Summer Lovin’

SummerLovin_Missindeedy

Pretty soon…

I have a puppy named Roscoe P. Coltrain to hug.

There’s a nephew with x’s all over his face to mark the spot where my kisses will go.

There’s a Nana to shop with.

And, an Ahab to walk the beach with and talk to.

A brother to hug.

A sister-in-law to love.

Childhood friends to visit.

Sand to wiggle my toes in and sunrises to peek at.

Books are waiting to be devoured.

Oh. The. Books!

A lighthouse to ride over to.

There are snorkels calling our names.

Fins are flipping in anticipation.

Jetties are waiting to be hopped over and fished on.

Manatees are waiting to be spied.

I hear that even the Puffer fish are holding their breath for our arrival.

Summer lovin’ starts super soon around here!

What are your plans for the summer? And more importantly, what are you reading this summer?

Drinking It In

I consider, sometimes, those news segments about the housewife or soccer mom who confesses to being a closet alcoholic. I probably give it more thought than you can imagine.

And, do you know what I think about when these stories come to mind?

I think to myself that it’s really not so horrific.

Because, if I’m being honest, a segment very much like that could just as easily be about me. I am capable of going there.  Oh, how I am.

Thinking about my own decrepit state and knowing how wretched I can be, I know I do go there.

Just not with Alcohol.

But…for the Grace that follows me there.

He trails behind me, hemming me in so that if I start to weave and topple over, I suddenly find myself leaning upon Him.  Leaning in and leaning on and leaning toward, until I know no other way to move forward without Him.

Until I find that I need that.

That I need God.

I know – I know and I feel and I see - that the God Who Loves Me will always follow me there. He wraps my other addictions up until the only thing I see is Grace.  And He loves me so deeply, so intimately, that He knows where I’m headed long before the downward spiral is set in motion.

But He cherishes me so much, that even in that pit of despair, He will not leave me or forsake me in that place.

So, what keeps me from heading down into that dark place?

Promises.

Promises made more than two thousand years ago.

But that still stand today.

Oh, yes they do.

And these promises were made to me, about me, and with me in mind.

And you, too.

Did you know that?  Those promises were made for you, too.

Do you need some fresh hope to be waiting for you at the bottom of your pit?

Let Grace follow you there.

Please.

Drink this truth in:

Sunlight_On_Floor_Simeon_Hughes_Creationswap

If you find yourself prone to wallowing, and I’m admitting to you that I am, wallow in thatAllow your heart to soak in the truth that you are not forgotten.

And that you are loved.

Not forgotten.

Loved.

Yes indeedy.

For When Your Child Doesn’t Fit In

Not_Alone_Creationswap_Richard_Sherrill_Missindeedy

While we all have those parenting moments where we notice something a little quirky about our kids – not all of us have the privilege of anxiously wondering how much that quirk will hold them back socially. And then the day comes when it does.  And that cute little quirk becomes a massive elephant in the room of your child’s social life.  Others notice the quirk(s) and begin to act as if… As if your child couldn’t possibly be liked by very many people because she/he is different. As if they are already on the path to Outcast. As if they are not worth the effort.

And it cuts.

Deep.

My(in)Able & (in)Cluded group of ladies provide a safe place for me to feel those emotions and process them.  Follow me over to my (in)courage community group to keep reading. Click the button below.

InCourage Is My superpower

 

Even in Her Sleep

The child can do a number on me.  Not. Even. Kidding.

This Sweetgirl of mine, she’s a gem.  She sparkles in attitude, appearance, and demeanor (I had to look that last one up to make sure I was, indeed, proclaiming truth here.  I was.)  And it’s not just me who thinks this of her.  Others tell us, all the time, how mirthful she is; how joyful, how exuberant, how energetic, and how confident she is.  We agree. This five-year old girl will throw herself into life, full-force.

Even in her sleep, she knows how to make things interesting:

Sleeping Sideways

But…

She is also incredibly strong-willed.

And tenacious in some not-so-fantastic ways.

We’re working on it.  Mama’s of strong-willed children everywhere will agree: it’s flat out exhausting just keeping up with these children.  Some days, it’s a constant game of mental chess, with me desperately trying to stay one step ahead of her. Prayer has been a lifeline here. When I can think straight to ask for it!

