Grateful

Gratitude
So, my exciting news from my last post… it is not that I am pregnant as Keri commented (though it would be outright hilarious if it was – and by hilarious, I mean, bring me to tears and leave me wondering what in the world I’m going to do, hilarious – our boys more than make up for it being just the two of them*). But it is sort of adding to our family, since it will mean we will be transitioning back to a “normal” family of four with parents who are both home in the evenings (for the most part because I plan on making up for lost time with some evenings out). Simon is moving to first shift on August 4 and we could not be more thrilled! The official announcement came on Tuesday, though we have known it was coming for a short time now. When we first found out about the possibility, the news came at a time when we had absolutely no hope for a change in his schedule and I can admit now that I was completely disheartened by it all, as was Simon. I was trying to mentally prepare myself for both boys being in school this fall and Simon being gone every night – leaving the bulk of the parenting on my shoulders and Simon unhappy with his hours and not getting to see the kids as much as we all would like.

For the past 4.5 years I had said, I just hoped that Simon could move to first shift by the time Jack started school, that my working all day and taking care of the kids all evening was not going to be my ideal life – I certainly didn’t go into having kids thinking I would be a single parent (but then, not many people do). Simon will be starting the new job just a month before Jack starts kindergarten – I cannot help but see the irony in that and see God’s providence. Perhaps I should have prayed more specifically for him to move to first shift before Jack turned 3 or something – I left a lot of time in there for getting that prayer answered.

When Simon originally started at his job, the assurance was made that it would be two years at most that he would be on second shift; two years was doable… I saw the passing of each month as being 1/24th of the way to it being done. But when we passed the two-year mark with no changes and no movement… well, that was kind of a bummer. But still, it worked out that we only had to do daycare for the kids two days a week and then split the other days between the two of us. Simon got to spend way more daytime hours with the kids than the average working parent and we spent way less on childcare than the average two-parents-working-full-time family. And in the long-term, we’d get a huge discount on a stellar college education for our kids, an education that I’m beyond grateful for myself… it would be worth it, we could do this.

Back in the beginning, Jack was just turning one and Liam was three-and-a-half – that fact blows my mind. Neither one of them remembers a time when Simon was home every evening… when they had two parents together for more than vacations or weekends. I think we did the best we could with the situation but I have to imagine its going to be so much better to be together MORE. That our parenting will improve because we can divide and conquer, and back each other up rather than taking the route of least resistance and making the best of it. And with Jack starting school, this fall, I was so sad to think of how little Simon would get to see our boys in comparison to what it could be. It makes me think of all the parents out there who are away from their kids for work, missions, armed services, what have you – it’s a tough road to have to travel for whatever reason and especially when you’d rather be on another path. So above all, I am excited for what this means for our boys and for us. I’m even excited to have to cook real meals again – though I’m sure my kids are not pumped that mom will no longer be serving as a short-order cook at dinner time.

It’s going to be a transition period because you can cement a lot of habits in 4.5 years’ time. Not all habits are bad, but you get used to “your” way of doing things and adding another person to the mix makes things tricky, or at least makes you feel the rub of the rough edges. I enjoy my quiet evenings once the kids are finally in bed, I’m sure there will be a little mourning in their loss. But whatever – bring it on. We are ready to figure it out because one thing I will not complain about is getting the thing I have prayed for, that our community has prayed for, for 4.5 years.

I know it’s not going to fix everything and make life perfect because life is always messy and never perfect, no matter how it is formatted. We fool only ourselves if we think that perfection and utter happiness is achievable if only we keep persevering and make it over the next hurdle. But we can be thankful that this chapter is nearly over, while it may not end up being our hardest, I can safely say it won’t be our favorite and that we eagerly anticipate the next one to see what it brings. And we are thankful that Simon has a job that he enjoys and that helps provide for our family… it has given us more blessings than hardships, to be certain.


