Friday, August 30, 2013

The re-invention of me

I started this blog just about 5 years ago.  Weird.  We had just started the adoption process for Quinn, Turner was a baby, Olivia wasn't in school yet.  My parents' health wasn't great but both were stable. I worked on campus at the University of Dayton in a most part-time yet fulfilling way. 

A few short years, LIFE happened.  The storm came out of nowhere.  It engulfed my life.  It nearly overwhelmed me.  One blow after another after another.  Relentless.  Consuming.  It chewed me up and spit me out. 

Life changes; sometime in an instant, sometimes gradually, sometimes both at the same time.

Today, Quinn has been home for 4 years, all three of my kids are in school for 8 hours a day.  My parents (whom inspired me to start the blog) are gone.  I volunteer at the kids' school 8 hours a week and am on the PTA officer team.  I am on the verge of finding my place within ministering outside of my home once again with our employing organization, Athletes in Action. 

My kids on the soccer team, involved in gymnastics, about to start theatre class and stalling to do their home work. 

I feel as though I am entering a new stage of life.  A stage where my kids begin to have their own lives.  Their own identities.

My identity seems to be re-shaping once again, as well.  Have I mentioned that I don't care too much for change? However, strangely enough, I do believe I am embracing the new and different.

I am enjoying where life is leading these days.  I am trying to choose carefully where I am headed.  What I say "yes" to, what I say "no" to.  So far these days, my "yeses" are life giving. 

I am in a season where I am trying to focus on all that I have to be grateful for.  It is SO MUCH.  Aside from the obvious: a great family, a home to live in, a head of hair, clean water to drink, another day to live etc.  I have been overwhelmed lately with the EXTRAS that seem to be overflowing.

My port comes out on Sept. 20th (FYI I have continued to live with my chest port that was used to infuse my chemo drugs.  I guess in some ways I've been viewing it as a *lucky rabbits foot*)  It is time to trust God in a tangible way.  A nurse called this a *celebratory* surgery.  She indicated that this is a surgery they don't get to do all that often.  I am grateful.

I am grateful for how the Lord is exciting my heart about life; about making an impact where He has me.  At my kids' school, in our organization, in the lives of friends and neighbors.  It is time to get my eyes off myself and begin to serve again.  Not just serve with my time but with my talents and my heart.  Gratitude brings joy which enables me to ENJOY my life.  I am grateful.

I have much be thankful for.  It's crazy (and probably good) how we have no idea what the future holds.  If I would have known all that would go on 5 years ago when I started up this blog, I may have run away from my life.

But God is good. 
He has carried me.  He IS carrying me. 
I am grateful.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The night I became a soccer mom

Last night Steve was working and Olivia had her second soccer game of the season.  This is her first soccer season where I feel like she is actually playing soccer.  As in they are playing on a full size field, have refs, full length quarters, follow actual rules and keep score.  (Up until now it's basically been semi-organized chaos that sometimes involves kicking a ball, but usually not.)

We've had practices for a few weeks now.  I'll be honest, the practices did not leave me with a lot of hope for my daughter's future in soccer.  Too many bugs.  Too hot.  Too much running.  Headache.  Cramp in the side.  Coach yelling.  Liking to be goalie because there's not much running.  Stuff like that.

Until last night.  It happened.  My daughter became a machine.  She scored the first goal of the game.  And it wasn't on accident.  It was because she dribbled it down the field.  She was aggressive and unafraid.  By the end of the game she was a sweat ball.  Her face was beet red because she ran her guts out.  She wasn't afraid to go after the biggest  most aggressive kid on the other team.  She saw openings and played them.  She talked with her teammates about strategy.  I was like, "What the???"  I know everyone thinks their kid is amazing.  Mine actually was!  And she looked like a dang college student out there.  I couldn't believe my eyes.

Something snapped in me too.  I was hooting and hollering and yelling things like, "Go, Red!"  And "Alright, Juan, turn it around now."  Even, "Take it to the goal, Esteban."  Seriously, before last night I didn't even know you were suppose to "take it to the goal." 

I actually said out loud- to nobody- "This is so much FUN."  All the while, my two boys were off playing with sticks in a sketchy wooded area near a running river and I didn't even worry about it.  I was focused on the game.  I used to judge parents who just focused on their kids' sporting events while the little ones hot wired cars in the parking lot and ran wild through the woods with sharp sticks.  (For real, I need to keep a list of the *I'll nevers* that I've broken in the past 7+ years.)  Now all I can say is, "Turn it around, Juan!"

I was super sad that Steve was working and missed his daughter's first goal.  But something tells me there will be a *few more* sporting events in our future. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Unusual co-operation

We had our first day back to school last Thursday. 

It was a good day.  Although it was August 15th (which in the *olden days* was still summer vacation) my internal body clock said it was time to go back.  And so did the weather.  The dog days forgot to come this year.  And I'm sad about that.  I really love those dogs.  I know, I'm weird.

It was so chilly, my kids wore jackets.  Which was probably good, since I wasn't ready to wage the war of, "But you HAVE to wear this on your first day of Kindergarten, boys."  So I didn't.  And they went off to their first full day of school looking like ragamuffins.

