Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.
Psalm 63:3

Friday, October 30, 2009


Beautiful day. We went back to the Halloween Night park from the previous post...different and just as fun in daylight. And the weather...almost summer.

As for the question about my fun addiction affecting the kids...I've had glimmers of confirmation this week . We drove by the Bass Pro shop we visited with Sweet Daddy in August and Bean recognized and recounted what we saw in the store. Bug does that all the time, remembering events better than I maybe it's not all a blur to them. That's a good thing.

We've been having fun in Cincinnati, but our thoughts keep returning to friends who are so sad this week. In and among the fun, there have been questions and there has been prayer. For them and for our sweet Indiana friends who are enduring their own strainings and stretchings.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hi, my name is...

Get real, I'm not going to tell you my name. Either you know it or don't, but we're keeping the thin veil of anonymity in place here in the blogosphere.

But to continue the phrase: My name is _________, and I'm an experienceholic.  Actually, that's one on a list of my addictions...but it's the one coming into focus today.

I am an indulgent mother...not with toys, clothing, treats {some would argue with that} or baths {egads, no.}

I'm talking 'bout fun...the pursuit of fun, really. Not simple, entertain-'em-with-a-cardboard-box or make-mudpies fun, not that there's anything wrong with that. I want to get my children out of the house/hotel, spare our hotel neighbors, and DO something we don't often have a chance to do. I indulge my children in experiences.

...and I want to take pictures of it. Oops, this forum could be part of the problem.

This addiction manifests itself once or twice a week. I get an itch to do something fun. Here I am, often in unfamiliar territory, usually in a 200 sq. ft. room, with my window on the world aka: laptop and a little too much time on my hands. Upon arriving in unfamiliar territory, I begin to link into local event schedules for children, preferably free, but I'll consider those with a small fee. A little bit of effort is rewarded.

Right now, it is the metaphorical New Years Eve of fun activities...this fall/harvest/pumpkin/Halloween time. My addiction is flaring up... tempting fun is easy to find. The weather is beautiful. It is the culmination of agri-entertainment's year of labor. There are loads of activities here in Cincinnati for those who have a little money and scads of time. On one of the event sites, there is even a handy little icon that links the event directly to my Google calendar...too easy.

And of course, when one acknowledges an addiction, soul-searching follows. Why am I this way? and How will this affect my children?

I may have an answer for the first question. I am consciously trying to restrain the whining...but as rich as my childhood experiences were, they were repeated. I was born, grew up, graduated from college, and still have a home all within a 15 mile area. Wonderful in many ways, but....

Take my summers...spent at our family business, a swimming pool...we swam, we ran through the woods, we picnicked, we worked, we forged life-long relationships, we had fun. It was idyllic and I would give my left eye to have that place back.

But that's where we were every summer. Every birthday party I had up until the age of 22? was held there. We rarely traveled anywhere and when we did, it was to usually to camp within the radius of an hour's drive. Childhood experiences were deep but not broad.

So I am taking this life on the road and running with it...I am bound and determined to soak up the life wherever we are. And expose our family to the encounters specific to each new area.

However, we don't know anyone in these places...we don't have play dates or sleepovers. No childcare, no coffee with a friend. We pack our schedules with those activities when we can...that's the big fun at home. Here, it's up to me to find enriching entertainment. Otherwise we sit in a hotel room staring at each other or a TV.

I don't yet know the effect on the kids. Sweet Daddy and I have to keep evaluating that. I don't want to establish a need or expectation of big entertainment all the time

Walked on the waterfront at Winton Woods park, 
after lunch and freeze tag

First pony ride at Parky's Farm Halloween Nights

The spinning tunnel at the Funhouse

Hayride and Daddy was with us!

All that to say, here are the photos from some recent adventures, yesterday. And true to my word, there were no pumpkins involved.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Momma missed

My mom missed two parties this weekend. They were both her kinds of events. The first, a Girls' Night Out party at church. Some music, silly games, and chocolate. I clicked through online pictures of the party and cried.

Then Sunday, loved ones gathered to say goodbye to her earthly remains. We gathered first in the woods at the church. Then we drove on to the property formerly known as SVP. The warm autumn day had plenty of leaves on the trees and a brilliantly blue sky. Some of us spoke, some of us didn't. The kids played in the field. There was an invasion of labradors who tumbled down the hill, hiking with my cousin. Mom would have loved dogs running in and amongst a gathering in her honor.

