/> Raising Angels: April 2012

Monday, April 30, 2012

A Sweet Story

Tonight was one of those rare evenings when everything went right on schedule. Mackenzie had to be out the door by 6:20 so dinner was on the table by 6. Nelson had a 7:00 meeting so he was able to eat with us.

The kids had finished, Mackenzie and Nelson had gone, and the kitchen was relatively clean when I ushered the boys to the shower. Max was down and out by 7:30 and the boys were clean.

“Why don’t you guys pick out a story and I’ll read to you,” I ventured. Just saying those words on a school night felt like such a luxury.

They raced to the book shelf asking if they could each choose one but I suggested they pick a longer one we could start on and finish another time. Amazingly, it took only a minute for them to agree on Charlotte’s Web.

This sweet story is one of my childhood favorites. I loved the book and adored the movie…still do. My heart went all pitter patter when they handed me the book with those etch-like illustrations on the cover.

Since we were already upstairs, I opted to do the reading in Aiden’s bed. I plopped down on my stomach in the middle with a boy flanking each side and opened the book.

I began in my innocent little girl voice, "’Where's Papa going with that ax?’ said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.” They were hooked.

Pictures or no pictures, they were in. Questions like, “Are swallows birds Mama?”, “What’s a sheepfold?”, “Manure? What’s that?” were the only words that broke their silence.

Before I knew it, we had arrived at chapter 3, which was a bit lengthy. “I don’t know if we’ll get all the way through this one guys.”

“Come on Mama, please!” they begged.

I was so glad we forged onward because midway through that chapter was the moment. It was the moment the bed got really still and the boys snuggled under the covers and up against me. It was the moment that my rough and tough guys melted and without hesitation or prompting, had their hands on my arms and heads near the pages.

We stopped at the end of that one and said our prayers together, the two of them beginning to drift off. I tucked Aiden in tightly and escorted Dawson to his room to do the same.

“Did you leave the book in the bed with Aiden?” he wanted to know.

“No, I put it on his bookshelf so it would be ready the next time we read it.”

“I love that story Mama,” he said as he kissed me goodnight.

I had all but forgotten what it was like to snuggle with my big boys. Our activities with them tend toward the rough, the tough and the competitive. Stories are something they’ve always loved though. It’s one of the few activities that slow them down long enough to sit still.

As an English major, I could go on and on about the value of reading to your children. I could tout the benefits of experiencing great literature together (and boy, oh boy, does E.B. White deliver).

Tonight, however, was not about symbolism, plot summary, or character analysis. Tonight was about the moment. It was about the close physical contact. It was about the stillness of the room. It was about praying that in the long run, these are the moments they’ll remember.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Seven Quick Takes: Easter Family Photo Edition

1. I am a member of the most beautiful church in the city and possibly the state.

2. When I was in high school and attending mass here, I decided that I should definitely get married at Easter time because, well, look at those flowers. During mass on Easter morning Mackenzie leaned over and said, "Mama, I want to get married at Easter time. It's so beautiful here."

3. For the record, I tried to get married during the Easter season but that year the church was undergoing major renovations. At Easter we had scaffolding in the aisles. June it was.

4. I am happy to say that I dressed my kids for about $20. I have found the best little consignment store in town (remember Dawson's tuxedo?). I pray for great finds and God always delivers.

5. I love, love, love the dress I found. Turns out that a women's consignment store opened and is attached to the kids' place. I just happened to spot this blue beauty when I was scanning the racks. I couldn't get over that it went with the boys' outfits. It was a little big but I've got a terrific seamstress that can work magic. I love its classic, 1950's look. I'll be wearing it for many more years.

6. I forgot to mention that it's a Calvin Klein. Oh yeah, and it was a whopping $19. I actually hesitated to share that little bit of info because I get a kick out of looking like a million bucks without spending as much. However, I love a bargain and want to encourage you that you too can look good without spending a fortune.

