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Jun 12, 2015

A Perfectly Ordinary Day at the Park

Sunlight frolics through the leaves, chasing the shadows on the pavement.  The breeze slows and the dance changes, becomes graceful and fluid.

Mourning doves coo a soft melody against the lyrical rustling of the leaves.

Kids beckon their mothers, "Look at me, Mommy!" and "Mommy, look over here!".  Moms respond with waves and affirming smiles.  Their gazes linger sometimes as they seem to try, as I so often do, to memorize the sunlight kissing their children's faces, illuminating their twinkling eyes and their wide toothy grins and their dirty skinned-up knees.  

Girls cartwheel.  Boys race.  Gnats annoy.  Sunshine warms.  Clouds roll.

It's a perfectly ordinary day the park, one that will surely fade from memory as these drowsy meandering youthful days filled with sweaty hair plastered to chubby red cheeks and bike rides, turn into hurried days filled with crammed schedules and teenage angst, when there just isn't time enough for one last ride down the slide.

This perfect, ordinary summer day surely won't be one that lingers in my children's memories as they grow and get busy with life.  But I pray that this perfect, ordinary summer day takes up residence in mine.

Jun 9, 2015

Where My Treasure Is

It's June.  Wait.  What?  How did that happen?  My blog has once again fallen victim to the villainous traps of the hustle and the bustle.

Thoughts and ideas and inspirations have been stacking up in my brain lately, each waiting their turn to be organized and assembled and written down.  It looks like a midday line at the DMV up there! I have a few minutes today, so I thought it wise to get one out that has been lingering up there awhile.

Work and relationships.  

My job has always been a struggle for me.  I spent the years before we had kids loathing my position.  Commercial real estate is absurdly boring to me. And I foolishly saw my job as a partner's secretary as demeaning and beneath me as a bright, collage-educated woman.  I looked for other jobs, but none came to fruition.  I finally figured that God must want me there, so I stayed and wrestled with my pride.  I have always been grateful for the blessings my job has brought to me and to our family, but to say that it has been a lesson in humility is a grotesque understatement.

When our kids came along, everything changed.  I no longer sought purpose and self-definition from my job because I found both in the brilliant blue eyes of my babies.  Paradigm shift!  I began looking at my role at the office differently.  I saw myself as a nurturer and that spilled over into my work.  I'm good at taking care of people and now I pride myself at doing just that.  The title of secretary is no longer something I scoff at.  It's just another way to serve.

Now I don't always do it with a smile on my face.  I lament.  A lot.  Taking care of demanding grown men is much more frustrating than caring for children because these grown men have so few redeeming qualities.  :)  They don't have sweet angel faces that make you feel guilty for losing your cool.  They don't say they're sorry when they hurt your feelings or push your buttons or ask too much.

But I love them anyway.  

Because I've never accepted the "business is business" rule. My relationship with my boss is the longest and most difficult relationship I've ever had with a man.  I adore him.  He's family to me.  Over these fifteen years we've shared many personal moments, like when his father died, when my grandparents died, when he had a very scary health crisis at the office, when he's shared things with me about his family, when we've laughed so hard we've cried, to name a few.  And in these moments I have caught glimpses of him as a man.  Not the boss or the businessman or the high-powered executive, but stripped down to what we all are when the titles and wealth can't help us.

Our most humble human selves.  

It's these moments that have fostered a place in my heart for this man who I have admittedly cursed as often as I have praised.  He's a tough man to love, but I love him nonetheless.

One of the hardest things for me to reconcile is the knowledge that my feelings are not reciprocated.  I know he cares for me like a sister.  He's told me as much many times.  But I'm under no delusion that he wouldn't fire me if it were best for business.  For him ambition and business reign supreme.  It's how he lives his life.  I get that.  I in no way agree with it, but I guess that's why I'm not a powerful millionaire.

My relationships are my treasure.  

