I Smile…

…but not because I’ve had the flu for 24 hours now. No, that doesn’t bring smiles.

But, it is true…even on the most difficult days, there are always reasons to smile.

Like, right now. Tobin is upstairs giving Mae her bath. The two of them spent the day together. Out of necessity…I didn’t want to give her this at all, but also because I think daddies should do that once in awhile.They wrestled, went to lunch, played at the mall playground, stopped at the dollar store for puzzles, came home, brought me a present (B&BW Christmas hand soap!) played some more, had pancakes. I smile because they had a good day together.

I’m currently being guarded by two golden retrievers. Andre and Sammy know, and they protect. I love knowing I’m being taken care of by everyone in the house. :)

I smile, too, because we’re that good of friends with our neighbors that I can text and ask for some Sprite. :)

I smile because I’m keeping water down. That is huge, folks, though I will spare you the details. Let’s just say that never have I had a flu bug where I threw up so much with absolutely nothing in my stomach. UGH. The fact that I’ve kept water down for going-on-seven hours is most certainly a reason to rejoice.

I smile, too, because I got some amazingly AWESOME news yesterday, news that I really want to splash out onto the blog right now, but I need to wait. I have some details right now but am waiting on more AND I have a dear friend who deserves to hear it in person, and I want to wait for the chance to tell her. I love it when God moves BIG…really, really excited about some future opportunities!

I smile because next week promises a reunion with some dear friends. And pie. Though friends definitely come first on the list. But let’s face it…pie at Thanksgiving is SO good, isn’t it?! :)

I smile because I am loved, and that has been shown to me in countless ways this week.

What about you? What made you smile today?

Sig

The ABC’s of Mel’s Brain

It’s definitely time for me to sit down and have some quality time with the blog.

It isn’t like I haven’t been here the last few weeks, but I haven’t been here.

I guess life is just like that sometimes.

So…in 26, if-I-make-it-that-long, bullet points…here’s life.

Sorta.

And by the way, I wrote part of this on a Sunday…I think I reference that once or twice. :)

  • Andre is my dog…my nine year-old boy. I love him. He puts a smile on my face even when I don’t feel like smiling.
  • Hearts that break are opportunities for God to do some major healing. That’s what I’ve been learning lately.
  • I love to create. My brain is awesome at dreaming up ideas…the following through is hard. Ish. Really enjoying painting lately and almost ready to pull out the sewing machine and learn how to use it.
  • I still want to learn to play the djembe. Really play it. Thinking about blowing the rest of my birthday money on one since it’s cheaper than a plane ticket to Africa so I can buy one in a market there. :)
  • Epic moments have made up life lately. Nothing huge, just important. I feel like I’m finally comfortable with being who I am…and not caring (as much) what other people think. Took me awhile to even get to that point.
  • F is for big failure. Feeling like that in a lot of ways. A friend said something today about Satan attacking ferociously on Sundays. I have to agree…feeling really down today.
  • Good memories. Really trying to focus on the blessings that God has placed in my life. There are so many…and I’m thankful for each of them.
  • Happiness is this picture I bought for myself a few weeks ago with some of my birthday money. I love it. I can’t think of a better thing to hang in our kitchen on our green wall. :)

  • Ice cream cake. It’s worth turning a year older for…to be sure. A week and some later, we’re still working on it. Which could speak volumes about our self control…or the fact that I sorta forgot it was in the freezer! :)
  • Goofy, but I love toast with jelly. So does Mae.
  • Mae is still talking about chasing kitties on the farm. Golly, I love her…and that she had such a good time there.
  • I am so thankful that I am loved. By friends, by my family, by my Father. So good.
  • Mae lights up my life. Every single day. What a blessing she is.
  • Thankful for a Father who never gives up on me, even on those days when I’m sure everyone else has.
  • I’ve been overtired lately…too many late nights and too much early-morning running. Headed to bed soon, thankfully.
  • Poofy pigtails on my princess of a girl. Her cutest look so far, I think.
  • Been a week full of questions. I’m more convinced than ever that some things, there will be no answers for, until I can ask my Father face to face.
  • Reunions with sweet friends…always fun. Always hard to say goodbye, too. Still worth the hello.
  • I love my Sammy, too…I never thought we’d bring home an Indo souvenir like the one we’ve got living in our house. He’s one-of-a-kind.
  • Sometimes you just gotta cry big, fat tears. Letting them fall helps. And letting my two year-old daughter hug them away teaches the beauty of compassion.
  • Sometimes we just need people who love us unconditionally. Thankful for that this week.
  • I was thinking of learning to play the violin. Just kidding. :)
  • I found this bottle of wine a week or so ago. Seriously. I thought we had topped it with Barefoot wine, but this? Fantastic.

