Chasing Contentment

Friday, September 29

Yesterday, Griff's art teacher told him the picture he was painting reminded her of Wassily Kandinsky and his expressionist works. Griff thought that was really neat, and we've printed out a few of his paintings for Griff's room. I love it when he's drawn to artistic things.

Of course, his brain is wired more for math and science. He's doing these challenge math pages that I'm not sure I know all of the answers for, and he told Eliza yesterday that clouds were recycling. I had to hear that explaination! Of course, when he explained to her about rain and evaporation and such, it actually made sense. Good for him.

(Photo thanks to Wikipedia.)

[  posted by Chel on Friday, September 29, 2006  ]

Thursday, September 28

Happy, Happy Birthday! Whenever I think of the Happy Birthday song, I think of the one on Rolie Polie Olie, probably because we watched that show for so many years with Griff. So today, here's a Happy Happy Birthday to Mike.

I cannot imagine this life without you. I cannot imagine any life without you, to be honest. You make me laugh like no one else, and while you drive me crazy by being a smart-ass, you also crack me up. You are a lousy, wretched girlfriend, but you're an amazing husband and father, and I am delighted to get to spend my days and nights with you for forever. I am proud of you, annoyed by you, drowningly in love with you.

So, for today, may your students be attentive and participate in thoughtful and intelligent ways... may the news be good but bad enough to provide interesting writing... may the Astros continue their late-season hot streak. Go, 'stros!

[  posted by Chel on Thursday, September 28, 2006  ]

Tuesday, September 26

Eliza's speech is coming along very well, but she still has trouble with some of her letters. For the purpose of this story, that needs to be made clear. Her Rs still sound like Ws, and she has trouble with RLs. Essentially, she sounds like Elmer Fudd.

On Monday evenings, Mike takes Griff to Cub Scouts and Eliza and I go shopping. We don't always buy anything, but we go and walk around and look at pretties.

Last night, in a department store, as I tugged on her to keep moving, she stopped, looked up at me and said, "mama, you dwivin me cwazy, little gul." I laughed so hard, I could hardly stand it. I do tell her that she's driving me crazy, and upon further discussion, it appears her daycare teacher says the same. Most likely because she's driving us both crazy.

[  posted by Chel on Tuesday, September 26, 2006  ]

Thursday, September 21

Rarely do I go an entire week without posting anything, but it's been an odd week. I told Mandy earlier this week that I was going to stop emailing, blogging, and writing in my planner. For those who know me well, that's just crazy talk.

I guess I haven't really posted anything this week because I've had such random thoughts, and I haven't been able to gather them together into a cohesive post. But maybe cohesive isn't necessary. So here's a sampling of my random thoughts this week...

Something about the drive from work to Griff's school each afternoon makes me sad. It's not a long drive, and it isn't as if I don't make that drive in the mornings, too. But something about the afternoons makes me cry.

We had a talk today in class from the regional vice president of the corporation I work for now, and he talked about how employees who show 'hunger' and 'drive' are promoted. I'm not hungry or driven, but I'm a competent and consistent worker. Does that count for anything?

I made Catch A Man dip this week for work & am currently deciding on it as dinner for this evening. It's not healthy but it's yummy.

The trip home last weekend was fabulous. I made the trip easily - read a fabulous book on the plane - and am still quite proud of myself for going it alone. And it was just what I needed to spend time with people I love. There is something precious about spending time in someone's home, in someone's presence.

I talk to Mandy, Aleece, and Linda two or three times a week (thank heavens for unlimited long distance minutes!), but it isn't the same as being together in person. We all laughed and joked, and it was so nice to be with people who love me and who I love. It does, however, make me miss them all the more.

Despite my certainty that I wanted a job doing something very different, I am discovering that I miss the writing in my previous job. I miss taking words and melding them together to make something new. I volunteered to write something at work today - something, anything. I'd love to find some sort of freelance thing that I could do. Shoot, I wouldn't have to get paid.

And on a funny note, everyone in my job thinks I'm crafty. For those who know me personally, I would never consider myself 'crafty.' And yet, maybe I am. I do make jewelry. I do like to put up groovy decorations. Maybe I am crafty. But it makes me laugh anyway.

[  posted by Chel on Thursday, September 21, 2006  ]

Thursday, September 14

Home is such a precious word. It means so many things. In the end, God is my first and final home. Here on this earth, I feel most at home in Mike's arms. Home is more than a place. And in all honesty, this place isn't home yet.

