It’s a beautiful, blitzing-hot day here in the Deep South. 100% humidity, temperatures in the high 90’s… from 10am to 10pm. It is often in the nineties even at 9pm. This is real summertime! And it’s not even July and August yet…

And amazingly, this year I don’t feel like I’m going to die everytime I step outside in the heat, like I did the past 3 years here. Sure, it makes you sweat the second you step outside, even in the morning.

Maybe it’s the public pool across the street that I can look at anytime I feel hot and see all the kids having the grandest time.

But even more maybe, perhaps it’s because we have a house of our own now, and it’s so fun to work on it and do stuff outside that the heat is a side item? We’ll see. You all hold me to it that I don’t get to be a grouch by the end of the summer! :)

The one cool thing this summer heat does is bring sudden thunderstorms. It’ll be a clear-blue sky, sunshiney and bright one minute, and then we’ll suddenly hear thunder. No sign of rain whatsoever, but thunder. And often within 5 minutes, we’ll be in the middle of a DOWNPOUR, thunder scaring the daylights out of unsuspecting people [that would be me. The guy across the street couldn’t stop laughing when I jumped from the thunder surprising me when working out in the yard], lightning dancing…

I love it. Even if I’m not always prepared for it. :)

Reminds me of growing up in the jungles of Belize during rainy season. This is just a small taste of that, but I love it.

My mom would call my sister and me out onto the thatch-roof porch, and we’d sit there with all the jungle-rain wildness pounding down around us. “Let’s go watch the rain!” she’d always say.

And ever since then, I love to watch the rain. There is something so soothing and refreshing and rejuvenating about it. Makes my soul feel washed even as it washes the ground.

Zoe knows it now too. Knows that I’ll say, “Let’s go watch the rain!” every chance we get. Especially now that we have a delicious front porch to watch it on.

Yesterday was one such day. This time I wanted Baby to experience it firsthand.

Ben was home yesterday and Monday with no work. A little scary, not knowing what’s going to happen to us, but we were enjoying the family time together! So I conned him into taking a few pictures of Olivia.

She loved it too. Her little Baby-Giggles made my heart dance!

She would lift her face to the sky, and raise her arms above her head to catch the drip-edge, grinning all the while. It was as if she was thanking Jesus for such a fun time!

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The contrast of baby patties against adult hands just melts me…

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Thunder cracked during our rain-dance. When I first moved here, I couldn’t believe how LOUD the thunder was! Almost the loudest you’ll ever hear!

Ben caught my surprised face on camera. Baby was taking it all in stride.

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I was so thrilled with how delighted she was with it!

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And this picture SLAYS me. Baby Girl, how can you be sooooo beeeeauuuuuutiful??

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Soooo. Ghost writer appears again. Not technically ghost writer, but I’ve almost dropped off the pages of blogland. Do I need to make proper introductions with everyone again? :)

I’ve so enjoying catching up with a lot of you the past few days. For months I hardly spent any time online, and it’s been so fun for me to catch up a bit – so even if I didn’t leave you a comment, it was great to “see” you again!

This past winter was the craziest I’ve ever had. Unexpected circumstances, busy schedules, sick children, myself being sick numerous times… It felt over the top. And any leftover energy I had felt like it needed to go to my family, not to blogging. With fixing up a house, being gone more days a week than staying home, my girls needed to have the best of me, not blogging.

Now? I would love to get back into blogging again. It’s such a great outlet for me, lets me meet all kinds of great people, learn all kinds of great things…

I do wonder when I’ll have time. I can’t spend every afternoon on the computer while the kids are napping, as I did today. So, not promising weekly posts, although sometimes they may come more than once a week.

It’s been good for me to take a break though. Helped me reevaluate who I am as a person, what I blog about when I do blog, question where my identity lies…

I am first of all a Child of the King, and that is what I want to portray first of all in blogging. Whether or not my posts speak of Jesus personally, I want Him to be visible through the message and pictures. I am a woman, and I am God’s woman first of all.

Secondly, I am a wife. My husband rocks. :) In the past few months I have seen more sides of him than in the past almost-5 years of marriage, and I know I am so so blessed! And he is a GENIUS when it comes to woodworking. And many other handyman things! If I ever get some house projects completed around here, I’ll show you what he can do!