*Funny side story: The other day we picked George up from his grooming appointment at the vet’s office and while I was paying and making his next appointment, Jack climbed in the holding pen that is built into the counter at their office – handily there so you can confine your small dog while you are paying (though I have never seen anyone using them for this) – Liam took the opportunity to firmly latch the door, leaving Jack trapped inside. Thankfully this did not cause a fight or screaming, but instead turned into a fun game of Jack trying to get out and Liam quickly shutting him back in. I have learned it’s better to let these things happen rather than try and control them and stop them from their ill-advised activities. I paid, George was returned to us and we were on our way. On our way to the car, a woman who had been waiting to pick her golden retriever up from doggie daycare, held the door for us and then said, “I have to say, it was fascinating watching your boys. I have two daughters and they never would have crawled into the cage, mostly because it wasn’t the right color pink. Boys are just a whole different kind of thing.”

Yes, yes they are.

Wednesday Musings

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  • Just the mere thought of swimming with sharks or walking through an enclosed space in the dark gives me a severe case of the eebie geebies (that is the technical term, yes).
  • Liam is turning 8 on 8/8 this year – which makes it like his platinum birthday, right? We have decided this will be an opportunity to celebrate in grand style so we’re renting a bounce house.
  • We get said bounce house for the whole day so I decided (and Simon agreed), why not make a day of it… brunch in the morning for the neighborhood kids and their families, party in the afternoon for Liam and his friends and gathering in the evening for church folks and friends… my extroverted, party planning side is SUPER excited… like planning-my-wedding excited. Things may get out of hand. But it’s my “thing” that I love to do.
  • Liam having a “friend” birthday means we’ll also have to do a friend birthday for Jack this year (our original party plan had been for the “5s” birthdays to do a friend party but we did not do one when Jack turned 5 in February because of the Polar Vortex so we’re reworking things). But Jack does have his golden birthday this year, too, 6 on February 6.
  • Since my birthday is July 1, my golden birthday was when I turned 1 so that’s kind of a bummer. Or when I turn 101.
  • Maria Menunous was on the Today Show this morning talking about her new show on E! which sounds interesting but then she https://ememby.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.phplaughed and let’s just say her laugh rivals Fran Dresher’s and the character of Janice from Friends… Oh my.
  • We’re having a burst of cold weather in Michigan and the weather guy predicted yesterday that the fall will also be on the cooler side of things and while I do not have confidence in his ability to accurately predict anything, that news makes me all kinds of happy because this girl loves cool temps and low humidity.
  • Garden update: My plants are surviving so far – as long as I spray them regularly with Liquid Fence which literally smells like poop. But it seems to do the trick and as promised on the bottle, fries scent-free. I now spent lots of time googling how to propagate various kinds of plants.
  • I haven’t been keeping up with my blog reading as much as I would like, but I read two this week from Kara at Mundane Faithfulness that I would encourage you to check out, though, be warned, you will likely cry, that’s just reality:
  • In the opposite direction of the above, I continue to get a plethora of spam comments that give me smiles and giggles throughout my day, here are a few recent gems:
    • On the post, Things I love Thursday: Cake: “Hi there, I enjoy reading all of your article post. I like to write a little comment to support you.” | Gee, thanks for the support for my love of cake.
    • On the post, funny text exchanges: “Excellent post. I used to be checking constantly this weblog and I’m impressed! Very useful info specifically the last phase : ) …” | For reference, the last phrase:
      Her: Diet coke is good for the heart and the teeth.
      Me: It’s practically a health food.
      That is useful, if untrue, information
  • The kids are doing VBS this week – they love it, though trying to get them to learn their leaders’ names or the names of any kids from their group… impossible. But they did relearn that God loves them no matter what, so there’s that.
  • We have also reached the point in summer that my kids are driving me nuts – hopefully this means for the month of August, they will be more “normal” since their behavior is typically cyclical. Liam has also developed an annoyed habit of repeatedly saying “fart” in a doltish, cartoon character voice with a Tourettes-like inability to control it. It makes me want to give him away to a good home (at least I said, good home; and no, not REALLY give him away).
  • I bought the kids workbooks to do during the summer… so far we’ve gotten them out once. Parent fail.
  • We have, however, marked several things off our summer bucket list. Parent win.
  • The kids are both spending the night at a friend’s house this Saturday and we are going out with another couple – cannot wait!!! I love date nights with fun people!
  • Also got to visit with one of my favorite people two weekends ago when she and her family came to visit for a day – I adore friendships where you can see the person once a year and never have awkwardness or feel like you need to apologize for life being crazy and not keeping in as good of contact as you should. Those friends are the lifelong friends that everyone needs.
  • I hope to have some exciting news to share in the very near future – but until everything is official, that’s all I’m saying but I welcome your prayers and happy thoughts on our behalf…

