Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Silent Nun...

Did that get your attention?  If not, how about the fact that I'll be playing a nun who took a vow of silence in an upcoming CHP production!

Last night, I auditioned for the play, "Alibis" which will be showing at the Courthouse in May.  It's a typical "who-dunnit" mystery with a comedic twist.  I'm excited to get my feet back on the stage, even if my voice will get lots of rest in this role.  As I haven't even read the script yet, that's about all I can say, except that I believe it will be tons of laughs, both on and off the stage.  I'll be sure to post more about the dates as we get closer and hope to see many of my "silent readers" among the crowds!

For those of you who didn't know I love to be on stage, now you do.  I caught the theatre bug way back in high school when two beloved teachers, Mrs. Ranney and Ms. Elmore, shared their love of the arts with us.  I think I was in every play the school performed throughout my four years there and was VP of the Drama club my senior year.

I came a long way from my first small role of "Angel #3" in "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever," where my one line was some whine about my wings being broken.  By the end, I'd had a taste of every level of the theatre from on the stage, behind the stage, lights/sound, and even directing.  And I owe it all to Mrs. R and Elmom.  They molded and shaped us as actors, invested numerous hours for us, and most of all instilled a love of theatre that will be with me forever.

Over the years, I'd often thought about auditioning for our local theatre group - the Courthouse Players, but life and work and kids seemed to trump in priority.  Actually, one of the biggest reasons I didn't, and couldn't, for years was because of position I had with Relay and the many nights and weekends I was already away.  I figured I either would miss every practice, because of the meetings I had, or didn't want to miss a night with the boys on the rare occassions I was home.  When I changed jobs a few years ago, auditioning was one of my goals. 

In 2008, I was in Steel Magnolias, at that time my favorite movie, and I played the role of Truvy.  I made lasting friendships with a group of women and above all am grateful for those relationships.  Never would I have imagined though that the lines we practiced and cried over would come so true for me, just four short months later when I lost Austin.  I will always remember and treasure the moment at the funeral home when all those ladies came as a group, gathered around me in one giant hug, and whispered some of those quotes to me. 

Some people may think it strange that you could grow so close with a group of strangers in just a matter of weeks, but that's what happens.  Often there are better stories behind the stage than on at any production you go to see.  There's drama (of course!), lots of laughter, and often tears.  And that's what I'm looking forward to again.  A new play, new strangers who I'm sure will quickly become friends, and spending time doing something I so passionately enjoy.  I can't wait!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A life changed

We recognized our youth pastor today for serving 25 years in the church...amazing accomplishment!  It would be difficult to imagine how many lives he's touched within that time, but through many surprises and tributes, our church tried to show him. 

Even arriving to church early this morning, it was a task trying to find a parking spot.  Noah commented that it looked like Easter Sunday with the crowd we had!  We ducked into a seat near the back and watched as the pews quickly filled to capacity.  The choir soon mirrored the crowd, as it overflowed with past and present youth choir members. 

As Doug stepped into the baptismal and looked out into the sanctuary, I hope the large number of supporters was evidence of the impact his service has made.  The rest of the morning was filled with a sweet mixture of laughter and tears, as former and current youth led the service.  A most touching moment was when they called Doug and Jennifer up to sit in front of the church and signed to the song "thank you" which tells a story of a man gone to Heaven and seeing all those who's lives he touched.  As the chorus sang, "Thank you for giving to the Lord...I am a life that was changed.  Thank you for giving to the Lord.  I am so glad you gave,"  dozens of former youth lined the walls.

I must admit some of my tears were bittersweet, in wishing Austin had been there with us in this celebration.  I know he would've been right there among the others, with that big beautiful smile and would've had one giant bear hug to share with Doug afterwards.  Though Austin only had him as a youth leader a little over two years, Doug certainly made an impact in his life.  He looked up to Doug and truly, there isn't a much better role model out there.  They both shared a love of baseball, for God, and of giving wonderful hugs.  I am ever grateful Austin had the opportunity to know Doug and have him in his life because I know he was a great Christian influence for him.

Doug and Jennifer have been so supportive to our family through the years, especially the past six.  Not being steady regulars to his Sunday school class it was a loving shock to me when the group took such great care of us after our wreck in 2005.  From fully cooked meals, to offers to mow the yard, they were there.  Most importantly they prayed with us and for us.  And this support came again just a few years ago when we lost Austin.  In fact, Doug will always hold a very special place in my heart because of his love for our family during that time.

