Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas at the Cabin "Happies"

One of my favorite bloggers coined the term "happies" (if I knew how to link to her, I would, but in the interest of full disclosure, it is Sarah at In The Midst Of It), which I think is the best word to describe those moments in life when your heart is full and you are relishing the blessing of your life. So here are my Christmas in the mountain "happies"..

  • Arriving and knowing Nana and Papa are already there, and have a Charley Brown tree waiting to be decorated.

  • The squeals of the girls as they greet Nana and Papa, even though they just saw them the day before as the truck was loaded with all our goodies.

  • The peace that fills my soul as we step outside and hear the stream rushing by, and nothing else.

  • The fun tradition of Mom and I driving 30 miles to the nearest Wal*Mart to stock up on groceries for the week.

  • Everyone wearing jammies round the clock... once even in a rush trip to the emergency room!

  • Time spent sitting by the fire reading, napping, and playing games as a family.

  • Wrapping gifts by the fire and watching It's a Wonderful Life, on Christmas Eve.

  • Spending Christmas Eve with Rusty in a small town, buying stocking stuffers and having lunch together while the girls build a gingerbread house and string popcorn and cranberry garland with Nana and Papa.

  • Taking the girls to see the live nativity.

  • Hiking in the mountains and sleigh riding in the snow.

  • Having nothing to do except enjoy time together as a family, remembering what a gift God gave us in His Son, and rejoicing in the blessing of our life in Him.

The Best Shot of the Bunch

This is our Christmas card picture. I planned on doing a family photo at a real live studio, but the combination of Daddy rarely being home in the evening, and Mommy's roots being 4 inches long led me to include only the cutest members of our family. After arguing about jewelry and hairstyles, and breaking a sweat because bedtime had long since come and gone, I managed to snap this photo, which I actually love because of their bright smiles. The dog, in a chokehold, regrets ever being a part of the process and is plotting her revenge, I can see it in her eyes.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Merry Christmas From Our Home To Yours!

Christmas Tour of Homes
Thanks BooMama for hosting our Christmas tour of homes!
Last year I peeked in the "windows" of everyone else doing the Christmas bloggy tour, but this year I am so excited to join in! Come on in and see some of my favorite areas of our home.

Welcome to our home! This is the little stretchable

snowman who greets you.

If the girls have been here he is much taller,

as they love to pull him out to his full height.

Part of Daddy's miniature village,
and this is his favorite piece... reminds him of the cabin where we spend Christmas.

I love the poinsettia because Rusty's students grew
them for him to give the teachers as gifts. My
Dad always brought poinsettias home for my Mom
and me, and I love that Rusty is continuing that tradition
with our girls.

The Santa Room where we hang
the stockings... we use the fireplace
too often to hang them on the mantel!

This hangs on the french door in the breakfast room.
My favorite Christmas decoration.

Seeing these vintage ornaments by the fireplace

always makes me happy.

I just love this little corner with my favorite rooster.
Dining Room Christmas Tree. I love this tree because it holds all the "pretty" ornaments I bought as a newlywed craving a "picture perfect" tree. Now my favorite tree is the one in the living room that holds all the sentimental ornaments. But this one still holds a special place in my heart.
Garland on the stairs. I've done this as long as we've lived in this house, and every year say I am changing it, but here it is again!
A few of Daddy's santas on display. The girls decorated this room completely by themselves this year, hallelujah! I am hoping this is a trend that will spread throughout the house next year!
I give Rusty one of these Santa's each year. I love that I received my Papa's Bible after he passed away a few years ago, and keep it on display year round as a reminder of what our family is grounded in. I miss Papa, but seeing his Bible thrills my heart, and he always loved Christmas, so it seems appropriate that the Santas are with it for awhile each year.

Thie dining room with ornaments hanging from the chandelier. The table is missing some decorations, because I had cleared the table for a buffet Friday night...
A closeup of the dining room tree... I love the lights shining through the glass ornaments.
The leftovers from making this...
Love making the gingerbread house. Not so much fun cleaning royal icing off every surface of my kitchen. Love eating the leftover candy.

The tree in our family room that holds 21 years of treasured memories. I turn the lights on when I wake up, and turn them off when I go to bed, enjoying every minute I can. Sitting by the fireplace and doing my Bible study with the tree on is one of my favorite things in life.

The most important decoration in our home... the one that shows what we are really celebrating. We add to this collection each year, and the girls love to move the pieces around. I was thrilled to see how they have arranged every figurine and animal to be focused on the sweet, baby Jesus.

Hope that is where your focus is as well, this blessed season.

Merry Christmas!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Little Bit

My little Cassidy turned nine last month. Despite all the celebrations, I haven't posted about it because I really didn't want to think about it. I mean, we didn't ignore the birthday... oh, no! We had a family party, and she awoke to a room filled by the balloon fairy, and enjoyed having 13 of her closest friends at the barn for a riding party the following Saturday. Mama doesn't ever miss an excuse for a party!

I happily celebrated with her, but as far as dwelling on her age, I have been in denial! Cassidy is my baby, my little angel, and the thought that this is her last birthday in the single digits tears at my heart. With every year, I have to accept the reality that I am working myself out of a job, and 9 is halfway to college, to this mommy's way of thinking. But time marches on, and I have slowly accepted this milestone birthday (ok, work with me here, they are honestly ALL milestones to me- I have issues, I know!) and want to record some of my thoughts about our little Cassidoodle.

Rather than ramble on, worrying about sentence structure (ahem), I want to list some of my favorite things and memories about this girl... this child who has grown so much this past year. Wow. Being 8 was big.

1. My first memory of her is of the midwife handing this writhing, screeching little bundle of energy into my arms, and holding her tight, trying to believe that this little girl is mine. She was like a coiled bundle of muscles and energy, and reached for me with the longest, most beautiful hands. I will never forget that moment- staring into the bluest eyes, which held the most serious and inquisitive expression as she stared me down. She owned me at that moment, and I knew she would be a force to be reckoned with.

2. As I would rock her for bedtime she would throw that little head back, and with her gummy little smile would giggle and taunt me, until I, too was luaghing. This would make her laugh even harder, and I couldn't resist kissing her under her chin, wiling to do anything to hear that captivating and magical laughter that bubbled forth from her. She kept her eyes locked on mine, and it felt as if she could see straight into my soul. Oh, how I loved those moments!

3. My strong willed little girl, battling it out with me over naptime or quiet time. Ohmy. That's all there is to say about that. I'm thankful we survived that era relatively scar free, and hope flashbacks won't send her into therapy at an early age.

4. My little blond pixie dust, as she shyly tries to hide a smile, holds her tongue in her cheek and peeks under those lashes with a sidelong glance to see ifyou notice. Usually her good humour gets the best of her and her face lights up like sunshine, with the smile she can no longer hide. Her smiles are truly a burst of joy straight from the hand of God, as she conquers her fear and allows her joy to shine forth.

5.I am so proud of this little thing, who has faced so much at such a young age. She developed severe eczema (and allergies) at 8 months of age, and until she was seven would awaken most days with her legs and sheets covered in blood, from the incessant scratching in the night. She endured painful ointments several times daily, and took 3-4 oral medications twice a day. She endured questions and stares from strangers as they noticed her precious tender skin, marked with painful wounds and scars. For a shy child it was literally torturous. She couldn't look people on the eye, couldn't even lift her eyes from the ground. But praise God, trusting God for her healing, we prayed and refused to give into the fear and frustration that threatened, many times, to overwhelm us. She has been off medication and symptom free for 2 years.

6. Cassidy has the best sense of humour of anyone I have ever known. She is funny without even trying to be. She has a dry wit, and sees humour in things beyond her age. I call Nana at least once, daily, to report the "Cassidy-ism" of the day. Now when we laugh she sighs, "Are you calling Nana?!"

7. Cassidy loves passionately and feels deeply. Her hugs are rarer than I would like, and when given are a cherished gift... they aren't given lightly. When she opens herself up to you, she gives all of herself, and loves with everything in her. It is worth the wait to receive her love!

8. I love the notes Little Bit (I called her a little bit of nothin' when she was born because she was so tiny!) leaves on my pillow at the end of the day. Notes telling me she is sorry for misbehaviors, or asking for a special time with me the next day, sometimes tied to a packet of candy from her halloween stash. Oh, I treasure those notes!

