Category: a day in the crazy life

A day on the bus

The Day: Thursday, March 18, 2010

We woke up for the first time today at 5am, at the Walmart/Sam’s lot in Hendersonville, Tennessee. We’d put the girls to sleep together on the pull-out bed as an experiment (usually Randa sleeps on her Princess Cot and Kaity attempts to sleep in her port-a-crib). They were waking up a lot. It was a little cold in the front of the bus, so I covered them with an extra comforter.

But once I was awake, I realized the street noise was a lot louder than usual. I mentioned it to Rod, who solved the problem by turning on the generator. They did not make another peep until 9am.

Yes. The sound of a generator is a lullaby to our road babies.

I had done myself a favor and gotten the coffee ready last night. All I have to do is push a button on my way to fetch milk for the princesses, who this morning laid in bed with me for awhile with no TV or distractions, just lovely morning cuddles.

Rod mentioned he was hungry, so I cooked a Bus Breakfast of Champions, fried eggs and sausage. Randa opted for an Eggo. She so missed out.

I had picked up a few DVDs from the library on our way out of town Tuesday, and this lazy, sunny morning seemed like a good one to introduce the girlies to Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, particularly Adventures in Friendship. They liked it. They don’t love him as much as I do, yet.

This week happens to hold no deadlines for me, so I promised myself I would not make anything but the safety and general contentment of my children the goal of each day. It makes me feel slightly less insane, slightly less like I am living in a pressure cooker.

We only had a 2ish hour drive today, so we opened the windows and let a fine spring breeze blow our hair around. We found the See and Say in a drawer and practiced sharing. We lay on the bed and watched “Elmo Beach” and I nearly fell asleep being cuddled.

We snacked. We talked to Gramma on the phone. “We” tweeted a lot, as “we” always do on the road.

We reached our destination, and my hopes for a “perfect” place for the girls to play outside were dashed.

We settled for a small strip of grass and gravel, right between the bus and the church door, but still too close to a busy street for me. Miranda “fed the birds” with gravel before peeing all over herself, her new shoes, and said gravel. Kaity found big sticks and walked around with them. We sauntered in and out of the church where Rod, April, and Eric (=Hinson Revival) were rehearsing before their debut concert tomorrow night. We walked across the street to Jack’s, where we experienced culinary delights such as ‘Comeback Sauce’ and a cheeseburger that neither of my discerning divas would eat.

We did enjoy the pop. And we still call it “pop” when we are no longer north.

We also enjoyed the fenced in patio area, though not as much as the gravel-patch-near-the-busy-road. Gads. What I would have given for a park today…happy we are mellow enough to make do!

We came back and listened to the music for awhile. Miranda found a cozy patch of carpet on the stage and Kaity found a pen and a piece of paper. This kept them occupied through 2 or 3 songs (I could listen to my husband sing All Day Long. My husband in a group? Mixed harmony? I could listen all day and night).

(Though I’m sure it’s weird that I never find him sexier than when he’s singing, and he’s always singing gospel music. Ah well).

Randa grew weary and we headed on to the bus. They had some Nana Rosa leftover spaghetti. And a little fruit. And the rest of the pop. Now they are sitting calmly watching “Elmo Christmas.” It is near dusk and this is their 5th napless day in a row. I blame daylight savings, and though I have always truly loved DST and the play-out-side-after-dinner-sunshine, I will rue the day it came into being if my 2 and 3 year olds are indeed done with naps.


I can still hear the faint sounds of rehearsal from the church door, just 15 feet or so outside the bus window. I do get a little lonely during these times, because I would always rather be where Rod and his music are, but the kids just can’t always be there (kind of like yesterday, when something really awesome was happening in the studio, and our dear princesses were “singing along” far too loudly to be in the room. The new CD is going to be AMAZING!).

I talk and joke about this life all the time… how far it is from what I envisioned, expected, even what I wanted. But the truth is, it’s mine, it’s Rod’s, it’s the kids. I don’t always understand why we’re here (or “there”, or any place that serves “Comeback sauce”), but I know the plans God has for us and the dreams He’s given us to chase will continue to be an adventure that is better than what I could imagine.

