Wednesday, November 28, 2007

You Never Let Go

I'm standing in my kitchen at 11:22pm wrapping up chocolate covered pretzels for the girls at my Mom's Time Out table. We meet in about 10 hours, that is a depressing thought! Not much time for sleep.

I'm also talking to myself as I work through what I am going to say in a few days at the women's Christmas banquet that I am going to emcee.

My point is, my mind is a little bit of everywhere, yet nowhere.

I have some music playing and am currently listening to the song "You Never Let Go" by Matt Redmen (it's on my playlist on the right hand side if you want to click on it and listen to it). I'm completely taken back to the first time I heard that song last April. I can't hear this song without going back to that night. It is a night that is engraved in my brain and my soul for the rest of my life. It was a night that I experienced the body of Christ in a new way. It was a heart wrenching night. A night full of questions. A night full of tears. A night full of hurt. A night full of anger. At the same time there was peace in the midst of the storm. We listened to this song. The lyrics stung. The lyrics comforted. We cried. We prayed. I saw grown men's hearts breaking. I saw people holding one another up, figuratively and literally. It was a night when I think I experienced a microscopic piece of how God's heart breaks at our sin and how much the sacrifice of our daily failures really cost. Ironically, this experience took place at Easter. I remember clearly that Sunday church service as the reality of God's sacrifice for our sins was revealed to me in a new light.

As I stand here in my kitchen I keep thinking how our past doesn't define us. I think that is a misnomer. It's not our past that is the definition, it's who we are now and what we're doing with the past. The here and now. The present. The past, be it good or bad has definitely influenced who we are today, but it can either be a crutch or a label we cling to or a step that moves us forward.

I hate that night back in April. I can't believe that was 7 months ago. I feel so raw right now just remembering the details that in some ways it feels like last week. At the same time, I'm overwhelmed with gratitude as I listen to the lyrics of that song, that God never let's go. Through the calm and through the storm. That our past failures don't define us in His eyes.

My Little Elves

Unfortunately I don't think there is a way to put this on my blog, just the link , but if you have a second (it was a little slow to download the first time) I highly encourage you to visit the site and watch. I know I'm bias, but I thought it was cute and made me laugh.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving in Michigan

We spent the past week in Michigan visiting friends and family. We headed out on Tuesday morning and made the 10 hour drive without any incidences. On Wednesday we met up with my brother's family. He has two girls...the oldest is 5 and the youngest is just 6 weeks younger then Brooke. It's a lot of fun to see them all together.
Later that day we went over to my girlfriends house for dinner. Shelly has 2 boys and we're hoping and praying that someday sparks will fly between one of her boys and one of my girls so we can be in-laws!
Thanksgiving day we spent with my friend, Laurie. She is like my big sister and it was so nice to relax and be with her family. Brooke warmed up to them instantly and even chose to cuddle with them instead of me!
Brooke had a lot of fun with Laurie's son, Bryan...she thought he was pretty silly and enjoyed playing with him.
On Friday we celebrated Thanksgiving again with my Mom and my brother's family. Despite the fact that my brother's kids both had ear infections the girls had a great time.
I must have taken 100 pictures of these two in attempts to get a good picture, but I never had much success. My niece is 6 weeks younger then Brooke and the two were curious about each other but not yet at the point of wanting to actually play with each other.
On Saturday I met Shelly at a place called Jungle Java. It's basically coffee house meets McDonald's playzone on steroids. It's not a quiet environment, but it is nice to have the kids totally entertained while being able to socialize with a friend. I think this concept would be awesome in WA with all the rainy weather!
The kids had a blast and completely wore themselves out! A final good-bye until our next visit.
We drove home on Sunday. The girls were troopers and did great on the drive. Not much napping, but they watched a lot of movies and did a lot of coloring. The second we pulled in the driveway the girls were out of the car and next door playing in the leaves with our neighbors. Brooke was happy to be back with her "duggies" and chased them around the yard trying to give them hugs.



Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I've been quiet for a few days because we've been in Michigan. We made the 10 hour drive on Tuesday and it's been a busy few days since we've arrived.

