Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Leave the Dishes

Loveys, this morning after drop off, there were dishes all over the kitchen island. And I stood there for a minute, feeling tired and sipping my coffee and wanting to just breathe. I suddenly packed up Lily in the stroller and went for a couple-miles walk. (I was so spontaneous that I forgot to take water for myself--I brought some for Lil--and I hadn't eaten breakfast. About a mile from my house, it occurred to me that passing out would really be less inspirational than I was going for.)  But that first mile was great. Sunshine, quiet, fresh air and the feeling of my heart pumping as I walked. Now, this is Colorado so I know lots of people are out there walking every morning (I'm looking at you, Tracy!), but this Southern girl has to really talk herself into it.

Sometimes I really need to talk myself into things. Like leave the dishes and go, breathe deep for yourself. Like ignore the unmade bed and sit on the floor and stretch, close your eyes and do that for yourself. Like go to sleep when your body needs you to, even if there's stuff to do and if you stayed up late, you'd get more done.

The fact that we need to talk ourselves into such things means that usually we choose the other, and that's okay, too. Because it's good to wash dishes and make beds and mop the floor once the kids are in bed. But those things aren't going anywhere, really. So when you can choose to breathe--to take a moment for yourself--I think we need to.

My kids are back in school and it's going great. We had Ashtyn's birthday last weekend and while I had said no parties, I told her she could invite a couple friends over for a playdate. No decorations, I didn't even buy a cake! But by the time Saturday rolled around, Ash was gleefully jumping up and down and saying, "When is it time for my party?" I was like, "Um, it's not a party." She was like, "Um, it pretty much is."


If all I have to do is buy buns and hot dogs and marshmallows and chocolate for dinner, I can deal. It ended up being so fun and I love how low-key it was. The girls had a scavenger hunt in the backyard (finding glow necklaces from the Dollar Tree has never been more exciting), and it was basically one of the best nights of Ashtyn's life. I love those moments. You don't realize they will be perfect until you're experiencing the joy around you. And later you think, I never want to forget how this felt.

So a few girls roasted wieners and marshmallows for dinner and dessert, and we held on to a little more summer bliss. Jeff and Ash and Linc had a backyard campout and slept in our tent. Now on to Lincoln's birthday. (For women thinking of starting a family, I recommend avoiding having lots of babies in August. It makes for a lot of chaos.) Then my birthday (this is a friendly reminder for my family!) and Jeff's birthday. Then October and Outlander book 2 book club (heavens yes). We've already started soccer practice. (I am an official soccer mom. Hm.) And the wheel is turning. Lincoln asked me today if it's almost Halloween. I told him it would be here before we know it. Lots to do. People to see. Work to finish. House to clean. Meals to cook.

Loveys, that's why if there's even five minutes of time to just be, we need to pounce on that like a cat on a spider. I need it. So many of us do. Sometimes we have to set boundaries when we know we're at capacity. We have to find a few minutes to be alone when we're on the brink of crazy. Some of us live at that brink and know it well. :)

I love family life and I wouldn't trade it. It's what I want and it's the greatest gift I've ever received. It's all encompassing. I'm up for it. But taking care of me, and knowing the limits of my family, helps us keep going without crossing over that brink.

Now that school has started, we're finding the rhythm of our routine over here. I'm trying to make the most of my hours. To me, that's the best factor in school starting, we get back on a routine. I love the freedom of summer, but I find I'm ready for routine again when school starts. Fall is busy. It always is. We've got to find our rhythm. (I'm speaking metaphorically here, loveys. Truthfully, I have no rhythm. It's unfortunate.)

I have all sorts of good intentions. I decide every Monday that I want to invite friends over for coffee during the week, then when I remember that I will have to sweep the floor, I cancel all my plans and decide to watch the food network and do yoga. So I'll need to talk myself into it. Because I need both, desperately. I need coffee with friends. (I also need the food network and the freedom to just be home alone with Lily.) School is starting and I'm figuring out what my days will look like--and there's something exciting about all the possibilities. Maybe I'll go to the gym. (A very small maybe.) Maybe I'll get to read more during naptime. Maybe I'll take on another freelance project. Maybe I'll write a new book. (That's a very big maybe!) Maybe I'll plan another fall tea and invite friends. Or maybe I'll do an end-of-summer brunch and invite my neighbors. Maybe I'll wait for someone to invite me to something. (Medium maybe.)

