Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Glorious Unfolding - and I don't mean the laundry

The summer days are ending and quite often (almost daily), in the heat of the day, we find ourselves once again on the playground after school trying to undo the wonderful, but kind of sedentary ways of long days at a desk for my 6 yr old.  Fairy houses and wild amounts of dirt and strangely cool August days that always tease of Autumn for a week or two and then go back to the swelter until Halloween. 

The children are getting bigger and we have, quite without my knowledge or realizing, have left the baby years behind.  Our decision to stop at three was a little sad, but understandable.  Forty is looming large and these babies have stressed my health and wellness to the limit.  I had hopes for more, perhaps an even four, but we agreed it was time for us to settle into what our family meant and concentrate on what we have, and who these little people are becoming. 

The up side of that is that our little guy, who is the age that each of our other children were unceremoniously usurped from the role of baby by a new baby, is gloriously 2 and I can see him, really see him, not pregnancy weary or sleep deprived or loving on a tiny new soft little one, while he has to become a "big boy".  My middle guy's 4 yr old brain is in full production, full of fantasy, adventure and instant backstory, no matter what we encounter.  He has ideas and plans and heaven help the fool who gets in his way.  I am reveling in his last year at home, setting aside my plans bigger for his and loving it.  My big girl is fully a school girl and it hurts less this time to see her love someone else as much as she loves us.  Letting kind and lovely people speak into her heart and mind are a painfully wonderful part of letting go of the before-school years home with me and watching her blossom.

And something grows in me too.  From time to time I can see farther ahead than my own two feet, where it seems my vision has been firmly planted for the last 6 years, watching the little ones around me grow, tending to their needs and struggling to just keep awake some days.  Things seem to be unfolding in my heart too.  We are leaving the survival mode! 

Bit by bit and day by day, I get my head up and we walk a little further afield.  I had a conversation with a friend that more than three kids, for me has been the Great Letting Go.  Before, I was keeping it together, getting it done, holding tight to each of the two children I had and then #3 came and I was out of hands.  And the little ones let go of mine like fledgling baby birds and flew, flopping and floundering and learning.  The things that didn't matter fell away and I found it easier to survey the mess that is my life and not judge myself too harshly, most of the time.  I still struggle.  I still see the mess and long for a tidy life, but that won't change overnight and I know it. 

In this mess is gratitude.  In this mess is new songs (I know!).  In this mess is art and making and realizing that taking time to do something and not focusing all of my being on the children next to me is not neglect (and the fact that I did that with my oldest probably contributed to the hard time she had transitioning from only to 1st, but I have forgiving myself for that too), but teaching.  They want my every moment, but my every moment is partly theirs and mostly mine to give if I can and to care for myself and ask for help if I can't.  It's kinda crazy.  It feels a bit remedial to just come to this conclusion, but that's OK too.  My journey is my own right?  And it is all unfolding. 

Let's hope that doesn't also apply to laundry mountain that I just finished folding downstairs.  AmIright?

Edited to add:
And then this came on the radio.  Have a little listen.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Subversive Stitching

This bit of embroidery was for a fellow MOMS Club board member's gift at our lovely end of year banquet.  It was fun to make and I think there will be more silly/subversive stitching coming your way.

A few quotes I'm hoping come up soon are
"If you are going to be a turd, go lay in the yard" - thanks to my friend Jaime for that
"You get what you get and you don't pitch a fit (at least at Mama's house)" because I say that all the time in the face of my complainers.

True here, but not true in life.

Really it should read: "You stand up for yourself and speak your needs.  Just not during dinner, please.  You take a "No Thank you bite" of everything on your plate and IF ASKED, you say, "I don't prefer it, but thank you".  Other than that, you may talk about the weather or something that happened to you today."

but I digress...

Here's the finished project.


I forgot to take photos of the finished back, but I used this lovely tutorial as a nice finish with brown felt. It came out so well! I am always surprised by the sharing community of crafty bloggers, helping others learn how to do things too.  It makes me so happy.

In the spirit of that, I made this pattern into a little pdf, image reversed and everything, so you can print it yourself and make your own wall hanging.
** DISCLAIMER** The border was a free pattern I found on the web by searching, but I can't seem to find the same link back to give credit to the little daisy stitch vintage border.  So I am not claiming it as mine, just assembled by me.  If you know who's border it is, please leave me a note in the comments and I will give credit where credit is due.

