It has been exactly two weeks since my last day of work outside my home, and I am LOVING hanging out with my kids. But when did Liberty grow up on me? She was a little girl just last week, I promise.

They both have the flu right now -- Liberty's been sick since Saturday(?) and Mercy started making floor art yesterday evening -- so admittedly they are not the happiest children at this point.

But seriously. Have you ever heard Mercy babble to you with that cute little smile on her face?


She took five steps by herself while she thought no one was watching, and the determination displayed on her quiet little face was amazing to see. When she thinks she's being watched she stops concentrating on her actions and instead watches your face. She gets excited to get to you, so she plops loudly onto her little bottom and races to your arms in crawling mode. Jeremy chased her around the apartment on his hands and knees and couldn't catch her. That girl is FAST.

She loudly proclaims, Ma. Ma. Ma. And watches me with glee on her face. Her little eyes crinkle up at the corners anticipating my smile. I've been noticing that she always responds with a certain few syllables when she is handed something, and it turns out that she has been saying Thank You for quite a while now!

Yes, I know none of this is amazing to you. Children everywhere learn to walk and talk, but this is my child. And it's amazing to me! I love it!

Liberty has become my friend. She entertains me with quite ambitious stories, and she helps out with anything that she thinks I might have missed, like the new zit on my chin. "You dot a owie, Mommy? I will tiss it." Yeah, thanks, but that's a little gross. She also tried to help me by picking it for me while we were reading a book. Then she told me, "Mommy, you owie is SO BIG!" Really, she didn't need to say it with such fervency.

Mercy, I'm sure, will be thankful for her two mommies at some point in her life. Every time she attempts something that Liberty deems too dangerous for her, she gets called out. "Meecee Dane, Mommy! No, Meecee Dane!" If Mercy gets into a predicament, Liberty is right there to help her out and give her a hug to stop the tears.

Today, the tables turned, Liberty tripped and fell to the carpet. Already not feeling well, this short fall proved too much for her control. She lay on the floor sobbing. Across the room, Mercy looked up at me. Then she crawled over to Liberty and placed her head gently on Liberty's in a comforting gesture. The sobs continued, so Mercy lay down flat on the floor and angled her neck in order to peer into Liberty's eyes. Her look clearly communicated concern. Once Liberty made eye contact, Mercy again scooted forward and gently rested her forehead on Liberty's hair.

The sobbing stopped, and Liberty's wounds miraculously healed.

Maybe I should have Mercy come rest her forehead on my chin.
We are dreadfully sick. By we, I mean Liberty, Mercy and me. Thankfully, Jeremy hasn't gotten it yet.

I'm declaring a truce with the flu. My current demands are no more carpet stains until morning, and I'm thinking of throwing in no more whining sounds from little mouths.

But that may be asking too much.
On Friday, my brother Nate, sister-in-law Suzy, nephew Abraham and sister Faith (she gets around, doesn't she? -- She's hanging out at their house for a few weeks this summer. She also just spent a week at church camp where she and her boyfriend each shaved off one eyebrow. Theirs is a unique relationship.) came to visit us along with Nate and Suzy's dog, Bonnie, who I thought was contraband according to our apartment rules, so we decided to keep her in hiding. Turns out, I was wrong. My neighbor informed me this morning (after asking about the dog that we apparently didn't hide so well -- It's a good thing we didn't live during the time of slavery in America. Anyone secreted with us would have been discovered rather quickly) that it was fine to have guests who bring pets as long as the pet doesn't belong to us. So all that subterfuge, while fun and exciting, was for naught. But we had a lovely time together, and we are now planning a once a month get together! How wonderful!

On Saturday, we all went to the local HistoryFest at a nearby museum, and afterwards toured a huge empty home for sale. We loved the idea of the house, but there were so many things wrong with it, including some foundation problems. The owner had built the house for himself and his family. It had six bedrooms, two living rooms, three and a half bathrooms and a separate apartment over the garage with two bedrooms and a bathroom. It was in our price range because it had gone into foreclosure, but the workmanship and foundational problems have us mighty scared. Jeremy wants to go in and demolish it to start over. He dreams big. Especially since neither of us knows a thing about demolition or rebuilding.

