The Greatest present

My first baby turned 18 this past Monday.

All she wanted was to go to IKEA to get a desk (and a few other “must haves”).   She asked me a few weeks ago if I would take her. I said “Hmm…. let me think about it…”,

but I already knew the answer 🙂

That was an easy “yes” for me. The fact that my 18 year old WANTED to spend the day with me was the GREATEST present I could have asked for ❤️

Here’s the funny thing- I have always said I hated going to IKEA. Honestly, I can’t even remember when I went- I was probably just a kid. But I could distinctly remember NOT enjoying the experience! So much so, that I have avoided going as an adult at all cost- until this week!

And let’s just say that I now have fallen in love with IKEA, and I have my own “wish list” for my next visit 🙂

The desk my daughter got for her birthday. She built it as soon as we got home!
My beautiful birthday girl ❤️

If only I’d known

As we sat down to dinner at the dining room table, I couldn’t wait to eat. Any meal I don’t have to cook is a good one, and I had picked up Chinese take out for all of us. I got one of my favorite meals- chicken with cashew nuts. Honestly, the only thing I love about it is the cashews- I LOVE roasted cashews! That is absolutely the best part of the meal.

As I ate, I dug around and picked out each cashew. It’s kind of like saving dessert for last- who’s got time for that?! I wanted to eat the good stuff first! And then the saddest moment happened. I searched and searched… and low and behold- I had already eaten the last cashew.

Well, if I had known it was my last one, I would have enjoyed it even more!

All day I’ve been thinking about those little things that “…if only I’d know were the last..” , I would have appreciated it so much more.

-Like the last time I ran a bath for the girls and helped them wash their hair. Oh, the splashing and giggling I would hear!

-or the last time I nursed them as babies

-Or the last time I read my girls a bedtime story and tucked them in

-or tied their shoes

-or kissed them on the cheek

-walked them to the bus stop

-held their hand

If I had known back then that those moments would be the last time I would “get to” do all those little things-

I certainly would have taken the time to remember and enjoy!

image_7c9f3192-20e7-47eb-a87d-4a4e97fda967.img_5133

Livin’ the dream

6BC1374D-3555-4B5E-B27A-0CA315320E32_1_201_a

That expression makes me crack up.  

Because when I usually hear it- it is said sarcastically… you know- like when you are cleaning up after your baby’s diaper “blow-out”…. or when your kiddos forget their school projects at home and you’ve gotta change around your morning to come to their rescue.  

But I can honestly say that this weekend I was living the dream! 

Since I was in high school chorus, I have wanted to be a high school choral director. I still get to do lots of wonderful things in the music world, and for that I am thankful!  But this past weekend I chaperoned my daughters’ marching band competition and I had such a great time.  

Haven’t you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall and watch your kids at school?  See how they interact with their friends?  

My oldest daughter asked for me to sit with her on the 2 hour bus ride to the competition.  It felt like I was re-living my old high school chorus competition days.  Kids were laughing, cutting-up, doing each other’s make-up… I even had a little “highlighter” applied to my cheeks 🙂 

73DE9371-3229-4132-97A9-C69399D13A8D_1_201_a

And we eventually got to the first competition. Let me tell you- marching band competitions are NO JOKE!!   So much walking, standing, running to get all the pit equipment in place in time… and then the tear down.  I am amazed that these teens (and some of the parents, too) do this every single week!! 

The marching band played really well- but not enough to move on to the final competition. The finals were held at Liberty University and that was our last destination- to watch all of the top marching band’s final performance.

754E7BEF-136E-4F55-B0BE-AE1CFC963DB9_4_5005_c  

It was getting pretty chilly- so everyone was wrapped in blankets and I even saw a few teens from other schools wearing their bath robes!  It that even a thing now!? Anyway, I watched my youngest daughter from afar laughing and enjoying being with her friends, and my oldest asked me to sit with her and her friends again.  

It was the best night.  

I got to see and experience all the things my girls love about high school-

including the 2am arrival back home!  

