Big Foot, Roman Soldiers and the Voices in my Head

It is quiet and I am alone.  Three children sleep in their beds, the first time all three have slept in their beds since we moved in.

A new house is scary.  There are sounds to fear.  And other things…

“Mom, I can’t sleep,” he said, coming out for the four-frillionth time.  “I’m too scared!”

“What are you scared of?” I ask…also for the four-frillionth time.

“I was just starting to close my eyes and I imagined I was a Roman soldier being killed…”

That is scary.

After assuring him that he would, indeed, not die the violent death of a Roman solider, and also reiterating once again the fact that Big Foot does not indeed exist, we headed back to his room.

“Big Foot is real!” he protested.  “I saw it on TV.”

Yet another reason we did not hook up cable.

“Honey, even if Big Foot were real, he wouldn’t live in Florida.  It’s too hot here.  And there are no mountains or tall trees for him to hide in.  Big Foot lives in Oregon…if he exists…which I don’t think he does.”

Silence.

“But you said bears live in Oregon.”  God help the poor child if he ever has to live in Oregon.  Don’t worry Oregonians (right?), I didn’t pin monsters on you.  I told the kids monsters live in Canada.

S’all good.

“Lay down, babe,” I said, brushing my hand across his silky smooth cheek.  Would that I could bottle his skin up…

“Let’s find something you can hold on to while you go to sleep so you don’t have to be scared,” I said, looking around his room.

“I can hold on to you,” he replied grabbing hold of my hand and looking up with ocean blue eyes.  And I melted…fast.  Knees buckled, a mass of goo, I slid under the covers and held his hand.  Five minutes later, he slept.  All the lights are still on in his room.  Because Big Foot doesn’t like light.  If he did, we’d have caught him and there would be no need for a TV show.

And now I sit in an empty, quiet, semi-organized room.  I believe I have found my writing zone in this new house.  I love this front room.  It’s peaceful and happy and I feel inspired here.  Last night I stayed up, much too late, writing, for the first time focused on my book.  The voices of my characters are swirling and moving again.

I’m going to finish it, friends.  It may mean I have to spend a little less time with you and a little more time with the people I want to introduce you to.  Bear with me as I find my stride.  And in the meantime, if you could all be on the lookout for Big Foot and let me know when and if you find him.

I, on the other hand, will continue to keep the air bed inflated on the floor next to my bed.

Something tells me we’re going to need it for awhile.

Image Credit

Who’s got time to be addicted?

"There's another new social networking site that I'm supposed to join?!"

So here it is, friends.  I am struggling with the rat race that has become social media and there is one reason for it:

I don’t flipping have time.

I love blogging.  This here little space of mine is where I often times work out what’s swirling around inside my head and heart.  I don’t organize and plan my posts ahead of time.  Maybe I should, but that’s not really how my brain operates.  I process my emotions through the melodic clicking of the keyboard.  It’s where my heart flows.  And you want to know what?

Sometimes I don’t share everything I write.

Sometimes the emotions are too raw…too personal.  But many times I can’t voice my heart unless I’m writing it out.  So blogging?  I totally get it.

Everything else?  Exhausts me.

Amber from Crappy Pictures wrote about why being a mom makes her suck at Twitter. Through my tears of laughter I’m pretty sure I uttered a hearty “Amen” or two as I read her post.  I can’t get into Twitter.  My posts usually go like this:  “I’m baaaaaack. How’s everyone doing to tonight? #finallybackontwitter”

No one will respond to this tweet, of course, because no one knows me on Twitter.  And because, unless I’m writing an article that needs to be promoted for someone else, I usually only tweet about once everyone two weeks.

Because that’s all I have time for.

I mean, I guess I could check my twitter stream a little more every day and try to converse, but I never really know how to converse with Twitter followers without feeling like a creepy cyber-stalker.

