Thursday, May 17, 2018

Seasons and Scotland


The school year is just about over, and as always, we are coming in on a wing and a prayer. 

In a matter of hours, I'll have an 11th, 9th, 7th, and 3rd grader.

AND... as a result, 

...I'm a little scared to utter the words

but I think

...it seems that...

the crazy train is easing up a bit. 

Well, that's not entirely true,

maybe I've just switched trains.

Somewhere along the way, I got OFF the physical crazy train (you know, the one on which you feed babies, change diapers, pack lunches, and drive people ALL OVER TARNATION to every lesson, class, show, and game in the whole entire world)

...and I got ON the emotional crazy train (the one on which you fret over whether or not you've done a good job, will they make good choices, will you have grace when they don't, you deal with the blah mood swings, you try to resist the urge to swoop in and fix every little mess up so that they learn to fail in non life threatening areas, and where you occasionally stare at them in disbelief, and mutter to yourself, wow...I seriously don't even know you right now and I really hope you grow up a LOT between now and 23ish, because...wow.)

I'm fortunate, and I 100% don't understand how I got four sweet kids...not perfect, but genuinely sweet people who really want to please God and us. (which, funny enough, can actually create another whole set of problems...just not the "in your face" kind)

I love this season of a house full of big, witty, interesting kids who are really fun to talk and listen to. Prime example: In the car, just a couple hours ago, I hear Emma in the back seat, telling a joke to her friend. (except that she didn't say it was a joke, she just asked it like it was a bonafide question)
"Hey, so why is it not good for women to have kids over 35?"
I grip the steering wheel a little tighter, thinking oh my gosh, where did she hear this it sounds so offensive I mean she's 8 why does she think she knows optimal child bearing years??!
I brace myself for the answer.
Friend says, "uhmmm, because they're old ladies?"
"Nope, because 35 is more than enough!"

I laughed out loud.

I wonder how I'll do when they're up and gone...I admit I sometimes hide out just to get a few minutes of solitude, but I truly can't stand the thought of a quiet house...hoping there will be some redeeming qualities when the time comes but I'm skeptical.


A few years ago, I had a conversation with a man in his early 60's. He owned a shop I frequented and we shared a love for pictures and places. His wife had passed away a number of years prior and he said something to me I've never forgotten. 

His face was somber and almost pleading.

"Whatever you want to do with your spouse, do it now. Don't wait until your older, because sometimes, you don't get older." 

It changed the way Brad and I think about so many things. Of course you have to plan, save, be responsible, live beneath your means, and be content exactly where you are, but it also means there is no time like the present.

In whatever capacity your sphere allows, spend time with your spouse...if you like them.
...and if you don't like them, maybe spending some time together alone, will remind you why you used to like them...and if not, maybe you should get some counseling....your marriage is worth fighting for. 

go on walks

have coffee together

go out to dinner

slip off for the weekend every once in a while

I remember well how stressful date nights used to be. The first 10 or 12 years of our marriage, "extra money" was in short supply at our house. But because of generous parents, and sweet people around us, we were able to make date night a fairly consistent happening....but it was SO MUCH WORK.
I had a 5, 3, and 1 year old, all of whom preferred me to everyone else in the world. 
Getting the house cleaned, having dinner ready for kids and sitter, getting myself dressed, making a bottle, stepping around little wide eyed, pajama clad babies who knew something was up, then prying one or two of them off me as I walked out the door.....the ride to the restaurant felt more like a ride to my own execution.
 I rode in silence for the first little bit, tried to rid my face of the anxiety written all over it, and without fail, Brad would grab my hand and say something like, "You good? Kids are fine. They will be fine. They are probably playing and happy now. It's fine. Don't worry...they are in good hands."
I would nod in reticent agreement.
Without fail, we would get about half way through the night, whether it was just dinner, or dinner and  movie, and all I could think was, 

this is the best thing ever...I feel like a human being...I am in heaven.

Then I would go home, 
having been reintroduced to my husband, 
kiss my sweet, fluffy, sleeping babies, 
and wake up the next morning ready to tackle the world.


Fast forward 10 years....and I mean FAST forward.

I have a driver in high school, two middle schoolers, and one very grown-ish elementary student. 
It's still a lot of work to leave for a week, but I also still have very generous parents who agree to hold down the fort and do their best to keep everyone alive while Brad and I skip over to Scotland to check off a bucket list vacation. 
A lot has changed in 10 years but the benefit of time together has not.


Not everyone has the desire to travel and those who do, have vastly different ideas of where they want to go and what they want to see. 

