Saturday, October 28, 2017

Rhyming

Claire and I got home from dropping the kids off to school on Thursday morning. 
We ate oatmeal together at the kitchen table, and then went outside to retrieve a couple of onions and some carrots from the garden that is almost over.
Came inside, chopped them up with celery, garlic, and red bell pepper, and then threw it all in the crockpot with split peas, water, spices, and chicken bouillon.
I made artisan bread dough and stuck it on the table to rise, and then cleaned up the kitchen.

Then Little Miss and I went into another room and began sorting clothes, a project I HATE.
Let me say this: hate is a strong word, but I am totally intentional here.
When I think of tasks I don't like, this ranks right up there.
When you have to pull down clothes, decide what you're keeping, what you're discarding, what's going to DI, and then clean out drawers to make room for the next size/season of clothes, get them washed, put them away, etc.?

Excuse my French, but it's a pain in the butt.
Flat. out. tedious.
(Ugh and eye roll.) 

What's a girl to do, though?
It had to be done.

So, there we were. I'm dumping out bags and sorting, Claire is oohing and ahhing over various articles and trying stuff on.
At one point she put on a shirt, and I think it might have been made out of wool.

(And here's where I insert that they've clearly been discussing rhyming in preschool and Claire is absolutely taking it to heart. I heard about it one day after I'd picked her up and we were driving home, and another time she ran into the laundry room to inform me that sandwich and witch rhyme. Indeed.
So, clearly, it's on the brain. Hers, that is.
She's trying words on for size.
And now, back to sorting.)

She puts on a shirt.
And I hear her say, kind of muttering to herself, completely oblivious to the expletive: 

"Well this shirt is
itchy bitchy."

And you know what?
I started to quietly laugh and didn't say a word.
And I'm still laughing.

Childhood is beautiful.

#ohmygoshiloveher

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Thank you

I hiked high up into the mountains yesterday seeking solitude, clarity, and peace. 
The air was crisp, I met several deer, walked through a continuous, sweeping graveyard of leaves, 
 thought about life, and death, and love,
and my fingers swelled and stung with cold all the way down as the sun set and I was in the shadow of towering canyon walls. 
 Thank you, God, for this stunningly beautiful earth, 
for creating quiet, holy spaces for me, and for the work, joy, struggle, beauty, pain, and questions that are part of living. 
Thank you for filling my life with meaning, and for letting me have the experience of trying to figure things out--however clumsily I do so. 
And thank you for hope and faith, those two lights that always remind me to look higher and believe, trust in the greater story, and watch as things unfold. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

20 Times

When Claire and I got home from dropping off the kids at school this morning, we were still in our pajamas. We wrapped ourselves in blankets on the couch to read for a while. Claire picked up the first book she wanted to read and said that she love-love-love-love-love-love-loves it. (She said “love” so many times.) 
And then, I guess to summarize, she said:
“I love it 20 times.”

Which brings me to this: October is back again. 

There are leaves on the streets and the smell of autumn is here: crisp and changing, brown and earthy.

The tops of the tomatoes are dead with frost and it’s time to pull everything out. 

The mornings and evenings are crisp, sometimes downright cold. 

I’m looking forward to making a batch of apple butter on the stove, filling my house with the scent of cinnamon and cloves. 

I bought spring bulbs to put in the ground so we can enjoy a bunch of beautiful happiness in six months when tulips carpet my small flower bed in front.

We’ve started burning fires, and there’s a sparkly spider and little witch hat on the mantle to show some October spirit. 

That’s all fine and good, and I love it all. 

But when I’m outside these days, I can’t stop staring. You’d think I have never seen golden trees before. But they are my absolute favorite. 
And every time and every day, I am—figuratively, and often literally—stopped in my tracks. Over and over...and over.

It was cool on Saturday when I woke up, and a bit breezy outside. I put my shoes on and went running. I saw sunlight filtering through a tree close to my house that never can decide, every year, if her leaves should be yellow or red. So she is both, and beautiful. And when the morning sun catches her, she is something to behold. 
Seeing her lit my heart right up. 

Life! Joy! Light!


And I know that this autumn will be over in just a minute.

But here’s the thing:
I love it 20 times.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

This Little Sequence

We were lying in bed next to each other and I snapped these photos in succession.


And the thing I keep thinking is that this little sequence pretty much sums her up.
She is funny, inquisitive, smart, verbal, zesty, surprising, articulate, energetic, full of life, laughter, and energy.

She always wants to go and she always wants to do.
She cries if she's left behind, never wants the party to be over, loves to snuggle, and is kind of a boss.
She always has an opinion and she'll let you know what she thinks. 
If you can't find something, ask Claire. She almost always knows where everything is.
She's insightful and has a vocabulary that amazes me.
I could just eat her up.

Monday, September 18, 2017

After School Dancing

You know how sometimes you have a moment that you think of and it just makes you happy?
This is one of mine.
Day 2 of school.
We're out on the back deck after school, eating these frozen juices from Costco (insert: so good!).
He was ebullient, and I was listening as he told me about everything that had happened that day. 
And I was playing one of his favorite songs (K'naan's Coca Cola Celebration's version of "Wavin' Flag") over and over.
This girl fell asleep on me,


and I watched him dance and dance in his happiness.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

First Day

This was the first year where back to school meant going to public school.
Yep.
I said it.
The night before found me running to the store to buy some treats for their plates the next night at our "back to school" dinner.
I came home and stayed up late at the kitchen table writing them notes and hiding them in their backpacks with bubble gum, along with some notes from their dad.