We had our first Thanksgiving feast with friends today and tomorrow we'll celebrate with family. The girls love the late movie nights and full days of playing with friends and family!

We'll head home this weekend...so pictures will have to wait.

Happy holidays to all!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I Hear Them Laughing In My Head

Don't worry, I'm not hearing voices. Just laughing...I hope.

I'm working on some stand-up? A speech? Not sure what to call it.

I've been asked to emcee our women's Christmas banquet through our church. It's two nights, about 300 women each night at a banquet hall with a formal dinner and entertainment and message. I'm sort of the non-lesbian Ellen Degeneres of the evening...although I won't be dancing...I would like to actually, but there will be a lot of white hair in the crowd that would probably have no idea what I am doing!

So I'm working on my intro and standing in the kitchen pretending I'm in front of a mic in front of 300 naked women...actually that doesn't help my nerves...who thought of that technique? Obviously a man! I think the things I'm saying will get a laugh, in fact...I'm even optimistic and working on pausing at certain sections while the roar of the crowd dissipates so they don't miss my next hilarious comment. But seriously, what if they all just look at me? I've watched a lot of stand up comics put out a joke to receive nothing in return. You know that wasn't how they envisioned it when they were rehearsing! I wondering if I could ask the woman in charge of women's ministries if it would be inappropriate to have her stand on stage right with a giant cue card that says "APPLAUSE" to hold up on occasion. Perhaps a little tacky.

I know I am just the foot, heck, the toe in the entire evenings agenda (some of you may get that "body of Christ" analogy) but seriously, hang nails can really hurt and become completely distracting! I want to be a great pedicure that makes the women feel good about the whole evening and enhances the entire production.

Hopefully I can be affective feet, and the music can be affective hands, and the fellowship can be an affective body, and then the message can reach and effect the women that will be attending.

A Day With Daddy

Today was my "me" day at the mall (that is another post!) so Daddy put the girls to work! They had a blast playing in the leaves...considering we live in the woods on nearly 2 acres there are a lot of leaves! I'm impressed that Daddy remembered to take some pictures for me so I could see how much fun they had while I was gone.
Brooke was scared of Daddy's loud yellow leaf blower and wanted to be held by Baileigh. She is also scared of our loud yellow vacuum and always wants to be held. We're creating a phobia of loud yellow household appliances.

Our township will come around and collect leaf piles along the road next week. This basket was Brooke's contribution in transporting the leaves...I don't think they ever made it to the appropriate pile.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Manic High

Why is it that some days I can barely muster up enough energy to get myself out of bed and other days I feel as though I'm on a manic high. I remember studying manic depression in grad school and reading about people who would accomplish amazing feats while in the midst of a manic high...write books, create masterpieces of art, rearrange rooms with heavy pieces of furniture etc. Today something got in to me and I couldn't be stopped!

It started off as a typical day. I managed to get myself to the gym. My 5k turned into a run/walk, but at least it was accomplished. I can't believe how quickly I've regressed since triathlon season! Ugh. I need to find a race for this spring to get myself motivated! I returned home and got Baileigh on the bus, complete with her money for school pictures and looking presentable...who knows what she looked like by picture time. I took Mckenna to school and actually remembered her hat and gloves since they seem to play outside almost every day and she always tells me she was cold. Of course today they didn't go outside.

I returned home and became a possessed woman. I had planned on trying to get the kitchen mopped during Brooke's nap. The following occurred in the next 3 hours. I did 3 loads of laundry. Folded. Put away. I mopped. I mopped about 2500 square feet. I put away the fall decorations. Got out the boxes of Christmas decorations for later. I loaded up 10 garbage bags for Goodwill with hand me downs that I sorted about a month ago. I stripped 2 beds. Remade the beds. Washed the sheets. Folded and put away. Unloaded the dishwasher. Loaded dishwasher with dishes in the sink. Vacuumed. Cleaned 3 bathrooms...sinks and counters, toilets, sprayed down the shower, scrubbed a tub. Threw out old bath toys. Washed dog pillow covers. Cleaned up the toy room. Found 2 old sippy cups. Threw out chunky milk sippy cups.

