Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Out with the old ...

Some favorite moments from 2008. There are so many to choose from ...

Ella J joined our family in January 2008, so she's just one week shy of her first birthday. This photo of her sleeping is from when she was only weeks old.

Dylan is half-way through is first year of real, stay-all-day school. This picture of him sitting on a fence is from our annual camping trip with friends from church. We took a short hike - the first time he's had to do all the walking and none of the riding. Ella J got to ride in the backpack this year!

Our Christmas visit with the Barnet kids. I was their nanny/chauffer/grocery-getter/etc. from 2001 until April of 2008, so it mostly feels like they're family, too. Becca is almost 22, a senior at the Rhode Island School of Art & Design (RISD), Will is 19 and a freshman at Brown, and John is almost 17 and a junior in high school. With them are Ella J & Dylan.

Mike with his Clemson flag at Lake Tahoe this summer. He was so lucky to be able to do some traveling & sight-seeing while he was participating in the Maynard Institute's Journalism Fellowship in Reno, NV over the summer. I love that he had to pick and choose what to pack and the Clemson flag was never once in danger of being removed from the list of "must-haves"!

It's been a great year for our family - not without it's struggles or moments we wish we could take back - but mostly a good year. We'll kick-off 2009 with Ella J's 1st birthday ... and see what's in store for the rest of the year!

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Halloween, a new President-Elect, and Pony Rides

This life of mine is going at twice the speed of light. Is that even possible? I stink at physics (and all other sciences, truth be told). Be it possible or not, it's true.
Two months ago, I was a high school student. I was carrying a pillow to first block to sleep through Chemistry (a hint at why I stink at sciences?) and only concerned with Volleyball or the next trip I'd take with my youth group.
A month ago I was a college student, standing outside my Senior Seminar English, watching planes crash in to the World Trade Center buildings and then the Pentagon. I was terrified that this could happen in my country (but never stopped to think of the countries where suicide bombs are the everyday-norm). And then I was awed as the people of our country wrapped themselves not in fear, but in Truth.
Three weeks ago I was expecting my first child. Terrified that I would break him, or hurt him in some fundamental way.
A week ago I was expecting my second child. Terrified that I would break her, or hurt her in some fundamental way.

My life continues to change, to go so fast that most of the time I feel like I'm on the merry-go-round, being turned faster and faster and faster until I can't hold on any longer. I know that I'm going to be thrown off and have no say in where I land or how hard.
But today. Today I am almost 30. Today I am the wife of my best friend. Today I am the mother of two of God's greatest works of art, and still terrified that I will hurt them in some fundamental way. Today I will go to sleep with a full tummy, in a warm bed. Today I will rest easy, not because of who our country has elected to lead us for the next four years, but because no matter where I go, what I do, how fast the merry-go-round is spinning, "The LORD my God will be with me wherever I go ..." (Joshua 1:9).

I blinked and Halloween was here and gone, election day was over (DJ voted for the "first time" at school!), as El went on her first pony ride ... oh, it goes so fast ... but it's so much more than o.k., no matter how fast it goes.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Favorite Teachers

Do you have a favorite teacher? From elementary school? Middle/Junior High, High School? College? I ask because Mike blogs, too, and the other day he got a random e-mail from his high school AP English teacher who he hasn't seen since high school (Class of 1989!). Wow. It really got me to thinking ...

My Mom is a teacher - she's taught 1st grade since completing her degrees in Elementary Education (B.A., Limestone College, Gaffney, SC) and Divergent Learning (Masters, Columbia College, Columbia, SC) and this year is teaching 5-year old Kindergarten. This year, she's teaching the child of a former student. I could really get into the socio-economics of her school's part of our county, but I won't get started on that today. Suffice it to say that my Mom has only been teaching for about 10 years, and you get the idea.

Myself, I've been blessed in that I've had not just one good teacher, but numerous great teachers who standout in my memory.

I'll skip 1st grade as it pretty much was the worst year of my life (chicken pox, scarlet fever, and I was stuck in the middle reading group the whole year!).

But Second Grade ... second grade was WOW. I had Mrs. Banks who was amazing. I mean, even the part where she made me sit behind the classroom door because I talked too much & then I only had the wall to talk to, even that was great. She was (is) a dynamic teacher in that she laughed a lot, let us laugh a lot and had the good sense to teach to the strengths of her students. And she took us on a field trip to Clemson University so that we saw what it was like to go to college. Mrs. Banks made me love school.

Skip a few years - not because Ms. Culbreth (3rd) or Mrs. Bridges (4th) weren't great teachers because they were - but to save some time a space for Mrs. Nichols (5th).

Mrs. Nichols was (is) a wonderful, sweet teacher. She loved (still loves) her students as if if each one is hers. And she taught me about forgiveness - mine and others. When Eden and I got in to an argument, Mrs. Nochols took us out into the hall and spoke with her sweet, patient voice. And explained that we were friends, and in order to stay friends, we had to be willing to forgive each other. And she added, we should remember that if we wanted God to forgive us, we had to be willing to fogive each other. That's a lesson I need to learn over and over again.

Middle School and Junior High are a blur - the first years of having multiple teachers - but Ms. Parker (6th grade Math), Mr. Andreasen (8th grade geography), Mrs. Kimbrell (8th grade lit) ... those are the ones who standout ...

And then there was high school ...
Mrs. Smith (9th grade English), Mr. cannon (10th grade English), Mr. Smith (11th & 12th AP English), Mrs. Putnam (11th grade AP U.S. History), Coach Fisher (9th grade World Geography), Herr Hope (10th, 11th & 12th grade German). Thanks to each of these people I can not only form a coheerrant thought, I know how to write it down. Thanks to each of these people, I can not only name a United States Supreme Court decision, I know its significance. Thanks to each of these people, I can find Russia, China, the Yang Tze River, The Andes Mountains, the Nile River and many, many other countries, Rivers, Mountain Ranges, countries and all of the 50 U.S. States on a Map. And I can find a bathroom, food, a hotel, an airport, the Post, and say hello the next time I'm in Germany, or during Oktoberfest. And they did it all creatively, kindly, harshly, determinedly. I was important to each of them and I knew it. I still know it. And they are important to me.

College professors are a whole other post, so ... Thank you to teachers. They give of their time, their energy, their money and themselves. And they do it for not nearly what they should get in monetary compensation. And they get up early, when it's rainy and cold or hot and humid. Teachers are amazing ...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Big Top Comes to the Springs ..

As the title of this post implies, the big top - and by that I mean the Circus - came to town. A little tiny circus called the Lewis & Clark Circus made a stop in Boiling Springs this week. And we had to go. Let me interupt & say that I hate the circus. I hate that the animals are caged and made to perform or carry small children or overweight adults around and around and around in circles, I hate that circus people travel from town-to-town because I love having "roots" and think everyone must have roots. But, Mom got free passes for the boys and paid the $15 admission for us adults, so to the circus we went.

