Seeing without Pictures

These are my random thoughts from Tuesday, March 4th ~ read at your own risk.

It is 1am. I have recently consumed a pot of coffee and several tablespoons of sugar biscuits in the form of monkey bread, so there is no telling what might funnel out of my mind and onto the keyboard. I should probably go to bed, because in approximately 8 hours, 10 women and their children will walk up my front steps, knock on my front door and enter my home. How do I know this? Am I physic? No. I have Bible study at my house tomorrow… err… today.

Alas, I am not going to bed yet. I am writing what you are now reading. This was the only time for me to write. Earlier today, I opened up my trusty ol’ Mac. Apple. Tosh. laptop. We’ve been in each others lives for 10 years now… we’ve shared many memories, stories and photos. It’s been a good relationship overall, but today my Mac failed me. The screen was black. I was growing anxious. I really wanted to write this morning… About my thoughts from Monday, because my Tuesday thoughts hadn’t happened yet… So I re-started, I tried, I prayed, I cried… and darkness. The screen was still black. I knew this day was coming. The dinosaur Macbook was going to expire sooner or later.

I stared at a black screen. Wishing, hoping, praying it would come back to life. Panicking over the memories stored on its hard drive, I grew increasingly frustrated as the moments ticked by. I only care about my photos. Nothing else on the laptop matters. We talked with the Apple store and there is a good chance they can recover the data. There’s still hope. Yet I was past the point of recovering from my anxiety. I was so caught up in recovering the past. I must have my photos, to preserve the memories! My mind swirled with thoughts of frustration and anxiety. There was nothing I could do to change the black screen. I was wasting time fretting, worrying over saving the past, while ignoring the memories to be made right in front of me.

My youngest daughter was playing happily in our living room, while her brother and sister were in school, and I was internally freaking out, sitting a few feet from her. What’s wrong with this picture?! Me. I was missing a myriad of moments to be cherished with her. I was missing her hugs. her questions. her stories. her laughter. her toothless smile. My heart was convicted. The cloud of anguish over (possibly – hopefully not) losing our family photos lifted. The Holy Spirit gently nudged me to close the black screen and let. it. go.

So I did. We played and talked and ate lunch together. We created memories. I didn’t need to take a picture to be saved on my phone, transferred to my laptop, or uploaded onto social media. My heart preserved the moment. 

I really really really -did I say really- hope our photos will be recovered. I love taking pictures. I love looking at old photos. The kids and I love looking at pictures from when ‘they were babies’. They are still -and always will- be my babies. Everyday I have to hold them is a gift. I don’t want to miss these gifts, because I am staring at a screen.

There are still future stories I hope to capture in photos to be saved and shared. In the meantime, I am coming out from behind the dark screen, into the light, where I can see. I can see without pictures. My children before me. My husband beside me. My friends around me. My life ahead of me. I see. And I really need to go to bed now, so I can see the women who are coming to my house for Bible study in the morning. After they leave, I will definitely be taking a nap. Amen.


just George…

a few weeks ago, my sweet grandpa passed away… he was 85 years old.

I traveled to oklahoma to celebrate his life with my family.
a friend of mine who is a flight attendant gave me a pass to fly on Southwest – for free. score. {seriously, such a blessing!}
i knew my grandpa’s health was declining and that his time was coming for a few months. so we drove to oklahoma over thanksgiving and christmas to spend time with my family and grandparents. we were crazy enough to travel those 4,000 miles mostly because we knew it was important to see my grandpa. the night before he died, i sensed it was going to be soon. i am grateful that the Lord prepared my heart for his death and made a way for my journey to honor my grandpa’s life and say good-bye. and though i miss him greatly, i have peace knowing he is with Jesus now… {for we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens~2 Corinthians 5:1}

my grandpa was very well known in the community where i grew up ~ edmond, oklahoma. with a doctorate in education from oklahoma state university (osu)… cowboy fans, anyone?… he served as a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent of schools all over oklahoma for a total of 39 years, the last 15 years of his career as superintendent for edmond public schools. he received many honors and accolades during his career, including induction into the osu college of education hall of fame. as i was growing up, every time we were out with my grandparents, they would inevitably run into someone they knew.
but rather than being called Dr. Rowley, he always prefered just George…

and to me, he was always just Grandpa…

rather than talking about himself or boasting about his distinguished career, my grandpa was a kind hearted, humble man who loved serving his family and others.
most of all, he loved his ‘doll’, my grandma ~ alice fern doll. he always put her first, even until the end. pushing the button for the elevator and waiting patiently behind his walker for her to enter the elevator first.
they met at age five, were high school sweet hearts and were married for 66 years. they were best friends, deeply in love, complete with their license plate: ‘HAD2BU’.

