Archive for September 2009

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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