Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Rhett's family turkey project. Yes. I'm proud of that sweet boy. Always!

May you and yours enjoy full tummies and full hearts as you reflect on the blessings of a full life!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Dazzled. Two weeks ago that word took on a bit different meaning for me than it does today. Funny how a word can instantly change meanings just depending on the subject or the context around which it is used.

Do you have minute to follow me down this twisting path? It might take a while and I'm not sure where we will end up. Well, OK then. Don't say I didn't warn you... Let's go!

Webster's version:
Dazzle: intransitive verb 1: to lose clear vision especially from looking at bright light 2 a: to shine brilliantly b: to arouse admiration by an impressive display
transitive verb
1: to overpower with light 2: to impress deeply, overpower, or confound with brilliance

Me this week:
Dazzled: Past tense of dazzle. To be left dizzy, a tad breathless and slightly unbalanced in the presence of the brilliance, wonder an beauty that is Edward Cullen.

Yes friends, I have been bitten by Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series. And like it's heroine Bella, I'm hooked in that forever kind of way. I never intended for it to happen. Last summer I started reading Twilight twice. I was sick, the kids were home, and I never had more than 30 minutes at a time to read. So I stumbled through the first chapters and never really got into it. Though I thought it would be good and kept planning to get back to it, I didn't. AND I kept hearing/reading spoilers. People can be so careless! They are called SPOILERS for a reason people!!!! They SPOIL the experience. (swallow. sigh. move on.)

By the time I came back to the Twilight book last week, I had decided I knew so much of what would happen in the next three books that I would not bother to read them. I was going to see the movie with some friends Saturday though, so as I went to bed that fated Friday night, I picked Twilight up again. I was just planning to casually scan the 498 page book to get caught up. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. I started reading and could. not. stop!

One movie, countless conversations with friends, 2,728 pages (4 books, 1 manuscript and a half dozen on-line deleted chapters) and very, very little sleep later, I am slowly recovering from a Twilight jet lag that fogged my brain as it dominated the the last five days of my life. My short mental vacation to Forks, Washington has left me not only tired and foggy, it has left me... dazzled!

And while admittedly my current state has much to do with the fictitious Edward Cullen (who we wish was real), I'm just as taken with the author Stephenie Meyers. WOW! The fact that someone can give birth to characters and stories like these just boggles my mind! She truly has an amazing gift!

I won't give away much here (eh-hem) but I will say this story is not what I expected. I was joyously surprised. I believe they call that serendipity. I love this story, the characters, the undertones, and the lessons. I loved seeing things through the eyes of a 17 year old girl again. It's made me go back and see things back in my own 17 year old life. I loved finding such a sweet story in such a conflicted cast of characters. Again, I won't give it away, but I will say I read page 754 of the last book, Breaking Dawn, with satisfied, misty, smiling eyes!

I don't read much anymore because once I start it's hard to stop. And despite the fact that I'm basically nocturnal, even I need sleep. When I'm reading I just have to know what happens. If I am really into a story I have to read very fast so that my mind will get closure and let it go. Otherwise I pick the story apart and question the author in my mind all day long instead of intently focusing on Mom stuff. AND let's face it, Mom stuff is extremely serious business. When there are mouths to feed, nightmare monsters to fight, bo-bos to bandage, children to transport, and bunkies to wipe, (Not to mention a certain two year old in dire need of some intensive potty training!) there is no time to read. No time for distractions.

So my sudden trip to the Twilight zone cost me. My house looks like it might truly never recover. It's bad. No Christmas decorations have been put up. In fact it still looks like Halloween around here! And that mountain of laundry waiting for me will need it's own zip code soon. But I'm glad I had these days with my new friends in Forks. I needed them. We all need an escape now and then. Time away can show things that get lost in the day to day. And, I came back better.

