Monday, December 7, 2015

I'm in love with coconut cake. And Jesus is peace.

Hey Peeps—

Tonight at dinner my son Will asked me if I was trending.  Listen, I can barely post a status to my facebook account, so my guess is I am not.  My husband can lock our garage door from a phone in the middle of the ocean and here I am, trying to trend.  If someone is going to trend in our family it's going to be Billy.  I can promise you that. 

How was your Thanksgiving?  I can't believe it's already come and gone.  Thanksgiving has become one of my most favorite days of the year.  What a sweet time to be together and reflect on the blessings.   Sure we have a lot to be thankful for.  Jobs, good health, a roof over our head, but I guess the biggest blessing of Thanksgiving this year was my sister's coconut cake.  She left a whole one for me, and slowly over the last two weeks I've singlehandedly taken that baby down. (Everyone else in this house either hates it or would die if they ate it). 

In case you were wondering, the best time of day for coconut cake is in the morning, with a cup of coffee, by the Christmas tree.  This peaceful bliss usually lasts for about 3 seconds, until Jack comes to tell me he needs new pants because he grew 8 more inches during the night.  Or Zoe comes to cuddle with me and bumps my coffee, scalding my hands.  Then she tells me in the sweetest voice you can imagine, "I can't eat that mommy."  I agree with her as the eggs would incur an epi pen/911 situation.  And then she says, "It's okay mommy".  And then I feel guilty, and can't even feed my feelings because she's sitting there watching me in quiet judgment. 

This season of time is particularly sweet for me, as I have quit one of my nursing jobs and pulled Little Sass out of daycare for the month of December.  We are getting quite a bit of together time…today she called me "sir" all day.  Every time I did something for her it was, "Thank you sir" or "Yes sir".  Then she informed me she was calling me sir.  As if I hadn't noticed.  All day. 

She's also been with me as we have gone on a few outings to purchase Christmas gifts.  I always try and hide the items, yet somehow she seems to know to remind me at dinner where we went and what we bought.  "Mama.  We went to the Lego store today and got Star Wars for Jack".  Oy.  She's smart. 

The highlight of our time last week was during my migraine.  I had one hit after dropping Will off at school.  I knew I had exactly an hour before throwing up, and tried to plan accordingly.  First I did my hair.  Second, I put clothes from the washer into the dryer.  Third, I encouraged Little Sass to play in her room while I had my head in a Home Depot bag right on cue.  Every time I threw up, she'd yell from her room, "WHAT MOM???"  And I'd try to answer back, yet learned quickly that  exerting myself only induced more vomiting. 

If it sounds like I'm complaining, I'm not.  I promise.  To get to slow down this beautiful month of Christmastime and spend time with a daughter who surprises me daily, well, it's more than a gift.  Often I am speechless at the wit and humor a three year old child can have.  Billy and I just shake our heads at her as we listen to her talk, having to remind ourselves that somehow she didn't actually come from our gene pool, but somehow she is fully Repenning.  

This year we are getting to experience it all over again…what Christmas is all about.   The decorations feel new and exciting, as our youngest watched in amazement as I placed them all over our house.  Will followed her, following me, explaining what each decoration meant to him in his most kind big brother voice.  She listened intently and was in awe at his knowledge.  Two minutes later they were fighting over the advent calendar, but hey, sweet moments can't last forever, am I right?

Christmas feels different this year.  Our home is full and constantly buzzing.   Each of our children have different needs, struggles, fears, and hopes.   Billy and I are trying to teach them that their best friends in life live under this roof.   We sit down every day and talk together.  We discuss the events in our world.  And we speak as honestly as we can, as we share our perception of the recent current events that shake us all to the core.  Our children listen more than they ask questions, but I can see the concern behind their eyes, and more often than not, I'm at a loss for words.  At that point, I can only remind them of the hope they find in their faith, and to cling to God when they feel afraid. 

This past Sunday at church we started a new series on rediscovering…the message of peace was brought to us, reminding us that the Christmas season should be one of the most peace-filled times of the year.  Rather than run around crazy, I will reflect.  Rather than worry about what's not getting done, I will embrace my family, my simple life, and my need for God above all else.  I choose to remember this Christmas story is about more than a baby in a manger.   This story does not end that night as the shepherds gathered, but this story continues to grow in depth and meaning as that baby grew into a man who died to fulfill His Father's Will.   I will share that story with my children, in hopes of passing that peace along to them.   I have known this peace for a lifetime, and am especially thankful for it these last few weeks as death keeps winning and heartache becomes the norm. 

 Colossians 3:15 says, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful". 

Merry Christmas.  Jesus is peace. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

This old house...

Hey Peeps—

It seems like a person, say a mother like me, should not have to remind her sons that the toilet in the garage is off limits.  To my knowledge, this scenario has yet to appear in any parenting books, and I'm here to say it first, "Toilets in the garage are to be discouraged from playing with, using, or taking pictures of for all your friends on Snap Chat " and so on…

Why would decent folks like us keep a toilet in the garage taking up good parking space I could be using for my minivan?  Well, I'm glad you asked. 

About three years ago, Billy and I decided we needed hard wood floors.  We had it priced and after picking our chins up off the floor we decided that "need" was not actually reality.  It was more a desire, and one we could live without.  Fast forward to this past spring…Our carpet has 3 more years of stains, discoloration, wear and tear, and not surprising, an odor.  New floors became less of just a desire, and more of a necessity.  

We had a few guys come and bid (that's what fancy people do) on it, and in the end we went with the original guy, our neighbor Ed who owns Masterpiece Flooring.   I had no idea what a process new floors would be, and how much work it involved, but holy cow, it's nothing like the lady in the commercial who is putting them in while wearing heels. 

