Friday, February 28, 2014

The Answer To The Why

It's been a week of trying to remember why I do what I do. Through the ordinary, mundane, daily tasks I feel myself chanting, "Why?". This kind of thing rotates through my head every couple months (weeks, days?). A mood that just decides to dig in deep and settle for a while. It's hard to drag yourself out of that frame of mind. It really is.

So, I decided to look at pictures of my girls from a time far back. Somehow those memories always feel lighter. I wonder why that happens. Why we look into the past and life feels easier. Not completely easy, just easy-er. It's weird how that works. But those memories bring bunches of happiness nonetheless.

Good glory, they're adorable! And matching! Matching is my favorite. My spirit seems to soar when I look at them like this. I know my life was full of all sorts of complications and craziness. I just don't remember that part with clarity anymore. But I do remember these girls of mine. Every little, glorious, hard, difficult and lovely part of them.

Today, life feels more complicated. More crazy. Maybe that's just the way of things as they grow older. Maybe life was designed to stack the odds as it goes along. Most of the time I find myself wishing it wouldn't. But that's just futile, right?

But, in this moment, as I look at them, my heart and mind just finds a steady stillness that only they can bring. And all my "Why?" questions seem to fade into a steady background hum. The "Why's?" don't ever go away. Not really. Life just doesn't work that way.

But, it does offer us an answer. A reply to the "Why's?". Your response to why you do what you do. The answer is right there in front of you. All around you. Woven in and out of you. These people that have become the sweetest gifts you never knew you needed.

They are the answer.
They are all of it.
The one thing that keeps you whole.

Take the time to love your answer today.
Tomorrow you can go back to your regular crazy.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Music We Sing

A special choir conductor was invited.
The advanced choirs of several high schools joined him.
They practiced for days.
That's lots and lots of singing.

Then a special concert was held.

And those of us in the audience had the pleasure to just listen.
To sit for an hour and let these voices soak into our souls.
It felt like movement.
The notes carried through the room with a power to move you.
It was a gift.

The next day, Child #1 and I casually discussed the concert. Which songs were our favorites, which ones were difficult to sing. That sort of thing. And she asked about one song in particular. A song that the Director had given the singers free range to decide their own tempo and which notes to sing when. From where she stood in the group, it sounded terrible and uninspiring.

So I explained what it sounded like from where I stood. It was glorious. Every individual voice sang to their own rhythm. But when combined all together, it became living music. It felt like ocean waves on a current.

What a stark contrast. The sounds she heard compared to the ones I received. It's given me pause. To wonder about where we stand and what we hear.

Don't we often feel as if our efforts, our work, our daily tasks sound terrible and uninspiring? Too mundane to be anything but ordinary? Yes, I really think we do.

Maybe we simply need to take a little time to see how our voice is being received. How it's heard by those around us. It may just change the way we view the music of our lives. Because our words, our work, our efforts have the power to move. To cast the ordinary into a light that makes it shine like a gift.

No matter our rhythm.
No matter the notes we sing or the pattern we follow.
We all have music to sing.

Let it be glorious.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

FMS (For My Sister)- Take 4

I realized that I haven't posted a mantel for a while. I know, I know, you've been waiting. I mean, really, what is life without knowing how I decorate my mantel?

In case you're new here, or you just don't remember, I only post my decor because my sister incessantly bugs me to do so. Every now and then, I give in to her demands. Just to pacify her. Which is really odd, because lately, she's been obsessed with figuring out everyone's "Love Language". Mine especially. Apparently, I'm rather hard to deconstruct. (no kidding)

After days and days of Love Language discussions (really, just her talking), I finally figured mine out. My sister....when she isn't talking. You know, the kind of silence you can only get when you oh, so lightly, smoother someone with a pillow.

No more Love Language speaking. M'kay? I really, really can't take it.

But I'm going to tell you something totally amazing. OK?
Do you remember Valentine's? And that The Husband bought me nectar from heaven from The Candy Porn Store?

