Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Back to School Season & A Walk Down Memory Lane

As many students head back to school this week and next, I think of my own school memories.  I don’t remember to many specifics about kindergarten or elementary school.  I remember enjoying it, the images of the school hallways and some of my childhood friends.  My years in middle school and high school are easier for me to remember.  I remember certain people, events, class projects and trips.  There are things that marked that time in my life.  A time when I was very uncertain of who I was.  When it came time to go to college I had great aspirations and dreams of what it would be.  These dreams collided with reality upon my arrival and the sheltered world I had grown up in was shattered.  My parents were older when they had me and my sister – older in the sense of my Dad was 44 and my Mom was 42.  This is not so uncommon today, but in the 1980’s it made for a very different upbringing. 

When I went away to college I was not stylish; I wore baggy clothes, my hair pulled back in the proverbial pony tail and didn’t know how to do makeup.  I had gone to private school my whole life in which you wore a uniform every single day.  I didn’t know what was “hip” or flattering.  At this point in my life, I didn’t put much stock in my appearance nor did I realize that the whole world was judging every detail of my physical appearance.  I had no real social skills and was oblivious to this fact as well.  My college experience was a culture shock.  I went to a liberal college after being in a private Christian school my whole life.  My roommate was so incredibly different from me that I had no idea how to relate to her.  My conservative Christian values did not mix well with her world view.  I had a “not in Kansas anymore” moment at least once a week.  Sometimes I wish that me that I am now, someone who knows who she is, what she stands for (you know, the older wiser version of 17 year old me) could go back and tell myself 2 things:

1.       Tell my 17 year old self that it gets better and that life is amazing at age 29 1/2 and that this experience is going to teach you more then you realize in of this moment.


2.       PRAY.  Pray for her.  That roommate.  The one that was an only child who had no concept of shared space.  Pray for the anger that seemed to rage inside her.  Pray for peace in the midst of conflict.  Pray for wisdom and guidance.   

Looking back now I realize there was serious spiritual warfare going on in that dorm room.  As much as I want to just hate her, for not being kind, for making such snap judgments of me, for not including me – I know that God allowed her to be in my life for that season for a purpose.  Perhaps to help me see the peace that he brings to my soul.  Perhaps it was to teach me about others, ones from different upbringings and that not everyone in the world is going to agree / like / understand you.

My entire experience at college was not all bad.   I learned a lot about people, personalities, myself – my sheltered world was shattered, but it allowed me to see what was out there.  To see the hurt that was in the world.  To help me understand more fully the mighty power and sovereign grace of God.  Through my darkest days there, He was with me.  He allowed me to walk through difficulties in life so that I may learn.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t learn or realize these things in and of any of the moments in that dorm.  In that dorm I was hurt and angry and confused.  Some days now when I think back to that time in my life I am still hurt and angry.  Things did not go the way they were “supposed” to.  My plans did not pan out.  Silly me, God’s plans are better than ANYTHING I could have every dreamed of.  Here I am now with a good job, a nice home, an amazing husband, an awesome son, friends and family who actually care about me, my day, my life.  I am surrounded by people who encourage me, lift me up in prayer, help me focus on God and what’s truly important.  For this, I say Thank You.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

PJ's & a Fedora Hat



You know what you want.

You want what you want.

You don't want what you don't want.

This decisive opinion about things is something that I think has always be intertwined into the fabric of your being. 

You specifically want your blue shoes, not your black ones. 

You want a particular car or train - not some random one - you search with purpose until you find the object of your desire and then beam a radiant smile upon finding it.

The other morning, you had one of these moments.  A hat on your head has become a standard part of your attire.  You have 4 baseball hats that we rotate depending on which somewhat matches what you are wearing.  You also have a collection of fedora style hats, but you haven't been into letting me put them on you when your dressed more "fancy".

This morning in particular, I brought your motorcycle hat up with me to get you up in the morning and dressed for the day.  Your love of bikes is great so I figured you would be happy.  I was wrong.  You weren't sad, but you were insistant that you were not wearing that hat today.  You were wearing the burlap fedora that has been sitting atop your dresser for months that you have refused (up until today) to entertain.  The tags were still on it from when I happily picked it up for you at Target months ago.

