Friday, September 13, 2013

We're Back.

So, it's August ... wait no, it's September.  Good grief this year has flown!  Either way we have entered the last quarter of the year, and sadly this is my first post of 2013.  In my defense, my laptop croaked in March and I have been without one until yesterday ... that's like six months.  As far as where I was the second half of last December and January & February ... well, I have no valid excuse for that.  But all of that is behind us now, and we are up, running, and back in business.

I've had the blogger's itch for months -- wanting to write, but having no access to do such.  When I logged in to see where I had left off,  I was pleasantly surprised to see that I've actually received traffic over the last few months despite my absence. Oddly enough, I seem to be blowing up in Russia.  Of all the places across the globe, I never dreamed I'd be getting significant hits in the land of a frozen tundra. But I'll take it.  Hello, Russia!

There is a lot to catch up on, but doing it all in one post will most likely exhaust you, and give me carpal tunnel.  So, I'll just catch up on the biggest news that has happened since the last post, and all the other news can unfold in posts to come. 

I am a stay at home mom.  I quit my job in December, and my last official day of employment was January 4 of this year.  So it's official ... I am a tried and true, real live, completely exhausted, but extremely happy stay at home mom.  It's fantastic!  A little terrifying at first, but it's amazing the doors that the good Lord will open when we just let go, and let Him do His thing.  And of course, putting in some effort on your end, and praying like there's no tomorrow.  And leaning on friends ... and family.  And crying.  And praying some more.  And crying some more.  And when you're freaking out and wondering what the heck you were thinking by quitting your job, your friends with life experience and life perspective will gently (okay, sometimes firmly) bring you back to reality.  And then crying a little bit more.  And praying more than you're crying.  And then, before you can dry your tears, He has worked everything out better than your brain ever could have imagined. His plans are always better than ours ...  always.

The kicker is, in order to make our financial ends meet, I am nannying children in our home.  Keep in mind, home means apartment -- not house with a back yard where kids can run and burn off energy.  Nope, an 1,100sqft apartment on the second floor with a small screened in porch, that's better equipped for house plants than people.  As of now, besides my own girls, I only have one full time baby I watch, and one part time little boy.  Since last November, I have cared for a total of  eight children -- not all at once.  However, when I first started, I had not just one, not just two, but three babies I was watching.  Yes, babies -- as in under a year old.  And three of them ... one, two, three.  Three babies under a year old.  Diapers ... diapers, everywhere.  Spit up.  Poop.  Baby food.  Screaming.  Bottles.  Toys.  Diaper rash ointment.  First time moms.  I should write a book ... or a blog -- there's a thought. 

By June I was caring for five children (at once), and at one point, for one day only, I had six.  Yes, six.  I'm not insane, I assure you.  Then again, maybe I am.  Surprisingly, on most days, things go pretty smoothly.  I have no time to myself.  Peeing is a luxury.  Peeing alone doesn't happen - ever.  On the plus side, there is almost always one child sleeping.  But for every one child that's asleep, there is another who's hungry, or needs their pants changed, or is screaming for some ungodly reason, or they need their sippy cup refilled, or they're putting something in their mouth that doesn't belong, or they're playing in the sink ... you get the idea.  

The most draining thing is that when all the other kids have gone home, I still don't get a break.  That's motherhood though, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.  Sometimes, the frustration does get to me though ... being at home all day, five days a week, without another adult to talk to can get lonely.  Continuously picking up the same toys multiple times a day seems pointless.  And don't get me started on the number of escapee cheerios I pick up on a daily basis.  Despite the chaos that is my day to day life, I feel extremely blessed.  Being at home with my girls, and having the luxury of experiencing all of little Em's first year has been a blessing.  I wasn't able to do that with G.  Also, being able to watch Miss G grow from a tot of two to a beautiful almost-four-year-old little girl is so rewarding. 

