Tag Archives: celebrate

Friendship Friday ~ Misty and Davene

I can’t have a Friendship Friday post on April Fool’s Day without thinking of my dear friends Misty and Davene and the wonderful season we shared together from 2006 ~ 2011 or 12ish. April 1 is Davene’s birthday. It also reminds me of the fun play date that Misty hosted one early April afternoon.

The picture above was taken on Misty’s bricked back porch the day she threw an April Fools lunch/party for us and all of our children back in 2011. She is on the left, Davene is in the middle, I am on the right. There were a lot of kids. Doing the math makes my head tired, but I had three or four littles with me, and she had four, and Davene had at least three or four, so there were a lot.

Misty prepared fun things like jello that looked like juice in cups with straws and mashed potato cupcakes and other incredibly creative snacks for the kids to enjoy. We served and shared and laughed together. The kids played. It was a sweet time.

I met Misty and Davene in the season of my second baby bunch. It was through Davene, or should I say her husband, Jeff, who connected us through our husbands whose hair he cut that we all met.

Roo was born in 2006 and was a newborn the first  time we were introduced at a potluck at the Fisher household. Kirk was 3, Coco was 1, there was no Little Mae, yet. In 2006 all of my kids still lived at home. Their ages were 14, 13, 12, 8, 3, 1, newborn. We had a full house and looked like things were under control.

My eyes tear up just typing this. There was a lot going on during that season. I was, and still am, the older mom with the older kids. Misty and Davene were my breaths of fresh air. They were the younger moms with the energy to do fun things. I wanted to bottle and inhale their mothering energy and enthusiasm, and they graciously shared their time and space and hearts with me during a time when it was so needed.

Originally, Misty and her husband weren’t planning to be in the area for long. He was in the military and finishing school. One of the best risks I took was to just be friends without worrying about how long she would be here and if it would hurt too much if she wasn’t. We started spending time together with our kids. Then sometimes without.

For a time she lived in an apartment downtown across from the old hospital. We would meet at the children’s museum with our strollers or at the park or at eachother’s houses. We would see who had what food in the house to make the sandwiches or bring the juice or goldfish or fruit. We made quite a scene parading downtown with our gaggle of children.

The best memory I have is just doing it and road-tripping with my thirdborn child and three little girls to Ocean City, NJ to spend a few days at the beach with her and her children. Wow. It shows how selective memory is, because there were moments.

There were also MOMENTS like walking on the boardwalk together after the kids were tucked safely into bed, talking and eating sweet potato fries and Kohrs peanut butter ice cream. There was the announcement as we finally arrived at the boardwalk rides one afternoon with all of the kids and our ride tickets in hand that two-ticket Tuesday is now OVER. We dissolved into laughter. Of COURSE it is!

Life has moved the three of us on to different places.  Misty and her family eventually moved out of state, leaving Facebook to keep us connected along with an occasional blast through the area and quick hug or lunch. Davene had one or two more babies and continued her path of diligent homeschooling and fervent mothering and blogging as noted here. On a rare occasion the two of us grab a coupon and an evening out to catch up over dinner or dessert.

We really should do that again, soon.

Their kids are growing. Mine are, too. While our time together will never again look just like it was, Misty and Davene’s presence in my life was and continues to be a precious gift. Entering into friendship with them is one of the best risks I ever took.

That’s no fooling!

Christmas Wrap-up

The tree is down. Decorations are boxed. The stockings were found ~ two days late. Thankfully, Dollar Tree had some in stock on Christmas Eve.

But I like my sparkly NEW stocking! said a certain mini-me when I announced my basement find on December 27.

Fixed the newel post! Found the stockings!

Wrapping up Christmas at our house this year feels scattered. Steve and I sat down with coffee and his trusty notebook recently to reflect on the season and discuss what went well and what was rough.