They keep me going.  The fill me up and make me whole.  They make me who I am.  Sure I would love to vacation in Scotland and Greece and Africa, to travel the world in comfort, to give my children those experiences.  But my focus is on the stripped down soul inside.  When I stand before God at the end of this journey, in the place where we can't hide behind money and beauty and titles and power, it's my love and my relationships that I will offer as evidence that maybe I understood what it was all about.  And I want my kids to learn by example that our lives and the people who are placed there are deeper and more beautiful and more important than any business deal or bank account could ever hope to be.

And maybe, when I'm in that place and God sees where my treasure truly lies, he'll overlook all of the cursing.  :)

Apr 15, 2015

Our Easter (and Anniversary)

We spent a beautiful weekend at my parents' house for Easter.  The weather was beautiful and the Wingers joined us on Sunday for a feast and an egg hunt and good family time.

Our schedules have been so busy with school and sports and dance and sickness and work and church that we haven't had much time to spend together.  Lori and I live 15 minutes from each other and have barely spent any time together all school year.  Another reason that I'll be happy when summer comes!  I miss my sister!

Here's the lowdown on our holiday weekend.

Dying eggs, a time honored tradition.

The Easter bunny showed up!

Posing with Papa, who was busy at church preparing and serving pancakes and sausage to the masses.  Yum.

The brood pre-hunt (including Dylan's sweet little girlfriend).

Lilly girl!


Cuddled up with Dad.

Someone else has been missing Aunt Lori too. 

Easter Sunday was also Rich and my wedding anniversary!  Twelve of the happiest years of my life have been spent as this man's wife.

Truth be told, we both forgot about it.  Lol.  Between me getting a new car and both of us preparing for Easter and everything in between, it totally slipped our minds.  No worries, though.  There is no love lost on the two of us.  As I am reminded by our friends, it's kind of disgusting how crazy Rich and I still are about each other.

We view our marriage as the foundation upon which everything else in our lives is built.  And we have learned to give it the priority it deserves.  We have our highs and lows just like every couple and have worked hard to maintain our passion through the years.  We have both made mistakes along the way (me more than him, I am certain) and will again, I have no doubt.  But we have come to realize that a marriage is a living, breathing, changing thing and, as such, is vulnerable.  So we both committed ourselves to protecting and feeding and honoring it.  It's as tough as it is rewarding.  And is not for everyone by any means.

But it works for us.  And it works very well.

The work is so important.  But I also strongly believe in love's magic and divinity and destiny.  If you know me, you know that love is pretty much my #1 thing.  A favorite pastor of mine once told me that when your marriage is going through rough times, when you're feeling far from your spouse - you both need to remember your "first works".  Which means remember what about that person made you fall for them in the first place and what about yourself made them fall for you.  (I believe that comes from Revelations in the context of straying from your faith, but it works in this context beautifully.)  I think one of the things that makes our marriage so special is that we're never very far away from those first works.  We keep them close at hand and reinvent them often, which deepens what we have.  It's easy for me because Rich is a gift and I'm reminded of that daily just by him being who he is.

Plus he's very cute.  :)

As for him...I have no idea how he does it.  I'm kind of a pain in the ass. :)

So happy Easter (and Anniversary) from this blessed pain in the rump.  I hope yours was a special as ours!

Apr 2, 2015

God's Mobile Bowling Alley

The kids are on spring break this week, which I have to admit is nice.  I'm over all this homework, struggling to provide proper motivation for said homework, grumpy moods from forcing said homework to be completed, running from school to school to accommodate schedules...bring on summer!

My kids are early risers.  Like 6:00 am early risers.  So it's not uncommon for them to be playing downstairs while we are still in bed.  It's also not uncommon for them to sneak candy from the candy cupboard, which they have both pinkie promised me they wouldn't do again and which they both lie through their little teeth about having done until I wave the poorly hidden candy bar wrapper in their suspicious angel faces.  Sigh.  Now I have to come up with another candy cache consequence.  Blarg.

Anyway, since there was nowhere to go this morning, I was attempting to sleep in a bit.

That's when the storm hit.

I was awake but trying hard not to be when I heard a very distant rumble of thunder.  Before the thunder had rumbled itself out, a mere seven seconds or so, my kids had raced upstairs, burst through the bedroom door and pounced on me.  Their chocolate-speckled faces (clue #1 that another candy sneaking caper had ensued) stared up at me in horror, their giant blue eyes bugged out in fear of our imminent and certain doom.  

