Iraq Journey

Young Ladies Christian Fellowship

Blissdom Conference ~ Nashville ~ February 4-6 2010

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Afraid to Blink

July 30, 2008

I’ve been going through pictures tonight. My camera card was full, and as I emptied it onto my computer, I began scrolling back through older pictures. Pictures of the past few weeks and months.

I saw one of John and Merritt just before John left and was struck by how little Merritt was then. Two months old… so tiny, especially when I compare that scrunchy-faced infant with the little guy who now eats real food and bear-crawls at lightning speed around the house.

I paused from clicking on pictures and looked ahead, my mind’s eye reaching forward years from now. I realized anew how short these years are with the little ones we’re given. How little time I actually have before they’re grown. In the craziness of our day-to-day here, it is so easy to lose sight of that and suddenly realize that a month has passed and I barely noticed.

They say that’s how it happens… you’re living life, you turn for an instant…

… and that squinty-eyed grin has become only a memory. That fourth tooth will have come in, fallen out, and an adult tooth will sit in it’s place.

It won’t be long before the high chairs will be packed away and they no longer get messy faces when they eat spaghetti.

The toddler who dunks his head in the water when he’s swimming and yet cries when we wash his hair won’t need floaties on his arms anymore or and will wash his own hair.

The baby who didn’t like the cool water of the pool on the first try (yes, he’s in a floatie IN the baby pool, as per his brother’s request) has already changed his mind since this picture was taken. Now kicking and splashing provide endless fun, whether in the cool pool or in the warm bath.

I know they need to experience life… follow the path God has planned for them… grow up to be men who love and serve the God we’ve introduced them to.

I know that babying them and trying to keep them little will only hinder them. I don’t want to be a mother who holds them back from becoming who they are in Christ. I want to encourage them to grow and learn and be. I rejoice in those changes, day after day.

But I also don’t want to forget. There are so many little things that happen every day that are beyond precious. I don’t want those looks, actions, moments to become just a distant, faded memory.

Things like Troy’s love for giving Eskimo kisses…

Or Merritt’s sleepy eyed snuggle time after naps. Or piling into our bed every morning, giggling together while Troy talks about “ships sailing on the ceiling.”

The way Merritt opens his mouth WIDE to grin and how much he loves to “fly” through the air.

“Let’s be silly, Mommy! Okay, Mommy? Be silly!”

Don’t you sometimes (keeping that sometimes in mind, heh) wish there was a camera capturing every moment so we could look back at particular moments anytime we wished to? To keep the present from simply becoming the past and then fading into oblivion?

When I look at these pictures from a few years or even a few months ago, I have a hard time putting into perspective that the children I have right here, today are the same ones in those pictures. I hardly remember what they looked like when they were babies.

Tonight I decided I need to capture more of these moments in pictures.

It’s just speeding by way. too. fast.

I was beginning to run in circles

July 26, 2008

You know that place where you’re so behind in your laundry you still have last week’s piles sorted and waiting to be washed when you realize you need to do this week’s laundry? Then you realize there’s hardly any space in the laundry area to add the “new” clothes?

Yeah. You could say I’m there.

(You could probably also say I’ve seen one too many State Farm commercials lately.)


After Hannah Beth left on Thursday, the thought came to me that, Hey, maybe it’s time to stop pretending to be sixteen and remember that I have a house and children to take care of. Oh yeah.

I promptly sat down that night and made a list of all the things I need to get done before John gets home.


There’s a lot to do. And not a lot of time to do it–a fact I’m only too happy to have to deal with. But still, there’s a lot of last-minute things to do. And those of you who remember the weeks before Merritt was born will know how I tend to get when I have a mile-long list of unreasonable expectations for myself.

My perfectionism comes out IN FULL FORCE.

Needless to say, in all my unbelievable excitement over John coming home soon, I started stressing out a just leetle bit. John even picked up on it over the phone and asked what the deal was.

“Uh, well, I’m so, so super duper very really crazy unbelievably unspeakably excited for you to come home. And so I made a list of everything I want done before then, and, weeeeell…”

“You want everything to be perfect, right?”

You’d think he knows me well or something.

