Monday, August 30, 2010

we were here.

so last night lasted a lot longer than i had planned.  my intention was to be at the old apartment for a couple of hours, clean like my life depended on it, fill up the car and head back home.

but it took much longer than i had thought it would, and found myself scrub-a-dub-dub'ing for about 6 hours.  it wasn't like the apartment was even in bad shape, we had left it generally clean.  it's also not like it's a huge palace with vaulted ceilings and marble floors.

being honest, i worked hard but took my time doing it.  i was glad i had listened to ben's suggestion to get a movie from the redbox before going in, but unfortunately the pickings are slim on a saturday night at the redbox and i was left with the nicholas sparks movie, "the last song."  it wasn't awful, i just struggle with nicholas sparks movies and books in general.  i feel like he tries to hard to tug on the sappy & emotional chains of women around the nation.  i like a movie that takes my emotions by surprise instead of one where i'm anticipating a cheesy line or smoldering look around every corner.

i think going in knowing that at one point i would be watching a miley cyrus montage of her running down the beach getting all teenage-smoochy-face with her movie star boyfriend, and then eventually someone was going to die...because they almost always do in a nicholas sparks' movie....made it more bearable.  {and no, not a tear was shed from me.  i know you were wondering.}

and i will probably never admit this if you ask me to my face, but i may or may not have listened to the theme song to that movie around 10 times while i cleaned.  let's just say if you had walked past my apartment door between the hours of 8:30-9:30 you would have heard a lynsey/miley belting competition.  {i'd like to say i won, but that miley has one heck of a chest voice.}

moving on.

once the movie was over, as i continued cleaning i listened to music that reminded me of our two years in that little space of our apartment.  

and that's when the emotions took me by surprise {without the help of nicholas}, sneaking up from behind but not touching me, like a shadow.  
our first few nights in that apartment were my very definition of peaceful.  we had just finished a year of chaos in north carolina, and then had been living out of suitcases and invading others' homes for 2 months while they so generously shared their space with us.  

we had nothing, except our suitcases.  no furniture, no TV, no internet.  we went to the nearby target, bought some temporary dishes, some markers and one of those ginormous coloring books for caleb.  when we got home we colored, ate dinner and slept on the floor as a family of 3 (and 1/2).

it was a fantastic night.

i was so grateful to once again be us.  things were easy, and quiet and happy.

as i scrubbed the walls i found leah's favorite spot in the apartment.  it was to the side of our couch, right where she could stand to see outside one of the windows.  i washed her fingerprints off of the space that she would grip the wall as she would yell, "TWEET TWEET" at the birds whenever one would fly by.

i thought about the day we brought her home to this apartment.  i had this beautiful little girl who had turned our world upside down in a good way all within 24 hours. 

i scrubbed off fingerprints and vacuumed away footprints, took down curtains and pulled nails out of the walls where pictures had been hung.  i picked up what was left of the time we spent in this apartment.  and when i had finished i found myself emotional.  

the space was now empty, the walls clean and picture-less.  like a once colorful canvas now re-painted white, waiting for the next group to fill it with their colors.

and there was nothing left

of us.

i found myself wanting to carve our names into the walls of our walk-in closet, to leave something tangible behind.  

like the final scene in one of my all-time favorite series "felicity" {which by the way, i am going to invest in all 4 seasons one of these days.} when she carves "felicity was here" and tears stream down your cheeks as you remember the first day she stepped out of the taxi in NYC and you feel like you've watched her grow up and you've grown up right along with her.

i didn't carve our names though, out of fear of not getting the full return on our deposit.  i may be sentimental but i'm not an idiot.

i realized that even though we can never re-create those memories and there is something sad about saying good-bye to a part of life, we were really happy here.

we potty-trained caleb here, became a family of 4 here, got through ben's hardest years of school here, made friends here.  we were part of an online reality show here, enjoyed visitors, celebrated birthdays and holidays, hair growth and marble towers.  overcame emotional and physical struggles.  played, cried, imagined, hugged, calmed, kissed, apologized, smiled, forgave, laughed, and loved.


i packed up the rest of the car, turned out all of the lights, took one last look at what we had called home for two years, and closed the door for the last time.

i turned on some sad music and felt my eyes fill up with tears,  but as i drove out about 10 cars up from our parking space, i saw it.

something tangible.

it was small, and insignificant to others, but it was there.

a jar of smucker's strawberry jam had apparently rolled down the parking lot after my struggles with the trash bags earlier that night.  i know i should have stopped to pick it up, but instead i left it there.  and it wasn't the same thing as carving our names into walls, but it was something.  a mark we left behind.

i smiled as i drove away from the little apartment on thunderbird road, looking at the jam through my rearview mirror.

we were here.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

lynsey vs. the garbage bags.


i've been at our apartment for about 3.5 hours now, cleaning.

i've filled 5 garbage bags so far, mostly of food from the fridge & freezer that i don't care to bring along to the house.  it's kind of nice to start out with a fresh bag of frozen berries instead of a 3/4 used one, you know?

