Colorado Travels

Last month we went to Colorado.

This was a family vacation a long time in the making. My husband was born in Denver and he spent several years of his childhood in Colorado Springs, so the Rocky Mountains have always felt like home to him. He’s wanted to take me and our kids there for years.

When we found the deal of a lifetime on airfare, we decided that we couldn’t afford NOT to go.

Three of our 4 kids had never flown before, and one of our favorite memories happened before we even left the ground. We stopped to grab lunch at a burrito place inside the airport, and as all six of us sat down to eat, I noticed my husband reach for a Chick-Fil-A cup to take a drink. I said, “Who went to Chick-Fil-A?” As terror dawned in his eyes, he spewed the drink from SOME RANDOM AIRPORT PERSON’s cup into a napkin and the girls and I yelled, “Eww! Gross! That was a cup someone left on the table! Arrrrgh! Blech!” As we were all spluttering and making faces, Jed sidles over from the other side of the tables where he’d been people-watching and reaches for the Chick-Fil-A cup. It was like we were all in slow motion and powerless to stop the inevitable. Like father, like son. I snatched the offending cup from his hands (and straw from his lips) and threw it away before anyone ELSE could make the same mistake. Eww. Just eww.

When we made it onto the plane, we were all a little nervous (except for the Dad – he never gets nervous). I reminded the kids of the bible verse that says if we are down in the depths of the ocean, God is there. And if we are in the highest heights of the heavens, God is there. So no matter where we go, we won’t be out of His hand. In light of this information, Jed asked a good question: “So… can we SEE God up here or what?”

When the little bell sounded for the fasten seat belts sign, Adelaide said, “What is that?” and their dad said, “Oh, someone’s at the plane door. It’s probably Thor, since he can fly.” This was followed up by many Thor jokes, ie: “I have a Thor foot” and “Is anyone else’s throat Thor?” and “You thought you were right, but you are Thor-ly mistaken.”

Once we landed and picked up our car, we drove through the outskirts of Denver – Brighton and Commerce City were regular old places – lots of haphazard buildings and old barns, storage facilities and big mausoleums. At one point, Adelaide said, “It really smells like wet dog in here!” but Josie pointed out that it was probably just her sister’s feet. I told everyone my new joke: “Two cannibals were eating a comedian. One asked the other, “’Does this taste funny to you?’” Ha! Gets me every time. Josie broke up the long drive through miles of claustrophobic, steep, rock-walled canyons-on-either-side of us by informing us that she could predict the future. “Hey Mom, in exactly 2 seconds I shall pinch you!” and then it happened. Amazing.

As we continued to drive and gain elevation, 2 things happened. Sadie and I felt sicker and sicker from the altitude and the other kids watched a movie on the rental’s built-in DVD player. To Jed’s delight, it was one of his favorites, “Oh Brother Oh Doubt There,” known to most of us as “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?”

Suddenly, the sides of the canyons we’d been driving through parted and fell away. Without warning, the landscape opened up in front of us. I’ll never be able to explain the feeling when that panoramic view met my eyes. At our first glimpse of the majestic Rockies, our collective breath was taken away. It was a moment I will never forget. We had reached Estes Park and it was nothing short of incredible.

The next few days were filled with Rocky Mountain National Park, altitude sickness pills, boulder climbing, elk and bobcat sightings, the hotel that inspired The Shining, drinking tons of extra water, a toy store named Estes Ark, slot car racing, leaning over cliffs at 10,000 feet up, eating boar, elk, pheasant, and bison at The Hunter’s Chop House, and finding out that an oxygen bar is *not* anything like a granola bar. We met someone from Ashe County, NC (near my hometown) in our hotel breakfast room, and Jed thoroughly enjoyed his first rendezvous with a bagel toaster.

We drove through Roosevelt National Forest, saw bison in Boulder, stopped for quiche and waffles at The Happy Cooker in Historic Georgetown, then we ran through the pouring rain to visit the old-timey hardware store’s candy counter. Adelaide said the store smelled like Rudy, her Mamaw’s poodle. (What is it with this kid thinking everything smells like dogs?)

