Thursday, October 9, 2014

Looking for the Thankful

What a week.  So much sad news.  So many scary things going on in our world.  A good week to practice thankfulness.  Sometimes you have to look hard for the good.  I usually find it's right there - underneath my bad attitude and pity party.

So today?  A list of thankful.  Besides, I needed to take a break from Netflix.

1.  No fever so far, today.  For my girlie or for me.

2.  Sunshine.  Fall sunshine is different.  I love it.

3.  A very neat and orderly house (thanks, Son #3!).  I woke up to a clean kitchen, laundry started, house neat.  Impressive.

4.  Kids who can get out the door for school without momma.  Glad it doesn't happen very often!  I missed kissing them all goodbye.  Of course, I wouldn't have kissed them, anyway, since I'm sick.  Boo.

5.  Coffee still left in the coffee pot.

6.  Feeling good enough to get some muffins in the oven and some chicken soup in the crockpot.

7.  Clean sheets.

8.  Thieves oil blend.  In the diffuser and on chests and feet.

9.  That even though I missed watching three games Monday night (because I was home with my feverish girlie), there weren't games to miss Tuesday, Wednesday, OR tonight.  So nice to rest.

10.  Beautiful picture from Little Man while I was sick in bed, yesterday.  He's quite the artist.

Most of all?  The reminder that sometimes the little things need to be let go.  But sometimes the little things are exactly what we need to pay attention to.

Last night, feverish and discouraged, missing time with my family and my aunt who is in town this week, wishing so much I could just WILL myself to be well, I left the bedroom, while the Coach was getting to bed, to get some IgG and Florajen.  Ended up talking with the big kids a little bit.  By the time I came back to bed, the Coach was sound asleep. But when I looked on the floor I almost cried.

Because you see, Little Man has been coming into our room every night since our July Colorado vacation.  Every.  Night.  I figured after a couple of months of this (I'm a slow learner), that the easiest way to deal with it was to make him a bed on the floor before I went to sleep.  If I don't, he wakes me up.  So if there is a nice comfy (ha!) spot on the floor for him, he'll just crawl right in and go back to sleep and we all feel better the next day.  With #8, it's easier to realize that they DO grow out of these things - and they aren't worth stressing about.

Well, most of the time, I forget until I'm already comfy in bed.  Then I get back up and put it out for him.  So when I came to bed last night and saw this, I felt so loved.

Because my Coach had made a spot for Little Man.  Before I had a chance to do it.  And on HIS side of the bed.  Sweet man.

So yes, let the little things go.  But also remember to NOTICE them and be thankful.

And while we are at it?  What is WITH this book stack?  Ha!  Love my reading man.

It's time for me to put some of these back in our already bulging book shelves, I guess.  

Thankful today for the little things.  For the little ways my family and my Coach have loved me this week.  So thankful.

Happy Thursday!

Monday, October 6, 2014

One of those days. . .

Yep.  It's Monday at the troops.

Laundry everywhere.  I do mean everywhere.  Clean and unfolded.  Dirty and unsorted.  Dishes from last night still lingering.  Shoes.  And more shoes.  Spread throughout the whole house.  Unmade beds.  Towels that didn't get hung up.  Cereal boxes still on the dining room table.

I woke up feeling overwhelmed.  Tired.  Trying to think through this day and how to get it all done.  Turns out, unless cloning has become an option over night. . . not going to happen.

Jr. High Volleyball.  Jr. High Football.  Senior night for Varsity Volleyball.  I can't be everywhere at the same time.  The Coach?  He's not sure how to make it work, either.

To top it all off, I have a girlie home not feeling well, today.

Pretty sure the kids will want dinner, tonight.

And the gray roots?  They are shining in the morning sunlight.

Yes, the list is long.  The calendar full.

But so is my heart.

Because this girlie?  She cried about MISSING school.  You guys.  I just can't even.

And this house?  The dishes are strewn about because the kids fixed their own dinner while I was out with Daughter (#1) taking senior pictures last night.  SENIOR PICTURES.

And the laundry?  It didn't get folded because the Coach, Son (#3), Grandmother and I ran the Voices in the Dark 5K yesterday afternoon to raise awareness and help combat human trafficking.  We also all placed first in our age divisions.  Ba Bam!

And the mess?  Well.  There are 9 of us (just not the same as 10, is it?).  There was also a Pumpkin Patch on Saturday and yard work and errands and a date night with my handsome Coach.  Who was also on the front of the sports page on Sunday morning.

Reminds me of our basketball theme last year.  No mess, no mission.  Where there are no oxen the crib is clean.

