Two posts in one day! Not sure this will get posted today but even starting to write a second post in the same day is some kind of record I’m sure.
So, with beginning this whole process I wanted to take a moment and kind of assess the situation. I’m working on two lists.
The first is a list of things I love.
The second is a list of thing I do.
I drive…I drive a lot. I take kids to and from and pick them up and drop the off and I wait. I spend a lot of time in my car. (Ok, let’s be honest it’s a minivan.)
Basketball team mom stuff (this also involves driving)
CYT mom stuff
Flight mom stuff
Wash/Fold/Put away massive amounts of laundry
Shop for anything any one else needs
Run (when I’m registered for a race)
Look at FB/Insta/Pinterest on my phone
Special Occasion Stuff (party plan/make cakes/buy gifts/ ect.)
Look for things people can’t find
Take the dogs out
house hold chores
Obviously some of those things can’t be changed, some of them can. It’s a working list. A lot of what I do revolves around my family but I have very little time to do the things I really want to do. But, who really wants to do dishes or look for lost things. It’s just stuff you have to do when you have a family. Is having less junk really going to do anything to bring us calmness?
I’m sitting in a Starbucks waiting on Glo while she is at basketball practice and I’ve found myself with a few minutes to reflect. It’s a little too air conditioned in here and it looks like the weather might finally be turning to fall. I spent the better part of yesterday in tears and today I had the worst headache of my life. It was so bad when I woke this morning I realized that I had been dreaming I was having a brain transplant, which I’m pretty sure isn’t even a thing.
I’m struggling today to get my thoughts into words. I’ve written and deleted this post 3 times already and it’s because each time I write I learn a little more about the issue. Writing is my therapy and sometimes, as I posted once long ago, since I have older kids, what is my business is actually their business and not really my business to share. So, as I hash and rehash the issues of the day, of the week, what I’m learning is actually about forgiveness.
I can’t share the issue but I can tell you what is beautiful.
Forgiveness is beautiful.
To be forgiven is our ultimate gift. To be eternally forgiven is amazing and I’m so thankful and honored to be forgiven. But, though that is beautiful and very much perfect, it can’t be the end. We must be forgivers.
To be a forgiver is to move on in big things and in little things, which are sometimes harder. When a little thing hurts (and in this situation there is a pile of little things that reminds me of my laundry…one load on the dinning room table isn’t so bad but by the time there is a week’s worth of laundry to be folded it is almost too much to handle.) you have to move on knowing that the same little thing might happen again. As a parent, you instruct. Sometimes, if you’re imperfect like me, you don’t always instruct constructively and then you need to be forgiven too. Then it starts to be a mess and that’s when we look to Jesus. He’s the ultimate forgiver. We get it all back together and promise next time we will be better. We promise to start with Jesus and then it is beautiful again.
I started the post I deleted saying that when I normally call our lives a beautiful mess, I should just tell you it’s actually a mess. But, as I worked through the words, typing and retyping the “truth,” I understood that our family isn’t a reflection of all of my negative character traits, which is what I was going to tell you. I was going to tell you that we’ve got to get it together; then, I was reminded that we’re still in progress. We aren’t complete and we never will be. These people that I’ve dedicated my life’s work to are still working it out. They’re a construction zone. Sometimes when you look at a building or a road that is being built all you can see is a disaster but the architect knows what the end result will be and The Architect knows it will be beautiful.
Dear Whoever Hung the Republican Party Propaganda on My Door so that I Know for Whom to Vote,
First I don’t want you to be mistaken, I am 100% pro-life and will vote pro-life when it is possible, so I get you. I know you wanted me to know the pro-life candidates. I just wanted to say thank you for giving me the opportunity to share with my 8 year old about how sometimes women, who she would call “mommies,” decide to kill their unborn children. I haven’t protected her from this information for 8 years for a reason, so I am so glad that you hung those pamphlets on my door complete with images (WITH IMAGES) so that she could be educated without my consent. We live in a neighborhood where all the parents watch the kids. They run in and out of all the approved houses and when she let her self back into her own, she brought me the baggie that had been hanging on the door, not with out giving it a quick read first of course. So, now my precious little person that had no need of this information gets to know of some of the evil in the world that I was guarding her against. There is a time to learn these things, and for her the time was not now. I’m not a parent that teaches my children all the gruesome things that happen in the world while they are yet babies themselves. I let her enjoy some innocence. I let her enjoy living without the burden of the sins of others. It’s the only opportunity she’ll ever have. So thank you very much for going ahead and thrusting her a little closer to the adulthood she’ll eventually live out anyway. You’re a doll.