A week before Ed got busy Billy and I began to get the house ready.  I had NO idea how much we had to do, until we started clearing things out.  And ripping up old flooring,  And moving furniture to every extra spare inch in our house.  And taking apart a kitchen, where I cook for 6 people on a daily basis.  And removing a toilet and sink from a working bathroom, to now just an empty little useless room with a pink cup in the hole on the floor to "keep the gases from coming up" (thanks Rog).   We prepped the house with the help our good friend Josh and family from Wyoming.  They all pitched in, because as you know, it takes a village to help us idiots.  We could not have even begun to do this without help—from start to finish, and not only did our friends bless us with their help, our kids pitched in and worked like never before. 

We've made quite a few memories during this whole process…One night I thought the neighbors would call the cops on us, with the 3 big kids, hammers in hand,  banging on the old flooring and backer board the night before Ed was laying that room down.  I'm not sure how many meals we ate out on the deck, but it was either freezing out there or eat on a blanket in the dust and dirt of the house.  We'd send the kids out to the garage before a meal to gather supplies from the fridge (not RIGHT next to the toilet mind you) and they'd all go out about a zillion times to get everything we needed.  We had nowhere to sit comfortably, but homework still had to be done in the 3X3 space up in the extra bedroom.  More than once I'd see Billy up there crouched up in a ball helping the kids do their homework or trying to get the printer to work in her new surroundings.  

About two days into the process I decided there was no better time than now to paint almost the entire inside of my house.  My sister Laura and her best friend Laura (of Ladeda Design Company) came to my aid, and within 7 hours, the job was almost done.  Those girls can W-O-R-K!  At one point, the 200 lb ladder fell on me, and once we realized I wasn't dead, we laughed until we cried.  And then we laughed some more.   And then I tooted.  Don't judge me.  I had a 200 lb. ladder pressing on my gut.  

Three weeks of craziness, yet new memories, and even proud moments as I saw my family come together during what could have been a really stressful time.  Can you believe that yesterday when I finally began to tackle the huge pile of mounting laundry, my washing machine broke?  Billy and Josh tried to work their magic on the old girl, but she wasn't about to budge.  Off to Home Depot for the gazillionth time, but thankful for a low-end no frills machine that will get the job done!

The bills are adding up and the floors look beautiful.  My walls are clean and fresh, and my children have somewhere to sit.  Billy and I feel completely blessed.  Not only are we healthy, able-bodied people, but we have been able to improve our home.  You don't have to look very far to know what you have and what others lack.  Good health.  Safety.  A community of love.   I was reminded of what matters most to me yesterday, as my family and I went to church before coming home to put our house in order. 

Once in the doors, I hugged sweet Kathy's neck so many times I ended up smelling like her perfume all day.   During church, I sat by Gary and Judee and listened to them sing the old hymn about Grace until I almost bawled.  I loved seeing 13 year old A.J.  harmonizing up front, with joy in her heart as she sang to the Lord.  I sat with Faith on my left as we listened to the Word, which never returns void to a heart that is open, thank the Lord.   Before we left, my dear friends prayed together as we held hands and cried for the heart of a wandering soul.  All of these exchanges blessed me far more than any new floor could ever do.  My heart is full of gratitude for a community that loves each other, and loves the world around them.  They exemplify true servanthood and compassion, the kind of values our world needs.  So we are grateful for floors, and for the feet that will walk them.  We are grateful for clean walls, and the folks that will come and tell their story within them.  We are grateful for a kitchen, for the food we will share as we laugh and listen, and walk the road of life.  We are grateful for Love, for it never fails. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Even on Monday

Hey Peeps—

Awwww, the sweet sounds of fall in our house:  the constant hum of the humidifier, the muffled sounds of a child speaking through a nebulizer mask, the symphony of coughing from a variety of children, usually peaking around 3 am.  Fall is upon us, and as the leaves drop, so does my health savings account. 

Actually, I love this time of year.  You can still be in shorts and flip flops, but the second the sun goes down, it's yoga pants and fluffy hoodies.  You can still go on a hike in the warm mountain to see the pretty colors of Fall, and instead of coming home and collapsing from dehydration and heat stroke, you might have enough energy to make s'mores in the fire pit. 

I always laugh when people ask us, "Are you getting into a groove now that the kids have been in school for over a month?" I know we aren't alone when I explain what our daily schedule looks like.  It's less of being in a groove, and more about mindful endurance. 

Here's a normal weekday in the Repenning household:
Billy wakes up at 4:30.  I wake up after him…and not nearly as perky.   The kids wake up.  Billy makes them lunch.  I take care of Little Sass.  (This can go a number of ways, depending on her Sass-o-meter. The amount of coffee I drink is also determined by her Sass-o-meter. ) Jack showers.  Faith does her hair.  Will feeds the pets.  Faith re-does her hair.  Will does parkour moves all over the basement.  Jack eats a yogurt while telling Billy all about his favorite video game.  I do Little Sass's hair.  We meet up to have our family time.  We leave for school/work/daycare.  On the way to our various places, I call or text Billy to remind him of his post-work schedule.  Rarely do we forget a child or leave them unattended for very long. 

I am so grateful I don't work 5 days a week.   At one of my jobs (yes, I have 2) my co-workers like to ask me what I did on my "day off".  I always tell them "I sat by the pool drinking mimosas".  But what I really mean is I did 3 loads of really smelly laundry, cut the dogs hair (even by his butt), went to Costco, went to Sprouts, cleaned my bathroom, and dyed my roots.  All this with a 3 year old running around me at lightening speed, talking a mile a minute about everything and nothing, and me trying to engage with her while accomplishing all my tasks.  Right about the time I catch up on all I needed to do for the day, it's bedtime and I work the next day, so it all builds up again for my next day off.   I swear, I'm not complaining.  I love my life.  I just don't always do it very well. 