If the troops weren't happy and healthy and BUSY, the house probably wouldn't be such a colossal mess.  And I wouldn't be as tired.  And my girlie probably wouldn't be sick (late Friday night football games and Oklahoma allergies are NOT our friends).

But instead.  We have the mess.  And a long list of things to be grateful for.

My second cup of coffee (which I've been enjoying while I type).
An early morning Sam's run.
Chicken and Salsa in the crockpot to eat in tortillas for dinner after the games.
"Moms Night Out" to watch while my sickie rests and I fold that gargantuan pile of laundry.
A box of hair color for those gray roots.
The amazing Fall sunshine filtering through the kitchen window by my desk.
A plane ticket purchased for Son (#1) to come home for Christmas.

And already today?  A call from my Coach with an "I love you."

Better go.  I'm missing the beginning of the movie!

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Weirder and Weirder

Life is moving along, here, at the troops.  School is going well.  Homework is endless.  My freezer is full of bugs for the 4th grade science project that's due Monday.  There's nothing quite like going to get chicken out for dinner and opening a freezer full of plastic containers with bugs in them.  She's up to 15, now.  Hopefully I won't confuse them with dinner ingredients before Monday.

Volleyball season is in full swing and the nights of both volleyball and football (which aren't quite as bad as the nights we have the first and last of 5 volleyball games. . .) are keeping us tired.

Son #1's chair at the table is still there.  Empty.  But his bed, dresser, and closet have quickly been taken over by the other boys.  That's life.  I told him when he comes home, we'll find some space for him.  In the meantime, only three boys in that room sure seems less crowded.

Monday, Son #3 got his drivers license.  So grateful.  Even though the online appointment attempt was a total FAIL (after a month of trying) and we had to get there at 5:20 and stand in line until 7 to be the 8th of 10 drivers tests for that day.  Quite an experience.

But he passed and headed off to school by himself in his new used car.

I know some of you have probably made your kids wait to get there licenses.  I understand.  I do.  And I guess if I didn't NEED them to drive so desperately, I might be tempted.  But YOU GUYS!  I need the help.  Big time.  And he's a great driver.  Not even kidding.  He already brought the kids home for me Monday AND Tuesday.  Before he came down with a fever on Tuesday night.  He's been on the playroom couch with the thieves-filled diffuser next to him ever since.

I think I've written about this before, but when someone gets sick, it makes me miss the days when they were little and would all get sick.  I know.  Weird.  It's just that when they were all little, having them sick made us STOP.  Slow down.  Stay home.  Take a break.  Watch movies and drink tea and not answer the phone (well, I don't answer the phone, anyway, but . . . ) and it gave us an excuse for REST.

Oh my heavens.


This momma is tired.

The only problem is, when someone is sick, now?  Nothing stops.  Most of the kids are old enough to stay home alone, so I have to keep on keeping on.  Pick up kids, go to games, run errands, go to workouts.  Having someone sick only adds to the list because they need to be taken care of ON TOP of everything else we already have going on.

So I miss those little infirmary days. . . with kids all over the floor on sleeping bags and cartoons and . . . I know.  I'm weird.  And I've forgotten the miserable part.  Sort of.

I will NEVER say I miss the stomach virus.  Oh no.  Never.  I love my essential oils.  And I hate the vomit monster.

In the meantime, the kids ARE older and rarely sick.  Even more rarely at the same time.  So grateful.

I, on the other hand, just keep getting weirder.  I say "yellow" when I mean "lemon".  I look right at one of the kids and say the wrong name.  Or the wrong teacher.  Or the wrong WORD.  Or mispronounce the right word.  Or stutter trying to say ANY word.  Or forget why I went out in the garage, or in the boys' room, or pretty much anywhere.  It's getting SO bad.  I'm telling you.

Our house is covered in yellow (not lemon) post it notes.  My phone is full of reminders.  And alarms.  It's pitiful.  My kids write me notes when they need something put in the dryer or baked for school or picked up at Hobby Lobby.  They've given up on ONE note.  There are usually five.  Or more.  They write themselves notes, too.  To remind me.

The new quirk I seem to have adopted (please don't ask for a complete list, because who has time?) is that I can NOT go to bed without washing my feet.  I know, right?  Perfectly normal to have to wash your feet before crawling into bed.  Totally exhausted.  Sigh.  Granted I DO walk around barefoot pretty much all of the time I'm at home.  And to the mailbox.  And down the driveway.  And out on the deck.