On our way to Steamboat Springs, the kids grew desperate for a game to play, so they made one up. It was called “Guess What’s in the Sock?” You can probably figure out the gist of the game. Someone took off their sock and hid tiny things in it and the players had to guess what was in there. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

We ate at a place called Dude-n-Dan’s (we had lots of fun with that name) where Josie actually drank the BBQ sauce. We bought Adelaide a rabbit skin at a fur-trader store, and we drove up to the hot springs at the end of a washboard-y dirt road tucked way back at the top of a mountain. Since we got there late in the evening, we were informed that it was “clothing optional after dark” so the kids weren’t allowed in. As we turned to leave, the kids’ eyes were darting all around and they stage-whispered: “Does anyone see any naked people!?” Jed was concerned that if people got in naked, “Dey will burn dere penises right off!”

As we continued our tour, we saw statues of Sasquatches, clouds shaped like cobras, trains, gold mines, and amazing rock formations. We stopped in Eagle and climbed in an old train car. In Glenwood Canyon, we built stacks of stones and we almost stepped on a snake. Later we stopped for lunch, where the kids had a noodle duel with their spaghetti and I almost flipped out because I was starving and the place didn’t want to sell me a meatball for some unknown reason. We’re calling that “The Great Meatball Flip Out of 2016.”

Glenwood Springs was also home to Glenwood Adventure Park which was at the tip top of a very high mountain that could only be reached by TERRIFYING CABLE CARS GOING STRAIGHT UP. The kids loved it. I was petrified. Especially once we got to the summit and a big dark storm rolled in… and they closed down the cable cars. Yeah. No joke. Luckily, there was a lot to keep us occupied up there – including a tour of the caverns down inside the mountain and a little playground where the kids could go spelunking through a tiny little fake cave called “Jam Crack.”

We lived through the trip back down (my eyes were closed the whole time) and we drove through Aspen and Vail. We continually gazed, googly-eyed, at the amazing mountains all around us. The line from The Grinch kept coming back to me “10,000 feet up, up the side of Mount Crumpet, he rode with his load to the tip top to dump it!” The kids played with their Shopkins in the car and took turns drawing crazy-looking pro-wrestlers. Then we stopped in Redstone, a tiny little town close to rows and rows of weird coal “coke ovens” left over from the glory days of the booming coal industry. We visited a beautiful little church full of stained glass windows and we fantasized about buying one of the houses by the banks of the river there and turning it into a bed and breakfast.

We visited Paonia, where we ate lunch at a tiny “small town America” diner on Main Street. The kids ate outside (Adelaide bemoaned the lack of cheese dip) and pointed at cloud formations “Dere’s a giant in da sky!” Jed got a haircut at the ONLY barber in town and Sadie searched for a bathroom and a new book at a weird little thrift store. Josie found some beaded Native American earrings to go with her fabulous red cowgirl boots.

We went to beautiful Ouray, enjoyed the hot tubs outside our cabin, climbed up to an amazing waterfall (“Dat was da best expewience I ever had!”) and we found out that I had been unknowingly stalked by a bear while doing laundry late at night. Josie slammed her finger in our cabin door and we saw a giant fish skeleton in the bed of a dried-up river. We saw mule deer and a wolverine (also known as a skunk bear) and we crossed the Continental Divide. Jed sang “I Won’t Back Down” over and over and Sadie spotted a bobcat hunting at his very own fast-food restaurant, the prairie dog village in the field next to the road.

We went through Telluride and saw beautiful Swiss clothing in a boutique, along with some yodeling toy prairie dogs. Adelaide was starving so she asked, “I don’t like fish… do you think you can you go catch us a hot dog in the river?” We all laughed and Sadie replied, “Don’t worry, Adelaide. We as a family will get you the help you so desperately need.”

