Wednesday, August 20, 2008

She did NOT get her fashion sense from Daddy

Today I took Meredith running some last minute back-to-school errands. She wanted to buy some new sunglasses. So I showed her the Dora ones and the Barbie ones. But that's not what she chose. She chose these ones.

Then she told me she needed bigger underwear. Bad mommy still has her 5 year old who wears a size 6 wearing size 4 underwear. To the girls department for new underwear.

"Oh, and Mommy, can I buy a bra too?"

Oh yes she did ask that!!!

I guess that goes back to having older siblings. Meredith is definitely a little fashionista. And a girly-girl. She would wear a dress every day if possible and all the better if it glitters and is pink.

Mike on the other hand, wears whatever is on the top of the pile in his drawer. In an effort to make him look presentable I usually put the shirts I don't like at the bottom of the pile. Somehow he still manages to find them and wear them. However I must publicly confess to buying him a shirt that falls into the dorky category.

You see Mike has some weird phrases in his vocabulary.

"They were all over me like two dogs on a pork chop."

(He actually said that in church...once)

"Dog farts fried in butter."

(His answer to what is for dinner when he has been asked by small children twenty times)

But the most widely used phrase is in response to a question...

"Daddy, do I have to do chores?"

"Mike, do you have your knife on you?"

"Do bears poop in the woods?"

I seriously thought this was something dumb he made up until I came across this...

And I did buy it. I admit I spent the $9 on a dorky t-shirt. But it came with conditions. It is not allowed out of the house. It is a lounge around and watch tv shirt. Maybe a mow the lawn shirt, but that's pushing it. However it has now become a favorite - one he will dig to the bottom of the pile to find.

I know - no complaining - I bought it. Hopefully my daughters will learn from this experience and just take a picture of the shirt instead.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Holding on to Hope

Really, that's ultimately what God gives us: hope.

These past few years have been so challenging to me. Kind of like a roller coaster of trusting God. My brother's death. Birth of Meredith. Mike becoming a pastor. Unexpectedly expecting Jeffrey. Moving to Montana. Joy being so sick. Unexpectedly expecting Morgan. Grammy's sudden death. Joy's sickness resulting in death.

All of that in seven years - really most of it in just five years.

I remember seeing a stress test once where you gave yourself points for the things that had happened in the last year. The most points, the higher the stress level and the greater the possibility for stress induced illness like depression. Let's just say that my score is very high right now!

While I know that I am prone to depression - I've been there before - it's not fun nor pretty...somehow this time I seems to be holding on. To what? Peace. Hope. God.

All synonymous. God is Hope so He becomes Peace.

Today is the anniversary of Grammy's death. Just two years ago. Elizabeth Thompson. She was an amazing, feisty woman. With a great sense of humor. I wish I could find the picture I managed to catch of her when I was seventeen. She used to push her dentures out of her mouth to make a funny face - but only when the grandkids were looking. Our parents never really believed us (or maybe they did it was just all part of the fun). I used to try and prove that she had done it. One day I sat while she played with one of my younger siblings and managed to "catch her in the act". And that was before digital. I had to wait for the film to be developed and hope that I had caught her.

We took a trip to NJ two summers ago to see family. It really wasn't a trip we could afford. I've gone over that trip in my mind many times, trying to think how we could have done it without going into debt to do it. My only answer is that I regret that we hadn't been wiser with our money before so that we could have spent saved money to take that trip. However, I do not regret that trip. Even when the bill is still being paid.

That trip was to "introduce" Morgan Elizabeth to Grammy. Even though Grammy was weak, God made Morgan small and Grammy was able to hold her. We stayed for three days. Each of my kids spent time - just them - with Grammy. She wasn't really sick - she sat on the couch in her green pants and orange top, with a tissue in her sleeve and a rubber band on her wrist - just in case.

She had gone to take a nap the afternoon that we were leaving. I really didn't want to wake her up, but knew if I didn't I would hear about it later. We went in and gently said good bye. She patted each of the kids and said good bye, calling them by name. Her hugs were sweet and smelled like Grammy. It is a good smell.

We loaded up the van and drove to Philly to drop Mike at the airport. Looking back, that was the crazy part of the trip. The part where after the fact you think, "Why did I ever think that was a good idea?" He would fly back to Montana and I would drive back with the six kids - Morgan being two months old. After I dropped him at the airport, I went through McDonald's drive thru to get the kids some dinner so we could get some miles under our belt before bed. I ordered and then my phone rang. It was my mother. As I accepted our drinks, mom told me Grammy had died. The poor McDonalds worker was unsure how to deal with this woman accepting her food who seemed happy and polite one moment and in uncontrollable tears the next.

I pulled over and handed out food, then walked behind the van and called Mike. What was I supposed to do? Go back? Go get Mike? Keep driving?