Happy Wednesday everyone, may you enjoy wherever you are in life!

 

 

36 things I’ve learned

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If you read yesterday’s post (or Facebook reminded you), you know that today is my birthday. To celebrate, I’m sharing with you 36 things I learned this past year (or thereabouts). I realize that it might be more appropriate to list 35 things I learned in my 35th year, I’ve technically been alive 36 years.

  1. I cannot be counted on to accurately tell you how old I am or how old I’m going to be. I have to think about it way too long when someone asks how old I am. In fact, I think I told people I was 36 for much of the year. Whoops.
  2. Life can be a whole lot better with a little medicine.
  3. God can fix ANYTHING.
  4. My yard needs plants that are deer resistant, rabbit resistant AND drought resistant. It also helps if they thrive in sand.
  5. I’m a little bit judge-y when it comes to stupid people.
  6. My husband is a wee bit OCD when it comes to people coming over and his need to clean the house (especially steam mop the floor).
  7. Our dustbuster can clean out our Keurig (see #6; also – I married both my father and my mother in one person).
  8. I know more about nature than I thought thanks to my weeks spent at Camp Roger in my youth.
  9. Jack eating a pancake with brown sugar on it is something we will celebrate and call the grandparents about.
  10. If you let your kids bathe themselves, you will get 30 minutes of peace in the evenings (but it will cost you the price of the fancy lice repellant shampoo that “accidentally” spills into the tub).
  11. Book clubs are one of my favorite things and you can actually discuss books at them (as opposed to just drinking wine and eating; talking with grown ups + beverages + nibblies = trifecta of goodness).
  12. I love, love, love good sushi.
  13. I can pull loose teeth for my kids (but not other peoples’ kids).
  14. Birthdays in the age of Facebook are pretty wonderful but getting real paper cards still rocks more than anything.
  15. I enjoy using a chain saw.
  16. Entertainment Weekly seldom steers me wrong with TV show and book recommendations – music and movies can sometimes be another story.
  17. Matthew McConaughey can actually act.
  18. Megan Fox still cannot act (well, I guess I didn’t technically learn that this year).
  19. My husband finds Shakira very attractive.
  20. No matter how hot she is, Shakira still does not sing in a manner I find appealing.
  21. When I look at 30 year olds on television and think that they look really old for their age (because they definitely look older than me) that really, they look their age and I look older than I think I do.
  22. I have been friends with the Rooks girls for half of my life and from here on out, I’ll have known them longer than I didn’t know them.
  23. Trader Joe’s and Aldi chocolates come off the same manufacturing line and are equal in their goodness.
  24. My kids learn many of their bad habits/traits from their parents.
  25. Binge-watching a TV show is pretty awesome.
  26. My memory is faulty.
  27. I value common sense more than book smarts.
  28. When your dermatologist offers to remove a mole on your scalp, you will have a dime-sized bald spot until the hair grows back in.
  29. The best pedicures I’ve ever gotten have both been done by men and have both happened in the last year.
  30. I actually do like painting my own fingernails when I have the special stuff that dries them instantly because I like lazy forms of being high maintenance.
  31. Sometimes when a horrible sound occurs when you are pulling into the garage, you are hitting the side of the garage and that damage cannot be undone.
  32. Given enough alcohol and peer pressure from my older brother, I will swing dance at a bar in Austin.
  33. Getting older doesn’t lesson my desire for approval from my parents, brothers and their wives – I’ll forever be the baby of the family, despite my age.
  34. Simon has sleep apnea; a CPAP machine will bring silence at night and it is a beautiful thing. Also, I can honor his request to not post a picture on the Internet of him with his mask on (it takes great restraint people, great restraint).
  35. Chalk paint IS pretty cool.
  36. Turning 36 is no big deal.

