June 15, 2016

First dentist visit and so much joy

This past Monday was Claire's first dentist visit. I always assumed certain things would be momentous parenting moments: Kindergarten graduation, riding a bike, driving  car, prom.. but I never expected the full blown, heart tugging moments that have jumped up and grabbed me.

Take for instance Claire's first ballet class. It took me completely by surprise how my heart was filled with joy over-brimming and I couldn't have been more proud- with her little bun, and her chin ducked down in concentration, tongue in her cheek, trying to focus so hard and to do every little thing the teacher told her.

I about passed out from glee!

And again this week another experience rivaled it both in joy and in the surprise of the depth of pride it brought me.

We've had Claire's first dentist appointment on the books for a while. I've been talking to her about it and what she might expect.

A month ago I gave Claire her first hair "cut" (trim) and as I was cutting Claire said, "Save some for the dentist!"...

So clearly she was thinking about the visit a lot but was also confused as to what would really happen there.

For the record, I had told her some day she would sit in a chair and a woman would wash her hair and cut it. And perhaps the big special chair of dentistry just melded with hair cutting.

Fast forward to Monday. I got a sitter, and Sophie howled with sorrow that she couldn't come. I saw a little glimpse into Claire's heart as she got down by Sophie and said, "Sophie, the dentist isn't all fun... it's actually a little scary."  Which sobered Sophie up quite nicely and she was then quite content to wish us well as we left without her and little brother.

As we pulled up at the dentist I told Claire she would need to walk in to the office and the big desk and say her full name and that she had an appointment.

She straightened her little back, and as solemnly as she could walked up to the front desk and almost inaudibly said her full name.

The receptionists all "ahhed" in unison and commented on her serious face.

I took the clipboard and sat to fill in her information and Claire asked me no less than 5 times if she could do it. Finally, at the end, I handed her the clip board with the pen dangling by a light chain, and she said and oh so carefully wrote her name in scrawling, big overlooping letters and then straight as an arrow walked the clipboard back up to the receptionists, turned on a dime and went and sat in a chair to peruse a magazine.

The receptionists all commented on how cute and passed the clipboard around to look at how she wrote her own name.

At last our hygenist came out to call Claire. Claire asked if she could go alone. The answer was no, I would be going with her (such a big girl now!). I could see her eyeing Jill's (the hygensist's) neon pink smock with glee and wonder. It was neon pink and almost seemed to be glowing.

Maybe what brought me such joy was seeing her interact with the world for the first time on her own. Her joy, reserve, courage and brazen curiosity. And in it all seeing myself at the core.

She climbed up into the large dentist chair at first timidly but as soon as she felt the soft leather the sheer joy of adventure overrode any fear (again, like mom). She let Miss Jill show her the tools (Mr. Squirt and Mr. Thirsty) and let her count her teeth then clean them.

She even opened as widely as she could so the dentist could "count" her teeth too (check them).

I was simultaneously overflowing with pride and joy while also so shocked at the depth of emotion in such a mundane moment.

Parenting.. full of surprises!

June 5, 2016

From Sun Up...

From sun up til sun down in this season of life I'm worn out.

Unlike my working years I'm not stressed. I enjoy my life. I don't go to bed with the insomnia a weighty tomorrow threw at me.

But my hours and days are chaotic. A beautiful chaos of "sliddering" snakes on the living room floor, tu-tus, chocolate smeared hands and warm hugs. But chaos just the same.

I'm not stressed but I'm overwhelmed. Overwhelmed at the prospect of how quickly life is moving and of how deeply I could be messing it all up.

All while underneath I feel a quiet peace that we're doing it the best we can which must be right.

This week my sister and brother in law found out he has cancer.. horrible, insidious, unforgiving and merciless. And like a dainty little top their entire worlds have been thrown upside down.

