Category: a day in the crazy life

a Tuesday fat with randomness

KK’s birthday has come and gone…

For the first time, we celebrated without her grandparents, auntie G, uncle J, and cousins.

For the first time, she celebrated with her godparents and her paternal grandparents.

For the fourth time, she celebrated with all of her siblings.

It was a really good weekend for our family, all together for the first time in South Carolina.


The weekend was simple and full. We had together time. We had a mix of people. We had {mostly} sunshine. We saw dolphins during a short (cold!) trip to the beach. We talked on the phone and on FaceTime to people we miss. We explored some new toys. And we added a new member to the family~

Way older siblings can be the most fun when it comes to presents. So Josh & his girlfriend K’s gift to KK (& Randa, too), is:

Gaston, the leopard gecko.

Though we attract plenty of green geckos on our own patio, Gaston lives in a tank filled with purple sand on the same dresser where I used to change KK’s little diapers.

Times change, and our family with it.


Now that a jam-packed weekend is over, I am surrounded by laundry, cupcakes that must be avoided at all costs, overdue library books, sweet memories, and high hopes. We are entertaining the idea of one more addition (more later on that), dealing with The School Decision for next year, and as the story goes in our Chicagolina chapter, slowly discovering what is next for us in terms of careers and ministries. We are very thankful for the provisions and the gift of time we have in our lives right now, and slowly allowing ourselves to feel positively about a still unknown future.

We are also really thankful for good health. Even as we continue to pray hard for our Papa B in Texas, who has battled relentless cancer for five years, and for sweet 7-year-old H in Arkansas, who is in the midst of a new battle against it, we received good news yesterday that my lifelong friend B had a small amount of cancer removed and it did not spread. I hate the big C more every day, but I’m grateful that God is even bigger.


Happy Tuesday.


a Target kind of love

This post is neither sponsored by or affiliated with Target, though I think that would be awesome.

How do you make Valentine’s Day festive for your family when:
– your littles have already overdosed on treats from school, church, and their (generous) grandparents?
– you are no longer newlyweds but parents of a kid in college and preschoolers (broke and tired)?

For us, it was a snowballing idea. It started with me having a few project-less days this week to make big homemaking kind of plans, like a steakhouse-ish dinner and fancy dessert: (actually, all this stuff was really simple):

baked potato toppings

iron skillet broiled steak

my plate…yummy!

almost 9 months here…I unpacked the good candlestick holders!

guacamole didn’t go with everything else, but it’s KK’s favorite…

randa asked for seconds!

Rod said it was “THE best ever!” steak. Woohoo!

Fancy dinner, check.

We’d also decided to *finally* take the girls to Target to spend their Christmas gift card from Uncle Rick (pictured from his visit in June)

We were in the door no more than two minutes when Daddy had to take Kaity to the bathroom…because she was misbehaving. With her birthday coming, she has a big case of the Gimmes combined with symptoms of The Whopping Whine, so Daddy needed to get her attention and remind her to Just. Be. Grateful.

(to be fair, he’s had to remind me of that a few times lately as well).

I perused the dollar bins and limited myself to one package of cards. I love sending mail. Have I mentioned that?

Then Randa and I strode down the party aisle to look, in vain, for Spider Man party plates for KK’s fiesta. I think it needs to be a combo year. Spider Man Cake? Auntie Rona is all over that. Spider Man pinata? Mamaw and Grandpa are on it. But Toy Story cake plates and accessories will be present as well. Our Kaity…she is nothing if not diverse.

While we waited for KK and Daddy, we glanced over at a huge empty section of floor. Our Myrtle Beach Target is preparing for something our Homewood Target accomplished about a year and a half ago: fresh groceries. Hoorah for MB Target! And horrah for Miranda, who decided to dance:

…and was almost immediately joined by a sweet new “friend”~

who said: “I want to spin, too” and called Randa her friend. That little girl has one awesome future ahead of her!


One of the things that makes me smile in a big, heart-burst-with-love kind of way is when my girls talk, well, like me. KK, for example, properly uses adverbs more than many adults. “I want it badly!” “I’ll do it quickly!” Have I mentioned she’ll be four next week? She rocks my English-degree world.

When we caught up with each other and walked to the movie section, the girls’ conversation with each other included the words “disappointed” and “several.” I just love the way they talk!

