Yoga Pants – for real….

The fourth of July weekend was a big one for our family.  We celebrated with fireworks at Grand Lake on a boat – watching Jordan propose to our Abby as music played and other boats honked. 11012753_10205491029729743_1202852136332260408_nAfter the excitement of that evening, we jumped on golf carts and headed back up to the lake house.  I opted out of taking the golf cart and knew RIGHT AT THAT MOMENT…..I had to shed some pounds before the wedding….I walked and I’ve been walking since!

The next morning, we all met together – Jordan’s family and Abby’s family to nail down a date and a place.  In less than an hour, the place was decided and the date – November 7th, which was ….ummmmm….four months away!  This momma had some work to do!

What does a best friend do when their pal is in need?  Well, mine found a trainer and got busy….really busy.

I have never been a ‘work out’ person, ever.  In college, I dropped tennis because I had to change my clothes.  Obviously, working out and me did not go hand-in-hand.  Oh sure, I had tried out the YMCA and knew how to get on and off a treadmill, but nothing more than that.

Walking into a gym with trainers could be a bit bothersome, but after getting over the initial fear and knowing that I would be the “last one picked” for any team – I was okay….until about day two when the trainer announced that we were going to “run” to the bridge.  First of all – how far is the bridge?  Second – I do not run – I really don’t run.  I’ve never been shy about letting others know how I feel and made my feelings known and the trainer who is just as sassy as I am or more so – coined me with the nickname “Fiesta” (fiesty), which has stuck.  12322802_10153338651973576_7943517625595450231_o

Many days when I go to the gym there is more than one trainer and often times there are four guys for our “boot-camp” circuit type training.  After a few weeks of training, I had become bonded with my group. The girls were and are very kind and patient with me.  However, I really am keenly aware that I suck at this….not sure that is going to change!

When the weather was nice, the trainer was known to call out “run to the bridge” before we started our circuits and I would notice him pulling another trainer over and then pointing to me.  Quickly, I learned that this meant I had a trainer with me the whole time I was “running/walking/complaining” and when I would try to stop – their hand would gently nudge me on…..and the while I’m saying, “I’m not a runner….”

Thank God the weather has gotten cold and the “running” to the bridge has stopped or the trainers have taken pity upon pathetic me – because lately, I have gotten to do the rowing machine for cardio which is NOT RUNNING.

So, if you see Pam or I out these days and we are wearing yoga pants and sleeveless shirts (covered with a sweatshirt), hair pulled up in a ponytail – we are SERIOUSLY wearing yoga pants – for REAL because we gotta….not just because they are comfy.

And…to top all of this off – we like it, which is super weird – because I’m not a worker outer and she isn’t either.

Oh – and Abby and Jordan did get married on November 7th and I was down a few pounds – which was fun, but more importantly – I’m still working out and MOST IMPORTANTLY – the wedding was wonderful and they are living happily ever after.

12322386_10206902630222996_8979934718544863830_o

Blessings~

Beth

w i n d o w s

My sweet mom lives at Larksfield Place where she has a perfect view to the elevator, which is so nice because she likes to stand in her doorway and wave to us as the elevator door closes. mom

Little things have always been important to me and through the process of my dad’s death and the grieving that I’ve gone through, I’ve learned that the little things are, indeed, important and I am more aware of the small things-living with intention.

I lived at home until I was twenty-one.  I was a senior in college when I married Alan and moved from my childhood home into a duplex in Crown Heights.  When we’d visit my parents they were usually sitting at the kitchen table and I could see the tops of their heads through the kitchen window as we drove up the driveway.

Our kitchen was always the hub of our home.  In the mornings my parents were at the table reading the newspaper – mom at one end of the table and dad at the other, each with a different section.  They would read the paper aloud to one another and then discuss.  In the evenings, mother would play solitaire at the table and eventually move to the family room floor to continue her game.  Dad would sit at the table and drink his coffee or his glass of ice-water while telling mom which cards she could play in her solitaire game.

The window in our eating area of the kitchen was where I stood as a child, on a chair, to watch my brothers board the school bus in the mornings and where I waited for them to come home in the afternoons.  The window in the kitchen was where my parents watched for us to to arrive home with their grand-babies, as we drove into the familiar driveway on Willowbrook.  My parents lived in that house for fifty years, so my whole life was in that house – babyhood, childhood, the teen years, where I fell in love with Alan and the place I left from when I was married.  It was where my parents raised us and where they grew old together.  It was home.

After dad passed away and mother decided that she needed to move to Larksfield, we all worked on emptying the house, which was a process – emotional and physical.  Our home went up for sale and within a few months it sold

.bucket of flowers

The boys went with mom to the closing of our home, I went to Willowbrook and stayed for as long as I could-knowing that soon the house would no longer be ours and I wouldn’t be able to come and go freely through the doors of the house, peer out the windows to watch the birds, sit on the deck, or pick the flowers in the yard.flowers

I looked out the kitchen window and thanked God for the house, as I had done so many times and have continued to do since dad’s death.  I thanked God for the memories, for the family that I have, the family that is to come and for the people who would live in our home.willowbrook window1

Last week, I had lunch with mom at Larksfield.  After lunch, we went up to her apartment and visited at the kitchen table about the news that was in the paper.  We caught up on the grandkids and I showed her videos and pictures that had been posted on facebook that were on my iPad.  We talked about dad and how much he would have liked the popcorn that they have downstairs in the Bistro and out the window, she pointed to the roofers who were tethered to the top of the new building across the parking lot.  As our visit drew to a close and I made my way to the elevator, she stood in the doorway and waved until the door to the elevator closed and I was out of sight.