Dear Republican Nominee For President (The 1990’s version of me can’t believe I’m saying this) Donald Trump,
Thank you for saying the things you did on that bus and then running for President of the United States of America. Thank you for embarrassing us all on an International Stage. Thank you for your vulgarity against women. I have a daughter who is potentially being drawn towards women’s ministry. She’s got a passion for freeing girls world wide from religious oppression, from sexual discrimination, and sex crimes. She wants women to have the same rights in THIS country and wants to help women and girls around the world experience those same freedoms. She’s passionate Mr. Trump, so thank you. Thank you for helping her to feel scared and unsafe. Is this what boys are saying in the locker room? Is this how all men talk about women? I’m so excited to have to answer these questions in 2016! See my post on rape culture, I think it would be of some benefit to you as you navigate the ins and outs of how to talk to and treat women. How silly I was to think this was something they could protect themselves against. You’ve now taught my teenage daughters that men are to be feared. Way to go. Kudos to you! You know that undecided voter thing? I’m so a statistic, always have been. I fall in the mean, median and mode…always, every time. Well…I was undecided but I’m not any more. Thank you so much for helping me to make my decision Mr. Trump. You are absolutely disgusting and I don’t believe for one minute you will act as a puppet for the Republican party by picking the Supreme Court Judges they hand you to choose from. I don’t believe a single word you say and most of the people I know don’t either. They’re counting on you to appoint some judges. I’m not sure why they believe you’ll do the right thing in that regard when you’ve not done the right thing on any other occasion. I don’t even trust the Republican party thanks to you, sir. So thank you for everything you’ve done. You’ve really been a great example for our children. You are the embodiment of everything wrong with America, and you know what…I’ve been pretty happy and successful the last 8 years. So, 4 more of the same isn’t looking too bad.
I realized today that Monday, September 19, was the 10 year anniversary of my first miscarriage in 2006.
When I noticed the date, and I remembered, it came over me like an unexpected flood. The tears poured out and I felt the same sadness as if 10 years hadn’t passed.
There is nothing you can do, nothing you can ever do. Yes, a new baby heals the pain. A perfectly amazing 8 year old that loves me with every ounce of her body is the healing that I needed. But, for just a moment I remembered the sadness, I remembered the loss.
Unrelated, I decided yesterday to start journaling my prayers for my children. I journaled this today even before I realized how close the date was.
This is my prayer for Audrey.
“Lord, I praise your name above all things. You alone are our provider. You have entrusted me with beautiful healthy children and I am so thankful for that blessing. Lord, help me to savor every precious fleeting moment with them. You are so good, God.
I want to whole heartedly give Audrey to you, Lord. I want to ask you to fully protect her, guide her and comfort her. Draw her ever nearer to the safety of your love. Help me to know her needs, Lord, so that I may lift her up to you continually in prayer. Give me wisdom that I might be able to parent her according to your will alone and not my own.
Thank you for giving Audrey to me and her daddy. She was the remedy for a broken heart, she is beauty from ashes and life where there was death. Never let me forget the beautiful work you’ve already done in her life and continue to use her as a vessel to do your good work. Keep her always from evil and cling to her with your great love. All these things I ask in the name of Jesus.”
God answered that prayer already today, that I would always remember the beautiful work he’d already done in her. When I remembered my sadness I was reminded of how good God was in giving me another precious person to mother. He knew how kind she would be and how she would love so deeply. He knew that she was just the right baby at just the right time.
Not every mother is given that chance. Not every woman that miscarries is ever given the chance to give birth and I can’t imagine the pain she might feel. For the pain of loosing what could have been is far greater than the pain of birth. I thank God every day that I had that opportunity 4 times, though 2 were lost. I am so sorry if you are reading this and still haven’t had a baby. The hope I can offer is that Jesus, the very real Son of God, knows your name. He knows your pain. He personally experienced the death of someone he loved very deeply. The Bible tells us that He wept. However, since He was God himself He had the power to call His loved one back from the dead. He has the power to call our lives from the dead, from the ruins. If the loss you’ve experience is to have any meaning at all perhaps it can be to bring you to a saving knowledge of Jesus.
