Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Last Time I Question My Husband For Making a Non-budgeted Purchased

Zane isn't a huge Steeler fan.  Sure he'll hang out in a room of people at a party to watch a Steeler game, and he might even dress in yellow and gold for the event.  But, for the most part, he's "not a sports kid".

Those are his words.

So, it was quite a surprise to hear him asking for a new Steeler shirt, or Steeler socks, (yes, socks), after the AFC championships last week.

The week before, while the Steelers beat the Ravens, Zane won a "Stillers" can cozy in one of the raffles during a game-viewing party with our church. That night, in the spirit of the event, he also donned black and yellow beads, compliments of my friend Amy. He was pleased enough with having these items.

For this week's game, he barely squeezed his 6 year old body into a fleece he was sent to him from Four Mile back in 2008 when we were still living in Chicago but preparing to become Pittsburgher's.

Pretty pathetic for Steeler gear. I promised him we'd hit the $1 store to get some more Steeler-wear for him before the Superbowl. I knew that would appease him. It's not like he needs a jersey or anything.  You know me - waste not.

Wednesday night I sent George and Zane out to pick up some soup for me and Harper, as we were down with a nasty with a virus. They came back with the miso. And an extra surprise.

Zane returned wearing a brand-spankin' new official Steeler AFC championship long-sleeve tee which could NOT be mistaken for the dollar store variety. My eyes bugged out of my sick head as I gave George the stare down.

"Trust me," he said, "I'll tell you the story later."

"How much was it?"

"$20. I'll tell you later."

For a kid who could care less??????????? Really? Talk about questioning his judgement. So he wanted to have a father/son sports moment. I get that. But couldn't he do it for less? I mean, really, Zane would have been pleased with SOCKS! Cheap SOCKS.

Turns out, while waiting for the soup order, George and Zane hopped over to our local Steeler's store to look around. They were in the store maybe 5 minutes when Zane came over to George carrying a mini goal-post in his hand.

"Daddy. This broke."

George walked the piece back over to a replica of Heinz Field. A replica with a broken goal-post.

I think he may have cursed in his head. Which is a big deal for him.

"Did you break this?"

"I really don't know."

"Zane, did you break this off?"

"I just touched it. I don't know if it was already broken."

George carried the model to the counter and explained that he hadn't witnessed Zane break the piece off the stadium. He honestly wasn't sure if he had actually done so, or if it had been snapped earlier. Regardless, he was very apologetic. He realized he could be asked to pay for the replica which was much more then the $20.

There was silence. And uncomfortable silence.

George broke it with, "So, do you have any new Steelers shirts in kids sizes?"

Out from the stock room, for they hadn't even been unpacked and hung on racks yet, came the newest addition to Zane's wardrobe, which he proudly wore to school the next day.

Well played, George.

I'm the Chief Household-Budget Officer. And I approve this purchase.

Friday, January 28, 2011

God Told Me To Mail You This Book

Two of you will be receiving this book in the mail.

One of you doesn't read blogs, so you have no idea it is coming.

The other one does read my blog and follows me on Facebook. We've shared a friendship since Trinity days. And I want you to have this.


I really don't actually know. Well, I have an idea. As I know a little about what is going on in your life right now. But, that's not why I purchased this book for you, packaged it up, and it now sits hear ready to be mailed to your house.

I purchased it because God told me to do so.

A loving neighbor turned me on to A Holy Experience. Apparently, she stumbled across it and thought I would love it from the perspective of a Christian. And a writer. The style of the blog is not something to which I naturally gravitate, but I'm a good listener. There must be some reason I was being led there. So I visited. And read. And got hooked.

The phone rang a few days ago. I had a conversation with a friend about an enormous tragedy in her life. One that happened months and months ago. While I've tried to contact her to offer my condolences and pray with her, I also knew she needed time. Plus, the nature of our friendship is so deep that I knew, in time, we'd connect. We did. This week. For hours.

Upon hanging up, I went to A Holy Experience to read a new post, and my eyes were led to the advertisement for the author's new book.

"Buy it for her."

I obeyed. Knowing that the decision to purchase the book, wasn't mine. If you know me, you know I don't buy any books new - or at full price.

While at Amazon, I found myself purchasing two copies.

They arrived yesterday. I packaged one for my friend who shared her lament with me this week. She believes and knows that even in the violence that has occurred in the life of her family, God's presence is not merely near - but, rather, embracing her. There is pain. So much pain. But also so much trust. And an unexplainable joy that only comes from knowing Him.

I sat there staring at the second copy - thinking I would read it myself.

"Send it to her," was what I heard - referring to a second friend.

I packaged up the second book to be shipped.

A few thoughts: As I shared in earlier blog posts - I have this desire to give. Not just used clothes. Or items I no longer need. That's great. But my purging isn't solely for the purpose of cleaning my house or decluttering my life. My deepest desire is to be a part of God's desire to give LIFE. And while I've not read this book, I'm pretty convinced that there is something in there that these two women need to read.

God used the internet-wandering of my neighbor, to point me to a site I most likely would have never chosen to visit, to show me a gift that two friends needing encouragement would find joy in receiving.