When we reached the movies, we began the delicate negotiation. the movie *I* wanted them to pick was Lady and The Tramp, released from its cell, er, the Disney vault, for a short time. The girls have seen and enjoyed it, but weren’t showing much interest. AND, Target’s price was 32.99. Nuh-uh. Not when I can get it $10 cheaper on Amazon, gift card or no.

As the dance of “let them pick whatever crap they want” versus “guide them lovingly and manipulatively toward something cheaper/higher quality/less annoying” commenced, (let us all note here that there is not much MORE annoying than a Barbie movie, and Randa wants them all) this was the scene:

KK: Look! Look what I found! (proudly holds out the original Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, the enthusiasm for which we have Paige to blame. I kind of hate it myself).

Randa: I don’t really care for that movie. The boat scene freaks me out!

KK: Then close your eyes!

– commence Mommy and Daddy cracking up in the aisle, while KK threw her choice in the cart along side Barbie: Mermaid Tale.

Regarding our Valentine’s plans, one of my best friends paid me a super-lovely compliment:

And for the record, you ROCK at making any and every occasion festive!

She likely has no idea just how much that compliment means to me. I worry so much about making things special for my kids because I am still feeling the stress and emptiness of having moved so far from all that was dear and familiar to them. And in spite of most people telling me “They’re kids! They’re resilient!” and in spite of them having so much fun with the lives they currently have, including preschool and occasional impromptu trips to the beach, they feel their losses. In particular, they miss their brother and sister, their Gramma and Papa, their little (and big) cousins, their aunts and uncles, and their friends. They miss their old house and the places we used to go, whether it’s the library or our church or the park across the street. Do they experience the loss like I do? Perhaps not. But when they ask to Skype their friends or to fly and go see them, this mama’s heart knows they are feeling it.

So I strive to create joy even as I am striving to choose joy for myself. A little fancier dinner than usual…a few more sweets than usual… a trip to Target at the end of the day…taking the scenic route down Ocean Boulevard instead of the easier Kings Highway… posing for photos to send in thank you cards…

We don’t have to go somewhere fancy to celebrate love. We can celebrate it at Target, in the car, or at home. The most important thing is the love.

few words required

People keep telling us that this is an unusually warm winter, even for South Carolina. We say, “OK. Great.” Perhaps our arrival can signal the dawning of a new day.

The girls and I are doing our best to enjoy it, though. Yesterday, they played in our front yard while I cleaned the garage (a half-dozen boxes to goodwill, a few more to the recycle bin, and a good sweeping out, at least). Today, we went to, well, The Best Place In The World (Besides Disney World, and this is free)~

There was walking, carefully, in pre-determined lines.

And running, all Phoebe-like.

I could not get a picture of KK and Randa saving me from a flock of scary, scary sea gulls, but they did. My girls are brave…and also, very protective of their salt and vinegar chips.

The gulls are obnoxious. We are not fans, though we do admire them.

I don’t think the jellyfish are fans, either. Luckily, I took this picture yesterday. the girls might have been eeked out by this gull’s choice of cuisine.

Miranda did not believe me about how cold the water would be…

…but she was quickly convinced.


I was practically blinded by the sun taking these pictures, so I am happy how they turned out. Pictures replace the need for words, and I am about out of them right now. Our metaphorical season seems to be changing, though we still don’t know what the next one looks like. I hope it’s not like a Chicago February. I hope it’s like this Carolina January!

So now, I am smiling at their contrast once again: KK in boots, Randa in a sundress. I am smiling at the memory of one year and one week ago today, when my friends and I were daydreaming about a winter escape to a place much like the one where I am now living. I am smiling because one of my high school friends, whom I haven’t seen since high school, is in town acting in a show. I am smiling for a playdate tomorrow, cupcake baking tonight, and the promise of more quick stops at the beach.

Bring. On. February.

red (rubber) ball

People sometimes assume that because I am a writer and have an English degree, I know lots of words. Like, literature-words.

But I don’t. I confess: I am not “well-read” Yes, I read everything I was assigned in high school and mostly college. But I hated things like The Scarlet Letter and Heart of Darkness; I read all the time, actually, but my books of choice were Stephen King horror-epics or David Eddings fantasies or, be still my I-beat-for-forbidden-love-heart-and-soul, The Thorn Birds and its unfortunate rip-offs. (And Judy Blume, but there is No Shame there). When I have a few fleeting moments to read these days, it’s either what my dear writing-mentor Mort Castle calls “brain candy” or…something worse (Tweets, trivial magazines, er…more Tweets).

