12.28.2011

baby bump: 26 weeks

I'm a day late getting week 26 posted… I'm sure she'll forgive.
dear baby,

christmas time has made me ache to hold you even more. you spent a lot of time around your cousins and other family members this week, and already received some wonderful little presents. you are already loved so deeply by so many. you and i are lucky in this way: we have a wonderful, wonderful family.

your cousin, caroline, already asks about "baby cousin" all the time. she knows you're in my "tummy," yet is still a little confused that she can't see you. she will love you immensely… and probably boss you around a bit since she is a lot like mommy's sister. :)

this entire week i kept daydreaming about what next year will be like with you, nine months old already. i so badly want to be able to picture your sweet face and little features in those daydreams, but i will just have to wait three more months! thinking of your little baby fingers and toes also makes me appreciate even more the gift of the baby jesus that we celebrated this week, and how human he was in that moment he slipped into our skin as an infant.

you kept me awake a bit for the first time this week, also. one night when i crawled into bed you just kept kicking and kicking and kicking. i didn't mind too much since it was the first time :). many still tell me that they think i look "small" for 6 months… but sweetheart, let me tell ya, mama does not feel so small right now!

i hope you enjoyed the sounds of christmas from safe in my womb, and this week you get to experience another first: new years! [though as tired as you've been making me again lately, we'll see how well i can stay up]. love you so much.

love,
mom

12.25.2011

Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas, from our family to yours!

12.21.2011

home improvement update

I realize it has been quite some time since I have had a home renovation post. This is partly due to the fact that renovation has slowed down considerably for us…thank goodness. You other homeowners know [especially home owners of OLDER homes] there is always something that you would like to do, or that could be done…but for now the big projects have stopped for awhile. One of our last projects I mentioned were our counter tops that we installed last winter. Other updates were mentioned here and here. There have been many other things that I haven't highlighted on here as well.

Our latest endeavor though, which has seemed to take f.o.r.e.v.e.r. has been our mudroom/laundry room whatever you prefer calling it.

Here is a "before" from when we first moved in: June 2010:
Things to notice in the above photo:
- Wall to wall PANELLING. [as if you could miss it]
- Cabinets, doors etc all woodwork…of an ugly variety

Now for the updating process. Last summer we noticed our ceiling in this room was dripping. Yep, awesome. It got worse. And then worse. And then moldy. And then the ceiling fell in. Yep, even more awesome. Our old…old…OLD…AC unit was in our attic and the bottom had rusted out, which caused the condensation to drip straight through our ceiling instead of being redirected. It was a big, smelly mess.

First priority was a new unit. We splurged for a new unit that would add central heating via a heat pump [more energy efficient…thus a tax rebate! Oh yeah!], since we only had base board heating before. We clearly didn't want to put the unit in our attic, so we added it to the empty space in the above photo. Easy access for maintence…new unit…awesome. However, putting this new unit it also required us to need a new electric box/circuit/amp thing. [Clearly I was not the one to put this in]. These two updates were by far the most expensive of anything we've done, but I think/hope/pray they pay off in the long run.

And OH YEAH…we still had a festering hole in our ceiling. We knew we needed to have that re-sheet rocked, so we got a quote on what it would cost to do the whole room…because even though the panelling made me feel oh-so-retro, I wouldn't cry if it had to go :). The cost of having someone else professionally do the sheet rocking was so reasonable we said, "HECK YEAH!" or something like that. And the nasty moldy ceiling, and nasty, ugly panelling came down. HOORAY.

And then it sat like that for awhile. I got pregnant and couldn't paint [beautiful thing], and so my awesome mother-in-law came over and got the ball rolling. She prepped everything, which is a very long process. And then she and Brent used one of their we-work-at-a-bank-and-get-random-holidays-day to bust the rest of it out. They are awesome. We are still going to update the floor, but for now it is SO MUCH BETTER. #1. it no longer smells. I didn't even want to do laundry in there because of it [thanks, mold.] #2. It seems so much bigger and less like the walls are collapsing in on you because of all of the panelling.

