Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Practicing Gratitude... 8.30.11

389. Dog crates... duh!
Exactly one hour and six minutes after this...

our beloved pups had new homes. Making them more beloved.
 390. Celebrating precious Foster's first decade. What zeal he brings to this world.

391. A kind husband. He shows such kindness to me, our children, and others.

392. Hugging tight through tears.

393. An overnight with dear girlfriends, and what that does for my hearts.

394. Quiet and stillness (albeit brief!) of mornings.

395. Being in tune

396. These two who travel the country (not on bikes) to visit children and grandkiddos
Cappy & Daboo in Montana with Chris and Joy Taylor
397. Waking up to a clean home - so worth the end-of-night, 15 minute pick-up


399. Celebrating Morgan's first year

400. Essie's blueberries

401. Dog crates (that's worth two - and more)

402. Feeling famous because I'm my son's (the other one's) mother

403. Machinery in our backyard

404. This opening on 377

405. "Carrot"

406. The fact that Carrot lives at school

407. Overheard from the back seat... "Basden, do you love me?"  "Essie, I don't just love you, I love you forever and ever and ever with my whole heart."

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles... 1 Chronicles 16:11-12

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Essie goes to school...

Today after church Corbin asked me how I was feeling about our YOUNGEST starting kindergarten tomorrow. For eleven+ years now we've had babies at home, so tomorrow is the start of a whole new season.
I responded that I was a little sad that we'd been so busy lately, I hadn't had much time to process it all... and before I could finish my sentence, I dissolved into tears.

Just yesterday she was learning this... 

And tomorrow morning she'll be dressed in her "First day of school" uniform, marching off to school right after her big sister and brothers.
Yippee and Boo Hoo!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Practicing Gratitude... 8.16.11

355. All six of us back together - and a great week at camp for kids

356. Hudson's "James Bond" award, with the bee stings to show for it

357. Great counselors

358. Our new principal for 6th grade

359. Confirmations for our school year - you are so kind, Lord, in the details

360. Rain rain rain rain rain (we got a spattering last week...) but we'll take what we can get!

361. "Cooler weather" - breaking our 40-day 100-degree streak

362. Great, easy interactions

363. Ward and Nick Mo - the kind of people you want around for a week


364. Chris' birthday yesterday - 34 years now that this world has been a better place

365. A very fun anniversary weekend, back to our wedding night hotel

366. A surprise lunch with these two.

367. Aunt Diana and Uncle Charlie (and little Ava!), and the easy, loving JOY they infuse

368. Three dogs + no fence = creativity

369. A change of plans... less stress

370. A lighter heart today. His mercies are new every morning.

You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you. Ps 86:5

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Plan B

Sometimes my moments, or days, as the matriarch of our little family simply catch me off guard. I've grown to expect the unexpected, to believe the unbelievable, and I stay pretty convinced that my days will not go the way I plan.
So I haven't quit planning, because what's the mom of a bustling family to do - throw it all to the wind? (I've tried that, and it doesn't seem to work either.) But for a number of years now, I try keep a pretty open hand: Plan for what I want and need, and then (try to) remain open to the interruptions that will surely come.

So yesterday Corbin and I both went about our days shrouded with a blanket of stress. I imagine the result of our 24-hour turn-around between Puerto Rico and getting the three older kids to Sky Ranch, Corbin's work (he landed at DFW last Sat with multiple phone calls from doctors that he needed to read the front page of the Fort Worth Star Telegram - lovely), starting this remodel on our home, figuring out what to do with three dogs and no back fence (!), and then just throw in a couple of parenting concerns. And a waaayyy over-loaded To Do list.

Late last night, as I told myself over and over that I was smart enough to come up with a plan for the dogs, I quickly realized that our newly-built dog kennel was a necessity. Our dogs come inside a lot, but ALL the time is not an option. Corbin bought a kennel and constructed it Saturday evening after we flew in from Puerto Rico, knowing that a section of our fence would be torn down by yesterday. But after Cross successfully escaped twice, we spent a couple more hours securing things this morning.

