Monday, May 31, 2010


Last night, we stumbled into the house, tired, dirty, and happy, after a day of playing at Grandma's house. I dropped my purse and diaper bag on the counter and pressed the blinking answering machine light.

"Hi, guys! This is your long lost friends from Idaho driving through town. Can we stay at your house tonight?...Maybe you're out of town...Well, if we can't stay there, we'll figure something out...Um...Call us, okay?"

Of course! I thought with delight. These really are lifelong friends, and any chance to visit was truly a gift to us.

Then, I took a moment to evaluate my surroundings, and the doubts started popping up.

After hours of pulling weeds with my mother, there were layers of dirt and grime now firmly stuck to the sunscreen I had so carefully lathered on my skin. The kitchen counters were littered with mail piles, homeschool papers, and a now-cool waffle iron. My kids started to take their shoes off and I watched in dismay as tablespoons of dirt came out of the shoes as well.

What to do? What to do FIRST?!?!

So, I prayed (while I started a Speed Wash of guest-bed linens).

A disjointed prayer about our home being God's home, and might He give me His priorities...might I remember that the real ME doesn't depend on how pretty I look to late-night friends or how clean my house appears...

As is always the case when we bring our hearts, however insecure or distracted, to our Father, He answered tenderly. I boast in Him, not myself, when I say that I gladly picked up Magna-Tiles and blanket tents and showered three little ones and pajama-ed kids and gave evening snacks and....well, you get the point.

By the time our dear friends arrived, Real Gil had come home from a long day of work, we had kissed little ones good night, and made up the guest bed together.

My smile was genuine as we passed around long-overdue hugs. Sitting at the kitchen table, we laughed together until we were actually crying. Then, we went to bed.

I crawled into bed energized. How is that possible after the long day I had? I know the answer at last!

Because I had not done the work.

He had.

I just got to go along for the ride, abiding in Him, just like He tells me to. "I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in Him, he bears much fruit. For without Me, you can do nothing." (John 15:5)

The results of not doing so are clear: you can do nothing. And the results of abiding are just as sure - the bearing of much fruit.

Like peace and joy.

And gratitude.

As my eyes shut last night, Real Gil's breathing deep beside me, I prayed another disjointed prayer.

Thanking Him for the gracious gift of a guest bedroom, the gift of friends who know they can call us at the last minute, and the best gift of all - Jesus, who meets all of our needs for security and approval and recognition so that we don't need to seek those from others.

Today, we watched them drive away, all of us waving and laughing at their departing antics. The breeze moved lightly as we shouted final well-wishes, made our way inside the now-too-quiet house.

I sighed and smiled at Gil.

"That was fun."

He nodded in understanding.

The adventures of resting in Jesus are not passive; they are active and dynamic and rewarding. And fun.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

When Couch Potatoes Grow Roots

The weather has finally turned around here...but my kids are still feeling a bit puny so we've done a lot of snuggling, a lot of homeschooling, and - I admit - a lot of TV. I suggested that we go to the playground and they coughed, snotted, and refused me. So, we sit...

I grew up reading the Shel Silverstein poem about the little boy who watched so much TV that he grew antennae out of his head and an electric cord out his butt, so they plugged him in and watched HIM. Did you ever read that poem? It always haunted me as a kid and just this week, I started wondering if it could really happen... So far, no one shows signs of needing a good wall outlet. In this modern day and age, to stretch the poem even further, I must wonder when I'm going to start growing a USB cable and a computer mouse off my right hand.

When I haven't been reading to kids or cooking for kids or folding their laundry this week - can you relate?!!! - I have been checking out the following links.
  • Memorial Day means so much more to us now that Uncle Steve is leading a platoon in Afghanistan. This is an article about where some of our valiant veterans are resting.
  • After 74 years of marriage in Hollywood, the man deserves our respect. Job well done, Art Linkletter!
  • What one working mother discovered about stay-at-home mothering. So thankful that whether we are working moms or stay-at-home moms, God is merciful and good, and in my own life, I've watched Him faithfully "fill in the gaps" I've overlooked in parenting.
  • Funny top-tens abound here, if you are so inclined. One funny guy, lots of funny, wholesome lists.
  • A 100-year old doctor! Would you let him treat YOU?
  • I love flea market decor. If you do, check out this link. I want her stairs. That's coveting, I know.
  • What one New York City hotel did for a couple of love birds.
I hope you are enjoying Spring and sunshine and family and most of all, Jesus Christ, who gives life to each moment.

Resting in Him,

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Once Upon a Potty

...we all giggle, don't we?

I can't remember a time when my children laughed that I didn't at least smile. Unless they were laughing at me. Then I pout.

Like her.

As I was cooking today, I heard Punkin reading to the Little Man and had to grab the camera when I heard the giggle. It prompted a smile, of course, and a little investigation.

Sorry about the inundation of home videos this week. Must be all the cold medicine making me loopy. But I do hope you are enjoying giggles with your special ones today.

