We're still quite worn out from the weekend, so here are a couple of snaps and updates of the kiddos to keep you company until Momma finds her words....
Our girl finished up school today! She was named one of first grade's star students AND the best "girl citizen" in her class! We are so proud of her! Pictured here with her is the one and only, amazing Mrs. Starkey, who enjoyed her last day of work today. Thanks, Mrs. Starkey, for shepherding so many kids through first grade at Waterford, including Lily and her momma! You will be missed, and we aren't just saying it to be nice... (And thanks to one of my village mothers, Rachel, for the great photo!)
Mr. Max is so ready for his birthday, which is in about two weeks. He has gone from barely wanting to color to actually writing out a list of the toys he wants for his big day! He's still quite the chef. Here he is licking the spatula after making strawberry banana smoothies outside on the deck a couple of weeks ago.
Colby enjoyed his birthday at the lake this past weekend. It's official! We've got a bona fide two-year-old on our hands. He's as rotten as he is cute. He is really good about letting us put on sunscreen, which is a good thing, seeing as how we applied it six times yesterday...
Finally, baby Luke is doing well. He's amazing in all ways. We are so happy he's a good camper. He loves being outside and did well in the heat this past weekend. Here he is with Mammaw Debbie, who wants to eat him up for his cuteness. Mommy told mammaw she thought she wanted a red-headed girl to even out the bunch, but now she knows Mr. Luke is what she wanted all along!
Blessed night to you. June rushes to greet us in a few short hours, and then, for me, it will be official. Summer will be here, all my chicks will be in the nest, and I'll be fighting heat, nap times, "town" traffic and more to help make awesome memories for my kids!
Thursday, May 26, 2011
"I was planted on this earth just after the seeds of tomatoes." This is an actual first line from a poem I wrote in college. I don't have the whole thing in front of me now, but it wasn't as terrible as the first line might make you believe. Tonight, I'm thinking a lot about summer and family and of my college days. I have been reading a journal from 1997, my sophomore year, 4 Coss, for those of you that might remember. Some of you were there.
It's a big camping weekend, and I'm ready to spend some quality time with the amazing people God gave me for an extended family. I'm ready to meet a new little cousin, toast two others as they graduate high school and join us adults in "real life," and to celebrate Colby's 2nd birthday. I'm ready for a drink around the campfire, a barbecued chicken off the spit and my morning coffee out of my signature giraffe mug in my dew-covered giraffe-print mud boots. (I promise, it's a sight.)
I love these mild mornings that eventually end in balmy nights. I can't wait to see my first lightning bug (or firefly, for you proper folk). I want to join the kids in throwing their glow sticks into the dark night just to see where they fall. This is summer; this is Lake Tweet; this is my life.
While I'm ready for all of this, I am subdued in that I am aching for friends who want it too. Some friends are lonely for family. Others are not happy in spite of their big houses and fat salaries. One special family is fighting childhood cancer this very second.
Yet, somehow, I am blessed. Although I am about to celebrate yet another birthday, I am reminded of the last line of my poem, which was really about coming of age: "The strings of youth held me softly and did not break."
Have a blessed holiday weekend...
Monday, May 23, 2011
I have a sheet of paper with scrawled blog titles all over it. Well, it's actually an expired gift certificate. It's worn and creased from living in my purse for several months. I promise, if I had time, I'd be churning out at least one blog post a day. As it is, I write whole paragraphs in my head, jot down the title or general idea and then sit and scratch my head later, wondering what it means. I'm something of an anti-parenthood commercial: "This is your mind... This is your mind on motherhood."
My mom and I laugh at each other when we can't remember things. My mom always says the little man in her head is running around trying to find the answer. I decided not too long ago that my little man is a woman. Of course she is! And a mother, to boot.
There are just so many details that sometimes she can't deliver. And that's okay.
This past week has been a real melting pot of motherhood. I took the bad (the speeding ticket, the forgotten milk, the sickness of the truly icky variety) with the good (the smiles, the "best-mom-in-the-world" declaration from my seven-year-old, the time spent cuddling with my loves).