Mckenna was dropped off by our carpool and began coloring while I finished the upstairs mopping. Brooke never napped but I made her stay in her room since I was a possessed cleaning machine...I think she was cussing at me in baby speak. Baileigh came home as I was putting the house back together. The girls had a snack while I finished my projects and then crafts began. In attempts for a perfect "10" in terms of housekeeping and mothering in one day we had craft night. First we made Pilgrim Hat cookies. They were easy to make...only frustration was that the yellow buckle didn't show up great with the decorating gel I used...I recommend frosting instead.

Brooke approved of our cookies!
Our next craft was caramel apples. Not only were we doing crafts...but potentially messy crafts! And I just mopped! Usually after I mop I don't even want to eat our next meal at home. In fact, I want to stay away from the house as long as possible so that my clean house can stay clean just a little longer! But, still in my manic state, we crafted without incident.
The girls were in bed by 8:00. I was able to come downstairs and find a clean house. No dishes waiting on me. No clothes in the washer or dryer, or even in their hampers for that matter! Floors are clean. No dog hair to be seen. Rugs are vacuumed. Yankee candle aroma filling the air. Life is good. I knew that if I ever stopped today for any amount of time I would never continue. Now that I have finally sat down to brag about my productive day I know for a fact that I would have never continued on my rampage if I had taken a break! So now, it's finally time to get out of my gym clothes and take a shower!

Maybe I was motivated by the fact that tomorrow I get the entire day off! Brad is on a plane as I type and tomorrow I'm getting a haircut and then heading for a day of shopping with some girls and dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, and maybe a movie. Which means that Brad will be home with the girls all day...I better enjoy my clean house now because I'm doubting it will look like this by tomorrow night.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Her Debut

Tonight Baileigh had an open house at her ballet class. Essentially this means that parents and friends were welcome to come in the studio and watch. I completely forgot about it until we showed up, so unfortunately I didn't have my camera!

I haven't seen her dance since she began in the class in September. She has shown me a few things at home but it's hard to tell what she is really learning. I had so much fun watching her perform! I can completely admit that she hasn't been blessed with grace or flexibility...she gets that from her Daddy! However, she knew the moves perfectly and frequently led the class in a pose. I was proud and laughing inside at the same time. I couldn't stop smiling, watching her adorable little self in her leotard and skirt striking awkward poses and leaping around comletely enjoying herself and confident in spite of herself.

Almost cuter then her performance was her sisters watching from the corner and following all the instructions of Baileigh's ballet teacher. They had their own little show going on to the amusement of the other parents...I need to learn to carry my camera with me everywhere because I missed a great photo opportunity!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Enjoying Lunch


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Family Pictures

On Saturday we attempted family photos. They went...okay. Brooke wasn't that cooperative. We managed to get one photo of her standing and smiling (but her pants were pulled up high and they look too short). We also were able to get one family photo that is decent...I liked last years photo better. The biggest disappointment is that I couldn't get a picture of the three girls together. We had saved this photo for the end and Brooke would not cooperate! These are a few of the proofs, the color looks off for some reason, but you get the idea.




Bed Time

No matter what kind of day I've had there is always something about freshly bathed kiddos all snuggly in their pj's and reading books that always gets me.







Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sick Day

We've been sick for the entire week. I haven't mentioned it, I think I've been in denial. Thus the reason for the frequent postings...I have been home, a lot! Last Monday I kept the girls home from school. They both had croupy coughs and Mckenna had a low fever. Since the girls had Tuesday off for election day I figured this would give them 2 days to mend and be back to 100%. Wrong.

Mckenna got worse on Monday night and her low grade fever hit 104. I had already had flu shot appointments scheduled for Tuesday so I took Baileigh and Brooke in for their shots and Mckenna saw the Dr. to make sure she didn't have something other then a virus. He said there was a lot of low grade fevers with congested cough and runny nose going around and it typically lasts 3-5 days. We headed home to lay low and heal.

