The Seven Day Countdown

Life definitely seems to speeding up as the holidays approach. I can hardly believe Thanksgiving is next week! I am trying to get everything wrapped up and squared away – final Christmas presents, food, and holiday decorations bought – before the holiday season kicks into high gear. Which is not easy when a little one is always in tow. And a little one is always in tow when you homeschool.

We have been running a lot of errands. We have had visits from the chimney guy, the bug guy, furnace guy, and the yard guys. We have been cleaning and purging, organizing and planning, and fixing and replacing. But we have also had some fun stuff too.

My sweet friend Katie invited us to Come Stuff Your Boxes Party for Operation Christmas Child.

I haven’t know Katie that long. Only about six months. She walked up and introduced herself to me at the Y one day last spring and said she read my blog. We talked for a bit and really clicked and  before we said good bye I told her we were going to be friends. Good friends. Like, I am going to pursue you whether you want me to or not and we are going to be friends whether you like it or not. Those kind of friends. Close friends. Which totally makes me sound like a crazy, needy stalker, but whatever. She is a gem of a girl and I am so thankful she is in my life.

She is also a really good cook and is always inviting us into her home. Like to stuff boxes for Operation Christmas child.

Bette’s interest in stuffing boxes lasted for about six seconds. Then she roamed around the house and tried on other people’s shoes. She dug shoes out of closets and snuck them away from people. Every time she came back into the packing room she had on a different pair of shoes.

While I finished the stuffing, Jay and Lilla wrote letters to put in our boxes. And now they are all packed up and in the back of our car ready to be delivered to our church this Sunday. They are in our car so we do not dash out of the house and forget them, which I would put at a very high probability.

We also got a new cooktop. Mine cracked and partly shattered three, maybe six months ago. Despite the damage, three burners still worked. So we held onto it and made it work until we could afford to get a new one. Though, the gaping hole was a problem at times. Mostly it was just tacky and ugly. I eventually put a big square platter over the hole so I didn’t have to look at it. And then waited. And now we have a new one. Hurray!

We are planning on working around the house this weekend since there are only seven days until the holidays officially start. The kids are going out so we have plenty of time and space to get everything we need to done.

Except Jay is trying to convince me what we really need is a day of fun. A day of fun and frolicking.

I  have a list of projects. He has a list of fun. I am not sure who is going to win out on this one.


A Big Birthday

Hello friends! Every single week since school has started, I have told myself that next week, I am actually going to get my act together, be a bit more organized, and get some serious homeschooling done. No more of a little here and a little there, just piecing it together as we go. We are going to make a schedule and stick to it. And inevitably, when the next week begins, nothing has changed and I feel like I still have my head barely above water. But really, what else is new?

This past week we have been busy celebrating Jay’s 35th birthday, which evolved into a four part celebration that was so fun and wonderful that enjoying it fully was well worth sacrificing some of my other responsibilities.

The first part of Jay’s birthday was his gift, which Lilla and I gave to him a few days early. When we were first married, we lived near a beautiful bay and learned to sail a bit. The painting reminds me so much of those early days of our marriage and all the time we spent in and around that bay. Jay would never pick out a piece of art as a gift for himself, but since he really didn’t need anything else, I got him something that we would keep forever and would always remind us of his birthday, as well as the early years of our marriage.

For the second part of Jay’s birthday, he went the PGA championship. A pair of tickets dropped in his lap that I had absolutely nothing to do with. But they were way too good to turn down so we delayed our weekend plans so he could go and make a day of it following his favorite golfers around on a beautiful golf course.

The day after the golf tournament, the third part of Jay’s birthday celebration began when we hit the road – alone – and drove to the beach. Just the two of us.

There was no screaming in the background as we drove. There were no dirty diapers or sleep schedules to tend to. There were no meals to prepare and no baths to give. There were no fights to break up and no teachable moments to address.

Instead, we spent three days sleeping, eating, reading, and sitting by the pool, recharging our tanks. It was amazing.

But we couldn’t leave the girls out of actually celebrating Jay’s birthday. So the final part of Jay’s birthday was a little party at home. Lilla took charge of the decor – Mom, we have to do blue because it is daddy’s favorite color. She picked out the balloons as well as the blue Powerade drink – “Because mom, daddy loves the color blue and he loves Powerade! We have to get this for his party!”  Uh, okay. So we used it as the party table centerpiece.

We bought cupcakes and ordered our favorite pizza. And we spent the evening on the deck, with our sweet girls, eating our delicious treats all together.

This is the 18th birthday of Jay’s that I have celebrated with him. The first was his 17th birthday, which was shortly after we started dating in high school.

We have now been together for more than half our lives. And I am so glad about that. Because everything we have been through, we have been through together. Everything we have done, as a couple and as a family, we did together, decided together, and made happen together. There are no gaps in our understanding of each other. There are no events that have taken place in our lives that we cannot relate to. We have both always been there, hearts and souls intertwined, experiencing everything. Together.

Hopefully, we have a long road ahead of us. We are only 35 years old. We know already that things will not necessarily be easy. There will definitely be challenges ahead. But we will face them together. Just like we have faced everything else. And I have the honor and privilege of traveling the road ahead with kindest and most faithful of all men, whom I love and adore so much.

