(Everything looks picture perfect from the street, but once you're inside it's a whole other story.)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

My Favorite Part of the Day

This is my favorite part of the day.

The sun sets, the bullfrogs turn it up a notch, and my heart and arms are full.  My daughters’ love fest begins; hugs and multiple kisses all around, accompanied by the now familiar pang in my gut that comes with the sincere, silent wish of every mother, “I pray they stay this close forever.”  My eyes water, my heart beats stronger, and my face warms from the smile that has spread across it. 
The same story is read/recited for the thirty-fifth time in as many evenings, prayers are started and people or stuffed animals are blessed several times, and she begins.

“Tomoyo, I go cherch!”
“Why you hair wet?”
“No let witch ge me, kay?”
 “Seuss in Heaven with God.”
“But Mama, I no wan to go nigh-nigh!”
“But Mama, I no wan you to leeeeave.”

This is my favorite part of the day.

Promises are uttered about being just downstairs and always being here for her, and that appeases her…for now.  Lullabye, AKA Rockabye, is hummed ad nauseum, but I love it.  Every second, I love it.  This is our time; our special time when my face is so close to hers for an extended period of time, yet I’m acutely aware of just how fleeting these moments will become.  Days pass, inches attach themselves to my daughters…as do those pesky days, weeks, and even years.  Before I know it, they won’t want to be this close to me for a moment longer than a quick peck and barely-there hug…if I’m lucky.

This is my favorite part of the day.

My keen ability to multi-task, a sure blessing, allows me to hum a tune and think about my precocious daughter at the same time.  Her soft, stick-straight blonde hair, enormous sky-blue eyes, perfect rosebud lips…she is a true beauty.  Memories of the day bombard my mind, and I review dances with her dolls-both in princess dresses-in the family room, “Gace, gi me hug,” the cartoonish way her face crumples when she’s disappointed or sad, “Yeth, you can,” the pinwheel that is her running style.  The idea of bekiss, lunch, and dinnah bring such joy to her little life…and I try to capture it all and put it in my mind for safe keeping.  

I watch her fall asleep.  It’s magical.  To watch her mouth stop moving, her fingers cease their nightly ritual of rubbing Snuggle Bunny’s ear to her lip, her eyelids fluttering to their down and locked position, is a gift.  The moment is not lost on me-not even for a second.  She is protected in the folds of my arms…for the time being.  Her sleeping face, peaceful and angelic, would provide a subject for the most renowned painters and poets alike.  

All I can do is just stare down at her; my impulsive, brave, generous Little Bit.  Love pours out of every cell of my being for this little life.  I thank God for her during these moments, because I know that she is very much His gift to me and not the other way around.  So, I rock her just a few minutes more; I hold her just a little bit tighter; I hum a few extra verses.  

She is mine and I am hers. 

This is my favorite part of the day.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I Pray.

I pray.

I pray because I'm a Christian and it's what we do.

I  pray because I sin.  I'm pretty sure I do it every day and so I need to come clean to God.

I pray because I have questions without answers-and I hate that.

I pray because I am a planner.  I need to have Plans A-D ready to go for any situation.  However, I'm not the one in control here.  God is.  So, I pray.

I pray because I need to get things off my chest and God listens without interrupting me with His needs or complaints.  Plus, He forces me to listen, too.   

I pray because I can't do it alone.  Any of it.  I figure I should go straight to the source with questions about my life, so why not hit up the One who loved me before I was born, has counted all the hairs on my head, and knows every thought before I think it?  Seems logical to me.

I pray because I've been charged with raising 2 daughters-angels on this Earth for sure-and with the way society is headed these days, I want to protect them from everything; bullies, social media stalkers, cell phones and texting taunts, creeps, mean dogs, drugs, boys who will break their hearts, "friends" who will use them, and physical pain of any kind.  It's a tall order-I'm aware-and I'll need help.  So, I pray.

I pray because I'm a control freak, lax on laundry at times, imperfect, optimistic despite my better judgement, too easily disappointed, romantic, judgmental and impatient every now and then.  Jesus fixed all of that and I want to say "Thank you!" Everyday.  

