February 25, 2008

Girly Party

This is what it's all about. We celebrated 7 wonderful years this week. Our middle daughter. Miss Girlie Girl. Since the time she was old enough to talk , the question for any situation has been"what will I wear?" This year we were awash in pink and lavender for her birthday. She invited 8 friends for a tea party to share with their American girl dolls. As you can see, they came very well dressed!
Each of the girls made pretend party food (cakes, ice cream, teacups etc) with clay that we baked. They then made a summer foam visor and a winter poncho for their dolls. We had miniture gift bags with each of the doll's names.
The girls then enjoyed a little tea party complete with etiquette lessons from "Felicity." They even got to use Mimi's real china cups! After games and presents, they had a ball playing together with their dolls. It's not too often that 9 little girls get to play dolls together! Lots of giggles and squeals!

Happy Birthday, dear one! You are our little star that shines so bright to everyone around you. You are our princess, fashionista, peacemaker, song bird, giggle-girl, animal lover, snuggle bunny. You are priceless, unique, beautiful (inside and out), funny, caring, tender and wonderful. We never dreamed that we would have such a girlie girl. You bless us everyday.
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February 21, 2008

Been There, Done That

My three children have a very sweet relationship. One of my favorite sounds is listening to them play in their imaginary world together. There is the typical, I-need-my-own-space times, but they really play great together.
Usually. The other day we were in the car on the way home from school. The kids were planning their afternoon when I overheard this conversation:
7 yr. old girl: We could play house and you could be my little boy.

4yr. old boy: Nah, I don't want to do that.

6yr. old girl: Oh! I know! We could pretend you are my husband!

4yr. old boy: Ugh! I don't want to live with you when I grow up. I already did that!

6yr. old girl: No, I mean we could play that now.

4 yr. old boy: I already live with you. That's no fun. Let's just play pirates.

Yesterday my daughter (same as above) went on a field trip to see a "Cinderella" play. She was very excited because it was ON her birthday. On the way to school she said, "Mom, I don't think the boys are very excited about the play." Inwardly I was thinking the same thing, but I had to think fast. I quickly replied, "Well, Honey, you're probably right, but it will help them be good husbands one day. They will learn to like stuff like this and take their wives to plays and other cultural events."
My daughter thoroughly enjoyed the performance (little does she realize that we will be enjoying the company of the REAL Cinderella in Disney World in about 3 weeks!) Watching her watch the princess was enough for me. I loved the fact that she was having fun. Who cared if I was bored. I had my own princess to watch.
As I endured the 2nd rate play and tried to stay awake, I was thinking about our conversation. How many times had my husband, dad, brother and any other caring man sat through a painful performance for the sake of love? Thanks, Honey, for all the times you sat through something, just to watch your own princess enjoy herself.

Drive daughter -on her birthday- to Cinderella field trip. ... CHECK!

One day, when she is a mom, she will truly appreciate the sacrifice. Until then, she can just be a princess, blissfully unaware.

February 15, 2008

What is LOVE?

Yesterday we celebrated the day of LOVE. What does that mean to me? Red roses, candy and hearts? Mmmm, sometimes. Yesterday it didn't take any of those forms (well, okay, I couldn't resist the candy). And yet it was one of the best Valentines Days ever. Why? It progressed as any other normal day does. And then, last night, as we were gathered around the dinner table enjoying a pretty normal meal, it hit me. This is what love looks like. A normal, get up, make breakfast, fix lunches, hurry out the door kind of morning. Lots of hugs, kisses and 'I love yous' sprinkled in. A couple of calls from my husband, just because. More hugs and kisses after school. Listening and laughing with the kids on the way home. Yes, a couple of arguments between siblings added, just to keep things real. Homework (didn't quite feel the love there), more hugs and laughs, as we prepared dinner. The kids asked for 'dinner in the dark' which means dinner by candlelight. We talked and giggled through the meal. By the end of the day, I was tired, but totally in love with my kids and my honey all over again.
As I reflected on our day I thought about how many women were feeling disappointed after the day of love didn't produce all that they dreamed it would. I remembered a time that I might have ended a Valentines Day feeling the same way. Not because of a failure on my husband's part, but because of my unrealistic expectations (usually in the form of him needing to read my mind). One of the greatest lessons I have learned, in most situations, is: no expectations, no disappointments. Not that I plan to be disappointed by others, but sometimes what I expect from them is so pathetic or unreasonable. If I can just let go, I am often pleasantly surprised.
I was thinking about my marriage and how both of us have pleasantly surprised one another over the years. For example, my husband is a neat freak. He loves everything put away and orderly. While I am a generally organized person, I don't have the urge to color/organize my t-shirts as, ahem, some people do. In fact, the one place in the house that tends to get, well, let's just say a volcano of clothing seems to erupt frequently, is my walk-in closet. Which is actually an oxymoron because at no point can you actually walk in. It is my own personal landfill that occasionally gets bulldozed when I am looking for a matching sock or two. In the 6 years we have lived in this house, my dear man has never said a thing about my closet. I've seen him cast a few glances which were followed by a slight shake of the head, but that is it. What a guy! He loves me enough to just let it be. He knows that I work hard to maintain an orderly home. He loves me enough to let me have an area of weakness; a place to just be me.
One area that I have pleasantly surprised him would be in the area of outdoorsmanship (my own personal word). While I am a total girlie-girl, I also love being outdoors with my husband. I enjoy taking a spin on the 4wheeler, going for walks in the woods and occasionally shooting the .22 (that's a gun with very little kick-back ... after all, I have to protect my purse carrying shoulder!) Last year I did a "never." I donned full camoflage and joined the rest of our family on a hunting excursion. Why?! I don't know, other than I wanted to show that I would do anything for the man of my dreams. Was it fun? Well ... sort of. Trying to keep a two year old quiet and still inside a 4x6' box stand with 4 other people was not nearly as fun as finding pants on sale. BUT, the end result (and picture) was worth it all. I earned enough HONEY POINTS to go outlet shopping for a week and we made a great memory as a family. Most of all, after 11 years of marriage, I could still impress my prince charming.