There weren't so many thrills and chills but they were lots of laughs. The "Ringleader" (I'm not sure of the official title) was great & shameless as he tried to convince the audience to spend ridiculous amounts of cash on silly things - $2 for a balloon,$2 for a coloring book, $3 for a cone icee, $5 to ride Lawrence of Arabia (the single hump camel), $5 to ride a pony around in a circle, $2 to feed the goats/llama/calf ... you get the idea. But folks were lining up like crazy (ok, kids were lining up like crazy, begging for cash) to buy what the circus was peddling. There was a family who performed a balancing act (the youngest child tumbled while the older child - who was 11 - climbed a pole while his Dad held it up on his chest & then rode a bike, there was fire-eating, there was an alligator & there were even tigers jumping through a flaming hoop. But DJ loved most were the (gulp) clowns. I hate clowns. But DJ loved the clowns who pulled off a bank heist & were chased by (stereotypes alive & well!) a do-nut-eating clown policeman. They somersaulted, the had a play fight, the tripped ... they wore black & white striped outfits & masks ala-Zorro. And the boys loved it. Elly loved Big and Little (the full-size horse and the miniature horse) - she waved at them and bounced. She fell asleep during the camel's act.

Even though it put us getting home late & getting to bed even later, I'm glad we got to go ... I'll post some of the pictures later ... For now, I need to go fix DJ's lunch for tomorrow and get myself to bed ... signing off ...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Just another Wednesday ...

Ah ... the sound of quiet. I am amazed at how God has perfectly timed the change of seasons. Just when the hot days of summer start to get old (or your air conditioner breaks?), the air starts to change and it's time for Fall sports - football, volleyball, soccer. The afternoons and evenings are starting to get cooler and it's nice to have the windows open, to smell the fresh cut grass or the rain we've been having.

So as nice as this weather is (73 degree temps during the day, low 60s at night & damp), it's also the catalyst for allergies and at our house, it's hitting hard. DJ's got all that junk built up and it's making him cough like crazy. He woke us up Tuesday morning literally coughing himself sick, so he took a sick day and stayed home. He stayed bed and watched ETV and colored and napped, and today was just about good as new. There's just something to be said for having a day of rest.

Miss Elly Belly is cutting her top front teeth, babbling like crazy and has us on our toes as we await her first steps ... yup, at just over 8 months, she's been pulling up for weeks, cruising, standing without holding on to anything and trying to stand up in the middle of a room. It's kind of crazy. Part of me can't wait for her to do all of the things that she's trying so hard to do (walk, talk, eat real food, keep up with her boys!) and there's another part of me that isn't ready to make the leap into toddler-hood. It just seems that her baby days have flown by.

So, this was just a catch-up blog. No soap boxes, no preachy moments ... just the everyday. The most precious of them all - getting to love my kids, comfort them, snuggle them, watch them learn and grow ... Hope you all are getting to do the same.

Oh! And a little welcome to my two newest cousins ... congrats Angie & family and Louis & family - can't wait to meet your sweet girls!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

On another soapbox

“Motherhood is an essential, difficult, and full-time job.
Women who do not wish to be mothers should not have babies.”
- Edward Abbey
I've just taken a few minutes of my morning to read a couple of blogs, see what's going on with my friends, family ... my husband. So when I began reading his list of quotes from Edward Abbey and read that one, well ... there it is. Let me also note that from other quotes from Abbey, it would appear that he was what we would call today Pro-Choice. (Unless I'm misunderstanding certain statements, like this one: “Abolition of a woman’s right to abortion, when and if she wants it, amounts to compulsory maternity: a form of rape by the State.”) Let me state for the record that I am not now, nor have I ever been, Pro-Choice when the issue is abortion. It is my belief, based on my faith and what my heart says, that every life - no matter the circumstance of its creation - is one worthy of taking that first breath. That said, I believe that if you are anti-abortion you must be pro-education and pro-adoption. I'm not sure that any of these are issues that I want to get in to today, so I'll quit while I'm ahead. The issue of the day, at least for me, is motherhood.

First let me say (and I think all the Moms out there will agree) that Motherhood is only faintly what we thought it would be. Did I know that my heart would physically ache when my children hurt? Did I know that it would feel as if someone was tearing me limb from limb when I even think about the things that could happen to them everyday? Did I know what it would be like to not sleep the first few months of each of their lives as I checked and checked again all night long to make sure they were still breathing? Did I know what it would be like to worry that people won't like them? Did I have any idea when DJ was born that I would love him so much that I would be afraid I could never love another child again? And then to realize that in loving him and Mike, I had all this love bubbling over for more children? For Ella J? For my nephew, my niece, my cousins, for children of friends, for children I've never met? No, Motherhood is not what I thought it would be - it's so much more. More painful, for fulfilling, more terrifying ... indescribably more.

Let me also say that I do not believe that Motherhood is a right given to every woman simply by virtue of being a woman. I believe that each of us who are given the opportunity to mother - be it through biology, through adoption, through foster care, through any avenue - are given a gift. A precious treasure. An opportunity through loving our own children to just glimpse the love God has for each of us. And in case I haven't been clear enough on the love of parents for their children, let me say in no uncertain terms: While being a mother is the single most fulfilling job I can imagine (for myself), it is also the most painful - physically and emotionally - that I can imagine. Being a Mom hurts. I have the bruises to prove it!

So even though I said I was quitting while I was ahead, I'm back to where I started ... on a soapbox. I do not think motherhood is right for every woman. I may be in the wrong is saying this, but I do believe that some women - many women - are not designed to be mothers. Just as it is true that I am not designed to be the CEO of a company or a mathematician, it is true that some women are not designed to be mothers. If you saw my home, you'd know that I was also not designed to be a decorator or gardener. But motherhood is not right for every woman. So ... if i will not be a supporter of abortion - because I cannot be - instead I will be a supporter of educating young women (and men) about parenting, about sex, about God's plans for them. I will be an advocate of adoption - willing to educate young women on adoption, willing to hold their hands as they make that decision to be the best mother they can be by letting someone else be called Mommy. Because while it is true that "women who don't want to be mothers should not have babies", the fact is that sometimes, many times, they do.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Dish Duty

I’ve mentioned before that most of my cousins are older than me ...

I have beautiful, stylish, smart cousins. They had (and have) interesting conversation, they had (and have) cool friends, and wore (and still wear) great clothes. Best of all, they didn’t totally ignore me. Well, most of the time, anyway. Once I got my fingers slammed in a door. Once I caused a 3-wheeler wreck into a railroad ditch. But more often I got to sit in the shadow of really great women. I couldn't wait to be them.

For several summers, English got stuck carting us from Grandma’s house to the pool when we were visiting. She probably didn’t choose that duty, but she shouldered it like a champ — letting us sing along in the car, not pretending she didn’t know us, introducing us to her friends. In fact, she acted like we were her friends And Angie had a job at some store or company that made bags. Cool bags, too. Once she spent the whole day at Grandma’s teaching us how to put on make-up. And then a few days later, we got a package in the mail. We were the first girls we knew who had great hippie bags — probably the first and only time in my life I was on top of a trend.

Some of my earliest memories of being at my Grandma’s house are of watching the older girls wash dishes together. They’d talk about school, boys they were dating or might date or would never date, shopping trips …. unimportant stuff, really. I dreamed of being part of that. I couldn’t wait for the day when I’d be old enough to be included in washing the dishes that our family generated when we were together. And one day, there I was. Towel in hand, ready to dry the forks, knives, spoons, glasses, plates. Being asked about school, boys … my opinion. I had arrived.

