Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dear hubby who travels too much...

Dear {darling} traveling husband,

We've entered the home stretch of a two-week stint where you've been home for a total of 26.7 hours.  Just enough time for me to launder, dry, and return your garments to you, so they can be tidily packed into your too-commonly-used carry on suitcase.  California last week {boo freakin hoo}, and this week {snarky tone drumroll please}...England.  Not only have I had span of time where I had a ridiculous, on-the-verge-of-mildly-crazy obsession with having children that speak with a British accent, but I have I spent countless hours reading up on the life and times of the royals.  {Yes.  Tabloids still count as reading!}  And, perhaps the strongest argument I have in my corner: my {inner, completely sane, non-stalkerish} connection with the Beckhams is such that I feel Victoria and David were in London this week {thanks to my 'reading', I know this to be fact} specifically because they might cross paths with me.

But am I there?  Um. No.  I am not.

Instead, I sit here on our couch, being heel-kicked by an overly tired toddler who is showing absolutely NO signs of being ready for bed.  Earlier today, I had the joyous experience of cleaning up her piddle on the carpet for what happened to be only about the 35th time in the past two weeks.  I've reached the point where I'm debating just how traumatizing a visit from CPS would be on the kids when they discover that I am literally duct-taping her diaper to her body.  How, you ask, would they discover this?  Well when said toddler decides to 'help' me answer the door wearing nothing but her cowgirl boots, it would only be a matter of time before word gets out from the poor, unsuspecting deliverymen that agents would be knocking on our door to discover that her Elmo emblazoned Pampers are being held on supersecurely by the gloriousness that is duct tape.

And while we're on the topic of duct tape, would it be considered a faux pas if I happened to used it to secure our bathroom doors {that oddly lack a locking mechanism} shut so that I could snag even 17 minutes to shower {without an audience}, put on makeup {without tiny hands literally destroying everything in my makeup bag}, and maybe...just maybe go to the bathroom without Raegan deciding how much toilet paper I should use {read half the friggin roll}?

You see, it's not that I resent you for travelling for work; nor do I envy you having to stay in a hotel room alone, eating yummy food that you didn't have to prepare {not that you're Mr. Chef here at home.  Shit, you're not even Chef Boyardee.  You could possibly pass as a bus boy}.  No, no...I don't wish that I spent time flying solo, driving a fun little rental car, and not having to care for anyone but yourself.  I'm not saying I would trade places with you.

I'm saying I'd give my right arm for it.  And possibly my left.

And yet you have the audacity to tell me that you hate travelling.

You know I love you.  You know I'm so grateful for your hard work and all you do for us.  But really.  I want to scream laugh in your face.

You can't tell me there isn't a teeny, tiny part of you that is enjoying these little 'breaks from hell reality'.  Sure, I don't know what it's like to travel for work beyond the freakinghourandfifteenminutes {each.damn.way.} that I used to spend transporting our gaggle of geese to their respective care givers before mad-dashing down the hallway to my classroom in hopes that I'd get in before the kids so I could scribble the date and objectives up on the board, along with the independent morning work that I so blissfully relied on each day for the first 15 minutes so that I could a.) catch my breath, b.) snarf down whatever the hell it was that I scrounged up in the depths of my overstuffed yet under-utilized teacher bag, and c.) make sure I had a freaking concept of what I was teaching that day because while I had every blessed intention of looking over the material the night before, you can guarantee one, two, or all three of our *darlings* provided me with at least one, {or a dozen} reasons why I had to yet again leave my work sitting pathetically alone on the stool where it fell off my shoulder earlier this evening as I rushed through the door to begin preparing dinner so they would stop whining that they were hungry {breathe}.

Yes, I don't know the stresses and annoyances of travelling as often as you have to, I don't know what it's like to be away from your {amazing, fantastic, always well-put-together-never-without-makeup} wife and {wonderfully behaved, ever obedient} children for as often as you are.  And, if the roles were reversed, travel would eventually take its toll on me, wear me down, and make me dread the long, annoying process of getting from point A to point B.

