Archive for 2009

Christmas Cheer

Saturday, December 26, 2009

All Ma's boys: youngest to oldest

Millie displaying her southern hospitality. Doesn't she look just thrilled?

The whole gang.

Uncle Brian's "man purse"

Trey is ready to have some "Ele-fun" (corny, I know)

Quinn indulging in some sparkling cider.

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Back in 2003 we ventured up to Mt. Baker on Christmas Eve day for some sledding. The price was right (free) and we needed something to lift our spirits that allowed us to get out of town. On our way home, we decided to stop and see Trey's old boss who happened to be down on his luck too. Both of our families had less than memorable years and it was comforting to be in the presence of others who understood. Their cupboards were as bare as ours save for some choice bottles of wine from better days when business was booming. They happened to have received what they referred to as "chi-chi cheese" from a relative with gourmet taste and a champagne budget. We broke out some Saltines, loaded them up with the divine cheese and toasted to bidding our year goodbye. A tradition was born.

2004 was vastly improved over 2003 and, although we had few sorrows to drown, we all went sledding together and returned to our house for wine and "chi-chi cheese". The tradition has evolved, different families have joined us each year but two constants remain: sledding and breaking bread with dear friends on Christmas Eve.

This year we continued our cheese tradition two days before Christmas with the original family. Christmas Eve included sledding at Mt. Baker but it was just us and another dear family with three energetic boys. It was a beautiful day topped off by a delicious salmon dinner and rich conversation.

It was more "snowboarding than sledding" for my boys.
I may be getting too old for this but it sure was fun!

Go Ben! The next Shaun White.

Quinn gets some air.


I Need A Silent Night

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

If, like me, you are feeling the least bit "Bah-Humbug" right about now, do yourself a favor: Grab a cup of hot chocolate or another soothing drink of choice and watch this video. Enjoy!

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Home Sweet Home...for now

Monday, December 14, 2009

So here we are, two weeks later, settled in to our new digs. We officially moved in Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend with the help of 20+ friends. We started at 9:00 and by 2:00 all our earthly belongings were here, the kitchen unpacked and organized and all our beds set up and made. And, I must add, many of these amazing friends were also here during the last move three short months ago. We are truly blessed.

Within minutes of walking in, all five of us had found our favorite features of this wonderful place we get to call home for a while. I've included photos below.

Trey is crazy about the radiant floor heating. This is especially wonderful when you step out of the shower on a cold winter morning.

I will give you one guess as to what woman loves this feature.

Do you see any clothing in this laundry chute??

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On The Move Again: Chapter Three

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Two weeks had passed since we were "served" our 60-day notice. Sounds like an eviction, doesn't it? At least it was a friendly one.

I've mentioned our landlords before and how super cool they are. In spite of them seeming to feel the same about us, there was a small incident in which she was less than happy with Trey. In his overzealousness to get more light into the home, he took it upon himself (on the first weekend after we moved in) to limb their 50-foot fir tree that was overtaking the front yard. Its branches were resting on the roof and gutter allowing very little sunlight to come in the living room. The next day we needed help getting the pilot light on so we could have some heat. "Mr. Landlord" came by to do this and during the visit I pointed out the lovely limbing job and said "I hope you don't mind but Trey trimmed a few branches." The look on his face told me he did. Oops.

About an hour later I saw both Mr. AND Mrs. Landlord pulled up across the street and stared at the now partially naked tree. They sat there for about 10 minutes and drove away. Probably to plot their revenge. I fully expected at least a phone call but we heard nothing. Trey called "Mr. Landlord" and apologized. Mr. Landlord explained how his wife just loved that tree and never wanted to mess with it in spite of the overwhelming shade it brought. Apology accepted but, in spite of Trey's insistence, he wouldn't agree that Trey's whack job actually helped sell the house. That's fine. It helped ease our guilt.

Fast forward to November 9th. The house had passed inspection, the appraisal was satisfactory and the November 20th closing date remained on the calendar. We technically had until December 27th but who wants to move on Christmas? We didn't.

Enter in my friend Ann once again. "Hey, I was lying in bed last night listening to the wind howl and the branches banging up against the house when I remembered you saying that Trey limbing the tree was the reason the rental house sold. It made me think of the verse, 'I am the vine. You are the branches. You can do nothing apart from me.' This move is about your kids. The branches need to be pruned to bear fruit." She then went on to read me some key verses with this theme. As soon as she said "a shoot from the branch of Jesse" I got chills.

You see, this summer I was asking God for a verse and/or a theme to pray for my kids this school year. I kept ending up at Isaiah 11: "A Branch From Jesse". I had assumed it was for my oldest and continued wondering what it would be for the other boys. Nothing came. But as I re-read this chapter there were three key sentences. One for each of them. I loved this confirmation.

The next day we got a call from Mrs. Landlord. In the process of helping us look for a new house she stumbled up a lakefront property for rent. She explained that they had always wanted to live on the lake but knew it would always be financially out of their reach to buy a home there. If they rented this house, and we, in turn, rented their current house she could get this little adventure out of her system. Were we interested??

Stay tuned.................


On the move again: Chapter Two

I just couldn't believe we were back in the same place: looking for another house to call "home." For me the aspect I dreaded the most was, once again, having our current challenge on display for all to see. After all the employment upheaval over the last two years I was beginning to feel like a modern day Job. Living in a small community makes privacy of any sort a challenge. Add to that a series of visible trials and you can forget about going unnoticed. Putting a for sale sign in the yard of a house that backs up to a busy street didn't help. Now I was living in another house on a neighborhood's main street with, not only, a "for sale" sign but one with a big fat red "SALE PENDING" added to it. Not only did I feel like the trials were never ending, others were also willing to remind me of that fact. I started to feel like we had done something to deserve this.

