Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Proverbs 27:9

We realized that next year will mark a decade since the beginning of our "Girls' Weekends." Crazy to also realize that on the first one of these some of my dearest friends in the world met Joe for the first time... we had only been officially dating a few weeks and that's how he met my friends... all in one big dose. Brave guy! :)

Since then, five of those weekends have allowed me to bring my own little girlfriend with me... whether she was in my womb or nursing. This year it was just Baby Girl and I, while Daddy stayed home to care for our bigger babes. They were so full of their weekend's adventure and happiness when I came through the door on Sunday night that I could hardly contain my love for all three.

I think these kinds of times are necessary for us as women, as wives, as mothers. They fill up our tanks, remind us of truth, encourage us to become what God has called us to be.

To save money this go 'round we stayed at friend's beautiful home in Georgia... between the Friday night mini spa (that the friend's husband booked, no less!), Saturday morning yard sales, devotions, laughter, deep sharing, Sunday morning church, first trips to the Hobby Lobby, and lots of brownies and other deliciousness... not to mention, a surprise shower for our little girl!... our theme verse rings so true.

"A sweet friendship refreshes the soul." ~Proverbs 27:9

I sure hope our girls have these kinds of friends throughout their lives. The kinds that promise to hit their knees praying the minute they find out you're in labor. The kinds that never make you feel guilty or selfish for sharing your heart. The kinds that don't define closeness by miles or other numbers. The kinds that make you pee your pants, just about literally in my pregnant case, from laughing so hard.

In fact, I hope this for each and everyone!


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wonderful World

The day is almost done.

Little girls are in bed, except the gymnast I carry with me, to sleep peacefully till morning time. At least I hope so seeing as how we just spent 45-minutes searching for Hope's treasured "other blankie," which brought great joy when found.
On an ordinary day my hands just might smell of Play-Doh, clementines, and baby wash. Maybe even a touch of the chocolate I snuck away to eat in our closet. The part I will not admit is that it might just have been chocolate out of the girls' Easter baskets. :)
I can't exactly see my feet, but I do know that these ankles are not the ones I had seven months ago. Joe's t-shirts have become my very own collection of new pajamas.
Toys and books clutter counters, tables, and bits of the floor. We've agreed that dinner dishes can wait until morning.

Thoughts of good parenting moments make me smile; others make me promise to do better tomorrow. That blessed time when mercies shower brand new.
I sit on our shrinking queen sized bed next to the one who agreed to go on this adventure with me... for good times and bad. For richer, for poorer. For hormones, for foot rubs. Uh, I mean... for sickness, for health.

That's when I hear you, Louis Armstrong...
As I think to myself in this very moment... "What a wonderful world."

Happy weekend to be lived!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Putting the Mmm...

...in ham.

And, oh girl, is she scrumptiously good at it.

*Some of Madison's favorite ways to answer questions:
(Glossing right over that occasional, "Nooo!" of course)

"Yesss!" (Quite Napoleon Dynamite-like, whispered and all.)
"O-tay!" (Straight out of The Little Rascals.)
"I don't tinnnk so!" (Which causes me to smooch her cheeks off every time!)

*Joe created a character named Bart for the girls and they looove hearing these stories. Basically this flying squirrel often doesn't listen and learns a meaningful lesson in the end. Hope has taken to creating her own versions lately (which are hammy enough all on their own!) The other night while riding home Maddie decided she could do it too. In a loud, authoritative voice she announced:

"Onnnne day!!! Bart... and some nuts." (Dramatic pause). We all burst out laughing and clapping. She just flashed us that classic grin as if to say, "Oh yeah, I hope you were taking notes people."

*Everything is all about "Hopey" to Maddie. "Where is Hopey?" "I need to see Hopey." "Tum here, Hopey!" She tries to wear Hope's shoes, lay in Hope's bed, and imitate most everything Hope does or says. That's why I shouldn't be surprised that every morning now I come into a room with a naked one-year old. After all, "Need to potty like Hopey!" Diaper off and a big announcement of what she has done. The clincher?

"Mommy," she will say in a tone of you're not gonna believe this one.

"Mommy, I poo pooped aaa-din!"

Not sure I'm exactly ready for this, but I better get myself in gear... cause I'm changing sheets faster than I can wash them anymore.

*Both of these girls love stories and songs, but Maddie may really be our next American Idol. She used to request "Jesus Loves Maddie" at bedtime, and don't even think about going generic with the whole "Jesus Loves Me" version. But these days going to bed consists of songs and motions and dancing (which if I could upload video, oh Heaven help us, if I could upload video of that!) One night she woke up and Joe went in to comfort her. He tried several songs, but she just kept saying "Bob an' Warry, Daddy!" Finally Joe gave one last effort with the Veggie Tales' theme song, "Bom... Bom... Bom... Bom..." he began. Within two seconds she nuzzled into his chest and went out like a light.

*Oh, let's see... to wrap this up I just have to forever etch what she might say to you if you were meeting her for the first time. Proud as a peacock and all pleased as punch she'd walk right up to you, flash another grin, and proclaim, "I'm Maddie Mawtins!" Then stand back to see you, no doubt, in sheer awe of this fact.