They say time heals, and I think time just helps us to get used to loss. I think that though I might have forgotten the date and I let it slip my mind. I can clearly see by the prayer I wrote this morning that even before my mind remembered, my soul had never forgot.
We’ve been getting lots of questions about our family vacation. Though I posted tons of pictures on social media I thought it might be fun to go through some of our favorite days with a little more insight.
First off, a good friend of mine said something like this. “Your family looked so sweet in your pictures, you just looked like you were having the best time.” Hahahaha. Though we did have a great time, I told her not to be confused. I didn’t feel like my family was being sweet most of the time and I totally should have captioned each picture with what the girls were fighting about the moment the picture was taken. I also refused to be in some of the pictures because I was so upset at certain behaviors that I was afraid taking a picture would cause me to remember forever what I was upset about at that time.
Surprisingly, or maybe not, I can’t even remember what they were arguing about most of the time. Only one argument stands out in my mind and isn’ t it one that every family has all the time? No one was ever happy about where they were sitting in the rental car. In reality we have that issue all the time. My expectations for this trip were a little too high. I guess I imagined my girls would get along 100% of the time and that we would have this dreamy magical time. That wasn’t the case. So don’t be disillusioned by our amazing pictures. My kids are still teenaged girls, and one sassy 8 year old, and I am still a way oversensitive mom.
Our first day in Seattle we did a little too much. We visited the Chihuly Garden and Glass, the Space Needle, the park in Seattle Center and the EMP Museum. I think I was the one cranky and tired. (If you’re wondering already how we did so much, I purchased Seattle City Passes prior to arriving. It was a great purchase and made our trip about 50% less expensive!)
Our second day we started out at Top Pot Donuts. If you visit Seattle this is a must. They’re the most delicious donuts ever! On our way to Top Pot we passed the new Amazon Headquarters being built. We got to see them assembling the dome shaped glass walls.
Then we headed to Pike Place Market, another Seattle must. It was so busy that day, as I am sure it is most days. The fresh fruit at the market is the best I’ve ever had. Audrey ate her first peach, probably her first ever solid food, at the Pike Place Market in May of 2008. I let her taste the juice from a peach I was eating as she rode around the market in my baby sling. This time she got to hold her own peach which was huge! The sights, sounds and smells of the market are a uniquely Seattle experience.
We rented a house we found on VRBO located in Redmond, Washington. I didn’t take enough pictures of the house but it was really nice. It is actually less expensive for us to rent a house than it is to try to stay in a hotel. It was really nice because all the girls got their own room and we had plenty of bathrooms. I was able to cook a few meals and we could relax in the evenings. The best part for Audrey was the play grounds, play houses, and sport court, which Gloria of course enjoyed too! We also got a chance to visit with Luke’s cousin, Shay. He has recently moved to Seattle for a new job and we’d actually “lived” there about the same time as him the day we saw each other.
Next up on the agenda was a visit to Seattle Pacific University for Madelyn and Luke. (I’ve yet to go on a college visit because they generally like people to not cry at those things. I would be such an embarrassment.) Audrey, Emma, Gloria and I had lunch at the American Girl bistro and we strolled around the mall in Lynwood for a while before heading back into Seattle for dinner with Shay at Duke’s Chowder House. They feature chowder, obviously, as well as other Pacific Northwest cuisine. It was fabulous!
Fun Fact: I love Sea Otters. Did you know that they hold hands when they sleep so they won’t drift apart? They are so playful and adorable. The Seattle Aquarium was our first stop the next day in Seattle. Have you noticed this city has great attractions for the whole family? We all had such a great time. After the Seattle Aquarium we headed down to the Seattle Central Library. We are library lovers and truly loved touring this building. It is certainly unique yet houses some beautiful Seattle history. Libraries are a great way to get to know a city, and best of all they’re free!
