Friday, November 10, 2017

Chargers and Locks

My countdown app reads 1 day, 21 hours, 21 minutes and 51 seconds. OK, now 44 seconds.

I'm going to Paris for my birthday.

The trip is almost here.

While I've started to overthink things (Qtips? Umbrellas? Scarves for the plane? Luggage tags for carry-ons?), I'm trying to take deep breaths, pause and sit in this moment.

I'm going to Paris for my birthday.

The preparation for this trip began in February when I purchased the airline tickets. A tremendous amount of fourth parts has been dedicated to organizing and figuring out this trip. Even while watching Housewives (Dallas has been so so good), I've been looking through Pinterest for Paris spots, reading travel blogs for great restaurants and figuring out the budget for the trip.

The preparation picked up around the summer when I started thinking about the itinerary. It came into full-blown, 'why do I have to go to work because I need to buy Eiffel Tower tickets and figure out the train schedule to Epernay and do I buy a Paris Visite pass for the Metro now or wait and when will provide a 10-day outlook?' planning about a month ago.

I made dinner reservations for some of our meals through La Fourchette within the last month. I bought the girls boots a couple of weeks ago. I have travel-size versions of shampoo, conditioner, lotion and plenty of little Wisp toothbrushes for the airplane. I bought Euros this week. I ordered WineSkins and a lock from Amazon in plenty of time to not have to rely on Prime.

The lock bridge doesn't exist anymore in Paris because over the years, the locks became too heavy for the railing. Instead, there are places around the Seine where you can place a lock and toss the key into the river. The girls and I bought a heart lock. We wrote our names and the date of my birthday on it and will lock it into place somewhere in Paris.

I'm going to Paris for my birthday.

Today, I was able to work from home. I had several calls and some reading to catch up on, plus I was able to get my hair colored, cut and styled. Caroline and I did our nails this evening (Camille is up tomorrow). I also got to wear my new sneakers one more day before the trip so I can really break them in for all the walking we will do.

I also did the dry run of packing. We are checking two suitcases -- one with our clothes, the other with coats, scarves, shoes and toiletries. The girls are taking three pairs of shoes each and I'm bringing four pair. Yeah, that's it. We have one carry-on that is loaded with snacks, chargers and probably some American Girls and Barbies. The girls will each carry on a backpack and I'll be toting my new Longchamp expanding bag (so, so happy with it!).

I'm going to Paris for my birthday.

Packing cubes are a God send. I purchased a set and borrowed a set (thanks, Allison . . . I'm going to miss one of my original travel partners . . .) and all of the girls clothes and mine, rolled right up into those cubes. Amazing. Invest in these. I'm a fan. Some of you may get these as gifts. Without these cubes, we could not have fit all our clothes. Eight days of cold-weather clothing for three people takes up some room.

We have a washer and dryer at our apartment so we can do laundry if needed. I'm bringing a foldable, collapsible duffel bag which will hold either souvenirs or dirty clothes on the trip back. So, I may not do laundry. I might have to shop for clothes. Or socks. (Do I have the right socks? Stop overthinking!)

This past week, I looked back into one of my pocket-sized journals. I write Christmas gift lists, vacation days and websites I want to visit in it. I also list out things to accomplish during the year. There are Bible verses and quotes from books. I think these journals are telling of my life. I have more journals than I can count. I have varying sizes, some hardback, some paper bound. Over the years, I can see my journey from child to teen to college student to reporter to married to mother. It's a interesting story.

I'll be sad that G and Chris won't be with me on my birthday. I know I will miss them so much on this trip. We will be Facetiming and texting and I'll be sending photos. (Make sure to set up the international data roaming. And, call the credit card companies. Overthinking.)

We are bringing four portable chargers for our three phones and the single iPad. I've started the charging journey tonight. I have no idea the lifespan of these chargers nor do I really know when they are charged -- green light means charged? What about the blinking white light? Thinking red light or no light means zero charge. One of the reasons I began the charging was to figure out what cords went where and how they fit in the charger and then the device.

Figuring out chargers and carrying luggage are the things G usually takes care of when we go on a family trip. I make the restaurant reservations, create the itinerary and check in for flights. I know the details, but G takes care of the big picture items. Luggage, chargers, how to work the television and getting us all seated together on trains, subways, buses and at restaurants where we don't have a reservation.

I'm going to Paris for my birthday.

My husband and son won't be with me. My girls will be. And, my sisters and two dear lifelong friends. I imagine we will figure out the chargers. I can handle the luggage. We probably won't have time to watch much television. . . evenings at the apartment will be for recapping the day and drinking wine.

I'm going to miss G and Chris. I'll miss my travel buddies and other friends who just couldn't make it.

Maybe that lock will be for more than just the girls and I. I think putting that lock on a bridge in Paris and throwing the key in the river indicating lasting, forever love represents G and Chris, too. It stands for all my family and my friends. That heart lock is a tangible reflection of who I am today and will be on November 15, 2017.

I'm who I am because of my family, my friends, G, Chris, Camille and Caroline. I've lived an incredible 49 and 360-something days.

I didn't accomplish all the items on my Before 50 bucket list I found in one of my journals. I didn't go to Africa or Russia and Lithuania. I didn't run for political office. I haven't published a book.

