Thursday, June 26, 2008

It's all about Mallory


I took my kids to the pool at the community center yesterday and especially enjoyed watching my twins Mallory and Hailey discover a new place. The center has a kiddie area which a large play scape and shallow water that sprays water in every direction. There is a large bucket on top of the playscape that is filled with copious amounts of water until it spills over. It was so funny to see Mallory watch the timing of it all. The water would loudly splash and spill down the playscape and when it was finished Mallory would quickly run up to the top and jump on the slide. She'd spend a few seconds "swimming" with her face in the water and would again return her eyes to that huge bucket to time it's spilling. This went on for about half of our time there before she finally got brave enough to play near the top while the water spilled out. She eventually sat at the edge of the pool intentionally waiting for the water to come crashing on her. I love how innocent she is.

Mallory and Hailey were given pink blankets with silk edges on them when they were born. We have four pink blankets in all but two different styles. They aren't very different actually but trust me, Mallory and Hailey know which ones belong to them. I put their clean clothes away yesterday, gave them each a clean "blanky" and put the dirty ones in the hamper. Mallory will now spend the rest of the weekend pulling the "dirty blanky" out of the hamper and sneaking the clean one in there. I can't figure out what is so special about the already used blanket that she loves but she is silly and loves her "dirty blanky."

My Mal is such a sweet, sweet little girl. I just wanted to share a couple of the things about her that make me want to eat her toes, bite her cheeks, and squeeze her, and love her.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

All kinds of hotness!


That's my hubby Todd pictured above on my parent's Harley Roadster they graciously allowed us to borrow this weekend. We joined them on our first ride Sunday for a charity run to benefit our local military community. Charitable contributions always feel good to begin with but I was especially happy to take part in supporting our troops. My younger brother Murray is a Staff Sergeant stationed in Okinawa Japan who served in Iraq.

We departed from a local Air Force Base just north of Detroit called Selfridge and traveled almost 60 miles through Saint Claire Shores, New Baltimore along Lake Saint Claire, through Algonac, Marine City, and finally ending in Clinton Township at a local Harley dealer. It was a fantastic first experience with over 800 motorcycles participating.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Underdog

Mandy Moore herself called Gev "this week's underdog." Well he rose to the challenge and danced a gorgeous piece with partner Courtney. This was definitely my favorite of the night.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

His Princess....

I have several little devotional type books I read daily as part of my morning routine. They each contain little nuggets of scripture and wisdom for each day.

I recently came across this in my sweet little book titled His Princess-Love Letters from Your King by Sheri Rose Shepherd. I've learned more about who God says I am in this sweet little book than any other. Today, I cling to this:

My Princess...
I will redeem a time for you.

I know that sometimes you look back on your life with anguish and regret-so much time wasted on things that did not matter. But take heart, My love. I am your Redeemer, and today is a new day. So start now by seeking My plans, which are to give you hope and a future. Just as I used hardship in Joseph's life to lead him to a position of leadership, influence, and blessing, I've also called you. I will use your past to carve into your character everything you need for the here and now. I want you to let your past experience teach you and not torment you. Remember, My princess, I will always turn into good what others meant for harm. I will redeem what was lost and place you on the narrow road that leads to an everlasting life.

Your King and your Redeemer

"For I know the plans I have for you." Declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day

We have been staying with my parent's to recuperate after the loss of our house while we begin to establish a new financial foundation and recover from the hurt. So I have been fortunate to spend every day with my father. Still, this Father's Day was especially dear to me.

My father has been an addict of some kind off and on for most of my life. In recent years beer (lots of it) was his drug of choice. But, he quit drinking before Christmas. Six months and at least 50 pounds lighter later, he is like a new person. He has a fresh perspective on life, a deeper desire to be a better person, and to be a healthier person too. I am proud of all he has overcome in recent months. I am even more proud to see the man he has become.