8-10 Work on dog kennnel
10-11:00 Walk (PTL!)
11:30 Leave for vet. At least, we would have, if all 3 dogs wouldn't have escaped and galloped a block away, me yelling and running from behind. Now is when I wish we would have spent more time training them. Now is also when I wondered why I bothered with taking a shower this morning?
12:00 Arrive at vet late for appointment
1:30 On the way home, deposit a zillion library books a day late. Then listen to Ruby throw up twice in the last mile to the house.
1:35 Think, "No big deal. I've dealt with plenty of throw up over the past decade."
1:40 Arrive home at the same time as our builder and a landscape architect, just in time to tell them, "No, I'm sorry, I don't have any idea where I put those samples. I'll scour the garage right after I take these puppies by their leashes down to their kennel, drag the hose half an acre to refill their water, and then find rubber gloves and paper towels and carpet cleaner for my car."
1:50 Realize maybe Ruby's mess is, afterall, a big deal. She not only got sick in the back of my suburban, but then decided to move to the bench seat (furthest back) to repeat. And not only did she repeat, but she peed AND threw up between the bench and the side of the car. Even after I cleaned up that area, I discovered she managed to fill the compartment that the bench hardware attaches to the car with her fluids.

And - do you know how hot it was in my driveway today at 2:00 pm? And I'm guessing that frustration might make one's body temperature further rise. Especially as one removes booster seats, coloring books, and all kinds of miscellaneous items to throw forward every seat in a suburban to clean up two puddles of gross stuff.

So basically, even though 75% of my children are away for the week, I spent 8-2:30 or so fully dedicated to corralling and caring for and cleaning up after these dogs. 

I've come up with a plan B. I'll just take that over-flowing To Do list, scratch out Wednesday on the top, and write in Thursday. And then maybe Friday.
It always gets done, right? These piles aren't going anywhere.

I just now snapped this picture of little Essie, who, while I was typing away, ran upstairs to change clothes for the next activity (she hasn't played soccer in a year, just likes to dress up in her old uniform).
"Mommy, can you please play soccer ball with me?"
Even in the middle of the day, in the Texas heat, who can say no to that?
And... anyone need a ride in the back of my suburban?!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Practicing Gratitude... 8.10.11

340. Celebrating fifteen years this week (!!)

341. Essie's generous and constant "I Love You's"

342. Getting to indulge in The Mountain Between Us - one of my fav fiction ever!

343. The privilege of watching our children enjoy the beach, entertainment that suits all four ages... together.

344. God's perfect timing even in the details. Especially in the details.

345. Our 3 big kids at Sky Ranch this week, and how they are "expectant" to hear from Jesus - wisdom, courage, comfort.

346. Resolved conflicts.

347. Forgiveness.

348. When the Lord says no to what I want... protection and timing are His. 

349. Emails requesting prayer from both sets of grandparents - what a GIFT.

 I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.  Psalm 146:2

Monday, August 8, 2011

Our Too-Quick Week in Puerto Rico

If we stood out traipsing through DFW pulling primary colored suitcases, you shoulda seen us making our way through the San Juan airport. It was after dark when we landed, and walking out of the rotating doors onto the busting sidewalk, a blanket of wet air lightly enshrouded us, the salt palpable.
It felt good to be on an island.

As we waited for the shuttle to Enterprise, every shuttle other than Enterprise barreled past our  bus stop. Locals wove behind and before us, and we wondered if we were in the right spot, waiting on the right bus. But lo and behold, just a few minutes after the rain began, the green and white Enterprise bus appeared. It was already fairly full, so I was a tiny bit hesitant to climb on, adding six more people and eleven carry-ons (that's right, we traveled to Puerto Rico with only carry-ons).

The passengers seemed unconcerned with our added bounty as we boarded the small bus and continued on to the next stop. A few more people got on, and the young driver didn't notice or care that the luggage area was already at capacity - he managed to cram everyone's bags in without effort, never taking a breath from the fast-paced conversation he held with a buddy at the front of the bus. The seasoned driver wove in and out of Spanish dialogue as deftly as he maneuvered that bus, even through a couple more stops, more people, more bags.
I realized then that making it off that transport with all our bags would be nothing short of a miracle. 

We were all glad to be on the ground, headed to our hotel for the start of our much-anticipated summer vacation, but a slight tension hung in the air of our sorta-crowded rental car as we navigated the San Juan highways at night. Unfamiliar roads, unfamiliar sights - with plenty of familiar ones mixed in. I wasn't surprised by Burger King or Taco Bell, but I have to admit being taken aback when spotting a Sally's Beauty Supply tucked into a shopping center. And a TJ Maxx.

Our good friends in Fort Worth who grew up in Puerto Rico had warned us about the drivers, and they were right on. We had more than one "whew!" incidents on the roads by week's end, including a crazy man on a motorcycle who narrowly averted certain death when he zoomed around us, despite the left blinker signaling Corbin's turn.

