Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Memory Snatcher

For the last 30-40 days I've been doing a self experiment. This isn't anything for lent or any type of fast. Just an experiment, an experiment of me. I've pretty much disengaged from social media. I've mostly only looked at notifications and responded to them. If I needed to share something for CC or MV, I would do that. But as far as scrolling through my feed, that's been almost nonexistent.

I love my life and I don't really get jealous of the good others have in their lives. I don't struggle with comparison or depression. I'm not really one to think, "Why them, God, and why not me?" Like I said, I really love my life. . . the goods, bads, uglies, pretties, and all the in-betweens.

Here's what I've observed about myself through this experiment:

  • Me off my phone more = kids automatically off their phones more without me saying a word. It really is true they follow our example. Being off my phone more forces me to engage with those right in front of my face. 
  • There's something about the scrolling and image changing very quickly that I've noticed does something to my brain. I used to could sit and read for hours. About 3 months ago I found it so hard for me to concentrate on a book (which I love and consider to be one of my "happy places". I've found I've gotten my focus back. I'm less distracted. 
  • I'm living more in the moment and taking it all in. . . the sights, the smells, the facial expressions, all of it. 
For example, today we were coming home from curling. Jon, Alec, and Ash were having a debate. Alec and Ash were arguing a point together. Jon had different views. I chimed in a few times saying I agreed with Jon, but mainly I listened. These are the things I took in.
  • How articulate my children are. 
  • How they see logic and validity. 
  • How free they are to express their ideas to a man they adore.
  • A loving father who welcomes good conversation and says, "It's okay to disagree. We can agree to disagree." 
  • Hanna resting her head under my arm and cuddled up next to me. 
  • How the things we've taught our children really do stick with them. 
I could have been on Instagram posting our latest photos from curling. I could have been scrolling my Facebook feed. I could have been seeing what everyone else was up to on this Saturday. But look at all I would've missed. I would've missed life. 

In fact, I've started to call my phone my memory snatcher. Don't get me wrong I love that I can take photos on my phone. I love that I can communicate especially through texts. I love that I can scroll or check on people or even share my life with people. . . if I want to.

But more than all these things I love being present. The present is truly a gift. Hopefully I will continue to remember this and not fall back into old habits. 

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Cinco de Jono

Every May 5th we celebrate, but not Cinco de Mayo. We celebrate my precious Jon.

Here's a rundown of our day.

Jon and I woke up. I gave him good morning snuggles of happy birthday. We squeezed in two episodes of Man in the High Castle. The girls woke up, told their Daddy happy birthday and headed out to shop together. I got the house picked up and headed out myself. I only had a few things to pick up. Alec arrived and off we went.

We headed to The Battery and ate Anticos pizza. Super-de-duper yummy. We walked around for a bit. Valentine's Day we had given the kiddos a game of curling. During the 2014 Winter Olympics our whole family got into curling. We decided to take a class and play a game.

Can I just say? We absolutely loved it!!! And to all of our surprise, I was actually pretty good. We laughed so much (as we do a lot). Alec was the intense sweeper. Hanna was the one with the mighty arm. Jon and Ash never disappoint when sticking their tongues out when involved in anything athletic.

The kiddos and I ended up on a team together and Jon was on a team with some other people. They won the first game. We were down to the last 2 curls of the game. It was my turn. Jon's team was currently winning. Alec looked at me, "I hate losing. Even if it's something I don't care about. I hate losing."

I put my foot into position, placed my other foot on the slider, stabled myself with the stabilizer, turned my stone the way Hanna was showing me. I squatted down, put my booty in the air, lunged forward, and released. Alec and Ash got busy with themselves sweep, sweeping away. This was our game winner. We won. I was thrilled.

It was definitely one of our family's favorite memories. . . this curling thing. I'm hoping we do it again.

