Monday, October 31, 2011

A Lazy Sunday Morning

Fia with her cup of tea, she loves to drink hot vanilla tea. My favorite is when she is curled up on the couch, under a blanket, reading a book and cupping her hot tea.

Francesca's "bracelets"

Francesca reading the Bible, this is one of her favorite books to read and it is kept in the dining room. She reads during meals sometimes because who can say no to reading the bible?

Working on our journals..........such a great idea from "A Holy Experience". Mine is covered with food stains from the kids, dirt, a list of things I am thankful for which offers a snapshot into the days that are being lived now, scripture and drawings the kids have done.

Fia's journal

Warm, fuzzy dinosaur pjs

You might ask - where is your picture Mandy? Well, as soon as I figure out how not to look like a 50 year old bag lady in the morning I will get right on that - posting pictures of me right out of bed on a lazy morning. Seriously, I could be the before woman in some cosmetic surgery ad. I was thinking that the best PTO fundraiser would be taking pictures of all the moms as they pull up for morning drop off and then blowing the pictures up to 16x20s. Then you send copies and say you are making a display of all the parents on a school bulletin board. The size of your picture directly correlates to the amount of money you donate to the PTO. The more money you give, the smaller your picture. I bet we could raise A TON of money.........

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Mother's Advice......(for my kids)

The first time I went to a grocery store with one of my kid's was when Fia was 5 days old. I have no idea why on earth I felt the need to take my five day old baby to the store when my husband was off work for the summer but, well....back in those days control and proving myself to be able to handle IT ALL was key. I remember racing around the store with my mylicon bottle in one pocket and binkie in the other. I was praying she wouldn't let loose and that I could get in and out without causing a scene. I got through it all right but then was stopped in the parking lot by someone wanting me to sign a petition. I was a bit out of control trying to maintain my control and do it all because I ended up yelling frantically at her while racing the cart through the parking lot "MY BABY IS FIVE DAYS OLD AND NEEDS TO EAT!!!"

Ahhhhh........the good ol' days.

When Fia was about nine months old and still a bit of a pill I was back at Marc's shopping. I had made it through the store and was just about to check out when she let loose. If you all had ever seen Fia let loose then you know how ear piercing and, frankly, annoying it was when she would have her screaming fits.

It was the best thing to happen.

I just held her while she was screaming and calmly put all my groceries on the counter. I never yelled or got too flustered or tried to rush through everything. The grocery ladies were a bit flustered and tried to rush but you can only go so fast and nothing was going to calm my girl down except to get out of that store.

I survived. She survived. It wasn't the worst thing in the world and a screaming child didn't mean I was a bad parent. Before I thought it did. I would become tense entering a shopping establishment. I would become irritated by the littlest thing, something that wouldn't even register at home but because I was in public I was hyper aware of it happening. I would mutter things under my breath, I wouldn't think of threats in my mind of how I was never shopping with a baby again, this was horrible, etc., etc.

What I would tell that woman I was back then and what I want to tell my children when they grow up is to ENJOY your children. Yes, grocery shopping is different with children, it takes longer, there are sometimes hiccups along the way but it can be enjoyable, even fun.

Just the other day we where in Marc's and the kids wanted to stop and look at the toys. And we did. It was fun. We spent 10-15 minutes just looking and playing and exploring the toy aisle. When I said we needed to move on there was a minute amount of grumbling but not much and no expectation that we would actually buy a toy - we never do and I am not even sure they would even consider it an option. Then we moved onto the produce section and everyone helped pick out the foods and put them in the cart. When we went to get our baking supplies Nico had to pick out the different things and look for letters (which we usually don't do but it was fun to have him try to figure out which things to get). Nico tried to push the cart, then Francesca tried. There was a little bit of arguing that would have been made A WHOLE LOT WORSE had I made a bigger deal out of it; had I been paying attention to who was watching me rather than just dealing with the issue at hand the way I would deal with it at home. Everyone unloaded the cart together and we talked to the cashier - rarely can any of them resist the big blues of Nico and loud "HI!" of Francesca. It was so pleasant. It was actually fun to go grocery shopping.

