Tag: family

our weird family

{I am going through the 50-something posts I have saved in DRAFTS and finishing a few. This one was one paragraph long, from November 2012. It’s fun to see where a few months will take an idea…}

I had a conversation with a friend about…oh…six-ish years ago. Which means I was barely 30. Which means, I was practically a baby.

We were talking about the age difference between my husband and me (13 years, if you care to know), and I said it didn’t seem to matter much, (except when it came to parenting stuff, but I wasn’t ready to admit that then…)

My friend, around the same age as my husband, gave me gentle advice. It went something like:

I just know that the way I looked at things changed a lot between 30 and 40.

I have blinked, and here I am… closer to 40 than 30. The cute monikers I used to throw around for our family (“two in high school, two in diapers”) no longer apply. We are settled and grown up (all of us…except the ones who shouldn’t be yet), and we are not waiting for anything to happen to make us ok. We are simply… our family.

But you still can’t look at us and figure us out.



You never could.












Because these are our kids:



Some of them are old enough to bring me my favorite treats…on the same day! IMG_4937


















Some of them are still little enough that their weirdness is still adorable… IMG_0057  IMG_4932IMG_4863


And some of them just don’t care about being weird. They have taught me well…IMG_5018

They wear us out, daily…


And they keep us feeling alive….


I would not trade this weird family for anything.

I wouldn’t have traded it when I was 30, but now, I know more things, and my perspective has changed, and I realize the beauty in our blend, the grace in our glue, and the love in our lunacy.

Who needs normal when you have this?


the village it takes

In this past week, I have come to newly appreciate some of the existing friendships in my life. First of all, there are a handful of special people with whom I have somehow grown closer since we moved away. How is that possible? I give some credit to the constant touchstone of technology, for allowing us to share instantaneous photos & videos, random texted moments, and any-time-of-day deep thoughts. Hallelujah for these people.

And then, just when I give up on making new friends or deepening friendships (I know it’s stupid, but we all have our stupid places where we go), God surprises me with crazy-enlightening conversations, surprising encounters, and total familiarity with brand new people.

I love it all. I love you, ‘my people.’

And I guess there is no better time than an anniversary weekend to count some blessings…

It took a team of 4 sets of babysitters to allow us to get away for 2 nights, not counting the 2 sets who would have if Randa had not been diagnosed with the flu the day before I left (to meet Rod, who was already in Columbia waiting for me, as we’d planned back in December. Ah…plans…).

I often miss and lament the presence of my parents in our geographical lives. This weekend, I was blessed with the older siblings, the surrogate grandma, the surrogate auntie…we are so blessed.

usSo shout-out to Paige, Josh, Kirsten, Sue, Rebekah, Tanja, and Katnetra for loving our littles enough to babysit them (or volunteer to until Randa got the Bug)…so I could be with my favorite person in the world. Thanks for not only administering medicine and cheese and sugar, but sending us pictures of the smiles you put on Randa & KK’s faces!

During our weekend away, we enjoyed seeing Les Mis for the 6th time together (and my 8th overall) at Columbia’s Koger Center For the Performing Arts. Please do not get me started on the scrawny (but well-voiced) Valjean, or the obstructed view (a letter is being written). Anyway, it was fun watching Paige see it on stage for the first time, and hearing one of the best written lines ever never gets old (wait until the end).

On Saturday, we did a glorious bunch of nothing most of the day. I will only disclose that both Superman and Superman II were on the hotel’s HBO, and Christopher Reeve’s earnest but pretty terrible acting and sweet, little curl do stand the test of time.

Oh, and Ruth’s Chris still has the best steaks anywhere!

I will wax sentimental and sappy all week long about our “first” 10th anniversary (Annual disclaimer for new friends and readers: we were married in March 2003 and had our big wedding in August 2003, and we celebrate both because we love celebrating!) I often joke that no one makes me laugh like *I* do, but no one gives me joy like he does! He, as well as this family he gave me, gives life to my favorite line penned by Victor Hugo, “To love another person is to see the face of God.” Amen.

PS: If you care about bloggy sorts of things, I have finally updated my “about me” page. A good time was had by all.


