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May 25, 2010

So Happy Together

I was cleaning up the kitchen from breakfast (notice a cleaning theme here?) and I looked in the living room to make sure no one had fingers in an electrical outlet. This is what I spied...happy kids playing together.

Well, happy until Sam pushed Lena over and pulled the barn to the other side of the room yelling "MINE". But, after a 2-minute time out, a 30-second lecture about sharing, and an apology to tear-streaked Lena; they were back at it, so happy together.

Sleeping Beauty

Lena fell asleep in the highchair after dinner a couple nights ago while I was cleaning up the kitchen. She ate herself into a little baby stupor.

Sam is Five?

Me: "Sam, how old are you?"
Sam: "Five."
Me: "No, you're two. Can you say two?"
Sam: "Two."
Me: "Good boy. So how old are you?"
Sam: "Five."

Silly boy...

May 24, 2010


Look it. I am painfully aware that I am an over-emotional, sappy, heart-on-my-sleeve, hopelessly romantic and idealistic woman. I like to think it’s part of my charm, but it is probably more like a character flaw. But that’s me. So if you don’t like that part of me, better stop reading now, because I’m all about it on this post.

Watching the afternoon sun shine on the dark, healthy green leaves of the trees in the park just outside my boss’s window and noticing how the light filters through the tree canopy onto the brick sidewalk below, shifting slightly one way…and then the other…as the breeze gently moves each branch, each leaf from side to side; well, it brought on one of my favorite emotions, one that I feel enormously blessed to feel as often as I do.

It’s that heavy chest, heart crushing, warm feeling that fills me so full that I think my heart is swelling and about to burst out of its confines, like when the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes that day and broke the little wire x-ray thingy that evidenced the moment. It’s gratitude, I think. Appreciation for those small moments when God makes me stop and just breathe and absorb what is happening in that instant. There is such joy in those small moments…I think that’s what bliss is.

Rich gives me that feeling so often, sometimes at the most unexpected moments. For instance, last night when his light snoring woke me up and, just as I was about elbow him and tell him to roll the hell over, I stopped and just watched him for a minute, thinking how blessed I am to have this loving handsome husband snoring next to me when so many have nothing but a quiet empty space lying next to them. Or this morning as we kissed goodbye at the garage door; him looking dashing in his light blue shirt and new haircut (and me looking tired and ragged with crazy bed head and a saggy old robe).

Sam taught me just how intense this feeling could become, especially when he gives me unprompted kisses and hugs, or insists that he’s five, or pushes his bottom lip out when Rich or I leave, or when he prays for Papa and Rori and his diapey at night, or when he gives Lena a toy when she’s crying, or when he gets upset if I don’t let him kiss Lena before her morning nap…he crushes me with his sweet, compassionate heart. (Not so much when he’s screaming or hitting Lena with a Nerf baseball bat, but we as mothers don’t dwell on those moments, now do we.)

Lena shocked me by showing me how infinite this emotion is, stretching my heart even further with her gummy smiles (accented by her two bottom teeth sticking up), or splish-splashy bathtub belly laughs, or little hands clapping, or little arms reaching for me, or slobbery kisses on my cheek, or when she dives into my chest for a bear hug, or falls asleep in my arms. (I also choose not to dwell on her sometimes excruciatingly messy diapers or body stiffening temper.)

Another unexpected source of this emotion is my friend, Nichole. It has been difficult for me to create strong friendships as an adult. I’m not sure why. But my friend Nichole is one among few with whom I share this rarity. Her presence in my life has made me a better wife, a better mother – a better person. And her childhood stories can send shivers up my spine, make me laugh until I cry, or haunt me for days after. She’s open and honest, and I sincerely admire her. And the fact that she loves me makes my chest heavy with gratitude.

These things that surround us: our loved ones; music; art; nature; faith; a hard day’s work; making right decisions; helping someone; laughter; compassion…feeling gratitude and appreciation for all these things God offers us is what life is all about or, at the very least, one of the greatest parts of the journey. For those in hard circumstances, I’m certain it’s difficult to see. But even in the midst of our pain, if we notice and give thanks for something as simple as a mourning dove’s song or the sun warming our backs, then all is not lost. Because gratitude brings with it hope and joy and ushers in love and decency and integrity. Think about it – have you ever met a truly grateful person who wasn’t also good and happy?

May 20, 2010

Flowers, Flowers Everywhere

Why can't irises and peonies last longer? They are such lovely, delicate flowers, gone too soon. Here are a few shots of some Sam and I cut this morning from our yard.

All of my favorite flowers are spring flowers: tulips, lillies of the valley and peonies. They remind me of the fragility of things, how quickly time passes, and the beauty that is all around us. God must be quite an artist to create something so exquisite as this...

Happy Birthday, Papa Cole!

Hanging with Papa, probably watching something terrible on TV, like Glenn Beck or something:)

May 15, 2010

Zing Zang Zoom!

The greatest show on earth was in town this week: the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. We saw everything from our great seats. It was terrific!

Lena might have liked it more than Sam, judging at least by her overt reaction(check back for video). She was smiling and flapping her arms and clapping her hands along with everybody (for the first time all by herself, I must mention). She never got impatient or upset or scared, even when they shot two women out of a cannon, which was LOUD! And even when the crazy clowns stood right beside her on the step before one of their acts.