When I see a stressed out mom yelling at her kids in the grocery store (and it has happened to me too and I want to step back and look at myself and say the SAME THING) - calm down, you aren't a bad mom, you don't have bad kids, it happens. Everyone has bad days. Just slow down, deep breath, regroup and try to remember to enjoy the experience, every experience with your kids. Someday you will wish you have a reason to stop in the toy aisle and spend time browsing. You will wish you had someone accompanying your shopping experience with the rock and roll version of the abcs. Your heart will yearn to buy string cheese and dora bandaids and a small box of animal crackers as a treat so you can go home and bite the heads off of lions and fight over who gets the sea lion. Even now I get a bit sad when we go and Fia isn't along with us at the store, she's off at school doing big girl stuff. I can't imagine when there will be one and then none. I am sure I will enjoy the peace and quiet and how shopping probably only takes 30 minutes and not an entire morning. Or maybe I will just swing by and pick up Perrin and relieve my glory days...............................

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dear Bargers

If I would have known that one day, one day that was not far off from the moment I first met you all, you would be leaving us I might not have allowed myself to love you so much. But that was then and this is now and the damage is done for I do love you all so very much.

You came into our lives one summer day in June - the house was crazy with kids and dinner being placed on the table. You showed up, Brent, being so very Brent-like - passionate about the church, passionate about what was happening. You seemed not to even take in the chaos that was happening around you but were just very intent on getting your ideas and thoughts across. You were doing what you do best, getting us excited about what you are excited about. You listened, answered questions and concerns. Then one of the last things you said’re going to love my wife. It still makes me cry.

I cry because you were right. I do love your wife. Oh, Ashley, finding you was like finding the perfect pair of jeans. You aren’t quite sure what you are looking for but the moment you have them on you know. They just fit. They feel right. They make you feel good. You think if the house is burning down around me - forget the jewels, forget the books, forget all else but those perfect jeans because you never know when you are going to find another perfect pair.

And can I tell you, Ashley, that I still can’t quite believe that my perfect fit came in the form of you? You are so very many things that I am not. I marvel at your beauty and grace. I marvel at your kindness - those questions of yours that invite everyone into your world. I marvel at how you seem to be in awe of the smallest thing - you make me feel as if I must be some kind of modern day super hero because I can get dinner on the table. I marvel at how you are always available – day or night, by text or telephone. I marvel at how you have allowed us to become part of your life, so easily and so effortlessly.

I will miss you all more than you know (although the number of times I have cried when I am around you should give you a hint, even going so far as to cry at your feet :). I will miss riding around town with Hadley in the backseat. I will miss you slapping Brent’s chair back in place for the 1000th time. I will miss all the years I looked forward to Hadley growing with Francesca, the friendship that hopefully would have formed after the years of hitting, not sharing and screaming that we would have inevitably had to endure. I will miss those looks that say so much of THE EXACT SAME THING I was thinking :) I will miss Brent’s wisdom. I will miss that passion you have, Brent. I will miss raising our families together, Ashley.

BUT......BUT.........I know that I have not lost you all forever. I know that you, indeed, are forever friends. Texts, e-mails and phone calls will be made and visits will be insisted on. Moving will not rid you of us. We are with you all forever; the imprint, the impact you made on us too lasting to ever allow us to let you go so easily. We love you. We will miss you but feel so very blessed that we were a stop along the way, along this path that God has placed you on. Know that we will be with you wherever He may lead - our prayers, our thoughts, our love.



Thursday, October 27, 2011


Yesterday one of the freakiest things happened to me. It really kind of messed with me. My sweet boy was in the bathroom yelling - nothing new - but his yelling had a tinge of hysteria to it and well, as a mom you know. You just know when it is different.

