Thursday, April 24, 2014

It's Not About The Milk, But It Also Kind Of Is

Remember when I said that I was going to make this little space a piority?  When I mentioned how much I missed writing and recording the stories of our family? When I vowed to carve out some time and share the things that are important to me and the things that aren't but that I want to remember anyway?  When I swore to post pictures of the big things and the small things? Like Austin's first lost tooth or when my kids got on an airplane for the very first time?

I rememmber it too. 

But as with everything else right now, my life is in the way of my life.  I can't keep up. I can't proiritize.  I can't even remmeber to buy milk.  Somehow, in this quest to enrich our kids lives and give them opportunities to grow, we have worked ourselves into a pace that isn't sustainable.  At least, not sustainable if you want milk in the fridge. 

Here's what I know: I'm a horrible working mother.  I'm a pretty decent stay-at-home mom but a working mom?  I fail at least ten times a day.  And so my hat is off to working moms everywhere (although truthfully, it always has been) because this stuff is hard.  This remembering everything and organizing everything and keeping schedules straight and appointments made and who needs what and by when.  Ugh, it's exhausting. And try as I might, I just can't seem to manage any of it.  My fuse is shorter, my ehaustion is more palpable and my desire to keep it all going is nil.  The stress of it all has worked it's way into my bones and muscles and I physically ache from the weight of our life. 

Here's what else I know:  this is not how we were intended to live our lives.  Somewhere along the path of creating children who have honed skills and had life experience, we've booked ourselves into a literal corner with no easy way out.  What do we cut out?  Who gives up the thing they like to do? Which skill can wait to be worked on until later? 

I have no idea.

Insomnia is another fun perk of this time in my life and as I layed awake last night, I tried to conjure up a plan of change.  Spring is always our busiest season and I tried to carve out a way for us to negogiate it that will leave us filling renewed instead of empty. 

I can give up coaching. I love Girls On The Run and I think it's a program that every girl, every child for that matter should go through.  I love the extra time I get with my daughters and how I know the program so well that we've incorporated bits and pieces into our regular life.  And it's been great this year to have the time with BOTH of my daughters.  But it requires me being someplace at a certain time. It makes dinner look like cereal a whole lot more than anything else.  It requires me to give of myself to girls who need it with love and an extra dose of cheer and enthusiasm. I love it. But it might be time to move on. 

Brad could give up coaching. He loves it and with Spence being on his team next year, I'm sure he'll love it even more.  But is it worth the things that he's missing?  The long hours and the tournaments and the Saturdays away?  Maybe.  But maybe not. 

I don't know what we'll do. I don't know if I've just felt the pace more acutely this year than in years past. I don't know if next year will feel differently but I know that I want to get back to being the mom I've always tried to be.  The mom who has time to talk to her kids. The mom who makes meals that actually offer nutritional value.  The mom that isn't frazzled.  The mom who notices when we're out of milk.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Perspective, Take 2

The last few weeks have sort of kicked my trash. 

At least, that's how I chose to see it.  

I got sick shortly after Christmas and remained sick for pretty much all of January.  They say stress adds to your bodies inability to fight things.  Hmmmm.....

My phone died. I know, the most basic of first world problems EVA but it was hard.  (Still is hard.  New phone isn't here yet.  Grrrrrrr...)  And while I'm thankful for the very real example that my little phone was taking up entirely too much time in my life, I miss the convenience of email at my fingertips, my calendar that keeps our house somewhat running, and apps that help me reach my goals.

Speaking of goals, I've been more than frustrated by one that I just can't seem to reach despite my best efforts.  I work and sweat and toil and choose and in the end, nothing changes.  This has gotten my down more than I care to admit but there's a lesson here as well.  I need to stop focusing on what's missing and be grateful for what I have.  I succeed in this in a lot of areas of my life but this one in particular is my krptonite.  I get it.  I'm working on it. 

Today, despite little sleep and an aching body, I got up, looked at my unwashed face and crazy hair in the mirror and laughed.  Because if I can't smile at this amazing life I've been given, with all the crazy mixed in, then what's the point? 