We headed out, got a drink at the QT, and maneuvered Atlanta traffic. This is where lots of great conversation happened between Jon, Alec, and Ash. Hanna and I listened. I was loving every bit of it. We dropped Hanna off at Camilla's, and my other 3 were still going at it. I said, "Can we be done with this? I'm tired." They informed me, "Mom, this is all your fault. You're the one that educated us this way." True that. And 'cause I'm grateful I'm seeing the fruits of my labor I said, "Continue."

We got home, lit a 4 and an 8, sang Happy Birthday to my man. We cut cake, spooned ice cream, and sat around the table together for about an hour and a half.. . . now discussing different issues. Alec was juiced and so was his sister. They love this kind of thing and I loved listening to their ideas, their use of words, their vocabulary, their passion, their listening to the other's ideas without degrading one another. This is like every homeschooling mama's dream and I was there to witness it. So thankful.

Alec headed back to Macon. I'm blogging. Ash and Jon are watching the Atlanta United game. I'm about to join them.

Pretty successful, Cinco de Jono, if I do say so myself. And he does too. As I walked up the stairs he said to me, "It's been a good day."  All he asked for for his birthday is that everyone be together. Well done, guys. Well done.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Last Day of 11th Grade

Today was Ash's last day of 11th grade. We will soon head to our end-of-the-year ceremony. I'm so proud of my hardworking girl. She amazes me so much. I'm thankful I got to be her tutor again this year. And I doubly thankful she was excited to have me as her tutor again. Did my heart so good.

I remember when I first signed up to direct/tutor at CC, I specifically chose her class. She and I are so much alike which means we butt heads some. She was in the tumultuous middle school years, wondering who she was and where she fit. She was a girl that was so confident and loved everyone and became a girl who was unsure if she had a friend in the world and lost all confidence. Although these were tough years as a Mama to watch, they were good years. It added to the already compassionate heart she has. I thought tutoring her grade would give us something to have together that I didn't have with the other two kids. And I was right.

I tutored her 7th and 8th grade years and loved it. For 9th and 10th grade she had another tutor. Now she will finish her 11th and 12th grade years with me. And I'm so very thankful.

I love how well she argues a point. She's smart and logical, yet kind, passionate, and compassionate. She knows how to keep herself under control. She makes really good points and communicates very well. She's my kid who loves CC and she's not afraid of who knows it. She's certainly not a crowd follower and holds strong to her beliefs and convictions, not because I make her or restrict her. She has oodles and doodles of freedom. It's because she has a saving faith and active relationship with Christ Jesus.

Here's some highlights of our day:

At lunch me sitting by myself. Her leaving a group of kiddos and coming to hang out with me. When they watched her leave she said, "I'm going to hang out with my Mom because she's way cooler than you guys." Kidding, she was, but we all laughed. I was delighted she wanted to come chat with me.

Her philosophy lecture on racism with Robert and Ashton was out of this world good. They worked so hard. I let the kiddos pick their partners. As soon as I announced this she said, "I want Robert." Robert is a deep thinker but never does the work. She looked that boy square in the eyes and said, "And you will do this project." And he did. She made him feel accepted and wanted although he's different from many in the class. She's such a leader.

Hamlet Mock Trial was through-the-roof hi-larious. We laughed so hard. It was unpredictable, totally unscripted, and chaotic. She told me on the way home, "Hamlet Mock Trial is one of my favorite CC memories."

For their end-of-the-year gift I had each child stand with their back to the board last week. Their classmates had to write things about them that they could not see. Here's what Ash's classmates had to say about her:

  • Hardworker
  • Great debater
  • Laser focused
  • Defender 
  • Passionate
  • Driven 
  • Loving
  • Compassionate
  • Most caring soul I know

I said she has a heart for Jesus and others.

I will share this in front of our entire CC community in just a bit. These days are special and fleeting and I'm determined to enjoy each and every moment with my precious mini-me. Thing is, that girl is way better than me. She is everything I wish I would've been at her age and more.

Here's to another year!!! Cheerio!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Facing Hard Reality

I'm always the ever hopeful one. I'm one who can distract myself just enough to not face reality.

