Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bits: List of Awesome

At one point last week I got tired. See I used to do this thing {like all my life} where I would push myself and stay up late and go and get very little sleep and then, bam, I would have a day or so of crashing where I'd catch up and then be on my merry night owl way.

I'll never forget when Joe experienced this phenomena of mine for the first time. We were friends on our way to dating, and I had just been through housing training as an assistant hall director with my large staff of girls. We had pulled all nighters for the University of Tennessee's annual Lip Sync madness, for opening days, for presentations, for staff bonding, for all night get to know you sessions, for... the list could go on and on. The first day I got off duty, I unplugged my phone and instant messanger {remember that?} and fell dead to the world. So much so Joe actually sneaked in my room and left me sweet notes and a care package, and I never even heard him. We still laugh about this.

That was a rabbit trail, but consider it a side effect of fatigue. 'Cause I can still go and go, but those crash fests? Not so much, I'm afraid. I've learned a lot since then about quality over quantity and simplifying, but often life doesn't fit in such a neat pretty schedule. That's okay, except sometimes the lack of sleep can catch up with me and pass along a plain ridiculous case of the grumps.

One tried and true strategy to battle worn-out-ness or grumpiness of about any kind, though, is to stop. {Collaborate and listen... yep, tired.} Grab your camera if you're a visual gal like myself, pen and paper, or even just clear some space in your mind and make yourself one.

A List of Awesome.

:: 1. Watching Saturday morning cartoons on blanket boats.
:: 2. Having a yard sale {with quite the captivating window advertisement} and when, surprisingly, your Mom is the only customer charging her $852.00 for a scarf, doll, and spoon.
:: 3. Dessert with friends. And can I just say, if you have ever moved a time or three to a place where you know no one the word friends is a pretty special awesome indeed?
:: 4. Bedtime stalling technique, a.k.a. "Just One More Show!"
::5. Frozen yogurt coupons.
:: 6. Dollar movie theaters on a whim and past bedtime. Kermit is still such a stand up guy. Alysse would know this if she made it past the first thirty minutes.
:: 7. Tripling up on the headgear just in case. Guess you can never be too prepared for how chilly those Fro Yo joints could get.
:: 8. Being one of the big girls. Especially when she runs in just seconds behind hollering a bunch of jibber jabber so as to appear completely in on the jokes.
:: 9. The way she reads books. "A, B, more jibber jabber, De En!" {The End}
:: 10. These ballerinas competing to out compliment me when I'm wearing a necklace and my good jeans. Better yet when I'm wearing my hair twisted into a braid and bun with two day old yoga pants. I am aware that someday I may not be so cool.
:: 11. Students, dinner, and a buzzer our girls desperately love within the walls of our house. He really does see to the desires of our hearts. Hang on, friends.
:: 12. Waiting on the air popper to finish up afternoon snack. Never gets old.
:: 13. These four surrounding me, when I'm awesome and when I'm grumpy alike. {Taken by such a dear photographer.}
In light of all things awesome, Easter is coming! It truly is one of my very favorite holidays. And though my religious beliefs do not require the practice of denying oneself for Lent, I love the idea of preparing my heart and mind in a special way. That's why I'll be taking a little break for the month of March until Easter Sunday. In this wonderful and silly world of Facebook and blogs and all things update worthy, I'd like to take a break from ME and MINE. I hope to use the time and space to edify others online, in and around my home and routines, with family and friends I don't see nearly enough. It's a small act of sacrifice, but it's part of my offering and I hope it will be be blessing.

Besides there's a lot of living and loving to do in the days ahead-- starting with Daddy's spring break and some time with friends and family coming soon! I even think I hear some rest calling my name. :)
May the TRUE sacrifice of Jesus be your great comfort and joy!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bits: Everywhere

I had a deep post writing itself in my head this past week and then the weekend arrived. Some friends, whom we haven't seen in years, came to visit-- friends who knew us before kids, friends who walked alongside us until a brand new Hope came into our world, friends who had yet to both meet the other 2/3 that now make us Martins Party of Five.

