Monday, January 19, 2015

The Most Lovely Kind Of Weekend...

...is a 3 day weekend.

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My favorite time of day is the morning time when the sun shines in through all the (rather dirty and grimy) windows.  Outside, the birds chirp at each other while the animals (of which we have quite a few...but please don't bring that fact up with that guy that I like so much if you ever talk to him in real life) who live inside with us go on high alert.  


This weekend brought the return of son #1, who is an instructor with a drum and bugle corps and needs to come back to town every few weekends to work.  He's the guy on the far right in the baseball cap...the one who is doing the same pose his dad does when he's thinking about something real serious.

The apples don't fall far from the bush.  Or Busch.

Our lime tree...the one we threatened to pull out because each year for 10 years it gave us one lime (yes, that's TEN limes in TEN years) went absolutely over the deep end this year and produced more fruit than we knew what to do with.  We bought this handy dandy squeezer thingy and juiced the last 50 or so limes of the season and after making some rather great caipirinha's and a killer key lime pie, I froze 12 cups of that liquid gold juice.

And now the lemon tree is bursting with fruit.  Southern California, aside from it's real estate prices, is groovy.  Very, very groovy.

I, along with my credit card, was invited out to breakfast with my two oldest boys.  Mom's, and their credit cards, are invaluable (literally) to their children.

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Breakfast was at a GREAT breakfast place in Huntington Beach...the Bread Crumb Cafe.  If you go, order a piece of french toast for the table...you'll thank me.  Or not...it's kinda caloric.

But worth it.

The time with those two guys?

Worth every dollar and calorie.

I walked to go get a coffee the other day and stopped to take it all in...the blue sky and the mountains and green grass and the pretty lake and all this is literally in my backyard.  I've been struggling with contentment lately...kind of feeling like maybe the grass is greener on the other side and then wham.  Every step I've taken in the last few weeks God has made it so clear in such bold ways that I have been walking with my eyes closed.

It's so easy to overlook what is right in front of your face, isn't it?

I was called up for jury duty and thought I'd have a relaxing day sitting in a cubby catching up on work and maybe even watching a movie or two.  But no...I was called into a courtroom where the trial was expected to last for 8-10 weeks and I spent an agonizing 5 hours watching the attorneys grill the possible jury.  

They went through 45 people and I was #46 and man oh man...I just didn't want to serve.  The case is a gnarly one...a criminal one and I started to panic at the possibility of missing work and basketball games and a girls weekend that's been planned for months and having to be away from my happy little home for weeks and weeks.  I began texting all my loves...texts of 'please pray I don't get chosen' and finally, FINALLY, I just gave all that anxiety to God.

I knew if I was meant to serve, I would serve.  And the moment I settled into that, they chose a jury and I was sent on my way home at 4:18pm.

I am so very, very thankful...and I also know I would have found peace if I had to serve.  His will is not always my will and I'm glad because my will isn't always so reliable.

Alex has been out of town, Matteo left for his home in another state and so it's just Brian at home today...though he's got basketball and a team lunch.  I'm making a meal for a family that's been sick, catching up on laundry and gearing up for the Bachelor on Tv tonight...because even though I promise myself that I am not going to watch it, I (embarrassingly, sort of) get sucked in each and every time.

Yep, I do.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Bit Of A Break

I don't think I've ever been away from this space for this long of a time.  I don't even have a reason other than life has been going by so very, very fast.  So here's a quick update:

It's basketball season for the youngest shrub in our family and somehow I was once again 'volunteered' to run the snack bar.  It's such a big job and takes so much of my time and I can honestly say that I no longer find joy in it.  It's like pulling teeth to find helpers (which I just don't get) and I end up missing some of Brian's games because of it.  But...I am sticking it out, forcing myself to smile and selling candy and nachos and hot dogs to lots of people who probably shouldn't be buying candy and nachos and hot dogs.  

Next year I'm retiring.  For reals.

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Work has been overwhelming lately, too.  I've got programs on two separate coasts that I'm managing and it's not easy with the time differences...and if you haven't noticed, crossing guards work early in the morning.  And early in the morning in Florida is REALLY early in the morning in California.

Yawn.

Things should settle down soon and I'll go back to my same old routine...and I love my same old routine.

Oh...and BuddytheDog?  Sweetest thing ever...even if I occasionally catch him where he shouldn't be.

I had lunch with my middle born, extremely tall, boy yesterday and it was one of those lunches where I left feeling like I have done it all right which makes me laugh because last weekend I was feeling like I had majorly failed at this parenting gig.  

I wonder...is there ever a middle ground?


