October 31, 2011

The Glad Game

So there is where I find myself early on a Monday morning, sitting in a semi-dark living room wondering when the sun will ever come up, kids awake a bit too early and now tousling in my bed, husband dutifully downstairs in his office already, washing machine chugging bravely away in the face of mountains of laundry, dishwasher catching up after a do-nothing, lounge around Sunday.

I'm staring in the face at so.many.projects. Some that I've put off too long, some a bit daunting, some I just don't want to do. Who said being a stay-at-home mom was dull? I'm not quite sure how it will all fit together, especially this possibly co-directing a large drama production thing, you know, with life and laundry and stuff.

So when the fridge begs a run to the grocery store and when there are suitcases to unpack after a week of traveling and when there are prop lists to make and a script to re-analyze, I will recognize all this fullness as from God's hands and play a little "Glad Game" myself.

#351. an unplugged Sunday afternoon - no cell phones, no computers
#352. the opportunity to travel with the husband as a family
#353. getting away for a week
#354. coming back home
#355. a yard full of leaves again, big yellow maple leaves
#356. reading Pollyanna again
#357. seeing something new every time I revisit this favorite childhood story
#358. the story of a little girl who changed a town with her lifesong to look for the good in everything and everyone
#359. the depth of the characters in what I always thought was a simple little story
#360. being moved to tears by a story I've known my whole life

October 26, 2011

Sometimes You Just Gotta Laugh...

...because if you don't, you'll cry.

Like yesterday when I managed to get both exhausted toddlers into the back door of the hotel we are staying in, and I quick ran back out in the drizzle (what is up with the incessant drizzle in Eau Claire, WI?) to grab my stuff out of the car and returned seconds later to see Jack-Hammer curled up in the fetal position in the middle of the hotel hallway with his eyes squeezed shut and the little girl huddled in a ball propped up on the window next to the door.

Apparently our trip to the mall on this particular day of traveling was too much for them. I know that driving the ill-planned streets of Eau Claire and getting lost twice (despite the use of in-car navigation) and taking the wrong exit on the way back to the hotel which put me on a 4 mile detour was too much for me. Too much in fact, that for awhile I just sat in the car in the hotel parking lot and read a book while the kids napped in their car seats after all the aforementioned chaos.

Both of the kids refused, flat out refused, bribing-won't-even-work kind of refuse, to walk up the stairs to the third floor. And the elevator is even further away than our room so I determined that that wasn't a viable option.

So I laughed and proceeded to carry one of them up the first flight of stairs, leave that one on the landing, run back down the stairs, carry the other one up, run back down the stairs, and grab our stuff. I repeated this process 4 times until we finally made it to our room which was fortunately right by the stairwell.

I unlocked the door to our room, brought the little girl in, and laid her on the couch. Then I grabbed all my stuff, threw it in the room, and turned to see Jack-Hammer now curled up on the luggage rack in the hallway that I had used earlier that morning to move all our stuff (I'm not a light packer) to this room from another room (that's an even longer story......but let me just say we are very grateful for this wonderful room and the "friends and family rate").

As I reached down to hoist up my not-so-little nearly 4 year old, I heard the click of the door closing behind me.

You know those moments, those moments that are rather insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but in the moment it feels like the world stopped spinning and, with some crazy movie effects, everything swirls around you as if the entire universe is watching to see what you will do?  Well, this was one of those moments for me. And all I could do was tip my head back and laugh........right before I started pounding on the door and yelling in my nicest mommy voice, "Ava! Please come open the door! Mommy and Jack are locked out!"  Listen intently. No sound on the other side of the door. More pounding.  "Ava! We need your help! Please come be a big girl and open the door!"  ..........waiting..........  Nothing.

I hear a door open, but it's the people right next to us leaving their room, an elderly couple who don't even glance in my direction and proceed to walk away with their noses in the air.  Knowing there was nothing they could have done to help us anyway, I say to myself, "They are gonna love us in a couple hours when it's bathtime and bedtime. We are not quiet people."

By this time, Jack is fully awake and seizing the opportunity to bang on the door. Finally I realize that there's no use. Through the door I tell Ava that I am leaving to go downstairs and get another key. I listen intently for some sort of response from the other side of the door.......and once again.......nothing.

So Jack and I head down to the desk to get a new key. On the way, I pray that it is a different lady than earlier in the morning when I had called from our new room to have them check to see if I left a pair of little girl boots in our old room when in reality the boots were in the side pocket of their suit case the whole time. The staff, of course, didn't find the boots, but they did find a library book of ours. And yes, I realize the ridiculousness of bringing a library book on a family business trip five hours from home, but it fit with my homeschooling "plan" for the week.

So, long story short.......or something....... we got a new key, unlocked the door, and Ava was still sitting where I had left her. She looked at me with complete knowingness - she knew I had been calling for her, she knew she didn't do anything to help, and she knew she got a few glorious minutes to herself while Jack and I were locked out.

