Wednesday, September 16, 2015

These are my people

Being a mom of 4 kids 9 and under, I don't have many dull moments. If I do happen upon one it usually is followed by some sort of chaos, someone screaming, a huge mess, someone starving or bleeding...I have a few dramatic children, so nearly anything can be made into a crisis (we've had a few rough moments about which way the wind was blowing in the window). You can't make this stuff up. 

However, as they are growing bigger, more of my moments are filled with interacting with them, watching them, playing with them, rather than actually tending to their needs. No one is nursing anymore, only the youngest is in diapers and they can all feed themselves (for the most part). 

Every once in a while I get to watch them without them being aware. A glimpse at who they are trying to be, a moment of make believe, of mimicking an older sibling (or me!), a moment lost in their own thoughts. Lately, as this happens I keep being in awe of these people. These little beings that have been so attached to me are growing into small humans. They each see the world in their own unique way, have their own reactions and responses to each situation as it presents itself and each add to our family in such a special way. 

They're each growing at their own pace, but the end point is obvious from the biggest down to the smallest of them. One day they will each grow fully into their own person. They won't need me anymore. All the ways that I spend my days busily caring for them will disappear as they will have learned to not only care for themselves, but for others. 

This simple fact amazes me. I know this is what motherhood is about. Shaping and molding children to one day contribute to this world, but to watch it begin to unfold before my own eyes, well, it's a little bit miraculous. These are my people. The people I love and care for. The people who I grew for months on end and rocked and nursed at all hours of the night. These are my people and I love them, I find them amazing, interesting and complex. 

These are my people. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Same New Beginnings

We're settling into routine out west and this year was the first year since I've been a mom that the beginning of the school year has looked the same as the previous one. We still had moments of wondering what the class would be like missing a few friends, a few tears over the end of summer (not only from me...), and a small amount of anxiety over the new beginnings that the school year brought, but it was nice to have it all be familiar. It was nice to expect and anticipate the routine that would be coming. To know what our days would look like and to be eager to return to familiar friends and activities. 

The big kids started school a few weeks earlier this year, but Ginny's preschool still waited to start until after the late labor day. This gave the littles and I a few weeks to do a few final visits to the zoo and playgrounds and soak up the last few days of summer. It was wonderful. We missed the bigs, but it was also so fun to see Wiley and Ginny lean on each other as playmates, making the transition from a house full to just the other for entertainment. 

This mama heart is full. It is great to have confidence in where I send my kids each day. They each have good teachers this year that will help shape them in the coming months. Ginny is in love with her preschool teacher and is already eagerly anticipating joining Lucy and Murray next year at their school. I'm pretty sure everyone will know her before she steps in for her first day and she will feel like the queen bee in kindergarten. She's a hoot how she chats up anyone who will listen once we're on campus. 

New beginnings none the less. It's all the same, familiar, but different. 

Lucy's in 4th grade and beginning to make that transition towards middle school. She's started playing soccer after school and is joining handbells (forgoing band because she didn't want another instrument to practice at home). We're starting to see friendships become more solid and she's becoming more aware of her peers and social things. 

Murray...well he's our steady eddy. Still all about running and being one of the fastest boys in his class. He's pretty easy going and I'm not sure much can shake him. It's fun to hear how he's immersed back with his friends and I love that they're growing up together. 

Ginny and Wiley. I won't be able to lump them together much longer. I am here, because well, that's where I sense the change. They play so creatively together. Often I overhear them playing house with Ginny being the mama and Wiley playing the part of a puppy or baby, they just find joy every day. I feel this year that these days are fleeting. In the past I've felt the start of a school year as a time to come up for air and just relax a bit, this year I feel the rush. The rush to just soak it all in before I start to lose them to school days and friends. Wiley's afternoon naps are numbered, Ginny's lazy mornings at home, outings in the neighborhood and trips to the grocery store after dropping the bigs at school...these things, they're all numbered now. Where before I felt like I was drowning in little people, I now see the end and I'm not ready for it just yet. So, for now we'll take each day as it comes. Settle into our school year and soak up as many snuggles and lazy days as we can manage. We'll also keep playing and being creative, cheering on the bigs in all they're accomplishing and just keep growing the best we can out west. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

"The Best Day Ever"

Some things you don't realize how good you have it until it's gone, others you recognize their full greatness while they're still in your midst. The Best Day Ever!!! Definitely falls into the latter category. So, let me back up just a bit. What is the Best Day Ever? Well, when Lucy enrolled in public school she made friends with a sweet and quiet little girl. We'll call her "E". As I got to know her mom through a mutual friend, I quickly learned where E got her caring and friendly heart from. 

Throughout the school year the girls had a few play dates and some other fun outings. As first graders it was fun to watch their friendship grow. I had Wiley not quite 2 weeks before school got out for the year. We were in baby heaven! E's wonderful mom asked me what we were doing for the last day of school, my response was to spend the afternoon staring at said new baby (or something of that nature). She insisted on taking Lucy along on what she described as The Best Day Ever! It involved lunch out (a rare treat), parks, splash pads, ice cream and more! I of course agreed to let her take my child on this grand adventure and met them for ice cream when all of us at home had woken up from a nap. Lucy indeed had The Best Day Ever!

Last year, we all joined along with them. E and Lucy had been in separate second grade classes, but were still good friends. Murray and E's younger sister R had been in the same class and were also good friends. The youngest of their girls fell right in between Ginny and Wiley. We were quite the site! Applebees for lunch with 7 kids, the park, the splash pad, ice cream. Back to her house for pizza, popsicles and sparklers. It was The Best Day Ever!  That ended in tears as we said goodbye to these amazing friends. 

