Sweet Sixteen

It’s our sixteenth wedding anniversary…wow, where did the time go? As the slogan goes, we’ve come a long way, baby! (And added a few babies along the way). Our wedding certainly wasn’t orthodox in that we traveled to St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands to say “I do.” But it has to be one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Low stress, high relaxation. And getting to our honeymoon destination from there was a breeze!

Today I reminisce on all that was good about that day. Being outdoors on the beach it was truly “God’s great cathedral” as our minister said. Starting the wedding on Caribbean time (in other words, 4:00 means around 4:15). The steel drum music. Anthuriums in my bouquet (now one of my favorite flowers). Strolling down the sandy “aisle” barefoot toward my best friend. I tried to put his wedding band on the right hand instead (in my defense, he GAVE me the wrong hand) and wondered why it wouldn’t fit. We stumbled over the vow “for richer or poorer” replacing poorer with something akin to “pooh-er” (perhaps a Disney freudian slip–or just not wanting to say we would be poor). My dad claiming he had sand in his eye to explain his tears. Telling Clay to “be nice” before he fed me wedding cake. (For the record, he was). And our favorite photo, taken not by the wedding photographer but by a family friend. One of the best days of my life in postcard memories that I pray will last a lifetime.

Happy Anniversary, honey!

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Double Digits Birthday!

Hi, I’m Sherry and I’m officially the mom of a ten year old. Yes, it’s an admission I’m coming to terms with. (You can post stunned comments on how that is possible since I’m so young. Please.) In all seriousness, I’m glad we were at the beach for Taylor’s birthday. I’ve always felt so at peace near the ocean, and it was the perfect place to come to terms with my oldest child getting older. Where had my little curly haired sweetheart who used to say “papasicle” (popsicle) and “hamburg-gurger” (hamburger) go? Gone are the chubby legs and kissable chunky cheeks. Now, she’s almost as tall as me as she can wear my shoes.

But maybe my nostalgia for her younger years is all wrong. Because it keeps me from savoring the here and now. For the awesome young lady she is becoming. And Lord knows I better live in the moment because those teen years are just around the corner! After all, the point is to give her air under her wings so she can fly. She’s not supposed to stay. Maybe THAT is my big hangup-learning how to let go. Giving her room to find herself and gain independence. I’m headed in the right direction: she’s at camp for the week for her fourth year in a row! But of course, I’m missing her like crazy.

Elizabeth Stone sums it up best:”Making the decision to have a child is momentous.  It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” That is so poignant and true and bittersweet at the same time. And I can’t seem to get the song “Find Your Wings” by Mark Harris out of my head. I’ll share the lyrics and you’ll understand why:

It’s only for a moment you are mine to hold
The plans that heaven has for you
Will all too soon unfold
So many different prayers I’ll pray
For all that you might do
But most of all I’ll want to know
You’re walking in the truth
And If I never told you
I want you to know
As I watch you grow

Chorus:
I pray that God would fill your heart with dreams
And that faith gives you the courage
To dare to do great things
I’m here for you whatever this life brings
So let my love give you roots
And help you find your wings

May passion be the wind
That leads you through your days
And may conviction keep you strong
Guide you on your way
May there be many moments
That make your life so sweet
Oh, but more than memories

CHORUS

It’s not living if you don’t reach for the sky
I’ll have tears as you take off
But I’ll cheer as you fly

CHORUS
******

It’s a really good song that obviously yanks on the heartstrings hard. And for my little butterfly at camp who’s now 10, it’s EXACTLY what I wish for her.

Sherry

Hello Summer!

I’ve been noticeably lazy in blogging. My “excuse” is that I’ve been so busy with work and kids’ activities that I simply haven’t had time. But just to recap: Taylor made the cheerleading team. Jared finished T-ball. End of year programs? Done. (Can’t believe I have a rising first and fifth grader!) Daughter turning 10 (double digits!) and her waterslide birthday party. Note to grownups: don’t get on a giant waterslide thinking you won’t find new muscles the next day. Owie! But so worth it.

The blur of activities made me long for summer even more. And then summer arrives and you expect total bliss. Relaxation. Some downtime–or at least a slower tempo. Who’s with me? (I’m imagining a chorus of support here).

Yeah, well…the reality is summers are quite busy. Our June is filled with the beach, horseback camp, and VBS. Your summer schedule is probably similar. But I vow right here that I will have pool “do nothing” days, afternoon naps, and spur-of-the-moment playdates. Squeeze in some day trips to a kid museum, art gallery, or concert. Because summer is made for chucking the calendar out the window and just chillin’.