I think we'll finally be settled here when Eliza stops calling this house her 'new home' and simply says 'let's go home.' I've worked really hard to talk about this as home and to not talk about our former place as home. It's been an effort on my part, but I think it's really important for the kids to know that this is our home now.

That said, I'm going home this weekend. I fly out early Saturday morning and back in late Sunday night, so it'll be a long weekend for me. I'll be worn out Monday, but it'll be worth it. I've been so homesick.

And I'm going to get to see Mandy and Josh and feel little Olivia kick in Mandy's tummy. And I'm going to get to visit with Linda and Aleece and to meet Aleece's little Ella. I can hardly stop grinning just thinking about it!

I've got everyone praying for me, too, because I've never flown alone before, and airports wig me out. But I've got a good book to read on the flight and an anticipation like no other.

[  posted by Chel on Thursday, September 14, 2006  ]

Wednesday, September 13

Carnival of Beauty
Beginnings and Endings

When I offered to host this particular Carnival topic, I knew it held personal significance for me. I'm humbled by some of the essays represented here and encouraged by others. I'm delighted to host this topic.

In thinking about beginnings and endings, I keep coming back to this verse...

"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." Revelation 22:13 (NASB)
I am comforted that He is there always. May each of us find a little comfort, a little contentment in the faithfulness of our Lord. And may we find encouragement in these essays. Enjoy.

It's Keziah's birthday today, and she says it's an ideal time to reflect on the work that God has begun in her and where He has shut doors, knowing that God has his plans for her that He has had since before the beginning of time, that will prevail and cannot be thwarted.

Debi at Caught Between Worlds finds herself in the beginning and ending of a dream.

The beginning of life is an amazing miracle. The end of life can also be beautiful, as Sherrin reminds us, if the person has lived for Christ and others.

Ellen at MzEllen & Co. realizes that she is beginning the ending of her "nest" in "beginnings and endings."

Beginnings and endings are important, but so are the in between bits. Join Susanna as she struggles to be content with the every day bits.

At A Dusty Frame, we're challenged to remember that much of life is enduring the present situation.

Beginnings and Endings happen to us all. Veracity says it is not easy to go through them, but it is not all bad either. Trying to find the good things about it can help us get through them.

And I wrap things up with Moments in Time.

[  posted by Chel on Wednesday, September 13, 2006  ]

Tuesday, September 12

Moments in Time
My last six months - year, several years - have been full of nothing but change. I am all new and old, beginning and ending. I am all muddled and unsettled. I am all discombobulated.

I've had the loss of life and the blessing of new life in my circle of love. Mike and I have left old jobs and begun new jobs. I walked out of the home I loved and into a new house. I left the place where I had built a life to the place where I would build a new life.

I'm not comfortable here yet, in this new beginning. I still feel very much like this isn't my life yet. But I can see God's hand in this new life... in my life.

My heart longs for companionship, for the friendships I miss so much and for the ones I pray I'll make here. And I know my God knows my heart. Just as He led us away from the face-to-face to relationships I loved, He has provided me with unexpected renewed relationships.

Years ago, a college friend and I had a falling out of sorts, due mostly to bad timing. We each faced a crisis in our lives at the same time, and we simply weren't able to support one another at that time. And yet, thanks to God showing me things in this new life and encouraging me to contact her and apologize, I've had a reconciliation with her since our move. She and her husband both have emailed and encouraged me and checked in with me to see how we're doing, and I am grateful.

Another friend from long ago recently responded to an email I sent her months ago, and we have renewed our friendship. It has been open and comfortable, like I remember our interactions from before. And I am humbled and gratful.

And while the emails and phone calls don't take away the ache in my heart, they do ease it some. They do dry the tears some days. And these people do remind me that God is in control, that He knows my path and my future. He knew these fractured relationships would be repaired at just the moment that I would need the love and support.

I tell myself every day that this new beginning is just a continuation of the journey God has for me and that if I'll keep moving my eyes toward Him (though my vision may be all teary-blurry), I'll be okay. Beyond okay! I'll be contented and loved.

[  posted by Chel on Tuesday, September 12, 2006  ]

Sunday, September 10

This is my week to host the Carnival of Beauty. The topic this week is Beginnings and Endings, which seems remarkably fitting for me at this stage in life. I always look forward to reading the essays submitted, so I know this will be a fun few days. Sallie has rules posted on her blog, and I will be taking submissions through 6 p.m. on Tuesday. I'll post the Carnival either late Tuesday or early Wednesday morning. You may email your entries to me at: createdbychel (at)

If you'll click on the Carnival button in the middle column, it'll take you to all of the info.

