30 May 2013


Nine months ago...
I am riding for a fall, big time.

It came to me earlier tonight as I was folding laundry that I am actually sad that G is finishing pre-K.  As in, I'm not letting my brain go there too often, because there is an inexplicable "ugly cry" lurking.  Every time I think about taking his "last day of school" picture on the front steps, I freak out a bit.  I didn't get all emotional when school started at the beginning of the year, so I was wondering tonight what my problem is.  Seems like the end of things is a lot harder of a milestone for me than the beginnings.  Go figure.

Grady on the other hand is thrilled for summer vacation.  No messy sentimentality on his part!  Sure, he likes his teacher and classmates, but the lure of home for my little 5 year old homebody is too great.  I guess the crushing responsibilities of pre-K- no homework, school 2 or 3 days a week, classroom rewards of Skittles for work accomplished- were wearing him down.  He's ready to be footloose and fancy free.  His basic attitude is, "It's been real, it's been fun, it's been real fun.  Later, suckers." Not that he would ever say it that way.  Ahem.

Pinterest rip-off.  One of many!
Well I had better get with the program.  Because a lot of change and goodbyes are coming.  Two best friends in town are moving.  Moving. Away.  And I have not given myself time to grieve that at all- seems like there will be plenty of time for that later, when the details come through.  And my baby is growing and honestly isn't a baby anymore.  Hello, toddlerhood!  Goodbye toothless smiles, tiny onesies, and naps in the car seat carrier.  And things are brewing in extended family circles that leave me feeling a little bereft too.

I'm gonna need to have it out with God about all these goodbyes, all these seasons passing away that I can't control.  All the fear that wants to step into the void left in the absence, reminding me that I have needs that aren't met in familiar ways anymore.  Faith.  Breathing in and out and knowing that the same One who gives me breath will give me friends, community, strength, and joy in the new things.  And His presence in the loneliness, too.  And I both cry, and remember that He is enough, at the same time.

In the meantime, we made fresh homemade lemonade today.  Wrote our summer bucket list.  And got ready to finish strong tomorrow.

Just need to remember to toss some kleenex in the van.  For me.

His backpack makes G look tiny.  And, Craig was very tan.  

22 May 2013

making mental notes

I know it's the little things that make up the important part of my life.  That's why I love lifestyle photography; that's why I love Instagram.  I just don't want to become crippled by my desire to "capture life" so that I can wallow in the past later... but I still want to look back at the ways my kids were, back when they were littler.  So, in an effort to snatch a few details for posterity, here's a list of things I love about life right now:

I love that C can do so many things with a big grin on his face.  He'll spin, high five, touch his nose, touch his belly button, and waggle his head on command.  Unless you are trying to get another adult to see him do these things, in which case, he won't.  He will shout, "GO!" if you say, "On your marks, get set..." We cut another inch, maybe, off his hair this week.  It was so long we couldn't keep it out of his eyes.  It looks so much better, but I kinda miss the long surfer curls.  Today when F was throwing a fit in her room, C went through the house calling her name, until he found her in her room, and he was so concerned for her.  Of course, his version of her name sounds like two syllables of gutteral sounds, but whatever.  I knew what he was saying. When he wants something he points at it and says, "Eh!" I remember that stage with the other two, but with C it seems way cuter.  He pulls things off tables, climbs into G's lego box and puts legos in his mouth, dribbles juice from his mouth onto his shirt, and... walks right up to Craig to hug him goodbye when he is leaving for work.

What is it like to be the only girl with two brothers?  I'll never know, except through watching F figure out life from that vantage point.  She is an awesome blend of girlie-girl and tomboy.  Today she was teaching C about "how to be on the battle field".  Ha!  She runs like a girl, climbs like a boy, and loves Dora the Explorer, My Little Ponies, and Princesses (mostly the Disney kind, although she has seen very few of the movies).   She is tall- I had to admit to myself that her favorite pair of 4T pants were not going to last much longer, and she is still 3 1/2.  She can throw a fit like nobody's business, and we are still figuring out how to best help her a) avoid them, and b) work her way out of them.  She is so beautiful that I stare at her sometimes.  She is a copier, and will copy G's actions and words verbatim, immediately after him.  I love it when she says sweet things to me that I've said to her.  She likes to cook with me and honestly likes to bring the house from chaos to order. OH!  I almost forgot.  Mysteriously, this girl who can't sing the whole alphabet song correctly, and only knows a handful of letters, can use letter magnets to spell, "car".  Like, she did it, and proudly announced to me that she had spelled car.  But she can't do that with any other word.

