Once upon a time, I sat in a rocking chair and lulled you to sleep. You always snuggled in, grasping a lock of my hair and fluttering eyelashes that were oh, so long.
Now, you have a bedtime routine that doesn't involve me. Hey, I think that means I've done something right! You've even started reading before lights-out, a kindred spirit :-). We hug, kiss, pray. Your eyes close quickly, lashes still enviable.
In a few years, I will not know what time you choose to visit dreamland. Your nightly rituals will, no doubt, vary by the weight of your responsibilities and the exhaustion of your day. The room down the hall might still be pink, but the twinkle lights will be long gone. Just know, I will still be talking to God about you, as we gaze upon the same moon.
You were born in the wee hours of a new day, greeted by lullaby songs and soft lighting....you are a funny, friendly, determined, focused, loving, talented, child of God....you are above and beyond anything I could have wished for.
You will always be my little girl.
She was gorgeous, he looked truly fine.
My car made it home, sans ding or bang.
For their relationship, I can't say the same.
Only she knows what he said to make it end.
I'm just the financier, not a trusted friend.
(I love you, BigBro!!
And I know we are friends :-})
I like New Year's Eve. We've never gotten all decked out and celebrated in style, but we do have our own...mmHmm...traditions. For the most part, we play games with the children, watch movies and crack open the sparkling cider at 11:59pm. Even without a fancy wardrobe, the moment glitters with its own kind of promise, another chance to put hope in action.
Before the fun begins, I'd like to look ahead to 2010 by sharing a few of the sites that I'm bookmarking as my categorized resolutions.
Spirit.....Evotional contains golden nuggets of wisdom, Jon at StuffChristiansLike makes me smile/think/laugh/ponder, and I plan to camp out at Faith Imagined on a regular basis. Music is vital to my spiritual growth; "It Is Well" by Kutless will take me through the winter.
Soul......I'll be taking my book addiction to the next level by participating in these challenges at BookJourney. If you want to expand your knowledge of young adult literature and children's books, check out Jen Robinson's Book Page. Her recommendations have enriched my teaching. Readergirlz is a unique site, promoting Operation TBA while showcasing authors and new YA Lit.
Body......The Amazing Adventures Of DietGirl is the most inspiring health memoir I've read. Shauna is honest about her journey and her blog is fun!
Passion.....Teachers never stop learning. We look for ideas to keep us fresh, to motivate our students and to make the learning process relevant. Mrs. McGowan's 1st grade site is amazing. If her school was anywhere near me, I'd volunteer to sit at her feet! Mrs. Cassidy's blog is interactive and child-centered, making me wish I had a child in her class.
Self......Got a Blog? Make a book! The Cutest Blog On The Block offers the opportunity to print your blog! I'm not sure if they can operate with a Typepad blog, but the idea intrigues me (I love the paper trail.). The site also offers many blog templates, designs and freebies, like the one that is blinking in this post! SickerdoodleDesigns introduced me to the world of digital scrapbooking--but, I have yet to actually do anything in this media. Maybe 2010 will show that I've mastered a new hobby.
Happy New Year!!
According to the Global Language Monitor, Twitter snagged the #1 spot in a list of the top words in 2009.
The top fifteen words included Obama, H1N1 (no vowels...is that a word?), Stimulus, Healthcare, Unemployed, and Vampire. Truly, a snapshot of our culture at the end of this decade.
Hmm. I voted for a different candidate, H1N1 hit 30% of our family, we didn't see any money from the stimulus, our healthcare costs are over $1000/month, one of us may soon be unemployed, and, *cringe*, I saw New Moon by myself and enjoyed every minute. At first glance, I thought the list was far removed from my life, but I guess I was wrong.
Hindsight provides better adjectives and nouns, by which to remember my '09: Wicked~the musical, competition trophies, sixteenth birthday, first job, baseball, tournaments, dance team, New York, family vacation, cousins, movies via books, teaching, friends & concerts, Psalms, songs, reconciliation, love...
