Monday, August 31, 2009

How I See Things

I don't know how this fiasco really got going, but I think it was the suggestion of a "dear friend." You see, this friend had always wanted to try wearing false eyelashes. On a whim, I picked up a couple of pairs of lashes and appropriate adhesive and decided in conjunction with her birthday, we could give it a go. Here are the "lessons learned" from my first and last false eyelash application. I say "last" because I can only envision needing them for a "lady of the night" costume and I can't at this point in my life foresee this need.

1) It takes two people to apply eyelashes. I have no idea how anyone can attempt this frivolity by themselves and be successful. I attempted this on my own and the results were similar to a one-armed wallpaper hanger. It just didn't happen. Maybe it is achievable for the younger generation who still has 20/20 vision. But, with age comes far-sightedness for most of us, you know, the ones who really need this product, and application is impossible. Your natural eyelashes get in the way because, after all, their purpose is to protect the eye and anything coming near it. You start squinting to see your upper lid with the one eye that is left open, blurring your vision further. The lash ends up being adhered about halfway up your eyelid, creating a freakish, stunned-in-the-headlights look.

2) The adhesive glue must have been invented by a man. The suggested accompaniment to the lashes comes in a proportionately much larger tube than needed. You are supposed to apply the glue to the teeny tiny thin line that actually attaches to your lid. Again, failure is eminent if your eyesight is poor, see #1. The tip of tube of glue is very tiny, but despite all efforts of only squeezing out a little, inevitably, it comes out in globs. Our solution was to squeeze out a tiny drop on our finger and run the eyelash strip along it, but that was after 3 eyelash application attempts which created a clumpy look to the lash. See # 5.

3) Too much glue creates something that can only be described as eyelash dandruff. It would make much more sense if the glue dried clear. See #2. Rather, it dries white. After seeing numerous white specks of dried glue throughout my newly applied lashes, I realized the "attention" the dandruff might cause would not be for the long, luscious lashes I now batted. There might be some other solution, but the only one I could come up with was using the tip of my mascara to color the dried specks and flecks. I did consider a sharpie, but the toxic smell of permanent marker so near my nose might result in a "marker high." Not only would I look like a more street-worn prostitute, but I might have the added bonus of acting like I was stoned.

4) Eyelashes are not reusable, despite claims of this possibility on the packaging. It is inevitable that you will use too much glue, which then seeps into the lashes causing them to clump together. Instead of multiple, perfectly fanned out lashes, you end up with three large clumpy ones. Attempts to remove the dried adhesive is impossible. I first ran the lashes under warm water. This only accentuated the clumpy look to the lashes. Using superior brain reasoning, I took a q-tip and some fingernail polish remover which also did not work and actually may have started the disintegration of the "natural" look of the lash. With the dried glue dandruff and resulting three clumped lashes, I am not sure I wanted to use them the first time, let alone for subsequent costumes.

5) Problems will arise if you use a hair dryer at any point while applying lashes. Maybe this point is moot for most people and it might point to a deficit in my mental computing. BUT...I thought that I could dry out and attempt re-fanning the eyelash back into its original shape. Not only did this not work, but the air flowing out of the dryer hit the other lash, sending it flying away across the bathroom. Now, what does one do with ONE eyelash?

6) If you look in the mirror and you think you weird or funny, you probably do. I kept thinking that I looked like I had sucked in my cheeks and was transformed into this hoity toity upper class, much older lady of society. Not quite the runway super model that I had envisioned. It just looked ridiculous. My friend assured me that I looked good. I have begun to question my "friend's" such label in my life. Out in public, most people I encountered stared into my eyes with inquiry, pondering, "what the heck is going on there and why did she do that to herself?"

7) Sunglasses and long lashes do not work together. I didn't think about this one prior to putting on my sunglasses, but the lashes were so long that they hit the plastic every time I blinked. That was annoying, so I wore my sun glasses a little lower on the bridge of my nose. Lucky for me, my appearance of peering over the sunglasses only accentuated to the snobbish, much older lady. I guess you could trim the lashes, but I knew I could not do that naturally, so I lived with it. In the car ride to lunch, I kept looking in the mirror, trying to adjust what I had just super glued to my lid. Amazing I didn't wreck the car in my vanity.

8) There is a reason why God created short lashes. Did you know that if you look down and then look back up, while wearing long lashes, your hair will get caught in them? Ridiculous. Forget glamour. Now, you just look like Cousin It from the Adam's Family.