But regardless of whether or not they ARE dirty, something tells me that I can NOT crawl into that amazingly soft comfy white sheeted bed without clean feet.  And if I try to?  I can't sleep until I get up and wash them.  So very weird.  And how in the world am I getting weirder?

My kids would surely agree.  Every kid needs to be able to laugh at their mom, right?

Happy Wednesday!

Friday, September 12, 2014

The beginning of a new season

It's been a good day.  A good week.  A super busy week.

Fall has crept in and it's still my favorite time of the year.  It reminds me of love and being engaged and wedding planning and looking at rental houses with my Coach.  20 years ago.

But when "I drive your truck" came on on the way to school?  It made me cry.  And please don't ask why I was listening to the country music station.  It was sort of an accident.  Sort of.

I miss my boy.

Not that he's that kind of gone, of course.  But his truck is sitting out there.  And he's so far away.  I haven't exactly been tempted to drive it just to think of him (the muffler makes my head hurt).  But still.

It's a dark and dreary and COLD drizzly day.  Pizzas are cooking and pumpkin muffins are sitting on the cooling racks and we are headed to the football game in a bit.  After we bundle up a LOT.  Brrrr.  Even though I don't have a boy out there playing, this season, the kids still love our Friday night football games and after 20 years. . . well. . . it's just what we do.

Little Man is at a friend's house, so it's quieter than usual, even with two extra friends at our house.  I want to curl up under a blanket with the fireplace going and watch a movie.

But not The Chronicles of Narnia.  Because when "The Call" came on Spotify, it made me want to cry, again.

Dear heavens.

I need a slap in the face, apparently.

And maybe another muffin.  (Seriously, found a new recipe, today, and it's fabulous!)

I just keep thinking.  It's not that he's gone.  It's really not.  I'm so HAPPY forheavenssake.  I really truly am.

It's just that this is the beginning of SO MUCH CHANGE, here.

The end of a season.

The "all of our eight troops under our roof every night, for the most part" season.

Cooler weather and the drizzle and the smell of pumpkin (all things I love!) are reminding me that the seasons are changing.  So is life.  Always changing.  Never the same.

So I guess it's OK to be a little sad.

There is a whole lot to be happy about, too.  For sure.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Early Sunday Morn

I can't sleep, again.

Either the barista at Starbucks on our quick coffee run/date night messed up and failed to give me decaf?

Or I forgot to take a Benadryl at bedtime?

Or maybe both.

I've prayed through my list.  Twice.  Thankful for that.

And here I sit.  Mind and heart full of so many things that keep me from sleep.

With the alarm clock set for 0 dark 30 and our weekly Sunday morning "long" run.  Time is ticking and sleep is illusive and to be honest?  I want to eat cereal with milk.

Just telling it like it is.

You know what I keep thinking?  It's completely OK if you couldn't care less. . . because to be honest, I write this blog for little ole me.  I do.  Mostly because I have the world's worst memory (I blame the 9 pregnancies for that - and in some instances, I think it's just grace - because who wants to remember all of the bad?) and I do NOT want to forget this.


Life.  Like it is right now.

Yes, it's mostly the laundry and the food and the dishes and messes and practices and games and homework that we spend our time on.

But there is a lot of laughter and silliness and tears and hard things, too.  Learning to live together and forgive each other and be kind.  For goodness sake - sometimes it's SO hard to be kind.

I don't want to forget it.

I don't want to forget that the Coach?  He is amazing.  He is patient.  Loving.  Faithful.  Kind.  A seeker after Christ.  Smart.  Handsome (I won't forget that one.).  He LOVES me.  I have no idea WHY, but he does.  I don't want to forget these years doing life with him and raising these kids and sneaking off to get coffee (even if they forget to give me decaf, forheavenssake) and folding laundry during Saturday football games on TV and going for early Sunday morning runs in the dark.  I don't want to forget watching him on the sidelines at Friday night football games and seeing him bent over math homework with our kids in the evenings.

I don't want to forget that right now Son (#1) is off on the adventure of a lifetime.  That his emails and texts and Facebook posts make me cry because I am SO HAPPY that he's where he is doing what he is and following hard after Jesus.  And maybe I'm praying that he won't move to Alaska someday.  Unless that's what God has for him, in which case I'll have to suck it up, won't I?

I don't want to forget that Daughter (#2) is both amazingly beautiful and incredibly talented.  That her team just won a volleyball tournament, today, and she came home exhausted and overwhelmed with homework and excited to go see the Phantom with Grandmother, tomorrow.  That she's started on her Senior thesis and had her cap and gown pictures done.  This year with her will fly by.  For sure.