my grandparents in their silly ‘shot gun wedding’ picture 🙂

my grandpa was a generous man. he gave love effortlessly, with hugs, kisses, words of affirmation and genuine care about my life. how is school going? how are you doing with your homework? when is your next vocal music concert? how are your friendships?

he was my first valentine. i dated very little in high school and i never had a boyfriend on valentines day. but every february 14th, i got a chocolate heart from my grandpa ~ even my first valentines day with adam in 1996 ~ i still got a heart from grandpa.

he was a hard worker even beyond his career. when we were kids, my grandparents owned an 84 acre farm with cattle and a few horses. my brother and i loved going to the farm, being outdoors, riding the horses, fishing, searching for snakes and other critters 😉 so many memories built on the farm soil…wrapped up in the hay…which we will always cherish with our grandparents and entire rowley family.

he loved to explore the world…and take his grand kids with him. full of vision and an adventurous spirit, my grandparents loved to travel. they were always wise with their money and were able to travel extensively throughout the united states and abroad. sometimes, they took my brother and i with them. one of our favorite trips was to san fransisco when we were eleven and thirteen years old. yes. our grandparents were brave enough to take two teenagers on a trip from oklahoma to san fran. wow! and we had an amazing time. our grandparents rock. 
after retirement, our grandparents rented a condo for several summers in gunnison, colorado to escape the oklahoma heat. here we are together outside of the condo.
he was an educator in every area of life. he was an example of giving, saving and using money wisely. grandpa always paid for dinner…and he gave me a tip card to carry in my own wallet, so i would always know the right amount to give a server. my grandparents would pay me to do chores around their house, like mowing the lawn, removing stains on their carpet with a q-tip and vinegar cleaning solution… and vacuuming their shoe boxes. i was paid the ‘grandkid’ rate of $20 an hour to do these simple chores. they loved having me over to visit and the money was just an added bonus. on my sixteenth birthday, my grandparents let me drive their truck -my first time truly driving- to our family dinner. i was so nervous, but they trusted me, and i succeeded. my grandma was also an educator and completed her masters degree while raising four kids. she taught as an elementary music teacher and taught me piano. one of my grandpa’s favorite songs was ‘the rose’. growing up, i would sit by grandpa on grandma’s piano bench and sing it for the family. and i was honored to recently sing it for his funeral. aaaand… at every family gathering, my dad and his two brothers would play guitar, serenading the rest of us in song and laughter…. the gift of music truly runs in our family. 
starting young, singing on grandma’s piano bench
singing ‘the rose’
my parents and grandparents at one of my high school vocal music concerts. they never missed a performance 🙂

he had a heart full of love. more than anything, my grandpa loved his family. i am blessed with having such amazing grandparents and cherish the memories of us sitting around their dining room table, laughing and sharing life together. the joy our family had grew even more when i met adam, and the rowley and babcock families intertwined.

i go from being a rowley to a babcock ~ here we are with my family and Adam’s not long after our engagement. my grandpa’s big toothy smile ~ it’s a ‘rowley’ trait which i inherited as “horse teeth” 🙂 

over the holidays, when we saw my grandpa i took time to hold his hand and just sit with him. we didn’t say much… few words were exchanged except, “i love you, i miss you”… and we continued holding hands as the hustle and bustle of 50 family members gather for a thanksgiving feast surrounded us. during our christmas visit, my brother and i took a walk down the hallways of their building with them, and then took a picture together…i treasure this last picture we have.

my grandpa was a wonderful man. i am so grateful for these 35 years i have had the privilege of being one of his beloved granddaughters. his amazing life has shaped my life and for this i am so blessed. you can read more about his life and all his accolades here.

take time with the ones you love.
slow down.
be still.
sit with someone.
hold hands.
whisper i love you.
we are not promised tomorrow…
love. well. now. 

my grandma ~ keep her in prayer ~ she really misses her best friend.
my grandma said it would have been better if grandpa had been a horses butt. joking, of course.. but the pain of missing him wouldn’t be so great, if he had not been so lovable. but he was…
he was joy filled.
he was kind hearted.
he was generous.
he was wise.
he was easy to love.
to so many he was known as just George… but to me…. just Grandpa