Bonus thing I already knew but was further cemented this year:
I am blessed.

the end.

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Today’s photo prompt from fatmumslim’s photo a day challenge is “the end.” Seems appropriate for the day before my birthday. The end of one year, the beginning of another. So long, 35. Hello, 36. I have no problem with my age, except for “officially” having to round up to 40 – no thank you.

Back in the days of the paper planner (yes, I know some people still use them but I, myself, do not), I had one that listed next to that days’ date, the number of days that had passed in a year and then the number remaining for the year. On my birthday (on a non-Leap year), the numbers for both before and after were the same – hence I discovered that July 1 is the exact middle day of the year (at least three out of four years). There is a part of me that LOVES that symmetry. 182 days that have passed, filled with fun, adventure, mundane tasks, regrets, joys, defeats and all the stuff life is made out of and then 182 more days of possibility to come before the “end” of another year.

The end isn’t really the end, it’s just the beginning. It’s arbitrary. The calendar itself is a convention of man… a way of keeping track of the world. Each year, while cyclical in seasons, sunrises and sunsets, is a passage of time that doesn’t really matter other than a way of keeping track. What matters is what we do with that time. Do we spend it doing the things we love? Simply surviving or thriving? Making the moments special, making them matter, making a difference? Or are we coasting, waiting for something to happen to us? Life is a mix of all that… sometimes we need to sit back and drift a little, to regroup. And sometimes we need to be pushed into the fray or to pick up a cause and carry it boldly forward. Life is, after all, about LIVING. Doing. Being. Loving. Laughing. Crying. Beginning, again and again.

There is great hope in that. New beginnings, even as something feels like it is ending. As a Christian, even death doesn’t hold the same power because it is merely the beginning of heaven… or a continuation of eternity if you believe that eternity starts when you accept Christ’s role in your life.

I’m ready for a new beginning. I’m ready for 36 – I can’t wait to see what is coming. Happy birthday to me (you know, tomorrow).

Instagram Catch Up

When you don’t keep up with your Instagram updates, all of a sudden you have 60 photos you’d like to share the stories about… whoopsie! Also, all the photos uploaded in reverse order and while I love you all, I’m not going to put them in the correct order so these go newest to oldest. If you want to follow along chronologically (which really doesn’t matter, I just like to write that way to put order in my own mind), start at the end and work your way. Also, this would be a way to try and make it all the way through!
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Jack is still tiny and easy to toss around, so we do. Often. Much to his chagrin.


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Sunday afternoon my niece (only 3 years younger than me, lest you think I am quite old from seeing her above) and her family came for dinner. Ethan is her youngest and quite the doll.


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Quinn’s oldest is only 10 weeks younger than Jack so they have a brotherly relationship, which means they are perfect for hanging out together but also drive each other a little nuts. And as previously documented, they are big troublemakers when they get together. Fun for years to come.


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This little nugget slept with me on Saturday night while the bigger boys were away shooting things, riding tractors and having campfires with the other guys in our small group.


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The big boys being away meant we got to find our own fun at Bolder Ridge Wild Animal Park. I am still sad I did not capture a picture of Kate and I’s faces when the birds in the aviary all took flight at the same time and flew in a large circle around us. We screamed, perhaps a lot.