The day ended something like this:

The husband gets back. I relate my day to him. We all head down to the restaurant for supper. Jack, as usual, has to go potty in the middle of the meal. On our way back from the bathroom, he trips over some non-existent something and does a belly flop on the floor in front of the salad bar. Ava, for some reason we never did figure out, slid off her chair head first and did a face plant onto the floor under our table and came up with ranch dressing all over her face. And Jack spilled applesauce all over himself.

I just laughed.

And the husband and I had one of those moments when a couple finishes each other's sentences.

One of us said, "Whoever said that these years go by quickly...."

And the other finished, "....should be shot." 

(I realize that sounds harsh, and of course we don't actually mean it, but the point is, it's not going by quickly. I know that someday it will seem like a really short time of our lives, but living through it is not a short experience).

The End.

October 22, 2011

"Just One" Give-Away! {How do you wear your apron?}

People, I am quite excited!

And I am excited for 2 reasons:

#1. I am hosting my first give away!

#2. I am hosting a give away for my mom's brand new etsy shop!

My mom has been sewing for as long as I can remember. In fact, most of my clothing and all of my Sunday dresses were sewn by my mother when I was a little girl. My mother is crafty in almost every way. No project, from huge (HUGE!) hand-painted backdrops for large drama productions to corsages for my wedding to handmade nightgowns for my little girl, is daunting to her. So when she expressed the desire to make a little money off her craftiness, etsy was the right fit.

She began sewing aprons. But not just any run-of-the-mill apron. These aprons are fully reversible and finished off with unique and delicate details that make each one truly one-of-a-kind. In fact the name of her shop, Just One Stitch At A Time, or "Just One" as we say, indicates the heart of her work. There is "just one" of everything she makes. Each item is completely unique and will never be duplicated. So when you wear one of these aprons, you can have the satisfaction of knowing that no one else has an apron like you!

I'm a messy person. When I cook, when I eat, when I do anything, I usually make a giant mess. So I've recently taken to wearing aprons when I bake and cook. I love the way an apron makes me feel. Domestic. Retro. Motherly. Classy (in spite of the disaster around me). And lady like (despite my lack of gracefulness).

And my mom's aprons only add to the charm. Every time I've put on one of her aprons, I haven't wanted to take it off. They fit like a glove and are made from a pattern that would make them fit any woman of almost any size perfectly. The neck and waist ties are long and also reversible allowing you to wear your apron in your favorite way. My favorite way? Neck ties tied short so that the top is snug and doesn't sag. Waist ties wrapped around the back and tied in front with a cute bow.

But why should mom get all the fun? My mother's shop is also featuring fully reversible children's smocks perfect for baking, doing messy crafts, or for keeping that adorable outfit spotless during a holiday meal.

So without further ado, I present to you the give-away item:

A fully reversible holiday apron!  A $50 Value!
(not featured in the shop)

Imagine the memories you could make while wearing this stunning apron! Deck the halls, bake the goodies, and great the guests all while looking classy in this festive apron.

But wait! If you act now..........  uhhh.....ahem.... never mind....... this is not an infomerical. Sorry, I got a bit carried away.

You have many chances to win this apron for yourself. Here are the ways to enter this give-away:

1. Go visit my mom's etsy shop by clicking HERE. Look over the smocks and aprons. Come back here and leave me a comment telling me which one is your favorite. This will get you one chance to win the "Just One Holiday Apron."

2. Blog about this giveaway! In your blog post, include a link back to this post and a link to my mom's etsy shop. Come back here and leave me a comment with a direct link to your blog post. This will get you an additional two chances to win the holiday apron.

3. Post a link on Facebook to this blog post. Come back here and leave me a comment telling me you did for one more chance to win.

4. Post a link on Facebook to my mom's etsy shop. Come back here and leave me a comment telling me you did for yet another chance to win.

5. Buy an apron or smock! For each item you purchase from my mom's etsy shop, I will put your name in the drawing 5 times. (My mother will verify the purchase.)

So many chances to win! Let's get started!

The give-away contest begins today and will end on November 21st at 9:00 am central time. One lucky winner will be randomly selected, the winner will be contacted, and the apron will ship as soon as I hear back from the winner.

Good luck everyone!

October 18, 2011

Another Tardy Monday Post

When the sting of looking back and letting go meets the moving forward and embracing of a new road,

and when the doubt gives way to trust,

and when the bouy of my flesh swayed by every wind remembers that it's attached to an unmoving, unchanging Anchor,

I remember that God is always good, always faithful, and always there.

And when I think about it, God's too good, really, just too good. We just simply.don't.deserve. where He has us and what He's given us.

My intense battle with doubt that left me breathless and fearful looks so silly now. But God embraced me in my doubt and pointed out His goodness along the way giving me the ability to step out into a new direction and deal with the early weeks of the husband's absence and seeing somebody else drive our tool truck.

And us in this white collar world? Oh it's quite laughable. Me with dirt under my fingernails and deepest aspirations to sell at the Farmer's Market. Me bathing a dirty, stinky German Shepherd puppy in the kiddie pool.

And him in love with his tractor and no hobbies other than work.