Our pastor had recently retired before Austin's passing and we struggled with who to ask to lead his service.  Tim and I both instantly thought of Doug, because both as our Sunday school teacher and as Austin's youth leader, he held a special place in our family's lives. 

It bothered me though when I learned that Austin's would be his first funeral service to lead and I worried that we'd placed a burden on him that maybe he wasn't prepared for.  And although I know that service was most difficult for him, he could not have done a better job.  He spoke so lovingly and eloquently of Austin and shared more than I could ever have envisioned.  It was a beautiful eulogy that captured the essence of who Austin was.  At the end, Doug shared about the great hugs that Austin was known for and challenged the room to "Hug Somebody" for him.  You can click on the link to see what an impact that made. 

This morning, when a youth led the children's message and sent them off with the same phrase to "hug somebody" my arms were covered with goosebumps and tears once again filled my eyes.  I couldn't help but feel that was a sign Austin was in the room, cheering on Doug, just as he will be (much like the song) when he greets him in Heaven someday.  His life, as well as our entire family's, have all been changed because of the service and heart of the King family.  And we, are joyfully, so glad they gave!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Fun: Workout gone bad!

Normally my posts are a reflection of something in my day that brought me joy.  This blog is where I pause to remember, record and share them with you.  Today I thought I'd try something new.  Being Friday, which always calls for a good mood enhancer, I decided I'd flip the tables and bring you a bit of joy...at my expense.

Tim's in the final stretch of the "HealthQuest" he's been doing for a challenge at work. Fingers crossed, he may take the win! Aside from dropping more than twenty pounds, I'm most proud of how willing he has been on trying new things. Vegetables are now in his vocabulary!  Being as competitive as I am, I had to jump in there and take the challenge too. When I'm cooking healthier meals anyway, (with no complaints from the family - yeah!) it hasn't been that difficult that to do this time.

In the past, I would go head first, gung ho, 120% into a "diet" and within weeks, I'd be frustrated at lack of results or already bored and would back away.  This time, I decided to do things in steps.  They say it takes 30 days to make a habit so that has been my goal.  Something must be working because as of this morning, I'm down 25 lbs (not too bad in 50 days time)!  No pills, no fads, just the basics - and for once, I'm seeing real results.

In thinking about failed diets and workouts I'd done in the past, a funny story came to back me.....

I don't remember how old I was (guessing 11-13) but my best friend invited me along on a family trip with her.  We were staying with her aunt at some type of resort that had a gym.  The gym is really the only details of the trip I remember and you'll soon know why!

I'm guessing we really were around my estimated age because I recall signs hanging everywhere that warned not to use the equipment unless you were over 16.  Well, of course my bff and I thought we were 16 and looked every bit of it, so we jumped in without considering the consequences.  Above each piece of machinery was a sign that also listed the steps or instructions on how to use it.  Really, you wouldn't think that the average piece of workout equipment needed much explanation.  So, as you might already see a theme - we didn't read them. 

One machine was the ridiculous fad of a big belt that basically you strapped to your butt, turned it on and let it shake.  I'm not quite sure who invented this or what they promised would happen but lose inches we did not.  Lose our dignity, yep.  Just imagine two teenagers trying to stick their rears out enough to give the belt something to shake around and to keep their footing in the process.  By the end of the timed exercise, we were both laughing so hard we thought we'd probably be kicked out.

It was at this point, I moved to what I felt was a safer option.  It was just a benchlike cushion that instructed you to lie across and turn on.  I still don't know what I did wrong but for the next five minutes (or what seemed an eternity to me) I was stuck on a nightmare-theme park ride-from hell.  Simultaneously, the top and bottom of the bench came apart and swung in opposite directions.  Picture a scared girl flailing helplessly as her arms and torso flung left and her legs and rear flung right.  I felt like a human windshield wiper!  Add to it that my best friend was a mixture of peeing her pants and passing out from the extreme laughter.  Afterwards, she described my face during the session and that alone would send us into fits of giggles. 

Even to this day, I can hardly write out the experience due to laughing so hard.  I'm sure you're joining in now by this point.  You're welcome.  To be honest, I don't remember how the day ended or anything else we did that day.  I just know I steered clear from any type of gym for years.  It's probably why I avoid them at all costs even today. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Squish Kiss!

