Sunday, December 16, 2012

More than just a party.

Tonight, this room served as a stage. True friendship, loyal ties, and genuine love were the stars of the show. Friends poured one another drinks, grand babies snuggled grandparents, friends and cousins chased and played, forever friends hugged and picked up each other's babies, and everyone felt magic in the air. The magic was contagious, and happy, and had it's own energy.

But, as love took center stage, I couldn't help but think about the babies that were taken too soon last Friday in Connecticut. Their mamas are deep, deep in grief tonight. Those babies aren't running around with their friends, they won't see their cousins again, they won't decorate their gingerbread houses with their daddies. Their mama's are weeping. It's not fair. There are no words, other than God was there. He's always there. Friday was not part of his plan. He has a beautiful story written for us, but sin gets in the way. God can not get rid of sin or else we'd all be gone. We are all sinners of various degrees. What we can do is remember He is the light to show us to brighter days. Days when the missing babies mama's will wake up and feel just a bit better. But for now, they grieve. And even though we continue to celebrate the season, and throw parties, and decorate our gingerbread houses, we grieve with them. I can not imagine. Parents love our children so much that it's aches. So, as we remember these taken babies, we ache too. A mama's heart loves all children. A daddy's heart does too. So, as I love on my kids, on my friends kids, on my niece and nephews, I hold tighter.

I do not take my blessings for granted. I am grateful. Some days, I don't even know what to do with it all. My babies are here with me. And, now, it just doesn't seem fair. So, my promise is too breathe them in, hold them tight, and make sure they know they are loved because as we know, each day could be our last. Spread love, show love, and receive love like you mean it.

I loved tonight. I loved the planning, the decorating, the calling of friends to come help write our story. I can't wait to hear how Regan and Tyler will rememberand retell these nights. This was our third time hosting our "Gingerbread House Party," and it was exactly what we hoped for.

After the last guests left, we tucked our babies safely in bed. They were happy from a night filled with memories. Not every child went to bed happy tonight. Not every parent was able to tuck their baby in tonight, and for them we pray for God's peace. Only He can comfort in a way that is enough.

Keep calm and carry on.....

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Who we are, who we were.

These days, I'm learning more and more about who I am. And, what's most interesting to me is that even as a married mother of two children, I believe who I am directly ties to who I was. Who I was when I first started making memories (maybe age 5 or 6?), who I was as an unsure 12 year old, who I was throughout high school and college, and who I was throughout my early twenties before I met my husband and was blessed with my babies.

I often wonder who I would have become had things been different and why I am the person I am today because of the way things were. Would I be who I am today had my parents stayed married? Would I be the wife I am if my own father would have been involved? Would I mother the way I do had my stepfather not walked in and taken over? What kind of friend, church member, spiritual being could I have turned out to be had I focused on becoming those things? Where we were, what we were taught, how the adults in our lives treated us and responded to us surely mold us into who we become. Traditions are passed down, attitudes and priorities are mirrored, and our self worth is guided by the past. However, when we are able to, we also get the chance to decide who we want to be despite these past influences. At some point, we all have to let go of who we were and start deciding who we're going to be. You must take all of the potential, and disappointments, and unfulfilled wishes, as well as the need for care and comfort, traditions, and love you received and decide what you're going to do with it all. You're going to need to take all of the best parts and merge them all the heartbreaking ones, and you're going to rebuild. You will take shelter in the choice to decide how you will proceed.

