Lately, I’ve been a little intrigued by the backlash that some ‘mommy bloggers’ get out there. It seems when a blog becomes popular (and at least one of the ones I read is uberpopular), the more people want to tear down the writer, call it fake, accuse her of using her kids to get free stuff, yada yada.

The simple truth is (and this is coming from someone who has been blogging for 9 years and still has not, as it were, ‘made it’), every blog is a staging area. While we may write more than just our victories, while we might occasionally share our downfalls, sins, dirty laundry, etc, a blog does not representent the ins and outs and fine detail and whole picture of a real life. It isn’t meant to and shouldn’t have to.

With a bit of a knowing smile, I can tell you that a few people have asked where they can read the Real Lowdown of life now that my mom and dad have moved in for awhile. Well, unless you’re talking to me on the phone or in person, this is the closest it’s getting. No secret blog here, no password protected entries. It is what it is. And what this new chapter is, first and foremost, is a big, fat relief. Because some of the difficulties and challenges that I have not blogged about in the past few months are being made a whole lot better by my parents being here. So if that means we occasionally quibble over Soft Scrub vs. vinegar & water, the optimal time to eat dinner, or whether I ever managed to get the kids ready and on time anywhere before they arrived (for the record: never late to school, too often late for everything else), it is worth it to me… not just because their prescence means a shorter (& less expensive) school day for the girls and return of Gym Days and Date Nights, but because. They are my mom and dad. Of course “It” is better because they are here.

And our first few days have been lovely, or as I told a friend: Like a Rockwell painting, a loud one. There has been a lot of cooking and shopping and reorganizing, a lot of squealing little girls getting special attention from four grown-ups (they learned how to play hopscotch and were literally outside all day on Sunday!), a lot of this is how it goes in the south, especially as we marveled at the beauty of a Carolina October night and the masses of stars that are visible in the sky. There have been a few strategy sessions, a few tutorials on using the universal remote for the TV, several explanations of 17 Business vs. 17 Bypass, and a lot of hypothetical plan making. It’s exciting, it’s fun, and it brings new life into our house.

The fact is, even with two lively little girls, our home has been too quiet since we moved. When Paige was here, her big old laugh could only fill it out so much. We miss Josh. We miss our dog. We miss traffic. We miss the phone ringing. We miss people stopping in. While we’re making new friends and finding time to catch-up with the old, the placement of our home in a quiet, quiet neighborhood means it’s…quiet. No one is ever ‘in the neighborhood.’ And while this has its plus side, it mostly just equals…quiet.

In the staging area of my blog, I will tell you that everything I thought would happen in my personal growth because of this move… has happened.

I’ve learned how much my people mean to me. I’ve learned to depend more on my husband and God. I’ve learned to take time for the phone calls from ‘home’ and to open my heart to new people. I’ve learned it’s ok to make some U-turns and it’s ok to occasionally hug strangers for a few extra seconds. I’ve learned that it’s ok to slow down and relax a little, the twitchiness will subside. I’ve learned that an ugly laugh is every bit as cleansing as an ugly cry. I’ve learned that there is no place like home, and home can be in more than one place. I’ve learned that, for me, it is still in the hills of Branson, the tucked away studios of Nashville, the fantasyland of a certain mouse-house in Orlando, the more-familiar-than-anything south suburbs of Chicago, and the gorgeous coastline of South Carolina. And a plane ticket to any of those places will always be first on my wish list.

And I’ve been reminded, for perhaps the eleventy-thousandth time, that telling God my plans for how His dreams will be revealed in my life is folly. If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans. If you want to see something really good, wait on His.

The sweetest days are still ahead of us.