Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gobble. Cough. Gobble.

I haven't posted since Thursday because I stopped being thankful.


I've just been busy.


We've been sick.

John came down with it first Sunday afternoon - fever, cough, congestion, all around pitifulness.The only thing that could make him feel better was ME. He was stucktomelikeglue.

At one point, I had to start praying aloud because I started to become very anxious about everything there is to do around here and everything that has been put on hold due to his sickies. I was overwhelmed with the feeling to just care for him first and foremost; Everything else will fall into place.

Praise Jesus he's on the mend now and spent today making up all the mayhem he's had to put on hold.

Raegan has it now, but seems to be fairing better than her littlest brother.

I came down with it this evening, in the midst of a million things to do for Thursday.

So that's my deal.

If I do not make it back on here - I genuinely hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Look around you - You can find something to be thankful for - all of you.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lesson 17: Imagination

''Mama, do you want to pretend? 

Imagination is all your own, no one can tell you what to imagine, or how to imagine it.

It's what turns a box into a star starship, a stick into a sword, plastic dinosaurs into ferocious, living beasts.

It's what allows a four year old and a thirty year old woman to morph into a dainty butterfly, an evil queen, and a roaring lion all within the same hour.

Imagination allows us to create, to invent, to dream. It allows us to view what can't be seen and encourages us to think beyond what we know.  It has the power to build profitable business or intricate quilts or outlandish art.

It should not be stifled, yet encouraged...no matter your age.

If we were to stop imagining, it would happen naturally. It doesn't. We never lose our ability to imagine.

That would be awful, wouldn't it?

Lesson 17: Today I am thankful for imagination. I am thankful that instead of imagining perfect conferences for hundreds of people, I am able to imagine along side my youngest children. We are traveling to France today, you know. We may stop and visit some Indians along the way and likely save a princess before we arrive.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lesson 16: Further

Tonight I am thankful Wilo was able to see a Further show, here in Columbus with his very old, very special friend.

Not only did they go, but they went in style: their own catered Suite, high above the dancing madness, thick dank fog and droves of beautiful hippies.

I'd be lying to say I wasn't the least bit envious.

But, If there is anyone else I would want Wil to see a show with, it would be this particular friend.

And, Wilo....

He deserves it way more than I do and more than anyone else I know.

I am thankful for good, genuine music and true friendship that transpires over decades of time.

EDIT: After hearing about how. much. fun. it was,  I am wickedly jealous but extremely happy to see the smile on Wilo's face after such an awesome night.  They had the red carpet rolled out for them and it was so what he needed.


The Finality Of Four

I briefly mentioned Wilo visiting the doctor in the post I wrote the other day. It was time for him to see a specialist as he has had this nonstop, irritating noise in his ear that just won't quit. It's been there for 13 years.

The diagnosis was easy - turns out it's caused by a 5ft 3in, brunette girl.  The treatment varies, but duct tape is commonly prescribed.


He actually went to get the process started for his "procedure". The procedure that would ensure no Baby Cinco.

I know, I know. John is nearly 17 months old and we are just now starting the process. It's not like I have been day dreaming about having another baby. Mr. Mayhem is perfect, and wonderful, and a giant sized handful.

It's just that the process is just so....permanent.

This may be my inner-catholic coming out, but I have gone back and forth about how I feel regarding birth control and permanent sterilization in the context of a long term, well established, Christian marriage. More specifically - my OWN marriage.

(I am not dogging birth control AT ALL, and agree that it was/is an incredible tool for the advancement of women. I believe it is necessary for any sexually active adult and would never discredit its validity. )

I don't feel the Catholic religion is completely wrong when it comes to their stance on Family Planning -  using natural methods and ultimately trusting God. We are taught to put our faith in God for all other matters, why wouldn't we trust Him in this aspect?

Perhaps my pregnancy with John helped influence my perspective. I was not planning on having a fourth child, and the pregnancy defied all logic. It happened. As I've written before, I was confused and frustrated and overwhelmed. I thought God was out of His, impossible to comprehend, mind. I had no choice but to trust Him with complete abandon. In hindsight, that pregnancy happened because it was in God's plan for me to have that baby. I know that with every fiber of my heart.

Secondly, Permanent Sterilization IS unnatural. There is no debating it. It isn't something that occurs naturally to all men at a specific stage in their life. Women are programmed to naturally stop bearing children at a certain point; men are not.

Finally, and perhaps the most emotionally obvious, this means that I will never, ever be pregnant again. I will never, ever be able to connect with and establish an incredible bond with someone I have never seen before. I will never be able to hold my very own, brand new baby or watch a differing, unique person grow. I love babies. I love children. I love being a mother.


Obviously, we've decided to go through with the "procedure".  And, it's not just because Wil threatened to do it himself. Or the fact I want to go to Disney World sans an infant in a couple years. Or the fact the big kids couldn't stomach the realization that their parents still have sex.

I put much thought and debate into the decision.

Trusting God is a valid reason. But, I also trust that if we were not supposed to do this, I would be overwhelmed with the feeling not to do so. I do not feel that way. In fact, I feel the opposite. I feel like God has been pressing it on my heart to do this, and it's been my selfish, " I heart babies" motives delaying the decision.