As I always do when I leave her, when I got outside I glanced to her apartment to see if she was standing at the window waving and she was.  I waved back and I got into my car and drove away.

I thought to myself – so much has changed in the (almost) two years dad has been gone, but we still have the windows.  They may be different windows, but we still have them and I’m incredibly thankful.

Windows.

 

 

Willowbrook

47681_10200754871808755_1248629513_n

If you are familiar, at all, with this blog – you know that this is the home that I grew up in and this is the home that I cherish.  This little, yellow house seemed like a mansion to me and there was NO OTHER house in the world that I EVER wanted to live in – ever.  The window on one end of the house was the kitchen and at the other end of the house was my room.  This was the room that I grew up in.

As you know, my dad passed away in April 2013 and mom moved into Larksfield Retirement Center (independent living) in July.  This left our home vacant for the first time in nearly fifty years, but we were all in and out of the house often.  There was much to  be done to get the house ready to sell, so I spent much of July and August getting the house ready (with a lot of help) for the estate sale.  With much love and care, the house was emptied of the contents and then put on the market to sell.

I thought the house would sell within days and honestly, I wasn’t sure that I was ready to see it go.  When I walked out of the house, after the estate sale and before the FOR SALE sign was up – I prayed in each room.  I prayed for a family with three little, blonde children to buy our house.  I was specific and I prayed hard.

Weeks turned into months and the house was still for sale.  Mother hired a lawn crew to care for dad’s well-manicured yard and we all ran in and out of the house weekly to make sure it was still ‘perfect’.  It was, but the house sat. I talked to dad a lot during this time, we cut roses and took them over to mom and out to dad’s grave.  It was nice to have the house – empty or not, it was still ours.  After many months, there was a full cash offer for our house ‘on the table’ and the deal was done. On the day of the closing, I went to Willowbrook and walked through the rooms one last time.  I looked out my bedroom window and watched a robin romp around the front yard right in front of me.  I opened closets and breathed in as much of this familiar place as I could.  I tried to freeze every minute and cried hard as I closed the garage door one last time – with our garage code that my parents set.  Oddly enough, the person buying the house did not have a young family and just as soon as he bought the house – he re-listed it for the same price.  There was a story about him purchasing the house without his wife looking at it and his wife not being happy about his choice.  I was not discouraged, because I KNEW that this still gave my prayer a fighting chance of a FAMILY with three, little blonde children to scoop Willowbrook up.

I became familiar with the buyer of our home.  We spoke on the phone several times and he gave me permission to get flowers, etc…. at Willowbrook because, afterall – no one was moving in.  I shared with him, my prayer and he promised me that he would call when the house sold (again).

A couple of weeks ago, I received a call from this person whose name I had now programmed into my phone.  He said, “Beth, Willowbrook closed today and I wanted to share the news with you.”  He went on to tell me the little bit that he knew about the family that bought our house.  It was a young family and he thought they had a baby…maybe even two!!  I was OVERJOYED!!

Immediately, I drove to the house and in our driveway was a U-Haul.  The front door was open, so I walked through the grass of my front yard and rang the doorbell.  An older gentleman answered the door and we started talking.  He shared that his son and his family had bought the house and that they would be back later that evening.  I told him who I was and he brought his wife to the door.  In her arms was a two year old boy, waking up from his nap.  I can’t tell you the peace I had – seeing that child….  KNOWING that my dad chose this family to be in our house – God is so kind.

Later that evening, my husband and I drove over to meet this sweet, young family who would now raise their children in my home.  I was nervous when we drove up, but it felt so good and there was such peace.  We were invited in, spent some time talking about the house and about them.  They have two little, blonde boys and shared that they were hoping to have another baby someday.  They love the house, the backyard, the side-walk, the basement, the bedrooms and even the closets.

Mom and I have talked about this new family and how exciting it is for all of us.  Mother is thrilled to have a young family in her home and is looking forward to meeting them when spring comes.  The circle of life – and it’s very good.

God listens and He does care …. and my sweet dad is so near and I’m so thankful.

Beth10592854_10203412804535412_6584104410250219216_n

“What???”

Like so many of my friends, I spent the last week or  so getting ready for my boys to back to school. I should be an old pro at this ‘back to school’ stuff, but I feel like it’s all new every year.  I suppose it is, sort of – at least I tell myself that.

I’ve been doing this ‘back to school’ dance for twenty years with my children, but I still get butterflies in my stomach.  I still fuss over their clothes (even though it’s a uniform) and make sure the shoes are new.  Our camper (college boy) is well equipped with his favorite snacks and I spend hours helping him pack and repack just the right things before they are loaded into the car.

