Thursday, December 31, 2009

See Ya 2009! Bring on the New Year!

On the eve of a new year many of us look back on the previous year and are either glad it is over or remark that it was a "good year". I'm fairly certain the only recent years that stand out in my life as being traumatic are the years I miscarried and we opened our first Subway restaurant (in retrospect I think I may have miscarried due to hovering on the edge of a nervous breakdown), the following year when my Pop died and then the year we closed the cafe (which we are still feeling the financial hit from three years later). In between all that heartbreak, good stuff happened, but I think it was the year we closed the cafe that sucked a lot of the "dream" out of The Husband and me. Thankfully, I am feeling a bit of the weight starting to come off and while we aren't exactly sure where we are headed, we are trying to be patient and go where God is leading!

This year had its share of drama at our house. GAS suddenly, with no explanation left at the beginning of the summer to move back with my mom. She didn't come to say good-bye; she just sent my mom and a friend to come and get her things and when I spoke to her she said this was just the way she wanted it and nobody did anything wrong. My heart was broken and rejected because I somehow felt made out to be the "bad guy". I thought we had given her a pretty good life here. But, love being what it is means not necessarily passing on the heartbreak to the one who caused it (especially when she is 87), so I let it all go and tried my best to be forgiving towards her and my mom (despite the injustice of it all and my desire to get to the bottom of why she really did it). In a family where guilt is a predominant emotion, both given and received in large quantities, it was best to lick my wounds in private and move on. And, I feel like God has showered me with His peace in the process.

This past year was also our first year with a full-fledged teenager. And, while I would like to share some of the details with you I will respect #1 and my relationship and try best to summarize it. Of course, having one teenager does not make me an expert but I've found with her (and, with working with the youth group) you can't push and you can't talk down to them to get what you want out of them. On the other hand, I've told her I can't be her friend, I've got to be her mom! We have had fun together, but we have also had a lot of good honest conversations, especially after butting heads over something. I try my hardest to explain that the root of 90% of my decisions is based in the word of God and not me being randomly "unfair". The other 10% is based on scheduling conflicts!

So, I'm saying good-bye to 2009 with a hopeful heart. Not because it is just a new year, but because I have felt the leading of the Lord and His wonderful presence in my life. No bells and whistles. It's more like a deep down knowing that He will lead me whether it is January 1, 2010 or September 25, 2018 or any other day for that matter.

Happy New Year, friends!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My 2009 Top Ten

Since the new year is approaching I figured I needed some kind of top ten list for 2009, but, "Top Ten" what? So, here it goes. Ten of my favorite things from 2009 in no particular order except number 4 (just kidding!).

10. Disney World, snorkeling and most of our Florida vacation when we were not trapped in our van for hours at a time. We hope that 2010 holds a new adventure somewhere we have never been that does not require large quantities of driving.

9. Cake Boss. The only show I record and watch marathons of. It was thrilling to go there and see it up close!

8. Being published in a local magazine. It has inspired me to write more.

7. My 39th birthday. Because from here on out I don't want to be in my forties. I will enter them kicking and screaming. Chocolate covered strawberries may help a little bit, but I'm just not ready to be forty.

6. Soccer. Indoor and outdoor. Travel and intramural. If I had time (and, athletic ability), I'd play, too! And, actually I enjoyed watching the girls play softball and cheer, too.

5. Wii tennis. I have surpassed The Husband as reigning tennis champion in the house. In fact, I really adore the Wii because it is the only video gaming system I can win anything. And, I play a lot!

4. The deck by the pool. The Husband finished building a deck around the pool and made it so much more conducive for entertaining. Despite it not being a very hot summer, he and I spent a lot of time out there drinking coffee enjoying the view and watching the kiddos swim.

3. PTO. We had a great year and exceeded our fundraising goal by almost $10,000. I will finish my presidential term in June and while part of me will miss it, the other part of me feels free to do other things I've put on the back burner for the last two years. I've had the privilege to volunteer with and get to know a lot of other parents and teachers throughout the last year. Our school rocks!

2. My job. It's been great working with the people I work with and the flexibility of my schedule will have me there for years to come. Unless of course I ever take the writing thing seriously and do that instead. Or, launch my talk show. Or, open a bagel shop.....

1. My family. It has been a whirlwind of a year. The Husband is so tolerant of our overstuffed schedule. The girls are growing up and trying new things. The teenage years prove to be a balancing act of letting go and keeping close. And, because we have been so busy it leaves us with little energy/time to just hang out with friends. We plan to improve on that in 2010! Along with those 25 pounds I need to resolve to lose!

Monday, December 28, 2009

If You Aren't Into Cake Boss, This Will Be the Most Boring Post You Will Ever Read

The Husband and I decided to be spontaneous on Sunday morning. We loaded up the kids into the van and didn't tell them where we were going! Two and half hours later we pulled up in front of Carlo's Bake Shop in Hoboken, New Jersey. This is home to Cake Boss on TLC. And, we are all really, really big fans of the show!

The girls were so excited, in fact #3 was a little freaked out when she realized where we were at! It was easy to find since there were crowds out on the sidewalk. If you ever decide to visit, try it on a weekday! We found some off street parking nearby and headed towards the bakery after a quick lunch down the street at Johnny Rockets.

When we walked up to the door we were "greeted" by a serious-faced Louie ("greeted" in the sense that he is the only person allowed to open and close the door). He gave us a number and we pushed ourselves inside, coincidentally following the show's producer. For a moment I thought maybe we were at a Jonas Brother concert. It was wall-to-wall people and I panicked when I realized that I could not even see what was in the bakery cases. And, when I did catch a glimpse of some cookies, cakes and pastries there was not a price to be seen. It was like being in one of those expensive French restaurants where there are no prices on the menus and no one would dare ask how much something cost. I prepared to spend anywhere between $10-$100 for the dessert we were about to order. And, then I saw her. One of Buddy's sisters at the cash register. The girls say it was Mary, but her hair looked way different and I'm pretty sure it was Lisa. I couldn't stare for a long time because I was trying to form an actual order in my mind for when our number was called. I just kept looking around...we had a great view of the famous stairwell where Danny and Cousin Anthony dropped the cake. And, really it just looked so bakery-ish. So. Cool. I felt like we were on a TV set. I guess we were!

After only about 5-6 minutes a young girl called our number and I ordered our baked goods with as much confidence as if I was a regular there. A chocolate brownie for #3, a giant chocolate covered strawberry for #1, a cannoli for #2 and another one for The Husband and I to share and then, because it looked like it was pure Cake Boss heaven, a mini white chocolate mousse cake with chocolate ganache and a white chocolate molded snowman on top....shaved chocolate along the base. While we were waiting for our order to be boxed up, I got closer to the counter and out pops Grace, Buddy's other sister (the one who wanted to cook Thanksgiving dinner, Joey's wife). Then, the girl taking our order said the only brownies they had contained nuts but she could check in the back for plain ones. I graciously said a chocolate cupcake would be just fine (I didn't want to be a pain, although there was a rumor floating around that Buddy was coming down and I was tempted to stall!) Eventually, Grace rang up our order as I watched all the Carlo's Bakery boxes stack up. The lady in front of me spent $71. Another person next to me spend $36 and when Grace totaled my order it was $15.80! I almost apologized for not spending more.

