine. Excuse me, I need to go eat some humble pie now. In front of the fire. As I wait for that sweet baby to come home.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I am Not Getting Emotional

I am Not Getting Emotional.

I am Not Getting Emotional.

Kami was not allowed on her flight tonight.

I won't bore you with the fine print, but....

well, maybe I WILL bore you because I'm not a happy momma.

fine print:
Unaccompanied minors cannot fly on the last flight of the night.
Ok, got it.
So, I booked her on a flight. (didn't look like it was the last one of the night... how am I to KNOW?)
Called the airlines (as instructed) and gave them her information.
They logged her info, looked at her flights and said to check her in at the desk on the morning of her departure.
(thought for sure they would tell me if it were the last flight of the night!!!)
No one caught she was booked on the last flight of the night.
I should have. They should have.
No one did.

Now they are charging us to rebook her on to another flight that is not the last flight of the night!!!

Sooooooooooooooo, my baby is still in North Carolina
(safe in the hands of Tom's wonderful cousin) , which was
still ok by me...

until I heard the sleet spiraling down on our roof this evening.
I have never gotten so upset about sleet. Until tonight.

Then, I started getting emotional. (freaking out?!?)

Visions of Kami being stuck in the airport for days on end, airports gridlocked by a winter monster storm, all alone with nothing to eat. Scared, and sleeping on the hard tile floor. Strangers breathing down upon her. Mom and dad being hundreds of miles away.

Big breath. Eyes on Tom. He smiles.... everything is going to be fine. OK.

I am not getting emotional.

She is flying out of Raleigh at 8AM Eastern time tomorrow morning.
Then, she has a THREE HOUR layover in Cincinnati,
and should arrive here at 2PM tomorrow.

Pray together now with me, will you?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

It's How She's Wired

I've been thinking a lot about Kami while she's been away in North Carolina. Here she about 9 years ago. Wow.

Out of my 3 kids, you hear a lot about the (mis) adventures of Luke and the wild ways of Elle Belle, but Kami may be a bit neglected on this blog.....

As Luke and Ellie live their lives out loud....

so Kami goes along in her quiet way, making little waves....

but what she is making is.....
purposeful decisions
goals with determination
wise choice of friends
good grades
as little drama as possible
competitive moves
a choice to be the best she can be

It's amazing at 10 to have this outlook.... (I still strain to be these things myself!)

But I do believe it comes naturally to her... a gift to her from God!

I remind her a lot though her abilities seem "natural," she should not forget that without Him, she could not accomplish anything... and never to take for granted what she has... but to thank God for each and every positive event that happens..,

-all good and perfect things are from above....

I clicked on Kami's blog label: Queen Kamryn the First, and it was fun to see what I saw. I had to pull some of the pictures from the last couple of years... because they are so typically... Kami.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Little Miss Independent

Well, she's officially off!

It's 4:30 in the morning, and Tom just got Kami packed into the car headed to the airport to get on a flight to Raleigh, North Carolina.

By herself.

Yup, you read it right! She is flying as an unaccompanied minor, and though I've heard that those kids flying alone get some cushy treatment, she is feeling pretty grown up.

In fact, I have a hunch she'd rather fly alone than in a group of people. You should have seen the look on her face this morning as she popped out of bed at 4:00 A.M!!!

She's traveling to Raleigh, North Carolina for the ORU vs. North Carolina basketball game. Ummmm.... yep, the Tarheels are currently undefeated and the #1 team in the nation, but Tom and I figured that even if ORU got beat by 50 (God forbid!!) that it would be a memorable experience for her. She loves the history of basketball, and the Dean Dome is a pretty historic. Every time for the rest of her life she sees NC on TV, she will have that experience to refer to. She loves our team. She loves watching our games. So, it is our Christmas gift to her.

One of her best cousins on Tom's side of the family lives in Raleigh. So, she gets some time with Jennifer, who she sees, at best, once a year.

The girl is pumped.

Even though I don't really understand it, being the ball of emotional complexity that I am, I am so thankful for the solid and unflappable personality God gave her. She didn't miss a beat when I asked her if she'd be willing to fly alone (the tickets on Tom's flight were waaay expensive). She is savoring the moment of pure independence.