And just for Mike, because he loves this story …
My first trip to Clemson University happened when I was in second grade (thanks, Mrs. Banks). We checked out the Agriculture stuff, sciences building, Frank Howard Field at Memorial Stadium (a.k.a. Death Valley) … and then, the cafeteria. We were rolling along, the second graders in awe of the college students, the orange Tiger Paws on the streets and Danny Ford. And then I became the coolest of all second-graders because there, in an inside-out sweatshirt, was Krista, one of my cousins. Yes, you read that right. INSIDE OUT SWEATSHIRT. Did she run and hide? Pretend not to notice me? Nod and smile and go on about her business? No. She hugged us (me and my Mom - the best chaperone ever) and ditched her college friends to have lunch with us.

So … thanks to Tara, Angie, Krista, English, Shane and Ashley …for not being too annoyed with me, for driving me around, teaching me to draw lightning (Go Flashes!), letting me watch Top Gun with you, for lunch in Clemson, sharing your clothes (I will return them!!), for reading my blog … for being great women, great cousins, great friends. Love y’all.

Friday, August 22, 2008


As you may (or not) know, The West Wing is my favorite show (right up there with Buffy: the Vampire Slayer). Here's a little tale on wisdom & prayer & hearing the answers we think we should hear ...

Bartlet: I know it's hard to believe, but I prayed for wisdom.
Father Cavanaugh: And none came?
Bartlet: It never has. And I'm a little pissed off about that.
Father Cavanaugh:You know, you remind me of the man that lived by the river. He heard a radio report that the river was going to rush up and flood the town. And that all the residents should evacuate their homes. But the man said, “I’m religious. I pray. God loves me. God will save me.” The waters rose up. A guy in a row boat came along and he shouted, “Hey, hey you! You in there. The town is flooding. Let me take you to safety.” But the man shouted back, “I’m religious. I pray. God loves me. God will save me.” A helicopter was hovering overhead. And a guy with a megaphone shouted, “Hey you, you down there. The town is flooding. Let me drop this ladder and I’ll take you to safety.” But the man shouted back that he was religious, that he prayed, that God loved him and that God will take him to safety. Well... the man drowned. And standing at the gates of St. Peter, he demanded an audience with God. “Lord,” he said, “I’m a religious man, I pray. I thought you loved me. Why did this happen?” God said, “I sent you a radio report, a helicopter, and a guy in a rowboat. What the hell are you doing here?” [pause] He sent you a priest, a rabbi, and a Quaker, Mr. President. Not to mention his son, Jesus Christ. What do you want from him?

Dream No. One

Dream No. 1: 62.9 Million Dollars
Caught your attention, didn’t I? Well, it sure caught mine. And in the spirit of Bob Dylan, I’ve decided to write down my dreams …

I had a dream that I won the lottery. No, I don’t “play” the lottery, so there’s virtually no chance that I will ever win the lottery. But still, the dream was so real, I woke up thinking how much people would love me now that I’d won the lottery. I woke up thinking about the new house we were about to build, about the trusts we’d set up for our children, the scholarships we could endow. About the good we could do with 62.9 million dollars.

And then I really woke up. I reached over and woke Mike up to tell him about my dream. He said, “62.9 million dollars. That’s kind of a weird amount. Pretty specific. Maybe you should go buy a lottery ticket.” That’s the kind of guy he is — one who doesn’t laugh at your dreams, even if they are of the laughable variety.

But we started talking and for some reason, we started “spending” the 62.9 million dollars.
Mike: You know, there are fees with winning the lottery. You’ll have to decide if you want it all at once or if you want to get it little bits at a time.
Me: I’ll take it all at once, that way it’s done (like a cookie, done).
Mike: OK, well, that means you’ll end up with about half.
Me: OK, so now I’ve got about 31 million dollars. What should I do first?

And so we came up with a spending plan. (No, we really don’t have this much free-time, but we’re both home during the day, so we talk about insane things like winning a 62.9 million dollars that I won in a dream).

Here’s what we came up with:
3.1 million to Young Life (yeah, our high school friends would really love us!)
1.5 million to the BS Church of God—my cousin’s husband Pastor’s this tiny church and they’d love to buy property to one day have room to grow.
1.5 million to BSFBC—our church. We would love to provide a new bus for our Children’s Ministry, we’d love to help the English as a Second Language program that our church historian, Evelyn Henderson has so tirelessly worked with for many, many years. And other programs that we love there.
1.5 million to Rice Bowls. Really, do I need to explain this further?
1.5 million to Inc (Involvement Through Newspapers and Civics)

At this point it’s important to note that we’d “spent” roughly 9.1 million dollars, leaving us with an imaginary 21.9 million dollars. And we had a pretty lengthy discussion about how really, disgustingly rich people go through life with insane amounts of money and find enough worthwhile ways to spend it. And I should mention that when we told my father-in-law about my dream, he suggested we invest wisely and live off the interest of our investments. So that was a factor. We went on to plan …
1.5 million — To buy property and build a new home (I won’t go in to the plans, but know that there was extensive talk of what our new home should have).
2 million — For both sets of parents to use as they saw fit (Even in my dreams I’m trying to trick my in-laws in to thinking I’m wonderful)
1.5 million — (each) Trusts for our children (Again, know that there were stipulations, but I can’t even begin to go there!)

We’re down to 15.4 million imaginary dollars — important to say since it’s possible we were getting a little carried away with our imaginary winnings.

So we thought that we’d provide for our nieces and nephews. So, a large chunk (about 3 million) would go in trust for them.

Now, we wanted to have a gardener who would bail our hay; my friend, Summer, suggested that I hire her to wash my hair everyday; I insisted that I’d need someone to clean my house so I’d have time to do good in the community, be a room-mother, and ride my horses (not necessarily in the order). Mike still wanted to work, but liked the idea of not having to work (therefore negating the fear that comes every time someone whispers layoffs). But outside of that, we were stumped. I mean, I’m sure we’d spend a lot on trips (the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Australia — for the zoo, of course — Greece … ), and we hoped to make some wise investments, but that was it. We were finished spending (although we would probably still end up giving $25 a year to the State Troopers).

So, how would you spend your 30.1 million dollars (after fees, of course)? And if you want to give to any of my favorites, just click on the name of the organization and find out more about them. And also, tell me about other non-profits or worthy causes that you love. Or check them out by following my link to the Charity Navigator to see how much of what you give goes to the cause (although some are still too small to make it to their list).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I Have My Own River

My Daddy grew up in a tiny town in the Low Country of South Carolina called Gresham. My Grandma lived all of her married life in Gresham, and so every summer, every Thanksgiving and lots of times in between, we made the four hour car trip from the Upstate to Gresham.

On the way, my sister and I would mostly sleep, read, or argue. My Mom seemed to be forever painting her toenails. And Daddy drove. We'd leave on Friday afternoon when he got home from work, so it was usually pretty late when we got there. And as much as we couldn't wait to see Grandma, there was a great thing that had to happen before we got to Gresham. We had to cross the Great Pee Dee River.

My Papa died when I was in the third grade. I wish I could say that I have incredible, vivid memories of him, but I don't. I know that he walked with a limp - he was born with a club foot. I know that he drove an old green truck - I don't know the make or model. I know that as an adult I've learned a lot about the man who was my Daddy's Father, many things that hurt my heart and have changed the way I thought of my Papa. I know that as an old man he was proud of us - his grandchildren. Years after he passed away, I would sneak and go through the treasures he left behind. Pictures of my cousins (most of whom were in high school or college when he passed away), newspaper clippings, notes written on scraps of paper about one or the other of us, art work from school or church. I remember being jealous that my older cousins had more time to make him proud, that he'd made note of them.

