A Non-Custodial Mom’s View: Back to School 2011

Today, children are preparing to jump on big yellow buses just in time to hit the books and rejoin their previously scheduled social lives in the halls of educational institutions around the country. In my house, one child is still sleeping while another insists on both hiccups and somersaults at the same time, causing me to be wide awake at much too early an hour. But as I threw my feet over the bed and stretched, my thoughts became consumed with another household.

I haven’t heard the sounds of my older children’s voices in over three weeks now. I have called many times, left almost as many messages, and have finally called their father’s phone, begging for a call back before their return to school. Still, nothing. I have no idea where their hearts and minds are this morning as they prepare for their first day back to school.  I only know that it is indeed their first day back to school, thanks to the wonders of technology and the school district’s website.  And, I only know which district they are in – not the name of their elementary or middle schools.

Noah is in 8th grade, Faith is in 5th grade, and Chloe is in 3rd. That’s as much as I know. What will they wear today? Do they pack their lunches, or stand in a long line in a cafeteria? Do they really ride a bus, or does someone drop them off at school? When they are done at the end of the day, will they go straight home and start homework, or is there another plan? Do they regret, as much as I do, that now truly the end of summer is here and they only spent 5 days with me? Or, is that the furthest thing from their hearts, as the busy-nes of life overtakes them?

Whether they can hear my voice or not – whether they ever read this blog or not – I must say a few things.

Chloe, continue to dance like no one is watching. Remember that God placed that dance in your soul. You will always be an inspiration to others, most of all me. Let the freedom in your heart always supersede any worries in your mind.  Always allow the Lord of the Dance to lead your life, and none other. In this quest, even at your young age, I know you can be amazingly successful. I love you more, Flutterby.

Faith, continue to love and care and wear your emotions on your sleeve. Do not let anything break you down, and always be proud of who you are. Remember that God painted absolutely every part of your body and he does not make mistakes. He gave you that smile, those beautiful curls, that love, and even that skin, for a very specific reason. Rejoice in it and love who you are constantly! You have reminded me so often that it’s the little things in life that are more important than the big things, so today I will celebrate you by pausing for the little things and letting the big things pass me over without worry. I love you to the moon and back.

Noah, be yourself. Do not let others influence your behaviors or your thoughts. Be strong in who God calls you to be, not in who those around you want you to become. Do not let ANYONE look down on you because you are young. Set an example to those around you, instead. You have reminded me of that scripture many times, as I have re-visited our conversations from this past summer. I am confident that if we both continue to run the race in front of us, the outcome will be much different than it was this summer. I love you forever and a day.

To all three of you: Feel the wind through your hair today and know that the binding force between me and each of you is the Creator that can reach down and connect us in such small ways. I love you all. My heart is with you as you start the beginning of a new journey, even if my hands can’t guide your moments. Never Forget and Always Remember:

Think of me everyday.
Hold tight to what I say,
And I’ll be close to you,
Even from far away.
Know that wherever you are,
It is never too far.
If you think of me,
I’ll be with you.

What’s That You Say?

Enjoy your incredible Labor Day weekend! In honor of all the hard work you do all year long, the country has decided you should each get one day off.

Hmmm.

Except for Mamas. Because Lord knows the world would fall apart if Mama took a day off.

Thankful Thursdays {Gratitude:5}

Thankful Thursdays are a rare moment during which the only thing I focus on are my points of blessings – of things I never even knew I wanted but received from the Creator anyway, in answer to my heart’s cry. And, more importantly, of things that are often times forgotten as I focus on what’s missing instead of what’s present. Not today.

We survived not just one but TWO natural disasters in the past week: an earthquake and a hurricane! Okay, they weren’t that bad – but it could have been much worse, and we were spared!

I’ve had the opportunity for a really good conversation of great depth twice in the past two days, when I needed it most. I am ridiculously thankful for people who stop and listen and care when I’m hurting. It’s essential.

It is SEPTEMBER. And September is a month we have been waiting for, for over a year! We have two wonderful friends returning from the sandbox within this month, God willing!

And now, on to dancing the day away….

(If you would like to join me on this journey, I’d love to provide a link to your gratitude project on my blog, so let me know! I’m sure we all have a lot to teach each other about thankfulness!.)