The other day, I heard a fellow stay at home mom talk about how "lucky" she is to be at home with her children.  She may feel "lucky", but I know my dream of being at home is not by luck.  I know, without a doubt, that God put me here.  He gave me my beautiful girls, and worked out every detail in order for me to quit my job so that I could be home to raise them.  Our family is blessed beyond belief.  God's goodness is infinite, and for that, we are eternally grateful.


Monday, December 10, 2012

2012 Songs of the Season: Silent Night, Holy Night

I got up this morning, made a pot of coffee, like usual, and then opened our sliding glass door to check the weather.  Had it been April, it would have been the perfect day.  But it's not.  It's December.  It's Florida.  So, to no one's surprise, it felt like Spring more than Winter.  That changed quickly. 

By early afternoon, the clouds started to roll in, and by the two o'clock hour it looked like evening.  There was lightning, thunder, and pouring rain.  Miss G was terrified of the thunder ... to the point she got to take a nap in mommy and daddy's big bed. 

With both of my girls sleeping, I listened to the peacefulness of the down pour.  I sat in my make shift office, also known as the dining room table -- lap top open, brain swirling with ideas, and basking in the glow of the Christmas tree.  I looked at the ornaments on my tree for inspiration on which Christmas song to write about today. 

I spent twenty minutes or longer snapping pics of snowmen, santas, and glittery pretties hung on my tree.  I had nothing.  Looking out the front window, I saw the candles in the window sill.  So peaceful.  So silent.  So pretty.  Such a beautiful display of light and hope against the backdrop of the rain falling from the gloomy, December sky.  My mind instantly went to that first Christmas night - when the Light of the World was born in a manger.  A silent night.  A holy night.  Perfect. 

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 7, 2012

2012 Songs of the Season: I'll Be Home for Christmas

As cliche as it may sound, Christmas really is all about family.  At least in my household it is.  Growing up, holidays were always a big deal for us.  Christmas, Thanksgiving, 4th of July, Easter, Mothers' & Fathers' Day ... even birthdays were big celebrations.  Since my siblings and I have been adults, and they have both moved to other parts of the country, holidays just aren't the same.  If my brother makes it home, my sister can't, and vice versa.  As disappointing as it is, it's just life.  Thankfully, we've never missed a Christmas together in all the years that we've been a family of five.

A couple of years ago, my brother wasn't going to make it home for Christmas.  The job he was working at the time sucked, and he was scheduled to work December 23 and December 26.  Driving 15 hours round trip just didn't seem worth it only to be home for a few hours more than that.  Not to mention, his little Honda Civic probably wouldn't have made the drive.  My sister had flown in a few days before Christmas.  We picked her up at the Jacksonville airport and she stayed with us until Christmas Eve, when we all piled into our little car and drove out to my parents' house.

We got there early afternoon, unpacked and got busy helping Mom put the final touches on Christmas.  Then Miles, their little puggle dog, started barking.  And he barked some more.  And he barked some more.  My mom said, "I think somebody's here."  I went to the front door and saw my sister's car.  It took me a minute to process, but there he was ... my little brother, all packed up in my sister's Yaris, standing in mom and dad's front yard.  I remember becoming completely overwhelmed with emotion when I saw him.  Throwing my arms around his neck, I choked back the tears.  And in good little brother fashion, he made fun of me.  Boys ... they never grow up. 

As a kid, I'll Be Home for Christmas was just another song.  It didn't have much meaning to me ... nothing more than a pretty tune.  As an adult, it's become very personal.  This year we will all be together, as we've always been.  There's nothing more special then waking up Christmas morning to a house full of people, lights twinkling on the tree, and the smell of turkey cooking in the oven.  I can't wait.

Merry Christmas! 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

2012 Songs of The Season: The Little Drummer Boy

My little brother is a drummer.  Every time I hear today's song of the season, I think about him. When I hear this song, I imagine him with a snare and two sticks in his hands.  I don't picture the almost 25 year old man  he has grown into with gauged ears and tattooed skin.  I picture him as the little boy that I grew up with ... curly blonde hair and as bashful as they come.  Quiet.  Polite.  Humble.  He's still all those things. 

