Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Bits: Choosing Joy

Last week, amidst all the clamor and van-time signing up and getting ready for a new school year-- we had some... moments.

And I don't mean the frolicking through a paint splattered playroom a field of daisies kind.

Friday night proved to be sweet, though, with a spur of the moment trip to our town's new (cheap! yummy!) Mexican restaurant.  Queso, salsa, and jam packed tortillas make everything better, right?  We came home hopeful.  Crockpot oats simmered through the am hours and we woke up to first soccer practices on a perfectly beautiful 70 degree Saturday morning.

One of my cherubs didn't get the memo on this sunshiny bliss and it was like pulling teeth to stay patient.  Honestly, it made me grumpy.  Grumppppppy.

As I helped her get to the van, I decided to change tactics. Two grumps are NOT better than one. I reminded myself of the should-be obvious age difference and I remembered that it's a heart I'm cultivating here, not a perfectly behaved child.  I slowed down, chose my words more carefully, and I talked to her.

I talked to me.

When things don't feel right and we sense ourselves nose diving into moments we are sure to regret later, what should we do?  Give into the negative pull or, when at all possible, look up.  Ask God for strength.  Choose joy.

In my experience, almost always, joy chooses me back.

We talked through this and we prayed.  Before long we arrived at the field, the van doors opened.

The memo was delivered.
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 My cheerleading section partner.  

A beautiful Saturday turn around indeed.
:: I love that my girls can go from superhero sirens...
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At a birthday party I was privileged to get to help plan and execute! One that made my girls all things sweaty, dirty, and action hero-like.

::... to perfectly princessy.
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Holla for $2 Goodwill princess digs.  Ones that made my babes blush and girly squeal on their way to a perfectly royal affair.

:: Daddy's helping coach soccer this year.  He is such an encouraging trip, that man!  Kids love it.
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:: When I think of the house we almost rented and how bummed I was when it, by our own choosing, fell through-- I cannot help but get the biggest smile.  Our best is not God's best.  His best is... THE best.  It's nothing to be hanging with our new neighbors until dinner time comes calling and say, "Oh, I've got this" while they're all, "I've got that."  We meet in the middle serving up whatever came out of those last minute plans with a side of memories to boot.
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Keep in mind: six kids six and under between us.  A recent visitor who came to see us both said that we could have our own reality TV show.

:: A pretty cute reality TV show, I think.
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:: Friends who make you coffee and personalize it should be kept.
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I've found Choose Joy Rule #1: Make someone else's day!

:: After a couple weeks of travel, when all of us were back in our hometown and under one roof, Joe and I decided that we needed some adventure to be shared between just the five of us.
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Yeah, this pretty much fit the bill.

This week marks the last of "summer" and we still have some items to get crossed off our Bucket List.  Who knows if we'll make it but I do know that in the middle of Desitin rubbed into my freshly cleaned couch whatever comes, I'm focusing in on something pretty powerful.  Even if I don't get it right the first time and have to go for it time and again.
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Spray Park? Check! Find a tiny caterpillar (Alysse's latest quest in life)? Double check!

Choosing Joy,

Friday, August 23, 2013

Summer Bits and Pieces

How about some {hopefully} regularly scheduled bit-writing?

Before I can get back into my weekly'ish swing, though, I gotta get some summer out of my system.

Lazy, busy, sunny, rainy, organizy, bucket-listy, travely, celebratory, ordinary, this-and-thaty.

Bits and pieces of summer.

:: HUGE... My precious big girls were baptized on a bright, Sunday afternoon!  Hope's courage to share her testimony, with Joe's help, about knocked me over.  Filled-up Maddie shared too and afterwards there was swimming.  Plus a cake, a la Nana, and many good tears.
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Butterflies for new life!  Sweet monogrammed towels from PopPop and Nana to remember always.

:: Smaller bits like... a little jam making.
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:: Corn shucking.
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 :: Crown and bracelet adorning.
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Littlest artist has finally been bit by the art-project-bug in this house.

:: Reyonolds Rockets meeting via Coach and Uncle Billy.
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Surreal to have the girls at my old high school.  On the way, without a single bit of prompting, they busted out countless rounds of "R-O-C-K-E-T-S!"  Must be in their blood.

:: Puppet play performing- the product of mostly unstructured, find-something-to-do days.
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:: Firework watching from our new house's side porch.
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Minor league baseball stadium is just a few streets away.  Coolest thing ever on home games, especially the grand finale!

:: Self pedicuring.
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A favorite shot from Maddie's party I just found.

