Monday, November 7, 2011

Who knew it meant so much?

Wow, it has been a loooong time since I wrote last. It took the death of my beloved Grandma to bring me back to the writing table. Grandma (my mom's mother, Dorothy McCleskey) passed away on Tuesday night and I spent the next day or two feeling unsettled, angry and sad. Then I cried my eyes out at my weekly prayer group and felt better.
Dorothy McCleskey somehwere around 2007

Yesterday I went to her memorial service, which was held at her home in Hoodsport. It is a long drive to Hoodsport. Usually around 2 hours and 20 minutes. It is often not a drive I appreciate, as it is a long time for the kids to "be nice" in the car. This time, I felt almost happy going...grateful for the chance to go be in Grandma's house again.

I was surpised when I got there how much I just walked around and tried to memorize the feel of her house. Every wall, every picture, every gilded knick-knack. Every lighthouse, every clock, every angel, every silk plant. Around and around I went, walking the hallways that I've walked for 25 years. My grandma didn't travel much, she liked to be at her house. Most of my memories of my Grandma are right there inside that house.

I realized last night that I felt connected to my extended family through that house. Not only are my pictures all over the walls, but my parents' pictures and my cousins' pictures and my aunts' pictures and my uncles' pictures and all our kids' pictures are in every nook and crany. When my relatives came to town, they always stayed with Grandma and we met them there, we ate there, we played there, we commisserated there...everything inside that house.

No items that I might take home from that house can give me what that house holds. That house holds my life with my Grandma with all it's tree branches that connect us. That house means family. Now Grandma is gone, waiting for me in heaven, and that house will soon be gone and we need to find new rituals and new routines to connect us. Losing her house is like facing a 2nd family death, yet the house couldn't live on without her.

So I find myself as reluctant to end this blog post as I was to leave Grandma's house last night. Afraid that once I move on, it will be gone forever. But move on we must, for life for me and my family moves ever onward. Goodbye Grandma and goodbye Grandma's house...thanks for the legacy of love that's left behind.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

This blog post will likely be hard to write. Who knows if it will ever see the light of day (light of the internet?). I have a feeling I want to explain, but I'm not sure I fully understand it.

I feel like an adult.

I sit here waiting for my MLS number to arrive from my agent (hurry, hurry, hurry). We are putting our house on the market. If we can get a good price for it, we plan to sell our home and buy land in the nearby area to build a new home.

It is a choice. My husband and I look across the table at each other (or across the bath tub) and discuss our choices. Do we want to sell? Do we want to rent a house or an apartment while we look for the next piece of land? Do we want to take our family in this direction or that one? I think those discussions are responsible for my new-found awareness of my adulthood. The choice to move my family to a new locale, a new environment.

Sure, we had choices before now. We selected jobs. We selected our first condo, then moved to our current house. But all those choices seemed more scripted, like stairs up to our current place in life. This choice feels more like stepping off the path that goes straight ahead and choosing a path that still goes forward, but in an optional direction.

In the past, most of those choices we made were just hubby and I deciding what we wanted to do for the two of us...Did we want kids? Did we want to live in town or more rural? Now we are weighing the pros and cons of each place (including the one we still have) for our kids too. Where will they ride their bikes? What environment are we placing them into? Does it measure up to living next door to their grandparents (could anything?)?

And what a blessing, really, to have choice? To live in a place and time where we aren't just struggling to survive, but can consider what we want for our family. And we know that however it turns out, whether we sell or stay where we are, that our family's direction is still set.
James 4:14&15 "you don't even know what tomorrow will bring -- what your life with be! For you are like smoke that appears for a while and then vanishes. Instead, you should say, If the Lord wills..."

So, whatever the Lord wills...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A jewel in a mountain of paperwork

Sometimes, buried in a mountain of end-of-the-school-year paperwork, you find a jewel that makes your whole day.

I don't know if her teacher assigned her to write poetry about her mom. I don't even think I care. It is just so sweet. =) Here is the poem complete with artistic rendintion:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Strawberries...or the lack thereof

I won a blog raffle a week or two ago. The raffle was for $25 worth of free strawberries. At least that's what I thought the raffle was for. Admittedly, I didn't read any fine print. So when a gift certificate showed up in the mail for $25 at sporting store I was confused. But not so confused that I didn't immediately go out and spend the gift card.