On Thursday night Mckenna's fever finally broke and we remained fever free for 24 hours...but now it's Brooke's turn. Yesterday we attempted family pictures (that is another post) and Brooke wasn't very cooperative. When we got home I discovered she had a temperature, too. And guess what, Mckenna's fever is back. So it looks like we may possibly be spending a lot of this next week at home, too. Brad is heading out of town for the week so I won't get any relief. I guess that means we're off to the video store for some new movies since our 30+ DVD's aren't exciting enough. Our transition into fall/winter has not gone smoothly. Hopefully we're getting it all out of the way early.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Everybody Dance

Blogger doesn't hate me anymore! I haven't been able to upload video through Blogger...but tonight I made some changes and was successful!

Here is a little video of the girls from the other day. I was folding a load of clothes and Brooke took a pair of her sister's underwear and ran off to the other room. She reappeared proud of her accomplishment and showing off her new dance. Her sisters joined the fun.

video

Kid's Kingdom Choir

Tonight Baileigh had her first concert with our church choir, Kid's Kingdom. She was a little nervous...intense was a better word, but she said she had fun despite how serious she seemed!

Her choir is K-5 so she is one of the youngest in the group, but I think she held her own fine.
video

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Today I took Baileigh to a roller skating party. It was just the two of us, which doesn't happen often, and we had so much fun! This was only Baileigh's second time on skates so she required some assistance.

It's impossible for me to not go into a skating rink without feeling time warped into the mid-eighties...back to my church youth group days at Boneventure Skating Rink. Every rink has the same smelly tan skates with orange wheels, disco ball, black lights, ugly carpet, old school arcade games and loud music. Ahh, the memories! The pressures of "Shoot The Duck" and the nerves surrounding "Couples Skate!"

The boy behind Baileigh is Jack. Jack is in her Kindergarten class and they also spend a lot of time together at the gym since his mom works out at the same time as me. Jack's parents have told me that he is pretty smitten with Baileigh and that he acts sweet and passive around her instead of his normal loud and rambunctious demeanor. Baileigh says he is nice and one of her best boy friends, but seems fairly unaware of his fondness for her.
I couldn't help but feel like the entire experience was an allegory for life. Baileigh initially wanting me with her, to help her and teach her. Then Baileigh telling me it's time to leave her, that she would be fine without me. I stood back and watched her fall. I wanted to run to her (well, skate to her) but I knew I needed to let her fall down. She struggled at times, but persisted and eventually her confidence grew. I was nervous on her behalf but proud of her at the same time. So many parallels I could make to her impending adolescents!

A Year Ago Today

November 8, 2006

The long awaited day finally arrived. Brad was delayed about an hour but overall things went smoothly. The terminal was chaotic and cramped and it made the wait pretty miserable. The girls colored to pass the time and ate as many cookies as they could sneak from the snack table. Brooke ate a miniature American Flag while she waited.

There were a bunch of young, immature wives without children that crowded in front of the glass doors pushing children out of the way and screaming like teenagers at a concert when the plane landed. These same girls were primping in the bathroom while they giggled as I stood in the handicap stall waiting to wipe a poopy bottom...not mine for clarification...man, did I ever feel old listening to them. I convinced the girls that if we stood towards the back of the line (not that we had much choice thanks to the selfish and immature wives without kids...yes I am a little bitter) Daddy would be able to see their signs better.
Mckenna was the first to spot Daddy and ran to him. I think he felt her on his leg before he ever saw her. I don't think she really let go of that leg all night! Mckenna is a Daddy's girl and I think this deployment was the hardest on her by far. I think she had all she could take and with the anticipation of his arrival she had several meltdowns in the terminal. Picture a cute little girl with pig tails in a "USA Girl" costume holding a sign she scribbled in one hand and an American flag in the other loudly crying "I want my Daddy in my country!" I think she melted a few hearts.
Although Mckenna never let go of Daddy, she did have to look away in disgust of his ugly mustache...okay maybe that is Mommy commentary, but I'm doing my best to convince every girl in our house to have the same opinion. Power in numbers!
Brooke did well with the initial reunion, but she is warming up slowly overall. I told Brad not to be frustrated or disappointed since it has been four months and it'll probably take a few weeks...I also suggested that the entire bonding process would go more quickly if he shaved off that scary mustache!
So we survived...did we thrive? At times. The reunion is over, the reintegration begins. I'm looking forward to it even if it may be a bumpy ride at times especially considering we've been apart 4 months and now we'll have the next 14 days of being together 24/7. The girls are ecstatic and Daddy is a rock start and I'm second fiddle now...but I'm definitely happy to play that role...at least it's a new hat!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The It's Its There Their They're Quiz

I always think that I'm really bad at grammer. I wonder where my mind was when I was in English class! When I saw this quiz on my friend's blog, I was curious to see how poorly I would score...surprise! Perfect Score! Maybe I'm just hard on myself and second guess what I think is correct.

