Thought I'd Appreciate This in 10 years…

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Meet Joey, age 9:

Tell me a little about yourself: I’m 9 years old and I like playing Lottie and Finn with Katie.  I’ve got a lot of Legos that I like to play with and I love learning Spanish.  I love Roman Numerals and I want to be a policeman when I grow up or maybe a zookeeper.

What’s it like being 9?  It’s fun especially when you’re the oldest because then you get to be in charge and help look after your siblings.  You also get a bigger serving of elderberry syrup and now I have a hamster because I’m 9.

What’s your favorite book?  Well one of my favorite book series is Beast Quest.  My favorite book that Daddy read to me was The Green Ember.  Also, I loved Dangerous Journey so much.

What do you like about yourself? I like that I’m eager to build and I also like playing with my siblings.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?   My favorite color is red and I like everything to eat.  And I write a series of books called Animal Fight.  I’m working on Book #17 right now, Armando the Lively Anteater.

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Meet William, age 7:

Tell me a little about yourself:  My favorite thing to do is eat and do karate.  I like to eat peanut butter and almond butter sandwiches.  Also, another favorite thing to do is snuggle Mommy.

What’s it like being 7?  It feels so great.  You just have a lot of energy and you can’t wait to get it out.

What’s your favorite book?  I have a lot, but one of my favorites is Swiss Family Robinson because they get stranded on an island and they have to survive.

What do you like about yourself?  My hair.  It’s getting dredlocks.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?  My birthday is coming up.  I’m excited to be 8 because that means I’m one year closer to marrying someone.  I might marry my friend Ada because she’s very nice and she likes to dance and she’s 8.

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Meet Andrew, age 5:

Tell me a little about yourself: My birthday is June 22 and I’ll be six years old, as old as my friend, Cameron.  I used to want to be a mud puddle but now I want to be a monster.  Hopefully a monster with horns and sharp teeth and claws as sharp as knives.  I’ll be a good monster, though, and scoop up bad monsters with my horns and fling them.

What’s it like being 5?   Oh it’s really nice.  I like playing with Joseph and William and Katie.  I like it because I can spend my day outside.

What’s your favorite book?  Uncle Wiggily.  My favorite story in there is Uncle Wiggily and the Freckled Girl.

What do you like about yourself?  I like that I’m not always mean anymore.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?  I like monster books and I like playing with yarn.

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Meet Katie, age 3:

Tell me a little about yourself:  I am nice to Joseph.  I like to do my ABCs and I like to swing.  I really like to pretend I’m driving the car and I like to pretend I’m the mommy.

What’s it like being 3?  I sleep with mommy and daddy and I like to always be with my mommy.  I’m a good eater…I get ice cream when I give Daddy a kiss.

What’s your favorite book?  Anne of Green Gables.

What do you like about yourself?  The way I run.

Anything else you’d like to tell us? I like going to the aquarium and I like to snuggle and play Uno with Granny.  My best friends are William, Joey and Rooey.  Eleora, Maddie and Baby ‘Retta are my best girl friends.  I like everything that is pink and I love to “read” to my mommy.  I start a lot of my stories with “Last year…” or “Yesterday…” (although I have no concept of time yet).

 

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A Letter to My Hardworking Husband (from a stay-at-home mom)

Dear Hardworking Husband,

The alarm clock rings.  I barely register the sound in my subconscious.  Quietly you flip the switch and pad noiselessly into the hallway.  You sneak out under the darkness and begin your day, careful not to disturb the sleeping souls you pass on your way out.

Meanwhile, I snuggle a little deeper under the warmth of our duvet, resting my head next to a sweet baby’s cheek.  Daylight slowly creeps in.  Little feet pad into my room and crawl up in bed with me.  Tiny voices whisper sweet love songs into my ear as we snuggle and watch the rays of light dance across the bedroom floor.  I am grateful for this moment.

Out in your office, you down a few cups of coffee and hit your day head-on.  The phone rings, text messages buzz and the fax machine hums.  You, my introverted loner, plunge head first into a day full of noise and people.  Today’s equivalent of slaying dragons.  And you do it for us.

I spend the morning knee deep in mundane tasks…making the beds, cooking the breakfast, washing the dishes, doing the laundry, but unlike your day, my day is interrupted by gleeful accomplishments (the baby said “mama!”, the toddler learned to hop, the preschooler read his first word, our school age children learned a new skill), little hands pressed into mine and moments of gratitude.