9. Cassidoodle has always been such an indepndent child and can occupy herself for hours on end. When home with me while I was working, she would sit and play at the dollhouses in my office endlessly, occassionally stopping by for a snuggle. When she would tire of that she would get out her paper, scissors, tape and staples and create purses and countless other designs. Her diligence and creativity combine to bless her with many gifts.

10. Cassidoodle, I love you! Seeing you grow into the person you were meant to be is a joy, and a gift I am so grateful to God for bestowing on me. Thanks for being my girl!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Can't Wait to See The Blessing

My baby has a hurting heart and there is nothing I can do to fix it. She just found out that her best friend is attending another school next year.

Next year is a bad year to not have your best friend. Next year is middle school. Next year is the time when the kids change classes and have more freedom with their uniform, and a time she was looking forward to sharing with Isabella. Now she knows that won't be the case, and instead of eagerly anticipating the fun times ahead, she can only think about walking alone, missing her giggling companion of the past 4 years.

Cailin is a bubbly, fun-loving girl. As the firstborn she is strongwilled, outspoken, and sure of who she is. She is very much a typical 10 year old, but blessed also with an innocence and naivete towards the more wordly things many other girls are already dwelling on. I have been so grateful for this friendship with a like minded, ornery and age appropriate friend. Whenever they are together there is constant laughter. They don't put on airs and try to act sophisticated, nor do they form cliques and try to exclude. They are a delight to be around, and true blue, stick together, loyal friends. Friends like this are a rare treasure, knowledge Cailin gained at an early age when other "friends" showed their true colors. Isabella was an answer to prayer, and so now, it is heartbreaking to think of them going through middle school separately.

I know that Cailin has lots of other friends and will survive. She will still see Is on the weekends at church, and at their riding lessons and field hockey. Their friendship will continue and grow, of that I am sure. But I understand Cailin's sadness at the loss of the familiar, the expected, the sure thing of having Izzy with her at school. I know the fear of being lonely, of having noone around who really understands you, of seeing other best friends together on the playground and feeling totally, all, alone.

I understand these concerns, and they hurt my heart as well. Yet my job as her Mommy is to guide her and prepare her for many more hurts to follow. So I explained to her that I understand, and I shared my own experience of having a best friend one year younger and having to go to junior high alone, similarly to her. I shared how I met other friends, and yet how Stacy and I , 25 years later, still remain like sisters. It was different, yes, but still good. I also told her that God does nothing that is not for our good, and He promises to work all things (for those who are righteous) for good.

He will bless her abundantly, beyond our wildest imaginings, if we just trust and obey. We will praise Him in all things, knowing He has great things planned for Cailin. So I am believing that this sad, sad news, news that sent my girl crying into my arms, will become a legacy of God's great mercy on her life. A story she can share with her daughter someday, when her heart is breaking, and she feels like there is nothing she can do. She can return to her Rock, and she can trust that as He provided for her, He will be true to provide for the one she loves.

He is the one, true, friend, the One who sticks closer than a brother... and so I pray that he shows Himself on her behalf; uplifting and encouraging and making her way blessed.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas in The Big Woods

8 years ago we decided to "take back" Christmas for our family.

Prior to this year , we would travel 7 hours to our hometown to celebrate with our extended family; but that year,with two children under the age of two, it was a less than appealing proposition. I had spent the previous Christmas season with a newborn and 17 month old needing as much of mommy as possible, and squeezed shopping into late night trips after one was sleeping, and while the other was between feedings. I would race home for the 11:00 nursing, and then collapse, fighting colds and exhaustion, and regretful of the time away from my family, yet truly there was no other option; or so we thought.

My minds' eye held an image of the perfect Christmas, and mommy was at the center of every image... decking the halls, baking homemade treats for the neighbors, selecting the perfect gifts and having them beautifully wrapped and under the tree, and in the midst of this imparting the true meaning of Jesus' birth to my little ones...

Instead my house was a mess, I wasted time searching for gifts for people who were already blessed with all the necessities of life, and neglected to enjoy the gift of time as a family, celebrating this most wondrous time of year. Rusty had just finished football season, and with wrestling season already underway, Christmas was a short reprive for our little family; the only opportunity for us to snuggle in and enjoy one another before late night practices and weekend tournaments separated us again. We dreaded the hours spent in the car, and the endless rounds of gift exchanges. We love our extended family, and wanted to see them, but the rest of the holiday pressure was squeezing the joy out of this season.

I will forever be grateful to my husband for reclaiming Christmas for our family, and insisting that we celebrate as we believed, not as the world told us we should. We found a cabin in the woods, invited my parents to join us, packed the car with gifts and decorations; and we've never looked back!

So as we head off for our 9th "Christmas in the Big Woods" it is with hearts full of gratitude for time to be spent together, remembering that we are God's reason for this season. His love for us spurred Him to sacrifice the Perfect Gift, in exchange for us. What a wonderful God we serve, and celebrate.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 07, 2007

I Hit The Wall.

37 will be known as the year that I hit the wall.

For some unknown reason, I am different, and I think I like the new me. I am less likely to fret and stew over things, and more inclined to deal with them directly. I feel less obligation to withhold my true feelings, and am better able to say "no", to those things that require more of me than I have to offer, and enjoy more, those things to which I happily say "yes!".

I don't feel as obligated to be a one man band of entertainment for my daughters, and am less concerned that I am scarring them emotionally for life when they are unhappy with my expectations. I have a better awareness of what my job is as their mother, and what God really desires of me.

I realize more of who I truly am, and what inspires me, each and every day. I am less interested in what friends and acquaintances are doing, and more content to enjoy my home and the plans I have for the family within it.

I am more at peace with myself, and as a result, more at peace with those around me. This, however, is in stark contrast to the upset reigning simultaneously, as I also am inplementing the disciplines I have always wished for. The "new me" is accepting of the fact that others may be upset around me; that is part of life, and not earth shattering as I previously believed. Everyone is upset occassionally, and it is ok, life does go on.

I am willing to attend my husband's work Christmas party with roots, no manicure, and as of today (the party is tomorrow!), no new outfit. This is relevant because he is the principal, and this is the first time his staff will meet me. I am at peace because I accepted that there was no physical way I could make my hair appointment, and I won't waste energy worrying. It will be ok. This is monumental- this is what made me realize something is different about me!

I am able to accept that sometimes I am just tired and want to sit down and watch HGTV, and I allow myself to do that, even when the Christmas decorations are loitering the living room and entry. Perhaps every evening for a week.

I recognize more of my own faults, and fewer of others. I am more eager to repent, and remain in close fellowship with the Holy Spirit, than to grieve Him by holding tighlty to past hurts and resentments.

I am quieter. I am still full of laughter. I am learning to let go of who I thought I would be, and slowly, very slowly, learning to accept that who I am is ok after all.

Monday, December 03, 2007

You say "tomatoe", and Cassidy says...

After a week of enjoying the tree decorated only with lights (meaning: I had been too lazy to actually "decorate"), the girls and I finally tackled adding the actual ornaments one night last week. This part is always one of the highlights of the Christmas season for me, as we reminisce over the history of each unique ornament, one at a time, before placing them on the tree.

We love Christmas around here, dubbing ourselves the "Griswald's", and coming frighteningly close to living up to that name in many ways!
The fire was burning, candles flickering, and Christmas carols playing softly in the background. The girls were agreeably posing for pictures so we could share these memories with Daddy when he arrived home, and I was feeling downright full of the spirit of Christmas.

As Cassidy was placing her favorite angel ornament on the tree, she said in a reverent voice, "And this is my most posses*ed ornament, Mommy. Is that one your most posses*ed?"

Had I not seen the look of impending giggles about to erupt on her sister's face I might have let it go, and laughed with her daddy later. However, I could see Cailin was not going to let this one get past her, so as she snickered and Cassidy said "What?!" (knowing her sister's giggles are usually directed at her) I asked her if she meant "her most prized possession" or did we need to pray that her ornaments be free of demons"?

Puts a whole new spin on the "spirit of Christmas", doesn't it?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Slept like a baby.

Mix a skating party, real coke, and a 10 year old, and what do you get? A child who can't go to sleep until one o'clock in the morning, and a very tired and bitter mother.