But the “win” in the end, for me, will come when she is able to harness all The Spunk for good.  She does it now, once in a blue moon, and it is a beauty to behold.  Her kindness, in sticking up for a friend, makes me want to weep.  Her ability to find the one person in the room who needs a laugh and present it, makes me smile big.  She is adept at spreading joy in moments that can be filled with great sadness with her very presence.  I love her so.

And I realize the importance of the job ahead, with her.

And I realize that I need back-up.

God.

Family.

Friends.

Because, when things go sideways – and they always do – I’m sometimes too stinkin’ exhausted to right that ship.

Or, the legs in the bed.

And so, even while she sleeps, I pray.

And I suspect I will for many decades to come.

Oh… yes indeedy!

Thank you, God, for letting us borrow this child for a time, here on earth.  Let us never take it for granted.  And help us at each stop along the way.  Please give us energy in spades and wisdom in plenty.  I do believe I’m gonna need it.

He Looks Like This

I could stay in my pajamas all The Live Long Day.  True story.  Ask Sweetman.  He will sigh and say, “Alas, it is true.”

He may also tell you that he will oh-so-delicately off up suggestions throughout the weekend mornings of good times to shower and get dressed.  “I’d like to offer to take the kids down into the basement so you can have a nice long shower. Now.”, and other such statements are known to be thrown about at 11:30 or 12:30 or 1:30 on a lazy Saturday.  And by now, many of you know that I’ve run into some trouble with not showering in the past. Right?

My Sweetgirl?  She is just like her daddy, apparently.

“What color are your eyes, Daddy?”, she innocently asked him yesterday.

“Blue-ish and green-ish.”, he told her.

Off she went.

When she came back an hour later, she had painstakingly drawn a family portrait.

Only, it was a family portrait that was missing a family member.

Me.

First, though, please see if you can figure out which one is Sweetman:

Sweetman_Looks_Like_Missindeedy

Do you see him?  If not, he has some extra-large glasses you might should borrow.

Now, may I clarify a few things?

Sweetman does not, in fact, wear a pink feather boa; although, it would seem from this portrait that he does.  Also, while Sweetgirl actually got the, um… dimensions of his hair perfectly, the color is quite different.

I would next like to point out that Sweetboy does, indeed, have eyes, a nose, and a mouth.  Just not, apparently, in this family picture. Also, brother is almost 5 years older than sister and is therefore SO not smaller than her.  (She only wishes.)

Lastly, let’s discuss the missing member, shall we? I was not, as it turns out, fit to be drawn.  Why?

“You haven’t gotten dressed for the day yet, Mama!  I don’t know what clothes to draw on you.”

And that, perhaps, is the best reason to get showered and dressed before 2:00 p.m. that I’ve ever heard.

Oh, yes indeedy!

Children draw THE best family portraits!  Do you have one that sticks out in your mind?

A Little Late, But…

Better later than never, right?  I mean, we can’t ALL have our act together, now can we? I feel it’s my job and duty to lead the Vacation Picture Slackers in their turtle march toward productivity.

Enjoy some of my favorite “scenes” from our vacation and a Word to go with it.  Happy Sunday, friends!

 

Jersey_Shore_Vacay_Aug_Missindeedy

“From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the Lord is to be praised.”

Psalm 113:3

Have You Called Your Mother?

Mother_Call_Her_Missindeedy

The Nana and I have fought, and hard, for our relationship over these last 40 some-odd years.  It’s been worth it.

Where we are now?  It’s a good place.

There was a period of time, an altogether-too-long period of years, where my mama would be the last person I’d call for advice, comfort, or inspiration to carry on.   Is that a harsh thing for some of you mothers to read?  I’m sorry.  It is a true story.  One that, I hope, makes what I write next, about my mom, all the sweeter.

Ours is a relationship redemption story, if there ever was one.

Walking down that road of pending motherhood, I realized that all of these hopes and dreams that I had for my own sweet children, were tied up tightly with every fiber of my being. And that was a frightening revelation, a scary prospect, and a depressing way to behold the future of my children. Does that make sense to some of you? The thought overpowered me that, “I was only going to be able to do the best that I could with what I had.”

Sadness permeated my heart at that thought, followed by no small amount of resentment.  I didn’t feel like my mother had prepared me for this mighty job that I now had.

And, at that point in our relationship, I didn’t feel that I could or would ask her for her help. Nor did I think, for a moment, that she would have any constructive or encouraging words of wisdom to share.