But...if the roles were reversed, would you not be ever-so-slightly jealous of the opportunity to have a break, an escape, a few days to change things up a little and put a tweak in your routine {or, rather, non-existent-except-for-in-the-magical-land-of-make-believe routine}? There are only so many days I can legally wear these {mildly} threadbare yoga pants, hole-laden tee shirt, and haphazard, messy updo with two of my three kids still wiping the sleep out of their eyes while donning mismatched {and probably pee-covered} pajamas in the drop-off line for school before CPS pays me a visit for reasons besides a naked toddler with a duct-tape diaper.  Only so many times I can spend days on end relying on hastily prepared meals that taste mildly like cardboard so that I can split my time between playing with quasi-supervising {while simulatenously responding to emails} outside and running back inside to add the powdered cheese and 1/4 cup of milk to the 'meal' I jokingly think meets some crazy nutritional standard because the box says 'cheese'.  Only so many nights I can handle lonely, sleepless nights with the television light speckling whatever rest I do get {because I need the background noise when you're not home}.

I *love* being a mom, and a recently crowned stay-at-home one at that...but that doesn't mean that every now and then {at least 3 times a day}, I envision an opportunity to swap places with you, if even just for a day or two.  Actually, 4.  4 days of glorious, blissful time where I can yearn for you and the kids from the comforts of my own hotel room.  Where I can read, sleep, write, check out the local hot spots, and enjoy a snippet of time when I can quiet the madness and drink in the wine peace.  4 days when I can see just how hard it is to be away from our home, our kids, our reality.  And love you even more for the sacrifices you make to give us the life that we have.  And, lastly, 4 days where you can see just how much having your spouse out of town while still maintaining business as usual at home can  {I wonder what the male equivalent of yoga pants might be?}

Smooches {from afar, because I sure as shit didn't get a chance to shower today},



So yesterday, I spent a couple grueling hours in front of my laptop, spilling out some of the things I've recognized in my own character.  Of course, those two hours weren't continual, but rather peppered with interruptions from a {perpetually} naked toddler, a doorbell denoting a delivery, and a five year old who somehow forgot how to pretty much do anything for herself during the time frame I had specifically denoted for 'me'.  Read: I was leaving my parenting skills up to the *capable* hands of Ariel, who teaches the ever-empowering degrading message that if a woman drastically transforms her body, she will get the guy...and all it will cost her is her voice.  Nice move, 'okayish mom'.  (Thankfully, the girls seemed more entranced by the mind-numbing songs and the fact that Flounder narrowly escaped a shark to pick up on the not-so-subtle machismo that is the world of the Disney Princesses.  At least I hope.)

So, anyhow, I wrote these 'truths' as I called them, baring the nit and grit of what it is that I recognize in myself.  I didn't use the word 'flaws', but 'truths'.  I chose that word because it has much more power behind it, and what I've found is that I want to empower.  Moms, women, men, kids, myself.  I don't claim to have the super powers with which to accomplish this task, but I do have an amazing (yet small) set of people who take time away from their precious and busy lives to read what it is that I have rambled on about on any given day.  These friends provide me with a secondary purpose for blogging.  For me, writing is a personal and purposeful way in which I can connect with my own self and capture snapshots of the life I(we) have been carving out for myself(ourselves).  I chose to take it to a public forum a few years ago because of the nature of the life we lived.  We were two thousand miles from any {technical} family as well as in the same state as many friends who became like family, and for whatever reason, I found that that audience of people liked {or pretended really, really well} to hear read my stories.  When I post, I receive little messages of empathy, encouragement, or just a fun little 'smile' note, that lets me know my words have brought on some sort of enjoyment in the life of another.  It's always nice to know that people actually enjoy the long-winded tales that spawn from an otherwise seemingly 'white bread' life.  I appreciate the messages.  A lot.  And lets be honest.  Who doesn't love a little 'shout out' every now and then?!

But remember, my primary purpose for writing isn't all of you who are reading (unless you're my kids, and you're reading these words after I've left this Earth.  Then yes,  You will know your mom pretty well through here--at least I hope).  I'm writing for me; veritably for Gavin, Brynn, Raegan, and me.  Everyone else is my safety net because you make me feel like all of this is okay to say out loud.  Even if I know it's okay, I feel safer because I have a group of people who are even the slightest bit interested in the {confuzzled} innerworkings of my head, or the mass-hysteria that can become a household with three young children (or, you're nosy.  In which case, you probably will figure out pretty quickly that unless you like reading long posts filled with randomness and sarcastic asides, you might be better off placing your curiosities elsewhere).  My friends who read religiously, occasionally, or just even once based on recommendation from a friend or a catchy tagline I attached to the link when I shared it via Facebook provide me with my secondary purpose for keeping up with this blog.