Resting in Him,

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Beyond the Fence

Our little neighborhood is probably a lot like most other neighborhoods in America. Cul-de-sacs, middle class families, a few too many CC & Rs...

But one thing that seems a bit unique in our neighborhood is the number of retired folks who live here. For the most part, we love this. And for the most part, they seem to like us. Or tolerate us. There are a few that won't wave back at us - after all, they moved here so they wouldn't have to be bothered with neighbors! - and one who complains when we park and load our e-bay motorhome in the driveway. But there are others who truly seem pleased to see younger families in the area.

The man on our corner is a retired Air Force pilot. Every morning, around 8:30, he carries out a perfectly folded triangular flag and raises it on his flagpole. Then, he steps back about 20 feet and salutes. Every evening, he reverses the routine, meticulously folding the cloth for the following morning. My children bring him a plate of cookies every Veteran's Day and wave furiously whenever they see him.

There's another man who walks his Labradoodle every day along the path. He always stops and visits with the children (in a non-cootie kinda way). Being recently transplanted from the "Old Country," his Basque accent is unmistakable but I nod like I understand him perfectly, and he teases me about trying lamb shanks one of these days.

Why am I describing all of this to you?

Because this morning, as we were eating breakfast, Sugs looked out the window and said, "Mama, our slave is here."

I saw no one outside, and figured this was a three-year old imagination in well-rested, morning overdrive.

"Hmmm...what's our slave doing?" I asked distractedly, scooping steamy oatmeal into bowls.

"Picking flowers," she answered. "Can you put more brown sugar on my oatmeal, please?"

Finally, I turned around and really gave that window my full attention.

Indeed, there was an older woman right outside our property line. For a moment, I was puzzled. She kept dipping out of sight, down low where we could only see splashes of her red shirt through the holes in my unstained fence.

Was she looking at us through the slats in the fence?

Reporting us to the homeowner's association for all the childrens' toys in the yard?

Then I figured it out. Apparently, it is not enough to pull the weeds in your own yard. Now - at least in our neighborhood full of puttering retirees looking for a mission - it is essential that we pull the weeds that grow in the natural greenbelt. Thankfully, the folks who thought up this mission do not shove their passionate pursuits down our throats - they come and do it for you!

Dear little lady dipped out of sight, then back up again, her tightly-permed hair fluffing in the wind as she stuffed the unsightly weeds into a big, black trash bag with gusto. Up and down she went, busy behind my fence.

Of course, upon realizing her mission, the mother guilt set in. I scrunched down in my chair, hoping she wouldn't look up and see Miss 31-year-old Lazy Bones eating oatmeal while the 70-plus "slave" pulled weeds.

So, I am officially telling you that if you have the chance, consider moving to a neighborhood full of retired people. Yes, I know some of them can be a bit ornery, but so can young folks. The added bonus is that retired people get bored, and when they get bored, they take it upon themselves to find a mission. Maybe, just maybe, you will be their mission. Or perhaps your neighborhood weeds will become their mission.

Just don't refer to them as "our slave."


Tuesday, May 25, 2010


For my twentieth birthday, my parents paid for me and Real Gil to swing from this huge pendulum swing that lifted you hundreds of feet in the air and let you fly.

I didn't write them a thank you card that year. If you want to feel old on your birthday, try something really scary like a pendulum swing and then freak out at the top. You'll know you're old when you don't care what other people think about you. Might as well get me some velcro, granny shoes and start eating lunch at 10 in the morning.

This post is not about that pendulum. That was just me wasting your time with a really long intro. Anything to relive embarrassing moments.

This post is about another pendulum.

It's simple really. So simple it's in my laundry room.

Standing firmly planted below my washer and dryer are these two pendulum drawers. Do you know the ones I'm referring to? If you have the chance to get yourself a few of these for your front-loading washer and dryer, you might want to consider it.

Here's why:

Four sections. Four separate loads - brights, darks, whites, and pastels. When the section fills up - er, I mean, when the drawer won't close anymore, we know it's time to run the load. Even my six-year old can do it.

Now, if only I can convince her to fold all the clean ones...

Works for me!

Resting in Him,

Monday, May 24, 2010

Making Quarantined Memories

'Tis true.

We are all under the weather - nasty coughs, burning throats, muscle aches.

But I'll stop listing the symptoms, and tell you that a little Advil goes a long way. Just look at what I found my boys doing in the garage.

Hope you and yours are well today.

Resting in Christ,

Friday, May 21, 2010

Best Game Ever

Happy Friday to you all.

A few of my favorite links this week:
  • A great lesson on who we are truly created to be in Christ.
  • The story of the newest recipient of the Medal of Honor - from the Civil War!
  • Funny stories from the bible that aren't normally told.
  • And for the first time ever, I lost track of time because I was watching these hilarious videos from Improv Everywhere. How did I go so long without knowing about these stunts? I love the fruit song in the grocery store, the invisible dog walk, and the impromptu wedding reception. Have fun with these. (**Viewer's warning - there is one inappropriate video called "No Underwear on the Subway" that scared me. I didn't click on it and you might not want to either.) Below is one of my favorites. Enjoy.