Once the tags were removed, I placed it on your head and you grinned.  You were the happiest little boy with your crab footed pajamas and your fedora hat.  I went with it.  It wasn't going to hurt anything and I've learned to choose my battles.  This wasn't worth fighting.

So here you are, in all your pajamas and fedora hat glory - happy as can be!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Thursday, May 16, 2013

21 Months ~ Alex ~ May 2013

Dear Alex,

How did you get so big? It amazes me that 21 months ago you came into my life as this tiny peanut of a baby and now you are this incredible person.  You have a giggle that fills a room and echos as it bounces off the wall.  For the most part, you are just a happy kid.  The littlest things in life make you happy, such as pancakes.  When informed that you are having them for breakfast, you squeal with joy and shout pancakes with the largest grin spread accross your face.

You are ALL BOY - dirt, bugs, bruises, climbing to the top of the tallest things and jumping off - yup, that pretty much sums you up right now. 

At the same time, you are so sweet and loving.  It makes me so proud when I see that tender side of you.  You exhibited this towards Riley the other day and I couldn't wipe the smile off my face all day.  Upon his arrival (he is 6 months old and in a car seat carrier), it's your job to pull back the blanket cover the carrier and to push bag the "awning" to reveal your buddy.  You do so with such gentle care and such pride.  Once Riley is visible, you sit down in front of him and smile and talk to him. You pointed out his monkeys on his PJ's and gently patted his head.  You were so happy to see him.  After he was removed from the carrier, you replaced the blanket and put your hand on it's handle.  Riley's mama put her hand beside yours and you "helped" her take it to the corner where it sits until it's pick up time.  You were so PROUD of yourself.  You did your job so well. 

One of my favorite things about you right now is the sound of you saying "Mama".  You say it with such excitement and joy as well as such love and warmth.  You will be playing in the other room and stop, run in yelling my name with a grin on your face, run up, give me a hug and kiss and then go back to playing.  As if in that moment, you wanted to be sure I was still there and when I popped in your head, I was the most important thing in that moment.  I love your hugs and kisses.  I love you smiling at me at bedtime and saying "night night" so sweetly.  I love the incredible joy that exudes from ever fiber of your being. 

It is my prayer that you keep that joy, that fierce love of life, the tender kindness towards others - you are going to make such a difference in this world baby boy.  You already have in your 21 months here.  My world is better with you in it.  I am a better me by being your mama.  It is a role I was born to play and I am so honored for the privilege. 

All my love,


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Alex - Day in Your Life - February 3, 2013

Superbowl Sunday - February 3, 2013 - Baltimore Ravens are in the Superbowl

sleepy boy * must get out all riding toys at once * pantry is you new favorite hiding spot * checking out Daddy shoveling the snow * wishing you were out there too

Alex & Elvis, best buds * checking out the snow * watching Daddy shovel * dying to get out there

1st Ravens jersey * Superbowl party at Grandmommy & Pop Pop's house * Maddie came to play

Trying on Daddy's hat * returning Daddy's hat * snuggles with Grandma * family photo

Alex - Day in Your Life - January 4, 2013

I set myself a goal, 1 day a month (weekend since I work full time) take pictures of Alex throughout the day to document the everyday existence.  We take pictures at holidays, birthday parties and other milestones.  This is my way of capturing you in your element, at this age, to preserve that which I may take for granted now but want to remember when you are all grown.

Here is January 2013:

happy when you wake up * your hair is filling in * you still love your bottle in the morning

fun with new toys * mommy's phone & Alex's phone * getting ready to race * cars * choo choo

breakfast * LOVE blueberries * independent & determined to use that fork

Noah (who you refer to as "Ho Ho" because he has a beard) & his animal friends

Alex & Elvis waiting for a snack from Daddy's popcorn can

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Little Moments & Forever Memories - 1.30.2013

The summer I was 13 my Dad promised me we would go to Hershey Park (for those not from the East Coast it's a theme park in Hershey, PA).  My dad did odd jobs for the neighbors all summer - driving little old ladies to their doctor's appointments, fixing the neighbors steps, handy man kind of things.  All the money he earned from this he set aside specifically for our trip. 

When the day came I was so excited.  When I asked why my mother and sister weren't joining us on our adventure, my Dad shook his head and said they wouldn't enjoy it.  (I think he just wanted a day for me and him, even more so he wanted to go and I was his best buddy along for the ride).