 The season of crazy.  Our kids are involved in sports to some degree, but for the most part, we are only busy because there's so many of them, and we are working parents who desire to be very present in their lives.  There is no easy way to balance this, and there are many nights I go to bed feeling like I am letting someone down.  I didn't get to a volleyball game.  I didn't help Will find a book to read for "Star Student".  I didn't help Jack study for a test.  And Little Sass went to bed without a Bible story and cuddle time because I got home after she went to bed.  This season is hard, fast, and leaves me exhausted. 

But this season is sweet, tender, and fills me with joy too.  When someone tells me that it flies by and to make the most of it, I know what they mean as I look at my oldest son, and remember his tiny newborn face.  So I hold my three year old a little tighter as we snuggle knowing it too, is passing by at lightning speed right before my aging eyes. 

All the while my children are teaching me life's sweetest and hardest lessons.  When I am truly honest with myself and am listening to God, I see so many more places where the fences need mending.   I am constantly given the opportunity to learn how to be quick to listen and slow to speak.  I am learning that saying sorry to my children goes farther than a harsh lesson.  We are learning as a family that sometimes you have to just let time heal hurts rather than forcing a spoken word.  In our home we are learning Ephesians 4:32 "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you".  Even on the mornings when the Sass is high and the coffee is cold.  God's goodness never fails me.  And even in this crazy busy season of my life, His mercy is new every morning. Even on Monday.   

Monday, September 7, 2015

From Red Rocks to Cheyenne...we rock Labor Day!

Do you know that there are actual people in the world who think Star Wars is a real thing?  (I live with 3 of them.)  Sometimes I feel sad for them.  And sometimes I envy them. 

I just got done glancing at some Labor Day photos on Facebook.  Apparently we aren't the only ones who needed a fun weekend.  After all the crazy that August brings (ie. first day of school pictures, physicals, shoe shopping, making lunches again) it's nice of the holiday people to give us a day in September to kind of just recover from it all.  To top it all off, I had coconut cake for breakfast.   Not to brag, but it was amazing. 

Generally Billy and I don't get out much—what with 4 kids who need us basically every second of every day.  So this past July, we decided to buy tickets to see Brian Regan at Red Rocks as a way to celebrate surviving summer and 19 years of marriage.  You can't just go and do that alone, so we included some of our very best friends to join us for the fun!  It was an anniversary gift to both of us, and after the year we've had, new jobs and adjusting to a toddler in our home again, let's just say we needed a night out on the town.  Our friends did too—both work very hard, and after blending a family of four kids this past year, they also deserved a fun night out.  Neither couple is complaining, mind you--we all know how blessed we are.  But sometimes you have to celebrate the good life you have, AWAY from the children, am I right?  And that's just what we did!

After a nice dinner, we headed up to Red Rocks in time to see the stadium fill up and the night sky go dark.  Red Rocks is such an amazing place to see a show—if you haven't ever been there, you need to go.  The crowd was diverse—kids and adults, all ready for a night of laughs.  As we sat and waited for the show to start, we saw two different couples we had gone to church with!    Hugs and conversation were sweet, and catching up on real life with them was an added bonus we never expected. 

The first comedian of the night was a guy named Joe Zimmerman.  We had never heard of him but after listening to him a few minutes we were cracking up.  He was so funny, and connected to the crowd almost instantly.  After he got us all warmed up, he introduced the headliner—Brian Reagan. 

The next hour was spent in fantastic laughter!  Brian is a very physical guy.  He uses his gait, facial expressions, long arms, and tone of voice in every story and joke he is telling.  He speaks about the every day stuff of life we all find funny and somehow he makes it hysterical.  At one point, while he was describing a long 2 inch hair growing out of his forehead I thought I might have a heart attack.  I was laughing so hard I couldn't breath.  I mean, who hasn’t, (over the age of 40) found a hair somewhere and wondered how it got there? And how come no one ever feels the need to tell you about it?  If you see my chin hair out of control, please, you have my permission to ask me to cut it off. 

 The weekend was half over by the time we went to bed, but there was still a ton of Labor Day-ing to be had! After a great time with our church family on Sunday morning, we gathered our tribe up once again, and, BOOM! ROAD TRIP!  We headed north to Cheyenne, WY to celebrate the recent marriage of my nephew with family and friends who were unable to attend the wedding last month in Michigan.

The crowd was huge, and the food amazing.  We sat and visited in the Cheyenne sun, and if you dare to believe me, the wind didn't blow one single thing down.  People from all over came to say congratulations to Taylor and Jacquee—it was the kind of party you imagine goes on like every day in heaven.  Friends who had invested in their lives from long ago, to people they have met just this year.  It was a joyful event over the union of two kids who have dedicated their lives and marriage to whatever God wants to bring their way.  I am blessed to be on the sidelines watching them begin.  How fresh and sweet to see something new and precious as they maneuver through all the changes that life will bring their way.