Christmas Eve

Went well ~ Christmas budget
Rough ~ actually taking time to purchase/ order gifts

Went well ~ Christmas cards ordered on November 2 WITH a coupon AND stamps purchased
Rough ~ actually addressing and sending the cards

Went well ~ Planned romantic weekend getaway
Rough ~ Wrong weekend, last~minute scrambling with plans B and C, sickness
We DID go away. Maybe it will be an anniversary post. Maybe not. Still processing it.

Went well ~ Many concerts, programs, recitals to attend featuring our talented children
Rough ~ actually writing dates of events on the calendar, outfitting the performers
Here is where I also apologize to grandparents for failing to keep them informed of these last-minute dates, as well. They are wonderfully supportive when they actually know about their grandkids’ concerts and events!

Went well ~ Watching the Grinch as a family and laughing hysterically together
Rough ~ Keeping up with Advent readings and felt tree
Maybe NOBODY has actually put up the manger on Christmas morning. Have we ever made it there?

Advent tree

Went well ~ Attending the Christmas Eve candle-light service at our church with Steve
Rough ~ Silencing the voices in my head that were judging us for leaving our children at the grandparents’ house playing with the cousins so that we could enjoy a worshipful date.
Look at all of those other families in matching outfits with their children in a row on Christmas Eve celebrating the true meaning of Christmas together.

Christmas puzzle

Went well ~ the Christmas puzzle
Rough ~ I didn’t put in a single piece.
Wait! Maybe that is a score! Mission accomplished!

Christmas Puzzle

There is much more, but I will spare you, Kind Reader, further boring details. Suffice to say, there was much to do and not much time in which to do it. Often a friend would come up to me and ask, How ARE you? followed by an apologetic I’m sorry I haven’t had time to keep up with the blog. 

That makes two of us!

Please, never apologize for not keeping up with the blog.

I am grateful for all who loved and prayed for us this Advent season. There were cards sent, checks written, Amazon gift boxes delivered, notes and texts received. There were shoulders cried on. There was grace extended. There was truth reminded.

After all was unwrapped, we wrapped up a lovely Christmas season!

Thanksgiving Wrap-up

Thanksgiving weekend has come to an end. November, with its month of thankfulness, is almost over.

I won’t pretend it was an easy month, an easy holiday, because it wasn’t. There were moments of goodness and thankfulness that I was grateful to feel before moments of darkness and pain settled around me more strongly.

There was a struggle to stay present and thankful through some incredibly hard moments that can’t be detailed here. Because privacy.

I battle depression and would be lying if I said that it isn’t threatening to take me down these days, this season. The first step is recognizing the danger zone and admitting that I am in a vulnerable place. The second is reaching out and speaking up. The third is taking action and making a plan.

All three have happened, are happening, will happen.

I don’t know why life is so hard and the struggle is so real, but it is. I am grateful for those on my team who walk with me through the darkness and point me to the light.

One place of light was this tree of life moment Thanksgiving morning.

My husband woke me with a cup of coffee and the words, Do you want to come out and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?

He had gone to the store in the early morning hours and purchased an antenna to hook up to the TV to capture the signal for NBC. Each year since our move to this house, Thanksgiving has been the one day I have longed for network TV to watch the parade. Each year we miss the opportunity, and I move on in hopefulness to the next.

Thanksgivings past have found my parents recording the parade for me to watch later or me heading over to their house to watch it. I have ignored it completely or deferred hope to another time down the road. This year it happened as I snuggled up on the couch with coffee and my kids, and we watched the parade together.

Then they watched the dog show.

It was a tree of life moment for us all around, and though it would soon pass and challenges present, for a few hours Thanksgiving morning, we escaped into musicals and marching bands and musicians and dancers and balloons and floats and dogs.

IMG_4176

Toothless watching himself in the parade is just one of many sweet moments shared together Thanksgiving morning.

IMG_4178

Don’t get too envious of the technology you see here. 2/5 of the electronic devices resting on the entertainment console are not ours. They are also the most modern of the devices. But whose counting? We are grateful for generous family and friends who share the fun with us.

