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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Answer to Riddle #2

What does it mean when your two-year old comes to you and says, "My neck is hurting?"

It means this:  "I haven't gotten sick since I learned to talk and I don't know how to tell you I'm going to throw up in your lap."

Poor Ava.

We let her sleep on the loveseat in our bedroom last night.  Brian and I were whispering before we got out of bed this morning and knew she felt better when we heard her say, "Stop talking, guys. I'm trying to sleep."

That Ava.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Riddle #2

What does it mean when your 2 year old comes to you and says, "My neck is hurting?"


Ideas, Ideas, I Need Ideas!

My mother-in-law is begging for new posts, but I'm empty.  I'm blank.  Nothing's coming to me. No one wants to hear how I'm switching the kids summer and winter clothes or the mountain of laundry I conquered yesterday.  

So give me some ideas.  Anything you're curious about our family?  Grandaddy?  What color our bathroom walls are?  What can I tell you that I haven't already purged on my socky page? Come on...I'll write about almost anything.

If you have an idea you don't want to leave in the comment box for all to read, click on the little envelope picture and you can send me a private email.


Friday, April 24, 2009

West Baden and Water Park

Last week, the kids and I got to tag along on Brian's business trip to West Baden Spring Resort in French Lick, Indiana. This is the resort that Bill Cook (founder of Brian's workplace) poured millions and millions of dollars into restoring several years ago. It is amazing. Because it's still the off-season, we had run of their indoor pool and their lobby (which is bigger than my neighborhood.)

Sam was an old pro and Chase was fearless. He's ready to practice without his superman arms.

Ava was not so keen on the pool and was content to sit in the chair nibbling her muffin.

That afternoon we roamed the massive grounds and Sam caught absolutely fascinating shots like this:

We also hit an indoor water park recently opened there called Big Splash Adventure and again, we were just about the only people there that day. It was so much fun.  Sammie must've gone up the stairs and down the water slides 200 times. Chase was like Billy in the Family Circus one pool, over the slide, stand in the splashing water, into the swirly pool, climb on the dolphin, "Can I go down the BIIIIG slide, Mom?" Wore me out just following him around. The lazy river, however, was entirely too lazy for him.

Again, Ava was content in pretty much one spot and even made a new friend.

They played so hard they fell asleep in that very loud, echo-y place.  I got to read an ENTIRE USA Today.  Unheard of.

When Brian was done for the day, he met us there, so I could finally get on the giant slides. I felt like a kid again. This blue and yellow one pictured below is where you go into a tube at the roof of the building and spend some time swirling around in a giant bowl in the middle and the water washes you down the second half of the tubing. AWESOME!

Good times.  Good times.  


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Turns Out, I'm a Little Miffed

I was reacquainted with a friend a few years ago and she said to me, "You're not as funny as you used to be." Firstly, I don't remember being all that funny. Secondly, I thought to myself (to myself mind you, so I wouldn't smack her), "Life's not as funny as it used to be."

I'm doing a short study on the life of David.  The teacher last night said we had to move past our devastation with God in order to move on.  Huh?  I had to think on that.

If any of you have ever heard me talk about my Dad, you know that I can get teary pretty fast. When Brian and I were having some trouble in our first few years of marriage, I blamed him (Brian) for EVERYTHING.  I sought out a counselor who determined I had some unresolved grief issues, the bulk of which is a story for another day.  Daddy died of colon cancer the first year of our marriage (no wonder I was in counseling.) Anyway, I dealt with those things in that process. 

Or, I thought I did.

A few weeks ago I heard a woman tell the story of her own physical healing, followed by another story of a friend with cancer.  She said they prayed earnestly for her healing, but she died.  And when her youngest child crawled in her Daddy's lap, she said, "I don't understand, Daddy, we asked God to make her better." He answered her by saying that God made her better in a different way.

A dam was let loose in my heart and it all flowed out my sad, brown eyes.  I hate crying.  You know, the ugly front of people.  Yes, it's my pride all over again, but I still hate it. I thought I DEALT with it! What's with all the tears?  I discovered I'm still a little more than miffed with God about that.  

My Dad -- he was one of the good guys.  Wanted to do what was right by everybody.  He wanted us kids to do the right thing.  He was a genuinely nice person and made everyone feel not only loved, but liked.  (Except for my boyfriends.  He did a nice job of intimidating them.) He was even kind to the prisoners he took to jail -- said everyone deserves respect no matter what they've done. I know my opinion is biased and I can't sum it up in just a few sentences.  