But the memories I have of him are few. I remember the smell of his pipe, how he'd ask us to help him take off his shoes, that he put his contacts in at the kitchen table and that Grandma always spread newspaper under his plate at the kitchen because he was so messy. One thing that I recall vividly about my Papa was his love for the Great Pee Dee River. He loved the River so much - maybe more than he loved some of his own family. It was not something he could wrap up in a pretty bow or put away towards a college education, or put in a trust for our futures. But it was a gift that he gave each of us at some point.

Grandma and Papa had taken us to the Country Kitchen for a bottled Pepsi, then to the River to check Papa's traps. He was showing us things along the riverbank - what I don't recall now - but he told us (my sister and I) - that the River was his, and that he was giving it to us, to his "Grans". I don't remember him telling us what we were supposed to do with the River, and as a very little girl I remember wondering how I was supposed to hold on to it - it was, after all, a pretty big gift. I know now that the River is a part of my family, a friend who welcomes us each time we cross her bridge, an integral part of the story of my family's life. And I know that while the Great Pee Dee River is mine, it has also belonged to my Daddy, to his sisters and brother, to my cousins, and now to my children. But just like it can't be wrapped up in pretty paper, it can't be caught and held. It's ever-changing, shifting ... working its way to the sea.

stealing from Pat Conroy's The Prince of Tides ...

"... the moon lifted a forehead of stunning gold above the horizon, lifted straight out of the filigreed, light-intoxicated clouds that lay on the skyline in attendant veils. Behind us, the sun was setting in a simultaneous congruent withdrawal and the river turned to flame in a quiet duel of gold ... The new gold of moon astonishing and ascendant, the depleted gold of sunset extinguishing itself in the long westward slide, it was the old dance of days in the Carolina marshes, the breathtaking death of days before the eyes of children, until the sun vanished, its final signature a ribbon of bullion strung across the tops of water oaks. The moon then rose quickly, rose like a bird from the water, from the trees, from the islands, and climbed straight up --gold, then yellow, then pale yellow, pale silver, silver-bright, then something miraculous, immaculate, and beyond the silver, a color native only to southern nights. "

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Catching UP

Well, while Mike has been busy blogging about BigFoot & Olympic Trampoline, I have not been busy blogging. At all. I have been busy getting prepared and through the first days of taking DJ to school, ironing clothes, folding clothes, avoiding cleaning the kitchen at all costs (I'd post a pic, but you'd call DHEC, and then where would we live?), I've been especially busy praying for friends who need/want/deserve/don't deserve (ha!)/don't want prayer, praying for my family & my children, first soccer practices, budgeting, and all manner of things that are required of me/us weekly/daily/hourly! So, here I am to catch up. So how are you guys? What's new? What's boring? Here's the recap for the last um ... month ...

Well, you know Mike is home. And as much as I'm so thankful that he's home, he ruined the schedule we'd finally adopted. El didn't remember him, DJ missed him so much he could hardly sleep for wanting to tell him all the great stuff we did (and didn't) do while he was gone. Then Caroline had surgery ... and on & on. And finally, we were back on a schedule, even if it did involve El screaming at Mike from around Noon until I got home around 3.

And let me just say, the whole house has suffered for it. No, I don't mean the people of the house - I literally mean the physical house. Mike & I are super, highly allergic (think shots, antibiotics, oatmeal baths - for up to 6 weeks the last time) to Poison Oak, Sumac, Ivy ... any thing with a rhyme reminding you not to touch it. So we can't weed-eat (not that either of us really want to), we can't weed the flower beds, we can't cut grass under the trees ... I hope you're getting the idea. Our yard is barely getting basic care until fall when all the "poisons" die down. And did I mention the kitchen? yuck.

But it's finally all coming back together, which is why you've not seen hide nor hair of me for, oh, a while.

Last week we registered DJ for 5K. WOW. This involved a trip to his school to meet the teacher, fill out endless paper work, check out the school (ie: see the cafeteria) and an almost unsuccessful search for the perfect lunchbox (ie: StarWars). And did I mention the school supplies? Notebooks, crayons, scissors, erasers, writing tablet, gluesticks, pencils ... But we got it all (thanks to my Mom, who searched tirelessly for the lunchbox that we were unsuccessful in finding) ... and then we got ready for school. 5K is an all day thing, if you didn't know. It involves having the right shoes for the right day (PE 2 days a week requires tennis shoes), it involves getting up early (6:10) and leaving an hour later to get there on time, it involves knowing your letters & numbers, who has the most & best video games (not us, since I'm actively boycotting the purchasing of any games or game systems), who has the best toys (possibly us since my mother & mother-in-law keep DJ stocked in all things Lego, Star Wars, Power Rangers, SpiderMan, Speedracer ... you get the idea).

And yesterday was the big day. Mike & El slept in while DJ & I got up at 6 for a leisurely breakfast (he requested chicken & rice, and so that's what he had) ... we headed out the door at 7:20 and after 10 minutes waiting in the carpool line, it was our turn. I was ready to park & walk him, but he said, "No, Mama. I remember where it is." And so, out he climbed, Star Wars lunchbox proudly clutched in his hand and off he went with a little wave. I laughed, and that kept me from crying.

And did I mention soccer? Yep. Soccer. I love volleyball, I know basketball; Mike loves baseball & football & Olympic Trampoline. But neither of us know soccer. So what, you ask, are the two of us doing coaching soccer? Well, I'll tell you. We're being laughed at by other parents, by children, by college athletes passing by. But by George, we're having fun. And really, that's what it's all about - or so the other parents laughingly tell us. Good thing no one actually expects their kids to learn anything this season. And if they do, thank goodness for Joe (one of the laughing parents) who not only has played soccer, has actually coached and taught us some drills. Thankfully, we expect him to be at every practice.

Okay ... so now it's time for prayer requests as I close out this post ... it's a long list, so bear with me ...
  • Pray for me. I covet your prayers & here's what I ask that you pray for: patience & a willing spirit to clean my house (that's not a joke), better budgeting of my time & self-control;
  • Pray for Mike. He loves his job and has so much integrity for journalistic endeavors, but it's a stressful world right now; pray for him as a Dad & a coach, for patience and gentleness in modeling Fatherhood to our children;
  • Pray for our children, DJ & El, that the favor of God & men will be on them, that they will know the Holy Spirit, that they will be friends & compassionate towards one another and others;
  • Pray for my Mom, Beth. She teaches 5k - need I say more? She's also a full-time parent to my 4 & 1/2 year old nephew;
  • Pray for my Dad, Jimmy. He's a banker, a golfer, a grandfather & father, and caretaker over our whole family, still. And did I mention the full-time parenting of a certain 4 & 1-2 year old? He lives and breathes stress;
  • Pray for my nephew, Brayson. He started 4k yesterday;
  • Pray for Emily, who began her teaching career today as a Christian Education teacher;
  • Pray for Bert & Bethany, who are trying to sell their home & get established in a new place;
  • Pray for Adrian & Lyn, who are parents to 4 precious children (triplets & an older sibling!) as they go back to work & start a new job;
  • Pray for Stacie, who began her teaching career yesterday, 4th grade;
  • Pray for Michelle & Jason as they seek God's place for them;
  • Pray for Angie, who is expecting in a sweet baby girl in Sept.;
  • Pray for Daniel, as he takes over the duties as Area Director of Young Life, Aiken, looking for a church, grown-up friends, and high school friends;
  • Pray for Tara, whose ankle is still sore from a nasty break & as she goes back to teaching this Fall;
  • Pray for Brittany, who started her Senior Year of high school;
  • Pray for rain as we endure a drought; pray for gentleness, kindness, wisdom for friends, family and those of you who stopped by to read this blog; Pray for people I may not always have warm thoughts toward & pray for leadership at all levels ...

