March 30, 2011

Through the Fire, Part Two



I woke up last Friday morning, with a tired body, a grateful heart, and a wary mind. While it appeared that the fire was no longer an immient threat, it was still burning. M and I decided that we would allow Joycie to stay in town with my parents (therby reducing her exposure to the smoke), leave our vehicles packed  (in case we needed to evacuate again), and go to work.


The first few hours of my work day were spent alternating work with telling my various co-workers about the previous night's events. Each and every one of them showed a huge amount of concern, and they each offered to keep praying for the safety of our home.  Around 11:30, my father-in-law, who happens to work with me, received a call that the fires had started back up – and it seemed as though our homes were once again in danger.


I called M to give him the news, and then rode home with my FIL. The rest of the afternoon was spent with our eyes on the tree line – watching the shifting smoke, preparing to leave at a moment's notice. Finally, late Friday night, it was determined that the fires were contained and not likely to threaten us again. 


 Saturday was spent unloading our vehicles, clearing the ash from our yard, and just enjoying being with family. On Sunday, our church elected to suspend our evening services, and instead gathered together to feed the hundreds of firefighters, forestry workers, policemen, and volunteers – who had been working so hard to spare our community from destruction.


As each one of them came by the dessert table where I was serving, they offered me a sincere thank you. And each time I replied " I should be thanking you. Your service has saved our homes."


The fire burned within a quarter mile of my home. A quarter mile – that's a distance that I can normally run in just a few minutes. It would have taken the fire mere seconds to cover that distance – if not for two things:


  1. God's Grace
  2. The hardwork of the firefighters.


I will never forget either one of those things.

March 25, 2011

Through the Fire....



What items would you take from your home if you were just given a few minutes to evacuate? Clothes, photos, important papers, special mementos…..   It is something that we should all think about but very few of us do.


I know – I was one of them – until last night. Yesterday, a brush fire broke out in my town. And by 8:00 p.m. last night, sheriff's deputies were going thru our community asking residents to evacuate. The smoke was thick in the air, the glow of the flames was visible from my front yard, and it seemed as though the threat was imminent.


Frantically, I grabbed items from the house – pictures, medicine, Joycie's clothes, a few items of clothing for M and I, my camera, important papers.  I thought I had grabbed everything that I would need. But when I arrived at my parent's home I realized that I had forgotten – our computers, the video camera, the SD card with all the photos and videos of Joycie's first year.  Thankfully, M was able to put those items in his truck – as he had stayed behind to plow fire breaks, water yards and houses, and assist the fire department until the last possible second. (He is a volunteer fire fighter, so he has training)


While M, his parents and brother worked to safe our homes and farms, I sat by the phone – calling everyone I knew to solicit prayers – and to wait for updates from M.  The amazing God that I served heard all the prayers that were lifted – because by 10:00 p.m. the winds had shifted pushing the fire away from our homes. And by midnight, I was safely tucked away in my bed.  At last report, no homes or other structures had been lost.


However, we are still wary, as the fire is still burning and the slightest shift in the winds could push the flames towards us. Therefore, both of our vehicles remained loaded with the things that we chose last night.


This morning, as a I watch the sunrise through a smoky, hazy sky….I am grateful. Grateful that no homes were lost, that lives were spared, and that my family is safe and sound.  And I feel prompted to encourage if you to create an evacuation plan for your family, make a checklist of items that you want to take with you if the worst was to happen, and most importantly hug each family member a little tighter today. If last night taught me anything, it is how fragile life is, and how quickly it could all be lost.

March 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Bed Head


March 21, 2011

Happy Anniversary Mikey!


A little over 3 years ago, I moved back to this tiny town that we call home. My intention was to stay for a few weeks – maybe a few months – just until I got my feet underneath me again.  After all, I was coming home to nurse a broken heart…. I thought I was running away from the pain of the break up, but I was really running straight into my future.

That future was you, Mikey. Little did I know, that the playful banter we exchanged at your parent’s Super Bowl party was just the beginning of something life changing.