I have always believed God to be very much a part of the Medical Community.  He has blessed outstanding, bright minds with innovative ideas, and enabled technological advancements. A vasectomy is no different.

We have been overly, OVERLY, blessed with the four children that define our family. I have had four uncomplicated pregnancies and deliveries. I do not feel like anyone is missing, where I have in the past.  I really feel, deep down, our family is complete. I love being a mother, and I have four lives to enjoy doing just that.

So. Monday was the first step. The next step is meeting with the actual doctor who will do the surgery and signing off on a permission slip. YEP. He has to have my approval, or no go. (I find this amusing, but wrong as women are not required to have their husband sign off. Different post, different day, I guess.) He must wait 30 days after that meeting to have it done. They apparently want to be sure HE is sure.

I'd be lying to say that the reality of never having another baby makes me a teeny, tiny bit sad. But, I know we are doing the right thing.

And, Disney World will be so. much. fun. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lesson 15: Warmth

I fell asleep after the kids were in bed - which as I've mentioned before has been my typical, ultra glamorous routine lately. I wake up an hour or so later, drink something caffeinated and get on with the rest of my night.

Healthy? Doubtful.

I woke up a little bit ago in the worst way - HOT.

Evidently, Jakob (he's always the culprit) decided to turn the heat up to the blazing inferno mark on the thermostat.

I hate waking up feeling smothered by the heat. All I really wanted to do was complain and moan and lock up the darn thermostat, hotel style.

As I was grumbling and changing in to a tank top and sleep shorts in the middle of November, a little voice echoed in my head.

"At least you are warm..."

I promptly rolled my eyes at the sentiment.

"Saw that", it said and then repeated it's purpose....

"At least you are warm...At least you can heat your home to the point where you are TOO hot..."

I tried to throw something at the nagging voice of thankfulness, but missed.

"HA! You missed. You always miss. You know you are terrible at throwing ANYTHING." (Such a true story.)  It continued..."At least you are warm, you have a home to heat, four walls and a roof blocking the wind, somewhere someone wishes they had the same...."


Lesson 15: I am thankful for my home and heat strong enough to make me gasp for air. I am grateful for that little voice in my head always reminding me to be thankful.

Belated Lessons 13 & 14: Redemption and Runaway Babies

Lesson Thirteen: In a heavenly follow up to Lesson Ten, I am thankful for the sermon on Sunday. It went along with what I was feeling earlier in the week.  I am thankful for God who knows every single bag full of old hurt, old emotion, we carry around. He wants nothing more for us to give them to Him and trust in His power to redeem it.

Webster defines Redeem as such: To Free from what destresses and harms; to free from captivity by payment of ransom;  to extricate from or help to overcome something detrimental; to release from blame or debt; to change for the better; to repair and restore.

He can - and will - do all of that, if we only trust Him.  Isn't that awesome? To look at your old hurts and know that He is powerful to free you from it, to repair it, to change it for the better? AMEN.

Lesson 14: I have a really bad habit of becoming really introverted sometimes. The day to day of life becomes overwhelming and I will rarely step foot out my door unless absolutely necessary. I know this about myself and really have to fight against it during those periods where I naturally am inclined to be such. I had been feeling very burdened to go visit a good friend who has had to feel the brunt of my seclusion. As understanding and kind as people can be, it's sometimes taken personally.

Apparently John sensed the need for me to go visit her, too. When the big kids went outside and left the door open, he escaped right behind them and right to her door. (Don't worry, he didn't cross any streets, Praise Jesus).  His mayhem sparked what I hope to be many more visits. I appreciate her understanding THIS MUCH. And like most good friendships, despite time and circumstance, you kind of pick up where you left off. I felt like that yesterday. I am thankful for her, the friendship, and the visit.

Recovered For Now

Happy Tuesday!

I hope your week has started off well.

I've been in a bit of recovery mode. I've been bone tired and just utterly exhausted. Even my good pal, Coffee was unsuccessful in it's attempts to keep me functional.

John was up all night on Saturday, into the not - so - wee hours of the morning Sunday. He wasn't ill or uncomfortable, but rather pleasant and happy to be awake. He's so considerate though, he allowed me to have two hours of sleep.

Lucky Me!

Church was good on Sunday but unexpectedly emotional. The sermon was discussing leaving emotional baggage at the foot of the Cross. At the end, there was a free standing cross with a small basket at the bottom. You were encouraged to write down some baggage, walk it to the front, and leave it right there. It was a physical representation and very powerful. SO POWERFUL, that I underestimated how strongly I would react to doing so. It was overwhelming. And exhausting. And, I don't wish to say much more about it.

I spent yesterday trying very unsuccessfully to conquer mount laundry between Wil's doctors appointment (more to come on that later) and heading to the evil, corporate, conglomerate known as Walmart. Don't hate! I had stuff I had to get for Thanksgiving and wanted to make sure I had it before this coming weekend. As in my mind, I watched every single utensil and pan, in every single store, in every single city be bought up before I could get back there. Thanksgiving would be RUINED.

