Sunday, March 15, 2015

20 Years

Oh, my blog. I've missed you. Well, parts of you I've missed. It's been over a year since I've written anything here...and there are a few reasons for that. But I am going to skip all that for now. But I will say this briefly: these thoughts are my own. What I choose to share or not share on here is just that: MY choice. So if you see something that ruffles your feathers, please locate the little "x" in the upper corner and close this. See? Simple. If you want to keep reading, read on! And I love ya either way.

So...20 years. Twenty years. Two decades. That's the shocking amount of time that has passed since I lost my mom. (As an aside, I very much dislike putting words to someone's death. "I lost her" is so's not as if I misplaced her. She "died" sounds so harsh. She "passed away" sounds creepy. She "left us" sounds like she chose it.) The real way I feel is that she was taken.

The truth is a brain tumor fought her for 23 years, from the time I was 3 years old. Lots and lots of good years in there, but a part of our life. She fought that ugly thing so hard. In some ways, the brain tumor took her.

The other truth is she was a passionate, joyful follower of Christ. She was a faithful, grace-filled woman who is no doubt enjoying herself immensely in heaven. She had her heart and mind stubbornly fixed on eternal things. She did NOT want to leave her family, that was her greatest heartache. But she was also peacefully confident that she would be healed, either here on earth or in heaven. I would have much preferred here, let's be honest. But her healing meant she left us. So in some ways, The Lord took her home. A victory for her, a brutality for me.

Twenty years ago...I had a round belly nestling a little baby I had not met. I wasn't a mom yet when she left. Three lucid days early in my pregnancy she knew I was having a baby, other than that we shared none of this. I wasn't then who I am now. My life was so very different 20 years ago.

She would have recently turned 76. I don't even know how to imagine that. In the same way, back then I could not have imagined myself at 45. Strange how time does that.

And I miss her. I miss having a mom. I've missed that since even before she died and her illness left her unable to be "mom". I miss having a mom to be proud of me. I miss having a "home" to go home to and be taken care of. I miss her being a part of my kids' lives and knowing them. Oh, how I miss that. I know she would love them so deeply. Through miraculous grace, my three are amazing people and she would love them. She would be so proud of them. I could tell story after story of how I see threads of her woven throughout my children. One of her strongest prayers as she battled that tumor was that she'd live long enough to impact her grandchildren. I promised her that she would influence them through me. I've tried to live up to that promise I made her.

Many milestone moments in my life when I've especially ached for her, I've imagined and hoped that perhaps there are windows in heaven. Perhaps at the moment my three babies entered this world, The Lord called her over to a window and let her witness the miracle. Perhaps when my youngest was clinging to life and many were so passionately praying for a miracle she was able to gaze out a window and witness that miracle. So many perhaps, but this is where my tears start to flow and make it difficult to type coherent words.

So much changed 20 years ago. Things in life can be unfair. And hard. And cruel.

Yet so much had changed in 20 years. Things in life are beautiful. And wonderful. And merciful.

On my 18th birthday, my mom gave me a card that was like a little book. It was called, "Did I Ever Tell You?". Each page is a "Did I tell you to smell the flowers" type of thought. The last 2 pages end with "And did I ever tell you ... I hope it's a wonderful life." Simply signed "I love you. Mom."

And mom? In case you get a window to peek out, it IS a wonderful life. Truly. I miss you more than my words can adequately describe, so just hear my heart. I wish beyond measure that you were a part of my life and my family's life. It's no fun not having a mom here. Even with all that wishing and missing, it's a wonderful life. I'm a blessed girl to have had you for 25 years.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What I Love

There's a new love in my life.  I'm not throwing that word around loosely, this is a LOVE in my life.  This is a bit of a public service announcement, because I think the word needs to be spread.  Spread to where?  I don't know, because everyone I excitedly share this with says, "Oh, yes, I love those!  Aren't they great??"  Well, then, why have you never told me?  Someone finally did, a friend of my daughter...and now I'm in love.


These are so perfect.  They are light and crisp, perfect amount of salty.  I will eat no other chip.  Now, that's probably going a bit far.  I'm sure another chip will pass my lips at some point.  But as long as it is within my ability I will eat no other chip.  I think I will name my next child Juanita.

We also must keep it real.  Salty is great and has its place.  But sweet...sweet is my first love.  Have you ever been asked if you could only have sweet or salty for the rest of your life, which it would be?  You don't ever need to ask me that question.  If you know me, even just a wee bit, the answer is obvious.

