Loulie is on vacation

I am actually sitting in bed with a cup of coffee reading blogs with the Today Show in the background. I think the last time I did this was 2003. I got in late last night from Atlanta where Loulie and I met up with my mother, stayed in a "castle", ate at my favorite restaurant and hit a few of our favorite shopping spots. We are so not shoppers but once or twice a year I love to just look around, get ideas and show Loulie pretty things. These days everything is somehow correlated to what a princess would use. The winding stairs at Boxwoods?-- just like what Belle walked down. The bathtub at the hotel?--what Ariel took a bath in. We were there a mere 24hrs but it was fun. So fun to be with my mother and my daughter doing girly things in one of my favorite places. Our whole reason for being there was to meet up with my mother so that she could take Loulie for a few days. So yesterday afternoon in the kindest way possible Loulie told me to beat it and the two of them headed off for Camp Lovey.
While it was momentarily upsetting to watch my child carelessly leave me, I am so grateful to my mother for spending these few days with her so I can get some work done. I also love that the two of them are so close and that Loulie's idea of the perfect vacation is to go to KnoxvilleTennessee (all one word in Loulie dialect) to hang out with Lovey and GDaddyBoy.
I am going to enjoy these next few moments of listening to the rain fall, sipping my coffee and reading before I close my computer and hit the longest to do list EVER!

Stay dry friends!


Where the Past Meets the Prsent

It might sound trivial to some that we got away for a long weekend but it is a big deal for Bert to leave town for four days in the summer, something he has not done in over three years. But one of my favorite people in the world invited us to her farm in GA to spend time with friends and after stewing over it, we decided we could leave work and make a tour of it. So from Charleston to Macon to Newnan to Atlanta to Highlands and back to Charleston we went. 

We took a little vacation and it did my heart well.....

-to see my nephews playing with Loulie late into the night. They could be way too cool to play with their baby cousin but their hearts are just too good for that. Instead they surprised her with presents and attention and playtime with their stuff. To say that I am thankful that they love her the way they do is an understatement. I only hope someone else out there is raising boys this well because William and Lukie are setting some high standards.

-to see my college friends' children and Loulie playing together, to spend time with longtime (I don't use 'old' anymore) friends and to enjoy the insanely good food and scenery at my friend's home.

-to take Loulie to Atlanta for the first time. If she had been a teenager, she would have rolled her eyes every five seconds with our trip down memory lane. "there's where daddy went to college. There's mama's first office," etc, etc.

-to hear Loulie Giglio preach at Passion City Church.

- to experience Loulie's first "Castle"(hotel) stay. She is still talking about her princess castle with a pool  and elevator that she is going to live in at college. I also managed to squeeze in a little Ikea stop. I'll admit, it did my heart well to stock up on a few things--Bert's, it did not. He looks like he may cry in the picture leaving the store. I will be hard pressed to get him back there again.

- to hike and play with Loulie in the mountains. The nice part about vacation is not having anything else to do so there are no "I'll be right there" or "Wait just a minute." We were able to hike and play and eat at our leisure and see some pretty views along the way.



So, we finally went on a vacation. It did my heart well. I think I needed a change of scenery and some rest to get me through a hot, slow August. It wasn't Disney or Europe or out west; but it was exactly what we needed.

P.S. I know you noticed my circa 1998 Gloria Rae luggage. Don't knock it, you know you had some too. I obviously need  a new suitcase. Or maybe I'll hold on to it another half decade. Then will it be considered retro vintage?


Checking Myself

I needed this today and you may too.

Yesterday I begrudgingly cut the grass, scrubbed bathrooms, changed bed linens, disciplined a sass mouthed child; all with a self-serving, "is this all there is?" attitude. I knew I was going about it surrounded in negativity and for some reason didn't really do much to change anything. Before I let it carry over into the rest of my week, I went to bed early last night and then read this from Ann Voskamp first thing this morning. I'm sorry if I've posted it before but I go back to these words often. They are such a good reminder. 

