Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I Saw God Today

Sunday, Brad and I did the incredibly glamorous work of purging our closet. It was time to reorganize and get rid of things that no longer fit or that we just don't wear. We ended up with six bags of clothes and one black suit coat--a coat that Brad insisted not be put in the bags but be left in the dry cleaning bag and hanger.

Yesterday, I stopped by Goodwill to drop it all off. The first thing I pulled out was the coat, and I was holding it up to grab another bag when a man approached me...

"Excuse me, is that a suit coat."


"Do you know what size it is?"

"I have no idea. Do you need one? Do you want to try it on?"

As he slipped the coat across his shoulders, he started to cry. "I prayed for you today."

He then proceeded to tell me that he had a really hard year. He lost his job, his wife left him, and he had to move back in with his parents. His father passed away on Sunday, and this man didn't have a suit for the funeral. As Brad and I were cleaning the closet, he was arguing with his mom about whether they should bury his father in his suit or if it should be saved for the son to wear to the funeral. They had no money for a new suit, and they agreed that if he could find one at Goodwill they would bury his father in his suit--something that was very important to this man. He had been able to find black pants and white shirt in the store but not a coat. Now he stood in the parking lot wearing one that fit perfectly.

Now we were both crying, and then he said this, "I prayed this morning that if God still loved me he would let me find a suit today. And now I have one."

I'm still in awe of that moment. He offered to pay me for the coat or to see if Goodwill would rush stocking it so he could pay them. I insisted he just take it exchange for a promise--that he would never forget how very much he was loved.

We hugged, and I am still filled with gratitude. I am so grateful to be used in that moment, and I will always be amazed by those moments of divine intervention and Grace.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Not-Slumber Not-Birthday Party

Issa was very clear that she didn't want a big birthday party this year. There was to be no traditional birthday party "stuff." However, she did want to have a couple of friends over to spend the night. It was a bit of an adjustment for me, but I worked with it:
 She made a whole list of things she wanted to do, including making their own pizzas, having a popcorn bar, decorating not-birthday cupcakes, and getting their nails done:
 I loved listening to them giggle at the nail salon, and I loved how they bounced between tween and little girl all night. Mani/Pedis--check. Flowers painted on big toes--check.

When we got back home, the girls wanted Issa to open her gifts, one of which was a pom-pom critter making kit. They rushed upstairs to get started, and it wasn't long before I was being paged. Several trips up and down the stairs for more supplies later, I was invited to join them on Issa's floor. It was honestly one of the highlights of my year. I know it won't be long before I'm invited less, but sitting on the floor making a pom-pom polar bear while chatting with the three girls was priceless.

We made individual pizzas for dinner, and then we got to the real work of decorating cupcakes:
 16 cupcakes, a half a box of graham crackers, and three batches of frosting later, we proclaimed it a wrap. I'm not sure anyone ate a single whole cupcake, but oh we laughed. We discovered edible spray paint must be used lightly or it tastes awful. We discovered there is such a thing as too much frosting on a cupcake, and we learned I shouldn't talk and start the mixer at the same time (I was covered in powdered sugar). We also learned Evan will do anything for a laugh:
They choreographed a beautiful thank you dance, played Barbies, and giggled to no end. They included Evan when they were outside of Issa's room, and they were genuinely fun all night.

At midnight, I turned in the towel thinking they were snuggled in bed and all but asleep--wrongo. Apparently the saw 2:30. They all woke up in great moods, though, and had some pancakes before we said goodbye.

It truly was one of the very most enjoyable weekends I have had in a long time, and I would take these three girls anywhere. In fact, they might have just ruined me for all other slumber parties.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Some things don't mix...

...like turtles and big dogs.

Yesterday, the kids came off the bus all smiles. We  were chatting about their days, and when we got inside I sent them upstairs to change for the studio and the dojo while I started signing the six million things I sign every night. Life was good. Then I hear Issa's sweet voice, "Mom, Neela, has a turtle on the landing!"

"It can't be a turtle. It's probably just a rock or a toy."

"Nope. It's a turtle, and it's bleeding."

Awesome. That got me moving.

Soon, we had freed the turtle from Neela's jaws, and it was clear he was alive. I know because when I peeked in his little shell he hissed. I was also able to determine that while he was missing a pinky toe he otherwise seemed just fine. So...we decided to relocate him to the culvert under our driveway. I figured he could safely recover and then crawl away from there. And, if I was wrong and he was not long for the world, he would be a tasty snack for some critter and I wouldn't have to bury him. Sometimes I'm pragmatic.