We celebrated Mercy's one year birthday with a dinner of spaghetti (her favorite), and I planned to make some cupcakes, but I never got around to it. We'll have the cupcakes later this week.

On Sunday, we visited a new church and felt at home immediately. They not only preach God's Word, but they also live it out in life. Their emphasis seems to be on reaching out to others through service. They serve in the community as a church group on a frequent basis and also individually all the time. They also have several mission trips overseas each year. Unfortunately, while we were talking with the pastor, he asked about our old church, and I burst into tears. There's nothing like making a great first impression! And that was nothing like making a great first impression. Ba-dum-bum But God gave me a friend as a result of my tears. A lady named Dian (just imagine there's an e) handed me some tissues and we chatted and cried and sniffed and laughed. We're getting together for lunch sometime next week. Yay for God! Jeremy is going with the men from the church this Saturday to a baseball game in Chicago. The White Sox are playing the Yankees, and we all know the Yankees will beat the sox off of their opponents. I'm not sure why he's even bothering to attend since we already know the outcome.

On Monday, Liberty had the flu, and I spent most of my time cleaning up after her and working on various chores that go along with relocating. She's feeling much better today. Mercy's one year checkup needs to take place pretty soon here, and I have my list of possible new doctors narrowed down to three. It helps with the whole "clarity of thought" thing not to have two children talking to me when I'm on the telephone listening to the health insurance person read our benefit rules to me in a monotone.

I'm off to make more phone calls while both of my girls are napping.
I planned to feed my children spaghetti for lunch today, but our apartment has a carpeted dining room. For the past several days, I have vacuumed after every meal and prayed like crazy whenever Mercy holds anything liquid. That strategy has worked fairly well for me. But my friend Sonja recently showed me this picture of my youngest, and it convinced me that Mercy + spaghetti would probably not mix well with the vacuum cleaner.

I thought about this problem, and decided that a three-dollar shower curtain to cover the floor would be the cheapest solution. So, I loaded the girls into the van and attempted to find a WalMart. Keep in mind that I have not yet seen a map of this town or seen more than three roads in the town. My adventure radar was beeping loud and clear, and I struggled to keep an ear-to-ear grin inside so that my neighbors would continue to think I'm normal for a little while longer.

I turned onto the road outside our complex and remembered the name from traveling on it before. It's a name full of possibilities, and I love it. Every time I read it, my mind travels back in time to see workmen laying bricks, creating a passage for horses and buggies in days of yore. I knew I could remember that name again. I came to a crossroads, and tried to remember where Jeremy had turned before. On the left, I saw a beautiful, weathered, rust-colored, wooden barn and it's matching, smaller shed. There is something about the color and the beaten-ness of it that fires my imagination. The sight agrees with my heart. I knew I could remember it, too. I took a chance and turned right. I passed a funeral home and a large, old cemetery.


I turned around.

I bought a thingy that attaches to your bicycle and carries two kids. This overjoyed me; I have been looking for one of these for over a year, and they are expensive! Even at yard sales. This one wasn't. Yay for me! Now, if I only had my bicycle here, we'd be all set...

I found WalMart without too much difficulty and bought a shower curtain for the dining room floor and a lamp for our lightless living room. Then we explored the giant store, and greeted every person nearby.

Because I am so brilliant, I decided to take a different way home. Jeremy had named to me a few days ago some of the streets that run parallel to each other, and I saw one right at the driveway exit. I believe there is a small version of my mother who lives inside of me and says, "Go for it! Why not?" My mother and I went for it.

I found several small businesses separated by fields and some cute houses dotted here and there. I found a greenhouse showing gorgeous growing things. If we ever move into a house, I will go back there. I love how spaced apart everything is. It feels relaxed and sprawling here.