9) Your husband will not be complimentary. The big question was, "Who will notice?" Sometimes it was hard to tell, but I am pretty sure that most people were trying to figure out just what was going on with my eyes. Sadie was the first one to say, "What did you do to your eyes, Mom." And, Jay, after arriving home from work said, "What is up with your eyes? Did you just draw lines on your lids?" I think it is safe to assume that this was not complimentary.

10) You will forget about the lashes and instead, start thinking you have something in your eye. All it will take is one quick swoop of the hand and off comes one lash. For my friend, the most unfortunate of circumstances in the life of a lash occurred. Her lash flew off her eye, landing at the feet of her dog who was waiting for some attention. In one nanosecond that dog surveyed the little black wisp that landed at his feet and promptly ate it. Game over.

I have no doubt that "professional" application yields different results. However, I cannot justify the expense of such cosmetics. And, since my own attempts at applying and wearing the lashes were stunningly pathetic and awkward, not to mention poorly received by my family, I think I will just stick with my own. That I just how I see things.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

This morning, I was getting in the car from Target alone. So this is the reward for all those days of fit throwing and tantrums, emotions, etc. Silence. Time to myself. A moment of breathing and not calculating my next move to stave off the next fit and whine. My brain did not know what to do. My kids have all left the nest.

He Makes New Every Morning

Despite not being a morning person, I do love how every morning generally brings a new perspective, a fresh start and a reinvigorated focus. Here is where I am this morning as opposed to yesterday:

"The world is unprincipled. It's dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn't fight fair. But we don't live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren't for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity."
2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (The Message)

Of particular focus is the phrase, "smashing warped philosophies" and, "fitting every loose thought and emotional and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ." Generally, I don't read the Message version of the bible too often, but I really liked how this was interpreted.

My quiet time was spent reflecting on how I have not been using the "tools of my trade," otherwise know as the word of God, to smash, squash, demolish, destroy and tear down the bondage my battle with weight and ultimately my battle with control has had me in. Reading this passage also gave me a boost, strengthening my resolve that His word can kill of the world's pressures and ideals which is from a, "massively corrupt culture." Instead of constantly and consistently keeping God's purpose and image of me in the forefront, I have let the world's, "marketing or manipulation," drive me. I have not been making an a purposeful, concerted effort to stop these thoughts and habits in their tracks with the word of God. Therefore, "clearing the ground of every obstruction," between me and my Father.

My walk with this Lord has been quite immature lately. I let it just come and go like the waves on a beach. Sad that I have reached this point in my spiritual walk, I know. It is time to be habitual and purposeful again, "building a life of obedience to maturity." Always available, always faithful, His word and prayer are, "tools...ready at hand." What a perfect time to draw close to Him, this morning which He has made new for me.

Hair Where?

Yesterday, while waiting to pick up kids, my carpool mom began talking about what a delight my little Lily is. This is the first year she has had the pleasure of Lily's company in the car rides to or from school. Lily does have a certain charm about here when she so chooses to let it shine.

Then, my carpool mom began to giggle and said, "Oh, I should tell you what she said in the car ride this morning."

Immediately, my red flag flew up the pole of warning in my mind. I braced for it.

Lily said, "I have hair on my bottom."

My eyes became a little larger and I brought my hand to my forehead. "Oh, great. That is just lovely," I responded.

My carpool mom told me she asked her to repeat what she had just said to make sure that she heard correctly. Lily repeated, "I have hair on my bottom."

At this point all the other ears in the car perked up to such a statement of private matters. Not to be undone, Sadie had to contribute to the topic of body hair knowledge.

Sadie said, "Yes, but boys have a lot more hair than girls do," at which point all five children began to giggle and laugh.

My carpool mom held it together and confirmed that yes, we have little hair all over our bodies. And, Sadie, yes men often do have more hair all over their bodies than women.

Lily, feeling the need to explain her discovery finished the conversation with, "I saw the hair on my bottom when I took my bath." Delightful, Lily.

Thankfully, this all took place in the confines of the car ride to school. I just makes me wonder what she is saying at school. It is probably best I do not know.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Numbers Game, part 3

The weeks that have passed since writing The Numbers Game, Part 2 have been a struggle for me. Actually, using the word "struggle" is an incredible understatement.

I was determined not to step foot on the bathroom scale since declaring I would not allow it to be a part of my daily routine any longer. However, it began weighing heavily on my mind every morning as I prepared myself for the day. The scale sat in its usual place, taunting me, calling me so desiring to wield its power over me and dictate to me if I will feel good about myself today or not. I had resisted, until a week ago.