This is the kind of weekend that comes along once in a long while and when it does, you can't help but stop and savor the joy.   I am so humbled to be part of a circle of people who love deeply.  I have a husband who continues to grow with me, in spite of all my failures. I was born into a family that continues with a legacy of pursuing Jesus.  I have friends who challenge me to be real, love to laugh, and make me do lunges even when I dread how I will feel in the morning.  We are part of a church that is full of people who desire to see God's Kingdom grow, and who are learning what it means to be God's Hands and Feet. We all know where we have been and who we are at the core of our beings, and that makes God's mercy all the sweeter.  The weekend is almost over, but my thankful heart is full for the house of love that covers us well.  God is good.  All the time. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Wedding in Holland

Hey Peeps—

Have you ever ridden 18 hours in a car in one day?  Technically it was 18 hours and 15 minutes, but once you get past hour 14, time becomes an illusion.  Other things happen at hour 14 too, such as severe stomach cramps from the junk food, headache from severe dehydration, irritation from the children…stuff like that.  I think it's weird what you allow as a parent on a road trip, in order to maintain your sanity, but not necessarily your dignity.  Normally we limit tech time and we eat pretty healthy.  By the time we'd hit North Platte yesterday, my kids had watched four movies, played hand held devices during the time I was pulling the old movie out and putting a new one in and they ate oreos for dinner.  Literally.  Oreos were their dinner.  Jack did have a handful of almonds though, so at least you know one of them knows how to make good choices. 

The last week was a whirlwind of happy times and not one of us is ready to face the reality that summer is about over.   We spent the week moving at breakneck speed in Holland, Michigan celebrating with family as we prepared to attend the wedding of my nephew Taylor and his amazingly sweet bride Jacquee. 

Since last October when we got a phone call from Taylor and Jacquee, we knew we'd be making a trip out east.  Taylor is technically my sister's son, however, I like to say I had a bit of hand in raising the boy.  He's always had a special place in my heart, and being there for his wedding was the highlight of our summer!  He and Jacquee asked our littlest Sass to participate in the excitement too, and be their flower girl.  The mission was a success thanks to the Anna and Else dolls purchased as bribery.   They were on display all week for the child as motivation.  She was not allowed to touch the gift, until the last petal was dropped and  "knucks"  were given to Taylor.  Once that was accomplished the dolls were hers.  If that's wrong, please don't tell me.  It worked like a charm and isn't that all that really matters? 

Besides attending a wedding, we did a little sightseeing around Holland and decided Michigan is a very pretty state.  We loved Lake Michigan and the kids had two days in a row with their cousins to play at the beach!  There were contests for whose sand castle was the best and Billy, ever the diplomat, declared them all winners.  (I hate when everyone gets a trophy.  After he did his "yours was the best for this reason" speech, I secretly pulled everyone aside and made sure the girls knew they won.)  Everyone loved the sand and the water—it was just like being at the ocean except I didn't have to constantly be on the lookout for sharks.  Everyone came home with all their limbs and digits, and no one made the evening news.  I call that success! 

The wedding itself was beautiful.  Lots of friends and family were there to celebrate, and if we didn't know them before the wedding, by the time it was all over we felt like we knew them.  There were so many sweet moments that day, but one of my favorite was when the bride had walked down with her dad to the front of the church and all four parents stood up, encircled the bride and groom, and they took a few minutes to pray for them.  That was the moment those kids were truly given over to each other to face life as a team, but never alone.  Always with God in the center and parents standing alongside. 

The reception was a huge party.  I have never seen anything like it—the dance floor was FULL of almost every guest attending that party, including Jacquee's grandma who had sprained her foot just minutes before the wedding.   We all danced for hours, laughing and moving, and having one of the best nights of our lives.  Not only did I do my signature "superstar" move, I managed to find my groove as the night went on, despite my Baptist upbringing.  The most surprising dancer of the night goes to Little Sass, who at 3 years old didn't stop moving for one second.  (except to get some skittles).  She had moves you never saw coming.  She was enthralled by it all, and only after almost 2 hours decided she was done.  None of my boys love dancing, but you better believe Billy was not going to see me out there be-bopping alone.  It was truly one of the most fun times I've ever had. 

And now we are home.  The lawn needs mowed.  The boys are fighting and the girls are whining.  School supplies have yet to be bought, and the first day is less than a week away.  Nobody under my roof wants to face the verity, including me.  Truth is life moves so fast, we are a vapor and gone.  Yesterday I was driving to college and my nephew was born. Today he is a married man.  Yesterday I held my firstborn son, and next week he will be a sophmore in high school.  Yesterday I was given a daughter, and another one again.  Someday we will have to give them both away.  Yesterday my little boy thought I hung the moon.  Today he is figuring out how it really hangs all the way up there in space.   Yesterday I was stuck in a car for 18 hours with my kids.  Today I wish I could go back to being all they ever need.  Even if it's in the middle of nowhere. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Life lessons on Hwy 285

Hey Peeps—

Tonight I had a conversation with my toddler I shall entitle, "Why we do not lick ourselves, or others".  It was reminiscent of a conversation I had with Will about 7 years ago when he was 3.  That was one called, "Why we never lick a cat".  Three year olds are funny.  And also make a person want to crawl under a rock.  With a gigantic bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough, that has enough sugar to put a person into a diabetic coma. 

Last weekend we travelled down to Southern Colorado to Pagosa Springs to see my mom for a quick getaway.  If you haven't travelled Hwy 285 through our beautiful state, then you are missing out.  The only real downside is Villa Grove, but seriously, you can blink and almost not even have to see the "Southwestern Art and Liquor Store".    

Right before we headed to Pagosa, Billy and I made a big purchase.  We bought a van.   Both our other cars are over 10 years old, which is like 12 in dog years, so obviously we needed to upgrade.  We aren't really fancy car people, but this car is what you might call nice.  The best part about it is that it still smells fresh and new.  That is until we decided to grab some Chick-fil-a in Denver as we were heading out of town.  Before we hit Kenosha Pass, I guess you could say we had "broken it in" with dirty napkins, spilled ketchup containers, and a whole host of different smells I'd like to forget. 