When Noah was a baby, Tim and I created the "squish kiss" and have carried it through with him all these years.  Basically, we just get on either side of his face and plant a big squishy kiss on his cheek.  As a baby, he'd laugh hysterically whenever we'd do it.  Around the age of five, he began to get annoyed with, saying very over dramatically, "You're squeezing my face off!" 

Now that he's nearly bigger than both us, it is rare we get to do it.  Normally he's sees us coming and will duck to make us kiss each other or push us away with those Hulk-like hands of his.  Most days we figure it is too dangerous to risk it!  About the only time we do get away with it is when he jumps into the middle of the bed with us - and he becomes trapped.

This afternoon, Patch was overly excited to see Noah and made some weird parrot-like growl/bark/noise.  Noah picked him in one hand with a quick swoop and proceeded to give me a hug with the other, laughing.  I kissed him on the cheek and noticed that Patch followed suit, with a big sloppy lick.  Immediately the thought of the squish kiss entered my head and I yelled it out, as if Patch knew the what the heck that meant.  To my surprise, he copied again and Noah was left with a scrunched up face, half of it wet from the dog, and we were both rolling with laughter.

It lasted less than a minute but was the best moment of my day.  Squishy, sloppy, loving joy!


the only known photo of the kiss, as you can see from his expression...it didn't end well!


Monday, March 21, 2011

Outside My Window

Simple things bring me joy.  Sometimes simple, random things.  Like windows.  This week, windows have brought me a tremendous amount of joy.

One of my favorite things about spring is that you get to open your windows and let the breeze come in.  There's just nothing better than a cool, sweet breeze drifting through your house.  All the sounds of the season carry in with the wind, like children riding their bikes, singing birds and wind chimes.  I feel that, as the breeze whips through the window and across my floors, it awakens the house.  Spring winds wipe the sleep out of the eyes of my home.  Winter is swept away at once.

As well, going to sleep with your bedroom windows open is like camping from the comforts of your bed.  You get the scents from the evening winds and the sounds of the crickets chirping, but without sleeping on rocks and dirt.  And, without having to pack, unpack, and put together a tent!

The best part of all is that I can open my windows now without worrying about bugs and any other critters making their way in.  You see, new screens have been on my honey-do list for a long, long time.  We're talking years.  To a man, I guess they just don't seem as important. A window is a window is a window?  Or, as busy as my hubby is, he just didn't prioritize that as a high need on ever growing list of things to do.  Either way, every season I'd hint and every season it wouldn't happen.  This year, it did!  Tim spent most of the afternoon Sunday putting them together.

I took pictures. 

He laughed and called me silly.
It was a happy moment and I wanted to share!

Last but not least, I'll leave you with a toe-tapping little diddy we heard on Positively GAC...
called appropriately, "Outside my window"


Happy Spring!  Let the sunshine in!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Dustin' off the deck

Seems hard to believe this was the last official day of winter!  The day has been beautiful, from the first rays of sunshine that greeted me this morning, to the soft melodies of our chimes swaying in the twilight.  Our day has been a bit lazy, a bit busy, some time spent lingering and some being productive, all amounting to one great Saturday.

I woke long before anyone else in the house and decided to have some quality me time this morning.  No chores, no distractions, just me and nature.  Even still a bit chilly with the wind, I decided to have my coffee on the deck and watch the sunrise.  I giggled a bit inside thinking about all the months ahead that we will get to enjoy our favorite "room" in the house.  As I pulled a chair cushion out of the storage bench, thoughts of springtime filled my mind.

Wrapped in a blanket, cool breeze drifting by, I leaned my head back and let the sun warm my face.  Sweet songbirds sang the world awake.  By the time I finished my creamy cup of coffee, the hot tub called out for me, as it looked like the perfect place to welcome the day.  We usually enjoy the tub at night, with a sky full of stars, but I found it just as peaceful and beautiful in the morning light.  It was wonderful to just sit and be.  I cleared my mind and enjoyed the start of this day, watching the sun play peek-a-boo from the cloud-filled sky.

Hours later when the sleepy men decided to start their day, I noticed they quickly ended up on the deck as well.  Tim holding a cup of coffee and Noah holding Patch, they played a game trying to find letters in the shadows the sun was casting onto the wood.  Throughout the morning, it seemed that in between whatever we were doing, any down time was spent in our outside room.  I even decided to pull out all the houseplants and let them enjoy the deck, the sunshine and a nice shower provided by the garden hose.