And somewhere in there, I drank wine and saw a movie with my girlfriends and attended a wedding kid-free with my hubby and some amazing friends and family.
Tonight, I am tired. And the lady in my head? She's threatening to strike. But we're both hanging in there.
In all seriousness, I am so thankful for having "too much of a life" sometimes. I'm praying hard for our amazing friends and their baby girl. I'm posting this blog, nursing my babe and hitting the sheets.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Nope, not me. I'm not crying over forgetting to take breast milk to the sitter's house, wasted gasoline, liquid creamer all over the kitchen floor, a $119 speeding ticket or Lily getting on the wrong bus and coming home to an empty house. No, there is no use crying.
I did almost cry when I had a nice moment with a coworker this morning during which she asked me what God was telling me and I said, "To hang on."
And I did almost cry when I heard my crying girl over a neighbor's phone today, sobbing from hearing her mommy trying to reach her on the answering machine but not remembering, in the moment, that in order to talk on our new phones, you press a green button and not the center button.
I knew this year would be hard. First years with new babies always are. And guess what? This year is hard. Really hard. (Really.)
I'm fighting the urge to make changes... I won't make changes. I'll hang on and roll with the punches. I'll push on, and, soon, I'll look back to see the progress I've made.
And if I can keep this perspective, just get through the not-so-hot days, cherish the good days, and see that most days are both, at any given moment, I'll come out of this crazy thing a better person. I know the weather will improve--hopefully before we all grow fins--and these days will be infused with the Vitamin D I've been needing.
And there's no use crying. Unless, of course, I need to. Then I will. But no, not now. I'm good. =)
Sunday, May 15, 2011
I am wrapping up a blessed weekend. Shrek took the older two on a special trip, and I had the "babies," as I often call Colby and Luke, by myself. We stayed busy, but we also took time to do things like take a two-hour nap on Saturday afternoon, watch traffic from our comfortable and beautiful new canopy swing on the front deck and carefully study the ants with whom we're currently sharing our home.
I got some things done. I had some important conversations. I had some time to think. And, in the midst of sweet, happy dreams in my bed at Lake Tweet last night, this post formed in my head.
Something has clicked for me in my thinking.
I've decided the secret of life is to honor and appreciate the blessings of today while always believing the best is yet to come. It's a balance some people don't find. It's not wanting too much, but wanting enough. It has absolutely nothing to do with material things, and everything to do with things that cannot be measured or seen.
I've had several moments this week that I've filed in my memory for all time, several that have me wondering how the best is yet to be. There was last Saturday morning, when our king-size bed became the family bed for a sleepy cuddle with the kiddos, who joined us one by one. There was seeing our sweet, five-year-old friend Ava leading the cancer survivor lap at our local Relay for Life, fighting her own battle with grace and style. There's the way Colby automatically turns in to a big brother who talks baby talk for smiles from Luke and then kisses him with a tenderness I could not have imagined.
It can be hard to believe, given the blessings of today, that the best is yet to come, but I do believe it. Because I still want to make it big. I look forward to the friendships and protections forged among my grown children. I appreciate that there will be a day when Shrek and I have the time to look at each other and realize the stories, the moments, the history of our lives.
I see the present, and I raise you the future. Life is beauty and strife and everything in between, and, yet, I firmly believe, the best is yet to come.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
What a chill kind of night.
I've had such a huge bouquet of emotions in the past two days that I feel like I've been through a whole week already. I'm thankful now to be stable. I'm rocking comfortably in a pleasant, thoughtful, light-hearted mood. I'm thankful for some perspective I've gained in the past 24 hours. I'm seeing the forest and not the trees. I've reminded myself that my hormones are still churning wildly and that three months into a postpartum period is no time to make big decisions or changes.
And, again, I'm full of gratitude. There are reminders all around me, all the time that I am, indeed, blessed beyond measure.
So tonight, I see the beauty in a Tuesday night. I see my joy in my children, my solace in my husband, my place in my world. And it is good.
I know for certain: I am rich in the ways that matter. Tonight, I am allowing myself to be a human being, and not so much a human doing.
It's a good night.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
My Mother's Day gifts included a Butterfinger, several lovely drawings of elephants (my favorite), a leopard-print LED flashlight and more. What a nice day!
