This Is Why…

Or…

It’s time for a little levity. (Please, all of my Duck Dynasty loving friends, say the word levity just like Mr. Phil would, kay?)

Things can get a little confusing around The Nana & Captain Ahab’s house.

As in, “But, which cup is mine, Mama?”

Please refer to exhibit A:

confusing_cups_MissindeedyNo, my friends, to a child who can not yet read, one of these things is most definitely NOT like the other.

Oh Dear John!

In other news, I think I may just have taught Sweetgirl how to decode the word MILK quicker than any mama in the history of Ever.  True story.

Yes indeedy.

Back to our regularly scheduled activities, people.

And, no more black cups for you, Captain Ahab.

In Your Blood

Turtle_Egg_Beaching_Missindeedy

Or, I could have titled this post, “Just Another Deep Beach Walk & Talk With Ahab”.

The Tantrums and whining have been plenteous out of Sweetgirl at this stage of her development. Can I get an Amen from other mama’s that are In It or who have Been There?

Ahab likes to remind me that I still have them, now and then, at 40-something.  Don’t hit me with facts, man!

We are employing the “ignore the nasty behavior and maybe it will go away” strategy, right now.

I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, during our early morning walk the other day, the sweet children were delighted to see the turtle egg sanctuaries dotting the beach.  They ran right up to them and asked, again, about the process.

I patiently re-explained how the mama digs a hole in the sand and delivers her baby turtle eggs there and then covers up the hole with sand and heads back out into the ocean to eat.  And I reminded them how when the baby turtles hatch out of their eggs they make their way out to the great big ocean to find their mother (I might have made up that last part to stem the 400 anguished “But, WHY?” questions that would result from full-out honesty, here). 

Their eyes glazed over and they bailed.

Down the beach they went, playing “catch me if you can” with the waves lapping at their feet.

Ahab turned to me and said, “Those kids sure are ocean lovers, aren’t they?”

I replied that of course they were – I am their mother!

And he reminded me of this truth:

“Once the ocean gets in your blood, it’s there to stay, isn’t it?”

As he sauntered off to frolic with his grandkids, I stood still for a moment to let that sink in.  And I came to a realization.

The ocean getting in your blood is an awful lot like when Jesus enters your heart.

He is there to stay.

And He will cleanse you.  Much like the ocean will for any wound you have on your body.

And He will wipe out our mistakes. As the ocean will do to any pictures drawn in the sand.

And He will remind you of how Powerful He is.  Just as the crashing waves of the ocean will.

And the deeper you allow Him to take you and your heart, the more beauty you will discover. Oh, the beauty to be found in the depths of the ocean!

And, sometimes, there are scary things lurking in deeper waters. We are all quite capable of envisioning something in the ocean that causes fear.

And His significance will ebb and flow throughout your walk with him. Just like the ocean’s tides.

But His love for you is endless. Exactly as the ocean looks when you stare out at the expanse of it.

My pondering came to a screeching halt when Sweetgirl came running up to me to ask, “When the baby turtles hatch, will they see their mama? Does the mama come back? Who will help them? How will they find her?”

Rapid fire.

Just like that.

With an increase of Whine and Panic with each new question asked.

And before I can answer, Ahab jumps in and says, “She doesn’t come back because then the baby turtles will just whine instead of figuring out how to make their way to the ocean by themselves. They just know how to do it already.  It’s in their blood.”

To which Sweetgirl replies calmly, “Oh.”

To which I reply in my heart, “Oh.”

Yes, indeedy.

Let Her Be More

Sometimes, I like to envision Memory and Perspective walking hand in hand.

While The Nana is away on a business trip this week, we are babysitting being companions to Ahab.

So, naturally, we cooked him his favorite dinner last night, steak and potatoes, and then headed out to Dairy Queen for a sweet treat afterwards.  We wanted his first night without The Nana to give him promise that we weren’t going to be Lazy Hang-Abouts all week long.  Ahem…

Ahab and I sat at a table, while Sweetman was waiting for our order, and watched the kids flit here, there, and everywhere.  While we did, two teenage girls walked up to the window all decked out in their teenage finest (read that, shortest and tightest dresses possible).  Their hair was teased and coiffed and I’m near to certain that they had a pound of make-up on their faces between the two of them.  They texted and lol’ed, checked out the surroundings for the few teenage boys working the counter, and generally did all of the things that teenage girls will do.

Ahab turned to me with a twinkle in his eye and asked me if I remembered those days?

What the what now?

I do not remember ever (just so we’re clear) dressing up quite that provocatively.

Or, maybe I’m just older than I want to admit to being.