In between the busyness of our days, we've managed to create some really lovely evenings.  The thought of going out socially during the week is too overwhelming to think about...I've been needing the quiet that comes with the sun going down.  

As quiet as a houseful of boys can be.

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Rain, glorious rain poured down from the sky in southern CA.  We needed the rain and everything is so green and feels so fresh...and muddy.  


The annual college student party (of 50!) happened last weekend and we had a full house.  It rained all day long and then stopped an hour before the party...we had just enough time to set up the garden and turn on the heaters.  It was so pretty out there with the twinkly lights and the candles and it was actually a warm(ish) evening.

These parties are so. much. work. to prep for.  So. Much. Work.  But then I look around and I see the fun that they are having...how this little house on our little street somehow stretches to fit all who enter, how there is always plenty of food, how happy it all feels.

It's not me.  Or that guy that I like so much.  It's all God.  All God.


The annual pig clock.  We play a huge white elephant gift exchange game and this clock has been around for a long, long time.  Seems a lot of people have gotten engaged while it's in their possession so there are always a few who fight over getting it.

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Eureka!  I have found my new family room rug.  Doesn't fit in my car so I'm going to go back with one of my boys to get it...I hope it's still there.  Merry Christmas to me if it is!

(This came up on my phone and I am so glad I have the reminder!)

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Yesterday I drove all over the free world for work...or at least it felt like it.  I ran on in to Porto's, thanks to a huge gift card I received and gobbled down a cubano sandwich.

Ever had one?

Oh my.  If you're a pickle lover then this is the sandwich for you.  And I am, so it is.

YUM.

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And now, today, I am sitting in the courthouse in the heart of Orange County doing my civic duty.  Yep, in the madness of real life I was called in to serve.  I've got a cubby, a laptop, wifi...and soon, Gilmore Girls on Netflix.  I'm behind the times (and the mother of all boys) so I never watched this show and I'm in love love love.

So that's my day.  I'm treating it as a vacation because what else can I do...though now I'm wishing I had that sandwich to keep me company.

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Monday, January 5, 2015

Happiest of New years

Our New Years Eve was really fun this year...low key and easy and the perfect way to usher out one year and welcome in another.  Friends came over, the boys were in and out and we ate,  played some wild and crazy games and laughed the night away.

It was exactly what we needed.


This whole break was exactly what I needed.  Sure, there was lots going on...basketball and Christmas and parties and Christmas and New Years and Christmas and on and on and on.  But it felt restful, too...and I needed rest.

I feel like we've had an honest to goodness vacation and we never left home for longer than a few hours.  There was even a day in there where I never got dressed...I stayed in my pj's all day long and watched movies.

Perfection, I must say.  Perfection.

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The morning after New Years Eve and there were a bunch of teens in the house.  Pancakes seemed like too much work so I made a big batch of buttermilk waffles.  Yum.  A little sausage on the side and a big thing of juice and all were happy.

Win win.

Tis the season for new apps on my phone.  Ready?

1. Waze.  (but only if you're the passenger because it's so distracting!)
2. iRunner.  Farewell NikeRun...I've found something new.

And last, but certainly not least is...
3. TriviaCrack.  Get out of town.  Way too much fun!

The cold weather came to town and helped me to realize that I like it warm.  Not hot, not cold...warm.  75 and sunny and fair is perfect in my book.  

Flip flop weather.

This 30's business?  No thank you.  My citrus trees and I are ready for you to depart.

And just like that, the cold did pass on.  I'm back to my hiking trails and while it is so hard to get myself up and and out the door, once I am there I can't help but wonder why I even question going.  It's so much more than just physical exercise for me...it's much needed quiet time and a place where I can think and talk to myself and question and cry and pray.

I've spent this vacation thinking a lot about how I see this coming year playing out.   More quiet time spent reading.  And praying.  And hiking.  And loving on my loves.  

All little things that add up to bigger things for me.

Today, the last day of a two week vacation and the house is dark...or at least it feels that way after the Christmas lights come down.  The decorations are put away for another season and I actually wasn't quite ready to be rid of them yet...but the timing was right.  We had a big family lunch at our friends house today and it was just the most perfect way to end out this break.

And then tonight, in an effort to prepare myself for going back to work early, early tomorrow morning, the texts and emails started coming.  I answered a few and then shut it all down...tomorrow will come soon enough and I'm ready to hit the ground running.

It's a New Year.  Let's make it a good one.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The End of the Year is Coming


It's a grey and gloomy and rainy (with the possibility of snow flurries...in Southern California!) and so I did what anyone would do on a day like today.