Loveys, I hope fall is full of possibilities for you. I hope the end of summer is perfection. I hope there are friends and parties--and moments to be quiet and just reflect--in store for all of us.

The dishes will keep.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Weeping Mothers and Missing Pencils

Loveys, it's that time of year again. Bouquets of sharpened pencils and all that. (Except we couldn't actually find any at the store. My kids have no pencils.) Winter is long and summer is short here in Colorado. But it's a gorgeous warm day at the moment, and my children were filled with excitement this morning at drop off. There's a big clap-in at our school on the first day and ALL the kids meet outside and it's a mass of chaos. Linc and Ash both got a little nervous at that point, but they did awesome. As Linc walked away in his line of other little kids with big backpacks, I went to Jeff and started weeping. Seriously. I covered my face and cried. And Jeff pats me on the back and says, "Bran, remember, you pick him back up in two hours and 45 minutes."

What? Seriously, what can they learn in two hours and 45 minutes?! That's nuts. So I barely have time to come home and have coffee before I go back and get him. Still...I'm okay with it. He's my baby boy and I'm not quite ready to part with him. :)

So school is now in session, loveys. And Pipsqueak and I (also known as Lily) are home. We walked in the door this morning and I said, All right, baby. You're all I've got left.

Last night we prepped for school and it reminded me so much of when Ash went to Kindergarten. We pulled out the same books and read them to Lincoln. We prayed together. The kids went to bed early. Jeff and I folded laundry for the rest of our lives (Really, when I tell Jeff he needs to help more with laundry, this is what he does: He washes a million loads. I try to explain that that is not helpful. It's the FOLDING and PUTTING AWAY that I want to avoid. When he washes everything, I am completely overwhelmed. This was me last night as we folded four basketfuls. On the bright side, at least everything is clean. You can find it all in my room.)

So, I've cried this morning. Another milestone. Another stepping stone. And loveys, it's such a blessing and privilege. To have babies to take to school. To have children to love.

To be a family. It's my favorite thing.

I'm shocked by how fast it goes. When I think of growing up at my house--I think of practically living at the school. I think of lazy Saturdays and delicious breakfast. I think of me and Sara and mom, decorating the house for Christmas. I think of watching Anne of Green Gables. I think of putting Laura to bed at night. I think of my dad coming home every day in his uniform. The days seemed long. Now, I think they probably went fast for my parents. The way that days are going fast over here.

Still. Blessings, lovey. Moments to hold on to.

It's time to get Linc. This has been a big day for my little guy. I can't wait to hear all about it.

(Also, I need to find some pencils.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Around the Corner and the End of Summer

Loveys, how are you? Can you believe school is around the corner? I mean literally around the corner, as in Monday? Lord help. We haven't even bought ONE school supply over here. My little Lily came down with a very serious viral infection (we've been to the doctor twice in three days). She had a fever nearly reaching 104 for three days in a row, which terrifies this mama. I'm so glad we had all our summer fun early! Because dealing with my bronchitis and then Lily's infection has knocked us down over here. It's been a very rough two weeks. Not how I would have planned the last two weeks of summer vacay, but it is what it is and we roll with it. I'm really hoping no one else at our house catches what Lily had. And I'm thankful for the grace and prayers from my family and so many of our friends.

Rough weeks like this always give me fresh perspective. First, health is such a blessing. Second, always remember to give grace to people who are dealing with sick kids (or parents for that matter!which is all of us at some time or another) because those are long, hard days. I was reaching meltdown status yesterday, where you can't really think about another night of no sleep. Where you have zero patience when it comes to lack of empathy from other people. Where it's all coming to a head and you're trying to manage three kids in the bathroom at the doctor's office by yourself. Then, when you're ready to cry, finally the fever comes down and your baby sleeps and you feel so, so grateful.

