Thursday, May 30, 2013

Step Away

{Written Friday, May 17th}

Thursday was the beginning of a four day weekend for us. It was bound to be wonderful.  The boys were still in school Thursday and Friday, so those days were going to be dedicated to truly sitting around, watching The West Wing, and applying for jobs.  I applied for so many jobs.

Here's the thing I forgot to mention.  We have less than six weeks left.
Okay. I didn't forget to mention it.  I just didn't know how to mention it.
So there you go.
We have to start thinking about things like jobs and health insurance. Eventually we'll need to find a place to live.

So Friday as I sat here filling out what felt like my millionth job application (it was probably only my fifth) I felt defeated, and a little beat up.  A year ago I had such specific and amazing dreams for what our lives would natural transfer into this summer. Somewhere along the way I got caught up in the anxiety of not living in my own house/apartment, of having to pay off a college loan that I was foolish enough to think would someday just disappear, and knowing that without some forward thinking our savings could disapate rather quickly.

I hate that.

I feel like a slave to these decisions.  I feel like a slave to money.

So on Friday afternoon I when I finished filling out that application I turned off my computer.

I decided to step away from the controls, because I'm not really the one in control anyways.

This is my short sabbatical. This is my breathing space.
Leaving was easy.  Coming home is probably going to be a little harder because I don't have this all figured out.  I need to let myself go through this hard stuff.

But it is also exciting.  I need to remember that voice from a year ago that so easily shared my dreams across the dinner table to anyone who would listen.
Are you there?
Because right now I feel weighed down with practicalities and expectations. I feel abandoned and alone, but in reflection, maybe I'm not the one who's been abandoned. Maybe I'm the one who has forgotten and abandoned the one I need the most.

Because on Friday I heard a voice say, "Step away".

And I decided to listen.

Because I was also reminded of a time in my life when I had to wait through a transition in order to get my first job out of college.  And then I had to wait to get the right job.  And then I had to wait a REALLY long time to bring home my first baby.  I should be good at this stuff by now.

I told Dustin today that "If everything was super easy and took no effort, then I would have nothing to write in my memoir."  He laughed because I don't have a memoir. 

But someday I might.  And then I can write about how I learned so much during this time, and how some small disappointments led to some outstanding victories.

And you, my friend, have a front row seat to this emotional transition - this free fall.

I hope you've brought popcorn.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ten Things I Know to Be True on Tuesday

  1. Sunday picnics on the beach are the best.
  2. I will miss free healthcare.
  3. I despise college loans.
  4. Today the sun was shining and warm, and it made my heart sing.
  5. Emails from home are the best medicine.
  6. If everyone put everything they ever used back where they got it, then there would probably be world peace.
  7. Nothing is better than a five year old who realizes his birthday is RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT!
  8.  I CAN NOT WAIT to sink my feet into some warm Lake Michigan sand this summer.
  9. It is totally possible for your heart to break with sadness and thrive with excitement at the same time. 
  10. There are times when your ideas and God's ideas are different, and then you realize that God's ideas are the best ideas. :)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Yesterday when Miles turned FIVE...

What turning FIVE looks like...
Cupcakes for school
Excited for his party. His coconut cake. And his present from mom and dad.
So excited to have all of the volunteers there to help him celebrate.

Playing with friends at the marina.

Friday, May 24, 2013


Dear Miles.
Today you're FIVE.
What a fabulous number of years to be alive.
You are brilliant, and funny, and full of life.  And today when you told everyone at your party "Thank you everyone for coming to my birthday party." I was also reminded that you are gracious in your own way.
Every year on your birthday I dream about your birth.  I want to know what you were like when you entered into the world.  I want to know who held you first. I wish I was there.

But I get to be here now, and you are still young enough that I get to know more about you than anyone else in the world. I know that you love anything that moves.  You love being outside.  You love playing "kick" (football/soccer). You don't have a favorite color, because you can't be bothered with choosing favorites.  You'll try any kind of food, but LOVE hamburgers.

You can't seem to stay out of trouble at school, but I can see how every single child in your class adores you. You memorize names and remember faces. You are quick to say "hello" when we see someone you know. You are teaching me how to be a social creature. You shy from no one.

You are stubborn and strong-willed. You love yogurt but not bananas. Everyday you'll ask for "runny eggs", but then be upset that they aren't scrambled.  You are learning every hour how to control your temper. You are growing up.

You wear holes in the knees of your jeans faster than I can buy them. You can turn anything into a boat. There is no wall, hill, or mountain you won't try to climb.  You are an adventurer.

