Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

My husband thinks I’m beautiful.  

I’m not sure why, exactly, since I often see the extra padding I carry for emergencies, the lines that have cropped up around my face, and the gray hair which has been reproducing at alarming rates lately.  

I look in the mirror and see imperfections.  

My husband seems to look at me and see more than that.  And I am grateful.

We were camping in northern Michigan recently, and we were at a restaurant on a beautiful vista looking over Lake Michigan.  My entire family was milling about the area, kids running around and adults chatting and trying to keep order.  I didn’t spend much time with my husband while we were there, busy as we were with the family.  But later, at the campsite, he told me that he had looked over at me during our time there, and thought, “She is beautiful”.

As you can imagine, my eyes teared up.  How often do I tear myself down, quickly find all my flaws and assume that is all others see as well? He has seen me at my best, but more often he has seen me at my worst.  He has seen me when my face is contorted with frustration, or sadness.  He has seen me in the throes of childbirth – five times over.  He has seen my body change over the years, and my face age.  He sees all these things, and loves me in spite of (and sometimes because of) them.

By worldly standards, I am not beautiful.  But who cares what the world thinks?  I’ll take his opinion any day.  And I’ll cherish the love he has for me.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Five Quick Takes

A few oh-so-special moments from our house to yours:

My dear five-year-old daughter asked me the other day, ever-so-seriously:
"Mommy?  Is there such a thing as a plain-bow? Like a rainbow with no colors in it?"

My eldest son recently finished his baseball season, and was awarded the only trophy on his team:  for Most Improved Player.  It was engraved with his name and everything!  He was very happy to receive it, and my husband and I are very proud of him.  He was iffy about playing baseball this year, but happened to meet his coach on evaluation day, and that sealed the deal. His coach made this year great for him, and our son learned so much - about baseball and about life!  He enjoyed his teammates as well, and most of all, really was able to enjoy the game this season.  Home run!

I was driving my two youngest children to DQ the other day to pick up an ice cream cake for their brother's birthday, when the driver behind me laid on his horn and dramatically sped by me.  I didn't think I had done anything wrong, but apparently he thought I had.  After a moment, I stopped thinking about the incident and went about my merry way.  Until I stopped for a red light several blocks away - and the man pulled up next to me, leaned out of his window and yelled an angry sentence complete with an obscenity.  I was rather floored and just looked at him.  Luckily, the light went green and he sped off just after he yelled at me.  But my two young children heard him, and the whole thing bothered me.  I don't particularly care what this man thinks of me, but to be yelled at with such rage was not especially pleasant!  Boo!

For birthdays at our house, we go around the dinner table and have everyone give a heartfelt sentence or two about the birthday person.  Examples are "I really like how nice you are to me, and how you play with me!" or "________ is really funny and always makes me laugh".  You get the idea.  Sometimes it's hard to come up with something, and we have to allow for a little more thinking time, but everyone comes up with a compliment or two for the birthday boy/girl.  On our 11-year-old's birthday last month, his older brother wowed us with an amazingly heartfelt testament to his brother.  My eldest son is not prone to flowery words and compliments, so our hearts were greatly moved when he told his brother how much he admired how he's handled all he's been through (he's the child with some medical issues).  He told his brother how he respected his ability to rely on his faith during his challenging times.  It was really moving.  I was proud of my eldest son for going out of his comfort zone and voicing his thoughts, and also proud of my middle son, because the things his brother said are true.
After the moving moment passed, I reminded everyone what my youngest son said about his oldest brother at his last birthday dinner.  You can read about it here.  We all cracked up.

My monkey-in-the-middle son recently wrote me the following poem for a Mother/Son night.  Enjoy.

I am a fart,
but you are a pop-tart!

I am a toot,
but you are a fruit!

I am a poop,
but you are a loop-de-loop!

And he read it to me with great expression and love.  And I loved it!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Jesus Take the Wheel

We're entering into uncharted waters over here at our house.  Friday afternoon marked our first trip to the BMV for a Learner's Permit.