I bought a swimsuit. online. Crazy, I know. Swimsuit shopping is the worst and I can try on 15 swimsuits and hate them all. So what luck do I think I'll have online? But it arrived today and I love it.

It has all the things that I need in a swimsuit.
1) the perfect straps! I hate halter neck suits and I hate strapless suits. One is a pain in the neck and the other requires me to keep one hand on the front of my suit at all times so it doesn't fall off. This one has cute wide band straps that are comfy!
2) the torso is long enough. I'm not that tall (5'7) but most swimsuits just don't have enough length built into them. I end up with my underwire trying to worm its way into my belly button. Okay, that's a little bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea.
3) it is a one-piece. Most tankini sets fail to cover the squish around my middle. What good is a swimsuit that doesn't cover the squish?
4) it is black, so it is both slimming and guaranteed to never become last season's hot color.
5) its got a retro-vibe, which I think is fun. The blog contest that I won was from Heather who blogs at UnitedStatesofMotherhood
. She has a great collection of old retro poster pictures that she will occasionally post and it looks like my swimsuit could have been from that era. Of course, the models in those posters are always more generously shaped than I am, but still the coincidence makes me smile.

So now I'm doubly glad that I won the blog contest. First, because it is just fun to win things. And second, because I don't have to go swimsuit shopping this year. Thanks Heather!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The theme continues...

Playing in the sunshine is lots of fun
Even if I don't get many runs
The pop of fly balls, the thrill of game
Without it Friday nights wouldn't be the same

Last week I learned that "its all good"
that stressin' isn't necessary when hangin' with the Herd
this week I learned to stand in my spot
even if that required the guys to talk a lot

then they gave me the team ball!
my contribution might be small
but they don't seem to care
maybe its all my flair?

So come find us next week
Tibbets field #5 is what you seek
'til the mercy bell rings
we'll be doing our thing

(yes, I'm planning to keep my day job)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Stress, Patheticism, and Softball

Who knew that I was such a stress-case? I laugh because I suspect everyone knows. Yesterday was my first softball game. My first game of my first team. And I stressed a bit about it. I was terrified that I would instantly pull a muscle when running for the ball (like I did in practice) and patheticism would set in. I suspect "patheticism" isn't a word, but "the act of being pathetic" surely sums up my fears.

My kids must have thought I was nuts. "quiet in the car on the way to the game; mommy is stressed". "Um, mom? Isn't softball supposed to be fun?" "Shhhh"

The first inning of the game found me hanging out in right field. The sunshine was lovely, the field green, my terror palatable, my children screaming.

Yes, my children screaming because the Big Guy fell on the sidewalk and scraped up both his knees. I can see my oldest daughter Sweetness holding him and trying to carrying him back to me, and I'm STRESSED because I know I can't leave my spot and Hubby can't leave his spot and what are we supposed to do? But, all things work out and someone comforted the Big Guy and the screaming stopped and my stress level dropped a bit. And then we came in from the field and it was my turn to bat and the stress level jumped right back up...until I struck out and mortification replaced stressification (another new word or two!).

Then I got to play catcher for awhile. That was fun. The ref (ump?) was quite helpful. He would say things like "you might want to move in front of home plate when the ball is in play so the runner doesn't clobber you trying to come home" and "if you stand back, the ball will bounce right to you". And more often than not, the ball found its way into my glove.

Right field is nice because the ball doesn't come to you very often, so it isn't very stressful. Catcher is nice because you get to be involved constantly, but then "the play" comes to home plate and you know everyone wishes you were more of a baller and could handle a 95 mph ball being thrown at you.

Anyway, my truly great moment was when I came up to bat and I popped the ball up. I thought it was coming down on my head so I ducked a little and the catcher 'bout knocked me over trying to get to the ball. She (the catcher) knocked the visor off my head, so I tried to right it...then I realized that the rest of my team was yelling "run, Lisa, you have to run". Apparently the time for righting your visor is after you've reached first base. Who knew? I swear I thought that ball was foul. Classic Lisa.

We played a double header and I think it was part way through the second game when I finally started to relax. Clearly the likihood of my making a mistake is pretty high, but a lot of mistakes get made in a game and life goes on. You are still hanging out with a great group of people enjoying the sunshine and the sport. Can't wait till next week!

