Jeremy has a second interview.

See? I can still be calm.
I love being Mommy to my girls who are at three very different stages in life:

Now that Kimmie has her license and her own car, there is no more leaving early to get her to school on time, picking her up from school, taking her to work, picking her up from work, taking her to her friends' houses, picking her up from her friends' houses, dropping her off at the store, picking her up from the store...

My life has become quieter. While I still wonder how Kimmie is doing: is she safe? is she making wise decisions? God is teaching me to let go. Kimmie comes and goes as she pleases without disturbing anyone. She calls or emails to let me know her plans, and she is becoming increasingly independent. She even called me the other day, just to talk. "I miss you," she said. "It feels strange to start my day without talking to you." I remember a time when Jeremy and I had to walk her through her chores and ask repeatedly what her plans were or how her day went. I remember shaking my head and fearing what her future may be like if she planned to use the logic currently in her head. But now that she has more freedom, she comes in when she wants, takes care of the supper dishes without being told, and initiates letting me know where she plans to be and when. It's shocking. It's wonderful. How did she become so responsible? After watching this transition, my spirit has become quieter and more at rest. She will survive. She may even thrive! I am proud. I feel like a first-time gardener who planted seeds, and watered them, and protected them from the wind and the bunny rabbits and the birds, and sat and wondered. Trepidation. Will the seeds sprout? If they sprout, will they live? If they live, will they become strong? If they become strong, will they bear fruit?

The seeds are growing!

With Kimmie chauffering herself, I am able to slow down to enjoy my home-time more. I have two other little girls who have from necessity been carted here and there in the middle of their naps, in the middle of their meals, a few hours after they've been put in bed for the night...but now the interruptions are gone. A routine is slowly being established, and I am able to focus more fully on them.

They are fun!

This is a transition phase for me that I am reveling in, and I had no idea that it would arrive. The quiet, the playfulness, the peace. Even when they are both crying at once, the feeling is lighter, and I don't mind it.

Yesterday, Mercy had a nine month well-baby check up. While we sat in the examining room waiting for the doctor, Mercy pulled herself to a standing position on my lap and looked me squarely in the eyes. She scrunched up her nose and blew air at me. Then she touched her forehead to mine and held the contact for several seconds. My arms immediately wrapped around her little back and savored the feeling. My baby. She twisted her head and grinned at me, then she watched in concentration as I clicked my tongue inside my mouth. The intense gaze on my mouth memorized the movements for future tongue-clicking of her own.

We laughed together; we played together. We savored every touch and smile...well, I did, at least. I enjoy seeing the intelligence in my baby's eyes. Mercy communicates without being able to speak. I remember marveling about that ability in Liberty, too. At that moment, Mercy was communicating her enjoyment of our peaceful, light-heartedness. It was in her eyes.

I recognized it, and tried to communicate it back to her. "I love spending time with you, my baby Mercy," I said gently. I smiled into her eyes. I brushed my fingertips on her fat baby cheek. I circled her in my arms for one more hug before the doctor came in.

Later that evening while Jeremy, Kimmie and Charity watched a movie downstairs and Mercy slept, Liberty and I lay on the living room floor and colored a picture together. Liberty talked on and on, telling great stories. I was able to pick out most of the words. her imagination seems boundless. At one point, in the middle of a great story, Liberty suddenly stopped, set her crayon down, put her hand on my cheek and smiled into my eyes. "My Mommy," she said tenderly. She smiled again, then went back to her coloring. A little later, coloring forgotten, she grabbed my hand and encouraged, "Come on, Mommy." We ran into my bedroom to escape the "mustards" (monsters) and hid under the blankets. "Better hide! He's coming, Mommy. He's coming!" Then I felt little arms go around my neck, and she whispered into my ear, "No worry. I here, Mommy."

And really, surrounded by all this love, how can I worry? Those mustards better not mess with me.
Yesterday, I went to bed around 6:45 PM, and I slept until 7:00 AM. Oh, it was good.

Tomorrow, I have the day off from work. We are having a family picnic, and we might go to the beach.

Yay for fun!

I haven't blogged in the last week or so. I've been taking time to enjoy life. Enjoying the fun parts and the work parts, and it's been great!

I'm learning that sometimes joy comes after a decision to smile and make the best of it. I choose to be joyful. I find something to be thankful for. And somehow, God turns it into exuberance instead of determination.

It's pretty cool!

Liberty is potty-training, but she has a unique perspective on the operation. The potty-chair must be completely clean; no water drops are allowed to remain in the bowl. She will not sit down until the inside of the bowl is completely wiped dry. Have you ever unnecessarily wiped clean water droplets out of a clean potty-chair bowl while holding a baby and corralling a two-year-old? It can be great fun.

Mercy pulls herself up to a standing position now. She is very insistent that she must be standing at all times, and boy, does she have a strong grip when climbing up a person!

