Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Hottie's Speech

Have I ever told you why school is such a big deal for The Hottie?  I asked his permission to share this, so I wouldn't embarrass him.  I suspect that after today he will likely do a bit more sharing of this himself.  He is dyslexic.  Not as in- "Oh, I messed up a couple of those words while reading them", but more like "I absolutely HATE to read out loud because I cannot make what I read come out of my mouth accurately."  He has no problems writing (as evidence by his essay and the precious letters he has written me in our ten years together) but even then he will occasionally twist words around and confuse them.  I do the same thing, but am not challenged to the degree that he has been.  Because of the dyslexia, reading has always been a challenge for him- especially reading aloud.

So there was an essay contest at the college.  The award was a $1000 scholarship.  I encouraged him (against everything negative in his head) to write an essay and try to win that scholarship.  Less than 48 hours after turning in the essay, The Hottie was announced as the winner.  There was a time of celebration, but then the reality of what was to come, set in.  You see, part of the stipulation of winning the scholarship is that you have to read your essay in front of a room full of chancellors, presidents, contributors, and.... other important people from the college.

So this morning was the Chancellor's breakfast.  After dropping off all 16491726 of our children, we arrived about 15 minutes late and the morning began.  We visited with all of the people at our table- very down to earth, very friendly.  We later discovered that the college president was among our new BFFs from the table.

There were a total six scholarship recipients (one from each of the college's campuses.)  Each recipient was introduced by an "important person" and each recipient had to read their speech to the room full of about 250 people.  Seriously.  For me, this would be no big deal.  I love to speak to a crowd or to be up on stage.  I'm totally wired for that.  But Kyle?  Not so much.  He was nervous, sweaty, and emotional.

Never-the-less, as his "important person" got up to introduce the Hottie (which, by the way, and much to my disappointment, he did NOT call him) Kyle grinned that ever-so-handsome grin and walked up the the microphone.  And then it started.  Every bit of emotion, every bit of nervous energy, every bit of everything inside of him came to a head.  As he started to read, he stumbled on the words.  He teared up as he read some of the beautiful things he'd written.  He stopped several times to compose himself and pressed on.  What should have taken about 4 minutes took about ten minutes.  He struggled so intensely to get the words right and to make it sound eloquent... but he could not.

I sat about ten feet from him and grinned as he recovered, each time with a little more strength and a little more perseverance.  By the end of the speech, I was filled with so much pride, and so much joy that I could hardly contain my excitement for what this man had just done.  He KNEW he wasn't going to sound the best up there.  He KNEW he'd struggle to get through the reading... and still he pressed on.  In his speech, he spoke of his dyslexia and the struggles it had caused him.  When all was said and done, there was not one dry eye in the house and people could hardly wait to jump to their feet to show this man their pride in his accomplishment.

He received a roaring standing ovation for this feat!  (And, might I pridefully mention that his was the only standing ovation given).  ;)  I can best describe the moment by taking you back to the King's Speech (with Colin Firth).  The King was trying to inspire a nation by overcoming his stutter and addressing the nation.  Kyle was merely trying to get through an essay, but ended up inspiring a room full of people.  One by one, close to 100 people came to shake our hands after the reading.  People could not stop talking about how impressed they were with... my man.  ;)  They patted him on the back, encouraged him, and a few even hinted at possible job opportunities after graduation.  (HALLELUJER!)

It was definitely one of those mornings I will never forget.  It was the day my man, my Hottie, put aside every bit of self doubt, every bit of negative thinking, and did what he had to do... and it not only blessed me (and everyone else in the room), but it challenged and encouraged me in my own life as I struggle to put aside every bit of self doubt and negative thinking to do what I have to do.

But this post is not about me... it's about an average, ordinary man who pushed past everything emotional, everything physical that could have held him back and persevered, inspiring a room full of people to never give up.  Never quit.  So perhaps the terms "average and ordinary" don't really apply to this man after all.  No, I'd say he's more like amazing, exceptional... and, of course- hot.  ;)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Fear... and Power

In the past four days, I have taken approximately 200-300 photos of Shepherd.  It's not because I want to remember him in the hospital or because I want to show the world how terribly pitiful he looks.  I take these random photos because when he sees mommy taking his picture, he smiles, and for the past four days, all I've wanted to do was make that precious angel smile.