I came away from the Twilight series reminded never to underestimate love, no matter what. Edward Cullen made me blush like a teenager and Bella made me laugh like she was my BFF. Those two even scared me silly a time or two (After 3 kids, my bladder doesn't always react to laughter or suspense as it should. TMI?) They took me in, made me one of them, and flat out dazzled me! That is what a good story does when told by a master story teller! I'm not a crazed fan. I won't camp out on Stephanie Meyers lawn begging her to write more. I don't plan a pilgrimage to the real Forks, Washington anytime soon. (Unless my little coven wants to plan a road trip, then I'm all in girls!) Seriously. I can live with nothing but my memories of the books and go on. But the story will stay with me, and like all really good stories, it has me thinking.

It is no small wonder that Jesus used stories to teach people. While his parables were easy for his listeners to understand, they were always layered with implications that went deeper than just the telling of events. There was a purpose, a core, and a rainbow of deeper meanings for his listeners to grasp. Jesus was the master story teller. Maybe growing up in Sunday school listening to the parables of Jesus and my teacher's interpretations of them is what taught me the life long habit of picking a story apart and trying to find Jesus.

Someone just read that paragraph and thought "Did she just talk about Jesus and Twilight in the same post?"

Yes. I. Did.

Stephanie Meyers is Mormon I think. Her writing is touted as moral and safe for young girls. I would go along with that except I think the passion is a bit much for girls before age 14. (Although I borrowed the last book from my 6th grade neighbor!) I'm not suggesting that the Twilight series is a Christian allegory, though I bet someone could go there if they really tried. I mention Jesus and Twilight because my life's goal is to be an allegory and the author of my story seeps Jesus into all the plots of my life. He dazzles me with his relevance and beauty. He protects me with a grace and a sacrifice I can't fathom. He bowls me over with a love I can' t ever properly describe and sees me as something far more beautiful than I am. It's a forever kind of thing. No matter what battles I need to fight HE assures me that those being loved and loving sacrificially will rule the day. Not that there is anything like that in the Twilight series. Nope. NOT AT ALL! Just me trying to find Jesus again. It's all in the conditioning you know...

Even if you don't want to read the Twilight books, you might want to join me in a little challenge I issued to myself after I read them this week. I'm going to try to look back at my 17 yer old self remembering how I saw the world, who I loved, how I loved, what I did about it. Then from the perspective of where I am now, I want to marvel over the things God has specifically done in the life of that 17 year old. Even though I'm not really very good at it, I'm going to write that story. I'm going to tell that 17 year old about the faithfulness God will show her in her life.

Name it, claim it, and get it down in physical form.

I want to write that story as my own personal witness to spur me on in the next challenge life throws my way. If you are anything like me, every story you read has a way of sticking with you, even if it is your own. Or maybe I should say especially if it is your own? I have found that to be true for me. Like a written scrapbook, the story of me reminds me of who I am, who I belong to, where I came from, and points to where I need to go.

Your story from age 17 to now may be a page long, or a chapter long or even a book length. But no matter it's length, writing your story is an exercise in recognizing the hand of God... The hand by which we are fearfully and wonderfully made. To those who don't see that hand... It's OK. Take that story and give it to the Father. Ask him the hard questions. Ask him to take the pen and work out the rest. He will.

Regardless of what we do or don't see in our story, I guess we need to mentally hand over our unfinished manuscripts to God and allow him to pen the details as only he can. Of course He already wrote the ending. Love wins and we live with him happily ever after. Hard not to be dazzled by that thought!

Dazzled: To be left feeling warm, sure and awed while completely balanced in the presence of the love, brilliance, knowledge and beauty that is our Lord and Savior. Dazzled.

Happy Thanksgiving bloggies!
May we live a life of thanks giving to Him!

Monday, November 17, 2008

This, That & The Shack

I can hardly believe that Thanksgiving is next week! This month has flown by. I did not think November was going to be too busy, but I was wrong. Rob is snowed under with graduate school and work at the moment. He seriously works on something 16 hours a day. I can't wait for this semester to be over for him. It seems the kids are growing like weeds right now. Things i bought three months ago don't fit. All three have been sick in the last week, but not real sick. The kids are always busy even though we currently have no sports in the schedule. (That only happens 6-8 weeks a year!) I'm still staying busy with life and PTA. Mostly PTA. We had delivery for our big fundraiser that I was responsible for last week. It didn't go as well as I would have liked. (That is a huge understatement!) But I learned a lot about people in general. (stepping on my soapbox)