[  posted by Chel on Sunday, September 10, 2006  ]

Saturday, September 9

Last night, Mike and I were chatting, and I told him that one of the highlights of my day was a phone conversation with Aleece in which we laughed at one another's pain. It made me feel better to laugh, to say out loud the problems that I have and to see the absurdity in them.

She and I are both in situations in which our lives are changing. From this point forward, things will never be the same as they were before, and that's hard. But as she and I were talking, I was able to see the humor in it all. At some point, she said, "these are great stories. Why do I not see these on the blog?" I think funny plays better on the phone than in print, but I'll give it a shot.

I'm not an outdoor girl...not a fan of nature... Florida has these weird little frogs. They're tiny - about the size of a dime, big ones top out at quarter-size - and all green and slimy looking. And they appear to have decided that my mailbox is THE place to be. So every day, in order to put something in or take something out of the mailbox, I whack on the side of it for a minute or so before opening it. My theory is that I'll give them plenty of notice & they can shimmy to the back so I can do my mail business. I'm willing to live and let live. But this hopping on my mail is just too much!

Sometimes, though, they suffocate, so I find a dead tiny frog in the mailbox (imagine how my mailman must hate me, especially since my kids often insist on waiting for him and getting the mail in person, often singing the mail song from "Blue's Clues") and then I have to yell at Mike - "dead frog!" - and have him take care of it. (He just came in from mowing & had a frog riding on his arm. Ugh.)

And I've been riding in the van alone this week to and from work, and I've been thinking about how homesick I am and I've been crying, and I've managed to give myself a stye. Lovely.

And Mike had a student lie to him about why she couldn't meet with him one afternoon, and upon discovering the lie, he left his office, got in his truck, and drove across campus to the school pool to see if he could see her. He said he spotted a "blonde with big boobs" (which, here, isn't a distinguishing thing... everyone's blonde with big boobs) but that he couldn't tell if it was her or not. I asked what his plan was... what he was going to do if he determined it was her. He said, "oh, it didn't matter. I couldn't find a parking spot." So my dear husband's detective work was thwarted by the lack of good parking.

The popular trend in mowing down here seems to be electic lawn mowers. They're quiet, sure. Mike's out there with his big, old gasoline mower making tons of noise, and you can hardly tell these guys are out there. Except that they're funny looking. It looks like all of these men are vacuuming their lawns. It's the same principle. They carry the cord in one hang, slinging it out of the way, and mow with the other hand. Vacuuming the lawns.

Last weekend, the sheriff's department visited our house because Eliza decided to go ride her tricycle on the porch before anyone else was up & set off the alarm. When the alarm company called, Mike gave them the wrong code word, so I met the cutest little sheriff's deputy.

My class at work is a hen party, full of young women. I sat yesterday eating my Peanut M&Ms and listening to them chatter about this and that, mostly about their weight and how to be skinnier.

Yeah, this stuff is funnier on the phone.

[  posted by Chel on Saturday, September 09, 2006  ]

Thursday, September 7

I've finally fnished the first round of training for my new job, and tomorrow I'll begin the next round (after getting fingerprinted for my background search). I'm worn out. I'm the oldest one in the group, and it's a bit disorienting to realize that I could have baby-sat some of these people. I was dating before they were walking. A friend of mine told me that couldn't be true because we were still young. Clearly, we're not as young as we thought.

Throughout the week, I've spent some time wondering what the heck I was doing at this company. I don't have any business, non-communications experience. But I've trusted that God put me here for a reason, though I certainly don't know what it is. And then this morning, the girl next to me asked me a question about marriage. And while I didn't mention my faith in my answer, I think the door may be open to that. And I was able to tell her that I believe marriages are forever... at least they should be. And I am humbled that I was given the opportunity to share. I am deeply grateful that my representation of my marriage has been positive enough that she would trust me to ask such a question.

I'm always one not to assume I'm being used for anything, but I appreciate that it seems that God may be answering my prayer that I be used by Him.

[  posted by Chel on Thursday, September 07, 2006  ]

Tuesday, September 5

Mama Mandy - September

Sept. 4, 2006
Hi, Mandy.
I'm missing you. Today, when I got in the van to go to the store, I noticed that the new renter neighbors have a big, ceramic elephant in their front yard. My first thought was that had to tell you.

And tonight, Eliza looked through the Packers catalog that came in the mail (since I ordered your charm), and she kept insisting that she was going to find a picture of you and Josh in the catalog. It breaks my heart to hear her talk like that, like you're still just next door, but it's exactly the way I want her to talk about you.

