Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Canvas (or "just kidding")

Ok, I am crying now. Wow.

My blog for today comes from someone else's blog. An amazing woman named Angie who has a blog titled "Bring the Rain". I love it. She is my very best friend just kidding no really she is a close friend just kidding ok we are aquaintances at least just kidding ok so I've never met her.

But her blog is amazing. (And I have been watching the "Judy Grimes" skit from SNL way too many times in the past 24 hours since I found it and posted a link to it on my side bar under "things that make me laugh").

You simply must read Angie's blog from yesterday. It moved me to tears and I can tell already that my heart is beginning to stir and God is up to something in me.

And I am not kidding.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I don't want to talk about it

They're coming home today!

Nick and Kyle have been in Florida all week with their dad and grandparents. They've been to Disney, Animal Kingdom, Cocoa Beach, and the Kennedy Space Center. They've been having a fabulous time, and have been telling me all about their adventures every night on the phone while they've been away.

And I don't want to talk about it.

I don't want to talk about how much I have missed them.

I don't want to talk about how this past week has reminded me of all the time I have missed out on with them for the past 5 1/2 years.

I don't want to talk about "every other weekend."

I don't want to talk about how my Kyle was only 2 years old when we started that, and all the nights that he went to bed without a goodnight kiss from his mommy. And I don't want to talk about my Nick, who was 6 and had so many questions. And a broken heart.

I used to count the days, count the hours that they were away from me. Two weekends a month...52 days a year that I am missing out on their lives.

I know all about quality time. Making the most of the time we do have together. Talking on the phone every single day that they are not with me. Knowing that even with this schedule, they still spend a majority of their time at home with me. Every other weekend, I see them Fridays after school until their dad picks them up, and they come home on Sunday afternoons. So really it's only those Saturdays that I don't see them. So really it's only 26 days a year, right?

I know. This sounds really pathetic and obsessive. I'm focusing on the negative when I should be counting my blessings. Normally I do. But not this week.

I asked Vince yesterday, "why am I not crying every night because I miss them so much?" He said "because you are not alone, and you know they are safe and having a great time." He's right. But I also know that I am a little bit numb. I had to learn to let myself be a little bit numb years ago or else the hurt of missing them would have consumed me. Sometimes it did anyway. In those first couple of years there were many Saturdays that I didn't even want to get out of bed. I didn't leave my house. What did I have to get up for anyway? Who was around to care if I got out of bed at all?

Well, now there are people around who care....there's a boy sitting on the couch watching "Myth Busters", amusing himself (and me) as he quotes commercials. He cares. There's a little girl laying on the floor brushing her hair and laughing at her brother. She cares. There are a couple teenagers downstairs still sleeping, who care. (At least a little bit?) And there is a man laying in my bed. Who wants me to be there when he awakes. I know he cares.

It's because of them that I am not numb. I am not laying in my bed all day on a Saturday. And even though my heart still aches, I am not crying myself to sleep every night that my boys are not here. You see, as much as they needed me....I needed them too.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The makings of a family...part 2

Our trip to the Mall of America last weekend was more than just a fun day. For me, it marks a turning point in our journey.

One of the aspects I have struggled the most with since the wedding has been having less alone time with my boys. I haven't shared this with very many people, but I feel compelled to share it now. I want to be real, and this is part of the reality for me of blending our two families together ~ which is far more complex than I imagined it would be.

Prior to meeting Vince, it was just me & my boys. For the 3 years that I was single, and honestly from the day of their births, I focused the majority of my time and energy on them...maybe too much. During my season of life as a single mom, I did learn to make time for myself and do things that I enjoyed and had never taken the time to do before, but that time was usually spent when the boys were with their dad. I missed them terribly, so the time they were with me was precious and my focus was on them. We had alot of alone time to cuddle on the couch and watch a movie, or just sit and talk.