"This life of washing dishes, of domestic routine, it can be something wholly different. This life of rote work, it is itself public work, a public serving-even this scrubbing of pans-and thus, if done unto God, the mundane work can become the living liturgy of the Last Supper, I could become the blessing, live the liturgy! I rinse pots and sing it softly, "This is my song of thanks to You..."
      In the moment of singing that one line, dedicating the work as thanks to Him, something-the miracle-happens, and everytime. When service is unto people, the bones can grow weary, the frustration deep. Because, agrees Dorothy Sayers, "whenever man is made the centre of things, he becomes the storm-centre of trouble. The moment you think of serving people, you begin to have a notion that other people owe you something for your pains...You will begin to bargain for reward, to angle for applause,"
      When the laundry is for the dozen arms of children or the dozen legs, it's true, I think I'm due some apprecitation. So comes a storm of trouble and lightning strikes joy. But when Christ is at the center, when dishes, laundry, work, is my song of thanks to Him, joy rains. Passionately serving Christ alone makes us the loving servant to all. When the eyes of the heart focus on God, and the hands on always washing the feet of Jesus alone-the bones, they sing joy, and the work returns to its purest state: eucharisteo. The work becomes worship, a liturgy of thankfulness.
     "The work we do is only our love for Jesus in action," write Mother Teresa. "If we pray the work...if we do it to Jesus, if we do it for Jesus, if we do it with Jesus...that's what makes us content."
     That is what makes us content-the contented, deep joy is always in the touching of Christ-in whatever skin He comes to us in."
      From One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, p. 194

Sometimes it is just better to use the words of others greater than yourself. I think I am now ready to start this day.



Let me take you to Rio, Rio..

In the summer of 1992, I was 11 years old and on the swim team. I think I placed in a meet one time the entire summer. Simultaneously, across the world the summer Olympics was occurring in Barcelona. I remember a few things about that summer but mostly that it was the first summer that both my cousin, my sister and myself were allowed to be dropped off at swim practice and then left at the pool for the rest of the day. My summer of 1992 revolved around two things; what color slushie I would get in the teen room and who I would be that day in the pool. Because for around eight hours straight, we pretended over and over again that we were Summer Saunders and Janet Evans. We were all obsessed with the swimmers on the American team. That is my earliest Olympic memory.

Twenty years later, not much has changed. I am still a terrible swimmer and for 16 nights in a row, I have been glued to NBC. Bert and I will even proclaim that we should take a night off, that we're tired of watching. Then find ourselves crawling to bed long after midnight and all the commentary has taken place. I usually get a lot accomplished in August from a project/reading/house chores perspective because summer has sort of ended without school year stuff starting up for us yet. Combine that with lousy TV and I'm usually pretty productive. Sans this year. We have DVRed, let Loulie stay up too late watching and even tuned into Today a few mornings to see favorite athletes' interviews. Several mornings upon waking, the first words out of Loulie's mouth have been, "Did Gabby get the medal last night?"

So like 20 years ago, we have spent hours pretending to be Gabby and McKayla, Missy and Michael, Sanya and Allyson. It has been a welcome distraction and a inspiration. I mean, how can you look at those bodies and not want to hit the gym?! I've said "On your mark, get set, go!" more than I ever wanted to and Loulie's favorite new line is "Stick It!"

What's strange is that I have no memory of really watching the winter Olympics while I can't believe we have to wait FOUR years for Rio! Is there anyone out there opposite? Maybe because I grew up in the south with warm southern sports. I don't know.

But this year has been especially good. From the athlete's personal stories to the cut throat competition, it is truly the best reality show ever!

More than anything, I love seeing each country represented--the different colors and shapes and features all in one arena, celebrating together. It is like a very small glimpse of heaven. 

I could go on and on but it is already way past midnight. Last night of one a.m. bedtimes!

Random thoughts:

- I would be completely fine if Loulie grew up to have the character and demeanor of Missy Franklin.
- I think Bert has a small crush on Allison Felix. If he said it once, he said it 100 times--"she's cute."
- The P & G commercials--killing me!
- Gabby for Pres! That precious, humble heart was so inspiring.
- Why did the Russian gymnasts always look so scared?
- Did you get choked up every time they played Phillip Phillips's song? Me too.
- I want one of those gray jackets. Bert said they are running around $450 right now so I guess no.
- I'll miss you Debbie Phelps--you crack me up.

What am I supposed to do at night now?--I guess get on that to do list. Cheers to Today's follow up coverage all week! At least I'm not going cold turkey.


Why blog?