I’ve been homesick this trip, as I heard good news from my BFF, read FB messages about my mommy friends and their kids playing outside in the new spring. But another sweet truth is that we take the love of everyone with us, and it is so, so, so comforting to know they make an anchor that always tethers us to home sweet home.

Before I finished writing this, Kaity crawled into my lap and fell asleep, in my arms, for two hours. I held her the whole time, hugging a bouncy Miranda often with my free arm. Rehearsal lasted until 9ish, then we caravanned over to Cracker Barrel for biscuits and coffee and “playing Checkies” on the rocking chairs. Rod and I almost had an argument about where we are parking for the night (I won in that he said he should have listened to me; he won in that we parked where he wanted to). The divas finally gave into sleep around 11:30pm. I just finished my 3rd episode of Friends on DVD. The friends did not win the Power Ball in this episode. Maybe next time… Good night.
road mamaroad mama

Sometimes I get to pick the music

I am alone right now.

I am never alone anymore. It’s not because I have little ones. It’s because I have little ones, because their dad works from home, and because when I have free time, which I am fortunate to have regularly, I spend it with various friends from an irresistible circle of them.

This morning, for 3. Glorious. Hours. I am alone.

Well, alone at Panera.

But I’m alone at Panera, by the window, and the sun is mostly out, and I have my iPod.

Yesterday, the girls and I put in an 8 hour day out together. It wasn’t like a work day, but there was running. First we drove north to Beverly, a lovely area of Chicago where my friend Beck and her gorgeous family (& her gorgeous artwork & photography) have made their home. Their newest addition needed to be properly greeted, so we finally made it there, with lunch, dinner, and oogles for a sweet baby girl. There was a lot of activity, frozen pizza, and coffee with a friend I have has since, literally, the first day of school, each of us with two daughters (poor Seanny, the lone cowboy, was still at school). Who could ask for more?

After this we drove southwest to Tinley Park to flop at Maureen’s and bring her dinner as well. She just gave birth to sweet baby girl at the end of January, who also joined two older siblings. Maureen’s husband just resumed his work travel. We were happy – relieved even – to head over during the Witching Hours, that fine time between naps and dinner when everyone has freaks-out repeatedly. My children did not have naps at all, and another friend and her two darlings joined us, so the freak outs were multi-layered and textured.

Also, upon our arrival, I got a call from my hubby who had perhaps the first real conversation he’s had with our son in two months, since Move Out Day. Being with my friends helped me not to have my own freak out. Nothing else is “wrong.” It’s just that… nothing else about that situation is right, either.

By the time we left, the girls were zonked. It took them a few minutes to fall asleep to the sounds of their own iPod playlist (a proud collection of Disney soundtracks, Julie Andrews, the Isaacs, and urban gospel). I managed to get turned around, then had to pull over to scold Miranda after she slapped-the-crap out of Kaity for not agreeing that they should watch Pinocchio upon our getting home.

I was actually proud of the way I handled *that* freak out. Turns out, Miranda is me in a petite little bod. And I am pretty much an expert on handling me.

The rest of the day was something like this: they passed out, the woke up mad that I let them sleep in their carseats (in the garage) while I ran in to start dinner, they ate like pigs, they took baths, KK joined us in a phoned-prayer-circle for Layla Grace while Miranda terrorized her other sister (sorry Paige), they took baths and got so slap-happily-blissed-out and goofy that by the time I tucked them in, I was in love with them over and over and over again.

Then Rod took me to see Shutter Island, brilliant in its execution, utterly disturbing in its depiction of various horrendous deaths.


I was in such a negative mood through much of yesterday. Since the first time my parents indoctrinated showed me the Rocky movies, I have been a fan of the underdog story. Sometimes, though, I am sick of being the underdog, of being part of the startup. I’m not afraid to work and I can be as scrappy as they come. I just wouldn’t mind getting invited to the grown up table once in awhile without having to act like I’m not asking for one…

>> That is not the post I intended to write. I am actually pretty blissed out right now, knowing my girls are playing with their Daddy and probably eating his ‘amazing’ cheese quesadillas for lunch, that I am dropping off another blessing today –boxes and bundles of clothes to a local pregnancy center, that I am getting a real ‘just us’ date with my mom this afternoon (cannot remember the last one, but I bet it was just over 3 years ago…)

I am listening to my own tunes, just the plain ‘shuffle songs’ command on the iPod. I’ve harmonized with Johnny Cash and smiled with Travis Tritt and Kool & the Gang and angst-ed with Kenny Rogers. I’ve hit skip on some demos and Christmas songs, but not on anything Disney or otherwise overlapping with our ‘Babies in Car’ playlist. I love picking the songs myself – I am, after all, a control freak. But what I love most of all is that Miranda and Kaity’s choices and mine, for this special season of their lives that seems never ending and but will be way too short, are often the same.