so anyway.

ben is home with the kids, so i'm flying solo on this final cleaning business.

i had been stacking garbage bags outside, and decided once the pile started taking on a mind of its own that maybe i should take them to the dumpster.

thinking i was maybe superwoman, i grabbed two full garbage bags and hefted them up, only to realize that they were both crazy heavy.  but to try to limit my trips back & forth to the dumpster since it's hotter than you know what outside, i decided to drag them both.  saving not only a round trip, but also my back.

i am so smart.


i'm really not.

because i had filled these babies to the brim with pickle jars, mayo jars, ketchup and teriyaki sauce bottles.  so as i made my way over to the dumpster, unbeknownst to little ol' me, one of the bottoms of the bags split open.  i was feeling like i was such a tough piece of work until i finally realized as i reached the dumpster that i had been littering the parking lot with random glass jars.

i wanted to curse.

but, i didn't.

the bag that had split open was heavy, but luckily i was able to grab the bottom and arch it over the side without dropping anything else.  i then walked around the parking lot, picking up the remains of what i had littered.

and went back for another round.

this time, i tried to carry the next bag, thinking that me dragging the last one on the ground was what had weakened the so-called "hefty" plastic & splitting it.  but unfortunately, the powers that be were really out to humiliate a short, sweating & frustrated girl such as myself today.  

the bag split apart about halfway to the dumpster, again dropping random nasty food all over the parking lot.  i caught on quickly this time, but couldn't stop in the middle of the street because there were some oncoming cars.  so i tried over and over again to grip the bottom of the bag and lift it up with the top.  

unfortunately my technique didn't turn out so well the second time around.  each time that i repeatedly grabbed the bottom of the bag, it continued to shred.  no matter how hard i tried i could not get it to hold together.

so, i did what any girl in my situation would do.

i panicked, and started running.

well the term "running" is used loosely here because i was carrying about 60 lbs of food.  but i sure used all of my efforts to put a good hustle in.  i made it to the dumpster basically carrying the bag in my arms and let out a good, "AAAARGGGHH!" as i threw it over.  i felt like i was channeling either venus or serena williams when they smack that tennis ball as hard as they can during a serve.

and then spent the next 5 minutes again picking up all that had been lost along the way.

as i walked back to the apartment i avoided eye contact with the remaining bags of trash, opened the door and then closed it behind me.

i've got to work up the willpower to finish that job.

anyone wanna come help?


Friday, August 27, 2010

"part of you pours out of me from time to time"

here are pictures of me recording in my brother's studio one of my absolutely favorite songs of all time,

this song speaks to my soul.

i love these pictures of my brother.

i love my brother.

story behind the pictures to come.


Monday, August 23, 2010

on why lukewarm tap water in arizona may not be as bad as i had once thought it was.

{here we are in less stressful days, on bennigan's 31st birthday, pre-move.}

we are here, folks!

hot diggity dog i never thought i'd see the day when i would be sitting down again, let alone on my couch again.  it is a beautiful thing.  beautiful i say.

anyone who has moved knows that moving.  is.  exhausting.  in fact i need a nap just mentioning the word.  


but for us, moving also never comes without some sort of adventure.  our adventures were more traumatic to me the last time around, when i thought we would never be leaving from the bermuda triangle that was the group home.  then when our possessions didn't show up on time, and we were sleeping on the floor for a couple of days at the new apartment.

so for this go 'round, i was already on my guard, ready to expect the unexpected.  luckily i was emotionally and mentally prepared.  unfortunately, ben was not.  the poor fella thought this would be a smooth transition.  doesn't he know yet that we are ben & lynsey, who never do things smoothly?  the "easy" award goes to that other guy, not to us.  but that's okay, i accept and embrace it.  {well not embrace so much.  but accept.}

anyway, we had help packing the truck in and help unloading it, and just when we got comfortable and thought we might be through the nervewracking-what-will-go-wrong-this-time period, we realized:

the gas man didn't come!

{side note:  do the gas men know that this is their nickname?  "the gas man?"  i would need to feel very passionately about pursuing this profession in order to take on that nickname.  just sayin'.}

so back to the point.

do we all know what the gas man does?  if you answered that he turns on the hot water, you would be correct.  if you also answered that he turns on a gas stove {which we now have} then you would be correct twice.  aren't you awesome?

ben came flying through the garage, ticked off, announcing in a loud voice,


see what i mean?  ben was not emotionally and mentally prepared.  i, on the other hand, was pleasantly surprised.

"is that all?"  i asked him sweetly, my eyes wide with shock.

'"is that all?  ALL?"  his face started to get red.  his arms were flailing around.  luckily we now have a big family room so that i didn't fall victim to his upset-ness.


and that's just what benjamin strader did.  

unfortunately, the woman behind the gas man customer service phone number didn't give a hoot.