While I still have too much pride to post a picture of me in Mossy Oak camo, I am willing to show off my marksmanship abilities with this photo. LOL

February 13, 2008

Ski Bunny

She did it! I didn't doubt for a minute that she could do it. Our little dare-devil, I'll-try-anything girl learned how to snow ski this year. It was priceless. The first trip down the bunny hill "bonsai!" style. Reminded me of when I taught my husband how to ski. I was thrilled that it was the only sport in the world that I could do and he hadn't tried. Other than the ski lift (see below) he was an accomplished skier within the 2nd trip down the mountain. After that, he would kiss me and meet me at the bottom. I prefer enjoying the scenery; he likes to try to make imaginary time-trials. His first trip down the blue slopes was quite an adventure. He took off straight, none of this side-to-side mess for him! The trail eventually took a turn as it met with another trail. As my friends and I approached the merge area, there was no sign of him. Only a lonely hat lying in the snow on the far side of the trail. We then noticed a pair of ski marks in the snow that disappeared over the edge, and realized the hat belonged to my all-or-nothing guy. As we peered over the edge we saw him. He sheepishly called that he was alright. Nothing broken, nothing hurt (except for his pride, maybe).
Funny how my daughter, the one that usually takes after me, chose to be like her father on her first trip down the mountain. I wouldn't change a thing about that day, though. Before long, she was ready to face the big hill. My dear 8 year old spent the rest of the day on the blue slopes. No need for those easy green ones!
I had two "BEST PARTS" of the day. The first being the time we shared riding the lift together, snuggling, sharing stories, watching others fall, laughing. I told her the story of her daddy and his accomplishments on the ski lift. Because my husband is 6'4, he has extremely long skis. As we took off for the umpteenth time up the lift, my husband's ski happened to be turned out a little more than before. His ski was so long that it caught on the support beam that holds the lift cables. Since we were too cool at the time to actually put the safety bar down, he fell forward. Completely out of the chair, about 20 feet. Fortunately he hit lots of soft, powdery snow, missing the boulders by about 3 feet. Scared me to death! Once again, nothing broken, nothing hurt, (except for his pride, definitely) As he stood up, everyone waiting in the lift line gave him a standing ovation. The caring "dudes" that ran the lift made him go to the back of the line. Gnarly.
The other BEST PART of our ski trip was savoring this right of passage. My dear dad was there. The most patient man in the world, who taught me to ski, now got to be a part of teaching his granddaughter to ski. Yep, he was just as patient as I remembered. There is just something about watching your child try something new and getting it. Getting it better than you ever imagined. My dad and I connected on a new level that day. We both had that twinkle in our eye as we tried to keep up with our little ski bunny. By the end of the day she was counting how many trips she made it down the slope without falling.

My heart soared and I swelled with pride over her. She trusted me enough to try something that I knew she would like. She trusted me and then she tasted SUCCESS. My heart was overflowing in that moment. Not over something I had done. Purely over the moment.
I think my Heavenly Father does the same thing. He asks me to trust him. Sometimes it seems scary and I kinda don't want to. But I know He knows best. I know that He can see the big picture, the whole mountain. On the days that I choose to trust Him, my heart overflows. I am His child. He created me. He loves me more than I could ever dream. Today I want to take the plunge and see all that He has prepared for me.