You spend your day busy, staring at a computer screen, calculating numbers, running averages, estimating costs.  Or perhaps the monotony is broken up by an appointment with a client.  A meeting with co-workers.  A training session.  Even jury duty when the time comes.

It’s not all drudge for you.  You have the luxury to make it through a task without getting sidetracked.  You can make a phone call without an interruption.  You can listen to music while you work.  You can concentrate.  If you need to run an errand, you can do it without buckling anyone in or keeping anyone’s hands off of everything in the store.  You can set your own schedule, change your mind on a whim, potty without an audience.

I spend my day chasing children, cleaning up messes only to discover new ones in my wake, educating (sometimes ungrateful) bright minds, juggling four little souls with all of their idiosyncrasies.  I cook, I clean, I wash, I educate, I discipline, I love.

But if I had to choose?  Between your world and mine?

I’d choose mine.  Time and time again.  Hands down.  No hesitation.

I am grateful that I am able to stay home and witness the growth and change in these little people we created.  I am grateful that I get to experience the power of innocence and the wonder of childhood.  I am grateful that I get to fill hungry little bellies with good, home-cooked food.  I am grateful that I can stop in the middle of a moment, grab four eager little listeners and snuggle up on the couch for a good story.  I am grateful that my kids know the security and familiarity of a steady home.  That they get to continue growing and thriving alongside me, the same me that nurtured them inside my womb and brought them into this world.  I am grateful that I am the one that gets to wipe fevered brows and rub upset tummies.  I am grateful that it’s me they run to for comfort, it’s me they ask for advice, it’s me they write love letters to.

I realize that for all my gratitude, my life is nothing without you.  Without a foundation, a home has no ground on which to grow.  You make my lifestyle possible and it is because of your hard work and sacrifices that I get to stay home and count my blessings.

So thank you.  Thank you for getting up early.  For thriving in a world that tests your limits.  For responding with earnestness to the genetic call to care for and provide for your family.  For slaying dragons on our behalf.  Our kids don’t realize how incredibly lucky they are.  But I do.

I love you,

Your Stay at Home Wife

Bike Trails of South Texas

Gone are the ribbons and bows, the wrapping paper and holiday bags.  Now all the gleaming toys sparkle as they wait to be used.  Chances are pretty good that in that pile of stuff, one of your kids may have received some new wheels… a bike, a scooter, rollerblades.  In a city of sunny days and beautiful weather and bike trails to explore, there’s no excuse not to get out there with your child and make the most of that new gift.

For those of you in the South Texas area looking for hike and bike trails, head over to the Corpus Christi Moms Blog to see which trails we’ve been exploring!

A Surprise For You (and no, it’s not a new baby!)

I am so, so excited to share this with you.  My sister, Leslie, and I have just launched a brand new website and we are thrilled to invite you to join us.  It’s all about being intentional and we plan to spend our days reflecting, guiding and inviting you to join us in our journey.  Please grab a cup of tea and pop over to With Every Intention.  We can’t wait to see you there!  While you’re there, be sure to sign up to receive updates by email or head over to our Facebook page, like us and follow our journey that way.

Just so you’re not left wondering…I’m not leaving my beautiful space here where I am Standing Over Running Water.  This will continue to be my space to reflect on all the blessings in my life.  Our new website is dedicated solely to living with intention.  Since I’m not a perfect intentionalist (yet), I’ll use this blog to continue to journal all the unintentional moments in my life!

Happy New Year…

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Dear friends,

The end of 2016 is upon us and tomorrow we’ll be ringing in a new year.  2017 stretches before us over here in Corpus Christi like a fresh canvas and we can’t wait to fill it with beautiful, intentional moments.

I have always been inspired by The Three Questions, a story by Leo Tolstoy.  In it, there is a king who realized that if only he knew the right time for every action, the most necessary people and the most important thing to do, he would never fail in anything he undertook.  So he called for all the wise men to come forth and answer his three questions.  After listening to these supposed wise men (and all of their contradicting answers), the king decides to go and seek the wisdom of a hermit.  After various events that day, the hermit concludes with this advice:

“Remember then: there is only one time that is important–Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power. The most necessary man is he with whom you are, for no man knows whether he will ever have dealings with any one else: and the most important affair is, to do him good, because for that purpose alone was man sent into this life!” 

