Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I love you the best!

By chance, do you happen to ever be left with three youngsters, who are depending on you for mostly everything, aside from breaking down their own glucose, and wonder, uh, "What am I supposed to do with them all day?" Because I do. Sure, we have days where we're taking someone here and then, inevitably, picking up someone from there, but I almost always have one kid with me, and this kid almost always has that bright, shiny, "Entertain me!" face on and why shouldn't I? I'm getting paid to give them glucose to break in the form of graham crackers and apple juice, and also to construct these Fun Ways to Make The Day Go Faster Until Mommy Gets Home. So, wondering what we do? Well, we do lots of things. And when I find something they love (aka the POOL), we stick to it. Hey, I'm a creature of habit. 
I've become quite crafty in my old age. In fact, I'm thinking of taking up knitting (mostly because it burns a whopping 100 calories an hour. Sign me up.) But lately, my specialty has been stepping stones. I know, I know, it's a cutthroat market, but I'm feisty, and I think I can make it work. 

Also, I've learned to teach, not just tell. And so we spend our days learning. We learn that there are reasons behind my "Please do"s and "Don't you dare"s. We can't jump into the pool next to the steps because we might hit our heads. We have to wash our hands really well- scrubbing while we count to ten- because that's how we get all the germs off. We have to pay attention to whether or not dogs in our care are prone to wiggling out of our care, and if so, we should also pay attention to the doors around us because, uh, problems will ensue. (I guess that one was just me.) And today, I broke down borrowing into terms involving apples and barrels and I could feel myself growing my patience one iota at a time as I heard, problem after problem, "But I don't know what to do." One more time. Let's go over it one more time.

And, of course, all hail the swimming pool, though today it was sort of stressful because there were floats that we weren't allowed to float on and, alright, Mister, you try telling that happily floating bunch to start treading water, okay? But, it worked out okay nonetheless, at least for a time, and when everyone started melting down (I think their glucose levels were low), we hightailed it out of there with the promise of a snack, and hey, Mom is home!

At the end of the day, I like to think they are pretty happy, even though Chris will always be chattering about the time we didn't get to spend at the pool. I'm serious, if we were there for ten hours, we'd leave and he'd say, "We only got to spend one minute!" Time flies when you're having fun, bud. You have to learn to take what you can get and cherish it, right, older, wiser people? Right. 

I have one more picture for you. My brand-spankin-new niece surprised us by joining us a good 6 weeks early. She's tiny- 3 lb 8 oz- but she's beautiful, and she's miraculous and she's all things good. Gracie Laine, we are so happy that you're a part of our family.

Let me know if you have any crazy, fun ways to entertain kids. And if you feel like sending up a prayer for little Gracie and her mom, Mandi, we would certainly all appreciate it!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Week seven.

What's this? Seven weeks of summer? My, my. Do you know what that means? Only five more weeks left. Only five! Week seven was the last full week of June- week eight brings July. July brings the last thirty days before we drop our popsicles and sharpen our pencils. That's a little sad. And also fairly exciting.

In a word, I'd say week seven was exhausting, and I'm not sure exactly why. It wasn't the kids necessarily- I mean sure, they did kidsy things like make train tracks all over the den and lose goggles and demand to be fed every three hours, but they were fairly golden. I think I'll attribute it to my ongoing shortage of sleep (which is absolutely my own fault) and the 30 Day Shred, which, while it is not exactly shredding me yet, is certainly tiring out my muscles. And I've also been averaging about 5 miles a day, which is also pretty muscle-tiring and MAM OH MAN MY LEGS ARE TIRED. But that's okay, because I like to shred and I like to walk and obviously I find worthwhile things to do at midnight because I keep staying up that late, right? Regardless, more sleep in July.

Last week started out in one of the best ways I could dream up: I hightailed it to the lake to celebrate Janie being alive, and even though she was in and out because of work, it was still really wonderful. Gracie stayed for longer than planned and there was tons of watermelon and it was just super. I'd like to start another week like that soon, okay, loves?

And then, I worked hung out at the pool whilst supervising youngsters and made peanut butter sandwiches Monday-Thursday. And like I said, I've been walking/running on the treadmill AND around the neighborhood, between 5 and 6 miles a day. That takes time! So my days revolve around watching kids and  then working out, but I'll tell you, it's suiting me just fine. I am tired, though.