I like Facebook…because I get it.  I know most of the people on Facebook and they know me.  I can post something on Facebook and come back hours later and respond to any comments, whereas with Twitter it seems you need to respond right away or else you’re like the rude neighbor who walks away mid-conversation and never returns.

The frustrating part in all of this is that marketers and others who may want to hire your services in social networking or online writing often look at how wide your impact is, and part of that is your activity on Twitter.  They also look at how many Facebook friends you have, how many people are reading your blog, how many comments you get and what kind of toilet paper you use.

Hmph.

It starts to feel like a nasty competition and in the midst of all the running, I can easily lose focus on why I’m doing what I’m doing.  I’m writing because I love it. I’m writing because I’m good at it.  I’m writing because I believe it is a form of praise, an offering back of that which I have been given.

I’m writing because it’s fun.  Trying to keep up with the pack detracts from that and every once in awhile I have to tighten the reigns and remember what life is all about.  And with so much to keep up with, it helps to simply unplug every once in awhile.

Part of the online madness stems from the fact that there is just so dang much to keep up with anymore.  Now there’s Instagram, which sounds totally fun…if you have an iphone, which I don’t so I’m off the hook with that one.  No temptation!  Guh-lory!

There’s also StreamZoo and Google Plus and LinkedIn (yes, I know I have several invitations to Link up on LinkedIn, but I can’t remember my password so there’s a good chance I’m never going to accept those invitations for which I hereby sincerely apologize), and a whole host of other networking sites that are cropping up and my head just exploded.

I just want to make my kids a sandwich.

And write.

And maybe, just maybe, keep up with the constant flow of online craziness so that in a few years when my son comes prancing in the door and announces he wants to open up a ShowMyLifeToTheWorld account, I’ll know what it is and whether or not I want him partaking.

I’m trying to stay cool, folks!  I mean, aside from my rockin’ minivan, I’ve got very little left with which to garner cool points.

So here it is, social media overwhelms me. Sometimes it’s just too much.

What are your thoughts?

Buried Alive

I’m writing this from beneath a mountain of boxes.  I managed to carve a path from the kids’ rooms to my own where I have prepared a bed on the floor for the first to wake up scared and hightail it this way.

I thought packing boxes was overwhelming, but unpacking them raising the bar of crazy to a whole new level.  I think I made a dent today.  I can see the kitchen counter and I found the table top later this afternoon.  It was a glorious sight.

In lieu of the fact that I have nothing remotely interesting or witty to say, I’m going to send you over to my friend Wendy. You might remember her as the woman who gave me the greatest writer’s getaway ever earlier this year.  Now it’s time I gave you all a proper introduction.

Wendy is a mother of three rough and tumble boys and she just may have the best Mom of Boys blog on the world wide web. Wendy is always an inspiration to me not only because she’s talented and filled with a depth of wisdom and grace that constantly challenges me to dig deeper.  Wendy is also an inspiration because she’s real.  She doesn’t pretend to have it all together.  She’s just…authentic.  And I love that about her.

This blog post on Family Values inspired me to think about our own core values as a family and how we instill those in our kids.  Part two challenged me to make the establishment of our Family Values as something special and fun for the kids.

After reading those posts, I guarantee you’ll want to add Wendy to your blog roll.

So while you head off to be encouraged and blessed, I’m going to start digging out from under a few more boxes.  It appears that our possessions multiplied inside the PODS.

Good times…

 

Home

“Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do…but how much love we put in that action.”  Mother Teresa

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”  Maya Angelou

 

This laundry room kind of makes doing laundry sound exciting!

“Nothing can bring a real sense of security into the home except true love.”  Billy Graham

 

Yes that's all our yard. Yes it's that big. Yes Lee is frantically saving money for a riding lawn mower. Yes he has to use the push mower for awhile.

“There’s no place like home.” Dorothy

“Like Dorothy, we all long for home.  I think God places this longing in our hearts to remind us of the glory that awaits.”  A wise friend

“Home interprets heaven.  Home is heaven for beginners.”  Charles H. Parkhurst

“One may make their house a palace of sham, or they can make it a home, a refuge.”  Mark Twain

The hedges kind of make me feel like I have a secret garden. This makes me happy.

