The extraordinary ordinary

The house is quiet but for the sound of pages turning, novels held in the hands of my boys. Their tired lids fight to finish just one more chapter before sleep washes over them. I look up periodically as one of them pads down the hall to share a funny part with me. I smile, taking in their broad shoulders and long limbs. These boys that are turning into men right under my nose. And me, powerless to stop them.

Hannah has finally succumbed to sleep, and tonight that is no small victory. Her repeated pleas to sleep by my side were rejected, one after the other, each more creative in its attempt to persuade. Were it not for the cold I am fighting, I would have given in. Her snuggles keep me company most nights in my life as a travel widow. In spite of her flailing limbs and all-night-thrashing, her presence is comforting in a quiet bed. But tonight, I need rest above all else. The calendar this week is dotted with line after line of tasks and activities, all of which will require my best self.

The phone rings, and a familiar voice closes the gap of miles that lie between us. I share every moment, even the ones mundane. He laughs at our idiosyncrasies, the ones he knows so well. He vents a little of his own day, and my heart aches for him and the stress of his life. We say goodnight, and I offer a prayer of gratitude for the good man that he is. For his capacity to love that is seemingly endless.

I weigh the choices before me and pick up a book instead of a remote. I relish the extraordinary ordinary that is my life. I snuggle under a blanket and close another day. I am grateful and humbled by the peace I feel deep in my soul.

Life is extraordinarily good.

Je voudrais chocolat viennois...

Internets, I would like you to meet one of my favorite things about Paris:


Chocolat viennois. My sole source of caffeine after my one and only attempt at drinking coca cola light, a.k.a, the horrible French version of diet coke. It was disgusting and not worth drinking. So, tragically, I was forced to move on to bigger and better things.

I had so many of them that it's no wonder the jeans are fitting a whole lot tighter this week. Yikes.

C'est la vie, right?

Other highlights from the trip included:











* The Eiffel Tower both by day and by night. We stayed about a block from the famous landmark and crossed under her massive steel girth many times. She is as magnificent as she looks in the movies. My favorite view was after dark when she had her lights all turned on.

* Unexpectedly catching mass at Notre Dame. Completely amazing in spite of not understanding a word they said. And the cathedral? UN-FREAKING-BELIEVABLE. So beautiful. So amazing. How did they build such massive perfection without the use of modern tools? Geniuses.

* Walking along the Seine and stopping at little shops.

* The Lock Bridge - you write your name and your lover's name, lock it up on the bridge, and supposedly your love is sealed forever. I was not necessarily excited to pay 15 Euros for a lock, so my love with the Husband remains unsealed. Here's hoping we survive.

* The Louvre. Absolutely fantastic, but way too crowded. My favorite part was eating at Cafe Richlieu which served food from the Angelina's menu. Divine. Especially the dessert.

* Also? Napoleon's dining room is a wee bit fancier than my own. But only slightly. I clearly need to get my gold on.

* Fat Tire Bike Tour through Paris. Amazeballs. Do it if you're ever in a city where they are. Worth. every. penny. Biking on cobblestone streets through the heart of Paris? Nothing like it anywhere else except, well, Paris.

* Fat Tire Bike Tour to Versailles. Slightly scary to put a bike on the subway with 20 other people and their bikes, but so fun. Gorgeous, surreal, and impossibly gaudy. So picturesque to ride around the grounds at Versailles. And definitely a cultural experience to order food at a French farmer's market, as well. Hmm. A food reference again? Are we detecting a theme here?

All in all, it was the trip of a lifetime. I never got tired of Annie, looking at the fabulous architecture, eating all the rich foods, and pretending to understand the language. It was JUST like they tell you it's going to be. It was everything they say and more.

It was magic.

The power of prayer

Image via

This week, some friends and I threw a bridal shower for the daughter of another friend. Monday night, we got together at my house to make the party favors.

We laughed, we talked, we got it done.

The next morning, I received a call from one of my friends asking if she had left her rings behind. I hadn't noticed them, but searched the kitchen and living rooms to no avail. A few hours went by, a few more frantic calls, and I searched again.

What she was missing was her gorgeous diamond wedding ring (in and of itself a hugely valuable treasure), and a diamond ring that had been her grandmother's. One, mind you, that she had just been given at her mother's death a few weeks before.

I was sick. She was sick. I gladly went through disgusting trash bags and looked in every nook and cranny I could think of. Still no rings.

All day yesterday, I worried and fretted about them. I was devastated at the possibility that these beautiful treasures would be lost. The monetary value alone was enough to make one weep, but the sentimental value was irreplaceable.

And last night as I slept, I had a dream. In this dream, something came to my mind and I knew exactly where the rings were. I sat bolt upright in bed and instantly knew that she had slipped them off while we were working and put them in the pocket of the apron she had been wearing.

Baffled, I laid back down and went to sleep. After all, there were no pockets on that apron that I knew of. I figured my mind was reaching for any solution to this problem.

But when I woke up this morning, I felt compelled to at least check. I rifled through the laundry basket in the mud room where I had tossed our dirty aprons Monday night.

And lo and behold, tucked safely in the pocket of the apron, were the rings.