[sneak peek: see the butcher block countertop that my husband MADE in the kitchen?? behind the LIVE ginormous magnolia?]

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Thirdly, I am a mother. What an incredible privilege this is for me! Not the most glamorous job description in the world for some people, but I know this is where God has placed me, and I am so thankful! Zoe, or “Sweetie”, age 2, and Olivia, or “Lovey”, age 1, are the delights of my heart. They are the high calling upon me right now, and it is an honor!

Fourthly, there are many things are I love to do – I am a hands-on person! Music, arts, interior design, landscape design, amateur photography… these are just a few. But they are just that – things I DO. They are not who I am.

I am defined first of all by my Jesus, and I live out of that relationship in all aspects of life.

So, it feels a little bit like I’m starting over with blogging. :)

 

My wish for you all and for myself –

that you would experience JOY in the everyday things,
and
that you would FLOURISH just where God has gently placed you…

-clarita

 

 

These were the words of my two year old daughter.

It all began a week before, when Zoe, age two, and her Papa (my dad) were talking on the phone. My phone presently only works on speakerphone mode, so I could hear their entire conversation.

I could scarcely believe my ears though, when I heard my dad say to her, “…And ask Mommy if you could come up to Papa’s house for a week…”

In my head all I saw was this: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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A week! WHAT?!

She’s only TWO. She’s still my baby. I’ve never been away from her for a week.

The situation was this: my mom, sister, and brother were coming to help us paint our little cottage in a couple of days. After they returned home, it would be a week exactly until we saw the rest of my sisters at a wedding out of state. So transportation for Zoe to visit my old home would be perfect, albeit there would be 18 hours of driving for her until we’d see her again.

I mentioned the idea to Ben. Surely he wouldn’t agree to something so outrageous.

We talked about it. Actually, it became a possibility.

Zoe tends to be very cautious. Even as a baby, she would hardly ever have bumps or bruises on her body from falling. She was just that careful. She didn’t walk until 14 months because she wanted to be absolutely sure she could do it perfectly. Her little sister is the opposite – she’s had black and blue marks all over her almost from the start, and she keeps right on tumbling!

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So we’ve talked about it before that we need to watch for opportunities to push Zoe a bit. Present her with ways to develop confidence and courage.

But when it came down to a perfect opportunity like this, I felt like I, the mother, was being pushed far more than my child! Could I really let her go that far away, for so long?

So my mother, sister, and brother came. And I didn’t talk much about her going back with them. Rather hoping the idea would go away.

It didn’t.

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The night before they left to return home, I mentioned the idea to Zoe. She was excited about it, but I told her that Daddy and I still need to talk about it. We’re still not sure what’s going to happen.

Meanwhile, we talked. Yes, she can go, we decided. This is a great opportunity for her to spend time with my family whom she rarely sees, we said. And this will push her out of her comfort zone a bit, we kept saying, trying to convince ourselves that we could do this!

So the next morning I called her into her bedroom, where I was gathering some pieces of clothing together.

“Sweetie, do you still want to go to Pennsylvania with Nana?” I asked.

“But, you’re very going to miss me!

You’re very going to cry!”

Zoe said to me, with a greatly concerned look on her face.

‘Very’ is her favorite word these days.

And she wrapped her soft little arms around my neck and hugged me tight. I choked back the lump in my throat. She’s concerned about me?? More worried about me than about being gone that long??

Then she suddenly released her tight hold and leaned back to look me in the eye.

“I want to go!” she said, nodding her curly head.

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Then I explained to her how she would be gone for seven days – 7 naps and 7 nights, and how she would see all the aunties and uncles and Papa and Nana, and have a lot of fun, and how she needs to tell them when she needs to go potty  [and other motherly instructions], and then after that we would see her!

She understood, and was very aware of all that was happening.

And I strapped her in the carseat in the back of Nana’s car, kissed her lots of times, told her “I love you! I’m going to miss you!” a hundred times.

I tried hard to be brave, but I couldn’t help the couple of tears that squeezed out of my eyes. My little girl is growing up too fast!

And I waved goodbye until I couldn’t see the car anymore…

I called Ben and cried some more.

Then I sat down in a little quiet house, with the remaining baby sleeping, and really cried.

You’d think it’s the two year old that is crying as she says goodbye.
But oh no, it’s her mother that’s a weeping, teary mess!

