Monday, May 31, 2010

Busy Weekend

Just like all of you, this is just a busy time. And I love it.

Officially, summer has arrived. Every 90 degree, 65% humidity, pool's open, kids are burned bit of summer. Aaaaaaah~SOME!!

School's officially out with the second annual trip to SnoBiz for snow cones with our bus buddies.

The Catholic Picnic has come and gone.

And our family welcomed a new baby. All this weekend.

Life is Good.

Friday, May 28, 2010

End of the Rainbow

In case there was any last ounce of doubt.
God sent a sign.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Home Sweet Home Again

Do you feel like there are times when you thought you were listening to God and you discover maybe you weren't? Like setting the table with your finest china and your freshly-polished silver, each water goblet filled with ice and sparkling in the afternoon sun, when suddenly He comes along and pulls Grandma's pretty tablecloth out from under it all? Thankfully, all the goods are still standing. Just the tablecloth is gone.
Maybe we were listening but we weren't hearing. He was forced to get our attention in a bigger way. (I need loud music and giant banners, God. I don't respond well to whispers in the din of my chaotic life. *wink*)

That's how I see our house experience. We were dotting every i and crossing every t and praying that He would be in the center of it all, making our path clear. I see Him sitting up there above the clouds and the universe looking down at us and shaking His head at us. They say man plans and God laughs. I don't think He's laughing. Because He knows our devastation. He knows our disappointment. But He also knows what is best. And I believe He is at the center of this - in a good, blessing sort of way. He's gotten our attention. Perhaps He kept us from making some sort of huge mistake.

Because we stay. It was more of a realization than a decision. That's the path we see that is clearly ahead of us. I thank God that sometimes He pulls the pretty linen out from under my dreams when uncertainty looms and I'm just not sure. I prayed for clear paths and for God to be at the helm. He's the baker. I am but the bread, still adding my own nuts and fruits. His table for us remains the same --- this house. It isn't a fancy table, the wood He's uncovered beneath the cloth is water stained, colored upon with Sharpies that bled through the children's artwork, crusty ketchup not quite cleaned up from lunch...but it is good enough. We are fine here. We are happy...
Oh, and our 90 year-old neighbors and their 60 year-old live-in daughter burst into clapping and cheering when I told them we were staying. How cute is that?

We can always build UP. At least, after we consult the structural engineer and hire an architect or two...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

on finding contentment

On finding contentment when your life is in turmoil. Yeah, I know. It's not like my kid's in the hospital or my marriage is on the brinks. But this still feels like a cross that I am bearing - this I-have-no-stinking-idea-what-we-are-going-to-do-whether-we-stay-or-whether-we-move place that we are in right now. We drove out to see three more houses last night. I absolutely LOVED the first one and knew I would die happy in that house. My husband hated the hilly neighborhood. He absolutely LOVED the second one - with the custom-third-tucked-under-garage-man-cave and the yard the size of Busch stadium. He would die happy in the man cave, for that I am sure. I hated the house. Neither of us liked the third one for the fact that it was in the boonies and had one of those 1 1/2 story balconies that just calls to a kid to dare another to leap off onto the couch below. Yeah right. No way ~ no how.

So, today I fight tears of pressure and guilt and anxiety and sadness and fear and uncertainty and frustration and I reach for a blanket. Because a picnic in the front yard with the sun shining down makes me breathe and know that He is still there. And that's all I need to know to find Contentment.

Monday, May 17, 2010

on his sixth birthday

Plans on Saturday were to walk in the Heart Walk downtown, watch Meiners hit a home run in his baseball game, come home to party with brats and hotdogs, then shoe everyone out the door so the kids could all attend their school picnic...then collapse at day's end into a heap of happy tiredness.

Instead, we woke to pouring rain. Phone calls began between all the relatives. Many of our good friends weathered the storm and made it downtown. We stayed home and stayed dry. And celebrated my little guy all morning (and I use the term 'little' loosely).

Meiners wakes in the morning with a dazed and confused expression on his face. Bed head. He stumbles out and plops onto the couch. He is like his mama. Not a morning person. "Can I have a waffle?" He'll mumble. But what he means is: "Will you make me 4-6 waffles this morning like every morning?" The boy can EAT. He's grown so much this year. He'll pass his older brother in height one day, I'm sure.

