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Saturday, December 31, 2011

What The Holiday Brings

I have a love/hate relationship with the Christmas holiday. There is so much I love and yet, so much I loath. Every year I seem to loath just a teeny bit more. Maybe I'm old. Scratch that, I'm totally old. Christmas wears me out. On all levels. By the time the day actually arrives, the Christmas magic has fizzled right out.

This year I decided to take note of all things magical, entertaining and downright irritating. Here goes:

* I have no idea where the idea ever started that Santa is a man, because that is a ludicrous idea. I've come to believe that he is simply the token pretty boy that sits in a chair talking to the children. Mrs. Claus is the real Santa, and she doesn't have one free second to spare to sit and talk with the wee ones about presents. She is too stinkin' busy taking. care. of. everything! She's the one who sends Mr. Claus out to sit in a chair so so he'll get out of her way and have something to do. Enough said.

* I swear, cross my heart hope to die, I'm not putting up a tree next year. Or ornaments. I think I lost brain cells putting all those ornaments back into the boxes they were removed from only 3 weeks ago. Peace on Earth can still be felt without a decorated tree. I'm just sure of it.

* There is a certain prideful satisfaction in buying your child the perfect gift. Even if you spent more than you know is logical. Smiles simply speak volumes.

* I've spent this entire week returning half the items I worked so hard to find/buy in the first place. I think the Santa that visits this house needs to just give money from now on. Why, oh why, have I yet to try this solution? I'm thinking quarters for everyone next year. Lots of quarters.

* In between festivities, Todd went to the eye doctor. Mr. doctor suggested bi-focals. That little fact has given me the giggles for days.

* Games. They are the heart and soul of this holiday. I've almost peed my pants twice this week. I'm considering surgery.


Enjoy the last day of the year. I'm planning a nap.



Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Christmas Feast


Doesn't everyone eat a gingerbread house for breakfast? If you happen to have a sister who is crazy enough to let her child sleep at your house, you do. I may, or may not, have let her pick off a pound of frosting and candies and eat that too. Just sayin'.

For tomorrow's breakfast we may just eat an entire candy village. If so, I will make them drink milk along with it. Only responsible and proper mothers make their kids drink milk.

Enjoy your holiday. We are :)


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cupcake Love

When you tell the Internet how much you love cupcakes, it listens. And when the Internet is related to you, cousins perhaps, it sends you goodness.

This arrived by email. I might need to have it printed on a 6 foot tall canvas and hung in my family room:


And this arrived in my mailbox. My favorite Christmas ornament to date:



I think I might start telling the Internet that I love Nannies and House Keepers. Then I'll just wait for one to show up at my door.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

When There's Too Much Time

When school is out, craziness sets in. All of a sudden, the children have too much time on their hands. After endless sibling fights over what to watch on TV, they have to get creative.

Child #3 decided to write a letter to Santa:
"I hope I get what I want." Such a sentimental way to start a letter. Don't you agree?


Child #1 decided to make an artistic sketch of our family wearing Christmas sweaters:
My favorite part? Todd has now become 'Toddy'. Oh, how he luves that name.


Here is her Night Before Christmas rendition. I told her that it looks like Rudolph pooped out a Santa and sleigh:

I hope you are finding good use for your holiday days. If you're bored, I have some children who could provide you with art lessons. :)


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

Resolutions

Child #2 had a particularly stellar day yesterday. Her moods tend to shift with the winds, so I never know what's going to happen from one moment to the next. While sitting next to her in church, I decided to lean over and whisper a question (I'm kinda stupid like that).

"Kellie, do you like me?" She immediately snapped her head in my direction with a sour look on her face. She stared at me for a minute and then replied, "Um....no". Totally super awesome. The crazy part is, her answer didn't surprise me. Why I even asked it in the first place is beyond me.

This special bonding moment lead me to start thinking about new year's resolutions. Normally I never make any. But this year, I just might. Here's what I've come up with so far. Keep in mind that these are goals I hope to righteously help my family achieve, all while speaking in my soft, loving mother voice:

  • Lie to your mother. If ever, and I mean ever, asked "Do you like me?", lie. Tell your mom you not only like her, but you love her. Even if you don't mean it. Oh, and when you feel the urge to say, "You never, ever listen to me!!", keep that to yourself.
  • Learn how to replace the toilet paper roll.
  • When walking up the stairs, instead of stepping over the pile of YOUR OWN clothes that are sitting there, actually pick them up and take them with you.
  • Say 'thank you' to your parents at least once a month. Yes, I know this is a pipe dream, but wouldn't it be nice to hear? I think those words might actually burn my kids lips if said aloud.
  • My wallet does not contain your money. It's my money. A completely new and bizarre concept.
  • For the love of all that's holy, please stop talking after 8:00 pm.

It's just a rough draft, but I think I've really got a good start. Don't you think?


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Trimmed


Yes, we just put the ornaments on the tree and December is nearly half over. Don't judge. I contemplated just leaving everything in the boxes and setting the huge container underneath the tree. I figured that as long as the tree and the ornaments were near one another, that's all that mattered. But, the 9 yr. old insisted that wasn't good enough.

Now I'm going to ask Santa to bring me an elf who will pack it all away on December 31st. I wonder if I'm on the naughty or the nice list?


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bits N' Pieces

There are only 17 days until Christmas. Did you know? I'm in denial. I went to the mall yesterday and spent nearly a gazillion dollars. I left without feeling even the tiniest bit of Christmas Spirit.  Fa, la, la, la, la.