Pagosa Springs is gorgeous.  We spent Saturday playing in the San Juan River and catching horny toad lizards up on the hill by Gramma's house.  We ate enough carbs to run a marathon, and thankfully this year, there were no bats in the house to suck our blood while we slept. 

On our way home from Pagosa, we made a planned stop in Bailey to drop off our 10 year old sweet Will at Camp Idrahaje. He has been begging to go to camp for at least three years.  He finally wore me down and I said yes.  I dreaded the moment we would drive away from his sweet face since last December when I reserved him a spot.  But the real truth is, I've dreaded that moment since I held him in my arms for the very first time. 

Once we got all checked in, we met up with Will's buddy Riley, and helped him get settled in his teepee home for the next six nights.  First he placed all his toiletries that might attract bears into a Rubbermaid.   Then he found his mat and laid his sleeping bag out.  That's right about the time I began to have the Mom panic come over me.  I stayed cool of course, as I began to fret about Will getting scared at 3 am.  Or freezing in his sleeping bag.  Or catching pneumonia.  Or getting eaten by a bear.  Naturally I kept all my anxiety hidden and as I hugged him over and over (and over) and told him I loved him so much. 

The five of us said our goodbyes and quietly walked to the car.  The drive home was even quieter, and I wished so much that Will was in the back seat interrupting my favorite song to say, "Hey mom!  Fun fact!  Did you know that a Canadian penny is worth more than an American penny?" 

Billy keeps reminding me that Will is having the time of his life.  He's learning he can do things on his own, and beginning to understand that before long, he will become a man.  Will is learning that he doesn't need to hold my hand and that he can pick out his own food.  He is learning he can climb and run and swim and shoot arrows and go to bed without a hug from his mom.  For the first time, Will is learning he is capable, strong, and independent.   I wish I could say I find joy in all of this growth and maturity, and while I appreciate all that camp is teaching Will, the truth is I'd rather have my sweet little blond headed boy safe at home with me. 

We all have things to learn this summer, and the one I hate most is the one I have to learn every day.  Letting go is the hardest of all.  Encouraging our kids to become their own person and find their way in this world is what we want.  We passionately pray they cling to God as some nights are cold and lonely, and might even feel like there's a bear lurking nearby.  We pray they feel the warmth of the sun, see the hope in tomorrow, and most of all, know in Whom their identity exists.  Tonight as we pray for Will, we ask God for safety, fun, stories, laughter, and special memories that will last a lifetime.  And for our boy to come home knowing just a little bit more about who he is becoming.  Thank You God, for a Will like ours. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Cooking is not my gift

Hey Peeps—

If you've never taught a 3 year old what "double dipping" is, I highly recommend it.  Especially if you are a germ-a-phobe, or trying to acquire more skills in patience.  Today, while I was trying to enjoy my hard earned bowl of chips and salsa out on the front porch, Little Sass felt entitled to join me, as I was using one of her special purple bowls for the salsa.  (My first mistake)  (The second mistake was eating the snack anywhere that wasn't my closet)  She sidled on up next to me and took a chip as if I wanted to share.  She dipped.  She took a bite.  With the left over portion of chip in her chunky little hand, she went for dip #2. 

Calmly, or at least in my dreams I was calm, I tried to explain.  "Hey honey, we don't dip the chip a second time once you've bitten some of it off.  Just eat the rest and you can dip the next chip again."

I went on to repeat my previous explanation about 78 times.  Every time she looked at me as if I was speaking some native dialect that is only known in the deepest part of the Amazon rainforest.  And then she would try and dip the chip after one bite. 

I've had several other "food fails" in the last couple of days and I have to admit, I am feeling a little inept when it comes to feeding my family.  I have certain friends who are ridiculously fantastic chefs, and their families are blessed to have them as chefs/mothers.   Alicia develops a weekly menu for her family of exotic dishes you might see at a fancy schmancy place down on Larimer Square.  Grace cooks like a real Mexican adding a little of this and a little of that, and before you know it, you are eating something that tastes like a fiesta in your mouth.  And Beth, she can cook for 100 people without even breaking a sweat.  And it always tastes like your mom made it with love. 

This past week I attempted a homemade apple pie.  Billy loves pie almost more than me, and I figured it was time I learn how to make a simple pie for my man. I don't really want to talk about it, but I will say it turned out looking like someone without opposable thumbs baked that sucker.   While wearing a blindfold.  And drinking a pitcher of mojitos.  In the end, Will—also a pie lover, gave it an 8.5 for taste, and a -2 for looks. 

Tonight's dinner turned out to be popcorn, after a highly anticipated attempt at a PF Chang frozen knock-off entrĂ©e from Supertarget.  Faith and I thought they looked so good at the store this morning.  Unfortunately the orange chicken tasted like a dirty sponge that had been soaking in moldy lemon water.   After two bites I told everyone to throw it out and fire up the old microwave for some butter popcorn.  Please don't judge me.  At least popcorn has roots in being a vegetable. 

 Some days are fails.  Some days are full of thrills.  Just this morning I read this quote by Oswald Chambers in "My Utmost for His Highest". 

"We all have those times when there are no flashes of light and no apparent thrill to life, where we experience nothing but the daily routine with its common everyday tasks.  The routine of life is actually God's way of saving us between our times of great inspiration which come from Him.  Don't always expect God to give you His thrilling moments, but learn to live in those common times of drudgery of life by the power of God."