The Little Drummer Boy isn't a traditional Christmas hymn, but it's a classic.  I love the child like depiction it paints of that first Christmas night.  What an honor it would be to play music for the King of all kings.  Or to have the baby Jesus smile at you with a big, toothless, newborn grin.  Precious.  I hope that as you listen, you will envision that holy scene through the eyes of a child.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

2012 Songs of The Season: O Little Town of Bethlehem

If I'm being honest, O Little Town of Bethlehem has never been one of my favorites.  A classic?  Yes.  One we sing every year at Christmas Eve service?  Yes.  But it's never been a Christmas carol to really excite me.  Until this year. 

This picture you see, is an ornament on my mom and dad's tree.  When I look at it, I see peace, rest, tranquility, stillness.  When I think of the town of Bethlehem the night that Christ was born, the same adjectives come to mind - peace, rest, tranquility, stillness.  While child birth is anything but those things, I can only imagine that on that very first Christmas night, there was a hush over that humble little town.  A hush that can still be heard in the glow of a lit up tree.  Or in the peacefulness of a new blanket of snow. 

This time of year is chaotic for most of us with shopping, family, church functions, Christmas parades, baking, etc. all begging for our attention.  I hope that as you fulfill all the obligations that are demanded of you over the next three weeks, that you will take time to listen for that hush.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 3, 2012

2012 Songs of The Season: Away In A Manger.

You may remember my series from last year - Songs of the Season.  Well, it's December and that means it's back!

Yes, I realize I'm a couple of days behind, but life happened.  I spent the weekend at my parents' house helping them paint and organize.  After inhaling fumes, climbing up and down a ladder, and entertaining a two year old in between rolling and brushing, by the time Saturday night rolled around I was completely exhausted and blogging was not happening.  Kicking off December 1 with this year's Songs of the Season series was the plan.  But as anyone in the blog world will tell you, plans are made to be canceled. 

I did a Songs of the Season series last year.  It was straight forward -- a blurp, a picture, a song all on a daily basis.  This year will be a tad different.  Not only will I post a different song every day -- hopefully -- but I will use a picture of an ornament from my tree (or my parents' tree) that represents each Christmasy tune. I hope you will join me every day from here until the end of the year for a musical slice of seasonal cheer.  And yes, I do realize how cheesy that last sentence was. 

Away In A Manger is a classic.  Growing up, I sang in the choir at church.  Every year, alongside two of my good friends, I would join in singing a trio of this Christmas hymn.  We normally sang all three verses in unison, except for that one year.  That year, we decided to each take a verse of our own.  In theory, it sounded like a fabulous idea.  In reality ... not so much.  I froze.  I was in the front of the church, robed in proper choir attire, mic in front of my face, and the words would just not come out.  Silence.  I vowed, at that moment, to never volunteer my vocal abilities (or lack thereof) for a solo again.  All that being said, thank God there are people on the planet who can sing Away In A Manger by themselves ... people like Anne Murray.  And in my book, her rendition is one of the best.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Year Later...

A year ago today, the world lost an amazing woman.  I didn't know her really well, but what I did know, I loved.  

A mother.  A wife.  A teacher.  A Believer.  

Mrs. Janet was the person who makes you feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation.  The person who makes you feel at home when you're hundreds of miles from home.  The person who completely brightens up a room with their smile. 

I wrote the following two posts last year - one in her honor, one in her memory.  As I sat at my computer last night rereading both of them, it took me back to last summer.  If you've read any of my older posts, you know that Mr. M and I went through a really bad time at the beginning of 2011 and almost parted ways for good.  After we reconciled, I remember my sister telling me that upon learning the news, Mrs. Janet told her, "Ya know, I knew they weren't over...I knew they'd work it out."  That conversation has stuck with me.  As I read the closing two paragraphs of Raindrops, I was reminded that the beginning of the end of her journey on Earth began on August 30, 2011.   It was then, that she was rushed to the hospital following a seizure.  The significance?  Exactly one year later on August 30, 2012, Mr. M and I were also rushing to a hospital, but to welcome the birth of our second little girl.  