My two year old didn't stop ignoring me, my four year old didn't stop her chatter, and the baby didn't stop screaming. But I sat in stunned silence and thought that it could be me tomorrow, my baby today, my husband next week.... Gone. Chained up to chemicals and a future no one can read. The light airiness that today is a gift filled my mind and made it swim.

One by one I caught my little people and held their warm little bodies in a hug as long as they would allow.

Today is a gift. From sun up til sundown. With all of the chaos and overwhelming imperfection in between. It's a gift and it won't always be here.

I sat there watching my children and I felt my exhaustion and my overwhelmed spinning mind and thought what a gift... to be worried about such simple, trite things. What a gift to have no pain so I can feel my exhaustion as though it's something big.

What a gift...

* Please pray for my sister, brother in law and their children... There are no sufficient words when worlds begin to unravel.

June 4, 2016

So Much To Say

I've just been craving to blog... Life has been crazy lately with a lot of personal family stuff going on... Family sickness and big change. It's all a long story and while I would love to write about it to remember it, I don't feel like they are my stories to tell... The short of it is my grandparents are in a nursing home now three hours away (where they've never lived and no family lives), and my brother in law (my sister's husband) started chemo today for a cancer they only learned about three days ago.

I want to talk to you about some books I've read, insights I've gained, weaknesses I've discovered, and parenting memories. We've called poison control in the past month for too much flouride tooth paste, and had some unforunate hydrocoritzone smearing and some sunblock smearing.

I met a little elderly friend while visiting my brother in law in the ER. She was a patient as well and my heart broke for her.. alone in a city she didn't know, and not sure of the year much less why she was there (it was a broken hand- and the assisted living sent her along in a taxi to the ER...). Needless to say she's a new friend and I will be taking the kids to see her.

The biggest news of all is the news I am not wanting to share.. that I am the most reluctant, hesitant, unconfident and least likely homeschooling mom for the next year. But it's there.. and it's happening. My reasons are plentiful and my doubt is abundant.. but my certainty in doing it for this season is stronger than my fear, idols and uncertainty.

Maybe, just maybe, if I get bold and drop my fear of being judged I will write more about it.

But I just had to share this much... I just had to get this all off my chest and out of my mind.

I'm reading Codependent No More because apparently codepedency isn't weakness and neediness as I thought but is basically ME. Wanting to control others, feeling like I'm responsible for their comfort and happiness etc. (insert mind blown picture/emoji here). I'm also reading And Baby Makes Three by Gottman about how your marriage changes after baby. Because apparently, feeling like you're alone or it's just your marriage isn't healthy. Parenting is just a new season (and a hard one at times!), it's all consuming and it changes you. It's a new phase. And we are planning on rocking it!! As soon as I finish this book... (ha).

Isaac First Birthday- 12 months old

My little baby boy is one year old! And just like that, in the blink of an eye, the cliche is true. Time flies. It all goes so quickly.
Sleepy party boy.

Sweet little Isaac, this last month you have just blossomed into a little person/boy before our very eyes.

On your actual birthday we had our final gospel community at some friends' house with a shrimp boil.  I brought cupcakes for everyone and a big cookie cake that said happy birthday and a candle. We all sang to you and you dug in and I didn't get one picture. #sorryboutthat

Nan gave you a big green tractor that actually drives but for the time being that will stay in the garage and a pirate rocking ship. Aunt Bessie sent you a little tinker shop that makes noise. We got you a superman "figurine" and a Captain America t-shirt. About a week later Papa and Lolo came with a cake (chocolate with blue frosting) and you got a little red car from the movie cars. You immediately got on it and started trying to scoot around happily.

You are a happy boy. Most days you only get one nap because we are going places with the girls but you would prefer two. You sleep through the night and pull up everywhere. Just last week you started climbing! Up on the girls bed, giggling the whole way. Hiking your leg up on the hearth/piano bench/ you name it. You rock yourself on your pirate ship and just fall off head first and crawl away when done. You bang on your sisters' doll house, chase them around, and yell if they are in their room with the door closed.