Enjoy your weekend, my friends.

Resting in Him,

Thursday, May 20, 2010

When Children Fail

The wind was our first hint that the morning might be blustery. Whirling, twisting the new green buds, it blew stronger than a normal spring breeze.

At the kitchen table, all three children sat/stood/climbed/shouted/triumphed over a rousing game of Candyland with Papa. Sugs was well into the lead, only two squares away from the candy kingdom, and a victory dance that would surely annoy her siblings and charm her parents...when she flipped the devastating card.

There's nothing jolly about this card unless you are on the Start of the game board. This was definitely not Sugs position.

That big, fat blue gum drop smiled a goofy smile at her.

Her three-year old shoulders slumped as Papa gently slipped her game piece backwards on the board. Back, back, back went her piece. And quiver, quiver, quiver went her chin.

I wiped my hands with a dishtowel and stepped away from the kitchen sink. With her hair covering her face, Sugs tried to hide her emotions, the first time I had ever seen her do this. Real Gil did his best to comfort her with his one empty hand rubbing her back quietly so as not to embarrass her, while the other two children continued the game. It didn't help matters when the Little Man won the game only seconds later and started shouting, "I won! I won! I won!"

Sugs leaned towards me, her silent tears releasing in loud wails on my shoulder. I scooped her up, folder her into my arms. We snuggled and I held on to her tightly, held on to the rare moment of vulnerability from my introverted middle child. Then I told her a story. It came back to me like it was only yesterday...

Standing in front of the middle school girls' locker room door, old and wooden and beaten up. (The door, not me.) On the other side of that door were the squeals and loud voices of preadolescence. I looked up at the door and felt small, insignificant. Especially when I saw The List, posted with handwritten names on college-ruled lines. The cool girls, the athletic ones, always made the volleyball team. After a handful of after-school tryouts, I was realistic about my odds of making the team, but still hopeful. Perhaps...maybe this year...

I read the names and shrugged through the locker room doors. Sighing into my school-issued PE t-shirt and shorts, I felt the sting. Not a terrible one - after all, I had done very little to improve my odds of making the volleyball team - but it was a sting nevertheless.

Almost twenty years later, with three-year old tears puddling on my shoulder, I whispered the story, recalled the sting of failure.

"I looked at the list..."

Sugs sobs quieted.

"And my name wasn't there."

Sugs breath was warm on my neck.

"I wasn't chosen." I shrugged my shoulders, even still a little bit embarrassed.

"Why, Mom?" piped Punkin from the kitchen.

I was quiet for a moment, then spoke into Sugs hair.

"Maybe so I could comfort your sister right now...or maybe so my twin sister could find some independence apart from me on the team...or maybe because I just wasn't good enough at volleyball."

We all smiled, even Sugs. And I squeezed her tight.

"But even though I wasn't chosen then, I am chosen," I mumbled into her hair, quietly but resolutely. "So are you. If God had a volleyball team, I'd be on His list. And if God has a Candyland game, you win, Sugs. Every time."

She pulled back and looked at me. My deep, spiritual thoughts were lost on her, except that she would win boardgames in Heaven. That's okay.

Again, I was reminded today that some of the deepest hurts my children have revealed have come when they have failed - caught in a lie, stumbled over their script lines in a public play, overlooked in art class...lost at Candyland. As much as my mothering instinct wants to protect them from failures, if those failures are what is needed in their little growing lives, then I will do my best not to get in the way. Bailouts of all kinds abound and I'm often tempted to offer my own bailouts to my children. But as we often see in retrospect, bailouts are not always wise. So, Real Gil and I are praying for our children, loving on them whenever we can, and trying to remain available when they fail, not keeping it from happening.

I pray that there isn't a safer place on earth than our home for them to fail. And grow. And look forward to Heaven, where failures are no more...and everyone will pump fists in the best victory dancing ever.

Resting Despite My Own Failures Because of His Perfect Victory,

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Scary Dreams

Do you have children who suffer from nighttime heebie-jeebies?

We do. The night light wasn't enough to scare away all the imaginary monsters, and a little talk about angels watching over us only freaked the Little Man more (duh. I should've known that talk about an imaginary guy with a big sword floating around his bedroom wasn't going to be comforting.)

But we do have a trick you might want to try.

We flip the pillow.

Because there are two sides to any pillow, and one side is the "happy dream side." The other side is left unmentioned, but if the Little Man was given a few minutes to think about it, he would probably call it the "scary ambulance siren/bad guy in Afghanistan coming to get me" side of the pillow. But that's beside the point, because we flipped the pillow.

That's what's working for me today!

Resting in Him,

Monday, May 17, 2010

Do you have a home improvement store near you?

If not, you might want to consider moving near one. They are better than the local playground, if you ask me. Or my kids.

With Real Gil working on Saturday evening, the kids and I went to Home Depot with the intention of purchasing interior paint for my still-naked bedroom walls. In retrospect, I should have realized that looking through hundreds of paint swatches was not the childrens' idea of fun. And it wasn't my idea of productive. I finally grabbed handfuls of paint swatches and made a bee line for the exit.