I spent the next few days hiding from life and wrestling with God. I was not only sad I was angry. Why did my "stuff" have to be so visible? I just can't take the comments and questions all over again. I can't put a happy spin on this one more time. Can't my struggle be an eating disorder or some other addiction that no one knows about? Yet as I asked I already knew the answer: NO! Yet, along with "no" came "let me walk through this with you. My yoke is easy and my burden is light."

I eventually left my cocoon and felt somewhat excited about what was in store. Not the packing part. Not the transferring utilities. Not the sheer exhaustion from relocating a family of five and all their worldly possessions. But the anticipation of what God was going to do and how our prayers would be answered. Once I got my junk out there with Him, I knew there was something bigger going on behind the scenes and I wasn't the main character. This wasn't just about me.

As I sat at the computer screen with my new best friend, Craigslist, I got a call from my friend Ann. This girl has many gifts but the one I love the most is how spiritually tuned in she is to God. I won't go so far as to say she is "prophetic" because I don't know enough about that gift but when she is prompted, it's always right on the money. Here's what she had to say:

"Hey, I don't have much time but I needed to tell you I had a dream about you last night. A bunch of people were at your house and there was a gun on the bookshelf. All of us were talking about it and wondering if it was loaded and if you and Trey knew it was there, etc. You were both acting so casual that you had a gun in your house. Next thing we knew, there was a gunshot outside and someone had shot your dog, Millie. You guys went out there and bandaged her up, brought her inside and went about talking to your guests. A few minutes later Ben came in the house with a gunshot wound straight through his hand. Trey just shrugged and said "Here we go again." He took care of the wound, set Ben back outside and rejoined a conversation. At that point I woke up and the verse that I immediately thought of was: 'no weapon formed against you will prosper.' This is not gonna take you down. You guys are going to be fine. Gotta go."

That night I looked up the verse she shared with me. It was Isaiah 54:17. Specifically it says: "It is I who have created the destroyer to work havoc; no weapon forged against you will prevail and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me." Can you say "wow?" It gets better. I went all the way back to the first verse and was blown away. Here are a few verses that jumped out at me: v. 4: "Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated......." v. 11-13: "O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted. I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones. All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children's peace."

As I reread this I realized He was describing a house. A house that He builds. Not one that we do. I began to have a feeling that this relocation was not going to happen the conventional way.


On The Move Again: Update

When I wrote the last post it was the eve of moving day. So, in reality, I've been writing this story backwards. Had I shared every detail from start to finish, any sane reader would have logged off after the first chapter. I'm sneaky that way.

I would love nothing more than to sit here and share "chapter two" but the boxes are beckoning. With 4 hours of solitude, I must do the right thing and finish making this house a home. Hopefully tonight I can continue sharing the adventure.

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On the move again: Chapter One

Friday, November 27, 2009

I've always loved surprises. I love surprise parties. I love the anticipation of hearing "It's a boy or It's a girl!" from the delivery room. I like to think of myself as being able to adjust to the unexpected and embrace a "change in plans". However, after the latest surprise I think I'm ready to add a disclaimer to that statement.

Two short months ago we sold our home and moved into a rental. Our plan was to downsize, simplify and stay put for the next 6 months while we sought God's direction for our family. Read the story here. When we signed the lease, part of our agreement with the owners was--for a reduction in rent--to allow them to leave the house for sale. No open houses would be required but showing it would be expected. They had been unsuccessful at trying to sell it for the past two years (even had it staged for 4 months) but weren't willing to take the house off the market. We thought it was overpriced for a 1981 split level and assumed most potential buyers would feel the same. However, if they did sell while we were in occupancy, we would have 60 days from the date an offer was accepted to move out.

Four weeks after we settled in I got a phone call from a realtor: "Can I show the house this afternoon at 1:30?" My heart skipped a beat and my stomach did a somersault. I just knew. It was a done deal. I heard nothing for the next three days. Maybe Trey was right. Perhaps I was overreacting. I can get ahead of myself. No news is good news, right? Then I ran into our landlord at the grocery store.

Landlord: "I'm glad I saw you. I wanted to let you know that we have an offer on the house. But don't start packing boxes yet. We've been down this road before and once they do an inspection and we won't fix anything then they go away. I'll keep you posted."

Me: "Uh. OK. Yeah. Just let us know." (freaking out inside, trying to act calm, blood pressure rising)

Another three days pass and I start to think we might be in the clear. My cell phone rings with an unfamiliar number. It's the listing agent. She wanted to call and let me know that the inspection was taking place in the morning and the appraisal would be the following Monday. I started thinking maybe I should get out those boxes I didn't need to start packing. One doesn't order or pay for these services unless one is 99.9% sure one is buying the house. As I sat here watching the inspector I prayed fervently for faulty wiring, excessive mold, anything. The house is almost 30 years old. There had to be something major. Something? No. Nothing.

Again, another three days with no word from anybody when the doorbell rings. It's the owner personally delivering our official 60-day notice.

To be continued......