Also, if you make this, or are inspired by it to make something of your own, comment in the posts with a link to your project.  I'd love to see your work!

p.s. For reasons I haven't figured out yet, I noticed a sharp uptick in my traffic from France these last few months, so if you are here from over there, Bienvenue!

Update!! I found where the little border came from.  It's a little pretty rose garland I found here and edited the center out.  Source of theirs unknown, but it seems very vintage.  Found here.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

We Are All the Misfit Toys

This morning was rough.  A spat between Hubs and I left me going to church alone with our kids to work in the church nursery, to serve others when I wanted to sing songs and hear a good word.  I just threw my (newly purple and very unwashed) hair in a bun and put on clean clothes.  I held crying babies and shushed the loud play of my own kids whose voices echoed down the shiny hallways of the summer-empty school we use as a place to gather.  I was crabby.  I was tired from being up too late the night before, for the Independence Day fireworks.  I was looking for connection.

After packing up the nursery early (all the sobbing babies left early with their daddies) and heading to the auditorium hoping to hear one last song before the service ended, I walked in just as the Benediction finished and all of the clean and shiny folks in the auditorium turned to gather their stuff and go.  Disappointed again, I searched for friendly faces while my kids ran to grab a piece of the leftover flatbread that serves as The Body during communion.  Amidst the constant wrangling of the three children (currently ages 2, 4 and 6) I was able to grab snatches of conversation.  A phone number of a new friend.  A hug or three.  Between hugs and brief conversations I had to once again go rescue my youngest from sure disaster or give out one more admonition to my older ones to not be so wild.  I felt the pull of the work of motherhood on my heart and mind when what I wanted was the freedom to talk and connect.

And then I see sweet M across the room and go to hug her neck.  We talk briefly of music and our conversation dips into the shallower pools of life while I am barely able to make eye contact with her because of having to constantly track the two year old who seems determined to leave the building without me and run to the main road.  (at least that is my fear)  She is on the edge of a group of mixed younger people, all shades of dewy youthful skin, a beautiful diversity of hearts, minds, abilities, occupations, and gender.  I feel the tinge of green-eyed envy of their beautiful young lives creep in a bit as I once again remind my 4 yr old to not leap from the stage onto the drum set.  I say with a smile, "Are these The Singles?"
"Yes," M replies. "The island of misfit toys."
And I pause and with all I can muster to gather my scattered brain and speak clearly I say, "I think we all are misfit toys.  Just because I'm married and older doesn't mean I'm not lonely.  We all have our stuff to figure out."  I wish I had had my head on straight or didn't have to chase down my youngest little guy who once again was set to exit the building, because I wanted to say so much more.

I think this is the disease of humanity; to look on another and suppose that their life is somehow better than ours.  To compare our insides to their outsides and come up lacking.  To feel lonely and excluded because we aren't married and have a companion, or to feel lonely and excluded because we are married and don't have the freedom to run around and be social whenever we want.  To long for babies or to long for a break from the hard work of babies.  To see a group of women or men and suppose that they are all the best of friends and no one will ever truly know me.  That no one sees or cares how we are hurting.  That if they knew how we were hurting or the messiness of our lives, that they would turn their backs because it is too hard.  Too overwhelming.  Too much.  These are the lies that we buy into that keep us from pressing in and finding connection.  These are the false truths we wrap our hearts around as a consolation. 

And I still do it.  Even though I know better.  For example: I still choose to suppose that those awesome girls I work out with are all really best friends and I am the odd one out.  That so and so over there has the best marriage ever and they never fight so I must be defective somehow and I shouldn't call her because she will think I am too unhealthy of a human being to associate with.

And the truth is this:  We are all broken and beautiful.  We are all the misfit toys.  We are called into fellowship with one another and it might be messy and ugly.  So I hope today I can press in to true connection and be real and open and honest and broken with others.  To go deeper places in life with people who love Jesus and people who don't.  To follow the path that has been set before me, even if it doesn't look like the (seemingly much cooler) path that others are on.  To release the comparison and the envy and grow in grace and love for those around me.  And I hope you can too.  I'd like to do that with you.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Two - the third

Dear PIE,
I wrote in your journal, but not here, when your 2nd birthday came around.  I will date this on your birthday so it can be found, but today is July the 10th and you have been solidly in 2 for several months.  I think you are just getting better with every day.

