ANTICIPATION

When I was little, I would get so excited about Christmas I would puke.  No kidding.  I would get a sick headache, as a child, and just throw up.  For me, there is as much excitement in the anticipation of an event as the event itself.

It’s exactly the same for me now, as a grown up.

Soon we are headed to vacation.  It’s a big one.  ALL the cousins & Co. will be together in one house for one week.  At the beach.  The introverts in the family are nervous as all get out.  And I’ve driven the relaxed people in the family mad with a series of emails, attempting to preempt any disaster like forgetting pepper.

There will be coffee, sunrise, beach, repeat – daily for seven solid days.  I’m giddy with excitement and anticipation.  Giddy.  It’s going to be so epic, I think I’m going to call it a ‘sabbatical’ on my email auto reply.   The piety that ‘sabbatical’ implies makes people think twice before asking you to do something.  Besides, God and I have a thing about the beach.  He knows what I mean.

I am anticipating a marvelous week of reading, writing, and loving my family.  Let me tell you about the company I will be keeping….

First, there is my Mom.  Now, she needs this week more than anyone else. Period.  And I hereby proclaim that if her iPhone rings and she even thinks about answering it, I will subsequently and immediately be forced to throw it as far into the ocean as possible.  And her computer.  She needs this week.  She needs that great big ocean and that long sandy beach to get right down to the bottom of her spirit and settle her all the way to her core.  I can’t wait to see it.  To see her fingers dangle off the side of the chair, carelessly.  To see her walk at a regular pace.  To see her smile and linger and not rush.  To see her read and sleep. To see her fuss with her beach hair, which is curly and unruly and beautiful.  She. Needs. This. Week.

Then, there is my aunt.  She is as serious a beach nut as ever there was.  She will park herself out there on that beach until the day is done.  She’ll drink 3 cups of coffee before she gets out there, then a massive Pepsi out of a massive cup, and she will mysteriously never have to go in as long as the day lasts.  She’s trained for this, if you know what I mean.  She’ll sit and feed the birds, from her hands.  She’ll be the only one still enough and patient enough to do it.

My oldest cousin is exactly like her mother.  She will drag herself in from the beach at the last possible moment of the late afternoon.  She’ll be sorry that the day is done.  She’ll sit idly by, waiting for someone to trip (it will probably be me) on something.  Then she’ll laugh so hard, she won’t be able to talk.  She’ll tell everyone else about it too, calling each of us by the nickname she has bestowed lovingly upon us.  Mine is Nanner.  “Hey Porky, did you hear what Nanner did?  ahahhhahhaaaa……Chippy or Uni, you tell it, I can’t quit laughing.”  My favorite memories of her are from the beach.  Where she taught me to make drip castles.  We’ll still make them.  And we’ll get to talk.  And no matter how loud the people are, the ocean will drown out the sound enough so that we can have our own conversation.

My sister, Keldy, will be there.  She’s my sister by marriage.  And I’m telling you,  I don’t know how we did family vacation sabbatical without her.  I wish you could see what she can do with a kitchen that isn’t hers.  She will get in there, and in 10 minutes, have it make sense for us.  We won’t know where plates or cereal should go until she gets there.  I’m not sure what this is called on the spiritual gift inventory, but it is undoubtedly from the Lord.  I’m so scared because I’ll be there 1 day earlier than she will.  We’ll just have to eat donuts for every meal until she arrives.

Ashley will be there too.  Now, I’ve always liked her, but I fell head over heals for her when we went to New York City together 8 years ago.  The Pierce family was a disaster in the Big Apple.  We aren’t fast paced. Like…at all.  All we did was walk from one Starbucks to another complaining about how far we were from an actual beach.  When she found humor in our ignorance of the subway system, the ferry system, and the bus system, I knew she was a keeper.  She fit so perfectly into our family’s hilarities… and I’m pretty sure that was the weekend that my cousin, Jason, decided to propose.  Am I right?

Jason will be there.  And no matter what, he will be talking.  To anyone or anything. We just love to talk to each other, and these pesky things called careers, kids, and home maintenance are constantly getting in the way of our important conversations…which could probably solve global warming, the marriage crisis, and all the wars if anyone would just listen.

My uncle, Eddie, will be there.  He’ll wander off daily, and have a seriously unbelievable story to tell when he returns.  Like, we won’t actually know whether or not to believe it unless my aunt confirms it.  I thought he served in the military until I was 22.  He’s likely to pick up a new hobby as well, like surfing.  Or kiteboarding.  Whatever it is, it won’t be coffee and conversation for 16 straight hours.  He’ll find something to do.

Kelly will be there.  And we’ll stay up until we can’t hold our eyes open, talking.  Because we can.  And it’s worth it to be tired and grumpy the next day to talk just a little longer, to make one more memory.  Her husband, David, will be there, thinking up hilarious one-liners for all of the idiosyncratic things we all do all week long.