This is what I'm thankful for

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Your kid's basketball schedule? Of all the blessings to be thankful for this holiday season, and you pick this? No. Look closer. Closer. Move your eyes to the bottom of the page. That's right. The coach wrote "Christmas Vacation". Not "Winter Break" or "Winter Solstice" but good ol' Christmas. I was so shocked when I saw the words that I had to take a picture of it. A public school teacher actually uttering these words? Most of them don't know that this is notan illegal act subject to job suspension and a court hearingl. But I won't disclose the teacher's name for his own protection. Something tells me that he wouldn't care anyway.

Thank you, coach!! Happy Thanksgiving!


Dangerous Surrender Chapter Two: Coffee

Friday, November 20, 2009

A while back I posted about a particular book that was challenging me: Dangerous Surrender by Kay Warren. I often get excited about what I'm reading but, more often than not, I end up finishing it and setting it on the bookshelf. Not with this one. I passed it on to one of my BFF's who passed it on to her friend, who read it in a day and so on and so on and so on........
Which then resulted in a "book club/study group/coffee klatch" on Wednesday mornings.
After the four of us finished discussing the first chapter, one of the BFF's shared with us about a particular family she knows who lives on very little--by choice. They have three small children, live in a 2 bedroom house, own one car, the dad bikes to work in spite of the weather and they make a small pittance stretch for their monthly food budget. I can't even bring myself to write the amount as you would be astounded--and quite possibly ashamed. My friend made a suggestion that would be a small sacrifice to us but a huge blessing to this family: when dropping off outgrown clothes at our local kids' consignment store, apply our donations to this mom's account instead of our own. What a wonderful surprise she would have on her next clothes shopping visit. Done.
The following week I showed up with my Starbucks in hand ready to tackle Chapter 2. As we dive in, our same friend had another idea: Instead of us all stopping to get our fancy java, bring the money we would have spent on a latte and drink her fresh-brewed Folgers instead. At the end of our 11 weeks we'd ask God what to do with the accumulated cash. I was nominated to get out my glue stick and magazines and find my inner 17-year-old creativity. Here's the result:

I still haven't fallen in love with "that other coffee" but I am excited to see how many "fishes and loaves" are multipied from this very simple sacrifice.


First day of school--again

Friday, November 13, 2009

At the risk of being pegged a "middle school peaker" who is living vicariously through her 12 year old, this is my last post on the fire. Well, at least this week. My enthusiasm really does not come from a long standing need to repeat those adolescent years. (Although I am one of the rare adults who does look back fondly on sixth through eighth grade.) I just continue to be touched and moved by the overflow of kindness of this community and want to share it with everyone I know.

The above video is from yesterday morning. The seventh grade class arrived at their new home: another middle school across town. To witness the way these students greeted the newcomers will bring tears to your eyes.

Be warned that you might want to turn down the volume. These are teenagers after all and the shrill is a little overpowering. But I couldn't mute it either because the effect of the decibels only adds to the experience. I hope it makes you feel like you were there.


Beauty from Ashes

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Five short days ago my son's seventh grade life came to a standstill when his middle school went up in flames. For the next 24 hours we heard rumor after rumor about the fate of 580 students and staff. The only sure thing we knew was that classes were canceled for the next 48 hours. I've never experienced being displaced by a catastrophe of this sort and, to be honest, I had little faith in a government entity to concoct a viable solution. I just didn't see how they could reach an agreement much less one that would actually benefit the student body and their families. After last night I have to say I am beyond impressed with this team of administrators and teachers.

When I watched 9/11 unfold from the comfort of my living room I sat in awe of the way people whose lives would typically never cross could come together in the face of a crisis. People are really able to put aside their differences and normal barriers for the common good. It's the "human spirit", isn't it? The aftermath of this fire has proven that time and time again. Within 24 hours of the tragedy we received an email from the school announcing their interim plan to get the kids back to school by Thursday. Unfortunately they would not all remain together but they were able to keep them in their respective grades at three separate schools. We were to attend a meeting for parents and students at the high school to have our questions answered. in simply entering the auditorium, the love and support was palpable. Standing room only. Tears flowing. Hugs offered freely. I thought: "now this is community." Each school official spoke one by one and explained the different facets of the plan from transportation to replacing personal property to the hope of rebuilding the 106 year old structure. When the school's principal took a breath and said "I can get through this" followed by a cracking voice and then tears it became obvious that this wasn't just a job to any of them. They were invested in this community and these children. They had been working tirelessly to devise a plan. One that would retain the school spirit and unity in spite of being separated. One that would insure each and every child felt welcome in their new surroundings. They left no stone unturned and no question unanswered.

I left there knowing it was all going to be OK and that God really does relish creating "beauty from ashes". As I heard story after story, and learned of upcoming fundraisers, I would love to share some of the highlights these last few days have held for our community.
  • The night of the fire my son's social studies teacher called every one of his students to see how they were doing. Called them personally!! He assured them that he and the other three teachers would do everything they could to keep their teams together.
  • We received an email from the principal asking us to assure our son that everything was going to be fine.
  • Three girls stood outside the school all day Sunday with a sign asking for donations to replace the teachers' lost supplies.
  • A seventh grade student organized a bake sale fundraiser for this Saturday at his mom's yarn store with all proceeds going to replace supplies.
  • Three sixth grade girls stood outside a local grocery store in the wind and rain yesterday and collected close to $1000 for the teachers.
  • On Veteran's Day (which is a school holiday) the local indoor sportsplex is donating their building for 2 hours. During this time the community is invited to bring supplies and monetary donations for re-stocking classrooms.
  • The PTSA was able to give each teacher a check last night from the overflow of donations they had already accepted in the past 5 days.
  • The YMCA and Boys' and Girls' club opened their doors to the students for free swimming and gym time.
  • The high school--where the eighth graders will be attending--already had a wing dedicated to the kids, classrooms set up and columns and signs replicating the front of the middle school building. They had even painted the walls with "Wildcat Wing" and a big sign saying "Welcome to your new home!"
Needless to say I want to shout it from the rooftops that we live in an amazing place. Oh, wait there is no roof. So for now this blog post will have to do. May it inspire you to invest in the community where you call home.