Will it still feel like Christmas when I explain to my kids that Santa is feeling the economic pinch and so he is only bringing 1 present per person this year?

***

Child #3 told me that I look like Alice. The maid. From the Brady Bunch. Um, seriously?

***

I was given a lecture yesterday from my kids on why it's not cool to have your mom come in to your classroom when you're in 7th grade. I totally don't get it. Why can't I go in? What's the big deal? I asked what's so embarrassing about me and #3 (again!) replied, "Well, you have short hair and people with short hair creep me out." Children #1 and #2 laughed so hard, they choked.

***

Monday, December 5, 2011

For Today, See Only Love


My dad is 67 today. At least, I think that's the right age. I might be off by a year. I can't really think about it long enough to figure it out. It makes my heart hurt too much.

I don't see him as 67. I see him at 63. The age when he left this world for another. But again, I can't really think about it too long.

For the last 4 years, I've never been sure what to do with this day. Proceed as normal? Whisper a happy birthday with my eyes shut tight and a wish to rewind? Nothing feels quite right. Maybe there is no right to be found. Hope and loss seem to float hand in hand.

My dad had a passionate view of family. He placed it above all else. Not his car, not his clothes, not his house or his favorite shows on TV. His family. He loved us most. That love has settled into the core of my soul. It has laid the foundation for who I am today and tomorrow.

Love is stronger than grief. I often forget that. It's brighter and more courageous, and has arms that reach wide. Love never wavers. Grief and sadness shift and move. That's why they catch our focus. The shifting hurts. At times, it's all we can see.

But Love stands ready, simply waiting, never moving. Today I reach out and grab her and let her arms hold tight. My heart hurts less when I stand still long enough to let Love work it's magic.

Happy Birthday dad. I think of you every. single. day.

Love with arms open wide.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

#24

I have an unnatural obsession for wreaths. I love them. I will admit that my collection is bordering on ridiculous. With that being said, here is the tutorial for wreath #24. I made it in an hour. Enjoy.


1. Styrofoam wreath (mine is the smallest version they make).
2. White felt.
3. Cut strips of the felt and wrap your wreath. I hot glued along the way.


4. Cut out oddles of leaves. (I made my own template.)
5. Hot glue in a staggered pattern. Cover the wreath.


6. Add ribbon to the back and hang.
7. Fluff out the leaf edges.

Amazingly cute and easy. How many wreaths do you have? If you have more than 24, I'm totally jealous. Maybe we should start a club. Or a support group.


Friday, December 2, 2011

A Drunken 9 Year Old


The first visit to the dentist was a failure. With a capital F. 3 cavities, 1 large shot. The moment she saw the needle, she bolted from the chair. With hysterical screaming. Oh, and she ran. All the way to the front of the office so that everyone had a clear view of her and I arguing. Super fun.

Thus, we were sent to a 'special' dentist. He charges a 'special' price for 'special' children. They gave her a medicine that they reported was "like having 5 margaritas" (I tried to sneak some for myself, but darn it if I didn't have to drive home). 10 minutes later, they tucked her into a warm blanket, laid her in the chair and filled in her cavities with ease. It was fascinating to watch.

They told me to take her home and let her sleep it off. I could hardly get her to the car. She stumbled and swayed all while shoving off my attempts to help her walk straight. Once in the car she told me that she had no idea who I was and that her teeth felt like rocks.

She got up and started walking around in the van. While I was driving. I nearly had a heart attack. Good thing I didn't sneak any of the 'special' margarita medicine. Right?

She laid on the couch for 2 hours. She never moved. Not an inch. Sweet beauty. I think I might start requesting this medicine for more than just cavity fillings. Do you think I could get a 2-liter supply for Christmas break?


Monday, November 28, 2011

The Baby Turns 9


When she arrived 9 years ago, I knew she was our final curtain call. She was the Circus wrap-up. Everything felt complete once she joined us. We became a whole.

I held her tighter, lingered longer. I kissed her bare feet and soaked in her baby fresh smell. I tried to push it all down deep into my bones. I just didn't want to forget.


And now, the baby grows older. Our families' daily life moves at such a frenetic pace, I seem to have forgotten all that I wanted to remember back then. Time has ticked away. She no longer needs to be held or fed every 3 hours. She moves at her own pace.

But today, on her birthday, I look at her and realize that she may not need it, but I do. I still need to hold tight and linger longer. I need to soak in every once of her 9 year old self. Because this very moment, this very girl, makes me complete. She has made me whole.

Happy Birthday my vibrant Addie. Thank you for being a part of me.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Turkey=Love


It's hard to describe a Thanksgiving with family. ALL my family. In the same city, at the same time. I can't remember the last time that happened. It's been a week filled with cousins and fun and memories. Cherished time.

I hope your holiday week has been just as full of memory-making as ours. Giving thanks just feels more powerful when the ones you love are all seated in your kitchen. Forever grateful.


Monday, November 21, 2011

What If


Have you ever considered what this holiday week would be like if the Pilgrims had fast food? Seriously, just think about it. What if the Indians had shown up and said, "Hey, we know a secret place. It's Indian name is Golden Arches. Put on your tall hats and bonnets and follow us. If you eat this food, you will never have to cook again." Just imagine a cornicopia full of big macs. The thought makes me tear up.

In every story version of the first Thanksgiving, I have never, ever read that all the pilgrim children stayed home from school for an entire week. When and how did this tradition start? Who was the first person that said, "I have a great idea. Let's plan a day where all you do is cook and clean dishes. And as an added bonus, let's cancel school so that all the children can stay at home to fight with their siblings and ignore their mother." Was there a point in time where that sounded like a good idea?