And since you're so kind to pray for me & mine, will you let me pray for you? Be specific so that I can pray for you & yours (you can post your reqeusts in the comments section, or e-mail me at

And those are the things & people I can think of right now ... so, when you pray be reminded that "the Spririt helps us in in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express" Romans 8:26 (NIV).

I'll post some pictures soooooooon ... XO!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

DJ showing his "I'm-not-getting-my-way" look ... don't worry, there was a haircut shortly after the pic was taken - now he's business in the front & party in the back ... we'll fix before school starts!!

Do you notice anything strange about this one? Yes,this is my sweet Elly Belly STANDING. Not quite 7 months and already crawling, pulling up & cruising. Baby gates are being erected as I type ...

And last, for now ... POPSICLE FACE. Ah, the joys of summer!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Reno Time OVER

Well, it was a long six weeks, but it's over. You must know by now that Mike was in Reno, NV for the last 6 weeks attending the Maynard Institute's Journalism & Editing Program ... well, he's home. Early yesterday morning I loaded up DJ & El, telling them (really only DJ) that we had a long drive but at the end he'd get a great surprise. Then we drove up to Christiansburg, Va. where Mike had spent Sunday night (after flying into Philadelphia to meet the guys for a day game Sunday afternoon) with our friends, Bridget & Chris. The whole way there, between telling me about LOTR (which we've only seen, oh,a million times), DJ was asking me what his surprise was ...
"an Anakin Skywalker? I've always wanted an Anakin Skywalker ..."
"a speedracer? I've always wanted a speedracer just like Brayson's ..."
"the white TransFormer? Are we going to McDonald's to get the last one?"
"some new crayons?"
"a horse? Mommy, did you get me a horse? I see you laughing ... you did! You did get me a horse!"
and on and on ...
The drive was really not bad as far as 4 hour drives go. Once you get out of Charlotte ... Lake Norman is a beautiful area, but the traffic is yuck. From Statesville (about the mid-point) on, the scenery is beautiful and not at all boring (not that driving on I-26 to the beach or Columbia, ahem, is boring). The drive into Virginia is green, hilly, lots of pretty rivers (I always feel at home when I'm crossing the Pee Dee!!) & lakes, & lots of cows ...
We got to Chris & Bridg's right at 12:30 ... Mike was peeking out the window, so I got DJ out of the car, covered his eyes & told him his surprise would come outside to him ... when I took my hands away, he squealed & jumped into Mike's arms. As I stood there smiling, DJ peeked his head up long enough to say, "Mommy, I knew my Daddy was my surprise!" Then he got back in the car, ready to drive home with his surprise!

Then we had the luxury of having lunch with Bridg (sandwiches ordered from & delivered by Jimmy John's - next we'll know to split one!!) and then the boys got play, while El tried desperately to get in on that action. We had a short but nice visit with Bridg (Chris wasn't able to make it home) but the boys enjoyed playing together for the most part. We finally loaded up and headed home at about 4:30 ... DJ asked as we were pulling out of the driveway, "When can I come back to play again with Charlie & Jackson?" ... so hopefully a lengthier visit is in our future. We stopped at Julie's brother-in-law's Chic-Fil-A in Statesville and were home by 10 p.m.

So, a long (but well worth it) drive for a great surprise.

And one more thing. Are you reading this? I don't have a "counter" that lets me know that people are reading this (probably using it as a sleep-medicine, but still) ... if you feel like it, let me know. And "hi" to Angie, who is reading this & making me feel really nice.

Signing off ...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Looking for perfection

Wow. It's barely 9 a.m. and we've already had what I like to call an "ah-ha" moment. You probably know that DJ was at the beach earlier this week with my parents, but we're just now getting to clean out the suitcase & go through the beautiful seashells (and sand - lots & lots of sand) DJ brought home. And wow, did he bring home some fabulous shells ... but not the ones that I'd have brought home. I like to look for the perfect shell - the ones that have somehow made it to shore still whole, or if they're broken, small breaks that aren't that aren't noticeable. I also love to find pieces of shells that show off the perfect - hollowed out conks or sand dollars. But not my sweet boy. No, we were sitting down, going through the bag of sand and shells that he brought me. Pieces of shell, black rocks, pieces of rock. And with each piece he's telling what makes it so beautiful.

In the Christian faith, we talk often of brokeness & being made whole in Christ. We talk of the imperfections that through faith in Christ are made beautiful. But I'm not sure how often we mean what we say. I mean, if it were true that we understand the heart of Christ, that we truly see imperfection as He sees it, would we be searching out the shore for the perfect shell? And I happen to know that I'm not the only one out there seeking perfection - in things bigger than seashells. But this morning, between asking for Lucky Charms and watching cartoons, my sweet boy reminded me of how I believe Christ sees us - broken, but still beautiful, still worth salvaging. Worth bringing home.

"... because with one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy ..."
Hebrews 10:14

Friday, July 11, 2008

Have you ever listened to two four-year olds argue? I'm sure most people have, even if you don't have two of your very own like I do most days (I'm referring to my own child, DJ who will be 5 this month & my nephew, Brayson, who is 7 months younger) ... anyway. Today Brays stayed home with us rather than go to daycare so the boys could play. It was great. They shared, no one hit, bit, kicked, or otherwise maimed the other (what more could I ask for, huh?). So we (I) decided to take a short roadtrip to McDonalds. And here, in the car where there's no escape, is where the argument took place. I can't remember exactly how it started - something to do with Moses & Noah somehow morphed into a talk about the Trinity - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Now, I've tried to break this idea down to simple-ish terms for DJ, equating the Trinity to how he's part of me and because he's part of me, he's part of his Boppy (my dad) - part of, but not the same. So he & Brayson are screaming at each other, El's crying because she hates for them to fight or cry, and Lord of the Rings is playing on the DVD player & I'm trying to pay attention to the road. It was actually a kind of neat argument to overhear, since they were arguing over wether or not Jesus was dead or alive. They agreed that Jesus had died on the cross ("a really long time ago" - DJ), but the real problem this posed came from the little knowledge they have of death (two dogs have died in their lifetime, one just before Mike left for Reno). Back and forth they went:

Brays: (very matter-of-fact) Jesus is dead. He died on the cross. Then he went to Heaven with Micky (the dog).
DJ: Jesus isn't dead. He's alive in Heaven.
Brays: No, dead.
DJ: Alive.
Brays: Dead.
DJ: Alive.
Brays: I learned at church that he's dead, so he's dead.
DJ: (at this point screaming) ALIVE!!
Brays: (sing-song) Dead, dead, dead ...
DJ: Alive.
Brays: My daddy says he's dead (that's not a true statement, but it's Brayson's favorite way to rile anyone - me included - to just throw out the "My daddy says ..." or "My mommy says ..")
Dylan: (finally calm again & in his very best, "I'm older" voice): No, Brayson, he's alive.
Brayson: How do you know?
Dylan: I heard about it in the Bible.
Brayson: Oh. Hey, look at that barn.