You crawl around the backyard scraping up your knees and getting muddy but as happy as you can be. You like being swung high, big hugs, and lots of food. You eat black beans and absolutely anything else we will give you but you are NOT a fan of your crackers being broken in half or of cow's milk.

You still nurse about three times a day and you are partial to your momma.

If you can, you will grab a bunch of Sophie's hair since you think it looks like fun (she is NOT a fan of this). The girls are smitten with you and declare you are the cutest baby in the whole world.

You can say "mama", "ada" (and once "DADDY!"), "aight aight" (night night), bye and your very favorite "is" (this). You bark like a dog and love to read usborne touchy feely books and Dear Zoo.

I love your sweet hugs most of all.
blurry but sooo cute!

We love you sweet boy!

Happy birthday!!

(18lbs and 30 inches).

May 11, 2016

A Letter To My Future Self IV

Again, because sooner than you think you will forget.

Having a blog is great. Sometimes I read back through old posts and in doing so I see that I tend to paint a rose colored picture. Not on purpose- but I'm motivated when things are going well and I want to remember those good days.

This season is thick with blessings and challenges. I'm overall exhausted, stretched thin and feeling like a failure. All while it's the best time ever. You know.. contradictions.

The other night after a long blur of a day, complete with a chaotic supper where the baby grunted and screamed, the 2 year old disobeyed non stop and the 4 year old interupted the entire time. We got them down and found ourselves sitting in the dark in the living room and I think I may have been a little...I don't know.. despondent.

Jacob lovingly said that he thought that maybe, perhaps I had been a little, it is quite possible.. depressed. For maybe... possibly.. the last five years.

And the thing is I know I'm not. I'm just knee deep in the heavy days of mothering where I don't know where I fit. Where flossing and washing my hair feel like selfish endeavors and where leaving my kids even with people I love and trust riddles me with guilt- not that I'm leaving them but that I am making other people word so hard with the constant crazies of it all.

So we-- I -- have known for a while that I need a change. That I need more "self care". Today I hired a sitter and went and got a hair cut and feel better than I have in a long time.

But future you- I want you to remember what this season is like.

The sweetness of a 2 year old with bottom lip jutted out and crying at a perceived slight, comes and nuzzles into you for comfort. Claire with her progressively long and lean body wants to much to give the right answers, and help mother but still wants to occasionally be treated like a baby and rocked or  to climb up in my lap.

For the past month every person in our home has slept through the night (mostly). This is huge. Sophie has more or less potty trained (... mostly...) and (mostly) stays in her bed at bedtime after we took away her nap.

Mornings are slow for us and start around 7:30 and sometimes the girls even giggle and play in their room for a bit. We do a slow breakfast and I am trying to incorporate doing "chores" first thing. Getting dressed.. brushing teeth.. reading our Bible (they sit and look at a picture Bible), and picking up their room.

Then I tell them if they've picked up everything I will turn on the tv. This normally puts off tv for some hours. During which time I say, "Let's check the eggs in the nest!" or "Let's look at your flowers!" Or "Let's feed the dogs!" and I get them outside and withint 30 seconds they have gone different directions and are playing.

These are days though of constant chaos. Mainly centered around the stage Sophie is in... She takes off all of her clothes, she sneaks into our bathroom and eats so much toothpaste we have to call poison control, she cranks the sprinkler so high the water is shooting into the neighbor's yard and Claire is yelling because it got her in the eye, Sophie is constantly naked, eating dog food or trying to bend the dog's tail... Isaac is in that little sweet spot where he grunts and yells to communicate and will nod emphatically when asked if he's hungry. He will try to eat most anything and JUSt started taking a bottle (with a slit top so water comes out faster).

The girls bicker on occasion but mainly love each other. They've just started sitting and Claire "reads" multiple books to Sophie. Our new normal stop is the library for about 15 minutes then we come home and read all of the "new" books.