It was very difficult to make the decision to keep driving. Mike had to go home. I couldn't handle the kids in that situation and I'm not sure the kids would have handled it either.

The very cool part was that my grandfather was concerned about me driving back. We talked all five days - several times a day. That is a memory I will cherish.

It rained for the first three days of the drive. It was as though God was grieving with me. Or for me.

There were so many little reminders of her all along the trip. The tiger lilies along the side of the road, that really should have bloomed earlier in the season. The rubber band I had slipped on my wrist while at the house and couldn't bear to take off just looked back at me as I drove with my hands on the wheel.

And the song, "In Christ Alone" that would not leave my mind and seemed to show up on the radio every time I found a local station.

And now, just like I had to wait for the film to be developed to see if I had "caught" Grammy, I am waiting for my life to develop. Except this time, I know God has won, that He has a perfect plan, and that that plan has included everything that has happened on my roller-coaster. I really don't get it, but I can have Peace because He knows the outcome.

There are so many times when I can be going about life as normal and all of the sudden something jumps in front of me to remind me of Grammy, or Joy, or Jeremy. It never goes away, and I don't want it to.

I don't want to become used to life without them. I want the constant reminder that God is in control - that He has won - that He knows the plan - that He wants the best for me, for my family - current and family to come.

I am grateful for the heritage and example that my grandmother shared.

I look forward to seeing her again. To tell her funny jokes. And to borrow a rubber band.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Overheard Today

Morgan: I don't want to! (I do NOT like this phase!)

It's not's playtime!

Jeffrey: Mommy...I'm hungry. (said about 20 min after each meal where he had cleaned his plate - must be a growth spurt!)

Meredith: I accidentally kicked Jeffrey when he took my chalk. (How many times have I said, "Lord, I accidentally opened my mouth?")

Jarrett: I'm homesick for Indiana. I had 25 friends there and I only have 15 here. (said before he went to a back-to-school pool party this evening.)

Judson: (in response to Miss Carrie asking what he did this summer) stuff (a boy of many words)

Mikalah: Mikalah was on the news Sat night and it was just posted to the internet. Now so You can figure out who she is...when the reporter is in the boat, she is on the far left of the screen bobbing in a life jacket. And when the kids jump in from the side of the pool, she is wearing the turquoise bathing suit and jumps the furthest out. Technically she doesn't say anything, but thought it was cool that she was on the evening news!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I'm not letting you play with MY child!

When I was younger...and only had one child...I used to be very aware of who I was around.

Mikalah generally didn't play with kids that had older siblings. Why? Because they knew too much. Things that weren't appropriate for children their age to know.

Mikalah talked about Winnie the Pooh. They talked about Barbies.

Mikalah played patty cake. They played "na-na-na-na-boo-boo".

Mikalah had wonderful manners. They made demands of their parents.

Flash ahead 10 years...

Morgan's knows who Zack & Cody are.

Morgan plays tag and sticks her tongue out and wags her hands by her face and says, "you can't catch me".

Morgan just asked for a snack...with a cherry on top.

My child has become the child that first time parents won't let their children play with.

But she's cute!!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Confusing Geography

Saturday morning Mikalah woke up early and turned on the TV to watch the Olympics.

Instead the news was talking about how Russian soldiers had entered Georgia.

After reassuring her that that was not Atlanta, Georgia, I decided we need to start paying closer attention to world events and geography!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Steven Curtis Chapman Interview

If you missed this interview, grab some tissues before you watch! What a wonderful example!!!

Good Morning America Interview

Years ago I read a book where the father said that beofre his children were born he planned that if any of his children came to him with "bad news", the first words out of his mouth would be "I love you!" I have used that before, thankfully not with anything horrible, but I am so thankful for that plan. Sometimes we receive news that can knock out feet out from under us. That's when we really need a plan. Otherwise, we react with emotion.

It sounds like a similar thing is what has been able to keep the Chapman's son strong - the unconditional love of a family.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I'm excited - I know it's sad!

Do you see that???? Gas is below $4.00/gallon! It is really sad that I'm excited about that!

But, hey, this is what I drive...

...and it's gas milage stinks!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Bet You'll Never Guess Where I've Been!

I know I disappeared, but I couldn't say what I was doing...I've been surprising a friend - a friend who does check my blog. So...I couldn't give details. But now I'm home again!

My girlfriend, Shannon, was turning 40 this past week. Really I know 40 isn't old, but it still seems like it! :) Her husband Greg had this awesome idea that Mike & I should join them on an Alaskan cruise as a surprise for her. This was his idea back in February. It has been killing me to keep that a secret - especially when I talk to her at least once a week if not more often!

So that is where we have been!

