Monday, May 30, 2011

summer / memorial day weekend

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thoughts on {being married eight years}

If you've read my posts recently, you might think I listen to too much Christian radio. Well, here I go again quoting a Christian pop song, but it sums up my thoughts on my upcoming wedding anniversary. Here are the lyrics from the chorus.

Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can't
Don't leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, but what about us?

Show me you're willing to fight
That I'm still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone

Here's the thing. It's been a long time since I've felt alone. What a sweet testament to the man I married.

Our two toothless wonders!

So this one just lost some.

And this one is still waiting on some.

And this book suggests we should recycle them.

Kids say the darndest things...

We were walking home from Scotty's Brewhouse the other day with a friend. Someone passed by and said, "Look at all the little cuties!" Julian looks at me and says, "Mommy, why did they just call me a cutie?" I shrug. He continues, "I'm not a cutie. I'm awesome."

On another day, Julian gets in the car and asks "Mom, could we listen to the song that goes 'Are we human or are we dancers?'" Later he says, "Turn on that song, you know, the one that starts 'There's a fire starting in my heart, Reaching a fever pitch and it's mumble mumble mumble.'"

He was right, he is awesome.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Coupons are for the birds. (and for organized ladies like Kelsey)

Do you remember this post? I had resolved to be more realistic about what I could accomplish. Then I went to MOPS one day, and a lady talked about couponing. She gave an impassioned, convincing presentation on how to use couponing to save money for your family. She talked about stacking manufacturer and store coupons on top of sales to get great deals on all kinds of items. She talked about a way to organize your coupons to see everything at a quick glance.
I decided to give it a whirl on sort of a small scale. I was only going to look for deals at Kroger and Target. I was only going to buy things that I knew we would use. So I bought a small binder and some plastic sheets to slip coupons in. I drove by the dollar store on Sunday to pic up a paper or two. I cut coupons. I started looking at websites like to get ideas on how to turn my coupons into savings.
Fast forward six months. I'm in the grocery store with four kids. I've got the big cart. Maggie is in the basket in her car seat, Schroeder is in the front seat, D'arcy and Julian are both in the added big kid seats attached to the front. I'm pulling them around occasionally having to say, "keep your hands off your brother" or "if you ask for anything else...". I'm also getting stopped several times to hear "are these all yours?" or "you have your hands full!". Oh, and with every item I'm adding to the cart, Maggie is becoming less visible.
I also have four focuses. Number one- Menu. I have a menu for the week usually consisting of five meals that I plan to make. I'm usually making at least one newer recipe and four other easy or routine recipes that I need to buy ingredients for. Number two- Weight Watchers. I recently joined Weight Watchers not really to lose baby fat. I've lost all the baby fat. However, I still have what I like to call SODA fat. I'm tasked with finding healthy snacks and breakfast items that will help me lose this extra ten pounds. Now, you might just say, "Melissa, just don't buy SODA." Yeah, ok. Number three- stay in budget. I've been trying to stay under eighty dollars and instead of using a calculator, I just sort of add in my head as I go. That works wonderfully with one kid. Ok with two. Not well with three. Not at all with four. My brain is something the kids won't be longing to play with, though. Number four- buy items with coupons. I'm buying these items not necessarily because we need them this week, but because they are on sale and we'll eventually need them.
Yesterday, I went to Target and was going to get Secret Deoderant. I had a manufacturers coupon, a store coupon, and the deoderant was on sale. Well, I had the coupons, they were in my purse. However, I was unable to produce the coupons from my purse when it came time to make my purchases. Why, because I haven't taken the time to organize them ahead of time. Which is crucial to couponing and is, frankly, boring.
But when I picked up Stephen, he said, "Hey, did you see Kelsey on the news today?" Kelsey is a good friend, an awesome mom, and obviously better at this couponing thing than me.

