Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Behind the Scenes

There's this fun little Tuesday link-up over at that I've been wanting to join all summer, and while I'm a day late even today (we were traveling yesterday), I'm finally joining in.

crystalstine.meHere's the linkup: Social media and online relationships can make us feel like everyone else has it all together. We're edited, proof-read, Pinterest-perfect versions of ourselves  (or so some might think!) when - in reality? There is an unfinished pile of laundry around the corner. That cute toddler smiling for the camera just had a massive meltdown seconds ago. That yummy breakfast-for-dinner you just showed us on Instagram? It's because the cat licked the chicken that was supposed to be for dinner. 

My biggest trouble is figuring out what one picture to choose. There are so many behind the scenes stories from my photos.  The stories only I know, unless I put the stories on my blog or fb page. I'm using a couple of photos today, because for me it's an entire 'behind the scenes' trip...

Photo: Cousin time! MO. MA. FL. NY. Camping and Cedar Point #missingafew ages 3-12

It started early spring, with an added line in a fb message to my SIL - 'sure going to miss seeing you this summer' -- and ended with a trip planned to Cedar Point with both my husband's brothers who live in WI and MA, then it happens a cousin is heading north from FL to NY, and another cousin from NY decides to join the fun too...we are ready to revisit the place of our childhood fun memories ... Cedar Point!!

And while we did have a good time, it wasn't the ideal trip we had imagined. And I guess most trips usually aren't, but this one had some biggies.  Like 3 days before our trip, my SIL's sister lost her long, brave battle with cancer. Our hearts still ache for them and their loss. And we really missed them being with us on the trip.

Then my other SIL and niece got sick on the trip out. Vomiting sick. Thankfully, a cabin was open, so they were able to be in a/c with a bathroom instead of 90 degree tent weather. They even attempted a few hours at Cedar Point, but it ended with my niece getting sick again. At least they were there to see us stuck at the top of the Gemini.

Which while I'm stuck on the top, and trying to remain calm, keep telling the kids, this will make a fun story later (thankfully it was only a 10 min stuck)...

Photo: Heres another pic from our adventure yesterday. Stuck at the top of the Gemini. #tryingtostaycalm #cedarpoint #rollercoaster #makesgoodstorylater
can you tell which one of my daughters is having fun stuck at the top? 

With so many miles between us, and busy lives, we cherish these little summer get-togethers of staying connected with family and letting the cousins have growing-up-together memories.  So if anyone wants to fund a do-over vacation for us, I'd certainly take you up on that offer! :)

Then there was my 12 year olds complete melt-down.  It started with 1.5 hour long wait, in the sun, to ride the Gateway, and just went downhill from there. Oh I was mad. I was yelling at her about her attitude. Threatening anything I could think of. I believe I was even stomping my feet walking. Ugh. Why does she have to ruin this day with her attitude? (As if my attitude is helping!)  Even her dad told her she was on her last straw and she would go back to the campground if she didn't change her attitude.  I'm happy to report, she did change and had a fun day after that, but oh, that half-hour was NOT fun.

But talking with Mike's cousin's wife, she said something like, I'm glad to know you yell too...because I think you have it all together when I see your stuff online.  Umm, no. I don't. I yell more than I want as a mom. I say the wrong things. I get sucked into their tantrums. And yes, as I'm discovering, even 12 year olds have tantrums. :)

Okay, even 39 year olds have melt-downs (like when I called my sister, trying not to cry because I had both phones, all the drinks, money...and was completely separated from Mike who had 5 kids by himself...and I could not find him anywhere and had no idea where to even look!).

But my conversation with her reminded me, that yes, sometimes it is important to share the behind-the-scenes of our beautiful, yet not-so-perfect lives!

And again, I'm reminded, that there is beauty, and happiness mingled with all of the not-so-good, and its those sweet times of laughing, connecting, togetherness that I will choose to remember... so thankful for family. always.
Photo: "I can see why it would be so easy to spit from up here." Oh Sarah, you gave me many smiles at Cedar Point and I enjoyed riding so many rides with you! #sweetheart
This always-smiling girl, made my heart smile a lot this day.
"I can see why it would be easy to spit from up here." ;) 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Like a Museum.

Overheard at the Baker House in the last half-hour (I'm noticing a theme here):

Morgan: Sarah, can I borrow your flipflops for the trip, since mine broke?
Sarah: sure
Morgan: Thanks!
Sarah: If you can find them.

Sarah: Mom, I found an extra pair of goggles.
Me: Awesome, put them with the other pairs.
Sarah: Ummm, I don't know where the other pairs are. (sidenote: she just wore them last night at swim meet!)