How perfect and fitting for me to read today.  Just yesterday our church voted unanimously on a new pastor and many of us celebrated all weekend.  There was a Friday night dessert bar, Saturday morning breakfast, followed by a Sunday lunch—and at each event there was something special moving in the midst of our people. The weekend was thrilling because God's hand is visibly active and moving in the lives of our little church.  And then came Monday.  The drudgery of grocery shopping, cooking fails, laundry, and parenting kids who don't want to do anything but sit around all summer.  I was tempted to get down about the day but instead I was reminded to live in my "common time" and let God use me in spite of the fact that I am flawed, unkind, impatient, often unlovely, yet covered completely by the power and grace of God.  I know even on days when I tire of explaining the same thing over and over to my toddler, or feel like a failure in a million other ways, God's grace is still present in my life.  I can choose to let that grace overflow on to my family, or I can ignore it and let my thoughts be captivated by anger, negativity, or simple distractions. 

Tonight I sleep in peace, knowing a new day inevitably brings another set of trials and tests.  I will claim God's promises as I face the challenge to live my routine and walk out the ordinary.  I will thank God for the thrills, for the faces of my children and the health of my loved ones. I will appreciate my husband who doesn't care what the pie looks like, but cares that I tried to make one.  I will close my eyes with a simple prayer of thanks on my lips for the joy of knowing God never lets me walk alone.  Even in the ordinary, He is so good.    

Sunday, May 31, 2015


Hey Peeps—

This morning as I was greeting all the sweet babies at church, I happened to look up and glance into the parking lot.  Something about my car caught my eye.  I guess you could say it was the glassy reflection of saran wrap.  All around my car.  Fully encircling it.  And all the on-lookers standing next to it taking pictures.  I just love a prankster.  (note: sarcasm)

Yesterday was my 43rd birthday, and while I don't mind being middle aged, I do mind the aging process.  I spent about 20 minutes on my birthday morning trying to peel a callus off my 4th toe.  It's in a tricky spot, and sadly I was unsuccessful.  I guess that's what I have to look forward to now:  sagging, skin tags, discolorations, odd growths, dry eyes, and so on.   The other day I had a migraine so bad, the doctor thought I might be having a retinal detachment.  I drove myself to the eye doctor to get checked out, and while he was examining me, I had to excuse myself to go dry heave in the bathroom.  Lucky for me, my kids humble me all the time, so I barely even cared.  When I stumbled out of the bathroom, white as a sheet, one eye dialated so large that I looked like a freak of nature, the doctor told me to go the ER and get some morphine.  I said, "Okay, thanks.  I'll be fine."  

I drove myself home to get ready for Faith's 6th grade graduation.  Who has time to get an IV dose of morphine with four kids?  Am I right?  People!  Try to keep up.

Faith's graduation was a wonderful night!  She was beautiful and touched by all the kind words spoken over her class.  She has been blessed with sweet friends, and Billy and I could not be more proud of who she is becoming. 

The day after summer break was officially underway, I took a quick trip to California with a few other members from our church to check out a potential pastor.  For the past nine months or so I have been on our church Pastor Search Team.  Wow, I know, what were those guys thinking?!?!  (other than they were desperate!)  What a journey it has been, as I have seen a group of people all unsure of our own ability, come together to a place of unity and confidence.  Plus, now I have something to put on my resume besides "I enjoy scrapbooking". 

The trip to California was exciting! Not only did we find a guy we think will be a great pastor for our church, our hotel had a free continental breakfast, one of my most favorite things.  I also had a HUGE plate of fish and chips "from the harbor" right before flying home.  They were so ridiculous and yummy.  Actually in the 40 hours I was in CA, I ate about 17 meals.  I am not proud. 

The highlight of the trip really wasn't the food.  It wasn't even the two quick trips to walk on the beach, although those were amazing.  The best part of our 40 hours in CA was feeling the confirmation that God has brought our tiny little church in Colorado a man and his wife who are as excited about us as we are them.  Truly, it is a mystery when you look at the whole picture.  But often this is how things work in the economy of God.  I'm okay with that.  In fact, I wouldn't want it any other way. 

As if life wasn't exciting enough, a couple days after my whirlwind trip, my 15 year old son Jack had his wisdom teeth out.  Jack did great, and his mouth is healing up nicely, although I did have to buy him a tin of Altoids.  Also, I was really glad we got past the need for gauze after the first day.  I'm not a fan of oral secretions, and it's hard to mask the dry heaves when you have to look at your kid while putting the gauze in his mouth just so. 

Tonight we say goodbye to May and tomorrow morning we welcome June.  All my kids are home for the summer, all too young to work real jobs and help pay for groceries, but don't worry, they will be contributing to the family in other ways.  I love the summer with my kids, and this season brings new excitement and fresh beginnings.  Faith says goodbye to her elementary days as she prepares for middle school.  Jack is beginning to get serious about what he wants to do with his future.  Will and Little Sass remind me daily that I have young kids, and that it's so important I give them everything I can.  Our church is sensing God's Hand of provision, and Billy and I know God's faithfulness is real as we take life on day to day.  We are learning to ask ourselves what really matters, and let go of the concerns that we won't remember a month from now.   Summer brings a season of rest this year.  Time to embrace a slower pace, laughter under a tree, and the gift of knowing God never forgets His children. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Mothering in May is Messy

Whoever thought to put Mother's Day in May was not a Mother.  May is the worst month for busy mother's everywhere and last Sunday came and went so fast I barely remember anything about it.  Except the part where I still did laundry, fed people, had to ask them to wear pants to church…that sort of thing.  I'd like Mother's Day to be in February instead.  I've always got the February blahs by about the 23rd, and I figure that would be a nice time to remind everyone we should take a day to celebrate me.  How do I get the ball rolling on this thing? 