We arrived at the park (a 2+ hour or so drive from our home) when the gates opened and didn't leave until the park closed for the night.  We rode every ride we wanted, some repeatedly over and over again.  We screamed on rollar coasters and giggled all day long.  Our day was filled with feasts of hot dogs, cotton candy and funnel cake.  This is a day that I will always remember.  As we drove home, I kept reliving the day in my mind and talking to him about all the fun we had.

As we came in the house that night, my mother was in the kitchen and the expression on her face was not a happy one.  She asked my Dad how much we spent on our little adventure - I learned in that moment that my parents did not see things the same way.  I realized that my mom thought it was frivolous to do what we did and spend the money we spent.  In that moment, I spoke up and said something so profound I couldn't believe it came from 13 year old me - in the most "matter-a-fact" tone I uttered these words:

"Mom, you can always get more money; you can't always get more memories"

With that I turned and went to my room.

These words that I uttered back then have been etched on my very soul since then.  Life is about the simple things - usually they don't cost much money but have a lasting impression and create the most wonderful of memories.

Buying ice cream off the ice cream truck in the summer
Going to the park
Spending TIME with my son

All this is background to what I really want to tell you today:

Last night, I had 2 whole giggle filled hours with my little guy.  Daddy went off to Bible Study and it was just the two of us (+ the dog).  Alex has mastered turning the Ipod Jux Box on and off and he turned it on last night (Ke$ha was set to play).  I began to dance around like a fool and before I knew it Alex came up, took me by both hands and begain to dance along with me.  He grinned up at me and wiggled back and forth.  We ended the night playing with cars on his ramp in the basement, followed by bath (his FAVORITE thing) and bed.

Lately our nights together have been busy and our time together has not been very long. I've noticed him being clingy at bedtime, wrapping his arms tightly around my neck and nuzzling into me.  He will cry when I place him in his crib with his blankie; he's tired, wants to go to sleep but his desire to spend time with Mommy trumps all that.  He misses me and it breaks my heart.  I work full time, which is the best thing for my family right now, for 4 years I was the sole provider - alot of pressure.  Last night was just the salve for both of ours souls; when I laid him down last night he gladly welcomed the embrace of his crib and looked up at me with a smile in his eyes and across his face. 

He may not remember tonight when he is all grown, but I will and it's these little moments - dancing around the living room with my boy - that I will cherish forever. 

Today's little moments become tomorrow's precious memories.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

17 Months - January 2013

January 16, 2013
Dear Alex,
Happy 17 Months baby boy!  You have grown so much and embody the label “toddler” a little too well for Mama’s liking.  You are still your happy giggly self who makes his presence known.  You are continuing to become more and more independent and are growing into quite a little person.
Your love of books is continuously growing – you will pick one out, bring it over and hand it to me.  Then you will proceed to plant yourself either beside me or in my lap and go through the book.  Once this one is done (if you find it interesting enough to let me get all the way through) you will then get up and select another and the process starts all over.  Your current go to favorite is:
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
-          You know duck and dog by name and the sound of dog, cat, sheep and fish.  As we go through the book, you wait excitedly for the pages you know and chime in accordingly.  Mama was so proud that it only took you being shown one time and you picked up that sheep says “baa” (though yours is more of a short “ba” rather than the typical Baaaaa).  When I taught you what I fish says I just showed you the movement with my mouth, you giggled and did it right back at me.  You are such a copycat (I fear this will get you in trouble at times).

Your love of food was evident from the time you had your first jar of Gerber.  Fruit is still a big favorite – when you see bananas in the store you get excited, holler “nanna”, and point until we reach the display.  You like to hold the bananas as we go throughout the store as if they are a trophy you have just won.
There are days I look at you and still see my little baby; you still love your milk in a bottle on the morning car ride, you still have chubby round cheeks, your hair is slowly filling in but not enough to make you look older just yet.  I cling to these things as I know I will blink and you will be this tall young man.  Oh how I love the sound of you excitably saying “Mama” as I appear in the doorway each night, it warms my heart and I look forward to the smile that spreads across your face as you run to award me with hugs and slobbery kisses.  With every fiber of my being I love you sweet boy…you are my world, my soul, with you I have such purpose and I finally feel like I am who I was created to be.