During this hiatus from the bathroom scale, I felt as if I were growing larger by the moment. My clothes all seemed to be shrinking and every morning I found something in my closet I thought was just a tad tighter than the last time I wore it. No one mentioned to me that it looked like I had lost weight lately and this compounded my panicky feelings. My days consistently battled with low self- esteem and of measuring and comparing myself to every other woman I encountered. I apologize if that makes anyone reading this feel uncomfortable, but I am trying to bear it all today in this post.

Fast-forward to this past week. Jay had a doctor's appointment and despite working out 3 days a week, he gained enough weight for his doctor to be concerned. Yeah, ok, so some of it is muscle weight, but he and I know that most is not. Additionally, I know that I had put on some pounds since mid-May, how much, I did not know. However, since he was going to be cutting back, I figured out I would be supportive and jump on the band wagon.

I knew it wasn't going to be pretty. I have been uncomfortable in most of my clothes and my eating habits have been completely out of control. As I stepped onto the scale, I let out an audible gasp, my stomach began to knot. I have gained 12 pounds since mid-May. 12 pounds.

Do I know how petty all of this is? Yes. Is it completely out of perspective? Yes. Are there a million more things in this world that are more important? Yes. Yet, I am con summed with this.

Control. There is it, that word again. Self-control, discipline, focus, manage; whatever word you want to use, it describes what I battle in my life. My control verses God's control. For 5 years, I have controlled my weight, allowing me to better deal with all of the other uncontrollables in my life - children, husband, death, work, house, etc. Now, even that is out of my control. My inner self has completely come unglued, chaos reigning and borderline depression setting up camp.

I can remember a time when my house was my controllable area. Cleaning an exorbitant amount - wiping baseboards weekly, cleaning blinds weekly, organizing and reorganizing closets. I chose this focus because my weight was so vastly out of control, I didn't even see it as an area under my influence. As the children grew and became more destructive to the house and I began my journey to physical fitness, my focus shifted to something I could actually dictate, food consumed. Compounding that were the added burdens of cancer and death - two variables completely out of my hands.

I am very angry with myself. My anger at my weight gain is superseded by my anger at myself for wasting so much emotional energy with this topic. I am extraordinarily disappointed at how I treat others around me when I feel this inwardly chaotic. I transfer my frustrations at failing at my own ridiculous goal of perfection to my children. I was very unfair to them yesterday and I am still struggling with that reality this morning.

Now I am scrambling, lowering my caloric intake, drinking water by the jug full, all the while growing agitated and completely aggravated by my constant state of hunger and desire for chocolate. For what, I ask myself? To feel in control again. The irony of the statement does not escape me; I know nothing is truly under my control.

I have had seasons when I was at rest in my life, when I was not running that treadmill of constant work and control. Short-lived these seasons were, but I have lived them. Disappointingly, I am back in this pit of numbers, scrambling on my own, by my own strength to gain footing to climb out of it. I know failure is assured with this method, and yet, my sinful tendency is to solve it on my own, with my own control.

I know what I need to do, but will I do it? It is another season of brokenness and I pray that it will be the last one with this stronghold I will have to endure. I pray for the end to this maddening numbers game.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Job Seeking 101

The start of the school year is the most depressing time for me. Change and transitions are never fluid and calm in my spirit. Instead they are like a thousand rocks crashing and crunching around. Constantly being grounded up and rumbling. Schedules that are on paper, but not yet lived out, completely stress me out. I would love for my nature to be different, but it is not. For example, not fully understanding how my kids should be dressed when they arrive at swim practice verses what they should pack has swirled around in my brain more times than I care to admit. Anyway...

Last week, I was driving to "work." By "work" I mean some very loosely defined hours at the office where I pick and choose the lesser of the evils to accomplish that day. I explained to Jay, my husband, that if I helped out at our business I would have to have tasks that did not significantly impact accounting or inventory. My purpose in doing so was to minimize the level of conflict we have experienced in the past from working together. Of course, what is there to do that doesn't drastically affect these two areas? Human Resources. I have written and distributed the official Employee Handbook and posted two job listings on Monster. com.

The first posted position on monster was for a basic warehouse position. The pay is appropriate for an entry level job and nice benefits are to commence upon completing a 90-day probationary period. There is the possibility of upward mobility with the job, so we were looking for someone willing to work hard and grow with the company.

I believe evidence of our recession can be measured with the following statistic. 120 resumes received within 2 weeks, for an unskilled job listed on monster. I can't imagine what volumes we would have received had we placed a classified in the newspaper. We also posted a position for an IT Manager which, last count, we received over 200 resumes from interested applicants.