I guess we're never ready to let someone go, but this was not fair!  He was too young.  I was too young.  I miss him.  I miss him spoiling my kids and playing the "hoopdedoo" game with them.  (You have to see it in person to get it.)  I think he would come by on Saturday mornings and have coffee with me.  I think he'd help Brian clear the woods.  I think he'd tell me my Sammie looks just like me and my Ava acts just like me when I was their age.  I think he'd puff up like a bull frog about Chase's name and probably call him "Charles" just to make a point.  I think he'd lavish on Chase all the boy stuff he didn't get to finish out with Jody.

So back to David.  God loved him -- man after His own heart and all.  David decided to bring the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem, so the presence of God would be at the center of everything, but during the journey and celebration, someone mishandled the ark and he died on the spot.

The Bible says David was angry because the Lord's wrath had broken out against Uzzah. And, in the next verse that David was afraid of the Lord that day.

Aha...that's me. Angry and afraid. Has God done anything in your life you're mad about?  Are you just waiting for him to hand down the next hard thing?

Why didn't he save your marriage?
You raised your children in the church.  Why are they so far from him?
Why did he leave you in there high on coke when you really wanted out?
Why is your grandmother suffering still with alzheimers, as confused as a child?
Why did that boy choose that over me?
Why did my best friend alienate me? 

Those things are enough to make a person angry.  If you're wondering why the next GREAT thing hasn't happened in your life, maybe you've got to move past your devastation with God.

Unfortunately, I haven't gotten to the second part of the lesson, so I don't have good answers on how to move past it yet, but that's where I am today.

Think about it.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Inner Voice – Friend or Foe?

In my mind, the most important purpose of this blog is to collect stories, inspiration, memorable moments and wisdom for Sam, Chase and Ava. Some posts will be more significant than others. To me, in terms of wisdom that I can impart to the kiddos, this is my most important post yet.

A friend of mine told me about a habit he developed years ago as a high school golfer. He called it being "your own biggest fan." I don't remember his wording exactly, but essentially his method was to tell himself that he was going to succeed, what happened moments ago was a thing of the past, what others think doesn't matter, with more and more practice he could get better and better, etc. He always tried to accentuate the positive, so his inner voice was/is his friend, not a foe.

It's clear to me now that my inner voice – for reasons I can write about in other posts – is a skillful foe, not a friend. For example, I've realized that I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about my mistakes and very little time thinking about my successes. It's as if I feel more comfortable being a critic than a fan.

The happy ending to this post is I've come to see it's not too late for me to change my mindset. And, because of my own personal struggles and the progress I'm finally making, I hope I'm in a better position to teach the kids the value of a positive inner voice. 

Brian Signature copy

Sammie Didn't Enjoy This Day

I checked Sammie's homework one day to find she'd controlled her tongue only by writing down her thoughts.  

I could tell she tried really hard to erase this portrait of me yelling. Do you think that means she forgives me?


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Some Things I'd Rather Forget

So the very reason I didn't join Facebook is the very one everyone used to convince me of its greatness: it's a great way to connect with people from your past.  YIKES!

Here's what I thought:  If I connect with people from my past, they'll be reminded of old times. Old times were not so good for me.  I was a schmuck really, in a lot of ways.  And those are the times I remember.  As more people ask to be friends on FB, I realize I have forgotten many things and many people.  I honestly don't even recognize their names and then when their faces don't ring a bell, I wonder if I was in a memory--erasing accident or something.

When I was in high school, like a lot of teenagers, I wanted to be liked -- to be in the popular crowd.  When I did hang with the popular group, I felt like I was only there on the coat tails of someone else or because they felt sorry for me because of a family tragedy.  And, I did some dumb things thinking they would make me more popular.  I'm ashamed of the way I let boys treat me back then. When I hung with the not-so-popular crowd, I actually felt more like myself.

In college, I masked my insecurity with loudness and boy-crazy stunts that are really heralded among many "finally free" young adults.  I was a music major and as I look back I realize I only did that to please my Dad.  My heart wasn't in it. I was there to make the grades and get the degree. Looking back, it's a wonder I didn't get myself in so many un-doable messes. Now they're just un-doable memories.  

After grad school, I started making better choices.  I fell in love and got my heart broken.  So THEN all my choices were an effort to keep from getting my heart broken again.  I masked the heartache in fake confidence and very controlling behavior. I'm ashamed at the way I treated men in those days. 

In short, I was selfish for a lot of years.  For so long it was all about me -- what would make me happy, who would give me the most attention, what did I want out of the day or the relationship.  Always looking for that other half that would "complete me".  What nonsense!