Every year I start a campaign to eat our Thanksgiving Feast at an all-you-can-eat buffet. I start early and campaign hard. And every year, my mom wrestles me to the ground and threatens my life. It's a fun little tradition. I think she finds great joy in scaring me. So, we cook.

I'm sure you're cooking too. And if you happen to be one of those people who get to go with the Indians to the Golden Arches, think of me. Please? If you close your eyes when you eat french fries, they taste just like turkey.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Small Peek

Do you remember when I mentioned that we were having family nightmare pictures taken? If you don't, you can read here.

Just thought I would offer you a little sneak peek:


And you have to wonder, what could Child #2 possibly be looking at? I honestly have no idea. But, I will say this-- at some point during the picture taking, Todd snuck off to pee in the woods. The Todd that used cheese for chapstick? Yes, that very one.

Sometimes, I really wish this family was normal.



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Flaws And All


Before the Todd and I got married, my parents tried to warn him what life with me would be like. They were subtle about it. They would say, "Listen, you're a really nice guy, you don't have to do this. You really, really don't." I think my dad even held Todd's shoulders and looked him straight in the eye while explaining, "You can back out at any time, we'll understand."

Now, all these years later, Todd says that if only they had described how loud I am, and that children would make my voice even louder, he would have run for the hills. But now, well, he's stuck. Grin and bear it. Like Moses.

Just like my parents all those years ago, he has now turned to subtle explanations of his own. Last night he and my sister told me, "You're so condescending, it should be your first name." Todd even decided that my new nickname should be Condelisa. It has a certain ring to it, don't you think?

So, in light of my over-dramatized character trait, I have a condescending story. About Todd. Ready?

First off, have I ever mentioned Todd's obsession with chapstick? No? Well, it's a full blown obsession. I think if he had to choose between chapstick and his family, he'd need a day or two to think it over. It really is that bad. So anyhow, a few days ago, he forgot to take his 'tube 'o love' to work. No chapstick. All day. He nearly broke from the stress of it all.

But Todd, being a grown up with an MBA, found a solution. He noticed that the cheese on his lunch potatoes were greasy. Grease and chapstick must be closely related because he wiped the cheese on his lips. Oh yes. On. His. Lips. He said it worked like a charm.

I'm stopping now. So I won't be condescending.
I'll let you do that all on your own.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thoughts On Freedom


I've tried to think about freedom these last few days. About veterans. It's hard to grasp the importance of something you don't have a direct connection to. I don't know many veterans and I've never had to fight for freedom. But they are valuable to me, these rights I only see violated in news clips. I recognize their significance and I'm grateful.

Addie sang in a program at school to honor veterans. It was patriotic and sweet. And I watched from my seat within a nice school in a free country. Sitting there, it was easy to cheer for freedom and liberty. It felt honorable even.

I may not know what it's like to live without freedom, but I do know what it feels like to have choices taken away from you. I may not know what death during war looks like, but I do know what it's like to have someone you love taken without your permission. So, when I think of patriotic liberty within the frame of what I can relate to, freedom becomes more tangible. Easier to hold and appreciate.

Maybe freedom would feel more free if we noticed it more often. Not just on a veteran's holiday once a year. Maybe it's power doesn't come from just the cost required to gain it, but in our collective gratitude in keeping it true. Not just veterans, not just soldiers, but all of us. Together.

Might we recognize our freedom. From the safety of our seat, in the audience of a free country. Look and see, and keep it true.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

I Believe


I'm a person who believes with full force. Once I have faith in something, it never wavers. I tend to believe so strongly, I try to manipulate persuade others to join me. My beliefs ooze out in every conversation. I just can't help it. I'm like a preacher spreading a message.

I have a tendency to rank my beliefs based on importance. Rankings can change given my current temperament. Although, Belief #1 rarely changes. It's just that true. Nothing else can knock it from that spot. It is this: Sugar can save the world. Mmm. Can you hear the words sing? That's truth you hear.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, can change attitudes or actions faster than sugar. Have you ever seen someone eating cake who was angry? I think not. Would your kids like you more if you let them dip their waffle in hot fudge? Definitely. What about terrorists? Could we soften their hearts with donuts? Don't you see- Sugar can save the world.

I also believe in silence. We can never have enough silence. I've tried to find a way to get my kids to stop talking. So far, no such luck.

Pills. I really, really believe in pills. They're like magic in a tiny coating. Everyone should be taking some. I should have been a pharmacist. Truly.

I believe in calling my sister when I'm having a bad day. Why? Because her's is always worse. Always. It cheers me right up. Yesterday, when I was not feeling well, I called her. Her 3 yr. old had just thrown up All. Over. Her. And as she stood up, with barf in her hair, someone rang the door bell. She answered it with throw up covering her clothes. See? Makes your day look brighter. Let me know if you're feeling blue and I'll give you her number.

I believe in Todd's ability to make me laugh. Just the other day, he described a time when he tried out for football. (I know, incredible, right?) He missed the day they handed out play books, so he had no idea what everyone was talking about in the huddle. And, he showed up to the first practice without all the pads on. True story. I laughed so hard I almost hyperventilated.

