Archive for September, 2009

September 29, 2009

Lucca’s Mother




Monday at five, dinner is on the stove, homework is being done at the table, I’m in sweats, Grace is having a fit about something, the house is in a state of post school disaster.  And then some Italians come to my door. Claudio, a man who speaks pretty good English, Carmen, a woman who speaks no English, and a girl who looks to be about thirteen and doesn’t speak at all. 

The man explains that this woman had a son, Lucca, who came to live here in this house a little over two years ago.  Her son was going to flight school, training to be a pilot, and while he was here, his plane crashed and he died. Carmen, the mother, would like to come in and walk through the house where her son lived before he so tragically died.  All of this is explained to me while the kids are running around, asking when dinner will be ready, throwing things and, well, just doing what kids do.  I ask the three lovely Italians if they can wait five minutes while I attempt to get my home in some semblance of order.  They nod and smile and I close the door and scramble around throwing piles of things into closets and begging my children to please, please calm down and behave. 

As I open the door again I notice how incredibly beautiful Carmen is.   She is tiny with olive skin, in her fifties maybe.  Her hair is black, long, silky, movie star hair.  Her eyes are dark as dark can be and already wet with tears.   She glances up at me in between stretches of floor gazing and a lump forms in my throat.  Claudio is talking, explaining still, but I don’t take my eyes off of her.  Her sadness is heavy and kind of hangs in the air.  If I can take some of it, even for a little while, I will, because I can’t imagine going through what she’s been through.  I can't imagine losing a child, can’t imagine my son going to another country for school and never coming home. 

Claudio is not her husband or the boy’s father, he is the lawyer who handled getting all of her sons things settled when all of this happened, he is here to translate for her, but really she has little to say as I walk her through the house.  She grasps my hand and we walk back to the bedrooms, a tear or two falling along the way.  The translator does not follow, so when she does ask me a question or two, I have to stumble through my broken Spanish vocabulary, figure out what she is asking in Italian and attempt to answer her as best I can.  The whole time I’m whispering “I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry, I’m sorry…”

“The bunk beds are the only thing left that was here when Lucca lived here.” I somehow manage to communicate.  She slowly walks over to them one hand cupped over her mouth and runs her fingers down the wood.  She says something in Italian that I gather to mean “Where were the beds before?” and I explain that they were in my bedroom originally.  She clutches my hand again and we walk to my room where again she places a hand on her mouth and a few more silent tears fall.  We stand there for a few minutes while she scans the room and takes in what she can of the place where her son last lived.  The man and the girl are still in the living room where my kiddos are tuned in to PBS and all too impatiently awaiting dinner time. 

As Carmen and I walk in to meet them, Claudio thanks me and we begin to say our goodbyes.  He tells me they will be visiting the crash site the next day and thanks me again.  Carmen looks up from the floor once more and utters her thank yous.   Her shoulders shrug hard with the shudder of holding back sobs.  I hug her, hard.  She hugs me back and weeps into my shoulder.  We stand in my kitchen and cry together.  A few minutes pass and we dry our eyes, look at each other and begin to say our goodbyes again. 

I ask Claudio if I can pray before they leave, they agree.  I stare at the floor, mumble a quiet little prayer for peace for them all, and grace, and of thanks for Lucca and this encounter that we’ve had.  She holds my hand, looks at me with her glassy eyes and says something I don’t understand.  “She would like to pray for you as well” he says.  And then she strokes my hand and stares straight into my face and delivers a graceful few lines in Italian that he translates to “Thank you for these beautiful children and what a wonderful mother you are.  May God never allow you to be separated from them.” 

Tears in my eyes again, I say “Thank you, thank you, thank you.  Thank you for bringing her.  Thank you for coming here.”  I hug them all, the girl last, the girl who did not make a sound the whole time.  I ask if she was his sister, she softly replies “No, a friend” and I hug her again.  As I walk them to the door, passed my children with their very bewildered looks, the girl stammers “Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you…” all the way out she mumbled it and as I went to close the door she pushed it open a little, looked me in the eyes and said it three more times.

And they were gone.  And I stood stunned for a few minutes at our profound encounter.  I hope never to forget it, the beauty, and sorrow, and pain, and love that passed through my house that evening.  I let it wash over me for a bit, the emotion, the intensity, the incomprehensible grace that surrounded us.  Thank You, thank You, thank You.


September 24, 2009

Cooking With Pie

We made chocolate-chocolate chip-banana muffins yesterday afternoon.  About half way through the process I went to go check on the boys out front.  Since the batter was pre-egg, I figured it would be fine to leave her with it for a minute.  "Here Pie, you stir.  Don't eat it."   And then, well, I came back to this:

"Oh, hey Mom."


"Grace.  Did you eat some?"

"Who me?!  Nuh-uh."



"Are you sure about that?"