"i'm sorry sir, but it's saturday.  the earliest one of our gas men could be there is on monday," she explained with an even, i-don't-give-a-hoot tone.

well.  ben is the cheese man and that totally supersedes the gas man, so he informed her that he wanted to file an official complaint.

and then i'm pretty sure she took a little pleasure in this reply,

"sure, sir.  and you can do just that on monday, when our office is open."

poor ben angrily pushed the END CALL button and turned to me, with flames in his eyes.  so i did what any good wife of the cheese man would do, and offered him a cheesy teesy {to those not privy to "cheese jargon" it is also known as a tortilla with cheese melted on it} so he could eat away his emotions.

we went for 2 days without hot water, and our kids got the royal treatment for their baths.  and the definition of "royal treatment" is heating up bowl after bowl of water in the microwave so that they wouldn't catch hypothermia as we scrubbed the nastiness and grub off after the move.  

i'll admit it, i went for as long as i could without taking a shower.  but by sunday afternoon i couldn't take it anymore.  there was no amount of perfume that could help me, so i cowboyed up and prepared myself for what every teenage boy has probably had to face at some point in their lives.

a cold shower.

but the good news?  

well on a normal day i can't stand the fact that i'd just like a nice, cool glass of water from the faucet on a hot summer's afternoon in arizona and instead have to quickly gulp down lukewarm tap water which is just never as refreshing.

however, arizona's inability to contain a cooled water pipe system served me well during my shower.  it was shocking at first, i'm not going to lie.  a gasp escaped my lips as i stepped in.  but after about 30 seconds or so it became more bearable.  that doesn't mean i took my time, oh no.  i hustled as quickly as i could to get out.  but every now and then, i would get a taste of real warmth in the water.  kind of like being in the shallow end of a pool, surrounded by kids who didn't know how to control their bladder functions while swimming.  {nice visual?}

well we survived it.  no hot water, no ability to even heat up water on our stove or cook anything for the weekend.  and we are slowly but surely getting every room together.  of course almost every room is decorated, because that's the way i roll....and eventually everything else will be put away too.

no pictures yet, but they will come along soon.

and can i just say for a moment?

that i am actually grateful that we have had our struggles.  that things like getting into a house haven't been easy, and didn't come quickly.  because i have felt since we've moved in that we are actually renting a country instead of a house.  there's so much room!  my kids have more than a 5ft x 5 ft area to walk/play/fight in!  they have their own rooms and we have an extra room as an office for ben!  

it is wonderful.  and i am grateful.  not that i completely love to struggle along and survive in cramped quarters, but this new place has just brought so much happiness that i don't know would have been there if we had had access to it all along.  

can't taste the sweet without the bitter, right?

a lesson i have been continually taught.


Friday, August 20, 2010

eating pickles.

both of my kids adore pickles.

after leah's first one, she came up to the counter over and over asking for more.

"kick-os?  good?  more?  kick-os?  peese?"

then waddled around the apartment eating them one at a time.


we're moving tomorrow & even though things are crazy around here, we're seriously excited.

have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


we went to caleb's last PT appointment before we move...

miss bethany has been awesome & caleb seriously loves her & all of the fun things he gets to do while he's there.

leah loves trying to steal caleb's toys while he works hard, and also enjoys staring at herself in the mirror.  {yes she's got the "bink-bink" in her mouth.  it was past her nap time & she was making us all too aware.  don't judge.}

then we rushed home for nap time/quiet time, and during those i made these....

so we could take them to say good-bye to our first friends in phoenix...

{blue gum:  find it.}

we just love the beckers.  fawn was nice to me my first day in church, when i was totally self-conscious and shy.  luckily she has a really outgoing personality & invited a socially awkward individual such as myself to hang out.  now, two years later we are still friends. 

NOBODY throws a party like fawn.  she has the best food and even better decorations & party favors.  she's also amazingly talented at sewing and making adorable hair clips for little girls.  i'm really grateful for her & how she has taught me how much it can mean to someone to reach out to them when they're new.
we'll definitely be keeping in touch!

caleb has already promised to become pen pals this little gal:

which is good since they just might get married one day.

then, since we had nothing to eat in the house except cans of green beans and freezer-burned popsicles, i took the kids to the store & we rushed home to find a surprise.  ben was home early {at 6pm instead of 8pm} and we got a play-by-play of his first day at his new practicum, where he was an ACTUAL therapist to several new clients.  i think he's going to love it, and i'm glad he's getting a taste of it while he's still in school so that he can change his specialty if he wants to.

i was so glad he was home because after staying up until 4am the night before & then running around all day, i was pretty worn out.  so he helped feed the little madam:

after dinner, baths and bedtime for the kids, i was able to go out with these two:

my good friends aubrey & val.  we have been doing weekly girls nights over at my apartment for a few months and i am seriously grateful for it.  they gave me something to look forward to during an otherwise pretty lonely week of nights by myself, and i am going to miss it.  but we promised to still meet up once a month to hang out.  and since they're both also moving, i am also on a secret mission to find them both places to live that are close to us!

it was a long, good day.  now i am back to the ol' grind.  how in the world did we live with so much stuff to fit into such a small space for two years??