 My belief list goes on and on. But for now, these rank at the top. What about you? What do you believe? If sugar is involved, I will cry with pride.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fluids And Rest

As the doctor handed me the prescription, he said, "Make sure you get plenty of rest and lots of fluids." I started to giggle. I couldn't help myself. Because, for real? Where exactly do you pick up some rest? I'm confused. Sick mom has never equaled rest. Sick mom simply means that her life is extra crappy until she feels better. Am I right?

For now, I'm drinking lots of fluids. Pepsi counts as a liquid, no? And I'm on the hunt for some rest. I even looked around Costco today to see if I can buy it in bulk. No such luck. If I find some, I'll spread the word. I promise.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pause

I've been looking for the Pause button. For at least a week now. Time and schedules and life have tumbled faster than I can keep pace. Days have drifted open and close, and every morning I still feel far behind. Life needs a Pause button, don't you think? Not a Stop or a Delete, but just a Pause.

Last night we drove 4 hours to sleep in a hotel and wake at the dawn to watch Sam run. The Region Meet held 25 teams from here, there and everywhere. We all huddled in the cold morning while our runners wore thin shorts and tank tops. They ran. We cheered. That's pretty much the routine.

Afterwards, we gathered to congratulate before we piled back into the car to reverse our 4 hour drive. And something miraculous happened. Life paused. All by itself.


Sister hugged sister, and smiled. The sight stood me still. I found my Pause within that moment. One that rarely occurs. Without my knowing it, Life found a way to clear the slate and hang a memory. It lasted mere seconds, but within that time, I found my breath again.

If you find yourself swimming through the busy and the crazy, look for your Pause. It may take time and careful attention, but today I learned that it's there. Right there, within reach. Look with your eyes and see with your heart. And then, take time to Pause.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Ween

I don't like trick or treating. There, I said it. I used to. Back when my kids held my hand and flew from house to house. That was fun.

Now, I find myself in the stage where Child #1 refuses to acknowledge she has a family, Child #2 thinks costumes are stupid but still wants candy and Child #3 will only wear bright lipstick and glasses while ignoring me on the treat route.


But here's where I hit the jackpot-- my sister's twins will still hold my hand. They still like me. So, last night, I grabbed two bumble bees, and hit the road. We walked slow along the treat streets and got bit by mosquitoes along the way. Every now and then I waved to my kids and they dutifully ignored me. It warmed my heart, so I ate more candy.

I hope you enjoyed your Ween. Maybe it was Hallo, or maybe it was sweet. Or maybe, you're just grateful it's over. My kind of Halloween. Now it's time to think about Christmas.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Great And Terrible

The definition of torture:

-Potty training.

-Asking a teenager to spend time with their family.

-Family Pictures.

I'm not sure why I force myself to endure family pictures year after year after year. I somehow convince myself that I will one day be grateful I pushed this event on everyone. Um, I've yet to reach that day. This morning, standing outside fighting with my kids, I almost stabbed myself with a sharp stick just so I could go to the ER and get away from them.

The end.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Just Because


Just because she makes me proud.
Just because she ran at District on the Varsity team, as a Freshman.
Just because someone mentioned that she is just like me, and it made me smile.
Just because she is good. On her inside and her outside.
Just because she makes me a better mother.
Just because she is fierce and competitive and determined.
Just because she never gives up.

Just because she's my heart.



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Shield Your Eyes

If you are skweemish, easily offended or any level of prudish, please turn away. This post is not for you. For the rest of us, this is just straight awesome.

October is Gynecological Awareness month. Seriously. I have no idea how I've lived all these years without this knowledge. But, there are many perks to having a husband who works at a hospital. This kind of information is one of them.

I wonder how exactly you celebrate for Gynecological Awareness. Do you have cake? Maybe you hug an OBGYN. Hugs are nice. Much nicer than pelvic exams. Is there a ribbon you wear? And what color is it, peach? And how do you keep a straight face when someone asks you what your ribbon stands for? I think I might be more gynecologically confused than aware. No?

As a means of raising funds to support all things pertaining to a woman's nether regions, Todd's hospital is having a quilt auction. The quilts are currently on display so everyone can take a peek and make a bid. Todd has promised to buy this one (his favorite) for my mom. So she can hang it in her entry:


Yes, you are correct. This is a quilted version of the reproductive system. Mmm hmm. I wasn't kidding when I said this was straight awesome. Just imagine it's grandeur when my mom opens it on Christmas morning. I bet she cries.

My favorite part of this quilt is the ribbon. I'm a big fan of accessories, I've just never considered putting them over my fallopian tubes. Now I know that it looks good. Don't you agree?

Let me know if you want to try and out-bid Todd for this quilt. A little healthy competition is good for fundraising. Anything for Gynecological Awareness month, right?


Monday, October 24, 2011

The Ledge That Holds The Brave


Most of our parenting is done on a plateau. An open field that we circle through over and over again. We travel the same course so often, the terrain becomes a part of us. It's just daily life. Lived, well, daily. The familiar.

That's the safe spot. That plateau that feels routine and normal. It's not easy work, this daily parenting, but here it is comfortable because we know it inside and out.

But at the far reaches of the field, there is a ledge. And there are times we are required to stand at it's margin and look over. This is when parenting is the hardest. When you stand on the ledge with fear and can't decide how to get back to the safe plateau.

Most often, the fear simmers there because we need to take action when all we want is to return to the familiar. Fear blooms when we need to make a course correction with a child, but don't know which one to take. It rises when we watch a daughter attempt something all on her own, no hand holding allowed. It takes root when we are required to un-cup our parent hands and loosen our grip. When our mind tells us to give them more freedom, but our heart wants to contain them in our grasp. Fear just weaves it's way through all of it.