I was handed my glossy Carol's Bakery bag and you would have thought I had a designer handbag in there. I proudly carried my bag outside and smiled sympathetically at the people lined up on the street. Oh, they just didn't know what sights they would behold upon entering the famed establishment. Pictures of Buddy all over the walls with cakes, employees coming downstairs with smaller, but definitely "Cake Boss" looking cakes. It was almost too much to take in at once, especially your first time. It was surreal.

In the end, the oH mY wORD family gives Carlo's Bakery 10 thumbs up and we can't wait to go back. Everything we ordered was delicious! #2 was funny because she found something green in her cannoli. After realizing it was some kind of candied fruit, I told her maybe she got lucky and it was one of Buddy's boogies! She didn't eat much after that because she kept picking out the "gross green things". That's okay...more yummy cannoli for me!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Can Someone Please Explain How It Is December 22nd?

I know the fall layout on the blog can be confusing, but I seriously feel like we were just carving up that Thanksgiving turkey a few days ago. I was doing so well....mailed cards out early, decorated, shopped, baked, shipped, and still managed to clothe and feed my family. Yet, here I sit with a to-do list that will take about 5-7 business days to complete and something has to get scratched off the list.

For instance, the homemade eggnog I was going to try and make for my dad, despite never really drinking the stuff myself. I'm trying to think of different things since we have so little money to spend this Christmas (budget, people, budget....must stick to the budget, my family must want to stuff me in a closet by now from hearing me chant that hourly through the last 6 months) I decided to go for the "awwww, isn't she sweet/creative/out of her mind" factor. Like the free dinner at our house certificate along with an autographed copy of The Mailman DVD that we used as a white elephant gift for a friend's party. And, like allowing each of the girls to invite 6-18 buddies over to have a little Christmasy cookie decorating fun (that can count as one of their gifts, right?). And, let's not forget another white elephant gift: the clever "Instant Yard Sale Kit" complete with price stickers and all the junk you need to do your very own yard sale. Patent pending in the U.S.. No one will ever invite us to another Christmas party again after that little surprise!

There are some tasks that are non-negotiable. Baking a birthday cake for Jesus. Making a gingerbread house (Lord, help me). Wrapping the kid's presents. Doing more laundry. Christmas Eve service. Fried cheese.

So with a few more gifts to finish and assemble (one worthy of in my humble opinion) I wonder if I will ever spend a December 23rd not running around with a glazed, panicked, don't talk to me unless the house is on fire, look on my face. I guess tomorrow will tell....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Things I Should Be Doing Right Now....

....but, it is so much more fun to blog about them instead of actually doing them! Here is my to do list I am not doing:

1. Update my autumn blog template to something generic that does not need to be re-configured as the seasons change. Or, we can all pretend I'm really prepared and on the ball for September. Changing my template ranks right up there with the visit to the dentist, which is exactly why I only want to change layouts twice a year. And, when the HTMLNOPXYZ codes don't work, that ranks up there with the yearly check-up at the OB/GYN.

2. Fill out a permission slip for #1's winter concert. When did they start making school paperwork feel like I'm filling out an application for a second mortgage? I thought I gave them permission to do whatever they wanted with my child when I filled out enough paper to kill a redwood the first night of school. Please list 34th emergency contact's name, phone number, dog's name and favorite flavor of ice cream: ______________.

3. Create a flyer for our PTO Talent Show. I don't have Publisher on my new computer and the old computer will randomly give me the "blue death screen" and cut out without ever acting like it knew what I was doing, so I'm weighing my options. It's like Clint Eastwood staring me down asking "Do you feel lucky?" and I don't, so I'm choosing procrastination.

4. Laundry. Yes, and you all should be doing yours, too.

5. Ummm...sleeping? Yes, I most definitely should be sleeping. So, good night!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Why I May End Up A One Hit Wonder

Now that the excitement of having my first story published has died down (as in I don't keep opening up the magazine 42 times a day and staring at it, then going to the website and looking at it), I started thinking it just may be one of those things that was a fluke.

I think I may be a One Hit Wonder in the writing world! There are several factors that have led me to this theory.

1. They edited it. Not terribly, but they still took out relevant information to the story and "polished" it up a bit. One part that was specifically chopped was a comment I made about going to work (the thing I actually get paid to do, unlike my acting career). They left out the part that said "unlike my acting career" which sort of leads the reader to believe that I am complaining about the lack of compensation being a mom brings in. And, I LOVE the chaos called motherhood. Love it. The reward far outweighs the stress! So, apparently, I don't like being "edited" very much. And, I freaking LOVE being a MOM!! Okay?

2. I have no idea what I'll ever write about again. People are already asking what the "next story" will be about. I don't think I'm going to have many days like the day that provided the inspiration for that story...part of me sort of hopes not (and, as sick as it sounds, part of me hopes I do have more days like that). So, I'm just sort of hanging out and seeing where we go from here. The last thing I ever want to do is try too hard....except that I did sign up to donate blood for my first time on December 11th thinking it would make a good blog post and, well, you know it could save someone's life and all.....

3. I have no time. Squeaking out 2-3 blog posts a week means giving up that load of laundry that needs to be folded, or the dishes that need to be washed or that time that could be wasted on ebay or facebook. And, need I mention that we are in the beginning of our Advent season, which was off to a fine start until my lame lesson tonight that should have been called "Mommy Did Not Prepare Tonight's Lesson So Let's Try To Follow Along While She Wings It". Not one of my shining moments, but gosh darn it, at least we read a scripture verse or two even if there was no common theme between them. A story of a lady taking her last breath somehow ended with talking about the yokes on oxen and how Jesus takes our heavy "yokes" and gives us His lighter one. The only thing my kids will ever remember from tonight is that a "yoke" is not a "yolk". So, that scripture in Matthew makes a whole lot more sense to them now that they aren't trying to figure out what eggs have to do with anything.

So, I guess for now I'm happy with my 7 regular followers and occasional wacko that ends up reading my blog. As cool as it is to see my name and story and picture in print, I'm just not striving to do it on a regular basis. However, the possibility exists that one day I'll write an Advent devotion on death and egg yolks...but until then, you'll just have to catch me here on the blogosphere.

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's Another Wrap

I have this hobby that I really, really like. It's called acting! And, like most hobbies the first few times aren't the best, but then hopefully you start to get the hang of it. There are so many reasons why I like it, but I think part of it is the challenge of trying to pull off a certain character. Just last week I found myself in the role of a nurse at an abortion clinic and that was a tough character to imagine because:

A. I could never be a nurse...too messy.
B. I think abortion is wrong. Terribly wrong.

However, with The Husband playing a mad shooter in the clinic trying to kill an abortion doctor (or was it all a dream? Hmmmmm?), it all seemed so real. For awhile I was really running from a crazed gunman. And, I'm anxious to watch the part where he "shot" at us in the hallway because I nearly came out of my skin and tripped right over #1 who was playing a young patient in the clinic. And let me tell you, next time I'm asking for a stunt double because the only thing underneath that carpet was a cement floor! Ouch!

In the end, it was a long day, but whenever I am finished with a film or a show it is exhilarating and I can't wait for the next one! I used to feel silly admitting that! Where have us grown ups gone wrong in thinking that something as fun as playing pretend isn't worthwhile unless you are a professional making money at it? I know a lot of people who golf or knit for fun and don't get paid! :) Why not acting, right?