I think the best, most astounding case of "who we were" versus "who be are" took place my very first year of teaching middle school. I had a student who had it rough. Home was no fun. It was hard and this kid spent most of his days disappointed in others and protecting himself. One day, we were going about our lesson and enjoying the hustle of middle school life. He raised his hand, so I went over to his desk thinking he had a question on the project we were working on. As I arrived at his desk, he look straight in my eyes , stopped everything, and said, "Your class is the best part of my day." I responded in whatever way I could as to show appreciation but not embarrass this tough guy. But then, his eyes filled up with tears and he proceeded to say that no other adult ever cared. He poured his heart out to me in a way that made me ache. He told me he woke up and got himself ready for school, fed himself breakfast, got himself on the bus, and then came home to an empty home until late. His Dad was gone and his Mom was disconnected and rarely engaged. He told me I was the best hour because I had expectations for him, cared where he was and that he was in class, and encouraged him. That was more than he was used to. At that point we went in the hall, and I swear to you he said, "You know what though? Instead of being like my parents, I'm going to be different." He had learned how not to behave, how not to parent, and how not to disappoint instead of continuing the cycle. He could have easily given up considering no one was really there to care if he did so. He chose at 13 years old to trade in who he was and all of the excuses of what he didn't learn at home, the attention and care he missed out on, and the time he missed creating real, meaningful relationships for a life of new found independence and the courage to create his own truth. He knew he was worth it, I knew he was worth it, and all it took was the courage to proceed with the decison to be better.

Now, as I journey through ways to create the story of "who we were" so that "who we become" and "who we are" turns out fairly well, I focus on traditions, togehterness, and a sense of magic. Never do I want my children to look back at who they were and feel disappointed. Never do I want them to feel like the "what ifs" would make a better story than the truth. Because the truth is, I do everything I can to make fact better than fiction. I want them to rememeber their stories with a smile. I want them to pass it along with excitement in their voices and to say, "Remember when!?" Sure, there will be some sadness they will look back on. Life will also bring some disappointments. But, when my babies turn into people who are no longer babies, I want them to remember the parts that their mama could control and know I did my very best to help create a beautiful story full of whimsy, adventure, and a sense of fierce loyalty.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thank you and clinging.

The journey of motherhood has humbled me and made me a braver, better version of myself.
Despite the fact that my days consist of little arms wrapped around my legs, heads peeking into the bathroom robbing me of the privacy and spare minutes I used to enjoy, and all the focus of my little family moving forward, I feel like I’m the one with a debt to pay. I’m the one who should be thanking my lucky stars for what we've created. I'm the one who should be reminded to say thank you. I'm the one who should making tiny little love notes and coloring pages to surprise them. I should be begging to play with them. But it gets busy, you know? So busy that my own heart forgets to be thankful and tells me that I'm the one who should be thanked, patted on the back, or deserving  recognition. But that's just not the case. I'm turning it around. It's not about me. The entire focus should be shifted. My boy, my girl, and my man are the ones who deserve the honor because it is an honor..... to wipe up their spills, to break up their squabbles, to support their choices and love unconditionally, to read story after story, and to cut the crusts off of sandwiches. If it weren't for these tasks that seem so monotonous, meaningless, and even sometimes annoying, I would be nothing. So, thank you babies for being who you are...demanding, loud, and fussy. Also for being loving, beautiful, kind, and unbelievably amazing. I love you for all that you are, the good and the sometimes not so fun, too. I accept you for all that you are, which is really, really hard to do sometimes. But, God designed little ones, and even spouses, to require a lot. The demanding job of wife and mama isn't supposed to run smoothly and be seamless. It's supposed to feel hard sometimes in order to remind us of how deep we love. So, thank you. It really is my greatest joy for you to be mine. I know that my husband and babies are the greatest tools God has given me to share the beauty of His Grace. When I choose to be patient, kind, level-headed, and giving, I can show my family, and others, a clear version of who He wants me to be. For that, I am thankful and forever indebted to Him and them.

Also, I've been trying to help the kids focus on clinging to what matters lately. With this, we started going to church again. (Why'd we ever take even one Sunday off, I'm not too sure?) But, we're back, and it feels amazing. The kids sat with me last week, and as we were leaving, Tyler retold the sermon including every last detail. They get it. They soak it in. I'm learning that when you show them the way, share the Word, and immerse them with Him, they cling to it. They soak it in and believe it. We've also been clinging to one another. After all, when the world seems hard, and mean, and unsettled that's all you have.

