Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Part of Me

I started this post early last week...and could not work my way through my thoughts to complete it. The laundry will not get folded and put away today...again. My birthday thank you's will continue to sit unwritten on my desk. But I am finishing this post today. I'm ready.


My grandma went Home last week.

It was an emotionally-full, physically-tiring week that felt accelerated by my girls getting sick, and getting off to the funeral one day in order that I could be home the next. Seventeen hours of driving, a funeral, grieving family, and sickness waiting at home packed into 38 hours...I'm just spent.

Seventeen hours of driving on my own provided me with much time of prayer. But oddly enough, I did not reflect much on what the passing of this amazing lady would mean for me. And so today, with most of the sickness behind me, and much rest caught up on, the reflection begins...and it comes in waves. Thinking about how her life wove into mine, the intangible things I inherited from her, how her passing affected so many people who loved her...and how I hope I am like her one day.

Grandma was funny, feisty, opinionated...very opinionated, young, beautiful, and godly. She is a reason I am who I am today. As a young wife, she heard a sermon on the radio and gave her life to Christ. And a year later my Grandpa came to Christ. They raised a family of 8 as best they knew how. My dad went into the ministry in part because of her, and raised his own family of 4. I am not in ministry per se, but I love my Jesus and am passing on that love to my little family of 2.

She was short, like me. She sang alto, like me. She loved pretty things, flashy belts and fun shoes. ;o) Me too. She always knew where she stood on a matter, and sometimes to a fault would argue her position...I could stand to be a bit more courageous in some areas, and back down in some others. Grandma was never old to me, not even when I "grew up". She just always looked the same...until just a few short years ago. And when she smiled, her whole face would smile...her eyes, her mouth, each beautiful wrinkle in her skin. Her laugh was contagious. I can still hear it. Her sense of humor was not what one would expect from their grandma, she came out with some of the driest, funniest things. She was a pool shark, and lobbied for Senior Citizens rights at her state capital. She drove her car like a racer around those curvy rural Missouri roads. She was an independent lady, but fell in love again years after my Grandpa had passed...

The last time I talked to her on the phone, she was full of life and joy, and was wishing to see me & her new great-granddaughters. We never got down there...and I'll always be sad about that. I was rummaging through some photo albums and came across a picture from our wedding. I teared up right away. I looked at it and thought: That's my Grandma. She was so happy that day. Happy for me. Celebrating with me. There for me. What else could one ask for? She loved me...even if I didn't get down to see her often, even if she wasn't able to meet my family. She loved me and was there when she could be.

If you know me well at all, you know that music is a language that speaks deeply to me. I get lost in the longing chords of a double bass, and reflective in the expressive tones of a voice. I have listened to "For Always" by Josh Groban about 100x since Grandma left this's two phrases that get me every time...
"I close my eyes, and there in the shadows I see your light..."
"For always and ever, you'll be a part of me..."
She will always be a part of what makes me me. I'll close my eyes and see that face...and I'll forever be thankful for the amazing woman that God chose to put in my life.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Curvy Girl Goes Skinny

No...I did not lose weight, I did not achieve the "thin as a rail" status. People do not say, "Wow, I can't believe you have had 2 kids, you look amazing!" They say, "You look so nice." The word 'skinny' does not grace the space next to my name. Actually, the word 'skinny' has never been put next to my name. I digress...

Actually, what I DID do is discover a skinny jean that works on a curvy girl. Four years ago I had lived through two years of Iowa winter and knew I needed something more in my winter gear. Enter riding boots. And warm legs. And stylish functionality. Thank you...I can now survive. But, I had no jeans that I could wear inside my boots, so I just wore them outside. I have tried on ENDLESS numbers of skinny jeans only to be disgusted time and time again. I mean, first off, I'm short - Strike 1. Secondly, I have hips larger than my waist - Strike 2 (which you think would be common knowledge about women's bodies - eh?). And lastly, I don't like to wear jeans that hug my every crevice! - Strike 3. And that's why I've never owned skinny jeans. And I was sad to have to wear my pants over my boots...but I was warm.