Here are some sneak peeks from BH's latest project...the scenes outside probably made a few people driving by nervous to see a guy in a black trench coat shooting at a doctor running down the road! And, my scrubs were two sizes too big and kept falling down so that also made it a bit more challenging!

Remember you saw it here first!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Parable of the Annoying Dog??

I'm sitting here unable to concentrate on my original post because for the last 15 minutes while I made The Husband's lunch for tomorrow and did dishes all I could hear was this high pitched whine coming from The Dog. Why? Only she knows. I had her gated in the bedroom with her beloved Master and she just laid on the other side of the gate with a subtle yet shrill (imagine the whistle that the dolphin trainers use at Sea World) whine to come to the other side. To dig through the trash can? Chase the cat? Eat a sock? Clack her nails on the laminate floor back and forth and back and forth.....arghhhhhhh.....who knows why she wants to be on my side of the gate?

It was then I pondered. God, what are you trying to teach me with this dog?? I know she is here for a purpose because there are so many times I could have killed her with my bare hands but I felt angels on either side of me holding me back. This is a dysfunctional dog who I believe has some sort of mental illness that we most likely caused by letting #3 drag her around everywhere we went under her doggie armpits when she weighed a measly 8 pounds. Or, the time a friend of ours accidentally dropped her. On her head.

The Dog does have a few redeeming qualities. She is smart. However, that is a blessing and a curse. For example, we trained her to ring a bell on our back door when she needs to go out. She is very good at it. So good, in fact, she rings it whenever she basically wants ANYthing. She rings it when she wants to eat.....when she wants to go out and chase things that run under our deck. She even rings it just to drive me crazy because when I show up to open the door for her she walks away. It's like the rich lady in those old movies ringing her bell for Jeeves the butler to fetch her a glass of lemonade. In fact, she just rang it now to prove my point.

Her only other serious redeeming quality is that the little beast has somehow wormed her way into The Husband's heart and I believe she would die if she had to live without him. Their mutual adoration makes up for all the disgusting eye goobers she rubs on me and her sock eating fetish.

So, God is using this dog to train me. I know it. Perhaps, not in the obvious loving the unlovable kind of way....but maybe something I'll learn with time and commitment. She is not always nice to me, in fact she growls at me anywhere from 1-63 times a day. It's like the battle of the wills when I force her to give me a shoe or sock back. She plays all tough until she realizes I'm getting the shock collar and I'm not afraid to use it. I've prayed "Oh God, please don't let this "relationship" be a parable of me and You because I'd hate to think I annoy You this much!!".

Now that I've pretty much forgotten what I set out to post today, I'm going to call it a night because my house is finally quiet. No dolphin whistles, toenails clacking or bells ringing.

Thank you, Jesus.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Will Pray for Food

Ok, so this will probably mean more to me than to some of you because of the season I happen to be in right now.

There, that's my disclaimer.

I left for work this morning and forgot my lunch. No big deal. But, I didn't want to take time away from work to go spend money on lunch so I prayed a simple prayer as I was driving.

God, please provide me with a free lunch today.

I actually kind of laughed at myself. I had never prayed that before! Who was going to give me a free lunch today? Would it drop into my cubicle like manna at noon? But, I felt this faith rise up in me...and trust me, my faith is being tested in believing God for big and crazy sounding things. More on that later....

I arrived at work and saw that I had a packet of oatmeal in my desk drawer. God provided my lunch! I must be honest, oatmeal wasn't exactly what I had in mind. However, I was grateful that I had something to tide me over since I didn't have a dime on me to go downstairs and even snack from the vending machines.

A little while later, my neighboring co-worker said that some friends were taking her out to lunch for her birthday (even though her birthday isn't until Friday). As I asked where she was going I already knew the answer.

I knew the answer because I realized in that moment that I had forgotten about a gift card I had won to a local restaurant in an office raffle like six months ago.

Sure enough out of all the places she could go, that was the one she was going to. She even had a menu in her desk so I could order exactly what I wanted.

So, God being the over the top God that He is, provided a gourmet spicy shrimp pizza to my desk for lunch with enough left over to eat tomorrow and maybe even the next day! It really was no longer about lunch anymore for me.

He demonstrated His extravagant love to me in that gesture. And, as I've been sitting here these last few months daring to dream of things that seem so out of reach, He showed me that it just takes a little bit of faith for Him to move pizzas....I mean mountains!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Warts and All

We spent a good part of the weekend at the musical #1 and #2 were in, Honk Jr. The performances were great and everything theater should be for kids in grades 3-9; however, the message within the story is something I hope everyone, not just the kids, felt inspired by.

It was the story of the "ugly duckling". Born different than her brothers and sisters and rejected by everyone in the barnyard besides her mother and the cats (who are only interested in eating her) she ends up lost.

Okay, stick with me here because almost every single person who is reading this right now can relate in some way to this.

The story would have had an all together different ending if the ugly duckling had plastic surgery to make herself look more like the other ducklings, or maybe if she ran out to buy a pair of Ugg boots and a Coach purse to fit in better. Or, we could have gone for the tragic ending where she developed an eating disorder or drowned her sorrows in a 6-pack to help ease the emotional pain. Ouch. I'm not even sure where I'm going with this.....

I think this thought process, this journey of embracing what is different in each one of us is a good one. Honk Jr. really tackles the issue of caring too much about what other people think about us. A few "animals" saw her for who she really was and helped her to see herself that way, too. But, again, we must never find our degree of happiness based on what people say about us, even it it is positive. My favorite song in the entire show went something like this....

Out there
Someone's gonna love you
Someone's gonna love you
Warts and all
They're gonna love you warts and all

And, you know what? Someone out there does love me warts and all. In fact, He laid down His life for me. To feel inadequate is to reject the sacrifice that Christ made for me. How many of us just decide it is easier to fit in with whatever the current culture is rather than be comfortable and content with the way God made us? I don't want to live in the place of rejection and isolation because of some age/physical/financial difference that is not the "norm" of whoever I happen to be with that day. Man, that can be exhausting trying to fit into someone else's mold.

Now, I'm not into being socially backward and completely un-approachable! No, that's not what I'm saying! I could really go on and on with this whole "being different" topic. But, I am beginning to ramble and Miss Never Taking Life Too Serious is starting to go a little deep....

Just remember that God made each one of us beautiful. No matter what we see in the mirror, He loves us warts and alllll........

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

More Drama

...but it's good drama!! HONK Jr. opens Friday and two of my amazingly, talented children are performing in this production! It is the charming story of the "ugly" duckling turning into a "beautiful"'ll laugh. You'll cry. You'll probably ask the person sitting next to you 'What did he/she say?" unless some of these kids start using their stage voices.....but, I digress, I'm merely a parent/backstage helper and will have to keep my "director hat" in the closet for this least they have microphones. To my sheer delight, #1 sings a solo that gives me goosebumps when I hear it (in my humble opinion). Both girls also do a fantastic job in their dance ensembles! I enjoy watching them on stage so much, it never gets old!

Here is a little peek of them at last night's dress rehearsal.....

Tickets are still available for some of the shows. Click here for more info!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

School Spirit!