And so we stand at the ledge and hold our fear in our hands while we wonder what to do. And we wait. We wait until we recognize that fear leaves no room for answers. They simply can't fit. So, we sift through that fear, and the closer we look, the more clearly we see that it is only a thin outer layer. Easily peeled away. And the core of what's inside, is brave. Fear was only a cloak.

We can only see the brave when we stand on the ledge. It's the only place we're forced to look for it. But, it's there. We just have to have the courage to wipe off the fear and grab hold of our brave. Only then will we be able see which course correction to make, how much freedom to give a child and how to keep them in our heart while slowly letting them go. That's when true bravery takes shape.

If you are on the ledge today, or any day for that matter, hold to your brave. Hold it true and hold it strong. It will keep you grounded and turn you back to safety.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Answers

The other day, I received one of those forwarded emails where funny things are said about pregnancy and hormones. Normally, I delete these. But, I found myself reading through it. And guess what I discovered? Every reply to each question just wasn't 'real' enough for me. So I took it upon myself to offer a better viewpoint. Enjoy (or not) my answers:

Q: Should I have a baby after 35?
Lisa Answer: Age should rarely be a consideration. The most important question you should ask yourself before deciding to have a baby: "Do I really want people around me who roll their eyes and tell me I'm ruining their life?" If you enjoy that kind of thing, go for it.


Q : I'm two months pregnant now. When will my baby move?
Lisa Answer: Here's where it gets weird-- When you're pregnant, you want the baby to move. Then, when they are a toddler, you want them to stop moving. Once the teenager arrives, they never move and you spend all your energy yelling (with a righteous voice) for them to start moving!

Q : What is the most reliable method to determine a baby's sex?
Lisa Answer: You pray, really super hard, and you have a revelation, directly from heaven, that you are going to have a boy. So then you know you are a righteous mother with a direct connection to Jesus and you go to Baby GAP and spend $200 on boy clothes. 2 months later your ultrasound reveals you are having a girl.

Q: My wife is five months pregnant and so moody that sometimes she's borderline irrational.
Lisa Answer: Seriously? Settle in for a new normal. And honestly, if you whine, even for one second, you'll be sorry.

Q: My childbirth instructor says it's not pain I'll feel during labor, but pressure. Is she right?
Lisa Answer: Um. Pressure is trying to decide whether to eat 2 or 4 pieces of cake. Childbirth feels like cutting off your arm with a plastic fork, all while your doctor and husband are at the foot of your bed discussing gun control. I wish I was kidding.


Q: When is the best time to get an epidural?
Lisa Answer: I'm thinking of starting a petition for insurance to cover a port to be installed under a mother's skin. Then, after you've given birth, the hospital is required to send you home with enough medicine to cover the next 18 years. I really think I'm on to something.

Q: Is there any reason I have to be in the delivery room while my wife is in labor?
Lisa Answer: Unless you are the doctor who will remove the baby, or the person who monitors my pain control, I could care less whether or not you're in the room. If you're not one of these 2 people, you're just eye candy.


Q: Is there anything I should avoid while recovering from childbirth?
Lisa Answer: Here's a secret-- Do everything, and I mean everything, to stay in the hospital for as long as you can. Even if you have to fake a seizure, do it. The longer you can stay there, the longer someone else will cook your meals and fetch you ice water. Once you step foot out of the hospital doors, it's over.

Q: Our baby was born last week. When will my wife begin to feel and act normal again?

Lisa Answer: This question is too stupid to even answer.



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Sprinkle Of Season


They call it a 'Cold Front'. Which is funny, because a high of 72 degrees really isn't that cold. Around here, it's down right Siberia. Temperatures drop below 70 and the Texans break out the down filled coats and padded ear muffs. It's fascinating to watch. Like eskimos on parade. Except in Texas.

I wore long sleeves today. That's noteworthy. And a coat. Just to be safe from the frigid 70's air. And as I stood at the bus stop, all bundled up, I realized I still had on flip flops. The perfect Fall accessory.

Tonight it will be in the 40's. Brrr. I might have to break out the hot chocolate. Winter season is upon us (for the next 4 days).


Friday, October 14, 2011

Love Turns 3

Three years ago today, they arrived. They entered our lives and we have never been the same. Thank heavens.


7 weeks after they were born, they took root in Texas. They were the miracle that outshined the turmoil. The calm in the storm. God gave them a mom that also has to be the dad and everything in between.  I wonder if they'll ever truly know of her courage and strength? Somehow, the older they get, I think they'll see it. It's so very hard to miss.

It's difficult to describe what these girls have become to us. There aren't words. They are woven into our hearts. All of us. Life simply wouldn't be the same without them in it. They are a gift.


Happy Birthday to our Joy. Twice over.



Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Stillness In Between


I used to have it together. I mean, I used to have the time to get it together. Really. These days, time has become a precious commodity. I seem to find fragments of it here and there, but nothing sustainable. Therefore, I never have it together. Most often I feel like I'm grabbing the loose ends and gathering it all up at the last possible moment. Can you relate?

Time has been slowly draining away for the past couple of years. But now it feels like a downpour. I don't know if the cause is having a high school-er or just the mere fact that life and schedules have gone the far side of crazy.

I remember my life when my oldest barely fit her petite feet into small, white sandals. I had time then. Loads of it. Time enough to paint her toenails and visit storytime at the library. Now she wears heels and isn't home long enough to catch her breath, and I am running just to keep up with her. Somewhere between the then and now, time melted away.

