Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Note of Thanks

Dear Sunshine Farms,

It has been 10 years since we came to know you. In those ten years, you've given us some incredible memories. And to express my gratitude, I'm going to thank you for a few things...

...for being so peaceful and beautiful; for always being open and welcoming; for being warm in the winter and cool in the summer; for your porches and the breezes they bring; for the laughter and the tears; for making the rain sing on your tin roof; for your horizon views; for the bonfires we bond around, fight around, debate around, drink around and sing around; for your pool the grandkids have learned to swim in; for the ugliest, most comfortable couch in the kitchen no one can bring themselves to throw out; for the loft that held us all those years in the beginning; for the spiral staircase that gives us heart attacks; for the endless stars and largest moons; for the front row seats to daily sunrises and nightly sunsets; for the roaring fires in your fireplace - and the gas starter; for the farm trucks; for the guest room that is too hot; for your awesome cabana we party in; for your red front door; for your old tobacco barns; for your beautiful oak trees; for loving our friends and welcoming them like family; for the ice makers; for the camo and orange jackets that always fall off the knobs in the hallway; for the clock we can't read and all hate; for the Ranger we've driven too fast, gotten stuck, flipped, and raced in; for the mud on our tires; for being a dog's dream come true; for homemade egg nog; for keeping the beer cold and the wine chilled; for the kitchen island; for the red barn and the green tractor; for the rosemary bush to beat all rosemary bushes; for two refrigerators, two freezers and two dishwashers; for the playground you let lean, but not fall; for your ceilings that touch the sky or at least seem to; for always serving beer on Sundays in a dry county; for all your rocking chairs; for the toy cabinets; for the answering machine with that familiar drawl; for your pantry that is never organized for more than a few hours; for hayrides and for s'mores; for early morning basketball games; for the bowling lane table we gather around, the saw horses underneath that bang our knees and the 27, mostly broken, mismatched chairs adorning it; for PopTarts and cinnamon rolls; for the flag pole that was a labor of love; for the concrete slabs with all our initials; for oyster shooters and pig pits; for the RV park; for our Daddy's pecan field; for The Point and the local classical radio station you tune in up there; for the official Guest House; for little fishing ponds and cane poles; for the lightning bugs and dragon flys, but not the wasps and mosquitos; for Charlie Brown Christmas trees; for bacon; for your bookshelves; for hot coffee on cool mornings and hot chocolate on cold nights; for Blair Witch roads and lighted crosses; for deer, turkey, quail and skeet, but not for armadillos; for your heart of pine floors and old doors; for your enormous gas grill; for wine grapes and family projects; for hosting beautiful weddings and family holidays; for traditions; for welcoming our Dad home and for becoming ours.

For all of this and more, we say thank you.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Yellow Bracelet

When my dad was first diagnosed with cancer in June 2009, I immediately went online and bought Livestrong bracelets for everyone in our family. I don't know why, or what compelled me to do that in particular, but I did. And I vowed to wear mine until my dad was cancer-free.

When he passed last October, I couldn't bring myself to take it off. I continued to wear it in remembrance of him, as a memorial. I figured one day I'd know it was time. But then more loved ones were stricken with the horrible disease and the bracelet remained, as a symbol of solidarity with them. I can't make their cancer disappear, I can't bear their pain and sickness, I can't ease their fears and anxiety, but I can wear this bracelet every day as a reminder to pray for them. To pray to The One who can do all the things I can't. And to remember those we've already lost, who've gone home and whom we miss every day.

It's just a rubber band in a bright, cheerful color. It's nothing all that impressive really. But it is a powerful tool in the fight against cancer because it's a call to arms. A call to pray to our Lord for the peace and mercy only He can provide. So it remains.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go - Joshua 1:9

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I Get it Now

It's Mother's Day. My second. It still seems a little strange to be celebrated and not just celebrating. But I like it.

When I was pregnant, if I'd heard "There's no love like a mother's love" or "You just wait until those babies come. You won't be able to contain yourself", I heard it approximately 1,386,239 times. Or something close to that. I'd just shake my head, smile and think, "Yes, I know, I know, I'll love them. I get it."

Um, yea, I didn't.

It's a strange experience growing humans. Obviously as they grow within you you become more aware that there are living, breathing things in your body. Just reading that sentence alone can give one the heeby-jeebies. Mostly men. But as they move more and kick (harder), you start to know them a little. You get some insight into their personalities. They become real.

I wanted children in the worst way. And after trying for so long and so hard, I was overjoyed with the news of finally becoming pregnant. I loved my little guys even before they were conceived. I loved them when they were in utero. I loved them when they were born. But now I know there are different kinds of love.

The first few months around here were chaotic, exhausting, overwhelming, lovely and perfect. And frankly, a complete blur. I remember little. I do vividly remember though wondering at one point, at about two weeks in, whose brilliant idea it was to have The Little Vultures. I asked God and He said it was mine. Oh.