Meiners is one of my favorite people in the entire world. He's smart and funny and charming and sweet --- and a handful. Sometimes all at the same time! I love it in the morning when I crawl into bed to wake him before the twins are late to school (he's not a morning person - did I mention that? He likes his sleep). He never opens his eyes. But he smiles that curled-up-at-the-sides smile and throws his arm over me, pulling me close. And he plants a big ol' kiss right on my lips. Every time. He's gonna make a girl very happy one day. He makes this one happy every day already.

He is the best big brother to Sashi - and the worst - all wrapped into one. I marvel that this is our last year home together. Shucks, we're down to the last two weeks with just the three of us. He is such a helper with her. I'm not sure how I'll manage next year entertaining her by myself. They always sit beside each other at the lunch table. So endearing. And at times requiring separation! He helps me keep an eye on her while we shop. I can usually hear her screaming down the aisle and him coming quickly to justify that she was about to take off, so he had to bean her over the head with the bat he brought into the toilet bowl cleaner aisle from toys.

It reminds me of when she was a newborn and he was still learning to talk. I lovingly placed Sashi in the bouncy seat while I hopped into the shower. He came running in, all excited at his new babysitting skills. "Her waf when me bwast her off!" He exclaimed. I slowly merged from the fog of showering bliss to realize he was saying, "She laughs when I blast her off!" And quickly insisted he show me what he meant. Oh yes. He put his foot smack on the top of the bouncy seat, pushing the chair all the way to the ground. Counting down. And then letting go. "BOING!"

He's a good boy. And a little stinker. And he's the best little buddy a mom could have.
Happy Birthday Meinie-Moe!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

on plans to prosper

I love our church.

Currently, our Sunday message series is titled: Myth Busters.

The premise is that there are myths held up by Christians as Truth. Based on misrepresentations and misunderstandings of some Bible verses ~ or on contemporary thinking.

So, "train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it." This is not a promise, but rather a principle. We raise our children in the way they should go, and when they are old, they make their own decisions and we should continue to pray that those decisions would be Godly.

"Love is a feeling." Yes. But too many of us are saying, "I just don't love him anymore." Or "I never loved him." Or "I'm not happy." So we justify leaving. Love is more than a feeling. Love is a decision.

The toughest one for me: I have a plan for you, plans to prosper, not to harm you. Yet there is no blueprint. That God would say: turn right here. Turn around and go back here. This is the right school. This is the right man. This is the right house.

Not everything happens because God ordains it. Some things just happen.

Does God cause some things to happen? Yes.

But He gave us free will and because of that, there is no pre-determined path. Except that He plans to prosper us to Heaven.

Wrap your mind around that one.

Bad things can happen to you. Just because.

But Ultimately, God's desire is that we be reunited with Him in Heaven. So He uses even the bad things that happen to us to bring us there.

Now, the Bible does say that God works for the good of those who love Him, those who have been called according to His purpose. This verse brought me through many, many days with Pookie. That God would make it good. That there would be a lesson in it, a reason to go through it.

And so here we are. Our house sold in 9 days. And then, for very little apparent reason, our buyers backed out. And today we went to sign the contract on the new build - all the decisions have been made. We picked out everything --- from which rooms will have porcelain light sockets to what color the cabinets and the floor will be. But when the builder showed up with the plot plans and showed us how our house would be sitting in the back 80% of our lot with no backyard - literally, the north corner of our house sat in the north corner of the yard - Hubby cleared his throat and said, "I thought the house would be sitting up here," pointing to the front half of our lot. We clamored into vehicles and went to see the stakes in the ground with our own eyes. We returned to the show room to cut-outs of various home models and moved them this way and that on the plot plan. We returned to vehicles to see other lots. Returned to catty-wompis this cut-out floor plan to this plot and that plot.

This was supposed to be our putting the $$ down, digging the hole for foundation tomorrow meeting. Instead, I stood in the middle of a muddy lot with my face in my hands, and tears streaming down my face.

We took our house off the market tonite.
And I am in shock.

I will be honest with you - that this whole process has been wrought with reservations for me. But I kept going back to how the house-to-be was a dream house for us. I even began to dream of the kids helping me clean up dinner dishes in that kitchen...There was so much right with it - neighborhood, schools (shucks, I emailed the new principal at 9PM last night - she returned my email by 9:15...and again later last night, and ANOTHER one early this morning...), that after nearly 5 years of searching and disappointment, this one was meant to be.

And then it's not.

So what's the take-away?

