Saturday, October 3, 2015

Dear ex-foster child:

I saw you today.

We talked a bit. It was awkward and a little strained. We both wanted to talk, but words didn't come easily. We talked about the day, about school, about whatever we could.  I longed to squeeze your frame and tell you how much it hurt to let you go.  But I tried to be the adult and continue the conversation light-heartedly and smile.  I hope my eyes told you that I love you.

I loved you then.  I love you now.

It's been 8 years since you moved out and I guess I'm still not completely healed.  I mean, I think I am.  But I'm not.  My heart still aches.  I suppose it always will.  I still see you curled in my lap, tears running down your cheeks as we tried to distract ourselves with a Scooby-Doo movie.  Neither of us were really watching it, but we needed the background noise.  I sniffled & kissed the top of your head a hundred times and whispered "I love you.  I love you.  I love you." over and over.  I wasn't sure if I'd ever see you again and I wanted to make sure you knew.  And wouldn't ever forget.  It was as if I said it over and over it would somehow soak into your pores and stay locked inside you forever.

When you and your brother left, I didn't think I'd ever stop hurting.  I guess I haven't.  It's like a death, really.  You don't ever forget.  You just learn how to move on with your life.  I have.  I don't dwell on it all the time.  But now and then, it hurts just as fresh as it did then.  I know it hurt you far more to move again.  Being uprooted, switching schools, learning a new place, making new friends, getting comfortable in a new home.

It makes me so happy to know that you're nearly grown and you're doing so well.  I know it should make me happy that you barely remember us.  You were so little when you left.  I get it.  You've grown so much since then and you're really home now.  That's as it should be.  They've raised you and done a beautiful job of it.  You're healthy, smart, happy.  That makes me so richly, abundantly joyful.

There are still drawings hanging in my kitchen, right where you hung them 8 years ago.  I have never had the heart to take them down.  Maybe removing the magnets and putting them away means you weren't ever mine, even if for a little while.  And I don't want to give you up completely.  For a little while, you were my child.  One of your pictures made in preschool while you were here still hangs in a frame.  I'm proud of who you are and what you've become.  Preschool was ages ago and high school is your home now.  Hours away from here.  With your family and your friends.

I hope you know that you'll always be a part of my life, even if I'm not in yours.  And I hope, as you fall asleep tonight, you can still hear me whispering "I love you.  I love you.  I love you."

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Some random thoughts and time to catch up!

Once upon a time, I loved blogging.  Writing was therapy to me.  It still is, but I don't attend my sessions much anymore.

I wrote this blog and read about 100 others.  Literally nearly a hundred.  Check the list of blogs on the right side of this page that I read.  Maybe it's not 100, but it's a LONG list.  But look at that list & see if you notice anything similar.  See the date marked under each of those blog names?  It tells how long it's been since their last post.  Apparently those once avid bloggers have fallen into the same trap I have.  Social media.  It takes blogging & smashes it into short, much quicker little bites.  You get blurbs about their lives there, snapshots of their kids, but not much depth.  (Usually anyway.)

While I love social media & use it EVERY SINGLE DAY I wonder if like so many other things in life these days, we're all living too fast.  We need smart phones so we can be connected ALL THE TIME.  We take pictures & post them of everything we do.  We need drive-thru restaurants to be FAST.  We need the microwave because we don't have the patience to cook anything that takes more than 2 minutes.  Everything, every day, all day long, has to go fast fast fast fast.  In fact, I wonder how many of you opened this post, saw a lot of words & sighed because it would take more than 30 seconds to read.  Or how many clicked out of the page altogether & missed reading this?

So I'm going to make a step toward trying to do better on this myself.  I am going to set a reminder in my phone (yeah, I see the irony!) to post here at least once a week.  {And yes, I just spent 15 minutes trying to figure out how to set that on my phone, which led to me reading a couple of texts, googling something and checking facebook.  Yikes.  Have to start right here at home for sure!}  So here's the latest on us!