We're not all Facebook or e-mail friends, so for those of you who do not know, I will update you.  Shepherd has an infection in his left thigh called Cellulitis.  This infection can get really severe, really quickly, so they put him in the hospital.  Originally, we were thinking we might get to come home today, but that didn't happen.  Instead, we were told the medicine wasn't strong enough and they'd have to put him on something stronger.  So as I'm typing, he is currently receiving a two hour injection of something tremendously stronger than the medicine he was originally on.

When this all started, I noticed he wanted to be held a lot more.  That's right- Mr. Independent wanted mommy ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL of the time and I had no idea it was because he was getting so very sick.  And I complained and whined about having to hold him.  I was frustrated because I couldn't clean my house the way I wanted to, or put away the ever growing mountain of laundry.  I was mad that he was in my way... and now that he's sleeping less than two feet from me, all I want to do is wake him up, cuddle him, and never let go.

You see, I laid down a few minutes ago to go to sleep and as I closed my eyes, my heart filled with panic and sorrow, and the first picture that came to my head was Shepherd's funeral.  Seriously- he's not that sick. I mean, I thought "It's a bug bite, I think- he'll be fine." and I didn't want to over dramatize it.  I thought "He's fine, no need to worry."  I thought "We'll go home on Saturday..." and now here we are, 12:05 on Sunday morning, marking our fourth official day here.  So obviously, it's serious, but not "funeral" serious.

He's no where near death, but I've had this nagging feeling that something really bad was going to happen to him for a while now (like months).  And being in the hospital, I have had complete peace- until about 20 minutes ago.  A real panic swept over me... until I heard his gentle snores.

I immediately picked up the phone and texted a friend.  I wanted to know someone could pray for peace for me.  I wanted to know that I was not alone.  When the nurse came in to administer the IV meds, I went to the bathroom to wipe my tear-stained face.  After she left, I sat on the side of my bed weeping some more and proclaiming scripture over this precious baby and over my heart.

You see, what I had forgotten was a word I received from a friend: 2 Tim 1:7 "God did not give us a spirit of fear or timidity, but of power, love, and a sound mind."  Power.  I forget that we have so much power when we claim scripture.  I forget what a great reminder that is.  I forget that we have the power to choose what we allow into our hearts and minds and if we allow the fear to come in, we are giving the enemy exactly what he wants.  That fear can take control, robbing us of any peace and joy that could have been found.  And that's exactly what happened here, for a brief moment.

I am going back to bed soon (because I have to wake up to turn off the IV machine around 1:30).  But I'm going back to bed with this- that spirit of fear, that panic attack I just had, that was not from God.  That was a lie from the enemy, trying to steal my joy.  And because I am a believer, I am claiming healing over my son.  I have the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of me- that power that I have been too timid to tap into (for God did not give us a spirit of fear or timidity).  I have the power to claim healing and if it be God's will- that healing will take place.  

So tonight, in this place, all fear is gone and I am claiming healing over Shepherd... in His name.  And I fully expect to wake up tomorrow refreshed and with great results.  I fully expect that if this is God's true will, my son will walk out of here tomorrow and we will return home where mommy can snuggle him tightly for as long as she wants to... and then he can help unfold laundry.  ;)  And when he does, I'll take a picture of it for you- not because it will make him smile, but because I want to capture that precious smile for me to stare at for years to come.  :)

Just being real.  Thanks for letting me be vulnerable for a moment.

No longer fearful,

No longer I,

The Real Life Mom.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Secrets Of A Housewife... Part III- HEY SMELLY SHELLY

Seriously.  When's the last time you took a bath?  I'm just wondering.  I snuck one in this morning by happenstance, but normally that doesn't happen until AFTER the Hottie comes home (unless I have some important meeting or have a reason to get dressed up).  On that happy note- when is the last time you actually put make up on just for your husband?  Not for a meeting or for company who is coming, but just for him.  I know some of you may be just fine "au natural" but I want you to think back to when you first started dating your husband.

I can remember it like it was yesterday (and it has been ten years).  For our first alone time together (that was not officially a date, but really was a date) I spent well over two hours primping and getting ready to try to impress this man... The Hottie.  I changed my outfit close to 35 times and fixed and re-fixed my hair.  I applied make up, then changed my eye color, then lip color until everything was absolutely perfect.  Even still I was convinced it wasn't quite good enough.  And the man?  He only needed to shower and throw on some clothes (approximately 15 minutes from start to finish) and he was ready.

