Friday, August 24, 2012

Catch up.

It's been a while since I have blogged regularly.  I never really intended to take such a long break because I really enjoy blogging.  However, it has been a really good hiatus.  Since I last blogged...
I said "see you later" to some great people at our preschool.

We celebrated with this handsome guy for his 4th birthday.

Claire and I celebrated the last day of 2nd grade with a great bunch of kids at the park.

I had lunch with these cuties.

We bought a little place at the lake...and spent A LOT of the summer there!

We said goodbye to Grandma Phillips 

We all chipped in and bought a water slide for Nanny and Papa's pool.  We popped the water slide for Nanny and Papa's pool after 1 week.

I finally caved in to Kidz Bop.  I don't entirely hate Kidz Bop like I thought I did.

We spent days floating around on the lake.

I found this guy hanging on the fireplace. 

Cohen grew. More.

He lost TWO teeth!

Our air conditioner exploded on the hottest day of the summer.  We were SO lucky it didn't catch the house on fire.

I took this picture.   

More lake time. 

We caught fish using anything from bread to Twizzlers.

We snuggled.

We built forts.

Then somehow...this happened.
School started. I sent my first born to 3rd grade...
and my Kindergarten!!!

So here I sit at my computer, in a quiet house.  For EIGHT years I have had a little person attached to my hip almost all the time, and now it's just me and the dog.  It is very hard to get used to.  It is SO fun to pick up the kids from school and hear about their days.  Cohen is LOVING school.  I can just tell he is so happy and it makes my heart happy.  Claire is more reserved about her feelings for school, but she has an amazing teacher and I can tell Claire really likes her and her classroom environment.  

My life has changed so much and I am finding ways to occupy my time.  There is always something to do, read, clean, fix, paint, get the picture.  There is one thing however, that I am really excited about. I am moving my blog to word press and it's getting a makeover!!!!  I have been tossing around the idea for at least a year.  So before long, I will announce my new site and start my new blogging adventure! Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I like to think...

Since you left us I like to think. 

I like to think that butterflies are your messengers sent to take notes and report back.  Or maybe they are just to remind us that you are watching.

I like to think that the soft breeze is a whisper from you telling us not to fear.

I like to think the shooting star I saw Saturday night was you reminding me that our God has it all under control.

I like to think that a perfectly timed song on the radio or Pandora was sent by you.

I like to think that when I am blessed by someone whom I would have never known had it not been for you or your's a little treat from Heaven.

Today that treat came in the form of a delicious pan of cinnamon rolls brought to me by someone who has kept up with our story.  Someone I only know by way of social media.  I was touched and overwhelmed by her thoughtfulness. 

I like to think that you have something to do with all of these things.  It may sound crazy to some...desperate to others...but for us it's just a way of life.  It's how we cope with a piece of our world that is missing. 

I like to think about all of us together for eternity. 

I also like to think that Heaven has a Target.

I miss you Stephanie.  I really do.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

That's What Faith Can Do.

Today is a beautiful day.  The weather in our part of the world has been nothing short of amazing.  I have put aside my worrying about the mutant blood sucking mosquitoes that are probably going to be invading us this year because of the VERY mild winter, and I am just enjoying these gorgeous days.  Today is a Coco day.  These are the days when it's just me and my Cohen at home all day.  These are the days that are very numbered.  I can count on two hands how many of these days we have left before school is out for Claire.  I look forward to having her home with us...but it's the end of an era so to speak.  The thought of it makes my chest feel tight and a lump in my throat form at an alarming rate.  I will leave all of that for a different post.

Today during a little quiet time I managed to nab, I was overwhelmed.  If I had to label the feeling, I would call it contentment.  I put it on facebook, but I wanted to elaborate a little as to how I got here.  8 years ago, I had a great little life.  Baby on the way, hottie husband with a good steady job, cute little home and a family that was simply amazing.  Looking seems so simple.  Life was good, but I was so far from being content.  I was young and pretty sheltered, neither of which are bad things...but I just really didn't have a clue.

