the field trip

Before the museum, there was anticipation.

Promise that you’re coming on our field trip, mom?” With my affirmation, a relieved sigh and smile.

And then after, there was peaceful satisfaction.

“I am the luckiest one because I got to be with you ALL day.”

Those words, they washed away all the frustration and fatigue I felt from the day. For it became apparent to me that first grade boys and museums aren’t exactly best friends. Museums don’t smile upon running, or touching, or speed. Things my first grader is very fond of.

But those words. Those words. They made it so very worth it.

I will remember them. Always.

DSC_7317DSC_7323DSC_7325DSC_7328DSC_7351DSC_7347DSC_7354DSC_7355DSC_7353DSC_7359DSC_7362DSC_7343DSC_7366DSC_7368DSC_7372

Advertisements

Easter

I want so much.

I want the teenager to see. Really see how precious those around her are. And how precious she is. Her ipod set aside this week, I wonder how that will impact her heart.

I want my little Legolas to know he is precious. School is hard. Home is hard. Everywhere in between is hard. Could it really be that no one likes him? Could it maybe be that what is inside is what is hard? Grace is what heals that place. So I wait for God.

I want the seven year old to stay small. His heart, a beautiful mix of compassion and boyishness. Can it just stay that way? Can he always just look at me with those beautiful blue pools of wonder and be innocent? I want this. For him. For me.

I want the almost-kindergartener to know he is loved. Bedtime comes, and we talk. His favorite thing of the day? That people were nice to him for a change. And he still manages to pray “God, change my heart so I don’t get so mad.” And my heart leaps and weeps all at once.

I want the baby to be the baby. Always. Being almost-two is taxing. On me. Can we leave the tin foil alone for just one day? And possibly not throw raisins around just this once? My heart bursts. Because its hard. And I fear ruining her with all my mistakes.

And still, there are so many more wants in my momma heart.

This weekend, this Easter, I wanted more than anything to know HIS love and feel HIS joy and revel in HIS goodness. My greatest struggle is knowing I am not enough. Mothering is hard and raw and real. And it sends me screaming into myself. Hidden away inside is ache that I can not do this.

But I know the ONE who can.

The ONE who does.

HE did it. It is FINISHED. All I need to do now is to COME.  In the coming, HE meets. HE sustains. HE shoulders my load. Carries my burdens.

These children? They are not mine. Not really. They belong to HIM. And HE will meet them through the ages and weave their lives into tapestries of grace. Me? I am HIS servant. Blessed beyond measure to witness this weaving. Blessed beyond measure to let HIM use me.

DSC_6761-2DSC_6985DSC_6846DSC_7028DSC_6780DSC_6754-3DSC_6878

Capturing what is

My kids run from my camera mostly.  The kids who can walk at least. The one who can’t walk – lets just say she probably thinks my camera is an extension of my face.  Makes for some pretty frustrating situations for this photographer mommy. Some days, instead of fighting with them to sit, pose, smile, again, again, one more time … I try to relax and capture them living. I am learning to take in whats around me. To let go of the expectations I have of what I want to capture, and instead just capture what is.

This is dreaming.

DSC_0777-3

This is finally

DSC_0743-2

This is taking a rest

DSC_0742-2and this is just cuteness 🙂

DSC_0773-2

 

Project life | week 4

And finally here’s my week four. (A little late, I do apologize.)  I was going to work on our week 5 yesterday and get that posted as well, but we had a small electrical fire in our computer room and had to shut off the power to that room. (Just one more thing to add to our stressful, chaotic week of emergency gallbladder surgery, four dentist appointments, a baby with ear infections and too many snow days… deep breath. deep breath.)

week 4:

Emily was 11 weeks old this week so I recorded some of the things she’s doing at this age. We found out she had reflux this week and started castor oil wraps. Whether they are working or not is yet to be seen, but she sure looks cute all wrapped up in saran wrap and a blanket 🙂

DSC_7197copyTitle card is made from paper using the Seafoam core kit. I had the yellow number paper lying around and I’m honestly not sure where that is from.

DSC_7223Yellow number stickers are from basic grey.

