Monday, May 18, 2015

What a Year Can Do

Last fall Jacob started on his first soccer team--the Great White Sharks. He had a good coach and a wonderful first season. We were proud of him for hustling after the ball and even getting a winning goal in one of his games.

But there was one little problem. His games were outside and my sweet Emma did not appreciate the sunlight. We tried sitting in shade and arming ourselves with hats, sunglasses, and umbrellas. But eventually I would always end up trying to entertain her in the car for at least part of Jake's games. I wanted to watch him play but I just couldn't.

This spring the Great White Sharks have returned to the field, and Jake is having fun. And I still can't get over how contentedly Emma sits on my lap during the games, wearing her shades and feeling good about life. It's more than I would have hoped for last year.
                                                    
Sometimes life is wonderful and everything seems to be going well. Sometimes life is hard and we wonder when it will ever get better. In those times it's good to remember that you never know the difference that a few months will make.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Enjoying the Moments

Sometimes in a young family the days (or weeks) drag.  Other times whole months (or years) seem to slip past before I know it. Sometimes I look at old family photo albums and wonder where the time has gone. 

Has it really been four years since Abby was our precious baby girl...
Or two years since Grace was our joyful one-year-old (wearing her sister's old shirt two years later)?
Now, of course, that same shirt fits our current darling baby girl, Emma.
I still remember the night we excitedly bought a little secondhand toddler trike for Jake. Now Grace tears all around the neighborhood in it. But it won't be much longer till she'll need a bigger bike and it will be Emma's.

(How has it really been two-and-a-half years since toddler Abby graciously let one-year-old Grace borrow that same trike for a ride every now and then?)
Such moments of realization make me grateful I have been here for all of these precious stages and moments, as fleeting or belabored as they seemed at the time. It makes me want to laugh a little more, hold my kids' cute faces, snuggle them, and enjoy the moments I now have, because in a few more years when I look back I will be oh so grateful I was there for every minute that I now enjoy.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Thank Goodness for Dads

Recently we were at the park playing with the kids. I had gone to retrieve something from the car, and when I came back I found Cameron assisting Emma as she climbed up to a slide. Admittedly, it wasn't something I would have helped her climb up. I would have worried about her falling, worried that it was too high, worried that it was risky. I would have helped her find the stairs--a much safer option. And so as I watched Cameron and Emma ascend together I thought, "This is why kids need a dad."

God knew what he was doing when He created families. He knew that kids would need moms. Moms are generally good at loving, nurturing, and (occasionally) coddling. And that is why He also gave kids dads. Dads are good at helping kids to reach higher...
To keep on keepin' on...
To get back in the saddle and try again...
And to ultimately achieve greater heights.
I am grateful for my dad. And I am oh so grateful for this wonderful husband of mine who is such a fabulous dad for our kids. They are lucky to have him. I am lucky to have him. Thank goodness for dads!

Monday, April 27, 2015

My Little Tom Sawyer

Cameron had just come home with big news for Jake--he gets to go to his first day at cub scout camp this summer! Jake was over-the-moon excited, which made the next bit of news a bit easier to handle--we would be expecting him to work to pay for half of his fees to attend (a grand total of $10.) We have recently been installing a new fence and rearranging our front yard, so Cameron told Jake we would pay him $10 to move all the rocks in the front yard.

Jake eagerly ran outside, and we assumed he was getting right to work. We were wrong.

Minutes later he came inside, retrieved a can of coins that he keeps in his room, and headed back out. Our little entrepreneur had agreed with his friend across the street that he would pay him $1 to move rocks.

When I went out the next day I saw Jake standing by watching while his friend pushed on a crowbar to dislodge rocks.
Jake's friend hard at work
Not one but two neighbor boys working while Jake is MIA
I'm a big fan of reading classic literature to my kids. But I think the story of Tom Sawyer getting everyone else in town to paint the fence for him so he wouldn't have to is one we can skip. Jake's already got those lessons mastered.

Monday, April 20, 2015

In the Doghouse

Abby is a born mother. She has a naturally sweet, nurturing personality, and she is always looking for someone or something to care for.

