August 28, 2013

Six Months of Mr. Personality

From the very beginning, Jacob wanted to make one thing clear.  He was going to be different from his older brother.  He will make his own way, do his own thing, be his own person and remind us of that daily if we ever thought any different.

I tell people often that Tommy looks like me, but has Todd's personality and that Jacob looks like Todd, but has a lot of my personality traits.  He is loud and active and has to be in the center of everything so he knows what is going on.  Where Tommy has shown consideration and caution, I think Jacob might be our daredevil.  He has a temper and has no problems letting you know how he feels whether happy, sad, angry or just flat pissed off.  He wants to move so badly - he can't crawl yet, but he scoots to get places so I know it won't be long until he takes off and becomes unstoppable.  He's not big on napping as he would rather be with people than sleeping.  However, he sleeps through the night like a champ and has done that since he was 7 weeks old.

(Jacob rockin' his epic double chin.)
Our little Jacob Paul is six months old today.  Almost 19 pounds, 26 inches long, and 5,000 watts of pure energy.

It's hard to believe that half a year has gone by since he was born - especially because life was so up in the air when he came in to ours.  But since we found out that we were staying put and keeping our home and leaving our roots planted here in Texas, it's been one big readjustment to life.   

Some days have been harder than others.  I have grown weary and discouraged as I've tried to figure out how to carry the load I've been given to bear.  But for the most part, our house feels full of joy and laughter and so does my heart.  I still don't feel completely used to having two kids yet and I'm starting to wonder if I'll ever feel like life has balanced back out.
Jacob's favorite lullaby song is Truly Scrumptious.  A tune from the old musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  He's not a fan of the songs I sang to Tommy (surprise, surprise), but every time I start singing the words to Truly Scrumptious, he calms down and grins and lets out a big happy sigh.  He reaches his little fingers to my mouth, as if he's trying to capture my singing in his hands.
I always wondered what it would feel like to have another baby.  I wondered how I could love another child as much as I loved my first.  And honestly, it's taken some time to form that bond and find that special connection.   But somewhere over the course of these six months that he's been in our lives, I found it. Behind his playful eyes and silly screeches and how he always reaches out to touch my face when I hold him - I found what I was hoping to in my heart.  Oh I love him so.

And while there are hundreds of things I love about my little Jacob, what I love most at this age are his eyes.  His playful, mischief-filled, expressive eyes.  They really are truly scrumptious.
Truly scrumptious.  You're truly, truly scrumptious.  Scrumptious as a cherry beach ball bay.  When you're smiling, it's so delicious.  Honest, truly, you're the answer to my wishes....

August 26, 2013

A Todd Weekend

After the loss of Todd's grandfather at the end of last week, my hope was to make the weekend all about my husband and his heart.  To have a quiet, relaxing and rejuvenating time remembering memories and making some of our own as a family.  So, we did some of Todd's favorite things.  Like eat steaks and watch James Bond movies.  He got to sleep in this morning, and I made some homemade chocolate chip cookies.  

Yesterday afternoon we took a drive to Cabela's - the super-store of any serious outdoorsman.  

In our family, you are never too young to make your first appearance there.  Jacob was fascinated by all there was to see and look at.  He did really well in the stroller, and can I just add that I cannot believe my little guy will be six months old this week?!

Cabela's is my favorite.  It's like a zoo, except it's free.  And air-conditioned.  And the animals don't stink - well, because they've been hunted and stuffed.

There is plenty to look at and be in awe of - especially if you're under the age of five.  Tommy was in and out of tents and deer blinds and giant tree stumps.  He makes these huge declarations of "When I grow up to be a big man, I'm gonna get a bow and arrow like that."  And everything he saw was, "Dude!  Check this out!"  My little boy is becoming more and more of a big boy every single day.