And, man, it was a sweet time of fellowship.

There was a lot to catch up on-- normal pleasantries quickly giving way to the stuff that real life is made of. Good, happy stuff but-- more often than not-- the challenging, hard stuff too. The valleys we've walked or continue to walk through, the ways our faith has been tested, the desires of our hearts and how our purposes continue to unfold. All of that balanced with a delicious dose of silliness and fun.

Suddenly my long winded, previously drafted head post boiled down to practically a single truth. The hard in our lives can often leave us in one of two places-- unable to see the good around and in us or constantly seeing it... everywhere.

I am filled up with the everywhere this Wednesday.

:: My Mama often says I should be out on the sidewalk practicing dance moves with my brother circling me on his bicycle... both of us within the view of her kitchen window. I understand now and my chest tightens a little to think that will someday be me.
Thankfully today I still have this.

:: Similarly I remember that line from Father of the Bride when he says that he cannot imagine coming down to the kitchen table without his daughter there in her nightgown and socks. I so get you, Mr. Banks.
:: A single different colored rose for each of us from our Father of the Brides. Hearts sang.
:: Friends coming to town means baking pies to be eaten way too late on a Friday night.
:: And not letting them escape family dance parties unscathed.


:: The weather lately! A metaphor for life in so many ways. Saturday: Joe's in shorts, we're creek hopping behind our house with the kids, eating potato salad at the picnic table.


Sunday: The skies opened up and, oh, it was pretty-- especially at night. Totally fun to boot. It was the best of both worlds.

:: I scream, you scream, Alysse screams for SNOW CREAM! And smoothies.

:: I love teaching my kids. A random addition workbook page turns repeated addition (multiplication), turns subtraction, turns repeated subtraction (division), turns to-- "What if I had three friends who wanted to share four cookies?"
Hello, my little problem solver, you just taught yourself fractions.

:: Clearly my resolution of one load a day is coming right along. How else could my children play "Buried in Laundry Mountain"?
:: Dear God, I love You God. Your love. Your great. Love, Hope

She wants to know if He will pick up this note and take it to Heaven. I may just have seen her lifting it up high practically expecting it to float on up there. Faith of a child.

I remember three years ago when a lot of everything in my life tried to swallow up the everywhere. I remember that tough time with painful, grateful clarity. For in the remembering how it feels to stumble in some darkness, I keep myself looking ahead into the light of all that is good. It doesn't always prevent the falls, but it sure gives me a hand up before I'm tempted to linger there too long.
How can I not smile?

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. ~Phil 4:8


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bits: Few of Our Favorite Things

I could make a list of my unfavorites. I mean there is a house full of four girls worth of emotions over here. We think out loud, and talk real loud, and need our quiet cries, and encourage deeply, and push each other's buttons, and hug passionately, and hold hands, and shut doors too hard sometimes, and compliment tenderly, and cry real hard, and say things we feel badly about, and say "I love you" a whole lot, and laugh pretty much hysterically at some point every single day.

Through it all, and best of all, we have each other-- these little women, this house brimming with the gift of daughters. Which makes the favorites a shoe in every time.

:: Leesie's pick. I cannot imagine there is another dolly out there that has been more loved than this babe right here.
I do sneak to wash her at least once a week.

:: Baking cookies in the middle of the afternoon and choosing to believe that the applesauce, flaxseed meal, cranberries, and oats outweigh the butter, sugar, and chocolate. It didn't taste that way, but what does that matter?
:: Zip lines and other such constructions. I'm telling you, give Hope some yarn and scissors-- and, especially, Scotch tape-- she's like Preschool McGyver.
:: Maddie and her fashions. No jeans please; dresses only preferred. And the accessories? She's all over those.
:: She's also a tender-hearted spirit. I love that about her so much.
:: Parties... a "class" Valentine's one with another homeschooling family. I have to pay Jillian extra for the spinach artichoke dip and leftover cookie decorating supplies but it was worth it.

Studious little loves. Alysse majorly hearts that new "Dayee" shirt.