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I think God might be trying to tell me something

Friday, November 6, 2009

On Monday morning my husband told me "I feel like I have a hangover from life." I couldn't agree with him more. These past 60 days have held more activity and stress than I'd care to repeat. Some of it our doing. Some of it just a result of having boys' in sports, ahusband coaching and adapting to a new job, three kids in two schools and moving. Oh and let's not forget two bouts with the swine flu and three separate relapses of it. In the 9 weeks since school started, there has not been a full five days without a child home, an early dismissal, a family member's birthday or other commitments. Even when I've purposed to have an empty calendar, it hasn't happened.

As we trudged through September and October, I set my sights on November 3rd. This would be mark a week's beginning that held no practices, no games. We might even be able to spend all five nights at the dinner table together. Monday arrived. Oh, that's right, an end-of-season football party. Tuesday: "Mom can I please sub for the indoor soccer game at 5?" and "I thought we were going to get haircuts today." Wednesday: parent info meeting regarding the March mountain school trip. In my lovely, selfish PMS state, I whined "Will I ever get to be alone??" At 5:15 a.m. on Thursday morning it was determined: probably never.

As I awoke from my groggy state and lifted the phone to my ear, a recording on the other end informed me that classes were canceled at the middle school due to a fire. I stumbled to the computer and clicked on the local newspaper's website. It was a typical windy November night so I assumed a tree probably hit a circuit breaker and the building lost power. One day without school. No big deal. Wrong. This wasn't just a little fire in the basement. It was a full blown inferno. And it had been burning since 1 a.m. And 100 firefighters were on the scene.

So now as the district scrambles to relocate 600 middle schoolers, they also announced that the earliest students would return to school would be next Thursday the 12th. I do feel sad about this. It's where my son spends most of his life outside of home. He was having a fabulous 7th grade year. So many unanswered questions about his future schooling. But then I just have to laugh at the reality of it all. They'll eventually head back to class and then early dismissal for conferences the following two weeks. Then Thanksgiving. Then Christmas. I'm ready to just write this school year off. Might as well homeschool at this point. (I better be careful with that comment or it might come back to bite me.)

Last night I sat here thinking of my agenda again, I couldn't help but wonder if God might be actually saving me from myself. Hmmmm. Maybe He knows that--left to my own devices--I would become even more selfish than I already am. What if I did have an empty house and an empty calendar from 8:30-2:30 Monday through Friday? Would I use that time wisely or slowly fill it with meaningless activities? Would I look for ways to give or would my focus turn to getting instead? I think I know the answer already.

If you're interested in some pictures from the fire, here are a few that my "lookie-loo" husband snapped. Yes, he drove down there--with Quinn in tow, as soon as he heard the news.


Happy Halloween

Sunday, November 1, 2009

There are a few stories behind this picture. Ben is "Achmed the Dead Terrorist without his turban. If you've ever seen the Jeff Dunham YouTube video then you know that Achmed is covered in black bomb residue. An 8 year old boy is more excited about fake blood. The turban was on initially but it got in the way of collecting as much candy in the shortest amount of time. I borrowed some 70's outfits from a girlfriend and added the wig, false eyelashes and earrings. Several people told me I actually resembled a 60's housewife--in particular Tom Hanks' wife in "Apollo 13" . I never saw the movie so I'm going to believe it was a compliment. (The cigarette was only for effect. I think my kids would have freaked out if I lit it up. And I would have choked to death.) Quinn is a geek/nerd. This was at 9:30 so the bowtie had seen better days. A slew of 12 year old boys got in the way of my annual group photo.

The intention was a garden gnome and everyone told him he looked the "Travelocity gnome".

He actually dressed like this for school on Friday. Classic.

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Say it isn't so...Ben is 8!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How did this happen and where was I? Sweet little Benjamin has now been a permanent fixture in our family for almost a decade. When I saw the evidence on the ultrasound that yet another boy was coming our way, I did pause for a sad moment. I knew this would probably be our last child and, of course, I was hoping for a little pink this time around. This kid is all "blue", if you know what I mean. Not even coloring was enjoyable to him. Sitting? Forget about it. Once he became aware that two other boys had been living life in front of him, there was a lot of making up to do.

Although "busy" doesn't even begin to describe him, "loving and affectionate" do. Beneath his tough, active exterior is a sweet little guy who has no problem displaying his heart. He cries easily, laughs constantly and rebounds from any setback in record time. I know every mom says it, but I really could not imagine life without him. And even though his brothers may not be so quick to admit it, I don't think they could either.

In honor of his 8 years, I asked Ben to share 8 things he absolutely loves and his 8 favorite memories since the 7th birthday.