End of discussion . Ha. I just thought it was great. By the time we got to McD., the boys were happy as larks & as if there was never an argument. But I also loved how DJ was so upset that Brays was arguing with him, when he knew he was right ... how he got upset, and then when he'd sort of reasoned out the best way to make his point, he calmed & was so confident in his knowledge, his faith.

Have I mentioned before that I love that kid? Cause if not, let me say now, I love, love, love that kid.

And also, today Mike graduated from the Maynard Inst. & tomorrow he hops a plane to head East - to us. He'll be home Monday after catching a Phillies game with the guys Sunday afternoon. YEAH!!!! Mere hours separate us!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Rice Bowls soapbox

Today I talked to the nicest lady on the phone - not an unusual day for me. My job as Campaign Liaison at Rice Bowls entails making a lot of phone calls, getting in touch with our partners across the United States. Many times the calls are brief and end within a minute or two; most are more than pleasant if brief, but occasionally I'll reach someone like Ms. Frances, from Haymarket Baptist Church (Va.). Ms. Frances has been over Missions at Haymarket for the last few years and was over the last Rice Bowls campaign. We talked about different things for about 20 minutes last week - her love for missions and how important she feels missions are within any church, her desire for children to know that there are others in the world who are in need and that even the smallest of children can help another. Our phone call took an interesting turn when she mentioned her Associate Pastor. Turns out not only is he from this area, I grew up with he and his sisters, and his Dad performed my & Mike's wedding (both of his sisters were bridesmaids!). Just a reminder of how small the world we're in really is! But back to today ... I talked with Erin, the secretary at another of our partner churches. We ended up talking for about 15 minutes, laughing, and just enjoying a short conversation about (you guessed it!), Rice Bowls! I asked if she recalled how many bowls her church had ordered, "well, I'm pretty sure we ordered 25 bowls." "Well, you must've given out 25 because you can only order in increments 50." For some reason (I'm not sure why), this struck us both as immensely funny and led to our talk on missions and children and how exciting it is for children to have a hand in helping to raise others up.

I know I'm biased, but the concept of Rice Bowls is just such a great idea! We give you bowls (yes, GIVE - Rice Bowls are free!), you give them out (to friends, neighbors, family, church members, students, anyone!), then you collect them, count the change and send us a check. We distribute the funds to our partner orphanages to provide their food ... how easy?

That's my soapbox for today ... my El is sleeping, we've had rain, my DJ is at the beach and Mike is still in Reno (six more days 'til Reno time is OVER!) ... time for me to turn in ... signing off ...

Monday, July 7, 2008

to the beach ...

My parents (a.k.a. Boppy & Gam) picked DJ up this morning for their beach trip (3 days, 2 nights) ... My stomach is sort of in knots thinking about all the things that could go wrong, so I'm trying to focus on the things that could go right! Trying to remember how great it feels to walk on warm sand, the way it feels as the waves rush in and out over your feet, the breeze coming off the ocean, the laziness of the lazy river, going to sleep after a long, fun day in the sun, fresh seafood ...

But for now, I have laundry to finish up & a baby girl who's begging to be held ...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Thoughts on Independence

Happy Late Independence Day! It's so hard to believe that we're already just past the 4th of July ... El is 6 months old this week & DJ will be 5 later this month. Amazing. This afternoon he asked, "Mommy, what does the American Flag mean?" Amazed, again, at his knack for asking just the question, I thought for a minute before answering, trying to encompass all that the American Flag stands for in a nugget or two for an-almost-5-year old and boiled it all down to this: The American Flag stands for Freedom ... Freedom to talk about anything you want, anywhere; Freedom to go to church whereever you want; Freedom to live where you want ... I was on a roll before DJ interrupted me to say, "Mommy, I think the American Flag stands for America. That's why it says the American Flag." I guess there's not much more to say on thay subject, is there? The Flag is just a symbol of the nation, the nation a uniting of the people who believe in the same ideals. And while there are many different opinions, dreams, desires, hopes, goals ... they still come together, united under a flag that tells the world, "We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ..."

So, tomorrow I'll kiss my little boy good-bye as he goes with his Boppy & Gam & cousin to the beach ... his first such trip. Say a prayer & wish me luck as El & I are truly "home alone" ... Mike will be home in seven days ... yeah!! Oh, and go read Mike's blog, Raising Two Americans - he just started blogging last week, but his posts are great ... Signing off ...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Secrets to Life

Mike has this theory ... He believes that babies are born knowing all the secrets of life. And if you've ever seen one of those babies who looks at you with his or her big, all-knowing eyes, unblinking as you make stupid decision after stupid decision, then you know what I mean when I say "old souls". His theory is this: Babies are born knowing everything, but they have to choose: have the knowledge or have the ability to articulate it. So he's been pretty concerned that while he's in Reno, El will lose her access to the secrets ... and he'll miss that transition phase. Thankfully, even though she has cut two teeth since he left, she hasn't intentionally used any words (yet). She says a lot of these, though:

  • mamamamamamama

  • buddah buddah buddah (wishful thinking has me believing this is her version of 'brother')

  • Hey (yes, hey ... I'm not sure if it's intentional, but she's been repeating hey for months now)

  • and most recently .... dadadadada ... she says this most often as she's making motorcycle sounds & drooling spit down her front. It's pretty great.

And that DJ ... oh my. His "lovey" is a stuffed Spot (from Dr. Suess' Put Me In the Zoo) and it has recently become something he can't live without. He's been to daycare 2x this week & neither day did he take a nap because he says, "Spot isn't enough - I need you, Mommy". And he wrote Mike an e-mail this week that said in part, "I'm having fun with just my mommy and eelly", as if we're the last 3 people on earth (which it sometimes feels like it is) ...

Just making note of the little things ... oh, the little things ...

Liberal: To Be or Not to Be

I can't really say what I want to say better than this, so I'm posting a quote from one of my all-time favorite shows, The West Wing. This is by far not my favorite episode, but I think it's one of the single best stand-alone quotes from the entire series ... it's from the Episode The Debate and this is the response of Sen. Matt Santos (D) to Sen. Arnie Vinick (R):

... "What did liberals do that was so offensive to the Republican Party? I'll tell you what they did. Liberals got women the right to vote. Liberals got African-Americans the right to vote. Liberals created Social Security and lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty. Liberals ended segregation. Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act. Liberals created Medicare. Liberals passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act. What did Conservatives do? They opposed them on every one of those things, every one. So when you try to hurl that label at my feet, 'Liberal,' as if it were something to be ashamed of, something dirty, something to run away from, it won't work, Senator, because I will pick up that label and I will wear it as a badge of honor."

I won't get into my politics here - suffice it to say that I'm more liberal than many of my friends and more conservative than many of my friends. Carey & Will have this coffee mug (which I've tried - unsuccessfully - to steal) it says: If you want justice, work for peace ... Just sitting here, thinking things, thinking things ...