What words describe your life experience in 2009?
PS: I Twitter, do you?!
Question Of The Day: What do you most want for your family's future?
Presented by Intel, Sponsors of Tomorrow.
My husband has two sisters. He is the middle child, bookended by females who have grown into fabulous women. In my life, I have never seen siblings who are so close. Their dedication to and love for one another is one of the things that made me admire my future spouse.
With our four children, we have encouraged a strong commitment to the family. Admitedly, this has become difficult as the oldest entered the teen years. I most want our family to have bonds that transcend time, space, and distance. As Christians, my husband and I dedicated our children to God. I pray that the faith they have been raised in will remain in their hearts; I pray that their faith will grow to become a vital part of who they are.
I want my children to lean on each other in their adult years, not just show up for holidays or occasions. I know that each of them will forge friendships that are familial and I support that, but I hope that our family will remain strong even after I am gone.
We've just returned from a long weekend at the lake with my generous in-laws. A group of 15, we came together and split apart as interests dictated. I keep seeing descriptive words, floating across my brain screen:
waves laughter naps sunshine sunburn wine grilled magazines bowling jet skis motor boat
photographs playdough whispers cool teens&tots glee spats roadtrip songs memories
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Hey, son of mine, we've hit a bump in the road. Naively, I thought we'd detour around this rock when, upon witnessing the road rage of your older brother, you promised, "Mom, I will never talk that way or roll my eyes at you.".
Hi...right now, you're dreaming of a future that is actually going to be a fork in the road. You want a husband, children, cottage by the sea. You also hope to have a career, be independent, do something memorable. In 1980, both goals are attainable, just not in the exact order you are hoping for.
I'm thrilled that you are immersed in the energy that is uniquely "high school". Enjoy your size 5 jeans and do not sell your cheerleading uniform to the girl who takes your spot upon graduation. Trust me, you will need to see it for future motivation. In fact, embrace the whole aerobics trend by becoming a certified instructor; don't ever give up on moving your body. You will need the strength and confidence that fitness can give. Start looking for colleges this year. Be brave. If jumping state lines, outrageous tuition, or a suite filled with strangers seems too intimidating, APPLY ANYWAY! Your grades will open more doors than you can fathom, but you need to believe in yourself. Which reminds me, keep singing. Sing for joy, with passion. Believing in yourself applies here, too. God will keep providing opportunities for you to use this gift. And yet.....you may look back and see many places where you walked the other way, afraid that you weren't good enough. In the end, it isn't about a career or a deal. It's part of who you are and will always be, a source of solace and truth. (Oh, um, sing during the prelude at the wedding ceremony, from the loft, but NOT at the wedding reception.)
Now, I'm going to tell you something that will transform your life. You know how your heart just aches when you break up with a guy? How you have a hard time opening your eyes in order to see another worthy boy? This is because you have a serious problem with "goodbye", which stems from waving to your daddy from the front porch steps and never seeing him alive again. You're going to have issues with anything you lose: keys, papers, jewelry, friends, etc. The sooner you realize this, the better; you will be free to enjoy your relationships for what they are, in each space of time that they are yours, not expecting more than is available, not mourning what is better gone. Very soon, In a time of huge transition, you are going to seriously fall in love. Go ahead. But don't clutch him or overanalyze the whole thing! I'm not giving permission for you to compromise your/our moral values, but let yourself go a little. Also, over the next eight years, don't listen to anyone who tries to spiritualize your love life. If someone says, "I heard from God that 'he' is the one for you", run. Then, find an in-depth Bible study and a church with a strong foundation in scripture. You'll be a decade ahead of yourself.
In the first picture, he aspires to the role of Secret Service Agent. Nice pants.
He did set his sites on upper management.
Comedian....his teachers still describe him as having an abundance of verbal charisma. I wish he'd talk that much at home. I LOVE to see him smile!
