Friday, July 31, 2009

Little Prodigy (j/k)

So this is what I found yesterday when Jaycie called me over. I have since moved the table and chairs to the garage. I'm exhausted following this little one around!

To add to her accomplishments, she saw a picture of Rod a couple of days ago and pointed saying "Da Da". Then we pulled up to my sister's house where she heard the dog barking and she laughed and said, "Pup".

Prodigy child, I know! :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The calling

I can hear my name being called. Funny thing is that the older girls are spending the night at my mom's, Rod is out with some guys from church and last I checked, the baby isn't saying "mama" yet. So, why is it that I hear my name and feel the urge to answer the calling?

There must be some kind of connection between the girls being in bed (naptime or bedtime) and the voices I hear. It never seems to fail and lately I have been running as fast as I can to answer...numerous times. Tonight, I am refusing to listen. I am hoping that if I sit and write for a while, the voices will go away.

So, who is calling my name? I hear it from the pantry, the fridge, the freezer. Good grief, the van is even calling my name to run to the grocery store or drive thru! The zucchini bread, cheese, cereal, Chex Mix, goldfish, sherbert, bread, corn dogs, frozen chocolate bars and anything else that happens to be in my house calls my name over and over again. Most of the time, I am all too willing to run to them. Maybe I'm looking for comfort. Possibly it's just become a habit. Seriously, why is it so difficult to break bad habits? And another thing, why is it that by eating too much food as well as junk food adds 5-10 pounds in no time and yet it takes forever to work it off again?

Have you ever been asked the question, "If there was one thing you could do and know there was no chance of failure, what would it be?" I've always had a difficult time coming up with an answer. I think I know it now. If there was one thing I could do while knowing there was no chance of failure, I would eat whatever I wanted and lose weight at the same time! That's my answer and I'm sticking too it. Too bad I don't truly live in a fantasy world where all my dreams could come true.

Friday, July 24, 2009


I thoroughly enjoy eating the sourdough french toast from the Cracker Barrel. As a matter-of-fact, I also am quite fond of their grits with some of that yummy syrup that they serve in their special tiny bottles. The ambiance in the restaurant is fun, too. That reminds me of the old-fashioned candy they sell there and how my brother and I used to pick some out after we ate breakfast on a weekend trip somewhere with our parents.

This is how my thought process operates most days. My girlfriend left on a weekend vacation this morning. She happened to mention that she was meeting her brother at Cracker Barrel before they head off to their destination. My mind naturally went to the food I enjoy there. Quickly, my thoughts became consumed with my dad. Dad was the first person to take us to the Cracker Barrel.

We enjoyed playing the peg game they have sitting on the tables. He liked all the little phrases written on the game which labeled you according to how many pegs you were left with. "Your just plain dumb" is one I remember his contagious laugh hanging on.

Not a day goes by where I don't think about my dad. Life is forever altered in a way I never anticipated. I think about him when I drive to Mokena. When Nikelle chooses to sing "Joy to the World" in the middle of the summer, I think about how Dad wouldn't have allowed that with me. Christmas was sacred (well, maybe that's extreme). Little things like the girls being tickled remind me of "Papa" and how he never knew when enough was enough. Menards. Restaurants. When the house is in need of repairs. A friend talking about their dad. Friends referring to their dads as "Papa".

Life goes on for everyone. Including me. It is an altered life that I am aware of daily. Rod can completely relate to me. It's unfortunate that we both experienced this reality of losing our dads at the same time. And yet, it is comforting. Comforting to know I can talk to Rod about how I am feeling and he understands. I don't always feel that people understand. More and more I realize how there are so many out there who have lost a parent (or worse - spouse, child...). I've simply been oblivious to it all.

I know God has made me a better person through this pain. It doesn't change the fact that I often wish He could have changed me through some other way. One thing I'm learning. Bad things happen. God cares. He understands. I really believe He hurts, too, when we hurt. I also am learning that Romans 8:28 holds very true.