Like an episode of Buffy

Pictured: The sunset over the ocean on our last night of the cruise. Definitely a ‘softer’ feel than our 20-degree snow filled front yard…

For some reason, I have been back in touch with my inner Buffy the Vampire Slayer fangirl lately. I even watched a few episodes while we are gone. This automatically means I put my life in the framework of Buffy-ology, which is easy to do. The whole show was a metaphor for life’s various drama and roller coasters, and dontcha know, we’re usually living in the middle of one!

Specifically today, I think of when Buffy was ‘pulled out of Heaven back to live in the world.’ Please don’t get theological on me ~ this was a fantasy show. Buffy’s friends, who arranged for her resurrection, assumed she was suffering in a ‘hell dimension,’ when in fact, the wounded warrior was finally at peace.

The first time she shared with someone that she’d been in Heaven, she described being back on Earth as this: Everything here is … hard, and bright, and violent. Everything I feel, everything I touch … this is Hell. Just getting through the next moment, and the one after that …

I would hardly describe our two weeks away as Heaven (stuck on a bus alone with our kids for up to 13 hours was not even a little like paradise!), and I definitely do not think of being at home as being hellacious, but it absolutely takes some adjusting after time not only away but running around in the ‘other world’ we have.

I was up unusually late last night (ok, it was almost time for Paige to get up for school when I went to bed) finishing this little baby, so when I woke up around 10 this morning (this is a treat, and thanks be to Rod), I could barely function. I hugged the girls, made coffee, and took them and it upstairs. While they ran about, I sat on my bed and watched Beverly Hills 90210 (another Gen-X television gem, but a much less literary one) and figured that as long as they didn’t smash their fingers in any doors, that was about as good as it was going to get today.

Isn’t it nice when things surpass our expectations? Instead of stumbling wearily through a depressing Monday on which everything seemed too hard and bright, I got a surprise visit from a friend – whose children are friends with mine – and her brand new, sweet 2-week-old baby. The laundry is almost done. I’m counting my WW points. I even answered some emails. I’m easing back in and wearing a Buffy-esque game face, because the truth is…

I love my friends, my home, my life ~

but today, I really miss Nashville.

…especially Nana Rosa’s, but that is another (food-filled) blog.

An ordinary beautiful morning

It has somewhat escaped me that in 36 hours, Rod and I will be cruising in the Bahamas.

(It’s ok to be a little jealous. I would be!)

There is so much life going on around us, so much life that goes in to leaving home and children for a few days. Even as I sit here, there is still laundry to do, packing of clothes and doctor’s notes and medicines and insurance cards and loveys to do, work to finish. But God’s grace so overwhelmed me already today, I had to record it.

This morning was early for us. I needed to be at Moms and More by 8:30, which meant the toddler princesses needed to be risen and shining much earlier than they are used to. We had a particularly pleasant morning – Daddy dressed Kaity and I, Miranda. We played and giggled and looked forward to picking up donuts on the way. As Rod and I strapped them in the car, Miranda told her Daddy, “Go get dressed and work on the bus,” which is what he was planning to do. It made me smile. Our baby is a big girl these days.

I told them I was going to teach them a new song, a song that has played repeatedly in my mind and my ears since the Haiti earthquake, Israel Houghton’s “I Am Not Forgotten.” Miranda asked me some questions about it, and I told her that God always knows who we are and where we are. I silently added, ‘even when we’re buried beneath the rubble and no one else can find us.’ My heart cries for the families of the missing.

