Friday, February 25, 2011

What they said...

The kids always say the cutest things when I'm gone. Or at least it feels that way...

D took the girls and Stella for a long bike ride on Saturday afternoon. It was unseasonably warm here and he had his shirt off (I think he was running while the girls were biking). Lilli was getting a bit grumbly on the way back (even though D had instituted a "no complaining" rule) and D said, "You need to think about the journey and stop focusing on the destination." She said (with a bit of defiance), "All I'm thinking about is why ladies can't take their shirts off in public!"

So there.

Eden also announced over the weekend she wanted her name changed to Eden "Lightning" Hamlin. ELH. Her initials would still be the same. Hmmm...


Life is said to be a journey. My thought is every day of life is a mini-journey. Every day I learn something new to add to my collective life experience. Every day I put a new mental thought picture into my life album. Every day I turn over a new stone and find something I never knew existed. This something may be as simple as a new way to fold socks and it may be as complicated as realizing something I've always believed is totally wrong. Whatever "it" is is what makes my journey so interesting.

I got back Tuesday evening from a trip with my sisters. We traveled to South Hill, Virginia to spend the weekend with one of my best friends (and she's my first cousin too!). We were talking about a "girls' weekend" at the end of last summer and when I mentioned Bon Jovi was touring... we made plans!

Mandie, Martie, and I headed out Saturday morning for a 14-hour road trip to Virginia. We haven't spent that much time in a car together since we were kids. (Our parents took us all over the United States in a mini-van during our childhood.) We had a great time! Reconnecting. Listening to Martie discuss her belly size... "My belly's so big!" Laughing. Listening to Martie announce "I'm hungry!" every hour. Talking about our own pregnancy experiences. Singing along to the Bon Jovi mix CD. Discussing life filtered through our "mid-life eyes" and wondering what challenges our lives were sure to bring us.

My favorite part of the trip was realizing how much I enjoy being around my sisters. We don't just tolerate each other because we're "kin" - we love each other. We accept each other while we help each other grow into wise women. We each offer unique qualities to benefit the whole. We are always "there" for each other.

Adding our first cousin, Cory, to the mix makes it all even better! We enjoyed her hospitality and got to see her as a mama in action with her three, young children.

We headed to Raleigh, North Carolina after lunch on Monday. Of course, we did a little shopping (would it be a girls' weekend without shopping?) and then checked into our hotel before going out for a delicious sushi dinner.

We arrived at the RBC Center and were thrilled at our great seats on the Club Level. (No lines to the bathrooms and a full service bar...) We had a great view of the stage and enjoyed an energetic and entertaining show! (We all decided if our husbands looked as good as Jon at 49... we would be very happy women!)

Study after study shows women live longer, healthier lives if they nourish their female friendships. I'm taking that advice and already thinking about next year's "girl" trip. Where should we go?
The girls in the kitchen...

Sweet boy.

Mandie putting curlers in Shana's hair for her birthday photo shoot the next day.

Micah reading his book by the fire.

Shana opening her birthday gifts!

Mandie's temporary tattoo parlor!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I am 16 days into my second 30-day challenge and I am way behind.

I guess I'm not up to the challenge.

However, that's not it. I am up to the challenge if I could only find the time! Between training for the Little Rock half-marathon (I've already run 15 miles this week and need to run that many more), friends calling me with a need for my help, sick children, snow days, the 5th grade musical, etc. I can't find a few hours every day to complete all of my projects.

So far I have cleaned and organized my laundry room, pantry, dining room, foyer, stairs (which included taking all of the pictures off of the wall and painting over all of the nicks), living room, living room closet (which I still need to post pictures), and my kitchen (I still have a few shelves to organize). Whew! I still have the big project of all of the bedrooms, finishing my hall bathroom (which mom and I wallpapered and painted the trim), the upstairs closet (yikes!), and putting together the upstairs office (our new furniture arrived yesterday).

I have two weeks from today to finish. I'm concentrating on laundry today. I also have my piano lesson in a few minutes and I am volunteering at 5th grade musical practice all afternoon into the evening hours. D is out of town until Friday. And, I leave town Saturday morning and won't return until Tuesday evening.

I feel like The Little Engine That Could ... "I think I can. I think I can. I think I can." I might turn out to be The Little Engine That Couldn't...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Perfectly Imperfect

On this Valentine's Day, I am going to wax philosophical about love. The word "love" in the English language really falls short. We use it to express our undying devotion and passion for our soul mate and we use it to describe the filet mignon we find so mouth-watering.

The love I'm writing about is the love I have for my husband. This love should be the version described in I Corinthians 13. My love for him should be patient and kind. It shouldn't be rude or selfish. It shouldn't be easily angered. It should keep no record of wrongs.

The love for my husband should always trust. Always hope. Always endure. And, it should never end.

Honestly, he does a better job of love than I do.