We rarely do dinner on Sunday nights.  Usually because we do a large lunch after church with friends and eat a light dinner most every week.  But last night was a special occasion.  I made Greek Lemon Chicken.  It's a dish that consists of creamy lemon sauce with feta cheese over pasta, seasoned chicken breast covered in bread crumbs and herbs pan fried in olive oil.  We had green beans and fresh bread to finish it off.  It was rich and delicious.

I set the table and after prayer we sat and talked about Grandpa Nerby.  Since Todd isn't able to attend the funeral this week, we set aside some time to remember him and listen to Todd share some memories of his childhood with Grandpa.  He remembered how there was always ice-cream in the freezer for the grandkids in the summer, how they never caught huge fish but always a lot of them.  He told us how Grandpa was wounded in World War II and earned his purple heart. 

We talked with Tommy a little bit about death and what happens when we die.  We thought he was following along nicely until he asked, "Does God watch TV?"  And then he asked us to tell him stories about Ironman last instead of about Jesus.

Parenting - never, ever a dull moment.  Really.

Marriage, family, doing life together is really a big, giant series of meals and chocolate chip cookies.  Short road trips and silly questions asked by your children that you're never quite sure how to answer.  It's never-ending stacks of bills and Mr. Potato Heads that are put together questionably by an imaginative four year old.  It's getting spit up on and disappointing each other and always waiting for something.  It's full of life and death, celebrations and grieving.
Dishes stacked on the counter and unmade beds and surprise rain showers.  The kind you didn't expect - the ones without the thunder and lightening and where the sun still shines in the sky. 

August 23, 2013


Todd's grandfather passed away yesterday at the beautiful, long-lived age of 92. 

Yesterday morning he told his children he was going to be seeing Doris that day, his wife who preceded him in death 20 years earlier when cancer took her life.  And by evening, he had taken his last breath here and went to see her just as he said he would.

I only met him once.  He flew down for our wedding in June of 2006 and celebrated our big day with us.  Todd knew him well though.  He was the grandfather he remembered spending summer vacations and holidays with.  They spent time on the lake fishing and doing those special things only grandpas and grandsons know how to do together.  As I've watched my own boys with their grandfathers, you can see the unique connection that is built there.  The same was true for Todd and his grandpa. 

Since yesterday, I've felt lost.  It's been many years since death has touched me and it's almost as if I haven't known what to do, how to react, how to be, what to say and what not to.  I realized this morning that Todd and I have not known this kind of loss together since we've been married.  I've never had to hold my husband in a grief like this before and watch him endure a kind of sorrow and loss I have yet to know myself.
Anytime I catch myself holding back tears, changing the subject, or showing emotions disproportionate to my situation, it's as if a red flag goes up in my brain.  What's going on for me?  What am I not not wanting to feel here? 

I don't really know the answers to those questions yet.  I only know that when death comes for someone we love and know, there are whisperings it brings with it.  Questions about our mortality, our relationships, our health, the life we are living.  Thoughts of what we believe and curiosities about God and heaven and eternity.  Maybe because it's been so many years since I've heard those whispers come, it's taken my heart by an overwhelming surprise. 

Thank you for thinking of us as we are heavy-hearted today.  I'm looking forward to the weekend ahead and the rest and quiet it will bring with it as I love on my husband in his sorrow and loss.

May you all feel blanketed in comfort and peace this weekend.  The kind that comes from and is Jesus.

August 18, 2013

I've Been....

I've been rebelling against the late summer weather.  In the same week I wore both a scarf and a cardigan, though not together since it's still 100 degrees. 

I've been jamming out to Mumford and Sons lately.  I have no idea where this band has been my entire life and how I've lived without them.

I've been seeing contempt show up - the other-centered kind.  A lot.  And I think it's time to get to the bottom of what it's all about.

I've been waking up before 5:00am and it's getting a little old.  Though I've decided this is God's idea since I get out of bed and read my Bible and pray.  It's evident He's after more of my heart and will wake me up if He has to in order to get it.

I've been thankful for my husband.  Seriously - he's the greatest thing ever. 