I run in and he's yelling at me to wipe his butt, he needs to get out, he needs to get out. He is shaking, he is petrified - eyes wide open and looking at something behind me. He yells they are coming to get me, they are coming, the monsters and he runs out of the bathroom. I chase him and follow him to the front room where our door is that we use as our main entrance. He is still screaming and yelling about monsters, they are looking at him, pointing at him and his eyes are wild and scared. I have no idea what is going on. It was so far beyond anything that I had faced before with my children. We have dealt with fear of the dark, monsters under beds, shadows, etc. But this was on an entirely different level, this stark terror he was showing me, it was as if my sweet boy was completely absent.

He starts pounding on the door and looking behind him, trying to get away from whatever it is he sees. He runs out the front door and starts running down the driveway screaming. I finally have to tackle him on our front lawn and hold him down. He tells me of monsters - monsters starting small and growing bigger and bigger until his eyes find them and then they float towards him, pointing at him. They are all colors. They are coming after him. He was wide awake, middle of the day, light outside yet completely surrounded in darkness. It was terrifying as a mother to witness such darkness.

That night it happened, on a lesser scale, two more times. I called three friends and asked for prayer over my son. I prayed for him. My husband prayed for him. I went into his room at night and said psalms over him as he slept. May our God who never sleeps, never slumbers protect my boy, surrounded him with His power, His strength, His protection. I find myself saying out loud - if you need to come after someone - come after me, come after me. Do NOT touch my son. Do NOT terrify my son. I spoke aloud in Jesus' name that whatever monsters Nico was seeing be gone from our house.

It sounds crazy. But I believe that Nico saw something last night, something real to him. To tell him that monsters don't exist and to tell them that it's nothing would deny the very real terror he felt. Unfortunately, bad and scary things do exist. And in not denying the existence of evil things we can proclaim the truth that GOD is bigger. GOD is stronger. GOD will fight for him, fight for my Nico. We were able to pray together this morning. We read some bible stories about very little people conquering big monsters, people, armies so huge that it doesn't make sense that one man or 300 people were able to defeat their enemies. But they did.

Today I rest in the fact, the truth that I have very real prayer warriors in my life that helped my boy slumber peacefully. I have God who is bigger and stronger than any monster that can be imagined. I have a little man who rests in the arms of a mighty, mighty God. Thanks for your prayers, friends.....................

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hear Her Roar

Last night my beautiful, amazing friend gave birth...........

In her bedroom..............

After almost six hours of pushing.............

Without any form of medication...............

To a beautiful baby boy who weighed 10 lbs, 12 ounces.

10 POUNDS 12 OUNCES. I thought it needed to be repeated. To give a little perspective, when Fia was 2 weeks old we got out the baby scale we had bought at a garage scale and put her on it. We videotaped and took pictures of her on the scale, we clapped and gave little cheers because she had gained a little weight.

She now weighed 7 pounds! Yea Fia! You ate!

As first time parents we were a little moronic about things. Seriously, we sat around the scale documenting the moment and cheering our little baby on. For more perspective, the baby scale was gone by the time Nico arrived and there were no more weigh-ins much less pictures taken of him while being weighed. By the time poor Francesca arrived there seemed to be no pictures at all. In her baby book that I make for each of the kids on their first birthday (snapfish - oh the miracle of online-they-do-everything-for-you scrapbooking!!!) I almost mistakenly used a picture of her second cousin on the cover who was born a mere five days before she was. It was one of the only ones I could find before she was a month or two old (Again, remember I went home to a young three year old and 21 month old Nico........I am surprised Francesca didn't sustain any lasting injuries during that time, pictures were the last thing on my mind). It took looking at the date to realize it was the wrong baby....................... friend. Brave, strong, wonderful friend........remember your comment two posts ago?

Enough said.

Friday, October 21, 2011

An Oldie But Goodie.........

So, apparently, everyone loves a good pee story. Plus we have already established that I have no shame in sharing such stories so brace yourselves for more information than you might have needed..............

Picture it Canton, Ohio 2007. It was a warm yet dark morning and I was about 5 months pregnant with Nico (Any Golden Girls fans out there?) I had just gotten past the worst of the vomiting and nausea and utter grossness that encompasses the first few months of my pregnancies. There were a few foods that brought on waves of nausea those first few months and grapes were one of them. But I was past that now.

