40 Years

He was 19. She was 21.

In an age and time when marriage is often taken lightly, an institution that can be tried on and worn for awhile, but discarded when it no longer feels right, it is quite an honor to be able to celebrate a couple who have fought and battled for love and managed to hold on to it.

My parents celebrate their 40th Anniversary today. Lee and I are so blessed to have two sets of parents who have remained dedicated to one another over the years, who have fought through the hard times and laughed through the good times and who have shown us that Happily Ever After isn’t just a thing of fairy tales.

This is something to be celebrated!

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad. You are amazing and I love you so much. Thanks for being a light to the world.

Livin’ it up in California

Last year, right around this time, I came to this beautiful lake house in Northern California and spent five days soaking up wisdom and inspiration from my favorite people in the world.

I’m back here again, still working on the same book, still soaking in wisdom, honored and blessed to have the privilege to come to this spectacular place do the thing I was created to do. I have come down with a nasty cold and my throat feels like it’s been excavated overnight, so I’m not sure how much actual writing I’ll get done today, but I will rest and will go home rejuvinated and renewed.

Have an amazing weekend, everyone!

Take a few minutes to do the things that make your soul sing.

I wrote 22 pages on my novel yesterday. It's hard not to be inspired here.

Yes. We're eating food like this every. single. day.

College, Knowledge, Jupiter, Stupider

Girls go to college, to get more knowledge.

Boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider.

On any given day you will hear this lovely little ditty sung through the house. Depending on who’s doing the singing, the words will be a little switched around. It’s not my favorite so I’ve started requiring that they change it to the far less offensive:

Boys go to college to get more knowledge.

Girls go to Mars to get more candy bars.

When the balance of girl power was shifted last week thanks to our visiting cousins, I got a full on sampling of the different ways boys and girls fight. There’s a statistic floating around somewhere that says women use roughly 2,464,782 words/day on average…

Okay – I totally made that number up. I have no idea what the statistic is, but it’s much higher than the amount of words boys need to use to feel satisfied on any given day. When the balance of male-female is two to one in our house, fights tend to go something like this.

Tia: “Sloan, I WANT you to play Pretty, Pretty Princess with me.” Hands on hip, head shaking with full-on sass.

Sloan: “No.”

Tia: “Sloan, you have to play with me, I don’t have anyone to play with.” This is said through false tears and sometimes it can be accompanied by a foot stomp.

Sloan: “I don’t want to.”

Tia: “You’re not a good brother.”

Sloan: WHACK! Hits her.

She fought with words, he fought with action, both end up in trouble. Landon bobbles somewhere in the middle of all this since he is closer in age to Tia but possesses the Y-Chromosome. He’s a nice balance of words and action. It’s super duper.

(It should also be noted that because Tia is bookended by boys, she has no problem with physical fighting either, which kind of makes her a double threat…)

Imagine how it was, then, when there were THREE girls in the house and an argument broke out. It was all tears and talking and I, for one, found it completely hysterical. The boys, however, watched it all go down completely baffled. Every once in awhile Sloan would try and interject to play peace maker, at which point I calmly and wisely advised him to stay out of it.

“Don’t jump into fights that aren’t yours,” was my mantra for the week.

The girls fought with hands on hips (or crossed over their chests), heads wagging and lots of tears. Then they seperated from one another, pouted and BAM, it was over…until one of them remembered she was angry and asked the offender why she did what she did and thus it began again…

In general, all of the kids did superb given the circumstances and when there were squabbles they ended fairly quickly, but toward the end of the week as fatigue set in, emotions ran high and the weariness of a lack of routine began to kick everyone’s tail, the bickering gathered a little steam.

On the final day, all five kids were arguing – the boys with one another and the girls with one another and I stood in the middle, the amused referee trying to decide how to best break it all up. Sloan and Landon were hitting one another and I’m pretty sure there were a few good shoves thrown around.

The girls were talking endlessly and tears started to pour. So I sent them all to their individual corners. We had been together eight days and it was the first time a total seperation was needed. I’d say that’s pretty good, wouldn’t you?

The boys retreated where I could hear each of them playing in boy land, the swooshing of invisible light sabers and the melodic beat of a ball against a wall signs that they had already forgotten why they were fighting.

The girls were each in a seperate room and they all wimpered quietly. I leaned my head against Tia’s door to hear what she was saying as I she talked to herself. She was replaying the entire argument in the bitter sing songy voice that only a female knows.

Ten minutes later they all emerged. The boys went their seperate ways, having long forgotten their fight. The girls pow wowed on the couch, going over every detail of what went wrong earlier. Finally they hugged, giggled and skipped along their merry way, hands held tight.