Now that I'm married (to my perfect match), I know that no one else can complete me (even him) and the source of greatest contentment for me is  letting other people know they are loved and they are special. Why does it take so long to learn such things?  Or, why did it take ME so long to learn?

So, here I go on Facebook.  I really am excited to see what old friends and acquaintances are up to, but I've already sunk my head in shame a few times and it's only been a couple days of friend requests.  I'm building up thick skin so I'll have the courage to apologize when I need to.  

One of my favorite things about God is that he gives second, third and fourth chances.  If given another chance, I hope I'll be a better friend this time around.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

From Ordinary to Extraordinary

I've still got my favorite Christmas card on the fridge and it tells the story of Easter, too.

In an ordinary stable, 
He had an extraordinary birth.

And that ordinary baby
Grew into an extraordinary man.

With ordinary words, 
He shared an extraordinary message.

And on an ordinary cross,
He died an extraordinary death.

But an ordinary, empty tomb
Proved His extraordinary miracle...

So that ordinary people
Can have extraordinary Life.


Monday, April 6, 2009

A Weekend to Remember

As a Big Ten fan, I'm quickly losing interest in the Michigan State-North Carolina men's NCAA basketball championship game (A.K.A, a blow-out). So, while I passively watch the game, I thought I'd record some highlights from this past weekend...

1. Chrysalis (the stage before a caterpillar becomes a butterfly) is a Christian retreat for teenagers. The metaphor serves to remind us of Jesus' ability to literally transform anyone that's open and willing to be transformed. From Thursday night until Sunday evening, Kristin served as a Chrysalis table leader. I'm sure she'll write about her experience soon. For now, I'll just say that I know she blessed many while also receiving many blessings herself.

2. It's just not the same when Kristin is gone, but it was nice to experience some special, one-on-one time with Sam, Chase and Ava. We played outside, ate at Taco Bell, visited the Wonder Lab and picked up some videos at the library...and, that was just Friday morning before Mom and Dad came down to spend a few days.

3. Mom and Dad arrived in Bloomington early Friday afternoon. It was a great visit with plenty of good conversation, good food (and "international", tacos and Chinese), play time with the kiddos and movie watching (including the new Bond flick, Quantum of Solace). As an aside, it's great to see how good of friends Mom, both of my Dads and Kristin's Grandfather have become. We also had a surprise visit...

4. Kathy and Meghan, my sister and niece, decided to make a last-minute visit to take a "little" road trip from their home in South Carolina to Indiana. We were thankful that they decided to include a Bloomington stop while en route to Lafayette.

5. And, last, but certainly not least, there was Palm Sunday. For those of us that believe Jesus is "...the Christ, the Son of the Living God," Palm Sunday commemorates His triumphant entry into Jerusalem in the days leading up to His crucifixion and resurrection. It was encouraging for me to see Sammie's enthusiasm as she took part in a memorable palm-waving procession at church.

I'm missing a lot of details here, but the bottom line is that it was a special weekend, by all accounts. A weary Kristin and I enjoyed talking about the weekend late Sunday night. I'm looking forward to many other similar discussions with Kristin, about other memorable weekends (hopefully, with at least some involving all of the people mentioned in this post), in the future. Thank you, Jesus, for this special weekend, your love and your guidance.

Brian Signature copy

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tent City

Have you heard anything about the tent cities popping up across the country?  I saw a report about one in Sacramento.  Apparently, people are losing their homes and just pitching tents in empty fields.  There is no water supply, no power source.

Some of the people have been there for months. The journalist interviewed one couple and the wife said they'd been there for over a year.  Did she have family?  Yes, one son.  Does he know you're here?  No.  Why not?  I didn't want him to worry.


Even more surprising to me, is that was a common theme.  Many of these people have family, but don't want to ask for help.

Where is the common sense people!?!?!  We have such gross extremes in our country.  There are 38-year olds still living at home on mom and dad's dime.  There are grandparents raising their grandchildren, because the parents don't want to grow up.  And, now I'm learning there are people who don't want to worry their children, so they live in a tent.

Infuriating and sad all at once.  In many other countries there are cousins, aunts, and grandparents all living under the same, very small, roof.  It's normal.  There's a lot of family and not a lot of space.  Is it pride?  Shame? Guilt?  What keeps someone from standing on their own two feet when they absolutely can or asking for help when it's truly needed?

Wouldn't you WANT to know if your mom was living in a tent?  Of course, I'd be worried.  Of course, I'd want to do something about it.  Of course, I'd want to help and I'd make sacrifices if necessary to help.  Isn't that a good thing?  Isn't that what family is for?  

Please, lady.  Tell your son.  Let him help you.  You gave him a roof over his head when you could.  It's his turn.