Ben's 8 Faves (not necessarily in order of importance):

  1. Chocolate
  2. Playing soccer
  3. Jumping in water
  4. Being with my friends
  5. My family
  6. Millie
  7. Playing football
  8. Going somewhere new
Top 8 Memories since October 28, 2008:

  1. Celebrating his 7th birthday
  2. Mountain biking with dad and brothers in Whistler, B.C.
  3. Losing his first tooth
  4. Visiting the Oregon coast for the first time
  5. Doing his first back flip on dry land (sand dunes)
  6. Finally being tall enough to go on the water slide at our local pool.
  7. It being a "friend party year" and having his birthday celebration a week early.
  8. Visiting the Great Wolf Lodge indoor water park.
Happy, happy birthday precious Benjamin Davis. I love you tons!

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Happy Birthday to Me!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I just love birthdays! Even though I'm not in as much of a hurry for mine to come along as maybe when I was 9 or 10, I still do love them. honor of my 42nd birthday I'm going to share a list of "42 qualities I love about myself" . JUST KIDDING!

So what does the photo above have to do with my birthday? This charming little Bavarian village east of the mountains is where we'll be spending the weekend. The only item on my wish list this year was a sports-free weekend away with my whole family. Leavenworth is one of my most favorite places. You really do feel like you've been transplanted to the land of von Trapps and Maria will soon be running down the hills which will be "alive with the Sound of Music". This actually does happen in the summer ampitheater production but that's for a different post. This quaint town is also somewhere I have dreamed of having a second home. One of those gorgeous log cabins replete with a floor-to-ceiling river rock fireplace, a hot tub on the deck, overlooking the river of course and a 12 person dining table. Hey, if you're gonna dream, dream big. But for now I will settle for a two-night stay in a "Kamping Kabin" at the local KOA with a kitchenette (what exactly does that mean??) and outdoor fire pit. The last piece of advice on the website, after they describe the "kabin" as a palace, is: don't forget to bring your own linens.

I can't wait to be with those I love in a place I love on a day I love. Pictures on the next post.


Ben's Birthday Ballapalooza

Monday, October 19, 2009

Even though his actual birthday isn't for another 9 days, we decided to play it safe and have Ben's friend party today. My kids only get a party on their even years. After today I am patting myself on the back for making that decision many birthdays ago. I can't imagine doing this three times a year. Especially when all three boys' special days fall within a four month time period--intertwined with all the major holidays.

Because the "friend party" only occurs every two years, the planning tends to begin 364 days prior to the big event. Ben's wish list ran the gamut of soccer , a bouncy house, ice skating, swimming and everything inbetween. With a good bit of prodding from me, we agreed on a "Ballapalooza" party. Keeping ten boys occupied for two hours --and not spending

I recruited the big brothers and two of Quinn's friends to assist me. Each one wore a jersey and a whistle and ran the game of their expertise in 20 minute increments. It was worth the price of admission.

"Team Green" prepares their offensive plan

The black team has total confidence in their defense. Look how relaxed they are.

So this is supposed to be cupcakes in the shape of a football. Hmmm. Looks more like a baseball mitt to me. Clearly the decorator was not a sports fan.

Do you really think it's possible for 15 boys to all look at the camera simultaneously?


And they lived happily ever after

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Today we had the privilege of attending the union of this glamourous couple. Kurtis & Rose's love story is a modern day fairytale of which I got to have a sideline seat.

I met Rose about 18 months ago when she was a barista at my favorite Starbucks. Our customer/employee relationship soon turned into a friendship even with an age difference of 15 years. She became my hip younger sister who introduced this old lady to texting, my housesitter, dog sitter, movie watching companion and friend. Last fall when I went back to work, and she went back to school, our time together was less frequent. In late October I got a call saying, "we need to get together. Soon." I knew immediately. I called back and asked, "is it about a boy?" BINGO!

About a month later I finally met him and knew in an instant this guy was the real deal. He courted her with the kind of love and respect she had given up on ever thinking could happen in her lifetime. He did and said the kinds of things over the last year that made others say "Really? No way. This guy sounds too good to be true. Guys like this don't exist anymore" It was true and he does exist.

When I met Rose she was in a place of really seeking God and growing in her relationship with Him. She had a difficult childhood and never knew the stability of a traditional family. Change, upheaval and moving were the only constants she could count on. No more. God was about to redeem it all and I got to be part of it in a teeny tiny way.

Fast forward to July 3rd. Rose was housesitting for my neighbor and stopped by to ask a favor. Kurtis wanted to take her on a backcountry hike and she wasn't sure if she'd be back to water the lawn and feed the bunny. Would I mind doing that in her absence? Little did I know what that simple act was about to help Kurtis' plan. I checked in with Rose on the 4th to see if they were back and how the trip went. Her response: "AMAZING!!!" Uh-oh. She promised to stop by when she got back in town. When she walked in the house my eyes immediately went to her left hand and there it was. It wasn't just any old ring on her finger but the same one that adorned both his grandmother's and mother's hands. His grandmother got an anniversary upgrade just before his dad proposed to his mom. So his mom received this ring when she nd Kurtis' dad became engaged. The same thing happened when Kurtis' parents hit a significant anniversary. When Kurtis told his parents he planned to ask Rose to be his wife, they asked him if he would give her "the ring" as a symbol that she belongs in their family. Ahhh. Doesn't that just give you chills or tears? Or both?

Of course there are about a hundred other parts to the story as well but those are theirs to tell. I don't care what Fergie sings about, fairytales do sometimes have happy endings. There was no denying that today.


