Moving On

(I have had the privilege of writing for Abilene Families magazine for over 5 years now. When I learned I would be moving away from Abilene, I didn't know if I would be able to continue to write for the magazine. With this thought on my heart, I quickly wrote the following piece, so grateful for the time my family had in that precious place.

When I asked if I would be able to continue writing for Abilene Families even if I didn't live in Abilene, I got a wonderful mom and editor reply, "We'll see..." :-) And my editor allowed me to continue writing to the very end.

Last month turned out to be the last issue of Abilene Families magazine. Had I known that when I submitted my article, this is the one I would have submitted. It's just as well, I'm sure.  But the following is my 'so long, Abilene' piece):

My footsteps echo throughout the house, meaning we are making progress, though this doesn’t feel like progress. As more of my belongings fill the truck parked in the driveway, the house becomes vacant. As the house grows empty, my heart fills with memories grown within these walls. Birthday parties and broken bones, sleepovers and silly dances, lazy days and laughing fits all echo in my head.

We have spent so much of the last few weeks facing forward, looking to the new house, new job, new school, new town, and planning for the transition that I haven’t taken much, if any, time to look back. While men who wish they didn’t know us wrestle a mirrored armoire onto the moving truck, I pause at the doorway to reflect on all that this home and this town have been to us.

It’s only been nine years. As an adult, it barely seems a snap of a finger. To both of my children, it’s the majority of their lives. We moved to this town and into this house as my oldest was starting kindergarten.  They only know a spring where the wind howls constantly and summers of relentless, baking heat. This is the town they will always call home.

Leaving now, I wonder the meaning of it all. The difficulty of leaving is so great, I wonder why we had this brief stopover here at all. Why, nine years ago, didn’t the gods of employment simply take us to where we are going now? Why go through another painful round of transition?

The answer is simple when I think of my family’s benefit of being here. Teachers and friends have invested in my children’s education and growth, loving them and encouraging them. My husband and I also have been blessed and mentored and grown into better people than when we arrived here nine years ago.

Especially in the last year through uncertain times and difficult circumstances, we have been granted kindnesses and grace that we will never be able to repay, and can only hope to adequately pay forward. It’s easy to see from my vantage point that it was good for us to be here.

So I wonder from the city’s -- our friends, really -- vantage point. Did it matter that we were here? Was I able to let enough people know the difference that they made in my life? Did I thank enough of my children’s teachers? Did I make a ripple while I was here? Now that I am leaving, will it matter that I am gone? Not “will they miss me” but “did I make a difference”?

The slave-driving, task master of the moving team, who most people recognize as my husband, is impatient with my reverie. He is a goal-oriented guy who can only see how much is left to be done. This is not the time for great ponderings and musings, only time for packing and cleaning right now. Focus!

I make the final rounds of the last few boxes and stray belongings, sweeping up stray wrappers and the dog hair that the next owners will think magically springs from the baseboards.

The sound of my steps ricochet off the walls one last time as I cross to the door, toward the new town. The door creaks closed and with the final click of the latch, seals in the memories of the days we have lived here. The engine of the truck roars to life, ready to take us to our new home, to make new memories.

Rolling out of town I blink back tears, knowing not only that we will be back, but we have forever taken this dust-strewn town with us. It has molded us, lovingly formed and forged us into who we are today. There is no leaving it behind, only honoring those who have invested in our lives. Leaving the precious town in the rearview mirror that is partially obscured by a storage crate, I face my new destination ready to pay forward the encouragement and blessings of the last. Moving on.


Doing Small Things With Great Love

Hey, y'all! Checking in on an AMAZINGLY beautiful day. Wow. Here it is almost December, and I think Texas is finally getting the hang of fall. I will take it, though. Love a sunshiney, cool day.

So does Duchess. This is her favorite spot -- the "sunshine patch," we call it. She used to go lie in the sunshine patch outside, but she has decided that she is too old and... she just won't do that anymore. I mean, when you have a perfectly lovely sunshine patch in a temperature controlled house, would you? I think not.

