Monday, February 2, 2015

Full Hearts and Full Calendars

Someday we'll look back on these years... and laugh.  I hope.  I'm pretty sure we'll miss it all, too.  The laundry (OH MY HEAVENS - five basketball players is a LOT of socks!).  The crockpot dinners every night.  The doing homework in the gym because there are always games.  The large amounts of coffee it takes to get to that next game.

The Coach and I finally fell into bed Saturday night after an extremely busy two days, only to have three of our older kids join us to catch up on the weekend...
I love it.  All of it.

Basketball games (14 last week).
Field trips (Oklahoma City Memorial Museum - can you believe I'd NEVER been?).
Homecoming for our Senior.  Such a special night.
More basketball and end of season tournaments for the two little girls.
Super Bowl parties for just us.  With a meal made from freezer and pantry items because the store sounded just. too. tiring.

I have found a whole new level of tired.  I'm sure I was tired with my babies (I don't remember that well, really.).  But I was younger, too.

Those baby days are special, but I think this may be my favorite time of all.

I miss Son (#1) being here - he's still in Brazil and headed back to Atlanta next week.  Next year, Daughter (#2) will be at college, too.  These big kids are so funny.  And smart.  And interesting.  I never expected parenting big kids to be so awesome.  Even if I'm more tired than I can ever remember.

I'm going along to a coaches clinic this weekend with my favorite coach of all.  He's working, I'm just... well... tagging along.  Which right now, may actually equal sleeping.  A lot.  And maybe a run or two.  And coffee.

Sounds perfect, doesn't it?

But the best place of all?  Right here with my troops.  Feeding their tummies and washing their basketball jerseys and listening to them laugh.  Hearing them ask the Coach questions about math homework and helping them proof-read their papers.  Reminding them over and over again to put their laundry away and pick up their shoes and stop throwing the nerf basketballs at each other instead of the goal hanging in the living room.  Eggs that need washed and floors that always need swept and please put the lid back on/close that cabinet/pick up your jacket off the floor.  Not to mention the endless stream of college letters and scholarship applications and calls from every school they've ever thought of, plus some.  And oh yeah, those thank you notes that we didn't finish from Christmas. Yikes!

By the way, I put out an SOS for crock pot recipes on Facebook the other day and the responses have been a huge blessing to our troops!  Go check them out.  Cream Cheese Chicken Chili is already going in the crockpot for tonight.

Things aren't perfect, here.  I never want to make it sounds like they are.  We are learning, like everyone else, to think of others and be responsible and show love when others don't.  But I wouldn't trade it for the world.  I hope this blog helps me remember these days better than I remember the baby days.

Here's a blurry picture of our troops on Friday night.  I probably had fingerprints on my phone lens.  Oh well.  Don't even ask about Son (#4).  I have no words.  Ha!

I love this girl just so much.

Happy Monday!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Hanging On...

Seasons come and go.  They change, not always when you want them to.  Some of them are welcome, some knock the wind out of you.  But one thing is for sure... change is coming.

Right now, we are neck deep in basketball season.  12 games last week and 9 this week.  Sometimes at the same time in different gyms, which means I'm missed a few.  I LOVE watching my kids play sports.  It's fun when they play well and it's still fun when they don't.  Yes, winning is fun.  But appreciating the character that comes through loss is pretty great, too.

It's been a new experience having the Coach back in the stands with me, again, after a two season stretch coaching the high school girls. He coaches whether he's coaching or not.  If you know what I mean.  Ha! How I love him. He missed 99.9% of the other kids' games last year (we have five playing), so I'm tremendously grateful to have him enjoying all of it with us.

If you have ever enjoyed an Oklahoma Winter, you know that change is the word.  It will be below freezing for days and then back up in the 60's for a few.  I finally braved the cold for a sub-freezing run last week.  Wasn't too bad.  Then it warmed up.  Ha!  It is what it is.  The kids have to check every day to see if they need a coat or just a jacket.