Santa’s workshop

We have not done very much in the way of traditional preparation for Christmas this year. Work schedules and travel got in the way, and after Friday, I wasn’t sure I would be in the mood.

BUT, there are teachers to buy for, and between my girls and their daycare/aftercare, there are 7 to care for. I had it in the back of my head, who would get what, but after what happened at Sandy Hook, well…

I want to buy every one of my daughters’ teachers a Corvette, and every one of their friends a pony.

But since that was not in our budget, I shopped Dollar Tree, Old Time Pottery (Barn), and our own cupboards, and the girls and I found a way to put special gifts together for these special people. I even made it part of Monday night’s Advent activity:Advent: Santa's Workshop

OK, so we didn’t exactly craft. The girls painted suncatcher ornaments. They carefully wrote out gift tags and decorated cards. They sweetly made an assembly line to fill treat bags for their friends. And I smiled, because though as a parent I worryworryworry about “how they will turn out” and hope they will inherit the best in us, I can see that they do  have the easy generosity that began with my immigrant grandparents and has been passed through the family line.

They took their tasks very seriously:

Randa paints IMG_5395 IMG_5396



We were all happy with the finished products:

And best of all, though I didn’t get to hug all the 4, 5, & 6 year olds I saw, or hand bucketfuls of money and chocolate to their hero teachers, we were able to capture sweet moments like this:



As we continue to mourn and hope, there are many lovely tributes to those lost at Sandy Hook Elementary. This one showed up on my Facebook feed tonight (thanks Tammy B!). It is an inexpensive and meaningful way to help a little…and remember always.

Click here to purchase.


Every year I do this thing… going through the thousands (yes) of photos I take, and try to choose the minimum, the most memorable, the best, to showcase in books for the kids.

It has gotten easier. But it’s still hard… to me, they are all beautiful.

The thing about our digital age is how edited we can be. For example, I would rarely if ever show a photo of myself in which I am not wearing make-up, or my gray hairs are prominent, or where you can really tell exactly where those 30 extra pounds sit (like this one, which KK took while we waited for Randa in dance class). I want the prettiest and the best out there. And while I *might* show KK or Randa frowning or having a fit, I would never think of posting the same of Josh or Paige, or of Rod and me. We put our best “out there.” It is our human nature.

I think that’s ok, though. Transparency is important and truth is necessary, but intimacy can hardly be created in a few short posts or an uploaded album. I can safely say that my life is nowhere near as shiny and perfect as it might seem Online. Sometimes Rod and I argue. Sometimes I bite my tongue so I don’t berate our big kids. Sometimes I feel like I really, really need a few days’ break from my little kids. Sometimes I worry excessively about A, B, C, or what I am going to wear that day, or who doesn’t like me, or blahblah blippity blah. It’s life. Ugliness to some degree is implied, isn’t it?

Anyway, under the theme of giving thanks, I am thankful for editing. I am thankful for the wisdom and discretion that keeps us from saying, writing, publishing every thing that might pop into our skulls. The internet makes it so easy to instantly gratify ourselves not just with opportunities to vent but with captive audiences to either argue with us or pat us on the head. I have learned from a few hard lessons that not everything needs to be said or shared.

But I am proud of this family, and I am grateful for it from the bottom of my heart. I am so thankful for the year we’ve spent, and for the smiles on these faces and excitement in these eyes and love in these memories. For that, there is no editing required. What you see is what is. Thank You, God!

Click here to view this photo book larger

Start your own Shutterfly Photo Book today.


When I got home tonight, I changed into my cozy Mickey Mouse hoody, and when I reached in the pocket, this was there: my Dad’s hanky. It must be there from when we all went to DisneyWorld in January. Papa is always good for a hanky when you’re sneezing, crying, eating Cheetoh’s, or getting married. It made me miss him even more.

Next week will be the first birthday Miranda has without them, and the first Thanksgiving I have without them. I am grateful, so grateful, to still have them… and I know they will have a wonderful holiday with my niece and nephews and brother & sis-in-law. But, we miss them…

(Tonight, I made Randa and KK wear the jammies they bought them this time last year…)