Category Archives: Family

Friends Forever

I got to reconnect with a friend today, someone that I haven’t been able to communicate with for years. We were both in seasons of life where it was inappropriate for us to speak with one another, so we just didn’t. That is a weird sentence to type, but I think that it’s good to acknowledge things like that. Sometimes, it’s OK to not be friends with someone. Sometimes, you have to step back and let some time march by before all of a sudden you’re back in the relationship and it’s like time never even went anywhere at all.

I used to think I was pretty smart. This is why comparing yourself to other humans is bad, because in light of most decision making (peopleofwalmart.com, anyone?)  you can suddenly seem kind of above average. That turns into pride, which inevitably leads to destruction. So you flit through your twenties comparing your success to the people around you thinking maybe you’ve got your life together, and then you realize you don’t.

As a kid in church I’d heard the phrase “guard your heart” and I really thought I got that, and maybe I did for that season of life. But now married (um, again) and a step-mom, I see it in a completely new way. Friendships are a privilege because they take time away from relationships that are a right. My step-kids have the right to my time and attention, and so does my husband. So I guard my heart against certain friendships. Which is why, even though I was glad to rekindle this particular friendship for a few hours, I know sooner than later I’ll step away again.

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Storm Days

Hurricane Isaac is sprinkling through our yard as I type, and we’ve been notified by local school officials that our kids are not going to school today for their safety and the safety of the staff.

It’s raining. Part of me just cannot believe my kids are getting out of school because it’s raining and windy at the same time. Part of me is glad they’ll be home.

I can remember being very, very young at my private christian school. It was a school where we had to wear dresses every day and we went to chapel once a week. I’m going to guess I was six, because when you’re as old as I am it’s plausible that I can remember back only so far, and six seems reasonable.

So I was six and there was a tropical storm or a hurricane or something and I was at school, because my parents worked and I was always at school, even after school hours were over. I was in daycare until they could come get me. I had before school care, and after school care, and summer school care, and I have no idea how they afforded it all but I’m glad they did. Thanks guys. Back to my story.

I recall the power going in and out after school, and we all huddled into this hallway near the front office with my daycare teacher, Mrs. Watson. Mrs. Watson always wore her dark hair in a bun, with a t-shirt tucked into her long khaki skirt.  The fact that she wore tennis shoes and socks with those skirts bothered me even as a six-year-old. We got to use the bathrooms at the front of the church, which were usually reserved for adults in their Sunday dresses and pantyhose and fancy shoes, not sticky-fingered kids dirty from the playground. There was a long pew on one wall covered in crunchy orange velvet fabric on the seat, then a hard floor and a concrete wall on the other side. The kids sat on the floor, and we didn’t complain. We all sat watching the rain through the glass double doors that led out to the parking lot. Parents would trudge in one after the other to pick up their kids.

I remember my dad coming to pick me up and I remember how his car always smelled like his aftershave. We drove home in his little company car, and when we turned into our neighborhood we were very, very quiet. Two doors down from our house, my best friend’s roof was missing. It had been shaved off by a chain link fence flying through the air. The screens to our porch were gone, and there were trees down in various yards. It was terrifying, yet fascinating as we kept trying to figure out how a tornado could so viciously attack some houses and just carelessly pass by others like drunk bumbling idiot stumbling through a restaurant. I remember feeling so lucky that my roof didn’t get shaved off by a fence.

I won’t tell my kids that story today, because I don’t want to freak them out. But while I’m teasing them about missing school because it’s raining, I’ll watch for flying fences.

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Monster

Found this sitting in my drafts folder and decided to publish it tonight. 

 

Dear Twelve,

Today was your first talent show. You’re in 6th grade, almost exactly my height, and you wear tight, tight pants that make your father cringe. You have the body of an 18 year old. You have the wit of an 18 year old. You have zero organization, which is why I’ve been doing your laundry all. freaking. day. It’s also why we hugged you and gushed about your third place win tonight singing “Monster” by Paramore (!!) and then said, “Okay, let’s talk about that math test you forgot to make up.”

You walked right onto that stage and owned it, sister. You were well rehearsed and nailed every note, every lyric. You bounced around and had great energy and we were like, TOTALLY STOKED!! You seriously rocked. Your outfit was perfect and it was just all around completely inspiring. I videoed it for your aunt and uncle that had to miss it- they were so bummed.

While I personally think you were robbed with your third place win (You deserved first, obviously), you took it in stride and the best part was when they announced second place. Yes, when they called your friend Elizabeth’s name for second place, you smiled and laughed and rejoiced for her. And that was the most beautiful part of your performance tonight, Twelve. The fact that you are not putting on any sort of show when you love someone. That’s the real deal and you do it really, really well.

 

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Will You Remember?