I want my kids to always love you and Josh and to always think of you as being close. And I want little Olivia to think that way of us, even though she won't have had the feeling of having us next door.

Can you believe you're more than half-way through with this pregnancy?! I'm so proud of how you're doing with all of this. I always thought pregnancy sucked, so I'm always very impressed with women who handle it well. I know you have wanted this baby for so long, and that's part of why you're so super about accepting the icky parts of carrying her. But still. You're doing great.

I know Josh probably already has the nursery completed finished, and he's probably made lists of how you're going to get Olivia to and from daycare. Good plans to have, by the way. Get Linda to be your in-case-of-emergency person. She's fabulous with babies and won't mind at all.

And know that Sandra at the daycare rocked both of my babies, and she's going to love Olivia just like she loves them. The Linda who works with Sandra is good and will take excellent care of Olivia, but she's also going to be sure she knows how to rear her better than you do. Listen to Sandra, ignore Linda.

I cut out coupons for Pullups today, and I remembered that I needed to tell you to go ahead and start cutting coupons for diapers. Lots of them don't expire for quite a while, and you'll want diaper coupons. With Olivia being the third baby in your family in less than two years, you can't count on family mailing you coupons, but I will. Promise. And by about mid-October, you will want to go ahead and buy a few packs and some wipes. Plan ahead, you know.

Here's my one piece of advice for this month... talk with Josh and begin thinking of who you will name as Olivia's guardians. And get an attorney if you don't already have one. As soon as you can after she's born, you need to go ahead and have a will drawn up to protect her in case... well, things Mike doesn't like me to talk about. You need a will. Not to be morbid but to be a good mama. Protect Olivia.

I can hardly wait to see you. Just think... in less than two weeks, I'll be sleeping in your guest room. We're going to have such fun. Be warned... I'm gonna put my hands on that baby tummy and talk to Olivia. She needs to know my voice. I'll talk the whole time I'm there, but then, I'd have done that anyway, wouldn't I?

I love you.

[  posted by Chel on Tuesday, September 05, 2006  ]

Monday, September 4

Before I forget (which in our new Florida life happens much more than I'd care to admit), I'm going to be hosting the Carnival of Beauty next week (Sept. 13) on the Beauty of Beginnings and Endings (fitting, yes?).

Everyone should read the rules Sallie established for the Carnival before submitting. The deadline is usually mid-afternoon on Tuesday, but I won't work on the Carnival until after the kids are in bed that evening, so my deadline will be 6 p.m. (EST - we're still adjusting to that) on Tuesday, the 11th.

Mail submissions to me at: createdbychel (at)

I look forward to all of the wonderful essays I'll get to read!

[  posted by Chel on Monday, September 04, 2006  ]

Sunday, September 3

Catez tagged me, and it's a quiet little meme, so here goes.

At This Very Moment
1. Are you craving anything, and if so, what?
Mike and I are sitting here in bed, reading the Sunday papers and eating a box of Edy's Dibs. Yum.

2. What is the weather outside and do you wish it would change? It's dark here, so I've got no idea what the weather is. But we spent a wonderful two days at the Daytona Beach area with Chuck, Stacy, and the kids, and the weather was lovely. Clear blue skies, white tipped waves, soft sand. Perfect.

3. What two websites do you think you'll go to next after here? Netflix, to check my queue, and the Google page I've saved relating to churches in our new area. I'm determined that we'll attend church here next Sunday, so I've got to get busy making a list of possibilities.

4. Do you wish you were somewhere else, and if so, where? Curled up here in bed with the quiet humming of the baby monitor and Mike reading aloud to me (which I hate) seems like the perfect place to be. I'd wish, though, for a magic way to stop time and give me several extra hours of sleep tonight before the kids wake up ready to greet their day off.

5. Do you wish you were someone else, and if so, who? Nope. With this move, I've gained new confidence and a renewed appreciation of... me. But I might wish to be a me who lived in a house with laundry, cleaning, and grocery fairies. Elves would work, too. Oh, how I love the idea of house elves in Harry Potter... little beings to do the chores while I slept. Probably every mama's wish.

And I now tag... Kat, my new Florida blogging friend; Josh, my old friend; Lisa, whose blog I always enjoy; and YOU. I've been getting hits on the blog from folks I don't know... if you visit but don't comment, take this opportunity to consider yourself tagged. Be sure to let me know where your answers are!

Happy Labor Day!

** Josh responded - 9/5

[  posted by Chel on Sunday, September 03, 2006  ]