We stopped in Rico for hot dogs and to buy some organic homemade lip balm and cupcake soap. Then we met up with Jesse’s cousins at his long-lost Aunt June’s house in Cortez. Jed gave out candy to his little boy cousins (he was happy to have some guys to play with) and said, “Want some candy? It’s for free!” since usually his candy does not come without a price. They spent a nice afternoon climbing hills and digging tunnels in Aunt June’s yard. There must’ve been some war play involved because later Jed informed us that “George Washington always wins” and “dat is why I want to be George Washington!”

We spent lots of time with Emily, Micah, Eli, and Brenna over the next couple of days and Jed had a great discussion on dinosaurs with his buddy in the back seat of our car on our way to Durango. This was overheard as we drove to Mesa Verde National Park: “Look at all those dead trees. Don’t come here on Halloween!” And “Why did the banana cross the road? To get to the banana shop. To go get an eyeball for his BRAINS! HAHAHAHA!” Boys come up with the goofiest jokes.

The girls enjoyed time with their newfound best friends/cousins and their new little shadow, 3-year-old Brenna. We had a great evening playing outside at a local brewery with live music and delicious fries. The next day at a restaurant in Mesa Verde, they gave our order the name Chevy Chase (each order got its own Hollywood name) and Josie ate an entire Navajo Taco, which was a gigantic open face taco on some kind of flatbread. Adelaide tried some weird candy and remarked, “Those taste like those grape vitamins that take away your pain!” We saw eagles in the wild and climbed around near the cliff dwellings. The views were astonishing and it was humbling to think of the generations and generations of people who had lived and walked there on the very same ancient ground.

Then we went to a fantastic, veteran-owned tourist trap called “The Hogan” with a giant teepee and giant arrows out front designed to attract your attention. Boy, did it work! They had tons of jewelry and ornaments made from rocks and local gemstones, arrowheads, furs, slingshots, you name it. It was probably my favorite stop. I love tourist traps!

In Pagosa Springs, we finally made it into the hot springs and let me tell you, they don’t call them hot springs for nothing. They are HOT. There was one pool called “The Lobster Pot” that was 120 degrees! Each pool had its own name and its own temperature. It was so amazing to be out under the big Colorado moon next to a raging river in a burning hot pool. We stayed in until closing time – even when another storm blew in and we could see lightning out over the mountains.

We also stayed at an absolutely wonderful Bed and Breakfast called Elk Trace. I wish we could’ve rearranged our trip and stayed there much longer. The kids loved touring the stables and feeding the horses. I loved the barbell in the workout area and the sauna. We all loved the luxurious log cabin with a huge wraparound porch and amazing views. None of us could believe it when dozens of teeny little hummingbirds flew up to the feeders and several landed right on the kids’ outstretched fingers!

We went on a family horseback riding adventure – my first time on a horse IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. It was fun. But I’m not planning on competing in a rodeo anytime soon. Horses are way taller than I thought they were.

We drove up the terrifying, exhilarating, beautiful, (did I mention terrifying?) Pike’s Peak. It was hot at the bottom and freezing cold at the top. We all felt sorry for the people on motorcycles, since we could barely stand it inside our car! Jed chose a stuffed bighorn sheep as his souvenir and promptly named it “Horny.” Then he proceeded to scare Sadie to death when he escaped her at the summit and she thought he was going to blow over the edge. 14,000 feet is a long way down. The national park service in Colorado should seriously consider their guardrail situation. That’s all I will say about that.

Sadie and I went into a rock shop at the base of the mountain and got some very cool jewelry made of out gemstones. Then we stopped at a Sinclair gas station with dinosaurs you could climb on. Jed was suitably impressed.

Garden of the Gods was fun for the kids and Jesse. They liked scampering over the rocks like mountain goats. I liked the scenery. And the weather. Slippery rocks and loose gravel = not an ideal situation for a clumsy person such as myself. I held it together though. I only slid down once. Okay, twice.

