July 21, 2014

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away.....

Growing up, I watched the Star Wars movies with my dad.  I loved the stories of adventure and good vs. evil and silly characters like a worrisome droid named C3P0 and then Luke whose father turned out to be one of the worst guys in the entire universe.  I mean, what would you do if you found out that your father aided in the great massacre of the Jedi Knights?

In the last year, we have let Tommy watch the original three movies and he quickly fell in love with the Star Wars stories too.  We have saber battles and fly invisible space ships on a regular basis in our house.  And you should have seen the shock and horror on his face when he found out that Darth Vader turned out to be Luke's father.  He kept saying, "Darth Vader is his dad!" 

Naturally, when all of the talk began about his big 5th birthday party, he quickly changed his mind from wanting a dinosaur party to having a Star Wars party instead.  And being the Star Wars fan that I am, I was totally okay with this.  It was probably harder for me to reign myself in because I was the one who wanted to go all out.

Yesterday, I finally got to see my vision for his Star Wars party play out.  It was probably my most favorite birthday party of all time - and it has to be, because we've told Tommy it's his last "big" birthday party for awhile.  After all, five is a huge milestone in a kid's life.  I mean, it's like half of ten.

Decorations were a blast to make.  I started with a big back-drop that I made from two black plastic table cloths.  Todd's mom splattered them with white paint to look like stars.  The Star Wars logo was just cut out from cardboard and painted.

Of course I had several Pinterest hacks like making Imperial fighter ships out of black paper lanterns and scrapbook paper.  I love how they turned out but I can't say the same for my X-wing which wasn't nearly as successful.  Even Tommy said it looked like an X-wing but it wasn't very good.  As I was hot gluing a red solo cup on to a cheap paper lantern I had to wonder what George Lucas would think if he saw what I was doing.

The food was creatively named after characters in the movie.  Like Chewbacca's Chips and Dip, Ewokookies, Vader Veggies, Jabba the Hutt Dogs, Luke Skywater, Yoda Soda and my personal favorite Obi-Wan Kabobies, which was nothing more than fruit on skewers.

My awesome friend Meghann made an R2D2 cake.  There was no way I could have done that with icing - she is amazing.  And my birthday party hero for making it happen.
We played "Destroy the Death Star", though really the kids just hit a pinata that was once a soccerball pinata - I spray painted it gray and put duct tape on it so it looked Death Star-ish. I was most proud of that idea because Pinterest didn't tell me to do it.  It was an original idea and everything.

Todd's dad came dressed as Darth Vader and all of the kids wanted to play with him.  He was such a good sport about it because some of the boys got a little carried away and were determined to take him down for real.

I even got into the spirit and dressed Jedi-ish.  With accessories and everything.   Naturally.

Tommy had informed me before the party that he was planning on being a Jedi but turning to the dark side at his party because he was done being a Jedi.  And sure enough - he did.
Tommy was loaded up with plenty of Star Wars gear and Legos galore and even a new bike.  It was pretty much the best 5th birthday party in the history of the entire galaxy.  

And now, we have a five year old.  A soon-to-be Kindergartender.  I'm not exactly sure where these five years have gone, but I'm pretty sure it goes by as quickly as they say it does.  Because it doesn't seem like it was that long ago that I was holding Tommy in his footed sleepers and singing him to sleep and now he's this big boy that loves Star Wars and is starting to read and can count to 100 and even has future wife picked out.

Tommy is smart, tender-hearted, cautious, playful, energetic, creative, imaginative and he loves music just like me.  I'm so proud to be his mama.  Celebrating his life, making a big deal out of his birthday, will always be one of my greatest joys because he is one of my greatest gifts.

I love you Jedi Tommy.  Oops, I mean Darth Tommy.  Jedi or dark side, I do love you so.

July 16, 2014

Top 10 Reasons I Haven't Been Blogging

1)  It's summer.  It's my favorite.  I'm busy having fun and doing summer things and living and playing and being and enjoying.