Well, they wrap those beauties up in a lovely box. Oh, yes they do. So, me and my genius self chopped it all up and made a string, garland, strand of circles? kind of a thing. It's now preserved for all of forever.

I kindof pretend those little circles smell like chocolate. It's a sickness. Or, possibly, a Love Language. I might petition to get that one added to the list.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Normal We Are Not

Every now and then, I get determined to have a normal family. Most of the time, I just have a light hope for it. But there are little spurts, blips, nanoseconds? that I really give myself a pep-talk to give 'normal' a good, solid effort. They go something like this...."Lisa. Bless your heart. All the other mothers you know can somehow pull this off. You can do this. Anyone with eyelashes as lovely as yours should be able to have normal kids."

And then, a few more spurts, blips, nanoseconds tick by, and I think...
"Girl, please."

Because, let's be real. Normal just isn't in the stars for this family. It is what it is.

Just yesterday we all sat on our pew in church. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice that Child #1 has taken detailed time to give herself a tattoo of the words to the song the choir just finished singing.
I tried to be all self-righteous and scold her like a good mother should. But really, I just pulled out my cell phone and took a picture. 'Normal' is for pansies.

Within minutes Children #2 and #3 took action and started writing on their hands. They decided to draw little stick men jumping on trampolines. For the rest of the time they just entertained themselves by squeezing their hands open and closed while watching stick men jump up and down.

I wouldn't even know what 'normal' looked like. You hear me?


Speaking of normal...On Saturday, I stopped by my "special" Walmart. (The one I try to avoid because the people feel extra crazy.) And I was walking down the isle near the clothing section, when I overheard a couple having a conversation. The woman says this, "I really like that sweater. I just wish I wasn't so fat when I'm naked."

I literally stopped my cart right then and there. I was that puzzled.

Is she thinner when her clothes are on? I'm confused. Granted, she was missing half her teeth, so maybe I didn't hear her correctly. But I still can't figure out what she meant. And to make matters worse, I've spent the last 2 days trying to figure it out! I'm a ridiculous kind of crazy.

No wonder my kids aren't normal.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Scenes From The Heart Day

Child #3 made a "heart family". The mom and dad smell like strawberry ice cream. I wanted to eat them.

My favorite twins (yes, Keagan is wearing swim goggles) gave our door a heart attack. I'm leaving them on there for the rest of forever.

And ya'll, The Husband went to the Candy Porn store. Not only that, he made a custom box of the chocolates I love. Just looking at the box makes me tear up. I want to kneel down and say a prayer every time I walk by.

And then, because candy porn just isn't enough, he sends me this little goody. Does he just get me, or what? And because it's Valentine's, I'm going to pretend he was surfing through Pinterest, you know, at work, just looking for the one quote that describes me.

Happy Heart Day, friends.
I hope you eat a chocolate. Or two. Or a box.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Bunch of Good Grief

The musical is officially over. And Child #1 is in a bit of a funk. She's a little bit sad and a little bit perplexed with her sudden free time. For me personally, I'm rather thrilled to have her around again. She exudes a unique sarcasm that just makes this family whole.

She has left this little pile on her bathroom counter:
All the bobby pins she used every night to pin up her 50's styled hair. I sorted and counted them out. Just for fun. 81. No wonder it took her over an hour to do her hair each night.

I noticed them while I was gathering up her laundry. Because, I'm the kind of mother that demands they bring their own laundry downstairs, and they ignore me, so I go upstairs and gather it for them. But, don't you worry. I yell at them and insist this is the last time I'm picking it all up for them. I even stomp my foot while my yelling spews forth.

And I just end up gathering their laundry again the next week.
We've been over this. I lack effective parenting skills.


Yesterday morning, I went about my daily routine. Got The Favorite out the door and onto the bus. Then I sat at the computer reading email and NOT scanning Pinterest for a lengthy amount of time.

I then headed to the kitchen. Low and behold, my back door was open. Wide open. Cold air rushing in everywhere.

