Friday, May 27, 2011

Kick Kick Kick!

(My Grandmother Puddie died last fall. She was the third family member I've lost in the past 6 years, who had an incredibly deep impact on who I am now as an adult. It's taken me months to write about her, but hopefully this does her memory justice.)

If I close my eyes really tight, and the hot summer wind blows my hair, I can still feel the sting of the chlorinated water in my nose, and I SWEAR I can hear my grandmother, Puddie's voice.
I hear her teaching me my name, on a very long car ride to see my cousins in Atlanta.
M-A-R-Y K-A-T-H-R-Y-N F-L-A-N-G-A-N. Over and over and over again.
(Sure wish she'd been available when I got married and changed my last name! Merrifield took some time to spell correctly!!)

I can see the exact shade of lipstick she always wore, in a silver tube. I can't smell Chanel number 5 without picturing her. Puddie. In her worn out tennis shoes. T shirt knotted at her hip. Shorts on. Short dark hair. Incredible smile. I'm pretty sure I remember every thing of importance she ever told me. "Don't smack your gum. You'll sound like a cow chewing cud!"
I had zero clue what cud was at the time, but I never smacked my gum again.
Puddie was the first person (besides my precious parents) who made me feel like I was something pretty special. I've never felt so treasured, than when I was with her.
She made me feel, like we were the only two people on this earth. Time would stand still, and it would be just us two. Puddie always let me know, that my outlook on life was perfection. She'd say "That Mary Kate! She was born happy!" (I think she stole that from my Momma..but who's counting?:)

Puddie taught me so many things. Like, drinking was called "A swallow". Example- "Let me have just a swallow of that water!" She taught me how to tie my shoes. How to jump rope. How to skip. How to dive. How to make an angel food cake. And she didn't bat an eye lash when I told her I felt like it was a good idea to add gum balls to it. She measured out a cup, and mixed them right in.
I grew up pretty positive that, that back room at their house was called "The Doo-Witchy". Turns out it was the pool room...But doo-witchy sounds better in my opinion.

My love of swimming comes from Puddie. I'd never met anyone in this whole world who loved to swim like Puddie did. I learned early on, that peace could be found swimming laps. Even to this day, I feel myself calm down the instant my body is in water. As soon as my head goes under, I hear Puddie yelling "Kick! Kick! Kick!!! Kick!!!"
You'd think she would have grown tired of telling us kids to push harder. To keep our head straight. To kick just a little stronger. Just a little faster.
But she never did.
I can't help but laugh when I'm in our pool here in Florida with my Baby Ben. He kicks. He giggles. He slaps the water. He laughs hysterically. He tries to jump out of my arms into the water. But I hold on tight. Because he's just not ready.

Puddie taught me, that even in the worst times, to focus on keeping my head above water. To tread water when I'm out in the deep end. And to just keep kicking.
So these days, when I'm at the end of my rope and all the chips are down. I close my eyes. And I hear "Kick kick kick kick kick!"

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dancing in The Minefield

Chris and I constantly find ourselves in a state of hilarity. Our entire marriage (all year and a half of it!) has been filled with one funny adventure..after another. I use the words " funny adventure" because the actual phrase I really want to use would get my mouth washed out with soap :)

I'm often reminded of the not so classy saying "If the trailer's rockin..don't come-a-knockin!" Well, we live in an apartment...But you get the gist. The "trailer is rockin" due to craziness of Anyway.....
*Awkward pause inserted here*

I won't bore you with the laundry list of everything that is happening in our lives right now..But here are some highlights:

Ben is walkin. Talkin. Eatin' peanut butter sandwiches, and has figured out how to unbuckle his carseat. It's hilarious. I love it. I want it to stop. He can't grow up this fast!

We were going to buy a didn't work out. I didn't realize it was going to be such an emotional experience. I've been eating A LOT of ice cream to keep the emotions/anger at the housing market at bay :)

We will be moving again this Summer. Don't worry, we'll still be in Maitland! Just can't stay in our apartment. It's been rented by someone else.

Chris's sweet, sweet Grandmother has been in and out of the hospital with health problems. Please keep her in your prayers. My brother in law and sister are doing wonderful and feel very blessed that my brother in law is safe and sound.

In honor of the craziness, and Chris being a bomb guy, I'd like to share A song that always leaves me with a smile, by Andrew Peterson.

