Happy Birthday to my brother

Well, my “little” brother turns 27 today. So, to commemorate, I thought I’d give him a lovely post on my little blog. Brett and I spent six years of our childhood in Wisconsin where we explored acres of forest behind our house, built igloos in the six foot snow drifts outside our front door, built the most glorious snowmen you’ve ever seen and played Atari in the basement. As little brother’s go, Brett was a pretty good one. Sure, he was a pain in the rear end, but he was also very tolerant of me. There is the distinct possibility that I may have tortured him when he was younger. Like the time we were staying home alone and I pretended to fall down the stairs and break my leg. Or the time I sent him into the basement and screamed at the top of the lungs because I knew he was scared of monsters. I also took sick pleasure in waking him up in the mornings by standing over his bed and letting out a blood curdling scream. Cruel, I know, but if you’ve never done that to someone, you should try because it. is. funny. Another form of torture was to dress Brett up endlessly and make him enact all sorts of dramas and plays with me. Through all this, he never really complained – he just went along with whatever I said.
In my defense, there were some sweet times that we shared as well. Every year growing up, we would make Brett a bed on my floor on Chritstmas Eve and he and I would wake up around 3:00 am and I would read to him, usually Garfield and Ziggy cartoons, until about 4:30 when we would tear down the stairs hopped up on excitement and little sleep. We still call one another at the crack of dawn on Christmas just because it’s tradition! One of my most distinct memories of our time in Wisconsin is the day that Brett and his friend Matt decided to go on a long walk through the woods. When they didn’t return after a couple of hours, my mom and I began traipsing through the fields, yelling their names. Finally, my mom sent me through the neighborhood and she decided to search the trees. I remember calling his name and fearing deep down that something terrible had happened. After another hour of searching, I headed home and found Brett and Matt sitting on the front step, covered in mud. In that moment, I was immensely relieved that they were okay and at the same time I wanted to strangle both of them for putting us through that. Instead I just told them that mom was looking and she was furious. They ran inside and went to Brett’s room to change clothes. Outside we could see my mom stomping back through the field, her face laced with fury and terror. I heard Brett say to Matt, “There’s my mom….she looks weally mad.” Come to find out they had walked a couple of miles through the woods to a friends farm! Crazy kids.
Now, my brother is a man. He is a United States Navy veteran. He is a hard worker and still one of the kindest, most tender hearted people you will ever meet. Brett would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. I’ve always said that if you become friends with Brett, you have a friend for life. He is a good man and I’m proud of him.
Brett is also a phenomenal writer – much better than I am – and he is wildly creative and gifted in a lot of ways. I look forward to seeing how those talents and gifts play out. I love you, Brett. Happy Birthday. I hope you have an amazing day – wish I could be there with you.
I have no excuse for the outfit I’m wearing in this picture. Wait – yes I do…it was the 80′s.

He’s still, mostly, got it

Well, I have turned my poor house upside down looking for a picture that I wanted to post. When Lee and I were first in the “getting to know you” phase of our relationship, Lee was the area director for K-Life Ministries in Waco, TX. The spring of my junior year, K-Life hosted a 4 on 4 basketball tournament and had a slam dunk contest. Lee, being the stud that he was (and still is – wink, wink) had three or four of the teenage boys squat down and he dunked over them. He was, according to the teens, the bomb!! I have a great picture of that infamous dunk hiding around here somewhere and I really wanted to post it along with these:

This is Lee, ten years later, dunking over our five year old. That’s my man! Now, I’m not supposed to tell you that the basket was only nine feet instead of ten, or whatever it is in regulation basketball, so I won’t divulge that information. But, you gotta admit, that’s not bad for an old guy who doesn’t play much anymore. It would’ve been cooler had I found the other shot. Oh well, you’ll just have to take my word for it…

Give it up

My neighbor, Julie, and I went to the park this morning and let our kids sweat off the energy that had them tearing through the house, practically foaming at the mouth earlier. Now, my kids are all sleeping so score one for mommy! As we watched our kids zip across the playground, (Sloan, my little ladies man, was being followed by a gaggle of little girls, strutting like he was the king of the world) Julie and I had a few minutes to sit and relax – very few, but that’s beside the point…As we watched our kids go from cute and all put together to sweaty, smelly and dirty, we both commented on the fact that as a parent, at some point you have to just loosen up and let them be kids. Getting dirty is one of the greatest things about being a kid. You can dress them cute and worry and fret if they get a drop of grime on them, but eventually, you just have to let it go, do a little more laundry and smile as they go out and conquer the world (or slay dragons, as Sloan and his little posse were doing. Unfortunately, at one point, he decided that Tia was the dragon and told them all to punch her down – nice…)

Some of my favorite memories as a kid were heading off with a couple of friends to explore a creek that was about a quater mile from our house. We scaled walls of solid mud and slid into this creek that was infested with all kinds of lovely critters and snakes and spent hours swimming and digging in the sludge. It was our own make-believe world where we could dream up stories of being stranded and rescued by a handsome prince. We were the heroes of our own land, and we usually came home covered in mud from head to toe and had to be hosed off before we were allowed to even think about coming near the house. Those were great times. I want my kids to have adventures like that, though the world we live in today does limit my ability to let them run off into the trees for hours without worrying that some pervert is going to come snatch them away. So sad.