 So, I pray.



Monday, March 25, 2013

I Run.

I run.

I run because I'm training for the Monument Avenue 10K; a race I signed up for on my own volition.  No peer pressure this time.

I run because I'm trying to lose baby weight and nothing else has worked.  2 pregnancies, 2 daughters 16 months apart, and loving good food got me here-and my Mizuno running shoes will get me out.

I run because I miss my Dad.  He faced challenges his whole life.  If he can beat his past and one heart attack (the second one not so much) and lung cancer, I can certainly beat the pavement and take just one more step...for  him; get to one more streetlight-make it one more mile.  I'll never have one more of anything with him, and I can't change that.  I can, however, run.

I run because it's a challenge for me.  Being able to burst through the door and yell, "I did it!" even if it's just to myself, brings me joy.  Scooping up my daughters as they run to hug and congratulate me is permanently etched on my brain-and will force me out the door again tomorrow.

I run because my life is far from perfect.  It's my stress-relief now.  3 months ago it was a stress-inducer...the irony.  When the gray cloud of situational depression lurks, or sadness over things I can't control threatens to glue me to the sofa with chick flicks and a carton of ice cream, I just run.

I run because I'm not perfect, nor do I want to be.  My mind needs clearing, my heart needs mending, my body needs toning, and I just need air!  Fresh air!  I need to see the beauty God has put before me in the form of a budding tree, a crocus pushing through the frozen ground-a friend who waves as she drives by as I run.  All of it, all of it, is therapeutic...and I need it.

I run because it gives me back the confidence I'd let slip away for so long.  I'm challenging myself and kicking those challenges in the shins.  I'm pushing myself to go farther-faster-longer...and I'm doing it!  I'm going farther, faster, and longer!  I'm in control when I run-not the weather, the time or anything or anybody else.  This is me time; time I need to get myself back to who I used to be.

I run because I need a break...a break from cleaning, worrying, talking, feeling, planning, driving, cooking, defending and compromising my needs and what I deserve.

I run.  


Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Tale of Two Floors

I used to cringe in disgust when a Swiffer duster commercial would come on.  

Me (I would say to my single, childless self out loud): "Ugh!  Who lets their house get that dusty?  Seriously?!  Wouldn't they notice the layer of dust accumulating on their dark furniture and floors before it got like that?"

You know who lets their house get that dusty?  Me.  And anyone else with small children and a husband who has an amazing super power.  He is able to ignore messes, out of place toys, and dust. 

Well, let me clarify just a bit.  The whole house isn't a dusty mess.  My house has 2 zones: the private zone and the public zone.  Kind of like the West Wing and East Wing of the White House.  One part is on display for consumption, while the other part is where we "let out hair down" and dust, clothes baskets, and toys roam free.  Our home's private zone, traversed only by folks who share my last name (maiden or married), shows the "real" business of the house.  It also shows the problem that arises when one person multitasks (even though there are two persons of age in the house who could do any or all of the following): cleaning staff, CEO, teacher, referee, disciplinarian, cook, entertainer, personal trainer...you get the picture.

Friends who are "single-floor guests" have one opinion of me and my Sally Home-maker-ness.  I'm "so organized," and amazingly, I somehow find time to supervise messy art projects while cooking dinner and catching up with everyone in the house - all at the same time!  Here's a hint: It's because I've completely ignored the creeping funk going on upstairs so that my downstairs looks spotless and I can focus on everything that's happening right then and there.  To my guests, however, I appear to be "that Mom."  You know the type (and I truly aspire to be one or close to it)...Makes everything from scratch--kids never have a hair out of place--kids wear ironed clothes--she wears ironed clothes--manicured--pedicured--hair dyed just right--PTA President--preschool room mother--lawn looks perfect--not a speck of dust to be found on any level of her house--light from Heaven shines brighter on her and her house than on anyone else's--mom.  

Let me tell you something.  That type of mom has a cook, a cleaning service, and a clone!

