Without even having to ask what I wanted and needed most, my favorites knew that the best Mothers’ Day gift for me this year was time.

Time away.

Time to think.

Time to breathe.

Time to relax.

Time to write.

Time to dream.

Time free from the incessant barrage of expectations that I sometimes feel I’m drowning in as a working mother of three small children.  

When I got to my van Friday afternoon, there was a hotel key and an address on my seat. In that hotel room was literally everything I could ever have needed or wanted for the next 24 hours: journal, clothes, toiletries, laptop, iPad, books, tech case, extra phone charger in case I’d forgotten mine, a mani/pedi gift certificate for a place right up the street, a gift card for dinner from my favorite restaurant within walking distance, a stash of drinks in the mini fridge, snacks, and most importantly…a small pile of chocolate.

It was the stuff of dreams, y’all.

For 24 hours I prayed and read and wrote and cried. I organized my files, took a frivolously long shower, left fragile items wherever I wanted, and let the Yelp app choose my breakfast.

You may have a different personality type, but God made me in such a way that time like this is as essential to my sanity as having air to breathe. I truly love the service-oriented nature of my profession, but the fact is that all day long, I’m covered up with endless requests from teenagers and adults who need, need, need and are loud, loud, loud about it. As soon as Sassafras walks into my library each afternoon, work life and mom life overlap. My kids, my sweet and beautiful treasures, they also need, need, need and are loud, loud, loud about it. It can suck the life right on out of an introvert.

Maybe not anything so lavish as this carefully orchestrated getaway, but on a regular basis I need some time. Mamas need some time.

Let’s try to do a better job of taking some small bits of time, ladies. Families, hold us to it. 

A Southern Ruckus

The Captain and others whose opinions I greatly value have been telling me that a change in URL really was necessary.

And that Sperare Caeli was sweet and all, but nobody can pronounce it.

And that it might be helpful to interested readers to have an address that people can remember.

And spell.

And even at though I'm no expert in the bliggety bloggin' universe or marketing or whatever you want to call it...even at my most obstinate I had to admit they were right.

And so here we are. Welcome to A Southern Ruckus. Same song, different channel.

I'm so glad you're here.

The state of our salubriousnessicity

The diet. Oh me oh my, the diet. So the good news is two-fold:

1) that The Captain and I are maintaining our current weight rather than creeping back up,


2) given the nice chunk of pounds we shed during our first month or so, we are still doing pretty good in the grand scheme of things.

I surely to goodness wish that was all I had to say about that.

However, here are our current areas of difficulty:

-as the busy-ness of our life has hit Threat Level Midnight in the past few months, we’ve left “planning ahead” by the wayside. And yeah, everybody knows you won’t be successful with a diet if you don’t plan ahead for your food. No surprise there.

-we are falling very, very short of meeting our gym visit goals each week. That’s a time thing and that’s a parents-of-three-small-children thing but ultimately it’s a want-to thing, and we just don’t. The bouquet of excuses is plentiful and we frequently partake.

I will say that one of the best moments I’ve had recently was going out to dinner with some colleagues and realizing that I am now willingly (not willfully) making the right food choices. That’s big for me, y’all. Without even realizing it, I truly wanted the healthiest item on the menu. And it was really good. And I wasn’t even a smidge disappointed because I got exactly what I wanted.

So there’s that.

Got any tricks for making yourself go to the gym? Please do tell.

The Rainy Day

Once upon a time, The Captain and his lady were living in their very first home together. They were dreaming of babies, but many unproductive moons had come and gone, so they turned their attention to home updates and repairs. One day The Captain decided it was high time they had the roof fixed. Ever the responsible steward, he secured help from a few teenagers to remove the old shingles and scheduled some professionals for the following morning to lay the new ones, saving The Captain and his lady mucho dinero.

His lady checked the weather, and it looked like rain. She had a funny feeling about it all, but The Captain felt sure it was fine to proceed. And so they did. The Captain and his helper-boys secured numerous tarps over the roof, just as dusk began to descend.

As predicted, light rain fell, which turned into moderate rain, and then heavy rain. Then, it came a gully-washer. The Captain and his lady were both concerned about the tarps, but he was sure he had secured them as well as humanly possible. They slept, thinking forward to how nice it would be to have a new roof on their little love cottage.

A few hours before dawn, The Captain and his lady began to hear a quiet sound like that of fingertips tapping on the ceiling. When they turned on the lights, they saw tiny brown spots forming. In their sleepy stupor, it took them a few minutes to realize that the brown spots were where water was dripping through the 50-year-old slats of the bare roof into the ceilings. The tarps had been blown off.

Stink, they said. Now we're going to have to figure out how to fix these little spots on the ceiling. Total bummer.

As they began to move throughout the house and get their day started, they noticed the brown spots were growing. Then the spots began pooling and dripping. The Captain started using towels to dry ceilings and walls, and his lady used up every pot, bowl, and bucket in the house trying to catch the drips.

It wasn't enough.

The leaks turn into gushes and pretty soon water was pouring in everywhere, from every door facing and through the pooled brown spots, which were starting to crack. The Captain and his lady began to panic and called The Captain's parents for help. They were on their way over when there was a crash.

The ceiling in the living room had caved in. 

Room by room, the ceilings caved and walls ripped. The entire house was filled with wet insulation and sheetrock, and the smell of two-week-old stale wet laundry. 

It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad rainy day. 

The roofers did their work as The Captain held his lady while she sobbed and itched of insulation. They assured him that he had done just as they would have with the tarps; it was simply an unfortunate accident. 

Why, God, why? they asked. Why did you allow this to happen? We have lost everything!

After a harrowing couple of days, The Captain and his lady were relieved to discover that the mess would be covered by insurance. Though it would be uninhabitable for several weeks, their little love cottage would be restored. 