Yes it was a lengthy process…but the fruits of our labor have been well worth it so far :). I told Brent we could do a "sports theme" and use some of his KU stuff, which he of course was all for. I'll stop rambling now and let you take a peek [or, if you REALLY want to get the full feel for this room, I'll let you come by and do some laundry! HOORAY!]
So much better. The curtain in the back is currently hiding the AC unit. Beck and Brent will be building that in soon…or at least, sometime.
I have commissioned the world famous and multi-talented Grandpa A.J. to build a bench seat with storage for beneath this window. . I'm in no hurry to get it [don't panic, Grandpa!], but it will look quite nice right there, I do believe. AND it will come in handy once this little daughter of mine needs to sit down and put her shoes on to go outside. For now the ol' army trunk I found at a garage sale will do [it is pretty cool].

Like I said, I brought some of Brent's KU stuff into the room…actually, everything I "decorated" with was stuff I had on hand. Since the renovation of this room was so pricey after the new unit, electrical, and sheet rock, I didn't want to spend anything else! The shelf above was made for me by my Uncle Kirby years and years go, I always have a million frames laying around I've collected over the years, the flowers were something I had picked up at a thrift store in college, and the plaque I found in my stack of high school memorabilia that my sister gave me for Christmas in 2001 [it said it on the back…I don't actually remember that].
I also found some random yet cool vintage photos tucked away in my classroom closet. I swear they had been there for 60 years…that is probably not an exaggeration. They came with an old text book and have writing prompts on the back. I actually use these [there are hundreds of them] for my writers notebook invitations sometimes! I pulled out a few of the cooler sports ones and again found some frames I had on hand.
The picture on the left came from classroom closet. Hilarious. And the two on the right I decided to add of Brent and me. See below:
Look at that cutie-pa-tootie. Number 44, you have no chance. You are about to get schooled by my man. Brent was and is a fierce, I repeat, FIERCE basketball player. Okay…he's a fierce athlete all-around. Dear daughter, please get his skillz.
And to continue with the black and white theme, I found this old newspaper clipping from my glory days. [I will not so humbly have you know that the caption to this picture read, "McQueen struck out 8 of the Lady Wolverines, but Kelsey C** stepped up to drill a 2 run homer off of her in the bottom of the 5th inning." But it really is no wonder…look at those guns! I was pretty stout back in the day. It is funny though that now, as assistant softball coach, I'm analyzing my swing and realizing that I'm dropping my shoulder pretty severely. Hands to the ball, Kels! Come on!!] Oh…yeah…the mudroom…

This door leads out to the garage. I hung up some old practice jerseys of ours.
And found this old gem that I made when I was in high school. I found an old frame, painted it, stapled some chicken wire to the back and viola. It's a great place to hang our car keys too.
ar k One other thing I never took a picture of before was our second bathroom. It is tucked away in our mudroom…which is actually a great place to have it. [It is past the closet to the left in the first picture…the doorway with Brent's pull up bar]. It isn't very large, but it has a great shower, stool, sink, and even has access to the big closet. All one could dream of having in a bathroom, right? Torri actually helped me paint this little sucker last winter.
And there you have it…from start to finish…even though there are still a few more projects to tackle in here, I'm pleased with my nice, clean, mold free mudroom! [I still don't like doing laundry…but that is another post entirely…oh wait: here's that post!]

Hope you enjoyed this peek into our home! And as always, it's always open to friends and family…and the rest of you too :).

12.20.2011

baby bump: 25 weeks


dear baby,

this was another big week for us as we crossed the 100 day threshold! can you believe it? [yeah, me either, kiddo].
so in less than 100 days i get to meet you, hold you, smoosh your cute tooshi…oh, it's gonna happen, look out!

i've thought more and more about what my hopes and dreams are for you. ultimately though i simply hope you know the love of our savior in your daily life, and that you are a kind and compassionate woman, always full of joy. everything else seems like details.

my energy level seems to be decreasing again, but don't feel too bad about that…i rather like having an excuse to crawl into my warm bed early these days. i love to sleep. i am really hoping that this is a trait you inherit from me…early in life. :)

sweet baby of mine, only 15ish more weeks-- i think we can do this! keep growing, daughter. see you soon!