No, God doesn't 'toy' with us. And He may have had nothing to do with any of this. (Except maybe the buyers backing out...I mean, seriously??) But what am I supposed to learn from this?

And how do I tell my kids - "oh, gee guys. We aren't moving least ~ for now." Blech!

All I know is that He does know the 'plans' He has for us. Plans to prosper and not to harm us. Plans to give us a hope and a future. And I continue to believe that, although he does not choose the flavor of the bread of life He has given us ~ we mix in our own fruits and nuts, if you know what I am saying ~ He does stir the pot. And, again, Ultimately, He bakes it and uses us for good. As we seek Him.

And so I do.

Monday, May 10, 2010

on being blessed

Today on an unexpected errand that made me a little nervous with all four kids in tow, I showed my Ugly Mommy side. It wasn't the HORRIBLY TERRIBLE WORST MOTHER OF THE YEAR kind of Ugly. But it wasn't Pretty.

I received a few moments alone in the car later and realized that I live with 4 of my most favorite people in the world. And I oughta do a better job showing them that I think that highly of them.

So we headed home from my errand. And we shared jokes and laughter and memories and fun.

The unexpected happens. All day. Believe me. But then again, you already know.

It's the people we spend our lives with that make even the unexpected a treasure and the gift.

Happy Day after Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Karathon 2010

Yesterday was the perfect day to run 26.2 miles! Not only that, it was the perfect day to celebrate my birthday!

My family came out and lined the path at various points with their hand-made signs and pots-n-pans. I'll never forget at the 3 1/2 mile mark thinking, 'well at the very least, let's pass those walkers' in the distance. Come to find out, it was my in-laws, quickly making their way back up the trail to be ready for me with their signs and noisemakers. So fun!

Around mile 6, I met up with Tracy - a fellow Nashville Marathon t-shirt wearing runner --- a total stranger --- who ran miles 6-8 with me.

Throughout miles 10 through 18, JT and Pookie met me periodically in Kirkwood to refill my Gatorade and check on my progress.

My mom and the other 3 kids found me back on Grant's Trail at about mile 21 - at which point, T valiantly tried to convince me he could run the last 5 miles with me. He made it just over 0.15 miles before I turned his red-faced, side-gripping 8 year-old self back around to find his grammie. Mom told me later he sat along the side of the path for quite some time, crying, after I left him :(

JT and Pookie rode their bikes by my side for the last few miles. I finished the distance in 5 hours and 30 minutes - my initial goal.

I may well try another marathon one day. Hands down, The Karathon will forever be my favorite race, though. After-all, I was The Winner!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

What My Husband Doesn't Know

I'm pretty certain I have to be careful with a title like that. Some days, I just look around at what I am doing and ponder, if he only knew. I imagine there are moments in his day that he looks around his office, or out at his employees, or during that intense phone call, or the reeming from the boss...he probably thinks the same thing. If she only knew what I go through for her.

But, since this is my blog, I get to tell the stories here.

Recently, while JT was away on a business trip, I worked from sun up to sun down and well into the night - until 2AM, actually. Before I had even taken a shower, I snapped a photo of the pets for the kids' Be Kind to Animals Week at school and printed 3 copies. I baked my first of two cakes. And helped Pookie finish coloring her Art Contest poster for the Be Kind to Animals thing. Then fed and rushed the two big kids off to school.

Between the hours of 9AM and noon, I drove to, unbelted two children, entered and exited, belted two kids, and drove on to 6 different stores. There were 8 on my original list, but I shaved two off with lucky shopping. That left time to drive through Bread Co AND McDonald's before making it back to the bus stop right on time.

When speed shopping in this way, I love to set a plan. I make my list of stores and necessary items. Then, I try to travel in a circle, hitting stores close to home in one direction, all the way around to the furthest, then back from the opposite direction. Saves gas. Saves sanity. But this day was remarkable. It was a record breaker.

Tuesday, I needed root killer for the drains from True Value. I needed to deposit money at the bank. I bought cake plates from Hobby Lobby. I stopped for black poster boards from WalMart. I skipped Costco but stopped in at the kids' old preschool to retrieve my registration fee for Sasha. I picked up photos from Walgreens.

When we returned home from dropping Meiners at the PM Kindergarten bus stop, my Backyard Chickens friend brought me a quarter side of beef. I came inside and rearranged Pookie's science fair project onto the regulation-sized poster board. Just as I finished, I realized it was time to pick her up early from school to visit the cardiologist. I woke Sara from the nap she had finally given in to, and took Pooks to the doctor.