Michael will be there.  He’ll drag the kids around on the snow-sled-turned-skim-board.  For hours. On. End.  The ‘rope’ you see is an extension cord.  (That’s the kind of thing David will comment on.)  But, hey, it’s been going strong for about 5 years.  IMG_8613

My brothers will be there.  They’ll be fully present too.  Jeremy will dig a hole big enough to park a car in.

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Jonathan will cook.  This is his meal from last year….  I mean…

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The guys will play football until they have sandburn so bad they can’t move.  It will be on top of the sunburn they all have, except Jason….who will liberally apply SPF 70 every hour on the hour.

We’ll eat ‘Sweet 16’ powdered sugar donuts every day.  Because my granddaddy started the tradition, and we will honor that, by golly.

We’ll try to set a time for dinner, bless our hearts.  But we’ll be late every single day.  We just will.  It will be annoying, and we’ll try to figure out why.  And that will take 10 more minutes.  (That’s what my husband will comment on.)

All of our kids will be there.  There will be screaming and crying and carrying on.  It’s all part of it.  I am super afraid my kids (who are oldest) are going to teach all the kids who are learning to speak words like ‘lame’ and ‘stupid’ and how to roll their eyes at adults.  But Nolan said today he is most looking forward to watching TV at the beach. Whatev. It’s his vacation too.  We don’t have cable at home.  I honestly don’t care if they max out their screen time for the entire year.  I’m going to stick them in life jackets, put snacks on a low shelf,  and re-lax, my friends.

And at the end of the week, when we begrudgingly pull out of that drive to go back to our various responsibilities, I will be so saturated in gratitude for this precious family I won’t be able to speak.  Everyone is sacrificing something to come.  Money, work, time.  I’ll glare out that window and try to sear every single moment into my memory, because I know how unusual it is to truly enjoy a family vacation.  I’ve seen every single National Lampoon’s movie.  Our vacations are exactly like that, except we all like each other.

Good food, great coffee, endless waves, people I love….

I’m so excited I think I’m going to puke.

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CONFESSION

Here are 7 things you should know about me before following my blog.  My goal in life is to point people to Jesus, but I get it wrong a lot.

  1. I eat brownie mix almost every single day.
  2. When things break, I throw a tantrum that puts my kids’ tantrums to shame.
  3. I worry unnecessarily.
  4. I watch The Bachelor.  (while doing #1)
  5. I don’t enjoy pretend play with my kids, but I do it anyway.
  6. The 3 mornings I had to fast from coffee for my pregnancy glucose tests were the 3 worst mornings of my husband’s life.
  7. If I hear someone pulling in my lane, I shove clean unfolded laundry mixed with dirty laundry in the dryer to make it look like I keep a clean house.

There are many, many more things that I am not proud of, but they are between me and Jesus.  And we’re working on them.  I finished watching the Bachelor last night with a good friend of mine.  I’m not sure why that show has sucked me in.  In theory I hate everything about it.  Its lack of reality, its disregard for the feelings of those poor souls who give everything to a person who is giving something to everyone, its presumptuous attitude that ‘real love’ can be achieved in front of an audience and without real life thrown in the mix.  I was with the friend whose house I sneak over to after all of our kids are in bed and have coffee and good talks.   Her husband usually walks through the room and rolls his eyes at our girly banter, and he was especially annoyed last night as we giggled like school girls over Sean Lowe’s proposal to his new fiancé Catherine.  (It WAS NOT better than my husband’s proposal to me, for the record.  Love you, Babe.)

But it was precious.  He promised her the world, and she believed every word.  I hope their marriage works, and they can now begin to build a love that lasts.  It won’t be easy.  All the statistics are against them.  I hope they can overcome them.  I don’t know why I hope that, but it probably has something to do with my hope for marriage overall.  I hope marriages will last, but not just for longevity’s sake.  I hope marriage lasts for the fullness it can offer when it is done right.  There are low, low times in marriage.  But there are exhilarating moments that are really really wonderful.  Like last night, when I came home (way too late for a school night) to a clean kitchen (not how I left it), the smell of coffee still faintly in the air from where he had preset the machine to make a fresh pot at 4:30 this morning.  The children were sound asleep.  It was a sweet moment when I slipped into a prewarmed bed and, in his sleep, my husband whispered, ‘love you, babe.’

Sean and Catherine, you are about to embark on a great adventure.  You will discover the reality of ‘love’ now that the reality show is over.  You will discover the humanness of each other as you experience life together.  Sean, her body will droop after kids; Catherine, he may grunt and go bald (but hopefully never burp, a true gentleman would never burp in front of a lady).  You chose her at the finale of the show, but you will have to wake up every day and choose her again, and again, and again, and again.  She will have to decide to choose you too.  For it to work you have to choose each other, every single day, forever.

You better grow some rose bushes Sean, you’ll need to offer her one every day for the rest of your life.

(I’m probably never watching that show again.)

MESSES

Today was messy. *WARNING* I live with 4 boys, and this post is gross.