Sifting through all of this information, calling prospects on the phone, interviewing applicants, I have gleaned a few tidbits of information over the past several weeks and I thought I might pass along. Let my experiences be to your gain!

1) If you have not worked longer than 3 months at any of the 8 jobs you have had in the last 2 years, it is probably best that you explain why you are unable to pass a 90-day probationary period. Your chances of being hired are pretty low.

2) If I ask what your previous employer might say about you and your answer is, "Well, probably not very good since I just walked out on them." Your chances of being hired are pretty low.

3) On your resume if you say that your reason for leaving is that you had conflicts with new management styles. Your chances of being hired are pretty low.

4) When asked in an interview to tell me about when you were part of a team that worked successfully together and your answer is, redundantly, "It was when they all worked together," thus giving me a simple definition of teamwork, your chance of being hired are pretty low.

5) On your resume if you list under interests, "I have 13 children," it does makes me think twice. I will still interview you, based on your qualifications. If you want your chances of being hired to go up, take that OFF your resume.

6) If you have established your own website to promote your skills and qualifications, it would be to your advantage if you would not have paragraph after paragraph written about your interest in astronomy and star trek.

7) To add to #6 you might also increase your chances of being employed if you would remove the tab from your website marked "donations." Yes, as strange as this sounds, companies may think twice about someone who openly and without shame posts a paypal button on their website to receive funds for themselves rather than a social cause.

8) If you ask if you are going to be drug tested during your interview, "You know, so you won't take some "medication" that shows up on drug tests," your chances of being hired are pretty low.

9) If you ask me to "hold on" while you ask loudly, "Can someone drive me over to High Point for an interview on Wednesday," your chances of being hired are pretty low.

10) If a family member responds to the request for an interview because the applicant does not speak English well enough to speak on the phone themselves, your chances of being hired are pretty low.

11) If you attempt to post a "resume" to the job listing with only your name and phone number, your chances of being hired are pretty low.

12) If you post the following statement, "This is my sister's computer and I can't put my resume on," your chances of being hired are pretty low.

13) If you show up for an interview wearing ragged, dirty shorts and a t-shirt, your chance of being hired are pretty low. It is a warehouse position, but a pride in personal hygiene is still essential.

14) If you live out of state and believe that we might pay for "relocation" expenses for an hourly warehouse position, your chances of being hired are pretty low.


15) Non-working phone numbers supplied will, surprisingly, lessen your chances of being hired.

This is not a complete list of my experiences; I could on with probably 30 more, but you get the picture. Most of these seem to be "common sense" issues really. For example, if you don't have transportation, don't let me believe that you are the mercy of whomever happens to be in the room at the moment.

Sadly, the experience also shed light on a certain population segment that is must be suffering the greatest during this economic downturn. We received multiple resumes from people in their 50s who had worked at one or two places their entire lives. These are people who were employed by the furniture or textiles industries so prevalent in our geographical area, working in a warehouse for their entire careers. With the recession and outsourcing overseas, most of these industries have drastically downsized or ceased to exist altogether. After 15 or 20 years with the same company, these workers were making a nice hourly wage with good benefits. However, these same dedicated and loyal workers did not have positions that required continuous education or training. They have been left without computer skills and experiences now needed by most companies. Where do they find jobs? Who is hiring this segment of the population? Hard working people whose chances at decently paying job are very low.

On the flip side, I was stunned at the presentation either through resumes, over the phone or in interviews of well over 60% of the applicants. I believed that with so few jobs available in this area, with so many people out of work, that the younger generation would step it up a bit, attempt to sell themselves and want to be hired. Most were amazingly clueless or really didn't want to be hired.

In the end, I was able to find 2 strong applicants who we have hired for the warehouse. We are still wading through the IT resumes as those skill sets are more involved. Interviews should begin next week. Wish me luck.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Why Should I Attend My 20th High School Reunion?

With mixed feelings, I am a part of my high school reunion committee. I have more than enjoyed reconnecting with those on the committee, but there is a bit of stress in the planning process and the "what if no one comes" thought is always lingering in the back of my mind.

I enjoyed my high school years, but they were also full of angst, awkwardness and the daily highs and lows of what I imagine are typical for those early pubescent years. While working on this committee, all those good and well, not-so-good memories have been thrust to the front of my brain. Interestingly, when discussing them with my former classmates I have come to the following conclusions:

1. Time has a way of distorting much of what I remember as being factually accurate.

2. Twenty years is a long, long time to retain everything that occurred in high school. Most of us remember with some vivid detail our closest friends, vaguely remember just the names of those on the outside of our circle and those beyond that are simply forgotten.