He is patient and kind to me when I get frustrated. He isn't rude to me. He is definitely not selfish. We both could work on the easily angered part... but that's mostly due to the children. (Still... no excuses.) Our love is perfectly imperfect.

When we mess up, we make up. Being married for 15 years takes work. Or originality. We make it work. We are one... yet we have our own interests. And, we encourage this in each other.

I love his love of Ironman.

He encourages me in whatever my current interest is...

We are perfectly imperfect for each other.

We are getting things right and messing up together. We are agreeing and disagreeing and sometimes simply meeting in the middle. We are learning what the different stages of life bring right along with everyone else. Love never fails... but we do. Perfectly imperfect.

The message of love is never giving up. It's forgiving. It's starting over. It's making it work.

I love my perfectly imperfect husband and he loves me. Happy Valentine's Day.
D loves the Mahogany card collection...

Friday, February 11, 2011



Why is that song Stuck in the Middle With You going through my head?

38 is so random. I am so glad I am 38 and (not) single. 38 and (not) a new mother. 38 and (not) trying to climb the corporate ladder. 38 and (not) scheduling a boob job and liposuction. I like exactly where I am. A mama of three. A wife of one. A friend of many. A teacher of a few.

There is so much I know from my life experience. And so much to still learn.

There is so much I have done in my life. And still so much to do.

My 37th year was a year of stepping outside of my box. So, it was a challenging year. A year I met a lot of new people. A year I discovered more of my strengths and weaknesses. A year of triumph! And a year of failure.

I made some new friends and re-connected with some old friends.

I laughed a lot. I cried a lot. I was probably angry too much.

My constant prayer was... "God. Love me. Lead me. Teach me. Show me." I continually asked for his blessings. His forgiveness. His protection of my children. His care for all of humanity.

I felt more walls coming down in my 37th year. (For those of you who know me well... I know.. you are rolling your eyes and laughing... "Good grief! What is she going to say now?") Reality is where I live. I can't help it. It's who I am.

I am. A servant of the Creator. A woman. A mama. A wife. A friend. A multi-tasker (with ADD). A volunteer. A girl with a camera. A thinker. A writer. A runner.

I don't know what lies ahead on this journey. But, I do know I am ready for another year of wonderful, mystical, never-a-dull-moment life!

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Behind on my cleaning

I am behind on my February challenge. Cleaning and organizing requires total concentration and I (being a mama, wife, volunteer, friend, etc) am constantly interrupted.

Today... being the perfect example. It started off with the Suburban not starting. Appears to be the fuel pump. Then D came home for lunch and I drove him to the airport to pick up Mr. Pepper (his 82' Chevy). THEN Martie wanted me to go on a walk with her. Then the kids were home and I had to make them a snack. Then I had to pick Asher up from school. Then I had to make a trip to the K Roger before the "big snow storm." Then I cooked supper. Then I took Asher to basketball practice. Then I ran for an hour on the treadmill. Then I took a shower. Then I helped the kids with their Valentines... Then. Then. Then.

Now, I'm sitting in bed. Thinking about school already being closed (despite not a snowflake in sight) and how I'm going to handle all of the "thens" tomorrow and get some of my cleaning accomplished... If I were the most awesome mama in the world I would think of a creative way to involve the children. Instead, I will be the most fun mama and bundle the kids up, play in the snow, make hot chocolate, play a game, watch a movie... and then and only then... I might finish the living room and start on the kitchen.

Cleaned and organized the living room closet today. I'll reveal the results tomorrow!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Being Human

Being human is being made in the image of the Maker. Being human is always striving for perfection and always falling short... Being human is the flesh overpowering the spirit. It can be dark, mean, selfish, hateful, lazy...

Some days I really tire of being human. I want to be perfect. But I'm not. I want to please the Creator. But I disappoint. I want to be selfless. But (in the words of Asher at two-years-old) "I want to do what I want to do all the time."

Then comes confession. "Confess your faults..." Right?

I really let the ugly part of myself out sometimes... like last night. D and I have been playing "Words with Friends." Wow. Writing words with friends just really hit me because I was anything but friendly with my husband over a word he played. He played the word "Qi" for 30 points. It was not the fact he scored a lot of points. It was not the fact he is ahead of me in the game. It was the fact of my own personal opinion about the game of Scrabble. I believe people should only play words they actually use in "real life." So, I put myself and my opinion out there. I sat my own opinion on a pedestal and then got into a fight with my husband over it.

I argued with him over a two-letter word. A word I think is spelled "'chi" in English. A word D never uses in "real life"... a word that veteran Scrabble players always pull out and use when they want to score a lot of points... And, I let that two-letter word make me into a foolish woman. I not only fought with D about the play. I cried about it!

I told him I was sorry early this morning.

As I was cleaning up later ... this comic from Sunday's paper was laying on top of the kitchen table.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Double Duty

What is missing from this picture?
I decided to clean/organize "two days worth" yesterday. So, I tackled the pantry and the dining room. The pantry took awhile. I eliminated some plastic cups and a few out of date items. I store my extra house paint in my pantry (on the floor) and found a few cans I didn't need anymore... wow! It always feels good to purge! I wiped all of the shelves and got rid of a few spider webs.