"Yeah.  I Didn't eat any."




"Really?  It looks like you ate some."




"Well, what's that all over your face?"

"Hmm…  Don't know."



She's a mess that Pie. 

Not to be trusted with muffin batter that's for sure. 




September 21, 2009

This Summer


the most wonderful summer i can remember  
incredibly breathtaking
overwhelming in more ways than one
this summer blew me away
pushed me to grow
it moved me                                                                                      


so full of so much
love and joy
not void of pain but
long enough for me to see
that life is more than good
and i am blessed

September 20, 2009

Sunday at Home

Sick, (kinda) with sick kiddos (kinda).  Just Griff and Em are sick, and they're just kinda sniffle-y and cough-y, tired, achy, that kinda thing.  I've got the same stuff, but I'm the mom, so while they watched movies with their pillows and blankets, I cleaned everything in the house.  Including the kids


And after we were all freshly bathed, we put on nice clean pj's and rocked 'em all day long.  We read tons of books and colored lots. They all just about flipped when I gave them their new twelve cent spiral notebooks.  Gotta love Target clearance. 

We watched a few hundred movies.  If you have Netfilx- you can watch movies instantly online.  And if your bed rolls you can push it up to your computer and hop in bed with your munchkins for the show.  Gotta love Inspector Gadget.  


Sunday is our "anything" night, so we munched on a myriad of things from Life cereal to meatball subs.  Gotta love Life cereal.

Excerpt from dinner conversation with My Amazing Kids:

          Griffen – Hey, what do you call a sandwich with direction?

Us- Uh… no idea?

Griffen- Subway.  Get it?

Us- Hahahahaha

Me- You know a subway is also a train that can take you places under the streets.   It's kind of like a bus that runs underground.

Emma- But I wouldn't want to go underground, 'cause there's dirt and worms underground.  I hate worms.  They eat dirt.  And they poop dirt.  It's dis-gusting.  I would never wanna go on a subway. Worms are slimy and squishy.

Gabe- How do you know?  You never touched one.  Remember that time we saw fried worms at Erin's house?  They were all crispy and dried up from the sun…

The worm talk went on for a bit.  I redirected about fifteen times and I have no idea what we ended up talking about, but it was stimulating conversation to say the least.  

We cleaned up after dinner together, snuggled up on the couch and read a chapter of Ramona.  I kissed their little heads, listened to their prayers and tucked them in a few minutes ago.  It was a sweet day, full and productive and quiet.  Hopefully we'll wake up tomorrow all feeling better.  Tonight I'm thankful for this Sunday at home.




September 13, 2009



Honestly?  If I dig really deep, if I think really hard, if I am very honest with myself, I know- If I am missing Jesus, it is because I am choosing to look in the other direction. Focusing on hard circumstances prevents me from seeing the really amazing things that are happening in my life.   He has never dropped me.  He has never left me.  He values our relationship highly.  And yet repeatedly, I drop Him.  I leave Him.  I devalue our relationship. 

Honestly?  I allow laziness and selfishness to keep me out of True Love’s arms.  I run to other places and people and things for help, knowing that all the love He holds is more than enough to sustain me.  It always has been.  It always will be.  I crave highs and take the lows that come with them because steady is uncomfortable for me.  Steady is what He is though.  But somehow good, steady, true and unfailing Love are not big enough for me. 

Honestly?  I’m arrogant.  And insecure.  The flaws I choose to see in others remind me of this daily.   Make me think I’m greater than somehow, and make me think I’m less than all at the same time.  Because the flaws that standout the most to me are mirrors of my own.  There are infinite beautiful things to see around me.  Nothing is black and white, no one is, but light is all around.  And yet my eyes and mind wander to the darker grays- searching and comparing instead of loving and affirming.

Honestly?   My lack of perspective has more to do with me not wanting to see than not being able to see.  My unwillingness to hope is a choice that I make.  Dwelling in darkness is too.  Self pity is an ugly ugly thing.  Sure things are rough sometimes, pain blurs my vision, hard things press in.  There is always Light to be found though.  There is always Hope.  It’s up to me to decide where to turn.  Just because a choice is hard does not change the fact that it is a choice.  I am not a victim of my circumstances.  My outlook is my choice. 

Honestly?  I am working on it.  And I feel like I will forever and ever be working on it.  But oh how I love Him.  I want to be better.  I hope that I am.  I hope that the circles I feel like I’m walking in are an upward spiral.  I pray that I am learning and growing in this struggle against self serving and self loathing.

Honestly?  He is just so good.  He just loves so well.  And that just draws me back over and over.  And every time I turn around and see Him there, I’m sorry I ever turned my back on Him in the first place.  Sorry it took me so long to realize that He’s been here the whole time.  Sorry to have missed out on a few minutes with Him, a few days, a few weeks, because I was too busy, selfish, arrogant, insecure and unwilling.  Never once though, not once when I have turned to Him, hurt, scared and sorry- not once has He refused me. 

