Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Favorite places . . .

 I love favorite places.
The world is full of them . . . just waiting to be discovered!
I've had lots of favorite places so far in my life, and I hope to uncover many more before I "shuffle off this mortal coil".
When I was a kid, attending public school in Belleville, NJ, the elementary school I went to was in an old, big, brick building. The left entrance to the building had a stairwell that went up four flights, from basement floor to attic. No one ever went up the attic stairs. Well, the janitor did occasionally to get stuff . . . there was a huge, locked wooden door at the top of the stairway with only God knows what behind it. Once in a great while, a teacher would have a student get a key from the office so they could open the big door and get a ream of paper, or new bottles of glue, or tubs of tissue paper. No kid wanted that assignment. Any number of things that live in children's imaginations could be living behind that door! And the kids who braved attic assignments and lived to tell, were surrounded by wide eyed schoolmates for the tale.
But on the landing across from the door, was an arched window of frosted glass. It went from floor to ceiling, and looked away toward my childhood home.
Sometimes, when I needed to, I would ask to use the rest room, but instead of descending the stairs toward the bathrooms, I would climb those stairs and sit in front of that window and breathe.
And think about being home.
No teachers, no kids, no subjects . . . just me and the window.
It was one of my favorite places.
These days, some of my favorite places include anyplace I can snuggle up with my boys, the warm comfort of my bed, my grandfather's kitchen table . . .
Daniel has discovered a favorite place too.
He loves to get up on the back of the couch, and perch there in front of our big picture window, and look out at the small slice of world in our front yard.
Sometimes, he gets behind the sheers, and we can hear him talking to himself, or singing. Or, he just sits there and watches the cars, trucks and tractors roll by. Usually, if it is a tractor, we hear all about it! He loves those!
I know he feels invisible. Like he is in a place no one else knows about. He cocoons up in the curtains and is transported to a place that is very special to him.
He can sit there for long moments at a time, which, for a two year old, amounts to about 15-20 minutes.
I love to watch him watching the world go by out our front window.
I love that he is finding favorite places.
I love finding more of my own.
What are some of your favorite places?

Some amazing things my kids have said . . .
This morning, though the sun was shinning brightly and the sky was blue, it was cold . . . burrr, and when Daniel and I left the house for school, he noticed his breath.
He was blowing streams of vapor and then trying to bite it.
"Look mom! I have dragon breath! There's smoke in my mouth!"
He was so excited, I didn't have the heart to go into the scientific explanation, so I heartily agreed!
Josiah responded to an alter call in chapel yesterday about un-limiting God in our lives. Later, he told Joe he wasn't going to respond, but he went up because he heard God's voice telling him to. Joe asked him if God's voice had been soft or booming. Little Jo replied, "Both".
Also, yesterday morning, I was having a cup of coffee (as is my usual custom) and placed it on the table so I could make a much needed trip to the restroom. When I came out of the bathroom, I found more than half of my coffee gone, and this . . .
Daniel strikes again!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Coming soon . . .

Perhaps I don't have enough to do.
I mean, maybe my "plate" just isn't full enough . . . 
Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment.
Or an overachiever.
Or maybe . . . just maybe . . . I love books and reading and writing (and having opinions) soooooo much, that I would do anything to get free books, have to read them, and then write my opinion about them (otherwise known as a book review).
I will be adding periodic book reviews to the content of this blog!
Why are you doing this? you might ask. Or, How?
Well, I recently signed up with BookSneeze through Thomas Nelson Publishers. They will send me free books of my choosing in exchange for a short (under 200 words), honest book review to be posted here and on one other consumer site (i.e., or, etc.).
I have already chosen my first book, and it should be en route to me even as I write this.
Free books! Really?! Can you beat that?
How can someone like me, who loves books and is always looking to expand my personal library,who loves to think about what I've read and discuss it, who loves to write, pass up an opportunity like this?
I can't.
So, in the near future, you will find a book review, or several, tucked in among the antics of my boys and stories of our everyday lives.
I'm pretty excited about the whole thing.
And I think I can find some room on that plate, right next to the mashed potatoes!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

You know it's an Olympic year when . . .