  • X…seriously? Who can come up with anything related to it in daily life? I don’t play the xylophone and I haven’t broken any bones lately, so this one may just have to stay blank.
  • Ever feel like life is a ride on a yoyo?
  • We haven’t been to the zoo yet this summer. We talked about hitting the one in Omaha with some of my family later in August. We’ll see.

If you stuck around long enough to read all of this…thanks.

You’re a blessing, friends. :)

Sig

Little Blessings (Pt. 22)

:) Zumba. Chalkin’ up another new experience. I am not a dancer…and that’s ok. There was a lot of laughter, and that is definitely a blessing. 😉

:) Valentine’s Day…though we’re actually celebrating Friday. (I think!)

:) Realizing what a mistake it is to take Maelie into a book store…and being thankful that I had enough cash in my wallet to pay for the damage. Yikes. Blessing? Choosing to see it that way…

:) Seeing a friend, on above outing, and her UH-dorable baby boy.

:) Seeing God answer a specific prayer today.

:) Anne of Green Gables. (DON’T laugh. I’m completely addicted. You should be, too.)

:) Singing in the shower.

:) Going to a new destination (in another city) withOUT using the GPS.

:) Running five miles yesterday. (I coulda gone more…really. But my knee decided to “dislocate” for a second. Really. Supposedly what happens with runner’s knee. Yeah, it was good times. Choosing to focus on the I-ran-five-miles part. ;))

:) Two crazy golden retrievers who love me to pieces.

You know what? I love them to pieces, too.

Sig

30 Days of Thanks, Day 5: Storms

I love a good thunderstorm.

In fact, I believe I started a blog post with exactly that same statement a couple weeks ago.

One of my absolute favorite things in the world to do is curl up under a fluffy, warm blanket and take a nap while a huge thunderstorm crashes outside.

I also love a snowstorm, the kind of blizzard that blows with fury and promises at least one snow day…if not more.

True, I’m not a teacher anymore; therefore, snow days have no real merit. And at the same time, knowing that everyone around me is hunkered down, sipping coffee (or cocoa) and watching the white rage outside…it’s comforting. I’m also known to randomly bake cupcakes late at night when there’s a blizzard going…that’s just fun. Plus, cupcakes are really good with coffee and cocoa…and just about anything else.

Ok, sorry…small rabbit trail. 😉

Anyway, I’m definitely thankful for those kind of storms.

But I also know that when I came up with my writing topics for this month, that those kind of storms weren’t really what I had in mind.

Do you mind if I tell you a story?

You see, there’s a golden retriever sleeping on the floor at the foot of my bed as I type this.

His name is Sammy.

And while those of you who know Sammy think of him as a crazy, lovable, lion of a puppy, he h

as so much more to his story.

True, he annoys the c–p out of me almost daily. He barks and wakes up Maelie, he never leaves Andre alone, he destroys stuffed animals, he carries the bathroom rug around the house…and outside.

But for a week, over four years ago, we found out what it was like to live without all of this.

And it’s this storm that I want to tell you about.

Tobin and I had just spent a summer in Indonesia while most of our friends had gone back to the States.

We’d had some good times…and some tough times, and we’d decided, as the school year was just beginning, that we needed to be more disciplined with spending time in God’s Word.

We were waking up early to read and pray…and while those first days took some major discipline and dedication, it was becoming habit. Good habit.

We were growing, something we desperately desired, and it was good.

Not long after we had gotten into this habit, something turned our world upside down.

Sammy was stolen.

Someone, in broad daylight while we were at school, had come to our fence, lured him to the edge of our yard, and taken him.