I finished last week out with a bit of a thud at work. It seeped into home, turned everything a puke green. I had to change my mind to pull off a great weekend.
On Friday, I ate breakfast at McDonald's, lunch at Subway and dinner was Jukebox. Since then, I've also had Wendy's and Las Trancas. Let's just say I started my own personal Mother's Day early and did it right. I "yardsaled" with my sis and mom, took a nice, long family walk after the rain yesterday and spent today at church, picking out a new canopy swing and playing at Lake Tweet with my family.
I am so thankful today to be a mother. I am so blessed to have four heathy, wonderful kids. Although I often feel like a veteran mom, I know I've got so far to go. I'm at the stage where I have to just keep swimming, all the time, every day to make it all work. I have to be selfless, flexible, quick-thinking, organized, patient, funny, protective, efficient and creative, just to name a few things. And I wouldn't change it for the world.
Shrek is taking the two older kids somewhere next weekend. I miss them already. There is such simple joy and a sense of peace in having all of your chicks in the nest, as safe and sound as they would be anywhere.
To all of you mothers who know exactly what I mean, happy Mother's Day! My hope for all of us is that we find the joy in every day, that we know the magnitude of our blessings, and that we see our status as mothers rise throughout the rest of our lives. On those days when you feel like an underpaid and undervalued maid, chauffeur, cook or worse... just keep swimming. You'll get there, and it will be fabulous.
Oh, and happy Mother's Day to my beautiful angel mother. You are the wind beneath my wings....
Thursday, May 5, 2011
I bet some of you have been feeling a bit like I've been feeling. As in depressed, hopeless, dejected, trapped, bamboozled and sad. The rain, oh, the rain. It seems to stop long enough to give us one glorious spring day each week. And then there's the kick in the gut you get every time you fill up your gas tank. And the political mud-slinging on Facebook. Enough!
Today was our day of sunshine. I am trying hard to soak it up when I can and to change my mind about how doomed we are. Because while we have endless mud and puddles, others have homes destroyed by tornadoes. Some have lost loved ones. Still others are anxiously watching river levels and sandbagging to keep the floods out.
So I'm going to pull up. I'm going to dig deep, get some sleep, keep brainstorming about how I'm going to improve my lot and better myself. I'm going to keep it all in perspective, not allow myself to feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. I'm going to love and love well. I'm going to remember the little people and trust in the Big Guy.
Days like these have me reaching for my favorite poem. God bless you, Max Ehrmann, for writing "Desiderata" in 1927. You and I would have been fine friends.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Hmmm. What to write? What to write?
I'm not liking this post-once-a-week thing. My head is so full of posts. I'm still holding on and letting go as much as I can. I knew life would be busier when I got back to work, but I'm not sure I realized just how busy it would be. I get through it by telling myself it will slow down soon, and I try not to question the truth of that statement.
I did finally get to Lake Tweet. I'm sorry to say it was a lot of work, but that, too, will get easier. Right?!?
So tonight I'm in need of sleep. And a shower, maybe. And hope. Because one can never have too much hope.
My kids are all doing well. I have a job. I have a husband, whom I somewhat like, sometimes. (Kidding! I love him always.) And thanks to some very brave Navy Seals and CIA paramilitary forces, I can rest easy in my bed tonight knowing the world is a safer place without a terroristic genius plotting away from inside a "luxurious" compound in Pakistan. (Thank you, thank you.)
I think one of the lessons we can all take from this is that we Americans, even those of us here in Appalachia, are all privileged. We live in safety, in the open, and out of the crossfire. We don't lose our sons in raids or our daughters to war crimes.
If we could remember these truths, the ones I am sure are true, we'd have so much energy for good. If we didn't waste our time wallowing in our minor inconveniences and surmountable problems, we'd have time to accomplish so much more.
And, with that, I think I'm done for tonight. Like Forrest Gump and his running, I'll just stop writing now. I'll share with you photos of my cute kids, and you'll forgive me and forget that I'm a little peaked, a little contentious and pensive tonight.
Peace to you and yours. Peace tonight.