School resumed about 4 weeks ago.  The kids are getting settled into their new classes & routines.  I'm getting set in mine.  Time for an update on us.  I'll start at the top of our family & work down the ranks.

Larry and I are doing great!  Not much changes day to day for Larry since his schedule and routine don't alter with the change of the school year or the start/end of the summer.  So for now, he is just plugging along as usual.  His job keeps him busy.  Today we went on our September date, which is where the picture above was taken.  He got to choose a movie and a place to eat for his birthday month, so we went to the local Studio Movie Grill.  It's a little pricey, but it's a fun experience.

My school year began August 17th.  After a REALLY FUN week of in-service with an incredible staff at my school, we began our year and it's been a great one so far.  Of course there are always bumps along the way when you work with junior high kids, but all in all, it's been great.  We are all gearing up for October.  Lots of fun things coming up!  And October always seems to pass so quickly.  When it's over, we'll be knocking on the door of November and December and all the holidays...and before you know it, half the school year is over already.  I know...maybe I'm rushing things a bit, but time passes so quickly!  I've read a couple of books since school began that were really good and have enjoyed my Saturday mornings to sleep late.

Savannah began her 2nd year of college in August.  She is enjoying her classes and working at a local vet's office.  She really is suited to work with kids or animals or things that involve some combination of the two, so this job has been lots of fun for her.  She doesn't anticipate a change of heart as far as her major and career goals (which don't include animals) but it's been a fun place for her to work and nurture the pets that come in for care, grooming or boarding.  She is an art major, planning to get a degree in animation.  She has researched heavily and has narrowed down her vision for the future to 3 particular schools.  When she finishes up at the local junior college in the spring of 2016, she will move on to one of the other schools.  None of them are close enough for her to continue living at home to attend.  I am so grateful to have her home for now, but I'm already grieving her moving away next year.  I know it's inevitable and it's what we raise our kids to do---become independent adults that is--- but it's so hard to think of her being far from home.  Can I go ahead & ask for prayers for that now?  It's gonna be HARD for his mama.  She is also collecting movie posters for things that she enjoys the technical or animation side of.  (See picture above.)  She's pretty much determined that she will collect them until her entire wall is covered.  She's doing great so far.

The week before school started, Sam was at football practice and injured his quadricep. (That's spelled right, isn't it?  Blogger is saying it's not, but I could've sworn that's how you spell quadricep.)  He had to go to the team trainers daily for a while for treatment and had to sit out of practices and games for 2 weeks.  He had just made it back to full gear when he went for practice on the morning of Labor Day and ended up getting a concussion.  After a scary first few days of ER and doctor visits and dizziness and headaches, he was looking pretty much back to normal but had to wait it out for two full weeks before he was allowed to do anything at all in sports.  He was just released by his doctor yesterday to return to full activities.  He is excited about that & ready to get back on the field.  Fortunately, being out of the game only meant missing 1 game because this past week was our school's bye week.  (Or is it bi-week?  Or buy-week?  ha ha!  Whatever it is, we didn't have a game this week.)  Outside of his sports-ing, school is pretty normal for him.  He's not a big fan of his geometry or chemistry classes, but otherwise he's doing great.  He was able to begin Construction and Welding classes this year, so he's having fun in those.  {He plans to go into the Army and then to be a welder professionally, so he's happy as can be in those classes because they really suit him!}

Sarah has begun high school and is having a ball.  She is my socialite, fashionista, chillin-with-her-friends one of the kids.  She is in the band, which is massive in size and is really enjoying the friends and football games and texting and all that side of high school.  Fortunately, she's also a really good student and a good kid all around.  (But don't tell her I used the 1st pic above.  She hates it.)  She is taking American Sign Language in school so she is often found practicing words (finger spelling or signing them.)  She enjoys shopping with me and asks for new jeans or clothes or shoes or something almost weekly.  I hope she marries a rich man one day who can keep up with her shopping habit.