To say we were devastated only scratches the very surface.

We couldn’t eat. We couldn’t sleep. We couldn’t function at school, though we tried. We couldn’t think of anything but our Sam.

Where was he?

E ach d

ay seemed like a year. We prayed, we drove by the stolen dog markets multiple times a day (yes, they really do exist), we handed out fliers, we offered a huge reward.

And we cried.

I’m an emotional female and tears aren’t so rare for me…but to see my husband break down and sob over the loss of our Sam…was heartbreaking.

We couldn’t understand why God was letting this unbearable storm rage around us.

One afternoon when Sam had been gone a few days, Tobin went down at the police station to file a report.

I was home alone.

The sun was shining, it was the perfect Indonesia September day…

And it was just pouring in my gray, defeated heart.

I felt helpless.

I felt crushed.

We wanted to grow…and we were growing.

There was nothing I could do…nothing.

And it was at that moment that I dropped to my knees…and literally fell on my face before God.

I sobbed…as I poured out my heart.

I cried out to Him and told Him how much I was hurting, how much I missed my Sammy, and then…

How much I still loved Him and trusted His plan.

And I honestly can’t tell you that, as those words came out of my mouth, that they were in my own power.

Because I’m pretty sure they weren’t…but that didn’t make them any less true.

A few more days followed (you’ve heard the rest of the story) before Sammy was returned to us.

I still remember how the sunshine literally returned to our lives that day…how we couldn’t wait to just live again. Of course, we spent a lot of time loving on our dogs…

But we also spent a lot of time basking in the JOY that came after the storm…and giving thanks for blessings. Tobin and I also, I believe, got a little peek at the heart of God…and how He truly does care for His children and the things that matter to each of us.

To say I’m thankful for storms is hard… none of us love when life is hard.

But what comes after the dark is beautiful.

And for that?

I am thankful.

Sig

Pouring the Coffee on a Freezing Day

Holy cow, it’

s FUR-EEZING outside! I think it’s 50 or so on May 26th.

Whatever.

So, yes, I’ve had my Diet Coke today, but right now I’m having coffee, too. And typing this while covered with a flannel blanket. And wishing that my daughter would just SLEEP…because she’

s slept a grand total of ten minutes all day. I need more sleep than she does, apparently…which is scary because I can survive on very, very little.

(Correction: I can survive, but that doesn’t mean I’m pleasant. So, really, I should get my sleep.)

Speaking of, it’s been a week of little sleep. I hate how stress affects me…mostly in the area of inability TO sleep for more than a few hours at a time.

I’ll wake up, toss and turn, and maybe…if I’m lucky…get back to sleep again.

Perhaps a nap would be a better use of my time than blogging right now…we shall see. But for those of you who are interested, I’m drinking coffee (now half-caf…yay for REAL caffeine!) with butter pecan creamer. Yeah, it’s pretty yummy. Out of my brown and lime green mug with a flower on it that Tobin bought for me in Indonesia when I was having a really rough week.

:)

Based on some info in the previous paragraph, you may have figured out that I’ ve finally weaned Maelie.

It’s better for both of us.

She’s independent now and capable of giving herself a bottle without my help. But she still lets me snuggle her while she drinks it if I want to…but she’s just as happy not being held. So it’s a win-win.

I think I may be raising a girl who’s just as social as her mommy, too. I tend to get grumpy if I go more than a day or so without seeing a friend or getting out of the house. Apparently, so does she. Yesterday morning, she was just a wreck. In all fairness, we hadn’t been out since Sunday, so part of it was justified. She whimpered and cried most of the way to Judson when we took Tob to work and most of the way home. Then we headed to a friend’s house for the Oprah party, I plopped her on the ground with some other little kids, and she was as happy as anything… for over an hour.

So apparently I need to fill up our schedule with play dates! 😀

So sometime during our coffee date, the story of my “crappy” day will probably spill out. (No pun intended…seriously.)

And, really, it’s ok to laugh now. Cause I will laugh as I recall it.

It started on Tuesday morning around 9 a.m. I had changed Mae’s diaper not too long before but thought I smelled something. I waited it out for a few, but it still smelled and so I carried her upstairs to change the diaper, not realizing that she had exploded out of it completely.