Connections.  I am so, so uncomfortable in this space of being uplifted and re-rooted in a new state, new {yet-to-exist} circle of friends, new 'career', and new{ish} decade of my life.  I am not unhappy, just unsettled.  'Starting over' isn't new to me, after all, Colorado was a land of new and uncertain adventures in the summer of 2005.  But something's different about this time.

Established roots, a level of comfort, and a interwoven web of friends/colleagues/students/families provided a firm ground on which to stand and grow and raise our family in the town just north of Denver.  Our move didn't remove that firm ground, but jolted it in such a way that our piece of land broke off and journeyed 1,000 miles southwest.  Everyone is still okay, but the connections are more strained, distanced, and challenging to uphold.  The same held true when we headed west in our U-Haul from PA, newly married and ready for adventure.  Connections are extended, stretched in a way that makes me beyond grateful for technology (you know, the kind I'm uber-addicted to).  This forum, this blog, allows me to feel connected to parts of the world which I was once an active and efficacious member of.

This group of people who've showed me empathy and support, sending genuine and kindhearted words of encouragement and love, virtually hugging from across many miles, and continuing to find their way back to my little blog...I am grateful for you.  Your support, whether vocal or not, has bolstered my insecurities about exposing my heart and welcoming you into my little niche of the world.  Even if you're just a small group {for now}.  My heart wants to reach further, share more, connect deeper.  If it is meant to be this, a small group of people with whom I've crossed paths in one way or another; that's fine.  My heart is humbled by and content with that.  But if it spans further, if I connect with those whom I've yet to meet or might never meet, it would mean growing my heart even larger, appreciation even deeper, and love even wider-spreading than the pipelines I have running from Texas to where ever you are.

To say 'thank you' might seem a bit empty after #12 on yesterday's post.  But I mean it, genuinely and wholeheartedly.  Thank you.

"As we utter our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."  
~John F. Kennedy

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Writing my truth

I've been working through Glennon's book, highlighter and pen in hand, notebook alongside, feverishly writing down notes, musings, personal connections, and 'a-has' as I read.  I'm one of 'those' kind of readers. I don't just glaze over the words, I drink them in, imprinting them in my brain, and occasionally feeling jealous that I didn't craft particular phrases myself).  In this case, I'm feeling pangs of jealousy every other page.

One thing I read the other night struck a chord with me, reminded me of what it is about writing that draws me in, gives me solace.  To borrow words from Glennon, she says, "Everyone has a story to tell.  Writing is not about creating tidy paragraphs that sound lovely or choosing the "right" words.  It's just about noticing who you are and noticing life and share what you notice.  When you write your truth, it is a love offering to the world because it helps us feel braver and less alone". (pg. 25) 

Those words in my copy of the book are now a lovely shade of day-glo pink courtesy of my handy highlighter, and next to the paragraph, I etched the words, 'Write on!'.  More words borrowed from Glennon, as they are a part of the inscription she wrote in the front of my book at the signing.  In my own little crazy world, I feel like her words about writing were for me.  Or at least people like me, to avoid sounding pompous and egotistical.  

One of Glennon's first posts on her Momastery blog in 2009 was one those '25 truths' lists.  The heyday of these lists (at least in my experience) was due in part to the world of Facebook.  I tried to find my list (of course I had to partake in the fad), but after about 2.7 minutes of trying to navigate the 'once-again-we've-made-changes-to-the-layout-of-your-page' timeline, I gave up and clicked back on the blog tab so I continue this post.  I'm fairly certain it would be a highly 'interesting' read, filled with random, self-serving quirkiness in an attempt to be clever and similar to those friends whose lists I'd read before composing my own.  Ugh.  I might have to must go find it, and delete it.  

When I began reading Glennon's book, I opened a brand new notebook (one of life's little treats; a promising, blank canvas on which to create and scribe and pour out thoughts--or 'to-do' lists), and began writing alongside my reading.  And this is what it became:

Noticing who I am...

