/> Raising Angels: November 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

This Should Tide You Over For Awhile

Oh my do I have stories to tell but it's late and there's much to do. For a number of reasons, we have Christmas decorations up earlier than ever. Of course that has put me in the Christmas spirit a little early too.

The best I can do toinight is to leave you with this. These little elves still make me laugh. I hope they have the same effect on you!

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Coach's Daughter

I am a coach's daughter. As far back as I can remember my dad has been involved in athletics. My first clear memories are of him as the Athletic Director at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. I remember his office where I played with the phone, the gym I spent many hours dribbling basketballs, the racquetball courts I tried for hours to hit the ball so it would ricochet just right, the very cool indoor pool complete with platform dives, and the big soccer field where I did camp one summer.
 
I remember road trips on the buses with the college kids who seemed like giants. They treated me like a princess and fought over who got to do the lacing cards and coloring books. I remember Thanksgivings on the road at soccer tournaments freezing my tail off in the stands. I remember raiding the hospitality room at half time and roaming around the place like I owned it.
 
I remember how very, very proud I was when the women's basketball team fell into his hands with a record of something like 2 and 50 (that is probably a slight over exaggeration but you get the point) and brought them to the national championship the next year. He was coach of the year and later inducted into the Hall of Fame there.
 
I'm sure it was a crazy life for my poor mother but as a kid I absolutely adored it. And then we moved.
 
When we came to Augusta, he started out teaching at a Catholic high school across the river in Aiken. He also coached the varsity girls' basketball team. When I came to their games as a freshman in high school, he let me sit on the bench with him. One time I even ended up coaching for him. That's a story I'll leave for him to tell you but if you're thinking of that scene from Hoosiers where Gene Hackman's character gets thrown out of the game, you’re on the right course.
 
Shortly after that he coached the middle school girls’ basketball team at my school (not my team though) through an undefeated season right up to the championship game which they lost. I remember very clearly those preteen girls falling to the floor in puddles of their own tears at the end of that game. Dad took it all in stride.
 
From there he moved to varsity boy’s basketball when my brothers were playing. During those seasons, I was a single college student with nothing much going on so he brought me back to the bench as his statistician. I loved that job so much. By that time I was old enough to grab his coat sleeve when he stood to yell at the refs. "I'm just doing that to fire up the team," he used to tell me. And then years later, he admitted that that was really the reason he had me there in the first place.
 
So here we are years later and worlds apart. And look what I captured today.

See that coach on the bench in the red shirt? That's MY DAD!
And that baby girl sitting right next to him? That's MY DAUGHTER!

 
Can I just say that I feel like God has smiled down on our whole family? What a tremendous opportunity! What an incredible memory! What an amazing bond my girl is going to have with my dad!

 
It is precious, so very, very precious to me. This week as I reflect on how much I have to be thankful for, this is definitely one of the highlights.
 
Dad, I love you more than words can say and I'm so glad you said yes. And you bet as I sat there and watched that game tonight I found myself wondering how I can get you to switch over to the boys' teams when they start to play.

 

 
 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Seven Quick Takes - Clean Out

1. You know it's been too long when you have to sign in to your own blog. What can I say? Life has been extra busy and I've discovered that I do better when I get a little sleep here and there. Sometimes, writing has to wait. Sigh.

2. Last week was super crazy because it was production week for Aladdin Jr., performed by the youth division of the Augusta Players. This was Mackenzie’s first experience with the theater outside of school and she absolutely loved it. And, she's really good at it. She's gifted in a lot of areas, but her voice is amazing. Yes, I know I'm her mother but I'm not the only one who thinks this. She has the ability to sing on key, every time. Let me show you. She's the one on stage second from the left.

video

This was her only solo line but she hit it - every single time. I love listening to her.

3. The other side to the whole theater experience I did not love. That's saying a lot coming from someone who adores the stage and all things connected to it. It was intense. Rehearsals were 4 to 5 times a week beginning at 5:30. This meant she missed dinner every time she rehearsed. It also meant running carpools at dinner time. It was very disruptive to our life.

When I was directing, I was single, then married, and then a mom. The reason I got out of it was that after three kids, I decided the sacrifice was too big on the whole family. I loved it and cried when I had to throw in the towel but I realized it wasn't just about me anymore.

Musical theater is something Mackenzie could excel at so we'll have to see how it all plays out.