2)  I used to be able to blog at work ages ago - I can't do that now.

3)  My computer at home is slow and the keyboard is wonky and sitting down in front of it literally kills my creative.  Hence the very nature of this post.

4)  Jacob still doesn't let me pee by myself much less sit in front of the computer without him.

5)  Because I can't blog on my smartphone.

6)  Because I've been writing in journals and writing up story plots and developing characters - true story.

7)  I'm also knee deep in Star Wars party decorations.  Like Imperial fighter ships made from round paper lanterns.

8)  My computer is stupid - have I mentioned that?

9)  Because I really need a laptop and I totally don't have one.

10)  I don't really have 10 reasons, but it sounded much better than 8.

I'll be back to regular blogging soon.  But I might need to tell that to my sad, slow computer.

July 5, 2014

Independence Day

Have you ever tried explaining freedom to a five-year old?  Yeah, you should give that a whirl sometime.  It was hard explaining to Tommy what our big 4th of July holiday was all about and why I was making everyone dress in red, white and blue and why Daddy didn't have to work and why they shot fireworks off in the sky.

Someday he will grasp and understand the meaning behind why we celebrate every July 4th.  Someday he will know what freedom is and know how our country began and why this day is such a big deal.  For now though he enjoyed his burgers and playing with his friends.
I discovered yesterday that my littlest firecracker is a water baby just like me.  He loved being in the pool and playing and it was clear he was ready to take off on his own and do his own thing in the water. 

We had a late afternoon rain storm yesterday and thought our fireworks-watching plans were going to be washed out.  Thankfully, it passed over the place we were heading to and we got to see another amazing display out at Lake McQueeney with our friends - the same place we went last year. Even Jacob was into them and watched the whole show with us.
This year I am grateful for my little family, friends to celebrate with, my freedom, and my little nest I call home in this country. 

June 21, 2014

A Tasty Summer

We've had s'mores by the firepit.
 We've had crispy, fried shrimp while sitting on the bay at the beach.
 We've eaten melting popsicles in the sunshine after "swimming" in the kiddie-pool.
 We've made fresh salsa using the tomatoes and jalepenos we are growing in our backyard.
 We've grilled ribs and sausage and steak and fajitas.
We've consumed juicy, red watermelon.

So far, summer has been delicious.  And it's only just begun.

June 14, 2014

Eight Years

In a world where there are no guarantees, nothing certain, nothing lasting, I feel especially blessed to have celebrated eight years of marriage with my husband.

This year he brought me a small bouquet of flowers and two breakfast tacos at work.  His sweet and thoughtful gestures always leave me feeling loved and cared for and remembered.
We celebrated by going to our favorite steakhouse, Saltgrass and ended the night by seeing Godzilla at the movies.  Nothing says romance and anniversary celebration like Godzilla right?
This year was another low-key year as we have been tucking away what we can for our upcoming family vacation and Tommy's big 5th birthday party.  My heart is full of gratitude and love my for the man who continues to do life with me amidst all of the chaos, the ups and downs and the messy parts.  Happy eight years to us.

June 8, 2014

Youth Group

My high school years are full of memories I can vividly remember.  Like how I changed best friends eighteen times from Britney to Kelly to Courtney and then the Sarah’s.

There were a few Sarah's.

All of my time and babysitting money was spent on clunky shoes and bad chick-flicks and nights out at Chili’s where we pretended we were grown up and knew everything.  Those were the years I would obsess about guys and wonder what sex was like while sharing mozzarella sticks and Dr Peppers with my girlfriends.  I remember how Saturdays were devoted to shopping and scrapbooking, and the nights were for games of chicken feet and Ms. Senecal’s home-made popcorn and staying up late talking about God and theology and I would leave, head spinning.

High school was high school.  I was kind of a nobody and preferred it that way.  I didn’t want to draw attention to myself.  I wanted to be left alone and survive as I always seemed to find myself an easy target for the girl-bullies to pick on.  Every once in a while, the real me would peek outside of the shell I hid under - like when I wanted a role badly enough for a musical or when it felt safe to be me.   