love, mom


12.18.2011

a leaking heart

This week/weekend has proven more eventful than I thought it was going to be. Which is not a bad thing. Not only did I get to hang out and play nertz with two of my favorites, Paige and Torri, but I also got treated to lunch at the Olive Garden yesterday, compliments of my husband's idea and a gift card :). We had an interesting week visiting Torri in the hospital … which was also unexpected… but are so glad she is at home and doing better. [VERY long story short: she got throttled to the ground during a basketball game 2 weeks ago, split her head open…no foul...Yikes. Anyway. She of course, being the tough cookie she is, got the blood taken care of and patched up and returned to the game to score our team's first two points She felt fine in the following few days, even played in a game three nights after the accident, but then noticed a swelling beginning in her neck. It progressively got worse…and worse and worse and worse…which led to checking her in the hospital to make sure it wasn't infected and that she was okay. She is still recovering, but doing awesome…and if anyone from our town sees the girl that caused her to fall so violently, well, let's just say that girl better have some body guards :). Nobody messes with our Torri!] All that to say-- most of my evenings were spent visiting her, and not blogging, which was way better. I love that girl.

Now to what the title of this post references [I had no intention of writing that "introduction" but there it is].

I'm currently reading "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak [and need to do another review post over books I've read recently]. I'm only about a 1/4 of the way into it, but so far it has been fantastic [Thanks for the recommendation, Meagan!]. But I'll save all of that for later.

I was reading the other night and the following words struck me:
"Somewhere, far down, there was an itch in his heart, but he made it a point not to scratch it. He was afraid of what might come leaking out."
To put this in context for those of you that have never read the book, "he" is referring to a man living outside Munich in Nazi Germany. "He" does not agree with Hitler. He is a member of the Nazi party because he must provide for his family. But…"somewhere far down, there was an itch in his heart…"

I just finished reading/teaching the play version of "The Diary of Anne Frank" with my 8th grade class, so part of the reason this struck me is because I had to stop and think, "What if everyone, in particular males who were members of the Nazi party, who had an "itch" in their hearts during this time WOULD have been willing to "scratch it"? What atrocities may have been stopped?"

But then my mind kept on moving, as it often as the tendency to do and I realize I'm not always in complete control over it…

What if WE, in particular men and women who are members of the Kingdom of God, would scratch our hearts where they itch? What if we would scratch that place that tells us it isn't okay to be buying ANOTHER present for a family member when there are kids not only in other countries but in our own communities who need shoes, clothes, and shelter? What if we would scratch that place in our hearts that tells us to give up our vacation time to go serve in Ethiopia, or Poland, or China? What if we would scratch that place that tells us the job we've had for 10plus years, though comfortable to us, may not be where we are supposed to remain if we truly want to use our gifts? What if we would scratch that place that tells us to move from everything we know to follow His call, even if we don't know exactly what all that entails right now?

And maybe the itch isn't even that big. But what if we would scratch that place that tells us to stop and ask that older woman if she would like help carrying her groceries? What if we would scratch that place that tells us to let a dad with two restless kids in his cart ahead of us in line? What if we would scratch that place that tells us to offer a hug, especially when hugs are uncomfortable for us? What if we would scratch that place that tells us to pay for the other person's gas too while filling up at the pump?

What if we would be willing to scratch the itch in our hearts, whatever it may be?

I think, just like the fictional character in the book, we don't scratch because we are afraid of what will come leaking out. We are afraid of what it may REQUIRE of us. We are afraid of being made uncomfortable or being looked at strangely. We are afraid of sacrificing time and money. We are afraid of sacrificing our selfishness.

We are afraid.

I think, especially this Christmas, we need to be more aware of the itches in our hearts.

I think we need to be less afraid of what will come leaking out of them.

I think we'll be surprised when we do.

12.13.2011

baby bump: 24 weeks


dear baby,
this week has flown by, which makes me wonder what the next 3 months will feel like. you are movin' and groovin' like crazy these days, and apparently you're gaining the ability to hiccup, though i haven't felt you master this phenomenon quite yet.
i have been dreaming more of what i hope to do with you in the future--just simple little things like cuddling with you on the couch, taking you for a walk around town, and eventually dancing with you to some loud and silly songs in our living room.
i am learning too that you are going to teach me a lot about control…as in, me having to learn how to give it over to God. i can only imagine that if i'm learning that now, while you're still less than two pounds and in my womb, how much more i'm going to have to learn how to do that when you are crawling…or walking…or driving…or leaving…or…
…but i'm getting ahead of myself. today i will just pray that He give me this day my daily bread…and enough bread for you too.
besides teaching me things, you also are making it increasingly difficult for me to bend over. i realized the other day that balancing on one foot while putting on a sock was nearly impossible, and i'm thankful we moved into a home that already had a handicap handle to hold onto in the shower! but even in spite of my minor discomfort, you are wonderful in every way.
oh, and you only have to come with me to school for one more week and then it is christmas break!! [we like christmas break :)]
love, mom

12.10.2011

our Story: Part XI

To read this story from the beginning, click HERE and scroll to the bottom. Enjoy!

