Beautifully Imperfect

I have a favorite photo of me and the kids. I remember the day it was taken. It was quickly snapped by a friend, not the result of a professional photoshoot.

Look at those sweet faces! ❤

Everyone is looking in different directions. We are tired and messy. And yet, it remains my top pick.

The picture always surfaces this time of year. When I saw it this morning, I began to think about what it represents-an honest reflection of one day in the life of a young, stay-at-home mom.

That particular day was far from perfect. I remember having a migraine earlier that afternoon. The medicine I took made me sleepy. I also remember my husband, Gart, was not be able to attend the fall festival with us. He had a graduate school class that night. That meant I had three kids to get ready for the evening festivities by myself.

With the help of some friends, we made it to the party. Everyone had a costume. Robert was Superman, Rachel-Tigger, and Ryan-a baby bumblebee. The kids had fun playing games, spending time with friends, and collecting candy. If you look closely, you can see their candy buckets hanging on the handles of Ryan’s stroller.

My friend took the picture at the end of the evening. I remember collapsing onto the floor. The kids just naturally settling in my lap. Three tired kids and one tired mom. Yet in the picture, I am still smiling.

After considering the story surrounding my favorite photo, I am left with this truth: A perfect picture has more to do with the memories it evokes than with the image itself.

Our picture is beautifully imperfect. It reminds me of a busy and challenging time in my life. A time I would not trade for all the perfect pictures in the world.

Younger Me

If only I could talk to
The younger me
So many things
I would say-

Slow down
Don’t be in a hurry
To grow up
Time flies exponentially

Hours at the piano
Will serve you well
Easing your mind
When times get tough

Some guys
Are not worth
The heartache
Be patient ❤

You will have scars
On the inside
No one can see
Unless you share

It is important to
Honestly express
Your thoughts and feelings
Out loud or on paper

Mistakes don’t define you
But admitting them
May allow you
To help others

All of your decisions
Good and bad
Play a role
In who you will become

-Perhaps those words
Would help her to know
The future is bright
And she will be ok

Magic Carpets

What do the words “magic carpet” bring to mind? I used to picture Jasmine and Aladdin on their romantic carpet ride in the Disney animated movie. That is until a friend introduced me to a new picture.

I was walking through the grocery store the other day. Beautiful fall decorations and pumpkins were everywhere. As I turned down one aisle, I noticed the display of fall-themed vinyl tablecloths.

The variety of harvest-scene table coverings was hanging on a clip display. I was tempted to buy one, but not for the reasons you might think.

When our kids were young, we lived in Guthrie, OK. Our family spent a lot of time with several other young families. Between the three to four couples who visited regularly, we had eleven children.

We often had Sunday evening dinners together. None of us had a big house. Certainly not one where eight adults and eleven children could sit at tables and eat. But our friends, Paul and Traci, were always willing to host.

One of the very first times we had dinner together, my friend Traci mentioned “getting out the magic carpet.” I had no idea what she was talking about! Well, at their house magic carpets were vinyl tablecloths. And she had an entire collection.

Young moms… ❤

When it was time to eat, we would spread these colorful tablecloths on the living room floor. All of the kids would take a seat and eat their dinner, usually pizza. The cleanup was easy!

The adults would sit or stand around the dining table to eat, laugh, and talk. The kids would sit in the living room on their magic carpets, watching Veggie Tales. Yes, it was crowded. Yes, it was noisy! But those things didn’t matter.

Those times together with friends were special. They created lasting memories for all of our families, both adults and children.

We all live in different cities now. Our kids are all grown up. We don’t see each other as often as we’d like. On those special occasions we get to visit, we always reminisce back to those days. They were days of laughter, love, and magic carpets.

Maybe next time I’m at the store I’ll have to buy one. I’ll just put it away and save it for later. Who knows when a magic carpet might come in handy? 😉

Just Like a Kid Again

Over thirty years have passed since I moved from my childhood home west of Little Rock, Arkansas. I always enjoy trips back to visit. And I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon which often occurs on these visits. It lasts only a few seconds, yet reflects a lifetime.

Time at home typically includes seeing my parents, my brother and his family, aunts, uncles, and sometimes cousins. Time for catching up is a necessity. How are the kids? Gart? Your new job? Who’s getting married? Having a baby?

Our conversations flow freely from current life events and challenges to past memories. Laughter fills the air as we reminisce about things that happened years ago. Remembering those times is refreshing, solidifying, even more, the importance of family in my life.

And then it happens. For a few brief moments, I’m a little girl again. Skipping across the yard to visit my grandparents, aunts, uncle, cousins. My parents, aunts, and uncles are suddenly young adults once more. No gray hair, no aches or pains.

Just as quickly, reality snaps me back. I am no longer that little girl. They are no longer those young adults. Now, I am also a grownup, walking beside them. I may no longer be skipping, but my heart is smiling.