I have been checking back over my Twelve by 2012 goals. On some of them -- woefully behind. Some of them, I was pleasantly surprised at how far ahead I am (I think that was the case on two... :-). And a few, the sad reality is that I have either bitten off more than I can chew (or will realistically and/ or financially can do at this time).  I'll be sure to post an update in the first week of the new year. I know you'll want to mark your calendar for that. :-) Are you working toward any goals to finish out 2011? Already thinking towards 2012? Would LOVE to hear about it!

Remember my wallowing in angst about Who Am I? What do I do, etc.? This post -- Little is Much When God is in It --  REALLY spoke to me today. I think if you take a minute or two to read it, it will bless you, as well. It also called to mind something else excellent that I read earlier this year. I think God wants me to remember -- maybe needs all of us to remember -- that it is not the great, huge things that He is calling us to do.

Of course, Mother Teresa seemed to get this.
It's good that I am not called to great, huge things. Because my laundry, carpooling, grocery shopping, and orthodontist-running days don't seem to be amounting to much in the overall scheme of life. But (if I have a little bit of an attitude adjustment...) I can do them with great love. Perhaps I will never know the difference that will make to the cashier, orthodontist tech, other driver, or anything. But I am called to love. This I know. It's good to have purpose.

Tell me your goals to finish 2011. What about goals for 2012? What about small things with great love? Got anything in mind? Always love hearing from you!


Marriage Monday: Let's Talk!

Look at me! Posting Marriage Monday on Monday! Get outta town!

Next thing you know I may even be taking my coupons to the store and USING them! But let's not get carried away...

Today's post is just a quick little idea that I am stealing borrowing from my favorite "date-your-spouse" site, The Dating Divas (sure, they really are my favorite -- but how many "date-your-spouse" sites are out there? Thank you, Dating Divas, for realizing what we all need!)

On this post, Corie planned a fun evening at home for her and her man: some treats and games. But her game was simply "let's talk." Nothing says "night-o-fun" to a guy like "let's talk" -- however, she cut up some pre-printed questions, had them at the ready, and spent time learning even more about her husband of 16 years.

As I read over the questions, I realized that after 19 years of marriage, I might pass on how Troy would answer, but some of them I don't know. Some of them he may not know.  I probably won't save these for "Date Night" -- I may pull out 2 or 3 every night before he completely shuts his brain off in the evenings. Just a way to touch base without the usual yammering about what is or isn't happening in our day.
So I made mine. In 5 minutes. On a Monday -- in which I had a splitting headache. So it is not cute, like this one. Alas, it is done. I did search for ribbon that I used to own, and still might, but it is packed in boxes somewhere. But it will work.

I also really like that it came from this original idea: "Hot Topics" -- a dinnertime conversation starter. You know I am all about eating dinner together as a family on a regular basis. Sometimes we are so tired we just shovel our food in and not much is said. These would be great to just pass out one per meal. It would only take one, because someone would have to argue why the answer was the most ridiculous thing in the world, I would have to retrain about manners and respect, and the evening would be a success!

Obviously this isn't rocket science for a Marriage Monday, but I thought it was fun.

Do you have any easy date night ideas?


Lessons Learned From a Dinging Car

originally in Word for Today

My family is gloriously accustomed to not having a car payment, and are willing to put up with some interesting quirks of the vehicles to maintain that status. The one where my car will start and then die is less amusing than some, but so far it's been fairly harmless.

Years ago I had a vehicle with a particularly amusing quirk. Some sort of sensor had been thrown and after you started the car and all of the other dinging, beeping, buzzing, and bells and whistles shut off the car would start dinging. Loudly. Five sets of five dings, with about 15 seconds between sets. It originally didn't bother me too much, but started the day before we took a short trip.

On this trip we learned that sometimes after an hour or so the car would burst forth with another 25 dings, grieving that it was running so long without dinging. Neither my husband nor I really enjoy repetitive loud noises, but my husband really did not enjoy the new feature of the car. So I decided that it's all in your attitude about the dings. The dings are simply our car reminding us, "I have served you well for many years. Do NOT take me for granted. Just a reminder..."

Troy didn't really appreciate my over-the-top rosy outlook, either. I decided that the dings could be my reminder to think of 5 things I'm thankful for. I shared this new philosophy and insight on the way to church one Sunday morning, shouting my idea to the kids over the dinging and Troy's yelling at the dinging. I proceeded to list things I was thankful for as the car dinged away.