At least that’s what I loved about summer when I was a kid. Entire days spent at the pool, not to mention all the swim meets. Trips to Kiawah Island where I went exploring on bike trails and hung out on the beach listening to my walkman (I can hear it now from my kids: “what’s a walkman?”) Maybe I have a soft spot for summer because I met Clay at the pool Memorial Day weekend 24 years ago. Good times! But whatever the reason, summer is almost sacred for me. And I hope my kids will say the same someday.

So bring on the waterslides-I’ll try them every time! Even if I pay for it later.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Given the fact that I’ve lost over 5 pounds this week (yeah!) due to stomach thing (boo), and because of that I’m feeling a little funky still, I’m going to borrow from something I wrote for my mom a few years ago. We jokingly refer to these as epic poems (a la Homer) because for those listening to them, they seem to last forever! Anyway, my mom has always been blessed with the gift of writing these poems for friends and family, so I decided to give it a go myself. It’s not Hallmark, but it makes it more special because we penned the words ourselves.

Mom, Taylor and me in Charleston

What does mother really mean?
Mere words cannot describe
How much love, energy and support
That’s all wrapped up inside

Selflessness, total devotion
The center of the family
Giving, helping, teaching, guiding
You molded and shaped me

And now that I’m a mother, too
It brings a new perspective
A sense of what you’ve accomplished
A deeper appreciation than I expected

In the process of becoming a mother
Taylor and Jared have changed me
And it also changes you
Because now you are a Mimi!

And now the bond between us
Has matured from mother-daughter to friends
I cannot thank you enough
Where would I even begin?

For all you’ve done and still do
I love you from the bottom of my heart
So Happy Mother’s Day
From your daughter whom you’ve loved from the start!

***
So Happy Mother’s Day to you all! Be sure to tell your moms how much you love them if they are still here, and take the time to honor their memories today if they have passed away.

-Sherry

Something new and different

Spring is a time for growth and rebirth, so what better time to jump into a new, exciting project? So here’s mine: I just joined the Disney Driven Life (http://thedisneydrivenlife.com) as one of their 60 bloggers–get this, the Fine Arts blogger. See, Dad, you CAN do something with an English major/fine arts degree (haha)! So what better way to commemorate my Fine Arts blogger status than to include the Andy Warhol print, “The Art of Mickey Mouse.” Well, I like it: it’s colorful, bold, and has Mickey on it, so what’s not to like? By the way, I get to write on more than just artwork. Just sayin.

For those of you wondering what I’ve gotten myself into, the blog is defined as a community for neurotic Disney people (moi included). The concept is cool:  the site is driven by Disney fans who incorporate Disney into their everyday lives and provides an outlet for their passionate zeal for the House of Mouse (which some might call, ahem, obsessive.) Case in point: a friend of mine’s most recent post on the DDL discusses spring cleaning and how kids can and should help out using Cinderella and the other princesses as inspiration. (Though she found herself in the unenviable position of seeing her resemblance to the Wicked Stepmother–perish the thought, Ami!)

Anyway, you hopefully get my drift and will also jump over there and check me and the other NDP’s (neurotic Disney people) out! And join! And post comments! Because I know I’m not alone in my Disney enthusiasm, people.

-Sherry (aka NDM 393)

My Saturday

Have you ever had that moment where you thought-hey, I can go run this errand with my kids and I’m in control? I can accomplish what I want quickly and bribe reward them with ice cream and get home with my purchases in hand and my sanity intact! Heehee you know where this is going….So me and the kiddos set out for Greenville (30 minutes) so I could find some Easter bling. My kids were patient, well behaved, things were going great. I couldn’t find the necklace I loved, so we left and grabbed some Cold Stone ice cream. Then I ran back in the jewelry store and picked up a necklace and earrings with my Groupon ($ 30 worth for $ 15) and left feeling satisfied. What a bargain! My kids were so good! Smug and self-congratulatory, I climbed in the minivan, kids in tow, and drove 30 minutes home. Ahhh-ready to chill out, grill out and prop my feet up. And then my son walks up to me with a puzzled look on his face, holding the pewter Swiss army knife from said jewelry store. I immediately flash back to our conversation in the jewelry store:

Son: Mom, can we buy this?

Me: No, sweetheart. Put it back.

Son: Pleeeeeaaase?

Me: NO.

Son: But it’s soooo coooool.