Mars and Venus.

We’re all a bunch of martians, aren’t we?

I’m a model, you know what I mean?

Before I left for Tanzania, I reached out to several bloggers who had travelled with Compassion in the past. I needed to talk with someone who knew what I was about to walk into, who could tell me it was all going to be okay.

I was scared.

I wasn’t scared for the noble reasons you may think, of course. The travel part thrilled me. There’s nothing I love more than a good adventure. Remember, I was raised by a woman who was placed on a small airplane with strangers when she was ten so she could fly back to the States for boarding school. Neither one of my parents have ever shied away from traveling adventures and they have always encouraged me to explore the world.

That part didn’t scare me.

No, my fears in going on this trip were laced with insecurity – what if I failed? What if I let Compassion down? What if nobody sponsored a child through my blog? What if I was just too small, too insignificant, to make any kind of impact on this ministry?

We all know how that turned out, don’t we?

So I reached out to several past bloggers and they reached back with prayers, scriptures, encouragement and grace. They told me not to worry, not to fear, that God was going to write a story bigger than anything I could imagine. Do you know how true that is? I went back to my posts from Tanzania the other day and I honestly don’t even remember writing some of them. It’s all such a blur.

One of the bloggers who reached out to me was Kristen from We are THAT Family. I have long admired her, I appreciated her words of encouragement and now, after watching the following video, I am in awe of her. Not because of what she’s done, but what she has been willing to allow God to do through her. If you haven’t seen the recent video on the organization Kristen and her husband started called The Mercy House, you should watch it.

It’s the very first lines of that video that have clanged through my head, reverberating off the inner walls of my heart the last couple of days. “I asked God, ‘How can you allow so muh suffering?’ And I really felt like He said to me, “How can you allow it? What are you doing?”

Last night, as we made our way to church, Lee and I began to discuss heaven. “Do you think we’ll be free of the constraints of procrastination in heaven?” I asked Lee. “Because we’ll no longer be bound by time, will we finally be able to accomplish all the tasks before us without dropping the ball?”

Because I feel like I am always one step behind in life. There are one or five tasks that I cannot seem to keep up with on this Earth. Part of that is my fault – I put things off until they build to the point of being too much, then I lose sleep for a week and finally spend an entire day trying to catch up only to fall behind on something else.

We discussed our ideas and thoughts and dreams for all that heaven will be and they are, of course, nothing more than suppositions made on the very little information we have but it left me wishing and hoping for the day when there will be no more strain – no more stress – no more unattainable tasks.

We continued the conversation this morning as I shared with Lee the above video. The idea that heaven will also be free of the horrors of human suffering is hard to wrap my mind around. I believe it and I long for it, but I am here, on this Earth, bound by time and suffering.

And what am I doing about any of it?

“What kind of Christianity are we modeling for the kids?” Lee asked me this morning as we navigated our way through the rainy streets of Tampa to grab some breakfast. “When they’re grown, what will faith look like to them? What are they learning from us that’s going to free them to impact the world?”

It’s overwhelming and frightening if you think about it. Who do they think God is?

Who do I think God is?

Are we modeling a faith based on fear? A faith that says do enough for others to feel good, but not so much that it makes life uncomfortable?

There are things to be done, needs to be met, lives to change – and none of it comes without a price. How much am I willing to sacrifice? What am I doing? What am I teaching my kids, because rest assured, they are watching, they are learning and they will live out the faith that was modeled to them in some way or another.

There will never be enough time to do everything here on Earth. So where do I choose to focus my time and my efforts and what sacrifices am I willing to make to meet the important needs around me?

Someday I will be free from the constraints of this world, but until that time there are tasks to accomplish if I have the courage and the will to go after them. Today, I just want to keep up…

Through the years

Every year since Landon was a wee baern, I have taken him to the same section of beach for photos – usually around the same time of year – June/July. Last year was a little different with the move, but I did manage to grab at least one shot of him on “our” beach.

This morning, I took him back while the rest of the kids enjoyed VBS. Landon was supposed to be at VBS, but he decided it was too “babyish” for him, because my four year old has no concept for how to socialize with children his own age.

And he happens to be a big Mama’s boy. When I look at him, I find myself wanting to quote Monica Gellar – “I’m gonna love you so much that no woman will ever be good enough for you!” I don’t say that, but I think it.

*sigh*

Preschool will be good for him…as long as he meets another little boy who lives, eats and breathes baseball, basketball and football. If he’s stuck with a bunch of kids that love The Wiggles and Cars we’re in for a long year.

I present you: Landon through the years:

2008

2009

 

2010

A non-beach 2010 picture because Sweet Mercy those EYES!

