Saturday, October 26, 2013

Vacations and Staycations

Because this is a journal - in large part, increasingly, for my children to read someday . . . the following is an account of our recent fall adventures. But first, some very random updates: 

- We have eaten soup perhaps every night this week. Fall is the best, and so are crock pots. And leftovers. As I write, chili is simmering (again)
- Trevor's mustache is quite full, as is his hair. We talk about both almost every day. Yesterday I received a picture of just his mustache. Funny to say, it's been a blessing of humor lately. In a way, it's like another family member. Call us weird, go ahead.
- I am getting away for some longer stretches, and finding much refreshment from some time "away". Yesterday I went to a ladies' luncheon for Treehouse Youth and heard Gabby Douglas speak, as well as a young woman transformed through the Treehouse ministry. Wonderful! 
- I have been thinking a lot lately about courage in parenting. Which has me thinking about the story of Joshua, and how God's most firm words to him were "Be strong and courageous".  Strength and courage, needed. 
- Lately I have been falling asleep on the couch as early as 7:45 pm
- We recently savored some fun friend outings, including one to Costco and then Nadia's Cupcakes. Wildly girl-y place, I witnessed a true sugar high on my daughter. Frightening. 

And now, a quick recount of adventures: 

We had a great opportunity to go visit dear friends a few weeks ago for our first family-of-four vacation: to the San Francisco Bay area. To be honest, the trip ended up being pay-back/redemption for all the travel Trev did with his last job (I know people travel for work all the time, I know there are single parents for whom doing-it-alone is their daily reality - but that travel time was not my favorite season of family life. Call me weak, call me needy, call me dependent. Yes, I can be). Anyway, Trevor took the lead and planned this trip and it was such a gift to us all. I'm going to just paste part of an email I wrote to a friend, explaining it all . . . (sure, call me lazy) . . . 

We had the best time on our trip, thanking God for providing in countless ways: the "basics" of smooth travel, safety, health. All the added bonuses of quality time connecting, watching Karis experience adventure with such joy and fervor (she literally skipped everywhere - often with Mark. Precious!). Friday Mark was a great tour guide: drove to and across the Golden Gate Bridge (the highlight for Karis!), had fresh seafood lunch on the Bay in Sausalito, drove up to the Muir Woods and went for a long hike. Majestic part of God's creation, the Redwoods are a miracle - over 300 feet tall. And everything so quiet, many people around, everyone talks in hushed tones. Like an outdoor sanctuary. Drove back to Palo Alto through San Francisco, stopped at a village (Karis: "I have to go to the bathroom soooo bad!") and found a bountiful bakery with great sweets and coffee a "ritzy" valley, sweet people served us. Met Christina at a unique burger restaurant for dinner on University Avenue - bustling with college energy, so fun to enter the culture. Saturday we went to a Sees Candy shop, had a picnic on the Stanford campus (gorgeous - even got to see some "debutante ball" Spanish girls and their parties getting pictures taken - huge and colorful dresses, immaculately done hair . . .). An outdoor cafe stop (on campus still), then a big hike at "the dish" - a steep incline that brings you to views of the bay, campus, and even San Francisco on a clear day (we didn't make it far enough for that. Karis: "I'm hungry!"). Back to Mark and Christina's for a dinner of fresh tilapia, bedtime, and then got to stay up and talk and see pictures of a big trip they took a year ago. Phew! I don't take for granted how well the kids traveled (Judah slept so much the first flight that I got to watch The Great Gatsby), Karis was such a trooper, and Judah soaked it in also as much as an 8mo can. Trev's planning and preparation for reservations, his directional prowess, everything - he was awesome, I'm so thankful for how he took charge, and that he really insisted that we all do this together. Delightful memories! Learned a lot about each other, how we travel/experience life/etc., which I think is always a benefit of vacations.