We got to Moms and More and all the madness of setting up, and then I was refreshed, as I always am, by time with new friends, old friends, people in this kid-raising thing together. I will be writing further about the message we received today, from a woman who has suffered the worst nightmare a parent has: her son’s death (at 21, in Iraq). She blessed our group with her testimony and wisdom last spring. She blessed us equally today, as did the ladies at my table who shared their own hearts, struggles, and experiences.

After we helped clean up some, the girls stayed to play in the church’s playground. They’ve not been outside much, so I let them linger and decided I would sell every toy we have and get a Little Tikes playhouse for the yard – this afternoon if I had time!

When we finally got in the car, Miranda asked to hear “the song about God’s family.” She blew me away. I didn’t use those words, nor is the word ‘family’ in the song. But God got it in her heart. She knows. She was already singing along.

When we pulled in the garage, they were already sleepy, and I let the song play, and I let myself get misty eyed. About a year ago, God and I had a talk, and I vowed to Him that even if He took my children, I would trust and follow Him. Today, in the garage, I came to another belief: Even if He took me away from my children, I know they will not be forgotten. God knows their names.

I never want to leave them. Tomorrow, though, I will, and not for the first time. Life calls for it, and not just because of our ministry, but because I believe sometimes we as husband and wife need time away, to feed ourselves and focus on each other. I know they will be okay; no one loves them like Gramma and Papa, and rumor has it Auntie and Uncle will get a turn spoiling them this time around, too.

We had a short tea party and now they are in bed. My thoughts turn to the older kids. We’ll spend time tonight giving Paige some quality time. She is certainly the proverbial middle child, often caught between the needy toddlers and her older brother. She has, thankfully I guess, responded by trying to be perfect. She is pretty darn wonderful, yet a normal teenager too. I am so thankful that she has been surrounded by friends and makeshift family who fill the gaps when we are away. You know who you are, and you bless my heart.

I respect Josh’s privacy and have no details to update. God is teaching me new things about letting go and trusting in this area, too. In church on Sunday I kept envisioning the One Ring to Rule Them All (Lord of the Rings speak). In important times, that ring blazed with the words engraved on it. In my mind, so do our children’s hearts burn and glow with the truth in times of peril or urgency. The truth never leaves us, even if we turn our eyes away. I lived there before, and I know this to be true. We are not forgotten. God knows our names.

2 nights before Christmas

Our household has been CRAZY this whole month.

We started in Pigeon Forge for Christmas in the Smokies, a wonderful event…a stressful journey.

Then ‘we’ published the magazine, which has had a record 15,000 downloads this month (thank you!)

Then there was the frivolous fun of Disney World. See?

Then the other members of Hinson Revival joined Rod to fill our house with music. Oh, and then we had to hang with some rock stars over the weekend.

Then we started the countdown of this week, and I reminded myself over and over again to keep it simple, to breathe, to remember why.

And still today I find myself in a bit of a snit, thinking about what did not get done, what could have been done better. (Not to mention that I have not watched Miracle on 34th Street once, nor finished White Christmas OR It’s a Wonderful Life. Feels like a travesty).

Rod is getting the kids ready for bed. I’m going to kiss them good night, put on one of those movies, wrap a few last gifts, start some food prep for tomorrow.

But right now, for 2 minutes, I am going to meditate on all this hoopla.

It started very simply. And at least part of it should remain that way, or why do we bother?

Sweet little Jesus Boy — They made you be born in a manger.
Sweet little Holy Child — Didn’t know who you was.
Didn’t know you’d come to save us, Lord; To take our sins away.
Our eyes was blind, we couldn’t see, We didn’t know who you was.

Long time ago, you was born,
Born in a manger low, Sweet little Jesus Boy.
The world treat you mean, Lord, Treat me mean too,
But that’s how things is down here —We don’t know who you is.

You done told us how, we is a tryin’!
Master, you done show’d us how, even when you was dyin’.
Just seem like we can’t do right, Look how we treated you.
But please, sir, forgive us, Lord — We didn’t know ’twas you.
(Robert MacGimsey)

And so tonight I pray: Forgive me, Jesus… and thank You for always knowing my heart, even when my outer actions are befuddled and counterproductive and sometimes for naught. Thank you for coming to us. We need You more than ever.