I still remember the butterflies I felt while I waited for you to pick me up for the church Valentine’s Day supper.  I thought it was illogical to be nervous. After all the only reason you were taking me was because our lovely sister-in-law Lane was making you. If the butterflies were bad before you picked me up, they were ever worse once you arrived. But you calmed me – with you jokes, you questions about my life, and the wonderful conversation we shared. I did not realize it at that moment, but looking back I can clearly see, that is the moment I fell in love with you.

One year later, I walked down the aisle clinging to my Daddy’s arms, once again fighting butterflies. Then I saw you in your tux grinning that sly grin you always have. And once again, you calmed me.  As we stood before our family and friends and pledged our lives to one another, I thought that I could never love you more.

I was wrong.

Three months later, we were taking a pregnancy test on hot July afternoon. We were so certain that it would be negative. The timing for pregnancy was wrong, we were still newlyweds not ready to be parents. But there was no denying what the test said. And when I lost it – alternating between hysterical laughter and gut wrenching tears – you held me, you calmed me.  And when the shock wore off, and we prepared for parenthood, I fell deeper in love with you. And again, I though that I could never love you more.

Wrong again.

9 months later, we welcomed Miss Joycelen into our lives. The image of you holding our daughter for the first time is forever etched in my mind. Even in my drugged haze, I could see that you were already deeply in love with her – and once again my heart swelled with love for you.

Over the last year, I have watched you as a father. And each of the moments that I have witnessed have strengthened my love for you.  There is an oldies song that has the words “I love you more today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow.”  That’s us babe.

You are my best friend, my confidant, an wonderful father. You are the person who calms my fears, reassures me when I doubt myself, encourages me to pursue my dreams. You are the man that I love with everything that I am.

I am so blessed to have shared two years of marriage with you and I look forward to a lifetime together.

I love you!

March 20, 2011

Turning 1 is Just Ducky

Joycie turned 1 on March 5th. And me – her type A mother – had been planning her party since I was 5 months pregnant with her. So pulling everything together was pretty easy.

In case you didn’t catch it by the title, the them for Joycie’s party was rubber ducky.

DSC_0266 My mother-in-law made this gorgeous cake for all the guests to eat. It was a yellow cake with homemade buttercream icing. We decided to make the ducky pink, since Joycie’s favorite bath toy is her pink rubber ducky.


This is Joycelen’s smash cake. The duckies on this cake were part of the party favors that I ordered from Oriental Trading company. Each child got their chose of rubber duck (pirates for the boys, princesses for the girls & bubbles). The favors were such a hit that the adults were snagging some for themselves.

DSC_0272 This is a shot of the cake table. It is hard to make out – but the window behind the table has a valence of pink and white streamers.

DSC_0286Joycie had 2 outfits for her party. This picture show her in her dress that she wore to welcome guests. The personalized banner was another Oriental Trading company find.

DSC_0315  The morning of the party was dreary and I was certain it would rain. However, by party time, the weather had turned into a gorgeous sunny day. We moved everything outside and took advantage of the new patio furniture that my parent’s gave us a gift. Joycie was not impressed by her smash cake – she spent more time playing with her duck.

Since all of the kids at the party were older (4-11 years) we just let them play in our yard. They rode power-wheels, played in mud puddles, had baseball games, and of course chased bubbles.  The adults sat under our carport and enjoyed the day.

I admit that not everything that I had planned for the party happened  -- no games were played, and I totally forgot to show the slideshow that I created.

But it was a great day where we were able to celebrate Joycie, suriving the first year of parenthood, and thank everyone who had helped us!

March 19, 2011

Girl’s Day Out

Today Joycelen and I had a girl’s day out with my Mama. The three of us headed to our local mall around 10:00 a.m.  Our intentions were to just browse and then pick up my anniversary present for M. However, our favorite store,  JC Penney’s was having a mega sale. And we soon found ourselves in full on shopping mode.

Okay, I did most of the shopping, while Mama and Joycie watched me. Mama has quick to give me feedback on my outfit selections, while Joycie picked new items for me to try on – by pulling at anything within arm’s length – especially the brightly colored tops.