3. No one, with rare exception, is the same as they were in high school. Every one has ridden the roller coaster that is life since graduation day - life full of elation and devastation, dreams realized and dreams unfulfilled, careers, marriages, divorces, and children, moving away and remaining here. I am not the same person as I was in 1989 - not mentally, emotionally and definitely not physically either.

Despite where life has taken us and the evolution of who we now are, we still have a common bond; We are the class of 1989. Some still say we were the best class to ever pass its hallowed halls. I say we were unique, a class that seemed to be unified despite our friend groups and interests. It comes at no surprise then that I find myself "friends" on facebook with more than 100 people just from my high school, mostly from my graduation class. Technology such as facebook and myspace have reconnected our generation more than any other and so it begs the question, why should I go? I already know what most people are doing, where they are living and visit my closest friends from that age on average once a year. And, frankly, why do I care?

1. Modern computers are great, they do not replace face time. Seeing someone, laughing (and not LOL-ing), telling stories, recounting lives is not the same as instant chatting over facebook. Being able to shake hands, hug, and reconnect in the flesh will never replace sitting behind a screen and keyboard.

2. A chance to gather at one place at the same time. I see my close knit group of high school friends fairly regularly - some weekly, some once a year, but have not been all together at one gathering in at least 4 years. One person I have not seen once in 15 years and she was one of my best friends, filling a spot in nearly every high school photo I have. This reunion gives me the chance to create a collective memory with those that shared in those teenage years.

3. It is one weekend. One night only, if you only choose to attend the main event on Saturday night. One weekend out of the last 1,040 that we have lived since graduation. Seriously, no one can't sacrifice a night with those statistic, right?

4. Reliving the past. I don't think anyone is pining away for their high school days. Yet, every once in a while it is a hoot to laugh it up about the ridiculousness that occurred in the late 80s. Who doesn't look back at those 80s hairstyles and fashions and roll in hysterics? At the time, I remember thinking that I just couldn't look more "in style" than those days with that a-line hairstyle (orange due to the overinduldent use of "sun-in"), acid wash jeans and big earrings (which have revolved back in style, by the way). Reviling in the years of our youth, of little responsibility and lots of drama is a rite of passage.

5. If you still aren't sure about coming, think of it as a last-chance prom, complete with all your favorite tunes from the late 80s. A photographer will be there to capture the memories, too. This time, your date will most likely be someone you wish you had gone with the first time. And hey, this time, if you want to go to that hotel room after, you will be legal!

6. The reunion is a night where all the planning has been done for you. I can't remember the last time I got a night out that I did not have to organize in some way. Of course, I won't get this either as part of the committee, but YOU can.

7. Grandover. The location of our reunion is reason enough to attend. It is beautifully stunning with multiple areas where groups can hang out and reconnect. Additionally, the secured room rate should make every one think twice about going home after this event.

8. Your attendance means more to everyone else than it does you. Instead of thinking, "What do I have to gain from attending," begin thinking, "What do others gain from my attendance?" You may not care to attend, but your classmates DO care if you are there. Personally, I find it utterly fascinating to hear what paths people have traveled in their lifetime. Maybe you think yours is fairly bland, maybe you aren't happy with what you have "accomplished," maybe life didn't pan out as you planned. Not only am I sure this is an innacuracy created by your mind, don't let insecurities prevent you from attending! Adding to that, through facebook, I have found I have quite a bit in common now with people that I didn't have the chance to be friends with in high school. I can't wait to see them at the reunion!

9. Closure. Did you leave something unsaid or undone? Now, I don't mean dredge up that time that someone stole your significant other and view the reunion as your chance at revenge by bringing out the boxing gloves to kick some booty. What I mean is, did you miss that opportunity to tell someone what an impact they made on you during those years? Did you pass up the chance to speak to a classmate because that would have been "uncool" at the time? Is there a classmate who has had a particularly difficult journey since high school who you can encourage?

10. It only happens once in our lives. Who knows if there will be another reunion? Who has the guarantee of life tomorrow? That might sound a bit morbid, but realistically, there is a strong possibility that someone at this reunion will not be around in 10 years. Don't wish that you had attended.

For those reading that aren't a part of my high school graduating class, the song accompanying this post is our class song. "Freebird" by Lynard Skynard. What can I say - we were a southern, rural high school with a lot of pride, a slight redneck feel and a smoking area. To quote the first part of the song:

If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be travelling on, now,
'Cause there's too many places I've got to see.

