Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Our Beach Vacation -and- Why The Photos Don't Tell The Whole Story

Ah, the beautiful, sunny beach.
Idyllic Family Beach Picture
Well, it was beautiful. But not sunny.
Baby Looking Out At The Ocean
Happy children posed angelically as they enjoyed the surf and sand.
Beach Playing

No, actually a worn out little girl played too hard
Ocean Playing
And a teething, cranky infant had moments of delight
Litte Boy On The Beach
Mixed with many more moments of displeasure
(Despite what the photos say).
Little Boy Lovin The Beach
But the camera rarely gets grabbed during the tough stuff.
Infant Enjoying The Waves
Because life, in all of its glory and splendor and muck and mess, has these rare moments of awe and wonder that make us stop for a moment and breathe it all in.
 Jellyfish Birch Aquarium
We can't get caught up in the grime. After all, it rinses off.

Mama and Baby On The Beach
And we make more time for monkeying around.

San Diego Zoo
It's okay if the seas get a little rough. As long as we're together.

Little Girl Running
 The sun finally comes out, the days eventually brighten, and the big blue eyes light up again.
Baby Blue Eyes
 Sometimes, though, I do wonder if, in order to tell the whole story, I need more photos like this one:
Crying Baby
But I've always been partial to the idyllic.

Little Girl At The Ocean
Maybe it doesn't matter what we choose to capture because it's all part of the story. Besides, the good stuff is supposed to be hard. That's how we know it's worth it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Home Dreamin'

I am linking up with the Show and Tell via From Mrs To Mama because I love this topic, and I think it’s something that’s often on everyone’s mind. Especially for my little family...

You see, we never intended to stay where we are for very long. The move we made nearly seven years ago (ouch, it hurts to type that) was supposed to be a short-term thing, just a brief pit stop along our journey to our destination, wherever that was supposed to be. And then economical things happened, family things happened, job things happened (and didn’t happen), and we’ve been here for years longer than we ever intended or imagined.

And that’s okay. I know that plans don’t always go according to plan and that desires aren’t always fulfilled right when you want them to be. But we are a family of four (plus a furball) in a two bedroom house, and someday we will need to make some changes. While I don’t know if or when our desires will be satisfied, I do know a few things about what we like and what we’ll one day be looking for:

If you were searching for a home now, what would be on your "MUST" list?

My husband could live out the rest of his days in a hut in the middle of nowhere as long as he loved the land. I, on the other hand, do prefer some modern conveniences, but I get where he’s coming from. When you live in a place that you love, that’s a huge part of what makes it home to you. The rest can be worked on slowly, over time, but you can never change the land. So we want to find that spot that speaks to us and whispers softly, “You know you can’t see yourself living anywhere else.”
That’s out there somewhere, right? And it’s not a million dollars?

Favorite room:
I love my kitchen. When we were fixing up our house, the kitchen was the one room for which I picked out everything – the bright yellow paint, the tile, the cabinets…I’m quite happy with it, which is a good thing because I spend a majority of my life there. If/when we ever design another home, I would be happy to have another kitchen much like this one.

Dream Home Kitchen

Favorite stores to shop for home décor:

Ha! Shop for home décor? People do that? I have to really like something in order to spend money on it, and therefore I honestly can’t even remember the last time I bought something for the house. My husband and I actually have watercolors up on our wall that we painted ourselves, matted in fancy black frames, because we are just that weird sophisticated.

DIY Home DecorFramed DIY painting

The truth is I think I am way too eclectic to ever be able to design a cohesive home. When you like a little bit of everything, it’s somewhat difficult to decide on a particular style.

Maybe one day when we have our dream home I’ll finally be able to commit.

My dream home:

Something cabin-esque with cool rock work in a forest where there are never any fires. (What?)

Wood House Interior
Pinterest via Woodhouse Timber Frame

So there you have it. Let me know if you find anything out there that's perfect for us.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Finding Balance {And Holding On To It}

Did women in the Middle Ages worry about finding balance in their lives?

What about pioneer women? Women of primitive cultures….tribal women….?
I seriously wonder this – because I wonder if finding balance is the never-ending theme that has plagued women of all times and all cultures or if it’s just a recent trend. We sure do seem concerned with it.