We took a break around 11:00 a.m. for big drinks with crushed ice, and our favorite candy bars. Mama and I attempted to feed Joycie and early lunch. But she was more interested in our snacks, than her squash. We finished our muching – and headed to a few more stores.

Our last stop was the grocery store – where we managed to make it out with nearly everything on the list in under 30 minutes. Now, Joycie is peacefully  napping and I am on the couch blogging.

It was a wonderful morning and afternoon out. I loved catching up with my Mama and getting to see her interact with Joycelen. I look forward to many more Saturdays like this one.

What are you up to this weekend?

March 18, 2011

Five Minute Friday: On Waiting

The late afternoon sunlight streams thru the glass, dances across the floor in a beautiful pattern of soft color. But she doesn't notice. She is to intent, to focused on what lies beyond the glass – the driveway where he will soon park.


Minutes slowly tick by on the clock above the mantel. A soft hum of a car catches her attention; she hurries to the doorway – blue eyes dancing with excitement. But then her faces falls, as the car drives on by. It wasn't him.


She attempts to distract herself from the waiting. But it is a failure, nothing holds her focus for long. Another hum of an engine, but this time she waits in the middle of the room. Too scare to look for fear of being disappointed.


The she hears the doorknob turn. And she breaks into a toothless smile, claps her hands, and walks over to the man she loves most in the world. Her Daddy!

Time's Up.  I recently discovered, the wonderful Lisa-Jo at The Gypsy Mama, who encourages her readers to write for five minutes straight while abandoning worries about grammar or edits or word choice. We are simply to write.  Today's prompt: On Waiting

March 17, 2011

Bigger Picture Moments: Mommy Guilt

This Thursday, I am particpating in Bigger Picture Moments - a place where bloggers share the harvest of living intentionally by capturing the bigger picture through simple moments.

For 98.082% of her life, Jocelyn has been cared for by immediate family members. And yes, I sat down and calculated the exact percentage – because I am a nerd. However, recent events have made it such that care by family members was no longer feasible.


Just after her first birthday, Jocelyn was enrolled as a full-time student at the daycare that is a part of the health system where I work. The facility is top notch – with loving staff members, age appropriate curriculum that aids in development, and is located only 2 minutes from my office. It is the perfect place for Joycelen.


But as was inevitable, as soon as I left her with the teachers in her new classroom, I felt myself succumbing to the dreaded mommy guilt. I felt guilty that she was in daycare, I felt guilty that I was a working mama. This simple guilt built up until I had convinced myself that I was a horrible mother – making wrong decision after wrong decision that would scar my child for life. ( Overly dramatic – of course! But that's how my mind works when I feel guilty).


At 5:00 p.m., I literally leapt from my chair and hurried to pick her up from daycare. I expected a huge grin, lots of hand clapping, and big kisses since in my mind, I was "rescuing her". Instead, I found a little girl who stuck out her bottom lip, shook her head no, and refused to leave with me.  Apparently, she wanted to continue playing blocks with her new found friends. 


Rather than feeling even worse because my child did not want to leave with me…..I was elated. Joycelen had felt so at ease – made new friends so quickly – that she wanted to stay. Mommy Guilt vanished – and a bigger cause of Mommy pride arrived.  Pride at my daughter's growth……and pride at me for making the right choice even if it was a difficult one.

March 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

March 15, 2011

Here I go Again

Most of my childhood friends would tell you that they thought I would grow up to be an author, since I was always "writing another book". But somewhere along the way, my love of words – and as an extension writing – got lost.


  At the end of 2007, I discovered the world of blogging, and my writing was reborn.  I faithfully blogged my thoughts, my feelings, the daily happenings of my life for all the world to see. However, my readership only consisted of my father, a few college friends, and a few random readers that I had met thru other blogs.


 But I kept writing – thru the devastating end of a 4 year relationship, thru my decision to move home, thru a whirlwind romance with the man of my dreams, my wedding, honeymoon, and pregnancy. I blogged diligently about the birth of my beautiful daughters, and all the amazing moments that have composed the first year of her life.