Oh my goodness, I can't believe I made the critical error of thinking a little soda wouldn't hurt. I mean, it was a skating party, she was expending incredible amounts of energy breezing past the boys and swinging her blinking, illuminated pacifier as she passed. How much of that caffeinated hype could linger in her system past the drive home, I foolishly asked myself as I allowed her to purchase the coveted drink.

The answer I gave myself was apparently horribly wrong. All the caffeine in that tiny coke cup would course through those veins for the next 4 hours. Four hours of my life that could have been far better spent doing laundry or cleaning, or, oh, I don't know, maybe sleeping! Instead I was reassuring my dramatic and now hyped - up daughter that the 30 mph gusts rattling the wreaths against her windows were not, in fact, ghosts or robbers. Sidenote... between the caffeine, the tacky blinking pacifiers, and the talk of ghosts I am seriously beginning to doubt my mothering skills. I mean it sounds as if I have been swapping parenting tips with Britney Spears, for pete's sake!

Anyway, after much prayer and deep theological discussion about God's protection and the fact that there are no such thing as ghosts, and also, for good measure, a reminder that I was in fact STILL AWAKE and how could anything possibly get past me to her, I conceeded defeat and climbed into her loft bed for a torturous hour of "sleep". When her snores convinced me she was finally out for the count, I staggered back to my own bed where I was happy to note that all our nighttime drama had escaped my husband who was sleeping peacefully, unaware that the dog was perched on his head.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Nana's Words of Wisdom

Cassidy turned nine this week, which I will have to post about after surviving tomorrow's party (hot on the heels of 2 Thanksgiving Day feasts and one family party!).

As she opened her gifts Tuesday, and the family watched, I said, "Gosh Cassidy! You sure got a lot of nice presents this year. Do you think we overdid it?".

Nana, without missing a beat, said in all seriousness, "Oh, no. You can't overdo it!".

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

From My Heart

I opened a journal from last year, and it fell open to the following prayer...

August 26, 2006

Yesterday was the official "first day of school" and it went great!... Both girls have great teachers with great spirits and I am so thankful to You for the blessing of having our children go to FCS. Father God, I cherish my quiet times with You, sitting on the porch with my sweet tea and the birds chirping, noone moving around the neighborhood. But today as I saw the rocker pulled close to mine, I am missing Cailin's presence!

So many mornings, as I have my quiet time, she is bee-bopping around, calling out ideas or "Hey Mom!", and I say, once again, "Sweet baby, please! Mommy loves to be with you, but this is God's time."

Sweet baby girl was with me all summer, just present, even if she was riding her scooter or her bike, and HOW do I miss her company now! I love those little angels... the mere thought of them brings tears to my eyes.

Lord, I want, I need, I crave the stillness. Please help me to cultivate calm through order. Please help me to cultivate diligence and consistency in loving ways. Please fill our home with the peace that passes understanding. And Lord, please remind me to see and grab onto the opportunities to be with the girls.

Let the rocking chair, pulled up close beside mine by a little girl eager to be with her mommy, be a visual reminder of my blessing in having these children. Let it also be a reminder of how I should be with You- eager to pull my chair up close to You, and just be with You.

Monday, October 29, 2007

How many miles?

This is the view at the end of our hike yesterday. There are more falls, further along the trail, that are even more impressive, or so we are told. We didn't witness those firsthand, however, at least not on this trip. Seeing how this was our first foray into "serious" hiking with the girls, I'm not sure they could have made that whole trip. Ahem.

Actually, the fact of the matter is that they did a great job hiking the 4. -something trail up the side of a mountain , and their journey was probably doubled when you account for the constant forays they took off the trail onto the boulders and down by the water. It was Mommy and Nana who were wiped out by trails end, and thankful to see an ice cold diet coke to celebrate our return!
It was a perfect day for a hike, and the most beautiful trail I have ever seen, especially with the leaves literally raining down in showers of color. The girls managed the entire afternoon with nary a complaint, and had a ball climbing over rocks and looking for trout in the pools of water. The sound of the water rushing over the rocks (thanks to the recent rain- finally!) was all we could hear, and the calmness seemed to inspire peace in the girls. No bickering, no whining, just lots of fun and laughter as they explored. It was such a blessing to be alone as a family with no agenda, other than to enjoy the creativity of God, and the blessing of this beautiful world He created.
We will definitely be back for more.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Fun Starts Now!

Woohoo! The girls have early dismissal today so I am picking them up at noon and heading out to the boonies to the tack shop. Cailin needs some new half- chaps for riding, and the purple ones she picked out are too small. She has decided that the khahki jodphurs are just not her style now, and she wants to wear western attire. Since the only thing I "get" about horses is the clothing, I am happy to humor her by expanding her riding wardrobe. Now that her sister has also been bitten by the riding bug, I guess we will go ahead and let her try on riding helmets... might be good to know what she likes since her birthday is 3 weeks away!

After we have had our fill of tack room shopping we get to head back to town (I am not kidding!) and have a girls lunch out. I am debating if I should let them choose the restaurant again (and I use the term "restaurant" loosely!). Last time they chose the Long John Silver's / A&W combo and I still have heartburn! Maybe I can get them to go a little more upscale and go to Chick-Fil-A? No matter what we choose, it is always a treat for me to have my girls with me for lunch and just hang out with them like the good old days before school!

Our next stop is shoe shopping. The girls "must have flats", I have been told. Actually they really do need them, since I only bought new tennies for back to school and they have outgrown any other decent school shoes they had. This year I decided to wait for awhile after school started to buy much new, so they could see what is fun for fall and not just buy a ton of stuff that never gets worn. Plus it has been so hot this fall they have been wearing shorts and skirts with their plaid slip ons from the Tar-jay summer collection every day. I will be paying the extra overnight shipping from Land's End this weekend, however, now that the temps have dropped and shorts on Monday would be considered child abuse! The little plaid shoes are adorable but have gone beyond shabby chic to simply shabby, so flats shopping, here we come. Shoe shopping is just another thing that delights me about having girls. Rusty just laughs at the conversations we already have about "what is SO in" right now, and is even so sweet as to occassionally accompany us on one of our missions! (I love that he is such a great dad to girls- he enjoys their femininity, and doesn't ever make them feel they need to be something other than what they are!)

I am sure at this point in the afternoon I will be ready to drop, so I am grateful that riding lessons are cancelled due to rain and I can come home and crash for a nap, before taking Cailin to play rehearsal. While she is practicing and Rusty is at the football game I get to have special alone time with Cassidy, which is always a treat. Maybe we can snuggle up by the fireplace with popcorn, hot apple cider and a couple of good books. Sounds like the perfect ending to a fun, fall, Friday!

Monday, October 22, 2007

It's Fall Y'all!

I absolutely love fall! Besides decorating the front porch, some of my other fall favorites are...
  • Friday night football games
  • A visit to the pumpkin patch
  • The Grave's Mountain Apple Festival
  • Open windows with the whistle of the wind
  • Burning lots of candles
  • Starting to think about Christmas
  • Lots of November birthdays to celebrate
  • Making acorn pies for the squirrels
  • Warming up the girls clothes in the dryer before they hop out of bed

Most of all, I love the feeling of nesting that fall brings with it.

Happy Fall, Y'all!

Edited to add: I had to say "y'all" because our neigbors/ friends recently relocated here from the North, and their kids are constantly telling my girls that y'all isn't a word. It cracks me up... I told them to just give it time and they'll come around to our way of speaking!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Calling all squirrels

Who: 5 neighborhood friends, ages 4-11
What: Lots of fun and giggles
Where: Backyard beneath oak trees
When: Balmy autumn afternoon, after all homework was complete
Why: Gathering acorns for acorn pie

One of our favorite fall traditions.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Good Word For A Good Day

I went to be last night feeling a little unsettled. I spoke too freely with a coworker and shared some information that was not confidential, but which I wish I had kept to myself. I also talked with my employer, and that conversation didn't go as I had planned. Neither conversation was negative nor sinful, I just let fear and pride get the best of me and I spoke without seeking God's counsel. I was afraid the information I shared with a co-worker would be used by her to benefit herself, when in fact it really pertained to me. I worried that I had "blown an opportunity" for myself and there was no way to fix things to my advantage. The result was me feeling remorseful that I seem to say too much to some people, and not enough to others.