Maybe not, but I am happy I have those things now and was able to cross them off my list. I also picked up some crafty supplies as I intend to bust out some cheap, easy Thanksgiving crafts. I'll be sharing them here. If you know me in real life, the crafts will most definitely be exactly that - cheap and easy. But also a good way to prepare your little ones for the Holiday.

That brings us to this morning. I want nothing more to sit here and write. I was feeling really good about writing daily. The only problem with that is that LIFE happens. With four kids, a hubby who works all the time, and chores that never, ever seem to stop, life happens much around here too. Oh, and I'm still babysitting pretty little baby, too. I'm feeling like I should cut myself a little slack and try to resume writing now that I'm not walking around with toothpicks in my eyes and drool running down my mouth. I feel a bit better today. Here is hoping the rest of the week is the same.

Even though I haven't been writing I have been thankful. That post will follow.

Thanks for bearing with me.



Saturday, November 12, 2011

Lesson Twelve: Captured Mayhem

No amount of washing is going to take this amount mayhem out of his system.
I'm glad.

Lesson 12: I am thankful for my digital camera allowing me to capture things like these - things that otherwise would be just a memory.

Lesson Eleven: YAWN


I had just bragged to Wilo about how I had this writing every day thing down pat.

Later that evening - I fell asleep at 8pm and slept straight through until I very confusedly answered the door at half past midnight. It was Wilo home from work - I apparently slept through multiple calls and texts. I promptly fell back asleep shortly after.

Apparently my body felt it was more important to have a full eight hours sleep than it was to sleep a bit, wake up, and write - which is my typical deal.

So, with that perspective I don't consider NOT writing yesterday a complete fail.

Just a tiny one.

Lesson Eleven: I am grateful for our bodies making us slow down, even when we don't think we have to do so.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Snow. Not the band. (Lesson 10 included)

Well, hello there.

A good friend just posted something on Facebook about seeing some snow in her neck of the woods. I laughed to myself in a very "Better YOU than ME" kind of way. That was short lived as seconds later she said that her sister had seen some snow in my own neck of the woods. Dislike!

(Tangent: I spell neck wrong, every. single. time. Or maybe Mr. Webster spelled it wrong to begin with - perhaps it truly is spelled Kneck. You Know, like Knee. )

It's not that I hate snow, I just prefer it to be warm. I like going outside. Sending kids outside daily is even better.

"Why don't you send them outside anyway?'", you ask.

Obviously, you've never spent 20 minutes trying to find matching gloves (mischevious Knitted little things, they like to hide and induce crazy in mothers worldwide), another 20 minutes arguing about the necessity of layers and hats, and then another 20 minutes trying to find that same tricky bastard of a glove that you JUST had.

You've apparently never sent your now properly bundled, bundles of joy outside only to hear, moments later, a small, meek knock at the door. Against your better judgement, you open the door, only to be greeted by a chorus of sad, pitiful, little children who exclaim, "IT'S COLD!".   Resisting the appropriate, though inappropriate, response of "DUH!" is rather hard to do. 

Spouting off hypothermia facts in an effort to keep them outside is also difficult.  "Web MD says you can be out there for 25 minutes before it's dangerous. You have 23 more to go! Keep moving - Get the blood flowing! You're not coming in!" Of course, the neighbors look at you funny as your children huddle like hobos on your front porch while you yell these things from the sunny and 70 degree beach that is your living room.

When there is a ton of snow, it's much different. I'm begging the big ones to come back inside despite their protests of "IT'S NOT COLD!". They look at me with freezing red cheeks and snot now forming icicles from their dangling noses. "We're fine!" They exclaim. They start throwing the hypothermia facts back me through their chattering teeth: "MOM! We have 7 more minutes! Google it!"


We've had it pretty easy thus far with temperatures being pretty mild, even enjoying the occasional 60 degree day. I don't even have a winter coat for baby John because we haven't needed one yet. Long sleeves and fleece hoodies have been sufficient. Looks like I'll be buying him a new coat ASAP as well as stockpiling the bane of my winter existence some gloves.

Lesson 10: I am thankful all of my kids will have nice, warm, winter coats to wear this season. I am thankful I am easily able to remedy the lack of one for John. I am thankful they will have hats and gloves to find. Because somewhere, right now, there is a mama fretting on how she is going to swing the same thing for her little one.

The Salvation Army always collects Winter Coats and hands them out to families who need them. It's as simple as dropping them off at one of their free standing collection bins or visiting one of their stores. If you know a struggling family in need of a coat, you can visit the Salvation Army Website for more information.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

If Wishes Were Horses...... (Also, included: Lesson 9)

I struggle to write this evening.

I'm gonna do it anyways. Because, I'm committed, damn it.

And, I have fresh coffee.

My thoughts are all over the place tonight. Sometimes these ninja like memories appear out of nowhere and slice old wounds wide open. They leave me wishing with my whole heart that I could go back and change some things. For a girl who swore never to believe in regret, I wish I could find myself during a specific time in my life and smack some sense into her.. I'd jump up and down in front of her face and wave my arms frantically.  I'd yell, "Don't go there, Melissa!"  "Don't do that!"  "You're better than that!" "You're smarter than this!"