No naps anymore.. isaac ideally naps twice but sometimes because of our schedule he only gets one.
WE are trying "big girl quiet" time which consists of sophie in the girl's room playing wildly and loudly banging dolls against the doll house etc. and Claire in our room in a nest of pillows on our bed- looking in her treasure bag (aka- choking hazards we put up high away from the baby/Sophie) and doing puzzles.

Honestly we watch Wild Krattz every afternoon.

It doesn't even sound all that bad... But I know that in this season more often than naught my texts to friends are SOS cries of desperation and pleading for connection. I'm normally feeling like a constant failure and unsure of how to proceed. I think most of it boils down to losing myself, letting myself go and needing time for myself.  And honestly- I don't want to forget this...

May 3, 2016

Road Therapy

In the last two days I have been on the road for eight hours.

That's not much.

But I was alone. With no children mainly.

It was me, the open road, and a quiet place to talk and catch up with people.

And when those conversations found their close- it was a place for me to get way too excited about hearing this song on the radio while simultaneously marveling that I at one time in my life thought it was really really good and really really cool.

April 22, 2016

The Greatest Journey: Flat lands

If I stood at the back corner of our lot and looked out towards the cotton fields at night I could see far away lights on the horizon.

I would tell myself for sure that the lights were from a town thirty miles away.

In the day time I would marvel at the blue bowled dome of sky rarely dotted by clouds. And when there were clouds I would lie on my back in the grass and stare at the cumulonimbus imagining just on the other side of white there were high and towering worlds of falling waterfalls and lush green jungles.

Some evenings I could look to the east and see dark clouds resting as far as the eye could see and I was convinced they were purple mountain ranges. Never mind we lived on the dry dusty plains.

One thing was consistent. The world was a wonderful adventure I really wanted to dive into.

My grandmother had a closet in her car port that had stacks and stacks of old National Geographics dating back decades.

My mom would leave me in the main room alone with stacks of the magazines. To me they were portals to other lands... Mountainous ranges, frozen tundras, moist ecosystems so unlike my home. The most fascinating by far were any spreads on Africa-- that broad, beautiful, and mysterious continent.

The first time I really felt like a traveler, I was standing in an airport in Houston at a help desk. Frantic, excited and so naive. It was my first connection to board my first transatlantic flight. Alone.

I was 21 and it was Christmas break my junior year of college. People were bustling everywhere and I was about to miss my connecting flight and I had lost my passport.

The desk worker made a call and within minutes my passport was back in my hands.

I dodged a bullet. Only all of these years later I look back and see how reckless I was. Brave, fearless and mercifully spared from danger over and over again.

I remember that flight so clearly. I soaked in every detail. The turbulence, the different languages, the view from the window, the not knowing if you will make it in time.  Everything was thrilling.  Everything.

I didn't sleep a single wink.

I remember at some point on that journey thinking, "I'm a traveler." And it was the greatest feeling.

There's so much to take in on your first trip abroad... How toilets flush, different door handles and light switches. 

I'm so glad it was just the beginning.

April 21, 2016

Today Isaac, at 11 1/2 months really got himself up on his knees and started excitedly crawling around with Claire delightedly clapping and a miserable, strep straddled Sophie moaning, "I can't see! I can't see!!!" (The video I was taking).

Sophie has started calling all dairy products, "Macee-ro- CHEESE!" We don't know why-- but it's funny.

In the last month we've gone from sleepless nights to a mostly sleeping through the night baby. We've gone from an out of her bed for hours on end 2 year old to a (mostly) staying in bed girl thanks to giving up naps. Pardon me while I wail on the front lawn...

I'm back.

We've gone from two in diapers to a "big girl" who goes in the potty and is quite proud about it. We've gone from a baby with two bottom teeth and everything being mashed up, to a baby with four top teeth sprouting and cutting out at once.

We've gone from a Burr Oak in our back yard all spindly and bare to bright green leaves and splashes of spring life out our window.