Soup, sandwiches and dessert waited for us at her house.

Oh, she would have been so mad to have missed both events.

Death does not sting...but missing her does. I've been telling myself and others so often that I am okay and I feel it more than not. But these moments remind me that I am still not okay with her leaving us.

I'll see you soon, Mom.

One of those days

For realsies, this time. It fulfilled all Monday, Monday preconceptions....

We were grumpy, unmotivated, whining and not too excited to be together in a Cincinnati hotel.

But the sun was shining, so we quickly zipped through couch time and got out. We planned fun stuff. You know, returns to one store in an unfamiliar mall, grocery shopping for the week, book know, just what kids want to do.

Oh, and I fed the kids leftover pizza at 11am, thinking we'd be back in time for a real lunch...not packing a lunch like I usually do....

Nothing remarkable happened, except we survived and though I felt the need to blow my stack two or three times, I held it together, mostly...and prayed. Much better plan....

We did visit both of our favorite Cincy parks; one with Sweet Daddy and the other just to get more wiggles out.

Then we came home and made this...careful...very creepy.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Not much news

Sweet Man is in Illinois. My patience went with him. Bug was running pennies this morning at 9am. ("Running pennies" is our current discipline tool wherein the punished must move one penny at a time from one container and place it in another...usually from front porch to garage OR from doorway of hotel room doooowwwnnn the hallway.) And it's already on the agenda for tomorrow after some attitude at bedtime...granting a little mercy and not sending him outside at 8:30pm.

We did travel today to yet another pumpkin venue and had fun with a gathering of a few MOPS ladies. It was a beautiful and chilly day. Note Bug's hat-head.

Awww, who are we kidding? His hair always looks like that.

We returned home and carved the pumpkins we bought 2 weeks ago. We're officially pumpkin'ed out.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A good catch

We were at dinner tonight with long friends, the Baileys. (I don't refer to anyone as "old," duh...
and I'm pretty sure I'm older than at least one of them.)
 So good to see them.

Bug was not his charming self at all and fell asleep at the table. Bring on the Airborne.

But here is a snippet snapshot of conversation:

Mrs. Bailey, asking about the fishing trip this morning, remarking how cold and rainy it was:

"Did you catch p-monia?"

Bean: "I catched 2 fish."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

One of those days

It's not what you are thinking...we've had an incredible fact, it is the sixth in a stretch of incredible days. Don't know why, I certainly don't deserve it...and it takes me a minute to realize I having one...but I'm seeing it now. I'm sure it has something to do with my sweet man being with me.

I won't bore you with the play-by-play.

We blew off school letterboxed last Thursday, hijacking Grandma J and taking her with us.

Bug and Bean spent a couple nights in the Valley...and Friday, I spent a day visiting with dear friends, drinking gallons of coffee, and going out to dinner with my sweet man.

Early Saturday, we woke up (with no help from the babes) and went for a walk, together...holding hands and everything. The realtor called and we were able get the house all sparkling for a showing. And we were off....We gathered our babes back to us and traveled to a soccer game. Late, late, I had a date with a gracious friend for coffee. She bought my tea and crumpet. Thank you, sweet friend.

Sunday was a day of sweet worship, naps, and chili with Opa.

Monday was school, errands with Bean, and jobs around the house. Check. stuff. off. that. list.

We were planning to camp this week, but Opa's camper is in the we road tripped to Amish country instead. The leaves are gorgeous right now ~ what a good day to drive hilly, back roads with no particular place to go.

After a trip to one of our favorite stores, we wandered a bit and made our way to the Valley where delicious dinner waited for us (that's becoming a habit, hmmm.) We'll spend the night and go fishing in the morning...well, I may go "reading near a body of water" or "reading in a comfy recliner" tomorrow, then dinner with friends. It really seems like I often finagle a way out of cooking dinner, doesn't it? Fantastic....

Sweet Man has said several times that he LOVES when he's working and LOVES when he's not. We are able to enjoy adventures together that we would never be able to before this job/life change. So blessed to live this way with my loves.

Sorry, I bored you with the play-by-play...if you're still with me, thank you.