Of course, yesterday I got a call from the principal that my boy's shorts were a bit too short and he was, uh, wearing boxers that kept peeking out the bottom of them. Apparently, I need to work a little harder at my kids looking like a million bucks. So embarrassing!

7. Put beautiful kids in beautiful clothes in a beautiful church and great photos happen.

Tomorrow is the Glory Run. Pray for good weather, good crowds, that we glorify God and also that we make some good money for our school. When you're done with your prayer, you can head here for more quick takes.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pit Stop

I'm stopping by to say that I have a lot to say so that hopefully when I have time to say it, I will remember what it was. Have I mentioned that fundraising is a full time job?

It's Glory Run week...the final countdown...and since the rubber hit the road weeks ago, the tire treads are wearing thin. I'm feeling a bit like Lightning McQueen in that moment when he tells his crew he doesn't need a pit stop, except I just don't have time for one.

You see, many, many months ago I apparently made some appointments for this week, not having any idea I would be doing what I'm currently doing. On top of that I realized today that the race is Saturday and Nelson's birthday is Tuesday and I'm throwing a couples' shower here next Saturday for which I haven't even got the invitations done yet.

In the last two days I've gotten a wedding invitation, three graduation invitations and a birthday bash invitation all for May. I also got asked to be in charge of an enormous project for Teacher Appreciation week at school. I did say no to that. Every once in awhile I experience brief periods of sanity.

So there, the cathartic drop has been accomplished. Now back to the track.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Glory Run Day!

Today, after quite a season of hard work getting together the 8th Annual Alleluia Glory Run, we got to enjoy some of the benefits of our efforts.

Kara, who is in charge of the entire run, and I took a handful of students to the Mayor's office so that he could present us with a proclamation that Saturday, April 28th is Glory Run Day in Augusta, GA. How cool is that! The proclamation even highly encourages the citizens of Augusta to participate, so if you live nearby, I expect to see you there.

These two cuties got to accept the framed proclamation. They were pretty impressed by it all.

Mackenzie couldn't go with us because she had a test. She wasn't totally disappointed about missing it until she found out she also missed this.

Race day is next Saturday and Dawson is attempting the 5K for the first time. I've promised to stick with him the entire time. That's a long, hilly race for his little legs so I think I have finally found a partner I can keep up with.

It’s going to be a fun day and a great race. I hope to see you there!

Quick Takes: I Finally Uploaded Some Pictures Edition

1. This year Valentine’s Day fell in the middle of the week and since we had big plans for the weekend, Nelson and I decided to stay in and make the day special for the kids. Sushi is not something I’ve ever tried to make myself but as of late, I have fallen in love with it so I offered to pick some up from one of the fancy grocery stores in town. Instead, Nelson offered to pick some up from my favorite sushi place in town (now that’s love!). We turned down the lights, lit the candles and busted out the chopsticks. It was a fun and yummy evening for everyone.

2. Aiden played basketball this year. He loved it and was very pleased that his team went undefeated AND won the championship game. That last game he scored a whopping six points, which tripled the points he scored in any other game. The kid was on fire. Great end to a great season. Way to go Aiden!

3. This year was my third experience with 4th graders and Shakespeare. We did 12th Night. Now how many fourth graders do you know who can explain the plot of a Shakespearean play? These kids can.

4. Mackenzie was also in a play this spring. She had absolutely no help from me. That was hard for me (not really since I was in over my head with the two other plays) but it was also great for me to see she can do a pretty good job all on her own.

5. A dear friend of mine, who has a green thumb, calls me regularly when she has an abundance of something that she needs to thin out. Look what I got this year! Absolutely stunning.

6. That same friend has allowed my son to plant his competition cabbage in her garden since I don’t have one of my own and I manage to kill most every edible thing I try to grow. When they were out of town, they let us shop their garden which was oh, so fun for boys who love any excuse to get their hands dirty. Crazy thing is that when they pick it, they’ll try it. Who knew they’d love radishes? Who knew they’d find one so big?!