Part XI:
Leaving
The summer rains have washed ruts into the now drying dirt beneath our feet. Graduations have come and gone, hugs have been offered more frequently, and every moment of time we can be together we are. There is one unspoken rule between us now: Don't speak of August 20th.

This rule is fairly easy to abide by for the time being. It is June and the sun is warm, the air is thick, and my tan is excellent. It is a lazy Saturday and I find myself lounging on the couch at Brent's house. His parents will be leaving soon, so we're making plans for the day, as neither his or my parents want us to be alone in their homes.

After deciding on Shrek II, we pull our lazy bones off the sofa and make our way to the car. On the porch he stops me by gently grabbing my elbow. I wheel around to face him. I am no longer afraid to look directly into his brown eyes. He doesn't say anything, but instead he wraps his long arms around my torso. I reciprocate, reaching up to wrap his neck in an embrace.

We stand for a moment, interlocked in the warm shade on the porch. I know what I am feeling now is not just excitement and butterflies and prom jitters and everything else that comes with teenage romance. I know that what I am feeling has been bubbling beneath the surface for years. Three years ago when I saw this boy grab his guitar on that mission trip, I simply wanted to get to know him more, but now that I know is thoughts and passions, his loves and dreams, I know what I am feeling for him is more than wishful teenage hopes.

I don't dare speak my mind though, after all our first kiss hasn't even been shared. Could I really love him already? I open my mouth. Because of our embrace, he can't see me and I shut my lips together once more. We slowly release our grip from one another, and he slides his hand down my arm to my hand. Before I realize what is happening my mouth is open again and almost inaudibly I whisper, "Thank you."

***
Late afternoon is approaching dusk as we pull into his driveway. The movie is long over, and post-movie ice cream cones have long since been devoured through laughter and more easy conversation. His parents still aren't back, and I need to get home, so we linger in the driveway putting off the inevitable, "See ya later."

I kick a piece of gravel with my sandal covered foot as he asks me what my week looks like. "Tomorrow we have a dinner after church, so I probably won't get to see ya then. When do you get off work on Monday?"

"5:30 or 6, I'll have to check."

"I may ask Mom if you can come over for supper then?"

"Sounds good." He smiles at me and then pulls me in for another hug. I lay my head on his shoulder. We hold each other in silence for several moments.

"Okay…I probably need to head out," I say as I reluctantly pull myself away from his arms. Standing face to face, we gingerly hold hands at our sides. I tilt my head sideways, smile, and say, "Okay…I probably need to head out."

"Umm…yeah…okay…" he says distantly, looking at the ground. "But…uhh…hey, what did we ever decide about, you know?…uhh." I have no idea where this is going, and no real clue about what he is talking about. "You know, I mean…what did we ever decide about the whole kissing thing?"

WHAT?! My whole body tenses as I try to keep my face relaxed and calm, lest he know what I am thinking. Am I ready for this? My first real kiss? Have I watched enough Disney movies to know how to lean in properly to get the most magical effect? "I didn't know we were deciding something? I thought…uh…it would just, ya know…whenever it's right."

"Okay." He pulls me back in for another hug.

Seriously? All that and nothing? If this fool doesn't kiss me after…

Brent leans back from our embrace and searches my face. I try to let it say, "KISS ME!" but am afraid it is coming across as, "I have to go to the bathroom." But before I can think about it much longer, his hands wrap around my face, he pulls me closer to him, and gently allows his lips to meet mine. They linger, but just for a moment, before he pulls back. As his hands leave my face, I slowly open my eyes to meet his smile.

Before either of us can say a word, we hear tires crunching gravel and see his parents who, with their impeccable timing, are pulling up the driveway.