Smile today friends.  Find something to make you laugh.  It's going to be a good day. 

(My sweet husband posted this on my Facebook wall a few days ago.  I love him so.)

Monday, January 06, 2014

The Day I Was That Mom

For Sienna's 8th birthday, she got her ears pierced.  

This was in last July, and she was a model new-ears-pierced patient.  Unfortunately, her right ear was pierced too low and while we watched it closely, the lower part of her lobe split open and the hole fell out.  Like, the hole slid down her ear until it was at the bottom and the front and back of the whole came together.  

That doesn't make any sense but bottom line, we had to wait for her ear to heal so it could be re-pierced.  

Fast forward to Saturday.  Brad and Spence had been gone skiing for a few days and I had not been feeling my best.  I tweaked my back Friday during yoga and my cold came back with a vengeance so when Sienna mentioned going and getting her ear re-done, I thought yes!  This will turn our weekend around!  We'll head to the mall, get her ear pierced, maybe shop around a bit, get some lunch and my status of FUN MOM instead of GO WATCH ANOTHER MOVIE MOM will once again be restored. 

It was quite the feat to coax me out of my sweats but soon we were on our way. Sienna was excited and I was ready to put this whole ear drama behind us and move on.  Except that when we got to the ear piercing place, our ear drama turned into Sienna drama and she threw the mother of all fits.  Like, scared to death yelling and moaning and freaked out fits.  I stayed calm for much longer than usual and explained to her that we could leave and go home but that we wouldn't be coming back anytime soon to get her ear pierced.  She struggled fo-eva over her desire to have it done and her fear of getting it done.  I filled out the paperwork and got everything set while she worked through it.  

Except that she didn't work through it and got herself so worked up that I quickly became the mom that everyone in the mall is staring at because she can't control her kid.  And my kid isn't a toddler in need of nap time but a real, legit kid kid.  I did my best to stay calm and reassuring while my other kids tried to look like they belonged with another family.  

I'd like to say that I found the right words to calm Sienna and that she sweetly held my hand while her ear was re-pierced but that would be a fat freaking lie.  

It didn't go down like that AT ALL.  

But the ear got pierced.  HALLE-FREAKING-LUIAH.

And then I marched us out of there faster than you'd think possible with three kids in tow.  Sienna whimpered her way back to the car and I, uncharacteristically, started to cry. 

And here's why; it wasn't the drama over Sienna and her actions.  It wasn't the other people staring at me, silently confirming my fears that I'm not the mom I think I am.  It wasn't even my own personal embarrassment.  

It was that I built it up in my head how it was supposed to go and it simply didn't.  My expectations set me up to fail. 

Without even meaning to, I built up our little outing as some type of restorative fun from a rather lackluster weekend.  I'd be the hero for getting her ear pierced!  And then we'd have lunch!  And my daughters would confide in me the treasures of their hearts! And we would look like those people who have it all together instead of the ones wandering the mall with ketchup on their shirt!  It would be glorious.  

And it could have been, but I screwed it up even more than Sienna.  

I dropped Hannah off at a friend's house, having told Sienna in my last hail Mary attempt, that her playdate would be canceled if she didn't hold still and get her ear pierced and since one of my goals this year is no empty threats, I followed through.  When I got back to the car, Sienna whispered quietly "I'm so sorry I did that to you Mama.  I didn't mean to but I was just so scared."  

And that's when I felt about two inches tall.  

Expectations are a funny thing.   They can be a great thing, I think, a lot of the time, having something to shoot for.  But we can get lost in them when what we want to happen looks different than what actually happens.  And how it looks from the outside means nothing compared to how my Squish felt on the inside.  We have to start finding a way to appreciate  the off-course and messed up versions of whatever it is we're doing since that is the stuff of memory-making, and are so much more important than anything else. Who wants polished and perfect when it's empty inside? 

I pulled Sienna onto my lap as soon as we got home and told her how sorry I was.  She apologized to me and we talked about trusting each other and doing hard things.  Our afternoon together wasn't pretty but it turned out pretty awesome. 

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Shine On

Internet, can we talk for a moment?  