Either way, I remarked that thankfully, sweetgirl was a lot like me and that I was pretty sure that she was going to be confident enough in herself to never think she needed to dress that way to attract attention. (Speaking it makes it true, dontcha know?).

I also might have mentioned that I was going to teach her that she didn’t need to “package” herself at that age, or any age, to attract the attention of men. And I might also have gone on about how I will be teaching her to care more about making her heart attractive.

Oh, the intentions I have…

And as we watched Sweetgirl flit, Ahab marveled at how precocious and outgoing she was and commented that, “Yes indeedy, (I come by it naturally, you see), she’ll do alright.”.

Isn't she beautiful, mama?

Isn’t she beautiful, mama?

I said that she came by her precociousness naturally, of course, because I was like that at her age, too.

Right?

But, what he replied with was not what I thought I knew of myself.

No. Not at all.

Ahab said, “No, you were actually kinda quiet and on the shy side.  You were much more cautious and a thinker.”

HUH?

Now, from the stories about my formative years that The Nana would tell you, I was all sorts of spitfire in the personality department.  My brother – he was the one who bounced from point A to point B.

But I?  Well, apparently I was the mastermind behind the bouncing.

I’m left chewing over that and trying to make sense of how God brought me to such a place of confidence compared to how I used to supposedly be.

And I can only conclude one thing.

By. His. Grace.

By His Grace, I am able to remember that I am more than my outfit.

I am more than my appearance.

I am more than what others think of me.

I am more than what others may say about me.

“But by God’s grace I am what I am, and his grace shown to me was not wasted.”

1 Corinthians 15:10

And oh! How I pray that Sweetgirl always holds this truth close to her heart.

Let her be more than a conqueror, through you, Jesus, too!

Yes indeedy!

What truth do you want your own daughter, or the little girls in your life, to hold close to their hearts?

And Then We…

I wanted to first say THANK YOU for praying!  My friend did receive good news a few days ago, and the cancer has not spread. I was praying in earnest, as I know so many of you were, too.  Those prayers… they are precious to me.  And more importantly, to my sweet friend.  Whom I love.

So, again, I am so very grateful for your prayers on her behalf.

2

Summer activity is in full swing around here.  And we like that.  It reminds us that there is a beginning (of All The Fun) and an end (of All The School).  We get to languish in the mornings, eat lunch on the deck, and rustle up dinner whenever we want to.  There is water to be played in and ice cream to be consumed.  It is all a sweet balm to this mama’s heart. And to my sweet children’s hearts, too.

As we make preparations to head down to Florida to see Captain Ahab and The Nana for most of July, I thought I’d show y’all what we were up to last week.  Because, who doesn’t like pictures to remind us of The Joy? (Although, I beg you to ignore the fact that I chose to hold up my Coke Zero like I was in an advertisement for the thing. Sigh…)

But, aside from that… LOOK!  Summer!

Yes, indeedy!

Beach_With_Friends_Missindeedy

Happy Summer!

They Want To Take Me Glamping

Sparkles wants me and the kids to join her when she takes the kids on her annual camping trip this summer.  I told her no.

Boy, that could be the shortest blog post ever.

But then, she recruited two of her friends that I think are the Awesome Sauce, to work on me, too.

I hemmed and hawed.  But, after a glass of wine, I said “Sure!”

The next morning, I regretted that decision.

Not the wine.

The agreeing to the camping.

You see, I am not a camper.  In fact, if anything, I think of myself as more of a glamper.

“What’s glamping?”, you ask?  Let me help you out here. According to Mr. Google,  glamping is “luxury camping.”

Like, this here.  Is this what you meant, Sparkles? Because if it is, then this is totally what I’m talkin’ about!

Glamping_ifitshipitshere

Right about now, Captain Ahab is spitting out his Dr. Pepper and exclaiming, “What the what?!  She is totally a camper!”

Nope.  I’m not.  I only pretended, Dad, because I loved spending time with you!  So there.  (Why, yes, I am 41.)

Anywho, Sparkles and Company convinced me that we would have So Much Fun because the kids would all entertain each other, and, nature! We’d only be a short walk to proper “facilities”, if you’re trackin’ me.  (I’ve determined that to be no more than 5 feet from my tent.) They also lured me with offers of hot coffee each morning and cold beverages each night.  One of these dears even promised that I wouldn’t have to set up my own tent. (And, for everyone involved’s sanity, I am totally holding her to that one.) And look, nature!

Throw in all the talk of smores, and you can easily see how I was sold.

Right?