The next weekend, we had the joy of a "staycation" when my parents came to visit us. Uptown adventures for the girls (plus Judah), golf and football watching for the guys. Dinner at our new fave, Milton's, the traditional Jets pizza at our place, a day at Emma Krumbee's apple orchard. It's always sad to see them leave, the time is special and quality and just plain FUN. I really need them in such new ways - we must always need our parents, right? Ironically, I recently read a quote in a book about how kids might not thank you until they are 31 - which I am now. And wow, I am SO thankful. Thank you, mom and dad, you are both amazing. And, by the way, Happy Anniversary! 

And then just this past weekend we headed "home to ND" for a big pheasant hunting weekend. We loved it all - even the travel there and back was smooth, the journey enjoyable (although I did hear "how long until we're to . . . " about a thousand times). We must be growing together, because I didn't feel like I was losing my mind in the confines with a million questions. It made me excited for future trips - books on CD, car games, conversation - I have the best memories of those car times from growing up (although I'm sure memory recalls the best and not the poking and whining and impatience). Anyway, our families fed us to overflowing with time, attention, love and homemade meals. I took Karis to my dad's new office, which brought back memories of always having fun visiting him at his place of work. I got to watch Parenthood with my parents in their cozy basement, loved it. Trev's grandma taught us to make kuchen, which was a treat. Thank you, all. Home will always, always be home. We come back to this home strengthened and encouraged, grounded in our roots and ready to give out of the abundance we've been given.

In the daily-ness, I continue to struggle trying to connect with Karis . . . and if that is the worst of my worries now, I guess things are quite good. She is a complex young girl, perceptive and sensitive. I so badly want to know what is going on in her head and heart, but like us all, it really needs to be on her terms. I can't make her talk (I just didn't think this all would start so young). The temptation for me, though, is to put up walls, to feel rejected when my efforts at getting close to my daughter "fail". Sometimes it's hard to be the adult, and also to face myself through the magnified mirror of parenting (because really, the words "complex, perceptive, sensitive" are me also). I'm learning more always that there IS strength in weakness. 

I also am feeling like more and more of an introvert who needs quiet, so when I'm being talked to/ordered around all day by my four year old, by 5pm I'm about ready to go hide in a closet with a glass of anything from Prairie Berry. I do take this parenting thing seriously, perhaps too much at times. I just feel like this really is the most important thing I'll ever do in my life - and I really do want to do the best I'm able to. Sometimes I fear I'm perfecting the art of saying things in a fake-nice voice through clenched and smiling teeth (is that called "fake it till you make it"?).  And then again, I have to love that there are a million chances to try things differently, to make "imperfect progress" (ala Lysa Turkeurst in her book Unglued), to remember that nothing is by my own strength, to keep perspective, to laugh a little more even if it means caring a little less.

And as I finish this up, Karis is at her first sleepover with her aunt and uncle. She was SO excited (and so were we! Trevor slept in our bed ALL night, which happens rarely around here). What delighted me the most is that D & M were so excited to be with her - that fills my momma heart to overflowing. Thanks, you two. I have yet to hear the details . . . I will say that I dreamed about Karis at least 3 times last night. I miss her. 

Back to the introvert-getting-bossed-around-by-my-child, thought I'd record some examples that make me laugh as I write them, and want to  hide while I'm experiencing them (the paradoxes of parenting continue to amaze me):

Karis: "Mom, why are you turning the other way"
My internal dialogue: "Because I'm eating a piece of chocolate I don't want you to see"

Karis: "Mom, you need to clean the toilet"
My internal dialogue: "Good thing you're here to tell me what to do"

Karis: "What are you guys talking about?!"
My internal dialogue: "I was like that, and still am!" (wanting to know every.single.thing. going on around me, especially conversations between people I love)

Karis-isms . . . 