They moved out in garbage bags to the basement of The Captain's grandmother and lived there for eight weeks. 

Quite often, The Captain and his lady would go by to check and see how things were progressing and to see if they could help the workers. One afternoon, The Captain's dad was with him and was looking up into the rafters. He noticed a very peculiar and the most essential detail of the entire tale:

The roofers had accidentally capped one of the age-old heater vents. 
Had The Captain and his lady turned on the heat when winter arrived, they would have been killed.

They never would have known this, if their love cottage had not been gutted to the frame because of all the water damage. 

You ask why? God showed them. So you would live. 

After two months, The Captain and his lady moved back into their little love cottage. It was a little cleaner and a whole lot shinier, but it still felt like home. 

And The Captain and his lady (and their soon-to-be-discovered embryo) lived happily ever after. 

Way Back Wednesday

*Adoption blog, star date September 2010

What's Way Back Wednesday?
**Written the day we appeared in an African court petitioning to be granted parental rights of our Pearl

It has been a long, hard, emotional day. Sassafras is still trying to adjust to Africa time, and was awake from 2:00-5:00am again. Our alarm clocks went off at 5:30 am, and the day began with a frenzy. Our drivers were a little late arriving at our guest home, so that started us all out on an anxious note. Traffic on the way to court in the morning hours was a bit harrowing. (Side note: traffic here period is ca-ray-zay. Vans, boda-bodas/motorcycles, banana trucks, pedestrians are everywhere and in no particularly organized manner. Every journey, no matter how brief, is an experience in desperate prayers for deliverance.) Our driver did an excellent job of getting us there safe and on time, though.

We arrived at our attorney’s office for a briefing around 9:00. It was good to meet the attorney who we have heard about, talked about, and prayed for for such a long time now. He directed us in how to show proper respect to the judge, talked to us about how the proceedings would operate, and gave us a list of things not to do. “The judges here are kings” is what he told us. Their word is final and not ever questioned on any account. He impressed upon us the possibility of getting thrown out of court if we were missing a document or if the judge was irritated with us in any way. By the time we left, we were shaking in our boots.

We were escorted down to the waiting room for court, and then asked where Pearl and the another child whose family had court were located. With about 15 minutes to spare, the other mom and I hauled it out of the maze which was the court building, down the street, hurriedly changed them (with the assistance from one of the mamas from the orphanage who had come with them) into the special clothes we had brought for them, and rushed back down into the building. We sat for about 10 minutes before our attorney called us back to a second waiting room. After a few seconds, our attorney said that our family was up. I think it was at this point I threw up. (Kidding.)

We entered the room and made our way to our seats, careful not to sit down until the judge invited us to do so. I was watching the judge’s face, and saw her tell us to sit. So I began to sit. But The Captain and the other person accompanying us in the hearing did not see her mouth, so they both started furiously whispering “Don’t sit! Don’t sit!” I whispered back that I had heard her say sit, and then we all looked at the attorney, who indicated that yes, it was ok to sit. So we had our very own little Seinfeld moment to start off this incredibly important meeting. Nice, huh?

Our seats were on the left side of the room by the windows, which were open. There was loud construction work going on outside the window, and because of all the noise we had no idea what happened the rest of the time. A few times our attorney looked back at us as though he was asking us something, and we panicked because we had absolutely no idea what was going on. We spent the next 45 minutes or so sitting on pins and needles, hoping and praying furiously that we had all our paperwork, that we did not offend the judge, that Pearl seemed as though she was bonding with us, and that Sassafras was not disruptive in any way. The sweet mama from the orphanage had brought Pearl a bottle, and I held her and rocked her and gave her the bottle during most of the hearing. She eventually drifted off to sleep, so it was good to hold her and enjoy her sweet sleeping while also having some of the stress of the meeting eliminated.

Sassafras had a bag packed with fun things to do, and she was pretty great. The judge requested an additional piece of paperwork, which we did have in our folder. (Pearl and Sassafras both looked adorable in their sweet little matching smocked dresses, by the way!) At the end of our hearing (and the other family’s), our attorney debriefed us and told us that he thought it went well. We will receive our ruling (hopefully verbal and written) on October 1st. We were certainly hoping to get that sooner, but technically we are still on track as far as the time we expected to spend here in Africa. Ultimately, we were just relieved that we were able to appear for our hearing and that it seemed to go well. Except for the sitting part. ;)

We are thankful for the fact that our family and our court hearing was covered in prayer. We appreciate you all so much for the sweet emails and comments! After our hearing, the director from the orphanage told us that we would be able to have our babies tonight. We were really excited about that because we had first been told that we had to wait until we had our positive ruling. Our afternoon trip to the orphanage was especially exciting because we thought we would finally be able to bring the babies back with us and begin to bond with them a little better here. However, once we got there, the director said that we were not going to be able to take them. So, we are back to waiting on our ruling before we can take custody of Pearl. It has been frustrating and heart-breaking, all the back-and-forth.

When we left today, Sassafras poked her lip out and started crying when she realized Pearl was not going to come with us tonight. Which broke this mama’s heart in 2 different ways (hurting for the baby I’m leaving behind, hurting for the baby who is sad because we have to leave her behind). I have to say that ultimately we love this place that has nurtured our children and trust their efforts to protect them. We realize that perhaps this is just better for the babies...which is what we will always want for them. The best part of today was definitely when we started to leave and we kissed our babies goodbye and they CRIED for us. I know that sounds horrible, but what that means is that our children are becoming attached to us. They are beginning to see us and depend on us as a constant in their lives. Pearl is beginning to bond with us! We are sad to see her tears but praising the Lord for what they mean. God is good. Even when there are tears. Sorry the post was so long. So many details I just want to remember. Thanks for being my sounding board.