Thank a coach today

Monday, October 5, 2009

Not even once since my kids were born has anyone looked at any of them and said "Wow, he's a big boy." No male relative exists on either side of our families who registers a height over six feet. So when my little Ian insisted he wanted to play tackle football, I cringed. (he just broke 70 pounds on his 11th birthday.) Eventually he broke me down and I caved. Once I observed a practice, I knew he was in good hands.

We've all watched kids (and sometimes our own children) suffer at the hands of unruly coaches. As with any subject that has the ability to provide worthy life lessons, there's always the one "bad apple" who seems to cancel out all the great ones. I'd been warned that football coaches were a different breed. A bunch of meatheads--or something like that. I am happy to report that Ian's coach is nowhere near resembling any of my fears coming to fruition. This guy rocks! He is a natural with those kids and LOVES what he's doing with them. I can't imagine a better scenario.

Below is an email he sent to all the parents following our first game:


Heart! That is what wins games. Talent is nice, but the heart is what makes us great. Each player today worked extremely hard. Each player tried his best

You should be proud of yourselves!

Defense was amazing today. You really came through. The goal line stand was heart stopping. I heard one of the refs say, “This game is fun to watch; really exciting” That is special because they see games all the time.

Having said that . . . . We cannot let one game and one win change our work ethic at practice as we get ready for next week’s game. We will face many good teams and we need to stay focused.

Finally, we would not be the team we are if we did not have the parent support that we have. Parents, you are making the difference. Having dependable coaches, moms and dads on the sideline supporting the players no matter what is happening, parents who help every week communicate with other parents and take care of the paperwork is making the season successful. We are all blessed to have each other and I am happy that I can be a part of the team.

I can’t wait until Tuesday. We will talk about the game and talk about highlights, then we will get on with the job of working out hard for next Saturday.

Thank you everyone. You are amazing.

After reading that, don't you just love him too?? Coaches, like teachers, are a special breed. They put in hours upon hours that go unnoticed and never expect anything in return. Because they really and truly love what they do. So if you or your child has happened upon a coach like our Coach Darren, consider taking the time to drop him or her a note of gratitude. I know it will make their day.


Maybe moving isn't so bad

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Note: I originally wrote this on 9/24 and just now finished it.

Today commenced our life on Springland Lane. I have a short novel to write about all the emotions the last two weeks have held. My emotions have run the gamut from relief to rage. When they say the top three stressful life circumstances are: death, divorce and moving, I wholeheartedly agree. This was the eighth time I put in a change of address card with the post office. You'd think by now that the act of relocating would be a "piece of cake." But this last house was a five year stint that I had hoped would have been twenty. When we were handed the keys to this beautiful home, I told Trey, "when I leave this house it will be feet first". Well I was obviously upright on Monday morning when the movers arrived. The best laid plans, huh?

Over the weekend, as we filled truckloads, packed boxes and became on a first name basis with the Goodwill employees, I grew increasingly disgusted and exhausted with the amount of stuff we had accumulated. I realized that 90% of my time had been spent taking care of all this stuff. Buying it, cleaning it and insuring it. I kept repeating to myself--and God--"this isn't the life I want to live!" How did we let this happen? And yet "letting it happen" was what precipitated this move in the first place. Acquiring material items and not being willing to alter our lifestyle to match our income was what got us here.

These current economic times have not been kind to us over the past two years. It became increasingly difficult to make ends meet and it was taking a toll on our family life. The biggest culprit was the mortgage payment. As our income continued decreasing, that monthly obligation became almost impossible to meet. At the beginning of this year we took a long, hard look at our reality and decided selling was our only option.

We closed in August but agreed on renting back until October 1st. We looked on Craigslist regularly and there were a few options but we just kept saying, "it just doesn't seem like we've seen the house yet." As the weeks marched on, and a rental seemed elusive, I started to panic. Would the kids need to change schools? Would we need to find another home for Millie? First month's, last month's, a damage deposit and a new washer and dryer would set us back a small fortune. And on and on the worries piled up in my mind.

As usual, God came through in ways that seemed impossible. I never tire of telling the story of how he met our needs and loved on our family with small details that were larger than life to us.
On September 8th, we found "the house". It was in the same school boundaries, had a washer and dryer and actually preferred dogs over cats. I knew the minute I saw the photos that this was "it". I came by to check it out well before our appointment with the owner. As I was walking around the yard, she happened to drive up to check out the results of the cleaning company she had hired to spruce up the inside. She took me in and it was perfect. This was how our conversation went:

Me: I think this will work great for our family.
Landlord: Here's the key, you can bring your family back later and let me know.

Me: Do you want me to fill out an application?
Landlord: I don't need an application. This is a small town. If you want to be that kind of person and make your nest here, everyone will hear about it.

Me: I have a dog. She's really sweet and doesn't chew or destroy anything.
Landlord: I don't mind dogs. If she's going to ruin anything, it will be your stuff before it will be mine.

Me: Do you want a full month's rent for a damage deposit?
Landlord: I don't need that much. Let me check and see what I did for the previous tenants and I'll let you know.