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?" Isaiah 43:19
Enter the Howards! Praise the Lord, enter the Howards!! God brought this beautiful family, this wonderful love into not only my life, but our lives. The boys were excited at first. For some time Nick had been asking me "mom, when are you going to get a boyfriend?" He longed for a father figure in our home, and even step-siblings. (There were plenty of nights and weekends when 'just mom' was just boring). So the boys were excited...until they started seeing mom giving attention and affection to these 'new kids'. Suddenly it wasn't so exciting anymore. Some jealousies developed and as my relationships with the Howard kids deepened (remember this?), my boys felt a kind of betrayal. Those alone times that we had cherished were suddenly few and far between and since the wedding it has not helped for the boys to realize that I spend more time with their new siblings than I do with them. That hurt them, and may I be so bold to admit that it hurt me too.
That has been hard for me to deal with and there have been times that I have felt torn. Knowing that loving my new children was hurting my boys...I didn't know how to deal with that. It's something I have taken to the throne in prayer many, many times. I've always known the answer isn't to hold back, that's not showing the love of Christ. It's not fair to my new kids either, and besides...they are in my heart. I love them deeply and I can't and won't hide that from them, from my boys, or anyone else.
So what does this all have to do with last Saturday and going to the Mall of America? Well, this week Nick and Kyle are in Florida at Disneyworld with their dad and grandparents. It is bitter-sweet for me as I am really excited for them, but I am not there to experience it with them. Sigh. (More than sigh, but I'm not going to go down that road). So last week, Vince saw the emotions of this start to show, so he encouraged me to plan some time for just the boys and I to do something fun together. We had planned to go to Chucky Cheeses - just the three of us - on Saturday. But when the day came, it just didn't feel right. To any of us. Nick was the first to speak up. "Mom, I know you want to spend time with us, and I don't want to hurt your feelings, but can't we all go?" And you know what? I was relieved. I had been feeling the same tug at my heart. We had turned the corner from missing the times when it was "just us" to feeling that something was missing if it wasn't "all of us".
Thank you, Lord. I see Your hand at work, hear Your hammer driving in the nails, feel the slap of bricks on mortar as day by day You continue to build our house.
"Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain..." Psalm 127:1

The makings of a family

We had the best day on Saturday, the best!

It was going to be just an ordinary Saturday...I had all these plans for spring cleaning adventures and then later in the afternoon we were going to all go to Chucky Cheeses for supper in LaCrosse. Well, at about 9:30am someone mentioned the Mall of America and I said nonchalantly, "oh we should have gone there today." That's all it took.....Trevor and Vince both piped up "Let's go! Come on, why not? Let's do it!" And after a couple "yea buts" from me (we should have left earlier! we won't get home until midnight!) which were quickly thwarted by Vince's "so what! let's do it!", I sent everyone to the showers and in a little over an hour we were on the road.

It was awesome ~ we had such an incredibly fun time! We arrived at about 2pm and spent the next four hours in "Nickelodeon Universe" riding rides (the kids, not me....I don't do rides!)

Nick and Trev were far too cool to be smiling for pictures while they were waiting for the rollercoaster...

In line for the bumper cars...

Kyle & Hope even had a spin on a "junior" rollercoaster!

Then it was supper in the food court where everyone had their choice of wherever they wanted to eat. I of course chose my favorite restaurant at MOA...Johnny Rockets!! It's this 50's diner and they have the best burgers & malts ever!

Then we hit the stores for a couple of hours and each of the kids bought something.
Hope got a new Build-A-Bear...
Kyle got some Star Wars legos at Lego Land ~ Vinny & Kyle absolutely loved Lego Land!
Trev got a cool new wallet at his favorite store Zumiez, Nick got a cap spray painted with "Evans" (which is way too huge for him and looks somewhat like a trucker's hat, but don't tell him I said that) and Vinny, well, couldn't make up his mind so he still has some cash to spend here at home.
There was alot of silliness going on...

And the kids were absolutely fantastic! All day....not one squabble, no nit-picking. Trevor helped us corral watch out for his siblings, often without being asked...Nick took Hope and Kyle on rides....and we managed to not lose anyone of us all day!
But I think one of my favorite memories of the entire day ocurred before we even left. When we had embraced the idea to be spontaneous, to drop whatever we had planned for the day and just go...and as the kids scurried off to get ready Vince turned to me with tears in his eyes and said "See, this is what makes us a family."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

See what happens?