But they did agree to hold a sign. 

And in the age of blogs and Pinterest, I'm pretty sure holding a sign declaring it is your first/last day of any significant milestone in life is a requirement.  Check.

She agreed to hold the sign too.

Which is a good thing, because uh, oh!  Look what I'm in for:

I'm having a flash to a bit of teenage sas!  Are these shots the cutest?!  I love the beautiful, confident smile of my second grader.  I want to hold tight of this sweet thing as long as I can.  - As long as it's after 3:35 M-F and most hours on the weekend.

I have to say, I was able to get more accomplished Thursday and Friday while they were in school than I have since May 31.  We had a magical summer and I can't think of any way I would have rather spent our summer months.  But the magic was beginning to sour (knives, people!  They were armed and dangerous just the other day.)

You may agree, by the end of summer this is how we all feel:

And we will do it all over again tomorrow morning.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Why my life is NOT a reality TV show

Everyone has a double-edged sword in their life. 

Ours is the apartment that is the rental unit attached to our house.  When we bought this house, the only way we could afford the house was the fact that the back 1/4 of the house is a one and a half bedroom apartment that we are able to rent out.  The rent pays for 1/2 of the mortgage.  When we bought the house it came with an existing tenant.  It was no big deal when we were newly married and had no kids of our own.

However, one slight hiccup is that home renovations are not our *thing.*  Well, smooth move X-lax, for buying a house in an Historic District where the houses are a little bit old.  Thus the Historic part of the District.  And when you buy a house that also has an historic apartment under the same roof, renovations soon become your *thing.* 

Over the years we have had great tenants and not such great tenants.  I won't go into the details because they involve things like legal eviction, 200 nail holes in the walls, chicken bones down the garbage disposal, scorched ovens and 2 dogs and 3 cats at one time by a lady who was only allowed one dog (she may have also been the one that was evicted... just sayin').

We mostly enjoyed our last tenant and we were really thankful for him.  He paid the rent on time and had a slight hearing loss, which was nice since his bedroom wall shared a bedroom wall with the boys' bedroom.  They are occasionally noisy.

Unfortunately, he moved out at the end of July.  It was especially unfortunate because upon his departure we were left with some major renovations (and cleaning) on our hands.  My sweet and hard working husband has been burning the candle at both ends trying to turn this apartment around.  I've helped here and there but honestly while the kids were still home from school, I could barely tinkle in private, let alone get major work done next door.  We were also able to hire our good friend who is very talented in the work of construction.  I don't know what we would have done without his help.

Thankfully, with the kids being back in school, I was able to spend some time yesterday and today cleaning and clearing the last of the stuff out of the way in order to begin showing it to interested renters. 

We have had a shop vac for years but it has kind of always been on its last leg.  I would get it out for the quarterly vacuum of the car when I could no longer stand wading through gold fish and French fries in the back seat.  With the onset of this apartment turn over, Steve bit the bullet and went out and bought a new one.

I'm telling you, this shop vac has changed my life.  It is so fresh and new and full of power and suck, I'm practically giddy.  I was shop vacing everything that got in my way today.  The back porch had tons of saw dust from where our friend was doing work for the flooring.  I got the vac out and the porch was tidier than I've ever seen it.  I did not stop there, no sir!  There are some cracks and crevices on our bricks and walkway that tend to collect debris that I can't seem to get up with the broom. Yep, I was literally vacuuming the sidewalk.  I was in a shop vac frenzy.  If it was in my way, I was sucking it up.  At one point, I was actually laughing at myself because I had gone crazy.  I may never bend my lazy buns over to pick up another thing in my life.  I don't have to, now I can just shop vac it away. 

So, that's how I've been spending my first two days of freedom.  Not exactly the plans I had dreamed of a few weeks ago, but that's OK.  Sometimes life just sucks.

Monday, August 12, 2013

What a way to go out

The grand finale of our summer travels.  We went to Pure Michigan.  I have to say, Tim Allen's voice ran through my mind pretty much the whole time we were visiting. 
Steve's brother and his family live in Northern Michigan, so we thought the perfect way to end our magical summer would be with one more, really long car trip. Grandma and Papa met us up there too.  The only ones missing were Steve's sister and her finance (but don't feel too bad for her, she couldn't come because she was on a girls' getaway down in Key West.)
 I have to say, it was worth it.  We started off at their house for two nights.  The biggest blast was watching the 5 cousins play and run and laugh and fight (but just a little.) 
Friday morning, we hopped in cars and headed about an hour and a half to Mackinac City. Uncle's Scott's friend's parents have a vacation house that they graciously allowed us to stay in.  From there we had a view of the Lake and of the Mackinac Bridge (the 4th largest suspension bridge in the world, btw.)
Saturday morning we grabbed a ferry over to Mackinac Island.  We shopped, ate, had a horse and carriage tour of the island, sampled fudge and enjoyed the most gorgeous day you have ever seen.  Seriously, if the wind had been just a tad less, it would have been utter perfection.  I wanted to hit pause on the day.
Yesterday morning we packed up our van (hopefully for the last time for a while) and headed home.  What should have taken about 7 hours took 11.  The traffic was bad, but we also decided "what difference does it make?" to get home at 7:30 or 10:30.  That is not how we normally operate.  So, we stopped and saw some dear friends in Ann Arbor, stopped for a more leisurely dinner and just didn't get all crazy about getting home.  It was nice. 
Now it is Monday  morning.  It is nearly 10, my kids are still in jammies.  We have stuff to do.  And we will get it done.  But the writing is on the wall.  Thursday it's back to business.  (I keep calling it the day of reckoning.)  I'm not ready for summer's freedom to end.  I do invite the structure of school and the other opportunities that the school year brings.  So my emotions are mixed as we begin our week. 
But first, laundry.  Mountains and mountains of laundry.  Vacation over!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