So, via a little Facebook conversation, I came to know another of my new loves.  A friend posted a picture of a pallet full of "Mini Cadbury Eggs".  Blech.  I thought they were miniature versions of the big cadbury eggs that leak out raw egg-ish looking goop.  THAT is a waste of chocolate, friends.  So a mini-version of that?  No thank you and please don't even suggest it.  HOWEVER, I was enlightened by my dear friend.  She happily informed me that these didn't leak any goop.  They are pure chocolate on the inside.  She described it as "an M&M on steroids".  Ah, now.  Yes, please.


We went out for a special dinner together Friday night, to celebrate Brad's new job.  And I was presented with a bag of these nuggets of delicousness.  And we broke 'em open right there at the table while waiting for our dinner.  Cuz we're classy like that.

And seriously?  I could hear Keith Partridge singing "I think I love you...." as I began my relationship with these.  They are only here for a limited time, so I highly suggest you jump right aboard this bandwagon without any further ado.


I have plans for them.  Plans for them to the form of a cookie.

My new loves.  I hope you will love them too, there's plenty for all!

Monday, February 17, 2014

What I've Learned

A year ago this week, my son and husband were on a college audition trip.  They made stops in two very different places to tour campuses, audition and interview.  We had made trips within our state to do the same thing.  I was so full of questions back then.  I have never been a big fan of unknowns.  And like most parents know, the life of parenting teenagers is full to the brim of unknowns.

The top pick in this college quest was way beyond our reach.  The cost was laughable.  There was NO WAY we could provide for that on our own.  And there was great freedom in that.  We were able to encourage him to go for it, and remind him that the only way it could happen is if the Lord created a way.  He was fully, completely and totally confident about it.  I was the realist.  I know he saw me as the pessimist, but in truth I was just a realist.  After a year full of deadlines followed by waiting, applications followed by waiting, auditions followed by waiting ~ so. much. waiting. ~ he received his official acceptance and scholarship offer to his top pick:  such a generous scholarship that it costs us considerably less to send him to his dream school than it would cost to send him to a public school in our state.

So it was settled.  My little boy's dream would take him across the country, just about as far away as you could go and still be in the same nation.


Now here we are a year later.  I've learned a lot about mothering my young-adult son.  Knowing I get to do this two more times with my girls, I thought it would be good to reflect on what I've learned:

* The goodbye hurts more than I even imagined it would.  The moment of getting the last hug is both numbing and wretchedly painful.  And I survived it.

* Continually telling myself that it wasn't about me was helpful.  Keeping my mind on things from his perspective helped my perspective stay in check.

* The first couple months, when I wanted to be clingy and constantly in contact was when I most needed to give him space.  He was transitioning, adjusting, finding his way, growing up.  He needed space to do that.

* He did call or text when he needed something.  He knew we were here for him.

* Time. Things just took time.  We all had adjustments to make, and allowing that to happen over time is the only way to get through the transition.

* My prayers were vital.

* Sending packages, whether necessities of just fun things, were good for me and him.

* Although he has always appreciated us, I think his appreciation has grown over his time away.  I think he believes us that we are on his side.

* Technology is my friend.  I get to see his face in pictures, I get to send/receive messages in texts and emails, I get to occasional skype with him and see for myself how he is.  Just like when he was a baby and I could decipher his cries, I can look at his eyes, hear his voice, and decipher how he truly is.

* The investment of time and teaching has not returned void.  He listened and learned.

* I still laugh when he laughs (mostly), still hurt when he hurts, still ache to make everything okay for him, still wonder about what's coming, and I still would feel better if he was here.  Yet this is the reality of the season we are in.  And it's still not about me and what I want.  It's about him pursuing his future, and I'm so proud of him for following his passion and doing it with such integrity.

* And mostly what I've learned is that despite being 2,811 miles apart, despite being 6'3", he's still my little boy.  Time, age, distance...nothing will change that.




Tuesday, January 28, 2014

One Wish

Just thinking lately about how much I love kindergarten.  Oh, those kinders.  Endless entertainment.  I've said it before, but these little loves have absolutely no idea how hilarious they are.  Every single day at least one of them makes me smile.  Here's some of the latest gems:

*In one of my reading groups, we were recently reading a story that included Mother Goose granting a wish.  We talked about the wishes of the cow and the dog  and the cat.  So I asked them, "If you met Mother Goose and could have just one wish, what would it be?"  Their answers were delightful:

"I would be a super hero, but only if it came with a cape." (Because, of's all in the cape.)

My favorite:

"I would be a Princess Pony.  A Princess Pony with LOTS of glitter."  (Because when you are a princess pony, I guess it's all in the glitter.)