Now, we've got school starting. And while I'm desperately sad to see summer end, maybe it will be okay. I think my kiddos are ready for friends and learning and all that good stuff. Linc will start kindergarten on Monday (prepare for a blog post where I'm weeping all over the computer). You guys know we have birthdays close together in August. But this year we're not doing big parties and I feel so free because of it. I LOVE making birthdays special for my kids. But I've come to believe that a party every other year is enough, and doing something small the other years (you know, a friend or two at the movies, a baseball game with one buddy, a zoo trip with just family, a playdate with one or two friends, dinner out with just family, etc.) helps my sanity. So we're going low-key this year and we're all on board and it's going to be great. And maybe next year we'll do bigger celebrations.

Loveys, some days we're weaker than others. Jeff and I were like ships passing each other this morning as he left for work. Both bleary eyed and tired, a quick kiss and a "see you later." The days have been long. But I'm so thankful we have each other. We signed up for all this and we're in it. Taking turns and picking up the slack for one another. He's my partner and my best friend and I'm so thankful for him. And by the way, speaking of birthdays, Jeff's turning 40 in September. It's a big deal, loveys. I keep thinking about the fact that he was 22 when I met him. Crazy how long ago that was and how much life we've lived together. Marriage. It's so many things. But we're still this:

And that makes my heart thankful. And while some people drift in and out of our lives, he's my constant. And I'm his. It's not a small thing, lovey. It's hard work and reaching for each other and choosing each other, over and over.

So his birthday is on the horizon and this is a big one. :) For real. I've got ideas. (I mean, Pinterest has ideas and I will be borrowing them.)

But for today, I'm very tired. I'm sitting here with a blanket around my shoulders. I felt cold in my room this morning so I slipped on socks. Then Ash came in and we needed to go downstairs, so, along with crazy hair and circles under my eyes, I put on my flip flops. Ash just stops and looks me over. She looks down at my socks and sandals, and says, "Um...are you really supposed to wear them like that?" I about died laughing. No, darling. You're not supposed to wear them like that. But Mommy is 36 and tired and needs a shower--and she'll wear them however the heck she wants to.

Loveys. I love this family. I've got beef stew in the crockpot to avoid cooking later when the little energy I have has vanished. This means that my house will smell like red wine all day. Yes. Thank you. I've got kids eating Jell-O and sweating from playing outside. I've got Lily napping and finally feeling less like a roasted tomato and more like the tiny peanut she is. I've got Jeff texting me that he loves me. I need to somehow get school supplies, but traveling with three kids to the doctor yesterday nearly killed me, so it's unlikely I will be going anywhere. Also....I'm wearing socks and sandals. So there's that.

Summer vacation is just about over. The kids and I were talking yesterday about our favorite things about fall. I truly believe that seasons were one of God's best ideas. It's hard saying goodbye (unless it's winter, then I'm always very ready to say goodbye) but there's fun and beauty ahead. This summer has been amazing for us. Our time with family and friends in Texas continues to be in my mind and heart. Last summer was amazing--I think about Disney World and Laura's graduation and engagement. My mother-in-law coming out to visit. Every year there are memories and moments that I want to tattoo on my heart. Even if school is starting, I'm thankful to hold on to warm weather for a while longer. When it goes, there will be pumpkins and costumes and apple cider to comfort us.

We've been sick here at the tail-end of summer. That's okay. These things happen. Not every day is just what we hope. People get sick. There are accidents. People lose jobs. Feelings are hurt. You can lose friends (election season can be rough on friendships btw). Some days your heart just hurts--even when the weather is gorgeous and you want to feel perfectly happy. But even when sickness is running through your house and you're tired--it gives me perspective that I've been lacking and it reminds me to be thankful--and to not worry about small things. It's okay to say no to things. It's okay to hunker down with your family and just concentrate on caring for each other when no one feels 100 percent. It's okay even to cry when you need to. The people who love you will still be there when you resurface.

Summer has been beautiful. (Thank you, Jesus.) I've loved it. Now it's time for backpacks and classrooms and schedules again. I'll be finishing up a freelance project this month that I've enjoyed so much, and I'm again grateful for the freedom in my schedule. Mornings with just Miss Lily are in my future. Poldark is returning to PBS, which means watching TV with Jeff and holding hands.

Loveys, I hope summer has been amazing for you. Slow and packed and grace-filled--all at the same time. We can hold on a little longer before fall sweeps us away.

You'll be hearing from me soon on the devastation of Linc going to kindergarten and more planning on Jeff turning forty. (There will be 90s music. I know that.)