Unfortunately, Neela was not on board with this idea. When we opened the front door and headed out, she bolted out, too. Now, I have a bleeding, angry turtle in my hands and a big dog running loose like she's never been outside before. She was doing giant crazy puppy circles through the neighbor's yard, and the small herd of children trying to chase her were not exactly helping her settle--and I can't set the turtle down or she will come charging to get her new toy. It was not a stellar moment.

Thankfully, Issa finally got a hold of Neela and got her in, and I settled the turtle in his safe place. When we came home last night, he had already scooted away, but I'm really hoping I never see his little turtle face on my landing again,

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

On it!

This morning, the kids got ready in record time...because I had a major carrot. We ordered Halloween costumes.

I have well-documented my quirk about ordering costumes early. I just get so paranoid about things not arriving on time. I also like the early bird sales, which is why Oriental Trading just got an order from me for our trick-or-treat treasures. The kids also love picking out their costumes, which makes it fun! I am sworn to secrecy, but I think they will be adorable again this year.

The other underlying reason I wanted to order them this morning was just so I could feel like I was on it! Between the Read-a-Thon and work and dance and the dojo I'm meeting myself coming and going. It was awfully nice to just put a big check in that box.

Now if I can just find a way to start sneaking some decorations out...

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

To My Girl...

My Sweet Girl,

You just turned nine on Saturday. Nine. On your birthday, I pulled you into my lap and tried to hold you like I did for the very first time nine years ago. In part, I was being silly, but in part it's because I still feel those six pounds in my arms. I still remember the first moment I held you and you looked up at me with those big blue, trusting eyes. Needing me for everything. Seeing the world reflected through my eyes. 

You grew, and in your toddler years I saw the world reflected through your eyes. You helped me rediscover all the magic that was in the world. Your joy in the little things helped me find my own again. I may be a teacher, but you are a far better teacher. You taught me how to be your mom, and you taught me how to follow your lead and find joy in the journey. 

Then I blinked, and now here you are:
You are no longer my little girl. You are growing and stretching, and sometimes we see the world through two very different sets of eyes. The world is no longer a simple reflection for us. You are discovering who you are and what you believe. And that is oh so wonderful and oh so hard--for both of us. I see you wrestling with ideas and asking questions even Google can't answer. Your tender heart has been bruised a time or two, and I know bigger heartaches are ahead. We have had our share of mother/daughter moments--some beautiful some painful. More of both will come.

Here's what I need you to know as you officially embark on these tween years, sweetheart. We are going to argue. We are not going to see the world the same way. There are going to be days that just plain suck. But...and this is a critical but...I will always be in your corner. I will always be here to listen. I will even try not to give unsolicited advice. On the days that are wonderful I will be the first one to make a toast, and on the days that are hard I will be the first one there to catch you.

You have taught me how to be your mom from the very beginning, and I have every faith that you will continue to teach me how to be your mom now. When I screw it up, know it is done with great love and I'll do better tomorrow. When I get it right, know it was also done with great love and it's because you are one incredible kid.

I love you with every fiber of my being, and you will always, always be my baby. So let's just promise each other to keep dancing, keep laughing, and keep talking. The adventure is just beginning...

All my love forever and always,

Your Mama

Monday, September 14, 2015

Happy birthday, Issa!

We had a fabulous weekend celebrating my very favorite nine year old. Aunt Shannon, Nana, and Papa Rich all flew in for the occasion. Aunt Shannon won special bonus points for arriving in time to have lunch and celebratory apples and juice at school.

Saturday morning, we girls all took Issa shopping for some new clothes from Nana and Papa. It has become a tradition, and we had a ball. Issa definitely has her own style as you'll see soon.

When we got home, Issa and Nana decorated her ballerina cake:

And Aunt Shannon and Evan played:
We had Nana Mac and Cheese and Caesar salad for dinner--the birthday girl's request--and then she did a fashion show of all of the treasures from Aunt Shannon and Nana and Papa. A few favorites:
She wore that vest to school today!

This one is from the Descendant's collection. She thinks she's pretty cool:
And mid-fashion show little brother lost his second tooth:
After the show was finished, We enjoyed cake:

That smile...

Sunday, we went to brunch before we declared a science day. We did the whole Diet Coke and Mentos thing:
You can count on the Bowers to draw a crowd with some explosions. We also made elephant toothpaste with all the kiddos.

Once we were out of things to explode, we headed inside to work on a crystal kit:
In between there was so much laughter and just being.