I must admit that I had my doubts about this trip when Jesse planned the whole thing out. Keeping everyone together in the airport? All that luggage? 4 hour flights? All of those hours in a car with all the kids? I could do it… but could he? He surprised me, though. One of my favorite memories is climbing onto an elevator with the kids as I took them down to the pool so Jesse could get some work done after a LONG stretch in the car. Adelaide said, nonchalantly, “Welp, Dad’s doing pretty good so far. I’m proud of him. He hasn’t even freaked out at all yet.”

And honestly, it was a great trip. Lots of family togetherness. Lots of Mexican food. Lots of “ooh-ahh” moments. Shared memories. Shared experiences. Shared Chick-Fil-A cups. Breathtaking scenery. Little hands holding mine. My husband taking a bajillion pictures of his “homeland.” Bedtime prayers in hotel rooms and fresh waffles for breakfast. Roadside waterfalls and wildlife spotting. The presence of God in His amazing creation.

I can’t wait to go back.


Date Night with my Daughter

Last night my oldest daughter and I had an impromptu “date night.”

Over the past month, she read all of The Hunger Games Books (she’s 11, almost 12.) I waffled back and forth over whether or not she was “old enough” to read them, but I finally decided to let her go ahead. I read them and loved all them – I think it took me about a week to finish all three (the first one I devoured in about 24 hours.)

Anyway, her dad got the first 3 movies for her and they had a little movie marathon over the weekend, much to the dismay of my other children – I’m somewhat adamant concerning my “read the book before you watch the movie” stance.

So last night, he took over dinner and bedtime duties and sent the two of us out on a Mockingjay Date. As we drove to the theater, I explained to her that this was a big honor for her, since usually if a movie is one I really want to see, I go by myself. That way I don’t have to worry about anyone talking, asking questions or ahem, or making fun of (I’m talking to you, dear husband) the story lines, plots, special effects, etc.

She replied with, “Tell me about it! Dad talked through all three movies because he didn’t know what was going on! I had to explain everything!” I cast a sidelong glance her way. “You know why?” Simultaneously, we said, “Because HE didn’t read the books!” Then we laughed. It’s nice to share a love of reading with my girl, who is growing up at a somewhat exponential rate of speed.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t know how to talk to her anymore and it scares me. I know she’s my same little girl in there, but she looks (and acts) so mature. She “gets” things – jokes and puns and metaphors – that a couple of years ago I would’ve had to explain to her. Heck, she “gets” more things than I do these days.

We only whispered necessary information to each other (like “What happened when I was gone to the bathroom?”) and she was a perfect “important movie” companion.

My favorite moviespart of the entire night was when she reached over to hold my hand during one of the scary parts (she knew it was coming – I’d forgotten all about it.) Later she put her head on my shoulder. Snuggling with this one is a rare occurrence… she’s got it in her head that she’s a loner, but I suspect otherwise.

On the way home, we stopped for a milkshake. She’s a Mint Chocolate Chip and Oreo kind of girl. We talked about the movie and the story line in general. We talked about possible meanings and themes and applications in our lives today. I tried to listen more than I talked. She’s such an interesting little person.

Well, not so little. She’s almost as tall as me. She’s strong, she’s thoughtful, she’s helpful, she’s kind, she’s so smart and reflective. I’m so proud that she’s mine… and that she’s her own person, too.

I have to remind myself to enjoy these moments more instead of worrying that they are going by too fast. Sometimes I ruin them by overthinking it. Live in the moment, right? Seize the day!

And also, when your almost-teenage daughter offers to hold your hand and snuggle with you, especially in public, seize that too.

Falling Again

IMG_3506I’m ready to hibernate.

Our entire summer was a blur: sleepaway camps, day camps, Bible School, Volleyball Camp, Art Camp, fishing, swimming, the beach, the lake, trips to NC to visit family and the Outer Banks, Niagara Falls….

I don’t even remember everything that we did. Just that it was a LOT. As the mom, this involved a lot of sorting, cleaning, planning (not my strong suit), logistics (also not my strong suit), HOURS of driving (that either), and laundry (ah yes, there it is: laundry is my strong suit.)