"Of course," Brent kids, as we wave and then walk towards my car. Beyond my mortification at having possibly shared my first-kiss-moment with his parents, I'm grateful that it has provided us a transition through the awkward post-first-kiss-moment, when no one is quite sure what to do. Do we talk about the fact that we just kissed? Do we carry on like it never happened? Do we kiss again? Do I just say goodbye now? Instead, for us, we say hello to his parents as they make their way to the house.

He opens my car door and I situate myself in the driver's seat. He shuts the door and leans through the open window. "Let me know about Monday," he says, and quickly moves forward, kisses me once more, then begins walking towards the house.
***

The inevitable is only one moment away at all times. August 20th loomed before us, and was now only one day away. Tonight we would be saying goodbye.

I sort through and label boxes all morning, the knot growing tighter and tighter in my stomach while waiting for Brent to get off work. I eat the sandwich my mom makes me for lunch out of necessity, not because I am hungry.

Before I know it, I am at Brent's. We have three hours before that moment. We want to spend it normally, but this task seems impossible. I help him pack some stuff, as he will be leaving in a week for his own college adventure. We make it through supper with his parents in a haze. And then it is time.

We step out into the humid air that we have grown so familiar with this summer. This summer--and that thought makes my mind reel-- evenings spent by a campfire; a date to the park that turned to a vicious rain storm which forced us into the public restrooms, we laughed and kissed as the power went out and the rain poured down; dinner time conversations surrounded by family and friends; movies together while curled up on the couch, my hand in his; worshipping side by side at church; two additional songs he wrote and sang to me. Yes, this summer had been an exceptional one and I was not ready to put it into our past while being so unaware of our future.

Before he even says a word or moves to wrap me in his honey-tanned arms, I begin to cry. Slowly but surely it turns to weeping. Before long, fifteen minutes have passed and he simply holds me in his arms, whispering, "Shhh. It's okay. Shhh."

Taking a deep breath, I finally work up the nerve to look at him. A tear is streaming down his cheek. I reach up and wipe it away and hold his face in my hands. "How are we going to do this?" I question.

"We just will. I have no doubt in that."

"Really? No doubt? It's eight hours…" I trail off as I swallow the sob that is rising in my panicking throat.

"Kels, look at me." I look up as he grabs my hand. "I told you I will wait for you through this. We'll make it work. I trust you. Okay?" Through his sad eyes I see something else. There is an earnestness in them that begins to break through my panic. "There will be no one at Ozark like you. Kels, we'll make it work."

I could no longer stifle the tears. My bleary, red eyes peer at him and trust him. I simply nod my head as he wipes my cheeks clear then wraps me in his arms again. I could stand here for hours more, in this embrace that has come to mean safety and warmth, but I can't put myself through this right now. I pull away, indicating it is time, and he grabs my face and kisses me. I can taste the salt from his tears and mine as they intermingle on our lips.

12.09.2011

it's beginning to look a lot like...

You guessed it…Christmas. So here is the you-have-to-post-pictures-of-your-Christmas-decorations blog post.

When Meagan was here over Thanksgiving, she helped me find a little motivation to bust out the decorations. I'm not a grinch…but…not having a tree wouldn't kill me. Now that it is all up though, I'm happy we did it! [Oh and she wrote more about their time here over at her blog, with some awesome photos as well. Sigh. They're great. She even mentioned your dulcimers, Uncle Kirb!].

SO here is what it looks like around these parts these days, although you're more than welcome to just come see for yourself any time!! :)



[We had to add a little stocking this year, of course!]

The nativity set that Renae, my college roommate, gave me. Oddly enough, she and her husband received THREE nativity scenes for their wedding…in MAY…and they'd registered for none.
Brent and I finally got the lights up last week. And I LOVE THEM. He of course did the hard work on the roof, I just hung the lights around the windows etc. NExt year we may put them up in AUGUST thought because it took a long time for us to thaw out.


Hope you all are finding warmth as you prepare to celebrate Christmas. May we all remember the promise of that baby that came to us so long ago, and the new life we find in Him. Immanuel-- Lord with us. Merry Christmas!