For our child.  Enabling her to get behind a wheel and drive a car.  Legally.  

I'm tellin' ya, this child was just in preschool the other day.  Seriously, she cannot possibly be old enough to operate a moving vehicle.  But the state says she is, so it's all legal-like now.  Time flies, and I've gotta hustle to keep up with it.

So Saturday afternoon, I figured I should let her give driving a try; after all, we must start logging all those hours sometime.  I told my husband I was going to let her drive around our very quiet block a couple times in the Suburban.  He wisely suggested she drive the Astro instead (duh?  what was I thinking?).  I'll tell you what I was thinking - that she would be a driving expert on her first try.  

That is not exactly how it went down.

We got in the ol' Astro (fondly nicknamed the Deuce), and I realized I better tell her a few things before we started moving (are you shocked at my naivete about this?  Obviously I needed to show her things before we started moving - what was I thinking?).  After I gulped down my fear when she suggested she use her left foot for the brake, I gathered my wits and showed her all the basics on the dashboard.  With my feet firmly planted, my hand on the dash and my heart in my throat, I suggested she put the van in drive and ease off the brake.

We were moving.  So far, so good.  After about 10 seconds of driving, she overshot her first turn.  She got to practice putting the car into reverse in the street (something I reminded her to never do again!) and tried again.  We made it this time, and she began to accelerate.  She floored it. . .to about 10 mph.  Dear readers, 10 mph never felt so fast!  It felt like we were going 70.  "Slow down!" I yelled  calmly instructed.  "We have to turn again in just a sec - and there are several parked cars you have to navigate around!"  She slowed, with an exaggerated sigh, and managed to drive between the parked cars, with nary a fender bender.  We made it home and then did it again, this time slightly slower, and with no missed turns.  

Later, we ran to 7-11 to get our free slushies (did you get yours yesterday?), and she (jokingly) suggested she drive us there.  I practically fainted.  

Apparently I am a control-freak as well.  What if she panics and pushes the gas instead of the brake?  I was sitting helplessly in the passenger seat.  She's a very responsible girl, logical and smart.  She actually did just fine for her first attempt -it seems I was expecting perfection right out of the gate.

When our youngest gets her permit, I'll probably be reclining in the passenger seat with a coke and texting pics of how cute she looks.  I doubt if I'll be freaking out like her older sister experienced.  My husband and I will know what we're doing in this category on the fifth go around.  My poor first child - getting to pave the way for her sibs.

So if you see my daughter driving the Astro, and you see me in the passenger seat, white-knuckled, say a little prayer.  Not for her - she'll likely be doing fine.  But for me, a control-freak mamma who can't believe her daughter is old enough to be licensed!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Vacay, Camping Style

Fourteen people, two tents, one pop-up and a giant canopy/kitchen complex.  Eight days and nights of family time with my whole family.  Countless memories.

We had a fabulous time camping, hiking, walking, beaching, shopping and eating.  I am thankful for these times together.  As the kids get older and busier, finding time to schedule such vacations is harder and harder, but still ever-so-important.  I’m grateful I have such a wonderful extended family!

On the front end of our camping trip, I took a Mother/Daughter trip with my oldest girl.  We were able to head north a day earlier and spend time shopping, exploring, and laughing.  I’m telling ya – I can really laugh with this girl!  Nobody else laughs at my ridiculous sense of humor like she does.  We were both doubled over in laughter more times than I can count (slightly problematic while I was driving!). What a blessing she is to me!

And at the end of our trip, my husband took a Father/Son trip with our oldest boy.  They backpacked on a remote island and ate freeze-dried food and beef jerky and did lots of boy things.  They enjoyed the time together as well, and I am often reminded lately just how mature my son is becoming.  Personally,  I would take my girl trip of shopping and hotel-sleeping over backcountry backpacking any day, but I guess that doesn’t sound very appealing to dudes.

And now we’re home again.  The remainder of the camping laundry is still sneering at me from the laundry room floor.  My to-do list is long.  But it was all worth it, for those memories made sitting around the campfire, working together at the campsite and playing at the beach.