This morning I knew I needed to ask God for help to lift my mood and turn my thoughts to Him, and to make this a good day. My prayer was for me to first, trust that God would work all things together for my good, knowing that my intentions are pure and I am striving for truth. Then second, for God to speak to me and show me His way and to allow me peace- to just let it go! (Something I struggle with...)

As I sat down for my Bible time, I picked up The Message, a gift from Cailin's teacher and not my usual Bible. I felt like today would be a good day for simplicity, to hear God's Word in the most understandable form my tired brain could find. Here is what I read:

1 Peter 3:8-12
Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless- that's your job, to bless. You'll be a blessing and also get a blessing.

Whoever wants to embrace life
and see the day fill up with good,
Here's what you do:
Say nothing evil or hurtful;
Snub evil and cultivate good;
Run after peace for all you're worth.
God looks on all this with approval,
listening and respoding well to what He's asked;
But He turns His back
on those who do evil things.

I love the way God meets me where I am, when I ask Him. He is so willing to provide just the right Word to every situation, if I just take the time to trust Him instead of stewing and trying to solve things myself. I asked for a good day in Him, and he took me to a verse that guides me in that very pursuit. I have so much to do today, but I felt His prompting that I really needed to spend time with Him first, that he had something I needed before I could handle today in His joy.

I am so glad I obeyed that prompting !

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

These bring me joy.

  • Awakening to the poplar tree, framed by my window, glowing as if from within, as its newly yellow leaves catch the sunshine.
  • Coming downstairs to the scent of pumpkin spice candles burning... and the awareness that Rusty lit them to bring me pleasure.
  • The first fire of the season, and sharing it with Cassidy as she enjoys her autumn snack of warm apple cider and popcorn.
  • The smile on Cailin's face when she skips to the car after play rehearsal, and the exuberance she returns to our home with her arrival.
  • The silence of home after the girls are off to school, and the sweetness of several hours devoted to accomplishing some overdue tasks.
  • The racket of giggles and chatter, and even bickering, when my sweet girls return home.
  • Laughing hysterically with Cassidy as our hamsters race around our bathtub while their cage is being cleaned.
  • Decorating the front porch with fall decorations, and Cassidy saying coming to our house makes people feel welcome.
  • Feeling guilty for making grilled cheese and soup from a can for dinner, and then being told by each of the girls that my grilled cheese sandwiches are the best ever.
  • Notes of encouragement from my Dad.
  • Calls of encouragement from my Mom.
  • A stack of books in every room, and Cailin asking me to awaken her early so she can read before school.

Home. Family. Faith.

Life is good.

Monday, October 15, 2007


How can I teach the girls to be holy and set apart from this world? How do I know which relationships with non- believers are ministry and which are destructive to their faith? How do I monitor behaviors and attitudes when they are among their peers without seeming rigid or legalistic? How do I train them up in the way they should go, while allowing them to play among those who are probably going another direction?

These are my thoughts and prayers recently, as I tiptoe into the waters of mothering a "tween". Cailin is 10, and tends to be a little more innocent than many others her age, partly due to attending a Christian school, and partly because of our home. Still, I have become aware that I may have become a little more lax, a little more tolerant, than I would hope. I have permitted her and her sister to watch tv that I don't approve of just because I felt I was constantly saying "no". I have allowed her to wear clothing that was offensive to me (obviously nothing risque, of course, but just personally offensive to me) because I questioned my attitude, wondering if I was being too uptight.

Many of my friends, who are also Christians, are much more lenient with their daughters, and I think I was feeling a little old fashioned and out of touch. I wasn't concerned with "fitting in", but I was allowing others perceptions of my decisions to affect me. I asked God to show me where I have missed His mark and to guide me in the boundaries I should establish for the girls. Today He met me in my devotional time as I watched a favorite ministry program.

Lisa Bevere was speaking about her new book "Kissed The Girls and Made Them Cry", which is a study in cultivating purity in our daughters. Her words went straight to my heart as she reminded me that God's call for purity in our minds and bodies is not old fashioned or inhibiting. His ideals for our lives are freeing and liberating, as we are able to walk in the blessing of His wisdom and pleasure when we obey His Words. Lisa said that as Christians, we are constantly struggling to see how far we can go before we fall out of favor, or actually sin against God. Yet that isn't what we are called to. God didn't issue commands so we could follow rules. He created them so we would have safe parameters in which to experience the fullness of joy only He can provide.

What encouragement this was to me. God knew that I needed the reminder that our decisions, though temporarily sometimes painful to the girls, are still the right choices and in their best interest. We are raising them to be holy, not necessarily happy, and need to keep the ultimate goal in mind.

Thank You God, for speaking to me about those precious girls. Please strengthen me in my resolve to protect them from those things that are harmful, and I ask the Holy Spirirt to bring to my attention any areas that I am lacking in. You are a mighty and gracious God. Thank You for loving me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Do you ever have that feeling of pure joy bubbling up inside of you? The feeling that tells you whatever you are in the midst of is part of God's great plan for your life? I am feeling that way right now. I just finished a task that filled me with such a sense of purpose, and reminded me that there are things I am passionate about. Things that God planted in me with a purpose. Things that I need to use, and share, in a way that glorifies God.

I am feeling so blessed and filled with gratitude for the "small things" in life .

Thank You God for loving me enough to reach down and plant a seed of joy in my heart when You know how much it will mean to me. You are so good. All the time.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Girlfriend Network.

I swear by the girlfriend network.

When I want to try out a new restaurant, store, or haircare product (and anything else- but you get the idea!) I don't go to the yellow pages, I go to my girlfriends. They are trustworthy and like what I like, generally speaking, so their suggestions carry more weight with me.

I have found the barn where my daughters ride, the paint color for my dining room, and even the church we recently visited, all through conversations with my friends. Moms spend hours in our little camp seats on the sidelines of soccer and field hockey practice. If we aren't sharing tips to make our lives easier we may default to gossip! This is a much more productive use of time, and everyone loves to share their opinion.

Well, recently, as I logged onto a blog to write out the items needed from Home Depot to paint a cabinet, I realized that the blogs I read are an extension of that network!

As I thought of the many times I implement a suggestion gleaned from a blog, I have to confess, the concept that I am making choices and purchases based on total stranger's recommendations gave me pause. I mean, I read about these ladies daily lives, but they have no idea who I am, and I only "know" them by their writing. Seems a little questionable, but I do love me a good referral and so I trusted and shopped. And shopped.

Now my home has acquired quite a few items based on recommendations, and I have even picked up some sweet homemaking habits, and I must say that they have all been exactly what I hoped. So the girlfriend network lives on... in the new 21st century version- the blogging "girlfriend" network.

I thought it might be fun to actually list some of those ideas and items, and where they came from:-)

From "A Chelsea Morning"
Making flannel blankets (for the homeless shelter)
Glade scented candles
Yummy asparagus salad
Febreezing my shih-tzu

From "In The Midst Of It"
Embroidery books
Menu Planning / Grocery list
Doing a load of laundry every morning
Burning peppermint oil - yum!
Parenting book

From "Scratchin' The surface"
Homemaking Books
I am encouraged to learn to sew after reading about her quilts and time spent sewing with friends.

From "BooMama"
Plaid pajama bottoms from WalMart last winter- still some of my faves!
Ohmyword the best pork tenderloin recipe EVER!

From "BigMama"
Mississippi Sin Dip
Color slicks lip gloss

I am sure I will add to this list. I wish I could link, but that is something still a little "too" 21st century for my sad little computer skills!

Sunday, September 30, 2007


Last weekend Cailin had her best little buddy, Isabella, sleep over.

Saturday morning I let them use the griddle to make their own breakfast, and they spent a great deal of time, heads together, bent low over their pancakes, customizing their shapes with cookie cutters. After awhile, Cailin said, "Mommy, these are the times I want to remember, when Izzy and I are teenagers and adults. Us together just making pancakes."

Me, too, sweet girl. Me, too.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Cassidy was playing a computer game, and as I sat watching her hop from branch to branch (she was a monkey in the game!) she had to dodge a deadly spider.

