Friday, June 29, 2012

When Did This Happen?!

Last night I was driving Josh and Adam into town to my parents' house so that they could spend the night and go fishing early this morning with my dad. I've driven into town with them hundreds, even thousands, of times. And many of those within the last year or so with Josh in the front seat next to me. This trip was the same as all the others. Air on, music up, chatting mom and boys.

Then I looked to my right and had to stop myself from slamming on the brakes and pulling over to demand that the young man sitting next to me get out of my car. It was like looking at a stranger. All of a sudden, my little boy, my firstborn, my baby, is a young man. Instantly. Seriously. His face changed from one second of me looking at him, then to the road in front of me, then back. Instant change.

It brought tears to my eyes and took away my breath for a moment. When did this happen?! When?! How? Why? It's too soon. Way too soon. I remember noticing as all my children changed to kids from babies. Even Julianna in the last few months. But this. This change has caught me completely off guard. I have accused him of becoming a teenager a few months early. And have overlooked some of his moodiness that has come along with that.

But that face. That little boy face. The one that I've kissed every night for the past 12 years, 8 months, and 19 days has begun to disappear. It's becoming the face of a half grown adult. Stronger somehow. More mature. Grown.

And I'm not sure I like it. I'm not sure I hate it either. But I'm pretty sure I don't like it.

He's a handsome boy and has the nicest eyes and great hair. Which is nice...and scary as all get out. Because he kinda likes the girls. Always has. And they like him. Always have. And it's seriously causing me to have a panic attack. Really. Like right now, as I type, I'm breathing my way through one.

This wasn't supposed to happen so soon. This change for him...and for me. This whole growing up thing. I don't want it. I DON'T! I want to snuggle him on my lap and rub his hair and keep him there forever. I want him to call me mommy and need me to make his chocolate milk. I want him to stay little, stay little.

And yet, that young man sitting next to me in the car is kind of amazing. It's like a new friend. A new person to know and understand and love. One of those people that you feel like you've known forever, and yet are just getting to know.

In one way, I know him better than he knows himself. I know what he needs before he does. I know what he's going to say and do before he does it. But on the other hand, we're learning together, who this person is. This brown haired, blue eyed boy who is growing up. This boy who drives me crazy and amazes me in the same breath. The one who can both make my heart sing and infuriate me within minutes. The one who I had to bribe with five bucks to hold my hand for family pictures but then promised to kiss my cheek forever. Who is this person, and what has he done with my baby?

Wait. There. In his eyes. I can see it. It's him. It's my Yoshi. My sweet baby. My little boy. My young man.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

10 Things Thursday

10 things I would do if I could go back to high school.

1. Study more and better. So that when I got to college, I wouldn't be rudely awakened and have to learn to study.
2. Sing more. Like High School Musical and Glee sing. Like break out in song in the halls and in the cafeteria and in the classroom sing. And have so much fun doing it that the other students and teachers joined in! (What?! That's what happens on tv!)
3. Be braver. Speak up and speak out. Stand up and stand out.
4. Wear a coat and boots. In the winter. Like a person with half a brain.
5. Join a team. Any team. Perferably something like volleyball or softball or chess. Okay, maybe not chess.
6. Make more friends. And not be afraid to make friends.
7. Write everything down. Everything. So I could look back when I'm 40..and remember what it was like to be young.
8. Get a jacket to put my letter on. Even though I lettered in choir.
9. Attend more sporting events. And cheer like a crazy person.
10. Say thank you to my teachers. They deserved it when I was really there. And they would deserve it if I went back. Especially since I would be interrupting their classes everyday with my singing!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


I've been thinking a lot about stories lately. I love a good story whether it's on pages, on a screen, or being told aloud. I can get lost in a good story and become so attached to the characters that they become part of me. The really good characters help me learn and grow and see something about myself. I can picture them in my imagination and take them with me when I move on to a new story. Like, if Katniss and Cassia and Katsa all worked together, they would be unstoppable! And certainly any one of them could take pre-vampire Bella and maybe even vampire Bella. But the thing about my favorite characters is that they are only interesting and only come alive because of their stories.

My favorite stories are true stories. Stories told to me about my ancestors. Stories told by my family and friends. Stories from history. And especially Bible stories. The story of a little boy who picks up a handful of stones and kills a giant. The story of a million people crossing the sea on dry land. The story of a reluctant queen who saves her people. Amazing stories! And what about those left untold. Can you imagine the stories Eve could tell? Or Mrs. Noah? Or Mary, mommy of Jesus? Oh, how I can't wait to hear those stories! As I read these stories given to us by God, I try to gather what He wants me to learn. What can I learn from the man in the belly of the whale or the sleeping apostles in the garden? The lovely, wonderful thing about Bible stories is that what I learned from those stories as a child is not what I will learn if I read them today and that's not what I'll learn in ten years. God's stories are everlasting and everchanging. Leading us to Him from whatever path we may be traveling. His stories have that power. And I think He allows other stories to do that, too.