After a month of so much sickness (I ended up with a doozy of a sinus infection a couple of weeks ago), I'm finally back into a season of working out every day.  It's amazing to me how LONG it takes to build strength and endurance (and lose weight!), and how QUICKLY I can go backwards. Get weaker, slowly, fatter.  Such a bummer.  I'm finally learning though, after so many years, that the seasons and change are part of it.  When the whole family has the flu?  Time for a break.  When everyone is better?  Get back to it.  Understanding it will take some time.  My running pace still isn't back to where it was in December.  But it will be.

There are seasons in the school year, too.  This one isn't my favorite.  January and February are PROJECT season.  Three science fair projects, currently.  And don't ask about the dog bank made from oatmeal container.  Just. Don't. Ask.  The autobiography for the senior (thesis over - whew!).  Workouts again for the Sophomore.  It's a lot to keep up with.

My favorite thing right now?  This season of our marriage.  It just keeps getting better.  We think the same things at the same times.  We look forward to time together, whether date night or just time to talk.  Can I SAY how fabulous it is to reach the season when you can not only go on a date by yourselves regularly, but leaving for the weekend is an option, too?  I'm telling you.  It's the best.  The coach?  He's my favorite.  The other night one of the kids said, "You know, Mom, someday we'll all grow up and leave and it will just be you and dad.  How awkward."  HA!  Little does he know...

Maybe the strangest season we are in right now is this new season of parenting an adult.  Son #1 has been in Brazil almost two weeks.  He has another two to go.  We've only heard from him briefly - he doesn't have his phone or laptop.  We have no idea what he's doing every day or even where he is.  And that's just the beginning.  He's making Spring Break plans.  By himself.  He's applying for Summer jobs in other states.  Making college plans for next year.  I'm telling you, so strange.  But it's wonderful, too.  I'm so grateful for him and so proud of the young man he is becoming.  We raise them up to send them off.  But it's still strange.

This is also the season of the Camp Gladiator Nutrition Challenge and my second "cup" of coffee (4 oz coffee, 4 oz of almond milk - because we are limited to only 8 oz of coffee per day.  So sad!) is almost gone.  Time to get going.

Whatever season or seasons of life you are in today, may they be filled with gratefulness.  And a little sunshine doesn't hurt.

Happy Friday!

Friday, January 2, 2015

6 Weeks and a LOT of the Unexpected

The Lord knows.

It's been my mantra for the last six weeks.  He knows.  He loves me.  He loves US.  He is giving us the best gifts.  Always.

You can plan.  You should plan.  But you should also know that you can't control things.  In fact you can control VERY LITTLE when it comes right down to it.

I can let this fact depress me, or I can choose to let some things go and do what needs to be done and enjoy each moment as it comes.

The day before the big football game?  The Coach came down with something awful.  Flu-like.  Miserable.  Our very kind doctor put him on meds and he spent a morning in bed and then hauled his very sick self to the game.

We lost.

And the next day, with football season suddenly ended, his a-little-bit-less-sick self and I headed to Tulsa for the 1/2 marathon we'd trained for.  Except not.  Because I'd had a foot injury a few weeks earlier and my running had been almost nonexistent.

Race or no race, we needed that time.  We talked all of the way there and all through lunch and on through dinner and got up the next day to run that silly race.  Meanwhile our two Jr. High troops were in a tournament back at home and both WON the tournament (boys and girls) and Son (#4) got all tournament, too.  We missed it.  Sometimes it's impossible NOT to miss some things in order to gain others.

On race day?  I felt great.  The coach not so much.  But instead of the flu-like fatigue he was expecting, it was his ITB.

We finished.  He persevered.  Even though he's been paying for it ever since.  Yikes.  Half Marathon #5 (for me!) in the books.

Thanksgiving was that same week, and the time off was lovely and we even all made it to the family celebration.  After running the Turkey Trot.

And So. Many. Basketball Games.  Even a Thunder game for Daughter's (#5) 13th birthday!

The next weekend was a basketball tournament at our school.  And while we were all anticipating Son's (#1) homecoming the next Friday, baking and cleaning and finding dresser drawers for him (his space in that crowded boys' room was immediately filled by the other three). . .