I've got so much rumbling around my brain that I'm not even sure where to start.  

Things like how our Christmas rocked, as it tends to do, but how it also dripped with the stuff of real life.  Stuff like figuring out blended families and strep throat and she-won't-help-me! and did that kid get short-changed in the gift department?  Stuff that reminds me that my life is not full of the shiny images I see on the internet of what I perceive as the "perfect" this or that.  

That table setting is perfect!

That's a brilliant idea for our families Elf!

I wish I had chosen their color scheme for our Christmas cards!

Stuff that doesn't matter and yet sometimes feels like it really does.  

My life is full of images, some shiny, some dark, some blurred with exhaustion or fighting kids or most frequently, my feelings of the day, allowing the good or bad to sink into the picture.  Because when I look around, I can see the beauty or I can see the ugly.  And more than ever, I'm trying to see the beauty.  The beauty in the mess of my kitchen because it means my kids were learning to bake.  Or the beauty in the mess of the toy room because it means imagination were at work.   It's working, I think, but I've got a ways to go. 

Christmas makes it easier.  At Christmastime, I think everyone works a little harder to be their best and see the beauty.  To put on their shiny in the morning and step out into the world, spreading their shine to those who need it. 

We're kinder.

We say more hellos and thank yous.  

We open doors. Pay for the hot chocolate in the car behind us.  Leave notes for mailman.  We make more of an effort in just about every possible way.  

And I love it.  

But why?  

Why does it take Christmas to make us into the people we're supposed to be? 

I asked Hannah what her favorite part of Christmas was and her reply?  "I love how everyone is nicer to each other and takes care of each other."


 My 11-year old gets it!

But do I?  

She reminded me of how there is a noticeable change in the way we treat each other from November to December.  And she's 100% spot on.  It feels like there are more opportunities to serve in those four weeks than in the rest of the year.  More people in need.  More charities to support.  My love to share with our neighbors.  But those people and charities and neighbors are still there, all year long, just waiting for the rest of us to wake up and get back to the business of looking outside ourselves and finding news ways to shine. Ways to share ourselves and help make each other better.  Ways to carry Christmas all year long and feel of that feeling that so far, only comes once a year.  

This is the stuff that keeps me up at night.  

I don't have the answer.  I don't even know where to find the answer.  But I know that it can somehow start with me and my people.  I know that we can start making changes in our home that will begin to trickle out into our neighborhood.  And then maybe our community.  I know that big change happens when we start small and I feel committed to going to battle and getting to work.  Because the love we feel during the Christmas season is ours for the taking if we remember why we're here and start taking care of one another.  

I love it when my kids teach me stuff.  It happens a million times a day in a million different ways.  I'm so lucky to have four master teachers under my feet.  I'm hoping this year will be about us serving one another and loving one another and finding in every image we see, a new way to shine.  

(Our shiniest image from last year)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Starting Again, Again

I just stumbled across a friend's blog and discovered that she's been writing for months and I was somehow missing it.  And I loved diving in and reading about her life, even though I pretty much know all of the stories.  And it made me want to revisit this place, this space I set up long ago to tell the stories of my life.  To record the ins and outs of the 6 of us.  To have a spot to write it all down and remember the good and work through the bad.  This life we're living is so very worth my time and the stories that stumble out of our day to day are good and worth remembering.  I know I've said this before but here goes another shot at recording this life I'm loving so much.  

We're good, the six of us.  Spence has strep and Austin has been licking his chapped little lips and sort of looks like he's been playing in grandma's red lipstick, the stains extending his sweet little mouth in all directions.  Hannah is tackling a book that's been challenging for her to read (in Spanish no less) but has finally fallen in love with the characters and now can't get enough.  Sienna is loving her new haircut and has recently made a point to snuggle up to her Mama and Dad a little more frequently.  Brad is knee deep in a new biology curriculum which has given him something new to do for the first time in 14 years.  And I'm juggling the pieces thrown in the air by those five amazing creatures I call family.  I'm working more than I have in years past which has proved to be both awesome and exhausting.  I've reluctantly hung up my bike for the winter and have thrown myself into yoga which I'm completely in love with.  I now dream of yoga training camps in Bali for weeks on end which would be the most amazing thing except that I could never leave my people for weeks on end.  My people who drive me crazy with their dropped coats in the hallway and dishes around the house.  But also my people who are so tender with each other that it physically overwhelms me and fills me up with the brightest possible light.  If I learn nothing else from this life, I will know unequivocally that we are given to each other on purpose, that no mistakes are made in the crafting of our families and that life, with all it's crazy and exhaustion and pure bliss, is really only life when it's shared with those you love. 