 

“Where thou art, that is home.” Emily Dickinson

“We’re Home.”  Some Mom with a minivan and keys in her hand.

Imagination, Creativity and Flying like a Bird

What do you think it’s like to be a bird?

I think it must be thrilling.

Just once I’d like to feel the rush of flying, of spreading the wings and gliding on the wisp of the wind.  If I were to be a bird, though, I can’t decide where I’d like to rest my feathers.  Would I be a mountain bird, coasting from mountain top to mountain top, the valleys and peaks soaring below in harmonious rhythm?  If I were to be a mountain bird, I’d like to be one in Austria for I don’t think you will find more beautiful formations in all the world.

 

Hallstatt, Austria where one year ago today we stood atop this mountain and I longed for the freedom of flight.

But, I fear the frigid winter air would be too much for me…even as a mountain bird.  So perhaps I would be better suited as an island bird.  What must it be to glide above the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean, the warm, salty air whipping over me as I coast left to right.  If I were to be an island bird, I’d like to reside over Spanish Wells, Bahamas.  Because I think that God shines His Grace upon that island in extra measures.

These are things I think about.

There are some days…many days…when I wish I could unplug from it all.  I dream of a secret garden where I could escape and get lost in the dreams of my mind.  I would wander the twisted flowers and gnarled tree trunks with only the soft padding of my feet in the grass as company.  I would lose myself in the romance of the soft setting, dreaming up far off lands where anything is possible.  My imagination would no longer be dictated and diluted but would be free to run, to fly.

I would be the bird, the free spirit who never grows up, the romantic who throws her arms around her sweaty man with abandon.

These are things I think about.

This week, the kids and I are telling stories – making them up.  We are digging into the recesses of our minds where imagination waits to be stirred.  Robots come to life and trees dance in the breeze.  The grass is purple and streams are made of chocolate.  Grand adventures lie around every corner and over every bridge.  Sometimes, when the oldest is telling his story, Bigfoot makes an appearance.  And tornados.  It’s very exciting.

When the girl tells her stories, they almost always involve a talking unicorn.  It is magical.

When the youngest tells his stories they almost always include the words “booty” and “toot.”  It’s hysterical.

Imagination is the best way to see one of the greatest traits of God Himself – creativity. For inside the mind’s eye, the creativity of the Creator indwells each one of us with the ability to see a little beyond that which is before us.  Mathematicians see formulas that take us to the moon.  Scientists see developments that allow us to see life from a different spectrum.  Poets allow us to hear nature through the fluidity of their pens.  Musicians discover harmonies that speak to our souls and take us beyond the present.

Imagination is where the Creator left His greatest imprint on us…His Image Bearers.

It is inside the recesses of our minds that God gave us a grand bit of Himself.  After all, He had the greatest imagination of them all.  And when we open kids up to this process of creativity, we let them truly come alive.  The challenge is to quiet the Earth around us.  And what a challenge it is.

Would that I could lose myself inside imagination every day where life is not confined to only that which I know but is instead wide open, limitless in reach.  Technology has dulled my imagination, and even that of my children.  But it’s always there, imagination, waiting to be tapped and used.  Imagination leads us into some place new and unknown.

Where I can fly.


These are things I think about.

Like welcoming an old friend

I got my good camera back from the shop the other day.

It was like welcoming an old friend back home again.

I immediately pulled it out of the box and ushered the kids outside for an impromptu photo shoot.  They were thrilled…can’t you tell?

I’ve been in a funk these last few days.  Sad.  Discouraged.  Frustrated at everything and nothing.  Unsettled and just altogether irritable.  This phase of life we’re in has left me vulnerable.  Doubts start creeping in like the waters of the beach.  They slide up and over my heart and then quickly retreat leaving me unsure of myself.