1. I am selfish.  With 'my' time.  If I'm in the middle of a task that I enjoy (like writing),  I can't process how someone would think to divert my attention when I'm clearly in the midst of creating something to better myself (even if it is as simple as preparing dinner).  I'm even selfish when it comes time to share 'my' treats.  Don't come between me and a molten chocolate cake.  You will lose a finger.

2. My addiction to technology is embarrassing. (says the girl typing on a laptop with 8 different internet tabs opened, so I can toggle betwixt them, so as to not 'miss' anything new in the world of Facebook, email, or CNN.  My iPhone is next to that, headphones attached to hear a playlist of acoustic pop songs.  iPad?  within arm's reach, but currently sitting dormant.  amazingly so.)  About 832 times a day, my thumb moves as if independent of my hand when it slides the bar along the bottom of my iPhone and instinctively touches the chevron-detailed Facebook icon (thank you, Pinterest, for the instructions on how to personalize the icon buttons on my phone.  An afternoon of time I won't be recouping anytime soon).  It's bad.  I need to seek help.

3. I gripe about my weight, shape, strength (rather, lack of), and fragmented attempt at a health lifestyle...yet where will you find me when the alarm goes off in the morning, alerting me of the arrival of a precious hour of time that could be 'just mine'?  Yep.  I'm hitting the snooze button.  Because chances are, Raegan's fitful sleep prevented me from getting a solid stretch of time to rest.  Either that, or I'm checking in on the world of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or CNN.  I'm selfish with 'my' time, yet I find a way to interrupt my own self--with my own addiction to technology! And when I'm craving a little snack (read: what seems like always), do I gravitate toward the colorful selection of fruits and vegetables that fill our fridge and countertop? Ha!  If I have a hidden stash of Hershey's kisses (and I always do), you can bet I bypass them on my way to the hiding spot on the top shelf of my pantry.  Shit.  Now I have to move my spot.

4.  I'm a half-asser.  Grandiose plans are made, pep talks (to myself) about how I need to take a stand and change a specific thing in my life happen, and I follow through...for a little while.  For whatever reason(s), I give up, unable to fully commit, and become discouraged by the hiccup that prevented a road of smooth sailing.  That actually makes me sound like I'm an 'all or none' person, as opposed to a half-asser, so perhaps that's what it is.  If I can't commit fully and follow my plan perfectly, I either give up or give *just enough* to eek by with some sort of results (the latter typically happens when people are relying on my follow-through).

5. My temper is reprehensible.  I snap rudely at my kids, husband, dogs more often than I'd like to admit.  And to make matters worse, they're usually the undeserving and unsuspecting victims to my wrath of misdirected and misunderstood fear that's masked as anger and frustration.

6. I'm a self-diagnosed people pleaser who is in the midst of attempting to recover.  I worry too much about what others will think if I say 'no' (of course, I'd use a long and convoluted explanation as to why I have to decline, because I worry people will be disappointed).  And, generally speaking, it's the *wrong* people whose opinions of me I care so deeply about.  Go figure.

7. I'm an insane worrier.  In tune with my 'half-asser' 'all or none' mentality, I pretty much hold court for the pessimistic perspective on situations.  While I don't always share these pessimistic views (I would hate people to be disappointed or think negatively about me), I allow them to internally paralyze me with worry, knotting up my insides like a kindergartner's shoelaces.  I generally don't refer to this as pessimistic behavior.  In actuality, I've never used that word to outwardly describe myself until now.  I've always thought about it as 'hope for the best, but prepare for the worst'.  And by worst, I pretty much take that to the utter extreme, thinking tragic and horrific events await around each corner.  On a positive note, I like to think I'm pretty good about masking these worries...but now that I'm getting older, my dark circles, worry lines, and gray hair tend to give me away.