- "I'm ready to go in my limo!" (otherwise known as, Mark and Christina's baby stroller)
- "Save some Judah for me!"
- "Will you keep my seat warm?"
- "You be the kid, I'll be the mommy" (yes, please)
- "Look, the lights of Israel! The Israelites!" (HA! I laughed so hard)
- "I really want to go get my pajamas on" (said anywhere, anytime - including restaurants, the dinner table, when people are over)
- "Mom, is this the best part of your day?" (something I often tell her when we're sitting together reading)
- "So, mom, I have a really good thing we could do. We could go outside and put seeds in the flowers and make sunflowers!"
- "Oh, we're getting off the highway now? Are we getting on the low-way?" (after I told her we were getting off the highway)
- "Mommy, I'm leaving my baby here to have a sleepover with you. Make sure you leave her right there" (said on our way out the door to Karis's sleepover - I didn't fully realize what she meant until later, when I saw her baby doll all wrapped up in its own bassinet, perched on the rocking chair). Oh sweet Karis.

Judah updates . . . 

- He babbles "ma ma ma ma ma ma". I excitedly point to myself and say, "Yes! I'm ma-ma-ma-ma!
- He sits up in carts sometimes. The first time it happened it was just me and him and every woman in the store commented on him and I turned to mush and gushed unashamedly about my son

- He sleeps like a baby. Finally, so thankful. 
- He sits up on his own, goes from scooting on his belly to sitting and back again
- Like his sister, he gets wild and wound up when he's tired (do all kids do this?!)
- He chows his food, but also scatters it all over the tray on his high chair 
- He blows bubbles and raspberries and completely cracks himself up
- He loves undivided attention (who doesn't? I do love this about my little guy,  his eyes light up when you look at him)
- He still sleeps wondrously, 2 solid naps and 12 hours straight at night. Halleluia. 

In reading . . . 

From The Artist's Daughter

"Every daughter looks to her mother to see what a woman is supposed to be." 

" . . . if it's true that my imperfection as a mother is inevitable, how do I balance what I want (to be as a mother) with what I can realistically offer?"

"In all my attempts to live the right way, I wasn't doing what God called me to do: to love the people around me."

In listening . . . 

This song was played at the Treehouse lunch, along with images of the children who are finding hope and healing through this amazing program and its  people. I dare you not to cry.

Karis's favorites at the moment . . . 

Katie Meets the Impressionists

Because I Love You
Seven Silly Eaters (I laugh out loud at this one)
Mary Poppins (watched half an hour at a time - I'm loving this, such a great classic)
Listening to Madeline to the Rescue in the car (which is hilariously teaching her some French)

Friday, October 4, 2013

There Goes my Heart

As always, the below is written over the course of a month.  Too much is happening to keep up with - good things, all. I keep thinking I should have more time as schedules get more predictable and I even have some quiet time when Judah naps while K is at preschool . . . 

The big change around here is preschool for little Miss K, pictures below. I sure had a couple weepy moments that first day, but as I write (this sentence - the next sentence maybe written next week at this pace) she is at her 6th day and loving it. She's so "all in", the first day she found the play dough and with nail-biting intensity started to play. Even writing this makes me feel so deeply at the way she experiences life. Her joy is intense, and I so badly want to be right beside her all the time to tell her what is next, that she has so much to offer, that she is always safe. I think she knows these things, but the letting go can feel choking at times. One day last week I picked her up with a few minutes to spare, and snuck around to watch her on the playground. She was wandering around, looking nervous, biting her nails, made my heart want to collapse. I heard somewhere that having children is like watching your heart walk around, and I couldn't agree more. I know, I know, she is FINE. She's more than fine, she's 4, she's growing, she's thriving. I'm thankful. I'm also a crazy momma bear. 

This week I got to go on a field trip to a nature center with her class. Precious moments to have "special time" with Karis, which ended at Target where she got to pick out lunch and eat it in the cart where Judah is usually perched. We both loved it all. 

And really, the irony is that I look forward to this quiet time so much and then the moment I drop Karis off I can't wait to pick her up. 

And thus, my time is drawing to a close and I'm going to hit that "publish" button. Because, really, I typed all the above sentences in one sitting, and that is something! And there is so much more to reflect on, every day the thoughts swim in my mind . . . thoughts about connecting with my children & husband, the importance of family, what grace means, what self-care looks like, how to chill out and just enjoy these days. 