Hope my good results don't aggitate my friend...as I read her post I was thinking that I am probably one of those people who has a bunch of grammatical errors in my posts and completely annoying my grammer gifted girlfriends!

You Scored an A

You got 10/10 questions correct.

It's pretty obvious that you don't make basic grammatical errors.
If anything, you're annoyed when people make simple mistakes on their blogs.
As far as people with bad grammar go, you know they're only human.
And it's humanity and its current condition that truly disturb you sometimes.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Not His "A" Game

Last night was a calamity of errors for my well intended husband. I debated blogging about them and decided the evening was too funny not to share.

I mentioned somewhere in a previous post that we're frog sitting for friends who are on vacation. Unfortunately, this means feeding them live crickets every few days! We only do this for great friends! Last night Brad fed the frogs while the girls watched on excitedly. Brad commented several times that he thought most of the crickets in the box were dead. Later that evening I heard the crickets chirping. I had heard them a few times earlier in the week, but they seemed especially loud and active. I teased Brad about how loud his dead crickets were tonight!

A few hours later I went to set a glass in the kitchen sink and was startled by a cricket. I yelled for Brad and we discovered that he had failed to seal the cricket box tightly and they were escaping!!! I would like to say I was calm, but I freaked out at the thought of crickets in my cupboards! I think Brad caught about 7, and insisted that was all that got out, yeah, right...they were all dead, too! I guess they were so loud earlier in the evening because they were celebrating their great escape! The frogs were elated as they got to eat about 3 times their normal dinner portion!

Later that night Brad decided to build a fire in the fireplace in our bedroom. We have 3 fireplaces in this house but we've yet to use any of them. I think he was inspired since he spent Sunday afternoon chopping up some firewood. He thought he had the flue open...but as our room quickly filled with smoke he learned that the flue obviously wasn't opening like he had thought. He worked on it for a few minutes without success while the fire grew and the smoke started to fill the room. I shut our bedroom door to contain the smoke and opened all of our windows. I also ran to the bathroom and started filling a large glass with water to douse the fire.

So instead of a cozy fire warming our bedroom in our big stone fireplace, we sat with our eyes burning from the smoke and shivering in our smoke scented comforter with the windows open and fans blowing until about midnight while we waited for the room to be non toxic! Today I had to wash the comforter on our bed and our linens, light every candle I own (good thing I got a few new ones!) and keep the windows open despite the cold weather in attempts to air out the camp fire scent permeating our master bedroom. I'm afraid we're going to be like cigarette smokers who can't even smell their own scent...we'll show up at church and friends will ask us if we just came from a camp fire!

My Addiction, My Therapy

I love candles. Yankee Candles. I've always been fond of the mood enhancing ambiance created by that small scented flame, but my addiction grew in the rainy months of winter in Washington when a lit candle became clinically therapeutic!

I've created a candle of the month club...in my mind...I'm the sole member currently. It's my big indulgence. But I'm all about finding a good deal on my candles. In fact, due to my loyal patronage, I frequently get Buy 1 Get 1 Free coupons! I just got one the other day in the mail and was planning my entire week around a shopping trip over near our Yankee Candle store. As much as I tried to justify, I really had no other reason to head over to that part of town except to buy my candle. Yesterday I got the standard Bed Bath and Beyond coupon for $5 off any purchase over $15...that gave me the thought to check and see if they would honor my manufacturer coupon from Yankee Candle for buy 1 get one free! YES! So today I was literally next door to a BBB and stopped in for my treat! I paid full price for one large candle which I think is $24.99 (they have a new style with a decorative tin lid!) and got another large candle for free! Then I selected another large candle from their fragrances of the month which are marked down about 25% and I used my $5 off coupon which made it about $13...so I got 3 large candles that would have cost $75 for $38! I'm not great about remembering coupons or bargain shopping, but since I can admit that the reality is I'm going to burn this money, literally...I always wait for a good deal and I think I did well today.

