Sunday, August 31, 2014

Happy Birthday, Charlie!

Oh, my Charlie boy.

I remember the night I took the pregnancy test with you.  I'll be honest.  I sobbed.  The girls were so young, Alisa was going through baby heartache, I was exhausted and now sick, and I just couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel.  It took me weeks and months of feeling horrible about my pregnancy, guilty, and even resentful, until your wise Daddy reminded me that I was letting Satan steal my joy.  And oh, the joy.  You are my absolute ray of sunshine.

Four weeks before you were born, I broke my rib.  It was a terribly hard last month.  Daddy had to do everything for me; wash my hair, get me situated in a recliner chair every night, and the list goes on.  The girls traveled between friends, aunts, and grandmas.  I felt like the worst mom ever.  Yet, I felt like the most fortunate mom ever.  Our support system was outstanding, and the time I had to do nothing left it just me and you, my boy.  For three weeks I memorized your every move, every bump sticking out, and your every pattern.  The sadness and fear from the beginning had now turned to dancing.  I couldn't wait to see you.

Your birth was so relaxing and calm.  You came with ease.  Your life brought immediate redemption. You are a gift.

When Alisa and the boys came to visit, they were so excited and happy for us.  Still, I felt guilt and sadness for my sister.  I didn't want my son to be a constant reminder of what she didn't have.  But, as God always does, he redeemed this story for His good.  In her tummy that very day, he was knitting together Canaan Dean, who would be born nine months (minus one day) later.  Only God can orchestrate miracles like that.  Charlton, your life gave me a new perspective of hope, contentment, and waiting well.  You had no idea, and still don't.  You just live a full life, showing us to do the same.

Today, you turn four.  You are still cute as a button with your gorgeous eye lashes and one adorable dimple.  You love the color orange, to eat pizza, and to work, work, work.  You talk constantly and laugh really loud.  You wear work boots everyday, and park them right beside Daddy's in the garage.  You know what pins hook up certain things to the back of you bike.  You rode your bike without training wheels at age three because you get after it.  You are shy in certain situations and with certain people, yet gregarious around the people you know well.  You are teaching me about all things boy, and though I was always worried about how I would mother a little man,  I am eternally grateful for the opportunity I get to raise you.

First birthday.

Second birthday.

Third birthday.

Fourth birthday.  You got an orange Carhart coat this morning.

My birthday boy.
You tell me every night, "You are my best Mom," and wait for me to respond, "And you, my best boy."  Every.single.night.  Your daddy is my number one man, but you Charlie, are my very best boy. I know I am always a pile of mush on your birthdays, but truly, I love you more than you'll ever understand.

Enjoy YOUR day, Charlie boy!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Triathlon + the weekend

I crossed an item off my bucket list this summer: complete triathlon.  I'm glad I did it.  I can't say I feel the need to do it again, but it was fun while it lasted.  :)

We decided to get a cabin for the weekend at the park where the race was.  It worked so well.  The morning of the race I could get up without bothering anyone else, and sneak out the door bright and early.  They were able to eat breakfast there, get ready on their own time, and literally walk about three minutes to the race.  The running part of the race actually went right by the cabin.  We didn't know any of that going into it, but it worked out perfectly.

We spent the entire weekend doing not much.  And interestingly enough, our kids were happy as clams!  There were times of just sitting and looking at each other and around, doing absolutely not a thing, and never once that weekend did they say they were "bored."  It was just what we needed - to unplug and connect.

We biked.  We think the kids put in around 10-15 miles on Saturday, and on some big hills.  Charlie boy doesn't use training wheels, so that little boy's legs were just a motoring away on his little bike.  We were so proud of the kids.

We swam and played at the beach.  Old fashioned fun with sand and water never gets old.

We ate s'mores and ice cream.

We fished.

We relaxed.

We enjoyed.

As for the race, I did about half (maybe) of the training.  It's a time commitment, and while I was committed to doing it the best I could, I wasn't willing to sacrifice all sorts of family time for it.  I'm just not in the season of life for that.  A lot of unforeseen stuff happened this summer, so I put in the time I was able and was proud of what I was able to get done.

The swimming part I hated.  I love swimming - in.a.pool.  I'm not a lake person to begin with, combined with a mob of people kicking in your face, and I'm not a fan.  I ended up flipping over and doing backstroke most of the way, because mentally I felt less claustrophobic.

The biking part got long.  It was so nice going out, and I was actually having a ton of fun.  Turned around, and bam, there was the wind.  The ride back in got a little long (boring) and was harder.  Still, the bike portion was enjoyable.

