"When you called me to be a Mama, You didn't ask for perfection. But that with every breath, I'd point them to You."

Monday, August 31, 2015

35/52

"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2015"


Jaden: He spent his Saturday with the big guys - helping Papa Tim and Daddy completely re-do the inside of our boat. He helped them put in a new floor, new seating and storage, and it gave me a glimpse of what's to come. They were gone from breakfast to dinner, and it felt a little weird being without one of my kiddos for an entire day while he was out doing "manly" things. He of course loved every minute of it.


Brandon: Last night, a Sunday evening the day before his first day of school, he asked to stay outside after supper while the rest of us cleaned up dishes and turned on some Sunday night football. About five minutes later, I looked out the kitchen window to see him walking in circles on the driveway, quietly singing to himself - several renditions of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." And he looked so peaceful and carefree with himself. And I stood there and watched in secret for a long time - so proud of him and everything he is. And I prayed right in the moment, as I was watching over him, that he would always be so happy with life and with himself.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Dear Brandon...

Hey little buddy. Well, I made the mistake of blinking. They always say not to.


In just two more days you head off to kindergarten. We're heading into the final weekend that marks the end of a big and precious chapter in our lives. I can't believe that when we wake up in just a little over 48 hours we'll be making sure your backpack is packed just so, dressing you in your first day of school clothes, double-knotting your tennis shoes for extra recess safety, heading off to our traditional first day of school Village Inn breakfast, and then dropping you off at a building much, much bigger than you.

And here we go... I'm crying just typing this. I promise I'll be tougher on Monday. (At least in front of you. I took the whole day off work so that I can pick you up the minute that school bell rings and spend the entire afternoon and evening talking with you about your day).


Two years ago, I wrote a letter similar to this for your big brother, Jaden. Sending your first born off to school isn't easy - nothing prepares you for it completely, and in a way, I kind of dreaded that day for months. I can remember filling out his registration forms in the school office and then sitting in my car in the school parking lot afterwards, calling Nana Nancy, sobbing that I wasn't ready, that Jaden is too small, and the building is much too big.


And here we are, in the same chapter again - with you. But it's still a different feeling - because you're our baby. And I don't have the comfort of knowing that there's another baby at home to do this again with in a couple of years. First milestones are big and exciting. First steps. First loose tooth. First days of preschool. Last milestones feel heavy. Of course they are exciting, too. (I'm so excited for you) - but they are also filled with a level of sentimentality that can consume someone like your mommy - who feels deeply for every single first and last. This is it - our last first day of kindergarten. And I blinked.



So here is my prayer list for you as you enter - as we enter - this big day ahead.

I pray that you keep your sense of awe in the world around you. That you continue to notice the beauty in a dandelion, that you'll still chase butterflies when you get the chance, that you'll continue to look up at the moon and count the stars as the sky goes dark around you. I pray that you don't outgrow the swings at recess any time soon, that you make lots of new friends - just by being entirely who you are - and that you change for no one. I pray that you stay unapologetically you. I pray that when you're having a tough day, you remember to whisper a prayer to the God you know and love so well - just like you told me you did at daycare a few weeks ago. (Little boy, you have no idea how proud you made me when you admitted to me that you had been naughty in the morning, went to the bathroom, and quietly prayed in your private time in the restroom that God would help you do better the rest of the afternoon). I pray that art class is everything you have anticipated it to be and that it only encourages your passion for the arts as you continue to learn and grow your artistic talents. I pray that no one dampens your spirit of creativity, but that if they do, because at some point they probably will, I pray that you will find your way back to it - because it is such a huge part of who God made you to be. And the world needs you - they need your creativity and the awesome things you make with it. I pray that your passion for reading and learning doesn't get diffused and that you don't feel like you're being compared to your older brother who has already made his mark in that school. I pray you make your own way and carve your own path and leave your own stamp. I pray that you don't lose that infectious laugh or your energetic zest for life and that you keep your sensitive and affectionate ways. I pray that you keep your gentleness with animals, my little boy who tends to caterpillars, is his softest self with baby kittens and finds the greatest joy petting Lucy. I pray that I still get to hear you sing to yourself when you're on the potty for a few more years yet, that you'll continue to let me lay beside you in bed while we say prayers together, and that the twinkly light in your eyes continues to shine on the people who surround you. I pray you surround yourself with those who treat you kindly and that you continue to find the most comfort in a few verses of "Jesus Loves Me." I pray for your safety and your health, that you use your gut instincts to help you make smart decisions but that when you make mistakes, you never fear coming to us and telling us about them so that we can be there for you as you work your way out of them. I pray that you still hold tight to our special bond, loving me so well like you already do, but that you also don't fear letting go a little bit. You can let go - I'll still be here.