But now the trips are done. The boogie boards are back in the attic where they belong. The car is vacuumed. The laundry is all done (not all put away, mind you, but it’s washed and dried, at least).

And now? Now I just want to stay home.

So we’ve finally traded in the beach bag and the flip-flops for hoodies and boots. We’ve tracked down some matching gloves and a couple of hats – just in case. The leaves and acorns are getting tracked into the kitchen, right on schedule. The mums look like they are lighting fires in yards all over the neighborhood.

I love the smell of a bonfire and the crunch of dry, crackly leaves. I love blazing oranges and reds and golden yellow with neon green edged leaves. I love watching the fat gray squirrels chuck acorns at us from high in our giant oak tree. I love the chill in the early morning and how, after the sun goes down, the breeze brings that little whispery message that winter is thinking about us and might just pay us a visit sometime soon. I love falling asleep to the sounds of football on TV. I love how the kids run in and out, trying to decide if they’re too hot or too cold – and sometimes capturing wooly-boogers (their term for those brown and black fuzzy caterpillars.)

We’ve done the Family Fun Fest, gone to a couple of pumpkin patches, attended a build-your-own-scarecrow party (there are now 4 big scarecrows holding a creepy vigil in my front yard), and guzzled down the mandatory 2 gallons or so of local apple cider. We went creek-stomping, explored the woods, and picked some apples.

My fall to-do list is just about done!
The only thing left is to hunker down, light a fire in the fireplace, and do absolutely nothing for the next few months.

Or maybe four.

Big Boy – My Baby is Four!

-from my 11/6/14 article for Lake County Today.

My baby boy turns four this week.
I’m not quite ready for it. Four doesn’t seem very much like a baby, does it? And I’m not ready to not have a “baby.”
He’s my youngest child, and though I don’t think he’s a big boy, he insists that he is.
When he’s sleepy, he still sucks on his two fingers and rolls his “fuzzy” (a little piece of fuzz he pulled off from his blue blanket) back and forth between his fingers, looking like the baby he is – to me, anyway. When he’s asleep (usually on the couch), his long eyelashes seem to almost touch his little cherub-cheeks. He throws his arms up over his head or curls up in a ball on his side, one arm around Dino or Mousie. His blankets are always tangled and one little foot is always sticking out.
He’s an early riser. Nearly every morning, he pads into my bedroom on bare feet and stage whispers, “Hey Mom! Can I snuggle wif you?” Then he climbs in and sticks his cold feet on my legs and scooches down next to me. He pats my cheek and plays with my hair, I rub his little head and say, “You’re my favorite little boy in the whole world.” “Uh-uh,” he says, pulling his fingers from his mouth with a soft pop. “Uh-uh, I am not a widdle boy. I am a BIG boy.”
Well. He’s still my little boy – for now, anyway. Here is a compilation of some of his wonderful-ness as he begins his 4th year.
If you ask him something that he thinks is obvious, he responds with “Why wouldya say so?” e.g.,“Jed, would you like a popsicle?” “Uh, YEAH! Why wouldya say so?”

He likes to play with his “golfing cwubs.” He says, “Hey, do you wanna watch me pway golfing?” He loves going to play Putt-Putt and he’s a great encourager: “Dat was so close, Dad! You almost got it, Dad!”

He likes playing basketball. He shoots and tries to get it in what he calls his “basketball hook.” “Hey, Dad! Hey, watch dis! I got it in da basketball hook! Dat was a good hook! Good score! Boo ya!” Sometimes he plays basketball with his sister Adelaide. She throws it as hard as her little 6-year-old arms can and it bounces off the rim and hits her in the face. Jed says, “Owie! Gimme a dang it five!”

He likes throwing footballs, playing catch with his “baseball mitten,” running full speed wherever he goes, and constantly hitting things with sticks. He likes dirt, worms, dinosaurs, and cows. He loves playing with his three older sisters, which he refers to collectively as The Sisters, e.g., “Whure are Da Sisters?”

