Thursday, March 29, 2012


It's been pretty quiet here this week. The kids are on spring break and we don't have anything going on. Well, we have plenty to do, but not really any commitments, if that makes sense.

We've visited with friends, slept in, chilled out, and generally enjoyed having some time with Steve home. Sam stayed the night with my folks last night, which gave me and Rachel a chance to have a date night with daddy. The three of us went to the movies. This afternoon we took Rachel to my mom and dad's and brought Sam home and now he and Steve are duking it out on the PS3. I'm thinking it's a good time for me to settle in with a book and something hot to drink, as the summer-like weather we had a week ago has turned back to something a little more typical (read: COLD).

Steve is preparing this week to start his new job on Monday - he's had some work done on his truck, took a drug test, is working through some on-line training courses, and has a stack of paperwork to fill out. He'll also be loading up the travel trailer and taking that when he leaves Sunday. Hooray for the end of hotel season!

It's been so nice having Steve here. I say the same thing every time we're together as a family, and it's true. I appreciate our time together more than ever. This last stint with him working in Pennsylvania was tough for all of us. Steve was in an area with really crappy cell phone coverage and there were days when we didn't talk at all because of it. What makes this crazy lifestyle of ours bearable is technology - the ability to be in constant contact with each other through phone calls, texts, e-mails. When we don't have that, it's tough. And the distance ... well, it's not like we can take a quick weekend trip to see daddy when he's a 12-hour drive away. Starting next week he'll be in southern Michigan, much closer to home, and I can't tell you how excited I am about that. I can't wait for summer.

Even though we have nothing on the schedule the week seems to be flying by, as it always does when our time with daddy is limited. Tonight I'm just gonna' settle in and enjoy, and try not to think too much about next week when we'll all be back to the grind.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Simple pleasures.

The focus verse for today in my little book of devotions is from a section of John 12.
The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. (verse 3)
The devotion is all about accepting not only the grand gestures of God, but the simple pleasures of life, too.
" ... no less important are the daily acts of mercy that make the world a kinder and more satisfying home. This, too, is faithfulness: the loving touch, the sweet fragrance in the home, the visual art that adorns the wall."
It seems appropriate for today. We're having an early spring and everything is green. It's been raining the past couple of days and it smells so fresh. I have a vase of daffodils on my table and they make me smile.

Receiving the gifts of the day. Enjoying the little things.

Today I look around and I see so many simple pleasures. And I am thankful.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring has sprung!

Wow! I just can't believe this weather we're having here in western Michigan. The whole of Michigan, really. We're breaking 100-yr-old records all over the place.

Today temperatures are expected to be in the 80's where we live. It's in the 60's and creeping higher already and the sun isn't even up yet. I have windows open to catch the cool breeze before it gets hot.

Yes. Eighty degrees is hot to this sister. I'm not a big fan of sweat and that's all I do when it's 80 degrees outside. This may be the year we spring for central air, especially if it gets hot and stays hot for the summer.

Sheesh, is it Tuesday already? We had a beautiful weekend, weather-wise, and not quite as busy as I had anticipated. Oh, there was plenty of running the kids to and fro, but after visiting the chiropractor Saturday morning I was relegated to the recliner with a heating pad for a couple days. No raking. No pulling weeds. No hauling debris. No lugging bags of mulch. Phooey. But my back had been bothering me for a few weeks and this was my second trip to see the chiro during that time and I decided it was best I follow his orders and give my body time to heal up. He said I had two ribs gone wonky which would explain why I felt like someone was digging their fingertips into my right side every time I moved a certain way.

This is for the birds. Today I'm feeling better than I felt Saturday morning, but definitely not 100 percent. I need to start doing Pilates or somethin'. Strengthen that core. I've got too much to do to sit here and watch the world go by.

But enough about that!

Spring break begins Friday. We had originally planned to go to PA to see Steve, but since he is changing jobs he'll be coming home and spending a few days with us, then he will have to be in Detroit (or somewhere near Detroit) on April 2nd. I'm excited. We are all ready for some time together as a family. I'd like to plan a few fun things to do with the kids, but I think we'll just let it ride and see what we feel like when next week rolls around.

And now it's getting lighter outside which I'm taking as my cue to get my body moving. A mama's work is never done.

Have a blessed day!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

There's a light at the end of the tunnel.

Today is the last day of the kids' Saturday morning bowling league.

Thank you, Jesus.

I really have fun watching them and bowling has become something both Sam and Rachel really enjoy, but after 20-some weeks of hanging out at the bowling alley for a good chunk of time every Saturday, I'm ready for it to be over.

Rachel won't be bowling today, though. This morning she's attending a class at church to prepare for her First Communion tomorrow.

Did I mention it's going to be a crazy busy weekend for us?

Rachel, particularly, had so many opportunities to go and do stuff that she had to decide what she would miss. Tough stuff for a 10-yr-old, but that's life.