Eventually, I came to a road sign with a name that I remember Jeremy telling me about. It reminds me of the song Seventy-Six Trombones from the movie Music Man. Now, what was it that he had said? Did he say to turn onto it or that it led somewhere else? I couldn't remember. I decided to turn onto it.
Amazingly enough, the road brought us back to that beautiful, weathered barn of my heart. We came at it from a different direction, and as I looked at the crossroads, I couldn't remember which way I had turned before. I drew straws and picked a direction. After about fifteen minutes of driving, I decided to turn around. I was WAY out in the country. (At least, I thought I was.) On the way back, I passed a sign that said "Welcome to Our Town." Yeah, I had been out in the country.

We made it home. I spread the shower curtain out and planted Mercy's chair in the center. I'm glad I did. She had to have a bath and a change of clothes afterwards. I took a bottle of Windex and a roll of paper towels to that sheet of plastic, and it looks good as new. I know the carpet would not have. I'm so proud of myself!

Now, me and my genius self are going to clean the kitchen and attempt to put together that new lamp.
We left most of our belongings in our unsold house in Iowa, and we have moved into a small apartment in Inni-inna. (Don't worry, our neighbors are vigilantly guarding our old house.) The new apartment is perfect for my imagination and Liberty and Mercy's friendliness. It's on the ground floor, located right next to the main entrance for the building, and we have a large sliding door that allows immediate access to the patio, yard and (Liberty's favorite) the Mud Puddle! (I would say "pictures coming soon" since I took some this morning, but I have learned not to make statements like that anymore. I still have photos and videos on my camera from January that I'm hoping to download. --Sorry, Stephanie and Brenda!)

The proximity to the main entrance allows the girls to call out "Hi!" to everyone entering and exiting, thus fulfilling their drive to befriend everyone within shouting distance, and enabling Mercy to practice her maniacal waving. Also, the ability to watch the comings and goings of all our neighbors keeps me highly entertained. It's a perfect set up.

The Mud Puddle has become home for a short time to three different frogs. They believe that they live elsewhere, but Liberty has strongly informed them that she has their best interests at heart while she squeezes the organs out of their tiny bodies. It's sad, really. Daddy had a fit when he caught her kissing one and tucking it into her bed. We had to tell her that froggies really do prefer to live outside. Live being the key term. When she finally figures out that they are not just "seepin," we will have to start holding funerals for them.

Our neighbor Mandy and her grand-nephew Kaleb have become our friends. Mandy hangs out at our house and tells me stories of all the neighbors and apartment employees. She's like an encyclopedia. She knows something about everyone. I love it! She's very nice, too. Kaleb asked if he could help me unpack several of my kitchen boxes on Monday, and he volunteered Mandy's scissors to open my boxes until I could find my own again. Then he broke down all of the cardboard and stacked it neatly for me. He's the hardest working eight-year-old I've ever met.

Right now, the girls are napping. The kitchen and dining room are clean. There are Teddy Graham covering my living room floor, and clean clothes scattered all over the bed in the master bedroom. I have folded and put away (amazing, huh?) one load of laundry. Another load has finished drying and is sitting in the dryer waiting for Mercy to wake up (because some genius put the washer/dryer hookup in the second bedroom), and a third load is still dirty and sitting in a hamper in the hallway waiting to be put into the washer. Rain is splashing hard into the mud puddle, which has become a tiny lake, now, and the gutter downspout gurgles a steady bass in the background.
We finally made it to Inni-anna (but I listened closely while Liberty told me about our new state today, and it is actually Inni-inna) which is no small feat when it comes to our family.

OUR PLAN included:
1. Pick up the tiny U-Haul trailer and my van (which was being worked on) in our nearby town then pack them both on Wednesday night.
2. After the girls woke up, pack their beds on Thursday morning.
3. Eat breakfast out in order to minimize home cleanup.
4. Sleep at my parents' house in Illinois Thursday night.
5. Leave early Friday morning and arrive in Inni-inna by suppertime on Friday afternoon.
6. Unpack and use the weekend to relax and explore.
7. Jeremy had to be back at work on Monday morning.

