Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Summer, Please Stay

Loveys, it's been a perfect morning. The kind where you sit out on the deck with your coffee, the baby next to you in the bouncer and two pajama-clad kids playing around in the grass, the wind blowing your hair (but not so much that you're annoyed and your eyes are watering, which frequently happens to me), and the feeling of summer all around you. I wish I had a million of these left. But I've only got about eleven.

Here's what I'm thinking: Summer is almost over, and I have not cleaned out the garage. I know that the minute school starts, we're not drenched in snow. In other words, there's still time. It's just one of those things I thought I'd be able to do this summer, and it hasn't happened. But it must because winter is coming (so I'm a Game of Thrones groupie, I had to throw that in there!). Do you have a few things like that on your to-do list? Closets to go through? Clothes to sort? Stuff to sell on Craigslist? Stuff to organize? I like organization. I like not having an overabundance of stuff. Neither of those sentences reflects my garage right now. But when you've got a baby attached to you for most of your day, cleaning and organizing doesn't happen all that much. I'm going to have to work with Jeff to find time to get the garage more functional.

I also need to go through Ash's clothes, to see what she's outgrown and what she needs for school. That needs to happen fairly quickly. (Within eleven days, I guess.)  We need school supplies. I've got two birthday parties to plan in August. It's always a crazy month and I think it will be forever since we'll always have two birthdays right around the time that school starts. (Word to the wise, try not to get pregnant during November!) Things are slowly getting done. The deck is finished. Yay! Ash is registered for school. So is Linc. Ash is signed up to start gymnastics again. All good things.

The truth is, when fall gets here, I know I'll love it because I love fall.

But right now, I love summer and I don't want it to end. It's been a beautiful thing. And mornings like this one are everything.

I haven't really missed work much yet, to be honest. How can you miss work when it's summer? :) But last week, Ashtyn asked me to wear one of the dresses in my closet. I kind of laughed and told her that I don't really wear those clothes just to be home in all day. I told her those were my work clothes. She proceeds to tell me that she wants me to go back to work. She likes seeing me in those clothes.

Heart squeezes.

I understand. I really do. I liked seeing my mom work when I was growing up. She seemed capable and smart and important. Kids see things differently sometimes. Of course, stay-at-home moms are just as capable and smart and important. But when Ash is used to seeing me dressed up and going somewhere every week, well, she seems to miss that. I miss that too. But the great thing about being an editor or a writer is getting to work from home. Writing stories in your pajamas at midnight. Taking a break from editing to hop into your own kitchen for a snack. Ash doesn't quite understand how awesome that is. :) But I do.

However, Ash's comment did get me thinking. I probably need to dress up a little more often so she sees that I still know how to apply makeup. But there is no place I'd rather be this morning than right where I am. A cup of coffee. A chair on the deck that Jeff made for me. Wind rushing through the grass. Two kids shrieking and laughing as they jump on the trampoline. Lily squinting in the sunlight. She keeps squirming as if to say, I could sit here in the bouncer, or you could hold me. This is a no brainer. Pick. Me. Up. 

Summer is coming to an end. Pencils and backpacks and lunchables are in our future. Chili and pumpkins and costumes. Laura and Wesley's wedding. Holidays. Turkey with friends. Presents. My ornament party. Christmas music.

Things I absolutely love and will enjoy.

But for today, I'll soak up the warm weather in Colorado. We'll have lunch at Nancy's tomorrow. We'll go swimming with Sarah and the kids on Friday. Saturday morning I'm hosting a brunch at my house with some neighbors. (More on that in another post.) I'll squeeze as much out of these last few summer days as possible.

Because every day is a gift.

And the plain fact is that even my garage is a gift. It needs to be in better shape. I need to take boxes of stuff to Goodwill. I need to make room. I'll feel better once that's done.

But right now, I have to make PBJ sandwiches. 

How's your day going, lovey? I hope it's beautiful. Breathe deep today.
Monday, July 27, 2015

When You're Discouraged


Loveys, last week summer colds invaded our house. It was a long week of just me and the kids together. Jeff was working super hard to finish our deck (it's pretty much done. Hallelujah!). And I was taking care of kids who were feeling awful (mainly Lincoln--we ended up going to the doctor twice for this kid in one week!). We went through almost a whole bottle of hand sanitizer as I made everyone clean their hands approximately every fifteen minutes. It felt like a LONG week. Finally, over the weekend, we turned a corner and the kids started feeling much better. Thank heavens.