Friday, June 3, 2011

45 Reasons why this morning Rocks!

I'm lovin' this morning! Here are a few reasons why:

1. The sun is out! Blue skies all around.

2. The birds are chirping
3. I won a flat of strawberries from a giveaway on I love winning stuff and I can't wait to get my strawberries. BTW, United States of Motherhood is written by a local mom who has turned her blogging into a PAYING job...a paying job people. I think that's awesome. Go check her out and stay tuned for my "what I did with my free strawberries" blog post.
5. Today is the first park playdate of the summer for the Big Guys preschool group. I just like saying "playdate of the SUMMER".
6. Shay Shay is coming over to play math geek with me in the afternoon.
7. Homemade chicken noodle soup for dinner tonight 'cause Costco cooked us a rotisserie chicken for dinner last night
8. The sun is out!

9. The doors are open (despite hubbys protesting)
10. My bathroom is clean (or clean"ish")
11. I got to sleep in till 7:30 this morning
12. The sun is out!

12. Hubby is going to work on trimming and caulking the patio door today. He replaced my sliding door with a French door earlier in the year and once he's got the outside all fixed up, I can power wash the patio and create my outside oasis. Then I can bug my family for a chaise lounge for my birthday.
13. Hubby and the Big Guy are conspiring together to fly a helicopter into my face while I'm blogging. Come on, that's cute...right?

Okay, that is only 13, but I gotta get going. God is good, people. God is good.

Its all about the Jersey

Sometimes life sneaks up on you and you find yourself enthralled by something you hadn't expected. This week I'm unexpectedly enthralled by the jersey.

Sports jerseys are a fact of life for some families. They grew up playing on sports teams and the jerseys probably piled up on the floor of their closet. I didn't grow up playing sports. My childhood was filled with fun and friends and family, but the only sport I ever got to play was bowling. (Do you "play" bowling? It seems like you "go" bowling.) Sports just wasn't in playbook.

As I reached adulthood, I began to introduce myself to sports. I jogged a little. I rollerbladed a little. I wakeboarded a little. I skiied a little. I played a little ultimate frisbee at lunch with friends from work. It was all fun, but I didn't realize there was more to team sports than that.

And then I got invited to play on a co-ed softball team this summer. And I purchased a softball glove. And I purchased cleats. And I purchased gloves and pants. And then they handed me...a jersey. It's blue. It has MY number on it. It has MY team name on it. Its my first jersey. Yes, I know it is little more than a teeshirt with numbers ironed on...but it is a jersey to me.

I find myself smiling when I think of the jersey. I'm not even sure I know why. Does it represent the chance to make up for something I wish I had growing up? Am I thrilled to be part of a team? I'm not a very competitive person. I'm too busy worrying about how everyone else in the world is feeling to care about winning, although now I can worry about how MY team will feel if we don't win. Perhaps that will knock some competitive spirit into me.

Stay tuned for my next post...where we figure out if playing the game of softball is as fun as owning a jersey.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lest you think my kids got the short stick...

I know some of you were concerned that my children were getting a raw deal for spring break. Apparently my list of options was unimpressive. Some even suggested that the dentist, hair salon, and photo studio were not exciting outings for children. Pshawww.

True to the master plan decided upon by the SBPO'A committee, we've been doing one "special" item a day with the kids. We started on Saturday night with a trip to the Rainforest Cafe in SouthCenter (which apparently is not called SouthCenter anymore. Now it is the Westfield Mall in Tukwila. Why do they gotta mess with stuff?). The kids had a great even felt a little vacation-ish.

...and, don't forget about the exciting roller coaster my kids got to ride!

That was Saturday night. On Sunday, we went to worship services in the morning and spent the afternoon with friends.

Monday's exciting schedule included swimming lessons and a trip to the dentist.

Now I ask you: Do these look like faces of children who don't want to go to the dentist? They nag me to make their appointments. I kid you not! They think going to the dentist is a chance to sit back in a lounge chair, watching the movie of their choice (ignoring that person poking in their mouth) and then getting a prize afterwards.

Tuesday's outing was haircuts!

Wednesday's outing was the movies. We took the kids to see Mars Needs Moms, which I thought was very cute. I loved some of the messages of the movie (be careful what you say to each other, moms that make you do your chores are the best, etc.). Unfortunately, Spunky Girl had an ear infection that flared up during the movie, so she isn't too happy in the pics. We got to visit the pediatrician directly following the movie; Lucky us!