This is what happens when I wait a week to blog. I try to think of ways to catch up and then I wonder 'where do I start?' because so much has happened in our lives since my last post and then I wonder 'should I just summarize things?' and then I think 'no, that isn't very much fun' but then I realize 'I don't have the time to type out everything that's happened in a whole week!' AAAK!

So I just sit here. And ramble on in long run on sentences :)

I look at my blog as a kind of real-time scrapbook slash journal. I don't tell alot of people about it because I don't want to be like "hey! look at me! I am really self-important and I write about myself everyday and you should really be interested in finding out more about ME!" (Toby Keith, anyone?)

There are two reasons that I have a blog. I like to write, and I want to remember. The cute things the kids do and say everyday...the special moments...the things God reveals to me...the fun times and even the challenging times that we have as a family. They are precious and fleeting and if I don't put them somewhere (they are not safe floating around in my brain) they may be forgotten. I do have real scrapbooks, but I am way behind and by the time I get the pictures printed and scrapped I will have forgotten alot of the little details surrounding the pictures. And this way I can share what's going on in our lives with everyone now, who would normally have to wait for a phone call or the annual christmas letter to know!

And there is also another very important reason that I blog...I love connection. I crave it. Connection and relationship is such a vital part of my life that if I go too long without it I start to feel an emptiness. So, this is a way for me to stay connected ~ to share our lives and a bit of my heart with those that I don't talk to or see everyday.

Check back tomorrow for some pictures of our weekend shenanigans...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spring Me!

It was so beautiful outside yesterday!!! I declare it officially spring and have busted out the capris and just so you know, I'll be wearing them until October. Well, not the same pair, I have several....which I discovered as I put them on yesterday fit far tighter than they did last fall. Hmmph. And even after Vince and I joined the biggest loser club online like two months ago?? Apparantly, joining the club is not enough. You have to actually do what they tell you. I don't remember reading that in the fine print.

Anyway, we wanted to grill last night, but the gas tank is empty so I made Tatertot Hotdish instead. (And by the way it's hotdish, not casserole. You are in Minnesota now. We eat hotdish). But even without the grilling, the kids still wanted to eat out on the deck! Vince and I wussed out on that, but kept the screen door open to listen to their conversation and antics. I love our kids :)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

It was just a little white foamy thing...

...but it changed my life!

For the past who-knows-how-long, I have been tired. Exhausted actually. And I've been attributing it to our busy lifestyle, stress in my job, all of our life changes and the stress that inevitably comes with that, and just plain not going to bed early enough and getting the rest I need. I wear my breather (aka my C-PAP machine) faithfully every night but I still wake up feeling groggy and sometimes headachey.

While talking to Vince last night before bed, I told him that I didn't think my breather was working right, as I have also been waking up in the night completely congested. He said there must be something in the tubing or the airflow that is irritating my nose. Then it dawned on me...there's a filter in the back of the machine! A little white square foamy thing that I vaguely recall being told by my respiratory therapist to change monthly.

I honestly cannot remember the last time I changed it. It's been many months for sure. But what I pulled out was not a little white foamy thing. It was a little black foamy thing...ICK!!! No wonder I have been so exhausted. This poor little filter has been so clogged that it has been restricting the airflow, and thus interrupting the quality and quanitity of my sleep. And I am not even going to think about all the bacteria that I have been breathing in for who-knows-how-long.

Nope, nah gah dah!

So, last night I put in a nice clean little white foamy thingy and guess what....I slept like a baby! I woke up feeling so good, so refreshed...just like I did the very first night that I had my breather about a year ago! yay!!

Ok, enough about all of that...we are having a great Sunday! Church was awesome, and after that Hope had the opportunity to fulfill her lifelong dream. Seriously! Take a wild guess what that would be....

She was invited to be in...a...(drum roll please) MOVIE!
That's right, our lovely little drama queen budding actress made her official debut! Our pastor's daughter Jodi is making a movie for a school project and because she knows Hope and her love of all things diva, she invited Hope to have a part. I wish I had videotaped her reaction when I told her about it yesterday! Think lots and lots of loud gasping and giggling :)

So while she was busy doing that, Vince and I took the boys to get their hair cut. Just check out these handsome lads...
Nick says this is the *best* haircut he's ever gotten ~ prolly because he can still flip his bangs :)

Can you see the blue hair gel hi-lights?? As we were leaving, Vinny humbly said "I look so hot!" Yes you do, Vin :)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Oh what a difference a week can make!