Let's just stop here for a millisecond and discuss my extreme and rational paranoia of robbers. It's huge. Gargantuan. The Husband bought me a home security system years ago for my birthday. Greatest gift ever.

So, you can imagine my utter shock and fear at seeing my back door open. My rational mind told me that the teenagers just hadn't shut it tight when leaving. But my regular, day-to-day brain told me someone was in the house. Just waiting to steal my cute decorations. And probably some of my candy.

I did the only logical thing I could think of. I called my sister.

I made her promise, the cross-your-heart-hope-to-die kind of promise, that if I was attacked she would rush right over and do my hair and makeup so I would look presentable when the authorities arrived. It's all about priorities, people.

She stayed on the phone with me while I walked room to room looking for the intruder. She was smart enough to remind me to check the showers too.

We hung up the phone when the cost was all clear. She called back 10 minutes later just to make sure I wasn't dead. Sisters are the greatest.


My cousin decided to dig out old photos. The ones where everyone looks ridiculous. OK, not everyone. Just me.

I'm going to pause here and just let you take in my hair. Actually, the shape of it....There are no words, right? Except this one-- Triangle. My cousin (sitting there looking like a gorgeous Farrah Fawcett next to my Grandma who is rockin' the visor) thinks I should get royalties for creating the first Dora The Explorer hair style. Super-dee-duper amazing.

Can you see my blue eye shadow? Oh, and guess where we are? At the beach. The beach! And I've used an entire aerosol bottle of Aqua Net to tease my hair into a geometric shape! For reals. It's so fantastically crazy.

When I showed this picture to my kids, they were all sorts of impressed. Or scared. I couldn't quite tell the difference.

And my sister, you know, the one I called when my life was in danger? She has decided to call me "Triangle" from now on. "Tri" for short.

Good grief.


Monday, February 10, 2014

I Am Reminded

Do you ever have those moments where you stumble onto a long forgotten picture? One that reminds you where you were then and where you are now?

We sat on the beach in San Diego. All my little ones had never seen the beach before. They were immersed in the moment.

And my heart caught hold of watching a dad hold hands with his daughter.

Even now, all these years later, I can vividly remember that day.
There are bonds that will always hold strong through the tide.

And here we are. 11 years later.

A dad and a daughter.

And I'm caught up in the 'here and now' as it tangles with 'way back then'. I'm stuck on the feeling that life used to feel simpler and just a bit sweeter.

Which I know isn't really true. Because time tends to brush away all the hard edges. Life was still life back then. Just as it is now. Just....different.

But underneath all my worries, all my realities I'm trying to avoid, there is love.

Not the Valentine kind of love. But, the hard-won, bound together kind of love. And it has become my foundation for living. Everything else stands sturdy and true on top of it.

All the hard stuff feels easier to bear when it rests on that kind of foundation.

So today, as I rest my weary hope inside my ever present, I remember these beautiful gifts that I've been given. These people that bless my life with their love. The kind that tides won't ever wash away.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Find Your Snow

My teenagers rise early. Really early. 4:45 am, to be exact. They are walking out the door by 5:30 am. On their way to seminary (church class). And being the goodly mother I am, I stay asleep. I don't even peep one eye open. Child #1 simply steps into my dark, warm room and whispers 'goodbye'. I whisper right back.

This morning they call from the road demanding I step outside and explain what is happening. Their voices are giddy. So, at 6:36 am, I stand on my porch and look to the sky. It's snowing. Real snow. In Texas.

My girls pull up to the house with friends in tow. Normally they head right to school, but #1 forgot something this morning. They are all ecstatic. I watch them as they compare the snowflakes in each other's hair. They are frantically all checking the school district website just knowing school will be canceled. (It's not).

Their joy is palpable. They scurry around my kitchen and eat Starbursts for breakfast. And I step to the side and watch with fascination. This eager life-living that they're doing.

And I am reminded of the here and now.
Of the simple.
Of the truest of joy found in the smallest of moments.

By the time the sun rises, the snow has left a blanket of white. That never happens here. So, The Favorite stands outside and twirls. Giggling all the while. Well, until the bus pulls up.