I baked muffins (eggnog and chocolate chip) for the sleeping boys (mine plus a few spares that ended up here last night) and then ran a bazillion errands all around town.

And, for the record, it was COLD.

Our poor dog.  He's so over loved that he just doesn't stand a chance of living the life that I think he would prefer...the life where he'd be allowed to hide in a corner all day long.

Instead?  Instead he is smothered day in and day out.

And that's not gonna change.

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 Here's our Christmas photo, 2014.

Brian is 16, Alex is 21, Matthew is 24.

BuddytheDog (one word) is 3.

This photo was one of 581 and the only one in which they were all looking at the camera.  My crew doesn't make it easy, that's for sure.  In fact, I may have had to shed a tear and threaten to talk about my feelings in order to get this picture.

Exhausting, but it worked.

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Our little house on our little street has been rather full lately...even Maggie the Cat has moved on to another town.

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The last basketball game of 2014 was played today and they eeked out a win on the final day of this tournament.  Our team is...well....developing.

That's it...developing.

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That guy that I like so much and I have had lots of time this vacation...lots of time in the car and lots of time at home.  It's been nothing short of much, much needed and I am actually feeling recharged and ready for whatever it is that is coming next.

And I think what's next is New Years Eve.  It's going to be a cold one but we'll be all cozied up inside.  The plan is to feed all the big kids something nutritious for supper before they head out where they are going (no driving is allowed, so they need to go and stay put...I worry too much) and then we are having a party here.

I hope they ask to see the attic because right now that is the only clean space in our whole little house.

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It's strange but I haven't thought about the years end until now...and it's happening tomorrow.  I've been too busy just getting through each day, running a household, cleaning an attic, cooking for my family, loving on my dog.

I'm thankful for that because more than anything, I feel rested.  A tad bit lazy, too...and that's ok for right now because once this week comes to an end, that feeling will become just a far away memory.

I''m hanging on to the reality of it right now, though.  Hanging on tight.

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Post Christmas Bliss

Another Christmas has come and gone...although we are still basking in the afterglow of this one.  We've celebrated 30 Christmas's together...more than each of us ever spent apart.  It's interesting though because while we have created so many incredible traditions that are 'ours', we still strive to hold on to the traditions that we grew up with.

The whole not wanting to let go of the past...but wanting to forge ahead into the future thing.

We moved away after our 2nd year of marriage and after that lived far away from any family, which meant any holiday traditions we had needed to be recreated by the two of us.  We were both so young and this was before the internet had even begun, so we were truly on our own.  The traditions we've created are the perfect marriage of our two childhoods...and I have to say, they pretty much rock.

 New this year?

This dog.  Seriously...can we love anything more???

The best part about Christmas falling mid-week is the fact that we were both off work for the whole week.  Brian's basketball schedule was in full swing so we have spent a lot of time on the road, but it's been fun.  Lots of time in the car, lots of time sitting in bleachers, lots of losses (sadly) and lots of time grabbing food after as a whole family.

Matteo has been in town and so our house has truly been a houseful of boys once again...
and it's been fun.

Loud, but fun.

The weather in SoCal has been rather perfect...warm and sunny and fair.  I actually considered having Christmas dinner outside...we could've easily done that with the help of the outside heaters and sweaters, but it was just a tad bit too chilly.

It was still flip flop weather though.

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The shopping and the wrapping were all done a few days ahead of time, as was the cookie dough making.  There is so much work that is put into making the holiday seem effortless...so. much. work.  Lists and shopping and prep work...it's exhausting.  Anyone who's done it before gets what I am talking about...and on the actual day, while running around like a chicken with your head cut off and smiling and reapplying your lipstick a few hundred times, you just make it all seem so simple.  
Like it was all just thrown together.

But then everyone eats (in two seconds flat) and leaves and then the clean up happens and you finally put your feet up and think...wow.  It's over.  All that and it's over.

I love all of it...the planning and prepping and dabbing of lipstick and the cleaning up, but man oh man, the exhaustion that settles in afterwards?

Whew.

So Christmas Eve...there was a candlelight church service that left me (sadly) wanting more.  We came home and opened the standard Christmas Eve present of matching pj's 
and toasted in Jesus's birth with champagne.

My mind is always on Mary on that night, on riding a donkey and delivering a baby in the cold and then of the knowing....the knowing that he didn't really belong to her.

My human self cannot even imagine how she did it.  

The present opening happened rather late the next morning...our boys aren't young anymore and sleep is more important that anything right now, so we made breakfast first and then opened gifts.  And then I did the whole thing where I've become my Grandmother and I can't help but wonder if this will be my last Christmas?  

Life...it just seems so fragile now.  Will we all be together next year?  Will all my boys be home?  