I pray God's strong hand of protection upon her as she travels this weekend. I pray God will bless her with a wonderful trip, and that she will rely upon Him in her time away. We talked about her true source of strength and protection and wisdom and I pray she will seek God if there is a moment she feels unsure about something.

It's an interesting moment as a parent to look up and see your child so willing to walk away. I guess it starts when they are little toddlers running away from you as fast as their chunky little legs can go, and you have to run after them and swoop them up. This time, I won't be running after her, but I will be swooping her up when she flies home on Sunday!!!

Monday, December 08, 2008

I Know Someone Who Is Going To Be Famous!

Meet Madisen, otherwise known as the young Cate Blanchett in the upcoming The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, starring, none other than Brad Pitt!!!! Madisen is the niece of my best friend from high school, Kim, who I went on the cruise with a few weeks ago AND who JUST started her own blog, perfectly titled KimNOW. We have all been looking forward to this movie coming out... and now it is finally here!!! Go Madisen!!!

Ok, I must admit that I may have only met Madisen a couple times when she was young, but I feel a very close connection with their family. My friend Kim is a triplet... I graduated with Kim and her brothers Craig and Chris. Chris married our classmate Kelly and well... the rest is history.

Family Night

You don't know how rare a word combination that is with us....

In the last 2 weeks, Tom has traveled to Canada, Rhode Island, Louisiana, Missouri, South Dakota and North Dakota. Someone asked me when Tom was coming back and I answered "who??" Just kidding of course. So having him home is one thing, but then having him all the kids home too (and not off at activities) is another.

We did it all last night:

Family dinner- (I cheated and put in a frozen lasagna)

Tom did the dishes- (he is that husband!)

Made puppy chow together- (complete with aprons and chef hats - Ellie's idea of course)

Trimmed the tree- (side note: my tree is depressing this year. I bought it half price after Christmas last year because our old one was getting bad. When I set this one up, the girls came home from school and had a disappointed look in their eyes. Maybe you can't tell, but you can see through the tree... it's just not real Lush, you could say. My sister has this amazing tree, so humongous and incredible... so it's hard not to compare! I need to find a great tree for a decent price - any hints where to look? Is it possible to get one on sale after Christmas? Or are those just all the Charlie Brown trees?)

Listened to Christmas music- (Luke's favorite: "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth" - he has his, so I don't know why he wanted to play this one over and over)

Played a knock-down-drag-out game of Mario Kart on the Wii- (There is only one non-competitive person in the family, so the game ended with tears... and then...)

Luke melted down big time- (glad Tom was here for that one! He did the honors of getting him to bed.)

Girls game of Crazy Mixed up Zoo- (Ellie has a rocking memory and beat Kami and I both!)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

God's Mercies on a Hurting Heart

I have a friend.

A very, very good friend.

And she is going through a hard time.

A very, very hard time.

An I-may-not-make-it-out-of-bed-today hard time.

A life-really-stinks-my-heart-is-breaking-help-me hard time.

And when you have a very good friend whose heart is breaking, little bit by little bit, so goes your own heart.

When the end of this heartbursting time will come, no one really knows.

In the meantime, there are holidays to attend to... like Halloween and Thanksgiving.

And birthdays. Big ones. 40th birthdays.

A day that's supposed to show you that what you've been doing the last 40 years has really paid off. A day that you're supposed to be secure and mature, looking forward to the years to come.

But how could she look forward to this milestone of a day when it seems that looking back is depressing and looking forward is frightening?

There is not a happy ending to this story (not yet anyway), but I will say there is kind of a pleasant interruption of sorts... a God given respite... kind of like an unexpected refreshment of rain on a hot hard day.

That's actually what this post is about. What I really want to communicate here is God's daily mercies (click here for others), specifically the way He worked amazingly in the life of my friend this past week.

I knew her birthday was coming up, but in all honesty, had put little to no thought to it. How could I possibly plan a celebration knowing the condition of her heart? But another friend brought up to me that they wanted to plan a party. A party? I wasn't so sure about that, but after brainstorming for awhile, we had an exciting alternative: a week of birthday blessings. Then, I called another friend, and we brainstormed a theme for each day:

Monday: Flower Shower
Tuesday: Words of Encouragment
Wednesday: Pamper Party
Thursday: Gifts of Inspiration
Friday: Gift Card Crazy

With the magic of email, we had 5-6 people a day lined up to send flowers, drop by gifts, bake dinner, take to lunch, and so on and so forth. (I think it turned out to be more than that.)