 

2011

 

2012

Is he giving me the bird?

Go, Go Gadget Arms. Geez...

Happy Friday to you all!

Funky little me

I am in a blogging funk.

And also, there are five kids in my house.

So I’m taking some time to stop and breathe deep.

I’ll confess, as a blogger it’s kind of scary to take these little breaks from the blog. Any blogger who says they don’t care about comments or how many readers they have isn’t being fully honest. None of us write online without the hope that someone(s) is reading.

But I’m in a blogging funk. I have bloggers’ block. I don’t know what to write about, what I have to say that is productive to the betterment of the world. Funky funk, funk, funk.

You really have to be careful when typing that word….

I’m sorry I don’t have anything exciting to share with you – anything to change your life today. I can tell you that yesterday I tried out a new hairstylist and let her do my pink and my head ended up looking like a giant piece of Bubble Yum.

It took another hour and quite a bit of highlight, but she managed to get it looking much more natural and normal. I know that’s not going to change your life, but it almost changed mine, so…

See what I mean? Blogging funk.

I should go. I hear the children stirring. If I don’t immediately get them up and moving in a direction of productivity we will never get out the door. It’s like trying to herd a group of electric chihuahua’s.

If you’re a blogger and you’re comfortable sharing, can you tell me what your purpose is in blogging? Why do you do it and what motivates you to keep going? What message do you want to share with the world?

These are all questions I’m having a hard time answering. Because today my message was Bubble Yum hair and electric chihuaha’s…

This week

I have one girl sandwiched between two boys. This means that most days, she is more tomboy than princess, more frogs and snails than sugar and spice. I love that about her, but I must confess that every once in awhile, when she starts acting like…well, a girl, it kind of takes me by surprise and I find it to be breathtakingly adorable.

This week, two of my cousin’s daughters are staying with us while their parents take a much needed vacation. These are two girls that know exactly what it means to be girly and Tia? Well…she’s kind of eating it all up.

These two are pretty much joined at the hip. If I can’t find them they are either outside roller blading/roller skating, or they are in the bathroom fixing each other’s hair, which you would find hilarious, too, if you lived with Tia and had to suffer the angst of daily just getting her to brush her hair.

We spent some time Father’s Day morning at the beach where the sun shined beautifully, the breeze drifted lazily, the water glistened perfectly and the children all thought they were going to die of starvation. We left after an hour because it seemed we would have had to perform a burial at sea if we didn’t feed them rightthen!

How much do you love that face?!

 

We’ve made full use of the pool this week, both at my parent’s condo and at our house. So far they have swum multiple hours every day. This works in my favor because it means they’re worn out at the end of the day and go to sleep quickly.

Amen.

During the morning hours we are doing VBS, which also works out in my favor because it allows me to gather my remaining bits of sanity and ball it all back together for a few hours. When we were preparing for the girls I thought, I’m already outnumbered with the three kids – what’s two more?

Turns out two more is five.

Thankfully, these are two of the sweetest girls on planet Earth, which makes this whole experience a lot more fun and hilarious…and noisy. Three excited girls sounds like fifteen girls when they are gathered in one room.

Last night I took the three girls to an early VIP screening of Brave in 3D. Friends, you haven’t lived until you’ve sat behind three little girls watching a hilarious movie and hearing them roar with laughter. It was seriously the best, particularly listening to Tia because she has a super deep laugh and when she gets going, she cannot stop.

Loved the movie. Love these girls. I also, after seeing Brave, love Scotland. I’m trying to figure out how we could possibly work it out to move there…

We popped the lenses out of our 3D glasses and kept them because, as one of the girls informed me, "These are all the rage right now. They're super trendy." Well, I sure don't want to miss the newest rage...

My advice to you this week is two-fold – First, go see the movie Brave. It’s awesome and so, so funny. (Save yourself some money, though, and skip the 3D).

Second, spend some time with some little girls and see if you don’t find life to be a little more hilarious and a lot more pink. I dare you to spend ten minutes in the same room as three elementary age school girls and not crack up.

What are you up to this first official week of summer?

Rain Dance

Have you danced in the rain lately?

Happy Weekend and Happy Father’s Day to all the great Dad’s out there.

The winners and other stuff

Once upon a time I threw the biggest birthday party known to mankind. That’s only barely an exaggeration. When Sloan turned five, I threw a fire fighter birthday party and fell prey to fear, which led to me inviting every single person we knew and their entire families.

I have deep seeded people-pleaser issues.

I was so afraid of someone feeling left out that I just invited everyone I could think of assuming that with it being summertime many would be out of town and unable to attend,  but at least they would know I thought of them, right?