Sam seemed to be in shock by all the action and lights and sound. Overly stimulated, me thinks. The photos you see posted are pretty close representations of his reaction to the whole thing. He watched wide-eyed and didn't miss a beat, I assure you. But he sat on Rich's or my lap the whole time and never clapped his hands or even smiled (until we were on our way home). He was very serious about the circus. It reminded me of when I saw NKOTB in concert when I was a kid (I didn't dance or sing along; just stood there with my binoculars sharply focused on Donnie Wahlberg's butt). Sam's such a quiet shy boy, in public at least, so it might have just been too much for him. He said he liked it, though...right before he passed out on the way home, a nap which lasted almost 3 hours. We'll see how traumatized he is tomorrow.

May 9, 2010

My Mother

My mother is a compassionate soul. She is always helping people, sometimes to the point of exhaustion, selflessly. She gives of herself freely and joyfully without complaint. And those whose lives she touches are blessed because of her.

My mother is a ham. I have pictures of her posing for funny pictures or looking over her shoulder like an old Hollywood movie star, batting her eyes at the camera. And when she infrequently consumes a sip or two of wine, she's a full fledged show girl, cutting up and laughing and dancing around the kitchen.

My mother is sacrificial. She had dreams, like everyone else. And though she's living a dream - married to the love of her life, has a beautiful home, has close relationships with her daughters, dotes on her grandchildren; there are other dreams that she left behind to bring us into the world and to be a stay-at-home-mom and to dedicate herself to her family. Those sacrifices were worth it, to be sure, but were sacrifices nonetheless.

My mother is beautiful. Her smile lights up a room and her warm brown eyes instantly bring comfort to those who gaze upon them. She takes care of her body and her skin is flawless. She never leaves the house without her hair done and lipstick on, though she needs neither for her beauty to shine through. She carries herself with grace.

My mother is my role model. As a mother now myself, I constantly evaluate situations and wonder how my mother would handle them. Then I try - try - to do that. I just want my children to have the kind of childhood I had, full of encouragement and inspiration and love and laughs and rules and consequences and freedom and beauty and lessons and faith and acceptance and appreciation. That's what my parents gave me, the kind of haven my mother created for us all. That's the kind of mother I want to be.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. It's disgusting how much I love you.

May 4, 2010

Taking Time to Smell the Flowers

Sam is napping. Lena and I are doing laundry. Just as I sit down to fold a mountain of clothes, the soft breeze carries the delicate fragrance of our lilies of the valley in through the screen door. They're my favorite smelly flower. They're so pretty and tiny. I wish they lasted longer.

So Lena and I went out to smell the flowers. And snap some shots of her in her new hat (which has a matching sweet!).

I love small moments like these - birds singing, breeze blowing, babies smiling, flowers smelling, sun shining, laundry folding...wait, strike that last one.

May 3, 2010

Mommy's Little Angel

We always pray individually with the kids before bed, but tonight, after the kids were all cleaned up and ready for bed, we sat them together in Sam's rocking chair and prayed together. Sam folded his little hands, I kneeled in front of the chair with my hands folded and Rich stood behind us with his hands folded. Then we said the Lord's Prayer. Lena touched Sam's arm and stared at him while we prayed. It was so cute.

When we were finished, Sam wanted to add a few prayers of his own, so he made us all re-fold our hands while he jabbered a few incoherent words and then said, with his little folded hands tucked under his little chin, "Papa, baby (his doll), eeee (aka and)...Wena (aka Lena)". He has such a sweet heart, that boy of ours, making up his own prayer list. It made me so proud...

May 2, 2010

Homeless at Easton

After church today, we headed to Sam's Club and then to Rich's favorite, Hometown Buffet, for lunch.

As we were packing everyone back up in the van to head home, a woman and a little girl approached us. After apologizing for bothering us 10 times, the woman said, "My daughter and I are homeless and living in our car over there in the parking lot. Is there any way you could give us a few dollars?" I'm glad Rich had some cash on him, because I rarely do these days. I handed the $5 to her and squeezed her hand and said I'll pray for her and her daughter. At that, her face softened and she looked grateful and said, "Pray for my daughter. Her name is Kristin." I said I would and off they went. We saw them approaching another couple as we drove off.

Whether she was really homeless or a junkie or a liar or a just woman in a bad place, it didn't matter. There was a kid about Jack's age with her, staring at the pavement, not making eye contact with me. If there was any way that $5 might get that kid some food, it was worth the risk. I cannot imagine the life this little girl leads. She is now permanently on my prayer list.

Rich and I talked about it all the way home. I feel like I should have talked with her more, said something to her, asked her something...I don't know what, but something more. I really wish I would have mentioned my church's Free Store and GRIN program (Gahanna Residents In Need). I just didn't think of it at the moment. Next time I will be ready.

I want to make up some cards with that information on it - the name and address of our church and a list of the programs it offers. That way, when I'm approached by someone in need, I can give them that card and, if they really just need help, I've given them a real way to get it. I'll probably still give them cash if I have it - that's just the kind of sucker I am I guess. I figure if there's a 50/50 chance the person is either a crook or a person in real need, there's a 50/50 chance that my money might help them.