Sometimes it's her little sister.
Emma really didn't love being pushed around in the girls' shopping cart, but such is the lot of the little sister. 
Sometimes it's our neighbor's two-year-old. Or our other neighbor's cats.

She's tried to convince us that she needs a pet. We haven't gone for the bait. So she has resigned herself to building dog cages, pens, and houses everywhere she goes. She cuts cardboard boxes, lines them with blankets, and fills them with stuffed animals.

This particular doghouse has (ironically enough) been sitting in our master bedroom for a couple weeks now.
I guess if I'm going to have a doghouse in my room, this is the best kind.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Today's Sweet Moments

On Easter we went to go visit Cameron's sweet grandparents. They are both in their nineties, and have been married for almost 71 years! We adore them. They have been slowing down the last few years, and sometimes it's hard to take our whirlwind of four busy little bodies to their house.

We showed up with a little basket of goodies and sat and chatted while the kids jumped on the neighbors' trampoline, made lots of noise on (I mean, played) Grandpa's organ, and painted in Grandma's art studio. Cameron and Grandpa talked, I caught up with Grandma, and it felt so good to just enjoy their company. 

As our visit was winding down Emma was puttering around their solarium taking apart a few geraniums and Abby and Grace were running wildly on their balcony. I looked at the balcony, at the patio below, and was swept up in memories. I remembered watching Fourth of July fireworks from that balcony together nearly ten years ago when Cameron and I were just dating. I remembered rolling Easter eggs on the patio with Cameron's siblings and parents when we were newlyweds.

"I didn't appreciate those experiences enough at the time," I realized. I couldn't have fast forwarded to where we are now, ten years later, with four small children and grandparents who are in their twilight years. We are so grateful to still have them. But their energy just doesn't hold up for huge holiday gatherings that last till almost midnight anymore. And so we sit quietly with them, occasionally patting a hand or knee, and when we leave we tell them twice how much we love them.

The day after Easter began our week of spring break. Without the usual grind of schoolwork to settle them, the kids were only too happy to run wildly around the house, chasing each other, screaming, shrieking, and enjoying childhood fun. Admittedly, sometimes such boisterous displays of childhood happiness are hard on my nerves.


Our flour is stored on the counter for now--at least until Emma stops seizing every moment to spread it all over the kitchen!
I thought back to Grandma and Grandpa and the moments ten years ago that I didn't appreciate enough at the time.

Where will our kids be in another ten years? What sweet moments will I look back on and admit that I didn't appreciate at the time? It's impossible to foretell.

But for today I can take a deep breath, embrace the happy noises of childhood, snuggle them closer, and be grateful for what I have today.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Jacob

Eight years ago this morning I woke up in labor. I figured it wasn't the real thing. After all, my due date was two weeks away. And as good as it sounded to be done with the pregnancy, having a baby on Friday the 13th wasn't in my plans. (I think one of the first lessons of parenting is that things don't go how you planned. But since our first little guy was still in utero, I didn't know that yet.) Much to my surprise my labor that day was the real thing. But since it was my first labor, we didn't become parents for another day. And then we had our beautiful baby Jacob.
It was an eye-opening ride of sleepless nights and desperate days in the beginning. I never knew babies could be so loud, demanding, and relentless. But we learned a few things in the process. And now through eight years of parenting, I am so incredibly lucky to be this boy's mom.

Sometimes his faith and goodness just blow me away. He is always the first to remember to pray when something is lost. He naturally wants to serve and help people. He naturally wants to do what is right...like a couple weeks ago when we were going to his grandma's house for conference Sunday. He started out the morning in sweat pants and a tee shirt with a slogan on it, but then he traded the tee shirt with a polo shirt because he thought a shirt without a slogan might be more reverent on Sunday. (Wow. I was blown away by his thoughtfulness when he told me that.)

He is oh so excited to be in scouts. We went and bought his uniform a few weeks ago. He passed off all the requirements for his bobcat the week he got the book. He is motivated, driven, and a hard worker.
I love seeing him build with his Legos, his Engino kit, or whatever else he has on hand. I love seeing him play with his sisters or shoot hoops with his friends. I feel so proud when he opens doors for people or helps the neighbors with little things. He is a wonderful boy.
We are so glad he is ours.