This morning, I woke up feeling sick.

I won't lie to you. I almost cried. After a week of taking care of kids, waking up and feeling like the cold has now reached me . . . well, it was discouraging. Because moms still have kids to take care of. Because there's still breakfast to make. Laundry to do. Bottles to feed and diapers to change. Jeff ran to the store before work and got me some cold medicine.

I just put Lily down for a nap. I finally made myself a cup of coffee. Both kids are playing in their rooms. And I sat down in my pajamas after deciding that, no, actually, I don't have the energy to clean up the loft.

And I just checked the clock to see if it's almost lunchtime, when Jeff will be back for an hour.

It's 10:07, lovey.


I also have to admit that I'm sad that there are only two weeks before school starts. Two weeks! The summer has flown by and it's almost over. I've loved the easy summer schedule. I've loved hearing the kids play, and I've even loved feeding them snacks every twenty minutes. I'm the kind of mom who's okay with popsicles at 10 am. I'm okay with the kids playing dress up every day if they want. I'm okay with staying home and having pajama and cartoon days. I'm okay with play dough all over the kitchen table while Ashtyn makes pretend gourmet meals and Lincoln makes worms. I'm okay with many hours of Peppa Pig and bowls of buttery popcorn. Most of all, I'm okay with these kids of mine who have absolutely loved their summer. I'm okay with smiles and happy kids. And I'm totally okay with taking care of sniffly kids when they catch a summer cold.

This has been my first summer of not working outside the home. My first summer with the kids not in daycare at all. My first summer where I don't have projects always in the back of my mind. And it's been good for me.

I'm not really ready for the school schedule to take over our lives again. And the truth is that I want to enjoy every minute of the next two weeks, not feel sick and drained of energy.

But this is where I am. Definitely not 100 percent today.

We all have these days, you know, lovey. Not 100 percent. Moving and functioning because we have to, even if we're not feeling it. We all feel discouraged sometimes. Me too.

So today, some things I will let go of. Some things can wait until tomorrow. Some things can't wait. I will be strong enough to do those things because God gives us strength. I will give myself the same grace I give my kids when they're sick. Because we need it too. A little latitude. A shrug of the shoulders. It's going to be okay.

It's even okay to feel discouraged.

I've been working on that this summer. Letting us all feel whatever we're feeling. If Ashtyn feels sad, I've told her it's okay to feel sad. We all do sometimes. If Lincoln cries, that's okay. We all cry sometimes. I want the freedom to feel how I'm feeling. My kids need that freedom too.

So today I'm a little discouraged. I want to feel stronger. I hope the medicine heads off this cold. But regardless, we keep going because people need us. And that's a blessing in itself. I can't even imagine a life where I didn't have a husband who needs me. Or kids who need me. I can't imagine this house without the sounds of Ashtyn and Lincoln and Lillian. I can't imagine a life without Jeff next to me. We work for this happy, loving home and family. They're worth it. I'm worth it. He's worth it. It's a good life.

So today, I'm thinking I'll be wearing this old Third Day sweatshirt all day long. I'm pretty sure the loft won't get organized until later tonight. There's French beef stew in the crockpot making the house smell wonderful and comforting, and reassuring me that dinner will be easy and ready tonight. I'm not even going to argue with myself about that second cup of coffee I'm about to have. 

Grace on my kids. Grace on me. Grace on Jeff.

Lincoln just climbed up on the couch next to me, tucked his feet under me, and asked me, "Do you love me, Mommy?"

Good grief, kid. Only to the point of obsession.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Along the way . . . Talking Friendship

Last week (and weekend) was crazy full for our family. In fact, we're still a bit worn out this week. But this morning as I was making my coffee, I was thinking about Sunday, when I made coffee for Jason and Mel and Jenny and Rich--and the moment took me back.

Last week we ended up getting to see Tammy and Nathaniel and Jenny and Rich and Mel and Jason and Nancy and Mark. Now, Nancy and Mark are like our family down the street. We adore them and we live close to them, which is a huge blessing to us. The rest of the gang were all here from out of town. We all go way back. When Jeff and I first got plugged into a church here (we're talking like seven or eight years ago, maybe more) we joined a small group that was just starting up. Mel and Jason started it and there were five couples, then just a little later, we got lucky and Jenny and Rich joined us too. So there were six couples, only two kids among us at that time.