It was about 5 o'clock in the morning and I was on the couch watching a video and stuffing as many fresh purple grapes in my mouth as I could. I was a woman out of control but THEY TASTED SO GOOD. Crisp, juicy, plump grapes.

It was too soon.

Oh my goodness. I felt it.......the nauseousness beginning to rise from my belly, protesting that it was too many, too soon, TOO MUCH DELICIOUSNESS...........STOP! STOP! STOP!

Oh no the baby is sleeping....her room is right next to the bathroom and I am NOT a delicate vomiter - oh the curses of a one bathroom home........the kitchen, yes, the kitchen! There is a sink (I don't pause to consider who exactly is going to be cleaning out the vomity mess in the sink).........I run............

I pause before the sink and a great surge of purple grapes comes pouring forth along with the inevitable release of all liquid that I had consumed the night before. Yes, yes, I was standing vomiting in the kitchen sink while simultaneously peeing all over the kitchen rug at 5 o'clock in the morning while 5 months pregnant.

Oh, did I mention that I was naked because I hated wearing pjs when I was pregnant?

Or that my dear husband comes out of the bedroom, takes one look, shakes his head and goes back into bed?

A peeing, vomiting, naked pregnant woman in the kitchen and all that is warranted is a shake of the head.......................

Goes to show you how crazy things can get behind our closed doors..................

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Let The River Flow

I have hit a new low.

I didn't think it was possible.

But I did.

Outside Acme grocery store.

The only saving grace was that it was raining and I had a sweater coat on. I went to pick up Fia because it was raining and she had new shoes on and a girl shouldn't have to get brand new, bejeweled, light up shoes wet on their first day out. I picked her up (and in my defense she was carrying a rather large bottle of laundry detergent which seemed to freakishly add SO MUCH MORE weight to her) and the moment all the weight was resting in my arms it happened. The pee started to was completely out of my control. I could not stop laughing, I mean really praise the lord it was raining. I was just so amazed that by picking something up that was rather heavy I lost all control of my bladder. And let's be honest, the out of control, loud laughter didn't help much in the way of stopping the flow.

Perhaps the most disturbing thing was that this was the first day out for the jeans I was wearing. I usually can get a good five days out of jeans before I have to wash them. This meant more how frustrating is that?

Just in case you are thinking my, how.......hmmmm...........odd? embarrassing? horrible? is this of Mandy to SHARE OVER THE INTERNET. Last week I texted my friend something about my rear and underwear and such. It was suppose to be one of those throw away funny, nothing to it texts that I sometimes send.

It went to her husband.

He's one of the pastors of our church.

He got a text about my butt.

I think I'm past the point of being embarrassed about a little pee outside Acme.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

To My Heart, My Joy, My Adventure.......

I am living out my dream.

Truly, I am. I have a loving husband who is a great father, a man who cherishes us. I have you all - you three beautiful, zany, fun, amazing children. I am at home. I am, essentially, my own boss. I have days spent in pjs building race car tracks out of lincoln logs, making chocolate chip pancakes, reading under blankets sipping hot coffee. We have wonderful friends, family members minutes away. Our house feels like a home, a home I delight in and feel comfortable welcoming people into.

I am living out my dream. And yet..............

Sometimes, I feel boxed in by the dream world that I have created. I feel the need to break free and I gaze out the window thinking I must get out of here or I will begin to lose my mind. I think that all this loveliness sometimes is just not. so. lovely.

And it's ok.

I want you to know this, my dear children. Sofia, Nico, Francesca.....I want you to remember home as a fun, magical place filled with love and laughter and craziness. A place where you were happy and joyful and loved. But when you are a bit older I guess I want you to recognize that there were moments that were hard for your mama. Made harder by my unwillingness to give voice to just how tired and defeated I felt. I never wanted to truly admit that I was feeling lost inside because of how that would look. It's one thing to joke about it and admit to a bit of weariness as a mother, it's expected. But to look at someone and say I want to run away........

That's hard. It feels like failure.