Our oldest is such a firstborn.  Smart, rule-following, performance-oriented.  I have to remind myself to lean into the "who you are is enough, I love you no matter what" truth with him.  He loves his little brother fiercely.  Loves to play with him and teach him things, and honestly he just seems to get joy from watching C be himself.  But he is really hard on F.  It bugs him when she succeeds, and if she breaks any kind of rule he is all over her.  It makes me wince when he comes down hard on her, because I hear the echo of the tone and impatient phrases that I've used with him.  God is teaching me; I just wish seeing our own faults in our children was less painful.  Anyway, G is playing baseball.  So far, he likes practicing with Craig but doesn't love team practices.  Taking C and F with me to G's practice on the windiest day of the year last week just about did me in.  Looking forward to his first game, so we can cheer him on.  Oh- and G's little pre-K class performance was yesterday.  FOR THE LOVE.  It was so adorable.  G wearing his pope-style rainbow hat, doing "I'm A Little Tea Pot!" But G wouldn't smile or acknowledge us at all, and he told me later it was because he was embarrassed.  Sheesh!  But when the extraordinary Mrs. W told the kids to grab someone from the audience to dance with them, and he flashed his dimple and ran to get me, so excited, "Mommy!  Mommy! You come up and do the dance!" my heart melted, people.

I. love. them. so. much.
Okay, enough mental notes.  This momma bear needs to hibernate for a while.

14 May 2013


Do you remember that bag with a few leftover (raw) potatoes that I thew in the back of our deep, high-up bread cupboard?  Yeah, me either.
Until today.  Which I will now consider a Day of Reckoning.  Yuuuuck.

When I have to do the serious, "little kids are out of the way" cleaning, like scrubbing bathroom floors and removing rotten potato juice from the bread cupboard, I put on music.  And I've been loving the Rich Mullins station on Pandora. It's got a few cheesy oldies mixed in (I'm lookin' at you, Michael W. Smith), but mostly goood stuff.  Like, close your eyes and throw your head back and belt it out along with the song kinda good. And right when I was uncovering the source of the stench in the cupboard, this song came on.  And the words supplied what my heart needed today. Enjoy.

13 May 2013

you want some cheese with this whine?

I keep trying to cancel my pity party, but the guest keeps showing up ready to par-tay.  Season allergies are ruining my life.  Okay, that's a little melodramatic.
But they are.

And today we started the "no TV for the summer" transition.  And I cut out all pop, meat, cheese, and sweets from my diet starting today.  Just trying to get a little healthier.  I'm not much of an advance planner, and about ten minutes into today it occurred to me that with all this coinciding today, perhaps my timing on all this was a little wonky.

I could say that today was hard, but who am I kidding.  I drank a mug of caffeinated tea.  I let the kids play outside a bunch.  My eyes itched and swelled up and I went through half a box of Kleenex, but the attacks last for half an hour and then they go away for long stretches.  Compared to the average person on the planet, my day today was a luxurious vacation.

What today did do, since it didn't provide enough drama and tragedy to make a Hallmark movie script, was to keep me aware of my own pitiful weakness.  I am not capable of making it through a beautiful, sunny day in a peaceful quaint town in the richest country in the world without reaching for props, crutches, and distractions.  My children are healthy and only moderately rambunctious- no deep grief from that corner, today.  My husband is faithful, handsome, and gainfully employed.  I have many tools at my disposal to make my job possible and easier- toys and cleaning products and dozens of things with electrical plugs that promise to help a mother out.  Yet I still have this urge to drop out, mentally and emotionally.  The urge to splurge runs deep.  "It's been a rough morning, I need this Diet Mountain Dew- it'll give me energy!" "What a stressful time with the kids.  I know, I'll make cookies with them!  And eat one- or six." "Hmmm, while the kids watch Clifford I'll just check Pinterest." Yuck- my own desire to at every moment be looking for a way to increase my own comfort and downshift my efforts and responsibilities is shocking to me.  And until this morning I was in a long season of completely ignoring the depth of my own desperate needs.

Because I want to be here, now.  I want to do what all the cliches people post mean, about living life fully, being present, making memories with my kids and doing something that matters.  And Pinterest does not have enough advice, facebook does not share enough motivation, pop and sugar and rich foods do not give me the energy to do that.   This morning when I woke up and 30 seconds later wanted to turn on the TV and grab a soda, I remembered that I need Jesus.  And two minutes later I remembered it.  And two hours later I was still running into that truth.