8. I'm a less-than-okayish mom.  I'd be cool with being an 'okayish' mom, but simple things prevent me from reaching that step.  Like reading to/with my kids.  I'm a freaking teacher for heaven's sake!  One would imagine that I have a well-set schedule with the expectation that we have a specific block of time for reading each day.  One would like to think my children's bookshelves, chock-full of great titles and wonderful literature would be put to more active use.  Truth is, we go in ebbs and flows.  Right now, we're in an ebb.  And I'm pretty ashamed to admit that.
Something else that makes me okayish?  My inappropriately-colored vocabulary.  Ugh.  I swear in front of my kids way more than I should.  I'm grateful that Gavin and Brynn are the kind of kids with whom I can explain my shortcomings in my vocabulary choices and I know they understand and won't go around using the words at school, with friends, or in general.  Raegan is another story.  And now that she's 2, my vocabulary metamorphosis is paramount.

9. I have undiagnosed ADD.  I think this is the source of a lot of that 'all or none' mentality.  I can't attend to tasks fully.  I used to think of it as 'multitasking', but I've come to learn that while I do have gloriously-demonstrated moments of 'multitasking mommyhood genius', not everything that I do (or attempt to do) simultaneously can be quantified as such.  Bummer.  Facebooking while listening to my son read doesn't make me uber productive, just a shitty mom.

10. I use humor and sarcasam (really?) as a mask when I'm nervous, scared, feeling anxious, sad, annoyed, or feeling exposed.  Basically, I must come across as a freaking riot about 86.4% of the time.

11.  I spend way too much time looking forward, waiting for 'the time when...' because I think that (for instance) when the kids reach (a certain age), that x, y, or z can/will/should happen.  Why then do I have literally tens of thousands of pictures of my kids, capturing every facial expression and event from the moment of birth up until present day?  In my looney tunes world, it's not as a way to preserve memories (that's just a subsidiary event), but rather a catalog of photos from which I can create a slide show (to accompanying music--the likes of which I've already begun selecting) for their high school graduation/college graduation/wedding.  Based on the library of photo folders I have stockpiled on our external hard drive, I've come to two conclusions: a.) I should start these projects now.  nah, screw that.  last month.  and b.) if you happen to be one the unfortunate souls whom I invite to watch these epics; you'll want to come with a 2-day supply of snacks & change of clothes, or you'll want to think of your reason to decline the invitation.  (damn you, #10 for being true.)  

12.  I have a terrible time receiving compliments.  I feel unsafe, vulnerable, and doubtful.  I would like to think I would welcome them, crave them, drink them in to nourish my diluted self esteem.  Instead, I worry that the intention isn't genuine, followed by guilt that I'm questioning the words of others, and lastly my brain arrives at a place where I can't seem to find myself worthy of whatever meaning I've left in the compliment directed toward me.  It's hard to say that I question the intention of my loved one's words, but it's my reality.  For whatever reason, I don't feel worthy of the acknowledgement of something I've done 'well'.  Most of the time, however, my outward response is a 'thanks!' (with an obligatory smiley emoticon in the world of technological advances).  Sounding a bit hypocritical, right?  Thinking my complimenter's words are de rigueur, yet here I am offering up an insincere display of appreciation.  Classy.

13.  Patience.  Not a strength.  This affects my (poor, poor) kids.  My (unsuspecting) husband.  My dogs.  The driver in front of me on the highway. The cashier at the grocery store.  The list goes on (embarrassingly so).
My ability to make it through most situations without inwardly (and too often, outwardly) expressing my distaste for the rate at which tasks are accomplished in a flurry of words that according to #8 above, demote my status to '(way-less)-than-okayish mom'.  Why I am in a relentless rat race with myself to get to the 'next thing' is beyond me.  (Okay, it's not completely foreign.  I've recognized my inability to focus more heavily on the present in #11).  Chalk it up as *yet another* aspect of my personality that's a work in progress.

There.  A baker's dozen truths (because I'm a baker...and because I'd be shocked if anyone sticks around to the end of even this list, let alone 25).  I've realized, identified, and verbalized them not just to me, but to whomever is crazy enough to think that what I have to say is important enough to spend a pocket of their precious time reading along.  Glennon says, on page 52 in her book (read: my new 'favorite' book--I have dozens of these), that "it's vital for a girl to share her truthful, secret self somewhere".  Here's my somewhere.  

shine bright, lone light

Saturday, April 20, 2013


On Thursday, my littlest munchkin turned 2 years old.  All the cliches about time passing by in the blink of an eye seem to be truer and truer with each passing year, and each successive child.  Although day-to-day (and all night long) life can be exhausting, taxing, and seemingly endless; the past two years have been a couple quick blinks of the eye.