I doubt my ability to parent well.

I doubt my ability to pen anything worth reading.

I doubt my ability to love well.

I doubt my ability to exhibit grace.

So much doubt.

I know these are lies.  I really do.  I can see it and feel it and call it out by name.  The frequency with which I’m having to identify and put behind me the lies, however, has begun to wear me down.

And I started to believe the doubts.

Do you know what happens when you start to believe the doubts?  You compare.  I’ve compared myself to everyone these past couple of weeks.

No good can come of that.  I know this and I’m constantly fighting against it.  Sometimes I just get battle weary.

So when I got my camera and took the time to slow down and observe life happening through the lens, I found myself suddenly encouraged.

I am not a great photographer.  I know this very well.

But there is something about snapping a picture that fully encapsulates a brief moment in time.

It’s Grace.  Grace.  Remember how I told I’m learning about Grace?  It’s a daily walk.

A sunset.  A giggle.  My toes buried in the cool sand.

A house awaits us.  This week we will finally begin to set our stake in the sand.  After two and a half months of transition, we will begin to start anew.  Forward motion.

Our beach side transition is coming to a close.  It has been a true blessing to be able to stay here.  It hasn’t been easy…on anybody.  My parents have given up their space and their peace and their privacy for two and a half months as well.

They’ve never complained.  Never made us feel unwelcome or unwanted.

Grace.

Thank you to all of you for supporting us and loving us.

For loving me.

Thank you for the emails and the phone calls.  I’ve had communication from perfect strangers, from friends I haven’t spoken with in many years, from friends so dear to my heart that I sometimes physically ache for their presence.

Your love and support have carried us through the moments of funk – the moments of doubt when we questioned every decision, and every ability.

Grace.

Thank you all, my friends both online and off, for showing that to me unfailingly.  I am deeply, deeply grateful.

One more...just for fun. Dang, he's cute.

Me them then…or is it them me now?

I engaged in a bit of retail therapy yesterday.  After a day on the battleground called motherhood, I escaped for a few hours into the Mecca of all home furnishing stores.  Did you know the power that four simple little letters can wield?

IKEA.

Say it slow.  Let it roll off the tongue.

I-K-E-A.

I rolled a cart through the golden aisles, little fairies giggling and blowing pixie dust on me as I danced past.  When I entered the showroom, a beam of light appeared from nowhere casting an ethereal glow across the cheap, yet terribly stylish, furnishings.

I actually think walking through there made a few of my wrinkles disappear.

I found something I loved in every room.  I bought Christmas presents for Tia and resisted the urge to grab the arm of the woman in yellow beside me and shake it in excited glee.  Oh the organizational wonderment to behold!

I ate Swedish meatballs in the silence of my reverie, all while visually digesting the wonderment that stood before me.  It was like being at the spa, only no strangers were touching me and it didn’t require the sacrifice of my first born to afford it.

I left with a few treasures in my basket and a considerable amount of satisfaction at how much I got for the amount.  I piled my treasures in the back of my (smokin’ hot) minivan and off we drive toward the glowing orange orb in the sky.

It was as beautiful an evening as one 30-something could possibly experience.

As I made my way down the road, I slowed to a stop at a red light (always a good idea).  I glanced in my side mirror to see a truck in the lane to my left stopping next to the car that was directly behind me.  Inside the rusted truck were two girls who didn’t look old enough to be wearing makeup, much less operating a vehicle.  They motioned wildly at the older gentleman in the car next to them so he rolled down his window.

“Hey there, Grandpa,” the girl in the passenger seat yelled, smacking her gum with the force of a perturbed cow.  “You’re pretty cute.”  Head thrown back.  *giggle, giggle, giggle*

The poor old man shook his head and rolled his window back up.  The girls drove forward and pulled up alongside me.  I had my window down and the radio blasted all the current Christian hits of today. I bobbed my head up and down to the beat and drummed my fingers on the side of the car.  I rarely drive with the windows down these days, but last night was so perfect I couldn’t resist.