. . . your two year old says, as he is playing with Legos and wooden blocks that look like arched bridges, "Look, mom. Her snowboarding!" (we are working on that pronoun thing) as he slides the figure up and down the halfpipe looking structure. I guess he's paying more attention than we thought.
Don't they always? They catch lots of stuff we want them to, and lots of stuff we don't.
Today, Isaac is at his last junior division basketball game for his school. I am home with Daniel, who is still a bit under the weather, and Josiah, who we are struggling to keep well. His chest sounds yucky, and he gets pneumonia so easily.
This is the first sporting event I have missed. But Isaac is with his dad today, and that is good. Joe gave up sleep to be there. Joe gives up sleep to do a lot of things for the boys and I. Thank you, Joe. Sincerely and humbly, thank you.
For me, the day is to be filled with finishing the laundry (are you ever really done, though?) and playing castle with the boys, and folding clothes, and playing blocks, and putting clothes away, and reading out loud to the boys. Do you see a trend here?
Joe called a bit ago. Isaac's team won their first game, but not their second and they are on  their way home!
Yeah! I love when we are all home together!
We'll talk about the day and catch each other up on everything we missed at the game and at home, and then maybe we'll sit together for a while and watch the Olympics! Joe may doze off, but that's okay. He deserves every z he gets! As far as dad's go . . . he's a gold medal champion!!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Scribble and jot . . .
 (image not my own)

Writing . . . it is such a part of who I am.
It is how I make sense of my life, keep up with it, remember it.
I'm sure that without writing in my life, I'd feel pretty lost.
I love pens. Beautiful pens with ink that runs smooth, silking out words, spilling them onto paper . . . out into the universe.
I love pens that feel good in your hand . . . feel like another finger.
I love to scrawl. To dot and scratch.
I love the way it sounds, pen moving over paper . . . whispering secrets and punctuating declarations.
It is my favorite way to write . . .with pen and paper.
I so much prefer it to keyboard and screen. But really, I take writing however I can. Writers can not always choose how we write. The need to do it drives us to use whatever instruments are available to us at the time. Writing is writing, like air is air. Sometimes, it is harder to breathe than others, but you always have to.
I have endless books and myriad scraps of paper lying about filled with thoughts and quotes and lists and menus and color choices and verses and stories of baby genius and memories and rants and prayers and ideas and . . . bits of my soul, mind, heart.
It's like my life has been written out on leaves of paper, scattered in the wind.
You can find writings under my bed, tucked into books and bookcases, in my purse, on my desk, on the nightstand, in the closet, in towers of boxes stacked in the garage.
I have half used notebooks with all sorts of jots and scribbles all over the place. I always have a blank book with me, wherever I go. . . just in case.
Yet, the place I feel I have my best ideas . . . the place I compose the nicest words . . . or get flashes of scenes that really might amount to something story-wise  . . . or remember something I want to, or need to. . . is in the shower!
No pen and paper in there.
And so, I have thoughts, get ideas and words while I am soaping up, and they are gone from my mind before I hit the rinse cycle! Seriously, this happens all the time.
I have a theory that I actually have written a book, but it is out to sea by now, washed down the drain with the suds.
The attempt to write out thoughts and ideas on paper while showering, I'm sure, would end in a soggy, pulpy mess.
So, I had a thought today . . . what if I put a white board in the shower? Stuck it right to the far shower wall? And attached one of those dry erase markers?
Then, when I get an idea in the shower, I can just jot it down, and rewrite it later. 
No more lost ideas sliding down the drain!
And, practically, we can leave notes for each other, like . . . "Isaac, don't forget to wash behind your ears!" or "I love my clean boys!!!"
I think I will try this. I'll keep you posted on how well this works.
Who knows, you may even see some shower-writings here.
This was just an idea I had today . . . and I wrote it down.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I heart Valentine's Day!!