And I also can make some sure promises to you. That there will be good days and bad days - good times and hard times. But that we're in this together. And we'll celebrate the good days by catching fireflies or watching a sunset or skipping rocks in the lake before bedtime. And on the bad days, we'll splurge on ice cream cones on park benches, M&M's in front of Netflix movies, sing a few renditions of your favorite Bible songs or go for walks by the river to chase the geese and let the sky above us make us feel better.




And I also promise that we'll work on your hair. I love it just as it is, but you're growing up and bed head probably won't be acceptable for too much longer. So we'll buy some gel and brush it a bit more, and I'll let you grow up little by little because that's my job.
 





So here we go... we're doing this. You're taking flight. And I can't wait to watch you soar. I'm so stinking proud to be your mom. Just know that no matter how old or big you get, in my mind's eye, I'll always see you as that adorable little five year old boy, flying fancy free on a tree swing - with not a care in the world except to go higher and higher.

You've got this. And we've got you.

Love you - "to the moon and back and more."

XOXO,
Mommy

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

on a Tuesday morning

This weekend, we moved Jaden into his own room. Our two boys had been sharing a room for the last 3 1/2 years, as I had been using the third bedroom in our three-bedroom home as my home office. However, for the past several months I was hardly using that office to work out of - choosing to work mostly from the living room, the kitchen table or the back deck - and that office space of mine was starting to become more of a drop-zone than anything else. It was starting to give me a little bit of anxiety that a whole bedroom in our house was being wasted, so we made the decision to take down the bunk beds and give Jaden his own space.

And now after three nights of sleeping in their own beds, in their own rooms, the results are pretty fabulous! Sunday morning they both slept in until 8:30, and here we are on a Tuesday morning at 8:00, on vacation, and Jaden slept in until 7:30, currently downstairs watching the late Tampa Bay football game from last night that Daddy recorded for him, while Brandon remains sleeping! In fact, Brandon woke up at 6:30 this morning to go to the bathroom and put himself back to bed! Not a bad way to start off vacation.

Speaking of vacation, I'm looking forward to spending the next several days with these sillies. It's been a whirlwind two months with a job promotion, housing decisions and a busy summer. I have been needing this week to turn off the alarm clock, ignore the constant work emails and plan some time to cross those final items off our summer bucket list.

Have a good week!


Monday, August 24, 2015

34/52

"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2015"


Jaden: First night of football practice - year two. Just like in baseball, his best friend Jack is on his team, and Jaden's even more focused than last year. His practices are a little longer this time around - an hour and 20 minutes each time, and his new coach ended this first practice asking if Cody would be an assistant coach again this year. These nights and Saturday mornings make this beloved season even better, and we're looking forward to the next two months watching these boys have fun together.