We reluctantly took Aunt Shannon to the airport and then took Issa to use a Claire's gift card from Aunt Carol and Uncle Todd. We managed to hit an all jewelry on sale for $5 sale. Issa was beside herself. We went straight from the mall to take Nana and Papa to the airport, which was followed by much pouting.

It was a great weekend. Issa had a fabulous birthday, and we all enjoyed the weekend together. I'm still trying to figure out how my baby can be nine already, though...

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Long Weekend Happenings

We had a lovely long weekend!

We started on Friday by celebrating Issa's birthday! Unfortunately, I took zero pictures. I think Daddy got some, but I'm not sure. As soon as the kids got off the bus, we gave Issa her gifts. Evan got her a Scooby Doo Lego set, which was a huge hit! He spent forever looking for one with Daphne in it because she is Issa's favorite character. Daddy and I gave her a new knitting basket and lessons at the local yarn shop. She was so excited about both, and she promptly sat down to start building. We ended our evening with a great dinner at P.F. Chang's and then pumpkin pie at home. I did score some surprise points with sparkler candles.

Saturday, Issa and I headed up town for our first knitting class! Issa knew the basic knit stitch, and I used to knit. That made us the class experts! I was shocked by how quickly it came back to me, and our teacher, Miss Marsha, is incredibly kind. Issa learned how to fix some small glitches she had been having, and she ended the class by asking me to get a matching basket for my knitting. We can't wait to go back in two weeks to learn how to pearl!

Sunday, Issa was invited to the ivivva store in Raleigh to try some of their new clothes:
She had a blast trying some of their new things, giving feedback, and modeling for them. When we got home, we also decided to kick off fall with a fire in our fire bowl and roasted hot dogs and s'mores. I love nothing more than a good camp fire, and Daddy built a fabulous one!

Monday, Evan had a play date with a friend and the rest of us did some yard work. Daddy mowed, Issa and I moved her glads to a much sunnier spot, and I did the fall pruning in the front yard.

It really was a great three day weekend filled with celebrating, relaxing, and just enough work to make it feel like we really accomplished something!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Birthday Celebrations!

The birthday celebrations began in earnest this morning:
The annual decorating of the door.

I usually do it on the actual birthday morning, but we are doing our little family celebration this weekend since my family is coming in next weekend! Issa realized if I did her door on her actual birthday I would actually be doing Evan's door, and that just wouldn't do.

After school, she will open her gift from us and her gift from Evan, and we can all barely contain ourselves! We did well this year! Then we will head to P.F. Chang's before returning home for pumpkin pie. It's an odd combo, but what the birthday girl wants the birthday girl gets!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Finally Finished!

Sometimes late truly is better than never:
My youngest niece just turned six months, and I finally put this baby blanket in the mail today. I'm telling myself that it's just now turning chilly enough to need a quilt. And if nothing else she can use it to play with her baby dolls.

I hate that this one is coming to her so late; the others had theirs before they were born. However: I also did not have a husband, a full-time job, or children of my own when they were born. I'm trying to give myself grace on this one.

That being said, Sweet Hadley, please know that you are so loved. Every single stitch is filled with love and prayers for you and your sweet smile and heart. Aunt Heather may be slow, but I'll always show up--promise.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Issa's Birth Month

Well...it's September, which means it's Issa's birth month! We thought we were starting the celebrating this weekend, but it actually started yesterday! Daddy had to travel, I had to teach, so the kids got to hang out with Miss Hannah. And because Miss Hannah spoils them rotten, she got cupcakes for Issa's birthday since it's the last time she will see them before the big day. Issa was so excited...and so the celebrations begin.

I have always been so fortunate to have babysitters that truly love my kiddos. I love that when I'm teaching I don't have to worry. I know they are in great hands. And I love that the kids don't mind one bit! I never get asked not to go. They are more than happy to be with people they consider extended family. It's a gift worth celebrating.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


Our school's Read-a-Thon starts next week! I got fluffy last year when it got overly competitive among some parents and some kids stopped reading. Um...not on my watch. Since I have a rule about only complaining if I am prepared to be a part of the solution, I am now the Read-a-Thon chair.

Holy Cow. Read-a-Thon is no joke, and I now remember why I am not an event planner! I'm having fun with it, though, and I'm excited to bring some focus back to the joy of reading. I've been printing labels and drafting documents and begging people for prizes and I finally decided how to make the minutes read boards. There is a light at the end of the tunnel...and a lot more copying to do...and 650 red folders in my coat closet. Here we go!