I have been blessed with a husband who loves me and likes me, a son who is growing up to be a solid man, two daughters who completed my family and who are so precious to us. I have parents and sisters who are rock solid in their love for me and have stood by me through some shaky times. I have dear, dear friends, who I've known most of my life and some who have just come into the picture within the last few years, that make me laugh, cry, share my story, help me navigate life.

My phone will be fully charged, along with my heart. The lock will be placed on a bridge somewhere on the Seine in the heart of Paris -- a lasting, forever love for all of you.

I'm going to Paris for my birthday with all of you.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Bracelets and Hulu

When I was a newspaper reporter on my beat (for my two friends), I ripped my left ear lobe. Maybe because I wore gold hoops a la Belinda Carlisle whenever I could or maybe because I was always on the phone getting a scoop (again, friends who know who they are). The moment the hole ripped through my left lobe was uneventful in that there was no blood or pain. It just tore down. I actually had not worn earrings in a few weeks because I knew the tear was forthcoming. So, it ripped. I had dinner that evening at the Elite Cafe with my friend Robin. He is a huge guy. Former Baylor defensive lineman. He screamed when I showed him. I received some satisfaction in making that massive football player squirm.

Then, I said, bring us more rolls. Remember those? How many could we eat and did eat? Bread, gluten, carbs, who cared? We needed those rolls. And, the butter on the rolls. Did Joanna and Chip get that recipe? Will those rolls appear at the new Elite Cafe which won't be named the Elite Cafe?

Since those days, I've cut down on pre-entree bread and butter and experimented with clip-on earrings. Oftentimes, too clunky and heavy. At other times, not cute. I've lost many because the clip loosens and well, they just fall off. 

I gave up on the earrings a year or so ago. I didn't want to mess with them anymore. One day in my future, I will fix my ear. Until that happens, I choose to stack on the bracelets. 

I buy bracelets as souvenirs from trips and vacations. I own green bracelets for Baylor games. (By the way I'm watching us lose our sixth game of the season. This is so hard. I hate losing. I hate not winning a game. I hate that we only scored one touchdown in this game. I hate this season. If only my bracelets were like Wonder Woman's magic cuffs to block passes and knock tacklers out of the way.) I have some bracelets that belonged to my grandmother and my great-grandmother. I also have a copper bracelet from my granddad.

Stacks of bracelets.

For Lee games, I wear a silver bangle that belonged to my great-grandmother, a red suede bracelet  with a sturdy sterling closure and some little trinket of a bracelet that is red rope with a silver cross. No earrings, but I've some cute bracelets.

My charm bracelet is another treasure. It's full of James Avery charms. Some came off dangle rings I had as a pre-teen. Others have been gifts through the years from G, Chris and friends.

I passed the love of bracelets and the need for a James Avery charm bracelet to my girls. Their charm bracelets are as distinct as they are and each charm represents something special about them. They also have a jewelry box full of bracelets -- some from vacations, some as gifts. We also have quite a few of those little rubber bracelets. I try to toss those out from time to time, but they seem to find them in the trash and put them back in their jewelry boxes.

This month is a busy travel month for work. The beginning of the fourth quarter marks a time where the people I coach are wrapping up the year and simultaneously, planning for the upcoming year. The conversations are long and intense. I hear frustration and hope wrapped up together in their comments. I sense a weariness along with the success achieved. They have a responsibility of helping their team members improve skills and achieve goals. They feel the accountability. When I sit across from them either at a conference table or a chair in front of their office desk, I see the stacks of reports and paper work. I notice the handwritten notes and completed forms.

Stacks of work.

When I get a bit tired of the travel and the quick Starbucks protein pack meal grabs between coaching sessions, I fiddle with a bracelet I wear for travel. It's a hook bracelet with two charms. G gave it to me when Chris was born. There is a little shoe charm that represents Chris. When the girls were born, G gave me a charm that is two little girls holding hands. 

I wear it on every work trip. I wear it a lot. The night before a work trip, I lay out my jewelry and clothes. That bracelet is always on the dresser ready to pop on before I head out the door to greet my Uber driver. 

There have been times when the bracelet has come unhooked and it is barely hanging on my wrist. I have left it in a bin at the airport and had to run back to TSA to get it before I boarded my flight. A few times, the charms have fallen off and I retrace my steps to find them. Most recently when that happened, the charms were found in a conference room and 'flown' back to me. Wearing the bracelet is a ritual. I believe I can't travel without it. It's almost a superstitious-type thing where I must have it in order to safely arrive at my destination and then make it back home.

I know that a bracelet doesn't guarantee my safety. It does provide a level of comfort and brings me a sense of peace. 

Planning an outfit around a bracelet or pairing bracelets with a selected outfit feels a bit absurd, when with perspective, the clothes and jewelry I wear do not matter. My intellect, my empathy, my listening and my interest in the people I coach are what matter. My care, my patience, my support and my love I show toward my family are what matter.

At this season of life, I seem to be thinking about my time with my family and friends more and more. I'm prioritizing them over after-work events and volunteer time. I'm trying to find ways to be with family and friends more often. Now, there are so many hours in the day and my fourth parts are typically reserved for my selfish time. But, I do find time in those fourth parts that revolve around family and friends.

I wish I had stacks of time for friends and family.