One on screen story that I experienced recently was the story of the Hatfields and McCoys. I knew a lot of the story before watching the miniseries because I had done a presentation about the feud for a college class a few years ago. First let me say that I've seen pictures of Roseanne and Johnsy and they weren't nearly as pretty as they were in the movie. And secondly, I find it interesting that the Hatfield/McCoy feud was not the last, longest or bloodiest feud in the south. But the story! Fascinating! And hard to watch. All the hate and anger and senselessness. It made me consider forgiveness and the role it played in this story and all stories...including mine. I found it most interesting to watch the women in the story. The mothers especially. They wanted all the fighting to stop, but felt that they couldn't go against their men. Perhaps so true to the time. I couldn't help but to think of my great grandmothers. They all lived very close to where this story took place and could have very well known one or both families. And they most certainly were well aware of the story as it happened. What did they think? How did they feel? Did they take sides? Did they have to stand back and quietly watch as their men did things they didn't agree with? Were they as quietly submissive or were they able to speak out? See how this story on the small screen led me to part of my own story. A part that I so wish I could know.

A written story that I just lived was Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. It's a story about a young queen who has taken over the kingdom after her evil, evil, EVIL father was killed. She must deal with the aftermath of a destroyed kingdom. Destroyed subjects. Crushing memories. She must find her own way to repair herself and those around her and still reign as queen the best way she can. It's fantasy and couldn't be farther from my life if it tried. But by the end I was thinking about how I, we all, must take our past and embrace it. Know it. Feel it. Let it be a part of us, while at the same time moving forward. There's a scene in the book where Queen Bitterblue is helped to see herself for who she has been and who she is. She sees in her mind the girl crying in her rooms over all that's been lost and the girl searching for the truth in her library and the girl running across the roofs of her city and she, the strongest part of her, the real her, embraces each of those girls and brings them all together to be who she really is now. That's what we all have to do.

I have to, I will, remember the little girl that I was. So painfully shy and afraid. So unable, or unwilling, to raise my hand in class. And the teenage me, still so shy and naive, still afraid. And the newly married me who still wanted to call my parents every time I went to the movies to tell them when I'd be home. And the new mom me who was terrified of doing something wrong. And the yesterday me who wondered if for the last 12 years I've done it all wrong. And I even have to embrace the today me. The one who should be doing dishes instead of writing but wants so, so badly just to write every minute of every day. Would I have looked back and told my 8 year old self that it was okay that I cried on my birthday or my 17 year old self to have no regrets if I hadn't met Bitterblue? Probably not. That's the power of stories.  

So here's the truth of it. We all have stories. My story is not your story and your's isn't mine. And that's the glorious part. We can only live and tell our own stories. Our stories with our supporting cast of characters and our chase scenes and our bad guys and our trials and our triumphs. Our stories that are being written, by us and by God, today and everyday. Our stories that make us who we are and who we'll be to the end. Our stories to live. Our stories to tell.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Chasing Butterflies

Chasing butterflies in our house means getting easily distracted. It comes from when Adam, the future entomologist, was little and would literally chase butterflies...or ladybugs...or ants...or whatever bug crossed his path. Even if it meant going in the wrong direction. I had to watch him every minute when we went on a walk. Or even when he was playing in the yard. He would be oblivious to everything but the little creature that had caught his attention. He still loves bugs, but has worked hard to learn to not chase butterflies in other areas of his life.

But today, I did a little butterfly chasing of my own. Literally. The boys have a summer job mowing our neighbor's lawn. Today was Adam's turn, but he'd never done it without Arrty nearby and wasn't quite ready to fly solo yet. So Julianna and I went over with him. We sat and talked and played and finally decided to see if we could catch some butterflies. (She was prepared with a net and bug box.) So off we went to see what we could find. Right away we saw a few, but they were fast. Faster than me, at least. I knew I'd have to kick up my butterfly catching game if I was going to catch any for my butterfly loving daughter. So the next time I saw one, I took off after it. I ran. I ran after a little butterfly through the tall grass with a net stretched out in front of me. All  I saw was those little orange wings in the green grass with the blue sky above us. And guess what. I caught it! I caught that little butterfly. And it made me happy.

For one moment I wasn't a 40 year old mother of three who's been married almost 20 years. I was a little girl with a net running through the field chasing after a butterfly. There was nothing but me and the wind and the butterfly. Just for a moment. Then I turned around and saw my sweet little girl looking at the net and heard her say, "Mommy, did you get it?!" I smiled and was back. And was able to share my joy with her. This sweet girl who was the inspiration for the chasing in the first place.

We ended up catching one more, a blue one. And seeing at least five other kinds. We put flowers in the bug box with them and watched them with a magnifying glass. Fascinating and beautiful. Easily one of God's most perfect creations.