We got a bit waylaid on the way out... riding lawn mowers.

And the collection of outdoor porch swings.
Note: they are holding my paint swatches as if that
justifies our many detours.

We ended by playing "kitchen" in the custom cabinet section.

We left with nary a purchase, and I'm no closer to finding paint for my nekked bedroom. This bedroom would wrap a towel around those bare walls if she could. I was going for a "primitive" look when we moved in three years ago and never decorated. Or maybe it was the "lazy" look. Either way, it's not cutting it anymore.

But I'm working on it...when Real Gil watches the kids so I can go to the paint store. Alone.

Resting in Him,

Stranger Danger

I've told you about my sisters.

The one that looks just like me only I'm nicer and she's five pounds lighter (all right, six...Fine. Seven. Sheesh. Fingers, stop typing.).

And the younger, well-rested one who knows how to get revenge. We call that passive/aggressive. Or just smart.

That's us - three girls.

Our mother is down-to-earth, energetic, and the perfect mom for girls. She taught us how to shave our legs without needing stitches afterward, listened to a lot of arguments over curling irons and clothes, and she took a lot of abuse when we would use her as our reason for refusing boys. "My mom says I have to finish my trig homework... My mom says I'm not allowed to date boys who cars...[sheepish smile]...with...doors...and...uh...dented bumpers." She sat in her fair share of parking lots at late hours, waiting for school dances to finish. With her night-vision goggles firmly strapped into place.

My father was and is a strong, manly man who turns the channel whenever there is a Tampax commercial and feels most comfortable with conversation that revolves around dirt bikes, politics, or...his girls. Between us and our mom, he was outnumbered, but took it like a man. He bought us motorcycles, coached our team sports, and somehow, still managed to smile in all the prom pictures. And wedding pictures.

In a nutshell, our family is mostly all-American with a dash of redneck, a smidgen of mountain man, and a whole lotta peculiar. Or nutty, if you like to go with the nutshell metaphor. The good news is that we love each other a lot. Like Jim Carrey ahhh-lot.

I didn't mention that the younger one lives about two hours away. This stinks.

Now, with the twin and her Littles planning to leave in eight days for Japan, we're all trying to monopolize her time. Or maybe her kids. Any way you want to look at it, I'm not going to be homeschooling this week because I plan on being the annoying auntie who pinches cheeks, begs for snuggles, and even gladly changes their poopy diapers. And those aren't my twin's cheeks or diapers.

Well, the little sis invited the twins and our kids over for a visit this weekend to her home. Real Gil had to work and I really wanted to take the road trip, especially when Grandma and Grandpa offered to go as well. BUT as rare as this might be, I thought of someone other than myself, and realized that the little sis and her hubby don't have kids yet and will probably be very overwhelmed with a total of five rambunctious, raucous, run-a-mucks in their house. So, I declined the invitation.

This is what I missed:


All of this looks like fun. I am not above playing the victim. In fact, it's one of my specialties. But the truth of the matter is that I wasn't jealous, I really wasn't. After all, I was at home taking these sorts of pictures:

{There's nothing quite as perplexing as a teenager in a Hannah Montana wig and Star Wars apron.}

Just like I tell my children, sharing is good and kind. I was happy to share the nephews and clone for the weekend.

Until I saw this. The twelfth picture in my dad's emailed slideshow from the weekend.

Guess who is pinching his cheek?

[Prepare yourself, ladies.]

A complete stranger.

And look at my nephew's face. Charming. Sweet.

With a strange woman.

I feel so dirty. Betrayed.

I'm using deep breaths and just hoping that my twin washed his sweet face with Purell.

Brave smile.

I'm glad they had a good time.

I know it was the right decision. After all, I've had months of belly laughs, fall-on-the-ground tantrums, and even a few warm naps with those boys' chubby arms wrapped around me. The little sis needed her time alone before they go across an ocean.


Across an ocean.

To see their daddy.

To reunite their parents.

Talk about bittersweet.

If you don't hear from me, or if I choose to write about surface topics like how to get stains out of t-shirts or why mountain folk don't plant flowers until June, it's only because I'm afraid this silly web-cam might turn on while I'm bawling at the computer, pouring my broken heart out to you all. But never fear, there's always next week when they are gone, when Grandma and Grandpa's house is too quiet. Then you'll hear all about it.

Until then, I'm doing my best not to strike out at little, old ladies who want to pinch my nephews' cheeks. If you are a little old lady and you are deeply offended by this, let me invite you to pinch my cheeks. They have a little extra meat on them and I offer them, free for the taking. But back away from the nephews. Their chubby cheeks are mine for the next eight days. All that talk about sharing is just my hypocrisy in full motion - yes, the kids share their toys, but I am not sharing the chubs.

I'm savoring them. And hope that you are savoring a few chubby little cheeks, toes, and fingers today, too.