After reading all of this last night, my mind went back to the conversation with my sister.  It's amazing how the Lord works ... even in simple, seemingly unimportant ways.  His hand is in everything -- the good; the painful; the heartbreaking.  Mrs. Janet is missed, but I know she is in a better place.  She's found peace. She's found healing.  She's found rest.


Thursday, October 27, 2011


Earlier this week I actually took the time to scribble down some blog ideas that came to mind.  I organized them by date...up to the 15th of November - yes, I believe that does make me borderline OCD.  Possibly not borderline...maybe just a full blown case of OCD.  My schedule wasn't etched in stone, but it's a decent compilation of ideas in case my brain decides to be tired one afternoon.  I have my helpful list of topics in front of me:  October 26 - Cooking Club of America.  October 27 - Couponing.  If you read yesterday's post, you know that A Borrowed Blog had absolutely nothing to do with the Cooking Club of America, and if you continue to read, you'll find that today's content isn't remotely close to couponing.  I'm sure you're gravely disappointed.  I'll make it up to you.

Nutmeg and B in Kentucky.
My sister, Nutmeg (it's a nickname, not her real name), lives in Tennessee.  Well...before I go any further, let me first back up and school you in how that came about.  My sister and I went to college together - we were roommates, believe it or not.  We always shared a room growing up, so it just seemed normal to live in the same room once we moved out.  We did the dorm life thing for three years until we moved into our first apartment.  We were both working full time as preschool teachers, and could afford to live somewhere off campus.  So, we found a place within walking distance of school and work, and moved in.  It was a two-bedroom, second floor duplex on Winfree Street.  It was old, and drafty with no dishwasher, and only a window unit air conditioning -- anyone in Florida knows window units and the summer heat just weren't made for each other.  God bless the inventor of fans!  Our apartment had the original hard wood floors, arched door ways, and the windows were white, wooden paned.  Living there, was the first time in our entire lives that we had separate bedrooms.  Adjustment.  But it was a good adjustment. 

She [my sister] started dating this guy - B.  He was in a band.  I didn't like him.  There was something that just rubbed me the wrong way.  Come to find out, me and him have much of the same personality traits, which is probably why we bumped heads.  Things are copacetic now, but it was a long time coming.  He's a great guy, and he's good to my sister.  So, I can't ask for much more than that.  Back to what I was saying...they dated for awhile, but eventually broke up when he decided to move back home to Tennessee.  In the months following, a lot of changes happened.  I got married, our positions at the preschool both came to an end, and our cozy Winfree apartment was soon traded in for a much nicer place that could accommodate the two of us plus my new groom.  It wasn't but two months after M and I got married, that Nutmeg was offered a full time nanny position with a family we had taught in the preschool.  The only catch?  It was in Kentucky.  She soon moved, and life was way different - for me and her.  If you know anything about geography, you'll know that Kentucky and Tennessee are neighboring states...the ex-boyfriend had now morphed into best friend, and Nutmeg was quickly adopted into the family.  This proved to be an even bigger blessing, when the nanny position ended, and she was offered a corporate position in TN just a few months later.

Muff Muff the cat.
B's family was her family - a home away from home.  He lived at home with his parents, two brothers, Muff-Muff the cat, and Patches - a smelly little dog that no one seemed to like.  Strangely, when I visited, I really bonded with the smelly dog...not sure what that's saying about me.  Poor Patches.  Back to the story...B and Nutmeg eventually went from best friends back to an item.  She got along really well with B's entire family, but she had a unique connection with B's mom...almost like kindred spirits if you will.

Over the past two years, I've heard story after story about the mother-daughter relationship they have formed...they have coffee together, go to movies, go shopping, cook together, talk - everything a mother-daughter would do.  I don't think I've ever told Nutmeg, but I've always counted it as a blessing for her to have a bond like that with B's mom.  Before she moved, me and Nutmeg were always together, and not having that in-person, day-to-day, sisterly connection has been hard at times.  But, I've found comfort for her knowing that she's got someone there. 