My home's public zone (read that carefully!) makes it look like I've got it all together, but head upstairs to the private zone and you'll be swallowed up by the fluffy dust!  Yes.  Did you know that when dust is left to its own devices, it takes on a fluffy appearance?  Like a flower that wilts to signal it needs water, the dust at my house takes on a cloud-like appearance to signal to me that it's time to get out the Swiffer duster and Pledge.  I get to re-enact that same Swiffer duster commercial that used to disgust me.  Now I say, "Amen, sister" as it plays.  Overflowing laundry baskets, full gift bags from 2 Christmases ago, piles of woodworking magazines, books I refuse to get rid of, drifts of plastic bags just waiting their turn to line our trashcans, and a white layer of fluffy dust coating all of it...that's what my lucky husband and I get to see on a nightly basis...and morning too I guess.  Thank goodness we're both too bleary-eyed to notice much in the morning (thanks to a certain daughter who, at 20 months, still doesn't sleep through the night).  

It's a tale of two cities home over here...the best of times downstairs, and the worst of times upstairs.  The real me vs. the me I want you to think I am.  Maybe some day, 5 years from now I guess, I'll find a balance between private and public, best and worst.  Until then, I'll just continue to get my bi-annual pedicure and manicure, and whip out the Swiffer duster when I know you're comin' over.   

Monday, August 13, 2012

The "WHY" Contest

Inquisitive?  Scientific?  Annoying?  They all apply as we move into the new phase of life with a preschooler...the "Why" phase.  I knew it would come...someday.  Now "someday" is here...has actually been here for a few days, and has already worn out its welcome.  Any answer I give now gets the same response: "Why?"  Or, she'll mix it up a bit for me by asking, "But, why?"  No explanation is good enough to appease her.  

"God made it that way."


"Because I said so."

"But, why?"

Can I look at this as a chance to get as creative as I want with answers, knowing she's not really listening to me but just waiting for me to finish so she can ask her new favorite question?  Not likely, because to go along with this new found inquisitiveness, she's also got the memory of an elephant.  If I tell her that she can't have snack right at this very second because we're all out of snacks in the whole house, and the grocery store is out too, she'll remind me of this when I pull out snacks later in the afternoon and the next morning.

Then there's this lovely conversation that we have at least once a day:

"Mommy!  Why does the cat srow (throw) up?"

"Because she eats too fast."


"She's the smallest and wants to get her share of food before the fat cats take it all."


"That's the way the world works."

"But, why?"

"God made it that way, I said so, and just because.  Oh look, there's a plane!"

I'm a pretty patient person.  After working with preschoolers and middle schoolers, special needs and general education students alike, I am ready for any number of "whys" that she'll inevitably  throw my way until she's either too bored to continue or I've finally given the answer for which she was looking.  My husband, however, is not so patient.  I can't wait to see the smoke pour out of his ears while he tries to navigate this little part of our parenting journey.  I'm sure that'll make for an interesting blog post...someday. 

What is your favorite response when "Why" is thrown at you?  Leave your answer in the comment section below. 


Monday, August 6, 2012

Storms, Jiggling, and Ocean-blocking

Day 1 of our vacation began with a thunderstorm of epic proportions.  It overstayed its welcome and made the power go out.  The cars had just pulled into the driveway of the beach house and the rain started.  The last piece of luggage made its way into the house just as the Heavens opened up and the power hightailed it outta here.  We all agreed though, that a powerless, rainy day at the beach was far superior to a powerful, sunny day back home.

Oh, the irony of it all.

The week before vacation, my local weather person had been promising storms that never actually came.  I get to the Outer Banks and get a storm so energetic that it kills the power and sends sheets of rain down upon us for 7 hours.  If only my little town back home could've been so lucky...we needed the rain.  I mean, farmers were asking others to pray for it during our church service.

Days 2 and 4 began at sunrise thanks to the Hurricane (read: my youngest daughter).  The plus side - I was able to sneak in a 2.5 mile run on both days.  My jiggly bits were, surprisingly, not as jiggly as last year!  Progress!