Resting in Him,

P.S. All right. (Harumph.) I'm feeling a little guilty all ready and I haven't even pressed "publish" yet. (Eyes rolling, words mumbling.) Fine. I'll try to share the boys. Come and visit them if you want. Bring them sweet treats and entice them with Hot Wheels. I'm a christian and a christian shares. Good news for you...but don't push it. Or I just might send my children to your bedroom pillow...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Weekend Reading

Wildness abounds around here, lately.

It's been a fun wildness too. Lots of guests in our home, lots of late nights, and I wouldn't trade any of them, especially last night when three "older women" hung out with three "young women" and three kids (my own).

These roles reversed as the night went on - the little ones were wise and went to bed at a reasonable hour like good adults, the teenagers were wearing toddler dress-up clothes at one point and drinking from little kid sippy-cups.

...and I - an older woman, if you wondered which category I belonged in - had resorted to my cooler, funner teen years, staying up way too late and trying to impress the girls with my cool teen jargon (That's radical! If you want to laugh at a girl who was trying to be hip, watch this video. It had me laughing today...mostly at her...and myself trying to be hip.). We talked, laughed, played games, put little ones to bed, and laughed a lot more. I'll tell more about that tomorrow. But I have a feeling these crazy fellowship nights are coming to an end today...because we have three snot-nosed kids. And nothing scares cute teenagers away quite like toddler boogers.

In the meantime, here are a few articles or links that I have appreciated this week.
  • Do you need a few frozen meals in your freezer for hungry mouths? Try this great link for making homemade burritos for your family. I'm gonna get my act together someday and do it. They look so easy and actually pretty tasty.
  • Leaf humor - just for fun!
  • Read this article if you are interested in why we do not ascribe to the popular "Family-Driven Faith." I'd like to call us a "Faith-Driven Family" instead.
  • Although I am not a parent of teens, I am definitely working with them a lot lately. It's been a blast! So, here is a short list on life rules for teenagers.
  • If I was even a little bit crafty, I would make this dress. As it is, I'll just appreciate it from afar and pretend that it is only time constraints, not personal ability, which inhibits me from duplicating it.
  • I go through spurts of inspiration when it comes to decorating my house. One major inspiration is a dear friend, Queen K, who never stops decorating her house (or parenting her 14 kids). So, thanks to her, I feel the decorating bug coming my way. Just imagine, readers, we might actually have a "before" and "after" post coming your way some day soon. In the meantime, you have got to check out one of my favorite interior design blogs.
I pray you are resting in Him alone who provides the best weekend reading ever.

Resting in Him and His Words,

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pillow Revenge

Life around here is a bit chaotic today. There are five children running around, and two of them are naked nephews who don't like to wear clothes.

Here are the nephews with Little Man, fully dressed. This photo was NOT taken today, of course. That would require I chase them down, wrestle them into their clothes and then try to get them to stop crying for Auntie's camera.

[I hear the courtroom dialogue in my mind when I see this picture: Are they really in an very tight, enclosed space? Yes. I take full responsibility for coercing them into the dog crate. Are they really smiling? Yes. Duh. Anything Auntie does is fun. After the photo shoot, did said children actually ask you to lock the door? Yes. Did you do so? Yes, I did. Why? Uh, would you say no to children with those charming faces? No rhetorical questions are necessary, Miss Karen. Did they cry? Only when I walked away with my cell phone on my shoulder and forgot to unlock the crate. Okay, that part is just a joke. I definitely unlocked the door, but they played for about twenty minutes in there together until the big, hairy tenant of the crate came home.]

Imagine these cute little nephews without clothes on. It's sorta scary, sorta sweet. And it's fine by me, except Sugs (age 3) keeps asking them to "put [their] bottoms away." Punkin (age 6) added her own demand: "Don't sit on my pillow." I echoed her request. No little naked rears are allowed on my bed.

Which got me laughing because the girl in this picture used to totally disobey that rule.

And rub her little booty all over my poor, innocent pillow.

Yes, she did.

And now, I'm telling the whole world about it. (Well, approximately 20 people.)

In sisterly love, of course.

So, Little Sis, it's time to come clean. You did it, we know it, and I probably deserved it. But still, I can't help getting suspicious every time I lay my head on a foreign pillow. Has this fluffy, sweet bit of plushness been exposed to hiney revenge?

Officially, I am now apologizing for all the mean, big sister things I did to you. Taking the remote control away from you without asking, making you wait for the bathroom while I curled my hair in the mornings, even that "funny" speech I gave at your wedding. I really am sorry, Sis. And my apology may or may not include posting the above picture of you and hubby. Do you forgive me?

Because I forgive you...even if I'm still haunted.

And speaking of little hineys and revenge, the two naked nephews decided to take revenge on the Little Man who kept taking their bikes. How better to take revenge than to slip things down his diaper while he is bending over, digging in the sand?

By the time I stopped the madness, there was quite a collection getting
comfortable in his "super-snug fit with all-around stretch" Huggies.


I won't even mention what I did when I discovered the two marbles in his diaper. That brought on a nightmarish flashback to times never to be revisited (except if you click on the link in this post).