But then hormones calmed and sleep came more often and in fuller doses and I began to fall in love. Deep, unmitigated, abiding love.

And I got it. The notion of hurling one's self in front of a bus to save another didn't seem like such a crazy notion after all. I'd do it for these boys. I can become overwhelmed with love if I allow myself to sit and stare at them. They are gorgeous creatures. I never in a million years could've understood what being a mother meant until I became one. And I am so incredibly grateful to the Lord for these gifts.

But it occurs to me, too, that there is someone out there who loves me the way I love the Brown Boys. My mother. And I receive a fresh sense of awareness. I understand her better and more fully than ever before. I realize now what all she has done for me (and still does) since my birth. How much she loved me, even before I was conceived. And how much more she loves me today.

I am so thankful for that love. For her. She's the best mother I could have asked Jesus for. He knew who I needed and He was so right. She's not perfect, but she's perfect for me. And I love her in return.

So I get it now. I get what a mother's love really feels like. I get how it fills you with a joy that can cause you to spontaneously burst into tears. How it leaves you feeling so vulnerable that you want to scoop your babies up and hide from the big, bad dangerous world. How it inspires you to imagine a future of discovery and adventure. And frees you to dream bigger and more audaciously for them than you ever did for yourself. That's what it is.

I SO get that now.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ode To A Small Town

We live in a small town. Not too awful small, mind you. We have two major universities and we're the seat of state government. But as a girl who grew up in a major city, this is a small town.

But it isn't just the population number or the square mileage that make it a small town. It's the feel. It just feels like a small town. Seems like everyone knows everyone. Or knows someone who does. Maybe it's that there are truly only two industries here - government/politics and education. Most folks work in one of those two arenas. So we pretty much all go to lunch together every day.

A lot of people talk badly about our capital city. Me included. We complain about the lack of decent restaurants, though we do have some good ones. And don't get us started on the shopping. It's abysmal.

But what makes it so great are the people. They care. They have big hearts. They give.

My husband and I are very fortunate to have a very large group of friends. It stretches beyond the borders of our profession in some ways, but the majority of our group is made up of people we've worked with. Politics is incestuous. But when you fight political battles together, when you are in the same trench for months and years, a bond forms.

And a respect is there, as well, for those on the other side. When you've been to war (and I use that term loosely, folks, just humor me), you acknowledge a fellow warrior and their efforts. Even when they've been trying to pummel you.

We've been dealt a major blow recently in the form of a health scare for a dear and close friend. And it's been heartening, amazing frankly, to see the outpouring of love and affection, prayer and good wishes for him and his family. Seems our whole political community, Republicans and Democrats, has come together to lift up the warrior that is our friend. He has a different kind of battle ahead, but it looks like everyone has left their trench and jumped in his.

That's what I love about a small town. The trenches are so close together. And the people who make ours up love a good fight.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Houses That Built Me

My family moved a lot when I was growing up. I lived in over 20 houses before I was 20. Explains my packing expertise. I've only lived in 3 different places since I officially left the family payroll after college. That was 14 years ago.

Wait. I've been out of college 14 years?! Well that just ruined my day.

Only 2 houses out of all those others count though. Just two. I'm sitting on the front porch of one right now. And I've written to you from the other. On a certain veranda my Daddy loved.

These two houses were where my families were created. Both the immediate and extended. And I'm about to lose them both.

Houses. Not families.

My siblings just panicked.

Or cheered.

I'll go with panicked.

My husband and I decided to put our house on the market after 7 wonderful years of living in it. We bought it just before we married. We came home to this house the day after our wedding and from our honeymoon. We spent all our firsts here. We brought the boys home from the hospital here.

I'll admit I'm a pretty sentimental person. The very thought of not waking up on Holland Drive brings me to tears. I love it so much. So many memories.

I learned to cook in this kitchen. There have been some spectacular dishes created in there. And some abominable disasters. I started my company in one of the front bedrooms. We've had some epic - and I don't use that term lightly - EPIC parties at this house.

And there's a certain spot on the living room floor where the varnish is nearly rubbed off the wood. That's the spot where I met with God during our journey through infertility. There have been some mighty, mighty "Come to Jesus" moments in that 3x3 section of heart of pine. If I could cut that wood out and take it with me I would. Like a prayer rug.

I will miss that spot the most. I fell in love with Jesus there.

But there is another house, too, where my larger family was built. And it's 4 hours south of here. On a street most people struggle to pronounce. Rubideaux Lane.

We moved into that house in 1992, just before my parents were married. We're The Brady Bunch of this generation. I won't bore you with the details. Just know it's complicated. And we love it that way.

On Rubideaux Lane, we melded together like steel. Unbreakable. For life.

It would be pointless to try and remember all the memories we created together in that house. They're immeasurable. But they are so sweet. Closing the door and walking across the bridge for the last time will be nearly impossible. It may take me a while. My fingers may need to be pried from the balustrade. Hunger strike, anyone?