I kept thinking, "is this lady for real?" We brought the kids back that night and it was unanimous. We worked out the details of the lease early the next week but she let us start moving boxes in immediately. She had told me earlier that she always brings dinner on the first night a new tenant moves in. She went above and beyond. This was what showed up on our table after an exhausting moving day:
  • Chicken with chantrelle mushrooms
  • Basmati rice
  • Grilled tomatoes and asparagus with a balsamic reduction
  • A fresh bone for Millie from the butcher
  • A Starbucks card for Trey
  • Chocolate truffles and a bottle of wine for me
  • Gift certificates to the batting cages for the boys
  • A beautiful bouquet of fresh cut flowers in a vase
I am not exaggerating one bit. One of my friend's said, "this sounds too good to be true."

As much as selling our home, moving in to a rental and downsizing was not my first choice, I can clearly see it was God's. Aren't miracles all about being too good to be true??


Happy 11th Birthday to Ian!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

On this day, in 1998 at 3:43 p.m. EST, Ian Joseph debuted in Charlotte, North Carolina. If you don't mind indulging me for a minute, I have a cute story to tell about the day he was born.

While pregnant with him, I was a regular at the gym--they offered complimentary babysitting for Quinn and I signed up immediately. One of the instructors there, Mia, told me "you should meet Tricia. I think you're both due around the same time. I'll introduce you to her." I hopped on the treadmill beside hers and began chatting away. She had that look on her face that said "will someone please shut this woman up??" Completely oblivious, and desperate for adult conversation, I just kept flapping my gums determined to make her want to be friends. Turns out she was due Sept. 22nd and I was due Sept. 10th. As it got closer to the fall (and she had warmed up to me) we would joke about her delivering early and me being late. We could conceivably have our babies on the same day. Little did either of us know that our words would be prophetic.

After I delivered Ian and was recovering in my room, I heard some voices out in the hallway saying, "bye, Tricia. Tell Mommy 'bye-bye'. " I swung my post-epidural, wobbly legs out of the bed, opened the door and spotted Tricia's two-year-old son, her husband and his parents standing outside a nearby room. I asked them when she had the baby and they said "at 12:30 this afternoon." No way!! I just laughed and laughed. Ian and Will WERE birthday twins after all.

Will & Ian-6 months old

Even though the two boys have little, if any, recollection of each other (since we left Charlotte when they were two) September 15th is a day I will always remember fondly. Of course because we celebrate sweet Ian's birthday. And also because it reminds me of a wonderful friendship, born of our sons' births, that is still in my life today.

Last year I recounted the 10 qualities I most loved about Ian. Looking back on that list, I found that I wouldn't add or take away any of them this year. Instead, with Ian's input and approval, I've listed below 11 items or activities that bring him the utmost joy.
  1. His mom's grilled flank steak
  2. Cuddling with his dog, Millie
  3. Playing football
  4. Chocolate chip cookies
  5. Sleeping in
  6. Mountain biking
  7. Working with his hands
  8. Being warm
  9. Playing soccer
  10. Building a campfire
  11. Hanging out with his friends and family

A few snapshots of Ian through the years........................

Happy Birthday to you, Ian. You're sweet, charming and dear to my heart. I love you!! Happy 11th to Will, too!!

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Oh Happy Day

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Whenever I've been asked the question: "what's your favorite day of the year?" Unlike most, I don't say 'Christmas' or 'Thanksgiving'--although I do like those holidays a lot. Without hesitation my response is always: "the first day of school". I have always, always, always loved this September day whether I was a Kindergartener or it was my senior year. And I think I love it even more as a mom than when I was a little girl. I wonder why.

There is so much signifigance wrapped up in this day. The smell of the crisp, Fall air reminds us that it's a new season. New shoes on everyone's feet brings to light that we've all grown a little. The anticipation of seeing your classmates and finding out who your teacher's are is both daunting and exciting and the same time. Is there really any other time, other than New Year's, when you get a fresh start or have so much to look forward to ?

So this morning, I had to snap the obligatory pictures and my kids look walking zombies--because they probably were. Have a look below.

Ben is a big second grader. Ian starts his fifth and final year of elementary school. Millie would have gladly joined them if there was a way to sneak her in the building.

Quinn is ready for seventh grade. No longer the "babies" of the middle school.


A Perfect Summer Ending

Monday, September 7, 2009

Other than waking up for the third morning in a row to a quiet house, I also woke with a heart full of joy and thankfulness. Last night I was given the best, most needed gift and a perfect end to the summer. I spent the evening with my two BFF's, Laurie & Lacey--something we haven't been able to make happen since school was out in June. We've seen one another separately a few times but having 5 hours uninterrupted together was divine. We cozied in to a warm table at our favorite little Italian restaurant and enjoyed delicious pasta and conversation--while it was POURING outside. We got the idea it was closing time when they began turning off the lights. We took the hint and came back to my house and turned on the fireplace. We spent the next hour sharing our hearts and concerns, lifting them up to the One who cares so deeply for us. Thanks so much, dear friends. I hope this is a recurring yearly event--it's tradition after all, right? Smile.

No, we didn't dress like this for dinner. This was the only picture I had of us --from my 40th birthday "Grease" party. Was that two years ago?? Oh, dear.

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A thought for today

Sunday, September 6, 2009

"Sometimes the most merciful thing God can do is let us fall. For some reason, it's when we're down among the mess we've made that we can truly see our lives clearly."
~Micca Campbell from "An Untroubled Heart"


No Girls Allowed

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Ahhhhhh....quiet. That's what I just wrote on my Facebook status. All four of my boys left yesterday on their annual "no girls allowed" Labor Day weekend pilgrimage. I can't recall having this much silence since June 17th. It is absolutely heavenly.