Then I read this. And I went to AE (where I never shop). And I tried them on. And I am in love with the Skinny Kick as well as the Skinny. And I found them on sale on Cyber Monday with free shipping. And the world rejoiced as the angels sang. Or...maybe I was listening to Christmas music while I ordered. Anyway...they are as close of a perfect fit as I've ever worn.

If you happen to be a curvy girl, make sure these get put on your Christmas list. Your boots will thank you.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Growing Up

It's almost comical to me how much my eldest wants to grow up. Today for instance, she is carrying around an old cell phone that was discarded when Rohn got his Treo years ago. She snatched that thing right up when I found it yesterday after digging through a box I haven't touched since we moved 7 years ago (yes, I am THAT kind of "out of sight, out of mind" person). And she's talking on the phone to someone very important, and is checking her calendar often. Totally cracking me up. Last year, she went the whole year comparing everything to "when I'm 33...", because of course, I was 33 and it was very cool to be 33.

Makes me think about when I was "little", and when I was in college but still living at home. Oh the things I was going to do when I grew up, when I left home:

  • I was NEVER going to take naps!
  • I would eat dessert as a meal, and drink out of the milk carton.
  • Play my music as loudly as I wished...and sing along at the top of my lungs.
  • Sleep in, sleep in, sleep in as long as I wanted.
  • Stay out past curfew...I mean, who imposes a 10pm curfew on their daughter??
  • I was going to leave the house without telling anyone where I was going, who I'd be with, and when I'd be getting back.
  • I would wear JEANS at any random time I chose to any locale I thought I just might want to wear them. AHA! (I know, this does not sound crazy to anyone else, but you'd have to have my same growing up background to understand, I suppose)
So now I am grown up. I mean, I'm thirty-something, live in a separate town from my parents (separate state!), have a mortgage, 2 kids, and I'm in charge of a ministry at church. I think all those things together might say I've reached grown-up-dom. Here's what I've checked off my list of being a grown up:
  • I LOVE naps, oh my goodness I wish I could get one everyday. And now I'm on the fighting end to make the Littles lay down and rest each day. What??
  • I eat dessert as a meal, chocolate as a meal, and coffee as a meal. And at one time I did drink straight out of the milk carton...b/c I could...but not anymore.
  • When driving the Swagger Wagon, everyone wants to talk to Mama, so the music has to be at a reasonable level. When at home managing the everything all day, music stays at a reasonable level. But, when I'm out on my own, I end up calling someone so I can speak to them uninterrupted...and you know what? I don't so much blare the music at all. That's sad.
  • Sleep in? What is that? Ever since these little alarm clocks entered my house, sleeping in has been a dream of the past...or the future...but definitely not the present. HA! That would be a present!
  • Curfew...I love to be home at, 9pm. Because then the babysitter has done all the work of getting the girls in bed, and then I just get to sit around in my pj's and watch whatever DVR I want to catch up on, and it's quiet. New rule at the Gibsons...try never to pay a sitter when the kids are sleeping. Good one, right?
  • Not telling anyone where I'm going...yea, not so much. When I leave I practically have to leave notes all over, make sure the sitter has my number, assure the girls I'll be right back to kiss them or cuddle them before bed, tell them where we're going and how important it is to be alone with Daddy, give a run down to the sitter, give a time we'll be getting home, check in while we're gone. So much for anonymity.
  • Jeans. Yes...I get to do this one daily. I have my stay-at-home-play-with-the-girls jeans, my date jeans, my going-to-town jeans (you know, the big city! Sioux Falls!), my work jeans. I love them. I live in them. I do believe I could use a few more pair. But to be honest, I love and adore dressing up. High heels. Lacy or opaque tights. Skirts & dresses that flounce above my knee. I now wear jeans everyday and I miss what it feels like to get prettied up. I wear dresses to church even though no one "expects" me to do it. I just love dressing up. I know, I'm weird. Love me anyway ;o)
All of that to bring me back to what I was trying to point out. We spend 1/2 our lives waiting to do our own thing, and then we get to our thirties and discover that we don't ever really get to do our own thing. We had it so easy when we were young...we just never knew it! I so want to instill in my girls a desire to just enjoy life where you're at. The next chapter will come barreling upon you when you least expect it, and then you'll never be able to go back. That chapter will be closed...but a new unwritten one will be in front of you. 