I've been struggling with some old insecurity issues.  Between the contempt and the insecurities, something feels awry.   And I know I can't necessarily fix it, but the awareness of it is perhaps why God has me waking up long before dawn.

I've been printing pictures, updating Jacob's baby book, and putting new photos in old frames.  I love how pictures change the feel of my house - just with faces of people I love.

I've been adjusting to being a mother of two - and would quite honestly admit that I am still not adjusted. 

I've been walking and walking and walking.

I've been dreaming about a trip to the beach.  And hoping late September might bring one for us.

I've been noticing beauty.  Like captivating August sunrises.

August 13, 2013

"I loved you like this"

Once in a while, I feel this enormous unfillable void.  The one left by my mother.  It hurts and aches and I don't even know that's what it is until I stop and listen to my heart and pay attention to what is going on inside of me.  Grief has a way of sneaking up on you.  Of always being there and voicing itself just when you think it's grown quiet.

I find myself wondering how long has it been since I felt her touch, since I heard her say my name, since she gave me a warm, motherly smile.  Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of days gone by.

Most of my life was lived believing she never loved me.  And I know now that she did, but it was hard for her to show me - she never did that well.  My story has been shaped by both her beauty and her brokenness.  But my heart believes that if she were alive today that our relationship would work.  That there might be normal mother-daughter tensions and differences, but we would be honest and kind and real.  We would have what we always wanted to share together.

Still though, the ache remains.  The parts of me that find myself wishing she could be here.  I wish I could remember what it felt like to have a mom. I wish I could know what it felt like to be loved by her.  I wish and I wish and I wish.

Then in a moment, cradling my baby boy who falls asleep in my arms, I brush a finger across his face.  I kiss his forehead.  I whisper I love you even though he sleeps.  And I begin to cry.  Because it's there that I see her face for me - compassion and love in her eyes, nodding yes.  Yes, I did this with you.  I loved you like this. Yes, you were loved by me.  You are loved by me.

An unremembered memory.  But one that I know exists.  One of my own mother cradling me in her arms doing the very same thing with me as a baby.  Reminding me that she too loved me as much as I love my own little one.  Perhaps all of this is simply how I find comfort in my grief, of missing her and living life without my mother.  But perhaps it's more.  Maybe there is something real, some kind of truth to what comes to my heart in those moments.

Either way, I find comfort.  Joy even.

And suddenly, just like that, the ache turns into a cup overflowed.

August 9, 2013

Frito Pie Week

This was the week in which I had Frito Pie for dinner one night.  Because ya'll, this was a Frito Pie kind of week.

This was the week that I took a long and hard look at my schedule and decided what I could and couldn't do.  I said no, I said yes, and I trimmed out the things - some of them good things - and simplified.  I'm looking at a clearer calendar and more time at home with my family.

This was the week my friends watched my baby and loved on him all day for me.  

This was the week that I really, really missed my mother-in-law.  She is such a blessing for me and carries so much of my load.  With her gone on vacation, I saw where I am so blessed by her help and her presence in my family.  It's because of her that I am able to come home from work and NOT make Frito Pie for dinner.

This was the week that my boys got runny noses and little fevers and needed some extra mommy-time and so I ended up only working three days.  So that makes this the week before the week with the tiny paycheck.

This was the week it was 100-and-something degrees every single freaking day.

This was the week I decided to participate in a half-marathon in the fall.  I'll be walking it, but I'm doing it.  It's for an amazing cause, and I don't want to miss being a part of it.  I'm also excited, because after all of the simplifying, I think I've figured out a way to make time for exercise a few nights a week.

This was the week that I wrote more because I was determined to.  Even if it wasn't my best or most creative, I made time for it.  And I absolutely have to take time for me.

This was the week I got a new (and free) cell phone.  And got addicted to Candy Crush.

This was the week where Todd and I had more honest and real conversations.  I'm starting to love them because they remind me that we are going somewhere.  It's a hard page we are on, but a very good one.