**A co-worker eavesdropped on a conversation that took place on the tire swing.  A group of boys, talking about me.  And how much they loved reading.  And the kicker?  "Mrs. Carlson is a REALLY good reader."  Well, I do declare.  I guess all these years of practicing have paid off.

***Today a rather sweet little girl who can also be a bit of a...precocious one...warmed my heart in a big way.  She hugged me goodbye at the end of our reading group and said, "Oh, you always smell SO good when I hug you."  Lovebug.

****Tomorrow those bundles of preciousness get to sing their hearts out at their kindergarten program. Hearing all those little faces sing "Thumb in the thumb place, fingers all together....Warm and Cozy I will be, when I put my mittens on me, on me!" 

In other, completely unrelated, thoughts:

1.  Can Mr. Bates be any more wonderful to Anna?  His speech he gave her?  "You are higher and more holy because of your suffering."  We all know that story is not ending there.

2.  I just finished a book that I really enjoyed.  "The Blue Castle" by L.M. Montgomery, same author as "Anne of Green Gables".  It's an easy read, a bit of mystery, yet more of a 'justice for the good girl'.

3.  I can barely contain my excitement this week.  I really wanted to stay home and watch the media day circus and my beloved Seahawks.  But then I would have missed the compliment of my smell.

4.  Waiting, waiting, waiting.  That has been the theme of the last couple months for us.  Waiting.  More on that later, but for now, we are still waiting.

5.  It's been so long since I've posted a recipe, I think it's time.  This is a dip I made for the first time a couple weeks ago.  It was so delicious.  We had it as a dip with tortilla chips, and I had leftovers as lettuce wraps the next day for lunch.  Wonderful both ways.  The only change I would make is to add some avocado just before serving.  

Southwest Chicken Dip found here:

A great addition to your Super Seahawk Bowl spread!


Monday, January 13, 2014

Things That Make Me Go Hmmmmm...

I have had a couple months, well much longer for some subjects, of things making me go "Hmmmm..."  Things that I have chased in circles in my mind, trying to figure out.  Some of those things I have given up and let go.  

Relationships I have accepted as over.  Undeservingly over, but over nonetheless.  I would love to know the whys.  I would love to know how it's possible for some people to be so dismissive, so rejecting, so cruel, so...whatever it is.  I look back and see the signs for many years, many years.  And yet I never knew it could possibly lead to nothingness.  I've silently overlooked things, purposefully let things go.  But now it's un-ignorable, if that's even a word.  I don't know.  Cruelty is never deserved.   I've gone through lots of stages, some longer than others.  Anger came and went and came again.  And then left hopefully for good. And that was replaced by a profound sadness, grief like a death.  And then I grew angry that I felt sad. And then I just let it go.  And now I am peaceful.  I will not chase.  I will not hang a bullseye around my neck and just overlook darts that are thrown.  I'll just let it go.  It's way more peaceful than I imagined.  I do wish I could lay it all out, and I have in more private ways, but I'm not going to say anymore about that.  But oh-boy does it make me go "Hmmm....".  (and it's their loss, by the way)

Still chasing in my mind, still making me go "Hmmmm...":

*Beth is sick again.  Again.  A girl that rarely gets even a small cold, and now down with a very similar thing that she had in December.  Fever not as high, only in the upper 102 range, but all the other junk came back.  Hmmm.

*Alex was home for almost 4 weeks.  And it was just so comfortable.  Yet it was gone in like 12 hours. I dropped that boy off at the airport, watched him go off and stand in the security line and then just walked away.  Well, not true.  I stood there for many minutes with tears pouring down my cheeks.  Then walked away and started the ugly cry for quite some time.  Oh, I miss him in this house.  It's quite the adjustment.  And I'm so happy for him, I really am.  I prayed all his life that he would dream big dreams and have the courage to chase them.  And this prayer coming to fruition means I send him across the country.  Hmmm.

*Downton Abbey.  Hmmm.  Hmmm.  Hmmm.  Anna?  Oh, bless her.  I see a pregnancy coming, an enraged husband perhaps?  Lady Mary?  A new romance on the horizon?  Lady Sybil?  Torn between love and scandal.  Hmmm.

*Scandal.  Hmmm.  Will the pregnancy be written into the show?  Will Huck heal or be more broken?  Olivia's mom....we saw a teaser of her standing in front of the White House.  NOW what????  Is Daddy a good guy that has done terrible things to protect Olivia?  Or is he a bad guy that has done terrible things to protect his daughter??  Hmmm.