My youngest little brother gave us all a framed photograph of the house and wrote on the back of the frame, "Where it all began...". And he's right. We all had other homes and other family dynamics before Rubideaux. But none were this. This one stuck. This is our family. And that is our house.

But it will become someone else's house soon. Both of these will. And it is my fervent prayer that these two houses will go on and do what they have proven to do best - build families.

It's the greatest gift a house can give. And I am a blessed woman to have received it twice.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Better Late Than Never

My dear, dear friend, Charla, is thisclose to delivering her second baby. A girl. This is very exciting.

But it got me thinking about my girlfriends and their babies. Those here already. Those arriving soon. Those still cooking. And those yet to be. They make me smile.

And tired.

Tired because we're a little older, us gals. We all started later than those before us. I think my grandmother was a teenager {She was from the Deep South, folks. That's how they rolled back then}. My mother was twenty.

I was 34. I know that's fairly young to an 80 year old. But trust me when I say, the spring in my step has nearly been sprung. Twins ain't for the aged. Believe me.

Why did we wait? Some of us, like me, had jobs we weren't ready to give up and new marriages we wanted to enjoy. And then of course, like all things in life, it didn't go exactly as we planned. Some of us didn't find our loves until we were in our 30's. Some well into our 30's.

We've all had amazing careers. We've worked in cool places and for outstanding people. We've traveled the country and the world. We've swam in and fished several of Earth's oceans, gulfs and bays. We've climbed mountains and hiked canyons. We've seen the sun rise over the Atlantic and set on the Pacific. We've seen our fair share of legendary artists. We've toured some of the world's most famous museums. We've cheered at major sporting events. Super Bowl? Check. The Masters? Check. Daytona 500? Check. We've met presidents and governors. Celebrities and true heroes. We've had a lot of wine. And beer. And rum. And vodka.

We've lived our lives fully. And now we're onto the greatest job we'll ever have. Witnesses to the miracle of birth. First steps. First words. First, well, everythings.

And we'll be happier than we've ever been. We've worked hard, played hard.

I'm proud of us.

But mostly I'm just grateful for the amazing women I call my friends.

You rock, ladies. I love you.

And your Little Vultures.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Proust Questionnaire

I love Vanity Fair magazine. It's one of only two magazines I have a subscription for. The other is Southern Living. If you live in the South, you are required to have a subscription to Southern Living. If you don't, your Southern card is subject to revocation.

That's bad, bad, bad. No one wants that.

But I subscribe to Vanity Fair by choice. I love reading the liberal rants of Wolcott, et al. The antitheist sermons of Hitchens. I like to know what the enemy is thinking. I read these articles for the same reason I watch MSNBC. It strengthens my personal views, which are almost always in complete opposition to theirs. When I understand their arguments, I understand mine better.

Maybe I'm weird like that.

But there are other great articles that aren't offensive, but rather informative. Or just plain interesting. It widens my world view a little.

My most favorite though is the Proust Questionnaire on the last page of every issue answered by various celebrities and people of culture. It's the first thing I look at after ripping off the plastic and perusing the cover. It's very exciting to see who's answered that month.

Good grief, I really am a nerd. has an interactive version of the Proust Questionnaire on their website. About a year ago, my girlfriends and I tried to answer the questions. I think only one of us actually finished it. It wasn't me.

The questions seem simple. Until you try and answer them yourself. Then you realize they are hard. They make you think. And I think I over-thought them last time.

So I am going to give this another shot. I'm just going to answer as quickly as possible without too much analyzing. Here we go:

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Surrendering my will to God and being content

2. What is your greatest fear?
My children becoming ill

3. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Jacob of the Old Testament

4. Which living person do you most admire?
President George H.W. Bush

5. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My incessant need to worry

6. What is the trait you most deplore in others?

7. What is your greatest extravagance?
Grocery shopping every day

8. On what occasion do you lie?
When I want to avoid hurting someone's feelings

9. What do you dislike most about your appearance?
My knees

10. When and where were you happiest?
The day I realized I would get to keep my babies forever

11. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My ambition

12. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
That it would be a little more simple

13. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Surviving these last 18 months

14. If you died and came back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
The next American Idol

15. What is your most treasured possession?
My wedding rings

16. What do regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Depression and addiction

17. Who are your heroes in real life?
My parents and grandparents

18. What is it that you most dislike?
Licorice and asparagus

19. How would you like to die?

20. What is your motto?
Work it out

Whew! That was fun. Now it's your turn.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Post About Nothing

I warned you when I started this blog that I would only post when I had something to say that I thought would be of interest.

Or I just needed to say. Whether it was interesting or not.

As you can tell from my lack of posts, I haven't been all that interesting. Christmas is a crazy, hectic time for us and it kicks off the day after Thanksgiving. So in all honesty, I haven't had the time nor the energy to do anything more than just get to January 1 with my sanity intact.

Such that it is.

So this is a post to say I'm still around. I plan to blog something riveting soon. But for now, I will post this. A post about nothing.