I am weak, messy, and needy.  And that does not make me feel like crawling into a hole to die.  It makes me want to go running into the arms of the one who wipes tears, heals what is broken, and gives purpose to the aimless.  Thank God for the gospel, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Where we are ugly, he loves us enough to roll up his sleeves.  It is during the hard days of saying "NO" to my idols and addictions that the lyrics to every worship song go from trite to so, so true.

All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough

I hope it goes without saying that I don't think drinking soda, eating sweets, meat, and cheese, or watching TV, are bad.  Or that stopping those things makes you better.  I'm sharing that these things were something that I used on a deeper level, as in "used," like something that is shaking me up as I (try) to stop.  I fully intend for this season to be about living with freedom and joy- focusing on my savior, my family, and my life- not by adding a chain of denying myself, but by cutting chains of dependance.

Ask me in three days, and I'll bet I say that I haven't felt this good in a long time.
In the meantime, I'll be clutching my Kleenex and water bottle.

12 May 2013


This is a letter to my mom.  The rest of you are just along for the ride on this one.

Dear Mom,
Here are some of the things I remember from my childhood, about you.

I remember sitting on the kitchen counter watching you cook.  I remember that you made yummy food- pot roast and macaroni soup and chili and tuna noodle casserole and bologna sandwiches with Miracle Whip.  I remember when I was old enough to leave home, getting some of those recipes from you, because although I knew you didn't enjoy cooking, it didn't mean that your food wasn't delicious.  On the contrary, your food represents the best of home and comfort to me. (Except the bologna sandwiches.)

I remember that when you scrubbed the kitchen floor, you let us make a fort with the chairs in the other room. I remember that (as a kindergartener?) I was out shopping with you and I realllly wanted that fancy dress, the white frilly one, it somehow mysteriously ended up on my bed that week as a present "from Dad." I also remember you cleaning up after me when I was sick, and stroking my hair, and making me chicken soup.

You led my Brownie troupe. You led my Odyssey of the Mind group. You baked lemon cupcakes for me to take to school for my birthday.  You swam with us at the lake.  You bought me the most outrageously expensive prom dress, because you wanted to give me everything.  (And it was the only one we found that we liked!  Or were we just too tired to shop anymore?!) You worked, and gave all that money for me to go to college. You gave me Strawberry Shortcake's house, an electric keyboard, a sapphire ring, hugs, love, and when I needed it- spankings. (Although not too often on that last one.)

You drove me to piano, school, friends' houses, and church.  You drove me to Perkins when I was little to get me a muffin and spend special time with me once while Jason was at preschool.  You rode with me while I was a new driver, and only clutched at the door when I turned, sped up, or slowed down. ;)

I knew that you loved me even when I pulled away.  When I chose different hobbies, friends, churches,   homes, destinies.  When I was callous, sarcastic, selfish and self-absorbed- I never doubted that even when you didn't like me, you loved me.  And because of that, being with you will always feel like being home.

I almost lost you.  There was a time when I was 11 when you weren't there to put together my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and drive me around and I didn't know if you would remember me or even keep breathing. It was scary to see you in the hospital with your head shaved and the wires and tubes making you look so fragile.  That season rarely comes to mind, and seems strange to think of now.  But I know it is a part of our story that intensifies how grateful I am to you, and for you.

I learned so much from you about love that I am still struggling to put into practice.  Things I learned so young they are subconscious, and things I learned this year.  About sacrifice and loss and faithfulness.
You are a hero to me.  And a friend.
You are my mom.
And I love you.

All the numbers in the whole wide world.


10 May 2013

links i love

I've been moved by a few great posts, and thought I'd share.  Someday I'll look back at the things that influenced me, and smile about some, and grimace about others.  But for what it's worth, here's what's on that list:
1. thoughts on motherhood

2. the voice bible- thinkin' about this...

3. the gospel is all i have

4. so funny i watched it twice

5. thoughtful, poetic and beautiful

6. want to buy things here- someone stop me

7. gonna make this someday- soon?

And, I know that seven is the number of completion and perfection, but, one more here oughta do it:

8. annie v nails it again!

So that's some of what's been good to me on the intranets lately.  More soon on athletics, what it's like to be sans hubby for a weekend, and how I've been processing the "gospel is all I have" idea.

07 May 2013

tulip time is here, let's go dutch!

SO, this last week was Tulip Time, my town's annual celebration of its Dutch heritage. And it got me thinking about more than just wooden shoes and yummy Dutch pastries.

There is a lot to be said for a tight-knit community.  One that celebrates together, and makes amazing memories.  Tradition can be a beautiful frame to highlight the generations growing up together in a place.  I'm glad my kids can already, at young ages, remember past Tulip Times and their own parts in them.