We had two more snow days as more snow storms and cold temps rolled in. The kids spent tons of time with their legos and actually had fun playing together. Minimal fighting = happy mommy. And I just love that little yellow guy on the bottom right. Daniel drew it and told me it was a gummy bear doing the gummy bear dance. 🙂
DSC_7198copy

supplies used: Becky Higgins page protectors design A, bazzil basics kraft paper, paislee press yellow paper, basic grey yellow alpha, Tim Holtz tickets, Project life midnight edition core kit, Project Life seafoam edition papers

Project life | week 3

I am starting to wonder if we will ever have school again. This is snow day number eight for us here in Holland, MI. And I will admit that we are going a little crazy in our house. On top of that I’ve gotten myself addicted to coffee recently (and by addicted I mean that I am super tired and crabby unless I drink three cups). *sigh* Weaning off coffee while enduring this many snow days is NOT a good idea.

Anyway, I promised to share week three, and here it is. I think I love this project more and more as time goes on. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve flipped through this album so far. Week three is quite possibly one of my favorite spreads ever. The colors, the photos, the simplicity. Love it all. Still lots of Emily. What can I say, I take lots of pictures of her.

DSC_7193copy

We got tons more snow this week. The boys played out in it for a little while, but couldn’t stay out for long. It’s just too cold. A frequent discussion topic in our house is what would happen if they got frost bit. They seem to think their cheeks and hands will have to get cut off if that happens. I may or may not have told them this so they’ll be alarmed enough to be aware of when they are too cold.

DSC_7195copy

Emily still loves her baths. She actually cries when I take her out. Silly baby.

DSC_7209copy

And this. This is what I live for. I just love these girls.

DSC_7194copySupplies used:

Project Life Midnight Edition core kit, Project Life Jade edition core kit, Tim Holtz journaling tickets, Basic Grey mini monogram stickers white, Lily Bee alpha stickers white, Becky Higgins page protectors design A.

a little thing called kindergarten

DSC_0692copy2

My Daniel starts school tomorrow.

This little thing called kindergarten stirs up so many emotions in this Momma.

Sadness. Am I allowed to be sad? Daniel will be leaving me every day, all day for the first time ever. Coming home with stories that took place while he was away from home. Stories that don’t involve me except for the fact that I am the eager listener.

Pride. He’s so excited to finally go to school. He’s been waiting for this day for a looong time. And I love watching his eyes light up when he talks about it.

Worry. Does he know not to suck on his fingers when he’s nervous without me there to tell him? Will he remember to wash his hands after he uses the bathroom? Does he know not to throw things when he gets angry? Can he find his classroom? Does he remember his ABCs? Will he be kind to the kids in his class? Will he miss me????

For a long time, I’ve been telling him I’m going to cry when I drop him off at school. He always giggles. I giggle too. (but I’m serious.) Last week I informed him that I thought of a great plan – I would lock him in his room so I could keep him at home. That induced more giggles from him. I giggled too, again. (I’m not as serious about that one because he doesn’t actually have a lock on his door, and I kinda think that might be illegal anyway.)

This Momma is learning how to let go. Again. I’m in the process of figuring out that motherhood is a series of letting go.

And it’s good.

After all, as his Momma, my job is to raise him up, not duct tape him down.

(but I still reserve the right to cry about it when Tuesday comes!)

🙂

boot camp – week one

I could feel the weekend ticking away, telling me it was almost time. Part of me = super excited. Part of me = very apprehensive. The excited feelings come from the side of me that really wants to teach my children something more than the me-centered attitude that absorbs them. (The attitude that assumes their clean clothes will magically appear in their dressers, that their food will be ready and waiting, and their toys will be organized for them.) I want them to learn those basic skills of life and help them become confident in their ability to do those things. But being someone with a procrastinating personality I struggle with organization. Its hard for me to make a commitment and see it through to the end. So I get a little nervous I will let this fade away and by the end of summer it will be just like it always is – bored, whining kids who won’t do any work and want me to walk a fork into the dining room for them because they feel so entitled it doesn’t even cross their minds they could get up and get the fork themselves, hence leaving mom (me) in frantic panic trying to carry the load of the whole house while I prepare to add another whiny child to the mix in November.

Whew.

In the book Cleaning House, Wyma adds new expectations for her kids month by month. First month is cleaning their rooms and making their beds every morning. The next month she adds cooking – each kid takes a night, picks the menu, shops for the food, prepares it and cleans it up. Then she adds yard work, serving, and so on.