Me: I know. But you need to listen to me or you won’t get any ice cream.

Son: Okay….(walks away to stealthily stash in pocket in defiance of Mommy).

So, my precious six year old, clasping the clandestine, ill-gotten gain in his red hands, looks at me with tearswollen eyes, as if to say: what do I do now? Gotta love those teachable moments, they always seem to come at not-so-convenient times.  The only choice: get back in the van and drive another hour to return the pilfered pocketknife. So much for my quickie errand 😦 But now, every time I wear my Easter jewelry, I will remember this eventful shoplifting excursion as a moment my son learned not to steal. And chose his punishment (no Wii or DS for 2 weeks). And went to his room to “make things right with God.” In the process, he grew into a bigger boy right before my eyes.

Mr. Darcy comes to Spartanburg

One of my favorite movies of all times is Pride and Prejudice-the scenery, the dialogue, the music! Love it! So when I read that Dario Marianelli, the composer of the movie’s original score, was coming to Spartanburg for a concert, I flipped! Swoonworthy music performed by an orchestra? The dormant violinist in me was jealous and wishing I could play, too. (Can we say “orchestra geek”? The phrase “this one time, at orchestra camp…” comes to mind!) And not just any music, but a world premiere (just sayin’)! Marianelli arranged the various pieces from the movie into one suite, and the results were breathtaking. For someone who still gets chills at the scene where Mr. Darcy crosses the field to get to Elizabeth, just hearing that music makes the hairs on my arms stand up. It doesn’t hurt that I bought the soundtrack on iTunes and know each song’s name and when it was played in the movie. OK, I just solidified my geek status, but I’m OK with that.

Not only were we treated to the music from Pride and Prejudice, but they also performed music from the movie Atonement, which Marianelli also scored. So it was kind of a double bonus (for you NCAA basketball fans). And the Atonement music did not disappoint, either (unlike the movie-ugh)–highlights included a typewriter used as percussion (so creative) and the singing of a hymn by a male chorus simultaneous with the orchestra to evoke the feeling of the Battle of Dunkirk. I left the concert impressed and pleasantly surprised that our small town could host such amazing talent.

Which brings up an interesting question: I felt compelled to attend the concert but had to rationalize going and spending time away from my family on a Saturday night. Why is that? And had my mom and a friend not wanted to go with me, would I have gone alone? I have learned that I still need to make time for me and my interests…but it’s easier to do that now that the kids are a bit older. Geez, I remember the days when I could hardly go to the bathroom without interruption!

So, friends, what things are you making time for in your busy schedule or better yet, SHOULD be making time for and maybe aren’t?

Strange times

Some life-altering things have been happening all around me, and some not so nearby but calling me to contemplate what is important. My father-in-law’s tumor and his surgery last week. A recent diagnosis of prostate cancer for a church friend. A newborn baby with Down’s. A dear friend’s impending divorce and the nastiness of it all. And the Cleveland Park train derailment in my hometown where tragically one 6 year old boy died and 28 mostly kids) were injured. That news hits any parent right in the gut, but somehow blew me away when I think of my sweet 6 year old boy. And then there is Japan. 18,000 people estimated dead or missing. I can’t make heads of everything swirling around me. It is almost too much to bear.

And yet…all around me are the signs of spring. New buds blooming, birds incessantly chirping, warmer temps, pollen (OK, can live without that one). Rebirth. How coincidental that all this soul searching and wondering what’s going on with the world just so happens to take place during Lent. After driving home from the gym two days ago, I just sat in my driveway and did nothing. For like 10 minutes (but it felt like much longer). Not long ago, I would have chastised myself for that time being “wasted.” Now, it counts as one of the most productive moments of my day. Or the time I carve out for reading during Taylor’s piano lesson while Jared plays on the playground. An impromptu walk with the dog. A catch-up phone call with a friend.

You know, we’re all so busy spinning our hamster wheels that we can’t even take a second to slow down and think. Pray. Give thanks. Put someone else’s needs ahead of our own. Try it. It’s amazing the peace and clarity that can come from those few minutes of stillness. Agreed, it works best if you aren’t in a crowd of strangers (a surefire way to get some strange looks) or trying to do this with the kids (heck, trying to do anything moderately productive with kids in tow is questionable, right?) But I am finding that my faith, my peace-heck, my very sanity- hinge on it.