I have been encouraged to mention the Lost Dog that rocked my world on Monday.  There I am, reading Put Me in the Zoo for the third time while simultaneously collecting Toy Story Cheez-Its from the floor (a small person's multitasking attempt went awry) when the phone rings. Now, I would like to stop here and note that while the dog had SORT OF been left in my care (alright, in my care), I did NOT know that the dog was prone to escaping from everywhere. I did not know, either, that the painters would be painting doors, and thus, leaving doors open. I did not know the dog in my care was his owner's pride and joy, escapee or not. Had I known any- or even some!- of those incredibly important facts, I might not have locked myself in the playroom. But alas, the phone rings and the across-the-street neighbor called to tell me that if I was looking for the dog, it was okay- someone found him down the street and brought him to her. "Huh? Dog?" I wondered, briefly, if someone had mistaken one of the shaggy twins...no, they were both there. "The dog you were watching?" Oh! That dog! That I was, erm, watching. And then, the incident just sort of escalated because- like I said I didn't know this- but said dog was really, really precious to owners and they weren't exactly happy that I'd given him free reign of the nieghborhood. I'm sure thoughts concerning my actual child-watching abilities were entertained, but I can guarantee you, had I know that the dog really needed babysitting, I would have sat him (much like I really do with the children). Perhaps in a corner, but sat nonetheless. And you know, I might've shut those doors. It's now become a bit of a joke in the house- we're always looking for that dog. Luckily, I don't think I'll be asked to sit for him any time soon. At any rate, I felt pretty terrible.

On a brighter note, somehow all of the forces of good worked together and Janie came into Georgia just as I was free to leave, and, on account of we're not sure when we'll get to hang again, I made a stop in Peachtree City. And despite some truly horrific examples of customer service, we had a really excellent time trying on 546 dresses (each). In Sisterhood-of-the-Traveling-Pants fashion, all three (including Jane's mom) of us tried on this strappy black sort of run-of-the-mill dress and then we all three promptly fell in love with it. We checked the price tag and all three started insisting that the other girls buy it and sweating and shaking our heads because we really wanted it, but  we also wanted to be able to eat in the next few weeks, although we were dieting, so... And then, we split it: Jane's mom took half, and Janie and I split the other half, which is how I came to own 1/4 of a dress for the low, low price of $17. And after we became all OH MY WORD, WE OWN MORE CUTE DRESSES RIGHT NOW THAN WE DID AN HOUR AGO and less OH MY GOD I WORKED FIVE HOURS TO MAKE THAT MONEY, things improved. (See, I may or may not have bought another dress in addition to the fourth mentioned here. What? A girl's gotta have a whole dress to call her own sometimes.)*

Later, we watched Everybody's Fine, which brought the grand total of Moves I've Cried In to six, which includes A Beautiful Mind that we watched just last week. A little ridiculous, I know- four movies in the first 18 years of my life, two in the last week. I blame the lack of chocolate to take the edge off of my emotions.  But those suckers would get Saddam Hussein, you know? Seriously, next time you're wondering if someone has a heart, sit them down and play one of those movies and judge his or her reaction- the person who can idly munch popcorn through those heartbreaking scenes and not even consider welling up and buying stock in Kleenex? Why, I don't want said person around small children. Or goldfish.

Anyway, week eight brings July. Holy macaroon, it's July in a few days. I keep typing that out because I'm thinking maybe that will make it sink in but no luck yet. Next week is a regular old work week for me, Monday-Wednesday, but then I have big plans to come home to see the Eclipse premiere (I would like to note that while I will watch and even enjoy the Twilight phenomenon, it is Lori who resembles the squealing preteens stalking Taylor Lautner. But it's totes family bonding this week.) So get excited about that post and have a lovely week, Internet!

*I would like to note that we did not buy either of the dresses in this photo, nor did we entertain the thought- these were merely "Ha ha ha" dresses, though I did keep that flowery number on for quite a while, which led to suspicions that I may subconsciously have felt something for it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Getting things done like it's my job, yo.

Hey, remember when I listed out a simple, easy-to-cross-off-like-five-a-day, bulleted-for-your-convenience list of Things to Do This Summer? Remember all my good intentioned good intentions about completing them? Well,  Jennie over at She Likes Purple (one of the first blogs I got emotionally attached to, so thanks!) posted about her summer-do list which reminded me about mine. I was all, "Shucks, I haven't exactly had this thing pasted up on fridge. Sheesh. Man oh man. Holy tap dancing Jesus I need to check on that!" See, what a shame would it be to blog at the end of the summer about how I didn't cross anything- not one teeny, tiny bullet- off of my list. I'd sink into an I-Can't-Be-Productive-Not-Even-In-An-Entire-Summer slump. SO. We're going to prevent that. Here's an update on The Summer Bucket List:

Things I Want to Do During the Time that I am Forced to Leave Tuscaloosa and Take up Residence Elsewhere*