I think Five might be a Physical Touch kinda person. And gifts. He LOVES getting gifts, and giving them. Just yesterday I received a leaf he’d plucked from a tree, especially for me, and the day before he found a brown leaf while riding his bike (you know, the crunch, fall looking kind of leaf) and he stopped riding, picked it up, and brought it to me. He’s pretty thoughtful.

But back to physical touch. He loves hugs and chipmunk kisses (and recently we learned about eskimo kisses) and squishing (which maybe I will demonstrate on video for you someday) and cuddling and wrestling and tickling. And since statistically he’s the only Five year old I’ll ever have, I love giving him hugs and kisses and squishing him and all those things, and I think a lot about how lucky I am to get those hugs, his affection.

Yesterday I told Five ‘bye’ and went to hug him before I left…it’s sort of become a ritual that’s morphed over the past year. We used to do “Grand Finale” hugs where I’d hug him and flip him over, and now he’s half my size and I can’t do it anymore. Such a bummer. But we improvise.

Yesterday he didn’t seem to want to let go of me, and when he is still enough to let that happen I just close my eyes and soak it in. Those magical hugs where he relaxes and lays his head on my shoulder. He is so, so quickly becoming an “all boy” little boy, no baby anymore.

I just held him and rocked him and while a thousand thoughts about him and his life raced through my mind, I said, “Five, will you remember this when you’re a teenager? That we had lots of hugs and that you fit in my arms and that we love each other?”

He said, “Yes, and when I’m bigger YOU will fit in MY arms!”

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Eleven

  1. Cursing isn’t bad, just save it for when it matters.
  2. The chances of you marrying that boy you have a crush on in middle school are slim to none- but make sure to giggle about him with your friends anyway.
  3. Braces suck but on your wedding day when you have that perfect smile, you’ll be glad you did it.
  4. Girls who talk about other girls to you will talk to other girls about you. Don’t be that girl.
  5. Try everything. Try band and chorus and basketball and chess club and don’t care about what anyone says. How will you know what you’re good at unless you try?
  6. Being mean isn’t cool. Cool kids are nice kids.
  7. Be competitive and be the smartest kid. THAT’S cool, and it’ll take you farther in life.
  8. Be confident when you dress out for PE in front of all of those girls with bigger/smaller/different bodies. They’re all just as freaked, trust me.
  9. Keep a mirror in your locker.
  10. Tell your mom or dad you love them when they drop you off– you’ll miss this one day.
  11. Go out of your way to help other people. Your dad does this and I see how much it matters every day.

Happy first day of middle school. Go be a thermostat.

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Wedding List Update

We’ve made a bit of progress on our wedding list. Thank God. Weddings are never quite as easy as you think they’ll be, are they? Lucky for me I have some awesome women (and my man) helping me out! Updates are in blue.

The List

Construct a menu (we’re thinking Chicken and Dumplings [our fave], Gram’s Macaroni and Cheese, Greens, Sweet Potato Casserole, and Cornbread Muffins )Save wine bottles to serve all drinks out of (a la YHL) (drinks are water, sweet tea, un-sweet tea, and sangria)After a meeting with my future MIL, we nailed down the menu, where food is coming from, costs, and who is bringing what. Just figuring all of that out is a huge relief. We also decided to scrap the cupcakes we were going to have for our “wedding cake” and instead bake mini pumpkin and apple pies in mason jars (much more in the theme of the wedding).

Paint the Exterior of the House
– Re-screen the back porch & replace or fix the screen doors
We started on this project and got a few panels completed on the back porch (thanks, Dad!), but this is definitely still a work in progress.
– Add privacy fencing along the front edge of the back yard
After lots of talks about fencing options and what we want for the long haul, we’ve decided to scrap this particular item on the list. Fencing is astronomical these days and our yard is huge and costly to fence (even though we want less than 1/4 of the total yard fenced). This isn’t a necessity for the wedding, so we’re going to watch for deals while planning to skip the fencing.