If you are someone who
loves natural beauty
has an aversion to crowds
likes to be off the beaten path
enjoys really good food
owns a pair of hiking boots
can handle a 7ish hour plane ride
appreciates the simplicity of people around you speaking english
and is fascinated by history

let me just tell you, Scotland just may be the place for you. 


Scotland is 
lochs and lambs
hills, haggis, and Harry Potter
castles and cows
trails and tartan
steeples, Skye, and Storr

and I loved every single bit of it.






 

























  






Just your average Scottish wedding. 
slightly jealous of the hats, kilts, and bagpipes
and not at all embarrassed by the groom spotting 
me and my zoom lens and giving me a hearty wave.














Think I found our rental car for next time...

...until then
~stacey


Saturday, September 30, 2017

~Fall Break This Year~

I barely have the patience for a blog post these days. 

I'm better with periodic little word vomits via instagram. 

Nevertheless, here goes.

It's no secret that fall break is my favorite and that in the last couple years, we've made a habit of getting out of town this particular week. The first six weeks of school is a near fatal shock to my system and I'm so happy to have survived it, that this week off feels like heaven. 

I've decided that while rest is a necessity, vacation certainly is not. The opportunity to vacate, whether for two days or seven, is a blessing...cream...and maybe even a little indulgent.  
{grateful}

That being said, there's something magical and miraculously rejuvenating about leaving the laundry, the yard, the emails, the closet that needs to be organized, the schedule, and the practices, so that your little nucleus...your little band of people that sometimes get on your last nerve, can go away together and cram into a little place somewhere and be your happy, dis-functional selves somewhere else. 
I also, don't think it really matters where or how far you go...it's sure to be crazy and most likely fun in some degree. 

We scooted over just past Charleston, South Carolina, a stones throw from Mt. Pleasant, to Isle of Palms. 

It took us nearly  six hours because my kids have stomachs and bladders which really cramp my, "let's drive straight and never stop" style, but whatever. Why can't we wait to eat and urinate when we get there?!

So, in bullet points, here are the "big ideas":

  • Something I have carried over from my parents and our own long ago family vacations, is the idea that on vacation, Brad and I do our best to consider each child's likes and desires, and do our utmost to hit "their 10". Jake likes history and all things war related, so we visited Patriot's Point to explore an aircraft carrier, battleship, submarine, etc. Reese and Avery each wanted to body surf at high tide, so we made a point to do that several times, Emma wanted to find shells, go to the pool, and eat ice-cream, so those things were wins for her. It really isn't hard and it's a great way to pour out a little specialized love to each kiddo. All that to say, I vividly remember how special it was for me, when on our annual vacation, we always did a horse trail ride, and I knew that it was primarily for me. <--that stuff means a LOT to us middle kids.
  • above was a LONG bullet point. sorry.
  • If you ever have the chance to hop over to the coast of South Carolina, if you appreciate history AT ALL, and if your kids are above the age of 6ish...maybe 7, do these things:
  • Take a MORNING 2 hour walking history tour with Charleston Sole Walking. For heaven's sake, don't go at 2:00 in the afternoon...you're sure to die of heat exhaustion. You will see buildings George Washington stood in, cobblestone streets that date back to the 1600's, church steeples that served as look outs during the revolutionary and civil war, the sea where Blackbeard ransacked ships for a week or more, Rainbow Row, Live Oaks that are 200+ years old (which means they are toddlers), and Sweet Grass Basket weavers at every turn. Not to mention, you can visit multiple filming locations from The Notebook. {I swoon}
  • Visit Boone Hall Plantation in Mt. Pleasant. DO NOT LEAVE without listening to the 30 minute or so presentation on the Gullah/Geechee Heritage Corridor. I've seen it twice now, it makes me tear up every time, and is my favorite thing. This year, our historian was a woman. Her face was beautiful, her voice was strong, her knowledge more extensive than my own, her humor endearing, and her message life changing. We got to witness present day crop rotation on our wagon ride through the plantation....which, to my knowledge, is accredited to the brilliant George Washington Carver. If you don't know his story, you must. Buy A Pocketful of Goobers and read it to your kids. You'll learn as much as they will. What a man. 
  • GO TO PATRIOT'S POINT. If your heart doesn't swell a little, then I don't know what to tell you. Every single man that served on that ship, and many more like it, did so for the single cause of defending the freedom you enjoy today. Be grateful. 
  • Eat seafood everywhere you go. Have the TellTale burger at Poe's. Get used to sweating. Look for shells at low tide. Watch the sunrise over the water. 
  • If your little-ish kid tells you they need to go to the bathroom, just believe them and take them.
  • Never eat more than one meal out on any given day. That is a sure fire way to break the bank. Pop tarts, eggs, or toast for breakfast, sandwiches and salads for lunch or dinner, and one meal out, tops. 
  • Don't be glued to your phone. Breathe, look around you, slow down. Be AWAY. vacate. If you hate history, want to stay up till midnight, sleep till 10, eat out 3x a day, and read a book, do it. Whatever you do, do you. I love the unique quirkiness of people. Thank the Lord we aren't all alike.