That thing I have always needed from both my parent's always seemed just a bit off in the distance. Even though the transition to settling into my parent's home again has been emotional it certainly isn't due to the people they are. It's been tough to leave my Independence and return home. I am so grateful that they have received us with open arms and are willing to do everything in their power to encourage and support us. That which has always been slightly in the distance has settled right before me. I have a deeper connection with my parent's and more respect for them than ever before. All they each want in life is to see their children and grandchildren grow into self-sufficient, joyful people who enjoy life and their families. I have found both my mother and father in a place where they enjoy being near us, they enjoy our company and the company of their grandchildren. They enjoy life. I enjoy sharing it with them.

It was a wonderful thing to stand beside my father at church this Sunday, eyes closed, hands up praising my Jesus with the echo of my father's voice next to me. I am thankful my parent's are still in love. I am thankful to have had them both raise me. I am thankful my mother quit smoking as well and her healthier is no longer at such a great risk. I am grateful that through weight loss and the abandonment of an addiction my father no longer needs medication for his body to function properly. I am thankful for my precious parent's, they are a gift that not all of us get to enjoy in our lives.

I took my father's presence in my life for granted in previous days and years. We take for granted just how precious our time with each other is here on earth. I should have learned that lesson after the loss of Todd's cousin Lana.

It took Todd's perspective on Father's Day to remind me. After church Todd and I discussed whether he should call his father or not. Todd felt torn because he wanted to call his father, the man that contributed to his existence out of respect. Lonn is his father but at the same time didn't want to crack the door too far open. Todd isn't ready to let down all the walls yet; understandably so.

Todd's parent's were married eleven years but Lonn left their family when Todd was a young boy. For a few years Todd and his sister visited their father in California for a week out of each year and nothing more. My mother-in-law worked hard and sacrificed much to support herself and her two children and save a foreclosing mortgage. That she certainly did in an amazingly graceful manner as well.

Todd told me that in his morning prayer he also wished God a Happy Father's Day for filling the gap; the void. For being his heavenly father in place of his absent earthly father. I can't even fathom.

In the end I encouraged Todd to call his father. It is because of Lonn that Todd is the man he is today. Whether he played a positive or negative role in his life. Present or absent, the decisions Lonn made in his life shaped how Todd was raised and shaped Todd into the man he is today. It is why Todd holds so tightly onto me and our children. It is the reason the fire in his heart exists to be the best possible father he can be. And, a truly wonderful father he is. Todd's earthly father wasn't present in his childhood but Todd had the best possible example of love and self-sacrifice, Jesus himself. "Call him, not for the father he was in your childhood but for the father he is trying to be in the present. As a child, he was not present in your life. But, now he offers his love, seeks forgiveness, and provides Godly advice and encouragement. Call him, not for the man he used to be but because of the man he has become since he let Jesus into his heart."

I don't have many men in my life but those I do each hold their own set of keys to my heart; my loving husband Todd who falls more madly in love each day, my tender-spirited father whose soft spot for me gets larger daily, and my only son Tyler who has the best example of the kind of man and father a boy should become. I cannot wait to see the husband and father he will blossom into. I love all my guys and I thank God everyday for you. Todd, if only you felt half as blessed this Father's Day as you make us feel everyday!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Dance for your life!

And Kortni and five others did. Kortni's choreography and connection with the judges kept her in the competition. Will stole the spot for my favorite performance. He is my number one fellow I'll be hoping to perform well and stay alive in this. Ultimately it was Rayven and Jamie who went home.

The group portion and opening number was choreographed by Wade Robson. I love Wade Robson's choreography and last night's number was no exception but I didn't like the mood of it. It was too violent and angry for me. My all time favorite of Wade's is Ramalama Bang Bang.

On another note...I was in the process of organizing my photos and moving them to CD. I was at it for almost three hours and in the end the CD has no remaining space but guess photos either!!!! Ugh! I've got to redo them all. The worst part was organizing them so that part is at least finished but I'm impatient when it comes to sitting and waiting for the folders to copy. Who has time to sit and watch the timer! I could have sat on my dupa' for three hours doing nothing and still have as much accomplished.