:: Magazine reading and snacking to beat the heat.
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Um, a little too grown up my dear?

:: From the new kitchen window-spying.
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Climbing a front yard tree named Belle, which is neat bit in and of itself.

:: Edible Arrangement receiving on a hot, hot afternoon.
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Thanks, sweet friend, for this treat!

:: All around summer'ing.
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I know lots of folks are anxious to move onto all things pumpkin and cinnamon and crispy cool, but I've got to give summer its final due.  I love me some fall, yes I do.

But I also love here.


And the chance I have to look back, tally up, and savor every single little bit.

Needed this today in the worst way.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bits of FIVE

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Always spotting and gathering flowers, even in the most unlikely of places. A talent now passed onto her younger sister.

She cannot be five.


When she moved up to Hope's Sunday School class earlier this summer it took me so off guard, I sat in worship with fresh hot tears.

I am ready, but not.

I suppose that's the way it will always be.

The theme of mamahood can almost be encapsulated in one word: bittersweet.

But she?

Way more sweet than any bitterness can stand.

Even if I can hardly believe she's now a whole handful.

For "Maddie Day" this year, we had just returned home from a whirlwind vacation up North and honestly I was a little bit sick and a whole lot pooped.  She made a little list of things she wanted to do, per the usual, but I couldn't even really keep up with her simple requests.  Daddy saved me by whipping up birthday pancakes.  We read out of our birthday poetry book, which only comes down on July 18th and January 16th and May 10th.  We reminisced about a kissable, new, chubby little girl who stole our hearts five years ago to the day.  And then we went nowhere.

You know?

Sweet girl that she is, she didn't care one bit.  Instead she pulled out some of her new "Fancy Nancy" books until she found her favorite one about a spa.  She had just one final request.

"Can I spa you, Mommy?"

Why not?

They lathered my face in honey mixed with squished banana, stuck my feet and half my bedroom floor into a foot bath, painted my nails (and fingertips and knuckles), used half a bottle of lotion, and made me a sloppy beautiful yogurt parfait- extra blueberries and granola.  Afterwards we broke out some princess crowns and watched "Tangled."  Always fast-forwarding or closing eyes when the "old woman" falls out of the window at the end.  Then our sweet backyard neighbors met us outside for last minute brownie cake and ice-cream sundaes.

Good stuff.

As it was with the necessary catching up, we rescheduled her birthday party in the NC mountains. I was bummed and thought she would be too, but our girl understood.  So when we were all feeling better and ready to travel, I was especially excited to give her the shindig she had wanted for a full year going strong.

A princess party.

It was a royal ball.
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Dearest Madison Elise,

Happy birthday, sweet girl!  Really, truly this past year seems to have flown by so fast.  You have blossomed into a such a little girl over the past 365 days.  I could never begin to paint a detailed enough picture of the wonder that you are, but I can give you a snapshot of you at the fresh new age of five.

You are such a student of all things beautiful.  A ceramic angel (you love those!), a sparkly decoration, a sunset, a butterfly or flower.  "Oh, isn't it so beautiful?" you can often be heard murmuring.  If I come out of the bedroom in- say- a dress or skirt, you are the first to cover me in compliments and hugs.  Because not only do you notice pretty things, but you are affectionate to match.

Your biggest sister will say, "Maddie, don't hug me SO hard!"  And you oft reply, "But I just love you SO much." Never mind her because one day she will especially recount all of those hugs with such fondness and nostalgia.  I guarantee it.:)

You love to use fancy, big words and create fancy, big (and little!) creations.  You are into "Fancy Nancy," princesses, Cynthia Rylant's "Brownie and Pearl" series, Daddy Dates, swinging (so proud to pump your own legs for height and speed!), and all kinds of old movies.  You are sure to be the one with a quivering chin if the movie has a sad part because of your tender heart.  You love to sing and twirl; this fall you are excited to take on soccer too. Your feelings can be hurt easily and you can get downright grumpy if you're hungry or tired. You enjoy snacking on frozen mango or blueberries, quesadillas, pancakes, fruit leathers, and cooked carrots.  You can eat a whole crockpot of cooked carrots. A sweet tooth?  Oh, yes! Especially if you get to wear the apron and help make the treats.
If I had to freeze frame one memory of you, our five year old Maddie Girl, it would be your rendition of "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus" in that tiny soprano voice you've got going.  You are in a lovely dress and twirling.

Always twirling.

I know God handpicked you for our family, and I will be forever grateful.

This year we will take on kindergarten together, and I expect fabulous.

You are the queen of fabulous, after all.

Love you so.
Mama and Daddy too