*Nordstrom Rack.  Will we ever get one in our area??

*Seahawks.  Can they find a way to pull it all together Sunday and beat the 49ers one more time?  I know Russell Wilson says he has no time to sleep because there is so much to prepare, but is there someone in his life telling him that he needs sleep as part of his preparation?  That he'll be stronger and sharper if he lets his body and mind recover during sleep?  Is Pete Carroll stocked up on his Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum?  He may need some extra wads of gum for this game.  Will my special friend Ricardo get any dynamic catches this game??  Hmmm.

*And so much more.  So. Much. More.  But that's enough swirling thoughts for tonight.

Just for fun: here's a picture of some fun:

After leaving the airport, we did a little retail therapy.  I bought these pajamas with CUPCAKES all over them.  They would only be more perfect if those cupcakes were chocolate chip cookies.  They shall now be known as "my therapy pajamas".  They are bliss.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Riveting Review of 2013

Oh, my.  I went from a frequent blogger to a weekly blogger to a monthly an annual blogger?!  Such a twist of reasons why I have been more infrequent.  Lots to share, lots I didn't want to share.  Probably the biggest reason is just time.  I didn't want to use my time in this way.  Most of that I don't regret, but some of it I do.  I regret the moments I didn't get "scrapbooked" on here this year.  But whadayado?  Ya carry on.

So, with mere hours left in 2013, I will recap some highlights as best I can.

Well apparently January was a bland month around here.  I didn't photograph much, anyway.

We took our Christmas lights down, much to Brenna's dismay.
The girls made this quilt with their Grandma, with many of our fun memories from 2012.
And I had fun giving Lucy expressive eyebrows!

February was a busy month of tours and travels.  I deleted most of the college tour pictures once I knew where he was going, but I still have a couple of ASU:

 And then, of course, Peabody at Johns Hopkins:

I can't ignore that this was also the month of looooove:


March was a mixed bag of emotions.  Days after learning of the death of his high school music teacher, Alex played a solo with the Tacoma Concert Band after winning a scholarship competition in February.

I dressed as Fox in Sox for character day at school!
Track season began.

Soccer season continued.

Beth and Caleigh performed their flute duet.

And Lucy got her nose stuck in a French fry bag.
And an early Easter.

In April, Alex was back at State for the final time. 
Bassoon/Cello duet took 2nd place in state.

Alex took 3rd place at a soloist.

And soccer continued.  And track continued.

AND, the college acceptance started rolling in.  Although accepted to all the school he was interested in, it was this school that he was awaiting:

May was a busy month.
Track continued, where Brenna took 1st place in the mile at the Freshman Invitational.
And Lucy just looked cute.
And, of course, Mother's Day:
(keepin' it real)

June.  A big month.  My firstborn tuned 18.  He graduated from high school.

Senior Prom on his birthday!
Graduation Day!
Father's Day at the beach.
And Lucy got a bath in a sled.  It came with a free ride around the yard.

Alex went on a whale-watching trip with the Peters.
A biggie:  I hiked to the top of Mt. Ellinor with Brad and Brenna! (Yeah, gross, that is sweat all over me.)
Brad had another birthday!
And we hiked:

Lucy discovered she like raspberries, and would pick them right off the vine.

August.  Oh, August.  This was the month I took my little boy to Baltimore for his first year of college.  Tough.  Very tough on my heart.  But so happy for him, so proud of him.

And that's all I have to say about August.


Brenna started her cross country season

My 7th grade cheer squad was hard at work.
Beth got a new friend, a hamster named Joy.
Lucy pulled all the stuffing out of her bed.

Oh, October.  I do love fall.

My girls kept cheering.
Brenna kept running
Beth's squad took 2nd place at their competition!
My favorite picture of the season: these girls sure love each other!
And Lucy refined her skills in removing the cover of a golf ball!

My beautiful girl turned 13 years old!

And Brenna kept running, though she was sure exhausted in November:

And she ran beautifully at the state meet!  Her season PR was 19.58 for her 5K.

AND...members of the SEAHAWKS came to the school I work at!  Oh, was that a fun "work" day!
Ricardo Lockette.  #83
And he gives great hugs.
And when I jumped up and down when he hugged me, he jumped up and down too!


I think this car would look lovely in my garage.

Alex came home.  Home.

And Christmas was perfect.  Perfection.

And with that, 2013 is a wrap!  A year of ups and downs, just as it should be, I suppose.

Here's to a New Year!  May it be blessed and may the Lord be the center of it all!