How heavenly-orchestrated was that?


Monday, January 24, 2011

I Left My Heart . . .

I left my heart on the floor of the Coffee Buzz where I gathered with my church family to watch the Steelers/Jets game last night.

I grew up in a Redskin family.

I remember sitting in the family room on Sundays listening to my entire family cheer while I sat there - uninterested.  Although I DID see the game where Theisman broke his leg.  That was way gross.

So, now, here I am.  In Steeler country.  With a 10 year old Steeler-fanatic for a daughter.  A child who plans her Steeler clothing for each Sunday, and made it clear that she needed her jeggings and Polamalu jersey clean and ready for game day yesterday.

A daughter who dressed in full Steeler fashion for her birthday party (as did other girls).

A daughter who took the front and center seat at a Steeler-viewing party last night, terrible towel and bad-call brick by her side.

I, on the other hand, arrived at the party having NEVER watched a full game all the way through.  Yes, I did watch the Steelers win the Superbowl back in 2008 - spurts of it anyway.  We had just told the children we were moving to Pittsburgh, and so I thought it only proper we watch the game.  I'll admit - I was VERY impressed.  Wow'd.

But, no, I've never continued the practice of sitting and watching an entire game.

Until last night.

Oh. My. Word.  How do you people do it?

My heart was racing.  I was up and down from my chair.  I was shh'ing children.  I was yelling about some play NOT being pass interference and that the ref better not call it that way (how'd I even know about pass interference?).  I watched all of it.  The second half about killed me.

I simply can not live this way.  I was anxious. Tense. Impatient. Ready to fly off the handle.

All the traits I've worked so darn hard to decrease over these past 1.5 years flew right back to the surface during the AFC Championship game.

As I told George, "Ok, I'll do the playoffs.  I'll even watch the Superbowl.  But I can NOT do a whole season of this.  No way.  It will kill me."

So, I'll continue to be that person who wanders in and out of the room during a Steelers game.

Except for the Superbowl.

I'll be front and center.

Don't get in my way.

Friday, January 21, 2011

On the Eve of Having a 10 Year Old

I look forward to it every year.

And then I tear up.

See, it took me 10 years of marriage before God laid it upon my heart to have children.

The day I finally told George I was ready, by sharing with him that I really liked the diaper pack made my Eagle Creek, he was shocked.  And elated.

And then came Harper.

Recently, I interviewed her for PittsburghMom.  I'm not one of those Moms who does this every year or keeps track of their answers when I do remember to interview my kids.  This, year, however, I did remember to climb up in her loft bed to interview her.  I had a post due - Harper would serve as my topic.

The answer to one question in particular really got my attention and affirmed what God had been telling me lately.  Harper shared that her favorite thing to do with me, is sit in her bed at night to talk.

We used to do this all the time when she was younger, but this special time has been happening less and less due to my schedule.  However, since beginning a 30 day organizational challenge taught by Chalene Johnson (who I consider to be a fantastic business coach), I have made enormous changes to how I balance working from home AND turning the work OFF during Harper's bedtime.

Last night, as we sat chatting, I was able to share with her a story that I had never told anyone.  Even George.  It was regarding something that happened to me as a very young Christian (13 or 14) that I truly believe was a physical, visual sign from God that He loved me and that He was indeed real.

"Wow.  That is really cool.  And a little creepy" was her response.

I also shared with her how I wasn't particularly kind when I was a 4th grader like her.  In fact, I could be a bit of a snob.  In 5th grade, I'm ashamed (and forgiven) to say that I was awful to a girl in my class for the better part of the whole year, only to learn later on that her father was physically abusive to her.

Ouch.  Such guilt.

We talked about God's forgiveness - me and my girl, and she thanked me for sharing with her.

"You need to tell me this stuff more often.  'Cause I'm not like you were in 4th grade."

No, Harper, you aren't.

You are kind.  You are funny.  You are sad when people are sad.  You are positive.  You are dramatic (yes, honey, you are - sorry - you have my blood).  You are brave.  You are creative.  You also get nervous some times - but not like you used to - remember those days?

I love you, baby girl.

Yes, I said it.  BABY girl.  You were the first baby I ever had, and the picture above is my absolute favorite of you during your first week out of the womb.

I'll see you on your bed tonight, OK?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I'm Bringing "Stage-legs" Back

So far, the 40's have been all about ditching fear.

I set out on an adventure to begin writing, for an actual paycheck, and clinched my first regular gig over at PittsburghMom.  I am indeed thankful for them taking a chance on the likes of me.

My once toned body began to slip this year after walking my husband through some tough stuff - no worries about my sharing - all is out in the open.  What came from a 90-day journey on a program called ChaLEAN Extreme (on sale right now, by the way), was not only a new-found commitment to health and fitness but also a new business which truly matches one of my priorities in life:  to motivate and encourage people that they CAN indeed make positive changes in their lives.  When I started, back in April (both ChaLEAN and the business) I didn't think I would be successful.  Joke was on me.