It's been a good month.

April 21, 2016

The Seed- How Motherhood Changes You

Today I sat in the baby's room rocking him to sleep.

The curtains were pulled and it was nearly pitch black. I heard the hum of the sound machine and could see the light from the hall falling as a straight beam then breaking jagged on the bed in the corner of the room. He finally relaxed his little body, two little baby hands resting on one another like a mini-judge, and his breathing fell into a cadence with mine.

In my mind, I was racing. Motherhood and parenthood are exhausting. It never lets up and to top it off I always feel like I'm accomplishing the greatest thing and yet I'm also failing irreversibly. Always. 

But mainly at that moment I was frustrated. This is a common feeling for me these days. I wanted time alone. I wanted to do my own thing. I wanted to write, to shower, to do anything!

Sophie was home from school with strep and was intermittently dissolving into a heap of sobs at her throat hurting. The baby is cutting four teeth and for the love of all that is good and wonderful just won't sleep.

But really none of that is it either... I just want to do something. You name it. Run, paint, brush my teeth, talk on the phone, get my life in order.

Beneath his warm little body I could feel my spare tire and the simultaneous love for him and loathing for myself intermingled.

And the idea hit me squarely in the heart. Children are thought of as our seeds that grow and build our family but right now... I am the seed. And like a seed, I was burst open so this life could come out of me. And this seed will never go back the way it was before. Not entirely phyiscally but in so many other ways. My free time, my career, my self interest- were all bust apart the day a new life came under my responsibility.

And all at once it's wonderful and exhausting, thrilling and overwhelming.

And thank God he finally fell asleep.

April 13, 2016

Sarah and Sin Cycles

I said the other day that I was (finally) starting to read my Bible through again after an achingly slow process of reading it through the last time. What can I say? Having a baby and the year that follows reallly throws me off course...

But anyway, I changed my plan and am trying for the first time to read the Bible through chronologically. And I'm excited about it.

I read Genesis 1-11, then Job and am about to go back to Genesis tomorrow. (And if you're curious- I just pray that God will use the time and make my heart teachable, set a timer for 15 minutes, and read. So simple you should join me in it!).

Anyway, when I read the Old Testament these people's faulty, broken yet chosen lives are gripping. I see their humanity and I see every excuse I could ever have fall to the wayside.

I can't serve God, I'm a sinner.
   Um.... they all are too.

I can't be a leader, I'm not confident.
   Hello- check out Moses with his speech problem and temper, begging God to use someone else.

I can't amount to much because I'm just not that gifted.
   Leah, bless her, was unchosen, unloved and assumedly cross-eyed yet tribes of Israel came from her womb. 

I'm often struck by how much like me... like us,  that they are.

They sin, they fall, they doubt. And even more amazingly, you have the benefit of great distance and hindsight to see these sin cycles play out in families and generations.

Take in case Sarai. Later to be called Sarah.

We know that she was beautiful and barren.

We know also that Abram feared the Egyptians and asked her to lie to them saying she was his sister so they wouldn't kill him to be with her.

Now this is a half truth, Sarai being his half sister and all but the most important detail he was omitting was that she was indeed, oh.. you know.. HIS WIFE. .. I don't want to give away the story but spoiler alert! Pharoah takes her as his wife (!) and after realizing she was really Abram's wife, gives her back, rebukes Abram and sends him off with more than he came with.

Again later, when Abram, now Abraham, had journeyed into a land called Negeb and Gerar he lied that Sarah was his sister and King Abimelech took her as his wife.. again.. and the king sent him off with more than he had come with.

These people clearly weren't perfect. So time to stop using my imperfection as an excuse.

Fastforward to their son Isaac and his beautiful bride Rebekah. Fearing the men of Gerar would take her away because of her looks he lied and said she was his sister.

It's interesting isn't it? How sins can seem to be woven into the fabric and habits of some families. Even more interesting is how being aware of them we can perhaps combat and change them.

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