(The big guy went to the movies too, but was too busy playing with the video games in the lobby to cooperate with my picture taking. Spunky Girl didn't want her picture taken either, but mom was pushy!)

On Thursday, the kids didn't get a special outing. They got to trail along with me as we visited the chiropractor, Oil Can Henry's, QFC, two banks, and Best Buy. There were errands to be done and sometimes that's just the breaks! =)

Friday we took the kids to Yuen Lui to get their portraits taken. Yea for Groupon! The kids did great and we took them to FatBurger for lunch afterwards, followed by a trip to the Lucky Strikes arcade.

Now it is Saturday morning and Spring Break week is nearly over. I think we'll get in one more outing, a bike ride at Marymoor Park, if the weather holds!

All in all, I think we had a pretty good time this week. I guess I'll have to wait to read what my girls write in their "What I did during Spring Break" journals to see if they agree!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ummm...I guess it is spring break

The winter/spring season has been the busiest I can remember. It turns out that Spring Break is next week. THAT snuck up on me. I've got 3 kids who are so excited to be off for a week and I've got nothing planned. I briefly considered several mini-vacations, but we've had a lot of vacations lately and are planning a trip for that's not in the cards (or checkbook).

I chased down hubby this morning and invited (forced) him to discuss a Spring Break Plan O' Action. We are now on the SBPO'A committee. We came up with a list of fairly low-cost items that we could do and plan on implementing one per day. Here's our options:

* matinee movie (Mars needs Moms? Okay for a 4 yr old?)
* Kid-friendly dinner (Rainforest Cafe?)
* get haircuts
* Arcade at Lincoln Square
* Rollerskating at Bellevue Skate King (take the 4 yr old?)
* Go visit Great Grandma
* Go to the dentist (is it possible to get an appt for all 3 kids on the same day?)
* Get a kid portrait taken at a picture studio

So, anyone got an other ideas? Swim lessons for Spunky Girl and the Big Guy continue this week, as does the Big Guy's preschool (they couldn't possibly have the same Spring Break. Of course not.) We'll just have to schedule our other outings around those. Maybe I can think of some other inside the house things to do that would be fun too, but I can already hear myself saying "No, you can't have any more screen time" and "Please put the video games away and find a book" a million times.

Who's got other ideas for me? Other sanity tips? We're not supposed to have great weather next week, so sending the kids outside to play won't work most days. Even if they do go outside, I have to watch that they don't grab their gaming devices on the way out.
Apparently they don't find a yard full of grass as inviting as I'd hoped they would. Sigh.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Daunting Task

It feels overwhelming. I feel defensive. The reasons why it won't work come bubbling up faster than the hopeful thoughts of success.

Healthier eating. If it was just for me, I know I wouldn't do it. I'm content enough with my health that the extra efforts to control my snacking and cook healthier meals just won't happen. But when you bring my kids and hubby into the equation...then I have to try.

My kids aren't getting enough fuel during the day. Every morning, the girls get up and make themselves breakfast. They get themselves cold cereal (usally Cinnamon Life, Frosted Mini Wheats, or Kix) or they pop a bread item (bagel, english muffin, or Eggo waffle) into the toaster. I send them to school with a bagged lunch, consisting of a Capri Sun drink, half a turkey or ham sandwich, a piece of fruit, and some type of cracker. Spunky Girl, my 6 year old, never touches her sandwich. That means that every day she consumes only carbs and a light amount of fruit until 3:30 pm. That is just not the fuel she should have to run her brain and body throughout the day. I've tried sending other protein sources in her lunch (like yogurt or cheese) and I've tried making them smoothies in the morning (a lot of work and they only take one or two sips). It just never seems to stick because they prefer the carb options.

At snack time after school, I can usually talk them into some cheese...but only if I pair it with a carb. Sweetness, my 8 year old, loves nachos so she'll pop some tortilla chips into the microwave with cheese shredded on top. Spunky girl will have some slices of cheese with crackers or maybe some string cheese. They'll eat those things if there is no sugar-filled items to entice them, like a pudding cup or cookies.