4. I am in the process of the great clean out. We're having a family reunion for Nelson's extended family here in January and we'll have several families staying with us as well as hosting the big common meals. This means that people will not only be in the clean and beautiful guest room, they will also be in the kids' rooms. Yikes!

Don't get me wrong, I can clean up those rooms for the house tours Nelson loves to give when we host parties, but that's different than people actually using those spaces...hanging things in the closets and gulp, looking under the beds.


 

Just for the record, this is the little boys' room at its worst. While I've been cleaning out the other kids' spaces, all the unwanted stuff from their rooms ended up here as the last hold out. Still though, it's bad.

5. What I've learned over the years, as I've cleaned out these spaces over and over and over and over (and did I say over?) again, is that little people are hoarders. Every single thing is precious and meaningful and worthy of keeping. Every...single...thing.

Case in point - the book case. I have always said you can't have too many books and my kids are big readers. But you know what? It turns out you CAN have too many of everything...even good things.

 
As I've worked on this with them, we never really get rid of much. We get things clean enough to look good on the surface.

I'm really good at making neat piles.

6. This time I tried a whole new strategy. I cleaned when they were at school. I made three piles - toss, keep and yard sale. Anything questionable I'd let them decide on when they came home.

Here's what happened. As they sensed the peace that came from the purge, they were quicker to toss themselves. It's been a beautiful thing.

This is Aiden's room which looked kind of like the little guys' room before I started. This is what it looked like when I was finished.



 
I'm so very proud. He's so very happy. And here's the kicker...it still looks like this one whole week later!

I'm definitely on to something!

7. While I was working on Mackenzie's room, a friend sent me a text inviting me to join a neighborhood-wide yard sale. What great timing...almost. The date was Saturday, the day after opening night on production week that involved many late nights, as well as the day of the closing show and two flag football games. I said yes because I'm a glutton for punishment. Might as well wrap it all into one weekend instead of spreading the madness out over several weekends.

I didn't have time to clean everything and almost pulled out but then I thought, I'll just put out what I've got and have another one when I finish. I needed the motivation to keep going.

I got to two rooms, one side of the attic, the hallway book shelf and linen closet. Those spaces produced a lot of stuff!


I basically gave everything away because the way I saw it was that people were paying me for cleaning out my house. At the end of the sale, I packed up the truck with the remainder of the stuff, drove to the local flea market and sold the truck load to a vender. Not one single thing came back into the house.

Victory!

Let's hope I can keep the ball rolling.

You know what I have on the calendar for this weekend? NOTHING! Turns out shoving it all into one weekend does have a payoff. If you're doing nothing, go here and check out some more quick takes.

Happy Weekend!


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

I Have the Answer to this Problem

I voted on the last day of early voting last week. I felt so overwhelmed and nervous going in and coming out of the courthouse that I started spiritual warfare. I can't explain it other than to say I felt an oppression like I've never felt and it compelled me to pray right then and there.

Yesterday and Monday I joined hundreds of my friends in fasting and prayer for this election and our country. The best I could offer was to ask that God's will be done and that He take this country back into the palm of His hands. This is kind of my go-to prayer as of late. It's what I pray when I don't know what else to pray or how to pray. I pray it because I know God hears it. I pray it because it comforts me.

I'm not going to go into the politics or the election any more than that. I educated myself on the candidates and issues and made my choices. I believe they were right because if I didn't I wouldn't have voted the way I did. I trust God will take care of me, my family and my country because he is much bigger than any candidate.

Today however, something else has haunted me. As I watched the election coverage last night I heard two statistics that took my breath away. For the first time in history, there are more unwed mothers in the United States than wed ones.

Wow. It still gives me pause. More unwed mothers than wed ones.

The second and even more frightening statistic was that 1 in 5 Americans now claim to have no belief in God. In a nation that was founded under God, one--fifth of its inhabitants no longer believe there is a God.

These statistics cannot be blamed on any president or government leader. This begs the question - whose fault is it?

Our country is in a moral crisis. Our values, the ones we all used to hold true, have been totally turned around. In trying to love everyone, we’ve failed to toe the line. Nothing is good or bad, true or untrue any more. This leaves no one in charge. Everyone makes his or her own choice according to how he or she feels.  

So how are we doing? How are we feeling now? How does this turn out? Ever read Lord of the Flies?

We need rules. We crave strong leaders. We search for the truth.

Let me let you in on a little secret…I know the Truth. I believe in and follow the perfect leader. His rules are simple, but oh, so hard to live. You know what happens when I get it right? Peace. Joy. Love.