I wonder if my friends would like to come over for laundry, HEB pick up or clean the shower day? I wonder if they would like to ride with me to pick up Camille from gymnastics on the nights G has games? I wonder if they would like to help figure out the easiest, quickest tic tac toe homework square and then cajole my children to finish it up before the week starts (isn't that what the weekend is for -- getting the homework squares done so we don't have to do them during the week)?

I wonder if they would like to do a 20-minute Ole Henriksen peel, drink a glass of wine and watch The Mindy Project on Hulu. Yeah, I bet they would.

This is a not so much travel week, but it is preparation for a big event that someone doesn't want anyone knowing but the name rhymes with nervous and has to do with a birthday age that is divisible by 5 and 10.

So, if my fourth part planning works out according to my wants and desires, I'll have an evening event with a girlfriend while we finalize my girls' Halloween costumes and talk about how not to have a Sunday event for someone who doesn't really want it even though I will invite people over and we may have strawberry cake.

Stacks of wishes for the one who is never nervous.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Re-Fi and Flu Shots

In about 33 days, 20 hours and 40-something minutes, I'll be on a 'happy birthday to me' vacation with my girls, my sisters and some life-long friends.

I've a long list of to-dos and am pretty proud of myself for divvying out the items over evenings, lunch breaks and weekend errand runs. Most of the time I would not consider errands and online shopping fourth part of the day activities -- it's the new fall season of television and NJ Housewives are back -- but because I'm planning my tres bien trip, I'm loving my after third part goings ons.

I recently ordered packing cubes and found that Allison will loan me her adapter (we need electronics up and running at all times). The girls have their airplane wraps and we have identified what dolls and stuffed animals are making the trip. I have ordered a few things for me and put them aside -- can't wait to use my Longchamp le pliage bag. I found four charger cord leather fold-over organizers.

I continue to wonder if I should order a pair of black short booties, return the overpriced Superga sneakers I bought at a local shoe boutique (I mean, Nordstrom and Poshmark have them for much cheaper but I don't know if this spot takes returns -- I don't want a store credit so I might send G. He's good at the return) and hunt for the perfect white t-shirt. (See earlier post on that search.)

I've planned three days of the trip and have outlined some other things to do when everyone arrives the day of my birthday. I found an app that takes Paris restaurant reservations -- La Fourchette. And, I've mapped out visits to the museums the girls and I will visit.

This week, I need to call to make a reservation at the restaurant that will be the site of the big birthday dinner -- brush up on my French. OK, I'll write what I want to say and, then, translate in an app. I want to finalize our airplane seats this week. And, I'm wanting to purchase some clear, zippered envelope-sized bags for the girls for their electronics, cords and other need to have items to put in their carry-on backpacks. I think I also need to find make-off remover and face cleanser wipes -- much easier than face wash.

I will schedule my next few nail and wax appointments in preparation for take off. I've already set the hair cut and color schedule. (Oh, that reminds me, I'll need to schedule hair cuts and braids for the girls!)

Eventually, I will get a few Euros to take and make my official packing lists. (Do I bring my tall boots? They are super comfortable but they are so heavy and I really don't want to wear them on the plane.)

Wait. I've other things to do. Life does not stop when you are planning a trip.

I've got Baylor football -- Homecoming hotel reservations, yes. Finding a friend to have lunch with before tailgating, still searching.

I've got Lee football -- red shirts, a few. Snacks to pack, weekly decision. Cash for the concession stand, on-the-way-to-the-game stop.

We've got school and homework and gymnastics. One meet to go this fall in Houston, which requires planning but we don't know the time of the meet, yet.

I've got the laundry, work outs, grocery shopping and basic housekeeping (Clorox wipes every few days counts, right?).

Then, we've the other fall things to do. Pumpkin patch visit, Halloween costume decisions and shopping and Gervais' birthday (he turns the big number, too and wants absolutely nothing for his birthday. Really, I'm going to Paris and he wants nothing. Ugh. Someone, help!)

A couple of other items on the get down in the fall checklist -- flu shots, FAFSA and re-financing. All include the letter f. Hmmm.

Flu shots, done. Got those scheduled on our October holiday. The girls did not cry so G is giving them $5 each. Let's see if they save that for a few Euros.

FAFSA, finished today. Remember when that thing was done in January or February? Now, it opens up in October. And, boy, you better rush to that site and get your numbers submitted so you can find out you get little money. Thankfully, I found the file with the passwords, user IDs and even the file with the Turbo Tax log-in info. It only took a few minutes to see that I can contribute massive amounts of money to Chris' education. Nah, I prefer spending that money on a birthday trip to a foreign country.

Re-financing our mortgage because interest rates are super low and we can get a shorter mortgage term which means in the end we save money, paper work completed today. Just a few pieces of paper to sign and then fax over.

Accomplished quite a bit on this holiday.

Yet, I can't really feel too proud of myself. You know what happens when you sit back and think, I'm good -- something happens that proves you are far from good. Ahhh, humility.

We're told in I Peter 5:5 to clothe ourselves in humility because 'God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.' The references to pride and humility are prominently scattered throughout the Bible. Hmm, maybe God knew we would struggle with that? How do you feel good about accomplishments without being sinfully proud? Well, you probably don't write a blog post about all you've done in a day. Or maybe you just step back and remain not-self centered in accomplishments and recognize how the work got done.