"And we know that in ALL things God works together for the good of those who love Him who are called according to His purpose."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Full Schedule and Fresh Starts

I'm attempting to wean the baby.
Physical therapy is now on my calendar twice a week for a running injury.
I'm learning to work running back into my schedule.
Correction: Due to physical therapy, I'm learning to work walk/running back into my schedule.
Nikelle and Jaycie have dance class every Tuesday.
The girls have swim lessons every Wednesday and time to play with their cousins.
We gave Nikelle horseback riding lessons for her birthday. Another thing on the calendar.
Then there is our weekly journey group.
There are the play dates.
Time out with girlfriends.
Rod's geek meetings once a month.
Time out for him with the guys.
Time with family.
Time with extended family.
Time with both sides of the family.
Somewhere in there I should figure out how to clean my house.
These are all fairly important.

Needless to say, my "fresh start Monday" ended up being nothing of the sort. Still, I'm attempting to gain some control. It's a process. Every day there are decisions that need to be made. Some days I make good choices. Other days I have good intentions. My battle with my weight is one I fight every minute of every day. A full schedule does not help. I need to learn to manage my life better. Still, I'm grateful for the full life that I have. It means my blessings are in abundance.

I'm maintaining my weight. I'd just like to lose a bit more. Maybe the "fresh start" needs to move from Monday. Maybe I need a fresh start today.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I have learned that a fresh start on Monday...again, is better than never starting at all.

The last time I stepped into a Weight Watchers meeting was about a month ago. Life just happened. Things got busy, the kids were sick and the next thing I know, I'm working off the same 5 -10 pounds I had just gotten off. Too often, I will beat myself up for putting weight on...especially over the weekend. Not eating right, going out to eat too often, choosing to indulge in too many desserts. These are all choices that lead to a pattern of guilt and more eating. Last week, I started fresh...only to end up starting fresh again today. The thing I've learned, however, is that it is better for me to start fresh again today than to never start at all.

I got out and went for a run today, pulled out all my Weight Watchers materials and have every intention of stepping into my meeting come Saturday morning. I may not be fitting into my comfortable, thinner wardrobe as I had planned but I am no longer wearing my elastic waistband pants every day feeling overweight, rundown and discouraged. There's hope.

Yep, starting fresh on Monday is better than never starting at all.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Lessons from my Daughter

I took the girls to the grocery store the other day to quickly get just a few items prior to Rod getting home from work. He called to say he was coming home just as we were entering the store. I just handed the phone to Nikelle so she could talk with him as I got the two little ones situated in the cart. She handed the phone to me as she informed me, "Daddy said he'll be home in about 25 minutes." I took the phone and put it in my bag as I inquired, "That's all he said? He didn't want to talk to me?" "He probably had more important things to do," was my daughter's response. I thought this was kind of a funny response so I asked, "More important than talking to his wife?" I did my best job of acting surprised and put out. "Well, you aren't the most important thing, Mom. God is." True, Nik. Very True.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Competing or Completing a 5K

I completed my first 5K race last night. It was my first official run since getting pregnant with Andelise. And if I'm being honest with myself, I was feeling quite a bit of anxiety about it. I'm not one to just pick up and go running without building up to a certain mileage first. Nervousness was really grabbing hold of me as I thought about completing a "simple" 3 mile run. I am thankful to have friends and family that encouraged me to get out there and do it.

A 35 minute 5K finish is not something I am normally "proud" of. I will often set out to beat someone in particular, or even just my own personal best. And I will thrive on that competition using it as a goal. Last night was not about competition, it was about completion. This was a new and difficult mindset for me.

My sister-in-law (who I trained for the marathon with) was out in front of me running with some friends. I very soon lost sight of her and was by myself. I enjoy running by myself, but if I'm honest, this was the first race my sister-in-law was going to beat me at and it was hard to accept. My prayer in this race was something to the effect of, "Lord, I don't have to beat Fiona. It's not always about winning. I know you can teach me something through this run. Help me to complete it." I do not like to lose (even if the other person isn't aware they are competing with me).

So, what did God teach me? I don't know that He's finished yet. I did have thoughts going through my mind about life being a marathon. How we need to "run the race that was set before us looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith". How life is not a sprint. I can identify more with a long-distance run because it relates to life. I do think I've already known this so maybe God is working on a lesson that hasn't quite gotten through my thick skull yet. Likely, it's humility. That's probably an on-going life lesson God is attempting to teach me. I don't know exactly. What I do know is that it was a good feeling to complete a race after almost 2 years. I was able to experience that "runner's high" again even if most runners could walk faster than my "run". I was reminded of what wonderful family I have and good friends, as well.