Day 3 included the annual trip to Jimmy's Seafood Buffet.  My FIL is a legend there.  Being first in line is an art form he has certainly mastered and is a must when traveling with him to this particular eatery.  The food is good, but what's better is watching my husband and his two younger brothers fight for the title of "Crab Leg King."  Melted butter oozing down their chins, bits and pieces of crab flying over all of us...it's glorious.

Day 5 is a blur...I don't remember a single thing from that day.  Must have been the new drink my BIL introduced me to...Private Stock Captain Morgan's and Crystal Light Lemonade.  Tastes EXACTLY like  amaretto!  Sooo good.

Day 6 I fondly refer to as: Ocean-blocking Day

Y'all know of the "other" kind of blocking...boys detest it and usually a wing-man (of the male or female persuasion) is the cause.  The kind of blocking to which I'm referring, my friends, is the fault of rude, socially inept individuals who lead their family members to a spot on the beach that is, in no way, available.  Why is it not available, you ask?  Well, because it's directly in front of our camp and totally blocks our direct view/access to the water.  That's why!

The day began at dawn, with a cup of coffee that I didn't have to reheat 6 times, and my last 2.5 mile run of the week.  After lunch, the little kids napped while the adults sat around and talked, watched non-cartoon related TV, or secluded themselves in the loft to read or write (guess who).  One by one, the little ones arose and parents trucked upstairs to retrieve their respective toddlers, tug on their swimsuits, slather on the sunblock, and head back to the beach.

Now, having been raised by the daughter of a true Southern Lady, I was privy to proper beach etiquette from a very young age.  You kick up sand into a stranger's coffee cup while chasing your little brother (even though you can't understand why anyone would take an open coffee mug onto a sand filled beach)?  You apologize through the tears of embarrassment streaming down your face.  You set up beach games out of other beach-goers' path to the ocean.  You play your music loud enough for only your group to hear.  So, imagine my surprise when I descend the stairs from the house to the beach, in the South mind you, to find a large group of unruly folks with an obnoxiously bright, huge umbrella, camped out not 10 yards directly in front of us.  How rude!  They must be from the Nawth, says my inner monologue to no one but herself.  I was not quiet about the displeasure I felt after stumbling upon this discovery.  Loud music - good, but loud - emanated from the center of their offending heap of beach paraphernalia, trashcan frisbee games were set up dangerously close to our blow-up baby pool, and all of it, all of it,  was blocking our direct access to the ocean.  How dare they!  I tell you, if any of their errant frisbees had come anywhere near my babies, Momma Bear would have made her beach debut!

Maybe it's a sign of the times - people becoming more and more disrespectful and rude.  Maybe it was just this particular group of tourists.  All I can hope is that by telling my story, I can shed light on this epidemic of rudeness.  If I've stopped even one family from ocean-blocking another, I'll consider that a success.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Dead as a Doornail

Let's chat about technology, shall we?  I realize that without it you wouldn't be reading this or any other blog.  Thousands of nobodies like me would continue about our lives.  No one would know a thing about our personal or private lives, and instead of writing witty bits for strangers, we'd be doing something more productive - like dusting, ironing (which I detest), or weeding our gardens.

Today, however, I'm lost.

I raised my phone to snap a photo of the Hurricane wearing her Daddy's OSU hat (her cuteness rivaled anything a baby - human or otherwise - could conjur).  Just as the flash pulsed, my phone went black.


Resurrection has not yet occurred.  I'm still holding on to hope though.  

Now, I'm utterly dumbfounded.  How will I contact my friends?  I haven't bothered to memorize a phone number since I first met my husband 6 years ago.  The only other phone number I'd deemed worthy enough to memorize before that was my ex-boyfriend's from 3 years prior to that!  Calling hostesses to confirm trunk show dates?  Following up with ladies who want to be stylists?  Fuggedaboudit!

UGH!  What's worse?  No Scramble with Friends.  No mobile photos to upload, and no way to Facebook stalk while my husband plays an uber-important game of Civilization on our home's only computer.  

I've been without my trusty sidekick for 3 hours now, and I'm already getting the DTs.  Can I go on?  Am I going to make it?