Today was so beautiful!! In the mid 50's! Am I dreaming?? The kids spent a good part of the day playing at the park, riding their bikes and playing basketball in the driveway. It was so refreshing...

...when just last weekend at this very time the kids were outside shoveling the driveway! It had snowed a couple inches and we told them that we would order pizza for them if they got the driveway cleaned off, so they each grabbed a shovel and got to work! They actually had a pretty good time!

I didn't take any pics today, so you'll just have to take my word for it ~ it was beautiful! The snow is *almost* gone, and dare I say that spring is finally here! So I swung open the windows, opened all the blinds and let the sunshine and fresh air in! We spent the day at home doing various homey things...I did several loads of laundry, read an inspirational magazine (ok, ok, it was People. Get off me.) The kids cleaned their rooms before heading out to play, and Vince worked on his project for the day - cutting the pieces of oak trim for our kitchen island. A man with his toys tools is a happy man :)

There have been various comings and goings in our house already this weekend. Nick spent the day at a friend's house and is currently at the high school play with some of his buddies. Vinny had a friend sleep over last night and spend most of the morning here playing. Hope had one of her girlfriends over this afternoon for a couple of hours, and Trevor is watching a movie downstairs tonight with a friend...I think we should install a revolving door on our house! If we charged admission we could make some serious cash!

I love it actually - love having the kids home and their friends here. Especially when they get up far too early for a Saturday morning, and consequently wake us up with their laughing, running, and yelling because Kirby was chasing them around with a big slobber goober on his nose :)

Poor Kirby, he can't help it that he's a dog.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Letting God Be God!

I didn’t write this, but I may as well have! God just keeps pushing home the same message to me lately (and to Vince too, if you read his blog from yesterday you’ll know what I mean). This is from the “Blending a Family” March Newsletter that was emailed to me yesterday. I think it will bless you as much as it is blessing me today - unless of course you have it all together, never get stressed out, and never feel overwhelmed.

That’s what I thought…read on and be blessed!

The Calm in the Storms

I have been under great stress in the past few weeks. Many things seem to go wrong and I try and try to control the outcomes. I wake up in the middle of the night and start thinking, "What can I do? How can I make it better?"

I feel guilty when I do not get done the things I need to do each day. I constantly feel a "time crunch" - not enough time to take care of important people and things.

When I woke this morning I lay in bed and realized that I am burning myself out trying to control things that are out of my control. I can influence them, but I cannot change things (or people) that I am not in control of.

Yet, I have a loving Heavenly Father who is in control of all things. Jesus knew I would have days like these. In Matthew Jesus spoke to the crowd and said, "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 18: 28-29)

Jesus, the resurrected Son of the one-and-only Almighty and Eternal God, is my Savior, Lord, AND Best Friend. Every day He sits at the Right Hand of Father God and intercedes for me. This morning His Holy Spirit lifted my burdens with the very words I write to you.

How about you?

Are you feeling overwhelmed?

Are there significant things in your life or family that are not going right?

Do you feel it is your responsibility to change the people or circumstances --- to be the controlling force in your life or theirs?

LET GOD BE YOUR GOD! Trust in Him --- Lay your burdens at the feet of Jesus and leave them there. (Lisa's note....this is what trips me up ALL the time, not the laying but the leaving).

Pray for direction everyday so you are only doing what He has for you to do.
Lean on your loving Lord and Best Friend! He will give you the rest you need!

"Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun." (Psalm 37-4-6)

"You (God) will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You." (Isaiah 26:3)

"Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge." (Psalm 62:8)

Thursday, March 05, 2009

He loves me

This morning Nick had an orthodontic appointment and as we were driving in, I took the opportunity to put him on the spot have a heart to heart with him. Here is our conversation, as best as I can remember it....

Me: Do you feel like I hassle you alot?

Nick: Yea.


Nick: I don't even know what hassle means.

(Hysterical laughter from me!)

Nick: What, mom??

Me: If you don't know what it means then why did you say yes?

Nick: I don't know...I thought it was something good for some reason.