Son (#4) came down with the actual flu.  The full blown Influenza type A.  Of course we didn't know that immediately, but he was SICK.  He stayed home while the rest of the troops went to the airport to pick up Son (#1) and YAY!  All home!

Except the next day the Coach got sick.

And the next night Daughter (#5) got sick.

So the three of them missed our plans to see "A Christmas Carol" that Sunday afternoon.  Seven of us made it, though!  In retrospect that's pretty amazing.

Son (#1) got up and went back to work that Monday morning and our anticipated family outing to watch the Jr. High basketball players (their only games that Son #1 would be in town for) was eclipsed by caring for those same Jr. High players - both home with the flu.

The next morning?  Daughters (#6 and #7) and Little Man woke up sick.  On the day of the Elementary Christmas program in which Daughter (#7) had a speaking part.  She'd been practicing for weeks and of ALL of my fourth graders was the MOST excited about it.

She and I both cried all morning.  Just so sad.

I went to the program alone and watched my Senior - Daughter (#2) - in our sweet little Christmas program.  But none of our littles or the Coach were there.

While I was crying about my sweet girlie missing her program?  Son (#1) called from work and said he was coming home sick, too.

Fun times at the troops, Ya'll.

Seven sick.  Time to get Tami-flu.  So the four newer patients and Daughter (#2) and I all started Tami-flu that day.  Son (#3) moved to Grandmother and Granddad's house.  Ha!

Did I mention it was also finals week for the big kids?  Yep.  Awesome, right?  We ALL missed Daughter's (#2) last game before Christmas - again, the only one that Son #1 was in town for.  Sigh.

After 12 (TWELVE) days of flu and fever and oils and ginger ale?  (Daughter #2 and I both got mild cases sometime that week - Son #3 escaped all together - imagine that.)

We finally made it out as a family to see Christmas lights.

With two days left to enjoy all of the Christmas wonder.  Yay!  We managed some Christmas cookies and had a gingerbread house decorating contest and finished wrapping gifts and such and celebrated Christmas together as a family on Christmas Eve.

Just a side note - we sat down that Sunday night - when everyone was finally upright again, and talked through what the kids wanted to do as a family.  It was a really good thing to do!  To hear from them what was important and what made Christmas special.  We even made it to the candlelight service at church.

But late Christmas Eve, we got word that the Coach's daddy wasn't getting over whatever he had been suffering from that week. . . so Christmas morning at their house was postponed.

Turned out to be a good thing - sort of - because Daughter (#2) woke up with a bad sinus head ache that morning.  She spent Christmas day in bed.

The rest of us enjoyed our time at my parents with my family.  Lovely Christmas day, really.  Minus one of our troops. Including a Christmas play with a few of the cousins.

The day after Christmas, my sweet daddy had neurosurgery to correct his trigeminal neuralgia.  It was a big deal.  It was successful.  He's been recovering at home with my mom, who now has a sinus infection (surprise!).  We have loved taking him soy lattes and helping with puzzles.

Christmas morning with the Coach's family ended up being that Saturday.  76 of the 88 of us were there.  Pretty amazing!  We had a big SNOW, too!  The kids love that!  Grandma didn't, I'm sure, as they kept tracking it back into her house!

We've loved having the kids home.  Son (#1) has worked every day he hasn't been sick.  The Coach and I have tackled cleaning out cabinets and the pantries and reading lots of books.  We've run errands and organized his office and crossed countless things off "the list". We've completed a puzzle every day.  Watched a lot of Christmas movies.  Kind of let the laundry and house go.  Ugh.

New Years was spent with sweet friends and family.  The Coach even stayed awake until midnight.  Ha!  Now super cold temps and an ice storm on it's way, today.

The colds and coughs have lingered, still.  Yesterday, I spent the day in bed with a sinus headache likes Daughter (#2) had on Christmas Day.