Do you ever get a brain cramp just from looking at your calendar? Can I possibly be the only one? Surely not. Surely I'm not the only one who wants to grab her family and fold them into the stillness of time. To shut out the crazy and soak in the calm. Surely that is you too.

So, what's to be done? I'm really not sure. Life is still life. Schedules must be kept and carpools driven. Homework still arrives daily and dinner must be fed. There is no getting around it all. Maybe that's my problem. I'm trying to weave around life. I'm spending all my energy chasing every corner and task, but never really catching up.

I believe the answer lies in the stillness. The one that rests in between the driving, the cooking, the errands and the list making. It resides there, just waiting to be found. What if we spend our energy finding those spots? What if we look for the quiet admist the noise? I'm guessing we just might find time again. At least a cherished portion of it.

I think I'll stop trying to get it together. Reality is, as soon as I do, it will all untangle again. Don't you agree? So, I think I'll try standing still for awhile. Not long, but long enough. Surely if I'm quiet and turn my eyes away from the calendar, I'll find time waiting. Mine for the taking.

Let's all be still. Then we can find time together...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Dare To Be

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogmas--which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become."           -Steve Jobs

So often we live in a box. One of our own creation. And if you're me, you have a sister who points out that I live in a box that is clearly categorized and labeled into other boxes. True on all points.

I'm good at living in my box. I like it there. It's safe, and yes, organized. Anything outside of the box feels unrestrained and a little too free. I have no control over what resides out of bounds. Therefore, I'm afraid of it. But, what if Life and Living are out there? What if the borders of the box are just the beginning? What if there was no fear and no limitations?

I'm fascinated by those who embrace Life outside the lines. They seem to live lives that are unique. They appear to have a better hold on Living. One that I long for. So, I watch. From the safety of my carefully constructed box.

What if Living, real Living, isn't something you learn or even understand from watching at a distance? What if all it takes is acceptance? Maybe there is no secret to embracing Life. Maybe the only skill required is the courage to step beyond the boundary. Maybe there are no 'maybe's', there is only Being.

We must dare to Live. The moment we do, the very moment we decide to cross the threshold, that's when the box disappears. Walls come down and only courage remains. Oh, let us become. Oh, let us have the courage to Live.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Goings On

** I hit my head. On the counter molding. Last night I bent down to move some shoes (which I knew Todd would trip over in his early morning hours--he's delicate, so I like to protect him) and I stood up quickly and slammed my head against the counter. Hard. My first thought, aside from the pain? "So help me, if there is blood in my hair and I have to wash it, I'm going to be ticked!" I think there's something fundamentally wrong with me.

** I chased a cockroach this morning. A giant one scurried through my bathroom and I chased it like it was a toddler. It escaped into the depths of my closet. My anger can not be contained. Maybe I have a concussion from hitting my head last night.

** I embarrassed my teenager. On purpose. I had been waiting in the school parking lot for 30 minutes. So, I marched into the locker room (where she was chatting with friends) and yelled at her to get in the car. You can imagine how well that went over. Once she was seated in the car, she and I had a real special bonding moment. It was unforgettable, really. As anger oozed out of her mouth I realized that teenagers speak a foreign language. It's so weird. There are endless ways to learn Spanish or French, so why isn't there a book to teach me what she is saying? Hmm?


** This girl. Oh, this girl. She refuses the spotlight and rarely slows down long enough to let me take her picture. But last night, she sang. With the choir, of course. But oh, she sang. And my heart sang right along with her.

**In case you have extra time, please jump over here and read. My favorite writer is showing you how to change the world. Every day in October. Be sure to back up to Day 1 and soak her words into your soul. And then, Change. The. World.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Running Has A Voice

There is a lingo for Track and Field. It's a language that is still foreign to me. I hear parents (of the 'running is our life' variety) and coaches yell words and phrases as the kids sprint by. "Keep your eyes up!" is one of my favorites. "You got this!" comes in a close second. They are always words of encouragement molded into phrases of motivation. "Keep your pace" can be heard right along side "Let's pick it up. Go, go, go!"


I've decided that Life needs a lingo similar to Track and Field. Because, when you look at Life up close, we're all running. On our own course that only we can navigate. Wouldn't it be nice to hear "You're making great time, keep it up" every now and then?

Just think of how you would feel to know that someone stood on the sideline and watched your every stride? That could be a game changer. Whispered words of encouragement, especially when the track feels wide and empty, could help you sprint to the finish line.

So often we long to be small. To fold in on ourselves so that we don't have to face all the large parts of Life. Small feels easier and more peaceful. Less noise and heartache. Worry can't penetrate small because there is no room to fit. No wonder we long for it.

But Life is large. It's hard, it's exhausting and it's draining. But, it's also not defined by the trials we face on the course we run. Life spreads wide and covers us whole. She seeps into the cracks left by sorrow and fills them with joy and grace.

We can live large. We have to. Because being small really isn't living. It's simply existing. And we want more. We want to BE more. So, we run. We run when it's hard, we run when we feel alone and we run even when it all feels to steep to climb.

The sideline is there, it's just hard to see. He stands at the ready. Where else would He be? He set you on this course and promised to cheer you on. So, He does. There are others there as well. They cheer too. Even as they try to run their own pace. If we have the courage to listen, I know we'll hear them. "You got this! Keep your eyes up! Keep your pace!"

Live large and embrace your race. After all, you're not alone. You never were. "Focus and head to the finish."