So, sometime around the end of summer, I may or may not survive a camping trip that includes my two children, no husband, some friends, and a LOT of chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers. And adult beverages.

(Plus, I have three months to figure out how to rig a fan up without electricity, relearn how to fall asleep in a sleeping bag shaped like a cocoon, and develop a thing-a-ma-bob that emits a sound that only bears and coyotes and snakes and bugs and spiders can hear and not like, thus forcing them to go find another campsite to visit.  Easy peezy. I’ll keep you posted. )

Yes indeedy!

Where To Go On Vacation, Again

The words that I’ve been writing lately have been far more reflective than I ever thought they would be, when I began blogging last year. I’m waiting patiently to see where all of this reflection is going.  Hopefully, somewhere with a glorious bent?

In the meantime, it’s time for a little levity.

What better way to lighten up than to look at… vacation pictures! Aren’t you “so stinkin’ sited!” (as Sweetgirl would say)? You are not required to answer that. 

During our April vacation week, we went to Disney World.

Again.

It was magical.

Again.

There is not a one of us who doesn’t want to return.

Again.

And soon.

It makes all of us so incredibly happy to be there.  It really isn’t much more complicated than that.

Watching our children, walk hand in hand – or even better – skip, hand in hand, on their way from here to there? Seeing the absolute joy in their eyes, as they spy their favorite characters or rides? Eating every single meal together – as a family – and hearing them chatter away about all the things that touch their hearts in the course of a day? Dole Whip? I cannot put a value on these things.

And this, from a woman who grew up down there and swore that she would never fall into that mousetrap as a parent.

Ha! The joke’s definitely on me.

Oh, indeed it is.

Without further ado, here ya go:

Disney_Vacation_Collage_Missindeedy

Has there been a vacation spot that you wish you could return to (or have) again and again?  Share, please!  I’d love to know.

Wanna Get Away?

Right about the time that I reached into the very last box of Devil Dogs only to realize I was down to the final two…

And The Colds came back with a vengeance…

And someone named Rube Goldberg began interjecting himself into our peaceful homework routine…

And the mailbox got obliterated…

mailbox_death

That’s about the time I began to lose my mind.

Forget about the 2 loaves and 5 fishes multiplying. What about the 2 loads of clean laundry I just put away that have suddenly multiplied into 4 more loads I need to do? I do not like that kind of math. Oh no I don’t!

Whatever is a mama to do? Because a simple Calgon bath isn’t gonna take me away, y’all. (And if you don’t get that reference? That’s okay, we can still be friends.)

I’ll tell you what this mama started to do.  I started planning how I could get out of Dodge.

And I found a way to do it for free!  Yup, free.

Well, sort of.

The wonderful team of women over at (in)courage are inviting you (yes, you!) to their second annual (in)RL Virtual Beach House Retreat on April 26th and 27th. (That stands for In Real Life, in case you were wondering.)  With other women longing for a little spring get away, just like you! All you have to do is click here to find the community of (in)couragers meeting closest to you and register. Women in over 400 locations around the world are offering to host this virtual retreat from their homes or churches, or are choosing to meet up at restaurants or parks. From Jacksonville to Joplin to Japan, there’s sure to be an (in)RL meet-up near you.

inRL2013

And me?  Well, I am hosting one of these meet-ups here, at my home.

“Um, she does realize this means she’s not going anywhere, right?”, you might be wondering.

Why, yes! Yes, I do.

You see, my Sweetman?  He’s da bomb diggety (And I don’t care that I’m the only one still using that phrase.  It’s fun. I like it.)  He offered to take the kids to the grandparent’s house that Friday night and stay until Sunday.

And even I realize what that means.  2 WHOLE DAYS TO MYSELF!  I apologize for the yelling.  I’m just so excited! I get to hang out with women longing to connect and drink hot chocolate without having to share the marshmallows and not worry about the laundry being sneaky and multiplying behind my back.  And doesn’t that just sound so… Awesome!!??

Ya with me now?

I promise, with this year’s theme of “The Challenge to Stay in Community”, we all have much to learn and share.  And celebrate! Isn’t this entire Spring season about celebrating the one Victory that makes community such a beautiful thing in the first place?

So, even if you don’t know a soul in the community group meeting nearest you, GO!  Run to register! Make some new friends with other women who are longing to get away and refresh their souls. You can find out more on the FAQ link or Register to host or Register to attend, here.

Have I piqued your interest?  I surely hope so.  And if you are the husband, brother, father, or loved one of a woman who could use some encouraging?  Send her over to (in)courage to find out more!  She’ll thank you. Promise.

