It's Norman's birthday.

Okay, so we don't know exactly when the poor guy was born.  Or where he was born for that matter.  I mean, we don't even know what kind of dog he is.  All we know is that he was abandoned in a shelter in south central L.A. and one year ago he came home to live with us.

The Monkey wants to know how we are going to celebrate.  There's a pet store here in town where you can actually have birthday parties for your pets.  The scary thing is that for a split second I actually considered it.

But then I remembered that I'm not a crazy person.  Sure, I have a travel coffee mug that says, "Happy Rescue Dog Owner" and a T-shirt that says, "My Dog Makes Me Happy", but I'm not that crazy.

Those of you who know me can stop laughing now.

Eating the fruit of our labor.

::  fruit stand in Pike Place Market, Seattle ::

You know when someone asks you what you've been up to and you respond with total exasperation about how busy it's been, how crazy?  And then you start to listen to what you're actually saying and realize what you sound like because the things that you have been crazy with are wonderful and fun and total blessings?

Yeah...that's going to be me here in a few seconds.

July has been crazy.  I've been totally busy.  I'm tired and worn out.  Vacationing is hard work.

I realized how obnoxious all of my Facebook "check in's" have been lately:

  • Coronado Island
  • the Mission at San Juan Capistrano
  • the art festival in Laguna Beach
  • a boutique hotel in Manhattan Beach
  • a guest house on the Puget Sound
  • Pike Place Market in Seattle
  • just to name a few,
  • and that has all been in the last 3 weeks.

Yes, obnoxious indeed.  Obnoxious how many vacations--big and little--that we have been on this month.  This list is embarrassing.  Typing that list is embarrassing.  I've been embarrassed about how blessed we've been to be able to do all of this.  I've actually felt...guilty.

But then I found Psalm 128: 1-4

Blessed are all who fear the Lord;
who walk in his ways.
You will eat the fruit of your labor;
blessing and prosperity will be yours.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your sons will be like olive shoots 
around your table.
Thus is the man blessed
who fears the Lord.

This verse (like many) smacked me in the face.  Perhaps, if you know our story, this verse will make sense to you.  If you don't know our story, in a nutshell the Golfer and I stepped out in faith (when everyone else thought we were crazy) to follow God's will for our lives.  It wasn't easy.  It wasn't fun.  It was a huge financial and, at times, an emotional struggle.

But we stayed true to what we knew we were supposed to be doing.  And the Lord has blessed us.  Being able to travel and experience and expose our kids to so much is a reward!  A reward from God isn't obnoxious and it certainly isn't something to be embarrassed about.  The Golfer works hard, very hard.  And I work hard putting up with his working hard.  So I have nothing to feel guilty about.

We've just been "eating (a lot of) the fruit of our labor."

Weekly Column: Beauty Sleep.

©2008, Stephenie Freeman

I spent most of last night convincing my son that our house wasn’t going to burn down, that there was no need to be scared, and that if any monsters showed up or bed bugs started biting that I was just down the hallway.  Not surprisingly, this conversation happened at bedtime in between another drink of water and just one more hug.

They say what goes around comes around.  When I was a kid, I was the queen of bedtime postponement.  I knew all of the tricks, the best ways to delay the inevitable, and none of them ever worked. 

The same thing would happen every night.  For years my day would end with my mom sitting on the edge of my bed reading me a book.  She would turn off the light, kiss me goodnight, and tell me she loved me as she quickly headed for the door. 

Just about the time she thought she was in the clear I would ask her, “Mom?  Um…what are we doing tomorrow?”

Her typically quick answer was always followed by, “Now go to sleep…” and in her best Scarlet O’Hara impression,”…tomorrow is another day.”

My mom might have been a huge Gone with the Wind fan, but I had no idea what she was talking about.  Of course tomorrow was another day, and I didn’t want to go to sleep until I had a detailed play-by-play of the day’s events that took at least a good hour and a half to explain.

I had good reason to delay bedtime.  The witch from Sleeping Beauty was lurking behind my bedroom door, and according to my dad our house had been built on top of an ancient Indian burial ground.  Once my mom left the room, all I had left to defend myself was a few dozen stuffed animals and a scrawny little Sheltie named Chevis sleeping underneath my bed.