Sunday, October 2, 2011

Homecoming

Apparently, times have changed. Dates are now optional at high school dances. That makes me feel old. Truly. Groups and friends are now the norm. Thus, Homecoming this year was a friend fest.


Two months ago, school dances were never on my radar. I foolishly thought they were something I would worry about when she reached dating age (a mere year away). Imagine my surprise when I discovered that my ideas are now considered old-fashioned.


The cost of a dress hasn't changed. Nor has the anxious fever of finding the 'right' shoes and having the 'right' hair. I now have a new appreciation for my mother, but don't tell her.

Watching your daughter segue into a more grown up life is an interesting thing to witness. Some days it feels seamless. But on others, it feels monumental in weight. It's on those days that I want to grab time and hold it back with all my strength. Unfortunately, time isn't something you can catch.

In future years, I hope she remembers her first high school dance. I hope she remembers that she went with girls who each possess their own inner beauty, instead of a boy she may soon forget. But most of all, I hope she never forgets that life is lived when you remember who you are. All while wearing a pretty dress.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

You Better Write This One Down

I have words of wisdom for you today. Words that are so eloquent, I can't believe they haven't been said before. Todd found them in a friend's facebook post. I have no idea who originally coined this phrase, but I've scratched it into my subconscious. Enjoy your advice for the day:


"Putting a pretty shirt over your muffin top doesn't make you a cupcake."


If you know me, you know how I feel about cupcakes. So, here's my idea-- let's all do exactly what this sage advice is asking us NOT to do. I think that a world filled with people who resemble cupcakes sounds just a bit sweeter. No?


Monday, September 26, 2011

Use Your Voice


Have you ever thought you could change the world? OK, maybe not the whole world, just the one you orbit through each day? Could you change that one if you wanted to?

I tend to think we can. In fact, I think the greatest change we can make comes from the smallest of our actions. The words we choose. Those that are said in passing, those that are spoken with concern or even anger, those that are said with love. On the surface, they are only words. But hidden down deep, words, our words, can change the world.

I see the world through the window of how I can write about it. That's just how my brain runs. Words are the fuel. I love them. For me, words carry weight. Every day, I think of all the ways I could combine them to give life to my thoughts. Written words can be powerful.

But, what about the words that are spoken? Especially those we give to the ones we love the most? Often times, those are the words that we are careless with. And yet, they are the most important.

We regulate what we say in public, we screen what we say at work or at church, and we are ever careful with the words we choose when we meet someone for the first time. But, within the framework of those we love, those who are woven into our every day lives, we are too comfortable. We are no longer as careful and selective with the words we choose. I don't think it's intentional, it's just our nature to settle into the every day living part of our lives.

What if we could flip our mindset? What if we could take more time to think about the words we use with those we spend the most time with? Those words, spoken to the people we hold in our hearts, they are the avenue for change.

Changing our world starts by using our voice. In offering words that build and comfort. Words that give acceptance and offer grace even when it's hard to give. In the intentional slowing down to choose those words that offer the most love. Easy to do? No. But the harder we work, the greater the effect.

May we start today. To give words that matter. Ones that will echo within. Word by word, we can change the world.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

A New Record

I'm about to tell you something that will take your breath away. You should be sitting down for this. Are you ready?........It's been 31 days of school and no one has been called into the principal's office! Did you catch that? 31 days!

Last year we made it to day 17 before I got the first call (yes, the FIRST). Now that we are at day 31, I'm over the moon. I think I might make a cake to celebrate. Should I light 31 candles, or is that too over the top?

What do families do that have normal kids? When do they make cakes to celebrate? I wonder what life is like for those parents who don't hibernate the fear of a phone call from the school? Their lives are probably peaceful and filled with obedient children. I bet they never get the chance to make cake.

I'm going to try and remain humble about our new record. The second I get cocky and let my guard down, that's when the phone will ring. For now, I'm crossing my fingers and praying. A lot.

Oh, and I'll be eating cake.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Spread The Happiness

Smile more.
That should be the goal. To smile. More.
Because, let's be honest, that smile, that one right there, oozes happiness.

Maybe we could spread our own happiness.
Just by smiling.
Just by starting at home.
With those we love.

Begin today.
Smile more.
Spread it 'round.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Best Advice?

I have a friend who has invented my favorite mom-phrase. "Same crap, different day." Do you ever feel like you wake up each day only to repeat the crap from the day before? Yup. I know you do.

I've been deeply entrenched in a same-crap-different-day cycle. It's irritating and its made me cranky. So, today I recalled the best advice I've been given to date: "Never do a job so well, it goes unnoticed." I heard this statement as a young mom, and I've held it in my subconscious ever since.

Maybe I'm doing my jobs too well. Maybe I'm barely doing the ones that matter. Or, maybe I'm ignoring the right jobs and focusing on all the wrong ones. I haven't figured all that out yet.

But, I've decided that these 2 statements connect somehow. One affects the other. How about, "Different day, let the crap go unnoticed"? Or, what about, "Same day, do A (singular) job well"? They both sound mighty fine.

So, what's the best advice you've ever gotten? Tell me, I wanna hear. I just might adopt it for my own.




Thursday, September 15, 2011

When Love Has Roots


Love is a mystery. Not because it's hard to understand, but more because it contains it's own life force. It grows and expands. It takes roots that bury it deep. It can also dim and grow stale, and even spread wide to encompass more room. You see? A mystery. One with a heartbeat.