Shortly after having Raegan, a question I commonly heard, "You done now?".  After shuddering over the abomination of grammar, I would smile and give my response du jour, "oh yes, three is definitely the number for us", or "no, we're trying to breed our own basketball team", or some other random response depending on what mood I was in (or how much sleep I'd had).

Done.  Or, rather, to sound slightly more educated, finished.  What a powerful word.  'Having been completed or ended; perfected'. According to my 'dictionarial' skills (and yes, I made up that word).

It sounded so harsh to say that my family was 'finished'.  While I like the word 'complete', it can still sound like there is still a finite connotation to the concept of family.  I knew (and still do) that three kids was 'our number', even though I told Randy there would *always* be a part of me with a weakness for the nostalgia of infancy, toddlerhood, and early childhood.  And, even now, after two years of crappy sleep and non-stop-toddler-terrorizing, I can say three things.

1. Three kids is definitely 'our number'
2. I still have little pangs of sadness for the long lost days of teeny tiny baby (who doesn't love the smell of a freshly washed newborn?)
3. I am not 'finished'.

True, we're finished having babies, but we're not finished raising them.  As the kids are getting older and all becoming ever so slightly more independent as the months and years pass, the primary focus of parenting shifts. Now is when we help develop their character and morals, guide them as they make {appropriate} decisions, teach them social appropriateness, model {model, model} many things, keep their hearts, spirit, and innocence safe, and giving them a strong sense of security.  I'm sure I'm missing fact, I know I am...but those are the highlights that keep me awake at night and bring worry lines to my face.  There is no way to deny that fact, so why not accept it.

A few weeks back, I got the opportunity to hear one of my favorite 'mom bloggers' speak at a book signing for her new book.  Glennon Doyle Melton is well known in the blogger world as Momastery.  Her new book, Carry On, Warrior has been one that I've been eagerly awaiting since hearing about it last year.  As a 'Monkee', I follow Glennon's blog and applaud her as she lays it all out on the line in her writing.  She is real. She tells it how it is, shares her struggles, and inspires countless moms, dads, people.

I've been slowly working through her book.  It's not a challenging read, in fact it's funny, emotional, inspirational, real.  And for someone like me, an avid reader, I could finish it in a day.  If by 'day' I meant a stretch of time where I can sit on the couch for longer than 2 minutes before having to refill a sippy cup, clean up a spill, wash markers off the wall, open a cheese stick, break up an arguement, help with a homework assignment, switch out the laundry, or prepare a meal.  {and then there's the baking...oh...the baking.  I think in the past 2 weeks, I've gone through about 10 dozen eggs and 12 pounds of flour.  Trust me, I love it, and I'd better since I've been bringing in order after order since featuring my little baking biz at the school carnival}.  But I digress.  {shocker}.

The truth is, I, I crave to read her words, be inspired by her thoughts, and feel like a more 'okayish' mom.  I'm at a crossroads and feeling some change on my horizon.  I've always said I want to use this blog to help document life for my kids, to give them the stories of their childhood since I've done a not-so-stellar job of keeping up with baby books {and by that, I mean Gavin has like 3 pages of his filled in, Brynn's hasn't been opened but once, and could say I'm still looking for the 'right' one ;) }.  It's true that I still want to tell our stories for the kids.  I have to.  They're my life.  But, if I'm in the midst of this phase of parenting that encompasses a world of modeling, modeling, modeling...I need to model for my kids just what it means to be true to myself.  Not to comply with what others want from me, but to give myself what I need.  And what I need is to get it out, set it free, let it go.  I need to Carry On.

shine bright, lone light

Friday, April 5, 2013

a lone star in the Lone Star

Last weekend, we were blessed to have my brother and sister-in-law visit and celebrate Easter with our family.  I have time with my youngest brother Jason, and his amazing wife, Juliana.  They may be younger than I am (and for that, I'm eternally jealous), but their wisdom and relate-ability brings an added dose of realism, humor, and love to my persona and to our home.  Time spent with them makes it all the more challenging to spend time without them.  There's something special about the connection they share with one another, and the connection our family shares with the two of them.  I don't think I cried more tears of happiness than the day they were married last summer, because their relationship is inspirational to anyone who know them.