He likes to work on stuff. One day he was in his room for the longest time, just working away at the little tool bench his grandma got him for Christmas. As he walked into the kitchen, I said, “Whatcha been doing?” With his little thumb, he motioned behind him toward his room, then hitched up his pants and sauntered over to get a drink. He said, in a low, “manly” voice: “Oh, I was in dere doing some work. Working on stuff. You know, just finishing up some stuff.”

He doesn’t understand time yet. He thinks that anything in the future is going to happen on Tuesday. “Can we go on Tuesday? How about on Tuesday? Are we going to the park? Maybe you can tink about it? You know, on Tuesday?”

Anything in the past, however, is on Monday. Jed told his papaw: “It was on Monday dat I caught a fish. And we went to da zoo on Monday. And also to da beach on Monday.” Then Jed asked Papaw, “When can I swim in da pool at your house? Maybe on Tuesday?”

In his own words: “I wike twactors. I wike pickup twucks and I want a pink one when I gwow up. I wuv worgurt. And going at da Flo-Yo. My favowite is vee-nella.”

He informed his grammie that he is less than impressed with my cooking skills. She asked him, “What does your mom cook that you like to eat?” He said, “Nuffin’! It is dee-scusting. But my dad cooks and dat is dee-wicious.”

He points at things with his middle finger (much to my dismay) and he answers the phone “Who it is?” When he has a bad day he groans and says: “Uuuuuurh! I don’t like ANYBODY!”

After I tucked him into bed tonight while I was typing this up, I heard his little voice outside my bedroom door:

“Mom? I wuv you.
“And Mom? I will be your little boy for a long, long time.”

Me: “Are you sure?”

“Uh, YEAH, Mom! Why wouldya say so?”

A (Great) Great-Grandma

-from my 5/13/15 article for Lake County Today.

My 82-year-old grandmother is a world-traveler.

Well, not exactly a world-traveler, but she’s traveled farther (from the mountains of North Carolina all the way to Northeast Ohio) in her 8th decade of life than she ever has before.

She has 3 children (including my mom), 5 grandchildren, 9 great-grandchildren, and a multitude of people who think of her as their mom or grandma. (Most of my friends grew up calling her Grandma, too.)

She’s here in Ohio for the time being, and over Mother’s Day weekend it suddenly hit me: I am so very blessed that my children not only were able to meet their great-grandmother, but that they have actually gotten to know her.

Not many children have that opportunity.

My grandma has been a constant fixture in my life. Until I was an adult, she never lived more than 5 minutes away. I used to stop by her house after school for a glass of cornbread and milk and to chat with her and my grandpa, her husband of 53 years.

There are so many things I love about that woman: her little hands, wrinkled with the wear of living for 82 years, yet still so soft and smooth. She’s always quick to mend a tear with her needle and thread (kept conveniently in a blue cookie tin along with her aqua-colored “clips,” as she calls her scissors.) She’s always made do with whatever she had and though she’s never had much money, she’s always been content with her modest possessions. She’s a pro at peeling apples for any waiting child (using a dull knife that has to be at LEAST 38 years old, since it’s been in her kitchen drawer since before I was born.)

She fusses about:

  • Kids’ hair (“Honey, get that hair out of your eyes! I can’t see your pretty face!”)
  • Lack of slips – the only proper undergarment for a southern church-going young lady (“Gracious sakes, where is your slip? I can see straight through that skirt!”)
  • Incompetence at dish-washing (“Well, I might as well just do it myself.”)
  • Clutter placed just so (“There’s a place for everything and a thing forevery place, you know.”)
  • Half-hearted dusting of furniture (“If you don’t do it right the first time, you’ll just have to do it again!”)

But any time I can’t sleep because I’m anxious or nervous, other words of hers somehow always pop into my head. It’s been 12 years since my grandpa died and she recently told me that for a long time, it’s just been her and the Lord. She said that He’s always been there for her and that He’s always been her best friend.