Fast forward to today.  I have survived the loss of a sister (it is just easier to refer to her as my sister..because that's what she was to me) as well as my uncle and grandpa.  From the outside it would seem that my life has become significantly more complicated.  Compared to 8 years ago...more kids, more house to keep, more grief, more critics, more pain and luckily...more faith.  Funny how that last one, that one simple thing, cancels out everything else. Because of my FAITH I am a better person.  Am I perfect? Heck no.  Last week I said A LOT of curse words one day, and given the situation...I'm really not even that sorry about it.  I get irritated and lose my cool with my kids, and I can't even tell you about my road rage incident that I made Claire promise to keep to herself.  We went to church Sunday for the first time in ages.  I procrastinate.  We are always running late, just ask the secretaries at Claire's school.  I have cellulite.  Cohen always has long dirty fingernails.  My laundry is always out of control.  And those are just the little things.  However, my faith has changed the way I look at the world.  Faith has made me wake up and be confident in myself and my purpose.  Faith has taken away my fear.  Faith has calmed my heart.  Faith has made me content.  THAT, my friends..."That's What Faith Can Do."

This is one song that always reminds me of Steph.  This was one that she picked for her video that was played at her funeral.  I miss her all the time, but I am so thankful for a God who loves me so much that he sent his only Son to die for my sins.  Because of that ultimate sacrifice...I will see her again someday.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Public Service Announcement

Today I want to address something very serious.  Something that plagues our nation and is showing no signs of letting up.  It is weighing very heavy on my heart these days.

Today I will talk about...wearing flip flops in the winter months.

I love flip flops. I do not love when they are called thongs, because there is another clothing item that goes by that name and TRUST me that can cause some major confusion.  I live in the Midwest.  A place where we are blessed by the presence of all four seasons.  I LOVE it.  However, the blurry line between summer and winter causes much confusion when it comes to appropriate foot wear.  We have had some unseasonably warm weather this month, so I have been subjected to some pretty nasty winter feet. (Save for the gentleman who wore socks with his flip flops...thanks dude.)

Why do I feel so strongly about this?  If you are throwing on a pair of flips in January or February...chances are you have not paid them proper attention.  I will admit, my feet look less than desirable in the winter.  Which is why I COVER THEM UP for sobbing out loud!!!  I literally gagged last year in the produce section when I caught a glimpse of a lady in flip flops. I swear her toenails were clicking on the floor and she left me in a trail of crusty dead heel skin.

So here are some guidelines.

You wake up and see that the forecast calls for a high of 60 degrees so by all means grab a pair of sandals....  UNLESS your calendar reads November, December, January or February. (Please note that I was generous and gave you October and March, but that is only if they are primed and ready.)  In that case, please...I beg of you put them back.  Throw on a pair of Chucks, Toms, Bobs or any other shoe of the closed toe variety.  (Except for Crocs...but that's a whole different blog.)

If you grab a coat, scarf, stocking cap or gloves and you are using them for keeping warm...not just looking cute, then it is NOT a flip flop day.

If you must warm up your car, no flip flops please.

If there is snow on the ground...cripes man...I feel I shouldn't even have to address that, but I've seen it with my own two eyes!  That's not even safe! Aren't people worried about frost bite??

I feel I must say that my husband often breaks these guidelines and hang my head in shame.  As we approach March, please exercise your right to manicure and exfoliate.  Thank you...and now back to your regular scheduled programming.

This Parenting Gig is Tough.

Before I got pregnant, I only thought about the "minor" parts of being a parent.  I thought about what cute maternity clothes I would wear.  Would I have a boy or girl?  Will I puke as much as Steph did during pregnancy? I dreamed about the baby's nursery.  I knew it would be tough waking up numerous times in the night. (Although, I had NO idea it would be every two hours for the first six months!)  I understood that my life would change.

I never once thought about the "major" part of being a parent.  I didn't think about what I would do if we were handed a diagnosis that will affect our child for the rest of her life. (even though I KNOW it could be so much worse) I never DREAMED they would know and understand cancer at the tender ages of 6 and 4.  I never imagined I would watch them climb in the limo with my parents and the Phillips family to follow Steph's casket to her final resting place.

That was, hopefully, the hardest thing we will have to do for a while.  But now, here I am, in the middle somewhere. The place where other kids don't see how their actions and words hurt others.  A place where I know she will be fine...but wonder if I can take it myself.

Claire told me yesterday that a girl in her class (we will call her Gretchen) said to another girl, "Don't sit by her...I don't like her." And pointed to Claire.


I swallowed the giant lump in my throat and did some deep breathing techniques.  I said something along the lines of, "Oh Claire, I am so sorry she said that.  She obviously didn't listen very well when your teacher was talking about using only kind words. If you would like I will talk with your teacher and make her aware of this.  I want YOU to know that you are amazing and it is her loss if she can't see that.  By talking that way, it will probably make it hard for her to keep friends."

What I wanted to say....

"Well Gretchen is an idiot."