This was the week we finally paid off all of our medical bills from having Jacob.  Coincidentally, this was also the week I was finally able to order prints of his newborn photos.

This was the week that was broken and beautiful and I saw both every day.

This was the week where I've been thankful for Frito Pie.  For a husband's warm embrace.  For baby laughter and toes, for selfless and sacrificing friends.  For living in Texas and having air-conditioning.  For encouraging notes in the mail from precious friends.  I've been thankful for time at home yesterday and today and tomorrow even if it means fussy babies and runny noses.  I'm thankful for broken vases and mother-in-laws and hot bubble baths.

This is the week in which I remembered how tasty Frito Pie actually is.

August 8, 2013

Real Mail

It's not often that any of us get real mail anymore.  You know, the kind with stamps and written words sent from one physical address to another one.  If you're lucky, you might get a birthday card from a distant relative, but on an average day, you probably don't get much in the way of non-bill mail.  This is probably why I get excited about Christmas cards, because it's an entire month of getting real mail.

But on an ordinary Tuesday in August, I received some.

Sweet words from a new friend at church.  I may or may not have sobbed everywhere, because it came on the day with the broken glass and severe exhaustion.

I love how things like that happen and come just when you need them to.  When you feel like you're failing at everything or letting everyone down, God puts you on someone else's heart and makes your entire week and gives you whatever it is that you need to keep carrying on.  All in a small flowery notecard.

There has been beauty in my week.

Though my kitchen says otherwise.

Hope you have found some beauty in your week too.

August 6, 2013

A Broken Beauty

The sleeve of my blouse caught the tip of a flower bud.  
Those in my bedroom that give off vibrancy and color and softness.  

In my haste and hurry, I brought down the whole vase, every last petal and branch.  
The glass broke and shattered, flowers laying there in shards and pieces.

And I had to walk away and save the mess for later.  I was late and hurried and had to get to work, to obligation and responsibility.

My morning began with brokenness.

The day came and went with its tensions, disappointments and frustrations as days always do.  And it never ends at 5pm with the ending of work.
Tommy's carsickness made for a memorable ride home.  My baby fussed at me all evening and somehow I interpret this as him being upset with me for not being with him all day.
I didn't get to eat all of my dinner, and I look in the mirror and wonder how this weight stays on me when it seems I eat so little.  I was enraged that I still have the body of a binger when I am not one anymore.  

Contempt coming and going, lies swirling around waiting to be invited in to my heart.  
Anger rising up and seeping in.

Tears have poured.  The guilty ones.  The frustrated and tired ones.  
The wondering when things will ever change - those tears.

And after the babes were tucked in bed, kissed on their foreheads and prayers said for the night, there was the glass.  

The broken and shattered.

The flowers, still and forgotten.  

Glass. Reminding me that I am broken.  
Flowers.  Reminding me of beauty.  My beauty.

My night ended with brokenness.  

Pieces picked up, tossed away.  
A new vase for the flowers that endured what had been shattered.

Beauty remains.

August 5, 2013

Do you know where your green beans are?

There are some days being a mama is just plain hard.  It's not rewarding.  It's not precious.  It's not fun.  It's disgusting and messy and repetitive. Come on mama's - you know.

But the other times thankfully outweigh those days and you usually forget all about them.

It's moments like this, when I walk in the door from work or from being out and find a scene somewhere in my house like this.....
 Without Tommy, who else would find new storage ideas for my canned goods?

Those are the moments I want to remember.  And that's simply why I take pictures of green beans in odd places.

Happy Monday. 
Please don't trip over any vegetables in your kitchen today.