Happy Birthday Jay Baby!


Free as a Feeling in the Wind

We love our new kittens. They are sweet, playful, and very entertaining. We are so glad we have them.

There was just one teeny tiny problem with them. They had fleas when they arrived. Lots and lots of fleas. Using the phrase crawling with fleas would not have been an exaggeration.

We didn’t notice the fleas at first. And we would get the kittens out of their basket and cuddle with them and play with them and sit with them on the sofa. And then two days after they arrived, Jay turned one of them over to see if it was a boy or girl and its underside was covered in live fleas.Which we found fairly revolting.

We hate fleas. So we came up with a flea plan.

First, we quarantined them to the laundry room. We sure as hell didn’t want any fleas getting on the furniture. So the kittens went into the laundry room and stayed there.

Then we washed them with shampoo. Herbal Essences to be exact, because you can’t use flea shampoo until kittens are 12 weeks old.

I sprayed their living space with flea killer.

And I washed all their bed linens in super hot water.

Jay applied a flea treatment on them.

And they went back into the laundry room.

But two days later, they still had fleas. Which I found really annoying. So I called a grooming place that said Sure, we can put them in a flea dip! For $45 per kitten. Yeah, right.

So we washed them again. And Jay really scrubbed them.

Then we combed their hair out with a flea comb. Have you ever used a flea comb and pulled live fleas out of your pets hair? No? It is gross. Handling live fleas, with them jumping on and biting me, while trying to drown the ones we caught was almost more than I could take.

I told Jay if it didn’t work, we might have to pass the kittens along to someone else. Not that he would have a problem with that.

Jay said if anyone asked him the next day what he did the night before he was going to leave out the part about pulling live fleas out of our new kittens.

Good idea, I said. Because they might think we are crazy.

After their second bath, Jay wrapped them up in towels. He and Lilla each took a kitten, dried them off, and warmed them up thoroughly so they wouldn’t catch their death of cold.

I sprayed their living space with flea killer. Again.

And I washed all their bed linens in super hot water. Again.

Jay put flea treament on them. Again.

And we put flea collars on them. Which are way to big so they are double looped around their necks.

And after everything was washed, sprayed, and cleaned, again, we put the kittens back in the laundry room.

And now three days later, we are flea free! And we are going to stay that way.

Hope you have a fun and flea free holiday weekend friends!



Our New Babies

We have two new babies in our house. Two new baby kittens.

They were a gift from Mimi and Alex for Lilla’s birthday. Lilla was so surprised and thrilled.

We were surprised too. We thought only one was coming. And it took a lot of convincing to get Jay on board about the one kitten.

Jay doesn’t like cats particularly. But I grew up with cats. We always had cats when I was a kid. In fact, cats were everywhere. There were a few times I worried as a teenager that we were becoming weird cat people. When you have seven cats, more cats than people in your house, you worry that might not be totally normal.

Jay did not grow up with cats. He grew up with dogs. Dogs that were fun and affectionate and loyal, none of which are words most people would use to describe cats. He has no use for cats. And he did not want a cat.

When we first started discussing it, he had plenty of objections. Most of them I was able to overcome. A few of them I just had to brush aside and tell him not to worry about. But when he still didn’t want a cat, I finally just said, Look, I really really want a cat. Lilla wants a cat. And we had a rough year. Our dog died, so we can get another pet. And Bette is terrified of animals, which isn’t good. She needs to be able to warm up. We need to start small with her. And the best place to start is with a kitten. Okay?

So he said okay. We could get a kitten. But instead we got two kittens. Which Jay took really really well.

They are now living in our laundry room because they are too little to roam free in the house yet.

Lilla named them Marco and Polo. She sits with them and pets them and checks on them every time they cry.

But Bette has not touched them yet. She just stands at the baby gate we have up and points to them and jabbers at me about these new creatures in our house. Then she throws something – a toy, a shoe, a sock – into the laundry room for them to play with. And she laughs really hard.

I think she is going to like them just fine.

Our Weekly Marriage Questions

Every Sunday night, Jay and I sit down together and have marriage time. And by once a week I really mean every once in awhile, when we actually remember and don’t get sidetrack by something like the Grammy’s or the Amazing Race.

We ask each other several questions, plus a random bonus question.

What does your upcoming week look like?

How did you feel most loved this past week?

What would make you feel pursued in intimacy/sex this week?

What can I do to support or help you this week?

When we take the time to ask these questions, we are able to reflect together on the week that has just passed. And we are able to look forward to the week ahead. We share how we are feeling and what we are struggling with. And we always end up going down all sorts of good rabbit trails, discussing things that have been milling around in our minds or laying heavily on our hearts, that in the chaos of the every day, we don’t always have time to talk about.

The questions keep us in touch with how the other person is feeling. They keep us in touch with what the other person is learning. And they keep us in touch with who the other person is becoming.

And whenever we do it, whenever we take the time to sit together, once the kids are in bed and the house is quiet, it ends up being the best part of our week.

It is a moment when we are able to reconnect in a real way. It is a moment when we were able to open up on a deeper level. And it is a moment when we don’t have to be mom or dad, only ourselves with each other, with the one our heart loves.

*Questions from Today’s Letters