It was easy, because God was behind it.

It wasn't me at all. I take absolutely none (zero!) credit. And I'll prove it.

Tuesday was her actual birthday. In the email, we had asked everyone to get her a card that day. In her mailbox or in person. And at the end of the day, she called me. Astonishingly, she had gotten a lot of cards that day.

Guess how many?
Could it be?
40 on her fortieth birthday.

I COULD NOT have planned it this way. I know it was another of God's little mercies for my friend, just telling her "I love you," "everything is going to be OK." "I'm with you." "You have my support and I'm NOT leaving you alone."

The rest of her week was amazing, with treats around every corner. A scripture Bracelet. Gift cards galore. Coffee. Surprise visits. Mani/pedi. A great Italian dinner. An edible fruit bouquet. A poinsettia. A Happy Everything plate!

She said this: she said that she never expected to be happy on her birthday. But she was. I'd venture to say that the whole week brought her great joy thanks to God, who is good and provides for His children.

She had to decorate the Christmas tree tonight. I say "had" because it wasn't easy. There were ornaments and memories and tears, all mixed together. This is not an easy time for her. But I think last week gave her a glimmer of hope and encouragement that she needed.

I keep telling her I am expecting God to do some more amazing things in her life. So if you get a chance, say a prayer for my friend. He'll know who you're talking about.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

You Know It's Bad When....

I joined Facebook.

After I discoverd Ashley and Katie, two of the cutest girls I know, were on Facebook, and then my sister sent me an invitation, and then, two cool bloggers I know, Baloney and Dawn, talk about it all the time... well... I decided to try it out.

That is not the Bad part. I am actually amazed at what a great tool it is and how I am already connecting to people I haven't seen in a long, long time.

I do have some questions though. What if you said "yes" to a new friend but then that person barrages you with all kinds of weird green patch somethingorothers and other odd requests?
That bugs me, but that is not the bad part either.

The bad thing is this: I found a word game that I am kind of obsessed with. It provides you with 6 letters and you have to spell every word you possibly can using those letters. As fast as you can.

Do you remember that I read words backwards to see what they may spell?
Well, anyway, I have to make myself stop playing that game. I'd like to play it right now.

Actually, this is not exactly the bad part either.
Here it really is, the bad part.

You know it's really bad when you are driving behind a SUBURBAN. And you start thinking of all the smaller words that big word could spell.



Ok, the light is green. Move on!!!

Next stoplight, I pull up behind a LIBERTY.

I told you. It's Bad.

A Sweet Activity

It seems like this time of year, my kiddos are in the mood to do a craft any given moment of the day. As I am elbow deep in making pumpkin rolls or up to my eyes in wrapping, my 5 year old boy will say sincerely (and with gusto), "mom, I am feeling creative. Can I pleeeease do a project?" Aargh. Mom guilt. I cringe as I think.... There is no way I can go pull a project together for my kiddos right now with all MY projects going on!!!!

Problem solved:
Last year, I found a big square box (12X12X12) and then cut a piece of cardboard that would fold in half to make a roof. After hot gluing that together, I cut out two triangles to fill in the empty spaces under the roof and hot glued that on too. Then, armed with lots and lots of graham crackers, I hot glued and hot glued until it was covered.

I made sure to use the homemade icing that really dries solid. The storebought icing is too greasy and never completely hardens. Then, I left the enormous gingerbread house out on a little table with the icing (tightly sealed) and bags of a variety of different candies that I bought from the dollar store. The kids spent some jolly time designing it and every time a friend came over, it was a ready-to-go activity that they really enjoyed. Probably because candy was involved; however, the house turned out darling. After Christmas, I stored it in a bubble wrap in a big plastic tub and when we opened it this year, it was perfect! There is another side left to cover, so I'm thinking next time I get that craft project question, I'll know exactly what project they will be doing. Look at Works For Me Wednesday for more great ideas!