I continued to be thankful as my car dinged away. On my errand day I had opportunity to be ultra-thankful when I started and stopped the car at least 5 times, giving me no fewer than 25 opportunities to be thankful (and 125 dings in my ear, if you're doing the math). That particular day not much went right, though.

Later in the evening, quite unhappy about getting back out of the house on a rainy cold night, the kids and I piled into the car. As the car began dinging, Riley asked, "Mom, what are you thankful for?" I HAD come up with 25 things earlier in the day -- but I was completely out. I wanted to shout, "NOTHING!!! I am not thankful for one darn thing in this day!!!!" Realizing that wouldn't be a very good example, I simply said, "Riley, I've got nothing."

He began, "I'm thankful for a warm car!!" Bless his sweet little heart. Next ding was Ashley's turn, "I'm thankful I have Expedition 56 (new group at church for 5th and 6th graders)." And away we went, thankful for our wonderful, blessed lives, in our blessing of a quirky vehicle reminding us to be thankful.

The dinging car is long gone now. The kids are older now and likely wouldn’t play along with their crazy mother on such a silly task to simply distract ourselves from the fact that our car was falling slap apart. But I’m thankful for the Lord’s provision of a vehicle that worked, and even of a noisy reminder that it didn’t have to work. Sometimes it would be good for alarms to go off periodically to remind me to be grateful for all the things in my life.

“give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18


Marriage Monday: Celebrating 19!

I know -- going to have to start actually POSTING Marriage Mondays on Monday to call them Marriage Mondays! and I have a PLAN to make that happen -- just not this week. :-)

And this week, Monday fell on my 19th wedding anniversary. So I had to look back and reminisce about how far we have come -- and think about where we are going.
I asked Troy if we thought we had any idea what we were in for. "Not a clue." Nope, not a clue.
People that really know me before they know Troy think of him as a little too serious and somber. The most gracious of people see me -- on the outside -- as an encourager who loves to laugh. And I do! But sometimes life piles on top of my head and it's just too much. Without the support and encouragement of my husband, reminding why I do what I do and what God has called me to do, life would have long ago ceased being sparkly, beautiful, or funny.  I don't want to imagine the me I would be without him.

Those that know Troy well and meet me later know him to be kind and encouraging, and a man of unflagging integrity. They even know him to be one to pull a practical joke or two in his time. I admire his work ethic and unyielding honesty. He has a standard for himself that is above reproach. I'm so thankful to have him to hold me accountable and to walk next to in this life.

Our path has not been perfect, and our steps have stumbled as often as they have been sure. But our marriage is the best example of God's grace making something beautiful out of a potential mess -- especially considering He had our 23 year old selves to start with. But I cannot discount the homes that we came from -- the model of godly marriages we both were blessed to live with. That marriage means forever. In good times and bad. Sickness and health. Until death do we part. My blessings overflow.

Thank you, Troy, for believing in me when I don't believe in myself. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for showing me how it's done. Thank you, Mike and Linda, for showing my husband what a godly marriage is. Thank you, Lord, for all of these things.

See why it's a good idea to get married right before Thanksgiving? There is just so much to be thankful for! :-)

When do YOU think is the best time to get married?


Happy Birthday to Riley!

Fourteen years ago this morning -- at 5:24, to be exact -- a VERY large Riley came screaming his way into this world. And he didn't stop screaming for a few years.

Nine pounds, 2 ounces. If you have ever seen me in person -- I am not a large woman, nor am I married to a large man. Nine pounds. We told people for a while that I quit having babies because they were getting 2 pounds bigger every time. The reality is we quit having babies because this one was so very screamy and grouchy there was no way we were rolling that dice again.

We found out that he had a physical reason for his grouchiness -- all manor of gut troubles. Once we got him somewhat squared away and fixed up we also found out there was a little bit of a personality reason for his grouchiness. He was a wee bit strong-willed.

Once we got THAT squared away, and established that, yes, the tall people really were going to be in charge of the house, then he actually was an enjoyable and funny little guy. Even in the hardest of days with him, the sudden bright spots of his insightful questions and love with reckless abandon brought joy to my soul.