And here’s the thing, according to my calculations, four-fifths of our nation agrees with me. So you know whose fault this mess is? Ours.

If we lived our faith like we’re supposed to, if we followed the rules we say we believe, people would see it on our faces. They would ask us why we’re so happy. They would want to know how we do it.

You know what? It’s not too late. Let’s not forget that we are the majority. Let’s act like it. Let’s stand up for what we believe, what we hold to be true. Let’s share our joy.

We have the answer to this problem and His name is Jesus. Let’s tell the world about Him. Things will change.

Monday, November 05, 2012

There's A Reason Some Businesses Offer Groupons

A few months ago, Nelson emailed me to let me know that even though he had already gotten me a birthday present, he just couldn't resist giving me another. Attached was a Groupon deal he had gotten for a spa package. It included a hot stone massage, a spa mani/pedi, body scrub and cucumber eye treatment.

Wow!

My guy knows I'm a sucker for a massage, mostly because I make him give them to me on a regular basis, but also because it's something I ask for on just about every gift giving occasion. When we were dating he did this for a Valentine's Day and it was so indulgent and made me feel so pampered that I let him know in no uncertain terms it was my favorite gift...ever.

Granted it was a bit uncomfortable my first time. The whole get undressed and get under the sheet part was a little unnerving but the minute the muscles started getting massaged, it was no longer an issue. In fact, I spend most of the time during my massages trying to figure out how we can work this into our weekly budget. Seriously, if I ever win the lottery (which is a big stretch since I don't play it), a personal masseuse would be my splurge.

I called several times trying to make the appointment only to get a recording. I tried in the morning. I tried in the afternoon. I tried in the evening. After the third message I began to get a little concerned. What kind of spa doesn't have someone answering the phone? That was my first warning.

When I finally got a human on the other end, I could barely understand her. I expected to have trouble making the appointment but she basically let me pick my day and time. A spa with openings on the next Saturday? That was my second warning.

Now with all those services, I figured I would be there for awhile so I asked her how long I should plan on staying. "Let's see a massage, mani/pedi, scrub and cucumbers? That should have you out of here in an hour and a half or two hours at the most."

"Are you sure?" I asked curiously. "It says the massage is an hour."

"Oh we can have you out of here in two hours at the most," she assured me. That was my third warning.
 
So I left the house telling Nelson where I was headed...just in case he needed to send out a search party. I arrived at the spa 20 minutes early to make sure I was there on time and to hopefully enjoy some of their snacks and drinks as I hadn't eaten anything.

I pulled in to the location my GPS pointed out thinking surely it must be mistaken. There were no palm trees or fountains or fancy facades. In fact, the door was locked, the lights were off and there was actually newspaper over the windows in the back. On the door was a sign with a clock that said, "We're closed. We'll be back at 10:30."

I sent Nelson this photo and said, "This should be interesting."

"Oh no! I guess I should have done a little more research. I'm so sorry," was his reply.

I went back to the truck and started laughing. I'm all about an adventure just not on my spa day thank you very much. By this time though I had already invested an hour of my time, so I figured might as well try to get Nelson's money's worth.

At 10:30 on the dot, a car pulled into the gravel lot. I gave the woman a chance to unlock the door and get in before I got out of my car. I didn't want to embarrass her after all. When I entered the spa it was, ahem, rather, oh shall I say, simple. It was one long room painted a pale blue. She didn't turn on any lights. She positioned herself behind a very simple wooden desk as I sat on the one couch and stared at the wall in front of me wondering how exactly this was going to go down.

As I filled out the questionnaire she gave me, I found I had the sudden urge to use the restroom. I attributed this to the fact that she had a stone angel fountain on a folding table in the corner. The angel was pouring water out of a pitcher and it sounded like Nelson when he gets up in the morning to pee for the first time. It was loud and constant. Just thinking about it now makes me need to pee again.

Excuse me.

Okay, that's better.

"There's a restroom right here on your left if you'd like to go before we get started," she said, as if there were any question at all about where it might be. The place had one door and that was it. I opened that door and had to stop myself from bursting into laughter. I shimmied my way around the door so that I could get in the bathroom and close it. I had to straddle the water heater to sit on the toilet next to which was a mop and a bucket. I looked up and noticed a little picture hanging above the water heater. It was a claw foot tub and it said, "Relax." I almost lost it.