I think I can be a bit of an enigma at times (is that even a noun?) to many people. Why do I do so many of the things I do? I am going to try to explain a piece of it. The school / PTO part. It is an important part and one I know is a temporary season in my life that eventually I will look back on and be glad I invested in.

I put many hours into volunteering at my kids' school (particularly the elementary since it is so close by). I'm pretty protective of it. I don't like when people bash public school and I feel justified in defending it since I, too, have sent my kids to Christian school, home schooled and cyber schooled (done it all and have the t-shirts and denim jumpers to prove it). As a result, I often wonder if I am the only mom who gets a lump in her throat walking the hallways and admiring the artwork hanging outside the classrooms? Or, if I'm the only one who tears up at the success of exceeding our fundraising goal as I watched our k-5th grade students race around our baseball fields next to their teachers in our first Walk-a-Thon. Public school may have some issues and problems, but I appreciate so many of the good parts of it as well. I had decided before our first day of school that rather than complain and fret about those issues and problems, I was going to get involved.

And, basically almost every time I am at school to help with something, I leave feeling filled. Like I'm supposed to be there doing what I'm doing.

I got to thinking about something today while at school for our Parent/Teacher conferences....sometimes I'm so mission oriented while at school that I don't stop to admire the artwork hanging in the halls. And, when I forget why I'm copying 400 directories, designing a flyer or setting up meetings I can become a little frazzled. Perhaps, there is a life lesson in that revelation as well. When we don't take the time to admire God's artwork in our lives, we become so task oriented we forget the purpose of why we are here. Then, we burn ourselves out. "Purpose" is a good motivator when life is coming at us 100 mph!

So, while I still appear to run through the school some days like a PTO president with my head cut off, you may catch me lingering outside the music room enjoying the sweet, little voices inside for just a moment longer.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Letter

I'm having a difficult time with the annual letter that accompanies our Christmas card this year. I just don't want to send out something that sounds so braggy and WOW! Don't you wish your family was more like mine?? But on the other hand, it has been a wonderful year filled with new experiences that the far off people in our lives should hear me rattle on about. Right? I'm sitting here pondering all the Christmas letters I've received over the years and am trying to figure out which ones I like to read. That doesn't help much because I really like to read all of them (although I usually have to give The Husband a Cliff Notes condensed summary of the letter if it consists of more than a half page).

Last year I tried to get out of writing "The Letter", but then #1 and The Husband did it and I of course, had to polish it up a bit (being the grammar freak that I am....ok, not really, I just wanted tell my side of the stories). I just hate when it ends up sounding like a family favorite letter was the year I wrote it from Kaleigh's perspective when she was 6 weeks old, but I'm all out of clever ideas now. That happens. I think it is The Dog's fault.

Since old habits are hard to break, I will sit down at some point and try to summarize in 12,302 words how our year went. I think sometimes I do it for myself more than anyone else. It helps me to look back and remember God's many blessings while at the same time feeling invigorated that we are so close to turning over to a new year, a fresh start, new beginnings and exciting adventures (I'm going to break out in song at any moment, so just be glad you aren't sitting next to me).

I'm toying with writing it as a rap, a poem or maybe in pirate....I'm open to your clever ideas...anyone?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

So You Wanna Be a Rock Star?

That's a Third Day song by the way.

We had quite the ummm, more like fabric painting, balloon popping, wildly dancing, jumping on my couch CHAOS the other night when we surprised #3 with a Rock Star birthday party. Here is the highlight reel:

The Husband took her out to the park while I decorated and made chicken nuggets and pizza. In the meantime, 13 of her closest friends showed up and began to bounce off my walls waiting for her and #2 to get there. They painted "rock stars" with rocks; however, they seemed much more interested in popping the balloons, at least the boys did.

The girls just stood there watching the boys pop the balloons and occasionally let out a nervous giggle.

Then, The Husband arrived with the guest of honor and she was so was quite funny! We scared her so badly she almost started to cry. We then painted t-shirts (for which I'm unsure if The Husband will ever forgive me for) and made foam signs with their names on them. They put tattoos on and ate. Then, I still had an hour left. I'm not kidding!! All together with #2 and #3 there were 15 kids and the majority of the male species in attendance just seemed intent on DESTROYING MY HOUSE.

So, being quick on my feet I:

1. made The Husband leave to go pick up #1 so he did not witness the destruction of our white couch by some little boy whose parents brought him with black & white face paint ALL over his face. I'm not sure if they thought it was a Halloween party or if he was supposed to be Gene Simmons from KISS.

2. played a CD and did freeze dancing (the video above demonstrates that).

3. put in a High School Musical game CD that tells them to "play the air guitar to the next song" or finish the next line in this song, etc...

4. opened presents and ate cake.

5. let #2 take over and have a 'Talent Show". By that time I had no feeling left in my brain and I just sort of made sure no one was hurting each other or escaping the house.

The most important part is that #3 had a great time! She thanked me over and over and said it was the best party ever. In fact, she asked me to do another surprise party this weekend for her "real" birthday.

Haha. No.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Embracing This Season

Once upon a time there were three little girls....except now they aren't so little anymore.

Lately, I've been having these moments that seem frozen in time when I look at my girls. It happened the other day when #2 had a sore throat and we were going to the doctor. We had a few extra minutes (I was running early, imagine that) so we stopped for coffee at a nearby restaurant we had frequented quite often when she was still knee high to a grasshopper. We grabbed our vanilla nut coffees (hers was half decaf so please don't judge me!) and took a seat on the couch in front of the fireplace. In what seemed like an out of body experience I was transported back about 7 years to sitting in that same spot with all three girls in various stages of kindergarten through babyhood.

Gasp! It nearly took my breath away. But then, as I looked at #2 drinking her coffee smiling over at me I realized...I'm not done, yet. That phase in life may have passed, but our family is in a wonderful new stage. We can talk about things they couldn't comprehend at the age of 2 and we can hope and pray and dream together for what the future holds. I am watching these girls grow into women who seek after God.

And, the beauty of it all is that they are still young. They still call me Mama or Mommy. They still hold my hand and snuggle up on the couch. And, #2 still wears her sparkly shoes, even with a cup of vanilla nut coffee in hand!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

She's My Hero

I had to take a minute to post over the weekend (gasp!) because my precious daughter did something that completely inspired me today.

Today #2 had the opportunity to score her fifth goal of this morning's girls U10 soccer game after a breakaway down the field (which by the way she gets her amazing athletic ability from her mother. Or, not). She had a clear open shot and drew her foot back to boot it in when out of the corner of her eye she saw another teammate. In a split second decision she passed the ball to her teammate and yelled for her to take the shot. It went in and I just stood there watching this whole scene play out in front of me like some Disney movie (I expected Air Bud to come flying down the hill). Afterwards, I asked her why she didn't take that last shot and she explained to me very matter-of-fact:

"It was our last game of the season and "Susie" didn't get to score any goals so I wanted her to finish the season and be able to say she got a goal".

I'm just glad she was riding behind me so she couldn't see the tears well up in my eyes. Many parents would be proud to have an athletic child who scored four goals. However, I was proud beyond words to have a child who demonstrated the love and compassion of Christ on a soccer field this morning.