Marriage, Family, Career, Hobbies…there’s a lot to do.
But here’s the secret about balance that no one’s admitting: Sometimes when we say we want to find ‘balance’, I think that what we really mean is ‘perfection’. One is attainable; the other is not. We can’t be all things to all people all the time, but we can choose how much we can do and choose to be okay with that.

Learning To Stand and BalanceMy little boy is in the beginning stages of walking. He loves to stand and reach for things and cruise along the furniture. It takes a lot of balance. First he gets a firm grip on the coffee table and uses all his strength to pull himself to his feet. He grins immensely, excited to explore and conquer. He’s cautious as he maneuvers around, making only calculated, purposeful movements. Then after he’s had enough, I watch him, his eyes full of careful concentration, as he slowly lowers himself back down to the floor.

None of it is rushed or hurried. It’s focused and steady. He thinks about what he’s doing and why, and it brings him joy.

I can learn from him. Instead of trying to pull myself into too many directions at once, I could try living deliberately, focusing on each task as it comes. Perhaps we’d do well to remember that balance is less about flawlessness and more about having a firm foundation, staying centered, and slowing down just a little.

Otherwise gravity will take its toll.

Balancing Act of a MotherMy son has gotten so good at crawling now that sometimes he gets overconfident and zips over the carpet so fast that he ends up plowing headfirst into the floor. And that doesn’t feel so good.

I can relate to him on those days when I feel like all I’ve been doing is running from one thing to another until I eventually crash, exhausted and not feeling accomplished at all.
Balance is a state of mind, and I don’t think we have to give every little aspect of our lives attention in order to achieve it. In fact I think that when we try to achieve balance by doing everything, something important inevitably suffers.

Equilibrium is rarely achieved by throwing more and more stuff on the scales, right?
In my own life there are a lot of things that have been put on the backburner lately, and while the perfectionist in me says I need to step it up, the realist in me says, “Honey, relax and just pour your heart and soul into that stuff that truly matters to you.”

I like that realist. She makes sense.
She’s how I imagine those women in different worlds and different times to be – practical, doing what they can with the time they’ve been given, and not worrying about the rest of it.

What does balance mean to you, and how do you find it?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My Celebrity Encounter {Proof That I'm A Huge Dork}

As if you needed any more proof than I’ve already provided.

It should be noted, before I begin this story, that I was really into movies as a teenager, so I was pretty familiar with famous actors, even some the more obscure ones. Maybe it was because I knew that I would never in my lifetime join the ranks of the Hollywood elite (because I had no acting skills, but also mainly because I had trouble speaking to anyone I hadn’t known for at least five years, let alone in front of a camera), but I just really enjoyed all genres of movies and learning useless trivia about actors.

Wouldn’t you know it – this knowledge actually came in handy (well, sort of). When I was 17 I had a summer job working at the front desk of a hotel spa. One morning I arrived a half hour before we were scheduled to open, as usual, and was surprised to find a man already waiting in the lobby. I greeted him (awkwardly, of course), and he said he had an appointment for a massage.

“Ok,” I said. “For what time?”

“6:30,” he said.

Huh? It was 6:30, and we weren’t open yet.

“Um…oh…really? We don’t open until 7:00.” I fumbled around as I located the schedule book. “You’re sure it was for 6:30?”

He seemed certain, so I checked the schedule, and sure enough someone had written “Patton - 6:30” at the top of the page. It was even underlined. Weird, I had worked the evening before and no one had informed me of this.

I kept stealing glances at him. He was a very regular looking guy, but there was something oddly familiar about him. I honestly felt like I knew him. This made it even more awkward because I felt like I should know his name – like perhaps he worked in the hotel, and I just didn’t recognize him because he wasn’t wearing his uniform.

I mumbled an awkward apology and told him I needed to go downstairs to get my cash drawer. He seemed very patient and forgiving of my awkwardness, and as I hurried off, I wondered why this polite, quiet man was special enough to get a massage before we opened. Surely, he must work here in another department, and I will be terribly embarrassed when I finally figure out who he is.
When I returned to the spa, I saw that my boss and coworkers had arrived and Mr. Patton was quickly being ushered into the massage area. Relieved, I took my place behind the counter and began setting up my register.

“Did you know that guy is in movies?” my boss remarked to my coworker.

“Really?” she said.

“Yeah, he’s an actor.”

And then, just like that, it clicked. Patton. WILL Patton.