There it is.  The heart and soul of living…living with intention: being present in this moment right now, being present with the people you are with at this moment right now, and doing good at this moment right now.  In other words, living this moment with purpose and intention. 

I spent the greater part of 2016 learning the art of intention.  I slowed down a bit and savored the moments.  The simple moments like watching Joey’s passion for Shakespeare grow in his homeschool co-op, seeing William’s delight in the adventure of camping, joining in Andrew’s pure joy in losing three teeth in quick succession, witnessing Katie’s sweet, caring nature bloom as she sat by Granny’s side after a recent surgery.  Then there were the bright moments of the year that I tried my best to be intentional about: the opportunity to travel by train to Missouri with Dax, the kids and my parents, the camping trips, the birthdays, the holidays, the family gatherings.  I did my best to soak it all in, to memorize the beauty and wonder of each moment and to gather those thoughts in my mind with deep, heartfelt gratitude.

Yet despite all intention, I still face the end of the year wondering how we have already finished another year. My beautiful children are all one year older, blooming right here where they have been planted.  My marriage is one year stronger, holding tight to the one strand that keeps it strong: love.  My life is one year brighter, filled with old and new friends, beautiful memories, and the hope of an even more intentional 2017.

Dear friends, I pray that as you ring in the New Year, you prepare to find the wonder and beauty of all the intentional moments that fill your days.  I look forward to hearing about those intentional moments and sharing mine with you at the end of 2017.

Blessings to you and yours,

Daxson, Stacie, Joey (9), William (7), Andrew (5), Katelyn (3)

Rediscovering the Joy of Motherhood: Gratitude

The joys of motherhood often get lost in the daily drudgery of this little journey we call life.  It’s hard to show gratitude when we’re knee deep in diapers, bad attitudes and dirty dishes.

The pile of dishes stacked beside the sink causes us to groan in frustration, knowing that it is up to us to clean them while the muddy footprints on the floor remind us that it is time to clean the house.

Our stomachs growl and we sigh in resignation knowing that the only way dinner will be served is if we stop whatever it is we’re doing (paying the bills, folding the laundry, tending to a child) and dedicate the next bit of time to cooking…

Head over to Corpus Christi Moms Blog to finish reading and to find out how to rediscover joy in motherhood.

Learning to Count: Meaningful Gift Giving

Gift giving isn’t bad.  On the contrary, gift giving is a beautiful opportunity to try to express our love in a tangible way.  But we’ve been trained by our culture and the media to believe that gift giving is about stuff.  And that stuff brings happiness.  It doesn’t.  And as soon as we pile up the gifts under the tree and train our children to begin to think that way, we plant the seed for deep rooted dissatisfaction in their lives.  Gift giving should be just as much about showing love as learning the language of appreciation. And when there’s too much piled up, it’s hard to appreciate anything with sincerity.  Less is more.  I promise.

Pop on over to Corpus Christi Moms Blog to gather some alternative ideas to piling up toys under the Christmas tree this year.

Over the River and Through the Woods

The traditional Thanksgiving song Over the River and Through the Woods brings pictures to mind of children bundled up in sweaters, yellow and red leaves on the trees, a fireplace with a blazing fire in Grandmother’s house.

South Texas clearly didn’t get the fall memo: the memo that dictates a shift in temperature, a change in seasonal appearance.  It’s still gorgeous outside here.  Sunny and warm with cool evenings.  The leaves on all of my trees are still a perky green as if spring is in the air.

But while we lack traditional autumn weather, we make up for it with perfect camping weather.  We can still head over the river and through the woods, although we’ll just do it camping style.  It’s time to pack up the tent and sleeping bags, the ingredients for s’mores, some firewood and oh yes, don’t forget those sweet little children of yours.

Pop on over to Corpus Christi Mom’s Blog to finish reading and find out some fun spots for fall camping…

Dear Dr. Surgeon

We haven’t met.  Chances are slim that we ever will.  Yet you hold my future in your hands…literally.  See that woman on the operating table?  The one you refer to as your patient?  Well, she’s my mom.  She’s my dad’s wife.  My uncle’s sister.  My cousin’s aunt.  My children’s granny.  She’s not a number in a system or just a body on an operating table.  She’s a born person, unique in every way.  She’s precious to each of us.  She’s our encouragement when we feel down, our shoulder to cry on, our sympathetic ear.  For two of us, she’s the reason we’re here.  For others, she’s the reason we laugh and pray and find peace in our days.  So we just ask you to take extra special care of her.  Treat her as if she were your mom, your wife, your sister, your daughter.