Today we celebrated Grandmama's 89th birthday. It's been a year and a half since I've seen my Dad. He worked in Pennsylvania most of the year and we missed having Christmas together. I think I'm always hopeful things will be different this time. And time and time and time again I'm terribly disappointed.

Just Melissa, Noelle, Hanna, and I went to Grandmama's. Ash had a soccer scrimmage. Alec, Scott, and JS didn't care to go. Honestly, it's just weird. This home that brought me such peace, safety, and security. This home that I love hasn't been the same since Papa's been gone. He was our rock. And, he, was the Daddy I never had. He always brought me Truth in the simplest, yet boldest and confidence of ways. And he always started it out with, "Shugah". It was precious seeing my Grandmama, but with my Dad it's always sad.

Most of the time Jon gets the unload of the sadness this brings my heart everytime we leave his presence. But this Sunday it was Melissa. She knows me well and noted about five minutes after we left, "You're different. You seem pensive. What are you in deep thought about?" So I unloaded on her just as I do on Jon each time we leave.

I'm not really sad for me. I'm over that. I have a beautiful life. I'm not really sad for my kids. They had a wonderful Granddaddy (Jon's Dad) and a Papa who adores and enjoys each of them (James). I'm always sad for my Dad. . . for what he's missing out on. However, the out loud thought occurred to me today, "I'm putting what I think is a beautiful life onto him. Maybe he doesn't want the life I want or want for him. Maybe the life he has is the life he wants."

And this happens to be this life. . . we arrive. He hugs our necks and realizes how quickly time flies and that the crooked teeth, plain Jane little girl of Hanna has turned into a tall beauty who could easily pass for a model. He chats with us about shallow things because he knows nothing of our daily lives or our interests to even be interested in to ask about. Sad thing is, all we know about him is he likes to work, he loves NASCAR, and he dates a girl named Susan (which stayed at his camper and didn't even come to Grandmama's house which is probably 100 yards away). We eat a small bite together. I stay in the living room with Grandmama while Melissa, Sharon, Ben, and Dad go to the dining room. I overhear Melissa talking about her schooling. Afterwords, Grandmama and I make it to the dining room. We sing Happy Birthday to her. Those in there (minus Daddy) eat cake and drink coffee. He disappears for about 30 minutes just like he does every.single.time we're there. Meanwhile, Melissa, Sharon, Benny, and I all talk and laugh. They are the normal ones and the ones it's not awkward around.

Somehow I see him on the couch. He's asleep. I wake him up to tell him goodbye and he's drenched with the stench of alcohol. So that's where he snuck off to. That kind of stuff didn't work when I was 8 and it certainly doesn't work at 41.

And this is the reality. I'm always hoping for something more, something different, something better. And yet, every.single.time, I walk away sad. . . knowing the life that he could have versus the life that he chooses to have.

And it makes me think back to watching "This is Us" with my family. The precious Jack Pearson comes from a home of alcohol and abuse and he's overcome it in all the best of ways. When his wife actually meet his father she looks at him afterwords with a gleam in her eye and says to him, "You're a miracle, Jack Pearson, a friggin' miracle." And I remember after this episode the day after it, my precious Ash saying to me, "Mama, you're just like Jack Pearson, you're a miracle."

And even though my heart was sad I was thankful.

Thankful for the Daddy my children have.

Thankful for all the ways Jesus protected me in oh so many ways.

Thankful for a Grandmama and Papa and a Faye who prayed. With every fiber of my being I believe it was because of these precious Melissa and I were protected physically, sexually, and mentally from some of the people Daddy exposed us to as little girls.

Thankful for Mama leaving him.

Thankful for the life Mama and James gave us and had to fight every. step.of.the.way to give us that life.

Thankful for the beautiful life Jesus has given me in Him and in the family I now have.

Thankful that beauty truly does come from ashes. My childhood and background is nothing but a heap of rubble, dirt, and ashes, but my God is a God who is in the redemption business. And redemption in the eternal and the here-and-now sense is what He's done for me and my sister.