I can usually take the thoughts captive and realize that it's pretty dumb to let past hurts bother me in the present. 

To quote a very nerdy show called Firefly: "If wishes were horses, we'd all be eating steak."


You're not missing anything.

That makes NO SENSE. No sense at all.

That's the point - It's the same with wishing. It makes no logical sense.

Wishing is dumb because it's impossible. You can wish and wish and wish and nothing comes from it. Life ain't no Cinderella-ville where you can squeeze your eyes real tight, sing a little ditty, wish with all your might and end up going to the ball in a beautiful dress on the arm of Prince Charming. It doesn't work like that. Wishing is wasted energy. It teaches you nothing, takes you nowhere, and eventually leaves you disappointed.

So where does that leave us then? Forced to face the decisions of our past? Stuck with where we are today because of our mistakes of yesterday?  Swallowing mouthfulls of regret?

Um. Pretty Much.


Kind of.

I mean, you could keep all that pain and regret buried, but what will that provide? A fast track to the looney bin, that's what. Darkness and secrecy will overtake your soul and change your entire demeanor. It's not healthy.

You must face up to the errors of the past and accept them if you ever want to move forward. You have to pick up the deck of cards life has dealt you - or you have dealt yourself - and play them out. No bluffing allowed. Play that hand until those cards are no longer in your possession. Even if you lose. Stick around for the next round and hope you get better cards and make smarter plays. Or take control of the deal yourself, and stack the deck in your favor. Either way, you won't even have a chance to win unless you look at your cards and play them to the best of your ability.

Regret is a bit different. It isn't all bad. Sincere regret offers a learning opportunity and a chance to not make the same mistake in the future. However, regret is not meant to be dwelt upon. Too much and it accompanies wishing, a useless emotion that no matter how much you do it, it changes nothing. What's done is done. There is no going back. Only moving forward.

No matter how painful some memories can be, I just have to cling to the fact that the God that I serve is Sovereign. (Yep, I went there, and am certain to lose some of you with those words, but whatever, my blog, yo!)  I just have to trust that sometimes God allows uncomfortable things to happen and mistakes to be made because it can be used for good. It can shape us into better people with broader experiences and deeper perspectives.  Sure I'd love to go back and change some things, but would it change where I am today? Would eliminating some hurt also eliminate some beauty? I am almost certain it would.

I know. I feel like my writing tonight is a bit scattered and vague. Maybe that is just my brain. You're probably wondering what the hell I'm talking about. Maybe you're not. Maybe you know exactly what I am talking about, because you've been there, in your own way, in your own game. Maybe you're figuring out how to play your own cards and developing a strategy for the next round.

Whatever it may be - stop wishing for better cards and play what you have in your hand. You might be surprised at what comes next.

Lesson 9: I am thankful for all the cards I've been dealt. Even the Crappy ones. I'd like to think they've made me a better player.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lessons 7 & 8: Popcorn & Politics

Belated Lesson 7:
Family Time. Evening Naps. Chats with Old Friends. Starbucks. Old Fashioned Popcorn Poppers. Silly Songs. Days off. Communication. Forgiveness. X-Files. Coupons. Hugs. Kisses. Babies. Kids.

Lesson 8:
I am pleased we live in a Country who affords it's citizens the right to vote, or to not. The right to assemble, or the right to make fun. The right to shout "Amen" from the mountain tops, and the right to call "BS!" just as loud. I'll take the opposing views right along side of mine because it's a testament to that freedom. I would never want to live in a place that mandates how I feel, what I believe, what I can say, where I can work, or what I wear. Our Country and it's systems are far from perfect but I still remain thankful to live here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Changing Tradition

I've really been looking forward to the Holidays this year and have been talking about them since the beginning of fall. Our kids are getting bigger as they relentlessly do and we don't have to travel far to find a houseful. The top two still express experienced excitement;  Raegan, being four, is just starting to anticipate their arrival with a contagious sparkle in her eye and a near squeal in her voice. This is all still very new to John, but babies can definitely feel the energy as the days approach and he'll love all the breakables that he'll try to destroy. Totally nervous about my massive, very special Christmas village, this year, but that's a different post. We are focusing on Thanksgiving here.

Both of our families are local to where we live and for the past decade we have been splitting time between both sides. This whole decision on where to go stresses me out. I do not wish to alienate either side or seem like I'm choosing one or the other. Over the past 13 Thanksgiving's together (WOW!) we have came up with different compromising scenarios.

Some years we would visit both houses - we were able to visit everyone but ended up cranky and exhausted by the end of the very long day. Sometimes we would alternate, much less exhausting yet we would both miss the other place which put a bit of a damper on our moods. We hosted once or twice with Wil's full family in attendance as well as several other friends. The company was great but cooking for 16 is pretty daunting. The past few years we had split up and attended both - me and the bottom two to my parents, Wil and the top two to his family.  It was unconventional but it seemed to work other than the obvious - we weren't together as our own family unit.

