Livin’ the dream

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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 🙂 

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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.

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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 🙂

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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 

what matters most

Time is an extremely valuable commodity.

With every passing day, I am more aware of how precious our time is and how important it is to spend it wisely.  Lately, I have found great joy in spending time with my husband and daughters.  As the girls are getting older, I thoroughly enjoy our shopping excursions, our deep discussions, and binge-watching tv shows with them.  And as the girls have matured, my hubby and I have been able to spend more time together- going to the movies, going out to dinner… it is a wonderful new season we are in!

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Last night, my hubby jokingly said that our house wasn’t the cleanest.

True.  Very true.

And my response?

“maybe not, but it’s full of LOVE!” 

“Yes it is!”

And that’s what matters most to me.

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I am so thankful to have a hubby who “gets” me.  Who tells me to order take out for dinner because he knows I’m tired- and honestly- I don’t enjoy cooking either.  Who knows that if I don’t spend quiet time at the piano every day, my mood suffers.  A hubby who encourages me to write and be creative and to do all the things that bring me joy.   And I’m thankful for girls who want the shared experience with me of watching our favorite shows together, who don’t expect 4-course home-cooked meals, and who make me friendship bracelets.

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How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.  

James 4:14

forever young

Recently, I was reminded that “youth” is all about perspective…

With teenage daughters, it’s easy for me to feel old and out of touch with the youth culture.  I often have to ask them what slang words and current sayings mean.

But as I walked through the grocery store the other day, I caught the twinkling blue eyes of a gray haired lady, leaning heavily on her shopping cart- squinting to make out my face.

“Are you Amy?” she called out to me.  She looked at me like she was trying to remember who I was.  I didn’t recall ever seeing her before.

“No, I’m sorry.  My name’s Julie.”

She said she thought she knew me from somewhere. Then, she began to tell me how she missed being able to do all the simple things I take for granted- like grocery shopping without getting out of breath,  standing up straight and walking without leaning on a cart, being able to see without straining…

She smiled as she began to move her cart past me and said this-

“You better enjoy your youth while you have it!”

A brief, but meaningful conversation- and a great reminder for me to appreciate all the little things I am able to effortlessly do at my youthful age of 42 🙂

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A gray head is a crown of glory.  

It is found in the way of righteousness- Proverbs 16:21

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21 x 2

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Navigating “mom life” with two teenage daughters ain’t easy.

Lately I feel the tug of give and take– of holding on and letting go-  at the same time.  Giving the girls room to be who they are while also giving them necessary guard rails for protection.

Like what happened two summers ago…

The girls had just begun to listen to different kinds of music.  For most of their childhood, I only allowed them to listen to Christian music or music that was “clean”.  I always had control of the radio in the car, and it was always on the Christian radio station.

But two summers ago, the girls started asking me to change the radio station to listen to other kinds of music.  At first I resisted. What if they heard something in these lyrics that changed them, or caused them to *gasp” not be a Christian any more?!  I slowly realized the irrational fear I had, and that I needed to let them be kids and enjoy the music they liked.  After all, I did grow up listening to hair metal bands and grunge music… and I think I turned out ok 🙂

So, little by little, I let them occasionally choose to listen to their choice of music in the car.  One of those groups happened to be 21 Pilots.  As I listened to the girls sing every word to the Blurry Face CD, I realized that their music was actually really good.  That summer we drove to Universal Studios in Florida, and we listened to nothing but 21 Pilots, One Direction, and various other favorites of my girls for the 10+ hour car ride there and back.

It was a coming of age time for them, and a time when I realized that my girls were growing up- that they were enjoying new things and searching for their identities.  And it made me realize that we have raised them right and pointed them to Jesus… and that it’s ok to give them a little room to explore.  In fact, I have grown to love some of their favorite songs!

So for my birthday this past Sunday, my awesome hubby got tickets for the girls and I to go to the 21 Pilots concert.  They just happened to be here on my birthday- and the show was absolutely amazing!  The girls and I sang every word of every song and I loved every second of it.  Most of all, I loved being with them- not just because I’m their mom, but because I love the people they are becoming!

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At the concert, I leaned over to both girls and said this- “Isn’t it neat that we’re here at a 21 Pilots concert on my birthday… celebrating with thousands of other people… and isn’t it cool that I am 21×2 today (42)?  And I get to celebrate with my 2 favorite girls!”

