Saturday, September 30, 2017

Scrambled Thoughts XXIV (Catch Up Post)

1) Bet you Didn't Know Brian Was a Fisherman

He didn't know either until my dad invited him along on an Alaskan fishing adventure. I'll never forget him looking up YouTube videos the week he was leaving... How To Catch a Salmon.

2) Babies Make Road Trips Harder.

Way harder. Cause if she's not happy, she's not very quiet about it.

3) Showing Your Kids a Piece of Your History Makes You Feel Old.

Also, it's fulfilling. I got to show my kids Swiss Days this year. I thought it would be a remarkable, beautiful experience... but turns out that the kids weren't so in love with walking around in the heat looking at a bunch of craft booths. Whowouldathought?

4) I Missed the Pastel Memo on the Family Picture Notice

But with so many beautiful faces all looking in the same direction AND happy? I don't really notice all that much.

When the rest of the family jumped in I felt like I blended much better.

These people are the world to me. Watching a family grow and work to figure out differences, sacrifice for the good of others, and show love regardless of any bristles that inevitably prick us from time to time is beautiful to me. Families are such a perfect platform to learn and grow - and I recognize that I am so blessed to have a great one that, above all else, is centered on Christ and on love (which, mostly, are the same thing). I love them with my whole heart.

5) Goodbyes With Smiles are my Favorites

Years ago it used to be that our goodbyes were sprinkled with tears. Because it meant that someone was getting on an airplane and traveling back across the country - generally without another solid plan of when we were going to see each other again. But since we moved to Vegas, most of our goodbyes are said with smiles and waves and a believable sentiment of 'see you soon'. I like these much better.

6) She Stops People Cold in Their Tracks

I think it's those eyes. I watch people watch her and, ironically, I seem quite invisible to her admirers for a time. They stop in their tracks and poke the people next to them to point out this beautiful baby. I smile at them, but they don't seem to see me. Occasionally their eyes flit up towards mine and they shyly smile and turn around when they see that I'm watching them. I wish that weren't the case. "I think she's beautiful, too!" I want to say. "Come closer and she'll smile for you," I want to offer. "Do you know that watching you watch her makes my day?" But they're not interested in an adult interaction. They just want to stare at something beautiful for a second.

And I get that. I respect that. I'm happy she sparkles the world.

7) Preschool is Happening For This One

Don't let the shielded smile fool you. He's ecstatic... just look at his eyes.

8) Ridiculous Puffy Outfits Deserve a Quick Photo Shoot

She just looked so perfect there on my white bed with all that light flooding in through the window.

I'm not sure all that lace is very comfortable for her, but she doesn't seem to mind too much, and she certainly is beautiful in it.

And, see the bear? It was her present from Brian's Alaska fishing trip. And when she puts it in her mouth all the black fur comes off and gives her a beard. It's kind of disgusting. But also it's soft... so...

9) Learning To Write Your Name Can Be Frustrating

After attempting to write that 'm' up there in the middle of his name he sat back to look at it and said, "Oh. Oops. I accidentally dwew a keh-wut." Those dang carrots show up at all the wrong times.

10) Bed-Headed Snuggles are the Best

But Eliza doesn't seem too convinced. There's a lot of love coming from Timothy's heart... but Eliza knows all too well that sometimes that love is a bit unbridled.

11) This Girl Can Do Anything

And she knows it, too. Not in an I'm Better Than You kind of way, but in a Why Not Me kind of way. She's been in choir for all of a month now and when word came that there was an honor choir audition happening in downtown Las Vegas she thought, well why not? If I'm being honest, I was a bit more reserved and anxious about it. I gently discouraged her from trying because I wasn't quite sure she was ready for an audition of this level and I wasn't quite sure how she would handle a rejection if not. But she was sure, so once I saw that I would not swing her determination, I hopped on the support wagon and helped her prepare.

I wasn't able to see her audition because it was behind closed doors, but she came back excited and days later we found out that she made it. I was so stinkin' proud of her. And in the middle of all that pride and love, I harbored a little uncomfortable pit in my stomach and I realized that if I had succeeded in discouraging her from trying, the blame of her missing this opportunity would have rested solely on my shoulders. And, what's worse, neither of us would probably have ever known.  How many times have I done that before? I decided right then and there that I never want to be the one to hold my children back - even in the good intention of protecting them from pain. If I have to choose a way to err in this, I want to err by cheering too hard and encouraging them too much, and then helping them deal with the disappointment when things don't go their way. I want them to know that I believe in them. Always.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Dates with Boys and Bears

One of my favorite things to do is to go on dates. Dates with Brian, dates with my girlfriends, dates with my kids. Sometimes I get a bit overwhelmed in crowds of friends and family because it takes a bit of mental effort for me to keep my chatting small and light, and I forget that crowds are not the time and place to have deep, personal conversations. 

But dates are different. 

On dates you can talk real or light. And that feels much more comfortable to me. 

It's a love language thing, really... I feel love easiest in the language of quality time - and dates are one of the best grounds to grow some quality time.  

Anyhoo, so when Timothy asked me with those gorgeous eyes if we could take Buddy the Bear on a date, how could I refuse? And what better date than to the candy store.