By the time I got to running, I was had.  I just felt tired.  The beginning was in grass and more like trail running.  Fun maybe.  Harder yes.  But, the running part went faster than I anticipated.  At the two mile marker I had thought it had only been one.  Nice surprise there!

My goal was two hours, and I finished at 1:45.  I was really pleased with how I did.  Of course, after the fact you wish you would have pushed more here and there.  However, I honestly felt the entire time like I was doing the best I could.  It was something I just wanted to be able to know I could do, and I did.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Over the (school) years...


1st Grade...

2nd Grade...

First day of School, 2014.

The girls started school on this past Wednesday, August 20th.

Maleah could hardly get to sleep the night before.  She was very excited.  She loves school, learning, and routine.  She is so responsible, and school is a place that feeds that desire to do well into her.

Layla was very unsure.  I have been grieving (yes, grieving) her going to Kindergarten, so I thought maybe she was catching onto that.  As soon as she started the, "I don't think I want to do Kindergarten, actually," I tip topped my attitude into one of excitement and anticipation of great things for her!  I cried in secret, and jumped up and down for joy with her.  She wanted to sleep in that morning, and when we got to the school thought she maybe didn't want to do this.  But, thankfully she isn't one to fuss or throw fits, and just did it anyway.  She had a great day, but was fine to not go back the next day.  This morning, however, she was downright giddy.  I think it will turn out to be an alright gig, after all.  We have discovered that Layla doesn't like to do hard things.  She is a super fun kid with personality plus, yet isn't up for adventure or anything that will push her.  School might be hard for her, but that is okay.  We look forward to fostering some work ethic into that girl.  If it were her way, every day would be a party.

Now, onto the photos...

It has been a weird couple days.  It always takes time to get used to the new way again.  The kids and I are together a lot, so having them gone feels odd.  We feel so confident in our school.  I've been sitting through staff meetings, and wow, that place is remarkable.  My children are prayed for by name, by more people than just Dallas and I.  I have no doubt God has His hand on our children's education.  Still, when they ride to school everyday, so does a piece of my heart.

We are excited for another great year.  It's always so neat to see them flourish (a theme at TCS this year) over the school months.  Watching them grow and learn is a treat.  Here we go, girls!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Garden 2014

I must say; we are rocking the garden this year!  While I'm not as much of an outdoor girl as I wish I was, I am thoroughly enjoying gardening.  It is so nice to know what went into the food that fuels my body and where it came from.  It's beautiful in our backyard, and a good project for the kids.

This year we have...
tomatoes.  cucumbers.  all different kinds of peppers.  spaghetti squash.  zucchini. carrots.  onions.  green beans.  cilantro.  basil.  parsley.  watermelon.  raspberries.  strawberries.  rhubarb.  sweet corn.

We have done really well maintaining it.  We decided, and have taught the kids, when we start something we see it through.  We are going to keep this garden looking nice, cleaned up, and as healthy as possible to produce the best harvest we can.  It's such a treat to go out everyday and see what's ready!

My only problem with a garden is that I want five cucumbers, not FIFTY.  And three meals of green beans, not THIRTY.  When it produces, it produces.  Someday I hope to get more into canning, but I'm easing into things so I don't get burned out right out of the chute.  So, what do we do with it all?  Give lots away.  And, get creative.

Cucumbers, tomatoes, and cilantro from the garden.  Added some olive oil and lime juice.  Yum!
We think this watermelon is seriously the cutest.  Yes, a cute watermelon.
Another part of the garden I love is the life lessons.  Yes, I am getting old.

Planting the garden was fun.  Harvesting it is even better!  But the in-between?  That's hard and takes time and work.  But, if we don't water it and feed it, much like us, we will not grow.  And, we can have the perfect seeds and ideal weather conditions, but if we let weeds overtake the garden, it will choke out even the good stuff.  We must weed.  Consistently.  Such is with us.

Might be corny ideas, but I love how God is everywhere.  In our everyday life, and in His creation, we can work on pruning ourselves and seeing Him more clearly for who He is.  Even in a vegetable garden.

Monday, July 28, 2014

my Layla.

It happened with Maleah too.  As school approaches, I get all this hype in me.  Did I make everyday count?  Was this the best summer ever?  Our days are numbered.  I hope I was everything I had to be.  Did I make home the best place to be the last five years?

