Dear Lurky McLurkersons,
I am honored that you come to my site and read my ramblings.  Please feel free to continue coming.  I would like it very much however if you joined and/or left a comment, because you see I know where my visitors are from and think it is awesome that my lil’ ol’ blog has readers from all over the U.S. and sometimes other countries.  So, it would be fun to know more of a person rather than a location.

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Things I Know For Sure Part 2

This kid is seriously cute.  Her sweet voice, her terrible grammar, her cartoon eyes that fill up halfway with tears (you seriously look for Bugs Bunny to go rowing a boat across), her tiny hands and the faces she makes. Addison is the first bite of your all time favorite pizza that when you think of it you immediately start salivating and when that first bite enters your mouth you just have to close your eyes and savor it for a bit.

These girls are fantastic sisters who got to enjoy a childhood right of passage this weekend— An orange sherbet push pop!

This Daddy and daughter LOVE each other. They complete each other in a very Jerry Maguire way. And last week he accompanied her on her Kindergarten Zoo field trip. She will remember that forever… and I’m certain he will too. As she got on the bus she says to her Daddy, “Who ever knew buses were so cheese-ish yellow?” Oh yeah, that’s my girl. The workings of her mind….love it.

Speaking of Daddy-Child pairs, check out this one!  Oh my.  I have a very attractive husband.  He is the reason the word “swoon” came to be.  But the times when I am most likely to grab him and plant a kiss on him is when I catch moments like this one:

I know that school carnivals are another childhood right of passage.  Every child should get to experience the wonder of cotton candy, cake walks, popcorn, duck ponds, winning tickets and a new one to me…. throwing plastic bananas into a gorilla’s mouth!

Hotdogs taste yummier here

Snow cones are magical here

Tattoos are actually cool here

I also know that this Summer I will have a glorious vegetable garden.  We planted in out side yard this year to avoid the destruction from wayward basketballs, big blue bouncy balls, 18 month old toddling feet that don’t understand the concept of a garden path and fantastic games of tag that get a little out of hand.  And there are few things better than planting with your children, teaching them the wonder of growing things, allowing them to pick and eat fruits and vegetables as they spend their Summer days outside and know that they are choosing to eat healthy things because they helped grow it.

I know that these memories of theirs, playing in the sprinkler together on a toasty Sunday evening will remain in my head forever.

I know that these daughters of mine think that silver sequins transform them into professional dancers, here is a preview of what they will look like for their dance recital next month:

Writing My Story

I  am laying on my couch in  my pitch black living room.  The only light is that of this laptop, and the only sound is the occasional rumble of a train off in the distance.  Where are trains going in the middle of the night?  And why can’t it wait until morning?

{I am up way later than I should be up considering I am NOT a morning person . I will have to remind myself in the morning my fatigue is completely my own fault so as not to get too cranky with slow moving kids when clearly I will be rushing them tomorrow because I will be running late}

I’m all contemplative.  I finished school tonight for the semester.  I have completed one full year of school…. consecutively!  (If you don’t know me, I mention this fact because 7 years ago, I went to school for one year and dropped out to get married and have a baby, like dumb 20 year olds do from time to time)  I’m feeling pretty proud.  Drop out.  Its an ugly phrase.  I was ashamed of this title, and whenever someone would ask about my schooling over the last 7 years, I would dress it all up with sayings like…”I decided to take time off.” Or “I decided to make my baby girl and husband my priority.”  Or “I wanted to be a stay at home mom.”  Which was all the truth, but I wanted to be those things after college.  The truth is, I messed up.  I made bad decisions.  I dropped out of school.  I write this fully realizing that college is not for everyone, and that is perfectly and wonderfully fantastic.  But college was for me.  It was the goal my whole life.  I was a “learning lover” from the time I was 4 years old and started reading.  Nerd?  Yep.  Constant reader? Yep.  Good Grades? Yep (anything else gives me heart palpitations). So while I spend every year since my 4 children were born, fully, completely, magically satisfied with being a stay at home mom, there was a part of me missing.  I Mom. I Wife. Yep, they’re verbs now.  But just because I am a mom and a wife and those things make me crazy happy, that doesn’t mean that I am not also Mari, and through the grace of my God, the cheers of my children and the support of my husband, I Mari. I will continue to Mari because that is who He made me to be.

I want to travel.
I want to learn.
I want to graduate. 
Oh
how
I
want
to
finish
and
graduate. 

But here we come to the point of this tale.  My last final tonight was my writing class. The required writing class.  I distinctly remember telling the gal who sat next to me all semester, on the first day of class.  “I hate writing, this is just a requirement for me.  I have nothing to say.”  I thought that I lead the most boring life, surrounded by family and friends who are so full of story and drama.  As it turns out, I am may be your average, every day plain (Mari) Jane, but I have a story.  Its added to every day.  It might not be a NY Times best seller type of story, but its mine, and darn it, I’m going to write.  I’m going to write so that I don’t lie awake at night thinking.  I’m going to write so that someday perhaps my daughters can read and learn and live differently and similarly, and know me in a new way.  My life is not full of intrigue and suspense (although my dreams would be hit movies), but I’m going to write.  Because everyone has a story, and I have been under-valuing myself my entire life.  I have happiness to share, pain to share, struggles and laughter.  To twist a Veggie Tales song a bit, “Because God made me special and now I can see if I’m special to Him then I’m special to me!”