So when he arrived at my door and I got that grin- you know the one- I knew those 2+ hours were worth it.  And from that moment until we married, I never went to see him without complete make up, a shower, and beautiful hair.  I wanted him to want me- in every way.  I wanted him to be attracted to me and to think I was beautiful because I'd certainly never felt that way before.

But after we married and I'd gained 732641209384 pounds from having children, I got so busy with the kids and housework and diapers and more diapers and... just life.  And suddenly I'd found myself in frump girl mode.  I know you've been there, girl- most of us have at some point.  A friend who recently had a baby described it as losing your identity in your children.  Suddenly you're no longer just Christi... you are someone's mom, taxi, nurse, teacher, maid, chef, etc...  easy to see how you could get lost in that place.  But that doesn't mean you should stay there.

When I went back to work at Chevron after having Jacob (before Shepherd), I'd spend a fair amount of time getting cleaned up and primping.  I wasn't trying to impress anyone, but at work, I got to just be "Christi" again- not mom, or wife, or anything else- just Christi.  And I noticed him "noticing me" more... and I liked it. And then I had Shepherd... and I was lost again.  And the Hottie has been coming home to frump girl every since.

Thankfully I am blessed with the sort of man who won't go looking elsewhere.  Not sure how I got so blessed, but he is a rare gem, indeed.  So should I let that keep me from making an effort?  Should I just continue to let myself go until I'm completely undesirable?  No.  Because then I'm merely the woman he HAS to be with, not the one he WANTS to be with.   And while I'm thinking about it- what kind of message am I sending if I only make an effort when I have a meeting or go to church?  Am I showing him he is valued?  Not so much.

Something attracted him to me.   In the same way I have chosen to be his playmate and appealed to that side of him, I am also choosing in 2012 to put Frump Girl away... for good.  I showered this morning and will fix my hair and apply make up at some point BEFORE he comes home from work. I'll pick up the clutter and throw on something that shows off a little bit of my style- rather than my jammies from the past three days and no bra.  I want him to WANT to come home to me- not to be afraid of what he will see when he walks through the door (seriously...  me + no make up and no shower = SCARY).

I want him to feel excited and to know I'm making this effort for him.  I want him to feel loved and, knowing that it really does require extra effort on my part to accomplish when he's not home, appreciate that today was a day I took a bath.

So here's a challenge to my lady friends- take a bath.  Try to put on a little make up- not like smokey prom eyes or anything... just cover up the sun damage, add some mascara and lip gloss, and remind him of your youthful appeal.  And for the love of Pete, brush your hair (and your teeth- nobody wants to smell that)!  So, you're a size 19349425 and you don't feel sexy.  So what?  I read somewhere that sexy is an attitude.  Work that attitude, girlfriend and remind him why he snatched you up in the first place.  Give him a reason to want to come home a little earlier next time, and remember this- the most important thing you can put on is a smile.  People who smile are 1,000 times more beautiful than people who don't.  So you've gained a few pounds this holiday season... just smile.  Trust me- he won't be looking at your tummy.  ;)

Workin' it...

The Real Life Mom

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Secrets Of A Housewife... Part II- BIG GIRL PANTIES

Okay, so we're on to desperate housewives, part II.  ;)  My advice for the day?  Stop taking things so seriously.  That's right, I said it.  Put on your big girl panties and make a choice to let some of those things go. Or, as they say, don't sweat the small stuff- and it's all small stuff.

Truly, I can say I agree with this.  Today The Hottie accidentally knocked over the tackle box I keep my jewelry organized in... and sent half of my earrings and two of my favorite bracelets down the drain.  Here I had two options- 1- make him feel really bad and never see my jewelry again or 2- grab the big girl panties and laugh it off- let him off the hook so he can let himself off the hook- and never see my jewelry again.

I chose the latter of the two and it paid off big time.  He was already feeling awful and was trying to find ways to retrieve said jewelry when I walked in to the bathroom.  I knew he was mad at himself and in that moment I felt only compassion for this poor (adorable) soul.  I mean, after all- the jewelry can all be replaced, but that moment- I'll never get that back.