I want Claire to understand what I learned 2 years ago.  They can't hurt you if you don't let them.  You are stronger than that.  You have already done the tough stuff.  You are tougher than that.  That behavior is ugly.  You are beautiful inside and out.  

And if that doesn't work, maybe we will take Cohen's advice that he offered as he listened to us talk.  "Claire, you just need to tell Daddy which kid it is and he will go up to your school and whoop 'em."

I'm sure in  a few days I will be able to step back and have sympathy for Gretchen.  Maybe she doesn't have someone to love her and make her feel strong and confident.  Maybe she has gone through tough stuff too and doesn't have people around her to build her back up.  But for right now, the gloves are off and I'm fighting mad.  For now....Gretchen is an idiot.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Friday the 13th: The one where my son may never forgive me.

I'm not a really superstitious person.  I've stepped on numerous cracks and my mom has never suffered a broken back because of it.  I don't even really believe in luck so much, because I believe more in a plan cooked up by my God.  However, yesterday was clearly Friday the 13th. I should have known when I made the turn to go to Claire's school and somehow whacked my head into my window! I have no idea how it happened or why my head was even close to the window...but it happened and we laughed...hard.  I dropped Cohen off, ran to the grocery store and headed home.  We have a window in the living room that won't lock and there is a draft coming through.  I decided to try and pull it shut by inserting a screwdriver into the hole where the lock goes and pull it towards me.  It was actually working until the screwdriver slipped.  It was not good.  I stabbed myself IN THE FACE!  I grabbed my eye and shouted a bad word or two.  I calmed down once I realized, I stabbed my cheek and NOT my eye...and there wasn't THAT much blood.  Then I thought about how refreshing a cool breeze can be.  Maybe that window should just stay the way it is.  Of course I could lean out the other window and push it, better not.

Soon after that, Cohen's teacher called and said he had an accident and wouldn't let anyone come in the bathroom to help.  I rushed up to the school.  He had indeed had an accident and even covered in poo poo, he is probably the sweetest thing on the entire planet.  As I was helping him I asked, "What happened buddy?"  He responded, "Oh Momma, I didn't even trust a toot I just tried to hold it until I got home!!"  I am so glad he is retaining all of the valuable information we give him.  (Never trust a toot, you may get more than you bargained for!)

I had some of my girls over for dinner while Big Daddy went and had dinner with his cousin.  I enjoyed great dinner and conversation with the girls and by 10:30 was in bed bawling my eyes out while watching the Extreme Home Makeover: Joplin Edition.  Much later, Big Daddy came rolling in and asked for chapstick because, "MY LIPS HURT REAL BAD." I directed him to my cosmetics drawer and went back to sleep.  The next morning I rolled over and shot out of bed.  "WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR FACE?!"  I thought he had been in a fight until I remembered him asking for chapstick.  Then I realized...Big Daddy had slathered on a huge amount of 24 hour lipstain.  I laughed until I was literally sobbing.  Then I took a picture and sent it to about 20 people.  I would LOVE to post it on here...but I value my marriage and my life too much to take that risk!!

My People.

There have been A LOT of things changing around here.  Things that, 10 years ago, may have sent me into a full blown panic attack.  However, through the trials and tribulations we have faced in the past 5 years, I have come to know the peace that comes when you TRULY put your life in the Lord's hands.  I have watched my mom do that for years.  When I was in the 5th grade and my brother was in the 2nd, my dad suffered a heart attack at the age of 40.  He had open heart surgery.  He survived the widow maker.  I remember my mom being tired, but she held it together for us as she prayed for God to spare my dad.  As a daughter and a 5th grader, I didn't truly understand the severity of the situation even as it was plastered all over my teacher's face when I told her my dad had a heart attack.  I remember thinking, "What? It's no big deal.  He will be home soon."  Now, as a mother and a wife...I understand.  When I look back at the way my mom handled everything when I was a child, I am so thankful.  Without speaking a word, she showed me how to have faith.  She showed me how to trust in a God that will never forsake me.  In the last 5 years, I have been given several opportunities to show my children what that looks like.  I hope I managed.  I think I did. 

This is NOT to say that I haven't given in to worry and anxiety a little.  Trust me, I have had some restless nights.  But God has continued to show Himself to me.  He shows Himself everyday in the blessing of my husband and kids.  I feel so complete when I think about "my people" who are there for me no matter what.  I am seriously surrounded by AMAZING family and friends.  My prayer is that everyone can experience this kind of fullness.  However, I have discovered that finding these amazing people usually doesn't happen unless you put yourself out there.  Sometimes you get burned...but trust's totally worth it. I LOVE my people.