12.06.2011

baby bump: 23 weeks



dear baby,
this week i have really been wanting to hold you in my arms. i know you are far better staying warm and cozy right now, but i'm beginning to feel the ache to see your face, and feel your skin, sing to you, and kiss your closed eye lids. i know we still have over three months to go, but my oh my how i love you.

you came with me to your first basketball games this week, and even though we'll love you no matter what, your daddy and i think you'll like basketball :-). speaking of that guy, you were putting on quite the show for him the other night. he was pushing on the lower right side of my belly because i told him that is where you were, and you kept pushing and pushing back, right where he was pressing. i have never felt you put that much effort into it. i don't know if he was making you mad or if you were giving him fist bumps!?

we also hung up christmas lights together. your dad did the tough, climb-the-ladder stuff, and we just stuck to the windows we could reach! i keep thinking about this time next year and how everything will be so different with you, nearly 8 months old, hanging around. you may just get me out of having to help hang lights at all…and for that, i want to thank you :).

i'm getting a little bit more anxious about getting your room ready, but if you make a deal to hold tight until the end of march, then i know i have plenty of time. more than that though, i know we want to get our hearts ready to receive you.

love, mom


"we're done now, thank you"

12.04.2011

thankful is an understatement

Last week was Thanksgiving.

I can hear the, "Well, duh"s resounding.

Last year on Thanksgiving we shared a wonderful flu bug with Brent's family, so this year was bound to be better. And it proved to be excellent indeed. If you are wondering just how we managed to pull off a Thanksgiving of such wonderful proportions, here are a few steps:

Step One: Convince your "lifer" friends to drive 10/11 hours to come stay with you for a few days over the break. [Enter Meagan and Shane. Shane was the worship intern with Brent. We fell in love. Literally. It's love. And then they moved to Indiana. And then they moved to Delaware. And then we moved to Missouri. And then they moved back to Kentucky. And then we all decided that getting rid of the state of Illinois is a campaign we can jump on! These are the friends mentioned here and here. ]

Step Two: It is best if you can schedule their arrival for around 3:30 AM Thanksgiving morning. This provides an air of festivity for all as you mumble your excited "hellos!" and show them to their room where they crash, understandably.

Step Three: Wake up and head out to your family's Thanksgiving get-together. Enjoy a wonderful time chatting with your awesome family, eating d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s. food, and being all around thankful for the blessings in your life. Oh, and don't forget to drag along your friends who have just driven through the night. Your family will love them!

Step Four: Jump in the car and drive to the other side of the family for some more food and fun. Have a very smelly Boston Terrier [who shall remain nameless] pass gas that forces the pregnant lady outside because it smells so terrible. This will provide much laughter for everyone and force the dog to be put away. It is a win/win for everyone!

Step Five. Return home. Change into sweatpants. Bust out the cards for a mean game of nertz. Remember that your cousin mentioned something about oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies. Immediately decide you need to make these.

Step Six: Make cookies. This is Meagan. She is awesome.
First scoop out a regular amount of dough
Then press the DOUBLE stuffed Oreo onto one of balls

Next grab another ball of dough and seal it around the Oreo…it's getting good folks!

Cookies will look massive. That's okay. They are supposed to.

MUST serve with a glass of milk. We were trying to be good stewards…use more milk than this!

Take a bite: and inspect

These are not staged photos.
I told ya you'd want that glass of milk...
Look at your friend and say, "uhmuhgosh, that boo my mind!"


Step Seven: After thoroughly enjoying the cookies, play Nertz until your eyes blur over. Call it a night at around 1:30.

Step Eight: Proceed to enjoy the rest of your time together by eating pizza, sharing a meal with your folks, going golfing [in 40 degree, windy weather?!], putting up Christmas decorations [inside, in 40 degree windy weather…I'll let you determine who you think did what], and stay up every night later than you should playing games [if you can manage around 150 rounds of Nertz, this is excellent], or simply sitting and talking and talking and talkingandtalkingandtalking and wishing you lived across town from one another again.

Step Nine: Realize it's "that time." Help them load their car, hug them quickly and don't really talk about what is happening, say "See ya soon!", and then cry as they drive away.

Step Ten: Thank the Lord for friends like them, because you know that kind of friendship comes around very rarely.

Step Eleven: In your depression over their departure, go finish off the batch of Oreo stuffed chocolate chip cookies.

*And yes, I only have pictures of food and us eating. And some of them are blurry because I was laughing at the responses to the cookies. :)

12.01.2011

'druthers

I love words like 'druthers.

We stumbled across this today in class [yes, in "To Kill a Mockingbird" :-)] when Atticus tells Jem, "We can't always have our 'druthers." I paused as I often do while reading with my students and explained what this word meant.