I don't get much done on my 'own.' You see, I'm super dependent on others and quite resourceful. I rely on strength that comes from some place other than myself. I pray to God to help with my comings and goings and ask that He direct my path.

(Sing the Amy Grant song with me 'thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.' Really, I could sing the entire song, right now. Oh, and I did record the Remember the Music special on TBN about Amy Grant and she sang 'Thy Word.' Which, I belted out back in the day at Mac Park Lutheran on Sunday mornings in front of the entire church. Side note, when I tried to harmonize, the woman playing the piano would stop and say 'what is that' as if she heard some strange un-harmonic sound. I would look around as if she wasn't speaking to me.)

When you read I Peter 5:5 and you move on to the seventh verse of that chapter, the following verse presents. 'Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.'

Anxiety. Yes, Xanax helps, but really casting it on God is the ultimate solution. When you are planning your days, weeks, weekends, fall and vacation, there are times when anxiety seeps into your being and suddenly, it begins to take over.

Go back to verse six because that is how God provides for the anxious thoughts. 'Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.'

Nice. He helps just at the right time. Perfect timing. No need for anxiety. No need for over planning. No need for trying to be proud of myself.

If you know Amy's Thy Word, you also know she has a few words in the verses around 'nothing will I fear, as long as you are near' and 'Jesus by my guide and hold me to your side.' So, see. I can be super pleased with the progress I've made on my trip and fall plans.

(Did I just write 'trip and fall' . . .uh oh, humility lining right up.)

But, I need to give credit where credit is due. And, it isn't because I've done much more than a lot of internet research. It's because I've got this God on my side who knows the plans for me (which means making it to 50 and a trip to Paris, please, please, please) and keeps me humble through my need for Him when I'm making plans.

Now, if I can just remember when I'm getting my flu shot. Next week? Before we go to Waco? After I've figured out the right jacket to take on my trip?

Casting, casting, casting it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Taco Meat and Leggings with Ruffles

Two quarts of taco meat.

Two trays of baked ziti.

Two loaf pans of chicken spaghetti.

One plate of brownies.

Hi, I'm Jill. I'm a Southern Baptist woman. I make and take food to show love.

Only a few more days until I get to deliver the food to someone I love . . . Chris. It's been six weeks since we've seen his face in person. That is the longest time I've not seen him. Yes, we have Facetime and yes, we text and share pictures. But, hugging him in person and watching him eat a home-cooked and transported meal is what I will be doing this weekend.

A six-hour drive with a loaded ice chest and bags full of favorite things -- chewy Chips Ahoy and fruit snacks to name a few -- plus some other goodies -- pictures of his sisters and some nifty Texas Tech coasters is what is on tap this weekend. It's parent's weekend. There are plenty of events, meals and t-shirts to be had up in Lubbock. There is even a game. I think we'll be just together. OK, I'll be going to Wal Mart, washing sheets and towels, cooking for a tailgate and watching the girls swim at their Bubba's resort. I don't think I'll be at a parent's weekend event with a name tag talking to strangers about my son's year so far and his plans for the summer. I don't think I'll pay $30 for the t-shirt and casino night combo. And, I am not certain we will be buying tickets to the game. (Why on earth would I cheer for another Big 12 school?)

I am 100 percent sure I will be happy just being with Chris. Watching him with his sisters and hearing his stories about school will keep me entertained as much as any football game.

Not really. I mean, did you watch my Bears almost beat Oklahoma Saturday. We were there. Details that we left after halftime, but I was the driver and the highway was going to be closed in Austin and I didn't want to be out on the roads super late.

How did I not stay!?!?? We were 0-3 going into that game. And, it wasn't like we had lost to Alabama, Notre Dame or Michigan. Nah, we had lost to schools that aren't known to be football powerhouses. We lost to Duke. In football.

Each season, I say, it's our year. Except this season, I knew it would be rough. I believed we would lose some games, but we would win the requisite six to  go to a bowl game. I knew it was a rebuilding year. Let's be clear -- this rebuilding was starting from the foundation. It has been hard watching my Bears not win.

Then, Saturday, we scored. We sacked the quarterback. We got a turnover. We threw the ball deep and struck quickly. We converted third downs.

So, we lost. And, we are 0-4. Because my hope springs eternal, I fully believe we will be in the Big 12 championship game because we will win out since the game plan is finally solid. Oh, Bears, why does this happen?

How did we get to Waco last weekend and are now headed to Lubbock this weekend? Fourth part planning with a car that gets some fantastic gas mileage.

Waking up early last Saturday was tough. Getting to Waco early in the day to spend time in one of my most favorite places was the bonus to the alarm clock sounding at a time that is before our school morning time. We went to the Silos -- with all of America. I mean, the people. And, the people. Buying so many things. In 45-minute wait lines for cupcakes. It wasn't busy because of game day. The clerk at the seed and garden shop, that was about the size of my covered back patio and full of more people than I've ever put on said patio, said every day is packed. Every day. Joanna and Chip are killing it.

After the Silos, we went to the Suspension Bridge and took in an impressive art installation. We then hit campus, visiting the bookstore, seeing Judge Joy the bear, walked around the Student Union building and found the locker room for the Acro and Tumbling team. Camille now, like Caroline, wants to go to Baylor. (Smiles)

Then, we went to the stadium which required a lot of walking on a very warm, day after the first day of fall day. We tailgated, ate hamburgers, drank many bottles of water and took advantage of every give away -- Whataburger frisbees and koozies, Baylor keychains and paper fans, pom poms and green and gold necklaces, Sic 'Em towels, free t-shirts. Lots of stuff that wasn't going to fit in my stadium-sized approved bag.