And, her madd soccer skillzz are pretty sa-weet, too!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

They Like Me. They Really Really Like Me

Well, since I am suffering from low self-esteem right now I am going to share some good news and maybe that will make me feel better (haha, I'm half kidding). But anyway, I submitted a more polished version of this blog post to Central Penn Parent Magazine and I received an email earlier this week that they would love (and yes, she said "love") to publish it with a family picture in their December edition. I cannot tell you how it makes my little heart go pitter-pat to see something that I have written being published. On paper.

Because when I was younger I basically spent most of my days:

1. Reading
2. Writing
3. Talking

And, now that I am grown up I still spend a good bit of time on those things. Now, don't get me wrong...I'm not quitting my day job to apply to be a journalist for National Geographic or anything; however, I may prayerfully consider from time to time sharing the deep and academically stimulating topics that I frequently discuss on this know like soccer, motherhood angst and cleaning up dog vomit. What magazine editor could pass on those offerings?

So, pick up the December issue at a doctor's office or hair salon near you (but, remember to sanitize from the elbows down after touching it since you have no idea who touched it before you) and check it out...and, remember you heard it here first!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Then Vs. Now

Do you ever flashback and remember life before you were responsible for anyone besides yourself? It seems so long ago and while I wouldn't trade being a mommy for anything I never pictured myself doing any of these things.....

* Checking homework while brushing my teeth or going to the bathroom. All while trying to make phone calls to get volunteers for a PTO event. Hold on, Mrs. Jones, I have to spit/flush.

* Allowing my children to vomit in my hands so it does not get all over the car seats which are a major pain to take apart and clean.

* Sleeping perched on 2 inches of mattress while my child lays spread eagle in the middle of MY bed with all of of MY covers.

* Singing the Star Spangled Banner at a grasshopper's funeral.

* Finally getting the kids to bed and The Husband gives me "The Look"; however, the only "look" I can manage to give back to him is a Deer-in-the-Headlights Look because I have to go bake and decorate 24 cupcakes to take into school the next morning.

* Getting out of the house to spend a few hours at a luxury spa only to be consumed with thoughts of...what will the kids eat? Will they drink enough water? Will The Husband make sure they don't watch too much TV? I should stop and buy milk on my way home. I wonder what time #1's ortho appointment is on Friday.....etc..... so much for "relaxing".

However, the last and best thing I never considered before having kids is how much they have captured my heart! They really are a blessing from the Lord and I am so grateful to be called Mommy.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I Think Noah was Playing Goalie

I know I can get carried away with my stories, but I'm not joking when I say I experienced watching my first soccer game in the middle of a CATEGORY. SEVENTY-SEVEN. HURRICANE.


It had been cloudy all morning as we prepared to leave for #3's soccer game. By the time we got in the car for the 35-minute drive, I was pretty sure that we might get a little drizzle so I packed #2 and #3 some extra clothes and an umbrella. We arrived at the field and as the girls warmed up I felt a raindrop or two, but when the whistle blew to start the game it was like a scene from some slapstick cheesy comedy where the sky lets loose and a downpour drenches us all. I huddled under my umbrella (#2 had volunteered to be line judge and since she was on codeine for her teeth I'm not sure if she even noticed it was raining). Then, these gusts of wind started to flip up my umbrella. I was already soaked because no umbrella could have kept anyone dry in a rainstorm like this one. Then, the cheap Boscov's umbrella broke. I looked at the mom sitting next to me and we just laughed. I guess it could've been worse....I could've been #3's teammate who made a run towards the goal only to be tripped and belly flop into a 3-inch deep mud puddle.

They called the game 15 minutes early because no one could actually kick the ball anymore unless they lobbed it up in the no longer rolled. #3 decided it looked like fun to slide across the muddy field on her belly before we left. I now have her uniform in the washing machine on the 13-hour stain cycle to try and get all the mud out of what used to be white socks.

I'm going to be thrilled when our indoor soccer season starts.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I'm Not Signing Up for a Triathalon or Anything.....

....but tonight during soccer practice I "ran" for the first time since the May Day Dash and it felt pretty good. According to #3 though she said I didn't really "run", I "jogged" and that is not running. I wonder what she would say if she had seen me crawling, I mean walking, on the back half of the trail.

I figured since it had been ....ah-hem....279 days since Big Mama got on the Wii Fit it may be time for a little exercise to prepare for our PX90 that still has not arrived on our doorstop to date. I'm not sure a person of my....ah-hem.....stature could survive going from zero exercise to the PX90 workout. So, a little walking, running and Wii Fit have become a part of my life again in very limited quantities!

The point of all this is that it has felt REALLY good to exercise again! Did I just type that? Seriously, I don't know how hard core I'm going to get with the PX90, but I feel like I'm more prepared for the challenge and it is going to feel good to just get my blood pumping on a daily basis. And, if I lose 25 pounds in the process that will be nice, too!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Don't Just Tell Me, Show Me

I was reading a book last night and because of the story line I ended up meditating on how precious and unpredictable life is. When I start to fret over the little unimportant things it really takes my focus off of Christ and Him at work in my life. At any time a phone call can change our lives and we need to know we have a God who we can trust, even in the storms.

I believe that life is so much more than just "surviving the day"; however, I can treat my days like that when I don't spend time seeking after God. Our days should be filled with compassion, courage and making the most of every opportunity to encourage people. This is something I have been struggling to communicate to one of our kids lately. To convince her that she needs to not just say she loves us, but demonstrate her love for us. I think we can all be guilty of that. Especially in a relationship with Jesus when we present our "wish lists" to Him day after day (we call it prayer) but we don't honor Him in our relationships or activities. It's our choice and God is not an arm twister. And, I told my sweet daughter that, too. Don't try to fake it and humor me...I want to see an honest attempt and prayerful pursuit of a deep love that can be demonstrated outwardly.

And, I'm pretty sure God wants that from me, His daughter, as well.....

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Parable of the Stink Bug

Ok, first of all....go ahead...ohhh and ahhh about my amazing new autumn template that is motivating me to put away the summer seashell decor and get out my lovely pumpkin candles and assorted knick knacks before it is time to pull out the Christmas decorations.

Now, it is time for the occasional deep thought that runs through my brain during my weekday commute in between the usual thoughts of "Should I stop and get a donut on my way home" or "Man, I should have peed before I left work". Yesterday, the thought was "AHHHHH! There is a stink bug on my passenger side window. Must. Get. It. Out.....". So, I rolled down my window but the little bugger held on for dear life as I zoomed down the highway. I expected him/her to fly off at any minute, maybe when a big truck went by it would scare it away. Nope. So, I grabbed my only weapon within reach. A headband and tried to swat at it. It held on. I then rolled up the window thinking perhaps if it straddled the window I would just squash it gently when it reached the top. Nope, it was still clearly on the inside of the window. The entire time I'm driving I'm worried about it flying up in my face and that thought would trigger a new plan...i.e. the hairband, window up, speeding up, slowing down, grabbing my coat from the back seat and flinging it violently as I drive down I83....that stink bug still held on.

Then, I stopped. I looked at it. I looked at the road. I still did not want it to fly in my face, but I no longer wanted to kill it. I actually admired its perseverance and endurance. It was a courageous little stink bug that moments ago I would have gladly flicked under the tire of a car driving next to me simply because it was insignificant and stinky if you mess with it. I felt like God spoke to me in that moment and said that I've done that to people, too. I may not have wanted a bus to run over (most of) them, but I've tried to "get rid" of them because they were annoying me. I didn't want them "in my face" or distracting me. So, in my own way I dismissed them without a thought of what they had to offer under their "stinky" exterior.