Thankful I have someone by my side who gets it, who understands, and who can talk me through it (Melissa).

Thankful for the one who has no clue but points me back to reality and what is true and lends a compassionate, listening ear (Jon).

Thankful that this is one of the many ways my children can see a God who loves and redeems the least of these.

Thankful that I'm waking up and choosing to face reality and choosing to be thankful for it rather than bitter.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Workin' Alongside My Man

That was our Saturday. It's been awhile since Jon and I have worked side by side. But that's how our Saturday was spent.

We woke up early that morning and watched an episode and a half of "The Man in the High Castle". We then went on a run. Both of our girls were babysitting. After we watched another episode of our favorite show (see above), we got busy and got to work. We degreased cabinets, sanded, and primed to make our kitchen redo a success.

As we worked it made me think to our days of flipping houses, music playing, conversation going. It was just nice and nostalgic and good. We worked hard and then wrapped up our day about 5:00 p.m. We sat down to watch another episode of "The Man in the High Castle". Jon and I both were fighting wanting to sleep. We got to bed late on Friday night and were both up by 5:30 a.m. Saturday. Either he or I or both were dozing throughout the episode. I got up and moved around, went and got Hanna, and the ended watching The Bates on TV with our little skirt girl.

Ash was babysitting overnight for our precious friends. I texted her before going to bed letting her know my ringer was on and to call if she needed anything.

A good and productive Saturday working alongside my most favorite person in the world was getting put to bed.... to bed I said.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Celebrating My Mama Early

This year will be the first Mother's Day I won't be in the USA. I'll be in Uganda with 2 of my kiddos. I decided to celebrate the day early with my own Mama. Last year I got up early Mother's Day morning, went and had coffee and breakfast with her, and then came home to celebrate with my own babies. This year was different (which seems to be my pattern).

Mama and James came up on Friday. Mama, Hanna, and I went and had our nails done. Me and Mama our toes. Hanna her fingers. Ash really needed to work on school and opted to stay home. Papa, however, tagged along with us girls. Of course, there was much laughter and chatter when we all gather. This time was no different.

After toes and nails we all met up at Southern Pit. My precious Alec even came all the way from Macon after a really long week at work (like 20+ hours of overtime) week. I told him, no pressure, but he wanted to be with us all. We laughed, hooted, and hollered as we made ourselves slap happy on some of the best BBQ there is.

The rest of the Fab 5 headed home and Mama and James and I headed to Corner Cafe to get cake "to go". I really wanted them to see the assortment of cakes. They got to choose what they wanted to try. We got home and all chowed down. It was so yummy. Then we all watched a few episodes of The Office and hoot and hollered some more.

It was 9:30 and my boy who loves routine and a schedule (just like his Mama) needed to head back to Macon. I hugged him tight, walked him out the door, and prayed for him as he drove away. Mama and James soon followed his lead.

I texted Alec, "I know it's a lot to come home for just a few hours, but I want you to know it means a lot to all of us. Please let me know you've made it safely. I love you." He texted me back a little while later, "It means a lot to me too. Otherwise, I wouldn't come. I'm here. I love you too." Precious words from my precious boy. And, to boot, he used too correctly, which makes this homeschooling Mama extra happy. - Haha.

It was a wonderful evening of celebrating the one who loves us all BIG. She, of course, came bearing gifts for us all. Me a door hanger. Her Ugandan family dish cloths and soap and lotions. Alec popcorn. Ash crackers. Hanna Pirate Booty. She's a fighter and a lover and she does both for her family. She's worth celebrating way more than one time a year.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Weekend Happenings

Friday night Hanna and I had a Smarr Spring Protocol. I am in love with these children. They know that I'm smitten with them too. It's why I drive an hour (each way) each Tuesday. They love learning, have great attitudes about school, all participate. It's a dream class, and I'm going to hold onto that bunch as long as they will have me.