Unlike my husband and girls- I am NOT a night owl! In fact, most nights I am asleep by 10pm.  

But it was totally worth it 🙂

0B7C82DF-7976-4105-9B7E-0DB08138F2F9

You who are young, be happy while you are young,
    and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.  Ecclesiastes 11:9 

MARVELous

I have entered into a new phase of motherhood.

My girls have crossed the bridge from kids to tweens, and now we are smack dab in the middle of the teen years- when the unexpected is always to be expected.

These days, I am doing everything I can to be the strong mother my teen girls need, while also trying to cultivate a relationship with them- one that will stand the test of time.

So, my oldest had one request of me last week- to watch every single Marvel movie that has been made- so that I could then go with her to see Endgame (this will be her second time, and my first). I have to admit to you that watching movies is NOT my idea of fun. I have a short attention span, and don’t like the idea of sitting on a couch with my eyes glued to a TV for hours at a time… but I love my daughters and knew that this invitation was a huge blessing- a blessing that my oldest actually WANTS to sit with me on a couch for hours and hours, and also that by watching these movies- I am getting to connect with the girls in an entirely new way. Oh- and I can’t say no to a challenge!

And in these 15 hrs or so we have spent watching Marvel movies, I have grown to love the charisma and charm of Iron Man, I have admired the bravery of Captain America, and I now love to hate Loki.

But even more special is the shared experience of doing something the girls love WITH them.

I am so thankful for my daughters. They are independent thinkers, intelligent, funny, thoughtful… and how cool is it that they are actually people that I enjoy being with? They are MARVELous! And how amazing it is that they actually WANT to spend time with me?!

I am blessed.

Hope all the “moms” out there have a MARVELous Mother’s Day!!

do stuff with your kids


one day I’ll look back-

grateful for the time I spent

being with my girls

I love haikus. They say a lot with few words. Sometimes lots of words make me tired, lol!

Like yesterday- for some reason I was really, really tired. I could chalk it up to the time change and still getting adjusted to that, but I was really wanting to take a nap when I got home yesterday afternoon.

And then my daughters got home. One of my girls has been begging me every day to take one of our dogs to the dog park (the other one of them is not so friendly, that’s for another post, lol…). I said earlier in the week that it would be too muddy from all the rain we have had lately- which was true. It is also true that I am tired and don’t feel like going anywhere extra once the girls get home.

She asked me again yesterday. My whole “muddy” excuse didn’t really fly after the few gorgeous, sunny days we have had here. I began to think about what a blessing it is that my 16 year old daughter really WANTS me to do something with her. I began to think about all the other things that will eventually get in the way of her time… a job, college (one day), future relationships, children… the list goes on and on. One day she will be too busy for me.

So I made an extra cup of coffee and said “Sure! Let’s go!”

Can I tell you what a joy it was for me to say yes to her?

All smiles, she was, as we got into the car with our friendly fur baby! She beamed from ear to ear the entire drive. She kept saying how she hoped there would be other dogs there that ours could be friends with. And sure enough, we pulled up to the dog park, and there were several dogs playing.

Our dog pranced around the fenced in park- reveling in his newfound freedom. I sat on a bench and watched as my daughter went up to strangers to talk to them about their dogs. I was so proud of her. She is shy and it takes a lot for her to initiate conversation with strangers, but dogs are her love language. Bring a dog around her and she can’t help but be joyful.

It was a perfect afternoon.

My other daughter asked me to do something with her today.

This time I didn’t hesitate.

I can’t wait for our afternoon together 🙂

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
 Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their opponents in court- Psalm 127:3-5

One thing remains

fullsizeoutput_26d9

I think back on the days when the girls were little and I lament over how little sleep I had, and how very much I felt pulled between working part time while I stayed at home with them.   I remember the momma guilt I had when I hurried them to “get in the car because Mommy was going to be late again”… I remember how I rushed from here to there trying to fit everything in…I also remember thinking I wasn’t doing a good enough job at everything I was trying to do.