Now I have to decide which one to burn first and which one to give away since I bought one for a hostess gift. See what nice gifts I'll bring if you invite me over! Since I bought 2 with Cranberry themes I'll probably keep 1 and then keep the Vanilla Caramel. Decisions, Decisions! I should be deciding what to do for dinner, but that isn't as important! This decision could affect my overall mental well being on a cold and gray day when the endorphins in my brain are stimulated by the right scent and the flickering candle flame. Dinner...well by bedtime it won't even matter what we ate!

Monday, November 05, 2007

"Something's Leaking Mom!"

Around 3:00am I hear Baileigh calling me. She tells me something is leaking. She is still very sleepy and very confused. I ask her what she is talking about and she says that her bed is wet and something is leaking. I did some investigating and broke it to her that she had wet the bed. She denied the accusation and insisted that something must be leaking. Again. I explained my evidence...wet underwear and pj's, wet circle on the bed in the appropriate proximity to where she was laying, and the strong smell of urine. She pondered my case and then started to giggle. "I wet the bed!"

I think this is maybe the 4th time in her life that Baileigh has wet the bed and the first time in about 3 years. She was extremely easy to potty train and never needed pull ups. So considering she is a few days into being 6 she thought that this was pretty funny!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

What Does This Say About Me?

My husband just got a fun offer for a guys night out. I gave him my blessing and am happy for him. My immediate thought was...oh good, after I put the girls to bed I can go downstairs in the basement and watch Desperate Housewives and finish sorting through the huge pile of hand me down clothes that I'm organizing!

"Oh Good!?"
I'm seriously excited about the chance to finish this project! When did this happen to me? When did piles of clothes arranged in piles ranging from 0-12 months up to 6T and garbage bags full of clothes for Goodwill become something that I could be so enthusiastic about?

Party Time

I think we're finally done celebrating Baileigh's 6th birthday. Don't you love it how kids can drag it out to a 72 hour celebration and as adults we may get 5 minutes of attention in the office or at dessert...and often that is 5 minutes more then we want! Why is that? I'm still all about celebrating birthdays! Does one's life become less significant as you add on the years? I think the contrary occurs and each year the party should get bigger as we have more under our belts to commemorate...usually literally and figuratively.

Okay, enough of my birthday soapbox...that was for my fuddy-duddy-anti-birthday husband.

Mckenna greeted Baileigh at her bus stop with balloons that she had carefully selected! Baileigh was full of smiles and proud of the special crown she had been given by her teacher and allowed to wear all day.
We met our friends at a small diner close by for dinner...and of course more birthday celebrating! We're babysitting their 2 tree frogs this week while they go on vacation...Baileigh thinks this is the best birthday gift of all. I keep reminding her we're giving them back in a week. I don't think it's sinking in!
Saturday afternoon was Baileigh's official party. She had 3 girls from her class and 2 friends from church come over for cake and ice cream and then to a movie! Can you guess? Yep, the Bee movie. I've been asked what I thought of the movie several times. I honestly can't answer...a movie with 7 little girls was fairly distracting. They were really well behaved, and I only made one potty trip, with Mckenna, but I felt like I was constantly helping someone open candy wrappers, hold water bottles, adjust booster seats, etc. I think the movie was pretty funny.
I had asked Baileigh if she wanted me to plan any games...I was told "no thanks, Mom, I'll take care of it!" Alrighty then, I won't beg! Take care of it she did...her first born type-A personality kicked right in and she organized her own parade and a few games. Her girlfriends loved it and obeyed her every command. These are those proud and embarrassing moments at the same time. She has picked up a lot of ideas from her Kindergarten teacher and I even heard her say a few of the things used in her classroom to get the kids to quiet down and listen.
Baileigh shared her "secret birthday wish" with me at bedtime. She wished that this would be the year she looses a tooth! I told her I thought that wish would come true and she went to bed happy, probably dreaming of her toothless grin!