We were discussing all of this and noting that while we loved all of our extended family very much, we really wanted to make the day - and the season - specifically about us. Wil, Melissa, Jakob, Abby, Raegan, and John. We both feel incredibly lucky to have this dynamic, energetic, big family, and we want that to be our focus on Thanksgiving.

(Christmas is different - we have long standing traditions that I am not willing to break, nor do any of us want to change them. Our family visits span the course of three days, creating a much appreciated, exhausting but an enjoyable mix of busy and togetherness. Again, different post.)

We made the decision to...STAY HOME for Thanksgiving! The thought of not having to go anywhere is so attractive and alluring. We plan to cook our feathers off and hopefully create some traditions of our own. I personally am looking forward to being able to nap and have all the leftovers.

I pray that our families understand where we are coming from. We don't wish to seem unsociable, as they are very, very important to us. We just want to try something different.

The big kids are kind of sketchy about this thought but it is my entire goal to WOW them. I've been researching fun crafts to do in anticipation and am planning a HUGE menu. I'll probably pick up a new game and a movie. The previous Thanksgivings leave me with big shoes plates to fill, but I'm up to the task!

So what about you? What do you do for Thanksgiving? Do you think we are being selfish and unsociable?  Do you budget your time between families? Do you stay home? What menu items can't you live without? Any specific games or movies or traditions that you do every year?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lesson Six: Through The Blurr

I went to bed last night with a terrible headache that has snuck up on me randomly over the past few days. I woke up thinking I was fine only to quickly realize I was not. I tried to clean a blurry spot off of my glasses this morning and then realized that um, nope, that's not a spot, that's MY vision.

I've had migraines off and on since I was in 5th grade. On top of a terrible headache, I experience an upset stomach, shakiness, and distorted vision. The vision is the worst for me because it makes me extremely anxious on top of everything else. In the past when I have tried to "push through", I end up fainting.

Wanna scare the pants right out off your significant other? Try walking when feeling this way only to have your legs give out and collapse in a heap of pitiful. Yeah. He hates it when his heart stops. Go figure.

Giving my past tendencies with these, he was very encouraging of me doing nothing but laying down and trying to rest. I had half the kids ready for Church when I decided that I probably shouldn't go, so he took the top three while I stayed home with John. John's nap time coincides with when they leave for church, so I knew I could have a few hours of interrupted sleep.

Unfortunately that rest didn't totally eliminate the butcher knife from slicing through the center of my brain, but I felt much more stable than I did in the early hours. I took it easy and now feel a bit less like Zombie Melissa and a little more like my normal self. Which is good because tomorrow is Monday and I have a bunch of stuff to do in preparation.

As I was feeling like crap, I was begrudgingly looking for things to be thankful for because, honestly, I just wanted to shake my fist and stomp my feet, though that probably would've made me puke in that condition. Deep down, I'm a huge, pouty baby when I'm sick.

Alas. I did come up with a few things.

- Crock pots. I woke up and put stuff in that magical cooking device and then didn't have to worry about feeding or cooking anything the rest of the day. Sans crock pot, pretty sure kids would've fended for themselves and ended up eating cereal with coke instead of milk. Or pickles and yogurt topped with chocolate syrup. Or Halloween Candy milkshakes.  John would've been content with scaling the counters, then cabinets to find something yummy, or messy. Most likely the latter. They are kids. They cannot be trusted. So, thanks for havin' my back, crockpot.

-Wilo. Thanks for braving church solo and for taking Jake to work with you. You're the bestest.

-God. Thanks for understanding that missing church for one week doesn't exclude me from Your family. Again, going to church doesn't make me a christian - what is in my heart does. Thanks for that. Thanks also for not allowing John to choke on whatever it was in his lasagna that made him try to do so. That was scary, yo. I appreciate your heavenly hand intervening.

-YOU. Yep. YOU. You've been reading along this week! Yippie. Imagine that - I post consistently; you read consistently. Brilliant how that works out.

Alright. Amazing Race to watch, chores to do, rest to catch.

Best wishes for a fantastic week!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Lesson Five: THIS

I stumbled upon an old journal from over a decade ago.  In it was a abruptly written budget from our days as a brand new family. At first glance I was taken back by the amount of money we had budgeted on groceries - FIFTY DOLLARS. I can't even walk through the door of a grocery store without spending fifty dollars these days. I found it amusing that our bill has increased by 500%, of course our family size has increased nearly as much.  The amusement faded quickly as the reality of today's shopping trip surfaced and the business of four kids tied up the hours and minutes of my time. However, I found my thoughts continuously drifting back...

That journal, that writing, is more than just words on a bound piece of paper. It's a time machine of sorts, offering glimpses of the life I was just beginning ten years ago.

We weren't even married at that point, but living together in a very expensive, fancy pants, brand new apartment. It was an entirely empty, just built complex and I am certain the only reason we were approved is they did no reference checking and no credit checks. We had no rental history and no credit - which is just as a hindrance as having bad credit.   It was incredibly out of our price range and looking back, I have no idea how we afforded it. The rent we paid then matches the house payments of today, ten years later.