Wandering Wednesdays {31 August 2011}

We weathered some crazy natural events last week & weekend.  It was nowhere near as great as it could have been. And when it was all over, we went for a walk on the beach.  Because that is exactly where I needed to be.

As we walked down the boardwalk, I looked towards the waves and noticed a couple standing not 10 feet out of the surf, arguing.  Arms were flailing, voices were raised, tears were pouring down. I said out loud (though not intentionally): “This is no place to argue, folks.”

Mr. Marine asked how I knew that they were really arguing. “Because,” I said, “I’ve been there.”

Arguing. About everything. Never finding peace. No, not even for a moment. Standing next to one of the most massive masterpieces the Creator put within our reach and still not accepting that there is something bigger than whatever it was we were tied up in at that moment. Wanting, with all certainty, peace and contentment and feeling as if there were so many obstacles between myself and that beautiful road that I would never find it.

As we walked on, I watched the waves crash, the sun rise, the birds fly, the dolphins swim, the little girl laugh at the breeze through her hair… and I grasped Mr. Marine’s hand more tightly. Because I have been so low, I can know the great heights, and to a Creator who knew that’s exactly what it would take for me, I am eternally grateful.

Coffee Table turns Ottoman

As I wrote yesterday, Mr. Marine had a very long weekend at home.  Now, that doesn’t happen very often … but, when it does, it almost always means some sort of big project will be tackled.  And – those projects are usually always his idea.  So, he’s the brilliant mastermind behind, “Hey! We could turn our coffee table into an ottoman!!” It’s ALL his fault.

This was our coffee table:

Forgive it’s sad state. It has served it’s purpose well, serving many Marines through the past 4 years. But, it needed to be repurposed and retired from it’s previous job of serving beer and food to hungry and thirsty Marines on fight nights. Mostly because we were tired of looking at it in it’s sad state. Not that I mind distressed furniture – most of ours is – but the top of this piece was becoming a bit TOO distressed.

However… said table was MUCH too tall already. We’re the kind of family that puts our feet up on the coffee table. It’s MY house – I’M the mom – I make the rules now! But, the table was too tall to do so comfortably before its transition, so we knew it would have to be cut down.  So, Mr. Marine went to work.

With a tiny little handsaw. On my living room floor. Which left lots of sawdust.

But, he did it. On all 4 legs. Which is rather impressive to me. But, apparently it’s just all in a day’s work for a Marine. (On weekend liberty. Forgive his unshaven look!)

See! ALL FOUR LEGS. That’s a lot of work!!

Uhm. I swear. There were four legs. Anyway – there’s 3 of them.

We bought 3 different pieces of 2″ thick high density foam for this project because … well, because it was the cheapest way to purchase VERY expensive foam. So, it required some cutting down. Which one apparently can accomplish with a bread knife. Never knew, did ya?!

See, I DID do something other than take pictures for this project! I cut the batting to cover the foam. Hey, it was HIS idea to do it, so he had to be taught a lesson. Or, my belly is getting way too big to move around very easily. Yikes.

I think this is the, “What the heck are you doing with that camera again?!” face. Actually, this is the part where I helped, because it really required two sets of hands.  The fabric and batting had to be wrapped around the foam and the table to be stapled on the underside. For a 36″ square table, we bought a 45″ square piece of fabric. Let’s just say that if you don’t like cutting it close, you might want to buy more fabric than that for your own project. I was a bit stressed out.

And because Mr. Marine is overly careful about everything he does, he then hammered the staples to make sure they were in there good.

Okay, this is not an impressive picture. But here’s what it proves – one CAN saw four legs off with a handsaw in a living room in the middle of the city, then remove the metal thing-a-ma-bobbers that were in the legs previously to allow the large screws to tighten into, then drill new holes into the new shortened legs for metal thing-a-ma-bobbers, and then in the end … it DOES all fit together! I can’t even tell you how delighted we were that the legs didn’t split, that it all fit together SO snugly, and that no humans were harmed in the production of this ottoman. WHEW!

This is the finished project! I know most ottomans have those great little button thing-a-ma-bobbers (really, can you tell that I’m not overly technical-minded?) that make it look more “finished”, but we decided to skip that part. We’re going to purchase a couple of serving trays to use on the ottoman, so we can still have drinks and/or food when we want, and figured the buttons might get in the way of that.