There are far too many people in the world who don't take care of their business and it's just rude. If you think about it, rules and policies are basically in place as a courtesy to the rest of the world. Ninety percent of the time when rules aren't followed or policies aren't abided by, someone is being very rude to someone else whether they realize it or not. People really don't seem to get that. They don't seem to realize that their action, or lack there of, can greatly impact someone else. As busy as we all are these days, it seems we all need a little reminder lesson on manners and the importance of taking care of our business so someone else won't have to. That lesson was drilled into to me during product delivery when I was the one who had to pay for others not taking care of their business. It was a hard lesson. But I have been the guilty party many times, so I do understand. If anything, it has made me want to be much better about keeping my commitments and taking care of my business! (stepping down now)

Part of what was so hard about delivery was that I had no notice before I had to rearrange our world and spend a 2nd day at school for 8 or so hours so people could come get their stuff. Ella Kate had to be with me for most of that time because I had no time to make other arrangements. Ella Kate is as cute as can be, but she isn't a quiet child. She does not like to sit in one place for more than 45 seconds... And she likes to run!!! So taking EK to school for 20 minutes is not fun. Three or four hours is sheer torture. There are good reason why 2 year olds don't go to elementary school!

EK actually managed to get away from me and my friends twice. We couldn't find her for almost 5 minutes the first time. It seemed like an hour. I was mere seconds away from becoming a panicked puddle of blubber and insisting the whole school issue some sort of lock-down version of CODE ADAM by the time we found her. I have a whole new patch of grey hair from that day! (Keep in mind I read The Shack just three days before this. If you have read that book, you'll understand why that is significant when not being able to find your child!)

Speaking of THE SHACK, have you read it? Did it make you cry like a baby? Has it changed the way you see God? Do you look at people in a whole new light? Do you pray very different prayers and have completely different views of church and religion? Do you find yourself wanting to go back and read what Papa said to Mack over and over? Really? ME TOO! I don't read a lot anymore. I have yet to finish the Twilight series and my Southern Livings are more decorations than reading materials these days... But if I only read one book a year, or even two years, THE SHACK would be that book. Yes. It is that good. And hard. And deep. And life altering.

I went into it knowing nothing. I hadn't even read the description on the back cover of the book. I only had a vague memory of BST saying it was "brutal" reading in the beginning and others talking about how great it was. So I don't want to spoil for anyone else, but take my word for it, it is wonderful but very hard to read at first. Don't sit down to read it unless you have time to plow through the first 200 or so pages. In fact, I read it straight through. I simply couldn't stop. Luckily, I didn't need sleep that night! :) And I keep going back to parts of it reading them over and over. Then I read my Bible and read the book again to see if the two really jive. So far they do! I think it's a transformational book. I would love to hear what others think of it!

Speaking of hard and transformational.... I spent two hours getting Halloween pictures made in the Sears studio yesterday. Yes, I realize Halloween was over weeks ago. Because my older two finally outgrew having matching or themed costumes, I thought we weren't going to do Halloween pictures again this year. (And really in 10 years, I'm not sure the Sear's portrait experience has ever been pleasant.) But, I have 10 years of pictures of my kids in costume decorating my buffet right now. I had to have an eleventh! Especially since EK was such a cute little kitty cat. Yes, I just had to do it.
But, it was painful.
Despite having an appointment, we had to wait forever. Ella Kate was anything but cooperative. The first Sears photographer made it clear she would rather be anywhere but taking pictures of kids. Then the pictures she did take didn't work because she did not have some light turned on. We had to shoot all the pictures again! Of course by this time Kolby had a run in her tights, Rhett had chocolate on his jersey and EK had torn her skirt, smeared her "whiskers," and ground goldfish into her fur, but we were there and dressed. I was not going home empty handed! We had a great photographer the second time. She saved my sanity and our pictures! Here are some blurry pictures copied from the Sears site. And yes, I am glad we did it! But it's Rob's turn next year! :)

Well, that is all my blog time for today. I won't be blogging as often now that I have become a full fledged Facebook addict! Facebook really is fun. It's so cool to be able to keep in touch with so many so easily. Just click my Facebook icon to the right if you want to join the party! I'll definitely be your friend! :)

Happy Monday bloggies!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Life goes on...