Then he went on to tell me that HE doesn’t want everything perfect. HE doesn’t care. HE wants things to be normal around here. Comfortable. Lived in. Like he doesn’t have to be careful not to mess up our perfect life.

And THAT, my friends, is why I married this guy.

Off to see the whale

July 23, 2008

Yesterday we decided to let Hannah Beth taste a little bit of SoCal and headed to Sea World.

We planned to get there between 10-11am.

Thanks to my usual lack of a brain and several small setbacks combined, 12:45 saw us pulling into the parking lot.

Better late than never, I always say.

(Okay, I don’t really, but, hey, it sounds good.)

HB had never seen surfboards atop a car before. She took to calling out “Surfboards!!” every time we passed one. For some reason that cracked us up.

Personally, I think the baby blue VW Bus driving down the 5 freeway, carrying two shiny surfboards on top was the best. It doesn’t get much more San Diego than that.

See Troy’s yellow shirt? By the end of the day, we were skeptical as to its fate. In fact, we still are. Short of a Spray n’ Wash miracle, I think Shamu left his permanent mark on that shirt. More on that later.

Starfish. Er, excuse me, a SEA STAR. While standing in line for the Sesame Street Sea Star ride, we learned that starfish are not, in fact, fish at all. They are just animals in the shape of a star that HAPPEN to live in the ocean. It is a GOOD THING we found that out, peeps, because I’d been lying to my child since birth about the starfish.

Now that’s he’s learned the truth, that two year old corrects us. “Sea ‘tar, Mommy. Sea ‘tar, Hannah Beff.”

Merritt, on the other hand, doesn’t care so much. He prefers chillin’ in the stroller and watching the people walk by.

Hey, WE enjoy sitting and watching the people walk by. I mean, who in their right mind wears four inch stilettos to an amusement park? Or wears hoodie sweatshirts in hot weather? Not that the typical warm weather attire is exactly a great alternative, AHEM.

Oh yeah, that yellow shirt…

HB and I decided that our warm weather solution was to get some ice cream. After all, we are quite healthy and have been sticking to a great diet. Salad and ice cream. Mmhmm.

So we got some ice cream. And we picked up a Shamu cookie for Troy.

What I neglected to think about was the fact that Shamu is black.


That shirt is getting some stain treatments today.

The boys got to meet Cookie Monster in the Sesame Street playplace. Not exactly a sea creature, but exciting nonetheless.

And then, of course, there’s the star of the show. Can’t forget about him.

Late starts and majorly stained yellow shirts aside, it was fun times, peeps, fun times.

Now if we could just figure out a way to postpone HB’s trip home tomorrow…

Cows, Lemons and Cheese

July 20, 2008

Tonight Hannah Beth was looking through my photo albums and pulled out the big thick “four year book” my mom made me when I graduated high school. Since I was homeschooled, she made me a gigantic scrapbook encompassing all four years in one.

In other words, it’s a scrapbook full of pictures of me in various stages of weird and embarrassing attire. Oh, and many different lengths and styles of strange hair.

But that’s what a yearbook is for, right?

The first few pages contain The List I made the summer before ninth grade. My parents had me write out everything I hoped to accomplish during my high school years. What were my goals? Ideas? My mom told me to jot down anything and everything–no matter how “out there.”

So I did.

And I took the “no matter how out there” part quite literally.

So tonight we decided to take inventory of how I did. What I accomplished, and what I, uh, didn’t.

For your reading pleasure, I now bring you The List, exactly as it appears in the book. Under the fancy scrolling letters of L.I.S.T. and a friend’s email address, of course.