We moved to Abilene shortly before he turned 4. The next year, he was in pre-school 2 days a week, our house had flooded (and we were trying to rebuild, not living at home, etc.). It was a dark time in my life -- and he was such a bright spot. We spent many hours "hanging out" together, running errands for the reconstruction of the house, shopping, etc. He was an early reader, so I would just be sure he had a book to read, throw it and him in the back of the car, and off we would go.

Riley is still an avid reader and, like his daddy, loves all manor of trivia. I keep threatening to write down every time he says, "Hey, Mom, did you know...?" so that I can have a book full of Riley's Random Facts. Most of the time I did not know. He can kind of wear me out.

More than that. He makes me laugh. The child has a wit. Not going to lie -- it's from my family, but it is all my brother. How does one end up with their sibling's child? I don't know, but somehow my son is the spitting image AND personality of my brother. And I'm so thankful.

The first child makes you a parent. The second child makes all of you a family. Riley completed our little family and I can't imagine my life without him.

Riley, I love being your mom. You make me laugh and think every day. More than all of the wonderful things you are, you have a heart for the Lord and His children. You bless and inspire me by how you treat the least of these. You are a joy.


State of the Sarah and "I Believe in You!"

Thank you to all of you for your affirmations -- or commiserating, perhaps -- as I wallowed in the pit of identity crisis last week. And am there still, to some degree, I suppose.

Some things I have considered in the last week -- especially in light of the comments from that post:

*Having a job would not make my life/ boundaries any more defined. 
As a matter of fact, it would probably make them less so. I hereby confess to a "the grass is greener when you get a paycheck" mindset.

*I have discounted the impact a move makes on our life boundaries.
Something made me remember that 10 years ago when we moved to Abilene, I polled about 50-60 people that I knew from Central Texas. I just asked for them to send me three words that described me. At the time, I thought it was, "My baby is starting kinder, I can do whatever I want, I just moved, whatever shall I do" angst. But my hindsight 20/20 tells me here that the move had a big impact on that disconnected feeling.

So this week amongst the cast trips (oh, stars, if you aren't a FB friend -- nothing major: football, 13 year old boy, wrist, ER, splint, got wet, another splint, finally a cast... just bless) and other life and goings on, God blessed me immensely through the words of a friend.

This friend is barely keeping her own head above water with her life/ job/ family, so I don't think she stops by the ol' blog very often. I doubt she had seen the post from last week. Even if she had, blessing nonetheless.

We had an email exchange about some business-y-type stuff. I asked her how her very busy life was going, she filled me in on some stuff, and concluded by saying: 

"I believe in you and the call on your life."

Are those some awesome words?

"I believe in you."

I hope you have someone in your life that speaks blessings and affirmations over you.
I hope you have someone in your life that believes in the call on your life -- and helps you discover then cultivate yours.

 "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver."Proverbs 25:11

Do you have someone in your life that has recently affirmed and/or blessed you? Have you recently blessed and/or affirmed the call on someone else's life? Would love to hear about it.


Marriage Monday: Ask for What You Need or Want

My background is in Education, and my degree is technically a dual major in Elementary and Special Education. A BIG deal in Special Education, specifically, but also throughout the younger grades, was for a child to ask for what s/he needs or wants.

Side note: this goes a long way in parenting, too. An 18-month old child is capable of speaking or signing "Juice, please." or "Drink, please." Which is FAR preferable to the child pointing and shrieking at the juice cup. Any child that has been taught to ask for what he or she needs or wants is much more enjoyable to be around than those that have not.

True, I get VERY lazy (and sarcastic) in my parenting and have been known to either respond to the teenage equivalent of point/ shriek (the grunt) by handing them what they want or the "We're out of milk..." with a snarky, "That's interesting. How do you plan for it to appear on the shopping list?"

Newsflash: Adults must also ask for what they need or want!

So, why am I surprised when my spouse is unable to read my mind? I have realized that after nineteen  years of marriage (next Monday! Woot!) that sometimes I STILL expect him to magically know my schedule and that I need him to pick up some slack or that I need him to do something he doesn't usually or that I need him to do 'x'.