Okay, here are a few iPhone pictures...because along with history and old streets, pictures are my 10. 
























my computer makes me angry...it's either too old or over full so I can't upload or at least find the rest of my phone pics so these will have to do for now. 
{insert mad face, eye roll face, tongue out face, and fist}


~stacey







Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Broken Me and Ireland (totally unrelated topics)

i am a bit of a broken record these days...i just say the same thing over and over...hoping it's focus and not senility setting in.

my theme this year has been "less is more"

and it's not like I'm consciously thinking, Stacey, do less, be less, have less. 

i just honestly find myself wanting less rather than more.


i shop less
buy less
care less about frivolities
write less
take fewer pictures, even
worry less


maybe it's a bonus of being 40ish.
i don't know but
these are the "mores" of my life of late:

the people immediately around me mean more to me than ever before. i can't believe that i have friends that i consider family. it's a perk i never counted on or expected.

i'm more grateful for Brad than I ever have been

i trust more that God's hand is in and over my life no matter the circumstance

i think my kids are more awesome than is even right. 
i love them more every day.

i am more aware of the fact that people are quick to make judgements on
degrees of sin and sinners,
and love to subconsciously measure the distance of exactly how far fallen from grace various people are based upon the offense.

over the last few months, i've been face to face with some exceptionally needy women.
addicts, victims, prostitutes, thieves, con artists, all the above.

one particular night, as i sat across from a gal...once a beautiful, vivacious, young woman, now with  evidence of extensive drug use up and down both arms, her eyes dark as night, tears falling uncontrollably from the years of abuse, mistreatment, and bad choices, all i could see were the words:

BROKEN and USED UP

i'm so past caring about
who did what first
who's fault it is
why people get stuck in such horrid places
can they change their life trajectory
and even
will they ever get better

because....all i see is

BROKEN and USED UP

being near broken people reminds me how broken I am without the grace of Jesus.

i don't have answers for why i was born into the family i was and why this girl was born into complete hell on earth.

i just know that if i've sinned once, and she 1,000 times, we are both in equal need of a Savior.

1 sin separates you from God in the same way that 1,000 would.

i asked the Lord on behalf of this young woman, out of sheer mercy, to help her find Him before she breathes her last breath on this earth.
whether she ever cleans up her act or continues a lifetime of self-destruction, that God would make a way for her to spend eternity with Him. 
it would be sweet redemption.
if the thief on the cross can find salvation in the last moment, then that is my hope for her.

the offer of salvation is GOOD NEWS and something you can hang your hat on.

this was SO not what i was intending to write but i've gone and done it now.
so the point is...
don't get on a high horse.
be quick to love
quick to forgive
quick to admit wrong
quick to stand strong on the truth of God's Word
quick to pray for humility
and quick to look for chances to express God's love to needy people.


********************************************************************


my Brad took me to Ireland to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. I can't believe I've spent over half my life with him. it's crazy and i feel so fortunate to be partnered up with him.

people have asked me, "so why Ireland?"

my answer is

because they speak English
there is more natural beauty than city madness
it's only an 8 hour flight
i love old structures
it's not a volatile place
my maiden name is Fitzgerald
and it just seems magical (and i can say to you now it absolutely is)


let me just tell you, it was unreal in so many ways.

i can't even explain how good the food was.

we drank coffee every morning and it was always served in a cup with a saucer.
and all but twice, it was mismatched china. 
it was the quaintest thing you've ever seen.

the country side was breathtaking, the people kind, and the speed of life noticeably slower.

we got off the beaten path, drove on impossibly narrow roads, ate in spots where we were the only non-Irish customers, and learned first hand how what we call old here, is relatively new there. 



























  
















i loved 
the painted sheep
the older men who dress just like you imagine they would...tweed hats, sweaters and slacks. 
the roads with no divider lines
the time with brad
the tinkering of cups and saucers
NOT being on a tour bus ( i couldn't deal with the claustrophobia it would cause me)
the thick accent that i had to strain 
to understand in some cases
all of it. 

thank you, bradford...i love you.
happy 20 years to us. 
i'm fortunate to have you.

~stacey