  • Read Lord of the Flies and A Farewell to Arms and The Joy Luck Club
    • I am a third of the way through Lord of the Flies and just started The Joy Luck Club today. I'm also halfway through The Hobbit with big plans to read the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I realize I seem a little crazy (well, ADD at best) for juggling shipwrecked children, Chinese women and adventurous hobbits at the same time, but it seems to be working, except when I mix up story lines and wonder why Bilbo Baggins is playing mah jong on a deserted island. Eh. Better planning next time. 
  • Lose 10 pounds
    • My most anticipated goal: I have lost 7 pounds so far, and I think I am going to bump up the goal to 15 pounds. In which case, I'm almost halfway there! It's been hard-fought- no brownies ALL SUMMER. Luckily, I have not died yet. Check back with me in July for an update- I may or may not have died from Most Wonderful Food in The History of Eating withdrawals.
  • Learn how to do something new (maybe ride a bike! or bake something awesome from scratch! or how to make a yo-yo walk a dog! Sheesh. So many possiblities.)
    • Luckily, this one was kind of open to (my own) interpretation. I baked an apple spice cake from scratch. Does that count for this bullet?
  • Build a better relationship with my grandparents, and
    • I feel like this has been going well. There have been- while not a lot- more visits and phone calls than in the past. There has been bonding. There have been two-hour conversations.
  • my nieces and nephew. I want to carve out time for each of them specifically. (A really cool fact is that I'm getting a brand-new niece in August. I'm very, very excited for Gracie Laine.)
    • I've been scoring pretty well with Taylor, but that's kind of easy because I live with him. 
  • Find out more about my mom's childhood and young adult life from her brother, my Uncle Darrell
    • When my mother was 16, she got drunk in the back bedroom of my grandmother's house with her best friend Lucy. That's what I'm talking about, Mom. Way to be a rebel.
  • Get a great tan
    • Well, I've been spending lots of time at the pool. And on account of the fact that I have to watch do my best to keep kids coated in sunscreen and also floating rather than sinking, I haven't exactly been flipping and/or concerned about my tan, and as a result, my back is two shades lighter than my front. I'm not sure who, if anyone, would call that great. But a tan it is.
  • Write several times a week, and
    • Blogging counts. I'm sure it does.
  • continue writing poetry.
    • Eh...uh... poetry in July!
*This list is subject to changes and editorial review. 


Alright, I guess this is pretty good- for a mid-summer check up anyway. And speaking of it being mid-summer, we're are about to hit July! It seems impossible that it's already here and, at the same time, like it has been June since 1984, which is quite impossible in itself as well, since I have been alive all of June but only since 1991. I have a pretty incredible July  lined up, if I do say so myself- I'm going to Six Flags AND the beach with Gracie, and (this just in!) to Tampa with my fam. Moreover, I get a kidless week (I love you children!) to hang out at home- the first time I'll have been home more than 4 days all summer. There's also sure to be lots of watermelon and I get to really start thinking about buying cool things like shower curtains for my new digs.

Three cheers for July!

And also for these photos:

Nana, Papa, and me the day I graduated.

Taylor and I last summer.

Bilbo Baggins, looking adorable.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

beautiful blessings:

Here's a sneak peek at how I started this week 
(sort of. Also, as you may or may not know, I am rather fond of look-backs. So bear with me, okay?)

This is back in March during spring break, which, incidentally, was less of a break and more of a calm before the storm. A really fun, exciting, stressful storm- a beautiful, relaxing, incredible calm. 

Here we are, same couch, same order, almost three months to the day later. We've found that there's not much we can't handle with the other two behind us, praying and supporting and telling jokes and driving to meet us. 

Hey people, do you ever read this and wonder how I ever got so lucky to have such wonderful friends? Because man oh man- I do.

Girls, I thank the Lord for you every day. He's the only explanation for how things could have turned out so absolutely perfectly.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Where words fail, music speaks.

This is a post I'm been thinking about dong for a long time but not quite sure if I could do it, just because man, tone-deaf or not, I love music. I love it in the car and I love it while I'm hanging out on the internet and I love it when I'm making a grilled cheese or getting ready for the day or working out. I love, love, love music. And so, trying to tell you the best of my best is sort of a daunting task, but you know, in 20 years, I'd love to know the soundtrack of me this summer, at least. And so what I did was compile my right-now top 10 favorite songs. These are in no specific order because sometimes I'm in a happy mood and sometimes I'm in a chill mood and sometimes I'm in grumpy and the music I choose to be my right-then favorite depends on that.

Thanks to YouTube and Playlist.com for giving me the links to make it happen. I'd suggest you guys give 'em a listen- they may change your life. And send some really awesome songs my way, too. You can do that via comment. 

*Sadly, I couldn't find a link for this song on the Internet, but it is available on iTunes. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Did you know that six is six in English and also six in French? I'm taking French next semester, and I am excited. I took it back in high school and loved it so much that I went to France. I loved that, too. Anyway, week six.

Six weeks, 42 days. That's a good chunk of time, and then again, it's nothing at all. It's going quickly and it's going slowly; these hot, carefree days are both flying and inching as I look to the days when my life will be filled with chaos yet again, when I'll always have something due and somewhere to be and no time for the gym. Or for sleep, for that matter. I'm both holding on to the days left and yearning for August. It's all a little bittersweet, everything happening so quickly and slowly at the same time.