The cardiologist appointment lasted longer than anticipated. Everything was the same as last time. For now, that is actually good news. There wasn't enough time to take Pookie's science fair project out to Queeny Park before I'd promised to get the boys from their friend's, so we ran home to pick up the boys. I splurged and bought everyone dinner at Steak 'n Shake to go. We arrived back at the park just in time to set up Pookie's poster and peruse a few more. We drove home. Skipped baths. I handed out vitamins and medicines. Got all the kids to bed. I finished the school's photo boards, baked another cake for the next day's Teacher Appreciation Luncheon. Frosted both with homemade buttercream frostings, whipped cream filling inside the chocolate one.

At 2:00 in the morning, I flushed root killer down the toilet. At 2:05, I crawled into bed. I considered the events of the day. Marveled at how lucky I am to mother these four. And fell fast asleep. At least, until 6AM.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Country Music Marathon 2010

(before re-routing...after, I looked more like the gal in the background...)

I haven't written about my experience with running the marathon last weekend except to mention that weather impacted my ability to finish. Specifically, race officials decided to re-route full marathoners to the half marathon course well before the initial cut-off (due to traffic issues, to be allowed on the full marathon course, runners have to pass the 11-mile mark prior to 10:30). We were scheduled to pass this point well before the cut-off, but just a few minutes before we passed the check-point, I overheard 3 Team-in-Training members (Leukemia/Lymphoma Society runners) mention the marathon route had already been closed. I sped up a little at that point and ran to the official at the 11-mile marker. Indeed, the route was closed, no ifs ands or buts.

The decision to close the race was due entirely to forecasted weather in the downtown Nashville area. As a family, we were well aware of the weather, because my aunt had been sharing the forecast with us for several days prior to our arrival. We waited up Friday night to catch the weather on the news, and my uncle awoke early Saturday to find the latest, as well. In retrospect, race officials even sent an email the day before the event informing racers that the route may be closed at the 11 mi-marker for those pacing slower than a 10:20 mile, we just weren't home to receive the email since we traveled to Nashville on Friday.

To say I was devastated is an understatement. In all my female glory, I cried. Indeed. But I wasn't irrational about it. I kept running, and I finished the half marathon with a crappy time, but I'd been pacing for the full, so whatever. I ran by someone who said she was from California and that her trip had been a waste of time. I crossed the finish line with half-marathoners who complained when I was handed a full marathon ribbon but only finished the half (they were apparently unaware that I had been re-routed due to weather). I didn't even want the medal. I felt like a cheat. I had only finished half my race. Hubby told me to buy the 26.2 sticker for the back of my van regardless. I said no way. I didn't run 26.2 miles. The longest distance I ran in training was just over 20 miles. (3 times, but still!)

My father-in-law told me yesterday that people all over Facebook are lambasting the Country Music Marathon officials for their decision. That makes me angry. Last year a Marine died after running the half marathon in Nashville - temps at race end were topping 90 degrees. Another runner died in the Chicago Marathon in '07. So the weather never became as dicey as predicted in downtown Nashville. Who cares? Wouldn't you rather arrive alive than second guess mother nature and keep running? Race officials did everything they could to keep us safe. The Rock 'n Roll series added 50 spaces to two sold out events - in Seattle and San Diego (too far for me) to accomodate runners from last week. They've reduced the price of next year's event for us by $50 (a substantial reduction). To complain is assinine.

As for me, I will finish my full marathon distance. At least, that remains my goal. All the events close to home for me in the next several weeks are already full. So this weekend, I plan to run the race on my own, here in St. Louis.

And in the meantime, I pray for Nashville. My aunt sent an email that the beautiful Opry Land Hotel, right where this picture was taken two Christmases ago is under 4-5 FEET of water.

The Wyndham Resort, behind the hotel is being evacuated due to chest-high waters. The city and people of Nashville need our prayers. No angst over last week's run from this humble St. Louis girl.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

PBBBBLLLLTTTTT! (and more of my thoughts)

I'm reading everyone else's blogs at night and falling asleep on my laptop without typing any comments or even a word on my own blog. I write stories in my head all day long that I think to myself, "I'll have to blog that,' but I pass out on the couch in my street clothes, teeth unbrushed, and face unwashed for another night. I take photos and think, "I'll have to post that." But it takes a lot of time upload the files from the camera (do you ever feel that way?).

