19 September 2013

every good and perfect gift

So someone from church, who wishes to remain anonymous, got a new scooter for us to give our girl for her birthday.

It was so generous, kind, and unexpected, it made me cry. Finley's reaction to the scooter was, as you can see, not to cry.  Girl freaked out with happiness.

Daddy took her for a little spin in the driveway.  Early morning, jammies on, before breakfast.  That's how we roll when it comes to birthdays. (Sap alert: This picture makes me heart skip a beat.  And makes me want to marry him all over again. Sorry, but you were warned.) Later in the day she got to ride it for real. Helmet on, of course.  She fell once, but did great and loved it. 

Big brother has been saving his dolla dollas for a loong time to buy hisself a big set of Legos he's had his eye on.  He is so. close. to being able to afford it.  Then this week he took some of his own money and bought is sister a box of girl Legos, because that's something she wanted for her birthday. He was so excited to do it, he said, "Mom! It's just like when we talked about how giving to other people gives YOU joy in your heart!  Well, I am so happy to buy a present for her I can't wait for her birthday to see how much she likes it!" In future sibling strife, I will hold on to the memory of this moment.

This girl. She keeps me on my toes. She can be level headed and philosophical one moment, and all drama and torrents of BIG FEELINGS the next moment.  Beautiful, strong, kind.  Funny!  Oh so funny, in an intentional way.  Artistic, mathematical, girly.  In this pic we are gearing up to eat the cupcakes BEFORE dinner, because a sudden violent thunderstorm kept us from heading out to the restaurant for her birthday meal on time.  So we sang happy birthday and ate cake, after which it was calm enough to head to our neighborhood Applebees.  

Are you having a hard day with your kid(s)? Well, I wasn't (today), but I did something that I'll do our next hard day (tomorrow?)  I went back and looked at old pics of them I'd put on facebook years ago. SERIOUS nostalgia.  Try it!

16 September 2013

deep breath

I am pausing before I type here.  Do I really want to reveal to you the sometimes bitter and cynical streak that lurks within me?

Okay, here goes.  I am tired of cheap motivational drivel on Pinterest.  Don't get me wrong.  I love Pinterest- like, looove Pinterest, and I feel like I follow some savvy, creative people therein.  However, you know that you are reacting from a deep place when you read a cutely graphically designed pin that reads, "Wake up and be awesome," and your immediate thought is, "Why don't YOU wake up and be awesome! Leave me alone!" Or when you launch into an imaginary lecture in your head, aimed at the person who wrote, "Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life." Bullllll-oney!  So I may be a little literal. And hormonal.

But, people, please.  Can I write a public service announcement here for a minute?  I have for many years been a "wake up and be awesome" kind of person.  And I have to pull back the curtain here.  That is the way of death. Hold up, don't click away on me now.  I've been reading Jami Nato's blog From the Natos, and I feel bolstered in expressing this truth.  When you run out of awesome, you run to the gospel.  And I think I'm going to try to sidestep some of the misery in the middle, and just start running to the gospel first thing when I wake up. Because I never have enough awesome, and that whole phrase just seems like a lot of pressure.  "Be awesome." Cue my failure.  I know that the intention behind this is to motivate and encourage, but look me in the eye and tell me where to find the awesome when my toddler is screaming in the aisles at the store?  After Houdini-ing out of the safety belt in the cart and standing in his seat over and over? How about when my clothes have mystery smears on them and they don't fit anyways and my husband is busy and the laundry is the Burmuda Triangle and the bank account is sparse and the fridge is littered with moldy leftovers? Because I like the part where Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." THANK GOD he doesn't say, "Hey!  Don't worry!  All you have to do is... BE AWESOME!"

I can't be awesome in the way the world seems to mean it, where you can take a picture of me, my home, and my kids at any moment and stick it on Pinterest like an "after" picture.  But I can come to the foot of the cross, ask Him to heal, redeem, transform, forgive, and glorify himself... and then see how the day plays out.  Loving others, listening to His voice and nudges, and thanking him in the beauty and the ugly alike.  Maybe I can edit that mantra strewn all over Pinterest to "Wake up and SEE AWESOME." Yeah, I like that.  I think that fits with the gospel as I understand it, a little better.

And it doesn't make me want to throw up in my mouth a little.