Sass and Spunk

Dear Layla Marie,
As I type this you are doing what you have been doing from the very moment your legs, arms and mouth first cooperated with your brain as a one year old.  You are singing at the top of your lungs, dancing and chasing your baby brother all at the same time.  You may look identical to me, but your are purely, genetically Daddy (in a blonde, blue eyed, beautiful little girl way).  You have graced our lives with laughter for the last 6 years.  Even this morning on the way to school I could tell that you were deep in thought— you always do your best thinking in the car— you said to me:

“Mom, now that I am 6 will I still be funny?”  Asked and answered my love.

You are sweet, compassionate, stubborn, spitfire, sunshine, stubborn (I did say you are of Daddy), freaking hilarious but not in an obnoxious way.  You strive to make people laugh as a 5 year old and I’m guessing that this coming year will not be any different.  It amazes me that someone so young understands sarcasm.  You totally do not get the concept of a knock-knock joke, but sarcastic humor and teasing you have down to an art form.  You change lyrics of songs to ridiculous things, but stay precisely in tune (Daddy changes songs, but definitely not in tune). You and he are completely in synk, as evidenced by him putting frosting on your cheek and without missing a beat you returned the favor!

You are a drama queen, especially about getting your hair brushed.  “Ow. Ow. Ow. OWWWWWWW!”  is what I get to hear every morning.

You never, ever leave the car in the morning without kissing me, Addison and Donovan goodbye with an “I love you” for each one of us.

Once again, another trait of Daddy, you have come this year to LOVE fried chicken.  Just now I caught you on the phone asking him to pick up some for your birthday dinner….. and of course he said yes.  This is a man who would never refuse a fried chicken request.  So much for the dinner Mommy planned. 😉

You are still best friends with your big sister.  Praise Jesus!  I am praying this particular one until eternity.  I never want you two to have a moment of animosity, pettiness or jealousy between the two of you.

While you remain best friends with Izzy, this year you have also taken Addison under your wing.  You spend a lot of time playing with her, scheming with her, teaching her to be just like you.  A post that she is gladly learning.  She is learning all the good….and the not so good.

You share a bed with your sister and every once in a while we catch you either snuggled up to Izzy or in this instance, laying on top of her.

You have become particularly sensitive this year to the fact that Daddy’s mom isn’t alive anymore. You are always worried about how he is feeling and if he is missing her.  This is a testament to your sweet nature.  Of all my kids you are the most worried about how people are feeling about different issues, you think about it a lot and wish that you could always fix what is wrong.

I love you Layla Shayla.  The world is a happier place with you in it.

El Salvador

I have been planning for more than 8 months to go with my church, (Church of the Open Door) to La Libertad, El Salvador this Summer.  They were hard hit by flooding and mud slides last Fall.  Through the support of our church a new clinic has been built and a nutrition center where the people in the village can come and get a healthy, hot meal at least once a day.  Can you imagine only getting one meal a day, and only because of the support of missionaries?  We are very excited to be opening a clinic that will be staffed by full time doctors and nurses, a children’s center where the kids can learn, be taught about computers and also have an opportunity to learn English and about the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  I will be traveling with a group in June.  Previously I was going in July, but due to unforseen circumstances the trip has been moved to June.  I am extremely torn about it now because the day of departure is not only Alex’s birthday but also the very first ballet recital for all three of my daughters.  If you are a mother, you can imagine the difficulty of missing that!  However, as my older sister so kindly pointed out: “There will be more ballet recitals, Alex can video tape, he will have more birthdays, and you can’t miss a week long trip that God has been calling you to do for a 3 minute dance!”  So, onward I will go…. and try not to be sad about it.  I know that I have been longing to go on short term missions for many, many years.  I finally have the opportunity.  No one ever said there wouldn’t be sacrifices to make.  In fact, that is exactly what Jesus’ disciples did.  They left their homes, families, jobs, and  money, all to follow their Saviour.  I can miss one ballet recital.  So please, if you would like to help me get to El Salvador to help cook and teach and care for the children of La Libertad, please click on the ChipIn link to the side to contribute securely by PayPal.  I will forever be greatful.

Sponsor a Child Through World Vision

While my daughter is worried about getting a new leotard with a pretty skirt (she already has one or two leotards), other children are worried about their hungry stomachs and whether they will eat today. They are worried about where their mommies and daddies are at, wondering what it would be like to wear a pair of shoes. Please consider sponsoring a child, your small monthly donation will mean a pair of underwear, a meal, some shoes possibly the ability to go to school. The beautiful necklace in the picture is from a site called LisaLeonardOnline.com and if you sponsor a child through her site, you will receive this necklace free!