Aaaaanyway, I’m totally getting off track. To go along with this post, I’m including a few pictures of the kids that I took last week. We had a weird day last Friday when it just kind of rained on and off all day long. The kids would beg and plead to go outside and as soon as they did, it started to rain again. Finally, I just tossed my hands up and told them to play in the rain (don’t worry it wasn’t lightening, though had we had as bad a day as we did Thursday, I may have considered sending them out in lightening…I kid – maybe). Needless to say, they had a ball running around in the rain, splashing in puddles and getting nice and dirty. I mean, that’s what being a kid is all about, right?

Wee little pundit

Today, the phone rang as I was trying to get the two little ones to bed. Sloan, my personal secretary, tore through the house like the Tazmanian Devil to answer the phone first. This is what I heard:
“Hello?”
“Oh, hi! What?”
“Oh, okay.”
“Well, here’s my mom.”

Handing me the phone he says, “Hey mom, it’s Rocko Bama. He wants your bote. He won’t stop talking!”

A Very, Very fun weekend

We were blessed in a lot of ways this past weekend. Friday night we had dinner with some sweet friends who have two boys a little older than Sloan and a little girl Tia’s age. How fun it was to see the kids running around, playing like regular old kids. Sloan doesn’t get the chance to play with boys that often. We seem to be surrounded by girls! So he had a great time running around the house, shooting “guns” and pretending to die! Good times…

Saturday, I went to a blogger’s guild meeting in the early afternoon – more about that later, then we packed the kids up and went out to Six Flags where we ran into our fun neighbors and got to ride a couple of rides with them before they headed home, then off we went to explore the park. Sloan got over some of his own fears and rode a few bigger rides and even ventured down a water slide with Lee (shock!). Sunday we had a sweet morning praising the Lord at church then, after naps, met some friends at the local pool and had a jolly time frolicking about in the freezing water. Whew…busy, but a fun way to begin closing out the summer break.

On to what was an exciting meeting with the St. Louis Blogger’s Guild. Several months ago, I joined this group for a variety of reasons. First, I just love writing and I have missed being around others who enjoy this passion as much as I do. So, it seemed very logical to join up with the guild. Second, meeting new people is not easy for me. I tend to be on the shy side when it comes to meeting people. Lee has helped me get over that to an extent, being the extreme extrovert that he is (and when I say extreme, I mean seriously he can speak to anyone just once and they will be friends for life – ex-treme!) But still, without him, I get tongue tied and quiet and have a hard time connecting. I am blessed with many, many sweet friends through our church and our neighborhood. But reaching out and meeting new people is a challenge so, again, this was a good way to step outside my comfort zone and the anonymity of the internet and make new friends. Finally, well, I won’t lie – I would like to make a buck or two. I know, I’m a money grubber, but you know livin’ ain’t free and it would be fun to have an extra dollar or two (or more…). And why not get paid to do what I love? So, while there is no guarantee that being a part of the guild will bring a financial windfall, there would still be opportunity to make connections with people in the writing community. Finally, I just wanted to learn a little more about blogging. I had no idea how powerful a tool it could be! So, after the meeting on Saturday, I came home very encouraged and excited to be in the presence of people who love to write, who are more knowledgable than I am in the field of writing and blogging and who I so look forward to learning from. A good weekend it was.

Relaxation

It was a long, hard day. Let’s just say that by the time Lee got home, I was in tears and the kids required a little discipline. Nicole, I totally identify with you! Anyway, here is what I am about to sit down to. Is there anything more comforting than a beautiful cup of Citrus Mint tea set on a sweet little tray? I think not…

Go USA

This Olympic season has not dissapointed. It’s been thrilling and fun, heartbreaking and triumphant. I nearly cried last night when Lolo Jones hit the ninth hurdle and missed her Olympic gold as a result. I shouted with joy every time Nastia or Shawn hit a great routine. I smiled this morning as I saw the replay of the 21 year old who took gold in wrestling. And, of course, I was thrilled when Michael Phelps received his eighth gold medal. That was just awesome. It’s just been so fun to watch all of the hard work come to fruition for these excellent athletes.

The biggest sense of pride from these games has been watching the athletes in the aftermath of success or failure. They have defined sportsmanship. To see Lolo Jones giving the Australian who took silver in the 100m hurdles a big, congratulatory hug, despite her own heartbreak made me proud. Listening to Nastia Liukin gracefully accept a silver medal when she likely deserved the gold on uneven bars made me smile. Listening to cutie-patootie Shawn Johnson remind us that no matter what, they were all wearing red, white and blue and were there to represent our country made me shout out “Amen sister!” (which, by the way – congrats to both of them for yet another one, two finish on last night’s beam final. They are both phenomenal gymnasts and I had so much fun watching them!) In fact, all the athletes have been terrific, from every country – minus the wrestler who threw his bronze medal down in disgust – go home dude. We don’t need you!