Oh how I wish I had snapped a photo of that but I was trying too hard not to laugh out loud.

"Come on back to the massage room," she said as she walked to the other end of the room...the one by the uncovered window that faced the busiest road in the city. She pulled back a translucent linen shower curtain that was hung on an extension rod over the opening.

The good news is that there was a real massage table in the space. The bad news is that it was covered in a hot pink sheet that was layered with an electric blue fuzzy blanket. It kind of reminded me of what it would look like if Cookie Monster and Abby Cadabby had offspring. The kind lady instructed me to put my things on the Rubbermaid drawer cubby and hang my clothes on the hook on the wall as she left the, um, space.

I disrobed and climbed into the Sesame Street inspired sheets. I closed my eyes while I listened to the recorded birds chirping, the peeing fountain and the spa type song, (yep song, not CD) which I would hear no less than 10 times over the next hour. As I heard the sound of the microwave going, I closed my eyes and tried to transport myself to a beautiful spa in a forest somewhere, or a beach, or anywhere but where I was.

When she finally came back in and started the massage, I was pleasantly surprised. I was just about to relax when her cell phone rang, and...get this....she answered it. Classy. I closed my eyes and tried to picture that beach with the waves crashing instead of pouring and the gulls flying instead of birds chirping while the Zen-like song made its 4th play. She came back after telling the caller, "I'm working. No. I'm working. Yes, I'm at work," no less than four times.

She pressed some cold somethings onto my eyes and began the massage again. This must be the cucumber eye treatment I thought as I lay there. I've never done this before. It's kind of refreshing...except, well it kept sliding off my eye. She had just replaced it when her phone rang...AGAIN. And, well, yes, she stopped the massage and left...AGAIN. I tried not to focus on the sounds of the statue pouring water because I was afraid I might have to use the bathroom again.

She returned and worked on my legs which were still tight from the race. She was just working out one of the knots when, you guessed it, the phone rang. It was all I could do not to ask for the phone so I could show her how to silence the thing but it seems the third time was a charm because that was the last time I heard it.

The second half of the massage was so nice it almost made me forget about the neon sheets, the constant flow of water and the 15th time the song played. She finished and left the partition so I could dress and come out for my spa mani/pedi. As I was thinking about how this had to be nicer and that at least the phone wouldn't be ringing, I realized I hadn't seen a pedicure chair in the place.

I opened the shower curtain and walked out into the other half of the room and sat on the couch as the nail tech entered. I noticed across from me another room divider and figured that must me where they hid the chair because that's where the nail tech went as she told me to take off my shoes.

Now I was sitting on the couch in the front room reading a magazine. The massage therapist thanked me for coming and told the nail tech she had to leave to get some more supplies. Then she tried to open the door, which was right next to me. Only problem was she couldn't open it. She shook it and yanked it and shimmied it but it wouldn't budge. "Oh no," she said, "this is not good." She pulled it again. "I don't like this at all. Now we're all stuck up in here."

Seriously, getting locked in a spa is not my idea of a terrible situation - until today. Of all the spas in the world to get stuck in, I had to choose this one. She had the nail tech help her while she explained to me, "A car hit the building and just pushed it all out of place. I have someone coming to fix it Wednesday but that's not going to work. He's got to come sooner than that. We can't be all stuck up in this place. I do NOT like this."

Ya think?

Just when I thought she might really lose it, the door popped open and she was out, thank goodness. Right about then I looked down as the nail tech placed a blue plastic tub full of water at my feet. "You want me to put my feet in that?" I asked.

"Yeah, go ahead and tell me if the temperature is okay," she said, not missing a beat. She plopped herself on the floor and proceeded to ask me if I wanted her to take my other color off.

Oh boy.

Don't get me wrong. The girl was just as sweet as she could be. I mean, she put a towel under the bucket so I could pull my feet out of the water if I wanted to. She even gave me a foot rub for a minute or two. She talked so much I couldn't close my eyes like I did during the massage and pretend I was somewhere else. So, I settled in on the couch and enjoyed the lukewarm water in the blue bucket that mimicked the color of the walls.

I walked out of there very thankful that Nelson did not pay full price for those services. I realized that sometimes businesses offer Groupons for a reason. I felt compelled to wait around for the two o'clock customer and warn her.

Ah, but the boys had football games and I had other things I needed to do. I drove home realizing how much I've matured through the years that I can laugh about this and think it will make a great story instead of crying. That and I figured I might be able to guilt Nelson into a super posh spa next go around.