The dining room was easy. There was excess glitter from Lil's birthday party that took awhile to wipe and vacuum up. I decided to leave up the birthday decorations. My birthday is next week and a little bit of "festive" always helps to fight the winter blues. :)


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My Lil

    Lilli turned 8 today. My first daughter. My middle child.

Dear Lillian,
I am watching you grow into a beautiful young woman. You are no longer a baby yet you are still under my care... my job is to teach you, guide you, and love you.
You already know your place. You are so socially aware. Always realizing how you affect others (except for your sister). You are a thinker. You analyze everything... until your "tummy hurts."
I took you to Target today so you could spend your birthday money. As we pulled into the parking lot, you told me your "tummy hurt." You said, "Yes, I'm nervous. I don't know why." I told you it was anticipation. And excitement.
I love how you have to talk about everything. It's your way of working through the situations in your life. I love how you care about your friends and their feelings. You understand the social scene and you are well liked at school but you don't seem to buy into it all. (Reminds me of myself at your age.)
You could have had all of the "popular girls" at your birthday party this year but you opted out. Because "she was mean to Stella" or "she doesn't really get along with her." I really liked how you thought of other people's feelings. I hope you are always that way. You won't be "popular" because of it but you will have true friendships that last a lifetime.
You are superb at ballet and carry yourself with grace. You are also quite the pianist. You told me this afternoon, "I love music. Especially the clarinet." I also love to hear you sing. You have a gorgeous voice.
I love you and I want you to know God has a plan for you. He has created you with a purpose.
Always treat others with kindness and you will go far in this life. You probably won't be super-rich or famous but you will be able to walk with grace because you know you have always "tried your best."

Love, Mama

Day One: Laundry Room

Today I was supposed to clean my laundry room. Between my 8-year-old's birthday breakfast at IHOP, delivering lunches to school (we had to get up earlier than normal to fill the "birthday girl's" breakfast request so I didn't have time to read the school menu or make lunches), hanging pictures at my husband's new office, and running with my sister, it was a small miracle I accomplished my goal.

I cleaned every inch. I even moved the washer and dryer and caught all of the dust bunnies. I got rid of excess "rags" and organized my cleaning supplies. Nothing excess is left. I just want to clean the entire house in the next 48 hours and be done with it...




Nice and clean!

February Challenge

My "food challenge" in January was a success. I learned a lot! Thanks to everyone for their valuable input. I hope all of my "challenges" through 2011 bring a sense of community to my life. I love sharing ideas with friends that make all of our lives better!

I asked for suggestions from all of you for future challenges. I had some really great suggestions and have been thinking about my choice for a couple of weeks. I want my challenges to be a combination of physical, mental, and spiritual. The "food challenge" was really a mental challenge of staying on task. I am easily distracted. Accountability is a must for me. Accountability is the reason I have always performed so well in school and at work. I want the "A" and the excellent job performance review.

February's challenge will be in the spirit of reducing distractions. I was thinking of completing a quilt but I decided I better get my home totally organized before I begin a quilt. Because I know myself. I will see disorder and not be able to focus on quilting.

My plan for February is to clean and organize my home in a month. A friend sent me a magazine article... "Organize Your Home in 30 Days." The article had some great suggestions, however, I want to get even more done! The article seemed to be aimed at someone who had a (paying) job and I have the privilege of "staying home." Therefore, I think I can get a little more done.

My goal will be to CLEAN every inch of my house and get all the "little" projects DONE! Again, this will be a challenge that will require me to stay on task. I will try to include before and after pictures of each daily task. I would appreciate any suggestions and how to get and stay organized. I have enlisted the help of my mom on a few tasks. I will need someone to help me decide what stays and what goes in some situations! I want to become more of a minimalist. Possessions possess and I'm ready to let go of "things" that clutter my home and life.

Here is my original list I made a few weeks ago. I will probably skip around because of my schedule. Example: I had to alter my plans yesterday because I was called in the morning to come substitute a half-day at school.

Clean and organize my home in 30 days:
1.  (Tue) Cabinets above laundry / laundry room
2.  (Wed) Kitchen pantry
3.  (Thur) Dining
4.  (Fri) Hall Bath / Clean and finish hanging wallpaper
5.  (Sat) Foyer and Stairs
6.  (Mon) Living
7.  (Tue)  Kitchen
8.  (Wed) Kitchen cont.
9.  (Thur) Living Room closet
10.(Fri) Living Room

Cleaning means vaccum, dust, clean every inch including ceiling fans, pictures on wall, baseboards, cushions, rugs, etc.
Organizing means a place for everything and everything in its place... donating or throwing away anything that isn't being used!

Join me. Get organized. Simplify your life. Reduce possessions and have more time for living!