We met at South 6th Street Pier. I wanted us all to go to Atlanta; however, one of the most specifically asked me if we could avoid Atlanta. She's precious and I was happy to oblige. I gave them several choices of Griffin, Forsyth, Senoia, McDonough, and Macon. The play that worked the best for everyone happened to be in G-town, which was super great for me.

I had such a busy day on Friday, IM meeting at CFA, last prayer time with my Directors. This was extra sweet and went a little long, which meant I had to settle for the perpetual bun my hair stays in. I was able to grab a quick shower and shave my legs before I put on my cute black dress and head to eat with my Smarr peeps. The atmosphere was great. Food not so great. Company was fantastic. We then walked to Main Street Players and watched The Diviners. It was a precious play. Man, I just love live theater. . . all the emotion is so real. A play really pulls me into that world they're portraying. Afterwards we all walked back to our cars, gave out our hugs, and called it a night.

I was so tired. I had already taught 7 fitness classes this week and had my 8th one on Saturday. I set my alarm for 5:50 a.m. to take Hanna to babysit. She was tired too. I came back home, continued to drink my hot tea, watched TV and talked with Jon. Ash was going to join me for my Spin class. She and I headed to the gym. We were both worn slap out after my class. I was hoping I didn't embarrass her too much, being the fitness instructor and her mom. She assured me she only laughed one time at me. One time is pretty good in my book.

I came back home, got showered and ready for the day, and watched a documentary with Jon. I fell asleep during part of it. Next I was off to make my grocery list and conquer the grocery store. Ash was heading out to go and babysit. Jon went to Home Depot and Sherwin Williams to get things for us to paint our cabinets. When he got home I made us a pork bbq and cheese quesadilla and we watched Wonder Woman. It was so good. It ended with "the only way to change the world is through love", which I certainly give a hands-down and heart "Amen" to.

I went and picked up Hanna. Before I went and got her I stopped by Wendys to treat her to some good ole fast food after a day of babysitting. Kids are Ash's jam. . . not so much Hanna's. I knew she'd want to relax and unwind. We (Jon, Hanna, and I) sat down and had something on the TV. I'm not sure what because I fell asleep. Before I fell asleep I texted Alec just to make some contact with him. Jon put on the soccer game and told me he'd wait up for Ash.

Another rainy Sunday. . . this is like the 4th or 5th Sunday it's been raining. . . c-r-a-z-y. We headed to church. I love how Momentum feels so normal and homey for us. It's taken awhile, but it's all good. I'm even thankful for all the alone, standoffish, and quiet moments we had for so long there. I've come to believe sometimes you just need that. We headed to Gigi's for lunch. Alec texted me about a documentary he just watched that he thought I would like. Even though he's not in church I have found he uses Sunday as a day to rest and unwind. All the things he was taught growing up have stuck with him.

I headed upstairs and to the bed with my book in hand. I went in with the intentions of maybe a nap, maybe not, but set my alarm just in case. Ash is babysitting. Jon and Hanna are still searching out where they're going to go for a few days while the other kiddos and I are in Uganda.

About an hour after I had fallen asleep Jon jumps on the bed. Hanna is in tow quietly warning him not to wake me up. As I hear their voices I hear Jon say, "If she doesn't wake up, we'll just go without her." Sleepily I replied, "Go where?" "Sweet Charlies." It's a new ice cream shop in McDonough. They roll your ice cream. It's really quite the experience. I got up and got dressed. We had such a fun time and I loved splitting an ice cream with Jon.

When we got home I made some homemade granola for cereal for dinner and headed out the door to meet some friends to go see Kirk Cameron live with his Living Room Reset. Kelly, Evalina, and I had a great time with one another. We caught up, laughed, and were encouraged. I snuck out about the time of the invitation 'cause I needed to get home to be with my peeps for a little while before heading off to lala land.

And that's a wrap. They're all downstairs watching American Idol. I just got my makeup off, teeth brushed and flossed, and I'm going to join 3 of my 4 favorite people in the whole wide world.