REALITY looked like this:
1. U-Haul called to tell us that no tiny trailers (the only size that Jeremy's little truck is able to pull) were available nearby. We had to drive an hour and a half one way to pick it up on Wednesday afternoon.
2. The car place called to tell us that my van was not yet ready to be picked up. It would require another day's work.
3. Jeremy loaded the washer and dryer onto the trailer Wednesday night with the help of our neighbor (thanks, Denny!), and we quickly realized that the tiny trailer was tinier than we had counted on. The loveseat would not fit. The recliner would not fit. After we put all the boxes on, the one dining room chair that I wanted to take would not fit. We left a pile of odds and ends in the living room to be packed into the van.
4. We missed a call from the car place telling us that our van was ready to be picked up on Thursday morning.
5. We ate breakfast and lunch at home. The girls pretended they were tornadoes. They were very convincing.
6. We eventually realized the van was ready, and Jeremy went to pick it up. We packed and packed and packed that van. I had a few peek-holes through which I could view the traffic.
7. My sister Faith and I whipped the house into order very quickly after the vehicles were packed and lunch was finished.
8. We left the house around four pm, Thursday afternoon, and we arrived at my parents' late that night.
9. Jeremy had to be rushed to the doctor on Friday morning, and he was diagnosed with a hernia that prevents him from driving more than two hours per day.
10. Inni-inna is five hours from my parents' house.
11. We stayed until Sunday which was the only day that another driver was available. My dad drove Jeremy's truck with Jeremy in it. My mom drove my parent's van. I drove our van with the two girls in it.
12. We stopped forty-two times to find Mercy's pacifier and change diapers. (I've never been great at math.)

13. WE ARRIVED!!!!
The offering and counter-offering has gone back and forth all weekend, and we are supposed to give an answer today by five pm.

Jeremy came home late Saturday, and he stopped to pick up my sister Faith on his way here. He's running around town taking care of details, while Faith is babysitting the girls. Wednesday will be my last day of work because (sold house or not)...we are all moving to Indiana together!!! (All but Faith.)

Liberty was overjoyed to wake up from her Sunday nap and find that "Daddy is still home with me!"

She keeps asking, "We all be in Inni-anna together?" Then she goes around the room and touches everybody. "Mommy be in Inni-anna. Daddy be in Inni-anna. Me be in Inni-anna, and Meecee be in Inni-anna. Together! All happy!"
Someone made on offer on our house! :-)

We counter-offered.
True terror has not yet arrived until you step out of the shower and catch the vaguest glimpse of a giant spider scurrying from the folds of a freshly laundered towel a nanosecond before you wrap that towel against your unprotected body.

Paranoia has not yet arrived until you yank that towel from your body, hold it at arm's length and eyeball both empty sides. At that point, a thorough search of the floor and a mirrored search of your hair and back will do nothing to alleviate the all over crawling feeling that haunts, even after you are safely tucked between your sheets.
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I am impatient.

I don't want to wait around for our house to sell. I don't want to clean up every time something spills or gets pushed out of place so that our house is in constant "showing" condition. I don't want to be kicked out of my house every time someone desires to come see it.

I don't want to sell our house.

There, I said it. I like our land, our neighbors, our swingset, our safety, our comfort. Our home.

I'm sure I will like Indiana, too. I'm sure we will find new neighbors, new friends, a new home. In fact, I am eager to GO! Or eager to STAY! Or eager to DO ANYTHING!

I just hate this waiting.

"Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD."
Psalm 27:14
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I don't know what I'm going to call this post. Mainly, because I don't know what I'm about to write.

Jeremy came home for the fourth of July weekend, and it was WONDERFUL!

He left on Sunday just after morning church and before the beginning of the girls' nap times. He tucked them into bed and told them goodbye. Thankfully, when the girls woke up there were only a few questions about Daddy's whereabouts and no tears. However, at bedtime, Liberty's nightmares started up again. (Although, this could be attributed to the copious amounts of sugar she inhaled at the Independence Day parade and the lack of sleep that was necessary to watch fireworks until almost midnight.)