14 September 2013

photogenic memory

We got our family pictures taken.  And as always, it just about killed me.

I thought this time would be different.  That I would not lose my mind, ditch my dearly held priorities, and make everyone close to me suffer.  But I kinda did.  Again.

It started with The Choosing of the Outfits.  Which included me making not one but TWO necklaces for me to choose from, which carefully integrated into my outfit a color that was in my daughter's dress.  Because anyone glancing around my house past the piles of dishes and laundry can see, I have enough free time to MAKE JEWELRY.  And I am sad to relate that this transpired because I went to every shop in our town that sells necklaces and could not find the perfect, perfectly perfect shade of pink necklace anywhere.  So, the good news is that was only a day of time wasted there, shopping.  Ahem.

And I KNOW I didn't repeat the whole shopping process trying to get my daughter the perfect pair of shoes for the photo session.

Then the day of the photo shoot.  It was scheduled for 6:00 in the evening, so as to get the best light.  Fast forward through a very busy day of morning mommy time at church, swim lessons for my girl, and getting my boy from school.  Cue me standing next to my toddler's crib begging him to nap.  Trying everything to get him to close his sweet precious stubborn eyes.  Powerless, and angry in that powerlessness.  Because 20 minutes of napping total for the whole day is the perfect amount for him to look wretched in our carefully planned photo.  I know this, because that's what happened last year for our photo.  My typically consistent napper picks just the right day to get all wired and awake on me.  The catnap in his stroller at sister's swim lesson made him immune to all my tricks to get him to sleep.

Is this the pose you wanted for the Christmas card, Mom?
And I lost it.  Hours trying to play it cool, try again, make sure he wasn't hungry or thirsty, lay down with him, let him cry it out, let him out of the crib for a bit, try again, rub his back, sing, walk away, and plead- hours of that left me raw and desperate. Because in my mind, this one time it really mattered.  I was not going to spend my birthday money for these professional pictures, only to have them kinda worthless because my baby looked stoned in them!  (Again).

You know what?  There are some things you can't control.  And being a parent adds to that list.  And it is good for me to remember that. And I hate it.

More things I couldn't control:
At the photo shoot: Mysteriously bad hair day for my girl.  My oldest has lost those teeth in front such that the snaggle tooth in the middle is hanging out all by its lonesome, still.  Adorable, except not so much.  My homemade necklace kept gently snagging on my sweater.  And my (exhausted) toddler fell whilst running on the picturesque bridge, cutting his tongue and scraping and bruising his face just a few pictures into the session.

Those teeth.  Bless it.
And you can tell me that all of this will be funny a few years down the road, and this was definitely a "first world problem," and I can identify that as true, but I need more than that.  I need to lay down whatever is wrong in my motives and desires- whatever is basically idolatry- that made me lose my mind when my little guy couldn't fall asleep.  Because gentle readers, it wasn't concern for his well-being that pushed my buttons that afternoon.  Nope.  And that fact is uglier than the stye that was blooming in my daughter's eye that night, as she stared mostly stone-faced at the camera like a girl posing in 1890.
Photo by Melissa Tukker Photography.  And, I know. She is a genius.

Last year's photo.  See?! That's a tired baby.

It is so true that the gospel is all I have.  I don't have control- even enough to cobble together appearances for one hour on one day, long enough to take a picture.  I do have grace, and I pray that grace will work on me until I can laugh at my plans, sing the gratitude of what I am given as it comes, and bless those around me as they are. Even when "as they are", is bleary-eyed and awake.
Red-eyed from crying, scrape on chin. Still adorbs.
Smiling is overrated.
All worth it for this shot.  Be still my heart.  She loves her Daddy.

03 September 2013


It is going too fast.  And so help me, I am going to find some way to get off this ride for a couple hours so I can do some Big Thinking- think some thoughts that aren't punctuated with laundry, or guilt, or sweet but mind-bending conversations about animated characters.  I desperately need to figure out who I am and what I want life to look like in this season.  And how to I get there from here?  How is it that purchasing milk can reduce me to tears?  It seems that my daily routine gives me no room to think and plan, so I must carve out space for that- a mini retreat- mini, because that is all I can imagine getting in my wildest imagination.  Get me a quiet room, a notebook, a pen, and two hours. Please.
In the meantime, here is more evidence that the minutes and months are going much too fast.