But yet, we ride at the helm. We can direct love's flow. Not always. Sometimes love's life force takes it's own shape without our say so. But, for the most part, we can stear the course. We can't control it completely, just simply nudge it in the right direction.

We can not captain love's course without looking at what stands out front. Love requires eyes. Ones that see, truly see, what sits within our grasp. It looks, really looks, at those who weave into our daily lives. They are there so often, they can become ordinary if we don't keep vigilant vision. Love sees beyond the common day-to-day. It tends to capture what we need in our heart, not what we catalog in our head.

Take inventory of your love. Sit in the quiet and explore it's roots that have grown within you. Find the holes that need filling and offer words that carry love to ears. This life force has the ability to offer grace and peace. We simply must be willing to see where it resides and where we want it to grow.

Let your love take shape today. Let it fill your soul and warm your heart.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Scenes from the weekend, on a Monday

Am I the only one who wakes up on Monday morning and wonders where the restful weekend went? I would even take a few 'restful hours'. Can you buy those somewhere? Is there an App for my iphone that I can download to use for a slow and melancholy Saturday/Sunday combo?


With a family of all girls (plus a dad), I never expected my days to be filled with so much sports and sweating. And yes, that is Todd in Austin at the BYU/UT game. And no, I didn't join him. Someone had to stay home to yell at the kids. I drew the short straw.

Enjoy your week. I'm going to try and figure out where to buy myself a weekend.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Now A Learner's Permit

Happy 15th (15th!) to this daughter I adore.


Birthday Wishes to my favorite athlete.


You are my heart.

For always.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hurry, Make One


I got the idea from here. While making this, I overheard my kids saying, "this is fun". Those words don't spill out of teenager's mouths very often, especially when spending time with their family. So, maybe you should try making one at your house too.

Instead of making individual time capsules, we combined everyone together in one (Walmart) jar. And my kids were right, it was fun.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Brave


The word 'brave' is a heavy word. It's full and carries weight. It holds an echo in it's center that sounds in your memory. I don't think I've ever been brave. I've been strong. I've been determined. I've been stubborn. But, never brave. It's a cloak I've yet to wear.

I've seen brave and watched from the sidelines. I've seen people I love take brave and wrap it tight around their shoulders. Those are the examples that echo the loudest. The ones who hold onto brave despite the fear.

I know a family who is brave. Each and every one. It's an honor to love them. This week my thoughts have been with them, while they are here:


Hearts are only one of the many items that fill their Brave List. Hearts with new valves. Cancer is on their list too. But so is faith and courage and tender mercies.

If I could hold brave in my hands, I know exactly where I would reach today. Oh, how I wish it wasn't so far.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Everything's Bigger


These are mushrooms. In my front yard. Is it natural for them to be the size of a dinner plate? Maybe these are 'Texas mushrooms'. Or maybe this mushroom is confused and thought it was supposed to be a stool for a toddler.

I'm thinking about plucking it from the ground and having the family eat it for dinner. Good idea?


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I Spy

I've started collecting all the 'items' my kids leave in their pockets come laundry day. I am not a pocket-checker. I refuse. So, most of the time, I am scooping stuff out of the dryer. There are also rare moments where the sticks of gum fall out on their own, just as I'm ready to drop the pants in the wash.


This pile has been sitting on my dryer for 2 months. Obviously our household is overflowing with hair bands, because these haven't even been missed. Do you see the plastic grape (looks like a marble)? It's from Hobby Lobby. My kids feel the need to snatch them off the grape bunches. Then I find them in the wash. It's ridiculous.

Oh, and that ipod? That's Addie's. It's been washed. Thoroughly. She told me the other day that she is saving her money for...can you guess?.....an ipod. Why she didn't take care of the one she already had is beyond me.

***

Every morning, I stand on the porch as the kids get on the bus. And every morning, I am greeted with this view:


Not 1, but 2! portable potties. And guess what? Even when the construction is done and cleaned up, the potties remain. Aren't they pretty? My favorite is the bright green one in the far distance. It has the word, 'Jackpot' on it's side.

Wanna know something even better than having 2 potties by your front lawn? I have a child who has used one. Not even kidding.

***


This is the best view of all-- Sam without braces. Pretty teeth for the minimal cost of a small, used car. I told her it's too bad she can't drive her new teeth to school.


Friday, August 26, 2011

If Only I Could Reach


Grief is not something I speak much about anymore. It's one of those topics that tends to drag on for those who don't understand it the way you do. Over the last year, I've found a way to just hold it inside. It's bound and wrapped tight. Most of the time, grief obeys and stays put. But there are other times where she unravels. Putting her back in her tight shell takes all my effort.

This week has marked 4th year I've had to let my dad live in heaven. I rather he be here. This very spot. There isn't much I wouldn't trade to have him come for dinner or call on the phone. But, life doesn't work like that. Life never makes trades, it only makes you keep going no matter the height of the hurdles.

I used to have a lot of anger. It was grief's companion. But anger has melted away and drained out my pores. Grief is all that remains. After 4 years, she has seeped deep down into my skin and settled there to stay. There are times I forget her and grief keeps quiet. But not for long. She calls and whispers and reminds me of how I thought life was supposed to turn out.

So, this week I have dreamed of reaching. I wish to reach out into the air and grab that place he has gone and pull it down toward me. Somehow I'm convinced that a heavenly glimpse will coat the grief and muffle her sound. But no matter how hard I try, my reach falls short.

So, instead of reaching upward, I shall reach inward. I shall look at memories and hear his voice and maybe listen to him tell a joke. I think that will make grief smile. Just for today.