Celebrity Encounter
Photo - www.StarsColor.com

“Yeah, he was in Armaggeddon. He was the guy who left the toy space shuttle for his son.”
WHAT? That’s all you people know about him? You do not know the treasure that is lying on a massage table just beyond those doors.

“Oh, that’s my son’s favorite movie! I’ll have to get his autograph.”

WHAT? You don’t even know the epicness of this guy. The Postman. Gone In Sixty Seconds. Remember The Titans.

Anxiety swelled up within me. I only had one shot at this. One of my favorite actors, and I hoped I hadn’t blown it by my initial stupidity. Sure, I was caught off guard, but I really liked this guy. I needed to let him know.

It felt like an eternity, but he finally exited the massage area and returned to the counter to pay. I rang him up and then handed him a scrap of paper I’d found in my drawer.

“Can I have your autograph?”

He paused. Considering I hadn’t shown any signs of recognition earlier, I’m pretty sure I caught him a little off guard.

“Sure,” he said. He asked me my name and began writing his message. I struggled internally to come up with something wonderful to say…something that would express my profound appreciation for his work…something that he would always remember and carry with him on those long days of shooting when he would doubt himself and question if it was all worth it.

He handed over his precious autograph, and I said the only five words I could think of:
“Can I shake your hand?”

Sheer awesomeness right there.

“Sure,” he said slowly, furrowing his brow in confusion. He was undoubtedly puzzled by my sudden boldness after all of our earlier exchanges.  And probably wondering if I had one of those hidden hand buzzers that clowns carry around.

We shook hands as I grinned like the silly schoolgirl I was, and then my coworker requested an autograph for her young son.

“What’s his name?” he asked.

“Justice,” she said.

“Justice? That’s almost as bad as my parents naming me Will,” he joked.  (I told you he was Epic.)

He signed the autograph, and I thought it couldn’t get any more awkward than it already had been.

Then, as Epic Will turned to leave, my boss pulled out a camera and snapped a picture of him, blinding flash and all.

“HAHA! I got you!” he said.
Oh dear God. The absurdity, make it stop.

“Yeah,” Will said slowly. He gave a hesitant chuckle. “Ya got me.”
The bewildered smile never left his face as he headed out the door, and I’ve always wondered if he went back to his room, called up Denzel, and told him all about his uncomfortable encounter in a small-town hotel bathhouse.

Dearest Will,

If you ever read this, please know that I deeply regret the clumsy nature of our first encounter, and if we ever meet again, I promise to tell you how awesome you are. And I won’t ask to shake your hand. But you can ask me if you want to.

With Fond Memories,


Celebrity Autograph

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Facing My Fears In The Journey

Sometimes I’m afraid of life.

I’m strong. I have faith. I am beyond thankful for my blessings. But I sometimes think about the road ahead and wonder what speedbumps are lying there, waiting for me while I’m distracted by the pretty landscape.
There are things in this life I don’t think I could handle, and I pray that I never experience them to find out. Despite the reality that I am uniquely created to handle all that this life holds for me, I’ll admit – I sometimes doubt myself.

The world in which we live carries enough worry of its own. This is an era in which erroneous and grossly exaggerated information spreads like wildfire (while simultaneously taking the focus off of far more pressing issues), an era in which individuals create their own definitions and become belligerent when someone disagrees, and a world in which everyone seems to hate each other for reasons they can’t adequately articulate.
Life is short, truth is relative, and nothing matters unless it matters to you.

Maybe it has always been like this, but honestly, it’s all wildly depressing to me. It’s so easy to get caught up in the trivial – today’s big thing that’s gone tomorrow.
But all it takes is a bolt of lightning to shift our focus in ways we never could have imagined, when we start to see the world for what it is – a broken place where we’re supposed to work together to heal each other.

And we fail at that. Miserably.

I don’t want to live my whole life with my eyes glued to the road, determined to dodge every bump. Sometimes the flat tire comes at just the right corner for us to enjoy the view or spot another fellow weary traveler to encourage. And we never know if those flat tires prevent us from joining the three-car-pileup further on down the road.

All I can do is spiritually prepare myself for what’s to come in the hopes that I can face life’s challenges in a way that makes my children proud. I want to show them that this world, while broken, holds great meaning and Truth, and that they can have a life of incredible influence, no matter what obstacles come their way.
I hope I can do that, and I can only hope that I’ll have the courage to hold fast to that when I’m broken.