I ran today for the first time since Nashville's disappointment. Next week I turn 37, and in my passionate pursuit of less-is-more, I've asked my family to gift me signage and their presence on the side of Grant's Trail this weekend as I actually complete the goal of running 26.2 miles (no re-routing allowed). I'm calling it "Mama's Marathon Re-Do." If you're out early that morning, give me a hoot as you pass (and don't laugh if I'm actually walking - all this heavy lifting lately has been killer on my back).

My run today was along-side my three kids who have suddenly decided they're too big to have training wheels. They can all ride without them now. Sara is still my baby.

The house has been on the market for just over a week now and has shown almost daily. As I prepared to leave on my run this afternoon, a car gave the tell-tale slow-up drive by. Turned around up the street and returned for a closer look. JT said she got out of her car to ask him if we had sold yet and that she had come through this morning and loved it...and that she probably shouldn't be out of her car telling him this.

Since the showings have been going well - some returning for a second look, etc. - I've been madly checking off boxes of new home build requirements. Lighting: check (measly allowance in the contract didn't allow for much, but we'll have lights. Some covered, even!). Flooring: check (hard wood? HELLO! Gorgeous!) Low voltage needs: check. Exterior colors and cabinetry inside: check. Last meeting before we release the contingency and they dig a giant hole in the ground for our basement is the pre-construction meeting with the builder, which may or may not be taking place this Friday. We need to get moving so that I'm not homeless come summertime.

T asked if we could have one last hoorah in our home before we leave our friends. I told him: Yes, yes, and absolutely yes. And Daddy told him: YES. Sweet thing. I know this effects them all. He just says, "I'll have that many more penpals now! And we can still have playdates, right?" T has such a great group of friends here. I just pray God blesses him with a bunch of boys that are as awesome as his friends here. I'm concerned, though, that the new school district may not have a gifted program. And Meiners is moving on to the second round of testing for gifted, too, so that would be a double whammy. And then Pookie starts testing tomorrow. I sure hope the new school has a program for these kids.

Pookie's science fair project goes on to the county science fair this week. We have to place it on a different display board, but we're not late (we thought we might be too late!) so hooray for that!

Life with one dog has been amazing - although at times we give him just a little too much freedom and he wanders down to see Cappy (the chipper little white dog up the street with a bad attitude and a bark that would scare Sigourney Weaver in Aliens. He does NOT like visitors.) But Obi's been wonderful. We take him everywhere (thankfully, he even travels well, as we've eaten pizza off a pizza stone in the car with chocolate chip cookies one night while strangers dwelled in our home - that dog hanging out in the 'trunk' of the van [head hanging over the seat begging for cookies, but whatever]).

I cried through half of church this morning. I keep asking myself - over and over and over and o..well, you get the picture - if this is the right thing to do. My mom says I can't own 'hates change' as only my mantra. I'm trying to assure myself that that's all it is - fear. I'm pretty sure it is. Everything else points to this move being a great idea. I have always been the one that kept us here. Each year, hubby would start looking. I'd end up saying, "I'm happy here. So I'm not looking." And content I would be once again. I ask, "Is this Right?" Over and over and over again I hear, "Yes." But I still cried at church. Because I love our church. Knowing that Church is not God, I know He will go where we go - He's already there. And I feel Him prodding me to trust that He has a place for us there to worship with fellow believers and learn more about Him. I try not to question. But Pastor John counseled us before our wedding. He married us. He annointed Pookie before her surgeries. He baptized all four of our children. He rocks out on the electric guitar in front of us and the congregation. He says my name when He passes me the bread and the wine. He is not our church, but our church has also become Home. And I cry because I will miss it. And everything is starting to be, 'will we come back?' In the words of the wise T, "We'll still have playdates, right?"

So these are the things that pull me away from writing. Waves of exhaustion - be they physical or emotional - pull me deeply into a comfortable sleep at night before I have time to share what we are doing. Yet, this outlet is my diary, so to speak, a document of our lives while these little people I am blessed to share my life with grow quicker and taller by the waffle and the cup of organic milk. Hubs and I hit a rocky patch for a few weeks with the trials of preparing the house alone while he traveled for those three weeks. We have weeded the patch and look forward to the prunings ahead.

If you're still there, then you must be a true fan.
Love, from the 'burbs,
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