Giggle tweeny bopper looked my way and I tried to ignore.

“Hey,” she called, still giggling uncontrollably.  It was the silly giggle that reveals complete and total immaturity.  I turned her way and smiled.

“Hey,” I said back with a grin.  “How are you guys doing tonight?”

The driver laughed.  I briefly contemplated asking her to give me proof that she was indeed old enough to drive.  “We are, like, so. great.“  She said.  Her words were emphasized with two smacks of her Hubba Bubba.  Whoa…they were doing great.

“So what are you up to?” Giggly asked. And just then the light turned green and the line of cars began to slowly move.  I waved as the Silly Mobile pulled forward with a squeal – was it the tires or the girls?

And then I laughed. It was the knowing laugh that completely solidifies you as a full blown grown up.

The total lack of respect for others aside, those girls reminded me a little bit of myself.  I remembered the day that my best friend Lindsey and I, also both barely legal to drive, made the trek from our house to a friend’s out in the sticks of St. Louis.  We had the windows down and our music blaring and we hung our heads and arms out the windows laughing uncontrollably and altogether reveling in our youth.

Life was a joyride.  It was a wind in your hair, laugh at the world adventure.  We were silly and crazy and completely free of the responsibility of adulthood.  There weren’t children or husbands or mortgages or bills.

I can honestly say that at that moment in my life, the very last thing I wanted to spend my hard earned money on was a kitchen scrub brush and a watering can.

Home furnishings weren’t exciting.  Freedom was exciting.  The wind whipping by as we headed to the Lake was exciting.  Life was a grand adventure just at the tip of our fingers.  And as those girls peeled out, shrieking with laughter at…um, nothing…I shook my head.  They are me back then.

And as I glanced at the IKEA bag glimmering in the evening sun next to me, I let out another laugh.  I am them now…or not long from now.  The wind still whips through my hair and my music is still loud.  Only, more often than not, the music is sung by talking vegetables and my minivan is loaded with practical things like kitchen scrub brushes and watering cans…and place mats.  Really, really cute place mats.

Life is still an adventure, isn’t it?  I think it might even be a little more grand.

Someday those silly little girls will understand.

For Bebe

Today is my wonderful Mother-in-Law’s birthday.  This is the part where I reveal yet another flaw…I stink at putting cards in the mail.  Seriously stink at it.  I always forget, often times even buying, signing and addressing the card then forgetting to actually mail it.  It is a design flaw in my character, I’m sure.

How’s that for deferring blame, huh?

What I lack in planning and forward thinking, though, I try to make up for in creativity…and a well timed phone call.  The kids are speaking with their Bebe right now.  I told them to sing to her…that’s better than a card, right?  I also combined our handwriting and grammar lesson today with a little birthday surprise for Bebe.  So, without further ado, I give you Sloan’s journal entry:

“I Love my Bebe because, she is very beuteful.”  She lives in areKensaew, and she has 6 grandchildren.  Cade is the oldest one.  Cade has two brothers, Eli and Sam.  I like when Bebe does creepee crolee.  Bebe is a wonderful grama.  When I see Bebe I am happy, so I run up to her.

His instructions were to write 7-8 sentences, with at least one of them a compound sentence.  He started learning dialogue yesterday and I adore his random use of quotations.  It just makes me smile.

Tia and Landon were interviewed separately on what they love about Bebe.  Landon’s answers are so random I had to scratch my head.  But I wrote exactly what he said.

I love it when Bebe:

Tia: “Goes somewhere with me.”

Landon: “Goes to da store and buys tennis shoes for me.”

I like to go:

Tia: “To the store and buy new shoes and clothes with Bebe.”

Landon: “To California with Bebe.” No – they have never been to California together…

Bebe makes me laugh when she:

Tia: “Talks funny wif her accent.”

Landon: “When she plays Crazy 8′s.”

My favorite time with Bebe is:

Tia: “Going out somewhere and going on a date together.”