I’m just so proud of all our athletes for working so hard and representing so well. And there are still several days of exciting competition to come! But, I must admit, I am very glad it’s almost over because I’m tired. My interest in the remaining sports is not quite as high so I should be making it to bed a little earlier from here on out. But I will still be catching the higlights and jumping for joy each time I hear our anthem.

Progress



Well…I did it!!! Phase one is complete. To really appreciate the above pictures, please take a moment to look here.

Yesterday, my mom took the kids for me because I thought that we were having our carpets cleaned in the morning. Turns out I was wrong on the date, they actually came today, so I ended up with a whole lot of time and no kids and I dove in head first! I got through all the clothes in my closet, the kids closets and the hall closet. I gave borrowed clothes that no longer fit or weren’t needed back. I filled seven 30 gallon garbage bags with clothes that I am going to sell, and also with stuffed animals and toys that have not felt the love of a child in a long, long time. For the neighbors that read this blog, a garage sale is in our near future! Any of you want to join us again? I am hoping to raise enough money to buy a plane ticket to San Diego to visit my precious friends, Wanida and Wendy.
I am parting with a lot of the baby clothes, though there were a handful of things that I just could not bear to get rid of. Those will be packed away for awhile until I am more emotionally stable. I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of most of the girl clothes because Lee and I are entertaining the idea and praying through the possibility of one day adopting. If the Lord does lead us down that path, I want to be prepared. So, there you have it. You all motivated me and I went after it. I feel immensely satisfed, though I still have the largest part of this project looming ahead and that is going through the 12 remaining bins of clothes in the basement. Poor Landon still has very few clothes to wear. One more day with no kids, and perhaps with a little company (Bethany?) and I should be set. And Barbara, don’t worry, I’ll have plenty for you to help me organize should you all come back in September. I’m saving a little for you :) Thanks for all the encouragement! I must sign off now. Lee is out of town and Landon has a terrible cold, which means he’s terribly fussy, which means I’m in for a long night. Yay me!!

Thoughts

Goodness…I’m tired. When I get tired, I get all emotionally analytical. I take things to heart so deeply. I’m a good tired – it’s not a bad tired by any means. I was so hyped by sweet Nastia’s win last night that I couldn’t sleep. But today, my fatigue is pressing my emotions to think more deeply of some things.

I tend to get very engrossed in the sufferings of others. It’s something that I have to be aware of and in general, I have gotten better at not allowing the pain of others overly affect me. It’s a hard balance to do this because part of me feels like I am so deeply blessed with so many wonderful things and I wonder, why shouldn’t I take on the burden that others feel? Why should I avoid the stories of pain just because I myself don’t want to experience that pain? Part of my desire to keep up with those who hurt is because I want to help carry their burden. I guess that’s a good thing, but it can lead to bad emotions for me and my family. A couple of years ago, an old high school friend lost his baby girl just three months after she was born. She was a very sick little girl when born and just never recovered. They had a little boy who was just a week younger than Sloan and this little girl was born a month after Tia, so the reality of their situation hit very close to home. When I attended that precious little girl’s funeral, I felt like my soul had been lit by the fires of grief. It was so painful and heart wrenching and I prayed unceasingly for that dear family. I got so engrossed in their suffering, however, that I started to fear for my own children. I worried about their safety and their health. I feared losing one of them so much that I began to lose sleep at night. I finally had to distance myself from the updates of these friends a little to gain some perspective on how to grieve with others and suffer for others.

I feel the same way when I read the blogs of Audrey Caroline and Luke Sponberg and even my sister-in-law, Becke, who is dealing with the sudden loss of her sister 6 months ago. My heart aches so desperately for these people and I find myself hoping that if I pray hard enough for them, then perhaps their pain will just melt away. But in searching out my own heart over such matters, I’ve finally accepted the fact that no matter how much I personally grieve for others (and I don’t even know some of these people!) I cannot ease the burden that they must bear. Only God can do that, and it takes time. Because I personally have never experienced the loss of a child, I truly don’t know or understand how He carries people through such grief, but I know that He does. If any of you saw or read any of the recent interviews with Steven Curtis Chapman, you’ll understand what I mean. He heals and He carries and He soothes and He gives those who are suffering the strength to make it through each moment, each day. So, while I will continue to grieve and hurt for them, I do so now with the attitude that I cannot change their circumstances. I cannot take away the hurt. But I can be a part of the healing as I lift them up and I get the beautiful opportunity of seeing God’s grace in the lives of others. I also know that I am not immune to such grief and pain. Though I pray, as any parent does, that I never have to endure the trial of losing one of my dearest, I know that I must cling to them with loose fingers and trust in the provision of a Holy God. I cannot live in fear and I will not live grieving over that which has not happened.
So that is my heart today. Sorry for the random post, but it’s what I’m pondering as I lift up the Sponberg family this week. They will be laying their precious son to rest next Thursday. Pray for them when you think about it. Let’s all, together, be a part of God’s glorious mercies in their lives.

Congratulations Nastia!!!!

Nastia Liukin just won the gold medal in the all around! I’M SO PROUD OF HER AND HER DAD!!!!! Congratulations Nastia!

I’m so going to regret staying up this late tomorrow…