But anyway, this sixth week was sweller than swell. Last weekend gave me a full day-albeit a busy one- with my family, and on Sunday, I packed up and made the drive back to Atlanta. After being with the munchkins all day, every day last week, I think we were all ready for a break from each other, and just like that, God gave us Vacation Bible School (literally!) This meant I had mornings totally free (though I did spend an average of an hour and a half a day in carpool lines. Luckily, I am not a super busy mom who has super busy mom things to do, so I really didn't mind.) We spent our afternoons at the pool or getting ice cream because hey, nothing cheers up a Monday afternoon like an ice cream cone covered in sprinkles. Am I right? We did lunch at Chick-Fil-A one day and the kids played in the play area-that place is crazy intense at lunch time. Those children are much braver than I for stepping foot in there; you're liable to get a black eye on the slide or get yelled at by someone's mom or lose your shoes or get kicked on the slide and get yelled at for coming down backwards by someone's mom who just put your shoes on her kid. I'll keep my shoes on and supervise on the other side of the plexi glass, thank you very much. I'm just not the young daredevil I once was.

This week I've taken to taking twilight walks, usually
heading to the lake in the neighborhood to watch the sun set. The rain's hindered that a night or two, but it's been lovely none the less. I also baked a cake, put together a photo album of my entire childhood, and shaved my legs. Productivity at it's finest, Internet. I've exercised a whole lot and eaten fairly healthily and gotten a hair cut and week six was pretty good to me.

Let me end, though, with Awkward Story of the Week. I woke up this morning early and exercised and drove three hours, and when I got to Prattville, I ran all sorts of errands. My last one was a hair cut, something I'm not fond of doing (too much opportunity for some kind of bad, bad change to happen.) So, I am sitting in the waiting area, really just wanting to get it over with so I can finally get home. I was dreaming of a nap, because I was exhausted. Anyway, I have been sitting for a few minutes when a woman- probably in her mid-20's- asks me if the chair next to me is taken. No, I say, curious why she would sit next to me when there's A WHOLE WAITING AREA, and you know, she was sort of large, and I just didn't see why sitting in the chair right next to me made sense. She asked me how I was doing and I smiled and said, "Good, how are you?" At this point, I am in no mood for small talk; I just want to trim my split ends and get the heck out of there. She looks at me and says, matter-of-factly, "It's been the worst week of my life." I'm not sure what to say. I mean, what do you say, Internet? Do you offer a hug and an encouraging word? Do you lay hands and start praying? Do you nod politely and casually move a chair down?

You know, at this point, I am thinking that perhaps she just needed to get it off her chest, and so I apologize for her bad week and then sort of zone back out. She proceeds to call her friend and detail her entire week: her boyfriend Josh broke up with her (it's because of the cute girl he met at work; she's dating someone, but they exchanged 327 texts in two days according to the phone bill), Granny has pneumonia and trust me, it has not been pretty, and she's been working all week. This conversation went on for at least 15 minutes, and I am ready to ditch my hair cut plans and LEAVE, and I can't for the life of me figure out how to get to a different chair. In the midst of detailing Granny's chest x-ray, she burst into tears that continued for the rest of the phone call. I tried to politely surf Facebook on my own phone, but it was obvious, of course, that I could hear everything. When she hung up the phone, she looked at me, wiped a tear away and said, "I told you it'd been a bad week." I was speechless. I mumbled about being sorry again, blushed because she was still crying, and then got my name called so I could get a hair cut. It was the most awkward half hour I experienced all week long, that's for sure. Here's a word of advice, reader: make those personal phone calls some place more personal than a waiting area with a bunch of perfect strangers listening in. Kleenexless perfect strangers at that.

This next week is more kid-wrangling, but tomorrow is a very special Janie Parker's 20th birthday, and I get to go be there with her while she celebrates it. And Gracie is coming too! Hip, hip hooray for a reunion. I also learned this week that Gracie's taking me to the beach July 14-18. Ah, tis so nice to have friends who like to vacation with me. So there are lots of things to look forward to, and I can't wait!

Happy Birthday, sweet girl!
I am so very blessed to know what it is to be your best friend.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A handful of happiness

You know those things that just make you can't-really-explain it, no-great-big-reason, just-a-little-thing happy? Don't you just love them? Don't they just make you say, "Thank you, God, for that!" and "Man. That made my day." ? They're so easily missed, so effortlessly ignored in the face of a day gone wrong or the calamity of the moment. But when we notice them, we add a lot more smiles and heaps more gratitude to our lives. And sheesh, I don't know anyone who will turn that down!

Here's my right-now list:
  • Night time walks (it's SO much cooler and I get to watch the sun paint the sky as it drops down- amazing.)
  • Flowers: They just make me smile. I know they serve actual purposes, but I just can't get over how pretty they are. I saw this one the other night as I was walking around the lake.
  • The pool. Especially when there are kids running around.
  • Tuna fish sandwiches. I'm not sure why, but I've been eating them like crazy this summer.
  • Fresh fruit.
  • Pictures- I'm in the process of getting together and organizing hundreds of photos of my family, so I can have them when I move away. I get trapped in a trance as I flip through, snapshots of Mom on her wedding day and then me on my first day of kindergarten and then some of Papa in Aruba behind that. You see what I'm saying?
  •  Grown-up blue nail polish.
  • Apple spice cake. (Ask me for the recipe! It's really healthy and low-fat, too.)
  • Lemonade.
  • Finishing a work out.
  • Finishing a work week.
  • Tanned legs.
  • Little boys who say, "How's you doing, Lindsey?"
  • The perfect song on the radio.
  • A text message or a phone call that reminds me that people are out there, missing me and loving me, even though they're not here.
  • Little boys who run into my arms after I've been away for a few days.
  • A new issue of pretty much any magazine. Well that's not true. Sports Illustrated doesn't exactly make me jump for joy.
This isn't the first time I've put little bits of happiness down in a blog post. Check out the other lists here.