7. And remember when I wrote this? I have a confession to make. I knew we were headed here soon (thus the prayer for a beautiful beach somewhere). Boy, oh boy, can God deliver. This was our backyard for a week.

I hope this weekend you find the time to take a deep breath and take it all in just like I did every day in Florida. And when you catch your breath and find the time, go here, to see more quick takes. Happy weekend to you!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

You're Going to Need a Bigger Glass for That

After dinner tonight Nelson invited our guest to join him for a drink. "I've been watching Mad Men and I'm into trying out the retro drinks. You game?"

"Sure. What are you going to make?"

"How about a Manhattan?"

"Sounds fine. What's in it?"

"Whiskey, bitters, vermouth, and a cherry."

That caught Mackenzie's attention so she asked, "Whiskey, bitters, a moose and a cherry?"

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sometime a Picture Really is Worth a Thousand Words

I have always loved my husband. And though I thought I could never love him any more than I did on the day I married him, I have learned that I was wrong. So very wrong.

Saturday night we had a conversation with a dear friend who recently married. It lead to us talking about some things that Nelson and I have had to work through in our thirteen plus years of marriage. We were asked for some advice and actually had some good advice to give.

We have worked through a few tough things over the years, as any married couple has. We are not so naive to think that we won't have more things come up but for the most part, we are getting better at doing the work.

We have both grown and changed for the better and it has brought us closer together. It has made me love and appreciate Nelson in ways I couldn't have on that day we stood in front of the altar and made our vows. Honestly, we promised those things and we meant them without fully understanding what they would entail. For the most part, we still don't know.

However, this does not make me afraid of the future. Instead I yearn for it. I'm thinking if it's this good now, we will be even better at 15, 25, or, God-willing 40 years of marriage.

We are a team in the best sense of the word. We work together in harmony. We know when it's our turn to score and when it's our job to assist. We celebrate each other's victories and we console each other in our defeats. We cheer each other on and we call each other on when necessary.

I am certain of my love for him. But sometimes I wish there was a way for me to let the world know how I feel. I know this is best done by our witness rather than our words. And yet, it's hard to gage how you're doing in an area you can't really measure.

In January, my sweet cousin got married and soon after sent me a link to the website with all the pictures from her wedding. There were literally hundreds and hundreds of them to peruse. Among them, deep in the pile, I found this one and fell in love with it.

I looked at it and I could see our love from the outside. It wasn't posed, it was just us. We were totally lost in the moment. Dancing. Laughing. Smiling in each other's arms. It is a moment, frozen in time, of us at our very best.

Suddenly, looking at that amazing photo, I thought maybe people can see it. Maybe they do see how much we love each other. At the very least, it is a wonderful reminder to me that what I feel is real. You can see it on my face.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Something Like That

We were snuggled on the couch this evening when Dawson sat up and asked, "Mama how do you get these things?" as he motioned to his own chest.

Never ceasing to be amazed at the sheer randomness with which these topics pop up, I offered, "God just makes us that way."

"Yeah, but only girls get those right?"


"So when do you get them?" he asked, curiosity still not satisfied.

"You usually get them when you're a teenager," hoping the inquisition would soon end. He is only seven after all.

"You mean you just go to bed and POOF they appear?"

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Self Reminder

I think I figured something out tonight. I haven't been blogging as much as I always have lately. Okay, that observation is not the thing I figured out. That didn't take any figuring out at all actually.

I was trying to figure out why I’m not blogging as much. One reason is that I'm so busy I don't have time to sleep let alone blog. In reality though, this has been the story of my life since I had the two middle boys and it didn't stop me then.

Another reason is that I've stumbled upon one or two amazing blogs that I've fallen head over heals for. I'm talking picture perfect. The entries are daily, the photos are gorgeous (and also daily) and the posts are thoughtful, lengthy and usually include a lesson. I don't have time to blog like that. Truthfully, I'm not sure I could if I did.