So I walked into the bathroom and just giggled.  Not what he expected- not even close (I think I even surprised myself a little here).  The old me would have overreacted and made him feel horrible for losing my $5 earrings (have I mentioned how cheap I am?)  But today I laughed... and then we laughed as he tried (unsuccessfully) to retrieve my jewelry.  And then something clicked inside of me and I realized it is possible to change- even in the seemingly small things.  In this instance, I chose not to take it seriously and because of it, we had a wonderful evening.  In the past, there would have been a lot of yelling and shaming, whining and nagging...  aren't you glad I bought those panties?

Now if only I could find that gift card to Sam Moon...

Big girl panties, my friends...  invest in a pair- they pay off better than Victoria's Secret.  ;)  Just sayin'.

No Longer I,

The Real Life Mom

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year

So I didn't post anything about the new year.  Surprised?  I thought I'd write out some resolutions or make some really thought-provoking statements, but I came up dry.  I wrote some ideas of things I'd like to conquer in 2012 and some personal changes I'd like to make, but nothing truly blog-worthy.  I had not one ounce of wit, humor, or wisdom to share.  And then I went to church yesterday morning...  

I'd have to say yesterday was one of those days where the aroma of my heart going into service was more of a wretched stench and when I left, not a trace of what was, was left.  The message was given by a member of our staff, not our typical pastor.  None-the-less, it was filled with the beauty of truth and scripture that I'd imagine every person in that place needed to hear.  When they post the link on our church website, I'll share it here.  Until then, let me just say dear friend, I'm empowered and inspired!

Can't wait to share more! And for the record, I'm not on anti-depressants (anymore).  Just liked the picture.

happy New year!

No Longer I- truly,

The Real Life Mom

Secrets Of A Housewife... Part I

No, I'm not THAT kind of housewife...  definitely not desperate (even though I've been dangerously close to desperation in the past).  But I do have a few secrets of my own to share.  These are things I've learned in my nearly ten years of marriage.  Yes, I know that some of you seasoned housewives may laugh at my mere ten years, but I should remind you- at least five of those years were Hell on Earth- God had to break me, change me, and mold me (and is still continuing to do so).

THROWING STONES and JUST LAUGH- two posts from the past year about lessons God revealed to me.  And now, secrets of a housewife- part I

Last night The Hottie and I were trying to entertain ourselves while waiting for company to arrive.  We've been so exhausted as of late that we typically sit down at the computer or pull out our phones to let the internet take us away to facebook or Pinterest.  But something got into us last night and we wound up reenacting a scene from Mr. & Mrs. Smith (Brangelina's assassins movie).  No, this was not on purpose, and no- it was not a dirty scene... (I'm not ready to be THAT open with you all, just yet).  It was the scene where they realize they are both professional assassins and they completely destroy this amazing house trying to kill one another.  (I know, I know- the resemblance is astounding... I get that a lot).

But no, in case you were confused, that's not us and no, we weren't trying to kill one another, (nor did we destroy the house).  I saw he and Shepherd playing with a Nerf gun and something in me realized he needed a playmate... and maybe I did, too.  The big kids were asleep, so I loaded up a nearby Nerf gun, (with additional ammo in the pocket, which is essential) and we chased each other around the house shooting and reloading as quickly as we could.

As we played, I watched him go from completely exhausted to completely exuberant in no time at all.  He became excited and joyful- with a childlike glow in his gaze.  I gave him the gift of allowing him to just be himself in that moment and not trying to mold him into someone he is not.  And when all was said and done (and he'd completely killed me with Nerf bullets, or darts, or whatever you call them)  my man was satisfied and no matter what happened  the rest of that evening, he felt loved.

So what I would say I've learned through this is that when it's time to play 1- make sure you have plenty of ammo, of course, and 2- play- all out.  He needs to feel free to be a man- sometimes a young, playful man- and he needs you not just to understand that, but to enjoy that side of him as well.  I've spent far too much time shaming him for pieces of his personality that I didn't like or that I felt he needed to grow out of and God showed me that just as God loves me for who and where I am right now (flaws and all), The Hottie needs to be loved (and enjoyed) completely for who he is- right now, and not who he may one day become.  So, friend, if that love looks like a game of Mr. & Mrs. Smith- I say bring it.  It's definitely okay (and even likely a  good idea) on occasion- to let him win. But don't get crazy, I said on occasion.  ;)  

Happy New Year!

No Longer I,

The Real Life Mom