And why wouldn't I?
I have four very handsome and wonderful men in my life to share it with.
Yep. I'm a pretty lucky girl.
It's been more like Valentine's weekend here.
Last week, we made valentines for the boy's classmates and teachers, and I made a Star Wars Clone Valentine box for Josiah's classroom party that was on Friday. It was pretty hooked up, and he loved it, which made all the time it took to make it so worth it. When he saw the box waiting for him on the table Friday morning, his eyes lit up with twinkles and sparkles and a grin took over his whole face. I love that boy!
 There was lots of candy and partying and more candy. I want to send out a hearty thank you to all those teachers and friends who thought it was a good idea to sugar my kids up on a Friday afternoon. I'll be plotting my revenge soon. (Just kidding. Actually, we gave out our share of goodies to friends and teachers, so we're all pretty much in the same sugary boat!!!)
The boys had a friend over, and we had heart shaped pizzas from Papa Murphy's  for dinner. That was a lot of fun!
 After we cleaned up, we setteled in and watched the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics. It wasn't as spectacular as the summer ceremonies in Beijing, but it was entertaining in it's own right, and some of it was quite delightful. Isaac said that one day, he wants to be at an Olympic opening ceremony. I hope that happens for him. I love that boy!!
Of course, our hearts were heavy for the family and friends of the fallen luge Olympian from Georgia. What a horrible shadow over the Olympic events. I pray that Jesus would be with those who knew Nodar, that He would bring them comfort and that they would come to know Him if they do not know Him already.
Yesterday, we visited Gramp for a while and then when shopping with MeMe. The boys bought me a silver heart necklace and earings that they wanted me to wear on my Valentine date with Joe. And that is just what I did! Joe and I went to Joplin for dinner, and we had a great time talking about the boys and future plans and just . . . everything.
And Joe got me a sweet computer bag. It's a SwissGear and is very elegant, yet holds a ton of stuff, so I no longer have to lug around three bags . . . I can just carry one with everything in it. I love it!!! I'm such a bag girl. I'm a Joe girl too! Gosh, I love that guy!!
Danny woke up in the middle of the night with a fever and a croupy cough. Ugh. So I am home with him this morning. Man, I love that baby boy!!
Before the boys went to church, we gave them their Valentine's buckets, with some candy and books in them. Not too much, but just a little something to let them know we think they are so sweet and we love them!!
Hope you are having a happy Valentine's Day!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hair raising . . .

Tonight, as Joe was helping get Daniel's socks off so he could get into the shower, Danny was holding on to Joe's head to steady himself as his dad lifted first one foot, then the other off the ground.
Daniel said to Joe, as he ran his hand over and over Joe's nubby short hair, "Your hair is so cute. Who put it in there?"
Joe replied, "My hair is so cute? [chuckling]God put it there."
"Who gave you more?" he wanted to know.
"God did," Joe answered.
This satisfied Danny, who ran squealing into the bathroom.
We looked at each other and laughed.
Where does he come up with this stuff?
I don't know.
But it sure puts a smile on my face when he does.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Our school had a Flapjack Fundraiser at Applebee's this morning. For $5, you got pancakes and a drink.
It was a pretty sweet deal. The pancakes were delicious, even though I am not particularly a pancake fan, and I ate most of mine. The lady from Applebee's who helped us pull it off said it was the most plates they had ever sold for a fund-raising event.
My son, Isaac, bought two tickets with his own money for our next-door neighbors, and treated them to their breakfast today! He went to their door earlier this week to give them their tickets, and told them breakfast was "om him." We saw them there this morning, and they were quite impressed with the whole thing. They made a donation to the school, and I got to connect with them in more than just an "across the fence" kind of way.
It was a lot of fun for a great cause!!
Here are some pictures.
Right after I took this, Daniel said "Don't shine me, mom!" He didn't want the camera to flash when I took his picture!

He is too funny!! My mom asked him yesterday, "Do you love your mom?" and he replied, "Yeah, her my lady."
Yeah, he can pretty much have whatever he wants from now on . . . I'm his lady.
I love that!!

Friday, February 5, 2010

What I want to be . . .

