The Smile Behind The Tree

Time flies by. We all know it. We all say it, but so often we don’t stop and really appreciate it -time.

With having children ranging in age from almost 5 to almost 26, I get a glimpse of different ages and stages every day. But oh one of my favorite things in life, the most precious moments, is when I get a glimpse of the little person in my grown child.

Over the weekend, Grace, now 21, became tickled with a story she was telling and as she began to giggle, she brought her hand to her mouth, cut her eyes to the side, crunched her head down low between her shoulders held high and in a split second, there she was – my little princess with her white dress with the silver lining trim and her princess crown on top of her head, giggling as she told me a story about her day. I could even see the dated wallpaper behind her head that really needed to be peeled and scraped and replaced with fresh paint, a new look. They grow so fast and for just a moment she was five again.

Later, I picked Lilly up from a meeting at college. She was waiting just past the stop sign like she always does, tucked behind the bush. As I came down the hill, I could see the top of her head and her eyes peaking over the shrub, but I could already tell there was a playful smile attached to the bottom of the face that held the head full of wild, beautiful hair. Something about the look on her face transported me back to preschool days. As I would pick her up, some days she would pop out from behind a tree on the playground, wild mane revealing her spot just seconds before her playful eyes and then her “I’m not up to anything smile” would not be too far behind. But then I blink and realize she’s really 18.

I know it sounds kind of cheesy or something like the scene from Father of the Bride when Steve Martin’s character watched his daughter grow before his eyes while playing basketball with him, but it was wonderful.

It’s such a privilege to watch as our children grow and experience different seasons, but oh how special to catch glimpses of the little person they were as they grow into the person they were meant to be. I pray I always remember to not let life move so fast, that I don’t miss the smile behind the tree.

Bella is leaving the hospital! Yippee!

I am so happy to share with all of you that Bella is leaving the hospital! She has been fever free for 48 hours and is being released. We are so thankful for her healing and for all of your faithful prayers and concern. Please continue to keep their family in your prayers as they have a few other medical things to attend to before they fly back to their home in the wee hours of Saturday morning.

We are so glad our sweet Bella is feeling better!

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Please keep the prayers coming for Bella

Thank you everyone who continues to pray and be concerned for our sweet Bella and our family. Bella has had some improvement in that she is eating again and she feels like playing. She has always been protective of her “baby sissy” Emma, even on the days she has felt terrible.

On the medical front, her urine has cleared for signs of the bacteria that has caused the UTI. That is great news and a huge praise! However she continues to have fever, it spiked again this morning :-/. The doctors will be running more tests tomorrow to try and determine the origin of her fever and to piece together all of her lab results.

We covet your prayers!

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Please Pray for Bella

Please pray for my sweet, rambunctious, full of life granddaughter, Bella. She is in the hospital in Thailand, and is very sick. The whole family came down with a flu-like virus but Bella didn’t seem to shake it. They had gone to the doctor and four days later when she was still running a fever of 102, she was admitted to the hospital for testing. We are on day five of 104 degree temperatures now. She has a UTI that has entered her blood stream. The doctors are running more test and searching for more effective antibiotics.

This is hard being so far away and wanting to nurture and encourage them. I wanted to sink down into my chair and wallow, but decided against it. I decided to do something normal, so I shaved my legs and took the kids to the park- to breathe in the fresh air and sunshine, to pray and to be grateful for Bella and every moment we all have to cherish life.

Please pray for Bella! Pray for her healing and that she will be our climbing little “monkey” soon. Please pray for wisdom for the doctors. Also please pray for Philip, Ashleigh and baby Emma.

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In Sorrow We Find The Laughter And Memory of A Wonder Years Moment- ( for Julie)

My heart is heavy today for a wonderful friend who’s son, Daniel, has passed away. I spent late last night and today walking down memory lane and recalling so many fun and fond memories of my big boys ( as I call them), along with other neighborhood playmates.

My family was blessed to live for an incredible season in the Bon Air section of Richmond, Va. for nine wonderful years. We belonged to a great neighborhood association and pool called Brighton Green. I think everybody who knows this “season of life” I speak of would agree it was magical. Our families, parents and children alike, we ate together, we swam together, we educated together, we laughed together, we “partied” together and we wept together. Love , support and encouragement were the theme of our lives and it wasn’t just lip service, it was lived out.

When I heard of Daniel’s passing, I immediately thought of his slightly crooked smile and his eyes that danced when his lips turned upward. I then remembered the “Wonder Years” moment. My dear friend Mariann lived up the hill behind the pool and we were all ready for a break from the sun. We collected our children along with several other neighborhood kids and we crossed over the small bridge above the creek, walked up the steep grass and entered through her screened-in-porch door. The boys were sent to the basement to play, my older girls to the den to watch tv with a snack and Mariann and I settled down to a glass of lemonade.

It wasn’t too long before baby Phoebe wanted to eat. My bathing suit was hot and sticky and it was awkward to nurse her, so I quickly agreed to Mariann’s suggestion of just pull the top all the way down. So there I sat, Phoebe contentedly nursing, me no longer dripping in sweat from wrestling her, and my top-half exposed back to the day before man and woman wore clothes. It was a perfect plan, great friends lost in conversation, sipping tasty lemonade- a perfect plan until the basement door opened.