Isn’t it something to know that while our kids are growing up-

we’re still growing up, too! 

“There are two things we should give our children; one is roots and the other is wings.”- author unknown 

 

these are the days

these are the days

of loud music blaring in cars

girls belting tunes

as if they were the stars

these are the days

of selfies and laughs

dabbling in makeup

and perfecting the craft

these are the days

when emotions run low… and high

these are the days

that too quickly will pass by


I can hardly believe that my oldest daughter just turned 16. How did that even happen?! I remember finding out I was pregnant with her and the overwhelming joy I experienced when I held her in my arms as a newborn. It seems like yesterday, and yet it was a lifetime ago.

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I remember celebrating all their “firsts”… the first smile, laugh, their first bite of baby food, sitting up, crawling, walking… the list goes on and on. It seemed like those days of them being children would last forever!

My youngest just got braces last week and lost her last baby tooth (finally!!) the week before. And after only a week, I look at her and see the remnants of her sweet baby face fading away…

Sigh.

Sixteen is way way to close to eighteen…and way too close to technically being an adult. And I am so not ready for that.

Not at all.

But life keeps on marching whether I’m ready or not!

Sophie

So for today, I will savor every car ride with the girls and I’ll let them turn up the music. I’ll laugh along at their crazy stories and selfies. I’ll let them put makeup on me and style my hair, and I’ll let them invite their friends over often. And those moments when motherhood overwhelms and stresses me out- I will remind myself to soak up all the joy I can.

Because one day they will be out of the house and all will be quiet.

And that day is coming way, way too soon!

Train up a child in the way he should go,
[aAnd when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Me and my Soph
Me and my birthday girl- Katie

glory gazin’

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we’re glory gazin’

chowing down on Chick-fil-a

the sky- our dessert! 

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Having two teenage daughters is… interesting.  I never quite know what to expect.  One minute they are screaming at each other, the next minute they are hysterically laughing together.  It is an adventure, for sure!

The other day, I picked the girls up early from school due to an orthodontist appointment.  Hubby was out of town for work, so I decided to stay in town and take the girls to Chick-fil-a for dinner after our appointment.  As we pulled through the drive thru, I noticed the sky was beginning to change colors.

 When you feed your teenagers Chick-Fil-a, they will smile and agree to anything!  They were in the best mood. Let’s watch the sunset, I suggest.  Since they were happily eating CFA , they naturally obliged.   As we drove around, my youngest daughter stuck her hand out of the window-

Look, Mom- even the sun is shining down on my Chick-Fil-A milkshake! 

lol. I had to chuckle at that one!

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His radiance is like the sunlight;
He has rays flashing from His hand- Habakkuk 3:4

We parked in the shopping center across the street and took in the beautiful evening.  The girls were hysterically laughing at each other, taking “selfies” because it was “glow time” (sunset lighting) and I thought my heart would burst.  Any strife that may have occurred earlier in the day paled in comparison to the joy we experienced in the car.  It was the perfect evening.

On the ride home, I literally cried from laughing so hard at the girls. They can be so funny sometimes.

It has been way too long since I have laughed like that.

I never realized how quickly their childhood would fly by.

I am savoring every moment-

and realizing how short life is!

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.  

Psalm 27:13

born to fly

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You can’t

keep a butterfly 

down

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born to fly- 

won’t stay 

on the ground 

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flitting and floating 

you’d think it was gloating

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that her post-cocoon

freedom 

was found! 

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“Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest”-  Psalm 55:6

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My girls went back to school this past week.  It spiraled me into a mini- midlife crisis, realizing that BOTH of my daughters are now in high school!   I started thinking about how few years they have left before they will one day “fly”.

That morning, I went to sit up at the cross on the hill behind our church.  It was a beautiful day, despite the extreme heat and humidity.  As soon as I got to the top of the hill, I noticed there were an unusual amount of butterflies flying around me.  One in particular was HUGE!  Bigger than my hand!  It was bright blue and reminded me of a peacock.  Every time it landed, I tried to get a picture of it- and as soon as I took a step forward, off it went again.  It stayed right near me the whole time I was at the cross, never staying in one place long enough for me to get a picture.