This morning our youngest started his junior year of high school while our middle child prepared to drive back to camp … errr, college.  Of course, this all occurs on the same day because why would it be any different?  My husband and I, both, took our youngest to school – he isn’t driving solo yet – one more month.  He knows the first day of school drill.  We did the ‘first day of school’ photo on the porch which promptly popped up on my facebook and instagram.  We dropped him at school and planned on seeing him after football practice at 6pm tonight.

An hour later, our middle son was following behind our car which was filled to the hilt with his clothes, supplies and snacks to ensure a great JUNIOR year of college.  His car was filled with the futon that sat in our basement for ten years which would now be used at his fraternity house.

The drive to college is only two hours and the road has become very familiar to us.  It’s farmland and small towns all the way which I find very comforting.  My eyes stayed fixed on my side mirror where I could see Christian’s car behind us and all the while I was praying for safety, for a good year, for his health and his friendships.  The drive was quick and when we pulled into his fraternity house the boys were familiar sites as they piled out of cars filled to the brim with their bedding, tvs, couches and snacks.

He and his dad hauled in the clothes and the totes full of items to be put away, while I got busy organizing.  It’s my joy to put away his things and he’s very sweet to let me have this time. This year, he even asked me if I would organize his clothing.  I know – I really did feel great!  His bed was made and futon put together in record time.  The day was running pretty smoothly, wouldn’t you agree?

About this time, my text alert rang.  I dug through my purse to locate it and read the text silently and then aloud.  “Mom, don’t think I will be going to school tomorrow – I just threw up,” read the words on my phone screen from my son back in Wichita.

“Whatttt???” I replied!!!  After texting back and forth a few more times, we realized that the boy back at home needed to go home on HIS FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL because he WAS SICK!!  Do these things really happen to OTHER people?  My husband got in touch with his 83 year-old parents who willingly and HAPPILY jumped at the chance to pick up their grandson from school.  I said a silent prayer, “Thank you, God for parents who are still able to parent because we still need them.”

We quickly took Christian to lunch and then hugged goodbye.  It was anticlimactic and too quick, but it was good.  He told us that he loved us and that he’d be home again soon….but he wasn’t sure when that would be.  We reassured him that that was just fine and told him we loved him one more time.

As we drove away, he walked toward the house mom who greeted him with a big smile and warm hug.  He’d be fine and we had one at home who needed us.

When we arrived home, Alan’s eighty-three year old father was sitting on the couch reading.  Drew was asleep upstairs in his bed.  He related to us how Drew looked when they picked him up at school and how he was sleeping now.

I think that my children won’t need me forever and that makes me sad because I don’t want my ‘job’ to be eliminated.  Then, I remember that God is good and that my children will always need me because I still need mine!

Blessings ~

Beth

 

Fierce

I come from a long line of “fierce”.  People who fought hard for what they wanted.  My people didn’t have it easy.

“But God, a most fierce warrior, is at my side. Those who are after me will be sent sprawling – Slapstick buffoons falling all over themselves, a spectacle of humiliation no one will ever forget.” Jeremiah 20:11 (The Message)

My dad’s mother, my Grandma Dixie, was left by her husband (widowed) to raise seven children.  One or two of the oldest were married at that point, but my dad was only three.  They were poor and my grandmother fought fiercely to keep her kids together.  She had people pulling and tugging at her to take her kids – not to help her.  She was fierce.  She knew how to work hard, how to push, how to motivate, how to get her hands dirty and she did what she needed to do.  Fierce.

From that fierceness came my dad who put his family first.  He fought fiercely for my mother, who he married when she was seventeen.  My parents grew up together – neither was selfish and life wasn’t easy.  Dad worked his way through college, while my mother raised four children.  He took on extra jobs so she could stay home with us. I don’t recall him ever sitting down at night to “rest” because he was tired.  Fierce.

My mother’s parents didn’t have it easy, either.  My Grandpa Balzer struggled with alcoholism while my grandmother fought fiercely for her girls.  She kept the peace when her husband got into messes and she made sure her family was together.  I can’t imagine her loneliness or his sadness because life didn’t turn out the way they envisioned – because marriage didn’t meet their expectations.  They were committed to one another and their families.  Fierce.

From that fierceness came my mother.  She got pregnant with my oldest brother at seventeen.  That wasn’t in the plan, but she was fierce – she pulled herself up by her bootstraps and forged on.  I know that it could not have been easy, but my parents pushed one another to be better and to make something good out of their lives together.  She was our disciplinarian, our nurturer and always cheering us on – pushing us to climb higher. Fierce.

I like to believe that I’ve gotten an ounce of the fierceness from my grandparents and another ounce or two from my parents.  I like to believe that I fight for my family and that I  support my children and push them to climb higher.  I hope they know that their dad and I would lay down our lives for each of them and that they are worth more than the sun and the stars to us.  I hope they know that they are our greatest accomplishments and that they are worth it – worth it.  Most of all, I hope they know that they come from a long line of fierce and that fierceness will get them through any tough times that lie ahead – because tough times are never far away. They will never disappoint us and we will always have their backs – always.

Fierce.