I think I should take my own advice. The jeans were definitely worth the wait though.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Holding On

Because some days it's all I feel I can do. And lately, I feel it more than ever...which isn't how it should be at all. I should be holding on with all I have all the time. Circumstances can never determine who I view God to be. But, these are the times that I see just how fleeting everything else in life is. There IS nothing to do, but hold on to the only Truth that never changes.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How Do I Love Thee...

My friend, Janet, is such an encouragement on so many levels. One of those levels happens to be the topic of homeschooling. She wrote a book of devotionals, "The Daily Focus" (highly recommend!), that I've grown to love. In one of her stories, she told how she wrote a list of reasons she decided to homeschool, taken after the poem How Do I Love Thee by Elizabeth Barret Browning. Whenever Janet had a rough day of school with her kids, she would reference her "I Love Homeschooling" list to help refocus her on the big picture.

I liked the idea. I liked it for a lot of reasons...the main one being that one of my goals is to live intentionally. Referring to a list like that - and continually adding to it - would remind me to be intentional with my days.

Many of you do not homeschool, that's totally cool ;o) But, I thought I'd share the list that I started this year and maybe you'll start a list of your own for whatever thing proves to be your challenge.

Homeschooling, I Love Thee, Here are the Ways:

1. Freedom to be where we want to be physically & still be in school
2. No dragging kids out of bed at 6am (ie: early) to meet a preset time schedule
3. A daily schedule that can be adjusted as needed to dive into a subject more in depth, or adjust around appointments or ministry opportunities
4. Interaction with a variety of ages on a daily learning to adjust to the needs of others and help them or be helped
5. I get to see what the teacher sees...all the dots connecting, the lighted eyes of my girls when it suddenly all makes sense
6. They grow up so fast. I will never regret spending this "extra" time with them and sacrificing to be the one who teaches them
7. We're leaving a legacy...and we only get this one lifetime to pass on what we feel is needful for them. This is a part of that legacy, infusing Christ and HIS love into every single part of their daily lives, because life without Christ is no life at all.

So what's your challenge? At the end of the day, why do you do what you do? Start the list...

Friday, June 29, 2012

Kitchen Ramblings

I've always been fascinated with old houses...and the history of old houses. I blame my parents...they're history nuts. A few months ago I was reading an old journal of mine and I had written about this broken down old house I passed on my commute each day that had obviously had some glorious days in it's past, and what it had endured and "seen" during it's lifetime (I'm aware that was a total run-on sentence). I always thought it would be so cool to bring something that was so discarded back to life.

My poor husband, I should've told him these things before we purchased our current home. It was built in 1918 as the town boarding house...great big porches on the front and back of it, beautiful large windows throughout, formal living & dining rooms, parlor, huge open hallway upstairs lined with 5 bedrooms that leads to a sunroom through french doors. I took it in and saw past the ugly wallpaper, bad paint choices, worn carpet, teal cabinets, and imagined what it could be...or maybe what it once was. I loved the character of the wooden ceiling beams, and the door in the kitchen that opened to a closet (that I'm convinced is covering up a servants stairway to the upstairs "attic" room), big walk-in closets, and the opportunity for entertaining others comfortably. After the 7 previous houses we had walked through that day, this one seemed like a palace. We signed the dotted line and started getting to work.

Did you know how much renovating/updating an old house can cost? We soon found out...and the dream of what the house could one day be seemed distant & foggy. Looking back now, I see how much progress we've made, and how much we have yet to do. People comment on what a beautiful house we have and I have to just say, "It's a work in progress"...because there is really no other way to describe how much money, sweat, frustration, & tears have gone into it. In 6+ years of living here, we have yet to sit back and say, "I'm bored!" I do believe that day isn't actually going to come!

Last week we were finally able to take on the eyesore of the house...the kitchen. It has been totally gutted. I think it already looks fabulous. LOL!


Notice the beautiful linoleum...circa 1970's...or before. And the stunning teal paint on ALL the woodwork.

And please take careful notice that I took the wallpaper off the soffit only to come to the conclusion that we didn't want to put any money into the kitchen right now, whatever we had was going towards the renovation.