– Lay a walkway from the back of the house to the Oak Tree
We’re researching the heck out of this. We both love the look of slate stones, particularly in the autumn hue (seen here). Again, this stuff is super expensive and we need roughly 300 square feet to complete the walkway, so we’re still pricing and weighing our options. We thought about buying concrete pavers, laying the path, then staining the concrete a chocolate brown color. We’re still looking, but we’re pretty sure we want to lay out the cash and invest in the walkway (So I don’t walk down to say “I do” in the dirt- although I’m not above that at all).
Plant some trees
– Remove tons (literally, tons) of garbage from previous owners
– Pressure Wash the Shed and the front walkway/driveway
We’re waiting until closer to the big day…
– Pressure Wash the back porch floor
Ditto
– Order my freaking wedding dress from China (what?)
Yay I ordered it! Finally, and I’m cutting it awfully close here. It’s been 11 business days since I placed the order, and the site says it’ll be (usually) 16-23 business days until I receive the dress. Hopefully that puts it coming in NEXT WEEK!! I’m having nightmares that it won’t fit, but hopefully it’s perfect. If not, well, I’ll drop to the floor and cry.
– Figure out how to DIY my invitations
More on this later, but I totally have this under control. I’ve actually had the design done for a long time, but I recently grabbed the textured paper I wanted from JoAnn’s and some envelopes, so now all I need are stamps. This makes it feel very, very real.
– Schedule lawn maintenance week of wedding
We’re waiting until a bit closer to the date to do this
– Schedule mosquito spray (that I snagged for $25 on Groupon) for week of wedding– ditto
– Order the thumb print guestbook I want from Etsy
My awesome future sister in law found a downloadable print just like the guestbook I wanted from Etsy, but this one is 100% FREE! What a score! I’ve got it downloaded, now I need to find some paper and get it printed out and ready for the wedding. I am UBER happy about this find, thanks Emily 1.0!!
– Get the kids’ outfits bought/in line/ordered/ whatever
Progress! We found Eleven a dress that she adores, and we’re narrowing down shoes. I have to wait until closer to the date to get Five’s clothes since he’s growing like a freaking weed all the time. I swear he grows an inch every time I see him. He can reach all of his dresser drawers now (sniffle).
Buy stringed bulb lights for the reception area (our back porch- it’s huge)
Borrow 8′ tables

– Clean, de-label, and re-label all wine bottles for receptions drinks
I am weirdly intimidated by this project (even though I already purchased a huge bottle of goo-gone). I need to get a move on though, time’s ticking.
– Buy fabric to make a huge table cloth/runner
Done! I went to JoAnn’s and used a coupon and got all of the burlap I wanted to do my runners for $20 woooot.
– Construct huge table cloth/runner
Uhhh…this isn’t done yet.
– DIY Flowers/Candle decorations w/ Mason jars
I have all the materials together to make this stuff, I’m planning on using it for centerpieces and decorations all over the place.
Purchase serving ware/eating ware (?) from IKEA – donate what we don’t keep as a tax write off
– Rent chairs for the reception dinner
Oh crap I meant to do this last week! But I ended up being out of town for work. I did call the rental place and find out that I’ll only have to put a $30 deposit down for the chairs, woooot.
– Purchase bales of hay for guests to sit on for the ceremony (the short, short ceremony)
Um, guys, you won’t believe this, but I found someone to DONATE the hay bales. He’s going to let me borrow them for F-R-E-E. I don’t even know how to thank people like that. I mean, how lame is it to give them a gift card? This person is a total stranger, I saw a sign in his yard for hay bales and I called him. I told him I was having a wedding and I needed about 16-17 bales for the ceremony, and he said, “Honey, you can have them!” Have means borrow, but hey that’s the same thing when it comes to money. He’s saving me over $200, and I’m still totally pinching myself.
– Find someone to officiate
Still pretty lost on this one.
– Find a photographer (stressssssful)
Oh. My. Gosh. Travis found me my soulmate of photographers. Her name is Ellie and she. is. amazing. She’s a fellow FSC graduate and she is so sweet. I feel very very fortunate to have her at the wedding (she’s also doing an engagement shoot for us in September!)

So, that’s a lot of progress, right? I’m feeling better about things, and oddly enough, Travis has been so super helpful. It’s not odd that he’s being helpful, he’s always helpful, it’s just that guys don’t usually do wedding stuff, do they? I don’t really know. I do know that I feel pretty lucky. Pretty, and lucky. haha.


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Some Happy Things

In this little blog of life, I talk a lot about home improvement and our crazy ways. Sometimes I think it’s nice to focus on a few other things, and since I am the queen of this particular blog, here are some gratuitous family pictures.

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Me and Five doing some swimming.

There’s been a new development: he is now going underwater and holding his breath.

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And he is all boy.

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Our chalkboard wall is still getting a ton of use.

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Lest you think I am the one doing all that artsy-fartsy stuff, let me blow Travis’ cover and tell you that it’s him.

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My mom had a birthday! We had some delicious food and laughed a lot. I love this picture of them.

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This is my favorite picture of me and Eleven. She is growing into herself, learning about making decisions based on her personal convictions, and learning about relationships. She is way less awkward than I was at her age, and it’s possible that she is less awkward than I am now. She’s starting middle school this month, and she’s going to hear a lot of stuff about life while she’s there. Lots of words that aren’t OK yet, lots of topics that are still uncomfortable. And there is not a doubt in my mind that she is going to be fine.

Also, notice how she’s almost as tall as I am now? That’s a thing. And we officially can’t share shoes anymore. Isn’t there something you can give kids to get them to stop growing so darn fast?

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