And tell me, what's filling your days with sunshine this summer?

Monday, June 14, 2010

"Think positively about yourself.... ask God who made you to keep on remaking you." -Norman Vincent Peale

My body has a mind of its own. I like to call this mind Self. (I know, I know, I've blown you away with my creativity again.)

Today marks one month since I really began the quest to lose those 10 pounds, and I'm halfway there, sometimes less, sometimes more, depending on what time of day I weigh. And I owe a lot of that to Self.

But Self has a mind of her own. Sometimes, Self says, "It ain't happening today."
"Self!" I say, shocked. Doesn't Self know what's at stake here? "Get on the treadmill, Self. You can do it." Nope, nu-uh, forget about it. 

"Now, Self. Do you want to be sad about how you look in a bathing suit forever, or do you want to do something about it?"

Sometimes Self decides she does. I set a goal of 30 minutes/ 2 miles everyday. This was because after much research, I found that 30 minutes a day of brisk exercise starts throwing health benefits at you left and right that have nothing to do with weight loss; it cuts your risk of diabetes and heart disease, improves your mood, and can help you sleep better. The two miles came from my Nana: she walks two miles a day. Hey, if Nana can do it, I can do it! Nana will not outdo me! So, at least both of those. If 2 miles takes 33 minutes, so be it. If 30 minutes gives me 2.3 miles, alright. But every day, that was my goal. So, Self has to do that every day, and then it's up to her what happens after that. Sometimes Self barely holds on until that 30 minute mark, and then she hops off, even though I ask her not to. But on those days, I can't really be disappointed with Self. She met the goal. Other days, Self starts off thinking she may not make it, but a good song or a nice breeze or the sheer fascination with achievement pushes her, and she makes it to two miles, and then she makes it to three. Sometimes she struggles to get there, but she gets off that treadmill feeling like she accomplished something because she did- she went a little farther, pushed a little harder, sweater a little more than was expected. On those days I say, "Way to go, Self! You stuck it out and went the extra mile!" Self does not find my wit very entertaining. Self's a tough crowd.

Some days, Self hops on that treadmill and flies. Self runs. Self sweats and Self goes for it. Then Self takes more walks and does more sit-ups and honestly, Self amazes me with what she can do and I say, "Whoa! Self, I didn't know you had it in you." And I didn't.

See, Self has a mind of her own. There are days when Self's toe is hurting, or her muscles are sore, or her blister is bleeding, or her lungs are feeling all shriveled up and when I plead with her she says, "Shut the freaking tuna sandwich UP. I'm done." I have to let that be okay, or I might start to hate Self, to think that she's not good enough, when I know she is. And on the days when Self goes all those extra miles, when she proves that she's got more willpower than I thought, I have to look in the mirror and say, "Wow. You did that, Self. And I am proud."

I am proud to say that in the last month (30 days), I have only missed three days of exercise. I am about to order the 30-Day Shred and so that'll hopefully jumpstart my July and, uh, help me shred those next 5 pounds. Oh, the wit!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Friday/Saturday/purple toothbrush

By Friday, I was done. I mean, I want to shower praises on mothers everywhere. I want to buy them flowers and cake. Every single one of them who does it all the time. (Well, I suppose that would get expensive, but I hope it's the thought that counts.) And honestly, I still want my own children. I just don't want to meet them any time soon.

Anyway, like I was saying, it was a long (but super! just tiring! and long!) week of "I don't want to eat that"s and "What are we doing now?"s and, my favorite, Christopher's insisting that "That will take a hundred hours! We're just wasting time!" He says this with his eyes really wide, and sometimes, I almost believe him until I remember that actually, reading a story/washing hands/playing outside/putting on shoes/picking up his sister won't take a hundred hours after all, and that Carson is probably expecting us. Walking home is not her style. So ANYWAY, Friday. I knew I had a four hour drive ahead and not much sleep behind me, so I decided the perfect, wonderful, enjoyed-by-everyone activity was the POOL. We were there half an hour when this happened:

Rain. Sigh. Luckily, when everyone else at the pool fled, my children just waited it out under an umbrella, and ventured out to jump in it. And eventually, the sun came out. By the time I headed home, it was shining up a storm, and so I basked in it (well, my left arm did) while I sat on I-85 for an hour in Friday traffic. Seriously, I believe that all my years of driving (a whole three!) have been aimed at preparing me for merging onto a backed-up I-85 from a backed-up I-285 at 5:06 on Friday afternoon in Atlanta, Georgia. And with that experience under my belt, I think I could drive anywhere.