And after demo:

Good-bye soffits!! If you look closely at the floor, you will see black paper. This is the tar paper they would glue to the wood floor to use as a moisture barrier before they put on the tile. We found a layer of tile (light green & beige), then plywood, then the lovely brown vinyl that we've been living with since we moved in.
And look at the insulation stuffed in the wall where they took out one of the big windows to put something more "modern" in. I wish they hadn't done that. ;o( But I've thought that a million times the past few years about different stuff.

Took out the 1/2 walls above the doorways. Still thinking how we want to proceed with the ceiling area here.

Our kitchen has been at least 4 different colors as we can tell: peach, light green, tan, white...and teal.

Here's what's beneath the tar paper:

Maple and fur wood floors. Today I spent a little time trying to figure out what was going to bring the tar paper up. So far, mineral spirits does the best job, but I think I might take a walk on the more chemically side of things and try something stronger. I'm not against elbow grease, but if something else can help me put in less elbow grease, it has my vote ;o)

Working on this floor today...and this entire current me thinking about why I'm so fascinated by old houses. But I've rambled enough for now, so I'll pick up on that thought in the next post.

BTW...our contractor is the best. You should've seen his face when we told him we had decided to save the old wooden floors. Priceless. Poor guy.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Confession of a non-Catholic

I feel the need to confess! I didn't do it to be mean, or because I was ticked off...wait, I'll back up.

BackStory - Over a year ago my most fabulous, sought-out stylist decided to go on his own and work out of his house...45 minutes from where I live. Yay for him. Boo for me. I was already traveling 25 minutes to get my hairs cut, but it was SO worth it. He knew my hair and made it love me in all manners of my crazy, wonderful life. Then he left and my hair and I were sad. So I got a babysitter, and made the trip to his place to get my hair cut & colored. And it was lovely...and costs including childcare meant that I spent more on that cut & color than what was acceptable. Boo. The gal that owned the original salon with him was doing business much closer to where I lived, so I decided to try her out.

((Enter current story))

Six months ago I got my hair cut by Maria, and the cut process was long b/c I kept asking for her to take more off here & there, but when we got to the end, I was happy. Life happens...I did not get back there until just today...and oh my goodness I needed a cut. It was strung-out, out of shape, dry, and had lived in a pony for about the past month...I'm describing my hair here...don't misinterpret it to be me b/c I can see how it might be confusing.

Today we color oh-so-summery, and she cuts and is remembering little nuances about my hair that I had told her about before (Wow!). Both girlies also get their hairs cut (Audi's first!).  Finally we get around to styling mine & she styles it straight (b/c I usually wear it curly), and the girls are being crazy at the salon b/c it's been 2 hours, so it's time to GO! Hasta & Thank You!!!

On the way home I notice it. The sides are a bit longer around the face than what I like. I know it's the style, but when I wear it curly, I just don't like it like looks "off". And I think it will just grow on me and it will be fine...but as the afternoon has worn on, it is not growing on me. It annoys me. And I feel bad about that b/c if I would've said something at the salon, she would've fixed it and no big deal. But now the salon is 25 minutes away, and I don't have time to go deal with fixing it and it's naptime around here & there's no way I'm interrupting THAT!

Maria, forgive me. I absolutely knew what I was doing as I took out the hair shears & comb, and yes, I "straightened" the sides of my hair. (Audrey's voice was running through my head, "I do it myself!") Now, the good news is that I only had to straighten each side one time...maybe a little fixing would make two. But I didn't go back & forth and butcher my beautiful haircut that took a lot of time. It looks just fine to me, and NO ONE is going to know anything once I wear it curly like how I always do anyway. But I do apologize to Maria, b/c she would know that I messed with her work of art. I'm sorry, I sincerely am. But I'm happier now too. ;o(

I tell you this not because I am proud of what I did. But b/c there are things we do as moms that just have to make do sometimes. My first choice would've been to go back and get it fixed, but that wasn't really a viable option. My second choice would've been to find a capable stylist here to fix it, but why do you think I go 25 minutes away to get my hair cut? So, yes, I resorted to taking my hair into my own hands...and it is might even look better than fine, but I'm not going to go that far.

And by the way, I can't be the ONLY one who has ever done this deed. So go ahead, Share Please! Commiserate with this non-Catholic Baptist girl trying to do confession!