When you arrive to a game early, you also get to participate in the Bear Walk where two darling cheerleaders told my girls they could grow up and be cheerleaders one day, too. Caroline asked one of the girls if her hair was fake -- hair spray, sweet girl, lots and lots of hair spray. It's Texas. It's a humid day in fall. It's cheer hair.

Bear Walk isn't about the cheerleaders. It's about the players. They come off their bus and make their way down this path -- the Good Ol' Baylor Line, perhaps -- and high five every person along the way. The Adams' girls were in and kept asking if we knew any of these guys. When a coach came up and briefly spoke to them, they later asked if he knew their daddy. I said no, not every coach knows each other. (I secretly wished he did because maybe G could have a job at Baylor and all my hair spray dreams could come true and I would be in Waco again. I rubbed my eyes from the sweat dripping off my forehead and remembered, G would never, ever live in Waco.)

Gas in the car, cash in the wallet, comfortable shoes on our feet, extra ponytail holders in my purse and PJs in the travel bag happened because of planning. Even our timing from one venue to another was planning. I had mapped out the day. I had read the game-day central emails. I had spent my week prior fourth parts getting ready for game day.

This upcoming Lubbock trip with a Texas Tech game day has also required some planning. My fourth parts have been prepping meals. All are frozen. All are hearty. All are favs. All are labeled with cooking instructions. (I forgot to write on the plastic lids to remove the plastic lids, but surely my son will know that, right?)

I'm pulling the girls out of school Friday so we can get on the road. I've scheduled work calls so I will be working. I'll get cash. I'll make sure we are packed Thursday p.m. The ice chest will be packed Friday morning.

It seems so easy when you write it. But when you are trying to figure out what clothes to bring because it might rain, it might be in the high 50s or mid 70s and you may or may not go to the game . . .it's a challenge.

Even with all our prep and my organization, I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to wear during the day Saturday. I have my game outfit (or tailgate outfit, if we don't go to the game), my PJs, my car outfit (will be worn both up and back) and my Friday night dinner outfit. Trying to figure out what we will do Saturday is a challenge. I think the Windmill Museum may be on the docket. Random, yes. Interest piqued, of course. Instagram worthy, absolutely.

Truth be told, I've been dying to wear a new pair of leggings I bought during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. Black leggings with ruffles down the side. Not all the way down my leg, please, give me some credit. The ruffles are a few inches long from about mid-calf down. Super cute. Curses. I've no shirt to wear with them. I've been on the hunt for a long, loose, but not too loose, thick-ish, but not too thin, v-neck or even scoop neck, long-sleeve or even 3/4 sleeve length white t-shirt. I'm exhausted thinking about it. Shouldn't this search be easy. I've got the internet. I have a ton of boutiques in my various social media feeds. I have friends who have the shirt I'm looking for. Yet, I cannot find one.

Really, should a mom at parent's weekend be wearing leggings with ruffles while she visits her 20-year-old son. Absolutely not. So, why do I want to. Why do I want to find cute outfits to wear out and about in Lubbock. Who cares? I really don't. So, why?

I know why. I want to appear as if I have it all together. I want the casual, care-free, effortless, just threw it together look. I want other college parents to think I am able to raise twin girls, be married to a high school coach and pay my son's tuition on time (so far so good on that one). No, no, I don't. I really don't care what other people think of my parenting or my marriage.

I care.

I want to be pulled together. I want to show my children you can be effortless in life and come out on top. I want them to know while some things are hard, really hard, there are other things that just don't need to matter. My outfits. They don't really matter.

This massive amount of fourth-part planning I've undertaken the last couple of weeks has been laser focused on something I care about. I've been trying to pull quite a bit together to be ready to get to something that matters.


I mean, I have missed him. I don't cry like I did his first semester away. I don't get sad as often. Maybe I'm missing him because well, he's moving to a new phase. He has less than two years of school left. He's planning a summer internship. He's not coming home as much. He's grocery shopping and cooking.

This weekend, I'll be cooking. I'll be wearing boots with a jacket. The girls have a few choices of outfits -- all include leggings and jackets, too.

Once we get there, I won't be thinking about my outfits. I won't be worried that I don't have the perfect shirt to go with leggings that have ruffles. I'll be wondering how I can slow down the clock so that we won't have to leave on Sunday. I'll be wondering how Chris is settled into a new apartment. I'll be wondering why I'll cry on the way home.

Fourth part planning also means having some tissue in the car. It also means planning to stop at a Diary Queen on the way home for some ice cream to make us feel better.

And, it means knowing that he has some good food to eat for a few weeks.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Lasagna Roll Ups and Succulent Soil

As this weekend comes to a close and I'm sitting here listening to the Emmy red carpet commentary, I look back to the two days and think 'wow.'

Both Saturday and Sunday came with 8 a.m. alarm clocks signaling a wake up time. Aren't the weekends meant for sleeping in . . . or at least if you have to get up, you can lounge around in PJs for a bit? Not at the Adams house.