The Original Playstation

I love fall.
Fall time is outstanding in central Ohio. The weather is perfect. The colors are vibrant. The pumpkin spice latte is baaaack at all the coffee shops.  
Yes. Fall is lovely. 
My favorite part about fall *besides all things pumpkin* is the time we spend outdoors… 
The original playstation.
Nothing beats the great outdoors. No “konkey kong”, Mario video game or anything on T.V. or the Wii can even. come. close.    
As summer comes to an end and fall is just around the corner, I can’t wait for all of the fun we are going to have in the great outdoors of Ohio.  
I’m also feeling nostalgic for the wonderful times we had this summer. Especially all the fun we had exploring the original playstation ~ the great outdoors of Oregon. 
*Here are some more snapshots*
Silver Falls State Park 

looking out from the top of the falls

silly & serious faces

Me & my sister in law Amber

our family with cousin Micah

Sisters, OR

I love that Oregon has a little town called “Sisters” & the capital of Oregon is “Salem”
Salem & his sisters playing at a park in Sisters, OR

The High Desert Museum ~ Bend, OR
Exploring the pioneer ranch

Smith Rock ~ Terrebonne, OR
During this hike we used the rapid shooting feature on Adam’s camera phone. It was fun to capture lots of facial expressions and background beauty of Smith Rock.

the slippery rocky trail

Aunt Amber!
Selah with cousin Noelle

the hike back up and out of the canyon

We ended the outdoor festivities with a campfire. Right next to a pile of wood chips.

So this fall we will be exploring the outdoors of central Ohio.
Wherever you live across the globe ~ get outdoors and enjoy 
the Original Playstation!

Top 10 Travel Tips

For the past 30 some years, Adam and I have both had the opportunity to travel many places, all over the world. 
We are almost travel pros.   
For some, traveling can be extremely stressful… especially with kids.  The thought of traveling with small children is close to having a root canal. 
BUT. You should GO!
Kids shouldn’t hold you back from traveling…Even as we were backpacking in Europe before we had our wee babs, we spent much of our time dreaming about one day traveling with our children.

Now, it is time to share our “Top 10 Travel Tips” for successful travel with children and adults, taken from our trip to Oregon last month.

1. Be prepared to wear a diaper.  
Ladies – sometimes you won’t know when “aunt flow” is gonna visit… if it happens at 10:30pm in a small Oregonian town with every store closed and no 24-hour Walmart handy, you’re gonna need an alternative… thankfully, I had a diaper handy when ‘flow’ visited me…and a wonderful husband who went out the next morning to buy me some necessities. Until then, the diaper worked brilliantly. and… they were pretty much the same size as the pads my hubby came home with. 
2. Be prepared for temper tantrums. from your children. and from yourselves. be prepared to handle them creatively.

Travel isn’t always easy.  Sometimes children and adults can get irritable.  Selah was throwing a fit on our way to Portland and nothing was settling her down…until she discovered mommy’s vaseline tube. she squirted it all over herself. I let her go with it. my brilliant idea worked.

3. Be prepared to take a nap. whenever. wherever. 
Sometimes tantrums break out as a result of being tired.  and when your child finally falls asleep, don’t move them.  even if they look uncomfortable.  it will be better for everyone involved, especially the old lady squished up next to you like a sardine on the airplane… trust me. let them sleep in whatever position they fall asleep in. and *bonus* if you get a nap in too. 

4. Be prepared to eat the same thing almost every day.
it’s easier. it’s cheaper. it takes up less brain space not thinking about what you’re going to eat. if you have a refrigerator handy, buy your food at the local market and pack it. 
we packed lunches nearly every day. sandwiches. fruit. veggies. chips. water.
it’s better for your body and for your kids if you have homemade food handy that everyone enjoys.  some restaurants can be nasty.
and don’t spend your whole travel experience at restaurants. be adventurous. 
discover an unexpected picnic spot.
Silver Falls State Park
Sitting outside of Whole Foods

5. Be prepared to find restaurants with toys.
When you do need to eat out, be prepared to find restaurants with toys. or places that are family friendly.  we prefer non-fast-food places which takes a little extra work on our part. with the help of the app Yelp it usually works out just fine.

We had a nice time when Grandma took the girls out to lunch at a tea shop, complete with gummy worms for the kids.
We also went to The Laughing Planet cafe. complete with dinosaurs on every table to enjoy.
lots of laughter at the Laughing Planet Cafe
After we finished eating, we used Yelp to help us find a nearby park
6. Be Prepared to embrace both the similarities and differences of each traveller. 
Our family enjoys most of the same things. playing. being outdoors. being silly. being together. eating the same things…
our kids are not picky about what they eat. they are pretty good at sharing too – a chicken salad with chips & salsa.
We are also very unique personalities. we need a break from one another. all of us need space at some point during travel. space while traveling with others can be hard to find – sometimes that “alone” time is available during a car ride… 
Salem asleep. Soleil “talking” to her friend on a toy cell phone.  Selah getting over a tantrum. 
7. Be prepared to embrace other cultures. and their ice cream. 
We went to Woodburn, Oregon and ate at a well known family owned Mexican restaurant one evening.  Woodburn has a large Hispanic population and is a very family friendly area.  We enjoyed and embraced every moment at the restaurant and the ice cream shop.