The love in this family is incredible, I must say. And so are the creative revenge tactics around here. [wicked laugh] Take that as a simple warning, dear sis. When you wake up with marbles in your underwear, you'll know who got you back. There are advantages to being at home all day with little ones - you get great prank ideas.

Resting in Him,

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

After the Flood in Nashville - River Plantation debris

This is our neighborhood back in Bellevue, Tennessee. Real Gil and I lived, laughed, and loved here for three years. And never had flood insurance.

Praying for them now...


Monday, May 10, 2010

Dear Treadmill,

Thank you for moving into my house five years ago. I know the tight little closet you live in is not ideal, but it works for my home decor (or lack thereof).

Now, I must apologize. I know you are neglected. The weather has been way too nice to close myself into that little walk-in closet. That's the very reason we haven't gotten a dog yet - I can't handle all the guilt. I could offer you a few other excuses, Miss Epic T60 - I have very little self-discipline, I'd rather be blogging, and I don't trust my children to be left unmanned for thirty minutes (that last excuse is legit - can you imagine my mother-guilt if I chose the treadmill while my children discovered the broiler?).

Perhaps the best excuse ever is this: my view.

I have read the side of this box a million times (well, maybe 500 times. Okay, okay, I don't really run that much. 100 times.). "Fragile, handle with care. This side up. Keep dry." It's time to work on my treadmill view, don't you think?

Then, when I think about summertime and swimsuits, I suddenly come back to you, like a fickle ex-boyfriend. Only, last time it was raining and I went for a run, this is what I had staring at me:

At first, I was annoyed. Little Man was napping, Sugs was happily pretending she was a Pocahontas with high heels, couldn't Punkin' just go play with some otherwise-off-limits household device? The electric screwdriver, perhaps? Nah, she just wanted to watch me wheeze my way through a workout.

Then, she started jogging in place next to me.

She had me laughing so hard I just stopped and grabbed my camera. Trying to duplicate it didn't do it justice.

Suffice it to say, Punkin running next to me did nothing for my workout, but sure made me think of Dumb and Dumber. This part, to be exact:

With the three delightful strangers-no-more sent off on their way this morning, I guess I have no valid excuse for my lack of motivation. Except that I'm dog tired, rest time is ending in 3 minutes, and I'd rather snuggle a toddler or two. Those first two excuses don't fly, I know, but what physical trainer is going to argue with that last one, especially the day after Mother's Day? I'm running with it.

Well, not literally, you know.

Resting in Him,

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Genuine Hospitality - Hostess in Training

This weekend, Real Gil was off to his boys' weekend and the dust (and toddler tears) had hardly settled when I started preparing for three unknown house guests.

Our church had a women's college choir come sing this weekend and our family was blessed by having three of these delightful ladies stay in our home.

With my arm tapping a beat on her shoulder in church, Punkin' looked up at me midway through their concert with wide eyes. "Three of them are going to stay with us?!"

Sugs wasn't far behind her big sister, quickly whispering none-too-softly, "Can I try on their sparkly dresses?"

The ladies did not disappoint.

They played Duck, Duck, Goose...

And many rounds of Hike and Seek. I was so proud of my clean house...until they started hiding behind the dusty curtain panels!

I also invited a mother-teen-daughter duo from our church to come hang out with the girls, knowing the teenage daughter would enjoy a younger group of Christian girls. Before long, sweet Allison (my teenage "sister") was teaching them Jugular Ninja. I told them that I felt so YOUNG in their presence! And they laughed at my jokes! The exhilaration was sweet. I didn't have to make goofy faces, tickle toes, or zerbert anyone's belly to provoke these responses.

One other thing I noticed as we hung out together - the only awkward moments of their stay were when I was trying to play "good hostess". There are fresh razors and soap bars on the counter, sounded like I was hinting that they needed fresh razors and soap bars. Definitely awkward. Even my stilted attempts at conversation fell flat when I tried - Oh, what is your major? How many siblings do you have? As if they haven't answered these questions a hundred times in the last two weeks.

Do you know what ultimately relaxed our initial awkward moments? I went into the kitchen and started chopping nuts for a future meal. The girls all sat around on kitchen bar stools and visited with Allison and her mother. While I was busy putting little ones to bed, they laughed and unwound from an eight-hour bus ride. Allison slapped sandwiches together from food she scrounged up in the fridge, and all was comfortable, home-y.

Dare I say, they didn't need me?!!

In fact, it seemed that when I occupied my hands with busy work, either they joined in by chopping food along with me, or didn't feel so "studied" with direct eye contact and just relaxed. Either activity seemed to free them up to just visit as sisters in Christ.

I'm sure some Communications expert could tell you the full dynamics that contributed to our fellowship, but this amateur will make it plain - we had fun. And stayed up way too late. I'm not sure I've ever felt this drowsy on Mother's Day. Oh wait, yes, I have. Pretty much every year. But I digress...