After a very long day Luke surprised us with tickets to see the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field! He had a work connection that got us great seats and they even provided refreshments. They totally got us the hook up! We took a quick stop at Gas Works Park to kill some extra time then headed down to the game.
We were thoroughly exhausted. We hit Chace’s Pancake Corral in Bellevue, WA, Thursday morning before heading back into Seattle for our Argosy boat tour. I loved the tour. I learned so much about the city and I got my first ever peek at the “Shy Giant,” Mt. Rainier. Later that afternoon we found Kerry Park in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle. Here you can see amazing views of downtown Seattle. Thankfully, we were also able to still see Mt. Rainier.
Our time in Seattle had come to an end. Our vacation was totally centered around a wedding and the time had come. We packed up everything out of our amazing Redmond house and loaded the SUV to head to Spokane, WA. About two or two and a half years ago Luke and I introduced a good friend of his who lived in Washington to our niece, who at the time lived in Kansas. Well, the rest, as they say is history. We were so excited to get to attend their wedding with our whole family. Katie was stunning and I know their life together is going to be perfect!
After a great time with family and a beautiful wedding, our time in Washington had come to an end.
Looking back, it was very beautiful, and actually I wouldn’t trade any of the time we spent together for a perfect non-dramatic time. If I had that, it wouldn’t have been my family. A good friend of mine says that is why we take those beautiful pictures. It is because we look back and remember only the good. It was all, very good.
It’s happening. I titled this year “The Beginning of the End.” It is the beginning of the end of the family years. Those times when our house is filled with children is coming to a long drawn out end. There are nine years separating my oldest and my youngest so I get to be sappy and nostalgic about their childhoods for a long time still. My dear friend and homeschool mentor, Karen, told me that they would leave me as quickly as they came to me. I remember being pregnant forever when I was first married. I spent most of my early 20’s pregnant and nursing. Now I’ll spend my 40’s saying goodbye little butterflies…insert sappy tears. If Karen is right, Karen is always right, these next 9 years are going to blow past at warp speed.
I’m going to write several posts, not unlike baby book entries of firsts. (Much like baby books, I’m sure this is going to be much more elaborate for Madelyn than for Audrey) Except these are for lasts…perhaps there will be some firsts. There will be the first time she makes a decision on which college to go to. The first time she loads her car up. The first time she is gone for one of her sister’s birthdays. (uggg real tears now.)
So…my first, last.
This was our last time to school shop. We shopped for pens and notebook paper. She’s super picky about her binders. We bought erasers and shoes and socks…next year we’ll buy these things but we’ll also buy sheets and laundry detergent, a mini fridge and a meal plan.
Have an awesome senior year, my love. You are a joy.
I have 4 amazing daughters. They are all talented and funny and beautiful.
I have this one kid though…that well…she’s a bit of a ham. What people don’t know about her is that though she puts on the facade of being an air head, she’s actually really smart. She’s a thinker and super intuitive. She’s also very emotional. Every thing she feels, she feels very strongly. So, she’s not kidding when she laughs really hard. If it was a little funny to every one else, it truly was a lot funny to her. If she cries, what would have caused a little pain to someone else, causes a lot of pain (be it physical or emotional) to her. She doesn’t sleep well because her brain has no off switch. She’s anxious but she’s tough. Just yesterday she entered a basketball court at the Y, full of boys. Scratch that. It was full of boys and grown men shooting baskets. That didn’t stop her. She dribbled right in there and was sinking 3’s and lay ups like no one else mattered. (Yes Coach Pam, that kid has been making 3’s all summer.) She is confident but cautions, she’s energetic and compassionate. She’s a great kid and I’m glad I get to be her mom.
She also has a YouTube channel. Which I’m glad for, because she has so many words. (So. Many. Words.)
I’ve been thinking lately about why I put so much time an effort into this little blog thing that I do. I don’t currently make any income from it (though I would love to.) Yet, I somehow find the time to post and share.
What is it that makes me come in the office…(ok, it’s really the school room, but when I’m working or writing I call it the office) shut the door and click away at the keyboard? Why do I feel the need to share my thoughts, my adventures, my goals and failures with who ever is bored enough to read? What is it about this medium that is meaningful to me the writer and to you the reader?