"Oooh!", I would squeal as she barely hopped past one after another, so afraid her little monkey woud run out of lives. She giggled hysterically at my screams as she told me she was "really good at missing the try-antulas".

Oh my word. The things she says just absolutely crack me up. From now on we will all refer to those hairy black spiders as "try-antulas".

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I haven't posted in almost a month, although I have definitely been reading other blogs! I have been working on government year end orders, and have either been on the road meeting with clients, or chained to my desk e-mailing back and forth between designers and clients and manufacturers. Periodically I click over to one of my favorite blogs, one that is very "homey" and domestic, and just rest in the words of a momma raising her little ones. The links from her commenters lead me on a little trail of sweetness, so I read a few, then hop back to my aol account, and return to my reality of constant messaging.

I have missed posting, but I am thankful that I am able to restore the nurturing side of my soul through the words of others. And I remind myself that in just a few short weeks my life should return to a more respectable pace, and I can capture words from my own life, here again.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Back to School

The silence is deafening. There are no t.v.'s or laptops with webkinz droning in the background. Noone is asking for a popsicle, or if they can go next door to play. I miss the sound of muffled giggles and snippets of music as the doors open and close. No nail polish is being spilled, and no dog is being carried around like a baby.

Noone needs lunch, or a sisterly dispute settled, or even a hug or cuddle as they float through the room. The kitchen has remained clean for 7 hours and I have worked uninterrupted, guilt-free. I've remained at my desk, without checking the window every few minutes to monitor the bicycle gang patrolling our cul de sac. No scooters are crashed on the lawn, and I haven't made a single koolaid icee in days.

The beach towels are folded in the closet and I find uniforms, instead of bathing suits, tossed on the floor beside the hamper. The new calendar is posted on the fridge, and forms awaiting my signature pile up on the counter.

Is it 3:00 yet?

Monday, August 20, 2007

She loves me, she loves me not...

Last night, after a lengthy, heartfelt prayer, Cailin and I were snuggling , when she spoke up.

"Sometimes I think you love me more."

"More than what, sweetie?" (Assuming this was sibling comparison, and that because of my passionate prayer for her she was feeling a little more favored than her little sis.)

"Sometimes I just think you love me more than I love you."

Friday, August 17, 2007

Today I was reminded of our annual visit to see the cherry blossoms in D.C. It is always breathtakingly beautiful and the perfect setting for photo ops. This, of course, means that nothing ever works out for the perfect picture to occur. Be it rain or bad hair days, we have never been able to capture the amazing shot of the girls among the blossoms that is my hope.

This year I gave up before we even left, seeing as how the girls have reached the age where they feel entitled to choose their own clothing. And it no longer consists of precious matching gymboree outfits with bows in their hair and coordinated tights. No, now they prefer clothes that say things, like "I love horses!". Which is a nice sentiment and all, but not exactly the image I want to capture of my beautiful angels amidst the pastel blossoms.

So anyway, I wasn't even hoping for a Christmas card quality photo this year. I just wanted a great. family.outing.

The girls are usually gung ho for anything we do; I feel blessed that they are so much more agreeable that I was at their age. So it was a little odd for Cailin to ask if she could stay with a friend instead of going with us. Gasp! After assuring her that there was absolutely no way she could miss out on this fun family day, and allowing her to play her gameboy on the trip in, we forgot that she didn't want to be with us, and started off on our happy. family.outing.

She quickly reminded us that she was bored, her feet hurt, her stomach hurt, she "just wanted to go home", and horror of horrors, refused to smile for the pictures. That was the straw that broke the camels back. You can complain and have a bad attitude, but by golly you better not mess with mama's pictures. Even if you are wearing t-shirts and jeans; we must capture this moment for posterity. So her daddy took her aside and explained to her that talking is a privilege. If you choose to abuse it by speaking complaints and negativity, then you lose that privilege. The rest of us would not have our day ruined by her complaints, so she had to walk in total silence for the afternoon.

(My favorite part of the entire day was when she tried to tap Nana on the shoulder to point something out to her, and Daddy snapped, "And NO poking either!". That just cracked me up! It has become a family joke to now say, "And no poking, either, anytime things have gotten too serious.)

Surprisingly, the day turned around for all of us. We were able to walk around the Tidal Basin and enjoy the beautiful trees, and Cailin took the opportunity to adjust her attitude to one a little more pleasant to be around. This effort resulted in Daddy buying her favorite candy roasted almonds from the street vendor, and a good time was had by all!

I am writing this because I want to remember, when I look back, that in raising the girls sometimes we had to do the hard things. It wasn't easy to insist on silence for 2 hours. It hurt my heart to silence my chatty Cathy, but you know what? We don't live in a vacuum and our actions affect those around us. Cailin learned a great lesson that day, about how your attitude hurts not just yourself, but others as well. It isn't healthy to allow the opinion of one to shape the day for the group. So that is why we must do the hard things, because that is the job description of parenting, and that is why I choose to record this day's events.

I am so proud of my girls and their (normally) joyful hearts. They bring sunshine into the room when they enter, and my hope is for that to be their destiny. To bring joy and life into the world, instead of the gloom and selfishness that seems to be so pervasive in society.

I think we are off to a pretty good start.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Love Bug!

Yesterday Cassidy was such a little cuddle bug, which made my day! While we sat in the cool air conditioned car watching Cailin at her riding lesson, she climbed onto my lap for a chat.
"Mommy," she said, holding my face in her hands so she could look sincerely into my eyes, "I have something I want to tell you, and I mean it from the very top of my heart!".

"Or," she continued, "do I mean bottom?".

"No, baby girl," I assured her, "I prefer your way! It is a new Cassidy-ism!".

I love that girl!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Most Wonderful Time of Year

August 1st is celebrated in our household by Rusty singing "It's The Most Wonderful Time of The Year" while reading his college football forecast magazines, and surfing the sports channels for interviews and shots of the players in their first practice of the season. " Yes, he took an early "retirement" from coaching, but his heart will always yearn for the practice field on the first legal day to suit up.
I can't help but share some of his excitement... we started dating 21 years ago this month, and spent our first dates cheering on his beloved Big Reds, and then celebrating the win at Pizza Place (and they always won - even when playing my own high school!). It was a hard autumn for him, his first not playing for his beloved team, as a recent graduate, still figuring his way in the real world. This time of year always takes me back to being a 16 year old with a cute boyfriend and a letterman jacket to throw around my shoulders as we walked to the car, kicking the fallen leaves and celebrating life.
Later, I would find myself in the bleachers of a small mountain college, cheering for my hero despite the fact that the team lost every game, every season. OK, maybe not every game, but close enough for most of my memories to be tainted with his disappointment. Finally, after a shoulder surgery and then a knee, his playing days were officially over. But I still had many years in the bleachers ahead of me, first as the girlfriend, and later as the wife of the coach.
He was a gifted coach, with a love for the sport, and a God given gift at being able to spot talent and shape it into something bigger than it should have been. He loved the kids, and could get them to perform at levels higher than they believed they could. He molded their hearts and character, and taught them to never give up, the success was in the effort, not necessarily the win.
My babies were given showers by teams and parents, and our nanny was the parent of a wrestler, who wanted to give love back to the family of the man who had cared for her son when he was lonely and floundering. When we were in the hospital after delivery his students brought balloons and sat on the floor, beaming with pride at the "team baby". As I entered the stadium or gymnasium (depending on fall or winter, football or wrestling season) I never pushed a stroller or carried a diaper bag, because our "family" was always there to help me; pitching in for my husband, who was preoccupied helping their children. The greatest feeling though, was that no matter what was going on, every time I enetered Rusty would look up and wink, acknowledging that we were there and he was glad. We were loved and loved our life.

Gradually though, Rusty's love for the game was being overshadowed by his desire to provide more time and financial resources for his girls, and so a new course of life was determined. He would go to grad school and become a principal. Leaving coaching was probably the hardest thing he ever did; he gave up his personal dream for the greater dream of being a father to his own precious children. Instead of raising other people's children he opted for the ones under his own roof. I am glad and so thankful... most men wouldn't make that choice, and we are grateful for his love. So when football season rolls around, I don't mind him spending a few extra hours watching the games or eagerly looking for Sports Center. His sports career gave us a wonderful start to this life we share, and I have to agree that in many ways, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Happy Days

It is one of those rare, dream summer days. Temperatures in the 70s with balmy breezes and no humidity. It's a shame we aren't going anywhere-it could be a great hair day! The girls both were at friends for sleepovers so I awoke to a leisurely morning of Bible study on the front porch, while Rusty got in a 3 mile run (I just remind myself that I am strengthening my heart spiritually while his is improved aerobically!)