Last night Kolby was excited to watch the election returns. Even though I tried to hide it, I was not. I thought about not turning on the TV at all, but it was actually Kolby's homework to watch returns and fill out a red/blue states map. So we tuned in around 8PM.

You may or may not know that I have worked hard not to be too political during this election. That is very unlike me, but I just felt that I personally needed to listen more than talk this time around. So we have not talked about the election a whole lot in our house. I did however take Kolby with me to vote last week. I wanted her to see how it all works and to know that you can still be a good, responsible American with out being a "loud, sign in your yard, recruiting people for your guy" American. Everyone just gets one vote no matter how much noise they make or don't make.

Anyway, even though we haven't shouted it from the rooftops, Kolby knows that Rob and I voted for McCain. In her 5th grade mind that meant McCain was our guy and he just had to win or we would loose. She was not so quiet in her support of McCain. She is so my daughter!

Last night after Ohio and Pennsylvania went blue, I tried to calmly explain to Kolby that there was very little hope for McCain to win and she should go to bed. (The electoral college makes a close race seem like a land slide doesn't it?) She was distraught, and almost fearful at the thought of Obama winning. I was a bit annoyed at first thinking she was just trying to stay up later. But when I saw that she was really sad and almost sacred, I asked her why she was sure Obama was so bad. Kolby started telling me all the things that "kids at school" said about Obama and why McCain just could not loose.
"It will ruin America forever" she said.
"Ruin America forever? " I asked.
Somehow that sounded worse coming out of the mouth of a scared 10 year old.
Again you can be sure that DID NOT COME FROM US, not this year anyway! :)

Turns out some kids at Kolby's school have some strong opinions about this race. The 5th graders she talked to had built quite a rap sheet for Mr. Obama. "He is going to change the pledge of allegiance and make us go to school 7 days a week. He will take all the money people who work hard make and split it with the people who don't work at all. He prays to a different God and is related to Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Husein.
"He's going to ruin our whole country and we will all have to move," she said matter-of-factly while mentioning something about Obama secretly hating America and being a spy for the "muz-lims."
I had no idea she was harboring those thoughts. Surly, no adult would say things like that around a child. Surly all this was just the invention of creative 10 and 11 year olds wanting their guy to win... But no matter. None of it seemed very innocent or funny when I saw that there was true fear and maybe a shred of hate in my daughter's eyes.

So I did what we mothers do when we see that there is an imaginary monster in the dark scaring our kids. I swallowed my (Republican) pride and set about shining the spotlight of reality on the Obama Monster threatening to ruin her world.

First I talked. I talked about how both candidates were good men who want what they each truly feel is best for America. I said that though their ideas greatly differ, and while I am very sad that McCain will never get to be President, both he and Obama are good men and good Americans who also claim Christianity. Even though Obama was "the opponent" in this race, he is is not our "enemy." (Why is it so hard to think that our opponent is our friend?)

Honestly, I was itching to point out that McCain had the class and guts to graciously concede when the writing was on the wall, unlike Kerry in the last election, and that McCain was running against a whole lot more than just Obama, (insert Oprah, Hollywood's not necessarily accurate portrait of the state of our union, a culture that takes the easy way out and blames Bush for everything from the strength of the levys in New Orleans, to a housing crisis that in part is a result of faulty lending practices that began under Carter, foreign influences, and an economy that crumbled under a Democratic majority in charge of the purse strings, etc.) but I held my tongue.
Hate begets hate.
Love begets love.
When you look into the eyes of a ten year old, that seems so much clearer.