Solid fourth part planning helped us get out the door for a wedding shower for our sweet MacKenzie. I was able to run by Bed Bath and Beyond after work one day earlier in the week and with registry in hand, found our gift to give to the bride. While I did forget tissue paper (thank goodness for all the gift bags I've kept lo these many years), we were ready to go to get out of the house around 9:30 a.m. for this morning shower.

We were only able to stay for a bit because well, gymnastics. We were there long enough to learn all about succulents and realize we need the decorating help of our dear friend. She had succulents planted in clay pots, bread bowls, hanging pots and even sitting on top of the beautiful cake. Caroline took away lots of tips, realizing that any part that breaks off can be tossed into another pot and saved to grow into a full succulent. 'Cut side down, mom.'

Y'all, this house was gorgeous. Our friend combines antiques and more modern farmhouse-like pieces into this truly warm place where not only parties are brilliantly put together, but family is first. This shower was for a woman who we have watched grow up. Her parents are mentors to G and I. Gosh, mentors is not big enough a word for who they are and what they mean to us. The host of the party and the decorator of the home is another woman I've admired for years. She and her husband are also so dear to G and I. We've watched both couples raise their families with Jesus at the center and fun surrounding everything. They are as real as real as can be and as full of faith as people strive to be.

Our friend, the party hostess, served a brunch that was delicious, and I know, took a few hours to put together. She added some party touches -- a chalkboard welcome sign and darling wedding dress garland -- along with her signature decorated cookies (we took three home). She did this not to show off or demonstrate her amazing skills, but to show love. To show excitement. To show joy over this upcoming marriage. Her fourth parts over the past weeks to put on the shower were probably wasy to her because she knew the outcome would be so sweet. Not only did we all appreciate every detail, but also the feeling of family.

Isn't it always a study to figure out that definition of family. Obviously, there is the family to whom you are related. From spouses to children to parents to siblings to cousins and all those in between, we have family. We have events, traditions, parties, goings ons and gatherings that celebrate family. We tell and re-tell stories. We laugh, we cry. We remember. We reflect. We create new memories. We make new moments.

Those aren't the only people that make up our family. The Adams have quite a few families. We have our co-workers, our friends, Celtics' players and parents . . .and our Lee family. G has the coaches and I have the wives. The girls have the families of the coaches. Chris also had the coaches (I think they yelled at him a bit as they encouraged over the years). G also has the players. And, I have the player's moms. I had my varsity moms and three of those ladies are women who walked long days with me -- decorating lockers, making boutonnieres, putting together Saturday lunches and cheering (yelling, hollering) louder than most any mom should be allowed.

So when your tree falls down because of the Harvey winds and for a few weeks you have an oak on your fence and swing set, those extended family members come through. Today, we had a couple of coaches and a handful of varsity players show up to chain saw, pole saw and trim the tree. Our family.

And, because I channel Tami Taylor from Friday Night Lights on an almost daily basis -- hair notwithstanding -- I put the 'hey y'all' into overdrive and because of some fourth part planning, I had all the fixings for a meal for these helpers, our family. Pioneer Woman lasagna roll ups made the menu along with the best boxed brownie mix from Ghiradelli. A few loaves of bread, a caesar salad and chocolate chip cookies were ready when the boys were.

Let's be clear, I had loads of other activities to take care of this weekend. Camille had a meet that took about four hours Saturday. I had to do the HEB order (fourth part planning meant Saturday order for Sunday morn pick up). We had quite a few loads of laundry and we needed to finish our bucket list -- play with baby Grace Sunday afternoon.

Oh, and we needed to run by Home Depot to pick up succulents and succulent soil. In the midst of rolling up lasagna and chopping romaine, we potted succulents. My sugar mold and a piece of pottery became the home for seven succulents. I also used a couple of my Oui yogurt jars for windowsill succulent plantings. Misted and sitting in the right kind of soil, we had the plants taken care of before the players arrived and got to chopping and trimming.

While the weekend was busy and we finished other projects along with taking care of regular Saturday and Sunday activities, we had really what you would call a family weekend. My sister and her family, plus my parents came to Camille's gymnastics meet. We watched G's football game until the end Friday night and saw him off on the bus after the game. I sat with my friends (who also happen to be wives of coaches) at the game and caught up on everything baby (two of them are expecting) and even saw one of my varsity moms at the game. My girls and I went to the shower of someone who is an important part of our family and we were at a house that was made for family (thankfully, we are a part of that tribe).

And, today, we played with the newest member of a co-worker and friend's family. This baby is just the cutest. She laughs, picks up everything she can and then puts it in her mouth. She squeals in the swing and wants to be held as she takes a bottle.

Her name is Grace. That, according to some web sites, means 'God's favor.' When you see her smile, you can see God, plain and simple. You can see His design. You can see his sovereign-ship.  In Psalm 127:3, we read 'children are a heritage from the Lord.' To me, this means children carry on the legacy of a family. They represent their parents and those that have lived before them.

Just as Grace will represent her parents, my children will represent G and I. MacKenzie reflects her parents -- partly because she looks so much like her mom -- and she has their humor, too. She also carries their faith.

These boys that came over today to help us show the heritage of their parents. We were so blessed to have them at our house if even for just a few short moments.

What a weekend. Yeah, Baylor and Lee both lost. But, we won. We were surrounded by family . . . and what a heritage.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Party of Five and Game Film

College football season is one of my most favorite time's of the year. College basketball is right up there, too.