 
Brandon: Standing outside of daycare on his very last morning at Blessed Beginnings. We left the house early to pick up a bouquet of flowers for Mrs. W., and I drove to BB with a huge lump in my throat. Truthfully, I had been dreading this day - knowing I would struggle with it more than the actual first day of kindergarten. I hate goodbyes - I am horrible at them - and I just can't say enough about how much this place and these people have meant to us over the last few years. I was able to barely keep it together at drop-off until Brandon's best girl friend Kyla walked in right after us, also carrying orange flowers. The usually tough and put together Mrs. W couldn't handle it, threw her hands over her eyes and started crying, causing Kyla's mom to cry, and ruining my resolve to stay tear-free. We were all kind of a mess in that moment, surrounded by littles that couldn't figure out why all these crazy ladies were sobbing and hugging. I struggled all day, feeling sad and a little distracted, once again holding a lump in my throat all the way to pick-up at 5:00, and then lost it again watching Brandon hug all of his dear friends goodbye. Kyle must have picked up on my struggle because she came over to give me a big hug right before we walked out that door for the last time. I'm so glad that day is behind us and we can now look forward because it was truly a tough one. But Brandon? He rocked it. There's something so refreshing and comforting about little kids that don't fully understand the significance in goodbyes.  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

the season we're in


"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently, He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself." (C.S. Lewis)
 
I shared this quote on this blog back on January 26th of this year. We had just stuck a For Sale sign in our yard and all was uncertain, a little bit scary, but also very exciting. This quote had been printed on a church bulletin we received one Sunday morning in September of last year and had been sitting on top of a pile of papers in my desk drawer ever since. I knew back then that it was a sign of change coming. I thought I understood its meaning for us. Now knowing what I know, and having lived what we've lived through this year, I realize that my initial understanding wasn't quite on point. Yes, it's relevant for our lives today, but in a different way than interpreted all those months ago.

Our house didn't sell. We pulled it off the market at the end of July, and it's been a rocky couple of weeks of trying to figure out where to go from here - what to do next. We got our hopes up a couple of times during the six months it was listed, and really thought God was pulling a rabbit out of His hat on the day we pulled the sign out of the yard, as we had an interested shopper look at it that very night. That interested party has since disappeared, and our emotions have been all over the place. We didn't waste much time getting a second and a third opinion, as we at least wanted to have a plan for moving forward, even if our plan doesn't initially involve doing anything at this point. We sought council and guidance from someone we trust and do indeed now have a plan in place. But the immediate plan is to wait and do nothing right now.  Which is probably good because one of the MANY things we've learned through this journey is that when you do make plans, God usually has His own set of plans at work. And His plans trump ours.

It's not been an easy year. It's been a year full of blessings, absolutely. We've had a fun summer and made countless memories and life is still very good. But we have been challenged and stretched and experienced highs and lows that we weren't expecting.

But presently, He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of ...

We're disappointed but not out. If anything, my faith has only grown stronger, as I have pulled closer to Him to try to make sense of such great disappointment. I believe wholeheartedly in His plan for us even though His did not line up with mine this time. And yet there's so much to be grateful for and so much to look forward to. There's this Fall season ahead of us, watching my boy play football games every weekend, picking pumpkins and filling our cozy home with the sights and smells of the time of year we love most. There's the holiday season that awaits, visits from far away relatives, my parents building their new dream house and our new plans off in the distance. And in the immediate future there's next week - a week away from work - a week of time with my boys doing both big and small things - before they start school the following week. Before we start a new chapter. Life changes so quickly - so often. And there's much to find joy in.

And as my dad told me on the phone last night, "You will get there eventually. It's just going to take a little longer than any of us had expected." I just keep thinking of how good it's going to feel when we reach that place. How much we will appreciate it and how much we will have learned along the way.

Know what the first two things that popped up on my phone were today? On my Instagram feed, this reminder:
"Waiting on God is not only difficult. Sometimes it seems impossible because we live in a culture that demands everything now or even yesterday... Many of you are growing weary, frustrated, and even becoming doubtful to the point of giving up because the wait is discouraging you. You're believing in God for something to change that is taking longer than you expected... You're beginning to wonder if He is listening. God's timing is perfect and since He is perfect we can have joy in the waiting."

And on my blog feed, a post titled, "God is Always on Time."

I believe in signs. I believe in these signs. I believe that He is still working on us, through us and for us. And I believe that when God delays, He always delays for a greater purpose.

***

A few snapshots of the past week. Can't wait to load my camera up with my boys next week as we say goodbye to summer...