I'm really looking forward to spending more time out working in the yard this afternoon. I was out there last night cleaning out my flower beds and doing some raking (dang stubborn oak leaves don't fall until now) and I'm excited to have some green popping up around the yard.

You would think that after some physical activity and fresh air I would have fallen right to sleep last night when I crawled into bed. But no. My mind raced with plans and lists and ideas - for outside, inside, the weekend, the summer, and on and on. So I'm awake ... but yawning. And these tired bones are moving pretty slowly.

Time for coffee.

Oh! And Happy St. Patrick's Day. Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Happiness is ...

... a day when every song that comes on the radio feels like the perfect song.

... weather that turns out even better than the forecast.

... children who beg to stay outside and play just a little bit longer.

... the kind of sleep that comes after soaking up the sun all afternoon.

... leaving windows open all night to hear the peepers and feel the cool air.

... a good cup of coffee in the morning.

... an unexpected phone call from my hubby.

... the promise of more good days ahead.

Yesterday was one of those days I absolutely savor. I love, love, love the sound of all those tiny frogs in the marshy areas surrounding our house, chirping their welcome to spring. It's one of my favorite sounds, and since I know it will only last a handful of days I am always sure to take the time to listen and enjoy.

Happiness is having the time.

Happiness is also looking forward to having more time as a family.

Once again, Steve is going to be moving from his current job to a position with another company. The new gig will be closer to home and will provide a little plumper paycheck. Less distance, more money. No arguments from me.

Though if I'm honest with myself I have to acknowledge that little twinge of concern that is ever-present in my heart. The "what-ifs" of change. What if it doesn't work out? What if this wasn't the best choice? But as the years go by and I see over and over again that it always. works. out. the what-ifs become less and less of a factor for me. In fact, this time I surprised myself a little. When this latest opportunity came up I was nothing but excited. Probably mostly because it would reduce the distance between us from a 12-hour drive to a 4- or 5-hour drive within our home state. Five hours is a cakewalk for this family.

Like any other trade out there, pipeliners have all kinds of "you know you're a pipeliner if ..." jokes. Well, the wives and girlfriends of pipeliners have their own set of jokes, and most of them have to do with packing up everything important and being ready to hit the road faster than he can say "I got the call, baby. We're moving." That usually means packing up the RV, and we know several families who have sold their homes and truly live the nomadic lifestyle. We won't sell our house. Steve and I both need a home base, a place to retreat to when things get crazy. So we have two homes, more or less: one on wheels and one with roots.

Even though we don't travel with Steve (so I'm not packing our whole life into an RV in a very short amount of time), the sentiment of always be ready for change is the same. So I add a bullet point to his résumé, I direct phone calls and pass along messages, I pray for a smooth transition and safe travels. I plan my days so that once he's home from the current job I can help him get done everything he needs to get done so he can turn around and get back on the road. It's a routine we know all too well.

Summer is just around the corner. Change is in the air. It's all good. Life is good.

I'm happy.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Clean Slate Sunday: 3.11.12 edition.

It's been an absolutely beautiful day today. Our thermometer read 66 degrees when we got home from all our activities this afternoon and I quickly dumped the shopping bags on the floor and pushed all the south-facing windows open to let the breeze roll through. It felt soooo good.

Now it's getting into evening and cooling off a bit but I've still got those windows cracked open so I can enjoy the fresh air and the sounds of the outdoors. I love this time of year. Not necessarily "mid-March" but the time of year when the temps start rising and the snow is mostly gone and the birds sing all day long - whatever time of year that turns out to be.

Oh, make no mistake. I despise losing that hour of sleep when we switch back to Daylight Saving Time. But sunny days and the kids playing outside all afternoon and the grill on the patio calling my name? This makes me happy.

While Sam was in a class at church today Rachel and I ran a couple of errands. I stopped at one store to pick up a refill for the cat scratcher, but before we made it to the pet section waaay in the back I had to stroll through the gardening supplies.

Be still my heart. So many colorful pieces to add to my decor, indoors or out. Even the houseplants grabbed my attention ... anything to freshen things up a bit. And every time I reached for something, that girl of mine would whisper, "Cat scratcher, mom. Cat scratcher!"

I have trained her well not to deviate from The List. Little stinker.

That's ok. I gave her some ideas for Mother's Day gifts. *ahem*

Anywho, Clean Slate Sunday is all about wrapping up one week and preparing for another, which is what I will spend the rest of the evening doing: last week's laundry, yesterday's dishes, making a meal plan for the week and a list for Tuesday's grocery shopping.

Oh, the excitement. But I do love this life of mine.

And as is par for the course for the Pipe Lifers, change is afoot. Because how would we function without things being shaken up a bit now and then? No worries, it's all good. Details soon ... stay tuned!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Some days are better ... and goofier ... than others.

Today was much better than yesterday.