Live and learn.



Friday, November 02, 2012

Seven Quick Takes - Grateful Edition

1. God has worked a miracle in my son Maximilian. It's a miracle worthy of its own post and the great news I've been dying to share. I want time to do it justice so the story will have to wait, but not my grateful heart. God is good! Remember there was a day when I never thought I'd see him do this.

2. I am grateful for my big beautiful home. It allows us to host and entertain so many wonderful people. It allows for sporting events and great games of hide and seek for the kids and their friends. It was lovingly planned and crafted by my best friend. That makes it feel like a hug every time I walk in the door.
*Ok this is not really my house. Just thought it would be funny since I don't have a photo of my own.

3. I am grateful that I am married to a man who loves the Lord and seeks to follow His ways. He has so many other wonderful qualities but if he didn't have this first one, I wouldn't have married him. What a tremendous gift he is in my life!

4. I am grateful for Mackenzie who entered her last year of childhood this summer. She is becoming such a beautiful young woman. She makes good choices in her friends and activities. She helps me so much. I owe her a post too. I will not forget.

5. I am grateful for Aiden. I love his curiosity and desire to learn. I love, love, love when he spontaneously holds my hand. It melts my heart but I'm smart enough not to make a big deal of it for fear it may never happen again.

6. I am grateful for Dawson. His smile can turn me to mush. He has such a sweet and tender nature. He's my lovey dovey kid and I hope that never fades.

 
7. I am also grateful for Maximilian. I am grateful for his struggles, weaknesses and healing. I am grateful, oh so grateful, that God was generous enough to bless us with this boy. If he never makes the soccer team or wins a race, I will still be grateful because he is Max.

Don't forget to count your own blessings! Thanks to Jen for a reason to write.

The Kid's a Genius

"Mama, I know why they call this thing a lunch box," he says from the backseat on the way to school today.

'Why's that?"

"It's a box and you put your lunch in it."

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Only a Boy

Today I went out to lunch with a few friends to celebrate my sweet neighbor's birthday. Max was quite disappointed that all of their sons were in school and he was stuck at the table with a bunch of mamas, but in true Maximilian form, he quietly sat, entertained and fed himself without a single complaint (that is after he got over the whole no other kids thing).

The conversation meandered all over the place. At one point we were discussing what is in style among those who had girls in high school. I was trying to take it all in and see if I recognized any of the labels they were throwing out when they mentioned that the girls are all into this underwear that has neon bands at the waist.

We were discussing the undergarments when Max tugged my sleeve and said, "Heh, heh, they said underwear."

Happy All Saints' Day!

We attended our neighborhood block party last night, as we have for as long as we've lived here. This year's theme was "When the Saints Go Marching In" and we were tasked to dress as a saint or a person from the Bible. Our community is divided into smaller "support groups" (I hardly mention this because the term support group has a kind of medicinal ring to it sometimes but ours is more like a tight-knit Bible study group) and this year they asked entire support groups to come dressed up.

As we've just been given our own support group, this seemed a rather daunting task. It's tough enough to come up with saint costumes for four kids, but an entire group that includes a newborn on up through some retired folks seemed near impossible.

I was driving down the road one evening asking God to help me when it came to me.

Genesis 2:2 "And on the seventh day He rested and drew breath."

That's it! We can all come to the party in our pj's. No sewing, buying or discomfort involved. Brilliant! Easiest, most comfortable costumes ever. The group agreed, Mackenzie drew up some name tags and we were ready to go.

 
My kids had very definite ideas about how I should dress. "Mama, you wear your hair down to sleep not in a ponytail," said one son.

"Yes, you're right, but this makes it look more like I'm getting ready for bed."

"Mama, you have to wear your glasses!" directed Mackenzie. "That's going to totally make you look ready for bed."

Yikes. I rarely wear my glasses in public. I got new ones last year to try to at least have something stylish in case of extreme situations, but it just never seems to be the right moment "Okay," I said trying to get into their excitement. Out came the contacts. The hair was pulled into a disheveled ponytail and the flannel pants and fuzzy flip-flops went on. I gave myself a once over and took a deep breath.

Yes, this is what I look like in the privacy of my own home late at night. "Let's go kids," I commissioned.

"But Mama," the last boy noted, "you need to take your make-up off too. You never wear make-up to bed."

"Son, that is very true but I've got to draw the line somewhere," is what I told him as we walked into the light…outside…in public.