  • Flower arranging–wreaths, etc. Um, nope.
  • Cake decorating A little… but it fizzled out once my family told me that baking a couple cakes a week was getting to be a bit much.
  • Sewing–things such as skirts, shirts (blouses with buttons down the front, etc.), apron, real dresses, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc. And LOTS of other stuff. How’s that for fashion sense? This is precisely why we went shopping this weekend.
  • Basket weaving Tried at a women’s retreat once. Didn’t have enough hands or arms on me.
  • Canning!!! Hey, I did do this one. Strawberry jam, peaches, pickles, apple pie filling.
  • Gardening (vegetable gardening) I think we already covered this one, ahem.
  • Herb gardening and learning how to use them to make medicines, in cooking, etc. I was convinced I could become a botanist. I’m not.
  • Making Soap-LYE soap. Ha. Yeah. Can’t you just see me over a pot, stirring lye for soap.
  • Regular cooking, Wednesday nights Did do this one, too. I think my husband now appreciates it.
  • Learning how to grow things (plants, citrus trees :) etc.) from their own seeds. (Drying the seeds, etc.) Other than the fact that I don’t grow things that are already living, let alone from their own seeds, what’s the deal with the citrus trees? I grew up in the desert. “Hey, look at my lemon tree in the back yard!”
  • Typing (not exactly a homemaking skill, but something I’d like to do). Well, does this one need explaining? Clearly, I learned to type. And type fast. Just look at this post.
  • Quilting!!! Thanks to my home ec course, I actually made a baby quilt. It was pink. I now have two boys.
  • Make cheese (just once, to try, since we don’t have a cow) Hannah Beth says I should stick that there cow next to the lemon tree on my parents’ half acre desert lot.
  • Singing course Does having a singer for a husband count?
  • Hardanger (or however you spell it) Maybe a spelling course would have been more beneficial?
  • Advanced cross stitching Can do that, believe it or not
  • Needlepoint Good intentions and all that
  • Make all sorts of interesting breads :) Cakes too :) Bread machines make good friends. So does the bread aisle at the grocery store.
  • I know this will never happen, Daddy probably wouldn’t say yes, but as long as I’m writing down things I’d like to do, I might as well say it. I’d like to keep chickens. :) I could take care of them (although Zach would probably want to help) and all that stuff. I also think goats would be fun, but…….. :)

Okay. At this point, we are laughing so hard we feel we might wet our pants. Can’t you see it? In the desert DIRT, the chickens clucking away around the mooing cow, while the goats eat the lemon tree and I look on sweetly while arranging flowers in a basket I made, with the aroma of an “interesting cake” wafting through the air. I’d, of course, be adorned in a blouse with buttons down the front that I’d made myself.

Oh good heavens.

  • Languages: (prepare yourself, here) Spanish; German; French; Greek; Hebrew; Russian; Hmar, of course, but I don’t think I could get a course for that. Number of foreign languages I speak? ZERO. Smart, ain’t I?
  • Different types of science–I don’t know what they’re called, but I know I want to do them.
  • Government
  • Biology
  • World History
  • Wordsmith Craftsman

I actually DID do all of those school subjects. Think maybe my parents actually had some common sense where I, uh, lacked it?

  • Resource skills or reference materials. Whatever they’re called? I want to be able to, when I want to know something, know the best way to find it. (HUH???) I want to know how to do research efficiently and do it so that it’s fun and so I’ll remember it. Ohhh, I was talking about GOOGLE!
  • Learn how to do framing. Just pretty much for fun. I’ve always wanted to do that. What? Have fun, or frame??
  • Checkbooks, grocery shopping, etc. etc. etc. {Learning how to manage finances} Well, um, considering that I’d overdrawn my checking account only a few months after I got it and my dad had to bail me out, it would seem this one caused me a few problems. AHEM.
  • Learn to knit… socks, sweaters, etc. I can make a dishcloth. Fancy, eh?
  • Make paper w/Zach, once. I’ve heard of people doing it. Just thought it would be fun. I’ve still only heard of people making paper. I wonder if it’s fun?
  • Bible studying. Doing an IN-DEPTH study of a certain book(s) with Daddy? Sounds like fun. Done. Several times over.
  • Scrapbooking. Um, no. I don’t scrapbook. I blog.

And that’s it.

Not ambitious or anything, right?

Gotta run–time to milk the cow and pick some lemons.

I doubt she’s ever going to want kids

July 18, 2008

I have a sweet, hilarious God-send of a girl staying with me right now.

She’s an old family friend and flew out from Alabama with my Grammie this week. Hannah Beth is staying here with me for ten days while my Grammie stays with my parents.

We’ve had a crazy-fun time the past few days doing a lot of laughing, swimming at my parents’ house, eating ice cream, laughing, watching TLC, staying up too late, cracking up, discussing the finer points of all things from clothing to convictions, and spending much time… laughing.