Errands ran and lists checked, we ended our day back on the deck watching Noah ride, who pulled out his dirt bike for the start of the season.  As the curtain began to fall on the day, we noticed a hush from the birds who must be snuggled into the nests by now.  With their cue, the rope lights softly switched on around the deck, a perfect ending to a perfectly simple day.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

All things green

Top o' the evening to ya! 
In celebration of St. Patty's day, I thought I'd post about all things green that bring me joy.

Grass...
Isn't amazing how bright and full of life the fields are now? 
Sometimes I'm afraid my eyes spend more time on the landscape around me
than they do on the road while I'm driving!

Green Peppers...
I've always loved these vegetables. 
Aside from being a yummy snack (I eat them raw just like an apple), they are a great way to sneak
in nutrition into any dish.  I dice them real small and slide into casseroles and such.

Clover...
of course 4 leaf being the best kind.
Just the thought of them reminds me of carefree days as a child, feeling their softness under my feet and stretched out in the yard scouring for hours to find the perfect one.

Trees...
ok, obviously nature is going to dominate this post.  Sorry about that.
I have always found a strange connection to trees.
  I think they tell a story, each one seeming to have a different personality. 

Green River...
So, I'm playing on the word for this one, as it is normally brown, but I love this river.
I grew up swinging on a rope into it, racing my stepdad across it, and watching crazy boys jump from the cliffs above.  Now it's one of our favorite places to boat and fish.

Olives...
I love, love, love me some olives.  I'll eat them right out of the jar.  Just because.
I do also enjoy their darker cousin but they aren't of the right color for today's post.

Moss...
When I was a child, I spent a lot of time in the woods that surrounded our house.  In those cool deep pockets of the forest, I would find soft patches of moss growing.  I imagined tiny worlds that lived among this outside carpet and would softly run my hand across it.

Frogs...
They're just cute.  I especially like the itty bitty jungle frogs with bright orange feet and big eyes.
Plus, they make me think of my sweet niece, Tina, as they are her favorite.

Herbs...
I found a love for growing and using fresh herbs last year.
Seriously, just get a pot and grow some.  You will feel like Paula Dean!

Going Green...
We don't do as much as we should but our family enjoys being green. 
Anytime I remember to use my canvas bags while shopping, or recycle,
or use energy saving appliances, I feel a little better about how I'm leaving this world.
Most importantly, I'm raising Noah so that hopefully this lifestyle will be a habit for him.

And last but not least, Saint Patrick!
I heard part of frequent prayer of his today on the radio and loved it,
"Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me."

Being of Irish descent, it's actually one of my dreams to someday visit the Emerald Isle.
I have this vision of finding long lost ancestors and touring the countryside someday.

In honor of the day, I'll leave you with one of my favorite Irish blessings

May God give you...
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.

Jin Go Lo Ba!

Want a fun, stress reducing workout you can do in your home?  Got a Wii?  Then you gotta Just Dance, people!  It's filled with upbeat and funky music you can really shake a tail feather to.  Actually, that would've been a great song choice for the game! 

The idea is that you follow the dancer on the screen and rack up points based on how accurate you mirror it.  There's lots of familiar 80s favorites, like "Girls just wanna have fun" and "Pump up the volume" and even newer songs like "Hot N Cold" by Katy Perry.  I tend to be an 80s girl but I've got some serious moves to that last song now and love all the angry shaking.  In my living room, it doesn't matter what I look like or how silly I act while dancing.  Oh, and singing along at the top of your lungs is also allowed! 

I'll have to admit I haven't branched out and tried every song, even though I've had the game quite awhile.  I tend to stick to my favorites because I know how to do them and enjoy the music.  The other day, I decided to be adventurous and try "Jin Go Lo Ba" just for the heck of it.  Well....let me tell you sister, it surely gets your inner tribal jungle girl jumping!  Anyway, it is now my absolute favorite song to do now. 

Today, Noah was in his room doing his homework while I was working out when the song came on.  Surround sound blaring, arms swinging and in full chant, it was enough to draw him out in the hall.  Even though I didn't slow down, in between head tosses and sun salutations, I caught his shocked and amused look.  Without missing a beat, he jumped right in and started dancing.  By the end of it, I was out of breath, a combination of the workout and from laughing so hard at him. 

Anyway, it was 40 minutes of sweaty bliss dancing like a maniac under the ceiling fan.  If I'd had these moves in the 8th grade, there would've been no tapping me out of any dance off contest!  So, what's your favorite home workout?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A bouquet of hope

You would think a mailbox would be safe.  Sure, the mail is mostly filled with bills, which is never fun but you expect them.  When you open the box, your guard is down.  Sometimes there is a bit of sunshine inside from a surprise card.  These days, those are rare.  In this world of social networking, people just don't seem to take the time to write out a greeting by hand and affix a stamp.  If I do find joy in my mailbox, I treasure it.