Almost every single person RSVP’ed. Twenty-nine (or more, I lost track) kids, 16 adults and a sprinkler. I have never done that again.

All that to say, I can’t choose just one winner from the Name that Photo contest. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings and plus you guys flipping made me laugh so hard. I wouldn’t know how to start. I laughed out loud (I did NOT LOL…ugh) so much, then I went and reread the comments and laughed again. Out. Loud.

My readers are funny...and apparently know me too well.

Sloan mooning us? Nutella locked in the van? Draining noodles? Timmy trapped in a well? Fat tourists in thongs? 1-800-CONTACTS? Smokey Bones? Oh heavens…you guys are the best. So funny.

Well done all of you. VIRTUAL HIGH FIVE’S ALL AROUND. Hold your hand up…wait just a sec

There! High five. BOOM!

And here’s your side hug.

Now the super-duper feelings of awesomeness and glory will take a few days to get to you. You should all receive those by Monday at the latest. Be on the lookout…

In other news…

- Today I am guest posting at Bohemian Bowmans on the impact Tanzania has had on my writing. Hop on by and check out the Bohemian blog - they’re Canadians now, dontcha know…

- In order to retain my Mom-Blogger card, I am required to post a recipe now and again. Otherwise my membership may be revoked and then I’ll be relegated to writing about, I dunno, politics or something.

*shudder*

 I’ve made these eggs twice this week and both times my first born, he who gags like he’s dying when I serve him eggs, has gobbled them up. So what’s in this magic eggs concoction?

- 1 leek, thinly sliced (leeks are like big, fat green onions – I had no idea…I’m not what you’d call a cook.) Sautee the leek in 2 T of butter and add one garlic clove chopped.

- 4 cups of Kale. Add the Kale to the Pan and pour in 3 T of white wine (you read that right), cover and let simmer until Kale is melted. Salt and Pepper to taste.

- Crack four eggs on top of the greens, put a lid on the pot and let cook on low until eggs have hardened and set. Serve hot and watch in amazement as your kids eat so much good stuff without complaining.

*This is not an original recipe. I got it out of Men’s Health magazine, which, naturally, I was only reading for the recipes… *nervous laugh*  

- I want to Hulk Smash the alarm system in our house. I hate it. Every time the power trips, the alarm goes off. Last night the power tripped three times. When that alarm goes off in the middle of the night I wake up prepared to kill. It explains why today I am drinking this, which I only drink in the most dire of situations.

My hands are trembling uncontrollably right now.

- I downloaded all three Ingrid Michaelson albums today. I’ve loved her since “The Way I Am” came out, but lately we have been listening to the Over the Rhine station on Pandora and every time she popped up on the screen I got goosebumps. She’s freaky good.

- I signed all three kids up this week for gymnastics camp. I’ve had about three hours a day to myself. At home. ALONE. I had kind of forgotten what this felt like. It’s a little boring at times, but for the most part it has been entirely enjoyable.

Empty Minivans are HAWT!

Okay, I’ve talked enough. Now it’s your turn. Tell me something funny, or sad, or happy. What are you doing this weekend. Do you have a vacation coming up? Did your kid say something funny to you this week?

Who’s gonna make me laugh? Come on, help a sister out. I didn’t sleep much last night and you guys demonstrated yesterday that you are plenty funny so lay it on me.

Happy Thursday, friends.

Name that Photo

I’m wicked tired today and so distracted. I don’t feel funny, or deep or contemplative – I just feel…blah. So I’m offering up a giveaway to end all giveaways. Seriously, you’re glad you stopped by here today.

Some of you have already seen this on Facebook, but you can still play the game. Jenni from Avodah Images snapped this candid shot of us when she did our family shots. At some point during that evening, Landon stepped on a sand spur and I thought this picture was taken during that time, but Lee reminded me that that happened later in the evening on a different part of the beach.

So I have no idea why our faces look like this:

So, who wants to play a rousing game of Name That Photo?

Give this photo a clever title, or tell me what you think is happening in this picture to make us look so, um…scary.

The rules of this game are easy: Leave a comment with your suggested photo name or scenario. At the end of the day I will choose my favorite Name and will award the lucky winner two virtual high fives, one telepathic side hug and super-duper thoughts of awesomeness and glory.

This prize package is nothing short of stellar, friends. I mean, this is big time…

So what are you waiting for? What’s happening in this photo (because for the life of me, I don’t know why we look like that)? Don’t hesitate to enter – this is a prize you don’t want to miss out on.

Disclaimer: I am not being compensated for this post…sadly. The virtual high fives, telepathic side hug and super-duper thoughts of awesomeness and glory are my own and have not been provided to me by any third party.