Timothy is going to a preschool this year named Tiny Tots, which I really do think is one of the cutest names for a preschool (especially when said through the small voice of the preschooler himself). They read stories and color and play on the playground and do all sorts of other preschoolish things, and one of the best of those things is Buddy the Bear (or Honey the Bear if you happen to want the girl version). Buddy comes home with one child for the weekend and the kids the parents take him all over town for three whole days, snapping pictures and recording all of Buddy's adventures.

We took Buddy to a swim meet where he sat quietly and well-behaved behind the bleachers for the entire thing (I tried to point out his remarkable example to my own children but they didn't fall for it) and then he joined us afterwards at Sonic to watch everyone else eat and get in some good cuddles before heading home.

We had lunch dates, too, and each time I made lunch for Timothy I made sure to put half of it on a plate put a special plate down just for Buddy.

I was concerned that Timothy would be a bit heartbroken when it was time to send Buddy back to school, but he was surprisingly neutral about it. So turns out my concern was for nothing (which seems to be the case more often than not).

More date ideas fell into the works when I stumbled upon the Smith Center website (Vegas's performing arts center) and found that Go, Dog, Go was going to be gracing the stage. My nostalgic heart strings pulled as I remembered little toddler Miles asking for that book again and again and again. He had the whole thing memorized! And so staring at that ad naturally made me feel that I just had to take him. And I figured Timothy might as well join us because, really, his age falls much more in line with the target audience anyway.

So i bought the tickets and we spent the next few weeks reading the book over and over again so the play would make sense (because, you know, the plot line is so intense with those Dr. Seuss books). When the day arrived, the three of us got dressed up (read: out of our lunch stained shirts) and showed up to find our box seats (fancy fancy).

I thought the show might be a little too young for Miles, maybe, but he giggled and enjoyed the whole thing. And Timothy was equally delighted.  The two of them sometimes have a hard time getting along these days, so I was pleased to be able to forcibly cram some fun brother time in to (hopefully) remind them that they have a lot in common and that, really, it would be okay for them to get along. You know, if they wanted to.

After the show, Timothy was conflicted about meeting the famous dog characters when they all came into the lobby to mingle. Miles was not conflicted and stood far away with his hand in his pocket looking and acting entirely too old.

In the end, Timothy decided he did want to meet one. Just one. 'The blue one' (who had been his favorite), so we pushed our way through the crowds of other kids to take our turn and snap our picture. And you can see in his face that he hadn't completely made up his mind to be comfortable about it.

But then he wanted to meet the green one, too, so I guess there was a little element of excitement in there somewhere.

I'm lucky girl to get to be the first date of so many handsome boys.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Balance of Motherhood

Eliza is sick today.

She's gooping and dripping and snorting and whimpering. She's tossing and turning and frustrated with her beautiful little body because she doesn't know about all of the incredible things it's doing to help her be well again. All she knows is that she feels uncomfortable and weary.

I know that feeling.

Timothy is grumpy today.

The Kindle reached its hour limit before he felt done playing, I scooped the strawberry yogurt into the bowl he wanted to fill, Eliza needed a diaper change at the very moment he wanted me to read The Ugly Pumpkin, and the blue Gatorade was packed into the car for his camping trip instead of being readily available to enjoy. He is frustrated because things aren't going his way today.

I know that feeling, too.

But just a few days ago the three of us sat in the living room having such a delightful time together that I grabbed my camera to try to capture the beauty of it.

Eliza was joyful and skillfully showing off her ability to push herself up with all those strong muscles. I honestly can't remember the last time I was so happy about doing push-ups. Probably when I was about her age.

We clapped and cheered for her and she charmed us by doing it again and again.

One of my very favorite things about babies and kids is the look of pride in their eyes when they learn something new. See it in her face above? Beautiful.

Eliza's face is one of the sweetest I've seen - and the little personality behind it matches it perfectly. Back when we had just decided to have another baby I was anxious about it but knew the time would come where I couldn't imagine my life without our newest little one... I just didn't realize that day would come so very fast.

Timothy makes Eliza laugh every day.

Even on days he's feeling grumpy. 

And through this ride of motherhood where days are good and days are bad and sometimes the happiness levels fluctuate minute to minute, I try to remember that for every goopy nose I wipe there's a beautiful smile to fill me. And for every grumpy tantrum there is a moment of the deepest sweetness.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A Really Great Dad

He comes home and goes immediately to little Eliza. He smiles and plays and snuggles and tickles, he laughs and coos and showers her with love. She loves him - I can see it in her excited kicks and giggles when she looks at him. And he loves her, too.

Before work he makes breakfast for the family every morning, and after work he helps with homework and dinner prep and discipline. He offers an ear to McKenzie to help her digest teenage drama, offers his advice and council where appropriate, and cheers for her successes. She loves him - I can see it in the way she returns to him over and over and playfully rolls her eyes at his jokes.

I guess 40% of children are born to single mothers these days. I think of that sometimes when I watch Brian and my girls (the boys too, of course, but I feel most tender about it with my girls - maybe because I am a girl with a great father and know what it feels like). I truly believe that the power of a good father is unique and unable to be filled by any other earthly source. Brian has a special power to be able to nurture confidence in our girls, and he uses that power with every tiny expression of love towards them.

We are so lucky to have him.