This weekend I've watched 100 kids sing about Jesus, met a set of 40-yr-old identical twins who dress alike everyday (!), bought a new toothbrush (it is purple, btw), grocery-shopped with my mom, learned how to cut up an entire watermelon, and eaten half a jar of bread and butter pickles.

That's what I call a successful week, people. Tell me what you did this week. And have a splendid second half of June. Make wise decisions. And please, for the love of Pete- stay hydrated.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

a whole hand's worth of weeks. (5)

This is the end of week five (FIVE? already?!). Well, nearly. I generally write these posts on Fridays, but tomorrow is shaping up to be a monster of a day, so I can't be relied upon to get it in. But anyway, five. This means that on the fifth Thursday night back, I was sitting in my dormitory. I remember this night like it was yesterday, five weeks ago or not. That night was mine and Jane's for the longest while, and it seemed almost strikingly appropriate; we hadn't planned that, but when it shaped up to be so, I couldn't imagine it being any other way. Nearly everyone else had left, and if they hadn't they were studying or packing. I had neither to do, so I remember sitting on my couch with her while she went over her essay answers, feeling surreal and normal all at the same time; it seemed so odd that everything was packed, that nearly everyone was gone, that it was our very last night in that room ever, but we'd done this so many times, sat on that couch so many nights, that I had difficulties setting it apart. After she went to sleep, I got a coke Icee and a dark chocolate bar with my good friend Charlie and we sat and talked like we weren't about to say goodbye the next day. I went to sleep well into the wee hours and the next morning I woke up, loaded up, and left. Five whole weeks since that night!

But back to this week. This week has been, in a word, exhausting, but at the same time, it's been revealing and fun, too. I've learned how much worth is really involved with the everydayness of children, and how very tiring it is to make sure other humans (ones that talk back and often disagree with you, no less) remain fed, mostly clean, safe, healthy, and happy for long amounts of time. Carson said today, "Basically, you don't want us to die." Yeah, basically. But that's a big task! And honestly, I only have them during the day- imagine the all day, every day, no-off-time-ever of all those parents! Let's all call our mothers and say thank you and order a ten-year supply of birth control, in that order.

Other than that, though, our week has been pretty stellar. We've fallen into a happy routine, and my creature of habit heart is really thankful. I've also learned, though, that no matter how late planning the next day keeps you up (quite late, in my case!), things are still apt to change. Today, for all my planning, went off course, but the new path fit us quite well in the end. Kids are better than adults at rolling with the punches, I do believe. What? We're not going to the pool? We're watching The Fox and the Hound? Oh. Okay. Can I have a cookie? 

I'm afraid the kids have probably gotten a little sick of me, because they are not exactly used to their mother working full time, but next week will be the opposite of this one- they'll be at VBS for a good portion of each day. I think I will miss them.

Speaking of my missing, it got staunched last weekend. Since I left Tuscaloosa and the friends that morphed into my family, there's been a constant, throbbing missing. A few days I could deal with, sure. A week, perhaps. But when you start flying through months without seeing their faces, it gets difficult, as you're well aware if you partake in any of my whining blogging. But anyway, there was a reunion, a sweet, sweet night where we giggled like we were six years old and rehashed the past weeks to each other and mentioned opinions and got the lowdown on the details. There was sushi, too, which improves just about anything. Here's what it looked like:                                                            

It was incredibly wonderful. It wasn't rushed or hurried and I think we said everything that was on our hearts, and we said goodbye with the next future togetherness in mind, and it won't be too long. And of course, there's the superb idea we had to live together and that is shaping up to be one of the best things we've ever thought up, at least in my opinion.

This week, I learned what it's like to guide a child to a right decision and to punish for a wrong one; also, how it feels to see tears you caused run down a child's face. I learned that being apart makes being together better, but not enough to make up for being apart, and that I can do things I didn't think I could, like run and sweat and bake a cake. I learned to be content in my own company.

These were all things I've been taught before, but just as I remind the boys not to smack at every single meal or Carson to "get out of that drawer!" almost every morning, I have to be taught again and again until finally, I understand.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Keeping on keeping on

Hi there!
It's Tuesday, and Tuesday used to be the day of the week that I absolutely abhorred.   (I kid you not- I had a list of about 39+ reasons, too, but I'll tell you, they were pretty legit. However, most of those honestly-legitimate-reasons have since fallen away, and Tuesday has become just another day, really. And truthfully, there is not a single day that I really don't like much, except for Monday* I suppose, but honestly, I really don't have a problem with Monday and hating Monday is very cliche, isn't it?)