I don't want to forget that Son (#3) is a kind, thoughtful chauffeur these days.  That he's car shopping and looking forward to his drivers license and doing SO WELL after his two surgeries last year.  That he's running, again (this time last year that was only a dream!), that he's constantly making me laugh and that really, he and I shouldn't sit next to one another at the dinner table because sometimes I can't stop laughing and I snort.  Sometimes.

I don't want to forget how much Son (#4) has grown this year.  That he's way taller than his momma.  That he cringes when I mention a hair cut and he's both strong and athletic.  And smart.  He might possibly drive me crazy before he's a grown man, but I love him dearly.  As well as his grin.  And his orneriness.  He's completely in heaven because it's FOOTBALL SEASON!  Woohoo!

I don't want to forget that this is Daughter's (#5) 7th grade year.  Junior high!  How is is possible that my tiny "Boo" is in Junior high?  Lockers and changing classes and volleyball and tons of homework and she's handling it beautifully.  She's quiet and sarcastic and has a spark that makes up for how petite she is.  And she hasn't gotten run over, yet, in the halls with the big kids.  So that's a relief.

I don't want to EVER forget that Daughter (#6) is thriving in life and in school (because we have experienced the flip side).  She's a good friend.  She's blunt and sometimes loud (OK, most of the time - but we'd be bored without her!), she says what she thinks and you never have to wonder how she feels about something.  But she also works the hardest and helps the most and I'd never make it through all of the grocery shopping without her.

I don't want to forget how happy Daughter (#7) is 99.9% of the time.  That she sleeps hard and wakes up early (almost always before the rest of us) and goes full speed all day long.  She sings, she loves Mandisa, she has lots of sweet friends and she's still "little girl" enough to care less about clothes and makeup and more about playing school and office in the sunroom.  Thank heavens for that.

I don't want to forget that right now, Little Man is both a delight and a joy and OH MY HEAVENS what would our family be without him?  He still gets excited about icees and bugs and painting and kids meals and learning new words and we'd be ever so bored if he weren't constantly creating things and doing "projects" (that means messes).  His big brown eyes and his smile can light up the room.  He truly makes our troops complete.

So see?  Sometimes I need to have insomnia so I can remember how blessed I am.  How precious these days are.  How much I love my people.  My troops.  How they are RIGHT THIS MOMENT because they will grow and change tomorrow and I don't want to forget.

My bed is calling.  Even if I can't sleep, I can pray through my list, again, and listen to my Coach breathe next to me and thank the Lord for all of these gifts.  I don't deserve any of it.  Especially His grace.  But OH how grateful I am for it all.

Happy Sunday.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Letting Go

He was 13 that first time we shipped him off.  Our first born, who had never been to summer camp or spent the night at a friend's house (only cousins, really), whose entire experience traveling without us had been to 5th grade science camp with his class from school.

At the time, we knew it was the right thing to do.  I'm sure our friends thought we were nuts (but that's nothing new).  And as you know, with a first born, they always seem so mature.  Until they aren't 13 anymore and your 5th is 13 and you think, "I sent him WHERE when he was this old?"

Perspectives certainly change as the years go by.

He had an amazing trip.  Life changing.  Souls saved.  His heart stretched.  We were grateful.

Since then, we've packed him up and shipped him off countless times.  Brazil.  Africa, again.  Mexico (twice).  Summit worldview camp.  Boston.  Alaska.

It's become less and less of a big deal to send him off and watch him walk away for a few weeks.

But this is different. This time it's not for a couple of weeks.  Or a month.

Instead it's for the entire school year.  A visit at Christmas, but otherwise it's going to be texting (except for right now, because they are on a media fast - ha!), phone calls and Skype so the littles can see their biggest brother.  They already miss him.

My heart is full.  And grateful.  I'm so very proud of the young man he's become.  I know he'll do well.  I know he'll grow and be stretched even more, and prayerfully I am hoping that he will not only know Christ more fully when this year ends, but he'll understand more deeply who he is in Christ and get a bigger glimpse of his place in God's plan for this time in history.

I have great expectations.  Of him.  Of this program.  Of the staff who is already pouring their lives into him.  Most of all, of God's ability to work in and through those who are surrendered to Him.

A full heart.  A grateful heart. An expectant heart.

I'm going to miss him a lot.  I already do.

But looking back on the last 5 years, especially, I can see God's almighty hand leading and working and moving. . .

Showing me that those lesser "letting go's" were just practice for the bigger ones.

Because I realize that there are even bigger ones to come.