I'm writing all of this so WE don't forget.  This crazy crazy season.  The joy of watching our kids enjoy home and each other (and yes, they've fought a lot, too).  The mess.  The noise.  The laughter.

Things haven't gone as we planned.  Pretty much at ALL.  But it's been good, still.  I'm grateful.  And maybe just a little bit ready for school days and a clean house without Christmas everywhere.  A normal routine with workouts and runs, again, and yes (gulp!), even four nights a week and Saturdays full of basketball, again.

The Lord knows.  He's always good.  I'm so thankful for the gift of these last few weeks.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from my troops to yours!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Every year I brace myself for this season.  This "basketball has started and football hasn't ended" season.  I love it.  I hate it.  I'm tired.

One of the football dads told me last week (he coaches Daughter #6's basketball team) that he expected nothing less than 24/7 from the Coach preparing for this week's game.  He was kidding.  Sort of.  I just laughed.  The Coach was already 24/7 in anticipation of this week's game.  For several weeks now.

I'm realizing that I don't just love football because I love the Friday nights in the stands.  Or because I love watching my boys play.  Or because I love watching my Coach on the sidelines.  I enjoy ALL of that and look forward to it every Fall.

But football has taught me a lot, too.  About supporting the Coach even when I'm tired and I miss him and I've had enough of the constantly streaming film of next week's opponent in the kitchen every night.  About patiently gathering up page after page of sketched out and printed out play diagrams and sheets of plays for practice off the table so we can eat.  About realizing he WILL fall asleep if it sits down in a comfy chair after 8 - which is why he will chose the wooden desk chair instead.  About not getting frustrated when his alarm goes off at 5:30 on a Saturday so he can get up and break down film before he goes to meet the team - after being up until midnight on Friday.  About often eating dinner without him at night and spending most of Saturday without him around.

Sometimes I've just had enough and I let my ugly selfishness take over.  I forget all of this.  The need for support and patience and understanding.

Last night was one of those times.

I'm just being honest, here.  It's not all band music and clapping and cheering and "I'm so happy we won!".

This is real life and it's not always pretty.

I'm not sure how the next few days will even work, truthfully.  With two practices and two games, tonight.  Two games tomorrow and the BIG game (an hour and a half away, of course).  Two games Saturday and the Coach and I trying to get out of here and to the Expo for our half marathon before it closes on Saturday.  And then the running of the 13.1 on Sunday.

We're not exactly fresh as daisies around here.

I am thankful.  I'm CHOOSING thankful.  It doesn't come naturally.  I'm tired, cranky, overwhelmed, and wishing for quieter, less busy days.

Have you heard Trace Adkins song, "You're gonna miss this"?  Our Internet filter won't let me find a YouTube video for you, so go look it up. I'll wait. . .

See?  Besides the fact that Son (#1) has ruined me completely and I actually like some country music, now?

It's all going so quickly and I want to soak it in and enjoy every second and if it takes a third cup of coffee this morning?  I'm going to chose to be thankful.

1.  My precious, loving, faithful husband.  Who took time to read another chapter of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" to the littles last night.    He's ever the optimist around here.  Always telling me it'll work out and we'll be OK.  Even when I'm all doom and despair.  Love him.

2.  A great football season, which I've enjoyed so much, even without a player out there on the high school team.  Week 2 of the playoffs!  GO BIG BLUE!

3.  The beginning of basketball season.  And the hope of having the Coach's help this year with the five players we're keeping up with.

4.  Colder weather.  A snow day on Monday.  And sunshine, today.

5.  Every need so graciously met by our loving Heavenly Father.  That Christ intercedes on our behalf and continues to pour out His grace.

6.  The tail end of this cold I've been fighting all week.  And Essential oils.

7.  Christmas lists from my kids.  Little Man's was priceless.

8.  The hope of things to come.  Making memories.  Enjoying this season.

And now?  My morning run is calling.

Happy Thursday.

"According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:"  2 Peter 1:3

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Winter is not my favorite.  Well.  I guess it's not that simple.  I don't like getting out in the cold (although running in it isn't as bad as you might think), errands in the cold, loading and unloading groceries in the cold, sitting at football games in the cold, or wearing coats.  Ugh.  Coats.