And when he asks me, "Aren't you glad we took the risk?" I wanna laugh and ask, "And just what risk are you referring to? The risk to love each other? The risk to do that whole Marine Corps thing? The risk to get out and do the civilian thing? The risk to start up a business with 2 six month olds and me not working? The risk to lay it all out there and go toe to toe with corporate?"

Yes. I would risk it all again, with you and for you. From the moment we shook hands with those people putting us into business, I knew we would end up here. And I know you knew it, too. Some things don't have to be said.

But some things do. Because if we don't say them, we might stop feeling them.

So I'm saying this and linking it up over HERE.

God, this is all straight from You:

#346. the sting of doubt that reminds me of my true security
#347. that deep down feeling where you know, even when everything around screams the opposite
#348. the sight of a tool truck deep in a Wisconsin woods
#349. the discussion with him about not half-doing anything, even and especially the things we don't want to do
#350. embracing the stings making the joys that much sweeter

October 11, 2011

Hints of Sanity

Today when I sent the kids outside, the dog tormented Jack who tormented Ava who retaliated by yelling at everybody.

Today when I decided an afternoon movie was in order, no one could agree on which movie to watch, and when we finally picked one, it held no ones attention and everybody ended up back outside.

Today, everytime I got the kids occupied with something and finished tidying up from the previous occupation attempt, my hand would barely touch the next thing I wanted to do before someone had a problem or needed me or suffered some sort of indignation that needed reconciling.

Today when I made the executive decision that Jack was going to take a nap, months after I had to cut out their naps, and he actually took a nap, I paid for the hour of quiet during the day with an hour+ of restless Jack-Hammer antics at bedtime.

Today when everyone was finally corralled, showered, and pajama-ed but still bouncing off the walls and not listening and I said, "No more hanky panky!" (really, where did that come from?), I then had to listen to a chorus of 3 1/2 year olds singing and laughing "No more hanky panky!" for the next half hour.

And today when everyone was almost asleep and I was this close to quiet and time to myself, Ava had a hard time falling asleep so I got in bed with her and ....... fell asleep myself.

So in the last few minutes of this day which will likely be over before I actually publish this post, I will search for a hint of sanity....

....and remember that God's grace is the only real sanity...

....and that God's grace is everywhere...

Linking up HERE with all the others sifting out the chaos in search of sanity.

#341. the opportunity to be here with them even on their bad days
#342. the little girl belting out a made up song in the shower
#343. the way the little boy talks - so earnest - I can't describe it - but it melts my heart
#344. two little blondies sitting at the table munching on huge honeycrisp apples
#345. just how much they love each other even though they can fight like there is no tomorrow

October 7, 2011

Adventure #4 {Eau Claire}

I left the husband alone for his first "new start," his first week with a brand new distributor. He needed space to get used to the role without a wife and kids hanging around, and I needed to not stay in a hotel where you checked in at the gas station and were issued a fly swatter with your room key.

But by his second new start, I lovingly insisted on going with. He was hesitant. Traveling 5 hours in the car and staying in a hotel for 5+ days with two 3 year olds was a bit unimaginable for him. But rational daddies sometimes underestimate the persuasiveness and power of highly determined, not-so-rational mommies. In my best from-the-heart voice I told him, "We need to try this at least once. I can do this. It will be fine. I either parent them alone here while you're gone, or parent them alone there while you work."

It worked and soon we were off, leaving behind the Indian Summer at home to go visit the rainy, classified as "hurricane-like," weather of Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

And you know what? It was fine. In fact, it was more than fine. It was wonderful, such a great time of family bonding, of watering our ever-growing Matco roots, and a much appreciated sabbatical from home life for me.

After dropping off the husband at the home of his new distributor, the kids and I would head back to the hotel, enjoy the continental breakfast that I did not have to clean up after, do a bit of homeschool in our room that I did not need to clean, and head out for our daily adventures that did not involve late night canning or scary sibling haircuts. We explored outside every dry moment we could and even a few rainy moments.

We took a beautiful drive to visit a cave and had a picnic in the drizzle.

{Ava and I discussing what we might see in the cave while Jack does his thing.} 

{let's just call this guy "Mr. Out-of-Focus"}

{shot through the windshield - more drizzle}

We visited a large city park and had another picnic in the drizzle.

Taking care of potty needs on the go is interesting with 2 toddlers/preschoolers. I think I only got peed on twice.

We explored a little bit of the city and all its rivers. And I snapped a few photos before it began to drizzle.

And during the torrential rain, we spent two afternoons at the Children's Museum.

 We had another picnic in the drizzle, and enjoyed the sun breaking out of the clouds for a few hours.

I have so many good memories from this trip, things like Jack-Hammer teaching himself to swim under water at the hotel pool, going down to the lobby any time I felt like fresh coffee or tea, eating out at different places as a family, all four of us crammed in one bed watching movies, and hopefully starting a simple tradition with new distributors.
But my favorite part was when the husband looked across the table at me one night while eating out and asked if we would come back with him in a month when he needed to return for a week. Inside of my head, my jaw dropped and I jumped up and down screaming "Of Course! And I didn't even have to fake that we were having a good time!" (which I was fully prepared to do).
But I just smiled and replied, "Yes."