500 Ways to Save: Grocery bills:

I'm not comparing myself to Kelsey. She and I are different, we respect one another, and gain ideas from one another. I thought it was pretty ironic, though, that the same day that I'm sitting at the Target check out counter sorting through my stack of miscellaneous coupons with kids crying in the cart, she is showing the world he beautifully organized coupon book. It made me laugh. It reminded me of that post I wrote six months ago about abandoning the idea of being the jack of all trades (at least in the house management department).
Did I mention that I just planted a tomato plant?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Thoughts on {Easter & turning thirty}

I've used this curriculum for my kids called Godly Play. It's a Sunday School curriculum created for Episcopal churches. As holidays such as Easter and Christmas approach, the lessons ask the children to prepare their hearts to enter the mystery. Jesus coming to earth as a human is a mystery. Jesus' words are mysteries. Jesus dying on the cross as a sacrifice for the whole of human sin is a mystery. Jesus rising from the grave is a mystery. I desire to both wholly understand and wholly appreciate these mysteries. That's hard to do.
I didn't have much time prior to Easter to prepare my heart. I had hoped to prompt our family to give something up during Lent. Instead, I spent much of March and April moving into our new home. But the week before Easter, I began to pray simply that God would prepare my heart so that as I celebrated Easter, I might have a new understanding and appreciation for what Christ has done for us.
Several weeks before Easter arrived, a friend of ours delivered her son. He had suddenly died in the womb. It was tragic. I wondered and worried if I would have to encounter something extraordinarily tragic in my life.
Worry is always something I struggle. This April I was busy worried about the investment we had just made in a very old home. I was worried about Schroeder's height, saddened that he didn't seem to get any of his dad's normal height genes. I was worried that Maggie wasn't getting enough to eat. I was worried that my sister's pregnancy would end with difficulty. I was overwhelmed with it somedays.
As I was driving in my car, my mind vascillating from worry to prayer, this song came on for the hundreth time. The chorus says this.

Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave
Christ is risen from the dead
We are one with Him again
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave

These words prompted me to remember the truth that worry is not only useless, but harmful. With worry we begin to dig our own grave in our mind. Come awake just as Christ came awake because he has provided a way. He has brought the Kingdom of Heaven here to earth, not in it's fullness, but here nonetheless. Come awake and choose to live out the Kingdom of Heaven by our actions and our thoughts.

O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
O church, come stand in the light
Our God is not dead
He's alive! He's alive!

He's alive, and therefore, we can be also.

Turning Thirty.
There are inevitable moments in life when you mourn your lost youth. I've already had a few. Like when I was engrossed in reading the Twilight series and I was mourning the fact that I will never fall in love again (barring any unfortunate circumstances). It's too bad that this pity party happened to coincide with Stephen's and my trip to Rhode Island. It was sort of a second honeymoon and all I could do was sit on the porch and read and relive our courtship through the imagined lives of a high school girl and a one hundred year old vampire who sparkles.
My thirtieth birthday was not a day of mourning youth, though. Instead, it was a day to celebrate and remember the past decade. It's been eventful...a couple of graduations, a wedding, four kids, a marriage, two houses, several jobs, a small business, a couple of big moves. But beyond the big mile markers, there have been lots of small but beautiful moments...moments when we resolved to take a risk...moments when we were still and quiet and waited...moments of being humbles and learning. Many of these moments were difficult. I don't want to relive them. I just want to remember them.
I have regrets. I've said mean things. I've made some poor decisions. But as a whole, I'm turning thirty having lived a life worth remembering which made my birthday a joyous occasion.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Nine years later

I graduated from Lee University in May 2002. Stephen came down for the graduation accompanied by an entourage of family (both his and mine). I hadn't seen him in probably four months as he was busy attending college in Indiana and I was in Tennessee. It felt weird to have him close again, uncomfortable almost. He seemed really foreign to me. I remember thinking that his hair was so long. This is funny in retrospect. I certainly wasn't acting very warm towards him.
Immediately following graduation, as we were taking photos, Stephen walked up to me, asked me to read a little journal we had passed back and forth, and then got down on one knee to propose. That was nine years ago, and I hadn't been back to Cleveland, TN or Lee University since.
We took a little detour on our way to the Georgia wedding and stopped at the campus. I wanted to see what all had been built, and I had it in my mind that we should take a family picture at the spot we got engaged just as a visible reminder of what all has happened in the last nine years.
Getting a family photo sans tripod isn't easy. I do have a little remote control that helps.
Kids,Go stand over there by the post while mommy sets up the camera.
I'm taking to long and the kids are wandering and climbing. But is it working?
Stephen, try the remote.
Yeah, thanks dude.
Almost there.
Damn, we aren't in focus.
Ok, hurry!