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The funny thing is that my girls have become like that, too!  I asked to take a picture of them on the morning before they went off for their first day of school-   “Mommmm…. PLEASE don’t “post” a picture of us anywhere!”

Gone are the days of making them pose for sweet smiley school pictures and waiting with them for the bus at our bus stop… gone are the days of controlling their every move!

They are preparing for take off, shedding layers of their childhood cocoons one day at a time.  And as the days fly by- they are needing me less and less.

It is a juxtaposition of feelings-

both bittersweet and overflowing joy.

“You may outgrow my lap, but never my heart”

– author unknown 

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but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.  

Isaiah 40:31

a home-cooked meal

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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.

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holding on

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My girls aren’t little anymore.

Overnight, it seems like the playroom has become a museum- frozen back in a time when the girls pretend played for hours on end with their Barbie dolls.  Doll clothing and toy pieces still litter the floor.

There’s a part of me that wants the playroom to stay that way forever so I can remember it all… their excited giggles, the singing, and the not-so-quiet sound of toys being tossed around.

I feel like my “mom life” is in a bit of a transition.  I don’t write about it as much as I used to, because those cute moments don’t come as often.  And as I watch my coming-of-age daughters try to navigate life, I’m still finding my own way as a mom.   It is WAY harder than I ever thought it would be.

I told the girls recently that they needed to clean the playroom and get rid of some of their dolls and toys.  We don’t need all that stuff down there anymore- I tried to reason with them.

But my oldest looked at me in utter disbelief…

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Mom!!  You are NOT giving away my whole childhood!  You just can’t do that! 

How long has it been since you actually played with those Barbies??  I tried to reason with her.

Umm… just a few weeks ago- she sheepishly admitted to me.   

And then I smiled. I might have even teared up a little bit.

Just when I thought I was having a hard time letting go of my girls being little girls– I see they’re not ready to let go either.

We’re all holding on.

Hold on to what is good-

1 Thessalonians 5:21

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“Sometimes you will never know the value of something,

until it becomes a memory.” – Dr Seuss 

If you love something, set it free…

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Sometimes as a mom, we have to let go of our own dreams for our kids so they can pursue their own passions.   I’m not ashamed to admit that I sometimes live vicariously through my girls. We want for them to experience the same joys we had as children, while at the same time- we want to make things better than we had it, too.

One of those things for me was being involved in chorus.  Although my girls love to sing, they have NO DESIRE to sing in chorus.  It broke my heart a little bit, but both of them have been playing in the band at school.

My youngest came home the other day and begged to take a different elective next year.

But you are so good at the clarinet!  You will regret it if you don’t continue! I told her.  I secretly wanted to cry when she told me she didn’t want to do band anymore.  She loves art and wanted to explore other things in school.

Honestly, I wanted to put my foot down and not give her the option of quitting.  I think as parents we have to encourage our kids to do the things that they excel at- because if we don’t, who else will? But my husband and I talked and he asked me if I wanted her to do band because it was something I wanted for her.  He felt like we should give her the option to choose what she wanted to do.  I thought my heart was going to break, but I told her that evening that it was her decision. I had to trust the Lord and let go of my own desire for her.  She chose to not take band and I begrudgingly signed the form for her.

This past week was my daughters’ band concert. I was so sad that my daughter opted not to do band next year, I didn’t even want to go that night.  I watched my youngest walk onto the stage and she found us instantly in the audience.  She smiled the whole time she was up there. I was so proud.  I watched all of them tapping their feet to the beat, bobbing their heads up and down to the tempo. They finished, and my youngest was brimming with pride.  I held back tears, knowing it was the last time she would be sitting up there.

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It was a bittersweet evening.  I can’t explain why, but every time I go to a band or a chorus concert, I get really emotional. If it weren’t for my involvement in music in school, I don’t know where I’d be today.

And then later that evening, my youngest daughter sat near me and began to cry.

Momma, I DO want to do band!  And I want to play all through high school.  Please, can I change my schedule?   I don’t ever want to stop…

I hadn’t imagined it. She really does love to play.

If I had put my foot down and made her take band next year, she may have not had that epiphany. I was so thankful that she realized how much playing in band meant to her that night.

It was truly the greatest Mother’s Day gift I could have received this year.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;  Proverbs 3:5

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