Then I was able to head out alone for a stroll through the farmer's market where I loaded up on fresh green beans, potatos, tomatos, squash, and some organic grass fed beef... it sounded so wholesome I couldn't resist. Oh, and corn on the cob and a fresh rosemary plant for the deck. I can only hope the scent will linger in the car- heavenly!

While I was out Cailin and Daddy rode their bikes through the neighborhood and covered 5 miles... love that daddy and daughter time. He really is the most amazing father. Now the girls are helping daddy start another building project on the deck while I start dinner and put fresh sheets on the beds.

A simple day, but filled to the rim with joy.

Monday, July 16, 2007

That Girl!

We have recently been exposed to a whole new level of high quality entertainment in the television viewing arena. It is called Ice Truckers. This is a series about the men who risk their lives every winter hauling freight across a frozen river to a diamond plant in northern Canada. I think. It could be the north pole, I don't really pay a lot of attention, but the girls do.

This isn't something they are ordinarily allowed to watch, but they stayed up with Daddy one night to watch, and seemed quite captivated by the big men and the big trucks, and well, the ice, of course! So it has been a treat this summer to catch a few minutes of this charmer before bedtime. Cassidy, very astutely, noticed that "When the truckdrivers talk you don't hear a lot of their words!". You miss much of their expressions because most of their conversations are edited, and their more "colorful" language is bleeped out. When the girls asked us we just explained that it was to bleep out "bad words", thankful that they are imagining big, burly men in parkas and with frozen eyebrows muttering bu*t or stupid while navigating the frozen tundra.

Today I was out of town for work, and called home to check on the girls, who were celebrating having Nana all to themselves. She put the phone on speaker phone so we could all talk at once, but while we were chatting several calls beeped me on my cell phone. Cassidy heard them and asked Nana, "Is Mommy saying bad words?!".

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

It always amuses me to hear "my talk" back from the girls.

Just now I went into my room to apologize to the girls for being delayed with some work stuff. I originally told them I would need 10 minutes to prepare a quote for a client ,and then would be there to help them with their new friendship bracelet kits. Unfortunately, my boss called with a bit of a problem that is taking some time to handle. When I went to tell them I was sorry for not being there yet Cassidy said, as she showed me her nearly finished bracelet, "It's ok, I'm occupied."

It's funny... you don't always realize what you are saying to them until they say it back to you. Obviously keeping onesself occupied is a high priority with me!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Cailin's 10th Birthday Luau

Everyone agrees that this is the favorite party we have done. We had so much fun we want to have another luau for adults and kids later this summer! The party started with Cailin presenting the girls with leis and grass skirts and teaching them a simple hula. They moved to the front yard for a fun water game of "Tidal Wave" where 2 teams raced to empty their bucket full of water into another using only a sponge. They were hilarious in their skirts trying to race back and forth. Then they played beach ball volleyball, which got a little competitive, so we headed back to the deck for some more dancing and dinner. They also made pillows, did the limbo, smashed the pinata, and danced the night away. Along the way they also opened birthday gifts (playing "hot potato" with a coconut, and whoever had the coconut had their turn sitting by Cailin while she opened their gift) and ate a yummy ice cream birthday cake. The neighbors were wonderful to allow so much noise so late in the evening, but finally around 10:00 we brought the girls inside to watch Freaky Friday and go to sleep- yeah right!
It was a great party, and the girls were all a delight! Truly sweet girls who were well behaved and a joy to have in our home. Cailin is blessed with great friends! Happy Birthday Honey- hope you enjoyed your party!

The pinata. The girls were serious about whacking her with the bamboo, and she split on the 4th hit. We had a couple of softball players- they don't mess around!

Some of the yummy food. The girls absolutely loved the fresh coconut and pineapple, and begged for cocnut milk. Who knew!? OK, I admit... pepperoni pizza wasn't very authentic, so I kept it out of the shot.

The pergola with decorations. Yes, understatement is our trademark. Ahem. (The picture doesn't do it justice, but Rusty went a little crazy with things hanging off the pergola... I told him there is a fine line between fabulous and tacky, and he definitely crossed that line and kept going! Oh well... she loved it and that is what matters:-) )

(No idea why the picture is so small. It is amazing that I am posting pictures of anything. Amazing!)

Coconut cups with the girls' names on them in Hawaiian. The girls loved learning their names, and used them throughout the party. This is from the morning after; cups all washed and neatly lined up by super- daddy. I love that man! He cleans up after the party, and then prepares chocolate chip pancakes, bacon, and scrambled eggs for 12 little girls the morning after.

I love this picture with my Cassidoodle because she usually isn't a fan of having her picture taken. Isn't she beautiful! (Spoken like a proud Mama or what!)

The birthday girl making her flip flop pillow. These were a huge hit with the girls and a precious keepsake. Way better than I even hoped... when we opened the box up from the store Cailin even said, "Wow, Mom! These are cool! Not cheesy at all!". Can you tell we have had some not so great experiences with crafts from this particular company?

The goodie bags... filled with fondant decorated sugar cookies in the shape of bikinis, flip flops, swimsuits and sunglasses; hawaiian jewelry, luau themed magic washcloths, fruit shaped candy, hibiscus print emery boards, and the leis and grass skirts the girls wore at the party.

Daddy ~ at the girls' service! He mixed up delicious strawberry smoothies, served up in their coconut cups . The girls loved it, and so did Daddy (now known as Mr. Lukei - Rusty in Hawaiian!).

Luau! I am just trying to figuree out how to add pictures- hope this works!
Heard Around Home This Week

From Cailin as I told the girls how awesome it was that we were receiving so many congratulatory calls about Daddy's new job. I explained that everyone was so happy for daddy, and so proud! Cailin said from the backseat, without even looking up from her tamagatchi, " And maybe some of them are just glad to get him out of their hair!".

From Cassidy the day after Teddy (the hamster) was found dead in his cage. "And let's not tell them about the tragedy yesterday." (Of course the cutest part was her little hand cupped around her mouth as she delivered this message.)

Cassidy singing, at bedtime... "I like big butt and I will not lie. It's a truth that I can't deny!".
"Oh my. We don't use that word, and where on earth did you hear that song!?"
"Cailin. (big sister aagh!)
Into Cailin's room where Daddy was tucking her in. "Um, hello Cailin. Where did you hear this song!? "
She giggled , "Shark Tales"!

Have mercy!!

Monday, June 25, 2007

I love the way Cassidy's little mind works. She is always thinking. Always practical. Always inquisitive. Her insightfulness and curiosity can be problematic for her, as they cause her to be more aware of herself than many 8 year olds (certainly her sister at that age!) are. She needs reassurance before attempting anything new, although, ironically, seems to excel at everything she tries!

Today was her first day of FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) sports camp. She was eager to participate while still on the "high" of a successful first soccer season, but by the time we shelled out the fee, she had changed her mind. Oh no, here we go again! So bedtime last night consisted of me holding her while she worked through her concerns... what if she was the only one wearing shin guards ...
("Take them off", I said.
What if I take too long taking them off?")

"What if she hated it. Why did we spend all this money on things she never wanted to do in the first place?". On and on she went, until I had addressed each of her concerns one by one, and then she snuggled up against me quietly to sleep.

I spent a sleepless night, tossing and turning, and praying that all would be well today. I prayed that she would see God's hand in her life, comforting her and allowing her to conquer the fear that satan tries to trick her with. She went to camp today, which took a lot of effort on her part. After meeting her huddle, she was ready for me to leave. So after a quick wave, I left her there, entrusting her to her Heavenly Father. I know she is in good hands.

Dear Lord, please let this be a victory in Cassidy's life. I love her precious little mind. Let it dwell on You and Your goodness and mercies. Let her always remember that You are active in her life, that You care. And thank You Lord, that her sister is happy to go everywhere. Thank you for their differences.