What a fun project! I’m off to figure out what we might do with our next long weekend off!

P.S. Please forgive the fact that I’m not a professional photographer. I was really more worried about the project than the actual pictures of the project. Thank you kindly.

Murphy Mondays {29 August 2011}

Murphy Mondays is my chance to catch y’all up on what’s been going on in our lives here.  When I was a kid, separated by many miles from our closest friends and family, my dad wrote a “Monday morning email” to tell everyone what we were all up to.  This is that very thing, only a bit more technology is thrown into the mix with blogging 🙂

Wow!! What a WEEK! Goodness.  I thought we were off to a fairly normal start last Monday when I wrote my entry. And then Tuesday came upon us. An earthquake! In Virginia!  At 5.8, nonetheless. For the first time since 1897, a quake of this magnitude rocked not only the state of Virginia, but could be felt far-reaching.  I was fairly certain I was losing my mind as the shaking happened, looking from wall to wall in my living room as I sat on my couch.  And then – with all the brilliance I could muster! – I ran outside to find the semi truck that must have run into our brick building. Turns out – no such evidence.  Our neighbor, who has just recently moved here from California, confirmed for us that it was indeed an earthquake, and explained that we should expect more to come.  I felt one of the several aftershocks, but they were nothing compared to the initial shaking. What an interesting experience!

For our friends on the West Coast, it seemed like absolutely nothing to experience, and I am sure that with their daily occurrences, it wasn’t.  However, this experience was like moving to Cozumel, Mexico, only to discover the ocean was no longer there: it’s just not something you expect here. At all.

And then, the week got even more exciting.  By Wednesday the weather forecasters were predicting Hurricane Irene would hit as a Cat 3 directly 2 hours south of us and continue up on land to devastate our local area. Water, batteries, flash lights, and generators flew off the shelves.  By the time we arrived at our local grocery store Wednesday night there was very little left in the way of “typical” hurricane supplies.  All we were after was some food we could prepare ahead of time in case we lost power for a few days, thankfully.  With pulled pork, low carb muffins, and no bake sugar free cookies at the ready, we settled down to wait for Irene to hit us with her best shot.

But, it turns out a lot of people fled town for no real reason. A Cat 3 turned into a Cat 1, and in our subdivision we didn’t even lose power once.  There was a LOT of rain and wind, a lot of trees and branches down, and some very upset puppies that wouldn’t go outside, but mostly, it was nothing to write home about.  Our backyard flooded and we had some water damage around our large bay window in the living room. But, we were completely safe during the entire adventure, which lasted approximately 24 hours.

Thanks to all of your for your concerns and prayers! As it turns out, we were doubly blessed: First to know that we are so well loved and second to watch the hand of our Creator reach out to protect us twice in one week from what could have been major catastrophes.

Today, we have one more day off for hurricane reprieve, and then back to the “regular” work week tomorrow for Mr. Marine.  But, it’s a short week with the upcoming holiday. Oh … and the tourists are about to leave the beach, which means more peace in our neck of the woods!

Until next week …

Thankful Thursdays {Gratitude:4}

Thankful Thursdays are a rare moment during which the only thing I focus on are my points of blessings – of things I never even knew I wanted but received from the Creator anyway, in answer to my heart’s cry. And, more importantly, of things that are often times forgotten as I focus on what’s missing instead of what’s present. Not today.

I am ridiculously grateful this week that we don’t feel earthquakes every day on the East Coast, and that when a few did suddenly decide to come pay us a visit, there was no major destruction left from it. Just sea-sickness.

I am also quite thankful for family and friends who care *so* much about us that they get worried with Hurricane Irene knocking on our door step.  We are good, folks! The pulled pork is in the crock pot, the bath tub will be filled up tomorrow, we have cell phones for communication, Rhyan has several coloring sheets ready to go, all of our my meds are stocked up, we have some cash in hand, and (most importantly!) we have …

…our hurricane survival kit!

Oh, I LOVE my life!

And now, on to dancing the day away….

(If you would like to join me on this journey, I’d love to provide a link to your gratitude project on my blog, so let me know! I’m sure we all have a lot to teach each other about thankfulness!.)