Return to the Red Tent

Today was my first day back to work after summer’s break. Part of returning this year involves teaching again, and today began the process of setting up for another year in the classroom.

This morning I set an alarm to wake me early, beginning the push through some sort of early morning routine that I hope to follow.

I am thankful for time to practice it this week.

As I sat in my corner with Bible and journal, reading and writing and praying and listening, an alert came through my phone. It was the posting of today’s Red Tent article.

My heart soared when I saw that it was the article I had submitted for consideration this month. You see, the timing of its publishing felt perfect.

I have struggled this summer with many things, including writing. In fact, when I am struggling, writing is the first thing I cast aside, shutting myself out of the very thing that brings joy to my heart and breathes life to the hearts of others.

Writing this article was an act of defiance to the shutting-down place. It was a pushing through during a time when I didn’t feel like writing or sorting out or sharing. It was fighting for my heart.

I did it anyway.

Sometimes we just have to do it anyway. Whatever the it is that brings life to our dry bones. Even when we’re not feeling the love.

I’ve had to work this summer at intentionally looking for and receiving the love. Offering up praise and thanksgiving in the hard.  It’s there to be found. Even in 2 Chronicles. Don’t give up seeking.

I hope that if you haven’t clicked through already, you will choose to do so and see where writing took me this month. Rejoice with me in the kindness of a God who sees us as individuals and who encourages us in the places where we need it most.

You can read all of my Red Tent articles here, including a bonus by my daughter.

Finishing Well

It’s the first of the last; the first day of the last week of school.

I want to finish well.

This school year seems to have flown by, now that the final days are upon us, and yet, there were those moments. I am thinking of certain parts that seemed to drag or even threatened to screech to a halt. Derail us.

We made it!

May is a hard month. In the seasons of my life, in my world, hard things have happened at the end of May and beginning of June. My body and heart remember this, and even though my head knows that I am in a different place, my heart and body, not always so much.

I am trying to be kind to myself in the finishing.

This is the time when the whispers begin, the ones inside tearing me down. Accusing. Taunting. Reminding me of ways that I haven’t been enough. Haven’t measured up. Laughing and saying, Yes, but, when I remember and speak of what was right and good.

It has been a good year.

This group of students has been a joy. With three of my own in the class, sometimes a hard joy, but a joy, nonetheless. It has been a gift to work with them. I have been blessed to watch them grow as individuals and as a group. I like to think I have helped them grow their wings a little bit stronger, their minds a little bit wiser.

We will finish well.

Today everyone wrapped up their academic work and tiptoed into the waters of program practice. We made it up to our knees and hung out there awhile getting our bearings about us before easing up and climbing back out.

Tomorrow we will venture to our venue and dive in for real. We will flounder and splash around and feel like we are drowning. We will cough and choke and gasp for air and try too hard. We will feel discouraged.

It’s not the end.

Then the next day will come, and we will find our groove and hit our stride. The lines will feel natural and props not as awkward. We will know where to stand and when to come in and begin to glide through our words and notes as a team.

We will build confidence.

The day of the performance, we will have a final run-through. Thursday night will be show-time.

Go-time!

And just like that it will be Friday, and the last day of school. We will have made it to the finish line together, basking in the glow of a job well-done, a year well-run, and we will have some fun.

I am looking forward to celebrating our finishing well!

21 Things

Today my second-born turns 21. Another child reaches full adulthood. I know this deserves a post, but I’m having a hard time processing in the fulness of life, so I end up doing the ugly cry at 10:30 on birthday-eve when I am supposed to be reading in bed to unwind.

Then it hits me. I begin to focus and hone the vast overwhelming haze down to 21 things, so here goes.

For Caleb

1. I want to remember the tiny baby boy it brought to me by the big snow ten days early. My little leathery old man. Dressing him in the newborn sleeper that was too big and his first night where he didn’t want to be put down and at least that time I got it right and just held him. All night long.