I guess I’m a little meaner. Cause I’m loading it all on – RIGHT NOW.  We have a schedule on the white board so they know what is expected every day.

DSC_0320

Every day: They are expected to make beds and have floor cleaned. They each have a jar of quarters – one for each day of the month – and if their bedroom duties aren’t done for that day I take a quarter. Also to do their Bridge books (school stuff), flute practice, and reading.

Twice a week: They’re in charge of cat duty – litter and food/water

Twice a week: They get to help with supper (and get to choose what we cook depending on what we have in the house) and are also on dish duty that day

Once a week: They help with any laundry duties going on for that day.

(…. So now that I look at that list, I realize its not really that much. Just simple chores that should be done anyway in a normal household. Somehow I have enabled them into thinking these are big tasks …. I will have to think of some bigger duties once we have this list mastered.)

This is how day one went for us….

– LOTS of crying this morning from a certain pre-teen girl who just could not fathom how I could ask her to put a clean bed sheet onto her bed. “I caaaan’t! I caaaaaaan’t! I caaaaaaaaaaan’t!” she cried. On and on. Probably for 2 hours. Part of this was because she had a super late bedtime all weekend (not by my choice – she had a babysitter with different ideas about healthy bedtimes) and part was because she really thought she couldn’t. I had never showed her how, and I had never expected her to do it before, so she really didn’t think she could.  My role, as hard as it was for me to pull of, was detachment. I had to constantly remind myself that she could. I did not need to rescue her. It was hard to not get sucked in to her pleading and emotions. To help myself stay calm, I kept picturing her as a mom standing by her kids’ beds with a blank look on her face. And my precious little grand kids sleeping on bare mattresses.  I was not going to give in. And you know what? She did it. After all that fussing. And she had the proudest look on her face. And I can even say she looked peaceful. I made sure she knew how proud I was.

(Lesson learned by both her and I: She CAN. Her whining usually means she wants me to do it for her, and I’ve trained her that I will step in and take over, further fueling her perception that she can’t.)

– The 8 year old was SUPER excited to be grilling burgers and frying squash with me. I really didn’t expect that out of him. He tends to be more of a complainer, so I thought sure I’d never hear the end of how mean I was.

Day two…..

– Said pre-teen once again had a hard day. It was her turn for supper duty, and I took a hands-off approach this time. I was present for encouragement and advise, but refused to help her with anything. I assumed this would give her the message that I believed she was competent enough to handle this task, in turn bolstering her confidence. I was wrong. By the end she was slamming things around the kitchen and she refused to make anything else besides the meatloaf.  “You said you would help me!” she fumed. “You helped Ryan!” At this point I realized my hands-off approach for her spoke of my lack of interest and love for her. She compared the fun Ryan and I had in the kitchen just yesterday and was jealous for my attention. We had a good cool down, and a big appology from me, while I explained to her that I could certainly see where her feelings were hurt. Her response? “I shouldn’t have thrown a fit. Sorry.”

(Lesson learned:  She CAN, but this time her whining and anger was communicating that her heart was hurting. She just didn’t know how to express it differently. I need to look deeper sometimes so I can shepherd their hearts, not just their work habits. I can work along side my kids while instilling good work habits, and at the same time communicate how much I love being with them. In other words, I don’t have to be a Nazi.)

– Everyone forgot their beds this morning due to my hasty decision to let them watch morning cartoons. They were so excited about the cartoons that they rushed downstairs without a thought to the rumpled blankets left behind. You can be sure there was a lot of whining when I informed them I had taken a quarter from each of their jars. They begged to earn them back … but alas, its just not possible, and this they couldn’t fathom. It sure helped to make my point, because they haven’t forgotten since.

By day 5 I am learning that they LOVE helping cook. It’s their favorite “chore”. They argue over whose turn it is for supper duty. And knowing they are responsible for dishes that day somehow eliminates fighting over whose dishwasher shelf is whose, and eliminates any complaining about being asked to do it.

By day 6 I am noticing the complaining is starting to go away. Granted, I’m not asking them to do much. I mean making the bed isn’t super hard work and most people already do this every day. But somehow putting expectations on them has given them confidence and stability knowing what is expected.

I think by July I will be adding some more “confidence boosters” ….