Landon: “When we can go to Chuck E Cheese.”

When I see Bebe I like to:

Tia: “Run up to her and kiss her.”

Landon: “Go eat cotton candy.”

I think Bebe is:

Tia: “A great Grandma.  And beautiful.”

Landon: “Pwetty and nice.”

I wish I could:

Tia: “Do stuff with Bebe.”

Landon: “Go on da boat wif Bebe.”

Bebe always likes:

Tia: “To make dinner for us and I like that.”

Landon: “Go to da store.” Both of these answers made me laugh out loud.  Bebe knows why…

I always think of Bebe when I see:

Tia: “Her.  Whenever she goes somewhere I ask to go with her.”

Landon: “A ghost.” HA!

 

Happy Birthday, Bebe.  We love you and are always blessed by you.

The Tapestry of Now

Life’s adventure rarely leaves time for long enough pause to question.  How did I come to this and what brought me here?  It’s only upon stepping back from the tapestry and observing that we’re able to truly see the Artist’s flair.

What looked to be a tangled web of yellow thread was really a sunbeam.

The woven blue lines folding in and out grew into a vast ocean when stepping back.

Did you know that sometimes you can step back and look at even the most recent past and see beauty?  Did you know that if you take just a minute to breathe, you might be amazed at what’s developing right before your eyes?  Did you know that sometimes the present feels tangled and knotted but upon closer examination, it’s really shaping up to be something…grand?

I’m there.  Right now.

I didn’t want to “provide my children with a home education program” as the State of Florida asked me to word it in my letter to the Superintendent.  But somehow I knew I was supposed to.  And it scared me.  It still scares me.

But here we are.  Two weeks in and dare I say we’re having fun?  And if I step back for a few minutes and let the weight of this responsibility slide off my shoulders, I am able to see something beautiful being pieced together.

 

The root word + the suffix =

My kids and I are enjoying one another.  Naturally there are moments of frustration.  There are certain children who are to remain unnamed who, apparently, are so easily distracted that the simplest of tasks can turn into the most painful.  There are whiny moments and at least once a day I have to stop myself from tossing my hands in the air in exasperation.

But, more than anything else – we’re laughing together.

 

Russian lessons

We’re living life together and learning as a whole.  Similes, compound sentences, geography…who knew learning could be such fun?  They can label every state on the map and, as an added bonus, so can I.  Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, eh?

 

Tia loves to do "hard math."

And suddenly, without even knowing really when or how it happened, I became that mom.  The mom who schools her children in the home…and likes it.  I still don’t know if this is a permanent situation for us.  I honestly don’t know.  But for right now, I’m enjoying this bumpy little ride.

 

Taking a compound sentence from Sloan’s journal and pointing out the conjunction. He was also required to use one simile. My poor kids…stuck with a mom who finds a freakish amount of glee in similes and compound sentences.  You should feel sorry for them.

As I look back at the tapestry being woven these past few weeks, I’m in awe of the beauty and the masterful way it’s all slowly coming together.

Even if there are a few stray threads still needing to be plucked…

I wrote out a few conjunctions and turned around to talk with Tia for a minute. When I heard snickering I turned back around to find Sloan had edited my writing slightly.  Silly little boys make the tapestry a little more fun and…colorful, wouldn’t you say?

*sigh*

I remember

I will never, ever forget.

I remember every sight, every smell.  I remember the tears shed and the words spoken.  I remember the feel of the carpet as I fell to my knees and the heat of my tears as they fell to the floor.

I remember the thud of my heart as I watched my countrymen launch themselves from the windows and fall to their deaths.  I remember calling out to God, wondering what His creation must have felt and thought as they pushed away from the burning building.

I remember fear.

I remember each moment of that morning as if it were a slow motion reel in my head.

The replayed images leave me equal parts horrified and honored.

Horrified to think it all really happened.  Honored to be an American.

I remember.

I will never, ever forget.

Image credit