And grace enough for them all.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Note to my 22 Year Old Self

(Written Spring of 2014)

The Coach and I were recently discussing the fact (or I was, anyway - he was listening) that I have fallen a long way in the housekeeping/homemaking department as a wife and mom.

It's bad.

I know this.  But I live in denial a great deal of the time.

Because who wants to think about how dirty one's house is?  Or how disorganized?  Or how totally out of control every. single. drawer. and cabinet are?


But the Coach and I?  Decided that to find the humor in the situation, we only needed to look as far as my 22 year old, mother of one, homemaker self.

Because that girl?  She could keep house like a boss!

The sheets were washed weekly.  Weekly!  I can't even imagine that one.

The bathroom was always spotless.

The floors were always clean.

The windows were washed regularly - at least Spring and Fall, or when needed.

The laundry was always caught up, neatly folded, put away, and ironing never piled up.

The fridge stayed clean and shiny.  And although it wasn't full of food, as a rule, what food was in there was healthy.

I could go on.

So here's a note to my 22 year old self.  Mother of one.  Married a year or so.  OCD in all things domestic.

"You're doing a great job, Girl!  Navigating marriage, learning to love your husband and communicate with him.  Serving him whole-heartedly and the house?  It's clean.  I mean CLEAN.  Good for you!  The flower beds are lovely - and I know you enjoy spending Saturdays with your Coach working outside in the yard.  Because on Saturday the laundry is already caught up and the house is clean because you've been doing that all week long!

Enjoy it.

Love every newly-wed, brand new baby, all things are exciting and fresh and sunshiny, minute of it.
It won't last.

Someday, you'll look back and think, Wow.  A clean house.  What's that?  You'll be juggling schedules and school for eight, and sports seasons (for your own kids, not just your husband's coaching).  There will be eight people dependent on you instead of just one tiny baby.  The house will be bigger (because that tiny baby - he'll grow into a big ole MAN - bigger than his daddy) because you will fill it up with eight kids who will soon (at least half of them) be young adults and young adults clothes are a lot bigger than baby clothes.

There won't be anymore diapers or bottles.  But there will be cars and drivers licenses and JSB dresses and dates.  There will be smart phones and internet to navigate (not just dial up email).
Someday, you and your new hubby won't be able to take naps on Sunday afternoons while the baby naps.  Because big kids don't nap.  And they are noisy.

"But even without the little, clean, perfectly organized house, you know what you will have?
OH if I could only show you.

"Almost 20 years with your Coach will be more amazing than you can imagine!  You will truly experiences oneness and a closeness that at 22 you can't even dream of.  You will be able to read each other's thoughts and when big decisions come?  You'll often have the same exact idea about what needs to be done.  And you won't for one. single. second. want to go back to those quiet, happy, newly wed days.  Because forty somethings who have been married 20 years?  They know what marriage is all about.

"And in place of the time spent keeping a perfect house?  You'll have games and programs and you'll be able to hang with your big kids and you'll actually be able to walk out of the door almost any time without needing a baby sitter.  It's awesome, trust me.

"Yes, the laundry piles will be a permanent fixture on the hearth and you'll have to go to the grocery store almost daily to keep up with the appetites of four teens, but you won't miss the quiet.  Because you'll have the quiet - sometimes - during the day - when everyone is at school and it's just you and the parakeet at home (yes, you'll have a parakeet - but that's not the half of it).

"I know, I know, the grass won't grow under the swing set and the garage will be so full of bikes and scooters that you can't get around the car (you'll have a mini-van, too, and you will LOVE it!), and the eight lockers that hold back packs and shoes and gym bags WILL overflow onto the garage floor and you'll trip when you go out there early in the morning to get another loaf of bread out of the freezer to make those 9 lunches.

"But watching them all ride bikes (hard to imagine, isn't it?) and run and play and catch footballs and ride ripsticks down the street?  The messy garage won't seem to really matter.  And when it does?  You can have the kids there to clean it up.

"They'll be able to do the dishes and make dinner, too.  Fold laundry and clean their own rooms.  But it won't always get done. Things will be a mess.

"And you'll love it.  And wish for these days to last forever.  But they won't.  Because that tiny, first-born little guy that naps twice a day and takes all of your time?  He'll be graduating from high school before you know it and heading off on the next adventure.  They'll all be leaving as quickly as they came.

"So love on your Coach and kiss that baby and take a nap!  Life is only going to get better."

If I only I could have imagined the JOY and noise and fun and MESS that life would hold.  These are blessed, chaotic days and I wouldn't go back for anything.  Well.  Except maybe for the clean sheets.  I miss those.