All in all, life is good.  Larry's brother in getting married in a couple of weeks, so we're all excited about that.  Pumpkin scented candles and harvest-print hand towels are popping up in Walmart, so I'm happy.  Tomorrow we are walking down the aisle to officially join the church we've been visiting for the past 5 months.  The weather is beginning to cool off ever so slightly, so that means appropriate football game weather is coming soon.  See?  (Yeah, I know...but it's cooler for us!)

There are times in life when I look at my little world with such happiness I can hardly contain myself.  This is one of those times.  I have an amazing God, a wonderful husband, 3 healthy kids, awesome friends, a fantastic job and coworkers, a home with a roof over my head, plenty of food to eat (actually more than plenty!), clothes on my back, a little bit of money in the bank, a car to drive.  There is music and laughter and wonder and good conversations and so much else to be thankful for.  I can't help but smile. 

Thank you, Jesus, for this rich, satisfying life.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Summer 2015 in Review

For years now, I have ended every summer feeling frazzled and irritated, unrested and not ready to give up the break from work & school.  I've perpetually over-scheduled myself for years during the summer which means when the summer ends, I don't feel like I've had a summer at all. 

So this year, when summer began I made a specific point to NOT SCHEDULE ANYTHING for the entire summer.  I didn't want to plan on any day trips or museum visits or well...anything.  I wanted to finally find out what summer looks like when you don't have something written on every single day of the calendar.

Don't worry.  We didn't just sit in the house every day all summer long and never did ANYTHING.  We went swimming.  And ran errands.  And shopped a little.  And ate at restaurants.  And visited friends.  And watched movies.  But it was all done spontaneously whenever we felt like doing it.  And THAT, my friends, made all the difference in the world!  I couldn't do this year-round because I really thrive on having a schedule and a routine with structure.  But from now on this is what my summers will look like if I can pull it off!

The summer of 2015 looked like this for us:

The kids and I have watched 8 seasons of Friends.  (Season 9 is in the mail on its way now.  Yes I know it's on Netflix but I prefer to watch it on DVD because I have been collecting the seasons for years & want to be able to go back & re-watch or loan them to friends occasionally.)

Larry and I took a weekend trip away for our anniversary.

Sarah spent the night with friends several times and went on a weekend trip with a friend's family.

Sam has fished more times than I can count and has been to my parents' house to help kill and slaughter hogs several times.  {Yes, we're THAT country.}

I went to Dallas one weekend to see Kari Jobe and Christine Caine.

I've been to lunch with a couple girlfriends just because we could.

I did three days of in-service at my school in late July.

I've slept late and taken naps.  (Well, not LATE really, but later than I sleep during the school year.)

Sam went to athletic training camp 4 days a week for most of June & July, then began 2-a-day football practices last week.

Sarah started band 2-a-days the first week of August.

Savannah got a new job at a veterinarian clinic in June and loves it.  She has also done lots of sitting:  baby, dog and house.  She is working on applications for NEXT Fall's college choices.

Larry filled in for a pastor at a church in his hometown several times.

I subbed at the preschool where I used to work twice.

I got a new (to me) mini-van that I love.  In fact, I'm going to pick up the license plates for it tomorrow.

I've read several books.

It's been a lazy, fabulous, wonderful summer.  I will miss the leisure of sleeping later and having a lot of down time, but this summer of fabulousness is drawing to a close.  It's been a great one!  Until next year..........

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Stag Leap Country Inn -- Deer Haven cabin

Last year for our 20th anniversary, Larry and I went back to our first home: Nacogdoches, TX.  That is the small college town in east Texas where we lived when we got married.  You can read about that trip HERE.  We try to make an effort to take a short overnight or weekend trip every year for our anniversary, but after twenty years of the same basic trip over & over, we wanted to do something different.  {Usually, we go somewhere, stay in a hotel--almost always a Holiday Inn Express, visit 1-2 local sights & then come home.}  So this year, I asked around on Facebook to see if anyone could suggest a semi-local place to go that was a little different.  After lots of suggestions, I settled on a place that looked really neat.  Ironically, it was back in Nacogdoches, but the place we stayed couldn't have been more different than a Holiday Inn Express.