Monday, June 04, 2007


I feel like I have a newborn. A hairy, snorting, roaming all over the bed 15 pound newborn. Shi tzus were originally bred to sit on the laps of royalty, looking pretty, and doing little else. Well Gizmo makes the breed proud, for this is exactly how she likes to spend her every waking dozing moment. Since we aren't residents of emperial China, however, she makes do with snoozing her days away on the dirty laundry in my closet.

This is all well and good, except that at night, she is rested up from all that sleeping, and spends her nights wandering all over our bed, looking for a spot to rival those smelly socks she loves so! Since I am a worrier, I spend most of my nights making sure she doesn't fall off the edge, or alternatively pushing her off my head. I mean, I love the dog, but sleeping on my pillow while snorting and licking her chops is too much even for me!

Last night I scooped her up and plopped her back in the laundry pile, thinking she loves it so much during the day, she would be thrilled to be reunited with her cozy bed, but oh, no, she beat me back to the bed. Grrr! Finally, in desperation, around midnight I plopped her on my daughter's bunkbed and barred the ladder with an overstuffed horse (I guess my fear of her falling had been replaced with desperation for sleep!) to prevent her from leaping to follow me, and finally sank to sleep in my own bed.

I told my husband she really is like a newborn with her days and nights mixed up, and that we need to make sure she stays awake during the day. He just stared at me, amazed, I think, at what his life has become. Amazed in a happily surprised way, I'm sure!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

A Mommy Memory

As I was cleaning out some junk important papers from the school year, I came upon Cassidy's bus name tag, unused since the driver grasped their names sometime back in September. I placed it as a definite for the "keep pile", because it triggers one of the sweetest memories of my little Cassidoodle, and I love those reminders of their innocence.

This year is the first year the girls are on different campuses of the same school, and as such, have different drop off times. Since I am only one woman, the solution was to force, kicking and screaming allow Cassidy to ride the shuttle bus from the upper campus to her own each morning. Since there are various buses , they each had a name tag to help the teachers identify which line to put them in, and they were labeled with identification such as "Lee Hill" for the bus to that community or "shuttle" for the little bus that just runs back and forth between campuses.

Well, after Cassidy survived the terror of her first day as a bus rider, she was a little proud to sport her little name tag, and even mentioned her driver "Mrs. Shuttle". "What is her name?" I asked, surprised at the coincidence of a driver of a shuttle bus, having the name "shuttle".
"Shuttle" she said, and showed me her little tag. Oh my goodness, the sweet innocence with which she said it. I didn't laugh at the moment, but I did call Nana to ask how long I should allow her to address the driver as Mrs. Shuttle before I corrected her. I love that sweet girl!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I am Little Miss Happy Pants!

I just had to laugh, re-reading my post from this morning. I sound so chipper, and pollyanna-ish, that it reminded me of one of my favorite in - law stories.

A few Christmases ago, while visiting with Rusty's family (on our once a year 3 hour visits. We're close as you can tell.), his older sister was telling us about a PTA mom from her son's school who frequently calls "Big Sis" on her cell phone. Big Sis was upset because this other mom calls her frequently, and uses up her cell phone minutes on silly chit chat, so she said she just doesn't answer anymore and looks the other way when passing her house.

Well, it didn't stop there, oh no siree! Big Sis went on to elaborate about this mother, describing her cute little outfits, and the way she is so super involved in her children's lives, and then, the biggeee... she described how PTA Mommy loves to surprise her husband by mowing the lawn for him, and even told Big sis that she uses it as her prayer time- just rides the lawnmower around the yard praying and singing praise songs to the Lord.

Well I had been charmed by the description of this sweet, godly woman, and thought she sounded delightful. I tend to be a pretty involved Mom and am a little on the perky side. Top that off with my love of driving and worshiping God all alone in my Mommy mobile and I was really identifying with this little mama. Thinking, mistakenly, that Big Sis was being complimentary in her description of this woman, I started to say "My gosh, that sounds just like me!". I didn't get the chance though, as Big Sis rounded out the tale with the closing line, "I just hate that little Miss Happy Pants! She is so darn happy all the time!". Well then! Imagine the audacity of actually being happy! Glad I didn't mention our similarities!

I laugh in retrospect still, at the mental picture of the smile sliding off my face as I realized that, Lord have mercy, I AM little Miss Happy Pants, and my sister in law would hate me if she knew me. Oh my! Rusty thought it was one of the funniest moments ever, and reminded me that it is exactly why he loves me! And that is why, among my dearest friends, I am Little Miss Happy Pants"!
Summer Is Here!

Cailin's hair has streaks of blonde running through it, and the pool bag is riding shotgun in the minivan... looks like it is officially time for fun in the sun!

This time of year always surprises me with its beauty and ability to fill my heart with sparks of happiness. Awakening early and hearing the birds chirp makes me feel like Snow White. I mean literally, my heart feels like it is singing with the joy that is God's creation! I love to sit on the deck with my tea and my bag of Bible studies, letting God lead me to the study my heart needs that day. I feel closer to Him, and in turn the rest of my day is better. I am better able to handle the rough spots, because I have had those first minutes of the day in solitude with the Lord. Oh, how I wish every day was summer!

Friday, May 25, 2007

James 4:4

You {are like} unfaithful wives {having illicit love affairs with the world and breaking your marriage vow to God!} Do you not know that being the world's friend is being God's enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world takes his stand as an enemy of God.
I have read this verse before; it is a commonly quoted one in the church, I think. Yet, today, this verse, in this version (Amplified- my favorite, by the way!) it spoke to me sharply.
If asked, I would say I am not a "friend of the world", but rather a child of God. I love the Lord, I seek His counsel on nearly everything and love Him passionately. But do I occassionally flirt with the world when I join in a conversation criticizing another mom at school? Am I not having a love affair with the world when I choose "Desperate Housewives" over the telecast of my favorite preacher? (AGAIN!) When I go along with my Christian friends in a gossip fest instead of gently reminding us of God's opinion of gossip , do I not step outside the bounds of my marriage vow to God? What could it be called other than unfaithfulness to God's glorious commands to us when I lash out in anger at my husband or children?
I do not want to be an enemy of God. Enemy is a strong word, but it is His and I better take heed! I do not want to be separated from Him because I lack discipline. Once again I have allowed myself to become self righteous and view myself as "above" this particular verse because I don't just go along with the crowd. I make most choices independently and am ok standing alone. God reminded me today, though, that even if I am alone, but making poor choices, I still am a friend of the world , and need to ask Him to help me rise above it. Instead of delegating this passage to the peer pressure pile, I need to apply it to my own choices and my personal daily walk with Him.
Father God, please let me seek your friendship above all else... worldy approval, personal goals, and selfish pleasure. The joy of obeying Your Word far outweighs the fleeting pleasure of selfishness. Thank You for being so good and righteous and giving us Your Word and Holy Spirit to encourage us.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I can't believe my baby girl is 10 years old. I am such a sap that the night before her birthday I was teary eyed and weepy, realizing that the next time I saw her she would be "10", and she just said, "Mom. You are so weird."
I put off writing about it until today, because frankly yesterday I just couldn't even think about it. Now that the big day has come and gone, I feel up to addressing it, but instead of pouring out my heart, I think I'll do a top 10 list.

Top 10 Favorite Things About Cailin (Honestly there are so many that I could re-write this list a thousand times, but here goes...)