And I always remember the disappointment that came when I wasn’t chosen to be Maria in West Side Story even though I’m still convinced to this day that Leonard Bernstein totally wrote that music just for me even though I’m in no way, shape or form Puerto Rican.

But most of my good memories from high school came from youth group.  It felt safe to be me there.  I could play games and sing on the worship team and be my loud, silly self.  I made girlfriends there who knew Jesus and encouraged me when I was hurting or down.  Our youth pastor was fun, and we always did fun things.  It kept me grounded when my world had been turned upside down.   

Youth group nights were my favorite nights of the week.  I couldn’t wait to get there and I didn’t want to leave.

Fifteen years later (for serious, how am I this old), I still go to youth group.  Granted, I’m a leader, and it’s a completely different church, but it’s still my favorite night of the week.  For the last year and a half I have been serving and ministering to and getting to know the teens of our church.  My friend Kat and I lead the junior/senior girls group and we’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve challenged them and they’ve challenged us. 

Every once in a while I catch my teenage self in one of them.  I find myself in their tears about how they feel ugly or fat or stupid.  I find myself in the boy crazy ones who you have to force out of the bathroom every week because they’re taking selfies and working up the guts to talk to so-and-so that night.  I find myself in the quiet ones, the ones who are ashamed and are hiding something.  Each and every one of them remind me of the me I was.  They invite me to remember what I was needing at their age.  And every week I show up to be an ear, to be a voice, to share a story, to give a hug, to play and laugh, to remind them that they matter and that they are fiercely loved by God.  

And that this loud and still silly 30-something woman thinks they rock.  
In the last couple of weeks we have been honoring our Seniors, celebrating accomplishments and savoring moments before life changes and they head out to greater adventures.  It’s been bittersweet for me as I have been preparing for goodbyes and reflecting on my time with these precious girls I have come to know and dearly love.  
Perhaps I show up every Wednesday night hoping that my presence or my voice or words will have an impact – that God will use me in some way to show them more of Himself.  Yet, every week without fail, I would always leave feeling like I was the changed one.  I’ve left feeling humbled, challenged, and convicted.  These girls, these relationships I’ve been building over the course of the last couple of years, has stirred something in my heart.  God has been calling me to more, calling me to something greater.  I don’t know exactly what it means or what it looks like yet, I just know that I want more of this.
As summer is officially upon us, I am bracing for goodbyes and arranging the last of the get-togethers and game nights and hoping that they really believe I’m here if they need anyone to talk to.

I hope these girls can take away sweet memories of laughter and games and heartfelt teaching and remember their own youth group as fondly as I remember my own.  More than anything though, I hope that these graduated, now-adult people, will move on from high school youth group with a heart that wants to forever follow after Jesus.

June 4, 2014

Coming up for air

Life has been full lately.  I wouldn't say it's been busy, because busy implies that you aren't really enjoying anything.  Being busy implies that you have no time for others because you have so much else going on.  It's more than busy.  Life has been full of celebrations and planning for celebrations, birthday parties and birthday dinners and weddings and baby showers.  It's been full of ministry and Bible study and pouring into people and being poured back into and doing life with people and being called to more.

But I'm also reminded too where I still have to find rest in the midst of all of the fullness.  And this afternoon, I did just that.  Jacob went down for a late nap and Wednesday is my off-from-work-early-day.  So I seized the opportunity and got cozy in bed and knocked out for a whole hour.  An absolute treat in my world.

I should have been folding my laundry.  Or making dinner even.  But who needs clothes or food anyway?  Tonight, the laundry is wrinkled in my baskets and we had a hodge-podge of leftovers for dinner before heading out to church.  But my nap rocked and I don't feel the least bit guilty about it at all either.

Hopefully there will be more found moments for stillness, for writing and much needed rest.