Letting go.

Already. I thought that would be when she’s eighteen or something. Not two. Gracious, not two.

How my heart struggles against that. I want her to stay close to Ben and me so we can always know where she is, and so we can protect her, and keep her safe.

I KNEW my family would do their best to take care of her. And that she would have a wonderful time there. It’s just that I can’t be right there with her too.

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Husband and I were talking later… How we feel like we can care for her when we’re right there. And when we’re not right there, I can get so freaked out…

The road.

The pond.

The many cars.

So many potential dangers for a curious two year old!

Learning to trust God in a brand new way as I said goodbye to my daughter.
Asking God to watch and keep her with the many hours on the road.
Asking Him to protect her precious, beautiful life.
Realizing He is a far better Guardian and Protector than Ben or I could ever be.

It’s been a long week without my little Zoe-girl.

I miss our little naptime cuddles and sweet-talks.
I miss her chatter and funny sayings that keep me laughing all throughout the day.
So many little things that only she can bring to our lives.

It’s made me realize, BIG-TIME realize, how much I LOVE being a mother.

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Sometimes, in the everyday-ness of life, things seem rather mundane, uneventful, unexciting.

I remember my adventurous days of singleness, and while I’ve never regretted for one moment the decision to have children, I loved my life back then. Life now can sometimes seem far less than glamorous.

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I feel like I get lost sometimes inbetween dirty diapers, taking a two-year old potty, and dirty laundry.

But in a week like this, I’m reminded of this:

I AM SO BLESSED.
And,
I LOVE MY LIFE
.

No, life may not be that “glamorous” and “exciting” and “adventurous” as it once was, but it is BEAUTIFUL.

These days of dirty diapers and dirty laundry are also days of

loving,
laughing,
giving,
exploring,
hugs,
baby kisses,
purity and innocence,
enjoying little gifts and simple pleasures,
teaching precious children about Jesus,
swing rides,
visits to the park,
cuddling sleepy babies,
fulfilling a dream.

Really, what’s not to love?

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Thank you, Jesus, for my beautiful life

And, I am ever so excited.
Because, tomorrow, I get to have Zoe back again!

Cheers to a happy weekend!

-clarita

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday.

A bit busy.

Okay, a LOT busy.

But it’s been a rather typical day around here the past couple of weeks, especially since I’ve started with painting the house.

This was
YESTERDAY.

This post is dedicated to my mother, who asks me daily, “So, what did you get done today?” :)

[and this is long. my family is probably the only ones who will read it!]

– Day begins at 6:30. Got up with Olivia, fed her a bottle, put her back to bed

– stayed up. My day started with hot coffee and biscotti along with some quiet time

– checked my email and a few other internet sites

-chatted with a sister on facebook for about 2 minutes

-did 2 loads of laundry

-hung laundry out to dry on the washline

– Zoe woke up; fed her breakfast

-packed lunch to take to the Park House (what we call the new house because it’s across from a park, and that way Zoe knows which house we’re talking about)

-called Sonya to ask if she had a baby walker, since Olivia gets so bored in her playpen

-fed the cats

-Olivia woke up; fed her breakfast

-made a final grocery list (somehow thought I was going to go shopping for that yesterday but it never happened. Today we were down to using Zoe’s candy-flavored toothpaste for everyone, and down to the last roll of toilet paper.)

-loaded up the car, buckled 3 of us in

-stopped at a kid’s consignment shop on the way into town, bought a very dated walker thinking Olivia may be better entertained

-buckled the 3 of us back in the car

-stopped at Sugar & Spice Bake Shop and picked up donuts for the guys working at the house

-Zoe promptly eats 4 donut holes and is too full for any lunch

-Got to the Park House and unloaded diaper bag, lunch, Zoe’-s toys, Olivia’s walker, and both girls

-changed into paint clothes

-measured all the windows in the house so Mom can check @ the Habitat ReStore in Pennsylvania for plantation shutters.

-Ben mixed a 5-gallon bucket of trim paint for me. I organized my paint supplies.

-Talked with a sister for a few minutes.

-I forgot my paint flip-flops. Go barefoot in a FILTHY house rather than risk dripping paint on my pink flips.

-Zoe had to go potty. No toilets in the house, so we go behind a tree in the backyard. :/

-Lunchtime! Zoe is still full from 4 donut holes.