And, if you live in New England, use one of the social media buttons to the right to contact me, and I’d be happy to share my meet-up info.  I’d love to meet some of you in real life. Oh, yes indeedy!

 

How to Know When Your Children Are Growing Up

You do know, don’t you, that this is going to be  a bit tongue-in-cheek?

Just checking.

Watching your almost-ten year old boy with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, who will tell you at every possible turn that he  “just isn’t a sports-type kid” try snow skiing for the first time, every day, for One! Whole! Week! during school vacation?  And watching him love it and nail it?  Oh yes he did!  And how proud am I?  So stinkin’ proud.  I’m proud of him for trying.  I’m proud of him for keeping at it.  I’m proud of him for sticking it out even on the sopping wet, drizzly, sleet-y, and rainy day, midweek. The sense of accomplishment that he felt at the end – being handed his certificate confirming that he completed the week?  You could see it All Over His Face.  Oh, Lord, thank You! He’s moving into a new stage, people.  And it’s a Very Good Thing.

boys_pre_lesson_blog

boys_on_chairlift_blog

Sending your youngest, at almost-five, on her first sleepover to her grandparents house, an hour and a half away, and realizing when you go to pick her up the following day that you had forgotten to pack the night-time pull-up? And you arrive and The Gammy tells you that she just put her in her underwear, and she did just-fine-I-tell-you? She just officially became a “big girl” and I only turned my head for One! Day! (The forgetting of the Pull-up? It was unintentional, I promise.  And, those are rather bitter words to write, as my “word” for 2013 is , um… intentional. Yup, I’m a Work In Progress, people.  Work. In. Progress.)

Just for clarification, I did inform them both that I’d be perfectly happy for them to cease and desist all future growing.

They laughed.

I cried.

Oh, yes indeedy – I sobbed like a Soap Opera starlet.

And then went and ate this:

gelato

In celebration of their growth, of course.

Have your urchins had any growth spurts lately?  Tell me!  Tell me I’m not eating the gelato alone!?!

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

The Most Magical Place on Earth

I was mostly mainly a “believer” before; that Walt Disney World was The Most Magical Place on Earth. But, in all seriousness? It was. And still is. God surely endowed Walt Disney with brilliance and foresight, because his ability to inspire the imagination and thrill the senses was without equal. In the words of Sweetman, “I’m ready to go back!” (And this from the one who heard each “cha-ching” as if it was an approaching rattlesnake!)

 

Disney_World_Missindeedy

 

I want to start by saying that the new Art of Animation Hotel is fantastic. That is where we stayed, and in the Nemo Suites, to be exact. It was delightful. On every level. The food choices for the kids were pretty great, overall (especially with one uber-picky eater in the bunch and the other one with a nut allergy!). And the Sweetkids enjoyed the splashpad and zero-entry pool (and hourly pool activities) so much so, that we had to carve out a little time each day to “chillax” there. It was a tough job people, but someone had to do it.

 

Sweetboy would tell you that the New Fantasyland was his Absolute Favorite place to be (beside Space Mountain, of course!). We all rode the new Barnstormer ride, well… a “few” times. It is a delightfully short roller coaster that the whole family was able to go on. Even Sweetman! It was a Christmas miracle, y’all. Just sayin’.

 

Sweetgirl would tell you that the New Fantasyland was her Absolute Favorite, as it had the new Under the Sea (or, “Ariel Ride” as she would call it) and the new Enchanted Tales with Belle adventure. Although, the Akershus Hall “Dinner with the Princesses”, in Norway, at Epcot, would rank right up there, too. (This has to be one of the best kept Princess Dinner secrets of Disney World!) It was an incredibly interactive dinner; and the personalized attention that each Princess gave each child was just a joy to watch. Truly. It made me want to be a Princess. For 45 whole minutes! True story.

 

And Sweetman and I simply must, as the parents of a child with a nut allergy, give a huge shout-out to The Palace Restaurant, in the Magic Kingdom. We had lunch there one afternoon. Besides the fact that Sweetman asked the chef for the recipe to “the best meatloaf he’s ever had, ever!”, the level of care and concern they took to provide options for our nut-allergic Sweetboy were stellar. And the chef made numerous visits out to us to check and see how things were going. (And, I’m certain it wasn’t because he was asked for the meatloaf recipe. Really!) Fabulous. Just fabulous. We were so grateful.

 

And here are some pictures to give you a little idea of the fun that was had by all.

 

Disney_Collage_Blog

 

All “being fleeced by The Mouse” joking aside, Walt Disney World really is the most magical place on earth. Oh, yes indeedy! And we’re already plotting a return. Before 2020! I know. Right?