She’s been battling health issues for many years.  Surgery after surgery after surgery.  Surgeon mistakes, bad luck, health issues pushed off for too long, complications brought on by surgical procedures.  Patiently smiling through every single trial.  She’s beat the odds each time.  After all her body has been through, it’s clear that she’s here solely by the grace of God.  His hand remains steady over her.  He comforts her when she needs it.  He hastens to soothe her soul.

But today her body is in your hands.  So today as you prepare your surgical instruments, we ask that you also prepare your heart.  As you review your notes before you see her, please also review your place in the grand scheme of things.  Your hands are meant to do His will.  You are an instrument of His, so allow Him to work through you.   Humbly ask Him to guide you.  Trust that He will.

We continue our prayer vigil for Mom as she heads back to surgery.  We pray for health and healing and peace.  For His will to be done and for each of us to accept whatever His will may be.  For strength, for trust, for hope.

But today we also pray a special prayer for you.  A prayer for your submission to His will.  A prayer that you allow His hand to guide yours.  A prayer that you see Mom as the unique person that He created her to be.  That you remember that she’s more than just a body…she’s a mom, a wife, a sister, an aunt, a granny.  We pray that you tend to her as you would tend to one of your own flock.  And we trust that He will endow you with the wisdom you need to heal her with the power of your hands.  And trust in the promise that He will reward you for your humility and trust.  God’s got this one, so please, allow His will to be done.

Thank you.

Worn out and stretched

october-2016-076_1_1I have this sweater that hangs in the back of my closet.  To be honest it’s not very flattering these days.  But before it was worn and stretched and washed and dried incorrectly only to be washed and stretched again, it was a delightful sweater.

I bought the sweater back during my junior year of college. I had been invited to spend a weekend with a friend in Boston.  Dad and I went shopping a few weeks before my trip.  I saw the sweater and fell instantly in love.  Never having been one for style, I tended to gravitate toward comfort.  And this sweater just breathed comfort.  But unlike most of my fashion choices, this sweater was beautiful.  It was charcoal gray with flecks of color splashed about.  It zipped up and had a hood.  I grabbed it from the rack and Dad agreed that it had a Boston look to it.  Very New Englandy.

The sweater and I in Boston during my visit in October 1999.

The sweater and I in Boston during my visit in October 2000.

The sweater traveled to Boston with me that fall.  And then to New York in the winter.  Philly the following winter.  Alaska in the spring.  Raleigh the following Christmas.  The more I wore it, the more it stretched.  The more it stretched, ironically, the more I loved it.  It had character and despite its misshapen identity, it still breathed comfort.  It lost a little of its beauty on the outside, but to me it remained beautiful.  A treasure that withstood the passing of time.

I pulled it out this morning, this first morning that has had a taste of fall.  The temperature is comfortable but the breeze is giving me shivers.  I just needed a little added layer to take the chill off.  Wrapping the worn and loved sweater around me and zipping it up, I relished its comfort, its history, its trek through life with me.

This sweater and me?  We actually share more than just travel and cold days.  You see, my body isn’t so perfect anymore either.  Back before it was worn and stretched and tired, it was a delightful body.  Time and babies have taken their toll.  Bits of it have stretched beyond repair and bits of it sag thanks to the law of gravity.  But this body?  The one Daxson reaches for in the middle of the night?  The one my babies snuggle up to when they’re scared?  I’d like to think it’s still comfortable.  It’s beautiful in a way it hasn’t always been.  It has nurtured life within its womb and stretched and given way to miracles.  Tiny little miracles.  Four of them here on Earth.  Two more securely tucked away in Heaven.  It has nursed my babies into healthy toddlers.  It has lifted those children and rocked them and held them close on the nights when their dreams weren’t so sweet.  It has spoken of love and pleasure to a devoted husband.  It has been pushed to its limits with my obsession of diets and working out.  It carries on despite its lack of good sleep, a rest from stress and access to a perfect diet.  It is faithful despite my nonacceptance, my constant criticism.

This morning, I snuggle a little deeper into my sweater and I look down at the stomach that is no longer flat.  Instead of criticizing, I praise the stretch marks, the sagging skin, the abs that will never boast of themselves in a bikini and I accept it all for what it is.  A vessel for love.  And my sweater?  I praise it, too.  For teaching me the beauty of a body well used.

 

 

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