We are two weeks into college football season. And, my beloved Bears are (oh, this is hard to write) (really, I cannot believe I'm typing this record) (come one, do I have to write it) not doing good.


I cannot remember the last time we lost our first two games of the season. These are pre-conference games. Baylor is consistently skewered for playing 'easy' season starters. I naively thought these first two games were going to be walks in the park. We have a new coach. We have new energy. We have a defense. We have a rosy outlook.

Oh, I was promised so much. All of Baylor nation got behind those PR spins and we were in for this era, this Rhule.

Not so much.

We didn't go to the game this weekend. We did visit my fair school and favorite place last weekend. Here or there, a loss is a loss. It stings. It is not fun. I do not like losing.

I don't like planning a fourth part for a loss. I do like planning a fourth part for a fun trip and bumping into friends and getting to eat at George's or eating tailgating kind of snacks at home.

I'm going to have to rethink my Saturday fourth parts. There are two, maybe three more games we will get to Waco to see. Those two, maybe three games will more than likely be tough to watch. But, I'll be there flinging my green and gold and sporting nifty outfits to reflect my support. Inside, I may be crumbling.

Yeah, these are the feelings I have over college football. My feelings over high school football aren't as strong, but we do have a team we root for because G coaches there. I cheered a little more loudly and with more exuberance when Chris played there (I mean, duh). I still cheer. This year, we've had two games and both deserved some cheering.

The first game was a Thursday on TV. Because of Camille's gymnastics, we couldn't get to the game, but I planned it out and we were able to watch the game from home. It was a come-from-behind win. The second game was on a Saturday. (What happened to Friday night lights?!) With my high school football season organization skills on point (not my first rodeo), we knocked out a lot of activities and made it to the game early enough to wish G good luck. Another win. A big win. We stayed the whole game. I knew through watching my Twitter feed and Gametracker there was no need to rush home and watch the other game I wrote about earlier. (When we left the Lee game, I think Baylor was down 7-17. I'll leave that there for you.)


While I recover from Baylor losses, G reviews game outcomes and readies for the next game with the other Lee coaches. It's called film. Watching game film. Reviewing plays over and over. Watching film from the upcoming opponent. Figuring out an approach. Creating a game plan.

G gets home late from games. We are all asleep. Then, he's out the door early the next morning to go watch film. When it's a Saturday game, that means he misses church. So, that means I'm solo directing 'let's get out the door' maneuvers. Getting dressed, doing hair and fixing breakfast are all included and a part of that agenda. Silently reminding myself that a fourth part will come motivates my efforts.

I wonder what our game film would look like. I wonder what the plays would be that we would keep and those we would change. I wonder if some are standard, go-to schemes.

Y'all know I like a good Netflix series. I can binge with the best of them. I love to watch TV. Fall fourth parts when G has film or a JV game or a Varsity game we don't attend, I like to watch a show. During these last two weeks and the August weeks of two-a-days, I watched Party of Five. Six seasons of about 20 shows each. If you are doing the math, that's 120 hours of television viewing. That's a lot of film. That late 90s show had a hard to deal with issue each week. About four seasons in I wondered when the family would catch a break. It seemed as if every time they got their feet underneath them, something would cause a discussion on the need for a second mortgage taken out on the house or someone not fulfilling a dream to move out of the house. I wanted the family to watch the film so they could change or at least predict some of the happenings they experienced.

My husband watches game film to adjust and adapt to another team. He watches to understand where his team has strengths and weaknesses and how those will present against the upcoming opponent. He also watches to determine who is going to do some extra bear crawls at practice. (OK, not really, but if a kid gets an unsportsmanlike penalty, I think tire flipping is on order.)

In my mind, I watch replays of our frenetic mornings and days to figure out how to improve. I think through what works and what doesn't really help.

After Paul had watched Timothy in his young ministry and he knew he might not make it back to Ephesus for a while, he wrote Timothy a letter. This first Timothy (1 Timothy) letter was intended to develop him and help him work on that growing church. There were issues with false teachings and for Timothy, those were a challenge to his charge of spreading the gospel. Paul asked that Timothy devote himself to the public reading, preaching and teaching of the scriptures. He told him to be diligent.

'Watch your life and doctrine closely' begins 1 Timothy 4:16. Paul wrote this to encourage Timothy to live his life as a believer. As others watched and heard him, Timothy needed to live the life inspired by Christ that he committed to do.

When I re-watch my days and when G reviews his players' performances on film, we both then do something with that information. I reflect and then, work toward improving my attitude and planning. G takes what he sees and creates a game plan.

We watch to make sure we don't repeat the same mistakes. We watch to make sure we continue to use our strengths to help others.

We have a ministry. It's not as big as Paul or Timothy, but it's a size God gave us. G ministers to those players day in and day out. He is teaching and coaching football, and sharing his doctrine. I have my own Party of Five, three of whom are learning and watching my life and doctrine. On these mornings where we are needing to get out of the house or evenings when we are trying to get to games, my girls watch me.

Our challenge each and every moment of each and every day is not fitting in a fourth part. Our challenge is more of taking our film and making necessary adjustments to that our doctrine, our story, our life is one others can watch and desire to learn more about.