All over my tank top.

We changed the diaper, I changed my shirt, and all was well…or, so we thought.

About an hour later, the dogs were being obnoxious on the porch; I herded them inside to bring peace to the entire neighborhood. Andre kept begging me to go back to the porch…that’s what I thought, anyway.

He was, in fact, begging me to go outside because his poor puppy tummy was upset. Well, I didn’t get the hint, and I paid for it big time.

I was sitting on the couch when he came over to me, squatted, and had diarrhea all over the floor.

It got my jeans and would have gotten the couch if (thank you, God!) a blanket hadn’t been covering it.

So I just cleaned it up (changed clothes AGAIN), threw some laundry in, and called my husband for some sympathy. And took the poor doggy outside again. :(

Later on, the icing on the cake occurred. Really, I’ve just been waiting for this to happen. It was bound to at some point!

I was frazzled from the “poopy” morning and not really thinking clearly. I had mixed up Maelie’s bottle and went to pour it into the liner (we use drop ins) and…

Yep.

I totally forgot the liner.

Formula went EVERYWHERE. (And out of the three messes within the span of two hours or so? This was was the worst to clean up.) It was all over the counter, floor, and garbage can. Nasty. (Formula, in my opinion, rivals the smell of poop.)

It was one of those comical moments where I was: a) SO glad no one was watching; and b) not sure whether to laugh or cry.

(I chose to laugh.)

We managed to get through the rest of the day with nothing too major other than another diaper blowout that, thankfully, didn’t get all over me again.

But really…sometimes when it rains it pours…or maybe there’s some random poop analogy, but I think I’ll leave that alone. Unless you want to share one. :)

I’m looking forward to my hubby’s long weekend. We don’t have a ton planned, but he mentioned a parade on Sunday. That’s cool. We haven’t gone to one with Maelie yet…and I’m a teensy bit (or a lot!) excited about it. We’ll probably find some things to keep us busy or at least entertained. And I also have a birthday party to plan for my girl…

I don’t know how I feel about that yet. Is she REALLY almost one? Golly gee, time flies.

Well, my toes are frozen…I’m thinking it’s time to go find some socks.

SOCKS.

IN MAY.

I have a serious problem with this.

However, my feet are cold, so I’m off to fix that.

Hope you are all having a wonderful week. Thanks for joining me!

Sig

Rockin’ the Random

Seriously, my brain must be exhausted.

‘Cause other than a way deep post that might make it to the blog tomorrow, the only things left swimming around in my brain are random.

So random is what you get tonight!

I got my eyes checked today for the first time in, I don’t know, eight years? I sort of got lectured, too, on the importance of having them checked once. a. year.

Really?

Is this news to anyone else?

The good news…my eyesight has actually improved. YAY! The bad…I still need glasses. (insert sarcasm) YAY! Which is not really a surprise since I knew I should be wearing them for the last several years but just never did. My new ones are cute, though.

A little funky.

Let’s just say they make me look like a writer. Which is what I am, so it’s all good. :)

I should get them next week, and if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll get a pic. Maybe. If you’re nice.

One of my dogs is deathly afraid of thunderstorms. Which is shocking to us because it stormed ALL the time in Indonesia, and both of the dogs were just fine during those storms. We got hit with a crazy storm on Wednesday…and Sammy proved to me just how tough he is not. For half an hour I was racing around the house trying to get a bunch of things done before waking up Maelie so we could go pick up Tobin from work.

That dog would not back off me at all.

Not only did he need to be close to me, he needed to be touching me.

He just could not settle down. And I have no idea what happened or why he is suddenly afraid.

Any thoughts on that?

Our Maelie girl is 11 months old today. And that’s all I have to say about that because I really can’ t believe i

t. And she proved what a big girl she is today by taking TWO naps IN HER CRIB.

(FYI: This is an extremely rare occurrence.) I am so proud of her.

:) And thinking that maybe, just maybe, we are nearing what people would term “normal”.

I am not a fan of the weather today. After three days in the 80’s and one in the 70’s, it is not ok that today is in the 50’s! I am cold. Yet I do not want to wear socks. Therefore, my feet are very cold.