One more night of baseball then we have the weekend off; sort of. Tyler is trying out for the tournament team and try-outs are at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday.

Lots of other fun stuff to get done this weekend also: grocery shopping, cleaning house, etc. After church on Sunday I'm hoping go for a drive to a few different spots and take some shots of different areas for on-location shoots. Faith and Karli both have birthday's in July and new outfits for them to each have thier own little photo shoot. I also have a shoot coming up for some headshots and a few for a young ladies portfolio; she wants to be a model. I'm very excited about this one!

The kids have all been out of school this whole week and it's been interesting and chaotic as they are still settling in to the changes. I hope they settle fast!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance

The first round of competition where the public can vote began last night. My favorite performance last night was Katee and Joshua choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon D'Umo whose choreography I'm in love with! Chelsea and Thayne also pulled off a fantastic performance as did Rayven and Jamie also choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon.

At the moment my very favorite top 10 girl is Kortni Lind although I didn't really appreciate last nights performance. She is really an amazing and technical dancer. So far the guys are lovely but there isn't just one fellow yet that stands out for me.

I'm not sure how many of my readers will be following and joining me in my love affair with SYTYCD but there will be frequent posts of my favorites.

I danced for six or seven years when I was growing up but certainly never attained the technical ability these dancers have achieved. I have always had a love for dance and music; it just lives deep within my soul. I personally was trained using the choreography along the lines of Bob Fosse and didn't learn to appreciate today's contemporary dance until I was an adult. Now I love, love it! Still love Fosse and all things broadway though too.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My hubby is famous!

Okay well his name is famous. This is the new ad campaign for the rebranded Casino Windsor in Canada, just over our border, now known as Caesar's Windsor. I saw it air on TV last night and went hunting for it. Even though it isn't my Todd in the commercial, he is that charasmatic.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Back On Track

I'm certain you can tell from my recent posts that my quiet time has been few and far between. It was always what I did first thing after getting my older three kids off to school. That time in recent weeks was replaced with the hustle and bustle of a ticking clock and the need to get my house packed up. Not that I haven't spent time with God or that I haven't continued to praise him and pray but I just didn't take the time to continue to learn these past few weeks. To go deeper. I've learned anyway.

My thoughts are all a bit of a hodge podge and a few notes in a notebook so I'm relying on the Holy Spirit to bring it all together for me and for you.

When I first began to commit to reading my bible daily and having time intentionally set aside for Jesus it seemed an overwhelming task. I didn't know what to expect. I knew how to communicate with God but I didn't know how he'd communicate with me. That seemed so daunting to me. I thought I'd have to listen to some praise and worship music for a while to set the tone. I'd have to be perfectly still and quiet, then by some miracle I'd experience some huge revelation each day. Boy was I wrong!

I start most mornings by watching Joyce Meyer. It is always interesting to me how the theme of the week with Joyce is always lined up with what I need for that week. It is even more interesting that after having several little mini lessons of watching Joyce Meyer, the week's circumstances, and my time in the bible, God closes the week at church. I can't even tell you how many times God has dealt with me for a period of time on a certain topic only to then have it preached at church too. I'd have to be a door knob not to get what God is trying to communicate to me. It is almost always a theme and often goes on for days and weeks.