Sweaters, YES, coats, NO.

But I do love being HOME in the Winter.  I love having the fireplace on and candles lit and cooking soups and muffins.

Last night was a lovely at home evening.  Fire on.  Potato soup for dinner.  Kids (mostly) home.  Homework, hot chocolate, everyone piled on the couches and talking.  The littles went to bed and the bigs settled into stories and jokes and just being amazing.  As usual.

And then it happened.

The Coach and I sitting there across from each other.  He on one end of the couch and Daughter (#2) wrapped in a blanket on the other end.  Son (#3) sitting next to me, after coming in from church.  Son (#4) sitting in the big leather chair - inside his sleeping bag.  No one will ever accuse the Coach of keeping this house too warm.

Someone was missing.

It's not that we weren't talking and laughing and enjoying each other.  It just that we weren't ALL there and it was obvious.

It won't ever be the same, again.  I know that.  Son (#1) will come home at Christmastime.  He'll slide right back into the troops and it will feel like he never left.  But then he will.  And even if he's back for a longer time in a few months, Daughter (#2) will be heading off next year.  It's going to change a lot really fast at our house.

These kids make me laugh and frustrate me and fill me with so much joy and keep me on my knees.  But the whole POINT here is to raise them up and send them off.  It's going so quickly.

For now, we'll still gather around (under blankets and sleeping bags - ha!) on evenings home and spend time together.  Someday it WILL just be the Coach and I (Lord willing) and that will be precious, too.

Until then, I'm going to count the days until we are once again "ten" and thank the Lord for each moment.  They are all so precious.

And as the Coach and I were heading to bed last night, the big kids got on the phone and called Son (#1) - even though it's later there - and told him they missed him and loved him and, generally speaking, gave him a hard time.  So all IS right in our little world.

Today I'm thankful.

For a *sort of* warm house.  Ha!
For warm layers and coats and hats and boots and gloves - that early morning crosswalk duty for Daughter (#6) and afternoon football practice for the Coach are brutal!
For soup and muffins and hot chocolate.  And stretchy yoga pants.  Yikes.
For treadmills when the windchill is in the teens.
For hot showers.
For clean, warm laundry, fresh out of the dryer.
For coffee and second cups of coffee.
For things to look forward to:  A 1/2 marathon with my Coach, Thanksgiving, time off school, a 13th birthday for Daughter (#5), for Christmas preparations, and my boy coming home!

Happy Thursday!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sometimes I forget.

I woke up, this morning, feeling discouraged.  Sometimes?  I forget who I am.  I let the voices in my head convince me that I'm failing as a mom.  Failing as a wife.  Failing as a daughter, friend, sister.

I let myself believe that my house is a mess, that things need updated, that it will never be clean for more than 10 minutes at a time.

I let myself believe that I'm worthless, fat, slow, ugly, and stupid.

I tell myself that my kids need a better mom.  That my husband deserves a prettier, fitter, sweeter, smarter wife.

I tell myself that all of my efforts are in vain.  That my kids won't ever learn to obey.  To be responsible.  To love each other.

I tell myself that all of the time I spend working on the house, cooking, cleaning, caring for my family... is a waste.

I let those voices be the boss.  Take authority.

And you know what?

They are wrong.

So very wrong.

I may never be the perfect woman.  But I am NOT worthless.  NOT a failure.  And the things I do matter.  Tremendously.

If you need to hear it from someone today?  Can I be the one?  The one to remind you that you are beautiful, creative, special, talented, gifted, unique, treasured, and above all else?  LOVED.  That what you do matters because of LOVE.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  You are a beautiful, precious creation of a loving God who gave His Son for you.  So you could be full of HIS love and HIS purpose and HIS salvation.

Don't let those voices be the boss.  Tell them the truth.  The truth about who you are in Christ and how very much you are loved.

I will if you will.

Happy Sunday.

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Rom 8:32-39

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!