A little click around the internet quickly delivers the answer. Parenting on Pinterest is a beautiful experience and it usually involves toddlers. There is the weird thing called the “mommy wars.” Baby bumps and maternity shoots are abundant…but what about beyond babyhood and toddler tantrums? What about parenting through elementary school and during middle school and through out high school? The blog-o-sphere is quiet. A dear friend and I recently discussed this phenomenon and the following is pretty much our conclusion.
Here’s something that is going to be really disappointing to you sweet young mothers. If you own a nursing bra, have diapers in your house or a car seat, you might want to stop reading. This is bad. It’s going to be like road kill so just look away while you still have the chance.
Mothering babies, toddlers and small children is the easy stuff. (all except for potty training…that about did me in.) Bed time routines, baths, making baby food, to or not to co-sleep, sleep training, teething, cloth or disposable, crayons on walls, entire rolls of toilet paper in the toilet, entire boxes of cheerios in the toilet, ear infections, sleep depravation, entire tubes of toothpaste in the toilet, gum in hair, biting, sharing, separation anxiety and all the millions of everyday occurrences that tiny humans bring forth…that my dear reader friend is all the easy stuff. I’m sorry. I told you not to keep reading.
This teenager stuff is hard. It is also very private. So private in fact it’s hard to write a list like the one above for older children with out infringing on someones privacy. I don’t even have boys so my teen list floating in my head is only half a list anyway.
Here’s the deal. Once you get that kid able to understand that cereal goes in a bowl from the kitchen and that toothpaste can’t go back in the tube, once they understand that other people feel pain and that mommy always comes back, parenting gets serious. We’ve got actual character development stuff going on, then time flies. Time flies so quickly you start saying things like, “We’ve only got one more summer with Madelyn living at home.” Or “Emma only has 3 years of high school left.” You know how quickly that baby came…then turned 3? That is how long I have until my SECOND child graduates high school. You know how long it was till your baby started cruising around furniture. It went fast didn’t it? That’s how long till my oldest graduates. It goes FAST.
The time you have to deal with these really huge issues is so small. Then, I feel like I fail like 3 out of 4 times we have an issue. I say the wrong thing, I lose my temper or just wasn’t available at exactly the right moment. (That’s another thing, the moment is only right for a moment. Who can be there all the time for four other women? It’s nearly impossible)
So, I do this blog, I write these words because I want to be that support for moms that are doing this teen thing too. Even though we all know we can’t hash out their problems in print on the internet for every one to see, I’m here to say, it’s hard. I’m here to say that we’re actually making it without totally ruining anyone. (They will have plenty to talk about in their lady’s groups and probably to their therapist when they’re grown, but I don’t think they’re completely ruined.) I’m also here to say that its just as beautiful as having babies. There is nothing more precious than a giant teenage girl crawling up in my lap or sitting next to me with her legs all intertwined in mine while we talk about a boy or a teacher or a dream (or a band.) There is nothing better than one of my big girls slipping her hand in mine in a parking lot or at a store. We walk hand in hand on this journey figuratively and literally and I love every crazy, loud, messy, tearful and prayerful moment of it all.
I also write this blog because about 10 years ago I really realized how quickly time was moving. I realized I wasn’t a person separate from my kids. They were my identity. Though they are still a big part of me and always will be, I decided to figure out who I am. I think that is important and I want to encourage other mothers with children of all ages to do the same. This isn’t as hard for some people, especially if you had your kids later in life. But, I was a pretty young mother. My life became consumed with one baby after another and by the time my oldest was 8 or 9 I didn’t have a separate identity. I began to read again and I started writing. I finished my degree and started running. I became a vegetarian. I started setting goals. I want to be an encouragement to mothers with kids of all ages, to be a person all your own. Time goes so so quickly and when they’re gone I want to be whole.
So, though my blog isn’t the go to spot for the best homeschooling tips or a delicious recipe, it isn’t where you’ll find a new craft idea or how to not get an injury on a run, it isn’t a place where you’ll find inspiration for your next Bible study or an idea to decorate your home, it IS where I am me. Where I’m doing all that stuff (sometimes well and sometimes really poorly) and trying to raise kids at the same time. It’s where I’m living by the grace of God every day to it’s fullest and where I want to encourage you to do the same.