The rest of the day was a bit of a blur.

Cousins came over.  The volume grew and more presents were opened.

More food was cooked.  

Shocker.

Football was played in the sunshine.

Cars were dented.

A little.

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 Cookies were eaten.

Many, many cookies.

And now...now it's all over.  All that work...all the preparation and planning and worry 
and it's all over.

Time to plan the New Year's party.

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I'm thankful for much this year...for a houseful of boys that were all here, for the rest of the family that filled our little house on our little street, for good food and champagne and super great gifts both given and received, for sunshiney weather,  for sleep that came at just right the time.

For Jesus. 

This week leading up to New Years is here.  We're off of work and school and aside from a quite a few far and away basketball games, we'll be home.  We began a huge new project...an attic clean-out project that seemed like a great idea in theory, but is now making me completely stressed out because we pulled lots down and are reorganizing and repacking and purging.

And, truth be told, swearing...because seriously, 
where did all this stuff come from and why did I feel the need to save it all?

Ah well...it will feel good once it's all done.  Soon, I hope.  
First up is sleep though...wonderful, glorious sleep.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Giving


The week leading up to this one was so full of activities that at one point I almost texted myself my own address...I was out more than I was in.  

Work was a bear but for the next few weeks I don't need to think about it and I couldn't be happier.  The shopping is done and so is the wrapping...and I will continue to sing the praises of online shopping and shipping.  

And now?  Now, we wait.

That guy that I like so much and I were heading down to San Diego for a breakfast at Snooze when our 21 year old ran out and invited himself to the party.  Such a great morning to spend with him...he's one of my favorites.

I have three favorites, in case you were wondering.

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Pancakes and benedicts and really great coffee...plus time with our boy in the middle?

Nice.

Our little house is decorated to the nines...I'll do a little house tour tomorrow so you can all see.  

I need to take pictures...and clean.

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Brian's basketball season has begun and we've had a crazy tournament schedule.  He's even in a tourney this week and plays every day this week except for Christmas eve and day...and yeah, I am really, really going to miss this season of life.  

Well...not the smelly shoe part.

Our friend Hans owns an INCREDIBLE cheese shop in SoCal (www.vingoat.com) and they have some of the best events around...wine and cheese pairings, classes, and this week there was a harbor cruise as part of the Newport Boat Parade.

That guy that I like so much and I went along and man oh man oh man.  The food.  THE FOOD.  Cheese (of course) and wine and gumbo and salami and I could go on and on but then I'll get all depressed because it's over.  

YUM.

The weather was perfect and the company was really fun...it felt like a grown up date night.  Oh wait...we are grown ups.

How do I know that?  Because we have a leaky shower that can't be fixed and an out of control animal that keeps using my son's bed as an outhouse and a pile of bills that are waiting to be paid.

But also because we get to go on fun dates.  

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Our tradition of watching White Christmas while wrapping presents continues and yesterday we did the thing we do...and I think we're in good shape.  The presents are smaller this year and for the first time, the numbers aren't even.  Well...the dollar amount is even but the number of packages per person aren't even.

I struggle...I'll admit it.  I like to buy gifts for my peoples.  I find joy in giving and I strive to teach them the joy of receiving.  And of paying it forward.  It's hard for me to find that balance of how much is enough and how much is too much...we live in an area where most have more and most have better and while I gave up long ago trying to compete with that myself, I don't want my boys to feel without.

I know they need to and trust me, they do.  The struggle is mine and fortunately, it's not a struggle I share with that guy that I like so much...so he's my voice of reason.

A strong voice of reason.

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The parties continue...some at other places and some here.  This morning while my sink was full of warm soapy water I had my prayer time.  I'm feeling so thankful this season...it's been quite a year for us and I feel like it's been such a gift.  

But there's sadness, too.  I want all my loves here, with me.  I want them safe and healthy and happy.  I want them to want to be here with us.  I want time to freeze on the happy parts and to zoom over the ugly.  

I want to live, with my whole heart, what I'm taught in Proverbs 31...to be a woman of noble character, to put others first, to serve (hello rude emails that are to come...but yes, to serve) my husband.  To manage my household with honor and kindness.

I want to shine a light...a light of what blessed looks like.  I want to shine hope.  And forgiveness.  And love.

I fail more often than I win.  But I know I'm forgiven and I cling to that...even when I'm weary.  

I can't wrap that gift and put it under the tree...it's already been opened.   That lesson though...it's the greatest gift I can give my boys not just on Christmas but every day.  And my prayer this season is that they see that and hear that and believe that...come, Lord Jesus.  Come.

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