I am sure the boys came up for something that day but for what we will never know. One by one they filed through the kitchen,mouth open, blank face with a dazed look in their eyes as they passed me and very quickly filed out the front door. It all happened so fast. I sat equally in shock as I thought of how I had just exposed myself to these preteen fellows and would now need to tell their mothers.

Mariann broke the ice, she exclaimed, ” Well if that wasn’t just an episode of the television show The Wonder Years. I can picture it now. One of the boys are the narrator and he says, I remember the time I saw my first breast. It was a hot summer day and Mrs. Irwin…” We laughed in fits and giggles for hours over that scene and we still giggle to this day. All of the moms were gracious about it and laughed right along with us. Such good times- boys being boys, water gun fights, creek digging for tadpoles, swimming pool games and coming of age stories.

I sit here with a grin as the tears stream down my face, embracing the sorrow for this world’s loss but reaching for the memory of laughter as I recall a sweet boy’s face.

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Age is just a number

One of my dearest friends here in Ohio is just a few months younger than my oldest son. As a matter of fact, it’s her birthday today- Happy Birthday Rachel! My four year old Lydia is crazy about her daughter Olivia; they have a mutual admiration club going on.

We first met last summer at a church picnic. Bonding over texting about a mutual friend’s son’s impending birth led to play dates, girls’ nights out, girls’ nights in, family dinners and lots of Fun. We chat throughout our day via texting- encouraging one another, sharing pictures, recipes, funny anecdotes our children say, prayer requests and just living life together as friends, one day at a time.

From the moment of our first conversation I really admired her. She has had all three of her babies at home and even though I have had all nine of mine “naturally” at the hospital. I have great admiration for home birthers and she is a Rock Star in my book. We have a desire for healthy eating in common, raising our children for God, a good glass of wine, homeschooling, fun and wacky crafts for our kids, tips on how to be superwomen fixing things around our houses, natural remedies to our bodies’ ailments, a desire to be good moms even when we are so tired we can’t see straight, a good laugh, a good movie, a good song to sing….which leads me to the other night.

My three older girls and I picked Rachel up one evening last week to go out for an impromptu ice cream date at Graeters. Love their ice cream. We were singing to ” Just Give Me a Reason ” by Pink and Fun and then Justin Timberlake’s ” Suit and Tie” came on as we pulled into her driveway. Rachel hopped in the car and the entire car began reminiscing down memory lane as we discussed boy bands from the 90’s. We started talking about 98 Degrees, Backstreet Boys and N’Sync. We had a rousing discussion about the boy band concerts. We debated Justin Timberlake’s merits and career choices and successes and then we had the following conversation.

Me:” I guess I really never had to deal with the boy band craze too much as my boys were the older ones when the bands were popular.”

Lilly and Phoebe chimed in that Grace liked them.

Grace ( my 21 year old on Saturday): “I liked them, I had all the CDs, I was in 2nd grade.”

Rachel: ” I was in 6th grade.”

As I heard giggles coming from the backseat, it occurred to me, I was the mother of the 2nd grader as well as a 5th grader a few months younger than Rachel with a few more boys in between. As a matter of fact I had six children at this time in history.

I really never think about the age difference of my friend and I. I have to admit the above conversation gave me a giggle and pause for thought that yes I am twenty years older than her, but on any given day, age is non-existent. Just like she never made me feel “old” as I struggled this winter and spring through the dark days of my hormones being out of whack, she just made me feel supported. We spend our days as women walking shoulder to shoulder and just enjoying being friends.

Age is just a number, even when I text her asking for permission to post about our friendship. See text below:

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Yep, age is just a number. Happy Birthday dear friend!

I have a secret, I wear headphones.

I have a secret. Last night when my head was hurting from the day’s chatter and I was sure I had lactic acid build-up of the ears ( see July 20th post), I put on my headphones.

I secretly smiled as I heard my husband repeat to the children, ” Keep your voices down, mom is listening to something. Why are you trying to talk to your mom right now? Can’t you see she is busy?” And the best statement yet, music to my ears, ” Okay , that’s it, everybody outside, it’s too noisy in here for your mom to hear anything. Outside, lets go play.”

Sometimes, usually late at night when the moon is high in the sky and the house is quiet, I might have my headphones on. I am occasionally watching a show on Netflix or Hulu just taking a little “me time” before I get in touch with the back of my eyelids. There are nights a teenager or adult child peeks their head in my bedroom and I just close my eyes. They probably think , ” Poor Mom fell asleep watching something.” Or I point to my headphones and then David sleeping and smile and wave.

We had two sets of headphones and one set quit working. My entire family looked at me as if I were near- crazed as I broke into a cold sweat and frantically looked all over the house for the other pair. They are unaware of the relationship the headphones and I have- our little secret.

I am not sure what my sweet husband thought I was listening to right before dinner with my headphones on, but I like the way he thinks. As he came in from outside and leaned in, gave me a kiss and asked, ” So what are you listening to or watching?” I smiled a Garfield-the -cat -size-smile and held out the end of my unplugged headphone and pointed to the IPad three feet away on the windowsill.

“I was actually grading papers, and I was just trying to block out the noise. Thanks honey, it worked.”

I’m not sure if I can pull it off again, but if you run into me at the grocery store or around town with my headphones on, just smile and wave please, it’ll be our little secret.

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That’s right, go ahead and picture me with these headphones on in the middle of Whole Foods. The cashiers will just think I am taking my singing to a whole new level.