February 10, 2008

A Change of Scenery

A picture similar to this one showed up in the "Life" section of our local newspaper. It was simple, timeless, serene. The picture was taken of a barn on my husband's family property. The article was featuring barns of our county. Ones that we drive right past as we hurry from one place to another without giving them a second glance. Barns that hold the history of our area that is ever-growing. As a lover of all things historical, I was surprised that the thought had never occurred to me to capture my husband's heritage on film.
Last weekend, my manly-man and I took the kids for a family day out on his parent's land. Land that is drenched in history. History right from his own bloodline. I was ashamed that it has taken me 14 years to photograph these historical markers.
As we enjoyed a day of riding the 4wheeler, hiking, and shooting skeet (who knew a city girl would love a man enough to learn to throw skeet and shoot targets!) I snapped a few photos of the old barns and buildings that surround his grandparent's home. This photo (above) was my favorite. I loved the shadows and the stillness it seemed to depict. Although this picture looks quiet and still, little does the random viewer know that there is a 6 lane highway on the other side of the ridge. The sound of traffic is almost deafening at times. My father-in-law remembers when the road stopped at their driveway. It was the last house on the left of that little dirt lane. Talk about a change of scenery! As I think about all the changes these barns have seen over the years it makes me a little sad. Thankfully, these barns have held their ground among the bulldozers, tractors, and plow horses. They have seen their share of good times and bad. They have witnessed 4 generations grow and love and live. I think I want to be like those barns. I want to stand my ground through the changes life brings. I want to see future generations of our family grow and love and live. I want to to be solid, serene, quiet, a refuge from the elements, a room full of stories. I may need some repairs and I know eventually I'll be a little weathered. But isn't that what gives an old barn character?
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February 9, 2008

Bad Feeling Inside

It had been a long, wonderful day. My middle child and I had a "date" after school. I surprised her with a "real" haircut; not just a trim in my bathroom like she usually gets. This was followed by ice cream and a stroll through Target. She was thrilled to find a brown furry pillow for her bed (brown, as in the color of chocolate!) and a throw blanket to match. A day filled with good food, tender moments and fun. We finished the day off with a wonderful Missions Banquet at church. The type of thing the girls were not too excited about but my mommy wisdom took over and said, "Just go in, you will have fun." Which they did. They enjoyed an evening with other children from our church while we enjoyed a separate dinner.
Our blissful, I'm-such-a-good-mom day came to a screeching halt when on the way home my husband and I found ourselves listening to all three of the kids crying, arguing and complaining. Did I mention it was 2 hours past everyone's bedtime? After I had reached my patience limit, I did what any normal mother would do and said "NOT ANOTHER WORD!" As I leaned my head back on the headrest to enjoy the remainder of the ride home in silence, I heard whimpering from the 3rd row. My dear daughter that I had treated like royalty (in hopes to avoid the middle-child-syndrome) earlier in the day, was now in tears.
I had to ask.
"What is wrong?" Through tears, and an octave higher than her normal voice she said, "I am having feelings inside that I don't like. They are bad feelings." At this moment my husband and I dared to glance at each other and he could hardly hold in a snicker. Oh, the honesty of children! I asked what kind of feelings and she said, "Well, I'm having the "H" word." In our family, the "H" word is HATE. It is a dirty word to my kids, because they are not allowed to say it. (I will confess that mommy uses that word from time to time, usually when referring to dog hair in the house and cleaning bathrooms.) At first I used this moment as a teachable moment, explaining that the reason she doesn't like those feelings is because the Holy Spirit lives in her heart and He whispers "danger" to her. Then another thought occurred to me.
I had to ask.
"Who do you feel the H word toward?" I knew the answer before she said it. "You." This time my husband didn't dare make eye contact. Suddenly Mr.Focused Driver. Scenes from our beautiful, mother-daughter afternoon flashed before me. Was I hurt? Yes, a little. Did it change my attitude toward her. Actually, yes, it did. I understood her. Because I had been there. I remember feeling the H word when I was about her age toward my precious mother over something silly we didn't agree upon. I, too, felt that nudge of the Holy Spirit. Fortunately, He continues to nudge me when I have "bad feelings inside." I am so thankful for His faithfulness. Now, if I could just learn to be as honest with myself as my daughter was, and acknowledge them when they first arrive.

February 7, 2008

A Fresh Start

What an amazing privilege it is to get to enjoy life to its fullest and know that each morning it is NEW. A fresh start. Each day. Brand new.
Some days I do not want to begin the day. I'd rather stay in the comfort of my warm blankets and the steady sound of my sweet husband's deep sleep. No, I won't call it snoring. I will choose to enjoy that sound of life. Well, unless that sound awakens me in the middle of the night. On those mornings, that I choose to get a few more winks of sleep, how much am I missing? I have never, ever been a morning person. And yet, in the past 6 months, I find myself CHOOSING to get up before the sun. Hmm... another one of those "nevers" I swore I'd never do. Up and ready to face the day. Seeing the early morning stars fade into the sunrise that He painted just for me to enjoy. Wow. How many days have I missed out on that little miraculous gift of a sunrise? Don't get me wrong. I love, love, love to sleep in. But what joy I have found in the morning!
Do I arise every morning with a good attitude? Not yet. Still working on that one. Do I still yearn to hit that snooze button? You bet. Having an early morning walking partner keeps me true to my newfound habit. But what blessings have been heaped upon my relationship with my heavenly Father! What amazing silent moments of praise and worship have occurred while my short little legs try to keep up the pace! I'm still working on the rise and "shine" part. Usually it is still a "rise and grunt" but we are getting there. The Lord and I. He rises and shines. Every morning. How do I greet Him? Well, thankfully, His compassions never fail. I am looking forward to His new mercies that I know will be there tomorrow morning.