All these years later, we're going on 18 kids. Crazy, I know. It seems like we're doing our best to repopulate the earth. Ha! :) It's been a long time since that group first started. We don't see each other as often, several couples have moved away. I was making coffee Sunday, and thinking back to all those times we had coffee during small group, over at Mel's or Jenny's or Nancy's or my house. In some ways, it feels like a really long time ago. But really, it wasn't so long ago, it's just that life is busy and full and so much happens. And here we are, still drinking coffee around my kitchen island. Still the same--different but the same. We're parents, we're older--we're still friends. We're still connecting and listening and caring. I'm so comfortable with these people. We have history. And we still care enough to find time to be together, years later.

It's okay that life changes and takes us in different directions. It's okay that we don't see each other as often. What's awesome is that the time we spent in each other's lives meant so much to us that we're going to go on caring about each other. If one of us is struggling, we're going to care about that. We're going to pray for each other. We weren't just there to meet up every other week--we were building friendships. I think we've all been there before--where we're investing in people but in the end, we go our separate ways and people lose touch. Maybe you didn't have as much in common. Maybe the relationships didn't really click. Maybe after reaching out and inviting people over several times, but never having it reciprocated, you decide to move on. Maybe different interests or parenting styles cause you to end up looking for friends a little more similar to you. Or maybe busy work schedules and time constraints just don't leave you with enough time.

It happens.

God brings people into our lives for different reasons and for different seasons of our lives. That's not to say that sometimes feelings don't get hurt or people don't see eye to eye. People are different so there will always be things we don't all agree on. But in the end, some friendships continue on and some don't make it. For the ones that make it through, it almost always seems that the relationship is good about going both ways. You can always tell when it comes to lopsided friendships--you know, where one person texts or checks in or invites someone over, but it's always one person reaching out or hosting, not the other person. That doesn't always work. We've all experienced this. There's that question in your mind, If I didn't reach out to them, would I ever hear from them again?  If the answer is 'probably not,' it's not a very good sign, and you probably have mixed feelings about the relationship.

And then there are other relationships, some span years and years and even miles and miles. Yet they last. The love between you is real and strong and there's so much history that you know you'll always care about those friends. I've got girls like that back in Texas and Virginia. No matter how much time passes, I know I'll love them and they'll love me.

The truth is that friendships don't get less complicated as you get older. It can be even harder to make friends. And we can still get our feelings hurt, even as we're older. We're people. These things happen. No matter what, friendships take work. I was thinking about that last Sunday night, after we'd seen old friends. It takes planning and effort--I'm thinking of Jenny and all those texts, trying to get us together. Of Mark and Nancy, bringing delicious food for all of us. Mel and Jason, driving the farthest (and my family showing up late when we live one minute from the park. Good grief).

It takes someone reaching out. You guys know I've talked about my BFF Michelle before. We basically claimed each other when we were 12 and have never let go. I remember when our friendship started. Shell invited me over to spend the night. We played Mario Bros. 3 in her room for hours. She made us pizzas with tortillas and pepperonis and cheese (I was super impressed).

It works the same way--sort of. :) You invite someone over. You make them pizza whatever you can, and voila! You've made the first move on being friends. As Taylor Swift tells us, it could end in burning flames or paradise. :) (Ha!) At least you've tried.

A really great book says that to have friends, you must show yourself to be friendly (aka the Bible). I think this is so true. Friendship, when done well, is a huge blessing. That's not to discount friendships that might not last forever. I had a close friend for several years when we first moved to Colorado--we did everything together. She was my best source of support and encouragement. Then things unraveled. But honestly, I'm super thankful for the years we were in each other's lives. Because those years counted.

Friendship takes grace and forgiveness and love and effort--on both sides. Take away even one of those things, and it simply won't last.

You don't have to be best friends with everybody. There are couple friends, or just Mom friends. There are acquaintance friends and friends you cry with. There are people you like to hang out with every now and then, then there are the friends who are your emergency contacts! Even so--to have friends, you must show yourself friendly. You know what that looks like. Value people over things. Sacrifice time when they need you. Share what you have--conversation over plates of spaghetti. 

Or just coffee. Which got me started on this whole thing.