The collage I had hoped for.

Thoughts on {motherhood}

This evening we left church. Stephen and I decided that he would take D'arcy and Julian to La Parada for dinner, and I would come home with the babies. Stephen, D'arcy, and Julian were up for more socializing, and I was up for quiet time. Schroeder is quick becoming a big kid and was disappointed when he had to stay home with mommy. To ease his sadness, I put Maggie to bed and asked him to join me outside while I watered our freshly laid sod. I thought he would just enjoy watching me, but he was eager to run under the stream of cold water.
It's Mother's Day, and so many people have wished me a happy one. So I've been thoughtful about what it means for me to be a mother and Schroeder trompping in the water this evening summed it up.
It has been a beautiful day, warm but not hot. The sun was setting. It was the golden hour for photography where the sun makes everyone lovely instead of washed out. Schroeder just looked so perfect playing on our bright green yard. His presence made my simple task a joyful event and a time to reflect on the wonder of life.
At first he was content to just splash in the water and then he wanted to hold the hose and try to water himself. Motherhood is all about living your life and pausing frequently to teach your kids how to live life too. It makes me sad when I don't pause frequently enough and just plow through.
You could tell he was getting cold, so after I grabbed my camera and took a few pictures, I brought him inside and slid off his wet clothes. There is always more work to do when kids are around. Work is inevitable in life, though, whether you have kids or not. What people long for is to have meaningful work.
A mother has meaningful work.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Getting there.

I hate getting somewhere early. On time is great, but early feels like I've wasted valuable time. I typically plan to get somewhere on time, but rarely leave any time for unexpected circumstances. With four kids there are always unexpected circumstances. A scene from a recent morning went a bit like this.
I was in my bathroom getting ready. The kids were mostly put together. Schroeder comes in to announce that he is pooping. We had just changed his diaper (sigh). He recently turned two and I plan to potty train him this summer. I thought, hey, I should take this moment to introduce the subject. I stopped what I was doing, took his pants and diaper off, and sat him on the toilet. After sitting there a few moments, he peed so we all had to do the excited potty dance for him. He sat a few more minutes and said he was done. I told him to go into his room and get me a clean diaper. He went.
Around this time, D'arcy comes in looking for jewelry. I ask her about her loose tooth. The adult tooth had already grown in behind the loose one and food was getting trapped in between the two. I encourage her to twist it more often and decide that I'm going to help her. I tell her I'm going to press it firmly forward for ten seconds and then I'll stop. By eight it was bleeding and ready to come out. She takes it from there and yanks it out.
By this point, Schroeder is back in the bathroom with a new diaper. Julian announces that Schroeder has pooped on his bedroom floor. He must of stepped in it too... Thank God for wood floors.
I realize that I created some of this havoc for myself.
Yesterday, I did not create the havoc, though. I went to wake Schroeder and Maggie up so we could head to Greenwood to pick D'arcy up. Apparently, Schroeder learned to lock the door. We just moved in, and I don't know if we have little keys for the doors so I went around looking for something to open the lock. It took five plus minutes, but I got them out. We got to Greenwood just in time to pick D'arcy up. Good thing we weren't early because I sure do hate wasting time.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A little trip to Georgia.

Stephen has one cousin (in comparison, I have about 30 first cousins). Stephen's cousin got married this a wonderful lady named Bessa. After so much rain in Indiana, it was wonderful to spend some time in a warm, dry place. Oh, and it was sort of beautiful, too. The wedding was held at a winery so their was plenty of beauty and wine. You can't have wine without a cool band and some dancing. The kids loved it all (minus the wine). They particularly loved spending time with their uncles, aunts, grammy, poppy, and GG (thanks for all the help Alex, Meagan, Josh, Katie, Dianne, Emmett, & GG). Julian never once took those sunglasses off, and D'arcy kept telling me she couldn't wait for June 25th. That's when she'll get her chance to be the flower girl. Schroeder, I was told, spent the entire ceremony eating fruit snacks and saying Amen over and over.