Archive for September 2010

Dear Charlotte: your spell over me has ended

Sunday, September 19, 2010

charlotte Pictures, Images and Photos

When we moved back to the Northwest almost 10 years ago, I left Charlotte, North Carolina kicking and screaming. We had started our family, made good friends, were involved in a great church and lived in a desirable neighborhood. We were settled. Going back to where I went to college was never on the radar. I did not have a stellar university experience and returning to a place of many unpleasant memories never made it to the top of my goal sheet. God clearly had other plans.

In September 2000, we were visiting family and friends here when we bumped into a former colleague of mine from Charlotte. My husband had been unexpectedly removed from his partnership two weeks earlier, but moving away wasn't even a consideration. As we caught up with Jim, and he handed Trey his card with the words "shoot me your resume", I knew in my heart it was a done deal. Three weeks later Trey had a job offer in hand and we relocated before we knew what hit us.

The story went from bad to worse within days of arriving here but I won't get into the details. The first year back on the west coast was pretty miserable. Everyone expected me to be so glad I was "back home". Only the problem was I considered Charlotte my home. I couldn't tell anyone I longed to return to the southeast lest they be offended at their own choices to live here. I was lonely and sad and refused to even look for an ounce of good in my circumstances. As time went on and several job changes and moves ensued I believed that this town was cursed--or we were. As I matured and grew in my walk with God I learned to find contentment and peace in the here and now. I could not deny this was His plan to move us here but that didn't mean I couldn't plan my escape. And I did. In my mind.

As we endured dark, dreary winter after winter, and watched the cost of housing skyrocket, I questioned God's wisdom in putting us somewhere that would wreak havoc on my husband's career and confidence. Somewhere that was not conducive to raising three "outdoor" boys. Somewhere that the culture is juxtaposed to our values. Somewhere that has more espresso stands on every street corner instead of churches. I constantly compared what our life could be like if we lived somewhere that had nice weather for most of the year, we could buy a house on one income and we'd reside in a "red state" not a blue one.

Last month when the boys and I returned to our former "stomping ground" I knew, within two hours, that this was no longer the place for us. It was wonderful to see our friends and show the kids our old house but that's where it ended. I realized that Charlotte hadn't changed. But I had. Everyone has big, beautiful homes, stable careers and all the other luxuries I've had to sacrifice for the last decade. All the things I've pined away for since leaving in January 2001. And yet as I left there it dawned on me that God knew exactly what He was doing--and then some. If we had stayed there, and everything had gone our way, those items I previously mentioned would be controlling my world. I know how I am.

Although this town has not been lucrative for Trey's career, we use our umbrellas more than our sunglasses, we'll probably be renting for the foreseeable future, and we have had more downs than ups, I would not trade it for all that Charlotte has to offer. We would not have the rich family life, close friendships and walk with God we enjoy today if my plan had panned out. I can see now that God was protecting us from ourselves. And we are right where we need to be. Home Sweet Home.



It's been 12 days since the school year began and, thankfully, we seem to be on the other side of the adjustment period. At the end of week one I started to fret about my own upcoming school year. Originally I registered for one 5 credit class online and one 5 credit class on campus. The plan was to attend class MWF and work on Tuesday and Thursday. Two weeks ago I learned that I do not qualify for financial aid--of any kind. I hoped that once I was officially admitted to a "higher learning institution", and I submitted our (pathetic) 2009 tax return, that the rest would be history. Apparently not. That would be too easy. Because I am not following a traditional course of action, i.e.: pursuing an AA or other "approved" program that even a student loan was not an option. Sigh.

I find it quite ironic that I worked all the way through pursuing my Bachelor's, stayed home for most of the last 13 years and am now back in the workforce again as I return to school. When I went back to work it was simply to help with the increasing grocery bill and never-ending sports' costs. Little did I know that the day I started this job I would also be applying to the college of education. I added some more hours this summer (bad idea) to cover tuition. As I looked at the cost of 10 credits, the boys' sports schedule and my work schedule I knew something had to give. My dear friend Julie asked me "what's the hurry? The important part is that you are pursuing your dream. There doesn't need to be a timeline on this." Such profound words and yet so simple. Why was I putting this pressure on myself to get out in a certain period of time? Those voices from 20 years ago have been haunting me since I started down this path. I am not 20 years old. My parents are not footing the bill. I know what I want but I also have a family who needs me to be present during this season. And the reality is that I can't earn enough part-time to cover a full load the next two quarters.