For today.
Find your snow.
Your own joyful, ordinary moment.

Twirl around and drink it in.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Why I Should Write A Parenting Book

There was a time, oh so long ago, that I read a lot of parenting books. More like, tons. I was determined to do it right. Or, at least give my darned hardest effort at making it work.

But then Child #2 reached the age of 1.

Oh my, my, my.

I would take my 2 little children to the grocery store and use my sweetest, good mother voice. I would try to use the most righteous of disciplines that the books had taught me. I would not use anger because that's what the parenting class taught me.

And then Child #2 would run down the store isle, with her arm held out low. And knock every. single. item. off the shelves. Everything scattered like dominoes. She would growl (loud) at any parent who would try to intervene and halt her tornado-making.

That's when I stopped reading parenting books.

But, every now and then, some random tidbit from my reading days pops into my head---  I once read about a family who would take turns making impromptu speeches during dinner. The parents wanted their children to grow up to be well spoken and confident. So, during the evening meal, they would randomly assign one of the kids to stand and give a 2-3 minute speech on a random topic. Impressive, yes?

Well, this little 'good parent' tidbit came to my mind yesterday and I listened to Children #2 and #3 have a heated debate about....wait for it....The Bachelor.

Child #3: "If you get so annoyed with this show, why do you even watch it?"

Child #2: "Because it's awesome. But these girls are so stupid. I like watching The Bachelorette more because boys don't act this stupid."

(pause while watching TV...)

Child #2: "There's too much kissing on this show!"

Child #3: "Duh. That's what they're supposed to do! You have to kiss someone to figure out if you love them."

Well spoken? Check.
Confidence? Check.

Isn't it totally obvious that I never needed those silly parenting books?


For the last few days, Child #1 has been working on the 'Egg Drop' assignment for her Physics class. We've done this project in the past, but this year's requirements were more tricky. I didn't really pay much attention to the details, other than part of the container/packaging had to be 50% air.

She's been dropping stuff over the banister.
This was a gift sack, filled with rice and the egg inside.
The packaging exploded, but the egg did not. Rice went everywhere.

Last night she started experimenting again. I think marshmallows were involved. When I was in my room, I heard her say, "Huh. That egg broke."

I just shut my door and went to bed. At 8:37 pm.

Maybe I should write my own parenting book.

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Debut, Uganda and A Bathroom (with picture overload)

She arrived. That girl of mine.
The cast arrived. Those amazingly talented teenagers.
And they were spectacular.

Who knew that a show about gambling and love could be so entertaining?

Especially when delivered by a group of regular kids who are trying to keep up with their homework while barely awake. But thriving on using their talents doing something they love.

It's extraordinary. And beautiful. All at the same time.

And this is a "Just Because" picture.
How much longer will I get to stand outside the stage doors and wait to just hug her tight? I feel the time running away like water.


Do you remember my bathroom with a vision?
The one I wrote about here? (and you can find link to the dots and the original art)
Well, she's finished.
And Ya'll, she's lovely.
Feel free to stop by and tinkle in my polk-a-dot potty room.

On a funny side note-- The frame I used for my awesome watercolor used to hang in my brother's bedroom. It's one of those cheap, looks-like-wood-but-isn't-wood frames. It had some inspirational football quote hanging in it. I'm pretty sure I "borrowed" it from my mom's house over a year ago. I hope she doesn't notice.


If you have any free time this week (oh, the luxury!), please read about my favorite writer who went to Uganda with Compassion International.
Here. Here. And Here.

But, be prepared.
It. Will. Move. You.

I'm trying to figure out how to win the lottery or rob a bank so that I can sponsor at lest 100 of these beautiful children.

I made the mistake of letting Todd The Knight In Shining Armor read them.
He wants to fly over there and scoop them all up and bring them home with us.

I'm terrified of flying. But these children would have to power to get me on a plane.

Read about them.
And if you have $38 a month to spare, send it their way.
Together, we could change a world.

Doesn't that sound like a mission worth taking?