When I got home and was safely in the driveway I carefully flicked the little stink bug into the grass. As I did that, I prayed that I would show the same compassion and gentleness to ALL of God's creation, even when they act like little stinkers!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Attention Co-Workers.....

.....please keep all hands and feet inside your cubicle at all times. Melissa is starting another weight loss adventure and if she doesn't have a nervous breakdown and start trying to eat human appendages, she may just kick you hard because she's grumpy. Or, something like that.

Ok, seriously...I'm not going to go all cannibal or anything. But, after weeks of prodding, I caved in to The Husband's request to order PX90 or P90X or whatever it is called. He said he wants to transform his abs into a six-pack but I told him they look fine as a 2-liter, just like mine! He has been talk, talk, talking about how we NEED to get this (I didn't even know what it was until last night. I kept telling him I'm not taking any weird non-FDA approved diet drug).

Poor, sweet innocent boy. He has never really had to concern himself with the issue of weight loss, unlike my experienced self who has been dieting or thinking about dieting since I was about 8 years old when I looked in the mirror at dance class and decided my head was way too small for my body (don't worry my head has caught up now....kinda). Which is why when he declared we are going to do this insane workout (it is 13 DVDs targeted to confuse your muscles so you never plateau) I just chuckled under my breath. It is an hour or two EVERYday for 90 days along with an eating plan. I was like what? You mean I exercise for an hour and I don't get to eat what I want? Hmmmm, that sounds familiar.....I think the common phrase for that is called "boot camp". And, the timing of 90 days leading up to Christmas, I'm "lol"ing as I type......

So, yes, my faithful've walked this walk with me before with my Wii Fit and my Jillian Michaels (well, not really because I only did her dvd twice), and I think we also marched through a Biggest Loser competition with some friends in which I only won because I took laxatives the night before we weighed in.....but, I digress. I have lowered the bar of my expectations this time. My goal is to merely live through an hour of daily exercise and eating who-knows-what for 90 days. All I want is to have a pulse at the end of it and not to have devoured some unsuspecting co-worker in the process.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Just the Facts, Mam. Just the Facts.

Anyone out there know of a suburban, soccer mom reality show? I'd like to audition, please. Rather than bore you with the details of how I've only been home to sleep and do a few loads of laundry over the past 5 days (The Dog was looking at me last night like "Do I know you?"), suffice it to say between cheerleading, soccer, play practice and a film shoot this mama thinks Survivor is for sissies....eating tree bark in the jungle is a walk in the park compared to the usual day here!

For was a typical Morning O'Insanity at the oH mY wORD household. Lounging around in bed nursing my migraine with #3 until she cried out to remind me that the two girls I begin watching before school today were arriving any moment....I leapt from my bedroom to discover them at the front door (thankfully I was dressed but disheveled) to which I explained my house was a wreck because we were at a film shoot all weekend. Oh what a glamorous life I lead....not so much. After answering questions about the film and hopefully clarifying that we aren't secretly famous or anything, I sat all the girls in front of the TV like a good mom does so I could finish getting ready for know, the thing I do that I actually get PAID for...unlike my acting career. I discovered the children watching Sponge Bob whom I despise (which I could launch into a full dissertation of the evils of Sponge Bob, but I'll save that for another day) and as I was telling them to turn it off to load up in the van, #2 pulls out her form that was due last week to play the saxophone. Lessons start today and I never even signed the agreement to get the instrument!! And, of course, my sweet child can't play a more inexpensive instrument like say....the triangle, she has to go for the $39 a month instrument....but, I digress....the paperwork gets filled out quickly (I never did fill in the sales tax portion because I had no calculator and my brain was mush) and I realize I am not really "ready" for work so I decide to drop off the girls and come back home.

Upon pulling away from the parent drop off area I realize that #3 forgot her "pet" grasshoppers and she was doing a speech on them today. So, I race back home to grab the plastic container with Saran Wrap on top and realize perhaps I should have given them some fresh grass (not that I was actually home in the last 5 days to do that, but it was a nice thought). I then realized the first grasshopper, "Buddy" was very still and not hopping as grasshoppers should hop. In fact, he was dead. Now what?? I can't deliver a dead grasshopper to school....#3 would be in therapy for years. So, I carefully pull back part of the plastic wrap roof and the smell of grasshopper carnage assaults my nose (actually, it was more like the scent of dead, moldy grass). Afraid now that "Joseph" the other grasshopper will escape I search for a utensil to scoop out the corpse. I open my silverware drawer but can't bring myself to use any actual silverware on it. How can I possibly use a spoon to scoop out a dead grasshopper and then use that same spoon to eat a bowl of ice cream?? No, I need a plastic, disposable utensil but there is only a plastic knife and fork. A knife just seemed so a murder weapon so I carefully, removed Buddy with a fork. I wrapped his body in a burial shroud (paper towel) and threw a little fresh grass in for Joseph and zoomed back to school. On the way, my coffee mug tipped over on top of the box, but what grasshopper in captivity doesn't appreciate some good Costco Colombian coffee dripping through his air holes in the morning?

For my grand finale, when I got to work I dropped my cell phone in the toilet.

This is my true story. And, I'm sticking to it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Little of This and a Little of That

Just a few of the things running through my brain this morning...perhaps some of you can relate to a few of them and then again some of you may think I'm a kook!

1. I am so glad Giant decided to start selling their store brand fat-free half and half in a bigger size. No more quarts, we get a half gallon now. But, speaking of coffee.....I am turning into the little old ladies that I used to wait on in restaurants that could never have their coffee and soup hot enough. I would burn myself holding their cups and they would insist it was cold. Yeah, that's me now. I have come to realize that when consumed at room temperature, even my good high end coffee tastes like the disgusting Folgers crystals my parents used to make when I was a kid. YUCK.

2. #2 got a concussion this weekend. She slipped in her soccer cleats running on the blacktop and fell sideways onto her head. Scared the spit right out of me (which made me realize if there is a true emergency I need to be better prepared because I went into some kind of zombie-like state of shock where I drove a block then would pull over and just stare at her). Thankfully, #1 had the good sense to call The Husband who said, why don't you call the doctor. Oh right! The doctor! What a great idea! We ran her over to the doctor (thankful that they were even open) and he confirmed she had a concussion so she got to watch soccer this weekend and watch play practice this weekend and watch her sisters and friends stuff themselves into those little toddler cars and push themselves down a hill....she was bouncing off the walls by yesterday so I let her get in a hamster ball at our local Park Day. Don't judge me. She had a helmet on!

3. I'd like to drop about 22 pounds in the next 12 days since we will be shooting another project with our PSU friend/movie maker extraordinaire. This time #2 will have a main part in it and it will be entered into an international film festival. I already warned her no diva-like behavior or we'll pull her out of the project. I wonder if Hannah Montana's parents said the same thing? The Husband and I have to play fighting parents so if The Dog keeps eating muffins off the counter and pooping in my bathroom while I'm at work, then we'll have something to really fight about. One day he is going to come home and she'll be in the crockpot with some carrots and potatoes.

4. It's Monday.

5. I need to go throw my coffee back in the microwave.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Once Upon a Time.....

