Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bits of a Wednesday

So, I haven't done one of these in a long time... why, since Alysse was baking away. Right now some apple cinnamon muffins are the only things baking and they are filling the house with the most delicious smell, Joe is preparing a few feet away for class tomorrow, and I'm thinking back on our day. Writing really is such a stress reliever for me.

Wednesdays are a perfect day for this because, in typical hump day fashion, they are usually an around the house day for us unless something unexpected pops up on the radar. We are finally getting back into the swing of things this week after being gone and, hey, I've even gotten around to my resolutions. There are four:

1. Be kind to my body. It's had three babies in four years, most with big weight gains and losses-- all with pretty substantial recoveries. Now that Alysse is weaned, it's time to get back to a fitter me-- the old fashioned way with diet and exercise. At least a 20 minute work out a day, lots more water, and such. I'm ready!

2. Be in the Word each day. My Community Bible Study (which I love, love, love!) is good at keeping me accountable for that.

3. Stay on top of what I can when I can. This refers to namely one load of laundry a day in addition to one major cleaning feat. But no sweat if I don't get to them either because that is just the kind of Mama I am, and I don't like it when I'm otherwise.

4. My phrase for 2012 is tender faith. I want to show great tenderness toward the broken-hearted, toward my family and friends, toward strangers who need someone to listen. And I want to have more of the kind of faith that deeply believes God has it handled and doesn't sweat the unimportant.

Put all that together and here's a look for the future me on how we used to spend our days when my girls were freshly five, three, and one.

:: 7:40 am... Hope is up. The other girls usually don't stir until between 8-9. Thankfully Joe's new class schedule allows him to go in later sometimes on Wednesdays, which is a real blessing since my sleep deficit is at an all time high after the last few months.

:: 9:30 am... I'm downstairs with the night owl (teething?) culprit and grateful for the extra rest, even if I really just laid there for a bit. It's definitely a cereal, bananas and clementines kind of morning.
Daddy's already fed the big girls, excuse me Weather Woman and Captain Hammer, and they run around like crazy with their favorite Superhero Backyardigan's episode in the background.
Really this is also to show off my shabby bargain tv stand, which will soonish sport some cute curtains and thrifted knobs!

:: 10:15 am... Throw in that load of laundry and dump the pile from the dryer in the family room. Refill drinks including my first cup of coffee-- ahh-- and do our devotion together around the table. Get the girls in some day clothes, brush teeth and hair. Then fold that pile in the family room and, gasp, put it away!
:: 11:15 am... Crank up the jams upstairs so the girls can color with their granola bars and water. I get on that daily chore of the floors... sweeping, vacuuming, mopping. But not before I crank up some oldies on Panera as Hope calls it. {Pandora, that is.}
Stop to settle a disagreement or two over the very important matter of who has the right to color the Dora who is reading. As I finish upstairs I catch Hope deep in thought in the reading nook when she looks up and says with satisfied certainty, "Mom, I just don't wanna grow up!" Then Maddie reminds me how she's "a very best helper, you know" and takes a dance with the mop.
Such gusto. She is good.

:: 12:45... Call the messy artists to reign in the crayons and other stuff. Remind them to make their beds if they haven't already. Give Maddie a hand, then she helps me make mine. Mark their charts and then we all go down for lunch. Alysse immediately makes it known about my Pandora selection, "No want it! Wiggle Dance, Mama!" I oblige for a turn around the room.
Finish up their leftover apple and carrot slices, make a turkey and veggie wrap for myself to have after Jillian whoops up on me.

:: 1:10 Whooping commences. Then I get some lunch.
Hold up, Mommy! Let me get on my exercise pants.