And even when she’s far away, I can close my eyes and see her sitting there in her chair with her glass of water (no ice), her cup of coffee (black, please) and her big Bible on her lap. She says, “Dear child, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” I’ve never known her to be worried or hopeless. Even when my grandpa died, she was one of those people who said, “Trust in the good Lord, and lean not on your own understanding.”

She’s lived through so much. The Great Depression (I’m pretty sure this is why she saves EVERYTHING – she has a collection of Tupperware that would blow your mind), World War II, growing up poor, floods, raising 7 younger siblings when her mama died… more than 8 decades of changes and births and deaths and happiness and heartache and life.

She’s the kind of grandma who invites strangers over for Sunday dinner after church and feeds them copious amounts of pinto beans, biscuits, and chicken and dumplings. Who, when you’re trying to leave, chases you out to your car with a paper bag full of fried squash and barbeque chicken in case you might need a snack later. Who says, “Y’all come on in here and gitcha somethin’ to eat. And here’s some bread. Can’t eat without bread, you know!”

She’s the kind of grandma who makes you go outside and break your own switch for her to swat you with when you’ve been sassy. The kind who – horror of horrors! – makes you sit on the couch holding hands with the cousin you’ve just had a fight with until you hug and make up.

Oh, and she’s also the kind of grandma who always buys you and your cousins underwear for Christmas.

She’s the kind of grandma who can’t sit down, can’t be still, and she always has to be busy doing something: picking up dirt off the floor (dirt that’s invisible to the naked eye), messing with her plants, cooking, writing, watering her flowers, reading, looking at pictures of her grandchildren, rearranging things, re-washing dishes, re-making beds (because you didn’t do it exactly right the first time).

Between what she taught me – and what she taught my mom – I’ve learned so much:

Have a good work ethic. Be faithful. Go to church. “Do” for your family. Love your sweetheart. Don’t let anyone go hungry. Trust. Do things right the first time, but give second chances. Be kind to everyone – even invite them over for dinner.

She trusts in the Lord with all her heart – and I so hope that one day I’ll be able to say that I’ve followed in her footsteps.

No, she’s never had much money – but the legacy she’ll leave behind her one day is worth more than gold.

Holding On

My whole life is about holding on.

To you.

Holding on until you were born – then holding you in my arms.

Holding on just one more night with no sleep.

Holding on until your dad or grandma finally came as my back-up so I could take a shower.

Holding on to your stroller as we looked for birds and dogs at the park.

Holding on to your little hand as your took your first little stumbling steps…

Then I let go and you ran.

Holding your hand in the parking lot, and when we crossed the street.

Holding on to the swing, waiting at the bottom of the slide, holding your legs when you tried the monkey bars.

Holding on to your tricycle, your scooter, your bike with the training wheels…

Then your “big kid” bike.

I cried when you took off on your own.

My life is holding your head when you’re sick.

Holding your little sad body when you’re crying –

Your squirmy legs when you’re supposed to be sitting down.

It’s holding on to your popsicle-smeared smiles –

To your arms when we twirl for a dance –

To your “I love yous” in your little elf-y voice.

And you’re growing up. You’re different every day. Beautiful. Confident. Smart. Caring.

And you don’t really need me quite as much as you used to.

But you are my baby, and I’ve held on to you for so long that I will never stop.

So just know that I will be holding on to you in my mind –

In my prayers –

In my heart.


What I Like About You (and You, and You, and You)

There are lots of things I like about my kids.

Since they change so fast – daily, it seems – I decided to make up a little inventory list of what I like about them right now.