You told me your first joke.  It involved poop.  You find funny words and voices to use in your ever expanding vocabulary and when you get us to laugh, in true baby of the family form, you use that joke often and well.  It's lovely.  You give the best smooches and hugs, say I love you without thinking, cradle my old P├ępe bear in your arms wherever you go.  You play hard.  You stomp your foot and yell "NO!!" at the top of your tiny voice.  We have learned the hard way that to meet you head on is to meet with defeat and sobbing.  I take the back way and lead you where we need to go, and you go joyfully and willingly.

You and your brother wrestle in wild ways that make my heart thump, worried a head will get knocked or someone is going to fall off the bed or lose a tooth.  I've worried that you have knocked my own tooth loose, but when something does happen, you say in your little voice. "I SO sorry, Mama" (or Cora, or Papa, or Judah) and you mean it. 

You LOVE (I can't emphasize that enough) your Papa and some part of you has wormed into his heart even deeper that the other kids managed to get.  Maybe it is your stubbornness that won't let him go and he gives in and softens and takes the extra time.  And then gives the extra time to the rest of us too.  It's wonderful to watch.  You sing and make up songs, and when your favorite song comes on the kitchen radio, you RUN in and dance your heart out.  It's infectious.  As is your joy.  But look out if we should cross you.  I love you more with every passing day.  I am glad you were born, sweet boy.

Love always,

Monday, January 12, 2015

Four - the second

Dear sweet Judah,
    I wrote in your journal on your birthday, but not here.  I'm thinking back on your birthday and you today, far away from the snow that you loved so much this winter. 

Four years old has hit you like a ton of bricks.  I don't know what it is that brings with this age such strong feelings (and tears), both high and lown.  I noticed it with your sister in her 3rd year, but you seemed immune.  Glad to just be alive and as we used to say when you were a baby, you Ate Life!  Happy to just take it all in.  But hard things happen sometimes.  You got a new brother just the year before that took the focus off of you for awhile while we adjusted and recovered from not one, but two pregnancies, one that was rough, didn't last and made Mama and Papa very sad.  You had a scary experience in a pool where you got away from me and spent a few seconds alone under water and it hung over you for a long time.    Little fears crept in and for a little while squashed down your natural tenacity and vivaciousness.  You knew how you felt, but not how to say it, or say what it was you really needed.

Thankfully with much love and care and time, that seemed to pass and your old joy reappeared.  Papa and I understand what it is to be a middle child.  We both were once.  We know you need extra time and love to be seen and heard and we try to take that time where ever we can.  A snuggle here, a story there, a walk, a conversation, a shared chore (not your favorite, but you do it with me).  You hardly ever ask, just happy to be here and with us all, but we know you need it too.  The squeaky wheel may get the grease, but we know you need attention even if you don't complain.

You learned to ride a bike with all of your stubborn strength and will, in spite of it being too small for you now.  You were determined.  You fell lots of times, just like when you learned to walk, and I expected you to walk away, but you didn't.  You fought for it.  And you were rewarded with the thrill of racing on your bike down the sidewalk, victorious and fast.

You sing at the top of your lungs whenever the song hits you, no matter where we are.  I understand how that is. I do the same, just not at the top of my lungs any more.  Just ask my family how much the liked it.  (p.s. it bugged them, but I still love when you do it)  You long to play and instrument and can sing back any tune or song.  Like the theme music for Peter Pan and Captain Hook in the Disney movie.  You sing Peter's theme when you are happy and up to mischief.  It suits you so well.  Your jokes improve with every passing day and I love how you love to find things to be joyful about.  We joke that you are Emmet from the Lego movie who said, "I can be dark and brooding...Look guys a rainbow!!"

You are my go along to go along guy and generally play well with your older sister and  younger brother, intent on fun rather than having your ideas be the ones that are used.  You build legos like a maniac and love (yes still) anything with wheels or that flies.  You make your loud vrooms and screeches go along with it.  I love your gentle spirit, your love of justice, your kindness, your willingness to share or ask or think of others.  I love that you never quit, but just try again until it works for you, willing to be terrible at it until you succeed.  It makes my heart brim with love to see you push through your fear and swim or try because you trust me and want to try.  You are my fella and I love you with all my heart.

Love always,
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