Yes, we think she's scrumptious.

Then again, she does * learn from the best.

*H at M's age! :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Won't Do

Yesterday morning I woke up while the house was still dark and quiet. I felt giddy, almost like Christmas morning, in anticipation of seeing the girls. Not that I don't usually love seeing those faces every morning, but here lately the all night gymnastics leave me a little less than chipper right out of the gate. I carefully craned my neck around Joe's peacefully sleeping body and saw 6:00 on the dial, so I tried to settle back in next to his warmth for a little more sleep. After all, it would be a busy day.

It just wouldn't do.

I slipped out of bed and tiptoed down the stairs. Made a cup of tea and sat in one my favorite spots that hardly ever has company these days. The dark green chair in the deep red room Joe painted for me right after we moved in. One of my most favorite pictures of all time sitting beside me, the one where all of us crowded my bed and officially became a family of four on an early Saturday morning.

I watched the birds on the dewy front yard for a while and then decided in atypical rush-around Sunday morning fashion I'd make orange cinnamon rolls and a big fruit salad. I was halfway through chopping the fruit when I heard Hope calling for me. Some kind of dream had awoken her and she was crying a bit, so I scooped up her footy pajamed body and we went to cuddle on the couch.

Tears turned to giggles as we finished making breakfast. She went to get Daddy up and I went to get Maddie. The four of us then crowded the breakfast table. Something about the ordinary morning made me realize it was such a gift. Extraordinary even.

Thoughts of this stayed with me for a while before we resumed our scrambling around, throwing pink and brown dresses over little heads, and trying to make it to church on time after losing an hour.

Whew... we made it.

As is expected, Maddie went straight to her room to find her favorite faces and this particular perfectly sized baby doll. Hope came to worship with us until the service grew more quiet and she excitedly went off to find her friend Sophia and that day's songs and crafts.

Then I lost it.

Some of you may know that our pastor's teenage son went to be with Jesus this past summer just before he was to enroll as a freshman in college. During this time his family has been an inspiration in showing us the power of having a relationship, not just a religion. Sure, they have been strong. They have helped others even in their grief. They have helped us understand the realities of Heaven and the promise that awaits us at the end of this life's tears and struggles. Some of the most real and true relationships with Jesus Christ that I have probably ever seen.

But they have also been just that.


Yesterday our pastor tried to get up and share, but he couldn't. The words failed him. I watched as men came from all corners of the church to rally around him.

I remembered the footy feet running down the stairs that morning. The huge grin when Maddie saw me come through the door and the, "Here's me, Mommy!" that followed. The orange cream icing tucked into the corners of mouths as they told us all kinds of things around that worn oak table.

Though there were few dry eyes in the house, I sobbed so hard the sweet woman behind me dug for a Kleenex and gave me a warm smile. The same one she had offered as she watched Hope point to the cross and in an exaggerated whisper tell us, "That's what Jesus died on to give up all our sins!"

All of this combined with the season we're in makes me wonder at what hope there is if not this? To endure something like the loss of your child without it, I cannot even begin to imagine. In fact, the word loss isn't exactly fitting. For there is a reunion coming, one so amazing and grand and beautiful that no eye has seen and no mind can comprehend it. Oh for the things that are being prepared, for the joy that will one day be more than restored... even for the comfort that is offered while we press on through the rest of this life's purpose, through both its beauty and heartache.

To settle back in and miss out on that?

Too extraordinary. It simply just won't do.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Our Girls

I love that we have girls who get their hands in the dirt and sand. Girls who run hard, climb high, and enjoy showing off their "super soccer kicks." Girls who, more often than not, prefer an explorer over a princess.

But I also love having girly-girls.

Watching their little feminine hearts take delight in that which is beautiful... a sunset, a pretty dress, or a handful of flowers.

Makes them do things like get all dolled up. You know, to go to the mailbox and to color pastels all over the drive. Small moments that just beckon for skipping and twirling.

Makes them go all giddy with the thoughts of having a friend over for a "tea" party. Baking cookies and painting flowers in watercolors during the almost unbearable wait.

And, although I'm sure I'd feel the same way in perhaps a different way if God had given us a house full of boys, I just love.

Just love having our girls.

Monday, March 8, 2010


okay, old man winter...
if you promise
to give us these kinds of days more often
then i promise to try and stop looking ahead so much
wishing for sunshine and spring
but i'm afraid there's nothing you can do

to keep me from dreaming
about holding our newest baby chick
nope, not a thing :)
*29 weeks*

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My Mostest Friend

This girl...

Okay, this girl.

Completely amazing kid.

Passionate, determined, a downright little ball of fire sometimes. It is possible she soaked up just about every one of those genes her parents had to offer.

Truthfully, she makes our heads spin now and again.

But, I'll tell you what... she has a heart of gold. Sweet, gentle, and a downright little ray of bed head sunshine who keeps us smiling and singing.

See? :)

Oh, and let us not forget hammy.
But you already know that.

She is my daughter. Otherwise, why would I come into the kitchen the other morning to this:
She got out snack and a magazine for each of them all by herself. I have no doubt she was planning something spectacular from the look on her face when I asked what she was doing.