Discouragement

So here I am this morning, in my tragically messy kitchen, trying to clean with my leg in Donovan’s vice grip. I’m checking my facebook page occasionally, praying for those that are hurting and lost, listening to what Addison calls “Pays Jesus Moosic” (praise Jesus music). When suddenly I’m just so overcome with feelings of futility for this world. There is so much pain, so much sickness, so much depravity, so much killing and hurting of innocent babies born and unborn, and I just want it all to stop. I felt so alone in my little world all of the sudden. I know that there are millions out there who love God with a vengeance, and daily work to share the salvation of Jesus, but I here I was in my kitchen, getting so discouraged, feeling alone. So, what do I do? I hop onto my favorite Christian author/speaker’s blog for some encouraging words. And this is what I found:

“There is ONE who totally gets you. Just one. Yes, we need human support. And, yes, hearts were created to be shared horizontally as well as vertically but no one can see into the grand canyon of your emotional being but God. That’s why we’ll never be okay if, in our deepest, most riveting hurts, we do not turn to Him and let Him completely and intimately tend to us. I am a firm believer in Godly counseling but the best of counselors should point you to the only One who is still there at 3:00 AM when you toss and turn and think you may not live till morning. St. Augustine described God as “interior intimo meo.” Deeper in me than I am in myself. God gets you when YOU don’t even get you. He doesn’t just love you. He loves your heart. Your broken, misshapen, road-weary heart. And mine. Let Him in. Let Him tend. There is SomeOne who really does understand. He is the Lord who heals us.” ~Beth Moore

I just really, really love that St. Augustine quote: “Deeper in me than I am in myself.” God is aching for this world too… afterall, he loves everyone in it and I don’t. I just really want Him to come back soon.

Moments

There are times that life stops you in your place.
When you have to pause and forget that the laundry is rivaling Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Forget that perhaps you haven’t washed the tub (not counting baths and showers, and No Alex my dear husband, tubs are not self cleaning)….for a few weeks.
Forget that only half of the lawn is mowed.
The vacuum is still sitting in the den and there are about 20 things just lying around in the dining room that don’t remotely belong there.
There will still be bills, still be heartache, still be studying for finals and there will most definitely ALWAYS be dirty dishes.
But there also will be a moment that will take you completely off gaurd. A moment when none of the above really exists in your world. A moment that completely robs you of breath, gives you tears and ridiculous looking smile at the same time.
I had that moment today. And it may seem silly, but my moment was staring at my son in his car seat after he received his first ever professional hair cut!
You see, I thought I wasn’t meant to have a son. I lost my first son early in a pregnancy and never wanted another. I knew that most people would never know he existed, would forget that I was ever pregnant for that brief time, and forever in my heart I would respond to the question, “how many kids do you have?” with 5, even when the word coming out of my mouth is 4. Before Donovan entered our lives, Alex and I were planning the end to our child bearing, considering the safe options to prevent it. We were ecstaticly happy with our three daughters, it was safe,
comfortable, a good number for us. We thought we were complete. But once again, God had other plans for us. I’ve never had to deal with the heartbreak of infertility. If there is a one in a million chance that a woman will get pregnant…. I’m that pesky number one. So getting pregnant with Donovan was a shocker. A difficult shocker. As I mentioned, I did not want anymore kids, and I certainly didn’t want a boy. I knew from the moment I looked at that pregnancy test that it was a boy. Knew it in the depths of my soul. I never had one doubt. The truth of it rocked my world.

But when Donovan arrived….oh my. I would not be so arrogant to say that there was never a more loved baby boy by his mother than Donovan, but really….I’ve got to at least come close. He is someone life changing for me. Gives me a joy that I didn’t know I was capable of. I’m struggling with him going from baby to toddler just as hard as he is pulling away for me to give him a little room. And today, he went from looking like a baby to fully embodying his knick-name “little man. ” I think he must have somehow known that something as simple and normal as a haircut would be hard on me, so he cried to make me feel better. And cried. And clutched onto me, like I was his lifeline.
He buried his face in my chest, stared into my eyes, as his hair was ever so gently cut away with a look that said, “Don’t leave me Mommy.” And then when it was all over, and we were back in the car. All I could do was take in the moment. A silly, haircutting moment. I was frozen and couldn’t move. Because sometimes, I am so overcome with sappy, nauseating, over the top, smothering, heart-wrenching, love for my child and everything that he means to me.

Which by the way, all of those words up there. The ones you just barely held onto your latest meals through reading because it was so sugary and gooey…. all of those words do not even do it justice. My moment was the huge grin my fantastic son gave me, with his newly acquired “big boy” hair that makes him looks so different, but still my Donovan through and through.