Class of 1989, it is time to reunite, reconnect with old friends and share your life experiences with others. Hope to see you there.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The New School Year

Well, it is done. The last one is out of the nest and into "big" school. The first day was fraught with tears and sadness as I adjusted to the end of the "mother of preschoolers" season of life. It is still difficult to fathom that I have an entire day (at least until 2:30) to myself. But, I find it isn't taking long to settle quite nicely into this new life of solitude!

That first morning, however, as I finished fixing Lily's hair, she jumped up, turned around and proudly inquired, "Mommy, how do I look?" I had quickly control my blubbering and weakly attempted enthusiasm with my, "Great!" response. She ran into our bedroom saying with so much exuberance I thought she might just burst, "Daddy, look at me!" There she stood with her plaid, school-girl jumper and little light-yellow, peter pan collared shirt underneath, bobby socks and brown Mary Jane shoes. Her hair, with almost white high-lights from the summer sun was pulled up, away from her face with a ribbon that matched her jumper. Her glasses clean for a change, nearly sparkling from the twinkle in her eyes. Her smile as large as I have ever seen it. My baby...looked so very grown-up.

Seeing all three children dressed in their uniforms with those excited, but slightly nervous smiles on their faces brought such a mixed bag of emotions for me Tuesday morning. I was proud, excited, nervous, slightly stressed, and filled with some snippets of joy, probably the same as what they were experiencing. At this exact moment in time as I type this, I can say what a blessing raising my children has been.

We spent the week before school started at the beach with two other families. There were a total of 8 children ranging in age from 2 to 11. Chaotic at times, yet full of hilarity and relaxation. Observing all the children's behavior and the typical behavior that comes with their varying ages, I realized not only how much my children have grown and adjusted, but just how far I have come in this child rearing journey. I also caught some glimpses of what life can be like as my children grow and mature and this brought some positive anticipation.

Here are some highlights from the first week of school:

She was extremely excited on her first day. After several weeks of asking, "How many more days until school?" she was finally able to get on her uniform, pick up her new pink, monogrammed messenger bag and Tinkerbell lunchbox and start kindergarten. Jay and I walked each of the kids to their classrooms, with Lily being last. She went right into the class and found her seat. As I bent down to give her a kiss she told me, "Ok, you can go now." Little Miss Independent! When I picked her up, I learned that she had had a good day, but was not quiet at lunch so did not get a piece of candy. However, they did get doughnuts for a snack that afternoon and for the most part, she did well. She seemed to thoroughly enjoy it.

The next day, Lily became a bit cantankerous when I insisted on walking her in again instead of dropping her off at the sidewalk. At the same time, however, she requested to stay with me instead of going to school. So, a mixed bag of emotions. She has become quite the planner, declaring her desire to alternate which shoes she wears each day, alternating how she wants her hair done and alternating what uniform combinations she wears. She has never verbalized such plans before school started.

On her third day, she received a green smiley face on her thumb, but did not get candy because she 1) hoarded all the blocks put at her table because she wanted to build something big and became a bit difficult when she had to share 2) Mixed play-do colors together (oh, the horror) and 3) Had a bit of a hard time settling down during their 15 minutes of rest. When I "confronted" her with her transgressions in the car, she broke down crying and asked me, "Are you disappointed with me? Mommy, I am so sorry." It was quite pitiful. But, I assured her that I was not disappointed, all was forgiven and that tomorrow would be a new day when she could try just a bit harder. She is definitely fluctuating between wanting to be at school, being completely exhausted, wanting to stay home with me, wanting my help and wanting to do it all herself. It is a bit tiring for me!


This year brings a new teacher for Sadie after having the same teacher for both kindergarten and first. The adjustment is a bit difficult for her. In the car ride to school this morning, she indicated that having a new teacher was hard and that she wishes she was still with Mrs. Newell. On the other hand, she was thrilled that her most of her closest friends are in her class. 2nd grade brings a lot of change at our school - much more responsibility and more work. She is struggling with controlling her talking. Wonder where she gets that from? Yesterday, she changed her light to yellow after being warned two times. I support the teacher in her efforts to clamp down this early in the year. Sadie, in her usual fashion, tried to blame the problem on others who were talking to her, and yet, again, I turned her right back to one responsible for choosing to open Sadie's mouth. At this point, I don't have a clear sense of how this year will be for Sadie.