From his earliest days, BigBro has shown an infuriating ability to take a conversation and twist it into something unrecognizable.
He can now spell "Your" correctly.
We've cheered him on for five seasons of football! This fall, he'll move up to Varsity----Go Team! Don't get hurt!
I really like the face guard.
In his current glory, BigBro avoids the camera. Well, my camera. If you are lucky enough to be one of his +900 friends on Facebook, you get to see many photos of his adorable grin. Um, he rejected me as a Friend, so I follow him around and attempt to score candids.
But, he never fails to tell me "I love you" when checking in by phone....no matter who can hear him. That Facebook thing? All is forgiven.
"Possession: Something that's not important until you have to give it up to somebody else." from Mind Games
AM 6:05 Alarm Clock Speaks
A week ago today, one of our dearest friends was laid to rest. He became ill quite suddenly, experiencing a cardiac arrest that left him on life support. For four days, his family remained by his side, seeking counsel. They graciously allowed my husband and me to be there in his final hours.
We met a few years ago, through our daughters. Two effervescent seven-year-olds, fresh from a dance camp, bonded us together. As a single dad, our friend spent many nights just hangin' out with us. His amazing laugh can still be heard in the background of a LilBro created Y*uTube video. Hubby and Friend took the girls on an Americ*n Girl road trip last year....memories that brought smiles as his life was celebrated. And, he shared his heart with us. We didn't realize at the time, that he was entrusting his broken-ness to us. We thought he was the "king of overshare" with all of his pals! During the funeral, we became aware of the fragile gift he had given to us. I am forever changed. We didn't always see past our friend's personal concerns. Now I know that he trusted us to give him wise counsel. We did. But sometimes we rolled our eyes and lifted a brow, wishing he could see the bigger picture.
Now, he has an incredible, indescribable view. The night he died, I could not sleep. The tears fell so fast, I placed a washcloth on my pillow. I wanted so much to ask him, "Well, what happened when you left your body? Did you feel pain during the hospital stay? Who led you into the Great Beyond? Have you seen Jesus? Tell Him I love Him! Have you met Sara? Give her a kiss from mommy! Can you see your little girl from heaven? I promise to help take care of her....." I knew that if he could he would have excitedly told me the answers to my questions. The next day, tears fell upon each remembrance and I lost my breath whenever I thought of that moment when the machines stopped. The thin veil seems very, very close.
We accompanied the family to the burial, a military honor for his service in Vietnam. The flag was folded as Taps played and the world spun around me when the soldiers handed the triangle cloth to his ten-year-old princess. She will be spending a few days with us next week, which I plan to fill with security and serendipity.
Look around your space---see the ones you love, the people your life touches each day?
Hug them hard.
Say the words.
From There's No Place Like Here by Cecelia Ahern~~~
"At moments when life is at its worst there are two things that you can do:
1) break down, lose hope, and refuse to go on while lying facedown on the ground banging your fists and
kicking your legs, or
I happily share these smiles with you!
BigBro allowed me to give him some MamaLove on Thanksgiving!
BabyDoll gives Uncle Andrew a sweet smile. His response to her made me want to have another baby!
LilBro's blue eyes were glowing on our Christmas voyage. Yes, they really are that blue!
"But as for me, I will sing each morning about your power and mercy. For You have been my high tower of refuge, a place of safety in the day of my distress." Psalm 59:16
The psalmist has caught my attention. When the days contain distress, I must not only remember God's power and mercy, I must sing about them! Psalm 59 was written by David when Saul was in pursuit. According to my Bible, Saul sent men to watch the house and try to kill David. Can you imagine the poor quality of David's sleep during these nights?! Have you ever faced a situation that made staying in bed seem like an excellent idea? Our family is in the middle of such a circumstance; I know my hubby isn't sleeping, his side of the bed is empty early in the AM. In contrast, my sleep is deep and haunting. When morning dawns, I am exhausted from the battles of the night. I don't feel like singing these days, especially not before the coffee has brewed.