The past 12 weeks have been a long, hot, trying summer. In the past I had planned to have at least one week where everyone was at camp or farmed out somewhere. A shortage of cash prevented this from happening and there were no breaks to be had. Now that the kids are older I envisioned them riding their bikes to friends' houses or the lake so I could enjoy a couple hours with an empty house. Instead, they would bring their friends back here because ours is "that house". Sometimes I really don't want to be "that house". Know what I mean?

I am not proud of the mom I have been to my kids or the wife I have been to my husband. I have often referred to this season as the "summer of breaking". I could swear to you that once a week I heard a crash followed by: "Um, Mom??" Collisions seemed to be happening all over the place. Windows and basketballs. Children and screen doors. Ceiling fans and shoes. Next-door-neighbor's glass deck paneling and a bb pellet. (Don't ask!) Add to this the garbage disposal backing up, the oven refusing to heat and a garage door that only half of which wants to close. And all of this was happening while the house was under contract!! Just to make you laugh--and embarrass myself--here is a picture of my response the last time I was told something broke. Quinn was actually joking just to snap this photo of me. Lovely, huh?

Yet in all of these mishaps I have realized (over the last 24 hours, when in the absence of children and a husband, I've become the perfect wife and mom) that God has been breaking me. Breaking me of selfishness. Control. Lack of trust. Negativity. And He has shown me that all this time my prayers have actually been answered. I was beginning to be concerned that my middle schooler's social life was overtaking him and some not-so-positive influences were rearing their ugly heads. I feared he would start making some of the unsavory choices I did when I was his age. I was worried that I'd made a mistake by letting everyone have their own bedrooms. Would this encourage even more selfishness ? Maybe it has really been a blessing that they haven't spent much time outside of our home. Perhaps, in spite of the turbulent teeenage years closing in, they really do like being together. And by not having the ability to buy them everything they want or send them to camps and sporting events, they have been creative in their playtime--even if it has ended up in some costly repair bills.

No offense to my friends with daughters, but this is one weekend I am glad to be the only girl.

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Sunday Solitude--or not

Sunday, August 30, 2009

This morning I woke up craving solitude and sunshine. My hubby has been on a five day business trip--and it's the end of summer. Aren't those two reasons are justification enough for a little "me" time??? Knowing there wasn't enough time to get everyone to church and back before a friend's wedding reception this afternoon, I got myself all situtated out in the driveway, yes the driveway (the sun doesn't hit the back deck until early evening). My chair, my book and my water were awaiting me and I settled in. Here's a little picture of what that looked like.

Here's what it looked like 15 minutes later. Mind you there are now THREE chairs, and the dog. It really doesn't change as they get older. You remember how the second a phone hit your ear, no matter where you were in the house, they found you?? Well, even though it's not the phone, they still have a radar alerting them when you are enjoying peace and quiet. It's like they just don't believe that happiness can be had without their presence. "Mom must be missing us. Let's go find her."

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't secretly counting the days until the school bell rings. I am also reminding myself that "one day very soon you will want this day back." They are so darn cute in spite of themselves. As much as they make me cry and yell and scream (rarely, of course) they also crack me up and fill my heart to overflowing. Here are some more reasons why.............

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Emily and Jake

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Back in May I traveled to Ohio for the nuptials of this adorable couple. "Emmy" was 2 and I was 15 when they moved in next door to our family in Seattle. It has been a total privilege to watch this precious girl grow into a lovely young woman who loves God with all her heart and soul. She is beautiful inside and out. Although I don't know her new hubby very well, I know enough about him to be convinced that these two are perfectly matched.

Emily has been on staff with "h2o"--a college ministry on the campus of Kent State University. Following their wedding, Jake joined forces with her to reach, not only college students, but their "retirement community" as well. I just received their monthly newsletter and it was heartwarming. I just had to share it with you all. I am humbled and awed by how God is using these two willing servants to love people with his unconditional love. And what a difference they are making. Wow. I'm so proud of her I could just pop.

Here's an excerpt from her email:

As most of you know, Jake and I live in a retirement community situated across the street from Kent State. We absolutely love living here. We love talking with people who have experienced so much in life. Take Ed for instance: Ed is in his mid 80s, having just celebrated his 62nd wedding anniversary with the "girl of his dreams", Mim. Every time we talk with him, he has so many neat things to say about life and what he has learned. I adore him, and I'm always grateful for the times we are able to talk outside in our parking lot.

Then there's Ethel. As we made our way to our car a couple days ago, Ethel waved to us. She waved and beckoned for us to come to her. She looked at me and said, "Hi, I have met your husband, but haven't met you. I'm Ethel." I gave her my name and she said, "I just have to tell you, I really love your porch; you have such beautiful flowers, and it's nice to see some color up there. It really is beautiful." I can't explain it, but there was a longing for something in her voice and I also felt like perhaps she's touched by Jake and I.

As soon as we parted ways, I felt God speak to my heart. 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 came to mind. It says, "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowlege of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing." I really felt like God was reminding me of the life, beauty and love He produces through us for others to see. Our love for Christ and how we love one another, can evoke many emotions and feelings in others. I'm not sure if this is what happened to Ethel, but our interaction was a sweet reminder of how much Christ loves His creation, and wants to reach us. As we live among those in our retirement community--those who understand their mortality--and as we work on a college campus with many young people who believe themselves to be invincible, we are reminded of Christ's heart for all to know Him!

Keep loving them, you two. You are making a difference!