:: 2:00... Clean up peanut butter apple, macaroni-n-pea covered Leesie and put her down for a nap. Call to check on my Mom while I throw some ingredients in the breadmaker and the girls play their daily dose of Little People. Return a couple of quick e-mail/FB messages after uploading some info on animal homes to use later for homeschool. I love good mail days-- invites to Friday dinner and Saturday brunch, some adoption information, a thankful cousin. Finish some more laundry and pick up the toy trail leading to my girls.
:: 3:00... Jump in the shower while I ask the girls to play in the room next door so I can keep a check on them. Finish up my 64 ounces of water and celebrate by, sad but true, reheating my coffee from the morning. This is totally normal; in fact, I'm not sure I ever remember getting an entire hot cup down. Feed the girls some fruit leather and we all head to the "school room." On the way I realize a stone is missing from my treasured Christmas necklace. Maddie Girl's done the deed, but I whisper some breathe and laugh until it's found. When I reach the room sweet Madds has now knocked over my reheated goodness all over some school books. I don't breathe and laugh so much. There are towels, hugs, apologies; we happily move on.
I love how Maddie says littlecase instead of lowercase. And I'm going to love when that steal ($5) old-fashioned chalkboard is hung right side up in there!

:: 4:15... Wake snuggly Alysse up from her nap. Head downstairs and, while she snacks, finish up our animal habitat sketches.
:: 4:40... Sunshine! We go for a walk but not before stopping to talk to our next door neighbor, who got the girls started on this whole Backyardigan business with his Christmas gift. Then we trek on to some more neighbors who I happily, sadly give some of Alysse's most special 18 month casts offs. Many of the girls' clothes I consign or give away to strangers, but the really special ones-- I don't know-- I just have to know the homes they go to if I don't keep them. We are invited in and I see their new family pics... the recipient of our donations wearing an old dress of Alysse's front and center. See? More memories in the fabric. That just made my day.
Another talk with the neighbors who live on the other side of us and we are back home to take out the bread and throw some defrosted leftover homemade veggie soup in the stock pot.

:: 6:20... Daddy's home (!!) and we all sit down to eat together. I love for our family to sit and eat with one another, but Joe is really adamant about it and always wants to know all about our day. As usual, when asked, the girls give him a wild description of a non-existent day that included going to ballet and knocking on the door of every house in Lynchburg. We pray for a family out of our Christmas card basket and the girls eat a Kashi oatmeal dark chocolate cookie for dessert (yum!). They take their plates to the sink and head upstairs to put away toys while Joe does the dishes and I sweep the floor and do a final pick-up. This reminds me of my Mamaw who always said your mornings start fresher if you do nothing else but pick up the junk before bed.
:: 7:15... After helping finish the upstairs pick up with some rough housing and silliness, including baking oneself, we help girls get on jammies. No baths needed tonight so Joe takes teeth duty and I'm on clipping nails, washing up, and chapsticking. Bedtime stories include a choice from each girl and a chapter of "Heidi." Family prayers and then tucking jammied girls into their beds. Joe takes the big ones while I rock Alysse through "Here I am to Worship," "How Great is our God," and a couple more while I pray peace over her to sleep well this night. Shut her door only to find the big girls still a little restless so I lay with them for a bit, stroke hair, and gently-- then firmly-- remind them that tomorrow is an early morning. Maddie is soon out like a light and Hope is soon to follow.
:: 8:20ish... Throw in those apple muffins for a quick breakfast tomorrow and sit down to catching up on my Bible Study, blogging, returning a few more messages, and maybe even some reading while waiting on Joe to finish his planning.

If you hung with this, gold star to you-- a virtual muffin, even! I know someday I will read this perhaps tedious account and do just about anything to get it back.

That, I'm afraid, will be something no resolution can even help.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Bits: Five

Wednesday's come early because birthday celebrations can only wait so long. But first, two things.

Number one: Things with Mom happened so unexpectedly that it suddenly took over our lives without much time to spare. To clarify for those sweet prayer warriors out there, Mom's small intestines ruptured in two places. It was a pretty awful scene, according to the surgeon and Mom's overwhelming pain (and she's tough!), but both cancer and Chrone's were ruled out as the causes! Praise God! She still has quite a road ahead, with more decisions to make, and every prayer on her behalf means so much.