When there is mail for a child you've lost, it shocks you to the core...sends you spiraling right back down.  If your day was going well, it stops.  It's as if someone pulled the rug out from under you.  This was my afternoon.

Checking the mail is something I took over when Austin died.  It used to be something the boys did on their way in from the bus.  When I noticed Noah avoiding the mailbox, I began checking it for him.  Glancing out my window, I can still see them racing to see who reached it first.  As they grew older, many times Austin would hold back, knowing it was something Noah enjoyed.  With backpack straps dangling, they would bounce into the house, full of laughter or squabbling, ready to be the first to tell me about their day.  Noah would proudly present me with mail, unless Austin had grabbed anything he saw with his name on it.

At first, I braced myself for the expectation that mail would come for him.  Locally, everyone knew and although I don't know how it was stopped, I appreciated things like not getting reminders about check-ups and such.  For others that were seasonal, like invitations for WKU's gifted program, we called and asked to be removed.  Sometimes the calls were simple, business-like; sometimes they asked questions and the call would end in tears.  Now, over two years later, it just isn't something I'm prepared for.

The past few weeks have already been difficult, news of kids his age taking the ACT - or bigger ones like getting their license, is harder to hear than you can imagine.  I smile as best I can but inside another piece of me breaks just a bit.  It's yet another reminder of a milestone lost, a memory we will never get to have with Austin.  Then today, mail from a tuxedo rental company addressed to him with messages of a prom he'll not be attending.  It's hard.  Afternoons like this make you feel like you're back to the beginning, like any progress you made is gone.  When you add the rainy weather and atmosphere, it makes it even harder to find an ounce of joy, much less write about it.

And then, something changes.  Some small act of love or kindness comes floating in, unexpectedly. 

Tim arrived home from work - always a highlight in my day.  I put on a brave face, because honestly, we both try hard enough any given day that I never want to bring him down, in the chance he's had a good day.  He's not been feeling well, stubbornly shrugging it off as allergies, yet he comes in bearing gifts.

And one of the sweetest parts....
he picked them in the rain.

Tim knows I love them but I truly don't think he knows their meaning to me, especially now.

As always, I am amazed at the way joy can arrive...
at just the right moment...
in the most perfect way.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Daddy's Boy

Today was filled with multiple mini moments that filled me with joy.  On their own, and to the average eye, they may seem unusually ordinary.  To me, they were the kind of moments that soothe my soul and help to heal my heart.

There was a time I worried what Noah's relationship would be like with his dad.  Shortly after losing Austin, I could sense a distance with Tim from Noah. Perhaps Tim was guarding his heart, afraid to give 110% of himself again, only to lose something he loved more than own life.  Maybe he was just in too much pain to connect with anything -or anyone- at the time.  I understand both of those possibilities completely.

Losing Austin made me cling tighter to Noah though, prayerful and thankful for every single second with him.  To this day, I worry more, hold closer and choose time with him over anything else.  I hug deeper, love stronger, and appreciate each and every precious moment.  From the beginning, if there's anything I gained in our loss, it was a more meaningful and strengthened relationship with Noah.

With Tim, he seemed slower to come out of the fog.  But just as a flower needs sunshine and water to grow, Noah's love was just what he needed.  The laughter Noah brought, and brings to us each day, is medicinal.  Each time he'd wrap his chubby arms around him, I watched another piece of cold melt off him.  Each giggle would warm Tim's heart.  Noah helped heal us both - and still does to this day.

This morning, Tim and Noah spent the morning cuddled in his new bed.  I delivered breakfast to them and they enjoyed it over cartoons.  On the way to the tournament, they spent the drive picking on me, a favorite past time of theirs.  Once home, Noah was Tim's helper in picking up supplies for the yard and the week.  Laughter from outside my open windows caused me to snoop, only to find them tossing a football in the yard.  To myself I thought, "this is a good day" so it only made my smile brighter to hear those exact words from Noah as he came into the house hours later. 

As I said, nothing extraordinary...just your average, every day Sunday with dad and son.  But to me, so very much more.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Heaven sent hugs

I wrote my post Wednesday soon after I arrived home, as I often do.  Commuting back and forth to work gives me a lot of time to think about things and so inspiration often comes from the road.  I'll try to capture my thoughts as soon as I make it home, hoping to complete it before Noah arrives and the busyness of the evening progresses.