(an addendum before "publish" - heard this song on the way home from picking up Karis today. She was playing peek-a-boo with Judah and making him laugh like crazy. Listening to the lyrics flooded my heart with thanks and my eyes with tears: "You make beautiful things . . . out of the dust . . . you make beautiful things . . . out of us".  I often feel unworthy to be the mother of these beautiful children, God does indeed make beautiful things out of us, out of the dust. I'm grateful and humbled every day).

Karis-isms: - During her rest time a few weeks ago I heard her open the door and say, "Well, I'm looking for my mommy, but she's not here yet . . . I drew her a picture . . . ". Sure enough when I went up there was a picture. So cute. Today she went into her imaginary world for a while and I have a lot of fun trying to enter it and engage her that way. I tell her all about my wonderful daughter Karis, and she gets a silly smile on her face. 
- "I remember when I was still sleeping and Judah kissed me on my ear! That was the best part of my day" (said at bedtime after the first day of preschool. Precious)
- "Mark & Christina's baby is going to ride in my limo!" (long story for another post about recent adventrues)
- "T-O-L-O-M-A  . . . " (Karis pretends to spell things - taking a cue from us as we spell many words around here now)
- "When will it be morning time?" (said to Trev many nights before bed, this girl wants to soak in every minute of every day. Inspiring. And tiring.)
- "I'm Princess Paris! Come to my princess dinner and dessert . . . " (pronounced "pair-EES"). Pictures to follow in the next post - such a hoot, she really went into character - and had us all following her around the back yard in pretend play. Precious.
- "Mommy! That looks really nice, with that tea there and stuff" (as I was setting up to host book club. Which as it happens, I never actually told her was here . . . all happened during sleeping hours)
- "How old are you?" (asked at least ten times a day. Also asked of anyone who comes over)
- "I love my brother. Are we going to keep him?"
- "When are we going to move?"
- "Wind, be quiet! Okay, you can go sit over there and pray either out loud or in your heads"
- "When I go to preschool, you get to have special time with Judah" (this always makes me sad, even though I think it's a benign and objective statement. I'm often concerned that she thinks I'm always with Judah, he receives so much from me right now. Such is the sibling situation, though, and we're all learning and growing)

Judah updates:

- Too many to count . . . growing, changing, sleeping, eating, moving, laughing, observing, engaging
- He can grab and stuff puffs and other small things and put them into his mouth (this also goes for very miniscule non-food items such as leaves and twigs)
- Crawling ALL OVER. Love how he's exploring his little world
- Goes to sleep by himself (sucking his thumb) at every sleep time (even bed time). And sleeps a lot - 9-10:30am, 1-3pm, 7pm-7am. Wow, these babies and their development is so fascinating
- Loves to grab Karis's hair
- Kicks his legs furiously, when you pick him up or when he's on his back or on his belly or in the bath. He is a vigorous kicker and it's hilarious

In reading:

Verses that keep coming up in reading/reflecting:
Psalm 16:8 "I keep my eyes always on the Lord, with Him at my right hand I will not be shaken"

Deuteronomy 11:19 "Teach God's ways to your children. Talk about them when you're sitting at home, when you're out walking, at bedtime, before breakfast . . . "

A blog post that I almost sent to everyone I love to say "please read this to understand me".

Read this to "electronically meet" one of my dearest friends/sisters/kindred spirits

From Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris:

"Marriage is eternal, but it's also daily, as daily and unromantic as housekeeping"

"Paradoxically, human love is sanctified, not in the height of attraction and enthusiasm but in the everyday struggles of living with another person. It is not in romance but in routine that the possibilities for transformation are made manifest. And that requires commitment."

"If they (anyone dealing with routine and demanding tasks) are wise, they treasure the rare moments of solitude and silence that come their way, and use them not to escape, to distract themselves with television and the like . . . "

"The capacity for trust that begins in such ordinary encounters, as between a mother and child, can come to have deep religious significance, not only for ourselves, but for the entire community of faith". 

From Ex Libris by Ann Fadiman (ended up loving this book):

"Their selves were on their shelves" (talking about her parents)

Karis's faves lately:

Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel
Let's Make a Joyful Noise 
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
3 Little Kittens