I woke up at 5:30 feeling rested.

We made it out the door on time to catch the school bus.

I had a relatively productive day at home.

I even got a little nap in. With the animals.

They kill me with the cute, these two.

This evening I got a great report from Rachel's teacher at our parent-teacher conference.

Then Rach and I picked up a pizza on the way home. While we waited for our pizza Rachel asked for a quarter for a gumball machine.

Did you know you can get a mustache from a gumball machine?

Oh my gosh. The girl had me in stitches on the way home. We're talking the full-on, I probably shouldn't have been laughing so hard while I was driving kind of stitches.

I said, "Please take a picture of yourself so I can put it on my blog."

She laughed that nervous laugh.

And then she twisted her face up and took a bunch of pictures.

So I guess she's OK with the world seeing her goofiness.

Which is good. 'Cause there's enough goofy to go around.

 Thank God for good days and goofy kids.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Clean Slate Sunday: 3.4.12 edition

Today is one of those days when I don't particularly want a "do over" ... I just want it to be over. And it almost is. So there is that, I guess.

Thank heaven for Clean Slate Sunday.

I'm tired. Tired of being a referee, of feeling unappreciated. Tired of not getting the amount of uninterrupted sleep I really need. Tired of being accused of being selfish any time I do some little thing just for me. I could go on and on but I won't because I'm tired of being grumpy! 'Cause I'm really not a grumpy person, despite what my offspring might tell you some days.

Today they would probably tell you I'm a big meanie. I don't care. I love my children dearly but I am not a doormat. If you're nasty to me, don't think I'm going to feel like putting a nice dinner - or any dinner - on the table for you. If you have enough energy to fight like that, you have enough energy to make yourself a sandwich.

I used to think Steve and I were pretty hard on our kids. I thought we might expect too much of them.

I no longer feel that way. It's just that parenting is tough, and the world doesn't necessarily expect the same things out of our children as we do.

I know having their dad gone a lot is hard for them. I lived it as a kid, too. And I don't expect them to fully understand how good they really have it. I just get fed up with the crap now and then. They push one too many buttons and I hit the wall and I'm done. Fried. Totally over it. So what do I do? I ride out the grumpiness, take some time to myself - today it was ignoring the madness, curling up with a blanket on my bed and reading a book, then snoozing (until I was interrupted again) - and then I take it to God and pray for grace ... and a better attitude.

Tomorrow is the start of a new week, and hopefully something better.

At the least it's a school day and I will have some peace around here for a few hours. Hallelujah.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Some heavy, wet snow had begun to fall when I went to bed last night, and we woke up to a winter wonderland this morning. Go figure. It's the 3rd of March.

When Sam looked outside he said, "Mom, it looks like Narnia!"

Standing under a tree, looking up ...

It's beautiful out there. And I feel very fortunate that we have just a little snow to deal with while other parts of the country are digging out from under the rubble after tornadoes hit yesterday and last night. I was so glad to hear from a friend in Henryville, IN this morning; she and her family are safe, but her father's downtown Henryville shop where he worked on his race care is demolished. I got a little teary-eyed flipping through some of the photos and news coverage of the aftermath. So much destruction ... and so devastating. My prayers are with the folks touched by these storms.

Be careful out there, y'all.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Doomsday. Slightly less than ready.

Photo source

Every time I watch Hoarders on A&E (which I am kind of obsessed with) I get a little anxious and I'm prompted to get up and scrub the toilets or declutter a cabinet. In the same way, watching DVR'd episodes of NatGeo's Doomsday Preppers tonight with the kids has my head spinning, and now I feel like I need to make lists of things to do to prepare our family for a complete collapse of society.

Or nuclear warfare.

Or economic ruin.

Or a zombie apocalypse.

But I promised myself I would get to bed at a decent hour tonight so I can get up in the morning with enough energy to face my own two little zombies and prevent virtual ruin of life as I know it. Because seriously, there are days when I would much rather stare down the business end of a looter's gun than face the wrath of a certain teenager who doesn't want to get out of bed for school.

That said, the kids and I had some interesting conversation about our family's preparedness for cosmic events - extra food storage, sources for clean water, fuel, self-protection - and how some of those things come naturally to us as part of our way of life. I'm glad this is something they are interested in, because being prepared is never a bad thing, whether you're preparing for the end of the world or a short-term job loss. I'm not willing to spend 50 hours a week on it, though. Some of those Doomsday Preppers have quit their full-time jobs to spend more time creating their stockpiles of guns and food and training their family members to "bug out" in case of an attack on the homestead.

Not me. I'm not digging a moat around our property. I'm not adding onto the house just to store 55 gallon drums of wheat and corn. And I'm not spending my weekends instructing my children in tactical maneuvers. I'd rather get my fanny into bed early and pray that if the world ends while I'm sleeping the Good Lord takes me and my family with it.