Guess what? He doesn't know. He is an awesome man, but he still can't read my mind. And for me to become angry at him for not knowing what I need or want before I have actually verbalized it is the equivalent to him becoming angry at me for not being able to sprout wings and fly over the traffic. Which would be totally way cool, but I still can't do it.

When life gets that evil "b" word (busy) it's easy to start going our own way and make thoughts, plans and expectations on our own. When we fail to ask for what we need or want, resentment piles up as we assume our needs are being ignored altogether.

I say it often: Communication is very fragile.

Now I will say this often: Ask for what you need or want.


Evolving Into New Goals

"Sooner or later it happens. Sooner or later the unthinkable becomes thinkable and the undoable is done. In time, a distance that was beyond the imagination becomes routine. In time, a pace that was elusive becomes ordinary. When that happens, for better or for worse, we have to find new goals."

John Bingham,
"The Courage to Start"


Finding Me

"Who Am I? Whooo Ammm Iii? I... am a walrus."
  (extra credit for naming the movie AND character)

As I like to, on occasion, vomit the contents of my brain onto the contents of my blog (I know. You LOVE my word pictures). You are left with way too much of the contents of my brain splattered about your shoes and pants and what not.  Occasionally you either sympathize with me or help me find clarity or just nod in agreement. I don't even know which this calls for, but I just want to toss out what is consuming my thoughts rolling around my brain these days.

And, like usual, it's basically me. Yes, I am consuming my own head these days. So... hope you didn't spill your popcorn from the suspense.

I seem to be doing more navel-gazing/ daily wandering wondering "Who Am I?" Aren't I a grown woman? Aren't I supposed to know this by now?

I think it has surprised me that geographically moving has so displaced the balance of who I believe myself to be and, honestly, the value that I am on this planet. I am seeking and seeking me -- yet in my heart I know I am seeking in the wrong places.

Financially, my family needs me to have a job. As I look at my resume' and what I look like "on paper"...? Let's just kindly say that it can't possibly reflect the whole sum of who I am, thank goodness, because I don't amount to much (though I do have one VERY costly college degree I'm not using. Thank you, mom and dad!) Logically I KNOW that isn't the sum of who I am, but after rejection after rejection, it's hard not to claim just a little piece of that.

Then there is a title that I truly dearly love as "Mom." Not everyone is blessed or gifted to be a mom, not everyone wants to be a mom, yet the Lord entrusted two of His amazing souls to me and I am thankful every day. However -- being "mom" to teenagers is about as rewarding as being "mom" to newborns, and about as equally sleep depriving. I won't continue my lament, but for as much as I love this role, nothing is telling me that I have excelled or been successful at it overall. It's a work in progress that most days feels like walking through quick sand. And on a bad day, there are leeches. Yelling about the quality (or lack) of the food offerings.

And I wrestle with this writing ministry. I long to make it a ministry, a ministry that matters, that touches lives, and that encourages others. But a)I am as lost as a goose in how to do that and b) did I mention that our family kind of needs some dollars flowing into the homestead so that the teenagers/ leeches will quit shouting about the paltry offerings of food? Yet the Lord provides everything that we need.

I admit that I am not hearing the Lord's leading clearly on this. And I can tell you clearly why: I am running so fast through the forest of "Who am I?/ What am I supposed to be doing?" that I cannot hear the still, small whisper that is telling me to "be still and know" through this season. I don't WANT to be still. I WANT to KNOW NOW.

I am being a toddler having a little bit of a tantrum, only it doesn't look like a tantrum, it looks like that kid calling his mom's name again. and again. and again. and again. and again. and again. and again..... only he has turned away, watching TV or picking his nose and doesn't even realize that his mother is giving the demanding toddler her full attention.

Here is what I KNOW, and where I know I need to start every day: 
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10
 That should be the very foundation of who I am, what I know, and how I launch my day. I should follow by time on my knees, searching for and listening for those good works that are prepared for me. Yet I wander

And that, friends, is where I am today. A little bit wandering.

Always love hearing from you. Can you relate? Kick me in the rear? Tell me to take a hike? What do you got for me?