So today I chased butterflies. And I loved every minute of it.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

10 Things Thursday

10 things about my summer vacation.

1. It's only half vacation. It's half teaching day camp at our school.
2. It's filling up. I sat down with a calendar last night and wrote down some of what we have planned so far.
3. One thing is an Indians baseball game this Saturday. Julianna is the most excited about it. She can't wait to see...the mascots!
4. Another is summer theater. The first show is tonight and I can hardly wait until then. Hello, Dolly!
5. I have yet to make my chores-to-do list. I guess making a list should be the first thing on the list.
6. Josh and Adam are playing baseball this summer. With practices and games, that should keep us busy.
7. Whenever I ask Jules what she wants to do this summer, she says, "Catch butterflies!" A girl after my own heart.
8. I have a stack of about 50 books to read before fall. You think I'm exaggerating. I'm not.
9. Oh, another thing on the calendar is to see Brave. I am way more excited about this animated movie than I probably should be. But, c'mon, a red haired, blue eyed, Scottish heroine? Perfect.
10. But in spite of the part time work and the full calendar and the long to-do list, it's still SUMMER VACATION!

Monday, June 11, 2012

New List

So you know I love to read. But saying just that I love to read seems like such an understatement. I LOOOOVE to read is a little better. I have a book with me at all times. If it's not in my hands, it's in my bag just waiting to be in my hands. Lately I've been reading a lot of young adult fiction. I like young adult lit because I don't have to wade through all the language and graphic scenes to get to the story. And the stories I've been finding are good...really good. I love a good story and one of the reasons why is because...

I am a writer. At heart if not in print (yet). I have all these stories floating around in my head just waiting for me to stop being afraid of them and pick up a pen. But until then...

I will read. I have discovered that reading the blogs of my favorite authors comes in a close second behind reading their books. They are writers after all, so their blogs are interesting and entertaining and often funny. And the only thing I love better than a good story is a true story. Blogs are true stories. And when you throw in good writing and people from whom I can learn how to write, it's even better. So over the last few weeks...

I have discovered Ally Condie's blog. She is the author of Matched and Crossed and Reached (to be released in November). She has a recurring blog post called "love right now" telling about things that, well, she loves right now. I may steal it. 

Then there's Kristin Cashore's blog. She wrote Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue. This blog is where I found this quote...
"Then, at last, sitting on her stretcher-bed, she took from the very bottom of her pack an old peacock-blue scarf folded around a heavy, square book. She unwrapped it and opened it very carefully, as if guilty secrets might fall from between its pages like pressed flowers. This was Harry's secret. She was a writer."  -from The Tricksters, by Margaret Mahy
I knew after reading that, that this was somewhere I needed to be. 

And last night I found Brodi Ashton. She is the author of Everneath. Which I haven't read but am on my way to get tonight simply because I laughed and cried and dreamed after reading some of her blog posts. How did I not know about her?! 

Because of these lovely ladies and their wonderful blogs, I created a new list on my side bar called Author Blogs. Check them out. And watch for additions. Because there will be additions.  

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Blessed Sunday

So, so many blessings!

Summer vacation
Healthy family
Successful school year
End of school year
Wonderful church family
Amazing extended family
Summer job
Love and laughter
Summer theater plans
Answered prayers
A promotion to a new, better, perfect job for Arrty!

God is good! So very good!

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Miss Julianna Turns 4

You'd think I'd be used to it by now. I've been through this twice. This growing up of my children. Josh will be 13 in a few months and is so, so close to being taller than me. Adam just turned 11 and is barely a half inch shorter than his brother. I know how fast it goes. I've seen it and felt it and watched it happen. In the blink of an eye.

But with my sweet daughter it's just so bitter sweet. She's my baby. My no doubt about it very last baby. And in the last month or so she has changed into a little girl right before my eyes. No more babies at my house. Sigh. That's okay, though. Because as much as I loved having babies, I adore having older kids. In the last few days, I've been able to plan a party with her. And believe me, she helped in the planning. She has some opinions, this daughter of mine. And she's not afraid to share them. We've been shopping and made invitations and picked out decorations. We've made cupcakes and frosted cupcakes and re-frosted cupcakes after she stuck her little fingers in half of them to sample the frosting. And it's been so much fun. Fun that we haven't had before.

So, yes. My baby is growing up way, way, way too fast. But the growing is so incredible to watch and be a part of. It's amazing that four years have passed so quickly and yet it seems like I've known Julianna forever. I can barely remember a day without this precious girl in my life. But maybe that's because I think she has been in my heart forever. God just waited until the perfect time to put her in my arms. And it was well worth the wait. She is funny and sweet and smart and so, so adorable. She is a gift and blessing in every way.

So happy, happy, happy 4th birthday, sweet Julianna. Mama loves you more than words can say.