This morning, I vacillated between cool hostess ("Hot breakfast if you want it in the kitchen. No, I didn't slave over that. I just threw it together while it was still dark...") and overprotective mother hen ("Okay, here's the map and the keys to the truck. Wear your seatbelts, and call me if you get lost. Melissa, you need a jacket. Here's my old lady one. Natalie, at least eat a banana.").

Now, all is quiet, and I'm looking for other foods to chop tonight when they return. And practicing my Ninja moves. Look out, girls.

Resting in Christ,

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mother's Day Blessings

It's Friday!

Does that mean anything to you?

In our house, it means very little...except that the grocery stores are a bit busier, and all the neighbor kids are at home in the middle of the day. With Real Gil working very unusual hours with no routine, his odds of being home on the weekend are no better than on a weekday. So, while the world around us seems to shift, to take a deep, relaxing breath on Fridays, we don't.

How about your family?

Whatever your weekend looks like, whether its full of routines or surprises, I hope it's filled with lasting memories and True Peace.

Here are a few of my favorite reads this week if you are interested...
  • A great little article by a preschool teacher. Kids, especially her students, seem to be so full of gratitude. Is this contagious?
  • Do you nag encourage your kids to do chores? If so, here's a free chart system for chores.
  • I'm not sure what was more interesting in this article about birth control - the article itself, the related articles at the bottom of the post, or the comments at the very bottom. Can you tell I'm remaining vague and neutral on this issue? Not sure I will ever be brave enough to blog about my own personal opinion (and it is just an opinion, to be sure). I'll just refer you to thought-provoking articles and leave it at that for now. :)
  • With just over a month to go in active missions before returning to his family, we are praying daily for Uncle 'Keve in Afghanistan. And sometimes, when we are brave enough to look, we check this list and pray for the families of those who have died for our freedom, for the freedom of women and children in faraway places.
  • My husband, dear man that he is, thinks I might be a bit paranoid because every six months or so, I check our local registry of sex offenders. So far, it has not amounted to much except that I have a few faces in memory and I have changed my running route a bit to avoid one street in particular. Perhaps this is a bit extreme. It doesn't freak me out though, it kinda helps me to feel proactive. If you are so inclined, here is the link to the national registry. You can type in your address and see a map of your area.
  • Do you have Lego fans in your home? Every month, Lego publishes printable instructions for various Lego creations. These work great in a homeschool workbox or just for fun, or both. Check them out here.
  • My mind, and heart, have been distracted this week as we have watched our dear home-away-from-home, Nashville, literally fill with water. With a few phone calls in to those neighbors who lived in our neighborhood in West Nashville, we have yet to hear how they fared. Our old home was directly across from the Harpeth River and we wonder how it stands today. And we are praying for strength for our loved ones there.
Happy Mother's Day to all of you mothers. Remember when we all desperately WANTED to be pregnant, to be wished a "happy mother's day." Now, we get it. So, I'm thankful that God blessed me with the title of "mother."

But no matter what titles we carry and no matter the weight behind each one of our labels, might our first and foremost title be "beloved of God." So thankful His love is insurmountable, far-reaching.

"...I will call those who were not My people, 'My People.' and her who was not beloved, 'beloved.'" Romans 9:25

Resting in my Beloved,

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fruit Shake Ambrosia

With hot weather on its way, our family usually gets the blender out and starts concocting various smoothie recipes. Sometimes, if we eat a really big lunch at Grandma's house (never at my house - my idea of "big lunch" is a peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with carrot sticks), we have them for dinner.

Punkin told me this week that the fruit shake was perfect. So, here is our recipe, if you want to try it at your house. If drinking your dinner doesn't sound appetizing, you can sprinkle granola on this or serve it alongside a waffle. I even forgo the syrup and use the smoothie for sweet on my waffle. Weird. I know. What would have been weirder is if I had taken a picture of my own purple face after a fruit shake. Anyways, enough talking. Here's the recipe.

Karen's Fruit Smoothies
1-2 cups of milk (any kind, even rice milk)
1-2 cups frozen strawberries (I don't cut these, I just throw them in and watch the blender smoke.)
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 fresh orange, peeled
A small sprinkling of Stevia or other natural sweetener
1/4 cup of Nestle Coffee Creamer, French Vanilla flavor (Optional, but not really.)

Blend and enjoy.

Oh, and if you are making these for toddlers, you might want to add more liquid to their cup so they can drink it with a straw and - here's the important part - a lid. Thick, purple smoothie doesn't look so great on white carpet.

Happy Thursday to you all!

Resting in Him,

The Pathway

Behind our house, there are these amazingly beautiful mountains. I find myself staring at them a lot. They are always changing, depending on the weather and the position of the sun. I never understood that phrase "for purple mountains majesty" until I saw these giants. Sometimes, they even look like enormous triangles taped to blue construction paper, almost surreal. Unfortunately for you, I don't know how to take a decent picture of them. Just use your imagination and pretend James Glover inserts one of his amazing photos here:

Framed in front of these mountains is a walking path that weaves its way through our neighborhood. We are unabashed voyeurs of anybody that walks down this path. We are unabashed because they are too. We watch them peek into our backyard (probably pointing out all the childrens' toys in the yard), catch a glimpse into our living room (probably pointing out the flash of a naked child running by, or better yet, smashing their little, toddler butt cheeks up against the window pane - yes indeed, that has happened here.), or even crane their necks to see the silver Christmas tree I bought on clearance this January that was hurriedly stuffed in the attic, up against the narrow window that overlooks the pathway.