In May 2010, things changed.  B's mom was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor.  They did her first surgery a month after being diagnosed - most of her symptoms slowly subsided, and life got back to normal.  Then there were seizures, and another surgery followed in December of last year.  She wasn't back to 100%, but through many prayers of loved ones and strangers alike, she was on the road to recovery.  Out of nowhere on August 30 of this year, I get a text from my sister saying that they had just rushed B's mom to the hospital following another seizure.  At first, they thought it was a side effect of the medicine she was on.  They ran tests - the tumor was back.  This time, inoperable.  According to doctors, there's about a month left. 

I've met B's mom once, and felt like I had known her forever.  Absolutely one of the most loving, giving, carefree people I've ever met.  Genuine.  After my sister gave me the news today, I was pretty much left speechless.  Completely in shock.  My heart sank to my stomach.  I don't understand it.  Suddenly, the Cooking Club of America and couponing didn't seem important at all.  Perspective.  I sat in my office - alone - thinking, praying, listening.  A song came on the radio - the words seemed so appropriate...

 'Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights is what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life, are Your mercies in disguise?

God is bigger.  God is greater.  God is Healer. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day Fourteen: Perfect Healing.

The cold, Georgia raindrops. 
At the end of October, just a few short days before I started my series on A Month of Thanks, I wrote a post about my sister and her Mom away from home.  If you missed that post, it's best that you go read it now, so that you're caught up.  It's called Raindrops

Last Wednesday, Mr. M, G & I, along with my parents piled into a van and drove to Tennessee for Thanksgiving. It's always draining to squeeze six adults, a two year old, a dog and two cats in a small space for five days.  There are moments where I know we were all thinking, "man, I can't wait until this vacation is over".  There had been bickering and arguing, and one pretty nasty blow up between my sister and I.  That confrontation happened on Saturday afternoon and pretty much left us with awkward tension for the rest of the evening.  The tension and semi-silent treatment bled into the next morning. As a family, we all decided to head to the Chattanooga Market and make the best out of the rainy Sunday afternoon.  We did.  My sister and I had made conversation, but things still weren't right.  Then the phone call came.  It was B - my sis's boyfriend.  His mom passed away that morning at about 8:00am.  I could hear the tears in Nutmeg's voice.  Before she even hung up the phone, I knew what had happened.  There we sat...all seven of a stop light. Silence filled the air.  I was stricken with guilt for acting so foolish the night before - arguing over something petty, when there were such bigger, more serious problems in the world - in the world very close to me.

She [B's mom] passed exactly a month after I wrote Raindrops.  Many people prayed for her and for her family.  Everyone wanted her to be healed.  She has received healing now - perfect healing.  I know without a doubt, that she is with our Savior.  No more pain.  No more tears.  No more fear.  I don't understand why she is gone.  She was so full of life, and had so much love to share.  She'll never see her grandchildren.  She'll never see Nutmeg and B get married one day.  Or see B finish college.  I know God has His reasons - reasons we can't understand.  But it seems so unfair in so many ways.

The Tennessee rain continued to fall through Sunday night and into Monday.  It was cold, and there was such a solemn spirit in the air.  After saying our goodbyes to Nutmeg and my little brother, we packed in the car and were on our way.  It was cold and it was raining.  During the ten hour drive from Chattanooga back to Florida, the only thing on my mind was the family behind Raindrops.

We stopped at a McDonald's for coffee...a song was on the radio, and it took everything inside of me to choke back the tears.  I don't even know why.  The song really didn't relate to the situation at hand, but I couldn't wait for it to be over.  Maybe it was the rain, the bitter cold, or just the thought of losing someone you love so close to Christmas.  Maybe it's seeing first hand how short life really is.  Maybe it is the reality that others carry heavy burdens on a daily basis, and most of us are too wrapped up in our miniscule problems to even notice. Maybe it was all of it.  I really don't know.  Her services are tomorrow.  She will be missed, but she is in a much better place.

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."  ~Revelation 21:4

*This is the song.