Friday, we left home about lunchtime and after a short stop for lunch on the way, arrived at Stag Leap in Nacogdoches.  It's about five miles out of town.  This sweet little sign greets you at the main house driveway.

The owners met us at the door of the main house to welcome us and gave us directions to our cabin, which was about 2 1/2 miles down the road, totally secluded from the rest of the world.  Seriously, friends, my troubles melted away when we turned down this driveway...

....and pulled up in front of this sweet little cabin.

This front porch.  Oh my soul.  That rocking chair was just about my favorite place to be all weekend, right beside my sweet husband who was fond of that swing.

On the side of the cabin, there was this little patio area with a grill, table and chairs, and a wonderful, deep jacuzzi.  Oh the time spent there, staring at the stars, relaxing!

The front yard area was spacious, tree lined and SO quiet.

The side and back yards were equally wide-open & peaceful.

The driveway leading to the property (which was closed by a gate at the end) is wayyyy over there.

Backyard views:

And later in the evening, the front yard & front of the cabin:

The interior did not fail to wow us, either!  The owners had come over a few hours prior & turned on the ceiling fans and A/C, which was so very welcome since it was 100+ degrees outside.  Everything inside looked just like (or even better!) than what we saw on the website.

The living room area:

This little book was by the phone.  It included brochures for all sorts of tourist attractions in town, maps to restaurants, schools, churches and just about anything else you could imagine needing during your stay.

There was a full-sized pull-out Murphy bed in this pretty cabinet.  (We didn't use it, but it was neat to see that it was available for guests if they had children with them.)

The TV came equipped with satellite TV, which was charmingly set to an easy-listening station when we arrived.  There was a loveseat, recliner and gas fireplace as well.

Also in the living room area, there was a chest full of board games.

And the TV cabinet was full of movies and books to enjoy during your stay.

The kitchen was awesome!  A fridge full of breakfast foods, cabinets full of dishes, towels, utensils, a sweet little dining set.  You could almost get away with never leaving the cabin all weekend!

As you can see in the pic above, the bathroom was right off the main living area.  Let's just pretend that the seat to the toilet is down.  :)

The bedroom was also right off the main living area, through a door to the right of the bathroom.  (There was also a door that connected the bedroom & bathroom.)  The chest at the foot of the bed held more blankets & sheets for the Murphy bed in the living room.  The armoire (see picture below) held pillows for the Murphy bed.

After a hot day out in town both days we were there, we enjoyed quiet evenings in the jacuzzi tub, playing games from the living room chest, swinging/rocking on the porch or just propped up in the living room watching TV and resting.

And the mornings were easy as there were canned cinnamon rolls ready to make provided in the fridge!  (I was reading the comments from previous guests in the cabin's guest book, and then wrote my own, while I enjoyed breakfast Saturday morning.)

This morning when it came time to pack up the suitcase and head home, we had a hard time saying good-bye to this quiet little retreat.  So peaceful, so relaxing, so perfect for a get away!  If you are thinking of travelling in east Texas and need a quiet haven, a private, secluded little peace of paradise, I strongly recommend that you take a look at Stag Leap, specifically the Deer Haven cabin where we stayed.  (They have several other cabins as well!)  You can find more info about them on their website.  You can find it here:

I told the owners I would be writing a blog review of our stay at their cabin when I got home & shared the URL for this blog site in my comment in the guest book.  I hope they find it and can share it with future guests!  If you came to this post due to that comment in the guest book or through the Stag Leap family, please comment or email me and let me know.  (Email address is at the top right of this page.)