:: In fact, special days rank right up there for us Martins' girls. Days surrounding February fourteenth this year, no exception.
Thanks to Daddy for the lingo-- 'Sup, Valentwine?
A sampling from each little artist in this house.
Our countdown was to learn the Bible's definition of love from I Corinthians. Wish I had found this post when I had the idea because she put it even better, but the girls (and I!) got a lot out of these reminders of how to love well.

:: Collaborating on parenthood. I love that I have a guy who will often process WITH me, especially about our kids. After all that thinking and remembering with our Hopey these past few weeks, Joe gifted her with a picture Bible he had as a child. That night we acted out creation and Jesus' birth under her stage managing and directing. I love watching her passionately pursue the stories. It seems passion has to go somewhere, and I hope for each of our babes that their somewheres are filled with good and making a difference.

:: Eat mor chikin. Or if your name is Alysse, it sounds like-- eat mo' chit'tin! This is typically our meat of choice, when meat is on the menu, and we have some fajitas about once a week. I'll never forget being famished once Joe and I boarded our honeymoon cruise ship when what to our hungering eyes did appear? A 24-hour Mexican buffet! We fell in love all over again thanks to some nacho cheese and salsa.
Mexican food= True love forever.

:: Barefoot and catching the first snow flurries of the year on our tongues.
What a list, eh? To it I might add a string of thoughtful Valentine mail that rocked our socks off, pizza night, when Alysse constantly requests, "Dance 'ith me!" and puts her head on our shoulders, and the way our kids smell after they've been bathed and lotioned up.

Our crazy, lovable list of shoe-ins-- winning out again and again. Because, really... why buy into the alternative?

ps... Favorites, from their view points, below. This was fun. :)

More of Those Things: Interviews

I really must remember to do this each year.
H: Hope, freshly turned five; M: Maddie, three and a half

Favorite Food?
H: Ice-cream
M: Apples

Favorite Bible story?
H: Baby Jesus
M: Adam and Eve

Favorite Color?
H: Orange
M: Pink. No, purple. Pink AND purple.

Favorite Song?
H: Go Tell it on the Mountain and Angels We Have Heard on High
M: Jesus Loves Me

Favorite thing to do in town?
H: Kids Cove!!
M: Playing on our front porch swing

Favorite memory?
H: Playing with Nui and Koa
M: Yeah, going to Nui and Koa's!

Favorite piece of clothing?
H: My Buzz shirt
M: Dresses
Favorite Bible verse?
H: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
M: Oh, how I love Jesus!

Where would you like to travel?
H: North Carolina!!!
M: And Chick-Fil-A!

What are you most proud of?
H: My coloring
M: That I get to be with Mama every day
I'm proud of your creativity and pizazz! When you wanted to make a Valentine's tree, well then, I put your little bags of heart day goodies right underneath it. We may or may not have then rushed down that morning like it was our February version of Christmas.

What are you afraid of?
H: Monsters
M: Scary shadows

What do you want to be when you grow up?
H: Astronaut
M: Mommy

Favorite flower?
H: Rose
M: A pretty dandelion

What would you like to do to help others this year?
H: Give a family to a kid who needs one.
M: Give someone a pretty, pretty Valentine's flower.

Favorite thing we do together as a family?
H: Family Night!
M: Being together
Latest family night... hot dogs, mixed veggies, and baked fries with glow stick hide-n-seek/dance party in the dark.

Favorite thing to play around the house?
H: When I am Buzz and Maddie is Jessie
M: Playing ALL day!

Who do you really look up to?
H: Mom and Dad
M: Mommy and Hopey

If you could be an animal, what would you pick?
H: A monkey so I could swing from the trees!
M: A dinosaur 'cause I like them!

What would you like to learn more about?
H: The body (a recent school topic)
M: Important Bibles
Maddie getting a head start on learning about static electricity.

Coolest thing about being a Martins?
H: That you get to sleep with Mommy and Daddy if you need to.
M: That we are a FAMILY (big twirl!)

Little minds, little hearts. Or is it big minds, big hearts?