Sometimes I wonder what they remember about their “little girl” days…

Yesterday I was blessed beyond measure.  The girls found an old camera and showed me the memory card.  They wanted me to upload all the pictures onto my computer and look at them together.

Most of them were when the girls were around 2 and 5- right in the thick of my “running around” days when I taught aerobic classes at the gym and I was also teaching music lessons.

100_2077

100_2082

And the smiles I saw on the girls’ faces brought tears to my eyes.  Pictures- lots of them that they took themselves- perfectly documented giggly faces covered in juice, their favorite toys scattered all around the house….there were even short videos of them watching their favorite tv shows and singing the theme songs.

100_2062

As we scrolled through the pictures, I started to delete the blurry ones- and my oldest kept saying NO!  Every single one made her remember something special.  I couldn’t believe all the little details she remembered about those years.  Every toy and dollhouse, every outfit and accessory she wore.

And all I could see was the joy in their eyes.

100_2031

Maybe I was a little too hard on myself all those years ago- because yesterday, as we looked back on those pictures, I didn’t think about anything other than how precious my girls are and how very much I loved my babies!  Looking at those pictures made me really missed those days.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 

1 Corinthians 13:13

Christmas Dishes

fullsizeoutput_24c2

I was feeling a little melancholy the other day as I was fixing a day-after Thanksgiving meal for the 4 of us.  Now that the girls are getting older, holidays just feel different.   I miss the girls being little and wanting to spend time with me.   I miss the excitement of Santa and long toy lists and just the sheer giddiness that exudes from children this time of year.

As I was cooking dinner, my oldest came out of “hiding” (she spends lots of time in her room now) and she asked me about what sorts of traditions I did with my family as a kid.

Did you have lots of Christmas decorations when you were little?

I remembered the glass candle globes with holly berries around them that we placed on our coffee table and dining room table.  And we always hung mistletoe in the hallway.  And there were these Christmas dishes…

Wait a minute- you had Christmas dishes?  For some reason, that piqued her interest.

Actually, I have them somewhere in the garage packed away. 

And like that, my oldest daughter was a giddy child on a mission to find them.

I went to the garage with her, and we dug through several bins looking for them.  Lo and behold- we found the magic tub filled with the Christmas dishes.

“I can’t believe you never told us about these!”

I helped her bring the tub upstairs, and then I watched as she took out every piece and neatly stacked it on the kitchen counter.  She snapped a picture of the dishes to send to her friend. “It doesn’t take much to make me excited!” She grinned from ear to ear as she sent her friend a text with the picture of the treasure she found in the garage.

fullsizeoutput_24c0

Why have we never used these?!”  she asked me.

“I didn’t want to take the chance of breaking them when you girls were younger.”  And that was the honest truth.  I remember my aunt got us those dishes for Christmas when I was really young, and they were special to me.

I told her if she wanted us to use the dishes then she needed to hand wash all of them.  She happily obliged, and then she set the table for our day-after-Thanksgiving meal with our fancy Christmas dishes.

And as we ate together as a family that evening, I was filled with joy.  Something as simple as eating on a plate with a Christmas tree used to make me so excited as a kid!  Knowing that those same dishes brought the same joy to my daughter’s face that day overwhelmed my heart with gladness.

And just like that- something old that had been packed away years ago became new again…and a new family tradition has begun!

    Old things have disappeared, and look! all things have become new!            

     2 Corinthians 5:17

fullsizeoutput_24be

 

 

being “present”

FullSizeRender

The moment I seek

and desire His presence-

I find He is near

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.  Isaiah 55:6

Twilight is my favorite time of day.  It is a time of two-fold expectation for me- expecting to see something beautiful in the sky, and it’s also a time to have a momentary heart-to-heart chat with my Heavenly Father.

Speaking of heart-to-heart chats,  I have been lamenting over how those chats with my daughters are fewer and farther between now that they are getting older.

FullSizeRender

The girls woke me up early the other day with one request- to watch a movie with them.  Honestly, it wasn’t a movie that I had any desire to watch, but I thought about how seldom they ask me to do things with them now.