Sadie, age 10. She takes over and gives orders… and she says she LIKES giving orders. She likes peacock feathers and all things glittery and sparkly and shiny and sequin-y. She wears all the jewelry she can possibly put on and she fixes her hair just right (with double clips on the left side.) She always needs her purse and she over-packs no matter where she goes just so she’ll be prepared. I like how she loses herself in a book and thinks deeply about things and asks tough questions. How she likes to feel smart and has a great belly laugh and a goofy grin and an outrageous sense of humor that’s developing more every day. She likes to pray, she always needs a trip to the library “to get a new series,” and she loves digging in the dirt and growing things. She likes being the leader when she’s in a group of kids, gymnastics, freeze tag, and making up her own dances. She has the uncanny ability to repeat – verbatim – all kinds of stories and quotes from her favorite books and movies. She knows what she likes and she doesn’t care who else likes it or if it’s deemed “age appropriate” or not – she still gets excited over new Lisa Frank coloring books and clothes for her doll. She loves board games, Betta fish, making goofy faces, wearing fake glasses, building tree forts and spending time with her dorky old mom.

Josie, age 9. She wants world peace and says, “Can’t someone really cute, like me for example, just go explain to people that they just need to stop fighting because it’s BAD?!” She has a wild and crazy giggle and she runs so funny, with her arms and legs like little pistons flying (just like her little brother.) She loves all kinds of music and she says whenever she’s sad it makes her feel all better. She knows we can hear her singing when she has her earbuds in, but she doesn’t care one bit. She likes paper dolls, comic books, bows and arrows, and “adventures.” She likes to make up games outside like Pirate Ship (on the big swing) and she will spend hours in the toy room with her dinosaurs and Polly Pockets. She always needs a hug and she doesn’t mind telling you. I like her freckles, her mischievous elf-y giggle, her passionate love for all living things, and her easy way of making new best friends everywhere she goes. She loves to sit down and get all her schoolwork done at once, she wants to do everything in order, and she adores little babies. She loves dot-to-dot books and hidden picture puzzles, giant burritos and mango smoothies. She’s funny without meaning to be: “Mom, just let Sadie baby-sit us. The only thing bad she will do is let us eat marshmallows and watch lots of TV. Oh no! I’ve said too much.”

Adelaide, age 6.  She is incredibly sweet one minute and then crazy mean the next. She is loving and cuddly and has beautiful golden olive skin. She’s constantly asking to borrow my clippers, my scissors, or a pen. She likes to “read” magazines and circle the things in them that she wants. I like how she always wants to sit next to me or on my lap, how she sneakily wipes her mouth on me, how she smacks her lips and holds up her index finger with squinty eyes when she wants to say something, how she always wants to be included, how she brushes her hair whenever she’s “bored and has nothing else to do,” and how she always wants to know if her hair looks crazy. She rides her bike like a whirlwind and she likes when I sing the Wicked Witch song when she speeds past me. I like how she says “I want to KNOW how to read but I don’t want to LEARN.” She loves painting, crayons, clay, play-doh, colored pencils, markers, and all things artsy. She loves staying in the bathtub for hours and quoting her favorite cartoons out of the blue: “Oh, my bay-bee, you set my soul on fi-yah.…”

Jed, age 4.  He gets so excited over cows and bulldozers and “workers.” He says “how many days-es?” and likes to pick up the phone and say, “Hey, can I call someone? Maybe China?” He turns every stick-like object into a weapon and does ninja moves with them. He makes up his own crazy dance moves in the middle of Chili’s – and yells “EVER-BODY dance now!” and he doesn’t care who’s watching him. He makes up nicknames like Hans-y Boy and Sean-y Boy and Big Sis, and he yells “ADAWADE!” at his sister. I like how he says “sure!” and “yes, ma’am” and “will you show me?” by fingers how many minutes are left to play and he says, “Hey, THANKS!” when it’s more than 5. He loves dinosaurs, shovels, all sports, putting on his dad’s shoes, worms, “the sisters,” and The Lone Ranger. He squeezes himself into empty cardboard boxes – no matter how small they are – and he jumps all over the place, including the furniture. I like how he says “absolutely” instead of “accidentally” (I absolutely did smack her in da face!”) and how he can make anything positive. “Jed, you are the world’s worst guesser.” Jed: “Yeah, I am the BEST at not being able to guess!”

Yep, I think they are all pretty amazing.

I’m so lucky.