Book Review: Mockingbird

I have been catching up on a FEW of my Twelve by 2012 list (but I am woefully behind on others... sigh). I have been doing some reading. When I'm in the middle of a book, I'm always so glad that I am -- it's when I don't have one going and don't know what to read next that I get stuck in a Facebook/ blogs/ Pinterest vortex and forget that people actually write books.

So. I want to share with you some of the books I've been reading.

First, a word of warning. I LOVE -- crazy love -- young adult fiction. It's my genre. It's usually an easy read, with a great message, and the well-written ones have loveable characters. Think "Because of Winn Dixie," "The Hunger Games," and "Once Upon A Marigold." (I know you don't know that last one -- you should!)

I found a list (that if I could find again I would share with you) of the best YA (young adult) books to read. This first book was on it:

*Cover art from Amazon
Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Before I give you the synopsis, let me just say: I flat out loved this book.

Told from the point of view of an 11 year old with Asberger's, Caitlyn. The book opens the day of Caitlyn's brother's funeral -- we later find out he was the victim of a school shooting. The whole book is Caitlyn, her dad (her mom passed away earlier), and the entire community trying to struggle through the grief and aftermath of a school shooting through the eyes of a girl who only sees things in black and white, no color. Parts of it are hilarious because of her point of view, parts of it are heartbreaking because of what she can't understand.

Without giving too much away, I think I will say that the ending is a little too far-fetched with sunshine, rainbows, and lollipops and wraps up grief into something that will end and be over. But perhaps Caitlyn would have needed it that way. Also, the prologue says that the author wrote it in response to the shootings in Virginia Tech, as a way for people to understand others that are different from them. Perhaps the author was hoping that grief could be wrapped up and put away.

I still think it is an excellent book for anyone with children trying to deal with loss and/ or trying to understand autism or Asberger's Syndrome. (It would be EXCELLENT reading for any teacher or parent of children with Asberger's -- the descriptions of the way Caitlyn sees the world are amazing).

All in all, it is definitely worth your time. I read it in a day. It would be a great read-aloud for 3rd grade and up, and the reading level on it says 4th-6th grade, but I have told my 10th and 8th grade kids I thought they would like it.

So... Read any good books lately? Let me hear about it!


Marriage Monday Favorites

I'm sure you had Marriage Monday on your calendar yesterday and missed it horribly -- HA! :-)

I have been a bit under the weather and blogging has had to take a back seat as I wallowed all over the couch, then the bed, then resumed my couch wallowing not too long ago.

So, to keep up with some Marriage Mondays, I thought I would share with you some of my most popular (top 3) and the bottom 2 are my personal favorites. I'll see you back here soon:

     *Marriage Monday: When Your Marriage Is In Crisis

     *Marriage Monday: Be the Cheerleader!!

     *Marriage Monday: Encouraging Words

     *Marriage Monday: This is "Worse"... Are You In?

     *Marriage Monday: Speak Well of Your Spouse

I am finding that I don't do "down time" as well as I thought I did. I typically set aside Sunday afternoons for my do-nothing time and do just that -- absolutely nothing, and feel zero guilt about it. However I'm finding that I am not relaxing well when there is so much that needs to be done around my house and other places.

I doubt I'm alone. What about you: how do you handle forced down time?


Accepting The Best and Worst That I Am

"Each of us can find a way to make the act of running an end to itself, too. For me, this has meant finding a way to see myself as I really am and not be afraid. It has meant finding a way to fail and not be a failure. It has meant finding a way to experience both the best and the worst that I am and accept them equally."

John Bingham,
"The Courage to Start"


Marching Contest Mayhem

Saturday was about as perfect of a Saturday as you're going to get here in North Texas. I think the morning started in the 40's, but it was quick to warm up to a gorgeous day. Which was wonderful, since Ashley and I were out in it all day long, as she has been every Saturday in October.

As I have mentioned (often), Ashley is in marching band, which keeps all of us busy since I like to volunteer and help out with such activities. Now, especially since I am new in town, I like to get to know the other parents, and I like knowing the kids my daughter spends so much time around. And, as suspected, marching band kids are a sweet group of kids. If a bit odd in their humor.