This Party of Five needs to diligently devote itself to living a life that inspires others.

Wonder what our record will be at the end of the season?

Friday, September 1, 2017

Gas Shortage, I mean, Outage and T-shirts

We are tired in this house. First week of school will do that to you. Add to that a longer gymnastics schedule four nights a week and a televised Thursday night football game and you'll understand.

No, that's ridiculous. Those things don't make for the kind of tired we've felt this week. Our tired is because we've been watching non-stop coverage of the damage Hurricane Harvey did to our beloved Texas coast. We're tired because of the emails, the emotions, the calls, the texts, the images, the videos, the tweets and all the social media posts we've been following this week.

But let me be clear, our tired pales to what family, dear friends and work colleagues have suffered through and experienced this week. When water is a foot or two deep in your home, when your roof is leaking, when your power is out, when your car is underwater, when you can't get to the grocery store and when you worry if the water is going to recede in time so that releasing water from the reservoirs doesn't affect you, you are truly tired.

I've cried this week and been so sad. I've prayed. Our family has made financial contributions to disaster relief organizations and we've bought needed items for those staying at shelters.

Again, my tired and my family's tired is not the tired those in Houston, Rockport, Port Aransas, Beaumont and all the towns in between have felt.

It's the first week of football season so usually our fourth parts are dedicated to prepping for game day. Planning outfits, arranging babysitters and hanging burlap door hangers in the shape of footballs for both G's high school and my precious Bears are how fourth parts during football season should be spent.

This week's fourth parts have been spent figuring out where to give money, what t-shirt I should buy to show I support recovery efforts and where to buy gas.

Oh, yes, because of potential damage to refineries in the gulf -- thanks Harvey -- gas getting to us has been slower than usual. And, media or no media -- the industry is now so readily blamed for everything (an industry of which I was a part of and still claim as my first love) -- people made a run to gas up.

Let's be clear. G Adams is quite a preparation kind of guy, so we had gas in the cars before the hurricane hit. With a week of driving under our belt, we needed gas. OK, I had around 1/3 of a tank and so did G, but still, we needed gas. As did all of San Antonio and the surrounding areas. You know what that demand means . . .a gas shortage outage. Yes, I know the lilies of the field are dressed and the birds are fed, but I hit a panic as I searched for gas.

Each and every gas station I drove by had those little yellow, plastic bags wrapped over the pumps indicating . . . shortage outage. Deep breaths.

At work on Friday, a colleague (and friend) and I used gasbuddy to track stations with fuel. That site wasn't really my buddy, but after worrying and having a few raised voice kind of conversations with my husband, we found a gas station. The downtown HEB had gas and a short wait. We couldn't get there fast enough. I waited all of 16 minutes to fill my tank (I think I put in around 13 gallons) and drive off to head home.

Whew. That emotional roller coaster of wondering when, where and how I was going to get gas wore me out. I am tired.

It's been a week. We are worn out. Please know, I know, we have not experienced the tired so many in Texas have. My heart breaks over the tragedy and loss. Bible verses and hymns are there to claim, but how do they truly soothe.

Each morning, the girls and I do a kids version of Jesus Calling. I do my own and then, we read their version together. Yesterday, when we had no more adrenaline and first week of school excitement to get us up in the morning, the devotion reminded us of depending and leaning on Jesus for strength and guidance. 'He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. . . but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.' Thanks Isaiah. That wrap up of chapter 40 helps. Chapter 40 actually begins what is known as the Book of Comfort portion of Isaiah. It was Isaiah's message of indicating God's people and the exile was over. It was about comfort.

Words are words, I know. A t-shirt with Texas Forever, Texas Strong or We are One is just a shirt with words. No matter where the proceeds go and no matter what color, cut or the sleeve length is, a t-shirt is just a t-shirt. Yet, for some reason, I became obsessed with trying to find 'the one' that I really liked. At one point during the day, I even said out loud, 'it's a shirt so who cares.'

Then, I bought one. Maybe the search for the shirt took the place of my worrisome search for gasoline. Maybe the hunt for the right words that reflected how I felt about the hurricane and its' aftermath was a substitute for my hunting for a picture of our cherished Island Retreat to see if there was damage. Maybe my looking for the right charity for the t-shirt proceeds to support was my attempt at soothing those who all I could offer up was prayer because I couldn't take them a hot meal or rip out wet dry wall.

Maybe that's what Isaiah did when he wrote about hoping in the Lord. Maybe he wanted the nation of Israel to stop searching for help on their own and so he wrote the words of comfort.

The t-shirt I ordered reads 'We are One.' That message of unity spoke to me and I believe, it shares what I want to do. I want those who have had such loss to know that I will stand with them and be with them and support them and help them as best I can.

When it was finally my turn at the pump this afternoon, and I got out to start the gassing up process, I noticed it was quiet. Yeah, there were engines running and people driving around, but it seemed so still. It wasn't a harried experience like I had seen on television or read about. People were pleasant, waving to each other and smiling.

Was this our chance to remember and reflect that God does provide our strength and is our portion.

Was it a reminder that we should 'go out in joy and be led forth in peace.'

Was it a moment where I knew my search should not be for the perfect t-shirt or gas station but, rather for that rest in Christ where the peace that passes all understanding can be found so that I can not grow weary.

And, not experience a shortage or outage in my spirit and walk with Him.