I am not sure how, or when, but once again, my writing has been lost in the shuffle of life. The daily routine of rising, working, taking care of family responsibilities has left me with little time to write. At first, I was okay with it, but now I am beginning to feel out of sorts, less like me.


I realized this morning that I truly miss my writing. That my soul needs a creative outlet – that this blog is that outlet.  So here I am , again, plunging back into the blogging world with renewed vigor.


My goal is simple to write something every day.  I have no grand ideas about what I will write – it may be a profound insight, it may be a random thought I have, or a synopsis of my day. But I am going to write……..because for me writing is a necessity.


And if I am lucky, you – the reader – will be blessed by my writings and continue to share in this journey with me.

March 09, 2011

March 05, 2011

Happy Birthday Joycie !



For 365 days, I knew this moment would come…the moment when you would celebrate your first year of life. The moment when I would sit down and try to find the words to capture all the emotions that the last year has encapsulated. And even with all of the forethought, the planning, the preparing, this milestone has taken me by surprise. I catch myself looking for the sleepy infant that I brought home from the hospital – instead I find myself looking into the face of a toddler. And while the tinest part of my heart misses the newborn you, I would not trade one moment of the last year for anything.

Nearly from the moment of your birth, you made it known that a) you did things on your own time table and b) you, much like your Daddy are laid-back. Like any new Mommy, I read about developmental milestones, the projected timetables, and watched your constantly for signs of the first smile, you rolling over, sitting up. Each time it would seem that you were taking forever to reach the next milestone, and then over night you’d be doing it. And when I would get so excited at your new accomplishment, you’d flash me a look as if to say “Mama, chill out. I got this growing up thing covered.” Prior to your arrival, I had prepared myself for brining home a screaming, crying, colicky infant. Instead, your Daddy and I brought home a baby who slept for nearly 4 hours a stretch, started sleeping thru the night at 2 months old, and transitioned to her own crib at 6 months. You never seem to meet a stranger, freely giving smiles to new people, and rarely do you get upset – unless we are slow to feed you or tell you “No.”


Joycie – you are dynamic and full of life – showing no fear at taking on new challenges, rather that’s a new daycare or learning to walk. Each night you fall asleep with a smile, and wake up with the same. You are utterly content in who you are – and that has been a constant lesson that you have taught me……to be at peace with who I am, where I am, and to simply enjoy the moment.

I suppose like any other letter to you, I should include your stats:

- You are wearing size 18 months clothing, size 3 diapers.

-You weigh 21 pounds, and seem to be growing an inch every day. I do not have an accurate length measurement, because you never stay still long enough.

- You are a busy little girl, who loves to toddle around the house, or run if you have your push toy from Nana and Papa.

- You have come to discover a new found appreciation for the outdoors. You especially like riding on the tractor with Daddy and swinging on the porch swing with Mama.

- You vocabulary is still growing, with Mama, Dadda, and bye-bye being your most frequent used words.

- With your two teeth, you are managing to transition to nearly all table food, and really like spaghetti, yogurt, and eggs. You still dislike peas (and I can’t say that I blame you).


The last 365 days have been an adventure, Joycelen, full of twists, turns, bumps, a few bruises, the occasional bought of tears (yours and mine), lots of hugs, and big wet kisses. I have loved every single minute of it…..and look forward to seeing what the next year has in store for us.

I love you baby!


March 03, 2011

Reflecting on a Year Ago….

365 days ago, I was physically miserable.  My body had reached maximum capacity – with Joycelen taking up every available inch of space. I ached all over – from the top of my head to the bottom of my very swollen feet. A pregnancy that had been pain and problem free for the 38 weeks prior, suddenly felt like torture. And to add insult to injury, my body showed no true signs of beginning to prepare for labor. Therefore, a year ago, our amazing OB/BYN Dr. H told M and I that she was going to induce me on March 4th.  And that night, with much aniticpation, excitement, and a healthy dose of fear, we made the final preparations to welcome Joycelen Rebecca into the world.