I just got home from Faith's volleyball game.  Tonight was one of those nights where Billy and I had to tag team, divide and conquer, cut and run.  (I'm not sure about the last one, but about 15 minutes from the end, I really wanted to cut AND run)  Every parent near Little Sass and I also wanted to cut and run.  Unfortunately it would have been obvious had they gotten up to move, and thanks to Ms. Manners, they sat out the train wreck.  A few of them even smiled at me on their way out.   And some didn't.  Oh well. 

I should have seen it coming, and hindsight is always 20/20….         

This morning started off at Faith and Will's school for field day.  I swapped work with another nurse so I could go, as it's Faith's final year of elementary school, and I would have been devastated to miss her last big hurrah!  Little Sass and I headed over as the first event was starting, and by 3:15 pm, I witnessed about every field day event ever invented.  We crisscrossed back and forth watching Faith's class and then Will's class.  Both kids loved having Little Sass there and all their friends love seeing her too.  She only stayed for part of the day, thankfully, so I could concentrate on two kids, and not spend my day just chasing one. 

After school Will hit his homework and I ironed a white shirt for his Band concert.   Faith finished up her tasks and got ready for her game.  Right about the time we had to leave for volleyball, Billy and the boys left for the musical extravaganza.  Boys in one car, girls in the other. 

The first two games were great.  Little Sass had sweet Anna to distract her from being bored and past her bedtime.  They giggled, they talked, they texted on a fake phone. I could barely stand the cuteness.  Unfortunately, it all came to an ugly and abrupt end when Anna had to leave early and I was left to parent the 3 year old.  I promised her a second snack, if she could sit for a few more minutes.  I will spare you all the details of the next 15 minutes, but imagine you are in an airplane, sitting in between people who are trying to sleep while there's a Saint Bernard in your lap.   Then the plane crashes into a mountainside.  And blows up into a million pieces, and you feel yourself painfully disintegrate into ash. 

The game was over.  People walked by me, either silently judging me, or smiling…there were a few nice comments like "once she's in bed it will all seem okay again".  I fought the urge to make excuses for her, when the truth is she's a toddler who was tired and hungry and should have been home in bed and not at volleyball. But because it's May, the month we celebrate motherhood by filling our calendar way too full, we had no other options and my baby girl was stretched beyond what she could bear. 

The girls and I walked to the car, Faith glassy-eyed and exhausted from field day, and me humbled by the fact that my 3 year old daughter has the strongest will of any child I have ever known.  I was embarrassed I didn't intervene at the beginning of her meltdown like I should have.  I was angry.  I was disappointed in myself.  As I drove home, trying to stay upbeat, I wondered why God thought it was a good idea to give us a toddler, when we'd been totally out of this phase of life and moving on to a different season with our other 3 kids. 

Before we added our fourth child to the family a year ago, we thought life was hard.  We thought we were busy.  We thought we spent a lot on food. We thought that having a cold was more than just inconvenient.  We quickly learned that having this child was going to test our physical strength, our external relationships, and most of all, challenge us to trust God as we are continually learning to take it one day at a time.   Every day we try to remind each other that we don't need to look to the right or the left.  But only look to God for our validation, for our approval, and for the strength we need to accomplish the great task He has set before us.

By the time we arrived at home, put pj's on, and got a little food in our belly's, everyone started to calm down and realize life was going to be okay again.  By the time I got Little Sass in bed, we had prayed.  We sang Jesus Loves Me.  We hugged.  We both said sorry. I reminded her that no matter what, she is loved by her Mommy. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Batcave

Hey Peeps—

Right now 2 of my 4 children are on Prednisone.  One of them is responding fairly well, with less coughing and congestion.  The other child is not coughing as much, and while that's a benefit, she also seems to be driving the crazy train, backwards, and down a windy mountain pass.   Seriously, we've all learned it's best to not look her directly in the eye, during her 3 day course of meds, and it's always best to answer any of her questions in the form of a song from "Frozen".  If you cannot follow these two simple rules, then you probably better not come to our house for a few days.

Speaking of our house, we have just done a bit of a not so extreme makeover home edition, with the help of our friend named Bob (the builder) and our very own hands.  For a few months, we had debated about moving to a larger home versus finishing our basement.  Both options totally overwhelmed us, financially and emotionally, and after about 8 pro's and con's lists, we finally decided to stay put.  We compromised on the basement and instead of fully finishing it, we had our friend Bob come and put in a wall, a closet, 2 lights and a door.  Billy and I did the rest.  Will at age 10, contributed too, actually a lot except he had to be watched closely whenever he had any kind of tool in his hands.  Or near his hands.  Or in the same room.

Will was all for moving to the basement from the start.  In fact he began the process last summer, and finally got the guts up to sleep down there alone back in February.  Jack, our 15 year old who hates change even more than I do, took a little more coaxing.  We promised him we'd fix the vent so that heat would flow into the room.  (We did).  We promised him that we'd lay nice carpet down so he wasn't walking on concrete. (We did).  We promised him that he could design the layout of the room, along with his brother and we'd stick to it as closely as possible.  (We did).  And we promised him that we'd decorate it in a way that would make him want to be down there hanging out.  (You guessed it.  We did). 

Thanks to the awesomeness of Hobby Lobby, the boys now live in a super hero room.  My mom was in town for the decorating part, and I made her hang all the hard stuff, because sometimes when I am trying to hang things straight I get so tense that I want to punch a hole in the wall.  I worked all day in their room, doing the organizing and followed Jack's design instructions.  The boys came home from school dying to see the finished result.  Meanest mom ever made them do their homework and wait until Billy came home so he could see their faces too.   When they walked in, both boys screamed at their new digs, with big smiles extending from ear to ear. 