1. The expression on her face the first time I held her. I will always remember those dark eyes staring up at me as if memorizing my face. She was so serious, and would only look at me with one eye open at a time, as if adjusting to life out of the womb gradually. We called her Popeye:-)
2. Her skinny little legs, always kicking, and that tiny little peanut bottom that newborns have. I just couldn't believe how perfect and miniature everything was- even her goosebumps were teeny tiny.
3. Cailin has always awakened with a smile. As soon as her eyes were open she was beaming up at me- eager to face the day. Those long eye lashes and her sweet smile- what a blessing to awaken to! I still linger over her sleeping face before I wake her each morning, trying to soak up the sweetness of sleep.
4. That giggle!!! She is always ready for a laugh, and was such a good natured baby! It is only in the last few months that she has become occassionally sensitive to laughter that might be at her expense. Usually, though, even now she is able to laugh at herself. As a small child I could always get her cooperation through teasing and laughter... what joy she has brought to our home!
5. Hearing her ideas, and boy does she have them!!! I don't know how many times I have heard sentences that start with "Hey Mom! I know what we could do!... or Hey Mom! I have an idea!...." I have always tried to cultivate creativity and thinking in the girls; in her case I may have taken it too far! Actually, I can't even complain because she is able to maintain her objectivity when I tell her "no", or "not today". She is very open to my suggestions, and if I "shoot down" her ideas she usually doesn't fuss or whine, but just comes up with another one!
6. I love seeing her heart develop. She has always been a very tenderhearted little girl who loves to help others. She adores children and animals, and any one who might need her help. She has always been willing to jump in where needed with a cheerful attitude and do what needs to be done. I call her my world changer. She loves God and makes no bones about it. She loves Him, and wants everyone else to, too. One of my most cherished memories is of her walking around the campground singing "This Little Light of Mine" at the top of her lungs. She hoped people would hear her and want to come ask her more about Jesus. I am so proud of her, and so ashamed that I made her hush so she wouldn't disturb others.
7. She is fun; plain and simple. I often refer to her as my good time gal, and love seeing the joy she brings to any situation.
8. The drama of that girl. Oh my, the drama! She sometimes even makes herself laugh at her outlandish antics. One for the books, this year, was when she didn't want to go to school, and threw herself to the floor of the principal's office because the burden of her bookbag was too heavy for her to bear. The pain in her tushy was too much to bear, too, shortly after this tactic:-)
9. The way she must be rubbing your elbow whenever you are within reach of her. She usually isn't even aware that she is doing it, but compulsively rubs your elbow whenever she talks to you. It is this soothing little thing she has done since she was a baby.
10. I love that she is mine. That God found me worthy, in some small way, to raise His precious child. I didn't deserve her, but like so much in life, God looked beyond my deserving into grace and blessed me anyway. She is my joy and my love. I adore her with a passion that physically hurts, and brings me to tears at the mere thought of it. My prayer each night of her life is that I would be the Mommy God wanted her to have, and that I would hear His desires for her and be obedient.

Happy Birthday Baby Girl! I love you XOXO

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Childlike Faith.

I noticed, one night after tuck ins, that Cassidy had created a bit of a fort in her bed by draping a comforter from the top bunk, so that it encased her like a little cocoon. The telltale illumination told me that she wasn't sleeping in that tent, but probably reading or playing with a Littlest Pet Shop puppy she had stashed under her pillow. I pulled the fabric back, in an "Aha, Caught you!" kind of Mommy move, and couldn't have been more suprised at what I found. My sweet little second grader was sitting cross legged in her bed, praying.

"Mommy, I am having special prayer time praying the kids on our street will hear God's call. " My heart could have burst, that this quiet, shy child, who often is too embarrassed for shared prayer ,and has been known to fuss when I asked if we could pray about a situation, was choosing to come to the Lord on her own. She gets it. She knows that when you have something on your mind or heart, the place to take it is to His throne.

Cassidy has battled severe allergies and eczema her whole life. For most of her life it was common for her to awaken with her legs and sheets covered in blood from the wounds on her skin that she couldn't resist scratching in her sleep. She would scream and cry as we put painful ointment on open sores. Her nights were filled with nonstop sneezing and tossing and turning. We have prayed over this child every prayer you could imagine, waiting for her to be healed. My Dad felt that God told him He was healing her from the inside out, and we believed with hope, not knowing exactly what it meant, but holding on in faith.

As she has matured, we have seen a peace fill her life; a depth of understanding to encompass her mind and heart. And as this internal peace has developed, her walk with the Lord has grown to be a light that shines from within. I believe we are seeing God's will played out in my child's life. She is in fact, being healed from within, as she turns her sinful natural heart over to the Great Physician. As He restores her heart to His image, her physical body is also being renewed. Her skin is smooth and she now rarely requires medication. She is a happy child who is learning more every day to trust in Him, as she sees what He has done in her life, and she wants to share it with others, in her own quiet, faithful way.

Since the night I discovered her praying she has made it a nightly ritual, and as I pass by her room I see the light under the blanket, and my heart swells. She has begun inviting her sister to join her, and seeing the two of them praying together, and journaling their prayers in her special "prayer book" is one of the greatest joys of my life. (I believe we could have a full revival soon, as they have begun to add praise and worship.)

As they pray, the light that glows from within that special bunkbed chapel is a physical reminder of the Light that shines from within their hearts. And I thank God. Oh, how I thank God.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I am a friend of God.

Someone hurt my daughter's feelings yesterday, and in turn hurt mine. Moms tend to feel everything their children do, tenfold, and then spend the rest of the day (and night, in my case unfortunately!) plotting a revenge.

Ironically most of my resentment stems from the fact that this parent is a Christian whom we have know for years. I was angry because I felt that for a friend to be unkind was such a betrayel, and if they are that inconsiderate then they can't be my friend. In my mind Christians aren't selfish and mean spirited and gossipy. They are kind and loving and, forgiving. Ahem. So while I wasted hours stewing with self righteous anger at this "so called Christian's" lack of love, I was living out exactly the same sin. What is that about a plank in your own eye? Ouch!

So as I sat down to vent share, I realized I was singing "I am a friend of God"... and therein lies the answer I prayed for last night. God is my friend, my support, my One True Constant. He is always here for me (and my family) when others let me down. How awesome that the One Who created the heavens is my friend. He wanted to be with me so much that He let His Son suffer injustices for me. The anger I am feeling at a betrayel of my child, He is well acquainted with. He has been there, and His child truly was perfect.

Once again I am overwhelmed at what He really did for me, and come to Him asking for a renewed spirit, mind and heart. A spirit that keeps my eyes so focused on Him that the hurts of this world won't matter, beacuse the only One who matters is Him. A mind that takes every thought captive to His Word. And a heart that is so filled with His love that I am more concerned with the hurts I inflict than the ones I receive.

Thank You Father God for Your grace and mercy. You are greater than all others and I praise You in all things. Thank You for blessing me so abundantly with such a rich life that the biggest problem facing me today is a rude comment by another. Thank You that my children are happy, well adjusted, energetic children with fun friendships and a heart for others. Let me come to You with a heart like theirs and childlike faith. Thank You for being You, always and forever.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Exhausted after a Saturday that started before 6:00 a.m. and included a community yard sale, trip to Walmart for birthday gifts, field hockey game, soccer game, and birthday party (plus another trip to target for groceries!), I was crashed out face first on the bed beside Cassidy while she watched educationl programming the Disney channel.

She was bouncing her little feet on my bottom - yes, I exist to entertain my children at any cost to my personal comfort- when all of a sudden she stopped and said, "Shaky tushie!".

Alrighty then. Sorry the "rearend foot trampoline" isn't what it used to be sweetie!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Vive' la difference!

On the way to school the girls were poring over the Guinness Book of World Records. (Remember that- who knew it was still around!) Cailin found the youngest cliff diver, who was 12 years old. Always one for danger adventure, she exclaimed, "I could do that and be the new youngest!"

Cassidy, ever practical, said, "Cailin! Are you crazy!? You could crash your head on the rocks!!".

Gotta love those girls! Wonder who takes after who? HA!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Today , as I drove the girls to school, I realized again what a gift my life is. A life filled with the everyday tasks of taking my children to school or soccer or field hockey, planning end of year school parties and gifts for teacher appreciation days, hours spent on laundry or cooking or shopping. Truly mundane tasks. Yet they are each a gift, because they are ways I can serve my family. The family that God has so graciously given me.

Mine is not a life of great sophistication or wealth. I certainly am not the jetsetter I dreamed of as a little girl.... flying off to clients in Paris or London. My clients don't invite me to extravagent parties or to accompany them to Europe to buy antiques. I'm not using my high school french to order in fine restaurants as I once hoped. Instead I am a regular at Sonic, where my daughters love the slushes that are a step up from normal soda at McDonald's. My clients are young families who want a beautiful home on a budget. Jet setting now consists of a weeekend at the beach somewhere with a lazy river for the kids.

My life is not what I planned as a young, idealistic girl. Most of the dreams I had have not been realized. Instead God recognized that my dreams were too small, and He replaced them with His own wonderful, grandiose visions of a family dwelling in His care, loving one another and loving Him. Thank God for His infinite wisdom and grace.