We also enjoyed the smiles we got from the window shopping we did.  In all my life and travels and shopping, I have never seen boots such as these… these boots were definitely made for walkin’.
8. Be prepared to wear the same thing during your travels and live out of your suitcase.
I don’t have any specific pictures to capture this point.  But if you look back at the pictures from the last few [Oregon travel] blog posts, you will see we pretty much wore the same outfits on our trip.
it’s easier to pack. it’s very freeing. just bring your 5 fav outfits. and a scarf! just do laundry.
it’s totally worth the less crap you have to cart around. especially when you also are carting 3 small children around.
9. Be prepared for all things random.
Life is too short to not. have. fun. Sometimes the random things you end up doing while traveling, end up making some of the most precious memories. 
You let your kids play on Grandpa’s treadmill with their cousins.

You take lots of pictures…of random things you find hilarious.
we told the kids these were “marsh-mellow farms”

You give your kids the extra leg room… they deserve it.
10. Be prepared to be thankful… in all circumstances. 
even in an hour of traffic because of the beauty around you.

even in the difficult moments flying home… remain thankful. 
home sweet home. with a monkey in the background.
Don’t expect perfection. just be prepared to be Thankful
Take your kids [or just yourselves] and Go.

We have taken our kids pretty much everywhere we go.  Here we are on our mission trip to India in 2007.  Since having the wee babs, we have been on the road, in airplanes, biking, boating, running, and walking everywhere with Soleil, Salem & Selah.  Soleil (8) has been flying since she was 6 weeks old.  She has flown several times and been on countless road trips in her short life.
This picture is from their first nap in India-Soleil (3) & Salem 9 mos).

Live out of your suitcase. 
Eat the same thing everyday. 
Let yourself have a tantrum. and a nap. and be prepared…

Be prepared to Embrace. Experience. and Enjoy. every. crazy. pointless. ridiculous. random. silly. moment.

God’s Sandbox

Ahhh…the Beach!
God’s sandbox.
Get there if you can. Really.

The Northwest Pacific Ocean…
It’s sandy, rocky, windy, sometimes cold, sometimes sunny and always beautiful.
The waves crashing against the shore is the most somber sound.
The openness of the ocean is overwhelming.
The vastness of the view is incredible.
The sands by the seashore are innumerable.
Here are some pictures from our trip to Oregon… 
where we had some really great times playing in God’s sandbox.

we thought the flying nun was chasing us, but it was just Grandma 🙂

Soleil & cousin Noelle

Selah and Noelle

Adam and the three wee Babs with cousin Micah
Salem wore daddy’s sweatshirt when it started turning chilly
Soleil kept warm with her sand blanket

Grandma had to take drastic measures to stay warm

Then the sun came out again on our way home

It didn’t matter that we were caught in traffic for an hour; I was driving and couldn’t stop smiling, after a beautiful beach day in God’s sandbox!
The Pacific northwest coast is more often a sweatshirt beach, than a swimsuit beach.
And there is always the option of wearing a wet suit.
If you’re okay with this, and you prepare by bringing different layers of clothing, you will LOVE it!
On our last trip to the beach, the last day of our trip, we had the chance to go boogie boarding.
Adam jumped at the opportunity and ran to rent his wet suit and board as soon as we got there. 
But I was more hesitant.
I debated for about 30 minutes, worrying about the kids…would they get bored, tired or cranky sitting on the sand with Grandma & Grandpa?  Worrying about myself…would I have enough energy to withstand the ocean waves tossing me around?  I’m not a good swimmer, what if I drowned?  Worrying about the money…was it worth the $35 cost of renting the wet suit and board for 24 hours, knowing I might only use it for 30 minutes if I hated it???
Then, God slapped me upside the head and said, 
“You’ll regret it if you don’t.”
So, I ran over to the surf shop to rent my wet suit.
Have you ever worn a wet suit? 
They are extremely difficult to put on… and get out of.
But it was worth it. Every penny of the $35. Every ounce of energy it took for me to get in. and out. of that wet suit. so worth it!
We boogie boarded for about 3.5 hours and still weren’t ready to go.
The breakdown of the cost ended up at $10/hour… so worth it.
I could spend $35 on so many other things, but nothing can replace that experience.
And of course, the kids were never bored hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa, playing in God’s sandbox.

Any chance you get, get to a beach, any beach!
For your kids, for yourselves, for your friends, get there!

Who wants store bought sand shoved into a plastic turtle which ends up being used for cat litter box when the lid is left off accidentally??
We need the Beach…
We need to spend time in God’s Sandbox.