.....I used to have a blog that I wrote in just about every day. But, about a year ago I went back to work, became PTO President and allowed my kids to sign up for 107 different activities (sometimes all on the same day). Throw in a few evil time sucking websites like facebook and ebay and voila! No time to blog (or exercise for that matter, but that is a whole other post).

Yes, I ponder where my life is at right now on my hour long round trip commute each weekday. Some days I have so much on my mind and so much pressure to get everyone where they need to go I crawl into bed at the end of an exhausting day with the famous "Mommy Guilt Complex". In my attempts to give them all their opportunities to excel, is it worth it when they have a cranky mom helping them with homework in the car driving to soccer practice yelling "Sound the word out!" and "C'mon, you learned that last year!" and the ever famous "What do you mean you don't know where your shin guards/sneakers/ball/library book is?".

However, most days on that hour long commute I look forward to what the day has in store and the rare nights home all together are so few that it is like a special event. Last night was one of those night and while I was able to sit down at the dining room table and help with homework, #1 iced a cake that she and #2 had baked when I ran out to the store after school. It was a wonderful evening and I know the kids were happy because there was much singing and dancing and laughing and jumping upon the couch. #3 even got out carrots and was making The Dog do tricks to get one, which cracked us up even more.

Even on the days when I have to coordinate multiple kids having multiple activities in different places I realize that these days will pass. While I believe in balancing what they do and not wearing them (and me) out, I will not always be cheering them on at soccer or taking pictures while they are cheering or applauding them while they are on is a season and I have chosen to embrace it. Every once in a while I'll throw a little something in the mix for me to enjoy like acting or taking a class, but generally I'm content to sit on the sidelines (or shall I say, drive in my minivan) and encourage these three precious treasures to be all that God has created them to be!

People ask me how I do I have the energy to do all the things we do collectively as a family. Honestly, it is because I enjoy it. And, it is important that I know my limits. Sometimes I just have to say "NO" when even the best sounding opportunities come up because the scale will tip and all my sanity will come spilling out.

So, if you're wondering what's going on in oH mY wORD land, now you have an idea. I'm probably in my minivan somewhere!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Influential People

I was going through some books (okay, "some" does not adequately describe the books we own, more like bazillions) for our yard sale and I came across one I hadn't looked at in awhile. It is a book of "Lists to Live By" and I am going to share one of my favorite lists with you today. I think we all need to be reminded of this...which sounds good in theory, but walking in it is a whole different story!

Influential People

We are impacted most by ......

1. People of courage.

2. People of character.

3. People of discipline.

4. People of excellence. (I try t0 tell my girls this when they clean their rooms!)

5. People of compassion.

6. People of encouragement.

7. People of vision. (I really need to work on this one)

8. People of generosity.

9. People of wisdom.

10. People of faith.

Dr. Steve Stephens - psychologist and seminar speaker

Sunday, August 23, 2009


I've been suffering from writer's block lately where I sit down to write a post and the words don't come. Imagine with no words. I'll think of bunches of things going on around here, but in my mind it looks like one of those AFV video montages. August was pretty typical for us, soccer and cheerleading have started for the girls, #1 and I attended a woman's conference hosted by our church and I've thrown myself full swing into PTO to make up for June and July when the words "PTO" caused me to cringe and gnash my teeth. But, it's all good now. Melissa just needed a break. And, a change of perspective. Perhaps, one might even say an attitude adjustment.

Something has happened to me over the summer. After a lifetime of worrying about everything I've ever said or done and everything I might say or do, I feel as if God has brought me to a place of freedom to be me. No apologies necessary. I like to act. I like to make people laugh. I am loud and I talk a lot. I like to cook. I like to read and write. I like to take charge. I like to sing and dance. I like to try new things. I love my family. I love Jesus.

God specifically made each one of many details it makes my head spin. We need to stop apologizing for the way He wired us. And, we need to stop finding fault in the way He made the other people around us, too! Negativity is like a breeding ground and it is easy to get caught up in. We can easily find ourselves complaining about even the littlest things if we take our eyes off of Him. That is the "norm" in the society in which we live and I've been caught up in it many times.

The good news is that Christ came to renew our minds, to revolutionize the way we think which will effect what we DO and what we SAY. I would like to know what gifts and abilities people hide for the sake of appearing humble. They never admit to the things in life they are passionate about for fear of being judged by others. Are you one of those people? If so, stand up and be proud of who God created you to be and GO FOR IT!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Happy Tenth, #2!

Oh my word, it's been so long since oH mY wORD has had a new post! That's because (brace yourselves for the shock) I have been super busy! This weekend we celebrated #2's tenth birthday. I love that kid! Since this was a real milestone birthday we had a big party at the Kidmazium in Palmyra with 20 or so of her closest friends. I highly, strongly recommend having a party there. We brought all of our things in and were prepared to take it all up to our "party room" when they stopped us at the front desk and instructed us to just leave it there and they would take it to the party room and set it all up. I was like "whoa, nice". They were so helpful and they played games with the kids. When it was all over they cleaned everything up and brought all the gifts and leftover supplies/food down to the lobby for us. All with a smile and I was like "whoa, sweet". Well worth the money and the kids had a blast. Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy. I fear I have grown too old to come up with the elaborate at home parties that we had when they were fact, I have started wondering what it will feel like to be a grandmother one day and the thought isn't nearly as horrifying as it was 5 years ago.

Okay, that was a strange sounding confession.....I'm not advocating any of my children getting married and making me a grandmother anytime soon. I guess I'm getting older, they are getting older and my elaborate castle cakes and princess costume birthday party days may be coming to an end which can only mean one thing. What that "thing" is yet, I haven't figured out. I know, deep stuff. What can I say? 22 kids screaming in a Kidmazium has turned my brain to mush tonight.

Happy Birthday, my dear sweet #2. Amazing child, really. Nothing ordinary about her. People comment so much on her beauty, yet it isn't until you know her that you realize how beautiful she really is. I often wonder if she will be a judge, a pastor, or head of the Red Cross. Her heart knows no limit of compassion (she gets upset when they show videos of people getting hurt on AFV). She is bright and her love language is affection, which is a true test to me because mine is not. When she wedges herself between me and the cart when I am trying to fly through the grocery store in less than five minutes, I have to be very careful not to hurt her feelings by pushing her out of the way! I call her my tree monkey because she will jump on me and wrap her legs around me and want me to just carry her around like that. all. day. I love her beyond words!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Lazarus Come Forth!!

For those who know me well, they are fully aware that gardening is not my forte. A dear friend had once lovingly grown me a plant from a seed and presented it to me for my birthday. I guess she figured that since it had sentimental value I could somehow keep it alive. I decided that what it needed was foster care so a wonderful woman at my church "plant sat" it for me for few weeks until it was lush, gorgeous and thriving. I optimistically took over the care of the plant and it was dead within two weeks.

That being said I have planted a garden this year. My idea of planting a garden is plant it, let nature run its course and eat whatever happens to survive. I do not weed, I rarely water it and I put forth very little effort. Last year I was lucky enough to get a bumper crop of potatoes, a bunch of cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers I never knew what to do with and 2 zucchinis. Not bad for pretty close to no effort whatsoever. Plus, snakes like my garden so I don't like putting my hands too close to it.