So, we do our share of peeking at them. Some run, some walk, some lead a dog, some stop to clean up their dog's poo and some do not. It makes for great conversation around the breakfast table as we try to predict what the aerobic folks outside are going to do.

Just last week, as I was preparing dinner, I watched an adolescent boy drop his skateboard on the paved path and hike over behind the bushes (which happened to be directly behind our fence). He looked over his shoulders (but forgot to look behind him) and then proceeded to pee. I squealed in surprise and quickly turned back to cooking.

One other day, I watched a middle-aged woman garbed in her exercise clothes and headphones. She walked quickly, like a good type A person. Then, all of a sudden, she stopped walking, put her hands up in the air, and just started dancing!!! I still smile when I think about this woman. I even called all the kids to come and laugh at her. Just kidding, we didn't laugh at her. In fact, if I'm being perfectly honest, I was jealous of her. How many times have I been running to Tommy Walker and suddenly want to raise my hands and dance? But I'm far too restrained to do it. I'm glad she wasn't. It was a sweet voyeur moment for me.

But my favorite view out our window was this: a young boy crying on the bench, and a good father who came and sat with his arm around his son's shoulder. The boy seemed to do most of the talking, his fists wiping tears away periodically, and the father kept his head turned to his son, listening intently. It was such a tender moment that I grabbed the camera and became the ultimate peeping Tom.

Like the looming mountains in the background, the Ultimate Father pursues us, leans in, listens closely. "Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him." (Psalm 103:13)

Like the spontaneous, uninhibited dance of the walking woman, I want to accept that compassion, the love of our Father. His tender songs, His love - might they woo us today to dance, and to parent with compassion.

Resting in Him,

P.S. If you would like to guest-blog here but are not sure what to write, you can always just come and dance or parent on our walking path. I'll be sure to snap a blurry photo or two. Just don't use our bushes as a bathroom.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

When Christmas Cards Come Back to Haunt You

A funny thing happened to me the other day at the park.

Yes, I know you readers are already rolling your eyes. How many blog posts have I started with these words: "A funny thing happened..."?

Anyways, my children were running around the playground while I was doing what I do best - talking. To just about any adult who would talk to me. Small talk really. Any crumb one would give me (unless they want to talk about my $4 belt - I have nothing else to say on the subject.).

"Oh she's cute. How old is she?"

"Your little guy is very verbal for his age, isn't he?"

Then, another mom tipped her head to the side and said, "I recognize you."

"Hmmm....really?" I laughed nervously, for a few reasons. 1) I was supposed to know her and didn't; 2) she thought I was the clone and was about to launch into some conversation about vaginal bleeding that I knew nothing about; or 3) she was a blog reader who was about to be sorely disappointed in the real, not-so-witty version of Karen.

It was quiet for a moment, me holding my breath and her trying to recall my face.

"Oh!" she snapped her fingers. "You're on the bulletin board at my pediatrician's office!"

This was news to me. Was it some kind of "Wanted" posted for giving my children a little cold medicine before that one airplane flight? Or for all the gum Sugs had swallowed over the years?

"I am?" Another nervous laugh.

"Well, not just you," she clarified. "Your whole family. I recognize your kids too."

Then, I remembered.

Our family Christmas card.

Do you send one to your pediatrician? The kind, nurturing doctor who welcomed your babies into the world? Apparently, they posted ours for all the other patients to see. And this, I believe, was a wise thing for any pediatrician to do. Every self-doubting, worried, tired parent will walk by our Christmas picture tacked so firmly to the bulletin board in the hallway and think to themselves, "Well, we're bad. But not that bad."

Our family's self-sacrificing for this town knows no bounds. We just love and love and love around here. And they just laugh and laugh and laugh at us. Glad we can be therapeutic to others. Next week, I'm going to staple my eyebrows to the carpet and let the children surf on my backside for a while, just so other parents feel better about themselves.

Until then, I'll be the lady at the park who is really nice to you, desperate really, until you bring up our goofy Christmas picture, then I'll slunk away a bit deflated. Or I'll try to deflect by asking what you think about vaccinations or immigration.

And if you are the lady who I met at the park, I'm sorry my daughter taught your son how to climb up the outside of the slide and that my nephew pulled his pants down and peed in the wood chips. And I'm sorry that my nervous laugh is so annoying. But hopefully, just when you were starting to feel intimidated by my charming wit or my perfect parenting, you realized I was part of the goofy Christmas card and you suddenly felt better about yourself. Yes, that was my intention.

Laughing at myself and resting in Him,


When Little Ones Watch the Kentucky Derby...

...they take it very seriously.

Especially when their horse doesn't win.