(More hysterical laughter)

Me: Nick, you just made my day! It means do I bug you alot.

(Pause while I make him listen to me sing along to Stevie Nicks "Leather and Lace" on the radio and tell him what an awesome song it is - the kids love it when I do that.)

Me: So, now that you know what hassle means, do you think I hassle you alot?

Nick: (Napoleon Dynamite sigh)...uhh...I don't know....I don't want to answer that.

(Once again, hysterical laughter accompanied by my son shaking his head.)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Ok, here's what He revealed to me today...

Stumbling? Who's stumbling? I'm doing fi....DOH! Excuse me while I pick myself up off the floor.


Like Beth says, I've stumbled so many times that sometimes I don't even feel like getting up and trying again. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one.

James 3:2 "We all stumble in many ways..."

That was the theme of one of the speakers at the Focus on Marriage simulcast last weekend that Vince and I attended. It is refreshing to know that we all have things in our lives that make us stumble. We don't have to hide them like we so often try to do. At least I do. The older I get (did I just say "the older I get"? sheesh!) the more I value being real. Either that or I'm just too tired to fake it. It takes far more energy to put on a smile and pretend that everything is "fine" and to hide those ugly little things that I don't want others to see about me.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks in my life has always been allowing myself to get overwhelmed. I see everything that has to be done, or everything that isn't working, and I feel like it's impossible and I shut down. I look at all of the books on my bookshelf that I haven't yet read. Books on parenting, relationships, and my own spiritual growth...all of which I am sure I need to read in order to be the mom, the wife, the woman of God that I am supposed to be. I can't decide which one to read because I need to read them all, today! I need to know whatever is in those books now! But I can't seem to find the time, so what do I do? I don't read any. I look at all of the struggles that our blending family faces on a daily basis and sometimes it gets the best of me. Will we ever feel like a whole family? I look at everything that needs to be done around the house - the housework, the projects - things that the kids need and want from me...that's when Vince finds me flopped face down on our bed in the middle of the afternoon. (This may or may not be preceded by the announcement to everyone within earshot that I am going crazy).

Do you see a pattern here? God does too, and He's been working on healing that in me for a very long time. I think I'm starting to get it.

In my job, working with children with autism, it can be very easy to feel overwhelmed. When I look at a child who has so many challenges in his/her life, it is hard to know where to start. But the purpose in my work is to take two or three, or even just one area that is presenting the biggest challenge to the child, and just work on that. We can't work on everything all at once. I would be overwhelmed and so would the child, and we really wouldn't accomplish anything. Ding!

God is using my job to teach me this lesson...just take things one day at a time. One step at a time. Sometimes one breath at a time. And the best part? I don't have to do it on my own! God wants me to rely on Him. He and I both know that I will mess things up if I don't.

John 15:5 "...apart from me you can do nothing."

So, I'm going to go to my bookshelf and pick out one book, just one. And I'm going to read it and not worry about if I should be reading one of the other ones first. I'm going to do one load of laundry at a time...hug one child at a time...focus on one day at a time. And if, no, when I stumble, I will let God give me the "want to" to get up and keep going!

Quick! Do it...before you stub your toe!

You have to listen to Beth Moore's "Quick Word" today....the link is on the right, below my bookshelf under "blogs and sites I love".

It's only two minutes, but a powerful two minutes and today she is singin' my tune! I'm going to pray on this today and tonight I'll let you know what God reveals to me, cuz I know Him and He will :)

Monday, March 02, 2009

Not Me!

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

This week I did not spend way too many hours creating a new look for my blog, editing and tweeking it - only to ditch it and go with this one. And I certainly did not stay up until 1am on Saturday night doing said blog creating and subsequent ditching.

I have definitely not fallen behind in laundry...again. Especially after not going to the laundromat last weekend with *22 loads* of laundry, and vowing to do at least 2 loads daily in order to stay caught up. No way!

I did not eat an entire 1 lb. bag of m&m's almost single handedly yesterday. And especially after rededicating myself to healthy eating and exercising this morning, I did not buy a box of Weight Watchers mini-cakes, along with my Healthy Choice entree and salad for lunch. And I absolutely did NOT eat the whole box of cakes before lunch. Nope, NOT ME!

~ Lisa