Dancing in The Minefields

I was nineteen, you were twenty-one
The year we got engaged
Everyone said we were much too young
But we did it anyway

We bought our rings for forty each
From a pawn shop down the road
We made our vows and took the leap
Now fifteen years ago

We went dancing in the minefields
We went sailing in the storm
And it was harder than we dreamed
But I believe that's what the promise is for

"I do" are the two most famous last words
The beginning of the end
But to lose your life for another I've heard
Is a good place to begin

'Cause the only way to find your life
Is to lay your own life down
And I believe it's an easy price
For the life that we have found

And we're dancing in the minefields
We're sailing in the storm
This is harder than we dreamed
But I believe that's what the promise is for

So when I lose my way, find me
When I loose love's chains, bind me
At the end of all my faith, till the end of all my days
When I forget my name, remind me

'Cause we bear the light of the Son of Man
So there's nothing left to fear
So I'll walk with you in the shadowlands
Till the shadows disappear

'Cause he promised not to leave us
And his promises are true
So in the face of all this chaos, baby,
I can dance with you

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Things I learned from Mimsey

I think as a teenager and even college student, we are so quick to disregard most everything our Mothers tell us. Don't get your belly button pierced. It's trashy. I did. And it did look trashy on me. Make your bed. It makes the whole room look better. I didn't, and my room was always messy. Buy clothing that is made well, and it will last you for years. I didn't, and it didn't last. Do not drink too much beer, you'll gain weight. I did, and yes I gained weight. Yet as a newly wed, and then later, a Mother myself, I find myself quick to glean as much wisdom from my own Mother, as often as possible. I call her for EVERYTHING. Example "Baby Ben fell in the toy box, do you think he will survive?!!"

I also hear her voice in my head every hour of hour day. Much like I hear my grandmother Puddie saying "kick kick kick!" (That's a whole other blog post!!)

I could fill up an entire book of incredible yet simple things my Momma (Mimsey to Baby Ben) has taught me through her words and examples, but here are some highlights:

If you don't splurge on anything else, splurge on: Nice sheets, and nice towels. And get them monogrammed.

Do the dishes before bed, you will feel so much better when you wake up to a clean kitchen.

If you don't give anything else, give GRACE. Give lots of it.

Even if you can't cook or don't have time, you can make a quiche. (Ironically my Mother-in-law feels the same way, which makes me love her even more)

Never underestimate the power of two things: Knowing how to spell, and having nice handwriting.

When in doubt, button that extra button on your shirt! It's never okay for your bra to show. EVER.

Get you pants hemmed, it's worth the cost.

Buy stationary. And use it! A handwritten note is so much more powerful than an email.

Put on your top bed sheet inside out, that way when you fold it over, the nice side is up.

Buy white towels and white sheets. They are easy to wash.

Brewing a pot of coffee in the afternoon with a side of shortbread, makes any day just a little bit sweeter.

You can never have too many kitchen towels.

A walk or a swim will always put you in a better mood.

Sometimes, you just need a hamburger and a coke with crushed ice.

Blueberry muffins are perfect. Perfect for breakfast, perfect for a snack, and even more perfect toasted with butter.

Bake with whole wheat flour, take your vitamins, and eat organic. My Mom fed us organic before it was cool.

Spend the money on getting a good pedicure. It will last longer.

And finally, the sweetest lesson of all:

Say I love you as often as you can. And twice before you hang up the phone.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pure Bliss!

The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. Job 42:12a.
It seems this verse is always on my heart these days. I was reminded of it this past weekend, when Chris surprised me with a weekend vacation for Mother's Day to St. Augustine.

I'm pretty sure this is what pure bliss looks like.

I'm also reminded of that verse when Baby Ben first wakes up in the morning, wraps his little chubby arms around me (with Baby Lamb and blanket wedged between us) and coos "Ma Ma Ma Ma"

It's not to say I don't have my moments (when Ben is screaming, emptying out every single pot in the kitchen, and Chris is oblivious reading a book in his man chair) when I don't want a break every now and then..But I truly believe having lost someone precious to me, early on in my life, has made me even more aware of the sweet, sweet blessings (that I do not deserve) the Lord has bestowed upon me now.

In other news, I'm pretty sure I spent a good two weeks thinking I was 22, instead of 23. I was shocked when Chris finally sat me down, did the math, and informed me, that YES I am 23 and not 22. Oh well. I guess I have until October to get used to the idea.

P.S. Yes, I'm wearing pants in this picture...