I was so happy about having our own apartment and it stood such a testament to two young hippie kids trying to prove everyone wrong. We could in fact do this. THIS. This, being a family - this, being parents - this, being responsible, contributing members of society, this, being a young couple who loved each other and actually survived time and circumstance.

A psychedelic, amateurish Jerry Garcia painting I was given hung on the wall, tyedie tapestries draped the windows, bouquets of dried flowers served as borders and candle sticks abounded. My, out-of- necessity, thrift store couch was our only furniture. The over sized, deluxe card table we were given acted as a make shift dining room table, though it held nothing but our dinosaur of a computer and probably a mess of  "Pre-Approved Credit Card!" mail.  Praise Jesus, I had enough sense to not acquire a line of credit at that time. Perhaps He and I both  knew that Pier One around the corner would draw me deep into unnecessary debt or that we'd use it for much more practical things, like paying our bills so we could buy pot.

Our entertainment was provided by a 13 inch black and white TV that had a high pitch squeal to it after you had watched it for over an hour. Not to fear, if you hit it hard enough the sound would stop, and you could watch one of the two channels it received. Showtime at the Apollo, Xena Warrior Princess and Austin City Limits kept me company often as I waited for my not yet husband to return from working late night.  I had brought with me one of the last Christmas presents from my childhood - a very nice stereo system. I'd sit and listen to Grateful Dead albums over and over and over while I pretended to sew a terribly constructed, though loved filled, baby quilt. I'd write pages in my journal and record my unabashed, perhaps naive, view of the future.

The apartment in all it's brand spankin' new splendor, had a terribly tiny kitchen. You could barely fit two people between it's counters but, there, amongst those new appliances is where I began my journey to learn how to cook. I was carrying the baby of a Chef, you know. That fellow introduced me to something called flavor and it was found outside of salt, pepper and garlic. Some of those dishes I mastered still appear on my menu from time to time: homemade Alfredo, scrumptious risotto, and Angle hair pasta with chicken, feta, spinach, tomatoes, and artichokes. We may not have had coca-cola classic, but we always had farm fresh vegetables,  fresh herbs and pasta. Viola. Dinner.

It was the place where I waited out the hours and minutes of the last three months of our unexpected, but welcomed pregnancy. The baby to be had a jungle themed nursery and an antique crib filled to the brim with everything this new life could possibly need and many things that I'd never buy again with future pregnancies. I spent so many hours in that room, looking into that crib, rubbing my belly in anticipation. I was uncertain of the future, but the love in my heart adamantly reaffirmed my decision to do THIS.

The master bedroom was bigger than the rest of the apartment combined with a master bath that could make Kings envious. So would the faux gold plated, hideous, ginormous, straight out of the 50's, Eagle lamp that sat on a nightstand. It was so very ugly but made us laugh every time we turned on the light. We joked about passing it down to our children and making them ask, "Whaaat?".  I lust for the closet space we had there. Of course, at that time, it was filled with bongs and memory boxes and letters from puppy lovers. It was there where we spent a full 24 hours in bed on a rainy day, doing nothing but watching the rain, listening to music, talking about the future,  making love, and napping - only waking to do it all again. I've never had a day like that since - as soon after that day our new baby arrived. 

That fancy pants apartment became a monument of where a selfish, spoiled, organic young woman became a mother. It was where we brought the most beautiful sight our eyes had ever seen home - Where we began fumbling our way around this thing called parenthood. We might not have known exactly what we were doing but man, our hearts exploded every time we looked at what our love had made.

It was also where we realized that THIS wasn't as easy as the movies made it out to be. Two young people who barely knew each other were now entrenched by our own selfish desires to live the life we previously knew, only to find it conflicted with things like bills, work and responsibility. Not to mention a new life that depended on our every decision.  Growing up was now a necessity not just an option.

Communication was not an option either if we were to make this relationship work. Many times I couldn't find the words to verbalize how I was feeling so I would write them in a messy, confusing array of entries in random journals. I wasn't writing them to keep them private; I was writing them to share. I can still see him coming home from work, hugging his baby, kissing me, and then sitting down on that ugly brown, second hand couch. I'd hand over the journal and watch him read my words. He never once made light of my feelings or questioned why I couldn't just SAY what I was feeling. He realized that writing was an innate part of me, and he wasn't just reading my feelings about our latest argument but he was looking into the deepest canyons of who I really was - the real deal that came out through written words.

On that same couch with Jerry looking on, Dave Matthews Band filling the air, early morning sun streaming through the windows, and a baby quietly sleeping,  He took a beautifully dainty, very simple ring and asked me to be his wife.

No matter how hard it had already proved to be, no matter how many people thought we were heading towards disaster, we both knew that we could do THIS.


Today, I am thankful for THIS.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lesson Four - One Minute To Spare

15 minutes left to post before the calendar flexes its' mini arms and makes tomorrow appear. Though, we all know that it's not tomorrow until you go to bed and wake up for the day.

I did just wake up, but not from bed.

I couldn't keep my eyes open past 8pm. John was down for the night, Abby was listening to Taylor Swift on repeat, Jake was watching episodes of Dirty Jobs and Raegan cuddled up next to me with well worn toy catalogues from Sunday's paper.