Here's to hoping this space and I see a lot more of each other.  

Thursday, November 07, 2013


Dear Hannah,

My darling girl with the big, round eyes that look so much like mine and those amazing dimples that look just like your dad, you are perfectly, beautifully you.  And today you celebrate the joy of being 11. 

11 years of crinkling up your nose when you laugh, which you do easily and often. 

11 years of taking everything to heart, allowing both the good and the bad of the world to influence you deeply. 

11 years of learning to be a wonderful big sister to Sienna and Austin but also knowing that following the lead Spencer has set for you is always a great idea. 

11 years of loving all things girly, with nail polish and earrings and boots galore.  You are certainly your mother's daughter.

11 years of planning parties and celebrations and get togethers, knowing that life is more fun when you share it with family and friends.  You are certainly your father's daughter. 

But most importantly, 11 years of learning that you are a daughter of Heavenly Father and that he loves you exactly as you are. 

Because exactly as you are is exactly what this world needs.  What our family needs.  We may butt heads, we may not see eye to eye, but we also know without a doubt that we were made for each other. 

I love you so much sweet Hannah. 

Happy Birthday.


Tuesday, October 01, 2013


Life has been a bit rolly polly these past few weeks.
All six of us are slowly adjusting to our new spots in life. 
A new high school for Brad.  His first change in 14 years.
8th grade life for Spence.  A zero hour class.  ASB and leadership. 
5th grade for Hannah.  Top of the school, trynig new things, including soccer.
3rd grade for my Sienna girl.  Right in between Hannah and Austin, settling into life and finding her place.
The big school for Austin.  A kindergartner.  Loving the life that comes with being a "big kid" but struggling a bit to keep up the pace and not give in to the rest his "little kid" body still requires. 
And me. 
I'm a stay at home mom with no one to mother.
It's funny, how life has a way of making you yearn for things just out of your reach.  With newborns, you find yourself wishing ahead to the sleep-through-the-night stage.  And then there's the desire for potty training.  Dressing themselves.  Filling their own cups of milk.  And then there's the first taste of freedom that preschool offers.  Where you find yourself, for the first time in years perhaps, with a few hours to clean uninterrupted or maybe even sit and read something without illustrations.  And then before you know it, you have more time alone than you do with those beautiful souls that you send out into the world each morning. 
I cried on the first day of school.  I knew that I would.  In the car on the way there, I glanced in the rearview mirror and found three beautiful faces staring back at me.  Smiles of excitement.  New clothes all bright and shiny.  And I realized that while they were on the cusp of exactly what they wanted, what they needed, I was not. 
I've spent the last fourteen years mothering.  I've pushed a cart through Costco with a kid or two perched up front more times than I can remember.  I've snuggled a kid on the couch and watched Toy Story in the middle of the day in my jammies simply because I could.  And while I know that my mothering is far from over, the mother that I've been all these years is slowly fading away and a new one is taking her place. 
It's a strange place to be.  I've found myself staring at my children more and more, trying to memorize their exact features at this exact time in their life.  Pondering who they will be.  Who I'll be and whether or not I'll know how to mother who they are now.  A sadness has settled around my shoulders as it has become more and more clear that I have moved on. That we all have.  The chapter of mothering little ones has closed for me and I can't help but feel the finality of that. 
I have four amazingly tremendous spirits still in need of me.  Less bandaging of an owie, more healing the wounds of unkind words.  Less physical jobs required of me, more emotional support to be had.  Less late nights with sick ones, more late nights of comforting an unwell spirit. 
It's a strange place to be.  But I'm beginning to be okay with being here.