 No sooner than I had finished it, my sister pulled in with her toddlers, my two favorite littles.  As they bounced past the kitchen window, I caught a glimpse of yellow hiding behind Bryanna's back.  Opening the door, I was greeted with Allen's smiling face, who had chosen to climb as far as the top step.  He couldn't figure out how he was going to open the door, while in front of it, which immediately made me chuckle.  Bryanna was behind him, with a mischievous grin, attempting to hide her gift. 

As she stepped into the house, her little hand proudly brought out a sunshiny yellow daffodil and handed it to me.  It was all I could do to choke back the tears that filled my eyes, for fear she'd think I was saddened by her present.  Goosebumps covered my arms and immediately I felt hugged, even though I hadn't yet bent down to accept it.  I can only imagine it was Austin's way of showing me he was thinking of me and yet another "Love you, Mom" that he uses earth's angels to send.

Now each time I look at the small cup on flowers on my window sill, I feel hugged from Austin, and am reminded of Bryanna's joyous grin.  Without even asking, a prayer of mine was answered yesterday because it was on my heart.  ...and because perhaps a prayer was said for me that I didn't even know about.

On the way to work today, I thought a lot about that.  Throughout this journey, I've said more prayers than I could count.  Some days I felt as if I was in constant prayer.  Sometimes my prayers weren't answered, at least not in the way I requested.  What is so easy to forget about, or not always realize, are those prayers said for you, sometimes by people you don't even know.  Unexpected prayers.

So often I will talk to someone I haven't seen in awhile and they will mention, "I still pray for you," and each time I'm overwhelmed by the statement.  In the moment, I'm a mixture of emotions...filled with peace, amazed at their giving spirit, guilty in assessment and wondering if I pray enough for others, gratitude, and then feeling undeserving, compared to the needs of others, to still have prayers said for me.

There is no way of ever knowing how many prayers have been said for my family, certainly no way of ever thanking each person who took (and still take) the time to bow their heads.  It very much speaks to why and how we've survived the past nearly two and half years though.  Those unknown prayers, even when it's said by a stranger truly do make a difference. 

I know each night when I pray for us and for God to continue to hold us, and work in and through us in our loss, I include others who've lost a child. If I pass a vehicle on the road with a memorial sticker, I say a prayer and if it's been a recent loss, add them to my daily prayers for awhile. Sometimes I'll wonder if they help.  Now that I realize I've been on the on the receiving end of them all this time, I know they do.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Spring Showers

I love spring...rainy nights, vibrant green grass, cool breezes, singing birds in budding trees.
In fact, it's my favorite season now, although it didn't used to be. 
I find hope in spring. 
A renewed spirit in watching the earth come awake. 
A peaceful connection.

As I smiled with each daffodil that I passed on the way home today, I was flooded with memories.
I went back to Austin's blog and searched for the word "daffodil" finding these two posts. 
It amazes me this will be our third spring without him. 
Thinking about that too heavily can spiral me right down into a winter fog if I let it. 
Instead, I realize that each tear is much like a spring shower, and is part of the season.

Reading these two posts reminds me of our sweet boy but also shows me how far we've come in beginning to heal.  The hole in our heart will never go away, just maybe a bit smaller with time and less raw.  Perhaps, if anything, it's just a choice we make in looking for the sunshine instead of the clouds, knowing that is what he would have wanted.

and

Monday, March 7, 2011

Brickwall's gone Pro

Noah had a great 5th grade season as a Beaver Dam Baller.  With the crazy weather we had though, several of their games and practices were never rescheduled.  As a result, we were a bit disappointed not to cheer for as many games as we usually do.  It was a pleasant surprise to learn he'd been picked to play on an AAU team for Ohio county.

Now, I'm such a basketball novice that I had to look up what AAU even stood for, but I did know it was a traveling team and would not only give him more play time but continue strengthening his skills.  At his age, we felt this was perfect timing to develop the budding basketball star we believe he is.

Noah's team is a mixture of multiple schools within our county and is known as the OC Hoop Squad.  For the past several weeks, he's been in pretty intense training - at least 3 days a week, about 2 hours a session.  The first night alone he learned new techniques and skills so he's loved every moment of it.  I can tell it is more physically demanding though, as he sleeps pretty hard on those practice nights!