Aunt Chari is back! Yay! She went on vacation for a week and returned yesterday. I missed her. I'm SO thankful to have my sister with me, again. Something inside me feels at peace, contented, whole. It's good to have a good friend.

Jeremy had a job interview yesterday. I'm glad, but I don't want to say any more about it. I'm going to stay completely calm. ;-)

Missy? Calm? Ha!

Hey! Who said that? I can remain calm and impassive if I choose to. Just watch me!

Kimmie is GRADUATING!!!! Have I mentioned that recently? So many, many things going on for her right now. Today, she is skipping the last half of school, and I am skipping the last half of work. She will be taking her drivers license test at 11:30 am, then we will get her car insurance, then go pick up her new car, then take it to another town about 45 minutes from here to get her license plates. After that, we will drive to the big city to pick up her prom dress and eat supper, then she will drive back to this town to attend a party and possibly spend the night at a friend's house. At that point, I will go home to work on her graduation announcements. I have them all printed, now I just need to fold all the announcements, print the envelopes, stuff them, stamp them, seal them AND PLACE THEM IN THE MAILBOX.

Can I get a round of applause, please?

Well, you'd better hold your applause for now, because I haven't actually gotten to the mailbox. But, when I do, I expect much praise! It may not be a big deal for anyone else, but that long walk to the mailbox is a major accomplishment for me.
I have to be honest with you and tell you that I am seriously struggling to enjoy life right now. I am not complaining, please don't get me wrong. It's just very hard to smile when problem after problem after problem comes. I do find the humor in some things. I do grip tightly to my God (Who is AWESOME!), but after a while, I feel like saying, "God, give us a break, already."

There are other situations going on in our lives that I do not feel appropriate to share on the blog, and those situations seem to be the ones causing me the most discomfort. But let's be realistic -- taking inventory: I am not being tortured or beaten. I get to sleep in a nice, warm, safe bed every night. There are no rats or roaches scurrying about. I am blessed way beyond measure, and for that I am so thankful.

I called my mom last night, and I asked, "When did my life get so hard? I used to flit about, dancing and singing, oblivious to real struggle even though struggle was all around me, but now I feel draggy and worn. I see nothing but a future full of more struggle. Maybe different ones, but always there, and I don't want to go there."

We started talking about Heaven and how burdens will be gone; light-heartedness will be constant, and we yearned to enjoy our future today.

Then I remembered a CD that I have been listening to. It belongs to my friend Caleb (hi, Caleb!) and it is the testimony of a man who was a POW at the "Hanoi Hilton" prison camp in Vietnam. He said something that really grabbed my attention.

He talked about the torture and the starvation and the loneliness, and he said that to block it all out he was spending most of his days dreaming about getting out and the happy times he would spend with his family. Then he and his roommate decided that they would be better off mentally if they focused on being the very best American soldiers and men that they could be right where they were. They kept the hope of getting out, but they determined to "live in the moment," as he called it, as though they would never be released.

That is what I am called to do. Yes, I long for Heaven. Yes, I know it will be wonderful, and all my troubles will be over, but I'm not there yet. I'm here, and I am called to be the best Missy I can possibly be. Right here. Right now. (Is that a slogan? I'm thinking Burger King or something like that? Oh, that must be "Your way, right away.")

Anyway, fast food or not, I need to live in the moment. So what can I do to make this moment my best moment for God's glory? What patterns do I need to change? Determination fills my soul to enjoy my life, including the struggles. After all, who wants to be a princess locked away in a tower where all you can see is sunshine and birds? I want to LIVE! Facing the dragons. Moment by moment.

And at this moment, I am starving!

Maybe I'll find some Burger King...
A few weeks ago, the first warmish day of the season bathed us in it's beauty. I took the girls outside for some much needed exercise, and Jeremy started his first yard work of 2009. It was a great day.

Jeremy turned on the backyard faucet to spray out his spreader, and he noticed the water pressure was very low. He commented on it, and asked if we had something running inside the house. I flipped through my mental list and finally told him, "No, nothing is running." He shrugged and continued with his chores.

About an hour later, Jeremy attempted to turn off the backyard faucet. It would not stop. He turned it right; he turned it left. He turned to me and called across the yard, "Which direction does this faucet turn off?"

"Um, 'Righty tighty, lefty loosey'? Try turning it to the right," I responded.

He fiddled with it some more.

"Missy, come try this," he finally hollered to me.

I stood there and wrestled with it for a while, but then I noticed a tiny stream of water gently flowing from underneath the house siding about six inches away from the faucet. I frowned at it, and a small warning light went off in my brain. "That doesn't look like a good thing," I muttered, "I'm going inside. Watch the girls."