This year, however, my lack of effort is evident in that nothing but the zucchini plants are doing anything. No lettuce, no broccoli, no cucumbers and no jalapenos because little critters ate everything down to stalks. My dried out tomato plants have about 5 small green tomatoes on them. There may be hope for the potatoes and onions, but I don't really know how to harvest them since they blend in now with the giant weeds. I don't know what to pull and what not to anymore.

In some spur of the moment urge I decided to water the garden tonight. With the hose and sprinkler thing-a-ma-jiggy that I saw The Husband use to water the sod we had gotten. "Hey, why not?" I thought. Plus, Aunt Extreme Kitchen Makeover had brought over more tomato plants that were dying a slow death in a box next to my garage. Maybe if I got the dirt wet enough I could actually plant them in the ground.

I couldn't really figure out how to use the sprinkler thing, it would not stay in one place so I stood there holding it (I did see my neighbor looking over with a puzzled look on her face). But, while I was holding it looking at the carnage I realized the only thing that was really benefiting from my watering were the weeds. So, in true ZSA ZSA from Green Acres fashion, I dug in as best as I could while trying to protect my cell phone from the sprinkler that kept hitting me as I pulled the carpet of weeds. I decided if Jesus could raise Lazarus from the dead and He said that we will do even greater works than this, well I guess maybe there was hope for my little vegetable cemetery. It was like Extreme Gardening X Games trying to avoid the sprinkler and keep The Dog from running after all the rabbits 3 yards over while I mucked around in my sparkly flip flops praying that a snake was not hiding under the mammoth zucchini leaves. I know there is some kind of spiritual message in all this, but I'm too tired to think that hard about it.

I ended up getting about half of it weeded, I was pretty much soaked and my flip flops may not make it. Tomorrow (maybe) I will actually plant the new tomato plants which I at least watered. I am hoping and praying that my toil was not in vain and I have the motivation to "get 'er done". Stay tuned for Woman vs. Nature....

Friday, July 17, 2009

Thorns or Berries?

We interrupt the vacation posts for some deep thoughts, reflections and dare I say, revelations, that I have been entertaining the last few days. The other night the girls had been feeling kind of sad and left out about a few things that they have been going through. So, I shared a story with them out of a kid's devotional book about a girl and her little sister picking berries. The little sister scratched herself on the sharp thorns of the berry bush and called it a bad, bad bush. The mom reminded the older sister that little sis had been enjoying the sweet, delicious berries just minutes before, but now she was only concerned with the "bad, bad bush" that had hurt her. The heart of the story and our new tag line around the house is "Are you thinking about the thorns or the berries?".

It's been a rough summer. I won't deny it. A multitude of conflict has left me feeling defensive and suspicious. The Husband's job has been a tremendous strain on us as a family. GAS went to stay at my mom's house for a weekend and then called a week later to say she wasn't coming home. My mom and a friend came a week later and packed up her stuff. GAS's explanation to other people was that she sat in her room alone and we never took her anywhere. Part of that is true, she did choose to sit in her room alone many times (perhaps the chaos of our house was a bit overwhelming) but we did take her wherever she asked to go and I did my best most days to give her what she needed and include her as a part of our family. I have no idea what she was thinking to have done this to us after pouring so much love and kindness into her. Every day that she's been gone I wonder if I had done things differently, would she still be here? And, I've grown weary of being at war with my mother time and time again. I'm trying to make this an attempt at reconciliation, because quite frankly, I don't think things can get much worse in our family. Pretty soon Jerry Springer is going to come knocking on our door to do his show.....sorry, I laugh about it so I don't cry!

However, I have been trying to look at the "berries" this week, not the thorns. God never promised us a "thorn-free" life on earth, but He did give us the "berries" to enjoy. The Husband's job is certainly not what we had envisioned it to be, but at least he has a steady income. Even though it hurt the way GAS left here with no good-bye, at least she is where she wants to be, and to a degree, some of my burden has been lifted having to care for her. Even though the kids go through hurts and disappointment with other people and situations, there are still many good things for them to think about. We talked about Romans 8:28:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

I guess that means we should embrace the thorns with the berries since it is ALL included in God's master plan!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More Florida Vacation Ramblings

After endless "Are we there, yet?"s we finally arrived at The Husband's dad and step-mom's house in western Florida. That sounds funny. "Western Florida" like it is near Montana or something. Sorry...I'll try to focus.

The girls enjoyed swimming in the pool and we ate more food despite the BBQ bloat we were still experiencing...I mean who wouldn't want steak and hot dogs at 10:30's vacation, right?? The next day we headed about an hour and a half away to visit The Husband's grand dad, aunt and uncle and a gaggle of cousins, most who have a handful of kids now, too. It was lively, however, #1 slipped on the ceramic tile by the pool and came close to breaking her big toe and also gashed and bruised a chunk of her back. Did I mention she also scared The Husband and I spitless when it happened?? All the air was sucked from my body until I realized she didn't hit her head and she was coherent.

, back to my happy is The Husband and his grand dad:

That evening we returned back to The Husband's dad's house and ate cake. Vacation, remember? I also spent most of the evening talking The Husband into sticking with our plans to go to Magic Kingdom the next day. There had been a monorail crash there the day before and he was trying to use that as an excuse not to go (yes, my daredevil, atv crashing husband who drives giant trucks up mountains in blizzards was trying to convince me that it would not be safe to go to Disney World). I cajoled, I whined, I stuck out my bottom lip. He insisted it would be too hot, too crowded and he stuck out his bottom lip. But, we all know when Mama wants to go to Disney, Mama goes to Disney! I won! I won! I bought the tickets online (and, his dad even paid for the girls) and we went to Magic Kingdom.

And, you know what?? He told me over and over and over again how glad he was that we went because we all had such a great time. We were even the first group of riders when they re-opened the monorail that night. It was not terribly hot and the lines weren't that long. We have so many happy memories of laughing and being together that day. Splash Mountain was our family favorite so we did it twice, followed closely by Thunder Mountain, which we also went on twice!

Oh yeah. It was awesome! We left Disney around 11pm and drove for 3 hours until we pulled into his sister's driveway at 2am on the next leg of the Tour de Florida. To be continued.....

Monday, July 13, 2009

Florida Vacation

Technically we left on July 3rd after dropping off The Dog (or, as #3 calls her "The Dragon") at the upscale doggie resort with her "luggage" which consisted of a plastic grocery bag with some chew toys in it. After a touching good-bye between The Husband and The Dog/Dragon, we hopped in the overloaded mini-van to begin our journey.

#1 and I took turns drawing you like my Poodle/Dragon skirt? #1 kept cracking me up with pictures like this one.

We found a BBQ buffet in South Carolina at this restaurant called Duke's BBQ. OH MY WORD!! It was so crazy good. We hurt ourselves eating a boat load of pulled pork, corn fritters, mac and cheese, cole slaw, friend chicken, banana pudding, hush puppies, and more....all of it home made. I made a complete PIG of myself (pun intended). I have a vague recollection of crawling out of the restaurant with the same uncomfortable feeling I experience on Thanksgiving Day...

We couldn't leave without a pig picture (I'm referring to the picture below and not me in the picture above shoveling food at the speed of light). Gosh darn it, you know there is good food in any restaurant that has a pig statue out front. It's a given.

Back in the saddle again...heading on down to Tampa. ETA around 10:00 pm. To be continued.....