Today, our house is being shown, so we cannot go home until after seven this evening, and on Thursday evening and Saturday morning we are shooed out for the open house! I am very excited about these events and have plans in place.

Tonight, my friend Jackie invited us to her house for a barbecue/slip 'n slide party. Thursday, there is a fun night scheduled at the town square, and Saturday, well, I don't have plans for that, yet, but I'll find something fun to do.
To understand this post, you will need to first read this post (with your sense of humor plugged in.)

After work, I picked up the girls from Sonja's house and we headed to the pool. On the way there, I discussed with Liberty what behavior would be acceptable. We had four rules:

1. When Mommy says "Stop," you need to stop immediately. Liberty nodded her head, "Yes, Mommy."

2. When Mommy says "Come here," you need to come to me. Liberty nodded, "Yes, Mommy."

3. If we are walking somewhere, you need to hold my hand or my shirt all the time. Liberty nodded, "Yes, Mommy."

4. When I say "It's time to go home," you need to obey and not cry about it. Liberty beamed, "I be happy, Mommy."

"Okay!" I grinned at her. "Let's go!" I gathered my things. This took twenty-seven minutes. Finally, laden down with three bulging plastic bags, one canvas bag, two lunch bags, Mercy in one arm and Liberty clinging tightly to my other hand, we made our way through the parking lot towards the pool.

Whose bright idea it was to put double turnstiles at the entrance to the pool, I do not know, but when I find them, I will be sure to inform them that it was a very bad idea.

Did you know that it is possible to get a plastic bag handle so twisted onto a turnstile prong that your sanity could be at risk?

At the payment window, I nodded downwards at my paraphernalia and asked, "Can I just drop all this stuff off and come back to pay?" They agreed, and we happily journeyed to the far side of the pool. I set my bags down, maintained a death grip on Liberty's hand, balanced Mercy in my other arm and searched through my bag for the credit card. Liberty was dismayed to see us heading back towards the entrance. "Where we going, Mommy?" she asked. "To pay for the pool," I informed her.

"Where we going, Mommy?"

"To pay for the pool."

"Where we going, Mommy?"

"To pay for the pool."

"Where we going, Mommy?"

That's when I quit answering. She began to whimper. The exit drew nearer. She began to cry.

I took pity on her, "Liberty, we are not leaving yet. We are just going to pay so that we can swim."

"Where we going, Mommy?"

I stopped at the window to pay. "We only accept cash or checks. Sorry," the teenage girl informed me nicely.

"Where we going, Mommy?"

"Back to our bags to find the car keys."

"We going home, Mommy?" this said with a hint of tears in her voice.

"No, honey, after we get the car keys, we're going to the car to find some money so we can swim."

The trip back to our bags elicited no questions from Liberty, but when we turned around again and walked towards the exit she piped up.

"Where we going, Mommy?"

"To the car to get some money, but we are not going home. We're just getting some money so that we can pay to swim. It's going to be FUN!"

"Where we going, Mommy?"

"To get some money."

"Where we going, Mommy?"

The exit was too close to bear. She began crying, and her hand slipped from my grasp, but she kept pace with me.

When we arrived at the turnstiles, with the parking lot just beyond, I reached for her hand, "Remember what we talked about in the car?" I asked referring to the fact that she needed to hold my hand.

She sobbed, "No crying!" She breathed, attempted to be brave and then sobbed again, "I be happy!" Much sniffing and hiccuping ensued as she slowly stopped her tears.

I tried hard not to laugh.

"You are doing a great job, Liberty! I am so happy that you are obeying. Let's hold hands while we walk to the car."

Once we were legally paid for and able to swim, and since it was one of those days, I fully expected one of my girls to drown or at least need to be life-guarded to safety, but we made it there and home again safely. We didn't even experience a small choking episode during our pool-side supper break!

I sighed with relief and dared to hope that the pox had lifted.