I walked into the kitchen to see if the sink (which is located in the same general area as the outside faucet) was looking strangely. The sink appeared to be okay, but an odd noise hit my ears immediately. It sounded like static on the baby monitor. I decided to investigate.

The closer I got to the basement, the louder the sound became. I walked down the staircase, and the sound became a booming, splashing, roaring noise. I stepped down the last few steps with dread in my heart, and an unbelievable sight met my eyes. The far concrete wall of our basement had transformed into a beautiful waterfall about four feet in width, and the floor had become a lake. In the ceiling, a foot and a half away from the exterior wall, a small pipe sprayed water in a fountain-head design. At least four inches of water covered half of the basement. Thankfully, the carpeting on the other half of the basement, and the furniture and entertainment area were only beginning to get damp at that point. I stared for two and a half seconds, then ran as fast as I could up the stairs.

"Turn off the water! The basement is flooding!"

Long story short (which I am famous for, of course), the pipe had frozen over the winter. Our new best friend, Plumber Chad, came on his day off and fixed our pipe so that we could resume the enjoyment of running water.

Today, Jeremy called me at work. "We have no water at home."

"What? Why?"

"I just tried to turn off the outside front faucet. It must have frozen, too."
Kimmie is graduating in 33 school days! The preparations are in high gear! She put a deposit on an apartment today. We obtained a couch for her apartment yesterday. It is sitting in her bedroom at home right now, and she ignored her bed to sleep on that couch last night. I smiled when I saw that. It reminded me of my graduation days.

How do you say goodbye? How do you let an adult by legality who is still a child in reality go out on her own? How do you let her succeed or fail without a safety net?

Oh, my Kimmie!

I am so excited and happy and scared for you, yet I have to contain my fears so that they do not hinder you.

She's a full-grown woman. She reminded me again last night, "I can make my own decisions!" And she's right. She can. She even makes pretty good decisions most of the time. And I'm proud of her.

But what if she chooses something wrong? What if she gets deceived by a bad situation? What if...?

But this is not right! I have to let her go. I must rely on God to care for her. After all, He's done an awesome job of caring for me through good and bad choices on my part.

And I'll only be a fifteen minute drive away...why does that seem so far?
Exploring the arena of the interesting experience.

First stage - panic
Second stage - no big deal, maybe this is an opportunity for bigger and better things
Third stage - reality, budget cuts at home
Fourth stage - hunkering down for the long haul
Fifth stage - hope, job leads
Sixth stage - job rejections lead to despair
Seventh stage - determination, emotions get locked away so that they cannot lie about hope or promote giving up
Eighth stage - a feeling of camaraderie with other jobless people, we're in this together, and a strange sense of fierceness

Through it all - Jesus gives peace!
Kimmie's graduation is looming. I am waiting on the invitations to arrive in the mail. I am waiting on Kimmie to FINISH the list of friends that she wants invited. I am refereeing college ideas, housing ideas, job ideas. I love it, but my mind keeps juggling...and dropping.

Mercy has started acting a little funny. Always rubbing her eyes and nose. A little whiny, but OH, so happy! I think she's teething. I wonder if she has allergies. I wonder if she has a cold. My allergies are acting up, and they feel like a sinus infection even though I know they are not. It makes me sad for Mercy, assuming she feels the way I do.

Liberty has finally decided that she has a mind of her own. She's gone from my very agreeable, happy girl, to this child who crumples on the floor in tears when I say no. That's a lot of fun. But she is still so sweet and happy in-between! I love the sentences she comes up with. Her English is lacking, but her vocabulary is delightful.

My sister Charity has come to visit us for a while, and she has made a big difference the past few days. She's been taking care of the girls while I am at work so that Jeremy can concentrate full-time on searching for a job. Jeremy had been spending most of his time caring for the kids instead of answering emails and making phone calls. He is finally feeling productive!

Several recruiters have contacted Jeremy for more information so that they can better job-hunt for him. He spent seven hours yesterday sitting at his computer filling out questionnaires. Then his eyeballs fell out.

My boss, Craig, gave me a little bit of extra pay unexpectedly yesterday, so Jeremy and I went on a date while Aunt Chari played with Liberty and Mercy. That money would have been useful elsewhere in our budget, but sometimes, you've just gotta splurge, you know? It made a big difference in my outlook: a surprise pick-me-up, time alone with my husband! We were able to talk without interruptions, and just relax with each other. It was wonderful!

Aunt Chari and Liberty had the following conversation.

Chari: "Is your name Mommy?"
Liberty (giggles) "Nooooo."
C: "Is your name Daddy?"
L: "Noooo."
C: "Is your name Kimmie?"
L: "Noooo."
C: "Is your name Mercy?"
L: "Noooo."
C: "Well, what is your name then?"
L: (pauses to think) "Call me... DUDE!"
Then she fist-bumped Aunt Chari.

I'm raising a gangster.