The dinner plate always has three parts: the protein, the carb, and the veggie. Sometimes the carb and the meat are combined (like tacos). I found myself always placing a large carb item on their plates because I knew I would only get 2 bites of a veggie and 3 bites of a protein into them. At least when I offered a carb, I knew they wouldn't leave the table hungry. I try to serve water or milk only with dinner (although I've been talked into chocolate milk more times than I want to admit).

I look at all that breakdown and think "I'm not doing too bad. That sounds like a reasonable offering." but then I think about the breakdown of food that actually ends up in their body and I realize it is pretty much all carbs except for maybe 8 bites of fruit, protein, and veggie.

I think the hard part about making healthier food is that I have to mentally gear up for 2 things:
* the extra time it takes
* the resistance I'm going to get from the kids

Adding more work into the day is daunting when you already feel like the work you do is constant. There is already a long list of housework chores that aren't getting done. When you add to that the knowledge that the extra effort you put in will not be met with gratitude and joy, but instead with groanings and tears, it makes getting started a bit of an emotional hurdle. Do I really want to make meals an unhappy event? Do I want kids crying because I've only served pork chops and broccoli for dinner and there isn't anything that they want to eat? Do I really want to make myself get up early to cook a protein filled breakfast on the stove instead of letting the kids make their own breakfast?

So we gave it a try this morning. Hubby woke me up early (as he was leaving for work) and I started on breakfast before the kids got out of bed. I made eggs and sausage patties this morning. The kids loved it. Spunky Girl ironically commented "sausage is junk food" and happily ate it. Hubby commented "they probably shouldn't have eggs every day", which might be true from a cholesterol point-of-view. I feel good about sending them to school with a belly full of protein, even if it isn't low least it wasn't full of white flour and sugar.

I thought I might try to change one thing a month and then keep that one thing going. February will be trying to make healthier breakfasts for the kids. Maybe March will be trying to cut down their tv time, although I suspect all the sports that are starting in March (swimming and soccer) will help with that. Who knows.

got ideas for me? Things that I can do for healthier eating? I'm sure I've got a defensive reason why that won't work, but I might still give it a try!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Sweet Spot

My sister asked me today if I've given up blogging. I really haven't, but you sure wouldn't be able to tell that by looking at my recent blog activity. Hubby is watching the SeaChickens play, so I guess tonight is the night for my first blog post of 2011.

I found myself wondering the other day if I've hit a parenting sweet spot. I've always known that I'm not a "baby stage" parent. I just don't love the baby stage. I love the child, of course, and I love the new baby smell, but I don't love the spit up, I don't love the diapers, I don't love the back ache from carrying the kid in a car seat, I don't love the middle of the night crying, I don't love the nursing, I don't love giving them baths, I don't love being trapped by a sleeping child's schedule...and I could go on and on. It is amazing I had 3 lovely children given how much I don't love the baby stage.

I don't think the toddler stage is really my stage either. I don't really care for tantrums at the library, or the constant buckling and unbucking of car seats. It is cute when they learn to talk, but then go through that talking all the time phase where you constantly have to go "uhuh, yep, sure, uhuh, really?" I've been known to say "mommy seriously needs a break from all the talking".

So, when the kids got out of school for winter Holidays, I wasn't sure that 2 weeks of all the kids at home together was going to be tons of fun. But it was; it was tons of fun. We really had a good time. We went to the movies a couple of times (yea for $5 movies at Factoria), we went to Barnes and Noble a time or two, we went to the park to go scootering, we hung out together. I don't think I had noticed that the Big Guy was turning into a kid that could hang out, but it was sure noticeable that it was finally happening. No more "mom will stay behind with the Big Guy while Dad goes out to have fun with the older girls".

I remember my pediatrician warning me that the terrible twos for little boys runs about 1.5 years. Here we are...the Big Guy is 4 years old in 3 months...and we've gotten past it. I know everyone's experience is different. Some little boys don't have the tantrum-filled 2/3 year old behavior. But my little boy did and I was unprepared (although warned) for how much patience I would need. But now...SWEET SPOT!!!

Hopefully there is such a thing as a sweet spot and it isn't just a fairytale land in my head. Or, maybe even better would be that the Sweet Spot lasts for the rest of our lives. That's not too much to hope for right? Who doesn't love the constant drama of the teenage years?

Let's just capture this "sweet spot" in time with some pics:
Sweetness -- the leader of the pack

Spunky Girl -- the life of the party

The Big Guy -- the newcomer to the hang-out crew