No, nothing has happened today, specifically, to set me on this topic - it's just somethinhg about which I think of & on often. Am I doing anything to work for justice, to work for peace, fairness, for others? I don't know ... I hope & pray that I'm raising two children who will work for those things, who will make a difference - be it in word, deed, song, art, a laugh, a smile, a hug ...

So now I've wetted your appetite - go out & buy The West Wing ... cheer for the Bartlett administration, for Josh & Donna, for C.J Cregg ... ahh ... my friends ... and for more quotes from WW ... you know the drill ...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Fireworks & Magic

I'm looking forward to Friday, the 4th of July ... to see DJ enjoying the magic of fireworks, to cooking out with my parents and El's first holiday experience. But first ...

I have to get through the magic of this week. El has a cold - nothing worse, really, than your baby being sick. Her nose is runny, her eyes are crusty, she's got that junk-in-my-throat-can't-get-it-out cough and she's having a terrible time resting. But she still lights up when she sees me, or DJ, or especially my Dad (who she has wrapped quite securely around her sweet fingers). Her bottom two front teeth have come through just enough that when she laughs, you can see them poking through. Is that not more than a little magic? DJ is slimming up - losing that chunky babiness in his face, his tummy, his legs ... everyday I see more of the little boy, the young man ... Catherine Newman, who writes this great blog called Bringing Up Ben & Birdy wrote that (& I'm paraphrasing here) one of the saddest things about being a parent is that everyday you have to say good-bye to the person your child is today so that you can say hello to the child he/she is tomorrow ... Never has that been more true than now, I think, when it's so obvious that everyday they are re-inventing themselves. Be it in their dreams (artist, song-singer, fireman, teenager, cell-phone user, teacher ...) or in the their smile, still more gums than teeth, but brighter, more inviting, more mischevious, more everything with each day that passes, coming closer to the the people they are growing up to be. Thrilling, exciting, terrifying to not only bear witness but to help mold, to guide ... to be there for the laughs, for the tears ... magic or miraculous?

You know, six years and some days ago, Mike and I exchanged vows in a small-ish church where our family and friends bore witness. We promised, among other things, to be each other's best friend, forsake all others, and of course, the in sickness & in health, for richer or poorer parts ...
And even though both of us wanted children, I don't think either of us considered what exactly those vows would mean down the road ... but on weeks like this (which, Mike, I don't care to repeat without you!), when things are going so fast, when our babies are growing up to be the people we've imagined/dreamed/hoped they'd be, when there are sniffles and coughs and laughs and weepy moments (mine & theirs) ... fireworks, fairy dust, magic wands ...even the magic of Hogwarts can't touch the magic that's sleeping down the hall or snuggling right next to me ... I'm so thankful that not knowing what the future held, we took that leap of faith in each other so that we could be here (2,000 miles apart), never having been more sure that I married my best friend and I can't wait to be old with him (well, he'll be old, I'll still be 8 years younger ...)

Sparklers, roman candles, bottle rockets ... pomp & circumstance is nothing next to this kind of magic.

... as you seek so shall you find ... ahh yeah
Runaround, Sister Hazel

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Not a day of rest

I remember a time, not too long ago, when Sundays were a day of rest. Sundays were the day that we got up early, my Mom fixed our hair (bows, lots of bows) and put in our earrings (hoops for Sunday School), we went to Sunday School where we sang songs and learned about people in the Bible and usually did a craft. We'd sit in "big church" with my great-Grandma (she always had mint and butterscotch candies) and listen, sometimes coloring or drawing on the offering envelopes in the pew. I remember being small enought to stand on the pew beside my Mom during hymns or prayer, or when our preacher read from the Bible. I have wonderful memories of the people who taught me in Sunday School and especially of Mr. Bill, who was our Minister of Music, and Mike, who at that time was our Minister of Education, who led us in recreation and devotions every Monday and Tuesday after school when the church bus picked us up for Choir and handbells. But I digress. It is of Sundays I write today; the day when you could almost guarantee lunch of fried chicken, potato salad, green beans, biscuits, tomatoes, cantaloupe ... and a nice, long nap while Mom worked in her flowers or Dad watched the race ...

Now, all of the sudden it seems, I'm an adult. Sunday mornings are not restful around our house (certainly not over the last few weeks) as we get two children and two adults ready for church. More often than not, the morning slips away from us and we're rushed trying to make it to Sunday School. Dropping off the children on the preschool hall, getting them signed in, then heading upstairs for our adult class. Let me say of our Sunday School class: It's great. Amazing, even. I am happy to call each member friend, and happier still to know that (for the most part) our children will grow up together. We're a large class of married couples, most of us have children, most of the children fall into the birth to about 12 years old. We have a wide range of ages (from young newly weds to 40-ish). And lessons that are relevant to family, marriage and theology. In fact, Doug taught a lesson today on being in God's will that has had me thinking since leaving the room. I may add more on the lesson later, depends ... Anyway!

I am not the cook my Mom is - it's a dream, a likely unattainable dream - so we usually eat out on Sunday afternoons (Mom has long since given up on cooking the Sunday feast of my childhood). So by the time we've gotten up, showered, dressed ourselves, dressed our children, made it out the door, been to church, picked up DJ form Sunday School or Children's Church, picked El up from the nursery, reloaded everyone into the car, stood in line for lunch at Wade's, been served, eaten, loaded up the leftovers, driven home ... it's been a full, full day. And since tomorrow is Monday, I feel like the million things that need doing must be done today, and so, not a day of rest.

So, it's Sunday afternoon. And there's not much resting going on ...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Girls Night Out

Ah ... snuggly Friday morning spoiled by vicious attack of sleeping Mommy by early-rising 6 month old. That's right ... I was ready for a snuggling, sleeping in kind of morning, instead I woke to DJ laughing maniacally and saying, "Mommy, Elly Belly's not sleeping" ... this is only funny because: How could I possibly miss the 15 lbs. of unbridled 6-month old beating me about the head, gumming on my face and tearing out wads of hair, all while laughing hysterically? I can only describe the attack like this: If you've watched Animal Planet (and I have) you'll have seen the Beach Master Walruses attacking the young males who've foolishly tried to take over their territories. The Beach Masters (who have no arms or legs, remember) rear back, upper bodies lifted up & then, BAM! They slam their entire upper body into the Would-Be Usurper. This is what I woke to this morning, on a much smaller scale, of course. And so, after prying baby hands out of my hair, we opted for a good morning date at Strawberry Hill U.S.A. for breakfast. Yum. We had lots to do today, so we didn't make it down to the Peach Shed for fresh stuff, but we had freshly-sliced cantaloupe with our biscuits and we'll be back soon ... we always are ...

So, then it was time to run errands ... what a day, what a day ...

But the day ended almost as well as it started, if you can compare being attacked by your sweet, sweet baby to Girls Night Out! After helping my sister-in-law, Michele, do some housework (she's recovering from a c-section - see the pic of new addition, Caroline), I ran home to check on DJ & pick-up Elly Belly (both of whom spent the afternoon napping at my sister's house). DJ had big spend the night plans with his Boppy & Gam, so Elly Belly got to go on Girls Night Out. We went and picked up my good friend Julie, and headed to the mall where we bought absolutely nothing, questioned the sanity of the fashion world (honestly, have you seen some of the things that are supposed to be fashionable?) and just gabbed. Then we had dinner, where we gabbed some more & had an overly attentive waitress. So here's to you, Julie - you're well on your way to the #1 spot and you've made it to my blog (haha!!). And here's a question: If you're waiting on a table (or whatever) in restaurant (or whereever) and you see either an older person, expectant mother, or mother with small baby, do you offer them your seat? I ask because Julie & I talked about that as we stood, me holding Elly Belly in her carrier carseat, while we waited for about 15-20 minutes. Several young (30-40-ish) men were seated while also waiting for their table(s) while we and other older ladies (over 60) stood. We both agreed that our own husbands would've happily given up their seats in the same situation, but what do others think/do? None of the men offered seats to either me or Julie, or to any of the older ladies also waiting. I know, I know - rambling ...