I think I love running alone because it gives me some much needed conversation with God. Yes, much of it may be "help me not to pass out" or "help me to finish this race" but I am able to talk to God in a moment without kids vying for my attention or other interruptions. It's a good half an hour, at least, where I can clear my head and accomplish something. There are the benefits of feeling better about my appearance, too. Most of all, I think I just thoroughly enjoy the way running clears my head. Most of the time my thoughts seem jumbled and rampant. Running organizes my mind and helps me give my concerns to the One who can really handle them.

I did end up finding my competition, after all. There was a girl in orange or pink pants who in the beginning kept yo-yoing me (she would pass me then fall behind, pass me, fall behind). I thought I was keeping a fairly steady pace and I eventually did not see her anymore. At the tail end of the race, she came up from behind. I suddenly began to hear a lot of cheering and suddenly there she was beside me. Anyone who has run a race with me before will not be surprised at what happened next. I got that second wind and pushed it to the finish line. It felt good to cross the finish line, my mind clear, and the girl in those bright pants behind me!

More likely than not, that lesson He wants me to learn is humility!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Agreement in Truth

"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." - Acts 17:11

If the Bereans are commended in the Bible for examining the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true, shouldn't we be doing the same? Are we simply accepting what is taught because someone is a pastor, evangelist or missionary? Am I simply believing what is said because it comes from someone older or more educated? Am I in agreement based off my memory or my mom? Oftentimes, I think we accept what others say because it sounds good or because we want to believe it. We want to be in agreement with each other. We don't want waves in our relationships. That is all fine and good if what we believe is in agreement with the Bible. We have to be reading God's Word enough to know if we can accept what we hear. It is essential that we compare everything to the Bible. The Bible is absolute truth. Whether others like it or not. Whether it causes waves or not. The Bible is God's Word and therefore, the ultimate authority.

I remember a moment in high school where I continually quoted something someone had told me. It was either my camp counselor or a friend's parent who asked me to show them what I was quoting in the Bible. They did this because it wasn't in there! That lesson was valuable to me. Combining that with this verse, there has been a lasting impression.

We need to be examining the Scriptures daily to see if what is being fed into our ears is truth.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Jumbled thoughts and 13 years

I would really like to spend time writing on a regular basis.

Jogging is something I thoroughly enjoy. It clears my mind and makes me feel free. I wish I could figure out how to work it into my life consistently.

I have such a desire to spend more time with friends.

I think Jaycie is 3-months-old in my scrapbooking. It's about time to catch up.

My house doesn't know what "clean" looks like. Will it ever?

I own a guitar that I would love to learn how to play. I imagine sitting around the campfire singing as I play or even just with my husband and girls in the family room; maybe by the Christmas tree.

Reading takes me into a world without worries, cares or concern. It would be nice to have more time to spend doing that.

Spending time with my husband one-on-one, without the kids, is thoroughly enjoyable. Why don't we do it more?

My kids are always asking me to play and I'm always too busy accomplishing nothing on this list to stop and spend time with them. I didn't realize this until I was out with a friend tonight for dinner and some much needed conversation. She was talking about how she has a distinct "to do" list that needs to be completed before she will agree to playing with her kids. I didn't even realize that is what I do until she said this. After all, my life has nothing to show for it. Our husbands are quite the contrast. They walk in the door ready to play with their kids. I had to smile as I watched Rod play tag with the girls yesterday in the back yard. I could hear the older ones giggling as I peaked out the window to see him dodging back and forth with the baby content in his arms as they played. I love him more as I watch him be a daddy to our little girls.

I really didn't know where this post was going to go. I just knew I wanted to write. My mind is so jumbled with all my "want to's" that I never write anymore.

