Rock the Universe

Jackson is ELEVEN!  His birthday was two days ago but we celebrated at the beginning of the month with a trip to Rock the Universe.  Jimmy, Jackson, and I went to Universal Studios and walked the park and got to see TobyMac, Relient K, and Switchfoot.

We are HUGE Relient K fans, so this was a special treat.  I loved it.  Jimmy broke the rules and video taped it.  Jackson had the best birthday ever.

This is really the only advantage to having a tween that I can come up with so far.  You get to go to cool concerts and theme parks.

HOWEVER...  It was a slap in the face to be around so many teenagers.  The clothing, the random outbursts, the PDA, the foul smelling body odor...it made me wonder how in the world I will survive with having 3 to 4 teenagers constantly for like 10 years.  I'm going to spray them with Lysol.

These pictures were taken with a video camera so they're not good quality.  But it's something.  We had a blast.  Jax and I made t-shirts for the occasion.  I can't explain them.  If you don't listen to Relient K and Switchfoot (first of all, shame on you) then you won't get it.

Happy Birthday Jackson!


Before and After

Last fall my husband did a super crazy thing and posted our house, which we'd only lived in for two months, on a rental website for weekend games or other short term rentals.  He figured we'd just vacate and go see the grandparents for the weekend, making a little money while we were away.

Translation:  Let's do all the work on our house that would usually take us approximately 6 years in like 6 weeks.  Well, we didn't get it all done, but we scrambled to get the necessities, like, well, a bed for our room (our mattress was on the floor) and a working coffee maker and lots of towels.

I was full of anxiety.  For many reasons.  Namely, all the work and then relinquishing of control of my home to strangers.  But it went well.  We made some money.  We did it again last spring for graduation weekend.  They left us a nice note telling us what a blessing it was to spend time together (multiple families had stayed here) and how grateful they were.

So I was in.  This past weekend we rented our house for the first time this football season and we've got two more scheduled in October.  Friday we were down to the wire.  We needed to be out by 3 p.m. but we finished everything and I had just a few minutes to take a few shots of the house all cleaned up and free of the mess of our life.  The photos are in a word, terrible, considering I photograph interiors professionally, but I was pressed for time and dead on my feet.  Sorry to make excuses but I can't help it.

For fun I dug up the photographs I took of this house before we even put an offer on it.  We were here in May of 2011 checking it out and I snapped some quick shots that day too.  So here are some fun before and after shots.

This is the family room that I decorated after buying these couches on craig's list.  Starting with chartreuse couches is not my normal place to begin but it is a favorite room.

This summer I painted the atrocity that was the kitchen...I didn't even want to come and look at this house because of the yellow and green outdated nastiness of it all.  But I'm actually pretty outdated and nasty most of the time so I guess somewhere in my heart I loved the house anyway.

This was the dining room.  On the other side of this wall is the kitchen.  We took out this wall.  Unfortunately this is the best photo I have of the wall before we took it out.  A big thanks goes to my dad and brothers in law who reinforced the load bearing wall with a beam last summer.  (We took it out before we moved in.)

I was very preoccupied with the ugliness of the kitchen.  I took lots of close ups of the cabinets.   Here are some more after shots for those of you who care...  There is much more to be done such as additional painting and molding but whatever...

 A big thank you also to all who helped Jimmy install wood floors in almost the entire house and those who helped me paint, paint, paint!

 And lastly, to keep it real, this is a closet off the laundry room that I claimed as my mom space.  I keep all my school supplies in it and it's been great.  This is what it looked like before we moved in and also what it looked like Sunday afternoon when we got home and I needed something in there...

I keep it as clean and organized as possible, but for the rental, we put a lock on the door and use it to throw all our clutter and last minute junk inside.  Laundry baskets, the dollhouse, other large toys, etc.  Your daily mess has to go somewhere!

When I took the before pictures (above) in May when we were thinking about this house I came back home and took this photo of Juliet and her brothers on the same day.  When I see photos like this I get that achy feeling in my chest.  Jimmy said it best the other day when he asked me if I ever feel like I love them so much it hurts.  Yes, yes, and yes.


 It's time for the yearly update...I started this updating when my kids were 1,3,5, and 7.  Three years and one additional kid later, here we are.  Blessed to be happy and healthy and though there are occasional headaches, I'm trying to think of another "h" word...we are full of hope.

 Speaking of hope, we'll start with Juliet Hope.  20 months.  She is awesome.  My favorite word she says right now is "help-come"  which means "you're welcome" and she says it in place of thank you.  Whenever I sit down on the floor she plops into my lap like a magnet to metal and I kiss her head and smell it.  Like I did just now.  Because she's currently sitting in my lap and banging the mouse as I type.  She loves the Muppets soundtrack, Elmo, and the Beach Boys "Barbara Ann".  We all call her Ju-Ju.

We'll go youngest to oldest I guess.  Penelope is doing wonderfully.  4 1/2 years.  Reading easy books, excelling at home school, and swimming like crazy.  She drinks a lot and eats a little.  She likes to play dollhouse and do puzzles and watch Dora and Diego.  She is extremely independent in opinion and free play.  She is not a good snuggler because she's super squirmy but that's who she is.  Always moving and shaking.  Her giggle is the BEST.