So anyway, it's Tuesday, and if there was a week-and I'm not saying there is- where I wondered what in the world I'd gotten myself into and strictly swore off mothering any humans that expected to be fed and clothed and taught how to wipe their bottoms or for that matter mothering GOLDFISH (although I've already proved that isn't my strong point, either)- this would be the week. Luckily, I don't think one such week exists, and I am still considering the idea of at least getting a cat in ten years, so I think we're okay. But this week is the 9 (8:30, but that doesn't quite roll off the tongue as well)-6, Monday-Friday week where the shuttling and such has begun, but honestly- and this is a secret, so don't go spreading it around- I really don't mind too much. For one thing, we've already established that I love to go and that I like to be productive and for another, you try sitting in a house with three children under the age of ten, two of whom are five and BOYS, and tell me you wouldn't like some errands to run. Moreover, when we get finished, there is the wonderful pool, which we all love in equal, massive amounts, although for different reasons, I'm sure. Carson loves the social aspect, the boys love the water, and I love that I can sit somewhere, see them all, and very rarely is there more to do than that, except settling the occasional Nerf-gun-wrestling match and applying a second coat of sunscreen. Carson, especially, loves for me to get in, but when I get out, she is also content to play with her friends, and that works out for the both of us.

However, today's Tuesday and it's raining. And you know, I had checked out the 10-day forecast, and it wasn't supposed to even think about raining until tomorrow. Those weathermen, I'll tell you, they're worse than tax collectors. But I'm on my second cup of coffee, and the outlook is much brighter than back when I'd had none. In fact, we have big plans for Scooby-Doo 2 after peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and perhaps there will be Play-Doh and my word, I'll pray for sunny skies tomorrow.

Besides, what's better than happy kids who are happy playing with each other and 25 plastic Army men for an hour? NOTHING!

You want to be let in on what I'm figuring out? I think it's one of those well-known things, but something you can only learn from experience: Taking care of other human beings is the most humbling, awesome, monumental set of mundane things out there. My days are filled with the tiny, the trivial, the cutting the crusts off and washing hands and going to piano lessons, but I'm having a part of shaping people's lives, if only for a summer. And there's nothing bigger than that.

*This particular Monday was not so good to me- I gained two new blisters (I'm mean come on, I've been doing this a month, get used to it, feet!) and hit a mailbox and got a sunburn. But, I mean, it turned out pretty fine and the mailbox didn't, you know, fall into the street or dent the car, and so those are blessing and honestly, I'm harboring no hard feelings toward Monday.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Colossians 3:12-17

I might sound terrible for saying this, especially when it's not whispered during a wee-hours-of-the-morning heart-to-heart or confided in my very best friend. I might be terrible for posting it where virtually every single one of my 630 Facebook friends could stumble across it and then know it. But I will say it anyway, because I'm hoping I'm not alone and that maybe-just maybe- you feel this way, too.

Honestly, more often than not, my family brings out the worst in me. I often have no (well..much less of one) problem being a happy, compassionate, kind, bubbly Christ follower when I'm hanging out with my friends. Our relationships- for the most part- are effortless and breezy and rewarding, and when they're not, I access the situation: sometimes the relationship is worth working for and fighting through and sometimes it's not, and then I let it go.

But my family is completely different. I feel like I have no choice but to work it out, even if that's a never-ending process. I feel like, while there are a few exceptions, I can't just give up on them. And what's more, they know me so well that they can reach out with one comment or one action and destroy my good mood or happy disposition and I let myself snap back and all of my good intentions fall away and my ugliness is left bared.

This is a big problem, though. First of all, it is because of the fact that they'll always be around that this has got to stop; for every decision that I've made to stick with them, they've decided to stick with me, too. And I've changed at college; well, I've been changed. I've been stretched and pulled and taught and towards the end, as I geared up to come home, God whispered their names in my ear. Some more loudly than others, but still, He said, you must show me to all of them, to those who believe and those who say they do and those who just don't. I know I've brought it up in nearly every post, but these are the verses that have been laid upon my heart so heavily that I can't stop myself from reading and repeating and reading again because, my word, I just can't seem to get them:
"So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way."
Two short paragraphs. One great big command, one sky-high standard, one immense calling. What  I'm saying is that it's very easy for compassion to rule my life when I'm dealing with people who don't really step on my toes and who make me happy pretty much all of the time. It's totally different when I come home to the stress and tension and bickering and aggravation and annoyance and poking and picking and ordering and snapping and ignoring and yelling and underestimating and forgetting and hurting. Don't get me wrong- we love each other and we have lots of fun, sure. But we tend to clique off, to hole up and forget about the others, and for what seems like good reason: they've hurt us and betrayed us and continue to do so. But I can't read those verses above and in any way believe that is okay. I have no questions about what "none of this going off and doing your own thing" or "Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you" or "Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other" means. And I can look at my life and see so many, many areas where I balk at this idea, where I stew and meditate and hold grudges and say angry, hurtful things at the people who really do love me the most. And you know, even if they don't- because sometimes, for some of them, it's questionable- I don't care; I will love them anyway, and not because I want to, but because I'm called to.