Layla will be going off to Kindergarten in a few short weeks.  While I have found that I actually love the school years, the growing up, and the excitement that comes with it, it is still just strange.  I will always be the mom who cries sadness on the first day of school and cries happiness on the last day of school.  Call me crazy, but I love and adore having my kids home with me.

I have worked so hard at intentionally creating home to be a space that is a retreat for our family.  I want home to be safe, quiet yet fun, and the best place on this earth.  We have said no to a lot of things, creating time and margin in our life.  We don't want to do crazy busy.  We haven't done it perfectly, but by golly we have tried.

While I know I have done this for five years with Layla, I suddenly feel the pressure this summer.  It went so fast.  It was so good.  But it flew by.

Then, last night she gave me all the affirmation I needed.  Without cue or prompting, this was our conversation...

Layla: What are we doing tomorrow, Mom?
Me: Nothing at all.
Layla: Yay!  I love nothing at all, because home is perfect.  Perfectly relaxing.
Me: I love to her you say that, Layla.  Mommy loves being home too.
Layla, as I am right outside her bedroom headed downstairs: Home sweet home.

Major Catch Up!

Just when you think you might have a boring couple weeks, a whole lot to life happens.  Woofta!  I am going to do my best to get up to speed here, but in no particular order, as I don't even remember how this all happened...

Most importantly, I have been spending lots of time with my Grandma Hayes.  Upon a couple turn of events, we were all suddenly told to come say our goodbyes.  Beings that she is 91, we are so thankful for her long, healthy (her lost hospitalization was giving birth to her daughter 50-something years ago!), wonderful, fulfilling life.  And yet, impending death stirs up a whole lot of emotions.

It was a blessed time, as my sisters and their families came, cousins visited, we sang one evening to Grandma, and time together is just plain ol' good.  But, watching and waiting for death can be agonizing.  Things get better, then worse, then better, then worse.  Thursday night I visited and she told me, "I waited and waited to go to heaven this morning, but He never came for me."  She is so ready for glory.  We know God's timing is perfect, but the waiting is hard.

In between sitting with Grandma, we've been cleaning out her apartment.  We came across journals and journals documenting years and years.  Some days it's just the weather, or "It was a nice day."  Other days, she tells what they did, how Grandpa was with his Parkinson's, or the price of gas.  As I have been sitting beside my Grandma, I've been reading her journals to her.  "Read them out loud," she tells me.  We have laughed and laughed.  One thing I have found, and through it have been remembering, is that us grandkids spent a lot of time at their house.  One day they painted the club house.  That was for us.  Another day they brought us girls to piano lessons.  That was for us.  Another day she was worried because Alisa wasn't feeling well.  That was for us.  She was an amazing grandma, and I'm so thankful for the opportunity the last couple weeks to tell her that.  She just smiles and says, "Well that's real nice of you to say."

Death changes your perspective, for the better.  The drama of everyday life suddenly seems so trivial.  There is freedom in that.  We are still waiting with her, and cheering her on towards her eternal home.

After Erica and Alisa went home, I needed a reprieve myself.  Weimer's and us packed up and headed North.  What generous in-laws to allow us the space and give us our own time to relax and have fun!  I am so, so grateful!

Just chillin'.

They tubed, and tubed, and tubed, and tubed.

To say Charlie loves being at the cabin is an understatement.
He is a happy boy up there.

Tubing, again.
It was such a relaxing time, and a good chance to unwind and regroup with no distractions.

Next up: our 10k.  A couple weeks ago, Dallas and I ran a 10k.  I know it seems trivial to lots, but to us this was a major feat.  It was 90% humidity, raining, and felt like a tropical rain forest.  But, we survived.  I thought it wasn't so bad.  Dallas might give you a different story.

The night before the race, we loaded up on birthday cake and pizza celebrating the Wessels summer kids!  Our kids are so blessed with an abundance of cousins.  Celebrations and birthdays are quite the get together.  We feel fortunate that our children have so many friends to share the fun times with!

Lastly, we had small group family night last night.  In the summer we have gotten our families together once a month.  What a treat!  We eat together, play an intense game of kick ball, enjoy ice cream sundaes, make s'mores over a campfire, and blow up fireworks.  Things have been hectic and draining lately, but an evening with these people is so life giving.

These two were born a day apart.  Oh, the memories.

I love this photo of Dallas and I.  On top of a hill, God's beautiful creation behind us, and the gorgeous sun set with the vast array of color.  My strong and steady with his arm around me.  While life is so uncertain and wavering, there are a few things that are not.  Thank you, Lord.