There was one more teensy, weensy, fear dangling over my head.  I moved to Beaver knowing there was a local theater group.  I moved to Beaver wondering if I could ever recapture the joy I once felt from performing which had fallen by the wayside prior to Zane's birth.  At that point in my life, juggling Harper, auditions, and rehearsals, got to be very overwhelming for me.  So, I walked away.  Called my agent.  Opted out.  A week later I learned I was pregnant with Zane.  I immediately shifted gears and began pouring my efforts into private coaching, which is where I stayed until we moved to Pittsburgh.

But in the back of my head, I've always entertained this nagging thought:  will I ever go back?  I was nudged by a friend of mine who owns Kolache, an actor himself.  I was nudged by George.  After punching so much fear straight in the kisser this past year, I was listening to those nudges.  Especially because much of the nudging seemed to be coming directly from myself.

Over the past few months I found myself reading/researching a specific play.  Following that, I watched (and thoroughly enjoyed) the film version of THAT play. I made an appointment for an audition. I told people of the audition - for if there is one thing I have learned this year is to SHARE GOALS with others - sure fire way to hold yourself to your word.  My monologue of choice, hiding in that black binder I've ignored for years, was easily located and reviewed this week:  in my office, in front of the mirror, laying in bed, in the shower.  My family gathered to pray for me this morning.

Proudly, I can now say, regardless of the outcome, that I auditioned for a show this morning.  A play that I truly adore, and always have:  Lost in Yonkers.  Feeling a bit like the Tinman before being oiled, I performed my monologue and then steadied myself for the cold readings.  Rusty?  A bit.  I haven't stretched these skills in years.

But, fun????

Oh my goodness, YES!

There's a lot of healthy risk-taking going on in my life right now - behavior which began to wane around age 36, when life began to take on a bit of a hot, grainy, "desert-feel", and I, in turn, emerged a bit weather-beaten and parched. I placed limitations on myself, approached new opportunities with why I COULDN'T do them, and was content with personal status-quo.  A new me, that wasn't actually me, was calling the shots.

And then, we moved.  And yes, I tasted a fresh start.
  • Writing has become my main focus, and believe me, I'm applying at least once a month for new opportunities.
  • Team Beachbody is all the rage with me now:  both for the physical AND financial benefits.
  • And, as for Lost in Yonkers, that choice isn't up to me.  I simply showed up.
I showed up.

Where do you need to show up?????  Trust me.  Showing up isn't always easy.  There was that desert to cross and then, after feeling "watered" again, there were quite a few weeds needing to be whacked.  Honestly, I'm still hacking away at a few of them.

But it's a happy-hacking.

I'd love to see you show up, also.  It would be great to see you here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

January 10, 2005

Welcome to the world, Zane!

Click on over the Pittsburgh Mom to read the little ode to my boy that I posted last week.

First words uttered when he was lifted up over the screen so I could see him (c-section baby)?

"George!  He looks just like Harper . . . only . . . with new parts!"

I also recall thinking to myself, "I don't know him."  I was inwardly troubled by this.

For when Harper was born, I felt as if I had known her for the full 9 months.

This felt different.

Well, my son, I know you now.  And these last 6 years have been such a joy for all of us.  You are one big, snuggling ball of love.  And your heart is enormous.

You completed our family.

And we all wildly adore you.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Planning for Next Christmas

"What?!  You're already thinking about next Christmas?!"


Part of our goal as a family is to give more.  I've blogged time and time again about my quest to give one item away each day.  And while I've missed a day or two here and there, the action and discipline of giving has had the effect I had hoped.  For now, I am habitually looking for ways to give away belongings I do not use, money of which I have excess, and time which can be used to help others.

Which brings me to NEXT Christmas.

This week, our family started a Christmas Jar.  Let it be said that I have no intention of reading the book attached to this project.  I've got enough reading to do.

The chore thing in our house ebbed and flowed all through 2010.  The kids have gone through periods of being spot on with completing their chores, followed by weeks of inconsistency - an endless back and forth of paying them or not paying them for the completion of the specific responsibilities each one has been given.  I've written about our family, um, "system" (I can't stand that word), here.  I actually like our current plan, even if the chores are only getting done maybe 65% of the time, so this is not some big announcement that we're chucking it.

Rather, we're adapting it.

Enter, The Christmas Jar.

We mentioned this idea to the kids a few nights ago and the response was favorable:  upon completing a chore, rather than receiving coins for themselves, all spare change (whether chore-related, or that random dime you find in the washer) will be placed in the jar.  All. Year. Long.

Come Christmas, we will anonymously give our jar of spare change to someone who needs it.  One person.

Harper's response, "Can I put my tithe in the jar?"  I was more than fine with this.  Spirit of the law. In went her quarter.

Zane?  Not sure he got it. But he likes the clinking sound the coins make when they get thrown in.

The kids are still so "high in sky" from receiving Christmas gifts and have birthdays to look forward to this month, so any thoughts of buying items for themselves is thankfully off their radar screens. Perhaps this is why the idea went over so very well.  They are currently well stocked.

The jar is visible - right on the kitchen windowsill.  So, if you stop by, and have some coinage jingling away in your pocket - drop it on in.

We'll make sure it gets to the right person in December.

We're pretty sure God will make that person as clear to us as the glass of the jar itself.

He's cool that way.