Last week, Rod and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. It's been a while since I had the freedom to so thoroughly enjoy my time with him. We walked around IKEA and dreamed about the different things we would buy (knowing full well that we have no money to purchase anything). We went out for a lunch where I listened to him talk about his job. I found myself thinking that it was actually nice hearing him talk about what he spends most of his time doing. I wasn't even irritated that we weren't talking about me! (I know, imagine that!) We went to Famous Dave's where they had sweet potato fries with marshmallow dip. I absolutely love sweet potatoes! Fry them and they're simply to die for! That's not to mention dipping them in a marshmallow concoction. We had bread pudding for dessert and our time wasn't over. We picked up the older girls and took them to see "Up". This was Jaycie's first movie. (For me, this brought up some irrational emotions. We took Nikelle to see "Happy Feet" for her first movie. Dad and Mom had kept Jaycie and we enjoyed our time. When we got back, we talked about how Dad couldn't shake a bug he had caught. I distinctly remember telling him, 'There's something going around that hangs on for a while, Dad. But don't let me be the reason you die because I talk you out of going to the doctor. The next morning, Dad had collapsed on the floor and shortly after, our lives changed forever.) It was fun to watch the girls as they watched the movie. Jaycie sat on a booster chair made special for theater seating. They both kept their hands going into the popcorn bag and drinking their icees as well as sharing the chewy sweet tarts with their parents. (Rod and I have issues with spilling candy in theaters, however.) It is so special to sit with our kids as we celebrated our anniversary watching a movie that couldn't have ended the celebration any better.

Rod and I both wrote in our anniversary cards about growing old, sitting in our rocking chairs, on our front porch. Every day, I am impressed with the fact that this dream is not a given. I am so thankful for every day I have with the man God gave me. I truly am better because he is in my life. We are a great team and I think our girls will be better because of it.

10 years ago, I never would have dreamed my heart would stir with the emotions they stir with currently. We had a rocky start. Yet, just as I know that I am a better reflection of Christ because of everything I've gone through in the loss of my dad, I am also a more complete person because of Rod. I'm excited for what our future holds. Both here and in eternity.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Our 7-year-old, Nikelle

Nikelle dressed up as "Jane" from Tarzan.

Nikelle and Andelise walking the "runway" at Nikelle's 7th Birthday dress-up/fashion show party.

Nikelle opening her presents.

Last weekend, our little girl turned 7-years-old. This year has been a big jump, in my opinion, going from 6 to 7. Maybe it was the day-to-day influence she experienced from being in school all day. Maybe it was the fact that she became a big, big sister. And maybe, it's just that our little girl is growing up.

We've joked with Nikelle that we won't feed her so she will stay little forever. Honestly, I am so grateful each year we have the privilege to celebrate another birthday and I can thank God for another year of a healthy, growing child.

Nikelle has such a tender heart. I have secretly treasured the moments where she breaks down in tears because she has accidentally hurt someone or made a bad choice. To watch her face as her mind and heart work through the situation is so telling. She is truly pained to know she has made a choice that disappoints us or ultimately God. Her heart cannot handle the fact that she has caused pain to one of her little sisters in an accident. She is learning to watch out for the emotions of others. She is learning to place others before herself. A good lesson for one to learn at an early age.

My daughters have the blessing of having their daddy tuck them into bed most nights. I store up in my heart the moments where I can eavesdrop as I put the baby to bed. I listen as Nike reads a Bible story to her Daddy and sister, Jaycie. Rod doesn't just let her read the story and go to bed. He does his best to attempt to explain to her how the story applies to her life. Like the story of when Samuel anointed David as King. Samuel and Jesse were both looking for the son they thought would be most fitting for the throne. God reminded them in 1 Samuel 16:7 that "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." What a valuable lesson for a little girl to learn early on - and to be taught it by her daddy! Nikelle's heart is so tender to wanted to please not only her earthly father, but her Heavenly Father as well.

I think I can sum up this year with a conversation I had with my daughter a day or two after her party. Her absolute favorite gift was from Grandma Carlson. Nikelle opened her present to find the American Girl doll, Felicity. Felicity loves horses so she is a kindred spirit to Nikelle. This gift was also a reminder of a trip Nikelle and Grandma took to the American Girl doll store in downtown Chicago on their way to see Mary Poppins on stage. This doll not only reminds Nikelle of a special memory with her Grandma but also allows Nikelle to enter her world of imagination where she enjoys spending so much of her time.

The conversation I treasure was about this gift. "Felicity is my second-best friend," she informed me. Curious, I inquired, "Who is your very best friend?" I anticipated her answer to be one of her little sisters or a good friend from school. Very matter-of-factly, Nikelle answered me, "Jesus". I was suprised and pleased to hear that as I continued to ask her if she talked to God a lot and expanded a bit on her response. Our prayer is that her identity is always found in our God.

Nikelle reads "Felicity" to her new American Girl doll friend, "Felicity".