It's just that they push my buttons. They bring out the worst in me. And quite simply, as I've prayed and Christ has absolutely written their names on my hearts, I know it is as much for me as it is for them. Sure, they will benefit from seeing my compassion and kindness and they may or may not follow suit. But how much will I learn about myself as I rely on Christ to give me strength to just be nice? And in turn, how much closer will I grow to Christ because of that? How much will I learn about His character? How many people will I be able to bless through it?

I've known for a long time that this was my ministry field this summer: my own family. And I almost wish God had called me to some foreign country where the rejection encountered there is not quite so sharp and painful, where my own emotions aren't quite so readily available to be played with. But He didn't. I believe He has great things in store for both me and my family, and the only way for me to have any part in that is to invest myself completely in these people, and begin to more consciously think about about my actions and, most importantly, my words. It's going to be keeping my attitude when they threaten to spin it. It may come down to audibly repeating "Clothe yourself with compassion."

I'm not writing to subconsciously persuade you to believe I'm some wonderful person in any way; trust me I say I can be ugly, and if you don't, just ask my family. But I need prayers, for me and for my family, and perhaps these verses- the idea of this mission field- might cause you to pray and consider your own mission field. If you think the one God is giving you just can't be right, because, well, it's the hardest one or it's really not a "mission field" at all, look again. I bet that's exactly where you're supposed to be. Pray for me, and if you let me know how I can be praying for you, I'll do just that.

Friday, June 4, 2010

one, two, three, FOUR. *

(tell me that you love me more.) **

What a sweet week week four has been! Literally.

(I'm proud to say that while I baked and constructed these, I didn't eat one single one. I really, really, really wanted to, though.)

In other sweet news, I got to spend last weekend with my (immediate) family in Atlanta. We hit up the Coke Factory (hip hip hooray for Coke, who gave me a super duper scholarship!)

        And finally, we went to the Braves/ Pirates game, where the Braves WON! We even got to see a fancy shmancy fireworks show after. And there was only one rain delay. It was the epitomy of awesome. (Before that, we went to the Hard Rock Cafe, where I had- hands down- the best quesadilla I've ever tasted.)     

On Sunday afternoon, they dropped me back off and I geared up for a serious Memorial Day, full of baking and playing in the rain (alright, not me) and a phone call from my best friend. And on Tuesday, people, I discovered the root of my happiness this summer: the pool. Aunt Jane had really been talking it up and I didn't realized quite how wonderful it really is. But here's the thing: the kids play with other kids. Sure, they beg invite me in every now and then, and I don't even mind. I love the water, but I also love laying out in the sun and getting a tan wearing sunscreen, and they let me do that while having a really stellar time. We can stay there for hours. We do. And I end with happy little campers (albeit exhausted).

Thursday, I packed my bags to make the commute for the first time (I think it's a drive I'll come to know well.) Last night, I watched Toy Story for the very first time, and today, I let the treadmill kick my butt. But tomorrow is where it's at; I'm meeting Janie and Gracie for dinner and then sleeping over at the lake! How friggin awesome is that, you wonder? FRIGGIN' AWESOME! I'm sort a little excited. So, see, week four was good to me and I have high hopes for week five.
Cause we're happiest just like that: together.

*Oh, by the way, I'd like to give a shout-out to Norm who is wooing all the Michigan females with his studly painting skills and making me miss him a little more every time I talk to him. Moreover, he has total faith in me. Here's to being blogged about, Norman!

**Because the URL has been changed, some of the links throughout the blog won't be working anymore, and that includes the previous Week posts. However, you can get there by clicking the "Summer Documentary" tab at the top of this page to get the whole story or the "Summer Documentary" label at the bottom of this post, which will give you just the Week posts.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

June 2010

For all the whining I''ve done about it, I forgot how lovely it really is. I forgot how hot it gets outside, so hot that you can feel the sunshine right down to your bones. I forgot how good it feels to soak it right up and then step into the pool and have all of that heat simply wash away. I forgot what it's like to eat popsicles at night time and to live in tanks and shorts and flip-flops. I forgot how it feels to get out of the shower and just go- no blow-drying or straightening or makeup because, hello, the sun covers a multitude of sins. I forgot how nice it is to not really have to be anywhere most of the time. I forgot how great it is to hang out with kids all day, even if they are whiny and tired and sticky and poopy, because they are awesome enough that that part doesn't matter. I forgot how much I love water, whether it's pool water or lake water the sprinkler water. Seriously, I could lay by and get in water all day long, everyday, and I would be content.

I forgot how wonderful it is to dance through these warm days with something to look forward to. That's how I spent last summer- sashaying through the months with a dream in mind, but living in the moments, whether I was riding around in a jeep or hanging out with my kids. That seems like an eternity ago because so very much has changed since then; I've done and seen and become since last June, and obviously, I loved it. But still, something's the same- I'm hanging out with kids and dipping in the water and I have a twinkle in my eye that tells of something on the horizon.

But until then, I will soak up the sun.