It originated from the combination of "would rather" or "I'd rather." When you run those words together it comes out sounding a bit like "druther." Eventually it came to be written as this [through the process of metathesis, as any good linguist would know!], and was most often used in the plural case, referring to things we want, or preferences we have.

And this got me to thinking, how many times in life do we focus on our 'druthers? As Atticus said, we can't always have them, and many of us would add that we feel we very rarely get them.

While thinking about my 'druthers today, I was confronted with someone else's reality: Jaque, my principal's wife and an elementary teacher, a friend from church, and a 30-something year old woman in our community, had to go back for her 2nd round of chemotherapy today. And my next door neighbor with two young boys was recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer for which they don't know of a cure. Talk about 'druthers.

Jaque keeps up a journal on a website and as I read her thoughts about her 2nd round today, and her her fears over losing her hair, I realized how silly my 'druthers seem at the moment. She also wrote about some mundane things in life, that are immense blessings to her right now: keeping food down, a day when her students behave so she isn't so exhausted, strength, and her hair.

How often do I get upset because "I'd rather" my hair cooperate more in the morning? How often do I get annoyed that "I'd rather" not have to get up and go to the bathroom 2 times in the night because of my pregnancy? I have hair. I'm healthy enough to have a baby.

Perspective is something that is difficult to swallow sometimes. I think it is because we get so hung up by our 'druthers.

The Lord thankfully does not give us everything we want. And sometimes this means He stands aside and lets us suffer from things that are a part of this fallen world in which we live. But always, whether we have our 'druthers or not, He has promised to be there with us.

Please continue to pray for Jaque and her husband in this battle, as well as my neighbor and his family, but also let their struggle force you to not be so focused on your 'druthers and be thankful for each day we have.

11.29.2011

baby bump: 22 weeks


dear baby, you continue to amaze me, sweet daughter. just when i need a pick-me-up you squirm around or kick me in the gut and it is just the "hello!" that i need from you to remind me how blessed i am. every once in awhile i'll say, "hey, sweet baby…" and ask how you are doing. can you hear me? supposedly you can-- which i think is pretty cool because that means you get to hear me read my favorite book out loud to my students every day ["to kill a mockingbird"]… it also means you hear when i say, "i love you." because i do. deeply and fully, i do.

speaking of that, one thing i am loving right now is that i get to take you everywhere with me. i know i'll still do that, essentially, once you're born, but it will be different. i won't get your secret hellos and i won't know all.the.time that you are safe.

everyone still tells me that i don't look very pregnant, but i have a feeling you're going to make that perfectly clear in the next couple weeks. i'm praying for you and pray that you continually feel secure and protected. keep up the big work of growing, little one. i love you.

love, mom

11.23.2011

celebrating brent


Brent turned 26 on Monday. TWENTY. SIX. I can't even believe it. We're so old. :)

Brent gets his birthday off [paid vacation…what a perk!], so he used that time to finish painting our laundry room. It looks fantastic and after I clean it today I'll try to get some pictures up.

Monday evening we went out to my parent's for a supper of soup and Brent's parents were even able to come spend some time with us as well. We even had root beer floats for dessert! [Again, it's nice to be in our "Maycomb" so close to our parents at times like this :-)].

One of the highlights of the day though was that Brent got a video message from our sweet Caroline. We've watched over and over again :-) The quality isn't great [it's from a phone], but it's still worth sharing! [And at the end she is saying, "I wanna see Caroline…" too cute! ]

video

Hope you had a wonderful birthday, Brent! You are still the man of my dreams in every way. :)

11.22.2011

baby bump: 21 weeks

dear baby,

you just keep growing and growing! keep it up! i can't even believe that it's already been almost 5 months since you first began to form.


the big news this week is that your dad finally got to feel you kick. one night after supper you were persistent in your punches, and i was nearly certain he should be able to feel you from the outside. and sure enough you gave a big one on my lower right side and he looked at me and was smiling from ear to ear. please be that tenacious more so he can feel you again.


people are starting to feel the need to touch my belly more now too, but i don't really mind. i'm awful proud of you already so you can just flaunt yourself all you want, okay?


i hope you like thanksgiving food because i plan on treating you right this thursday as we celebrate our first one together. for the time being though, keep whirling and twirling away in there for as long as you would like!