Redemption sometimes comes unexpectedly. As I lay with my firstborn nursing him in the wee hours one morning, it dawned on me that my mama truly did do the very best that she could with what she had.

That brought a softening to my heart.  And, ultimately, opened the door to some Grand Scale Healing in our relationship.

Is it sunshine and unicorns now?

Nope.

It is progress.  And Love.  It’s a blooming friendship built on the hope of continued trust and a committment to slather on the grace whenever and wherever.  It’s all of these things, and so many more, wrapped up together to strengthen the fibers of my being.

And, hopefully, hers too.

Now?  I do ask her. All the time, it seems, I ask her what she thinks I should do, could I have handled this better, which outfit should I wear to this event. It’s almost like these last 8 years or so, we’ve been making up for lost time, cramming each interaction with as much mother-daughter love as it can possibly hold.

And I am deeply grateful.

My mother, The Nana, my mama?  She is a gift to me; a precious gift that truly does keep on giving, with each new day that we spend knowing that we are mother and her daughter.  This redeemed relationship is a gift from the God who sees; and isn’t afraid to reach right in and continue to draw us closer to one another, and to Him.

Dear Mama,

I love you.  I’m so glad you’re MY mom. 

Now, turn on your phone, you’re about to receive a call.

Love,

Pooh

We Are Family

You’re singing it in your head right now. Aren’t you.  Yes, you are.  Admit it.  It’s practically an unwritten rule that when anyone hears the words “we are family”, they will spontaneously burst into song followed by the words, “I got all my sisters and me.”  Id stake my last Devil Dog on it.  Oh, yes indeedy!

Chatterbox, in Italian, is pronounced “Yak-uh-share-owna”.  This, I learned, among many other things this weekend. It was chock full of long-overdue time with my brother and sister-in-law and their kidlets.  My own children were fairly bouncing off the walls at the opportunity to see their beloved cousins.  They love them dearly.  And Sweetboy, in particular, has a deep and abiding affection for family members who do not live in this house.  That is not to say that he doesn’t have an affection for family members who do live in this house; just that he loves those who do not extra, with jimmies on top.  (Or, sprinkles, as those of you below the Mason-Dixon line call them.)

Just how much does he love them? He was so excited to have a “sleepover” with the long-lost cousins (we saw them at Thanksgiving), that he sacrificed his bed, for three nights, for the camp cot (in the same room, of course!) While his older cousin, let’s call him Buddy, got to snuggle down into the cozy fleece sheets on his bed, Sweetboy enjoyed, and I truly do mean this, a sleeping bag spread out on the cot.  I asked him how he slept after that first night’s slumber.  His response?  “Fine. Great.  I was with Buddy!!”   ‘Nuff said.

And, I must admit that I love my Sweetman’s brother and his wife somethin’ fierce.  And not just because my sister-in-law is first generation Italian and teaches me all sorts of fun phrases that make me snicker.  I genuinely enjoy them. We love nothing more than sitting around the table enjoying a delicious homemade meal, a nice big juicy Cabernet, and a rousing game of Spades. (The girls won.  The girls usually win, don’t we, Sweet Sister-in-law? And it has nothing to do with the fact that we always sometimes give each other a head’s up when we have a bad hand. Ahem…)

My niece, let’s call her Bia, is on a new-to-her gluten free diet.  Whenever we get together, The Gammy makes a delightfully delicious 2-layer chocolate cake with a whipped frosting in the middle. (Now that I think of it, it’s an awfully lot like a gigantic circular Devil Dog!)  Everyone enjoys this cake, but Buddy and I have been known to engage in some Dueling Forks over the last piece.  I sometimes always let him have it, of course.

But, with the snow a blowin’ and the winds a howlin’, The Gammy and The Grampa weren’t able to make the hour and a half drive up to see all of the grandkids.  Everyone was crushed. God is good, though, because at the grocery store the day before, I noticed that good ol’ Betty Crocker had come out with a Gluten Free Devil’s Food Cake boxed mix. And the angels – they were singing. So, I bought it, because, HELLO?  Have you met me? I don’t bake!

It turned out to be a really tasty cake.  And that there is not only my professional opinion, but that of all the kidlets under 40, too.  Here’s a picture for those of you so inclined to check it out.  (We used traditional frosting in a can, because we live high on the hog around here.)

glutenfree_cake

The kids sledded, built a snowman, rose each morning far earlier than any child should be allowed, set up a grocery store in the playroom, and snuggled in and watched a movie together, among other things. There was a little Texas hold em’ goin’ on, a rousing game of Yahtzee (man, I love that game!), and we ate like “gabones”, as my sister-in-law would say.