When the world spins, reach for each other.

In other news, freaking Thanksgiving is in about 5 minutes. Okay, not really, but NEXT Thursday?!?!? So, we've been turning on some Christmas music here and there, made our first Christmas craft, and I've been reeling with fun ideas for the season.

The kids drew Christmas trees, painted wooden plaques, and then Mod-Podged their trees onto the wood! Voila!

We also kicked off the season by welcoming Santa to our town. And, really, the entire town was there. My little family and my mom hit up the Hamilton Town Center Holiday Celebration last weekend, and we were met with bands, games of hockey, friends, and a Santa sighting. It was a blast!

Mom and I also got to take Regan to see a production of Cinderella last weekend. It was absolutely one of those times that I quickly thanked God for a little girl. It was adorable, and sweet, and fun to spend a girl's day celebrating being a girl!

Keep calm and carry on...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Glory or reminder?

This week I've been on my game. I've been the Mom I always imagined I could be. Energetic, happy, organized, and scheduled. We've made it to school, play dates, Tot Kwon Do, library play dates, tumbling, open gym, and speech therapy.... on time. I've made muffins, healthy dinners, painted toenails, volunteered for Mystery Reader, attended the grand opening of the new local health food store, and voted in the Presidential election. Also, I've worked out I mean, this is who I've always wanted to be. This is the Mom my kids deserve... But, as I reflect on the greatness of the week, I can't help feel guilty and showy for even beginning to pat myself on the back for my successes. Because you know what? This is what a lot of mama's do every day too. It's not just me. It's every mommy who volunteers, waits, chauffeurs, peels, chops, picks up, drops off, loves deeper than they ever thought they could. It's just what we do. Motherhood is no joke. It requires more of us than we feel like we have. It demands us to push through what we don't always feel like doing. It's hard. Sometimes it's terrible. But, most of the time is it's wonderfully busy, hectic, and the greatest joy of our lives. Moms everywhere are busting their butts. They're working, and planning play dates, and practicing spelling words, and pinning dinners they hope will fuel their families. Moms are doers. Moms push themselves too hard everyday. But, for every week we feel accomplished and triumphant, along comes the "reminder week." The kind of week that "reminds" us that motherhood is bigger than us. The tantrum at Target, the forgotten school function, the missed play date, or the up all night sickness puts us right back in our place. These weeks remind us that we can't do everything, nor do we need to. These weeks are necessary and just as important as the glory weeks. They show us, our kids, and other mama's who are trying to keep up to look for the light among the rubble. Life is an ebb and flow of greatness and despair. Our kids don't need perfection. Our spouses, friends, and families don't require it either. Moms are our own worst critics, and damn do we hold high standards for ourselves. I've even found myself this week wondering still if the kids were fueled, lifted up, and felt truly loved. That's what happens though. We have an "on" week, and we still question if it was enough because surely there was more we could have done, right? Then, the "reminder" week comes along to answer those doubts that yes, we are good enough. Because whether we feel like we're at our best or our worst, love comes naturally. It shines through the crappy dinners, crumpled homework that was thrown away, or the missed opportunity to show our best. The love doesn't stop, and those around us continue to feel it even if we're doing a bad job of showing our best face. I'm learning that lots and lots of people don't expect perfection, or really anything close to it. The "perfect week" only exists once in a great while. It pops up for us to feel gratitude. Real life is all about those reminder weeks that show our babies we push through and continue even though it's hard. We continue to hold our heads high, despite the blips that don't feel so good. We take the good with the bad because both are necessary and both make a difference.

As the week wraps, and the weekend begins, there is still much to look forward to. Mom and I are taking our girl to a production of Cinderella while Daddy takes my boy fishing. Tonight we are hitting our town's Holiday Celebration Kick-Off. My girl will continue showing off her new found skill of counting by 5's, and my boy will continue putting puzzles together and counting to 10. We will continue trying our best. And, while the fun continues, and I'm sure a reminder week could surely creep up soon, and if it does I will hold on to the love that exists no matter what.