I immediately called my friend and felt her relief and joy reach out through the phone. She had spent the last few days tearing her own house apart, searching her yard, retracing every step. Heartsick, she prayed fervently to find them. She hoped that her sweet mother would whisper from heaven and help lead her to the rings.

I truly believe that her prayers came true.

I am in awe at the turn of events. It was not simply a matter of our continued searching that led us to the rings. It was not even dumb luck. I was told specifically in a dream where to find the rings, and they were in a place I didn't even know existed.

It was a tender mercy from our Heavenly Father, I have no doubt about that.

It reinforces to me that our prayers, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, are heard and answered.

And I just wanted to share this story in the event that you, like me, sometimes need a reminder of that.



Mother's Day for me was one of the best. With church at nine a.m., I woke early to breakfast in bed and four smiling faces. The presents they gave me were much more than I deserved and proved definitively that diamonds really are a girl's best friend.

Leaving for church, I glanced behind me with a smile at the spotless kitchen that I had nothing to do with cleaning.

Lunch and dinner were made while I sat on the couch in my bare feet with the iPad. Diet cokes were topped off and treat samples brought to me for tasting.

I tried not to laugh too hard at the sight of the Husband decorating the coconut cupcakes. Somehow a pastry bag does not look very much at home in his big hands. But they were as delicious as they were beautiful.

I was pampered and loved, and felt utterly appreciated.

These four fantastic people in my life are a miracle. I love them with the whole of my heart.

Finding myself again

I wake up, the bright sunshine streaming through my window. In spite of the migraine that is just beginning, I am ready to take the day on. I stretch my tired limbs. I am determined not to let Monday win. I intend to take her by the horns and throw her to the ground.

I ignore the scale today and walk downstairs, where my biggest boy is up and dressed. I chat quietly at the table with him, and laugh as he gives me one of his famous would you rathers. He heads out the door, but not before hugging his mama. I hug him right back, and make sure not to let go first.

I walk down the hall and wake the girl who makes the rockstar hair in her sleep. She does not rouse easily, and mumbles all the way to the breakfast table. She is quiet in the mornings, and is best left alone on these kinds of days. Sort of like her mama.

I call the early bird up from the basement, where he has already spent an hour watching a documentary on alligators. I shake my head and wonder how it is possible to wake up so cheerful so early in the morning. I smile, knowing he is sure to share some gory details over his bowl of cereal, much to his sister's dismay.

I pack lunches and pour milk. I remind them both to brush their teeth. Again. I comb her hair, and find that she has warmed up to the day. I listen as she chatters away. I hug them tight and send them out the door with I love yous. The boy, as he does every day, turns and waves. The girl, as she does every day, is busy talking with friends.

The trainer comes and I work out. Hard. I feel my body returning to a strength I once took for granted. I hydrate and thank god for letting me get better. For letting me heal. I put in some laundry and clear out my inbox. I start a couple loaves of bread and return a few phone calls. I shower and tackle a mess in the office. I edit pictures. I run errands.

I am busy. And it feels so damn good.

I feel myself returning to the person I used to be. Someone who was productive. And strong. And happy.

Tears fill my eyes as I remember the place I was in, even just a few months ago. A place of despair and sorrow. A place that, for me, was without hope.

I am so grateful.

I finally feel like me again.

Snow day

The call comes in early this morning, the one we were waiting for. I listen to the recording with a smile on my face, and hear two sets of feet immediately climb out of their beds and pad softly down the hall to my door.

Even in the darkness, I can see their anxious looks. A nod of my head, cheers from their lips, and a stern shhhh, lest they wake up their sister. I pull the warm blankets up and feel the pull of sleep. I give into it with a grin on my face.

A couple of hours later, I stretch and yawn, relishing in my laziness. I ignore the scale, for surely today it shouldn't count, and slide my feet into the worn, fuzzy slippers. I shuffle downstairs, rubbing the sleep from my eyes, and pull my hair into a ponytail.

I bypass the sugar cereal with a sigh, and reach instead for the heart-healthy fiber one. I sit and read a few blogs, relishing the unhurried feel of the day. Downstairs, the sounds of Bear Grylls float up from the tv, and I smile, thinking that they likely will reenact later whatever insanity shown them. I laugh thinking that maybe even they'll film it.

Next on the schedule is a very clumsy, short-winded run on the treadmill. I think of this newly returned pleasure in my life with a deep sense of gratitude, for the healing that has taken place in my body. I have desperately missed the one thing in my day that makes me feel like me. I am not whole unless I can sweat and strain, working this gloriously imperfect body, pushing it to the limits.

What also tells me that I am, and forever will be, me is the mental note I make WHILE on the treadmill to whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

I finish the run, and look in on my babies. They are snuggled up under a warm blanket, laughing together over a Calvin and Hobbs. The phone rings, and it is the Husband, calling to be a part of it all. I regale him with the exciting stories from our short morning. He chuckles and sighs, wishing he were in town to share it with us.

I take a deep breath, as the tears threaten to spill over, and I thank God for the blessing of this beautiful, imperfect, amazing life he saw fit to trust me with.

I have everything I ever wanted.

And I never want to take it for granted again.