Number two: Alysse's recent sayings. I love when my kids hit that stage where their talking takes off because it is such an awesome thing to get a peek into their little minds. Lately she can repeat most anything, but the independent complete thoughts are blowing us away. Mostly because in our heads she still looks maybe a year old. Maybe.

Reality: Four months from TWO.

*At the stop of the stairs: "Mommy, where are ew??" (She'll holler this for any person or toy she cannot find).
*Whenever she gets excited, especially if 'nack (snack) is involved: "Ohhh, boy-eee!"
*Any time she leaves behind a toy, book, or person including the cashier who checked us out or a character on the page: "Bye, bye Pooh Bear. Wuv 'ew!"
*She loves to count high: "Eight, nine, ten, pehben, telve!"
*Favorite bedtime request: "Mama, I hungee! Apple? Owange?"

Talking about mostly in our heads, our first born turned five last week. Five??? Five. Half of a decade, kindergarten age, snatching that pre right out of schooler. In my head she still looks like this:

One of Daddy's absolute faves.

But, she's not. She's five and somehow, if I really admit it, that too seems fitting. She's always been older than her age, even when my eyes locked with hers on that first birthday afternoon.

While Joe has the big girls at church right now so I can catch up, my house is quiet, except for that cute littlest girl yelling "tittle, tittle" (tickle) to her stuffed animals upstairs. I sit with my coffee cup and, beyond my disbelief, really celebrate that I've had five years with this girl of mine.

Dearest Hope,

::Five of the things you dig at five years old.

Creating. Paper creations joyfully litter our house and you and Maddie explore with play-doh or clay almost every day. Many times its so you both can make believe your own cooking shows. Lucky me, I often get to be a taste testing part of the studio audience.

Technology. We have only an old computer and an iPod, generously gifted to us a couple of Christmases ago, and you love any chance you get to use either. And you are good. You had your Christmas camera figured out before we got a chance to unwrap the directions.

Adventures. You love when we go new places as a family, you love to window shop, you love to play and dream and notice it all.

Reading. I have pictures of you with books on your face as you sleep from when you were just a wee thing all the way until now. I can hardly ever say no to a request for a new book, and I get such joy out of how much my yeses thrill you to death!

Pretend. It seems like every day you have another new costume design in place, another new plot for you and your beloved sisters to act out. This day you commissioned an old tee of Daddy's for a Backyardigan outfit and wore the huge thing around the house for days.

Best Uniqua and Austin faces, silly girls

::Another thing you've dug since early fall, when we learned about space, is the dream of becoming an astronaut. Oh you've reasoned it all out-- about how you'll juggle becoming a mommy with traveling beyond the earth. Very cool. So after Nana had been home from the hospital a week, we decided to have a small and intimate party to celebrate your star gazing ways. Because, girl, do you enjoy a good party.

We shopped Nana's house and literally found everything we needed, save our trip out with Alysse early one morning while Nana and Maddie still rested. You picked out some space themed scrapbook papers and stickers and, most excitedly, some wooden star wands and diy party hats. A trip we needed to make already to Whole Foods yielded marble cake batter, chocolate frosting, "lunar" lemonade, sugar cookie dough for stars, and just a few remaining items to make homemade pizzas for you and your sisters and "out of this world" chili for the big people. I don't want to forget you drawing and handing a picture of the planets to the grocery clerk because you were so excited.

The guest list was small, purposely not to overwhelm Nana, but you didn't care. You thanked every person profusely (giving and receiving gifts is DEFINITELY one of your major love languages!) But, most of all, you had Nana... and as you had told the nurse who tried to cheer your tear-filled face earlier in the month at the hospital, "My favorite gift is my Nana! My Nana!"

We had the best fun.

::Later on the next week when we got home we had "Hope Day" and this is the first year I didn't have to remind you about your opportunity to plan the day. I often joke that you are my cruise director anyhow as you wake up raring to go each new morning, filled to the brim with ideas for how our day can unfold. It took you little time to ask if the day could look like this:

Chocolate pumpkin muffins to share at Community Bible Study followed by Chick-Fil-A afterwards. Then please, oh please, a trip to our favorite used book store. The place with the most perfect ledge for examining searched out treasures.