It all started with most horrific nightmare last night.  I dreamt that my morning coffee tasted really weak.  I woke up in a cold sweat.  Shaky from the horror.  Just a dream Christi Anna, just a dream….Josiah was standing next to me and finished waking me up.

Mom…

Yes honey.

I had a bad dream.

Oh me too baby, what was yours?

I dreamed you got eaten by a tiger. (pitiful sad face, trying not to cry)  What did you dream?

oh….nothing……I didn’t get eaten by a tiger, see…I’m right here.  (I did feel attacked though, still sweating from my own nightmare).

Thank goodness Michael had made the coffee like normal.  Today would not have been good without coffee.  I was almost finished with my coffee when Josiah says….

Mom, my stomach hur(BLUH)

Luckily I had a bucket nearby to catch most of it, because the toilet was being occupied.  Plus, none of my kids has ever made it to the toilet to vomit. Ever.  They are literally ALWAYS surprised, and do not see it coming. There is 1 room in my house with carpet….guess where we were…

[Enter Nolan].

Mom, my tooth is bleeding from where you guys yanked it out last night.

Ok, honey, please don’t use the word ‘yank’ to your teachers.  Let’s get you cleaned up.

After the morning rush, things got just quiet enough for me to start a project that I had procrastinated on and needed to finish today.

[Enter Zachary]

Mom, I spilled my juice all over me.  It’s everywhere, see?  Do you see mommy?

Yes, honey, I see it.  We’ll get it.

Now, because I have procrastinated, I really needed today to be low drama.  Did. Not. Happen.  Today, the messes came fast and furious.  When this virus showed up, I had finally gotten down to 1 load of unfolded laundry and only 1 hamper that was overflowing.  So laundry was under control. Not anymore.

The climax of it all occurred on the way home from picking up Nolan from school.  I had carried Josiah to the van with a blanket, poor thing. He had no business riding in a car, sick, with my mediocre driving skills, and he was in the back.  Zachary fell asleep on the way, and we had almost made it home, almost…1 mile to go…when…

Mom, Josiah just puked all over me!  Can you pull over? I’ll just walk the rest of the way home.

Ok, we’ll get it.  Almost home…

Lots of messes.  On days like today, I like to search for the bright spots.  Here are a 5:

1. Upon dismembering the carseat to clean it, I found an iPod that has been lost since before Christmas.  Score.

2. When I leaned over to kiss Josiah’s forehead he said, “aren’t you afraid the germs will get you? If you are, you could punch yourself in the face and try to kill them before they get you.”  In a round about way, I think he was trying to protect me.  That blessed me.

3. Despite the mess, I was able to finish my project.

4. Other than this temporary virus, my kids are in good health.

And finally,

5. My coffee tasted really, really good this morning.

FRIENDS

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Growing up I saw my mom invest in her friendships.  She was never too busy for a cup of coffee with a friend.  Sometimes they would laugh together, sometimes they would cry.  Sometimes they would walk, or ask me to leave the room.  (That was actually a little hard, because I have thought of myself as a grown up since I was 3…when I started drinking coffee with my mom and planning my wedding.)  I did not realize the value in seeing those friendships firsthand, until I really did grow up.

Below are a list of friend types everyone should be so lucky to have:

 5 a.m. friend – This is the friend you can text at 5 am, and hear back from within minutes.  You probably texted to complain about the perils of having to drive in the rain (rain because it is literally 1 degree above freezing) and therefore no 2-hour delay.

Commuter friend – The friend you talk to while driving to work.  You talk about work, husbands, children, and all of life.  The conversation never, ever ends (often you have to hangup mid-thought…she understands), just gets interrupted briefly for the things of life.

Long-distance friend – This is your longest running friendship.  You’re no longer near one another, but can pick up right where you left off – no awkward silences.

Hero friend – this is the person you call when you need inspiration.  She’s usually dusting while you talk, discussing how she sent her children to school eating homemade Belgium waffles and organic turkey bacon and ‘cage-free’ eggs.  Then, instead of feeling inspiration, you feel guilt and call friend #1.  She doesn’t dust.

Family friend – This is the friend that is in your family.  Thank God.  No, literally, THANK HIM.  You look forward to family functions because she will be there.  With her, you talk about everything from bacne to the omnipotence of God. (I am uniquely blessed in this category.)

Prayer warrior friend – This is the friend that can bring you to tears with just a “how are you doing”?  It’s not just a regular “how are you”, it’s a “how are you, really?  It’s said with such sincerity and concern, you know your answer is safe with her.  And boy will she pray….

Coffee friend – This is the friend who understands your need for coffee.  Talks happen after work over coffee, or after kids are in bed and we sneak over to each other’s house for a late night cup of decaf (I know…party animals…)

Friendships have never been more important to me in my life than right now, as a young mother.  When I was little, I prayed for a sister.  God answered my prayer by blessing me with more soul sisters than I could have asked for or imagined.  So glad His ways are not our ways.  I am richly blessed beyond measure, and so incredibly grateful for the gift of friendship.