We wore our dripping bathing suits home, making sure to thoroughly wet the seats in the car. I just adore a moldy car smell, don't you? Liberty escaped into the house while I concentrated on freeing Mercy from her car seat and changing her into something warm. I considered changing out of my own dripping bathing suit first, but instead opted to change the girls and then myself. I spread Mercy's wet suit out on top of the dryer and went to find Liberty. She was in our neighbor's yard watching him dig a trench so that his downspouts could continue underground.

She looked up when I arrived on the back porch. "Yook, Mommy, I helping Gampa Chuck!" she announced happily and held up a couple handfuls of dirt.

"That's great, Lib. Let's go inside and get changed so you can come back out and play."

Chuck noticed her hesitation and began walking with her towards the porch. Then he stopped to talk with me. My wet hair and bathing suit enhanced the wind speed and soon goosebumps covered my flesh, but still we chatted. Liberty obeyed and disappeared into the house, but still we chatted. Mercy, in her sweatshirt and pants, attempted to launch herself over the side of the kiddie pool, but still we chatted.

Liberty gave up waiting for me inside and came back out to the porch. She slid the patio door closed behind her, and I heard a distinct click. NO! My brain screamed. It felt like slow motion: I turned to the door and yanked it sideways. It did not budge. I yanked again, knowing full well the result would be nothing. I sighed.

"All the other doors locked?" Chuck stated, looking like he was trying to hide a grin.

"Yes," I breathed, and mentally walked the perimeter of the house. "And all the windows are closed and locked."

We stared at each other, and then I looked at Liberty. I started giggling, which turned into gasps of laughter. Chuck allowed his grin to surface and ruffled Liberty's hair. "With this one around, you're going to need a spare key made to put outside." We walked around the house checking all windows and doors. All locked. I sat on the back steps and pondered.

"Well." Chuck removed a pack from his front shirt pocket and tapped it against his palm until a cigarette fell out.

"Would the police be able to help?" I wondered out loud.

He paused in his cigarette lighting and handed me his cell phone. "Let's find out."

Mr. Officer arrived and parked his jungle gym in our driveway. At least, that's what Liberty thought he did. He was actually driving a car with a special black climbing toy on the front conventionally used to push bad guys' cars out of the way.

He, too, circled the house multiple times and came up with nothing. He called his boss. Together, they decided the very best solution would be to KICK one of our doors in. I let that thought roll around in my brain for .1734ths of a second. Hmm, would it help our chances of selling the house?

"Or," I volunteered, "I could call a locksmith."

Yes, they agreed with a touch of reluctance. I could do that.

And that's when all of the time I'd spent sitting in my wet bathing suit on the front porch praying while I waited for the cops to arrive and come up with a good solution paid off. God flashed a clear picture of the sliding patio door into my head, and this time I noticed that the outside lock was not installed. Instead, a hole about the size of a quarter sat where the key mechanism should have been. "HEY!" I jumped up, startling Mr. Officer and leaving a wet butt print on the concrete steps. "Can we use a screw driver or something on that sliding door?" I described the hole, and we all took off for the backyard.

Two seconds later, we were inside.

Liberty was overjoyed, expecting all of her new friends to join us in the house. "No!" she yelped when Mr. Officer indicated his departure. "Stay with me." She wrapped her arms around his leg. "Stay in my house."

He smiled and knelt down by her, "Sorry, kiddo, I have to go."

"Stay with me," she lured him. "In my house."

He traded a sticker for his freedom, a gold police badge that said Jr. Officer. At bedtime that night, Liberty handed me the surviving half of the badge. "Yook, Mommy. My peaceman give me ticka."

I stood in the bedroom doorway and fondly looked at my girls. Mercy slept soundly in her crib, her right arm flung up over her head. In her own bed, Liberty's golden curls splayed out over her pillow and she smiled, satisfied with her "peaceman ticka."

I closed the bedroom door and walked down the hallway, reflecting on the day. The bumps along the way had enhanced instead of detracted, and I smiled to myself. "I will remember this day for a LONG, LONG time."

"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Psalm 118:24