David asked God to "Awake", "Defend", "Deliver". He spoke of his enemies as growling, howling dogs with swords in their lips, a life-threatening foe. Hubby and I are not in danger of losing our lives, but we just might lose our lifestyle. I don't have a problem with that, actually. Selling our home would remove an incredible burden from my husband's shoulders. And I have peace in knowing that God will work all things out for my good, because I love and serve Him. The process, however, is daunting! Preparing the house for listing is a full-time job, filled with tasks that I despise. As I remove photos from shelves and sort through toddler toys, I am overcome by nostalgia. The "despise + despair= depressed" equation is no joke, especially when I look up and see hubby's own pain revealed in his expression. Of course, the children--and the dog--know a % of the details. What they haven't been told outright, they are absorbing through osmosis. Pressure keeps building, like an awakened volcano.
*Selah* (pause and consider)
Of His power, His mercy, His strength.
I will sing....aloud.
Knowing that He is my God, my refuge, my strong tower.
(If you want to pray, my heart thanks you. For my noteworthy blogging pals, please forgive my absence on your blog comments.)
This pose seemed like a good idea...until the flash ruined G-man and the camera holder began a screaming match with the person holding the ornament.
We moved into the great room for a quick pic with our very tiny tree (which has a valid explanation that I can't share). Whaddya think?
Your opinions are valued but this is my final pose, regardless. I'm running out of time. I'm also convicted by today's sermon topic: Rebel against the cultural tide of consumerism/hurry-sickness/habit at Christmas.
Time is not on my side this year, the school break is shorter than usual, January is looking scary for its own reasons----------this morn at church, I gleefully trashed my prior expectations of the season.
Choose whichever photo makes you smile brighter and receive this "*MERRY CHRISTMAS*" from my family to yours!
Last year, I used an idea from Family Fun and crafted a winning Christmas photo. With pictures and props relevant to our family, the layout resembled an "I Spy" page. Very cute. Now, I'm out of ideas! My sweet sugarplums do not wish to pose in a contrived fashion. Brilliance is hard to find when the subject matter is in various states of veg-out. Although no one is in an awkward phase (remember that one year of middle school?), we are out of the 'toothless smiles-big bows-adorable clothes' years of childhood.
I'm just....tired. Adding up postage gave me a shock. The addresses of our faithful friends have never been recorded; I save the envelopes each year and refer to them in the next.
What to do, what to do, sigh____________________what are your season's greetings plans?
DollyGirl and I made fudge today. The recipe has been handed down from my mama and is a lip-smacking holiday tradition. I'd like to say "Thanks" to Blogdom for the fun that's been had in '07 by sharing the recipe!
4 & 1/2 cups sugar
1 can evaporated milk
1 stick butter
Pour these ingredients into a large pot and melt on medium to high heat. Stir!! When it reaches a boil, turn the heat on high and keep stirring for 8 minutes. This is critical! The mixture will become frothy.
When the 8 minutes are up, move the pot to a cool burner and add---
12 oz. chocolate chips (you can substitute any flavor and change the fudge)
1 pint marshmallow creme
8 Hershey Bars ( approximately 12 oz. of this candy bar...you might be tempted to do a substitution here, but do NOT! Trust me.)
If everything cooked correctly, the fudge will be heavy, creamy and will slide easily into a pan. I use butter to minimally grease the bottom of a pyrex dish. This recipe will fill one 9x13 dish and one 8x8 dish.
"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
The fall season holds many treasures; leaves change colors, winds blow cooler and the sky reveals many shades of gray. Squirrels diligently search for acorns to fill them for the sleepy winter.
In the spirit of fall, I am creating scripture books for my four children. Today, using simple $1.99 photo albums, I started each child's book with a personal, relevant scripture. The book will hold 200 verses when filled. Index cards are a perfect base for written words, pictures and scriptures cut from magazines. Clubhouse Jr. has given me a good head start!