While our weekend together was fast, we had a lot of fun and enjoyed our time together.  We laughed (a lot), talked (a lot--and I'm sorry, Jul, if I was a total chatterbox on our drive to the coast!), ate more than we should have, played games, and relaxed.  When the time came to drop them off at the airport, my emotions got the best of me and I wordlessly hugged my all-grown-up-but-still-'baby'-brother for a little longer than usual.  He must have known I needed that, because he squeezed me tighter and asked me, "are you happy here?".  I knew he didn't mean this as a way to give me opportunity make a quick escape back to PA, but just as a little way to 'check in'.  I couldn't speak without unleashing a deluge of tears, but nodded my head and quietly wept just a little more.  We exchanged a few more loving words of support, before my inner desire to 'make everything ok' changed the repartee to something lighthearted, and I reminded them of the home for sale just down the street from ours.  A few laughs and the final glisten-y-eyed farewells and they were heading into the airport for their flight.

I think I cried for the first thirty minutes of the drive home.  I cried a little more while I cooked dinner, cried a little more when I recounted the weekend with my mom on the phone, and when I just typed that last paragraph (nearly a week later) I had to set the tissues next to my laptop.  Something about that little hug and Jason's question, "are you happy down here?" hit me deep in my gut, tugged at my heartstrings.

It's not that I'm 'unhappy' per say, but life sure isn't what I had become accustomed to in Colorado.  We've been 'deep in the heart of Texas' for six months (crazy to think that), and I've been inadvertently been making comparisons to my last experience of an interstate move.  I realize that my cycle of life isn't equitable between the two times; in Colorado I was on the verge of starting a family, while here in Texas I'm raising that family.  I absolutely love being a stay at home mom, enjoying this time with my girls all day and being there to get Gavin from school.  It's brought an added perspective from which to connect with other moms, as well as given me first-hand experience on both sides of the 'working mom vs. stay at home mom' battle that rages among the competitive species of mommies.  But sometimes, being a wife and mom isn't enough.

Personal connections, interactions, and the human experience are vital to making our worlds go round.  They're like your comfy jeans that make them your 'go-to, feel-good' clothes when you just want to chill and unwind.  Randy, Gavin, Brynn, and Raegan make up more than 90% of the connections that I have here in Texas.  We've been blessed to have a great family living across the street with whom we've become friends, and I'm slowly (verrrrryy slowly) getting to know some of the other moms in the PTO through various volunteering endeavors.  But otherwise, aside from the random store clerk I'll strike up conversation with, it's just the five of us.

Most days, I feel like a *lone*star* in the Lone Star state.  I feel like I need to try and shine little brighter so our friends and family scattered throughout the country can see still our light, and so we can try to attract the light of others around us, drawing them near.  I'm grateful for the luxuries of the technology that lets me connect with loved ones at the click of a button or the swipe of a touch screen (or, with a few hours on an airplane).  But there's something to be said for the face-to-face connection.  Sharing meals, building forts, playing football, tag, Scattergories and Apples to Apples...basically being in the same physical space as loved ones can do wonders for your soul.  I'm blessed to have Randy and the kids, who keep me grounded, keep me busy, keep me smiling.  But sometimes...just every now and then, I wish I didn't feel like a lone star, but a part of a much larger constellation in this big ole' state.

So, Jason, if you're reading this (or, if I know you like I think you do, Jul is reading this to you), to answer your question with more than the nod I gave you, I'm happy.  Happy, but incomplete.  Happy, but hopeful.  Happy, but scattered.  I thought I could handle this change in my life better than I am; thought I wouldn't be often times overwhelmed by the random, fragmented, disconnected feelings that leave me sleepless in Houston, and having a lengthy list of half-written blog posts that lament my sadness or lonesomeness or failings at that particular time.  I'm happy, but riddled with feelings of guilt that I'm not being enough, trying enough, doing enough to be more positive and extroverted about this adventure in life.  I should be grateful for the opportunities given, and I am.  I so, so am.  But on Monday, there was nothing I was more grateful for than the extra long hug before you left to catch your plane.  Thank you.

Love light, shine bright.  xoxo