2. I want to remember the toddler who couldn’t drool enough or chew on enough apples. Who rocked back and forth on his toddler legs as we danced together in the kitchen of the little white house while I cooked supper. Until the fried chicken caught on fire!

3. I want to remember the preschooler playing with pattern blocks, giggling through reading circles and playing with his friends. Being silly and selectively hearing. I think my child has a hearing problem.

4. I want to remember the kindergarten boy reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and calling his classroom teacher mom.

5. I want to remember that little boy in soccer gear.

6. I want to remember watching a little boy Nascar racing on the back deck ~ alone tricycle-style~ the open kitchen window providing a priceless listen-in on the dialogue. And the winner is ~ Caleb!

7. I want to remember lego garages.

8. I want to remember a little boy listening to my NPR station, WMRA.

9. I want to remember a little boy singing his first SVCC solo after an afternoon of sledding. I want to forget the sledding accident and all of the yawning during the performance and the moment of panic when I realized my child might have a concussion!

10. I want to remember a bigger boy who was happy with video game birthday parties and no-bake chocolate cookie party favors.

11. I want to remember a phonecall advising my middle-school boy move up to concert choir the year of the Hawaii trip.

12. I want to remember Hawaii but not gum in middle-school age boy’s shorts pocket. Not the gum part.

13. I want to remember a tweenage boy with a green ukulele who became a teen with a guitar.

14. I want to remember a teenage boy playing music. Lots of music. Piano, guitar, clarinet, chimes. And the singing. I want to remember that, too.

15. I want to remember the hoodie.

16. I want to remember the conversation about going to HHS, and the boy who was willing to go for it.

17. I want to remember my son performing in musicals. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and How to Succeed in Business. So much fun.

18. I want to remember spending the day together checking out George Mason University to see if it would be a good fit. And all of the talking. To everyone. Lots of talking. And questions.

19. I want to remember the senior piano recital and reception and the milestone of graduation.

20. I want to remember the first visit home when my young man brought a beautiful young lady with him. Just a friend.

21. I want to remember everything, but so much is a blur!

I want my son to remember that his momwa will always love him. And does try to remember.

Happy 21st, Caleb! The irony is not lost on me that your life has been disrupted by a big snow affecting this birthday. It kind of started out that way!

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Today is my dad’s birthday. I am grateful to have him here celebrating another year of LIFE after the adventures of last summer.

I am also grateful for an entire day off (sort of) to have time to actually think and write a birthday post. Because that’s what you do when you have a blog of your own, right?

Last Father’s Day, my sister wrote this about our dad. It’s beautiful and amazing and also an example of how we had different dads  sixteen years apart. I know. Scandalous. But true.

I got the young, new, idealistic dad. With hair.

little me in the apple tree

My childhood memories include looking up at lengths of patterned polyester stretch-and-sew pants.

It was many, many moons ago. We did do fun things together, Dad comments on this picture that someone posted for a TBT on facebook.

And I believe it. We did. I remember some of them.

I remember getting ice cream in Indiana and trying to lick it into a soft serve swirl on top. I remember the Enchanted Forest, and walks collecting aluminum cans, and my first tooth being pulled in his band director office at CCA, (aka the baptistry closet?).

It was carefully placed in that spot in my Snoopy thermos where the drinking cup screwed on, for safekeeping until I got home.

I remember riding to school with him on snow days and visiting classrooms and collecting teacher cast-offs to bring home to teach my own students siblings. I remember the siblings coming, and coming, and Saturday morning cartoons and laundry and meal-planning, and sliding down the stairs in the inflatable raft.

You remember too much.

That, too.

Thinking about my childhood and relationship with my dad, many stories come to mind, illustrating our dynamic. They show the dance that was ours that we didn’t even understand at the time.

dancing with dad

One such story involves shopping for shoes. I want to put myself at ten or eleven, so I will say I was somewhere in between. Like this child.