Notice a pattern here? I thought so.

I’m telling you, this girl is fuh-uh-NY, peeps.

For instance.

Last night, while we were all swimming by the light of the porch/pool light/moon, she asked, “People can’t get sunburned at night, right?”

She was serious.

She’s never going to live that one down. And she’s okay with it. She’s taken it and run with it.

Soon you’ll being seeing her product when she patents her own moon-screen. I’ll be first in line.

So anyway, today we decided to go shopping.

(Hannah Beth’s daddy laughed at us tonight over the phone and told her, “You sure are suffering out there in California, taking care of those kids, aren’t you?” She IS helping though. Believe me. She is. She waits on me hand and foot–she just got up to fill my drink while I remained seated on the couch. SPOILED–and is absolutely awesome with the kids. She is working hard. And without her, I wouldn’t be doing the stuff I’m able to do WITH her.)

But we went shopping today. And we took my brother with us, since he seemed to get a double portion of the fashion sense I was born completely without. I figured with both of them, I couldn’t go wrong.

(And I was feeling rested and peppy thanks to the boys’ good night of sleep last night. I wish I could blame it all on one of your awesome suggestions, but last night was just a result of the swimming. Next week, peeps, I’m going to start in on those suggestions. Let me just say you all are AWESOME. You are wonderful. You know how to come to a girl’s rescue when she’s in a jam. I couldn’t do it without you, peeps.)

So we started driving.

We got halfway into our two hour drive and stopped at a stop light. We were talking and laughing, as we tend to do and the kids were asleep when… we all screamed. (Except Zach, of course. He’s a seventeen year old guy. They don’t scream. They yell.) We’d been rear-ended.

It turned out we were okay and the truck was okay, though I still got the other guy’s info, just in case. But he was wearing a really cool plaid hat, so we all thought he was purty cool. Makes it all okay, right?

After my fragile nerves calmed a bit, we went on our way to the mall.

We pulled in and parked, laughing and talking, once again, as we are prone to do.

We got out the stroller, the diaper bag, the purses, and all the other paraphernalia necessary to shop with two children, and the sweet, hilarious, helpful 16 year old girl pulled Merritt out of his carseat and set him in his seat. And then she felt that her hand was wet.

Need I even tell you what was on her lily white hand?


I scooped him up and tossed her the wipes. Then she looked down into the stroller.

GOBS of it, peeps.

My brother walked over and checked out the carseat.


I needn’t tell you what the diaper itself looked like when I cleaned up the baby.

It took us a bit, but eventually we got cleaned up. Hannah Beth used about half a bottle of her Purell in the process and we only had three wipes left by the end of it, but, hey, we were clean, we were done, and we were on our way.

We took two steps toward the door to the mall and heard, “Eh. EWWWW!”

The poor girl had looked down at her shirt and saw ONE MORE GLOB. On her shirt.

Okay, I’m the mom and even I was disgusted. It looked…. yummy. We won’t tell you exactly WHAT it looked like so you can enjoy your tortilla chips and, ahem, dip next time you have Mexican food.

Thankfully, I had a shirt she could put on and then, THEN, we were on our way.

I’m sure she was recalling such things as the other poop incedents she’s read about here and making a firm committment against ever having a child of her own.

Both of them commented on the fact that I was pretty calm and collected throughout the whole ordeal–a fact for which they were both thankful. But what mom hasn’t dealt with blowout diapers in public before? It comes with the territory. Kinda like being up all night. What they DIDN’T know and I did was that the poop incident was only the beginning.

Neither of them had really been power shopping with a two year old and a baby before. Ha.

But, hey, all in all, we were hugely successful in our power shopping attempts. We found a whole ton o’ sales and a whole ton o’ cute clothes in them. Zach–ever the trooper–even dared send two girls into the fitting room with armloads of clothes and waited patiently while we cracked ourselves up trying them all on and modeled them for him, expecting an opinion more than merely a “Uh, sure, looks good.”

I felt like I was sixteen for a while. Except for, you know, the two kids whining in the background.

But, hey, a few bags full of new clothes and some new shoes make everything better in my book.