I have also come to realize that prayer time isn't some sacred time in a sacred place where we spew out the smartest of things. I actually don't really pray when I'm reading. I just listen, jot a few things down and get online to my blog and that is where it all comes together for me. My blog is sort of like me just talking to myself but somehow the Holy Spirit comes through. Often times as I put my daily blog together, my thoughts are just as much a revelation to me as they may be to you. I hope they are revelations for you or that God uses my lessons and life's circumstances to speak to you. So while I do have quiet time each morning, my prayer time is all day and much more like conversation. I try and talk to God like I would my husband or best friend. I'm not afraid to let him know when I'm mad or don't like something. I certainly want him to know when I'm grateful and praise him. I'm learning just talk to him as I think of things instead of creating a list in my head and putting it all down in some serious, quiet, ultra-spiritual type frame. I'm too serious too much of the time and I've got a lot going on so I find it necessary to chat with God when it occurs to me; when something pops up. I'm certain this is how he intended it to be anyway. He wants an intimate relationship with us, he calls us friends, so we should treat him like an intimate friend. When you think of something you need to tell a friend, your spouse, or mom you just pick up the phone and call. Prayer for me is like calling God on the my cell.

Todd and I are completely free and clear of the house now. Yesterday they changed the locks, took our keys, and completed the "cash for keys" transaction. We are no longer connected to the house in any way, shape, or form. I'm okay. I'm really, really okay. I think I'm finally done and free of it all. I'm ready to move on with my life and start to rebuild.

Todd is the head of our household and sole financial provider. So I'm certain this process has been particularly draining on him. He is so incredibly selfless though he would never let me believe that. Not until he could see that I was truly much better. Once he felt like he didn't need to hold me up anymore he finally began to share with me how tough it has been for him. Men are so different and don't seem to have the need to talk things to death like woman do. So I feel like there is a lot more we should discuss but I don't get the impression from him that he needs to say anymore. He just needed to get to the point, this is what it is. He needed to feel validated and like his feelings are important to me and okay we can move on now. Man do I envy that ability. I spent a good portion of time dwelling on the loss of our home and crying about it. But, I couldn't believe the things that came out of my mouth as I encouraged my husband. I remember thinking, I should really take my own advice. I believe the Holy Spirit speaks through us if we allow it and I'm so glad Todd was able to hear what the Holy Spirit wanted him to hear instead of what I would have wanted to say. Still, the truth is I can't bear to see Todd feel like a failure or that he missed it somewhere along the line. I want him to immediately get his eyes off the circumstances and onto Jesus and just stay in faith while Jesus carries us through. Soon, this will all be but a memory; one more storm we've endured.

I've come to realize just how much grace and mercy is upon us. There are many marriages that would crumble due to the day to day stress of life. There is no way many marriages could endure what we have. Todd is a strong, strong man. He is the sole provider for me and our five children! In Michigan no less. That alone is an incredible burden. He didn't falter even once during this process. He held his head high and carried us through. Words can't express my gratitude to my husband for being my rock and to Jesus for blessing me with such an incredible man. Todd you have so much to be proud of. Jesus is preparing for you a mansion and a heavy, heavy crown adorned with many a beautiful gems to be bestowed upon such a man as you. I love, love, love you! You have carried me through, now let Jesus carry you.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Go Wings!

We're celebrating in 'D-town' baby! Welcome back Stanley! This is Detroits 4th time capturing the cup in 11 years! Congratulations Red Wings!

What I'm listening to:

I'm loving my new 22" LG Flat Screen Monitor and all the color wonder it has to offer!

I'm working on laundry and ironing today and gearing up for another weekend of Girl Scout camp with my daughter Karli this time.

I'll be spending the afternoon in the swelting, unpredictable Michigan summer weather of 90+ degrees at the elementary school for Fun Day. Then off to Faith's softball game.

Tyler is pitching this season and it has made the games so much more fun. He is quite good. Each time he pitches he either strikes em' out and those that are hit are fielded and kept off of first base even. My heart oozes with pride. Here is one of Tyler pitching.


Monday, June 2, 2008

The shell is gone but the filling is still in tact.

This move was the most emotionally and physically draining experience I've ever had in life. I didn't do nearly as much on Friday as I had on previous days but when Todd got home from work I couldn't do anymore. I was just done.