My husband got us from airport to rental car to hotel WITH all our luggage, and the Hyatt was a welcome sight. I swam with the kids in warm sprinkling rain while Corbin ran to get milk and cereal and coffee (basic necessities), and he returned with the best pizza we've ever tasted. I don't even remember the name of the local pizzaria, but it was manna from Heaven - with some cheese and bacon thrown in. Clad in swimsuits and dripping wet, we ate straight from the cardboard pizza boxes at a pool side table, shielded under a large Panama Jack beach umbrella. Before heading upstairs around midnight, we ran to the ocean to put our toes in the surf - it's simply an impossibility to go to bed upon arrival without first sticking their toes in the waves!

The rest of our week flew by, escaping too quickly as most vacation days do.
Some things we hope to remember about our week on Dorado beach...

Introducing our children to an island culture - brightly colored homes and buildings, relaxed and simple clothing, the salty air brushing cars and anything metal with rust, loud bird calls, and the landscape bustling with geckos, lizards and iguanas.
Yum! Fresh coconut!
This neon orange guy followed us around while playing miniature golf... he measured about 4' long from head to tail

Essie teaching a 23-year-old Puerto Rican woman how to swim. I watched from a pool chair as they played for a couple of hours in the pool, exchanging smiles with the gal who I thought to be about 16, and afterwards her husband told me - twice - how grateful he was for Esther teaching his wife how to swim. (????!) Then she, in tears, came and told me the same thing. When I asked Esther how she taught her, she said, "I just told her to make big scoops with your arms and kick with your feet."

Our extroverted kids. If we really desire time with our children, we going to have to vacation in a cardboard box. Within hours, they seemed to have taken in everyone at the resort. Our first night in the condo, we sat around our dining table at 9pm for dinner - with eleven-year-old DJ from Massachusetts. Then there was Amanda on the beach, and of course getting to know all the staff. So much so that our children were completely comfortable going into the kitchen (not the restaurant, but the kitchen) to get help from three young waiters to crack open a coconut.

Basden with me, side by side, digging our toes in the sand, and dragging our fingers in circles. Time and time again. We both love, love the feel of the sand on our fingers and toes.
And I love the feel of her right by me.

Old San Juan. Everyone says it's a must. They're right.
Cobblestone streets, tall buildings snuggled side by side... all very European

Incredible El Morro fort, built in early 1600s by Spain, but used recently by Americans in WWII.
Anyone need a cannonball?


Ben & Jerry's in Old San Juan (they got all that $$ we saved by traveling with carry-ons...), and Krispy Kreme with no less than twenty cars in the drive through on any given day. Coconut shrimp and ribs at The Green House.

A perfect beach - big waves for body surfing, and a shady, protected cove with boulders and a coral reef for exploring and discovering crabs, snails, sea urchins, and all kinds of island critters.

Corbin watching our daily checked-out beach towels like a hawk, knowing that we'd be charged a full $25 for any that were unaccounted for. 

Flying like a bird on the Beast (la Bestia). Unbelievable!!
The highest and longest zipline in the world. I got to fly a mile over an expanse of forest, viewing the canyon and it's river from a bird's eye view. Absolutely incredible.
(I'm hoping to receive some emailed photos from Carlos and Antonio, the two men from Spain who braved the Beast right in front of me and were kind to snap a few pics... until then, the mental picture will have to do.)
Ready for action
Hudson skirting across the tree tops
Branson flying high

Corbin - a speck flying over the forest
Basden with a guide - so proud of her!
Me laughing hysterically, on the edge of throwing up from feeling car sick, as we wound around mountain roads looking for the zipline place. It struck me as hilarious that here we were, the six of us shoulder-to-shoulder in a five-person car, maneuvering through a forrested canyon with indiscernible directions, very spotty cell service, having driven around for two 1/2 hours looking for our one-hour-away destination, completely lost in the middle of the Puerto Rico rain forest, no one to stop and ask direction because no one on these roads speak English, crawling one minute as we followed a boy on horseback down a winding road, while dodging crazy drivers before and behind... I don't get to see my husband frustrated very often, but he sure doesn't like feeling out of control. And all I could do was laugh!

Esther telling everyone in the weeks preceding our trip, with no R's, that we were going to PUERTO RICO.
And then last week telling everyone we passed at DFW airport, again with no R's, that we're going to PUERTO RICO.
Then our last night on the beach, arms outstretched wide, she yelled into the ocean, "I love you, SAN ANTONIO."
She didn't need R's for that.


 So many memories, and we've got a couple hundred photos to help us remember. Grateful for our time on this lovely island.
And yes... every one of those buckets belong to us...
Goodbye, San Antonio!