Today

Today my older kids are enjoying their last day of school for the year. I am so thankful for that, and I’m counting down the minutes. I’ve got a five year old boy in this house who is so sick of playing with his mom. And to be honest, I am a little tired of playing with him too. I do love him, and I do love to play with him. But we’ve grown mutually bored with each other. Its time to bring the reinforcements home.

Today I am wondering if I can make it through another day without McDonalds french fries. I think about them every day.

Today I am waiting for it to feel like summer. I am so ready for constant warmth. Right around 75 degrees would be perfect.

Today I am relishing things that will be memories. Carpooling with good friends. Sixth grade and second grade. Teachers and classmates. Having my Daniel at home instead of school.

Today my agenda includes getting caught up on 10 loads of laundry before Shane and I leave for our anniversary weekend. I am not exaggerating on that number. The last three loads are cycling now, and I will be ever so happy when they are done and put away. Perhaps my mom will stop by to do my folding….

Today I am itching to get caught up on my scrapbook.

Today I am hoping to get my white board written up with chore and activity lists for the kids. Welcome to three months of  boot camp, kids. I’ve been reading the book “Cleaning House” and my eyes have been opened. (You can read a great review about this book here.) In an attempt to eradicate the “entitlement attitude” my kids sport, we’ll be including them in upkeep of the house. Teaching them how to do things so they can survive in real life. Chores will include bed-making, bedroom cleaning, helping with supper, bathroom cleaning, laundry folding, flute practicing, window washing, vacuuming and more. I’m a little excited about this. (and hopefully the whining will go away eventually…)

Today my mind is swimming with plans for our summer. I’m almost a little giddy. I know every moment won’t be heavenly, but even in the hard parts I LOVE having my kids home and I LOVE sharing this season with them.

DSC_0111copy

our tulip time | part 2

By the time Tulip Time was done this year, I was ready for it to be done. Which honestly surprised me since I usually long for it to keep going and going. And on Sunday night I usually feel an emptiness as those vendor carts pack up and pull out. But this year, I think the Thursday parade did me in. It was hot. And I felt like I walked 27 blocks in an attempt to get the kids to their starting location and then hustle down to my spot at the end of the parade. Then Thursday night we enjoyed a night of junk food, the carnival and Dutch Dance. Which was super fun, but gave me my fill for this year. My legs still hurt. And so we stayed in the rest of the week. It helped that the weather turned cold on Friday. (I’m a fair-weather Tulip-timer 🙂  No parades in the cold rain for me!)

So here is part two of our festive week.

DSC_0877copy

DSC_0886copy

DSC_0882copy

DSC_0891copy

DSC_0922copy

DSC_0908copy

DSC_0938copyWatching the carnival while eating corn dogs, and wishing they could ride. (These corn dogs were AWESOME. I am finding that vendor back next year, for sure!)

In order for Daniel to ride the ferris wheel, he needed a parent to ride along. So I was the lucky one to ride with him and Makayla.

DSC_0946copy

This was terrifying for me. I mean TERRIFYING.  I could not think straight, I wanted to get out NOW, and I saw my life flashing before my eyes. I think Daniel’s arm still has red marks from where I was desperately clinging to him. Both in an attempt to keep myself sane and to keep him from falling out. Sad to say, the 5 year old was being braver than I. Pretty sure he really enjoyed himself, actually. Perhaps if I had been thinking straight, I would have realized it was a remarkable view from up there, and I would have taken some pictures of it. Later while walking near one of the highest buildings in Holland, Makayla asked me if we could see on top of it while we were in the ferris wheel. “Yes, yes we could,” I shuddered. Please realize the highest building in Holland is possible 6 or 7 stories (I could be very wrong about that)  but we’re not really talking skyscraper here. It was enough to bring me to tears. If I never ride another ferris wheel, I will be quite happy and satisfied with my life.

DSC_0942copy

DSC_0948copyAnd while I was trying to make it out alive from my ferris wheel ride, Ryan was flying through the sky on this thing. He’s the one with the arrow pointing at him. Crazy, brave, crazy boy. He was grinning from ear to ear about this. Takes after his dad.

DSC_0957copy

We had so much fun this week (even though my legs hurt from walking and my waistline can not handle any more vendor food!) That being said, I still LOVE this time of year and I’m already looking forward to next year!

DSC_0875copy