love, mom

11.19.2011

a tired old town

As I mentioned recently, I'm reading/teaching "To Kill a Mockingbird" again with my sophomores. As I've said before, I'm slightly obsessed with this book. I could probably come up with 80 reasons why I love it. [And if you delete "slightly" and "probably" then those sentences are true]. However, when I came home from school/work, I looked out my front window and saw this:


They are totally stopped in the middle of the intersection at the corner where I live. And they sat there for approximately four or five minutes, just resting and talking and pointing [and being watched, little to their knowledge :-)]. They are maybe 8 or 9 years old. Finally, when whatever they were trying to accomplish with their stop was accomplished, they road again, all the while in the middle of the street.

Now what does THAT have anything to do with why I love "To Kill a Mockingbird?"

Scout and Jem Finch get to meander all over their neighborhood. At the beginning of the book Scout is a mere 6 years old, and Jem is almost 10 and yet they are all over the place with their sidekick, 7 year old Dill Harris. Their "summertime boundaries (within calling distance of Calpurnia) were Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose's house two doors to the north of us, and the Radley Place three doors to the south. We were never temped to break them. The Radley PLace was inhabited by an unknown entity the mere description of whom was enough to make us behave for days on end; Mrs. Dubose was plain hell." The adventures they are able to have within these parameters are formative, and they are many. Which brings me back to the bike boys outside my house the other day.

In those two boys I saw someone else: First, because I had just been immersed in the book that day, I saw Scout and Jem. But then, I saw my sister and I riding those same streets, not afraid to park in an intersection, and not afraid of being a couple blocks from home. We were safe. And we were always being watched…in a good way. Just like I was looking out my window at the boys, others looked out their windows at us, and if anything were to happen they would have been there for us, just as I would have jumped to those boys' rescue.

Once I made this connection, I realized there were so many other parts of the story of "Mockingbird" that I could relate to from my own childhood, and I began to understand even more my deep connection to the characters.

Like Maycomb, the town I grew up in and the town in which I now reside seems to be stuck in a simpler time. Scout describes Maycomb early in the book:
"Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks; the courthouse sagged in the square…People moved slowly then. They ambled across the square, shuffled in and out of the stores around it, took their time about everything. A day was twenty-four hours but seemed longer. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with…closed doors meant illness and cold weather only."
And this is why two years ago Brent and I sat down and began talking about our dreams for our future. More than just I-would-like-to-be-here-in-my-job-then and I'd-like-to-have-this-much-saved-for-this-by-then, we talked about what we envisioned our daily lives to look like. When we began thinking about our children, we inevitably came back to the images, smells, and adventures of our own childhoods. We wanted open screen doors and a town square, and a slower pace, and larger boundaries for our kids to roam. Though we didn't express it this way, we realized we wanted them to be able to have a Dill Harris in their life and a Radley house surrounded with mystery on the outskirts of town. We wanted them to be able to walk to school and stand up for a Walter Cunningham because they knew where he came from. We wanted them to be in a town where people came out of their homes at one in the morning to help out when a neighbor's house caught fire. We wanted them to be able to walk next door and have cake with a Miss Maudie. And ultimately, we wanted them to learn about the human dignity that unites us all, and that most people are "real nice" once you get to know them.

And so we loaded a Uhaul and moved. We moved away from a lot of convenient things, and a lot of great friends, and an excellent job. We moved away and returned to "Maycomb," where we felt our dreams for our future children could take flight in its pot-hole filled streets and cracked sidewalks; where the courthouse sags in the square and people are a lot more likely to amble through life.

Are there days that I miss Louisville and the city? Yes. Are there times that I wish there were more people from my generation for Brent and I to spend time with? Absolutely. But then I think back to these dreams we discussed, which were such a big part of what brought us here. I realize that though we may feel like we are sacrificing having more people our age around, our kids will have the opportunity to learn that real courage is knowing "you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what" from a "Mrs. Dubose" in town. They will get to learn that a "Boo Radley" may just be the one to save them. And I hope they will also get to learn from an "Atticus Finch" who is still worth standing up for when he passes.

I surprisingly don't know who those two boys were on their bikes the other day, but I'm glad they chose to take their rest in front of my house and remind me of my memories so that I could remember my dreams.