The most comical (and there were plenty!) conversation of the weekend, however, went a little like this:

Sister-in-law (to her husband): “How come you never tweet at me?”

Brother-in-law: “Um, you have to have a Twitter account to get tweets.”

And the best one-liner went to Sweetboy.  “Sissy, you’re da bomb diggety, you know that?”  (Man, I love that kid!)

Let’s close out this sweet little familial recap with some pictures, shall we?

We shall.

Snow_Fun1

Snowman1

Snow_Clothes1

2_PeasA

3 Ways to Love (or Annoy) Your Sibling

You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them. – Desmond Tutu

This I know to be true. Sweetgirl may certainly beg to differ many days of the week, but she’ll get over it.  In about 20 years.  Trust me.  I know from experience.

2 Fruity kids from the same tree...

2 Fruity kids from the same tree…

Brothers can love the tar out of their little sisters, just as sisters can love the tar out of their big brothers (and little! Hey,Capt. Ahab’s son, I’m talkin’ to you!).  I know this for fact because, our Sweetboy most certainly does love his.  To smithereens.  Much to her chagrin some days (but, not ours).

1) You can write notes, like this one, for your little sister, who is four and refuses to acknowledge that there are things called letters that make up the alphabet.  Or, in other news, she can’t yet read.  But that shouldn’t stop you from writing to her to tell her what you’ve been learning.  “She might find it interesting, Mama.”

Surely, she was dying to know all about this, no?

Surely, she was dying to know all about this, no?

2) You can touch the silky strands of your little sister’s hair and breathe in the smell as often as humanly possible, because… well, “it’s so soft and smells so  good that I just can’t stand it!”.

3) Then, there are the sweeter moments of sibling love that are best described, not in words, but in pictures.  And so, here you go…

Ain't Love Grand?

Ain’t Love Grand?

And when Sweetboy questions where God is and how we can be sure He exists?  I pull this verse out to share with him:

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

1 John 4:12

I ask him who he thinks put that sweet love for his sister inside of his heart?  As much as I’d like to claim credit for that, I can’t.  I remind him that he is doing a great job of living that very verse out each time he opts to give her the last chocolate chip pancake or ask her, “What’s wrong, Sissy?”, when she’s crying (which is a lot, as she is the ultimate drama queen); or, each time he tells Sweetman and I that he doesn’t want to do this or that activity without “the whole family” or races downstairs in the morning and hops on the couch to share a blanket and snuggle in with her (despite their almost 5 year age difference).  In each of these acts, he shows us how we are to love one another.

With sweet abandon..  Oh yes, indeedy.

Family Sandwich

Sometimes, we call Sweetboy “The Big Cheese”.  For all of the reasons you can possibly conjure in your mind. And then some.  Now that you know that pertinent piece of information, what I’m about to relay will make more sense.  Maybe…

Sweetman, Sweetgirl and I were down in the playroom snuggling on the couch while Sweetboy was up stairs hopping away, when Sweetgirl asked for a “Sweetgirl Sandwich”.  This is not an edible sandwich, however; it’s a kind of hug.  Daddy and I stick a kidlet or the kidlets in between the two of us and we do a squeeze hug, which we call a Family Sandwich.  (This all started as part of Sweetboy’s Sensory therapy when he was little.  We would help him alleviate his need for sensory input by providing great big bear hugs.)

I suppose Sweetgirl decided it was high time we had just a “her” sandwich.  In any case, we did a Sweetgirl Sandwich and she giggled delightedly and asked for a second helping.  We obliged.  Sweetboy heard all of the ruckus and made his way down to see what was going on. When he discovered that we were doing a Family Sandwich, he, of course, wanted in.  So we smushed the two of them in between us and hugged the stuffing out of them both.

At this time, Sweetman informed the kidlets that we were the pieces of bread and Sweetboy was the Big Cheese.  Sweetgirl instantly asked, “And what am I, Daddy?”  We looked at each other above their heads and that man? He read my mind!  Because, his response was, “You’re the Turkey, of course!”  We all collapsed into fits of giggles and laughter.

And it was the most satisfying Sandwich I’ve had in a good long while.  Indeed.