Saturday was the "Big Show" for the band. Area UIL Marching Competition. (Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN -- that was scary music...). Thirty bands performing at their top level, starting at 8 in the morning. Finalists announced at 6 p.m. Then the 10 finalists have to perform AGAIN starting at 7:45 p.m. The top 6 of those will go to the State Marching Competition. Oh, the drama.

Thankfully, we had a late performance time so that we didn't have to sit out there all the day. The band warmed up/ did a run through at one of their home stadiums, got lunch, then loaded buses for the contest. The adults were in charge of handing out the lunches, decorating the buses (these volunteers go the extra mile!), then making sure everyone was on said buses. I ended up on Ashley's bus, which is okay as long as I don't acknowledge her -- unless I have something she wants, like a water bottle. You know.

So I claim my spot on the school bus, naturally in front of the only kid on the entire bus that still feels the need, at age 15, to shout every word he says. Bless him. Heard some band jokes that I think were funny -- if you are in band. Not sure. That 30 minute ride didn't seem nearly as long as the one later in the day.

We unload, being sure we have all the kids again. While the kids are getting uniforms on and warming up, I get chatted up by some excessively friendly dad. Next thing I know, I'm signed up to haul some piece of percussion onto the field for the performance. Okay.

That wasn't really the difficult part. It was hauling this piece of equipment that weighed the same as Alfred Hitchcock's dead body from the back parking lot, past the stadium, through the front parking lot, then across the street for warm up (probably about 1/4 mile). THEN back across the street, through the front parking lot, up to the stadium to wait for the signal. Have I mentioned that all of this is under intense time pressure?

 Of course, AFTER I have struggled and groaned and tried not to sound like a wimp (I am WOMAN! I WILL haul these chimes!!) The band kids tell me very sympathetically, "Oh, yeah. Those are SO hard. And one of the tires is messed up, too." Nice. Why isn't there a nice football player dude to do this?
So they go, I haul my dead-body-weight-chimes, they march their little hearts out, it is AWESOME as always, I drag my dead-body-weight-chimes off the field (and around the track and back out to the parking lot to our equipment truck). Whew. Now to watch the other bands.

Oh, stars, have I mentioned the productions? You just wouldn't believe. Thankfully, our awesome and wonderful band director did not incorporate any props into this year's show. Because you know who ends up dragging props on and off the field. Uh-huh...

We have seen ferris wheels, small cages (but large enough for band members -- an idea!), playground equipment, Oh -- creepiest ever was a band that played 12 different renditions of "Itsy Bitsy Spider" while the color guard did a Cirque de Soleil type acrobat thing on a tripod type stand with ribbon. Weird. I can't even describe the entire set they drug out for King Midas' reign. It's just staggering.

We only had to wait through 2 or 3 other bands until hearing if we made it to the top 10. And... we did! Woohoo! Perform first! At 7:45... hmmmm... we tried to tell ourselves that was an advantage and everyone do great and go! fight! win! Yay!

The band director did let the kids know that they came in 9th out of 10 -- so there would have to be work to be done if they were going to make the top 6. I also want to give a shout-out to the band student leadership: section leaders and drum majors. Just a fabulous group of kids that the rest of the band really responded to. It was cool to watch them in action.

So... you know what I had to do with my dead-body-weight-chimes, don't you? Oh, yeah.... across, past, across, across, to warm up. Then back again. (Oh, by now Troy had joined me and was helping. And one time we almost knocked them over on a speed bump. Good times! :-) I got to hear how much the adorable little redhead girl thinks my daughter is awesome. I got to hear that the uber-loud kid that sat behind me on the bus can speak at a normal volume, and is actually a nice kid.

One more time, they went, I hauled, they marched their hearts out. We clapped and cheered. I hauled again. And we waited. In the cold. After the sun went down, the air became quite cold again. We watched most of the other bands perform. The highlight was TCU's band that performed while we were waiting to hear results. They were AMAZING.

Alas, with the results, we learned that marching season was over for the band. Still so proud of all of them. They made 9th again.
 I think the "no props" thing was a handicap which, IMO, is totally bogus: is it marching competition or is it dramatic presentation competition? Craziness. Anyway, I think everyone is a little relieved to be through with the drama and the intensity of it all.