These moments leave me grateful. Moments in which the memories of childhood wash over me. Sweet moments in which I feel just like a kid again. ❤

Chanel No. 5

I don’t wear a lot of perfume. I’ve had a couple of favorites as an adult, but allergy sensitivities often keep me from enjoying them. Currently, I own one bottle of Chanel No. 5.

I’m not sure how long I’ve had this particular bottle. During our recent unpacking, it caught my eye. I could not remember the last time it was open. The design is so classic and pretty, I decided to leave it out.

One morning last week while getting ready for school, that bottle of Chanel caught my eye again. This time, I opened it and placed a small drop on my finger, then dabbed it on my neck and wrists. “It might be nice to wear a little perfume again,” I thought.

As the familiar scent filled the air, a flood of memories filled my mind.

When I was a little girl, visits to my Aunt Martha and Uncle James’s house were a treat. They, along with their children-Jim, Angela, and Brad-moved several times. I remember trips to Fayetteville, Memphis, and Louisiana. Typically, it was a week-long visit during summer vacation.

Some memories are as clear as a photograph. Dressing my cousin, Angela, up in her Raggedy Ann doll clothes. Riding the bus with my cousin, Jimmy, from Little Rock to Memphis and spilling an entire big bag of M&Ms. Kick boxing with Uncle James. Rolling a piano from room to room so I could play while Martha and James painted their house.

So, why did this sweet smell cause such reminiscing? Because Aunt Martha always had a bottle of Chanel No. 5. And when I visited, she would let me wear some of her perfume. Just a tiny drop on my finger, then dabbed on my neck and wrists. Such a treat for a little girl.

I continue to be amazed by the beautiful complexity of the heart and mind. The simple scent of perfume has the power to transport me back in time. It leads me to precious childhood memories. And it reminds me that the love I experienced then has only grown over the years.

I still live far away from Aunt Martha and Uncle James. I look forward to our visits, no matter how far apart. And I am thankful for time spent with them as a child.

Who would have thought a bottle of Chanel No. 5 could make such an impression on one little girl? 😉

Tree Memories

I have always loved trees. Not only are they beautiful, but they also provide refreshing shade. Though all are important in their way, some stand out above the rest.

Several specific trees from my childhood come to mind. A large tree near my grandma’s house had a basketball goal attached. I spent hours under its shade shooting hoops with my cousins. It provided family fun and a sense of security.

A lovely mimosa tree graced my parents’ front yard. With pink, feathery flowers, it made the perfect picture backdrop. I can see me now, standing nearby in my Easter dress holding my little woven basket.

We closed on the sale of our house today. This afternoon, I had one last visit with one very special tree. This tree watched over our backyard for the past sixteen years.

Our family took advantage of this picture-perfect spot many times. Easter, Mother’s Day, proms, graduations. Even those ”just for the fun of it” pics with the kids sitting up on the branches.

Today, I snapped one last picture. But this time, the tree was my only subject. Standing tall and proud, the sun shone through its branches. Inside my head, I whispered, ”Thank you.” As the wind rustled its leaves, I imagined a whisper back, “You’re welcome.”

An Old Toy Box

Today was moving day. My family expected me to be crying at some point. It wouldn’t be unusual. Even my oldest son, Robert, called to check on me this morning.

While I drove to the new house with Rachel and Ryan to unload cars, Gart stayed back with the movers. Soon he sent a text, a picture of the empty house. I felt a little sad, but no tears.

Once everything was unloaded at the new house, we made one more trip back to the old house. Now I was standing in the middle of the emptiness. Rachel commented, ”It hasn’t looked like this since we moved in.” That was 16 years ago. The kids were 8, 6, and 3.

I remember them running around inside the house. I remember worrying about Ryan falling down the stairs. I think about how proud I am of the young adults they’ve become. Still, there were no tears.

We backed out of the driveway. Gart and Ryan in the truck, Rachel and I following in my car. Something caught my eye-the old toy box my dad built when Robert was a kid. It’s a little bench seat with a lid which lifts for storage.

This wooden box has been through many moves, sat in many rooms, and served many purposes. Today, it caused my tears. ”Of all things,” I thought to myself, ”Robert’s old toy box.”

I suppose it makes sense. We are preparing for that empty nest. This move represents a culmination of changes for our family. The kids are all grown up. They don’t need that space to run and play anymore. They are too big to sit on that seat or play with the toys it once held. And that is a good thing.

I love our new house. I look forward to making memories here with our grown-up children. Maybe one day, there will be other little ones sitting on that seat. No hurry. The memories we carry will soon fill the empty spaces while leaving room for new ones.

This house will soon feel like home because of the people who live here and the people who will visit. In the meantime, I will look back with fondness and forward with hope. And maybe I will find a special spot for that old toy box. 😉