I dreamt like a crazy person - dreams of humor, fear, love, heartbreak and general oddball - off the wall - kind of crap. I hate dreams sometimes as much as I love them. What gives your subconscious the right to make you feel emotion that you didn't want to feel? Obviously, you've repressed that crap for a reason. Obnoxious.


I am thankful for not having to babysit tomorrow. I am thankful for Starbucks recently being cheaper than all other store bought "good" coffee, even with a coupon. I am thankful my kids ate their Sheppards pie after balking at the idea and telling me it looked more like mush than an actual pie - pies have Delicious buttery, flaky shells filled with sweet deliciousness, apparently. I am thankful for a husband who misses dinner every night because he works diligently to support his family as his wife is just much too pretty to work.

(Calm down feministas, that's a JOKE).

I am thankful for this: "Your past sins do not define you. Your painful scars do not define you. Your present sufferings do no define you. They are just shards of brokenness that God will use to lovingly refine your beauty." - Gwen Smith, From Broken into Beautiful.

I am thankful it is but one minute before midnight.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lesson Three: Slacker?

I tried to start this nearly last minute post by being funny and talking about how I am so NOT thankful for the procrastinating cape I so ashamedly wear. I sit here looking at a pile of laundry in a chair that needs to be folded and put away, toys that need to be straightened, and a floor that needs vacuumed for the fourth, FOURTH, time today.  I have dinner dishes still to do and a kitchen floor that really should be mopped before the morning.

It's 10:32pm. Shouldn't all of this be done by now? 

I rightfully call myself a slacker sometimes and it's totally true.  But this time....it felt off. Instead of a self depreciating joke, it felt like a lie. Where the heck in my day did I necessarily slack?  It's not like I sat on my tooshie all day and did nothing but stalk facebook, eat my bonbons and remark about how handsome David Duchovny is and how that X-Files show might just catch on, one day.

I only do that on Tuesdays.

If finishing up my housework so late in the evening makes me a slacker, than so be it. I am thankful for the title. You know why?

I am thankful I chose to spend the hours where my entire family was together actually engaging with them instead of fretting over the remaining dishes in the sink. I am thankful for the time I spent laughing with them during a two hour power outage instead of worrying about how I was going to vacuum. I am thankful for the time I spent cooking instead of throwing fast food at my family. I am thankful for the time Wil and I spent reading the Bible together today. I am thankful for the moments I spent in prayer. I am thankful for taking time to listen and converse with a good friend. I am thankful for the 35 times I sang the itsy bitsy spider with John. I am thankful I chose write in an effort to continue my commitment to writing daily.

I am thankful I chose to do all of these things because these are the intangibles that can't be put off until later. Too soon will it be difficult to have an evening when we are all here, together. Chores can be accomplished once everyone goes to bed but conversation and laughter cannot.  I can deal with a little less sleep in lieu of a little more love.

Maybe I should let you borrow my cape, it's totally worth it.

P.S. I really do have to face all these chores now. Don't think for one second that it's not totally tempting to um...rightfully and genuinely SLACK this very moment. But alas. It would all still be there in the morning and our maid hasn't shown up for weeks!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lesson Two: A Thousand "MOM!'s"

I read something today reminding me to be always be thankful for the health and well being of all four of my children.  I am thankful for the thousand times I heard,  "MOM!!!",  as somewhere there is a mama who does not have that luxury and would love to hear it just one. more. time.  I am thankful for this disaster of a house because there are mothers who would give anything to have another mess to clean up instead of a broken heart to mend.  These are the women who suffer grief beyond anything I could possibly understand. My heart hurts so very much for them and yet I am selfishly thankful I cannot relate to the pain they carry day in and day out.

Even on days when life seems so hectic and kids seem so wild, I never want to lose sight of the privilege of parenting. It all so quickly could be taken away with no warning, never to return again.

I am thankful I am able to love them with all my might. I am thankful I was able to hug them, and kiss them and feed them and laugh at them. I am thankful I was able to mother them today.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

16 Months

Dear John:

Today you realized that not only could you open the downstairs bathroom door, climb up on toilet, and mess with the light switches, but also that you could now reach the sink and turn on the water. You probably did this at least 35 times, and I am not exaggerating to be funny. I have never known a baby so committed to his own mayhem. Our house is not that big, so of course, I heard you each time you thought you were being slick. Every time I came to take you out of there you looked at me with such brilliant twinkle in your eyes and flashed me that charming smile. It is unfair you are able to use such tactics.

Seriously though, I look at you everyday completely awestruck that I could grow such a handsome, adorable little boy. You take my breath away and not just because you're about to jump off of something or flush something down the toilet. You are wickedly bright, and though you don't speak as much as your sisters did at this point, I venture to say you are in fact, my brightest child yet. You have this habit of saying a word once or twice, i.e. Banana, and then refusing to say it again. You clarified this when you told me that you were not a circus animal and would not preform on command.

This month you sing the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and Ee-Ii-Ee-Ii-Oooo. You HATE my cow sound. It's so funny. Like any good mom, I always throw the cow in there just to see your reaction.