Then, at 11 p.m., we loaded the buses back to school, and Mr. Loud Talker had not reduced his volume any. Annnnd about 5 minutes out from school, he TRIED singing "Frosty, the Snowman," but didn't even know the words. I told him I was going to get his Fine Arts grade lowered until he learned.

Very long day. Cannot describe how sore I was the next day (I also ran 4.5 miles before this little chime-hauling escapade, BTW). So very proud of my girl, her band, and all the work that they did. Love that I am able to be a part of it.


Top Posts for October

If you would like to catch up on some posts you may have missed, here are my top posts for the month of October:

     *Marriage Monday: When Your Marriage Is In Crisis

     *Twelve by 2012

     *Marriage Monday: Get Your Marriage Out of a Rut

     *Decorating for Halloween? Yay or Nay?

     *Marriage Monday: Be the Cheerleader!!

     *Please Tell Me You Can Relate

     *Not Quite Meeting My Goals

     *Are You A Seeker... Or Just Seeking the Seekers?

     *Walking in Faith

     *Can You Hear Me Now?

Thanks for stopping by! Tomorrow I will catch you up on how I did (or didn't) do on my October goals and see about some November goals. Be thinking about yours!

Marriage Monday: It's for Real

Today's Marriage Monday (that I am writing on Tuesday morning) could probably be rightfully interpreted as a rant more than any type of helpful direction or advice. You've been advised.

I obviously missed posting yesterday and was just going to let it go. Then I did something that I do about four times a year: I caught some celebrity news.

As an aside, I could get so absorbed in celebrity news that it would be all I do. Magazines, news shows, gossip sites, you name it, I'm just as into celebrity watching as the next person if not more. Therein lies the problem. If I am to get anything done in this life, I must let the celebrities live their lives while I live mine. I don't guess it was a conscious decision to stop reading the magazines and watching the news shows. I think as I had my own family, I had less time and lost touch with it for long enough that I could walk away.

But I could fall into a black hole of that in a heartbeat -- so now I do make a decision to stay very far away. Crazy thing? I see my daughter DRAWN to the TV shows and magazines at the check out stands like a moth to a flame. What is it about us?

So... it was this summer that she caught a little bit about the OTHER royal wedding. You know, the one where the family name rhymes with "rashian"... Otherwise I would have had NO idea.
Image from
So now, as you probably know, the big news story is that less than 3 months later the marriage is ending. I caught a few minutes of it -- yes, it was one of the "top stories" on the Today show at the gym this morning. Complete with a press release from the bride saying that she "had hoped that this marriage would be forever, but those things don't always work out."

THIS is why I can't watch celebrity news. I get caught up in it, then I get angry. "These things don't always work out?" Are you kidding me?

Obviously, as someone who just barely knew that the wedding had already taken place, I don't know every detail of this situation. I know that it is a marriage full of cameras and photographers -- a condition the couple sold the rights to, even to the tune of $200,000 for the rights to their honeymoon (I've been doing research. Sue me.) They obviously aren't the first or last celebrity couple to make poor choices -- I'm pretty sure this isn't the shortest celebrity marriage I can think of.

Then there is the rumor that perhaps the entire marriage was just one big publicity stunt.

I have so much I want to say about all of it (which would be the rant).

Marriage is a sacred bond, not a publicity stunt.

Marriage is for grown-ups. Grown-ups who know how to act like grown ups.

Marriage is forever. You promised him, you promised God. No, these things don't work out when you wash your hands of them within three months.

Granted, it takes two to stay married. Two grown ups. Willing to work. Willing to honor God in their actions and choices. Perhaps that means that not everyone should choose to get married. I definitely would rather have people not be married than make such a mockery of it.

Whew. I'm getting too upset. Good thing Kim K. isn't here to stand around and tell me what I need to be doing differently. Plenty, I'm sure, in her world.

Photo by Lester Cohen of
And, with that, I would like to give a nod to my FAVORITE celebrity couple, married 23 years: keep up the good work, Tom and Rita!

And, if YOU are making YOUR marriage work -- you , too, are a celebrity! Keep it up!

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