It's like 10,00 spoons

School starts for my three in 8 days.  Perhaps not a day too soon. 

Yesterday I had some business to do on the phone.  Real business, not just the,"I want to talk to Susie/Sally/Amy/my Aunt/Steve's mom on the phone" kind of business.  And since my kids have this weird radar/sixth sense/evil plot to ruin my life while I'm on the phone thing going on, I quietly snuck up to my bedroom and locked the door.  (Mature moment of the day #1)

As I was on hold with the electric company (don't ask) I began hearing blood curdling screams- which are basically white noise to me these days. I heard a door slam.  Then I heard the hysterics change from indoor shrieks to outdoor shrieks.  Still locked in my bedroom but finally actually conducting business, I was trapped.

Vectren finally finished being oh so helpful and when I got downstairs, Olivia was in high drama and she and Turner ran inside with the screen door slamming behind them.  Each one armed with  KNIVES.  (OK, so they were butter knives, but STILL.)  What, are they insane??? 

There are a lot of bad habits that I know they get from me:  Rolling of the eyes.  Mine.  Sighing.  Mine.  Even an occasional "Stop it." But I can assure you- chasing people with butter knives is not one of them.  What did they think was going to happen anyway?  Were they going to butter each other up and have breakfast?

They were each sent to their rooms.  Quinn was *for once* asked to do what he does best, tattle.  I got the scoop from the only sane person in the house at that time.  Cool as a cucumber, he rattled through the account.  Seems it really does take two to tango (and to go all Freddy Kruger on your sibling.)

After I semi-calmly lectured each of them individually (like the mature adult that I am) about how if someone driving through the neighborhood would have seen them doing what they were doing they would have called the police.  Not only would both of them be in trouble but so would daddy and I.  Turner's big question was what would happen to Quinn if we were all in jail?  Olivia just looked at me like a deer in headlights.  A fine parenting moment; I'm not proud.

So if for no other reason, we need school to begin so that Quinn doesn't have to hold down the fort by himself, with no clean knives left to butter his bread with.  THAT would be tragic.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Florence Nightengale, at your service

All is well.  Quinn came through with flying colors.  It was suppose to be a 3 hour surgery and it only took about 2 hours.  They were able to *pop* the new bone right in the gap in his gum line (sounds gross to me.)  The surgeon was pleased because the cadaver bone worked and they didn't need to remove any of Quinn's own hip bone (which honestly, I didn't know was plan b.  I'm glad I didn't know that... it would have caused me increased stress yesterday.)

I was able to be with him in the recovery room as he woke up from the anesthesia.  Steve stayed out in the waiting room with the other two.  Thankfully, Children's  Hospital caters to children.  The other two were fully entertained while we were waiting.  Because everything went so well, we ended up being discharged straight away.  We were home and pumping Quinn full of Popsicles by 2:00.

Poor guy really took a beating.  All was so smooth until it was time for him to take his medicine.  He will be on penicillin for the next 6 weeks.  (4 times a day for six weeks is a really long time.)  He put up the biggest fight you've ever seen.  He REFUSED to take his medicine.  Boy, there was a year's worth of sermon illustrations in our evening last night.

He protested so hard and so long he finally threw up all the medicine we eventually got in him.  It was unbelievable.  It was such a horrible scene, even Olivia and Turner made themselves scarce.  The evening ended with Steve and I fighting, Quinn screaming, crying and barfing.  We ARE the epitome of grace under pressure.  Except that we are not.

Surprisingly, in spite of having his face ripped open and new bone shoved in a gap in his face, the kid slept soundly through the night.  Not a peep until 7:30 this morning.  He was definitely blessed with the gift of sleep.  And, apparently, pain tolerance.  Because in addition to his penicillin, he also refused to take any kind of Tylenol.  Crazy!

Because I don't use my brain, I hadn't really put two and two together to realize that this six week recovery means no soccer season for him.  Which is a bummer.  Especially since we just went out and bought him cleats.  But I guess a ball to the face right after reconstruction surgery would not be wise. It wouldn't probably be so sad if the other two kids weren't playing, or if Steve wasn't already signed up to be the coach.  Oops. 

So this is how we will round out our summer vacation.

At least it will be full of Popsicles.