Their first official tournament begins this coming weekend, as we travel to Grayson county.  The boys had an opportunity for some good practice though on Saturday by playing in a 6th grade tournament.  Not only would they be playing older and more seasoned teams, they would play four games within a five hour period.  That was certainly a change from what he was used to!

We made sure he was well hydrated and rested the night before and treated him to a power breakfast at Subway that morning.  He was a jumping, jittery boy at the restaurant, a mixture of adrenalin and nerves.  I pumped him full of encouragement and confidence, inside hoping for the best.  In reality, I knew it would be very unlikely for them to win any games but I knew it would be good practice for them.

Even though Noah is very tall for his age, you could see the size difference even with him compared to the other teams.  They drew to play their first team and it happened to be boys they knew - the 6th grade Beavers.  Although the score was 18 to 46, I was very proud of the way they played.  For their first game, knowing they were nervous and the odds stacked against them, they did very well.

I was especially pleased with the way one coach led his boys, letting them practice passes instead of shooting for points and giving our guys opportunity to learn better defense.  One of their last games, with a score of 32 to 58, was a surprisingly good effort.  By that point, the boys were all tired and I'm sure aching in spots they didn't know they had but they held in there and played hard.  Although we didn't home take any trophies, I felt they were all winners.  It surely prepared them for their tourney this weekend and showed them areas they need to improve, like passing for the best shot and rebounds.

Overall it was a good preview of what's to come this season.  I'm happy to be a proud mom cheering from the stands and discovered some things on my own...  I've learned that sitting for five hours can make you more tired than you'd think, areas you didn't know possible can go numb, and that next time this chick's bringing a pillow - I just won't be using it to nap!!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I'm a big kid now!

That title is kind of understatement when you see my eleven year old son.  He actually could easily pass for a teenager, already eye level with me.  With broad shoulders and a stocky build, it is no wonder he was given the nickname "Brickwall" in basketball!  Because of his size and the fact that he's still growing, we decided his bunk beds would have to go.

I didn't see much sense in going with a twin, as that's really just a single version of a bunk bed, and a full truly isn't that much bigger.  Since we had a spare set of queen mattresses, we were on the search for a queen bed fit for a king!  The task wasn't easy, as it had to pass a vote by both me and Noah.  (We just let Tim think he had a say.)

For weeks we've searched online, asked around, and shopped in many, many stores.  One day this week, I popped into one of the contender shops, hoping they might have a new selection, when voilĂ  - I found it!  As soon as Noah was out of school, I brought him back, hoping he'd love it the instant he saw it, just as I did.

Noah's top choice had been a leather bed, mine a wood frame.  I was concerned that over time he'd scratch a leather bed and it would be difficult to repair.  He didn't want just an ordinary, plain Jane wooden bed though.  His counter had actually been a sleigh bed but with the size of his room I feared it would look like an oversized Christmas display.  This bed was a wooden frame but not too large and had leather padded squares for the headboard.  It fit his "cool" standard but was sturdy and the style was nice to enough to last over the course of several years.

When we walked into the store, I didn't tell him which bed because I wanted to see what he'd naturally choose.  To my delight, his mouth dropped open, eyes became wide as saucers, and with a shrill to his voice he said, "Mom!  This is it!"  And then, just like my sweet boy, his eyes instantly went to the price tag for a check saying, "Great!  It's under our budget!" 

He was overjoyed Thursday night to see it up and ready in his room when he returned from practice.  For once, I had no discussion about going to bed and I do believe he slept more soundly than he has in quite some time.  But all of this is not my moment of joy....

Last night, even though it was a Friday, we informed him he'd have an early bedtime because of the AAU tournament on Saturday (sure to be tomorrow's blog post!).  As he went to the bathroom to brush his teeth, I climbed in among the many pillows with our dog, Patch.  When he returned, he just stood in the doorway with a smile.  Once he realized I was serious, he eagerly bounced into bed with me.

You see, Noah loves to snuggle with us and asks us all the time to either let him sleep with us or to climb in his bunk bed (yes, we laugh at that too).  Three full size people in a queen size bed though just doesn't cut it.  Sometimes for a treat we'll let him fall asleep but Tim will guide him back to his bed soon after. 

Last night, we giggled and talked while listening to the rain and I took advantage of every snuggly moment with my quickly growing boy.  I know that nights like that are so precious and one day he'll outgrow wanting to share a bed with mom or dad.  I was just grateful for special quality time with my sweet guy.  I didn't stay, wanting us both to have a restful night's sleep, but especially him in preparation for the tournament. 