From the moment we drove away, Lucy and Murray asked, what will we do for The Best Day Ever next year? It won't be the same without them. I whole heartedly agreed...and my mommy heart started praying. Praying for fun friends to share new memories with and to keep in touch with these old ones. 

Well, yesterday was our first Oregon version of The Best Day Ever and it was a success. When you're competing with memories, you have to get creative; so we did. We had a picnic on school grounds with the girls in Lucy's class. It was a wonderful way to celebrate the end of the year and to say goodbye to one friend who won't be returning next year. We brought friends home with us and played for awhile before heading out to the pool. We had promised the bigs they could both have birthday parties this year; as the day approached I thought, why not have Murray's on the last day of school before everyone scatters for the summer. With all the swimming lessons we've taken this year I learned our local pool is actually an inexpensive option for an out of the house party. So, party we did! 

We invited Murray's class and siblings too, along with a few neighbors and friends. We swam for an hour and enjoyed ice cream sundaes topped with candy and sugar and lots of laughs from the boys. 

We had to take a "break" for Lucy to sing at the 8th grade graduation with her class, and Murray to have baseball practice. But we finished the night (really late) with a hunt for glow bracelets in the yard and everyone went to bed with a soft glow in their beds. 

What a great day with bittersweet memories. I love that we are making such great friends here. I love watching new friendships form and all the love and laughter being shared. But yesterday I did wish we could be sharing The Best Day Ever with our Michigan friends (although, they have another week of school, so I don't mind we didn't have to wait).

As we said so many goodbyes last year, I remember telling Lucy that we could be sad as we said goodbye, but that all the people we loved we were taking with us in our hearts. The things they taught us and the memories we shared would come with us to Oregon because they helped make us the people we are. Yesterday that came to a full fruition. 

Thank you Mandy for teaching E and R to love their friends, to welcome them to a strange new school. Thank you for seeing a mom with a new baby and inviting my girl into your family tradition. Thank you for sharing your joy with us. The Best Day Ever is now a cross country event and I hope one day we get to share it with you again (wouldn't that really be the best day ever?!?).

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

God is Always Near

So, I haven't written in awhile. Here's the synopsis; we drove 4 kids in a minivan across the country to a house we purchased before I'd ever seen it and I've been settling kids and life in this new amazing corner of God's creation. 

Here's what I've learned. God is always near. In the fast and furious moments where you can't sit still, in the quiet moments where you question if you made the right decisions and in the perfect moments of happiness...
God is always near. 

Our new neck of the woods includes a commute to the kids' school each day. In Michigan we either homeschooled or the kids attended school up the street. Our commute involved walking up the block with a pause only at the praying tree if we hadn't already prayed at home to start the day. (Or a hop over the fence and a mad dash through the playground field if it was a running late day). 

Here, it's almost 18 minutes of driving. We leave our neighborhood, drive along the outskirt of our town and then head through some farmlands, up a twisty forested hill, and then up and down the rolling hills of a vineyard. It is gorgeous. Each morning the kids and I take in the beautiful painting that God has created, unique to each day. When I first made the drive I was always clenched and nervous, unsure on the twisty, hilly roads; they were so different than anything I'd ever driven in my own midwestern existence. Now, I look forward to the drive each day and find it relaxing!

There is a point in the drive when we get to the top of the curvy hill through the forest and we emerge to this long rolling straightway. In a split second we glance and we know if it's a mountain day or not. Some days we have an amazing clear view of the rolling hills, the patchwork of farms along the country side with both Mount Hood straight ahead and Mount Saint Helen off to the left. Some days it's a one mountain day, some days we can't see them at all. One of our favorites in the morning is a ghost mountain as we call it, where there is a haze in the distance and it looks like the mountains could be a ghost or something out of a scary movie. We love to take in what God has given us. 

As I've made this drive over the past few months I can't help but reflect on how this drive is a lot how the past few years have been for me. Ups and downs, twists and turns and not always knowing what will come next. In the winter here, we have fog...lots and lots of fog. There are times when you can barely see off the side of the road or what is ahead of you, you can't see the orchards or vineyards as you go up and down the rolling hills, you can barely see that there are trees in the forested section of the drive. And it is hard to imagine that the mountains are even in the distance. But they are! Even when we can't see them, the mountains are still there, still great and mighty and covered and snow. Often the fog of the morning burns off to a beautiful afternoon, so the trip that I took to take the kids to school is completely different than the one I take to pick them up. 

Isn't this so similar to our lives? Even a familiar path, in my case having another baby or moving for a new job, something you've "driven" before, seems so unfamiliar if you can't quite see the full picture God has painted for you. If you can't see the rolling hills, the vineyards, the farms and the magnificent mountains the road you're on may seem dark, twisty and a little unnerving. But, God is always near. He promises that He will never leave nor forsake you! One of my favorite verses in Isaiah tells us that when we walk with the Lord, whether we look to the right or the left He will be there saying "this is the way, walk in it". So, if you wait, just a little longer, you can get to the top of the hill on a bright sunny day and see not only what's right in front of you, but the magnificent mountains He's been waiting to reveal! 

I love this. Each and everyday I am reminded of God's steadfast and enduring love for me. I think of all the people who have lived before me in awe of the same mountains I am blessed by as part of the landscape of my life. It reminds me that some of my biggest blessings were things I didn't see coming, a fourth child, a move to Oregon....a trip to see a dear friend. 

Even when the road seems foggy and unclear, God is always near, and if we just keep driving He will reveal Himself in His time. So, this is me, being transparent and saying it's time to start revealing our daily blessings here in Oregon. So hold me accountable, help me to share my heart even though sometimes it's hard to be willing to share the foggy moments when God hasn't revealed that beautiful picture to me yet.