Honestly?  When I lift my head, (and sometimes He lifts it for me), there is always Light.  When I turn to Him- He holds me.  When I look at Him- Love.  Every. Single. Time. 

September 10, 2009

The Oldest

Griffen turned nine on Tuesday. 
Somehow I have a nine year old, doesn't really seem possible.  When he was born my world was totally different. I was eighteen, in so much love and hungry for more.  Griffen was wanted for years.  He was waited for very impatiently.  He was absolutely adored from the second he was born, before really. 
A little sick at first, we couldn't even bring him home until he was eight days old, and oh what an agonizing eight days that was.  He's been a handful since the beginning too.  I clearly remember thinking how wonderful it was when Gabe came along- perfectly easy and simple and quiet.  That was not at all what Griff was like. 
Baby Griff, toddler Griff, boy Griff, was/is anything but easy and simple and quiet.  He is a good kid, he's great actually, he is a lot though.  And I love him for it. 
A dreamer, an anytime of day dreamer.  He said to me just tonight "There is a dream within my mind but I can't remember it, gonna have to think about it." 
His mind never stops; it runs on ahead of him from one idea to the next.  He's a brilliant boy.  He is one of the funniest people I know, and I know a lot of funny people. 
We've grown up together a bit, me and my boy.  We've learned and grown together through some incredibly hard times.  He is now the self proclaimed "Man of the House". 
When I'm driving, he holds my hand, when we're sitting in church, he puts his arm around me.  His heart is big.  He is a lot.
You with your tiny little self, with your birth, you made me a mom.  And that is all I ever wanted to be.  And now you, with your growing self, you make me want to be a better mom every day.  Your eyes are pools Love, and I see greatness in them.  There is greatness in you son, and your willingness to explore and learn and grow is inspiring.   You build, you create, you think, constantly.  You hypothesize, and reason, and explain, constantly. There is just no end to what you can do, and you seem to be pretty aware of that.  My oldest kiddo, having you around is sometimes like living with a fifty year old man.  You do indeed say the darnedest things, too many to list here.  You are wise, and kind, and bright.  You are quick and witty, underrated things to be if you ask me.
You are You always, without exception.  You are more than I ever could have hoped for Griff.  You're amazing boy, you shine. 
Love you so, so much, always


September 4, 2009

this Fountain

Happened upon this little fountain after lunch the other day.
I didn't even know it existed.  They weren't dressed for it.
Oh well.  Too bad.
It's just water, you'll dry.  Go for it
They tiptoed around a little at first, unsure. 
As you do when happy little unexpected things pop up out of nowhere.
Not for long though.  Pretty soon they were jumping and dancing. 
Enjoying their surprise adventure.
They got a little braver after a while.
And enjoyed it even more.
I sat and watched them darting in and out of the sprinklers, dancing and laughing. 
And thought again about how I want to be like them. 
The joyful, wild abandon that washes over them when new adventures happen.
Don't want to be too afraid to jump right in. 
And go for it.
Get my feet wet.
Make a splash
Be soaked.


September 1, 2009


(no swimming pictures from this summer because every time we go to the pool, well, we swim.)
Do you remember trying to teach your kiddos to swim?  Remember taking them out in the water, holding their hands and knowing they could do it if they would just let go and try? 
The slight look of fear on their faces when you said you were going to let go.  Reassuring them that you would be very close, and everything would be okay, and you would never let them drown.  "Kick, kick, kick!  You can do it!"  When you first let go of their fingers, did they panic some?  Did they flail about and say "I can't!  I can't!  Help me! I'm drowning!" ? 
Mine did.  After a few seconds, they realized that in their panic state they were kicking their little hearts out, keeping their heads above water, and- not drowning, but swimming
And then, they would smile, and laugh a little, and blow some bubbles, and say "Look, I'm doing it, I'm doing it!"  And then you have a swimmer, a happy, playful little, go, go, going kiddo that you don't have to be with every second you're in the pool.  Don't go far, keep an eye on them, but they're okay.  And before you know it they're jumping off the side.  By the end of the day they're exhausted, newly confident, usually beaming, but exhausted. 
That is what this past year or so has been like for me.  Not wanting to be let go of.  Not wanting to let go.  Fearing that I would drown.  Unsure if I could do it.  Not wanting to be on my own. 
All of it.  The encouragement from friends that I could do it.  The reassurance from God that I wouldn't drown.  The panic, (maybe more panic than I would like to admit).  The flailing about, (lots of flailing).  I've gone under more than once, swallowed some water, choked a couple of times. 
My head is above water now though. 
And I'm kicking my heart out. 
Swimming I think. 
*Smile.*    *Laugh.*    *Bubbles*
It's exhausting, but I'm doing it. 

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