-introduce Olivia to the walker. There is no connection, no chemistry. Bummer.

-begin painting one of the four old beadboard ceilings by hand – again. Neck-breaking work. I need a chiropractor.

-move to bathroom #2 because a worker cleaning a brick fireplace in the room adjoining bathroom #1 is making too much dust.

-2nd coat of paint in bathroom #2. 2nd color too. So hard to get the “vintage aqua” look that I want. Still not settled on the color…

-begin caulking beadboard ceiling in bathroom #2.

-Olivia is grouchy. Try to settle her down. Carry playpen across the house so she can see me caulk. Exciting.

-Zoe needs to go potty again. Not the “squat by the tree” kind. The “Dairy Queen” kind. Both girls and I buckle up in the car and go 1/2 mile to DQ.

-Zoe heads straight for the restroom. She knows this place. Mission accomplished. Should be okay until it’s time to go home now.

-bought a dish of chocolate ice cream. After being in DQ daily for the past 1.5 weeks, I was feeling guilty for not being a customer and so bought something to compensate.

-buckled up in the car for the 4th time. Olivia is tired, so I explore little neighborhoods with the car until Zoe told me that Baby was sleeping. Zoe drips ice cream all over her.

-we go back to the Park House. Zoe plays outside in the dirt piles and with the water hose.

-Olivia wakes up. Zoe feeds her crackers outside the bathoom door to keep her happy. Carseat is covered in cracker-goo.

-Zoe pours shovel-fulls of sand over my toes as I caulk. Wearing my pink flip-flops now rather than get such dirty feet. Now have dirty flip-flops.

-I caulk some more. Ceiling is 2/3 completed and my neck feels terrible. Caulk gun messes up before I can finish the ceiling. Man. I so badly want to finish SOMETHING!

-Started painting ceiling in bathroom #2, but stopped because I forgot it first needs to be sanded. Start cleaning up paint supplies.

-Olivia is hungry. I feed her a bowl of yogurt.

-Zoe is playing outside with the water hose, taking off her shirt because she needs to “wash my tummy.” I check on her, then turn and run, shrieking as she turns the hose full-blast on me. Zoe soaks her remaining clothes on the bottom half.

-load everyone up in the car. Zoe is stripped down to her birthday suit. I hoped desperately I wouldn’t be stopped on the way home by a policeman and have to explain… Talk to mom on the way home. No luck with the plantation shutters.

-arrive at home. Unload the car and kids. Change the kids. Shower. Microwave leftovers for supper. Ben comes home and cleans up.

– we all load up in the truck this time. Is this the 6th time to buckle us all in? 6 times X 3 people each time = 18 buckles up and 18 buckled out. Whew. We take Zoe over to Aunt Sonya’s house  – thank you Sonya! – then the three remaining of us head an hour away to B. to pick out tile. Tile man starts Wednesday and we need supplies.

-hit Home Depot first, check out their tile selection, then go to Lowe’s (1/2 mile away) and inspect their tile department; return to Home Depot. Give Olivia a bottle.

-walk around Home Depot for 2.5 hours, carrying Olivia the whole time (why didn’t I get a cart??). 2 construction carts and a whopping bill later, we check out at 9:30 pm.

-load up once more. Ben takes me by the Starbucks drive-through. Awwwwwww. Drive a hour home. Pick up Zoe after 11pm. Arrive at home about 11:30……………

And we call it a DAY!

Other than the evening trip out of town, that pretty much comprises my days right now…

Except TODAY it went like this:

-a morning that consisted of sleeping in, quiet time, feeding the girls breakfast, teaching a piano lesson.

-an afternoon that consisted of a very sweet friend who came to my house for the afternoon and watched my girls so I could go work at the house for a few hours.

-an evening where my husband was involved in a church event, and I went back out to the house and tried yet another  trial color on the exterior of the house so we can give a final answer to the painter. Is this the 4th color? Hmmm, I think so. Poor painter. I went grocery shopping with the girls.

THAT is the kind of day I prefer. :)

Meanwhile, in the midst of the busy lives we have at the moment, I take a few moments now and then to daydream about what it will be like to live in the new house, and stay at home ALL DAY for days on end, just puttering around with my little projects and gardens and children…