I'm back. I've had some serious battling of the conscience on whether or not to keep blogging. Based on things I've read from some other bloggers I relate to, I believe a lot of people go through this. A lot of it began two weeks ago during the whole Chick Fil A debacle. There just seemed to be too much information, too many opinions and so much arrogance. Why is it we think the age of technology means we should share every thought and opinion so forcefully? Couple that with finding a few blogs written by some mothers I know at Loulie's school that I found to be a little self indulgent. Picture after picture of them in front of mirrors discussing what they wore that day, admissions of drinking too much allowing their children to get hurt and posting their weight. I really am not trying to be judgmental--I know there are all walks of life out there and that some people relate more than others. I'm sure a lot of people read blogs by me and my friends and have opposite opinions of how we should be parenting, living, worshipping, etc. But all of it got me thinking..what is it that I am really trying to say? Is this blog a place where I am bragging? where I want people to be impressed? Am I self indulgent? And if the answer is yes, DO I NEED TO STOP?
I went around and around. At one point dragging my poor mother into an hour long diatribe on whether or not blogging was self serving or a way to relate to others. As she always does, she posed some good questions? 
Am I writing about things that are important to me? Who reads it and do I care if anyone does? Do I enjoy my friends' blogs--updates on their children, struggles of parenting, tips on exercise and eating healthy? (YES) I contemplated all these questions and came up with this...Why blog?

1. I began this blog as an outlet when I quit my job. As a place to keep my mind going, share information and hopefully not completely lose my writing skills. Not like I have ever been some advanced writer but I had so much fear when I chose to stay home that anything I ever learned would slowly ooze out of my ears while I spent my time cleaning bottles and vacuuming floors. My hope was that my blog would keep my thoughts churning, give me some kind of accountability and give me a place to practice putting thoughts together/grammar/etc. I ever really cared if anyone read it, I certainly have never advertised it or begged someone to read it. It's kind of my space in a house full of toys and tools and hand me down furniture--friends can join me here if they like or not.

2. I love sharing with others. I have always said that we only grow up with one perspective of family--whether it's two parents or four, one house or three; we really only see that schedule, rules and norms of our family. I am so blessed to have such great parents that I learned so much from but I remember thinking after my first nannying job at 16, "Wow, there people out there that do it differently." From that moment on, I took notes and snippets of things that I liked from other families I babysat for, from the families of boys that I dated and what not to do from a few nightmarish experiences. And this is probably the #1 reason I love the concept of blogging--getting to see how others are doing it. Opening my circle up wider that the advice of a few friends. Seeing inside the days of other mothers and families.  Taking tips and ideas. If done correctly, we can share our perspectives, not forcefully through demands and opinions, but through living out our beliefs and documenting the outcomes. 

3. I want this space to be a place that documents our everyday lives from the mundane to what we find exciting. That if she wants to one day, Loulie can look back on her childhood through my words and pictures seeing how much I loved her and what our life was like. My mother was excellent at documenting our school years and photographing every event but sometimes can't remember details (like who fell during the family Easter egg hunt. I claim it was me, Meredith claims it was her. We're still in debate.) I hope that in capturing some of the details, she'll one day feel like she is back here again. That this will be a little gift to her one day. I realize that it could totally backfire and she could hate me for posting naked pictures and documenting tantrums but it will be the reality of her upbringing and I kind of like that. 

4. My final reason for blogging is how much I love to read. I often find myself wishing that sleeping and eating were optional, that there is just too much to learn and do and read in what little time we get here. I know how much I love reading others' blogs. Bert sometimes puts too much emphasis on what will make money, how we are spending our time. I kind of feel like if you do the things you love, then something will come from it or not, but that you've at least enjoyed the last thirty minutes. And I truly like writing, even if it is something silly. I have so many posts that I never publish because I don't want it out in the world wide web or I'm scared I'll offend someone. But I know by writing it here, that it is permanent, that I can look back on my thoughts and opinions at this time in my life (I hope one day it won't be too cringe worthy.)
So my resolution is to be more intentional in what I write and post. I hope that I never come across as braggy or full of myself. If I do, then I apologize in advance. I promise I won't post to twitter or facebook or instagram unless I feel that I have written something that truly needs to be shared. So i'm going to keep writing here. Take it or leave it. This is just me, us, living our lives. And for what it's worth, telling my story.