A pajama kind of afternoon followed by breakfast for dinner, bubble baths, and "Annie" (highly recommend the Disney version for little eyes to watch).

Yes, we had the best fun. My, you are getting so old.

We've had a lot of fun in your five years on this earth and we've weathered a lot of change and transition. You've lived in three different houses in two states and three different cities, with other arrangements in between. You've learned a lot about saying goodbye and starting again already. You've welcomed two sisters into our fold and handled it with amazing grace and acceptance. You have asked Jesus into your heart; you are both gregarious and sometimes shy. You are determined and passionate and sometimes very stubborn, creative and kind. Always quick to say you are sorry. And you are funny, thoughtful. Very, very funny and thoughtful.

You, thank God, are mine and Daddy's.

We couldn't be more proud and how we all love you... to the moon and back!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Big Bits: Nick of Time

Been a crazy few weeks.

Many of the weeks I write about are filled with those endearing little bits, with the beautiful good and sometimes the inevitably frustrating, and for that I am so grateful.

For it is the big bits which make the little ones so cherished. I mean it's the seemingly ordinary Monday mornings that suddenly hit like a mack truck. Those are the times that change the fabric of your life instantly and forever. The times that make you see how important every day is, what a blessing it is to play with your babies when no mack truck has yet rumbled down your street.

My Mom. My dear, precious Mother was hit with just such an unknown force the Monday before Christmas. I held her hand in the ER and held my breath for the month to follow. I hope to never again see her in such pain, and I will never forget the long nights when she begged me not to stop praying over her and God's prompting me to pray most intensely for angels. There were miracles in that room because of this that will stay with me a lifetime.

I have always loved angels, haven't I Mama?

As the surgeon shared, Mom got to the hospital in the nick of time. So today I stare at this screen, this place where I so enjoy unwinding to the tune of three mostly smiley faced girls and I more gratefully than ever scribble out some bits.

::The day before Mom's hospital stay began we had some Christmas. I now understand why, for the first time ever, we decided to do all of this early.

Uncle and Aunt delivered with character bedding of their dreams, homemade crayons, and more.

::Actual Christmas was bittersweet. Joe drove all the way home to get our gifts. He also ended up later taking the big girls to visit his side of the family as we had originally planned for us all. Petting zoo, cousins galore, grandparent spoiling, waterfalls, the park, and I think I even heard about some Alvin and the Chipmunks theater action. Hearing their adventures did my heart so good.
Sister Store was a great success!

::The girls got three gifts each from us, plus stockings. {I love doing stockings!} For the record, there were some favorites.

Maddie and her ballerina doll.
Hope's very own camera.
Alysse's baby who has her own magnetic paci and, importantly, a "bankie."

::Later on Christmas day Joe dressed the girls in the dresses Nana picked out special. They were intended for a fancy excursion to the hotel where I got engaged which held giant gingerbread houses, amazing fireplaces, and overpriced cocoa. Instead those angels looked beautiful for their Nana alone by the lights of the little tree we brought to her small room.
Hope cried hard when we left and Maddie worried herself so about "that big cut place."

::My Mom is home today and so are we. It is difficult not to be down the street from her, especially now. But my car knows the way, and I will be there again soon.

The moment Hope shared she would be using her birthday money to buy these funny bears for each of her sisters since she had received a coveted one at her little party.
And after the $10 trip down Target's clearance aisle before getting on the road for Virginia. Hope's all, "Oh yeah, I'm generous." :)

The last weeks have been filled with great grace and imperfection-- the case that often comes with those unexpected moments that threaten to grip us with worry. But as my family stood, surrounded by the strength of loved ones, I was reminded that the sum of all that seems little is actually something pretty enormous. And it begs an enormous question in return...

What will each of us do with our nick of time on this earth?