But that same tight-knit camaraderie can leave newcomers puzzling out the foreign language of cultural expectations.  My husband's family is Dutch, and I've lived here for seven years.  My husband and I work in the biggest church in town, and as such, have had an easier time making connections and fitting in.  Still, we are no strangers to the feeling of being... strangers.  Not because people here are unfriendly!  But because when you try to become part of traditions and histories that are generations old, you are just run smack into your own ignorance of said traditions.  We've marched in the parades, eaten the food, and even tried weaseling our way into the Dutch Family Singers (only slightly set back by the birth of our third son, right in the middle of the rehearsal weeks leading up to the festival. He didn't want to miss Tulip Time, I guess).

And I still end up feeling clueless and silly.  Why is it that families are invited to march in costume with their babies as part of the "baby parade" but you can't find information posted about what time or where to meet... it's just kinda word of mouth?  And I'm standing in the middle of the street wondering where the other baby parade moms are?

Why is it that a community founded by persecuted seekers of religious freedom now touts, however tongue-in-cheek, the phrase, "If you're not Dutch, you're not much"?

And, why is it that when I get ahold of Dutch costumes and take pictures of my kids in front of the tulips, I always mess the costumes up somehow?  Like last year when I proudly displayed pics of my kids on facebook, "like all the other moms," I found out via a kind and gently worded message sent to my private inbox, that what I'd thought was a strange little vest for my daughter's costume was actually a strange little dickie, worn under the dress. Because it was a costume representing the Vander Zuider Tootenflueten Farfel Province, or some such thing.  Oops! My bad! That's not at all like wearing your undergarments on the outside, is it!  Um, don't answer that.
This year: G's hat band is pulled down. His shirt is not tucked in.
F's hat ties are supposed to be untied, hanging down? Oops! 

What brings me back around is the honest friendly fun that is at the heart of the hoopla.  We've never had to buy costumes for our kids; families have been generous to loan the (expensive) items to us.  There is so much hard work behind the huge event, literally 150,000 people come to a festival hosted by a town of 10,000 (ish).  It's a wonder it's as organized and inclusive as it is.  Many of our town's businesses survive because of this celebration and the tourists it brings, and people pitch in countless unpaid hours in every sort of menial task to make it happen.  I only hope that our churches can remember- that I can remember- that traditions and histories are best used when coupled with invitations and grace and love to the people who are, for whatever reason, on the outside of those cultural codes. I'm often so busy with my own awkward dog-paddle of cultural survival, I stink at thinking of others. Truth is, you don't have to be Dutch to be much, and really you can't be much, to have Jesus anyway.

I took our annual photos two nights ago of the kids in full regalia.  In front of the tulips that were finally blooming, now that the festival is over and the snow has melted.  And unlike other years where I found myself snarling through gritted teeth, "Just look at the camera! No! Put your hat back on! Why are you poking your sister!  That's not a real smile!  NO WE CAN NOT GO HOME UNTIL I GET A GOOD PHOTO!" I decided to relax.  Make it as fun as possible and take pics of the kids doing their thing around the tulips and just celebrate the real- take what I could get and go home.  The kids had a blast.  The next night we were talking and G asked what the word "paradise" meant having heard it on TV.  After we talked a bit, he said, "Yeah, that's kinda like Tulip Time pictures!  That was a lot more fun than I thought it was going to be!"

Winner winner chicken dinner!

03 May 2013


If my children keep spilling things at this rate, and in this far-flung of locations in our home, I will have scrubbed all the floors in our house by the end of the day. One. spill. at. a time.


And, happy May 3.  It is snowing like crazy outside my windows at this moment.  School was not cancelled.  Rain/sleet yesterday.  Pouring rain tomorrow.  Tulip Time, it seems, is ruined.


I stayed up until midnight trying to do my business cards before my coupon expired.  I still did not get the deal I was hoping for, nor cards that I love, after ignoring my children big portions of the day to work on them.


I feel like we need Mary Poppins to show up. Which means I probably need to listen to the Holy Spirit, and start amping up my gratitude.

We have power, while several towns around have lost it due to the storm,  My children help clean up their messes.  My boy got out the door to school on time, wearing his costume for Pirate Day.  The (very full) garbage made it to the curb on time, and I don't have to go to the store today in the snow.  In fact, in short order all this snow will melt and I'll be back to wearing my (new) flip flops.  In the meantime, the big flakes of snow make my yard look like Narnia. And my (wonderful) husband was my true partner in all of this morning's adventure- even washing old dirty rain boots in the tub to transform them into pirate gear.