I'm praying that this will be the treasure hunt of a lifetime!
Would you like to join us?
"We gotta go back, back, back to school again....."
9-6-4-1 (grades of The Ensemble children)
If I were a betting girl, these are the numbers I'd play.
This year, we have children in three different schools. Repeat after me: Paper Clutter Chaos!
I'm making good use of the filing cabinet by creating color-coded sections for each child. Their work, teacher newsletters and school info will all be filed separately...& my teaching stuff, too...& medical records, sports info/schedules...oh, & report cards....am I forgetting anything? This system follows a long line of
attempts trials and errors in the keeping and saving of paperwork. Just ask my hubby. If a piece of paper is missing, he's tossed it.
Do you have a clutter solution? Share!! Reform my saving ways!
BigBro strolled the halls of his new home-away-from-home with a huge smile and an easy confidence. He had no idea that I had spent the previous hour being scared sideways (I was already straight!) during the parent orientation.
Our high school is an award-winner, known for academic excellence and sports accomplishments. My son will graduate with a class that is 5x the size of my class; this boggles my mind. The staff has created a network of mentors to guide the students through the maze and the peer pressure; I was impressed with the amount of information that was provided for the safety of my child and our family.
But Real Life looks a lot different than the Disney version.
During the parent meeting, I learned these things:
*The halls are monitored by retired policeman.
*60 video surveillance cameras keep vigilant watch.
*I could face arrest, fines, etc. if I serve alcohol to a teen,
unless he/she is my child. (NOT encouraged, of course)
*Kids are hiding alcohol in empty shampoo bottles
(check the bags at the door).
*Kids are hiding drugs/etc in their shoes
(leave the shoes at the door).
*A Driver's License is not easy to attain these days.
*I can access my teen's Facebook account by using the Safety box.
I'll be checking out these sites in the coming days:
Software4parents, ikeepsafe, and netlingo.
dare2share is an awesome site for Christian teens and parents. God has been leading me to focus in prayer for my children, especially #1 son.
(this is a copy of a photo taken when he was 5 weeks old)
My handsome, almost-6-ft tall son....I look at him and my heart sees his happy baby face, feels his toddler arms squeeze my neck, hears his clear voice sing along with Barney, touches the velvet skin on his sleeping form. He is skittish about my memories now; they don't jive with his newfound maturity.
I get it.
I just can't believe it got here so quickly.
I'm delighted to be participating this week--the linky is at Sting My Heart!
**The 2006-2007 school year is over and my little ones have made it through with flying colors. I hope that next year is filled with challenges that will continue to stretch the brain cells.
**BigBro received a loud cheer when his name was called at graduation! I'm thankful for the good friends (& great moms) who walked with him through 8th grade. I hope that, in the future, he will choose Godly pals and his cheers will be motivated by a just and upright character.
**A random landscaper stopped by today and offered to cut down our dead pine tree---for an extremely reasonable fee! (I Googled "tree trimming price" and verified that I hadn't been swindled!).
**Hubby's new product is lookin' good! I hope that this is an answer sent from God to address a few of the questions for which we need answers.
**My awesome friend, Ms E./preschool teacher extroidinaire, showered me with her gift of organization this afternoon. She passed on our class lists for the fall and we divided the paper-work responsibilities. At this rate, we'll be sittin' pretty in our newly painted classroom by mid-August. We hope this will be a year where we can use our skills to fly higher and explore new worlds with the children.
Happy Weekend to everyone!!
He's cute, huh? Yea, he belongs to me! I'll tell you more about him when his birthday rolls around. Today, I just need to share that HE has left the state for a sunny vista, but WE are left behind to care for various friends' mail/trash/dogs. Because WE have to work this week while the little ones are on spring break.
By accepting the generous offer of joining his friend's family on vacation, BigBro has successfully managed to bypass babysitting duty, all chores, and impending boredom. His siblings now face a week of attending preKindergarten with me!
We miss him already.