They both snuggled tight against me under the covers and we listened to the rain fall.  We counted seconds between lightening flashes and thunder rolls.  I tried for the 2,937th time to explain how most storms aren't anything to be frightened of, especially when we're safe inside our home. How they're actually pretty cool.

They weren't buying it.

While we were huddled together under the covers, they came up with an interesting spin on the God bowling theory.  Sam thinks that God moves his bowling alley around a lot, which is why storms move around so much.  When the sky gets darker as the storm approaches, it's actually the shadow of God's bowling ball rolling down his heavenly mobile bowling alley and that giant celestial ball, of course, is what makes the thunder boom.  Lena added that the rain gets harder when the thunder gets louder because there are too many angels bowling with God and God gets sad that it's not his turn yet, so he cries harder.

I adore how their little minds see things. I adore snuggling in bed during a storm with them tight against me.  I adore hearing their wandering thoughts.  I adore that they feel safe with me and that, when I put my arms around them, everything is all right.    

Being a mom can be tough and terrifying and insane and grisly.

But most of the time, being a mom rocks.

Mar 25, 2015

The Battle Begins

It's been over two months since I've posted, and I wasn't very diligent before that.

Oh how I loathe you, Winter.  

How you weaken my concentration, dampen my creativity, undermine my motivation...blarg.

This blog is mainly used to chronicle our lives, a family journal of sorts.  My mind is not a tight trap of memories like most people's.  I lose moments the farther I get from them, which sucks and kind of scares me.  So I use this blog as my memory, to capture all the little day to days and the big events, reviving those moments every time I read through.    

Sometimes I use this space to exercise my writing, but since I haven't been doing much but photo dumping, that's been grossly neglected too.

So I apologize to myself, my family and my few loyal followers for withholding the daily excitement of the Cole family's life and for allowing the transitory meanderings of my restless mind to wane so. Inspired by Spring's noble battle against the remains of its horrendous wintry foe, I will fight against lethargy and laziness to be more attentive to this memory bank and to let my mind to freely roam upon its pages!

Dramatic enough for you?

Aaaaaand here's the photo dump. :)

I just got back from my annual spring trip down south to see Jen.  Tara was able to come this year and it was one of the best trips ever!

Miles all cozied up to his mamma.

Warm winter hike through Inniswood.  

Lynn, our wonderful babysitter and friend, was sick for weeks with pneumonia.  So while she recovered, Rich and I juggled the kids between us.  Both of them got to come to work with me, which was actually kind of fun and which also made me realize how blessed I am to have the boss I have.  This was one of Lena's days.

Sam and I had a date night at the end of February when Rich took Lena to their first Father-Daughter dance.  Sam and I had an awesome evening with dinner at the Japanese steakhouse and a trip to the used bookstore.

My little girl looked so grown up for her special dance night with Daddy!  She picked out that dress with Lori and I, and it was perfect for her.  

Disney on Ice!

Rich and I went to see Mavis Staples and the Blind Boys of Alabama around Valentine's Day.  Fun night out.  

Sam helping Lena with her numbers.

Lena, the super crime fighter.

A visit to the Conservatory...we love that place.

Dinner with good friends and our fellas.

Much more than what is chronicled in the photo dump has occurred since January...

Dad was in the hospital from a nasty attack of diverticulitis.  He had a few complications, but is doing well now and is finally beginning to feel like himself again, thanks to good doctors, Dad's stubborn perseverance, Mom's patient loving care and lots of prayers!  

Mom and Dad both had birthdays.

Sam has been struggling with his mountain of schoolwork, focusing problems and a not so great first grade teacher.  But he is persevering, learning and growing despite of it all, so way to go Sammy!

Lori's family has been busy with baseball (Dylan got on the high school team!), other sports, schools and various viruses, as have both of our kids...ugh.  Another reason to LOATHE WINTER!  

We are all desperately cheering on Spring and craving warmer weather, open windows, bike rides and green grass.  

Come on Spring!