This would be why I thought of her when I saw this saying:

Like a museum

so, we will keep working on organization...although some days it feels like a losing battle.  The problem: I am more committed to this process than she is! Anyone have any solutions?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bye, Bye 11...Hello Future

Today is Morgan's last day as an 11 year old! Three (short) years til she gets her driving permit. Yikes! Where or where are these precious year flying by to? 

Oh how often I wish there was a pause button for life, anyone with me?! 

Today, I had Morgan write a list of 11 things she'd still like to do in her lifetime. Here is her (precious) list...

  1. Visit Hollywood
  2. Go to Disney Land/World
  3. Visit all the states
  4. travel around the world
  5. become a marine biologist
  6. go to YellowStone (we still hope to take girls there in next few years!)
  7. Finish Collage (aka college ;))
  8. Get A PHONE!! (I like how this is the only one in caps)
  9. Go on a cruise for a month -- or two
  10. Live in Hawaii
  11. Become a Mom
Oh sweet daughter of mine, who is sunshine and brightness, I hope your dreams one day become reality! (or that God replaces them with even sweeter ones!!) Love you, til the day after forever! 

Friday, June 14, 2013

She Noticed Beauty.

This week my daughter gave me a gift. She didn't know she'd given me a gift. In fact when she said the words I'm still not sure if she meant them as "you're kinda weird" or "what is with you?" or simply as an observation.  I don't think she really meant it as a compliment, but maybe.

But to me, it was the highest compliment I could have received.

Here were her words to me, "Mom, you think everything is beautiful!" (at this particular moment I was noticing how the wind was blowing the neighbors tree and it was dancing in several shades of green.)

Is that how she really sees me? She really notices that I do look for the good? That I do search for the beauty? Does she really notice my focus on beautiful things in this world, even while I know the reality of pain and sickness and evil in this world?

And you know those silly exercises you sometimes get that say "What would you like written on your tombstone?" or "What would you like people to say at your funeral?"  Well this is it.  She put it into words for me.

Three words will suffice. "She noticed beauty." I like that.

A choice, everyday, to focus on the goodness and beauty. God gives it to us. Are our eyes open to it? Jesus didn't give his life so we could focus on the cross. He gave it so we could focus on the resurrection...on restored relationship with him. With happily ever after.

Her words are a testament to the healing that has happened in my life. Because there was a time I wondered if I ever would heal from the evil that shattered my heart. It's such a gift that my daughter who lives with me everyday, who sees me at my worse and at my best, can testify that I do seek beauty. (sidenote, Maybe this is why I loved Katniss at the end of Mockinjay.)

These honest words from Morgan have made my heart keep smiling for the past 48 hours. Oh my sweet children, you are a gift in so many ways.
Aurora Borealis- a bit of Heaven escaping :-)
Also, Is there any wonder my favorite pinterest board is Glimpses of Heaven?

#glimpsesofheaven #bethegood #believethereisgood #happilyeverafter #onelife #nopausebutton #focusonthepositive #smile

Monday, June 3, 2013

Arkan'sauce' or Arkan'saw' or 'Art'ansas?

We seriously live only an hour away from the Arkansas border. And since this summer marks 5 years since we moved here, we thought it was about time we took our girls to Arkansas! (Mike and I had been for a couple of getaways-- and I am falling in love with the rolling-hills, lush green landscape there!)

We visited Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. It's free (thanks to Walmart!).

Here are some of our photos and some of my memories.

Millions of wildflowers lined the entire entrance way into the park. Literally millions. Taking my breath away. I so want to recreate this in my backyard. Beauty. My iphone camera fails the capture the true beauty of it.

Amazing Trails. Beautifully landscaped, among the rolling hills of Arkansas.  Hidden treasures to be discovered here and there. Stumps to jump on, statues, the crystal spring, and a picture frame in the middle of the woods. How fun is this?! Morgan lost a leg in the bottom photo! ha!

And beautiful art inside -- by famous americans - Norman Rockwell, Thomas Hart Benton, Georgia O'Keefe, Andy Warhol, and many more. My favorite are the landscapes of the American countryside. And the girls had lots of fun playing 'bingo' by finding all the works of on their cards.

It was also family fun day.  Which included -- painting and drawing in the garden. Might be one of my favorite parts of the day.

And hula hooping. Can't believe I still knew how to do it. Glad I decided to join the fun.

And Mike insisted we all make and wear sunglasses for the day. Sarah's had a cool lanyard strap you can't see well.

And sailing sailboats in the pond.

We also really liked the listening station where they described a piece of famous art and you had to draw it. It was the one thing we went back to do a second time.

We will definitely go back sometime. It was a lot of fun and a great way to kick off the summer!  And today begins swim team practice, 2 hours a day for 4 days a week! Check out the 8am temperature this morning --

-- it was cold to get in the water, but they did it!