Images from our week...

Keep calm, friends.

*Of course, when I say "Moms" throughout the post, I really do mean Moms AND Dads. Because, you know, Dads are awesome, too!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

It's almost Halloween!

Okay, I admit it. I need to work on my blogging consistency. Or, at least take the time to do it so there aren't giant missing holes in the story I'm trying to tell. We have just a little bit of a project going on... In the past TWO months, my husband has turned this:

Into this:

The kids and I are so proud of him. It's very stressful and awesome to be the general contractor for your own home. What a ride! I can't wait to get there and start our journey. I plan to fill in more of the story soon.

We went to Tyler's Fall Party today. It was adorable. He won the game "Pin the Nose on the Pumpkin." (He was number 8. His face lit up so bright when he realize he won... I could have cried right then and there.)

The kids also decorated cookies, Tyler stained his mouth black with a heaping pile of black sprinkles, they made paper pumpkin crafts, and wore matching Halloween shirts because their mama is cool like that. (Bless their hearts.)

Hurricane Sandy is underway on the East Coast. We saw news coverage on the storm, and Regan had a lot of questions about what was happening. I explained to her, and she was very concerned about the children in the areas hit hardest. We all are. Big prayers for safety tonight.

Speaking of tonight, the kids and I went to sister's first school skating party. We had a blast. I had one of those "oh crap I don't have a baby anymore moments" when I had to get Tyler size 12 skates! That's what size Regan wears! I have these moments more and more and more these days.


The kids absolutely love rollerskating. I loved watching them be so carefree and young out there. Tomorrow is Halloween. Regan is going as a witch, and Tyler HAD a frog costume, but yesterday explained, "I want to be something meaner," so is now dressing as the Bumblebee Transformer.

Here's my guy practicing being mean at lunch yesterday. Fierce, I tell you.
There's so much to look forward to, so much to be thankful for....


Guts and all.


Monday, September 17, 2012

The Color Run

 These are some of the best friends a girl could ask for. We decided to do The Color Run as a team, which really just meant we agreed to the same rules for our "race." The rules were no running or getting anything that would classify as real excersise, get as messy as possible, and take lots of pictures. We exceed our goals to say the least!
All of the websites promised an awesome time with your friends, so we were so excited to be a part of this.... So excited in fact that we didn't even mind (too much) that we had to wake up at an ungodlyhour to be race ready.
 After we arrived, we all hit up the port-a-pots 'cause we're a classy group, and then got some "before" pics which just meant we were clean.
 And then, the madness began. Each half mile there was a color station. Each station had a ton of volunteers that pelted the runners with a certain color of dyed cornstarch.
 As you moved through the race, you got plastered with more and more colors.
Here's a glimpse at the first station which was blue. Duh.

 As the race's finish line got closer and closer, the girls and I started rolling on the ground to achieve ultimate color levels, having the volunteers dump it on our heads, and pretty much acted like we hadn't been let out of the house in a few decades.
 The pink station was just a wee bit out of control.
 At the end, there was a huge party of color as eveyone had a reserve packet and threw the color into the air (or at their friend's eyeballs) at the countdown.

 We made it! This was something the girls and I will remember for a long, long time. "Fun" doesn't even describe the time we had.
 After the race, we needed cofee and food BAD. Along the way, we found two poor, unsuspecting shoe salesmen to grab a classic jump picture.This picture is absolutely one of my favorites because it captures the love and fun we have and the carefree, easy friendship that comes so naturally for us.

 None of the girls could do our normal morning coffee routine before the race for fear of poop issues during the event.We walked around downtown colored head to toe and found our beloved Starbucks.
You can imagine the pride my kids felt when they first saw me. I'm sure they were thinking, "Man, Mom, you are so cool... I hope I can be just like you when I grow up." Okay, maybe they just laughed at me. Whatever.