I just started a new book called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. What drew me to the book (besides the recommendation of a friend) was the subtitle: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. I’ll admit, when given the choice between truth or dare, I usually chose truth. But boy, dares really get my attention. Because implicit in them is the notion that “you can’t do this.” Granted, I don’t believe that Voskamp is meaning that-but nevertheless, isn’t it human nature to want to rise up to the challenge of a dare? She writes, “How do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties? What does a life of gratitude look like when your days are gritty, long, and sometimes dark? What is God providing here and now?”  Finding a way to be grateful is hard, especially when we are reeling from the punches of life. So like Voskamp, I’m starting my own gratitude journal-a beginning on my journey to 1,000 gifts-which I hope to share with you from time to time. For now, I am grateful that I live in a country where I am free to write whatever comes to mind and put it out there in a blog and pretend that some people out there are interested in what I have to say. It’s empowering and thrilling.

So, dear friends, what are you grateful for?

Sherry

Hello again…miss me?

After an unintentional hiatus, I am back to blogging and (coincidentally) just in time for Lent. Most people choose to give something up for Lent but I’ve never been into that. Kinda like my outlook on resolutions. Rather, I like the idea of taking on something new for Lent. Not that blogging is new to me, but instead I can take on the task of blogging more regularly. Even if I am afraid the mundane, everyday trials of a full time mom and part-time lawyer might be less than scintillating reading. But if you wanted that, you’d be following Charlie Sheen’s tweets (seriously, didn’t expect I would mention that freakshow but it fits).

So last week my baby boy turned 6 (sniff). Yes, I did shed a tear or two because 1) that’s how I roll and 2) there seems to be a big maturity difference between 5 and 6. Imagine how I’ll be this summer when Taylor turns 10! Anyway, we decided to do a birthday party at home. What was I thinking, you might ask? Well, apparently I wasn’t. Because cleaning your house for a birthday party only to see your work undone in minutes is SOOO much fun! But we couldn’t decide on a venue for the festivities, and since he has become an Indiana Jones addict, I thought we could do an Indiana Jones-inspired scavenger hunt. Which requires being outdoors. And, you guessed it, despite being sunny all week, Saturday arrived with clouds and rain. (Should have known better when on one of his previous birthdays, it snowed!) Amazingly, it didn’t deter the under-10 set from the snake pit, archaeological dig, and mummy wrap. And it didn’t hurt that my daughter became the party planner and took charge! Overall, you can say it is a success when your kid says “best day ever” at the end of the day.

Happy Birthday, Jarbear!

American Girl Weekend

On January 15-16, my mom, daughter, and I headed to Atlanta for a girls’ weekend…and oh, what fun it was! Plenty of shopping, eating, and a trip to the mecca for 9-year-old girls: the American Girl Store and Bistro! Taylor loved every minute–from our delicious lunch in the girly pink Bistro (complete with attachable seats for the dolls so they could sit tableside) to treating her doll, Elizabeth to a much-needed makeover. OK, so Elizabeth’s hair had seen better days, but the makeover specialists (or whatever they call themselves) are nothing short of miracle workers. I think one of them worked on this one doll’s hair for a solid half hour! (Note to parents: don’t give your kids/grandkids expensive dolls when they are too young to take care of them. Just saying!) And of course, we were caught in the shopping frenzy (seriously, I can’t imagine any claims of a recession given how people were buying TONS of stuff)–my daughter selected a riding outfit (go figure), shoes, and a much-needed brush. But our AG experience didn’t end there-our hotel offered a cool AG package that included (wait for it) special pink carpet check-in for girls and their dolls; cookies and milk delivered to your room; a doll travel bed; movie night with popcorn, drinks, and sleeping bags; and breakfast buffet.

So after a weekend chock filled with American Girl, it’s no surprise that she wants a new doll for her birthday. Of course, she would have called me “best mom ever” if I would have grabbed Felicity and bought her on the spot. And yes, I could financially afford it but I think that sets a bad precedent. Call me crazy, but I believe spending $100 for a doll should be reserved for special occasions. I think we overindulge our kids and if I am ever going to teach Taylor how to appreciate the value of money, I can’t undermine that message by saying, “Here, sweetie, even though it’s an ordinary day, you can have this expensive doll.” Just last week, I told my kids, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” (I’ll take things I swore I would never say as a mom for $ 200, Alex!) So, my future writer promptly starts designing a book cover emblazoned with this catchy title: The Money Tree. Oy.

 

So what do you think? Is an American Girl doll something to save for special occasions? Or am I in the minority? I’d love to hear your take on this-so comment away! 🙂

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