So when I find myself in Those Moments of Life during which I should be pondering something profound (perhaps a Winston Churchill quote, or “Paradise Lost,” which I also kind of hated) or something spiritual (I do quote the Bible, but I usually have to look up the reference, especially if I know it from a worship song. So sue me)., I find myself quoting A) Movies. Like Rocky III (He’ll knock ya to tomorrow, Rock!) or Moonstruck (“What’s the matter with you? Your life is going down the toilet!”) or Bridget Jones’ Diary (“The gravy doesn’t need sieving, just STIR it, Una!”) or Princess Bride (“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”)

or B) Random ridiculous pop songs.

“If this world is wearing thin and you’re thinking of escape, I’ll go anywhere with you, just wrap me up in chains.”
– Shakespeare’s Sister, perhaps one of the saddest one-hit-wonders ever. In fact, I’m not sure that was a hit.

“Don’t make a fool of yourself. better think it over, baby, one more time.”
— Stacy Q. I think.

“I’m a cowboy (cowboy). On a steel horse I ride. I’m wanted (waaaaaaaan-te-e-ed) dead or alive.”
–Bon Jovi, because seriously, I ride a steel horse sometimes.

“Your mama don’t dance and your daddy don’t rock and roll.”
yeah, I sing the Poison remake. A lot. And I make up words.

I’m going to stop, because it’s best for all of us.

Earlier this week we took the girls surprise mini-golfing after school (thrilling photo post to come). And since we have the strength and energy to do so means that work things are not exactly as we expected this month (we “should have been” driving ourselves mad to get ready for an opening next week), I was feeling a bit melancholy, and the image of Rod’s golf ball brought this one to my mind:

And I think it’s gonna be all right.
Yes, the worst is over now.
The morning sun is shining like a red rubber ball.

~I thank Mom and Dad (Roomies in just another week & a half!) for keeping the radio firmly fixed on Magic 104 when I was a kid, so I can quote little nuggets like that (recorded by The Cyrkle, but written by Paul Simon {with Bruce Woodley}) and not only random ones from Milli Vanilli and Expose and Debbie Gibson and Winger.

Four artists who were probably never meant to appear in the same sentence.

Yikes. Better add Stone Temple Pilots to that. “Flies in the Vaseline we are…”

And for sticking with me through this exercise, the blog equivalent of stale-brain-candy, here’s a little gem: Paul & Art singing, you got it, “Red Rubber Ball.”

The worst is over now.



an honest look at Plan B

I am not a person who gets it right the first time, or does it the way it is supposed to be.

When i graduated from high school, I had a full scholarship and then some to my college of choice (go Illini!) But I dropped out after a year and didn’t finish until 10 years later.

Those 10 years were filled with foolish choices, reckless choices, hurtful circumstances, numerous setbacks. But I started my 30s living the life I’d always dreamed of having.

And today, I have a family of 6. The marriage that wasn’t going to last is going on 9 years. The step kids who are supposed to resent me are 2 of the people closest to me. And the babies I wasn’t supposed to be able to have? Well, you probably know how that went.

Don’t get me started on whether former adulterers can be used in ministry. God’s grace is bigger than scarlet letters and unforgiving labels, and His plans don’t require any of us to be perfect, only to be humble and willing. Don’t get me started on the crazy idea of ‘throwing a gospel convention.’ It was never about competing with anyone or trying to make money, only about following a call.

As for moving our family a thousand miles away, to the beach, for a startup company with an unconventional concept?

I didn’t expect it to be simple. I kind of expected the nervous stomach, the uncertainty, and the occasional threats of violence (I mostly exaggerate).

I believe in Big Risks. I believe when your heart is in the right place and you follow your heart, something good will come of it.

And I believe in Plan B, but not because I expect to fail, ever. I only expect that life, in some ways, is a journey we take along a script God has written, and we can’t always tell what’s going to be on the next page. There is no white out, though, and no turning back. We have to keep turning the pages to get to the best part.

And I believe in Happy Endings.