It feels as if I am admitting there is something wrong with me or that I made the wrong decisions or that this is not enough for me....this life I have dreamt about and created for myself. Why do I feel this way? What is wrong with me?

But, darlings, I did say it. I spoke my fears, my feelings aloud. Timidly, at first. I am not sure if they realized how hard it was to say, how embarrassed I felt at my weakness. But out it came. Then I said it someone else. Then to your dad...........I spoke aloud my heart. And how I love this man. This man who lifts me up. Who thinks greater things of me than anyone, even while knowing all my faults more personally than anyone else could possibly know. He allowed me to open up and feel ok about being a bit lost and caged in and gave me the space that I needed. He made me a priority, made what I was feeling seem normal and ok and not at all a failure but a natural result of being the successful wife and mom that he sees me as being.

What a gift that was.

Do I still feel a bit boxed, a bit caged in when the washing machine is broken for a week, the house is a wreck, the lunches need to be packed and there are little eyes looking up at me screaming MAMA, MAMA, MAMA! ........? Sure. But life isn't always about what feels right and good and easy all the time, every moment. There are moments that aren't so easy and aren't so good. There are frustrations and hurts and head shaking, hand wringing, heart breaking moments. But, darlings, don't ever, ever give up or run away when something stops being easy or fun or good. I missed out on too much before in my life by doing up when my success didn't seem to be a given. Not trying too hard, fearing failure and embarrassment, and in doing so taking the easy way out.

You have been my greatest success, this family of mine. You have been the one thing in my life that I have never quit, that I have never given up on. And, oh my darlings, there have been endless nights of screaming and not sleeping. There have been moments of sobbing, my own, when I thought I cannot. do. this. anymore. There have been times when I have felt so alone.
But you have given me more courage and strength and joy than I have ever known. It's all been worth it..............every moment of it. Don't ever forget that. You are all worth it. I wouldn't change one moment. Thank you for growing me, dear ones. Thank you for teaching me that success doesn't come from a place of perfection but comes from staying the course.

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith"
- 2 Timothy 4:7

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Weak Girl Dinosaurs

One of the best things about my girl going to school is getting to know my rough and tumble boy a bit better. He has sworn off all others in an effort to fully capture his mama's attention. No longer does he wish to go down to Aunt Susie and Uncle Bill's house in the afternoon because, in his words, "I like home the best." Well, buddy, I am with you on that one.......

This afternoon (after that sweet child woke his slumbering mama, yes I do occasionally nap in the afternoon. Not quite as often as I once did and yes, I sorely miss my almost daily afternoon naps) we dug into the books I had gotten that morning at the library. First up was a DK reader Star Wars book. Star Wars has become a favorite thing at our house with Nico after he saw his Uncle Mario playing a star wars video game. Uncle Mario is also a favorite because while he plays his video games he gives Nico a controller that isn't hooked up to the gaming system and lets him go to town. Nico has no clue he isn't really playing and Uncle Mario gets to do what he loves to do while still hanging out with his nephew. By the way, Uncle Mario is 11. Nico has never seen the movies but he knows Uncle Mario loves Star Wars and there are lightsabers and fights and what not so that's enough for him.

Anyway........dinosaurs. After the Star Wars book we move on to his next favorite subject.....dinosaurs. He loves the triceratops the most. For awhile he would go around the house pretending to be a triceratops and head butt different pieces of furniture........repeatedly. I was starting to worry about permanent damage but it appears he has gotten over that game and is on to loftier pursuits such as making his little sister be the triceratops.

As we read Nico likes to share his knowledge with me. I love to listen to him and really could listen for hours. This is what I learned today.

Nico: Only boy dinosaurs are strong. They go out and fight the meat-eaters.

Me: Oh, what do the girl dinosaurs do? Aren't they strong?

Nico: No, no, no. The girl dinosaurs cheer for the boy dinosaurs. They aren't strong like the boys. They stand on a hill and cheer.

Me: Oh. So what if there are a bunch of girl dinosaurs standing alone and a T-Rex comes along.

Nico: Then they go underground for weeks and weeks and weeks. Then someone comes and digs them up and they go to a museum where all their bones are and they don't come back.