We went to Seattle and spent a few days with some college friends. It was hard to believe that we hadn't seen each other for almost 8 years!!! It was kind of neat to see how we had grown into responsible adults with children - although none of us would admit to that! My girlfriend, Elaine, was there and took lots of great pictures - including this one of us at the dock. You can check out all of her pictures at her blog - Know Myself. Thanks for the great pictures, Elaine!

Elaine and her family graciously gave us a ride to the dock to start our trip. Mike and Greg were texting all morning to keep each other aware of where we were. Shannon thought Greg was still working. The plan was to meet them at dinner and surprise Shannon. We got on the boat first and actually watched Greg and Shannon board from the top deck. It was killing me that I could see her, felt like I could reach out and touch her, but I had to wait four more hours until I could hug her! Greg told Mike they were going for food at the back of the ship, so Mike and I headed for a tour of the spa at the front of the ship. As we walked out of the spa we were by one of the banks of elevators. As we turned, the elevator doors opened and Greg and Shannon were standing right there. It is a huge ship and yet somehow we managed to run into each other. Best laid plans....I was secretly - okay not so secretly thankful that God worked it out so we could meet each other sooner and He surprised all four of us instead of just Shannon!

The rest of the trip was amazing! We sailed to Juneau, Glacier Bay, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria, BC. Each of those cities in Alaska have no roads in or out - the only way to get to them is by boat or by plane. That's isolation!

In Juneau we took a whale watching excursion that included a tour of a glacier and a salmon bake. We saw a momma humpback whale with her calf. The calf was putting on a glorious show for us and jumped and splashed for 30 min! That is the longest that law allows you to stay watching one wildlife.
We also saw an eagle that caught a salmon and was making it his lunch.
And a pod of orca whales or killer whales. And sea lions. And lots of sea gulls.

Thankfully the tour boat had coffee and hot chocolate. It was a really amazing tour and kind of spoiled us for wildlife. From then on anytime someone would see a whale just swimming it didn't seem quite as exciting!

The glacier was beautiful. The "dirt" is silt that runs down. I kind of expected it to be brilliant like you see in on tv, but it was still beautiful. We hiked around the park adjacent to the glacier making lots of noise to avoid the bears that are coming out to the streams for the salmon spawning.

Then on to the salmon bake (I had bbq ribs) that was fantastic! It was raining, but they had great canopies set up to eat under. And we were right next to a waterfall that we donned our umbrellas and went to find.The day we visited Glacier Bay we were on the boat all day. In the morning they offered a Polar Bear Plunge. Much to Mike's dismay, that meant a swim in the outdoor pool (which I'm not sure anyone used other than that because it was cold and rainy the whole trip!). He was hoping it meant in the glacial waters. However, I did hear that the Coast Guard has a 50/50 rule for the Alaskan waters. That means you have a 50% chance of being able to swim 50 yards. Lets just say the water is COLD!

We did however wear our swim suits and view the glacier from the spa's thermal spa. The thermal spa contained a mineral tub specially designed to regulate your body temperature (I used this almost every day!); steam rooms; showers; a balcony; and full view out the front of the ship; and the most amazing heated lounge chairs. Many a nap happened in those. The glacier was beautiful! When the glacier would calv otherwise known as have a piece fall off into the water, it sounded like thunder. We stayed at the glacier for an hour and a half and even saw kayakers - crazy people!!!
On to Sitka. This was by far the cutest town. Mike and Greg went fishing in the morning and had fun. Shannon and I went to the spa and we had FUN! It was also our only day of sun. It was beautiful. When we got there, we could not dock, but had to take the life boats to the dock. It was cool to watch them bring them back on to the ship.

Then we went to Ketchikan, but it was cloudy and rainy the whole time - yuk. I'm sure the town is great, but the weather (especially after Sitka) made it not so appealing. We did however do a bunch of touristy trinket shopping for the kids. This was my favorite purchase...

...the pooping bear. When we got home, we explained that it wasn't real poop. Jeffrey assured us it wasn't - he licked it.

Lastly we went to Victoria, BC. Again, I'm sure it is a great city - they are hosting the Olympics soon - don't ask me which year...I don't remember. We didn't dock until 7pm on a Thursday night. Our trolley driver nicely explained that everything except the mall and the pubs were closed. We found a couple of cute shops, a gelatto store, and walked around the Empress hotel. This is the government building.

Then we sadly headed home. I'd like to say that I really missed the kids and home, but...I didn't cook for 10 days; I didn't have children waking me up in the middle of the night; I didn't have to make my bed every day; I didn't have to correct any children, change any diapers, or wash any dishes. However, I also didn't get lots of hugs and kisses - sweet little kids ones that is! When I think of those sweet moments, then I really did miss them!

It is good to be home (and sleep in my bed with two extra kids), but now I'm engrossed in the laundry and cleaning. Life goes on.