That night Billy and the boys moved the rest of their stuff down, and once it was all done, I went to their old room, sat on the floor and cried.   Those four little walls saw Jack grow from 5 years old to 15, and Will from 9 months old to a big 10 year old.  That room is where they held their stuffed animals while falling asleep, played legos for hours on end, and went from being little people dependent on mommy and daddy to boys who know what they are about, and what it means to be a brother.  I went down to say goodnight, in the Batcave, and decided right then and there it was time to start making new memories.  We prayed and thanked God for the great new space, twice the size of their old room.   We thanked God for providing new things to make their room fun, and we asked God to keep them safe all the way downstairs. 

I'm happy to report, 7 days in, and the Batcave is a success. With the exception of one wolf spider incident, the boys love it.  The house is quieter.  Billy and I don't have to lock ourselves upstairs in order to have a conversation about what bulk items we need from Costco.   At bedtime we say goodnight and they don’t come into our room 10 more times to discuss why all their friends have more tech time than they do.  It's their space, and they are making it their own.  The girls know the upstairs is their domain, and we have informed Billy that since he's technically a boy, he should count it a privilege to be up there too. 

Change is tricky.  I've never been a big fan.  Being a mother has helped to refine my fear and taught me that change is part of the game.  I could hide away, worse, hide my kids away, and pretend that they will never be more than five feet from me, but what would that teach them?  They'd never know what they can overcome, if I never let them step out and trying something new.  Although I long to hold tight, I know I have to let them go.  Even if it's just a few floors away.   

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Another first, and more gray hair.

Hey Peeps—

Spring Break 2015!  According to 5 out of 6 Repennings, this spring break was wonderful!  I'm a fan of the "staycation" especially when that's all one can afford.  Besides, why do you need to go far, when we have the beauty of Colorado right outside the front door? 

Faith, Will, Little Sass, and I have spent the bulk of the week thoroughly enjoying our time together…picnic in the park, seeing Cinderella, a visit to Jump City, and hanging with friends.  Of course I'll never forget the day we played Rummikube, laughing our heads off, or sitting on the back deck eating lunch and remembering stories from years gone by.  These are the days  and the memories that matter most. 

While the rest of us were living the dream, 15 year old Jack, was occupied for four full days of Driver's Education.  His Spring Break wasn't very fun, if you factor in having to wake up early to get to a classroom to watch startling videos all day.  I will do you the favor and NOT describe what he saw on screen during his four days of education.  You are welcome.  His class was taught by a former police officer, and he said, "Mom, he yells at us all day long!  And by the way, you are a terrible driver!  You don't drive defensively at all!" I didn't think the last part was necessary to add, but he did and I forgive him for being so critical. 

I do think it's important to mention that Jack spent more money on lunch during his four days of class than I spend in a year on lunch.  He went to Subway, McDonalds, Sonic, Subway again, and then to King Soopers to buy candy to eat through the afternoon session each day.  By the 3rd day, when he asked for cash, I said rather abruptly, "get it from your own stash you entitled little snot".  I wasn't proud about my sharp tongue, but someone had to explain to the boy the importance of stretching a dollar. 

On the final day of class, Jack took his permit test and thankfully he was successful!  Some of the other parents tried to be cool when their kids came out with the test results, but I fear I was not one of them.  I greeted him a little too loudly as he walked out with, "How'd you do?  Did you pass?  Are you okay?  Do we have to pay to take it again?" He tried to fake me out with, "Mom I failed", but I knew he was lying.  His light bright eyes told me everything and I knew before the day was over, Jack was going to be behind the wheel. 

Once we were close to home in the safety of our neighborhood, I pulled over.  I told him it was time to swap seats with me.  Reluctantly he did, and as he slowly and fearfully pulled out onto the street I calmly reminded him he needed to buckle up.  While I guided him through the familiar streets, I had to focus on our safety rather than where my mind really wanted to go.  Instead of remembering the time he rode his bike into the mailbox, or how he fell going too fast on his scooter down the driveway, I had to stay the course and instruct him.  This was no time to think about all the crashes he'd experienced on these roads, the hundreds of times he came home needing bandaids and ointment, hugs and kisses. 

The stakes are so much higher now, and there's no going back to simpler days with our sweet Jack.  One of the hardest parts of accepting this fate, is that he longs for the past even more than we do.  Some kids can't wait to grow up, but not Jack.  At 15, he is mature and sweet, however, he retains the innocence of a boy who is content to sit down with a new Lego set for hours while his friends are meeting up at the mall.   His idea of the best night ever is watching a movie with his family and a never-ending bowl of popcorn in his lap. 

Just like all the corny songs say, as much as you might want, you can't turn back time.  They're right, dangit.  We are choosing to embrace the day, even though sometimes the fear rattles my bones.  Just this morning, Billy and Jack left the house before 6:30 a.m. to head to the DMV to beat the crowds and get his official permit.   All the while they waited, they froze their butts off, and did the weird dad/son thing they do when I'm not around.  They were in and out, back home before 9, to face the day just like the rest of the world.  Jack drove again, and this time he remembered to buckle up.  He wasn't as timid as the day before.  And as he grows in confidence, my heart grows with delight.   Tonight I will go into his room to say goodnight.  We will pray as we have done for the past 15 years.   I will pray for safety of all my children and loved ones.  I will thank God for His faithfulness.  And I will ask God to hold us all tightly, as we are all learning to let go.