After checking on DJ (he opted to stay "all night"), Elly Belly & I came home, got in our jammies and snuggled. Now she's sleeping soundly in her crib with her lovey lamb (thank you, Chris, Bridget, Charlie & Jackson!!), and I've checked e-mail, my favorite blogs, on-line banking ... and there's the doorbell. Dad (a.k.a. Boppy) just brought DJ home - he wanted to snuggle with me. Sweet, sweet boy ...

So, only 16 days until Mike is home ... until then, you might be interested in reading the Editing Program's blog (he posted on 6/27) & I'm signing off ... night, night ...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

things to do, things to do ...

Wow ... It's sort of hard to believe that this week is almost over ... thank goodness it's almost Friday! Around here, this summer at least, Friday's are the designated sleep-in & cuddle morning. I'm at Rice Bowls two days a week and the kids are enjoying daycare while I'm there, and then two days a week Matthew & Mattie (niece & nephew) are here, so we have to get up early those days to open the door. Anyway, today just happens to be one of the days that the cousins are here, so it's already been a long & busy day. First, up & eating breakfast by 7:30 a.m., then clean kitchen while the kids play. They all love to entertain "Elly Belly", so I have a few minutes to load/unload the dishwasher & do a little general straightening (not something I love to do, so it really is a chore). Then outside for a couple of hours of rough & tumble play. Matthew is quite the dare devil - he's almost 7 & loves to do anything that could potentially break a limb; Mattie's not far behind him, but thankfully DJ is a little more hesitant to climb trees, fences, houses (no kidding), or to race go-karts down the driveway & off a ramp (seriously!!) ... Anyway, the three of them require more than passing watchfulness! Usually Elly Belly ( I love, love that they call her that!!) is sleeping through all of this, so every now & then I get a little something accomplished during this time. Yesterday I "accomplished" finding out where all of the poison ivy is in our yard. A better question might have been, "Where isn't there poison ivy in our yard?"

But back to today ... we took a break from outside play to run my sister to work (she doesn't drive ... another day, another post). It was only 11 a.m. and I was already tired!! So, I called an audible & we had Chic-Fil-A for lunch & the kids played in & on the air-conditioned play area ... then, in a stroke of genious, I decided we'd go to the park for a little while before nap time. So we did. And it was hot, hot, hot!! They played for about an hour, and when everyone was good & pink-cheeked, we loaded back up & headed home. Everyone's been down for about an hour, and I'm hoping for nice, looooong naps, since they aren't being picked up until late. Afternoon holds the hope of pool time, if the thunderstorms hold off.

Anyway, I'm avoiding doing the things that need doing while kids are sleeping ... cleaning the den, sweeping & mopping, maybe vacuuming, maybe even (gulp) cleaning the bathrooms. Have I mentioned that cleaning is sooo not my thing? I mean, whose thing is it, anyway? But I need to do it today, since I've committed my Friday morning to snuggling my kids, then to RB & my afternoon to helping my sister-in-law set up baby stuff for my new niece, and then a Girl's Night out with my friend, Julie. So, today or not at all. argh.

But let me just say, the initial point of this post was to say that: I can't wait to go to sleep tonight, just because I know that when I wake up, there's nowhere to go, no one to open the door for and no need to rush around getting ready ... just a good, snuggle morning, maybe watching a little PBS (can't miss Berenstein Bears or Curious George, right?). So ... signing off ...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


It's another Wednesday afternoon ... I have with me three children and one baby. My house is not quiet, nor is it clean. Baby Girl is trying desperately to chew on as many toys at one time as she possibly can; the Big Kids are ... well, it sounds like they might be tearing down the house. I'm not sure that they're not, but I'm hopeful. The sun is shining, we've all napped, we've all got fully tummies (especially good if you're almost 6 months old) ...

So here's my thought/question of the day: How special are these days when we have nothing to do? When it's o.k. for the clutter to be more prolific than the residents of the house, when a little (o.k., a lot) of noise doesn't give me a raging headache, when we have time to ride bikes, blow bubbles, play with sidewalk chalk, take two-hour naps, or pretend to search for and find the massive remains of dinosaurs who roamed the earth billions of years ago?

So it's just another Wednesday. I'm trying to absorb it, to let in truly sink in and to remember it ... because how often do these days come and go with no notice?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Here's what you need to know: On Sunday, June 1st, I with both children in tow, drove my husband to the airport, watched him go through security, reloaded both children, exited the airport, drove to the viewing tower and stood watching, camera in hand, for his American Airlines flight to depart. Three weeks and two days later, here's what you need to know: I'm still waiting for his plane to bring him home.

Here's the background: In mid-April, Mike got this e-mail from his ME telling him about this great opportunity for a Fellowship. So Mike came home, we talked it over and I said, "Go for it. It's just six weeks ... I can hold down the fort for six weeks." So, he applied and was accepted. So, for about 2.5 weeks, we prepared for his departure: we went over our budget, we washed clothes, we folded clothes, we packed clothes, we packed laundry detergent, we packed soap & other toiletries. We were excited: Mike, to have this great opportunity, both professionally & personally; Me, well, I was excited for Mike and pretty anxious to prove to myself (and, let's face it, my parents & in-laws, too) that I could do better than manage - that we, the children & I - would thrive in his absence.

What I did not prepare for was this: My husband is my best friend. He is the one I scream at when I'm angry at him &/or everyone else; he's the one I cry to when my feelings are hurt & raw or I've read or seen something that makes my heart sad; he's the one I laugh with when I hear a great joke, story, or my children do something to make my heart happy. At the end of the day, he is the one I want to share my heart with, and when he's 2,000 miles away and you can't just stop washing the dishes to tell him that great/sad/funny/heart-wrenching/important/life-altering/or not important at all thing, it stinks.

So, I'm managing. I'm managing to pay bills (which I hate!), to vacuum, to mop, to sweep, to wash/dry & fold clothes (but not put them away ...); to clean out cars & wash them when its 90 degrees outside & humid; to drive 7 hours for a family reunion that lasts 2 hours; to feed & bathe 2 little ones who miss Daddy almost as much as Mommy misses him; to monitor the budget like it's my job (because it is); to not be consumed with worry about things over which I have no control (i.e.: the fires out west that Mike can smell when he walks outside his apartment in Reno or the abused children who've been placed with my friend for a season) ... And then, I manage, to not sob because my husband will come home to me, to us. On July 12 he will board a plane and fly to Philly to see a baseball game with the guys before driving home with Will to us on the 14th. But for so many wives, mothers, sons and daughters the one they are just managing without won't come home to them. I am ashamed to say that I don't know if I should feel guilty that Mike will be returning to us, or to just be thankful that this season of us being apart is almost over ... only 20 days more until he pulls in the driveway ...