In fact, recently I was scolded for asking her to take her snack to her tray table. "But I just decorated this place!" she protested from among a pile of pillows and blankets behind the curtains. From one party planner to another, how can I argue with that?

She has taken to calling me her "mostest friend." When I leave her bedroom in the evenings or the house to go on an errand she'll call after me, "I'll see you soon, Mommy! Don't forget; you're my mostest friend!"

During a round of the stomach bug in which Maddie and I were hit the hardest, Hope couldn't stand the fact that we were asking her not to be near us for a little while. Joe did everything he could to console her including calling another best friend, Nana, on the phone. At one point Nana said, "Let me tell you something, honey, it's just that no one wants you to get sick." Hope's quick retort was, "Let me tell you something, Nana, Mommy and Maddie are my mostest friends and I need to be with them. They are hiccuping all over the place!"

When Joe or I go somewhere Hope often says to us, "I hope for God to protect you!" She asks about her Daddy throughout the day and finds comfort in knowing just where he is and what he might be up to. She even takes seriously the job of protecting her many coveted stuffed animals. I finally convinced her that one basket is enough for hauling them all over creation. I'd babysit the rest in the meantime and be sure they are all protected. This worked. For a day or so. :)

We have started learning about forgiveness and her understanding of it floors me. Often she'll make a bad choice and not rest easy until you have responded to her, "Will you forgive me?" with a hearty "YES!" Just the other day Maddie got a consequence for throwing some food onto the floor again, and that sensitive babe started bawling. As if that doesn't rip my heart out enough Hope bursts into tears saying, "Oh that hurts my feelings for my sister! Mommy, ask Maddie to forgive you right now!"

Yep, she's taking this biggest of the sisters role seriously. She asks all the time if today is the day that the baby will come out. I shouldn't have been surprised when one afternoon she rolls into my bedroom with a ball of pillows and blankets and a stuffed dog in front of her belly. "I'm having a baby too, and it's not coming out until yours does!" she announces. We determine she is having a baby boy with the very flattering name of Slushy. Then her nine minute pregnancy gets the best of her... "Look, Mommy! Guess mine needed to come out already! Would you like to hold him?"

Goodness, the babies. The number of mouths to feed around here is seriously getting out of control.
Along those same lines, our daily devotion the other morning was about Hannah. We learned how sad she was because she didn't yet have children. Hope looked downcast for a moment and then brightens, "But not you, Mommy! You have me and Madds!" When we got to the part about God giving Hannah a son, Hope grinned again from ear to ear. Right then reminding me to pray my heart out for all those who find themselves in Hannah's shoes.

My mostest girlfriend.
Well, one of three anyway.


*By the way... she cut herself some bangs with, ahem, child scissors during rest time the other day. I haven't even touched them up yet. She's both hammy and pretty good. This is a very dangerous combination, folks. :)

Monday, March 1, 2010

City Slickers

Recently, rather than have to miss him again, we snuck on down to Atlanta for Daddy's business trip. While he slaved away, we managed to find a few things to occupy our time. And I don't just mean my (first!) trip to Ikea.

Of course, we ate. I laughed a little to myself as all the business people politely smiled at me with my giant tummy and double stroller accidentally bumping into their briefcases and pretty suits. Our favorite was this bakery a stone's throw from the hotel's revolving door. I may or may not be still dreaming about their chicken salad on rye... plus four dollar kiddie meals that were healthy, delicious, and big enough for my girls to split.

Yes, I can admit, such things give me a thrill.
We hit up the local scene within the surrounding blocks-- for those under the age of ten, that is. Thanks to some great online deals at the aquarium and children's museum Hope can't stop talking about coral reefs, sea otters, fishing, and tap dancing. Maddie can't believe she saw "Nemo" in the real live gills and she could have stayed on that John Deere or in the sand and water for hours... wait, that's right, she did!

We also found us a pretty cool and timely park to while away most every afternoon climbing ladders, barreling down slides, and chasing pigeons.

I'm not sure what the girls did...
Kidding, just kidding.

Truth be told, the hotel itself was a wonderland enough of exploration. Oh for the halls to run down... the "rocket ship" to ride (up to the 20-something floor, those fearless girls!)... Olympics to watch from atop a mountain of soft pillows... a pint of Ben and Jerry's to share in the bustling lobby... all in one's jammies, no less.
Simple pleasures of childhood.

Yet, if we're really all about the truth here... then we have stories of a parking garage gone bad, MIA dress shirts, a couple rounds of musical beds, a ginormous hill I could barely get up each day after our adventures, and a sudden earache a few hours from home that ended with an upset tummy all over a favorite pillow and souvenir baby otter.

But you should know me better by now... :)

I'm choosing to let our memories be directed by my other senses. The sounds of our family peacefully breathing together in the dark and giggling fits over giant penguins. The first time feel of a star fish to your fingertips. The sights of sisters running off together to discover and Daddy throwing the kids high in the air at the end of a busy day. The smell of laundry detergent making things new.

And all other routes to the silver linings.

Is there any other way to travel?