Hmph! It’s. Not. Fair.

And for whatever reason, I have been dying to watch Confessions of a Shopaholic.

(I own it, but it’s oh-so-much-more-fun with a friend!) I actually really enjoyed the books, but they didn’t make the luggage cut when we moved back from Indo, so I haven’t read them recently.

Funny storylines, but definitely written by an author who is a little more “free” with her language.

But if you can get past that, totally hilarious books.

What, I’m writing book reviews now? (Hey…that could be an idea…)

Um, maybe not.

At least not now, although I did read an excellent book this week that maybe I’ll talk about later. :)

I really should go. I have a lot to get done tonight before a busy morning at church tomorrow.

Hope you all are having a fantastic weekend.

Thanks for reading!

Sig

Happy Birthday, Andre!

Our boy, Andre, turns eight today.

I’m not sure where those years have gone.

I know he’s not human (don’t tell him, though!

;)), but as I’ve said before, Andre is very much

a part of our family.

He’s been with us for all but the first year of our marriage…and we’ve been through a lot together. International moves, additions, losses, tough times, and lots of happy times.

He’s been a constant in the midst of so many years of change for us.

Today I teared up a little when I said to Tobin, “You know, when Andre was seven, I felt safe.

Now he’s eight…and I don’t.”

I know it’s just another day and that my happy, energetic, dancing boy is the same as always…and today, I choose to celebrate him. He’s wonderful, and we love him so, so much.

Happy birthday to our sweet boy. We wish you many more years of exuberance and butt wiggling!

Thank you for the blessing

you are in our lives.

😀 We love you!

Sig

Our Boys

Today you get to meet two of my good buddies…and two very important members of our family.

It amazes me that I’ve blogged almost two months straight without talking much about these boys.

They are a big part of our lives and have been through a lot with us.

Our first boy is Andre.

Andre joined our family, when he was five months old, in September of 2003. The decision to adopt him was pretty spur-of-the-moment.

We had talked for awhile, but not seriously, about getting a dog. Then we literally woke up one morning, decided that was the day, and had him home with us by 5 p.m. Andre is the most tenderhearted, sweet animal you will ever meet. He loves people and will do just about anything for attention, including stealing socks (WHILE we’re trying to put them on) and dancing around. He has quite the butt wiggle and always has…it still makes us laugh. Andre made t he journey to Indonesia with us, and we are so glad

he did. He was a constant in life when things were very up in the air, difficult, and at times, just plain confusing and frustrating. Now at almost eight years old, he is still all puppy, which we are so incredibly thankful for. We aren’t sure where time went, but we absolutely love our boy and couldn’t imagine our family without him and all the love he brings to it. (Yeah, my hair is craaaaaazy in this pic. I know.) 😀

Puppy Andre

Andre in Indonesia

Enter Andre’s opposite, Sammy. (Samson) Sammy’s coming home story is much different.

When Andre was 2 1/2, we began talking about another dog.

Since we were living overseas and sometimes gone for big chunks of time, we thought it might be good for Andre to have a friend. One night we went to a loc

al mall to get some work done at Starbucks and ended the night by walking through

the new pet store.

Bad idea…I fell in love.

Our eyes connected, and there was no turning back.

Three month old Sammy became ours ten minutes later. We paid an exorbitant fee to take him home in a taxi…and our lives have never been the same since. Sammy took one look at his new brother…and tried to jump on him. He spent the next several hours (until well after midnight) sprinting back and forth in our yard, making us wonder if we had made a huge mistake.

Puppy Sammy

Five years later, I can tell you that it was no mistake.

Sammy has added life, energy, craziness, and completely unconditional love to our family. He has put us through a lot, too, including a heart-wrenching six days without him, which you can read about here. And here and here, too. :) But we wouldn’t trade him for anything and can’t imagine our lives without him.

Perhaps our dogs are more important to us than they would have normally been because we went so many years without having kids. During that time of waiting, in a sense, they became our kids.

While some people disagree with that, we’re ok with it. They are special to us, and while having Maelie has definitely diminished the amount of attention they receive, they are still very loved.

And still very much a part of our family.

Puppy Sammy & Andre

Andre & Sammy Playing

And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sig