“Momma- NO laptop and NO phone!  You have to sit and pay attention!”

I smiled and secretly loved the fact that they wanted my undivided attention. So I obliged- I put away every electronic device and set aside every thought that was not pertinent to the task as hand.

FullSizeRender

Surprisingly, I enjoyed watching the movie.  Mostly it was because I knew how much my girls wanted me to sit with them and experience the very same joy that they have when they put themselves into the movie’s fantasy world. But the greatest joy for me was watching their smiles, the way they looked back at me to see if I laughed when they did…and knowing that they wanted to feel connected to me through this shared experience.

FullSizeRender

The verse above reminds me that when we seek to be in His presence, we know He is already with us.  As my girls are getting more independent, I find them asking to spend time with me less…and only coming to me when they need something.

But it made me think about all the times I do that very same thing with the Lord…only going to Him in prayer when I have a need- when my greatest need is to continually be in His presence.

He desires my constant fellowship with Him- reminding me that when my girls are truly seeking to spend time with me- all I need to do is to be present.

Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually.

1 Chronicles 16:11

adulting

My girls went back to school yesterday.

It brings me JOY.. and it also makes me a little bit sad.  I remember all those years I dreamed of having a baby, and in my own naiveté, I thought those toddler years would last forever.  But I blinked, and my girls have grown up overnight.

3231_73742913321_7347418_n

We celebrated so many firsts when they were little… their first giggle, their first bite of real food, their first steps… then came their first days of school… losing their first teeth…

2128_47275523321_1415_n

And now those “firsts” are becoming fewer and farther between. With one in 7th grade, and the other in 9th grade, I had to literally beg them for a first-day-of-school picture.  Gone are the days of them running to give me hugs when they get off the school bus, or them wanting to tell me all about their day.  I feel them trying to pull away from me and it is hard.

IMG_0380

But this time at our back-to-school night, I witnessed another first… 

IMG_4677

My oldest, who normally hides behind me- afraid to speak to anyone;  she actually introduced herself to all of her teachers-  on her own! And then she even asked them important questions- like about testing and whether they accepted late work.  And for the first time, I watched her beam with confidence as she walked down the hallways, waving and smiling at her friends.

My oldest was adulting… and it was one of my proudest “mom” moments yet!  Those little girl days may be a fading memory, but growing up is a good thing!IMG_4676

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.

1 Corinthians 13:11 

a home-cooked meal

IMG_4676

Cooking is something I have never really enjoyed, but eating– that’s a whole different ball game! I love food! And I have gotten much better at meal planning and cooking lately.  But these summer days seem to be even busier for me than the school year.

After running around all day, my youngest daughter asked me what we were going to have for dinner-

“Come here”, I told her.  “I have something really important to tell you…”

Actually, I was in the middle of practicing one of the saddest songs I have ever heard, trying to learn it to sing at an upcoming funeral- and I was choking back tears as she called to me from the other room.

I wanted to have this super sappy conversation with her.  I wanted to hug her tight and tell her how much I loved her and that I didn’t ever want her to get big and leave home- but I didn’t.

“I have been meaning to tell you this,” I said in my most serious voice.   “Dinner is cancelled.  We won’t be having dinner tonight.” I said with a deadpan expression on my face.

“Mom!” she smiled at me and rolled her eyes.

“I think I’m going to make quesadillas… or maybe spaghetti?”  Dinner of champions! Those are my easy go-to meals when I don’t wanna think about meal prep.

“But Mom- you NEVER make us a home-cooked meal anymore! Never!  All I want is to order pizza!  Please?  Pretty please?!”

I burst out laughing.

Because ordering pizza is definitely not a home-cooked meal!

But that night pizza seemed perfect.

And in that moment I realized how incredibly blessed I am.

I have two awesome daughters- who definitely do NOT expect perfectly home-cooked meals from me,

a hubby who loves me just as I am- and was equally in favor of pizza,

and a God who loves me infinitely more than I could ever comprehend.

Image result for funny meme about pizza fitness