Shoe in worthy all the same, baby girls.
Likewise loving their new clearance Valentine digs, Olivia and Dr. Seuss shirts.

~Mama, The Interviewer

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bits: Making Dinner

Tuesday is the new Wednesday this week. I mean, really, it's gorgeous outside and it makes me feel inspired.
Sometimes it still catches me by surprise that I have a real family. It is quite amazing that these children are not my one verified Cabbage Patch kid, Norton Xavier, plus a bunch of knock offs. All those days I shushed imaginary cries and fed painted on mouths are now more than a figment of my imagination. So much more.

This thought often strikes me most of all when I'm cooking dinner.

And though Joe can cook a mean meal, especially breakfast, there is something so motherly about singing with Alysse while stirring pots on the stove and staving off my older two with another, "It's almost ready! Have a carrot or something to hold you over!"

:: 60-something degrees in February? Well okay, we'll take it. We needed some D3 anyway!

:: Valentine making has begun. I'm thinking that since Christmas and New Year's were pretty abnormal this year I am filling my holiday loving bucket extra full with some doilies, stamps, and ribbon.

Little calendars found on clearance at Michaels for the grandparents. So what if January has passed? Glass half-full: There are eleven more months to the year and January still has a mighty cute pic.

:: Sometimes I go back and read old posts, which is by far one of the coolest things about this whole blogging schtick. But sometimes I really read old posts and they resonate with me so deeply. Thank you God, for eyes to see and remember the parts that have added up over the years to make her into the woman You are shaping her to be.

:: Oddly enough this spontaneous Daddy date wasn't looking too good in the beginning, but once the three of them got out the door-- boy-- they had a blast! They came home from a basketball game shouting and giggling and dancing and sporting some free t-shirts with bellies full of frozen yogurt. Sometimes you just gotta press on and fun will more than meet you there.
:: In true "it's the little things fashion" I went on and hung my chalkboard, which made me so happy. You know how changing a little something like that will spur you on to clean out and reorganize and practically remodel the joint? Yeah, that's why my kids didn't get lunch until almost 2:30 that afternoon. Sorry, babies.
:: Some fell off and bumped their heads.
New games and old favorites rock.

:: Someone was truly happy when we were done with that playing business and she could jump all the orange monkeys to her heart's delight.
:: When our kids ask to sing their prayers it's a favorite of mine. "Go Tell It on the Mountain," "You are My Sunshine," and "Oh, How I Love Jesus" with lots of improv scattered throughout.
These sweet moments infinitely preferred to the chaos that is checking out at the grocery store when I know I have pushed it much, much too far. Not that I did that this past week. :)

:: Hearing my kids talk at the dinner table about when they become mommies. This conversation literally had me laughing and crying at the same time. Hope's all, "I'm going to live next door and have you over all the time when I'm not on the moon." Then Maddie did that little click with her tongue that she does when she's for serious and says, "Well I'll live in town too and come to the door in my apron and pretty dress. I'll serve all the adults two cookies each. And I'll never have to go to bed!"
You know, wiping my tears, they just might.

:: Speaking of dessert, this is what is requested when I'm signed up to bring something healthy like fruit.
Camera malfunctions abounded this week, but it's fruit pizza. Leave sugar cookie dough out until just about room temp. Flatten into a pizza pan and bake according to package. Let cool and top with a mixture of room temp cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and a tsp or so of vanilla. Top with fresh fruit and sprinkles of sugar and cinnamon. Serve immediately-ish.

:: And speaking of laughing and crying, that's just what I did while rocking my real live round-faced doll named Alysse Maribeth the other night. She's getting so big and my heart can hardly stand it. I know we always say it, but I really mean it {again} this time. I'm feeling that God will fill out our family in ways different from my belly growing round. Even if He doesn't, I have so loved having her little.
:: Ahhh, these girls. {Who all lined up and yelled cheese until I came over to take this picture. True story.}

:: It's true. From here to there, sometimes I just can't believe I'm the one who makes them dinner.

Thanks unexpected February sunshine,