I’m lucky to still be alive.

I vaguely remember a period of time when I made my mother’s nightlife miserable.  I would cry and whine every single night about how I needed—had to—sleep in her room.  No matter what I said or how desperate I seemed, there was nothing I could do to convince her otherwise.

Back then, I couldn’t understand why she didn’t want me sleeping right next to her all night long.  I was her child, the person that her days revolved around.  Why wouldn’t want me snuggling up next to her and invading her space all night too?

And now that I have children of my own, I finally understand the parental need to sleep alone and feel compelled to apologize to my mom repeatedly.

My nighttime routine is still much the same as it has always been; only now I’m on the receiving end of the delay tactics.  Books are read, nightlights and CD players turned on, and final trips to the bathroom are made.  The difference is that my boys will usually fall fast asleep after a little coaxing and extra hugs.  Then around 4 A.M., when I’m dreaming of spa days with a masseuse named Buck and childfree vacations in Tahiti, a little voice will creep over the edge of my bed.

“Mama, I wanna seep wif you.”          

I’m not a fan of the family bed for lots of reasons, but mostly because my children are impossible to sleep with.  I have one child who likes to try new yoga positions in his sleep, most of which involve a warrior pose right into the in the middle of my back, and another child who talks just as much in his sleep as he does during the day.  My children might claim to sleep better when they’re in my bed, but when they’re in my bed they are the only ones doing any sleeping.

It makes me feel guilty shoving my children out into the hallway and back into their own rooms in the middle of the night, but it has to be done.  My children claim not to understand.  They cry all the way back to their own bed, escalating my parental guilt to a whole new level, but I know that I am a better mother for it.   

If not a better mother, at least a well rested one.

We are 4th of July kind of people.

we celebrated the 4th in our favorite way--on coronado island doing all of our favorite things.

we biked around the island...

we met Patrick Mc P, the official canine mayor of coronado...

we enjoyed our favorite parade...

which included little clowns...

and the cast of The Music Man (one of my favorite musicals)...

and even some Star Wars characters (the boys absolute favorite)...

we spent quality time with Grandmoms and Pop...

we drew circles with our names in them for the parade horses to poop in...

we enjoyed snow cones at Concert in the Park...

and ate lots and lots of ice cream...

we shopped at our favorite stores...

and bought new books from our favorite Indy book store, Bay Books...

and ate at our favorite restaurants...

but best of all, we celebrated our favorite holiday together as a family.

California Anniversary.

Today is what I call our california anniversary.  Five years ago today, we moved west.  It's been a blessed five years and as much as we missed our family and friends, we couldn't be happier.

So much has happened in those five years.  More than we could have ever guessed or requested in our wildest dreams.  God has been so good to us here.  California is now home.

However, the way it all started you would have never had guessed that things would have turned out so good:  
  1. We hated our first apartment.
  2. We hated that we had moved from a darling house into an apartment.
  3. Half of our stuff was jam packed into a storage unit in Oklahoma.
  4. The first night after we crawled into bed I cried, "I don't even know how to get to Target!"
  5. The trailer, used to move my car across country, was stolen off of the moving truck.
  6. The moving truck was spray painted with graffiti.  I think they were gang symbols that said, "Welcome to California!"
  7. The first friend I made died 3 months after meeting her of sudden liver failure.  It might have been the white wine that she offered me that she bought at the dollar store (may she rest in peace.)
  8. We had no money.  Apparently the cost of living in California really is higher.
  9. I missed Game Day in Norman so much it hurt.
  10. Watching OU football on T.V. was the one thing that made me cry.
  11. The Golfer was constantly gone.
  12. It never, ever rained.  And when it did rain, it didn't really...rain.
The bright spots of that first year?  Disneyland, the beach, In-n-Out, and...that's about it.

But then things changed.  They got better.  We settled in.  We moved to a better apartment.  I met more friends that didn't have a hidden terminal illness.  The Golfer was hired as the head coach, etc., etc., etc.  And five years later the crazy thing is, I can't image us living anywhere else.