I woke them up the next morning and made waffles with peaches and whipped cream for breakfast.
Threw a roast and some onions in the crock pot for dinner.
Everyone was out of bed, fast, the nerves and newness evident.
We ate, I made lunches for them and did Mia's hair.
We gathered in the school room before we left and I asked them to think of a story in the scriptures that exemplified courage, and then a time in their lives where they'd needed courage.
Isaiah referenced Daniel in the lions' den.
Benj talked about mountain biking for the first time, how he was simultaneously excited and scared.
Mia referenced a scriptural story where an individual had to go back and admit he was wrong. 

Then I read them a verse that I love in Deuteronomy (31:6):
"Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid...for the Lord thy God, He it is that doth go with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee."

And we prayed together in that room, with sun streaming in through the east windows.
Then we got up to go and I gave them skittles for their pockets.
They looked so cute.
Then, it was quick:
load in the car, drive to the school, drop them off.
They had balloons in a big arch out front and fun music blaring. 
The principal and several teachers were there to welcome all the kids on the first day and giving high fives. It was really awesome.
I hugged them goodbye and was fine until I could tell that Mia was on the verge of crying.
I called her back to the car and hugged her again and she held tight with teary eyes.

I was so proud watching them walk into school.
They didn't look back.
Even thinking about it now makes me tear up.
I drove away and cried.

But Claire and I kept busy that day.
We had two doctor appointments for me, and in between we hit the store to get balloons for our dinner.
At the second appointment we sat in the lobby reading while waiting to get called back.
(And incidentally, this is one of my very favorite picture books. If you haven't read Wilfred Gordon MacDonald Partridge, do it. It's tender and sweet. I love it every time.)

And then, soon enough, it was time to go and get them.
We waited anxiously in the car, watching for them.
And when they rounded the corner and saw us waiting there, they came running!

We drove home and went into the front room and they talked non-stop.
And then it was time for dinner.
Mia was helping with gravy, 
Isaiah was mixing the mashed potatoes (fresh out of the bathtub in his robe), I got out my Grandma Vera's rose china, set the table, and put a candy bar and tic tacs on each of their plates.
Oh, and snuggled this girl.
Menu: fall apart roast and onions, mashed potatoes, scratch gravy, roasted carrots, salad.
And, of course, "Christmas juice."
Here's to new beginnings.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

11

They turned 11, and the day was much like the Monday afternoon of the day they were born.
I remember laying there, pushing those boys out of my body, and noticing the bright blue sky outside and the sunshine.
It was a beautiful day.
Funny what you remember. 

We had friends show up at 7:45 this morning with donuts, a sweet and lovely surprise for the boys.
I was already cooking sausage and planning to make scrambled eggs, but it turned out they ate donuts and sausage instead.
(Healthy.)

When we dropped them off at school, Claire and I ran errands and then came home to do party prep:
making chocolate cake (scratch chocolate cake with scratch peanut butter frosting and crumbled peanut butter cups)
and filling favor bags.

Then it was time to make the relay lists for the party. I split the boys into two teams and explained what they had to do: an act of service, 50 jumping jacks, a round of pictionary, a round of tricks on the trampoline, an egg/spoon relay down the backyard, 2 times around the block, and a scavenger hunt for 4 things. The winning team got full-size candy bars.
They nailed it, it was entertaining, and it kept things from getting too crazy. (You've got to harness the energy of all those tween boys!)
After the party was over, a lazy couple of glorious hours ensued. My sister and I talked on the deck. After she left, I sent friends home and made tacos and we took some pictures and then sat down to eat.
And then we gathered round for a new tradition: drawing words for the birthday peeps from the "oracle" box one of my sisters gave to me on my birthday this year, and writing wishes for the birthday peeps for the coming year. 
I choked up with one of Claire's simple messages:
Dear Isaiah, On your birthday I want to tell you that I love you always. Love, Claire
Mia wished that Benji would get a lego set that would end up being one of his all-time favorites and that Isaiah would make a meaningful friend.
Isaiah capitalized on a family joke when he wished Benji a bowl of salad.

And me? I offered a wish about Benj not letting fear hold him back, and I choked up when I read it out loud. (Isn't that one of those life lessons that most of us have to learn again and again?) And for Isaiah? That he'd make a delectable cake and get some new cologne, among other things.
And tonight, after the sound effects of a "fart in a can" gift Benji got had died down (You should have seen the laughter and fart imitations going down among all those boys while we were eating cake and ice cream and opening presents on the back lawn. I couldn't help it. I could. not. restrain. my laughter.), they read in their beds and then made me laugh with a rendition of "Do Your Ears Hang Low" that references the male anatomy as taught to them by a friend. 
(Insert: "Do your balls hang low?")

Oh. my. word.

And due to party prep, I didn't get to work today. The result? I worked late and looked up from my screen periodically at the three of them that fell asleep in my room. 
And you know what?
Tonight I’m feeling very aware of something as I look at each of them; their lengthening bodies, their peaceful faces, the noise of the day now quiet and still. 
It's that gentle, beautiful ache that reminds me they’ll be gone before I know it.
They have been--and are--the greatest privilege of my life.

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