We do have travel on the horizon next week. Daddy's going to Illinois and we're going to Indiana to visit my fell-in-love-married-and-moved-to-his-hometown-I-miss-her friend. She's newly pregnant with #2 and frequently queasy. Then maybe Cincinnati again...not sure about all of it.

I can't wait for tomorrow.

Shameless plug

There is a contest over at the Gap. I've entered my babes in the Casting the idea from my sweet friend. So, if you feel froggy, hop on over and vote for these cuties. You can vote once a day.


If the links don't work, enter member names...gypsyamykate  and  bekahsagar.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Almost two months...

I loved my momma. I miss her.

I don't want to canonize her just because I ache. We didn't have the "best friend" relationship some mothers and daughters have. We spoke a few times a week and saw each other at least once a week when we were in the same town. We loved to run errands together or just sit and visit.

I am so thankful that she was able to come visit us in Houston while she was still well.

The finality of her leaving still shocks me every day.

She drove me nuts, endearingly so. She was flighty and fluttery...asking a question and then not really listening to the answer. When the first babe came along, her inability to focus became worse as he split our attention. As much as she wanted to be a grandma, it was not exactly natural to her. She could never quite sink into the role and really relax. But she was a great Mimi, just her style.

Momma never claimed to be a domestic goddess, but she made delicious chili.  I've tried to duplicate it hundreds of times. And oatmeal cookies...she always put them in our Easter baskets with fresh strawberries. For my fourth birthday, she made me a Big Bird cake.

She was a collector and a consumer...she had like 37 vacuums, each with a different purpose and the expectation that it would surely do a better job cleaning than its predecessor. We teased her.

Apples, lighthouses, frogs, teacups, etc. still adorn the house. So different from me...I don't collect. Objects that don't serve a necessary purpose, don't stay in my house long. I'm a bit brutal, really.

Mom had an infinitely generous spirit, bringing "just because" gifts to us often in these years with babes. Maybe too often. After an afternoon of running errands in our neck of the woods, she'd stop by in the late afternoon. It was a great time for me to sit and talk, especially when the kids still napped. We'd quietly catch up on our weeks over the warmed-up morning coffee, waiting for little faces to peek down the staircase. I miss that.

Many people don't know: she held our family up financially as Dad's business attempts failed. We had no money until she returned to work when I was in 6th grade. She never undermined Dad, though, to Nat or me. I know now that it was frustrating to her to watch her husband work so hard, but never be able support us financially. I've thought often, would I be as gracious?

Friends and family have told me several times over the years how they felt my mom's unconditional love. She lived it out. I must have taken it for granted most of my life. Because they remarked about it, I became much more aware of it. After my mistakes aplenty, she was sad but never condemning. I never felt the slip-sliding away of affection or pride.

She didn't manipulate me or my brother to her preferred outcome, but waited for us to ask for her help. She loved us well, consistently, never keeping accounts. After a mistake was consequenced or untangled, she forgot it. Her love was sure.

And she loved my friends and my Sweet Man the same way. Unconditionally.

I want to be that kind of momma.

This thing called grief has so many surprises up its sleeve. It blindsides me still, almost every day. It's not a sadness of what she went through or where she is now, because that all worked to the best. It's mostly grieving for my dad's lost love and for the life I thought she'd live with my kids.

I like to be prepared for every possible situation, but don't know how to navigate or anticipate these emotions. I just carry a hankie with me everywhere, now.

When an older female friend gives me a hug, my eyes begin to leak. What's that about?

The morning she died, my dad, brother, husband, and I had just left her side and were leaving the hospital. We rode down the elevator and I looked around at the men in my life and thought, "This is my family now. We'll never be the same." I've been riding elevators often lately, living on the 5th floor of a hotel. That moment floods back almost every time I'm in one.

I was working on digital scrapbook pages the other night and soon couldn't see the computer screen through my wet eyes. Looking at pictures of her, remembering how she loved my babes and showed visitors those scrapbooks with pride, brought it all out again. I didn't get much finished.

In the moments of just waking up or just falling asleep, when the events of the day are not in focus and my mind is not guarded, I see her in her last hours. Just snapshots, not videotapes like I did immediately after she died. I thank God He has stopped the videotapes.

She wasn't scared, but I was so helpless to her and desperate to say and do everything I could. But I don't want to remember her last hours when she still with us but was slipping under and all I could was watch. There were moments, I couldn't even do that.

There is so much I don't want to forget.