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My first chalk painted piece. The words were traced with carbon paper and painted in – not a decal. Be impressed.


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Momma deer and her baby in our backyard.


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And one (of a 1000) tiny frog in our driveway.


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We tagged along with friends who have a pool membership and my boys showed no fear in jumping off the diving board for the first time. Hours of fun = hours of sleep.


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Yup.


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The “woods” behind our house.


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Dropping Liam off at camp – we barely said goodbye before he was off and running with the other kids. But he did bring his pillow pet.


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His new favorite pasttime is sitting on the kitchen counters (that and not sleeping since this photo was taken AFTER book club got done and everyone left at 10:30 p.m.).


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Pesky wabbits – the culprits for eating my new plants. Sometimes they just recline in the yard, which makes me irate!


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Great Blue Heron on our pond – my first sighting, but then I saw another one last night. Less exciting.


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Jack’s third favorite pasttime is riding his bike – though he yells at me the entire way from our driveway to this flat street in our neighborhood to “HOLD ONTO ME. DON’T LET GO. WHY ARE YOU LETTING GO? HELP!” It’s “fun.”


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Twilight on the river makes me happy.


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Practicing without training wheels. Day one of…. ?


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Love.


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And Jack’s portrait of our family with the word LOVE. (I’m in the middle with all the hair.)


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Nature walk around the pond.


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First and last days of second grade.


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Our front yard a couple weeks apart.


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My happy camper still fits in the baby swings.


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The whole family in stripes for church. Liam did not wish to participate in the smiling portion of this photo.


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Jack’s self-portrait and name signing progress from November 2013 to May 2014.


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Most favorite Words with Friends play EVER.


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Ellery (above) is 10 weeks older than Jack… And Keila (below) is 7 weeks younger than Liam – forever friends.
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#tbt to our first trip to Oz together.


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Holding hands with my lucky-finned boy.


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The makings for a fun girl’s night!


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George in flight.


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Chillaxin’ on the deck at the start of summer. I haven’t killed all those plants (yet).


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Tiny coffees for small boys.


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Our canine house guest, Sheriff.


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All legs (and technology interests).


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Hiding in the couch. “Can you see me, mom?”


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Trying something new: sweet potato fries. Also, please note that this kid wore his sweatshirt at daycare this day to cover up the “kissing” on his t-shirt.


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Playing “Go Ape” with my little monkey.


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More creatures in our yard – I took way too many pictures of this oddly-colored inchworm.


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The best chocolate chip cookie recipe from Picky Palate – you can make this XXL as I did or normal size and they turn out delicious!


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My beloved Oatmeal-PB-Banana smoothie from the Lemon Bowl.


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Sleeping boys.


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If he had a million dollars… Liam would buy a limo. A cool miniature poodle and a french poodle. A rocket. 40 body guards and some emeralds and diamonds.

Of course.


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Finally.


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Hello, Mr. Almost Third Grader.


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Friday chilling with my little one, moments later a miracle happened, he fell asleep on me!


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#tbt to me and my mama. Hot Lips Houllihan.


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Playing in the spot where there will someday be a playset.


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We have enjoyed the hard work of others – these two pics are of our house… the owners before us had it repainted and I am so glad for that!


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How our little family has grown from two to four.


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I could hold other peoples’ babies for hours and never grow weary of it.


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Just my dog, embarrassing me by always choosing to poop way down next to the road for the world to see (yes, I’m also posting this on my blog for the world to see – welcome strange internet users who typed some search phrase including “poop” into their “googlers”).


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Love it when he’s genuinely happy.


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Mid-day anniversary date. Nine years of wedding bliss.


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Family photo at Lego Kids Fest. Thanks, Liam, for the bunny ears that I just now noticed.


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The yard prior to spring clean up… Jack didn’t seem to mind.


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I leave white lights up year round – let the neighbors talk. They are solar powered and they make me happy.


IMG_20140421_185656Congrats – you made it to the end (or the beginning if you are working your way backwards).