You also play Paper - Rock - Scissors with your older sister, Raegan. I am so appreciative of this feat, because between the two of you, this game could  go on for hours. I am not convinced that you realize exactly what you are doing, but you do beat her sometimes. You two are developing a very special relationship.

I love you so much, John. We all do. This time two years ago, I was just learning of your existence. I was very unsure of what another baby would mean to our family and whether or not I could handle another child. I questioned God as to what He was doing. I wasn't supposed to have another child, not then. But, Praise His Holy Name, He sure did know what He was doing. He knew all the love you would share and how much I needed you without even knowing it. He knew that two years later, I would look at you and never be able to imagine life without you. He knew you would be special. He knew you would complete me individually while completing our family. I am grateful for you, every single day.



p.s. Mooooooooooooooo.

Lesson One: Obscene Laundry, Needed Rest, Extended Grace

Lesson One in our L2B Thankful lessons:

Today I was thankful for......

.....my dryer being fixed. Not having laundry utilities in a family of six where girls change their clothes in a blink of an eye, Mr. Mayhem moonlights as Sir Spills A Lot, and an eldest fellow who wrestles dirt daily, spells disaster. I had - and still have - a TON of laundry to do, but that means we have clothes, towels, blankets and mismatched socks to wear.

.... A One hour nap I took in the middle of the day. I have not been sleeping well at all the past few nights. In 72 hours, I think I have slept maybe 12 hours. Not good. I had intended to close my eyes while both babies were napping, but alas, they both decided to thwart that plan and staggered their sleeps. Right when I was on the verge of very tired tears, Wilo stepped in and told me to go lay down for a bit before he left for work. I woke up to dishes being done and floors vacuumed. It meant much.

....We paid our bills - we have a place to live, electric, and Internet for the next month.

....I am thankful I didn't react to a very mouthy, very rude teenage girl who was intimidating the preschoolers outside today. I honestly wanted to smack her, though I've never smacked anyone in my whole life. I did come in and write a very snotty FB status which I later deleted because I was heavily, heavily convicted about the words I used. I called her "trashy, mouthy and foul". Upon hearing more about her from the neighborhood kids, she is a 14 year old girl with her tongue, bellybutton and nipples pierced, as well as some tattoos. Apparently she will show you if you ask. I do not wish to judge, but my gut tells me that she has absolutely no positive parental involvement. Maybe she reacted the way she did because she wishes she had a mama who would stand up for her. Maybe she's never been taught respect.  I don't know. I do know that conviction changed my perspective. While what she was doing was very uncalled for and not acceptable, I am certain there are probably some deeper issues. As hard as it is - and as much as my earthly nature just wants to react in Anger - I have to choose to extend Grace and pray for her and her family. It isn't easy but it is the right thing to do.

....After all that, I am thankful for my own parents who raised me much better and instilled in me the value of respect and how to stand up for yourself honorably.

....Apparently someone broke in and stole 95% of the chocolate out of the Halloween Bags. The bright side to this is the kiddo's have less unhealthy - though delicious - junk to eat. I remain hopeful that the culprit will never, ever be caught and will still fit into her jeans next week.

L2B Thankful

I am an eternal optimist.

That's not to say that I'm always wearing my cheerleading uniform and never come across anything that leaves me wondering who took my half-full glass, poured it all over the floor and left it for me to clean up. It happens. But, I truly believe that if you look hard enough you can find the good in whatever you face.

I realize it doesn't come easy for all of us and the uniform doesn't always fit. If being grateful, or thankful, doesn't come naturally to you, you are not alone. No one likes to be uncomfortable or suffer inconvenience. We prefer things to go smoothly. It is natural to desire a pain free life and problem free circumstance. It absolutely feels better, and it's just EASIER to travel down life's path without speed bumps. Unfortunately, life doesn't work like that. You show me one person who has never faced adversity and I will unplug them because they are a robot.

On a greater level,  our culture promotes a level of dissatisfaction with what we currently posses. We are bombarded with messages to upgrade and trade-in for the newer, faster, better product. We want better cars and bigger homes and sacrifice much to obtain them. While there is nothing wrong with wanting these things and working diligently, there is something wrong with being so focused on the future that we fail to stop and appreciate what what we have now.

The good news: If you are willing to change your mindset, you can learn to be grateful and increase your thankfulness.  By simply stopping every day and putting effort in finding ONE THING worth being thankful for, you will begin to recondition your mind and develop a more thankful personality. As the following days come, it will be easier and easier to find more and more things deserving of thanks.

Trust Me. You can do it.

I'm going to show you how. Each day leading up to Thanksgiving, I am going to post what I was grateful for that day.  I am certain since I am doing this publicly, that there will most definitely be days where this is very difficult. I feel like I am placing a big target on my back to receive days where I just don't WANT to be thankful. I do not anticipate this as always being easy.

I'm gonna do it anyways because I really like how this uniform feels and am certain you will look fantastic in it, too.

I'm going to call this series as L2BThankful.

(L2B = learn to be, in geekspeak.)

My first post will follow later today.

In the mean time, I am thankful for all of you reading my words.


Sweeter Than Candy