Cash is stuck in the middle but has found himself.  6 years.  He is his father's protege, meaning he likes to push people's buttons, but everyone likes him in spite of himself.  Most often heard saying:  "I'm hungry, Mom."  He is super loving, telling me so constantly and giving me lots of kisses...on the lips with a head turn so we look like the movies.  He begs to be the one to open Juliet's door after nap time.  He has been reading these books at night in his bed.  He loves to play Mine Craft.

Libby.  8 years.  Quiet.  Artist.  Little Mommy.  Reader.  Writer.  Libby is who you want for your sibling.  All the kids are lucky to have her.  She is very unselfish and lets others go ahead of her often.  She loves all of school except Math but we're working on how to access her left brain...she lives in a world of stories and pretending, which has taught her younger siblings how to play with such abandon.  She is taking ballet and piano.  She is always the last one awake at night.  I hear her singing in her bed sometimes.  It is beautiful.

Jackson.  10 1/2 years.  Jackson continues to ask me question after question, which is our relationship.  Talking and thinking and throwing ideas off each other.  Jackson puts up with a lot being the oldest...I tell him it is good practice for being a dad!  He has somehow managed to find enough quiet around here recently to read The Hobbit on his Kindle.  (He got one for straight A's last report card)  I had to read The Hobbit in 7th grade which forced me to learn what Cliff's Notes were.  I don't remember anything from it except the main characters but Jimmy has been able to discuss it with him a little.  He is a Safety Patrol.  On the School News Team.  Piano too.



Job Security

Approximately 10 days ago Penelope and I couldn't find her favorite blanket when it was time to go to bed.  I figured it would turn up and gave her the one blanket that can serve as a substitute.  Days went by and still we didn't find it.  But a sad thing happened.  She stopped asking about it.  Even though she seemed to forget about her "bow blank" I still wondered in my mind how it could have disappeared.  I knew it had not left the house.  I hated for it to come to such an anticlimactic ending.

And then today I found it.  Libby had removed the couch cushions and there it had been the whole time, hanging out with the pencils and goldfish crumbs and toys and crayons and pocket change and puzzle pieces and paper clips and oh this isn't a blog about how dirty my couch is.

When I found it I said "Penelope!!  Look!  It's your blanket!"  And I threw it over my shoulder and she ran to me and I picked her up and she laid her head on my shoulder and we cuddled and rejoiced together.  I said, "Penelope, it's sort of sad that you're growing up and you don't really need your blanket anymore."  But she said, "But I still want it, Mom!"  And of course, she is sleeping with it as I write.

Why the story about the blanket?  I'll get to that.

I go back and forth about children and family size and what I believe, my faith in God...I have had the desire to have babies and be a mom since I was a very young child.  But as I feel possibly a call to move on from pregnancy and babies I am sad to leave behind these years.

It is an emotional roller coaster.  Just last night I was writing in my journal that I'd just like to stick them all in school so I could make art all day long.  Yet this morning, as I opened up my last issue of the Publix Baby Club I was so sad to be closing that chapter on Juliet.  It is at these times when I think about having another baby.  But then I think my mother would probably come and murder Jimmy in his sleep.

Penelope was a pretty needy toddler, and there were numerous times that we assumed the position with her blanket, in the middle of the night barely conscious, when she was sick or hurt, or just when she needed me.  I should have been glad it was lost, that I could break her of it, she is, after all, almost five.

But that security blanket, these young kids, they are my security.  My job.  When they are grown up, what the heck will I do with my time?  I've never had a problem staying busy so I know it will come.  But when I think about it, the last 11 years have been a movie I'd like to watch over and over again.

Deep in my heart, though a skeptic, I'm sure the sequel of the teenage years will be just as good as the original.  But it's FREAKING ME OUT.  Now I'm going to go steal Penelope's blanket and assume the fetal position, suck my thumb, and try to sleep.  I'm only sort of kidding.


The Armpit of Florida

Yesterday for Labor Day we took off for the beach.  It was one last summer fling.  (Although I can't really call it that because it was also our first trip to the beach this summer.)

We packed lunches and were in the middle of the caravan with the Mitchell's (minus Carey who had to work) and Janek's to Bald Point State Park.  A little over an hour from Tallahassee.

Now, when you're sitting around in your house anticipating a boring Labor Day, a trip to the beach sounds idyllic and peaceful.  And FUN.

When you're parked in the 100 degree weather being bitten by evil flies on a strip of seaweed in the armpit of Florida, you're wondering if someone drugged you and led you there against your will.

But you take the bad with the good, and although there is plenty of both, such is life.  Especially in the armpit.  I grew up on the east coast, at about the curvaceous attractive waist of Florida.  Waves.  Pretty shells.  Constant breeze.  Rich retired people who are super tan.  In the armpit, people who shouldn't wear bikinis, do.  Dogs run free.  There is cigarette smoke.

The children don't care, though.  They would prefer waves, but make the most of any journey that includes water and sand and friends.  I wish I could bottle their innocence and bring myself to a place where I can embrace the armpit.  I try my best.  But while I enjoyed talking with friends and watching the children play, in the back of my mind I was really just asking myself over and over (and over)...

If you wash your hands in the water that flows through the armpit of Florida, ARE THEY REALLY CLEAN??

I love you, Tallahassee beaches.  You are God's creation too.  But there is a reason I only visit you about once a year.  You need better deodorant.