Coco

I needed new shoes, and Dad took me out to Prince George’s Plaza. Or maybe he didn’t. Maybe it was to the shoe store in Riverdale Plaza. Memory is fiction, you know. He took me out to buy a pair of shoes. I do know that for a fact.

Our family didn’t have lots of money, and as a general rule, we got what we needed. No frills. Unless you were shopping with Dad. Then there was at least the chance to get the thing that was a little bit extra.

For me, the extra was not just getting shoes, but brown-suede, lace-up shoes, with crepe soles that were shaped into individual rolls all along the bottom. I remember them kind of looking like long tootsie rolls.

As a side note, this means it had to have been before the sixth grade, mail-order Mason Shoes sensible slip-ons with the flat bottoms, perfect for the gluing on of a lift to the left one. But that is another story for another time.

I tied on the beautiful new shoes and wore them home from the store. Is there anything better for a kid than getting to wear new shoes home? I didn’t think so.

Basking in the delight of my new shoes and in time alone with my dad (if we were alone. I don’t remember any siblings along.), we headed home. All felt right in the world.

The station wagon parked along the curb in front of our city duplex. I opened the passenger door and stepped out and into a pile of dog poop.

Poop oozed between each roll of those crepe soles. All’s right became oh sh!t.

I remember those shoe bottoms being scrubbed and scraped. Those delightful, rubber rolled soles became a nightmare. I felt the tension and stress and the shatter of shalom.

I don’t remember feeling a comfortable in-between of oh well, dog poop happens. My childish world was experienced and viewed through a lens of either all (everything is right with you) or nothing (everything is wrong with you).

When you allow yourself to remember and feel the good, you open yourself up to remembering and feeling the painful.

And there was painful.

There was hurt and misunderstanding and brokenness and shame. There was loss and miscommunication and fear and stress.

There was my big toe, for goodness sake!

But there was also redemption coming. Strange and small and slow, it crept up, at first. Nudging, tapping on the shoulder, whispering what about me?

It wasn’t easy, isn’t easy to learn a new dance.

dancing with dad

Sometimes it takes years of trying, stepping in dog poop, and getting your toes stepped on to learn the new moves. Sometimes the moves feel stiff and unnatural, and you long for the effortless twirling across the floor of that father-daughter team.

But this is us.

And we have grown. Are growing. Were picked for each other by a God who loves us and already knew we were who we needed to be in each other’s lives. Even when we might have thought otherwise.

I am grateful for the new dance we have grown into, even when it is scary, and I wonder if it is real.

dancing with dad

And about that baby sister of mine and how we had different dads? The last line of her post sums up how our dad is the same. I’m stealing it for the last line of mine!

I love seeing how far our relationship has come, and I’m excited to see where it is headed!

Friendship Friday ~ Wonder Woman

I’m blessed to call her friend.

She really is a wonder, my friend Aaron, whose facebook status this past Tuesday read as follows:

When husband got home from work today, one child was happily working on Math while the other was finishing his bath. A favorite healthy meal was hot and ready on the stove and money I earned from teaching lessons was on the counter. A fresh stack of library books lay waiting in the schoolroom, (signaling I had returned the others on time,) and fresh laundry awaited him in the bedroom. Yep, I’m wearing my Wonder Woman pajamas tonight!

I love this about her, because she can bask in the whole amazing Proverbs 31 thing in the moment and savor that right now all is well. Shalom.

I love that three days later her status reads thus:

Well, my Super Woman shirt is now in a large pile of laundry upon which the stomach flu was…um, expressed. Today I will be scrubbing, washing, spraying, scouring, boiling, bleaching…CLEANING every person and thing in my house. Then that pile of laundry and I are going to a party at the Laundromat. (Its BYOBleach.) But I don’t care. I am so thankful…for healthy-again kids, an uninfected hubby, and friends who come to my door with helpful items…or at least leave them in the driveway:)

She knows that it’s not about the to-do list being checked off. That shalom shatters.
That every day will not be picture-perfect, but that there are always picture-perfect moments to be found. Sometimes they land all at once. Sometimes they have to be sought out in the mess.