To top things off we weren't able to bring our dog with us on the move so we took her Friday night to her new home. I miss her dearly. I want to bring her here. I want her to sleep on my legs, lick Mallory and Hailey, beg for her belly to be scratched, and spend the night with Tyler. Leaving her there while she peaked through the gate and my children and I sobbed was a tough, tough thing. Oh how I miss her!

We hit the ground running Saturday morning and everything took more trips and more time than we really thought it would. I am so grateful to my mom who finished packing my kitchen. If I never touch another piece of tape, cardboard, or paper towel again, it will suite me fine!

I can't imagine what poor Mallory and Hailey were thinking as they watched everything we own being taken from our house. The house was almost empty when I loaded them into the car and headed for the storage unit (not to store the kids but our stuff of course). They fell asleep on our way over and slept while we unloaded (our stuff); thank you Faithie for sitting in the car with them so they could sleep. They left with Grandma Ofiara shortly after that and they haven't been home since. They haven't yet seen where we put their toys and their clothes. We got them new beds that they haven't slept in yet. Mallory is ready to come home and I'm ready for them to come home. I miss them terribly. I always do when they go to Grandma's but I usually appreciate the break. This time, I just miss them. I am sad because when they think of home, they don't imagine this new place for them. They imagine their twin beds and their pink walls and their big, big closet. But when they get here they will find bunk beds, teal walls, and a closet they share with two big sisters. Yeah I know they don't care about closets!

I ended Saturday physically tired but emotionally pretty unscathed. With how busy we were I didn't let myself pay attention to the condition of our house or how empty it was. But, we had to go back yesterday to pick up the last couple of things. Faith and Karli were happy to visit with their friends for a second who were riding their bikes in the neighborhood. I was okay to see the garage and pull up my last couple of plants in the backyard. But to go inside and see the empty rooms was unbearable.

Mallory and Hailey's room especially was the most difficult to see empty. I noticed the glossy area of the walls where they had spread candle wax. The same candle wax was also spread into their hair and I had to use olive oil and dawn dish soap to get it out. The bleached area of carpet from the softscrub they dumped there. The nail holes where the letters 'M' and 'H' used to hang. The spot where their cribs were before their big girl twin beds were placed there. And the spot on the door where Hailey attempted to write her name.

To go into my son's room and still be able to smell his cologne; he went through puberty in there. To enter Faith and Karli's room and see the spot of chocolate on the carpet that will never come up. Karli hid an ice cream bar under her bed and let it melt there. That was only the beginning of eaten things and empty wrappers I would find for four years under that bed of hers. I could recall the echo of their made up songs and dances in that room and the awful way they argued in there every morning before school.

And my room I shared with my husband. Where he held me night after night while I cried from depression, from the loss of his cousin, from an argument. Where we had many a serious chat. Where we prayed together. Where we snuggled with all our children and our Lexi. Where we all wrestled and had tickle wars. Where my twins jumped on the bed. Where Todd would throw me on the bed and tickle me until I beg him to stop. Only to try and hold him down and get him back. Oh man did I cry as I walked through that house. The only house Mallory and Hailey have ever known, where I threw a surprise 30th birthday party for Todd, where we had a fantastic Murder Mystery party for my 30th. Where we celebrated about 30 birthdays! Where Tyler, Faith, and Karli learned to swim. Where they each found a best friend. I could go on with the wonderful memories and pieces of our lives that are secrets within the walls. I only hope the next family is a blessed there as we were.

The memories we made in each of those rooms made me cry. I'm not sure why though. I no longer live in the shell that contained our family but I still have my family. I still have my husband and children who created those memories. A house is a house. It's a shell; the people in it are what make a home.

Sunday ended like any other Sunday. My children settled into their jammies and prepared for another day of school screaming "get a room" across the hall as they heard Todd and I wrestle and tickle and banter each other in our new bedroom. I think they were just mad because it wasn't a family tickle fest. And today, it started like any other Monday.