Reason number three is that I can look at how many people read this thing and the actual number depresses me. Granted the number of readers was not the reason I began this, nor was it one of my major goals. Still, in the back of my head I sometimes think, "No one reads this. Why bother." This is self-centered, embarrassing and ridiculous.

Lastly, when I think about my life recently it comes to me in gigantic, earth-shattering chunks. My whole world is changing and I can't take the time to hack it out here because I'm too busy living/being in complete awe of it.

Here's the thing though. I am constantly writing. I have since I learned to write. I have volumes of writing up in my attic that I hope my children read some day...long after I die. (Those books contain actual names and dates and I'm not ready for the kids to know which of their friends' fathers I dated way back when. Ignorance is bliss.) I stopped writing in those journals for the most part when I started writing here. But even when I'm not putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, I am writing.

So tonight I made the decision to just start writing again. Not for the readers (although I really love you...all 25 of you…and feel that you're no longer readers but friends), or the perfection, but for me.

I'm just warning ya. Watch out.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Be Still and Know that I am God

In case you were worried, we did make it back from the beach. I do admit I spent some time trying to figure out how I can live my life at the beach. Or really not even the beach, I just wondered if I could put myself on some kind of permanent vacation.

We had a wonderful time but I left the beach feeling not so good.

Sunday, I felt worse and by Monday I was on the couch. Funny how things work out like that. Things have been so busy lately that I've actually found myself getting jealous of people who are sick. Isn't that crazy?

But there I was. Sick. Stuck on the couch. Watching a documentary about the man who is Elmo. Don't laugh, that documentary is actually worth watching. Max had a Pop-Tart and a juice box for lunch while watching the third Veggie Tale of the day kind of sick.

There I was lying on my couch because I literally could not get up and all I could think about was the things I needed to be doing. Three, yes three, different people dropped by to see me. No shower, make-up, contacts, or nice clothes. Instead it was a sweatshirt, pajama pants, and glasses. A few years ago, this day would have totally humiliated me. Seriously, I never left the house without mascara (This is in a large part due to the fact that my eyelashes are red and without it, people ask me if I’m feeling ok. Really, they do.). That day however, all I could think was that I’m so happy I live in a place where people are really like my family and love me with or without my hair done and my make-up on. I was happy to know I had made at least a little progress in my life.

I was still feeling pretty bad at the end of the day. I shuffled my way from the couch to the bed and somewhere in that brief journey I heard that still small voice. “Be still and know that I am God.” I laughed…because God and I laugh together a lot and I knew He had me on this one. I giggled and told him out loud that I totally have that last part down.

“I so know who you are God,” I let him know. “I have for all my life. Being still though, yeah, that needs work.”

I’m not good at it and God knows that about me. Shoot it’s not a big secret. Most people who really know me know this. I am no good at being still. I’m a leg crosser and shaker. It’s not uncommon for Nelson to reach over and put his hand on my leg to stop the madness. These days I’m so busy that when I finally sit still a moment, I usually fall asleep.

But I got the message that day. I know what I need to be working on because God told me pretty clearly.

Now if I can just figure out how to make that happen.

Monday, April 02, 2012

A Very Happy Holy Week

Saturday night we unpacked the car and unloaded at our beach house in Cape San Blas, Florida. It's so remote my phone gets spotty service if any. There are no signs, stores, or people (okay we've seen a few of them, like maybe 20 or so). There's no Wii and we've turned the TV on once.

There are three stories, a basement with Foosball and Ping-Pong, balconies on every level, a hot tub, hammock and a boardwalk to the beach that is literally our backyard.

Yesterday I woke to the sound of the ocean and a beautiful view from my bed. I ate some breakfast and headed out to the beach. And other than lunch and dinner we were out there the entire day. The weather is perfect. I made dinner in an empty house with no time restraints, music in the background and a drink in my hand.

Today it was more of the same except I helped the boys build the biggest sea turtle sand sculpture ever and we ended the evening with a beach bonfire.

This is not to make you jealous but merely to prove that I am very, very capable of taking it totally easy. And, I'm loving every single minute of it!