Thrilled. Just over the moon. He is in love with his teacher this year. It is a male teacher and he knows just how to reach those boys. He knows exactly what to say to them to touch their hearts. I truly believe this will be Ethan's year to blossom. The teacher actually got on the playground and played kickball with them, talked to Ethan about his favorite band, Skillet, and told the kids that if they are misbehaving, he will talk to them individually, but will not embarrass them in front of the class. Three major points for Mr. B in Ethan's eyes! Every day, Ethan has come home with something exciting that has happened, something that has gotten him jazzed up. I just LOVE it!

Outside school the kids will be involved in a few activities. However, I hope the schedule will actually provide forced study time and one-on-one time with each of the kids and their school work while we wait for the others in their respective commitments. Interestingly, Sadie was not interested in doing scouts as in last year or piano. As she stated this summer, "All I want to do is swim." Here is how our schedule plans out this fall:

Monday - Ethan has guitar lessons and then Sadie and Ethan go to swim practice

Tuesday - Ethan has scouts

Wednesday - Ethan has Bel Canto (the school choir), Lily has piano lessons (at the school as well) and then Sadie and Ethan have swim practice.

I tried to squeeze everything in so that we only have two days of running around, enabling us to be home by 5:20 on Monday and Wednesdays. Wednesdays are no-homework days for us (the beauty of going to a Baptist school) so that will be helpful. I think it is a doable schedule. I just wish I could arrange for swimming for Lily on Mondays while the others are at their swim practice.

Now, as for me...Along with my usual household duties, cleaning out and organizing the house as well as working on several (read a mile long list) home projects are my first order of business. I will schedule some focused writing time, sign-up for a Thursday morning bible study and will probably spend at least a couple of mornings in the office helping Jay with some minor details. That sounds like enough for now.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

You can not fully comprehend the total sovereignty of God until you have not had the deepest desires of your heart fulfilled.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Blessed Assurance

What must it be like to lose the person you have lived with, loved with for 67 years? They are here, you are with them, holding their hand and then, they are gone. Sixty-seven years together, sharing it all and now...alone.

This is where I find my grandmother. Alone, in her house for the first time in my lifetime. Due to my grandfather's deteriorating condition over the last 11 years, but specifically the last 3 years, she has barely lived in that house. It must also be a bit strange to her to wake there and not hurry to him.

Over the last 8 months, she never left his side whether in the assisted-living center, the hospital and at his final stop, the Hospice Home. She toiled over him, catering to his every need, cleaning and trimming his beard, feeding him his every meal until he could no longer eat. Now, she is at home, in quiet and solitude, trying to figure out how to start living again.

My heart hurts for her. She is a strong woman, but her heart is shattered. I know how much I miss him and I know it can't compare. The day after his death she asked me through her tears, "Why did he have to leave me here? Why couldn't I have gone with him?"

I took the girls to her house this evening to eat dinner. She is over run with the generosity of friends who have brought her food and it has given me an excuse to hang out in a house with so many of my own warm memories. Not that I need an excuse to come to her house, but I wouldn't want her to feel the need to prepare anything for me.

It was standing in her kitchen that she spoke the words to me that I know now had been brewing in her mind for several days. In almost a whisper, she said to me with the rims of her eyes filling with tears, "I don't know for sure if he is in heaven." I waited to hear more. She continued, "While he was dying, I told him, you are going on a journey to see Jesus, but I never talked to him about it. We never spoke about it, Kelsey. I just don't know." My own sadness for her nearly tore me down.

I imagine it was partly their generation and partly the uniqueness of their relationship that prevented the discussion of this "deep issue." Despite what was clearly the love of a lifetime, full of laughter, fun, devotion and affection, my grandmother could not recall hearing my grandfather speak of his love for our Savior. My grandfather was a member of their church, he was a leader, an usher, and yet, she never talked about Jesus with him. Not growing up in the church, there were zero conversations with my father about religion, let alone Jesus, until after I became a believer. I know many relationships in my own circles that are the same. It is easier to talk to a stranger whom you might never see again than your own family members and closest friends. I think that even though you have this person with whom you share everything, sometimes it still seems too personal.

Back in the kitchen, I pulled my grandmother to me, putting my hands on her shoulders. I remembered why I was so sure that he was in heaven. My precious, dear sister, years before she became ill and before my grandfather's mind no longer functioned in our world, had had a conversation with him. When Ansley became a believer, she was immediately on fire for Him. She spoke to every one she held dear about Him and praise the Lord for that. She had talked to my grandfather about his faith and he told her that yes, he believed in our Savior and what He had done for him.