She helped bring some picture-perfect Shalom into my shatter.

Rewind to last week.

I was scrolling through my facebook feed when a seemingly innocent picture set off a trigger inside of me. She understands triggers and is someone I can share mine with who will understand immediately.

I don’t have to give long explanations or qualifications or histories.

This makes her even more of a wonder.

So I texted and she replied and I shared and she later messaged about how she could help specifically.

Last week was full of many things, including the birthdays of two of my children. They were celebrated with parties, and my daughter’s party was scheduled for Saturday. I had sent out invitations and made general plans, but so much was swimming in my head, and I was overwhelmed.

I shared this overwhelm with her, and she asked how she could help. She gave me several options and choices and then listened and heard. I was struggling the most with a craft activity. That and the cake.

In the end she stopped by on Saturday with craft supplies to make dog beds for beanie-baby and boo sized dogs and a puppy cake to go with the theme of the party.

Chloe and Collie and cake

Here is the birthday girl with her Collie and puppy cake. There was also a doggy dish of cake topped with “dog food” puffs just for her.

Aaron knows this won’t fix me or make my issues disappear. She knows how hard it is to let her help. To receive. She offers anyway.

She is a wonderful woman. Thank you, Friend!

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
Proverbs 31:25

Double Digit Day

Today my little Coco turns 10.

Double Digits.

Coco is short for the nickname her oldest brother gave her at birth . . . Cocowawamoncheriesweetiepiebabydollkisses. Coco is easier to say, remember, and spell. Big brother was 10 when she was born. That realization grabs me in the gut and drips out of my eyes.

How time flies.

She is the oldest of the littles, a baby to the bigs, living in the constant tension of where she belongs.

Right now she belongs with Colliewam, her stuffed collie, and her gray knit cap. She rarely faces a day without it pulled onto her head.

She belongs with her big sister’s tennis shoes on her hard-to-fit feet, and even though we can go out and buy the exact same pair sans holes, she holds out that these shoes are the ones she wants to wear!

She belongs with a Pandora charm bracelet on her wrist, even though I was 42 when I got my first charm bracelet and reminded her of that often when she asked.

She has a generous cousin whose love-language is gifts and who never ceases to amaze me with his thoughtfulness. He had her name this Christmas.

She belongs with big emotions and big feelings and big words.

She has always had lots of words.

I want to have a lot of words. Clever, loving, warm, nurturing, mothering words.

I am at a loss.

I don’t have lots of words.

I love this girl. She drives me crazy. She sets off every trigger that could possibly be buried inside of me and then, for good measure, finds a few more.

She is witty and clever and makes me laugh and speaks truth and makes me cry and is so full of personality that I can’t imagine life without her.

Happy Birthday, Coco! Welcome to Double Digits.

In a Good Way

I’m going to struggle though in a good way, she said hopefully, as a buttered English muffin was placed next to her and hot coffee poured into her mug.

So began Monday morning, a snow day, a day home with the children, and birthday of child five.

Kirk's birthday

He got a day off for his twelfth birthday. How exciting! Child six, who turns 10 on Thursday, may not get such a gift, but she is the one who got a card in the mail today!

Legos

So she struggled through yoga and finishing the Christmas card project and the entering of countless addresses into her laptop. She struggled through the transition from episode pick to play time to lunch and quiet time.

Legos

She had a meaningful phone conversation. Two of them, actually.

She rested.

She soaked in the tub.

She baked a cookie cake and rotated laundry and texted with her son.

cookie cake

She let go of all of the shoulds that tried to drag her down and just did what she wanted to.

And a little bit of what she needed to but mostly what she wanted.

She struggled in a good way today.

All the way to the end.