At the last minute I decided to let Kolby get back up (she was not yet asleep) and watch some of the speeches. Sadly, I decided that mid-way through McCain's speech. But I think it helped her to see McCain say good things about Obama. She was surprised to learn that the Obama's have two daughters the same age as Rhett and her. And she was dismayed at hearing Obama say nice things about McCain. "I thought they just hated each other."
Well of course she thinks that.
What else could she think after all that has been said in the last year?
I'm not sure my words or seeing the speeches for herself taught Kolby all that I hoped, but for me it boils down to this...

Like it or not, last night was historical for these United States. Barack Obama's win was a moment in our history that will be talked about and recorded in text books from this point on. I didn't want my daughter to remember it as the night we were defeated and scared. I didn't want her to remember unkind words and fretting.
I want Kolby to remember the graciousness of John McCain's and Barack Obama's speech. (Now that he is going to be President, do you think spell checker will recognize his name? :)
I want her to recall from her own memory the night that our America finally bucked the racial stigma associated with her since the days of slavery.
I want her to remember that even though her Mom and Dad voted for the someone else, they still love America and support and hope the best for all of her leaders.
I want Kolby to remember that she got to stay up way past her bedtime because her parents wanted her to have her own memories of a historic night. (It was rough this morning, but 10 years from now I think we will be glad we made that call!)

But more than the historical and political lessons, I wanted Kolby to witness her parents not giving up hope because our hope does not rest on the shoulders of elected leaders. Our hope comes from a risen Savior who remains on the throne no matter who lives in the White House.

As late as it was, I wanted Kolby to go to bed feeling secure in the faith that God will never leave her no matter who rules the land. She has a choice when it comes to how she lets the outcome of this election color her world. We all do.

I had little time to reflect on any of this though as Rhett (who went to bed much earlier) woke up puking around mid-night. Until I collapsed in bed some early hour this morning, I helped Rhett "hit the cup" and cleaned up what didn't. What a long and crazy night!

But it just goes to show, life goes on. Whether a Democrat or a Republican wins, there is puke to catch, kids to take care of and a God who promises to give us the strength and endurance to see the beauty in it all.

Happy Wednesday bloggies!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Halloween Wrap-up/ Room Preview

Just a quick post to say we had a great Halloween!

Here is EK with her MDO class on Thursday. We got a lot of mileage out of that kitty costiume! Aren't they cute!

AND My Dad seems to be doing better. His pain is finally being managed. Hopefully he will be able to start rehabbing soon. Thanks for all the well wishes and prayers. Please continue to remember my Dad as this is going to be a long process. They are hoping he can come home by DECEMBER 25TH. Yes, I said DECEMBER! OY!

But back to our fun Halloween. As has sorta become our tradition, my big family and the cousins came over for trick-or -treating and Halloween play. We also celebrated my uncle Rick's birthday. I think it is so fun to have a birthday on Halloween!

We had Spaghetti for supper, went trick-or-treating and just played and visited. Around 8:30 Rob talked Rhett and Justin into going to the Midway game with him. He had tickets and was itching to go all night, but wanted to be here for Halloween. Rob has a passion for high school football! And MIDWAY won! It was a great night for all of us. I love Halloween. It's just a great, fun, family time! AND orange is one of my favorite colors!

Our family in front of the big Pumkin

The cousins Trick-or-Treating in the neighborhood.

Last night we had two cowgirls, a Storm Trooper, an FC Dallas Soccer Player, a kitty, a witch, two Cheerleaders and a Fireman!

And finally, I thought I would post some pictures of Rhett's completed room. Well sorta completed. As completed as it will be for a while! Still not sure I ever feel like any room is completely complete! :)

Rhett really loves his new room and is doing a great job keeping it clean.

Rhett's favorite part of his new room is his desk and lockers. He has been really good at coming home and doing his homework right away at his desk. I'm letting him sort and arrange his lockers for the most part. The other day I asked him where something was and he said "#17."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Locker #17!"
He has it all figured out.

He isn't the only one who likes his new room. If I can't find Ella Kate, she is usually "reading" books or "sweeping" (sleeping) with the puppies (Webkinz) on Rhett's bed. Someone said it is getting time for me to put EK in a big girl bed. Re-do another room? NO... She may be in her baby bed until Kindergarten!
Happy Weekend!