As I retold this conversation to her, her crying became heavier and a bit louder, and yet, it became the sound of joyous relief. The burden of the past several days was lifted and there was that blessed assurance.

It is strange to be in a place of ministering to someone so much older and wiser that yourself. She has been the teacher and I have been her student our entire lives and now because of life circumstances our roles seem to be reversed. Is this just another reason I had to lose Ansley? So, I could guide my own grandmother through her own grieving process?

Sometimes I wonder if I say too much. Is it better to not know what is around the bend when "around the bend" is not all rosy and pretty? I think she thought that with the assurance of knowing where my grandfather is now that the hole left her in heart would heal. I had to tell her that that hole would always be there - maybe not as painful or large, its edges no longer sharp and jagged, but it would always be there. She would always miss him. The words slipped quickly from my mouth and I worried that it might cause her more sadness. But, they were out and I couldn't shove them back in.

I try to keep my grandmother focused on the future and all the things we can do together. She desires to know her great-grandchildren. She talks about building her strength so she can get rid of her cane. She speaks of trip to the beach, or "to the coast" as she calls it. We talk of cleaning out the house, taking the girls for tea, redecorating her living room. "All in time," We say to each other.

The irony of feeling like you have all the time in the world does not escape me when I have just lost someone dear to me. The reality is that we don't have all the time in the world. We will all die. It is that fact, along with this conversation with my grandmother that has stirred me to throw open the doors to conversations about Him. It is time to have those difficult, deep and possibly "too personal" conversations with some of my closest and share the blessed assurance that is mine.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


My grandfather...

Harold "Chip" Ashford Aulbert of Jamestown, passed away on August 2, 2009 at Hospice Place of High Point after an 11-year journey with Alzheimer's.

Chip was born on November 30, 1921 in High Point, NC to Frank and Sudie Aulbert.

Chip attended High Point High School. When Chip was in the 10th grade, he began to work at Thomas Built Bus. Though never formally educated, he worked his way through various departments of the company, retiring as the Plant Engineer after 48 years of service. His tenure at Thomas Built Bus included a stint as the plant manager at their Woodstock, Ontario, Canada location.

When he was 21 years old. Chip and his friends met up with some girls from way over in Thomasville. He took one look at one of those girls, Reba Jean Thomas, and announced she would be coming with him. On Easter Sunday of 1942, the two held hands while they drove to Chesterfield, SC to marry. Sixty-seven years later, they were still holding hands, Reba tending to his every need until his passing.

Chip and Reba were blessed with a son, Van Aulbert in 1943 and a daughter, Sue Aulbert Snipes, 11 years later. They have been members of Oak Hill Friends Meeting for over 55 years. During those years, Chip served as a youth fellowship leader and usher.

There was never a time when laughter was not a part of Chip's life. He was the consummate prankster and joke teller in the family. He would go to great lengths to bring humor to those around him, including taping himself performing and singing for the family when no one else was at home. No one will ever forget his beloved hit song, "Pine Tree."

He was a kid at heart, evidenced by the fact that the neighborhood kids would knock on his door when he was 65 to come sledding with them. He was known to clear the neighborhood lot for the children to play basketball and spend hours in the ocean with his grandchildren.

He had two hole-in-ones on Jamestown Golf Course where he was a long-time member of the Men's Golf Association. That was also the location where he released a multitude of squirrels that he fanatically caught due to their nesting and chewing on his house.

He loved the beach, the outdoors and had the world's largest sweet tooth. He was a traveler, a fisherman, a car aficionado, an inventor and builder, a self-made man who worked hard, but enjoyed life. He was the first one you called when you needed help because there was never a doubt he would be there. He left a place in everyone's heart who knew him. He often thanked his family for his wonderful life not realizing how much a part he played in that for them.

Chip is survived by the love of his life and wife of 67 years, Reba Jean Thomas Aulbert, son Van Aulbert and wife Terry, daughter Sue Aulbert Snipes and husband Danny, granddaughter Kelsey Aulbert Dumoulin and husband Jay, step-granddaughter Sarah Pruitt Byrd and husband Jon, grandson-in-law Todd Wolffis, great-grandchildren Colby and Graylyn Wolffis and Ethan, Sadie and Lily Dumoulin. He was preceded in death by his parents, Frank & Sudie Aulbert, brothers F.A. and Clarence, sister, Iris Riley and granddaughter, Ansley Aulbert Wolffis.

Monday, August 03, 2009

My frustration

What is my frustration? A life that is not giving me time to write. I am losing ideas, concepts, a way to work through emotions, the ability to document my life. Hang in there. School begins in two weeks.