Me: Oh, so they just die underground. Are all the dinosaurs we see in the museum girls?

Nico: No, some are ones that were eaten by T-rex. And they can't come back.

I decided next time I go to the library I am going to get a book out on female body builders and really rock his world. I can't believe that my boy thinks girls are simply there for cheering on their men. His absolute certainty of his "rightness" cracked me up. Oh buddy, I'll cheer for you. Also I can't believe that my child thinks that in the face of danger females burrow underground and die. But now that I read that it's basically my only line of defense in the face of danger - I am basically a lie down and pretend I am dead or dying type of person. If a T-Rex approached I can't say I would do anything different from what Nico described. Maybe I should start lifting weights and not cheering him on so much...........

Oh and all that about not coming children are heavily influenced by the Easter story. They will say time and time again well, they're not coming back like Jesus. This seems to be a big thing for them, that Jesus came back from the dead - but not squirrels, not Frieda (Steve's mom - the next door neighbor), not dinosaurs, not anyone. So when ever anything dies or they see something dead someone inevitably says, "Yeah, and they're not coming back like Jesus."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

God Wears Hot Pink Lipstick

This past month has been filled with so much sucky life stuff. I find that any poetry, any beauty that may occasionally come forth from these pages is lost, lost in the suckiness of life lately. I want to find a way to make divorce and death and loss and separation sound lyrical and profound but I just can't find it in me tonight.

Yet I have found in the suckiness of life something to hold onto. I have found that angels and God and hope are not only heavenly things but solid, real things to hold onto. God is not always a mystery. God is not invisible. God is here. He is here today, right now.......He is guiding us through the suckiness of life through the hands, arms and hearts of His children.

God is in the delivery room in the form of very real people holding up a father watching his wife suffer and needing the strength to stand. God gives him the strength through the arms of Liv, the hands of Molly, the prayers of Logan.


God is in the text that answers back at 11:00 at night - I'm up, I'm here, are you ok? No, I'm not. I am really not ok and I need you so I call............God answers the phone in the form of a friend.


God is in the arms that circle round the child, holding them, holding them close. These arms and these tears and this heart of a mom are God telling this child that they are loved, that this is real and that he is safe for today. In the midst of utter sadness, there isn't joy for the moment, there isn't happiness in that moment but there is love.


God is in the voices of the children - how amazing to hear God speak! At the end of a long day that promised to get even longer, I was weary and a bit angry because of the load I was carrying. I wanted to be done and couldn't see past the endless to do list. Then I hear God's voice.........."Time for pile on daddy prayers.......God is........." and then a chorus of praise sounds from the lips of my children "God is ALL POWERFUL, ALL LOVING, ALL HEART, ALL GOOD, BRAVE, AWESOME, GOOD, GREAT, EVERYWHERE" I rush to write down the words they spoke so that I don't forget who He is and who I am in Him.


I feel I have grown up a bit in the last few months. I have seen the suckiness of life up close and personal. I have seen what it looks like to have life ravage you and leave you short of breath and wondering how to get to the next day. But through this growing up I have seen what God looks like.

God has arms that encircle you and promise a love that never ends, even speaking Italian at times.

God has a wide open mouth, a face that turns beet red and laughter that is contagious, unstoppable in the face of tragedy.

God has red hair and is loud and funny and always there.

God has a loving spirit that guides you through haunted houses, liturgical dancing and growing as a family.

God has a southern accent. God drives vegetable oil fueled cars. God has glasses and drives a mini van that will pick up my children anytime, anywhere. God has bright pink lipstick and a laugh that can be heard round the world. God has a beard. God has a sweet spirit and can make mashed potatoes drenched in bacon gravy so good that you will swear you must have already died and gone to heaven itself.


And that is what I have learned in these past few months. Just when life is at it's suckiest, when things seem so dark and awful and hopeless, that is when God is most present. That is when all around His hands, His heart, His laughter, His love, His realness is most evident. I have seen Him at work. I have seen who God is through so many around me. It has been amazing.