August 3, 2013

Sentiments and Stickers

I am the queen of sentiments.  There is an entire box in my garage that stores treasures from my childhood which I used to think I would keep to show my kids some day as proof that I was once a teenager.  And some of it is just downright silly - like gum-wrappers and candy hearts and tops of soda cans.  But as I've grown older I've realized that I need the proof for myself, as at times, I feel farther and farther removed from my youth and have a harder time remembering heartbreak and boy craziness and all of the insecurities that came with being seventeen.  I swore I would never forget, but being in a stable, loving relationship, and a home I've made my own, having my own family and becoming a mother myself - it makes you forget some of the past and the heartache of teenagerness.  I think it's supposed to.

This morning, I awoke early.  Something I would have never done in my teenage years.  It seems as a thirty-something, my body is programmed to awake at 6:26am, unless I actually NEED to get up at that time in which case, I could keep on sleeping of course.  I made a pot of coffee and cracked open my Bible to enjoy at least 30 minutes of solid quiet before anyone was stirring and my day would officially start.  And I needed, needed some quiet time.

I typically go to the Psalms when I'm down and in need of encouragement.  Next to Philippians, it's my most favorite read, probably because it's all about feelings and song, poetry and rich writing.

My week has been rough, emotional and overwhelming.  I've almost felt bombarded on all sides - old insecurities, old problems, places that were blatantly pointed out to me where I still manage my heartache through control.  I try to make life work on my own - and how distant Jesus becomes for me when I live this way.

This morning, I read about how God leads us to a rock.  How he plants our feet firmly on that rock.  And that He IS our rock and our refuge.  I love that He leads us to Himself, plants us in Himself.  I was reminded of all of the things that feel like shifting sand, where circumstances or feelings or just life feels wavering and unsteady, uncertain and full of questions.  But God, He is never those things.  This morning, I found myself clinging to my Father as the rock He promises to be for me.

And it was only fitting that these truths opened to the place in my Bible where I've been holding on to an old sentiment.  A heart sticker my sister gave me over ten years ago when we went to a small church together.  After I left college and came back home, when I had known deep tragedy and I simply felt lost in life, I went to the same little place with my family.  She got the sticker in Sunday school and wanted me to have it. I left it in my Bible, and even after I had it rebound, it has stayed in the exact same spot, reminding me of her care for me, even as a little girl.
I have felt a little lost this week.  I have been face-to-face with struggles that could swallow me whole if I were to let them.  The quiet this morning, the Psalms, the sticker - all of it brought me a little bit closer back to home. 

To the Rock.

August 1, 2013

Summertime Blues (a.k.a. - August)

August has always been my least favorite month of any year.  And I apologize in advance to any of you August-lovers out there, though I don't know many of you.

It's hot and horribly long with it's big, fat 31 days and everything.  It falls between fun-summery things and cozy autumn happenings.  And absolutely nothing exciting ever happens in August. 

Our celebrations are over.  Summertime activities start to die down.  There are no more fireworks or pool parties or 9pm sunsets.  August hits and suddenly everyone is in preparation for school to start and spiral bound notebooks and new tennis shoes replace popsicles and flip-flops.  Everyone prepares to go back to their normal routine of life when I'm wanting to continue in the spontaneity and unpredictability of summer fun.  August feels like one big bummer.

It feels like the end of summer in a way, but it's not.  The heat bears down hard and heavy.  Squashing out any possibilities for the familiar summery activity. 

The forecast is set to be over 100 degrees for the next seven days.  I'm used to this seeing as I've lived here my entire life, and I never understand the people who complain about it or act shocked that it gets that hot here.  But in this kind of heat, you can barely stand to be outside much less DO anything in it lest you keel over and die.

August is the forerunner though for the arrival of fall.  Even though September is still quite warm and summer-like here, just the word September sounds prettier to say. And every year, this one being no exception, I'm wanting to get through this season and on to the next.  To wrap up summer's towels and sunscreen and bright vibrant color and settle into a softer time of year full of warmth and quiet.

It's the first of August.  The first of the month that is simply not my favorite.  I'm dreaming and wishing and hoping.  Wondering what the next season might hold for me and thinking about how I want to live in the August places of my heart.