Today, Daniel said to me, as we were getting his shoes on and getting ready to leave the house, "When I get bigger . . . . I'm gonna buy a zoo."
This was totally random. I have no idea what made him think of it.
And it was so cute!!
He was so serious about the whole thing.
"Yeah? A zoo?" I echoed.
"Yeah. I wanna buy a zoo. Like Joe from Blue's Clues."
Right then, at that moment, that was the dream he was having.
It was what he was wanting to do . . .when he can. When he is "bigger."
There you have it.
A cross between zoo ownership and pre-school TV personality with a talking blue dog and lots of other crazily colored animals running around his house.
The funny thing is, a few days ago, I made a list of dreams and goals I have for myself (kind of a "before I turn the big 4-0" self-assessment thingy). Some of them practical and do-able. Some of them not. But I wrote them all down so I could see what is there on the inside. What I can still do.
It is a long list. 
Some of my items make me laugh.
Some make me sigh.
Some of them make me remember.
Some of them make me hope.
My biggest dreams are dreams about being better than who I am. Loving more. Knowing God more. Giving more. Seeing more. Doing more. Changing more. Growing more. (I am aware, so you know, that a lot of these dreams can and will only be realized with the help of God. I cannot do these things on my own. I am not capable of them. It is only by His grace and mercy that these things are even possible.)
And then there are the things like . . . "I want to be a ballerina."
Well, it is a list of dreams.
Just yesterday, my friend Kerri, on her Facebook status, posed, "Complete the sentence: my dream job would be . . . "
With 30 comments, it is the most replied to thread I have seen in my time as a facebooker.
People have dreams. No matter how young they are. How old. What they are doing. What they are not.
They have dreams, and they want to talk (or in this case, write) about them.
Between now and the then when he is actually "bigger", Daniel's dream of zoo tycoon will change and morph and grow and shrink and grow again. 
But it was his dream for a moment . . . today.
And it reminded me that, like myself, even my 2 year old has dreams.
Everyone does.
I hope he never stops dreaming.
Who knows? He just might own a zoo.
What are your dreams?

On another note, here is another cute Daniel story from today. When he woke up this morning, Daniel seemed fascinated, perplexed and a bit freaked out by the fact that he could not see himself.
"Mom! I can't see myself! I can't! I can only see my nose! I can't see myself or my mouth!!"
I assured him this was okay, and he couldn't see himself because he is inside of himself, and I told him it was okay because I could see him, and he was in fact there.
He looked at me for a long moment.
"I'm here?" he asked.
"You are." I answered.
That seemed to settle the matter.
Sometimes, we just need someone to tell us . . . they know we're here.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Knowing . . .

Picture of Water Texture - Free Pictures -
 photo by Ian Britton
I am sitting at my desk in the kitchen, cup of hot coffee steaming beside me and the smell of cinnamon waffles in the air.
I have been up since that time just before the sun rises over the horizon. At those times, and in the evenings after the sun sets over the rim of the earth, the snowy world outside is bathed in blue light. It is breathtaking, and for a minute, I have to remember that I am still on this planet.
Today, I walked out into the cold blue morning, and listened to the sounds of the world waking up. I breathed in the sharp air.
I was still.
And I knew.
God is God.
Now, back inside, Daniel is still sleeping. He has been sick with ear infections and stomach virus. He had to have blood drawn yesterday. He was quite brave, I must say. I am hoping his little body is healing as he is resting.
The boys are off to school.
Joe is at work today.
Ahhhhh. It is just me and my coffee.
I hear the ticking of the clock, the whirrr and click of the ice maker, the birds outside my window chirping out a stark winter song. The heat kicks on. Music plays softly.
I am enjoying things I usually do not hear, for all the other seemingly constant noises in our house . . . boys chattering and bantering and whining and making the noises of war and space and just plain silliness; phones ringing, the  t.v.'s empty talk.
It is nice to sit in quiet for a moment. To breathe and think about the day ahead and what I have to do in it.
I am able, if just for this short time, to be still.
And I know.
It is easy to know that He is God when the waters are calm, still, peaceful.
When all the mechanisms of our home are working, and our children are asleep or safely off to school, and our coffee sits so near, and we can sit and breathe.
But I know this, too.
That even when there is noise and chaos and sick children and broken appliances and the laundry threatens to become it's own entity and eat us, or when I am insanely busy, or inconsolably sad, or miserably at odds with those I love, or unavoidably facing strife, He still IS. God.
See, I am learning that the stillness is in me.
Because God is.
No matter what is happening around me.
Because God IS. Here.
And when we know that God is God, and who he is -- our loving, just, holy and sovereign father -- all the raging seas around us cannot cause one ripple in the still lake of our hearts.
The sun is up now, blinging brightly over the snowy surfaces, and so is Danny, smiling up into my face, melting my heart.
I must go begin this day . . . make breakfast and give medicine and face down the laundry pile and  . . . and . . . and . . .
But no matter what happens today . . . I know God IS God.