This morning I snuck in to check on him and this is what I found...my morning dose of joy.  In the past, Patch didn't like sleeping on the top bunk with Noah, I'm sure because that's a long way up for an itty bitty dog.  He loves this bed though and even asked to return after his morning potty run.  Knowing Noah now has a comfy bed that all members of the family can snuggle with him in makes my heart smile.
...and so do those cute little toes peeking out beside Patch!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Talk

I'm surrounded by all things male.  I'm raising a son (and a hubby), my dog and cat are both males, and so this chick often feels outnumbered.  Now, in some ways being the only girl has its advantages.  I get unlimited mirror time, don't have to share my shoes or jewelry, and rarely have to take out the trash.

Yet there are bad points to living in a heavy male household.  With the exception of my neat-freak dog, boys are messy.  Their bathroom habits are sloppy at best; they laugh at stinky smells and sounds and even brag about them (as if it's a point of pride); and I'm convinced they are incapable of placing socks in a hamper.

The most interesting male subject in the house is my pre-teen because he's at that ever changing, steadily growing stage, on a fast track towards puberty.  As I've only had a mere 11 years, I haven't quite had enough opportunity to mold and train him into the hygenic, manner-filled lad I wish him to become.  Our mornings include repeated reminders of brushing teeth, using deoderant, zipping zippers and pulling up pants to hide the horrid plumber crack.  He's learning....but it's a work in progress.  I'd say we're much improved from a few years ago when I actually caught him peeing from the HALL, just to see if the stream would reach all the way into the toilet from that angle.  Boys!

Last night was quite amusing, as I knew he'd spent part of his day at school watching the dreaded puberty video in class.  Now, as a mom of a tween boy, I know I have to tred lightly on topics such as these and pad everything with humor so I was very vague in bringing it up.  I asked in pasing how the video was and he quickly summed it up with one word, "AWKWARD!"  When I tried to continue the conversation, any question I attempted was stopped short with another, "Awkward!"  Since I could see him trying to shrink behind his hair or melt into the couch, I decided to leave it for dad but left him with the knowledge that he could surely come to me with questions, if he had any later.  Yeah, I know, I don't see that happening.  Hmmm, maybe this is yet another perk to being the only girl in the house!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March Madness

The pure price of gasoline is enough to send anyone into anger management classes these days!  As I filled up this morning and cringed while the ticker kept rising - and rising - I had to remind myself of whatever good I could find.  First, I looked up at the beautiful blue sky and was thankful for a sunny day, which reminded me to be to be thankful for the safety from yesterday's storms.  When it finally clicked full, I chose to be thankful that I have the money in the bank to purchase the gas, even though I physically had to shake off the sticker shock.

As I went into the store to pay, I was surprised by the interaction with the delightful cashier.  She initiated conversation with me over the ice dispenser.  Actually, she startled me, as it is a delicate mix trying to get equal proportions of Diet Dr. Pepper, cherry and vanilla flavor shots to cascade over those crunchy ice crystals to create the ultimate drink.  She was chipper and friendly, commenting on my toes because I'd chosen to wear shoes which showed off their color.  I left the store smiling, and once I made it into my truck, I realized how quickly she'd taken my mind off the fact I just spent a small fortune at the gas pump. 

I don't even know her name but she made my morning.  I'm sure her job is fairly thankless, working for minimum wage, and being on her feet all day, she could easily have been grumpy today.  Instead she chose to make it a good day with her attitude and my interaction with her was kept positive.  She influenced me with her mood.  As I reflect back on this afternoon, I wonder how differently both our days would've played out if we'd let the things that bothered us affect each other.

Life is hectic, crazy, chaotic at times. Bad news seems to be the only news you hear anymore and all anyone wants to talk about. There's so many minor inconveniences in each day that, if you let it, it can get the best of you. I figure life is too short to spend most of it complaining though. While I do vent my frustrations occasionally, mostly to myself and sometimes to others, I do try very hard to look at the positives. In fact, this little choice is probably what keeps me sane most days.  However, I never truly looked at it from the other side until today. 

Did I improve or worsen someone's day with my mood or attitude?  My hope is that most days I make it better, or at least keep it on a high.  It's certainly something I'm going to try and be more aware of now.  My interaction with someone could be the storm cloud that rains on their day or it could be the only ray of sunshine they receive....It's kind of like "paying it forward" but just with a smile!
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