I knew what I needed to do. I went to the computer, logged on to the college's website and deleted the on-campus class. Immediately, a weight lifted off my shoulders and peace flooded my heart. Julie is right. I don't need to be in a hurry. But I do need to keep the momentum of my summer quarter success (I got an "A"!) and not be distracted by all the responsibilities--both real and self-imposed.

Here's to Fall quarter 2010.


Little boys do grow up

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Twelve years ago today at 3:43 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, another bouncing baby boy joined our family. This boy is well on his way to becoming a fine young man--and one I am totally crazy about. He brings stability, common sense and adventure to all he does and his exuberance for life and crazy independent streak make him one in a million.

I am so glad chose me to be your mom, Ian Joseph. It's a privilege and a true joy.

Happy 12th birthday, son! I love you tons and can't wait to celebrate another year of the gift of you.


A week I'd like to not repeat

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The 2010-11 school year began on Tuesday with much anticipation and trepidation. As is typically the case this time of year, everyone is ready to get back to routine and schedules--especially Mom. This particular September I wasn't as anxious for them to go. Working and going to school this summer did not leave a lot of quality time for us and I didn't get much of a chance to be tired of them. Although they were certainly tired of each other. Plus there were so many changes ahead for everyone. Three kids in three different schools all over town was not the original plan. Last year's middle school fire and Ben's crummy experience at the public elementary school changed that scenario for us. Quinn's class is at a middle school 20 minutes south of us which involves 45 minutes of bus rides each way. Ian's class is at an elementary school 15 minutes east which also involves two bus trips 0r mom driving her non-morning kid. Ben moved to our local Christian school which offers no bus and the mornings are too unpredictable for so many families that a carpool was not an option. Afternoons are a different story, thankfully.

As it turns out, the child I was worried about the most is the happiest and the one I was worried about the least is the most miserable. Quinn has a great group of teachers but no friends in his classes. (we all know how devastating that is to a 13 yr. old) The one teacher I thought Ian would love is "boring and too old" and the pace of middle school math brought him to tears as he tried to share about his day. Ben expressed displeasure all summer about having to change schools and this is the kid who has been grinning from ear to ear all week! Because the school is so small, and has no cafeteria, the students have lunch in their classrooms. Not realizing the reasons why, Ben thinks this is a total perk. "Guess what! We GET TO eat at our desks!" were the first words out of his mouth. Ahhh. At least someone is happy.

By Friday I was wiped out and questioning my wisdom. Should I homeschool Ian? Should we move Quinn to Ben's school? Is anyone ever going to be happy around here? Maybe I should put my own school plans on the backburner until things calm down and everyone's adjusted? Last night I picked up the week's mail and I saw an envelope with a stamp on it. That usually means it's not a bill but instead something happy. Boy did I need "happy". Inside was the sweetest card from my mother-in-law with words that were a gift straight from Heaven. The outside read: "There is simply nothing else in the world more valuable than what you do every day as a mom. Inside it said: "You're doing beautifully--I pray He continues to bless you with wisdom and love." She signed it: "thinking of you and knowing God is pleased. I love you!"

Here's to week 2!

Ian (6th grade) and Ben (3rd grade)

Quinn (8th grade)

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Boys' Only Weekend

Monday, September 6, 2010

Ahhhh....Labor Day Weekend. The holiday weekend I look forward to every year. All four of my boys take off on their "boys only" adventure of which I am not invited. It's one invitation list I am happy to be omitted from. Waking up with no agenda. Cleaning the house and having it stay clean. Nothing required of me for 4 whole days. I can't think of a more fitting way to end the summer and begin the school year.

Tonight when I downloaded the pictures from the camera, I was anticipating snapshots of their mountain biking adventure. Apparently they were having too much fun trying to keep up with each other on the trails to stop and take a silly picture or two. Instead there were only 8 shots and half of them were of Quinn & Ian hoisting Ben up into the nets reserved for keeping food away from the bears in the campground. Clearly this was a highlight. Ben, you are such a good sport.

Are these some colorful clothes (and priceless expressions) or what?

Too cool for words.

Will they let him down?

According to everyone, "Ben really liked this."

A river that literally disappeared into a mysterious hole. Hmmmm.