You love movies. You re-enact them, and memorize every scene. You plan it over and over again for days. You are creative.

You love making noise. You drum on everything you can find.  You carry a beat. You sing LOUD. You sing off-key.  You are a performer.

You are the best five year old I know.

I love you forever and ever.
Your mama.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Give me an "O"!

 Guess who just turned 9 months?  You'll never guess.

I'll give you a hint...

He smiles a lot, has no hair, and his ears stick out just the right amount.

 Ugh.  You totally guessed, didn't you?

He's getting so big so fast.  I can't stand it.

And he is still the apple of his brothers' eyes.
They love him.

AND he can crawl now.  8 month goals = accomplished.  If you want proof, here it is...
(Crawling by Oliver, Commentary by Miles)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Let me not forget the forgotten Mothers

Mother's Day is a beautiful holiday.  I've always thought so.  Mother's deserve to be flooded with gifts of appreciation for all they do, especially wonderful, supportive, loving mothers like my own.


What about the mother whose heart aches on this holiday?  As I sit here with my coffee and laptop my mind continuously goes back to that mother.

The single mother who works many jobs and endless hours to give her children the best she can provide, but doesn't have someone there to acknowledge her hard work and stable home.  No one prompts her loving children to create handmade cards out of macaroni and glitter.  How can her children celebrate her, when they don't even know such a holiday began as the sun rose?

The foster mother who long ago said "goodbye" to the child she raised from birth.  Rocking him slowly every night and dreaming for him a family that will love him for his entire life and beyond.  The woman who sang to him at breakfast and watched him pull himself up for the first time.  The woman that spoon-fed him cereal and kissed his cheeks every night, knowing he was not hers to keep.  Knowing that there was a chance she would never see him again.

The birth mother that no one knows is a mother as she goes about today thinking of the child she  let go.  The people she meets on the street have no idea that a part of her heart is out there walking around with another family, on another continent, speaking another language. Her sadness on this day is a lonely one, because who can she share this story with? Who can she tell about her selflessness and aching?  This mother is among the bravest of mothers, because she goes through it alone; unable to show her sadness.  She is perhaps dreaming that someday she can see this baby that has her eyes - her soul, but knowing that he could be anywhere in the world.  He could be doing anything.  She may never know.  To have a piece of your heart so far and so disconnected from you...a mother who no one knows is a mother.

The mother who is not yet a mother.  To hear the word "mama" uttered, to feel the tiny fingers wrap around her own is all she can think about. These are the things she has been dreaming of for years.  The mother whose heartache seems invisible to others who ask her when "she'll have one of her own." The mother who walks past the empty rooms of her house and wishes for laughter and cooing - even cries in the night.  The mother who travels to doctors and smiles with tears in her eyes she plans baby showers for friends and watch as their own belly swell with life.  All the while, wishing that this simplest of requests might be soon met.

The mother who longs to hold the baby she lost. The empty cradle that sits in the next room that she can't bear to put away.  The memory of what today was supposed to be for her; flower arrangements and breakfast in bed.  Instead it shapes into tears dripping on the oversized t-shirt she wraps around herself on the couch.  The fear of walking out her front door, because the reminder of her broken heart is just a storefront away.  The pain is too much.  Today was meant to be her day, but is instead just a reminder of what aches inside of her; an unbearable pain that rocks her chest.

Or the mother who feels as though she can't relate to this title of "mother." She loves her children, but depression fills her stomach like bile. She's unable to be what she wants to be, because she can't gain control of the sadness that is gripping her.  She feels undeserving and angry.  She wanted this, but can't remember why.  She wants to remember why.

So on this day I'll remember how lucky I am to have my mother, and how lucky I am to be a mother.  And I'll pray for these mothers, because they are no less mothers than me. They are the bravest of mothers, some of them, the strongest.

To all mothers out there that are trying their best....You Are Loved, and Deserving, and Worthy of Acclaim.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Happy Children's Day

Sunday was Children's Day in Korea.

We decided to venture into the dreaded abyss also known as Build-A-Bear in order to get our stuffed-animal-loving boys a token of our love for them.  And as we think about our transition back to the U.S., it was also meant to serve as a token of their home here.  Although I haven't told them yet.

Both bears are naked, but it wasn't for a lack of trying on our part.  Miles loves cuddling so much that I just think he couldn't be bothered with having a shirt in the way of his soft cuddly bear.  Liam on the other hand wanted EVERY SINGLE OUTFIT - and the COMPLETE OUTFIT!  When I told him he could only choose one (after a long discussion of why a fireman HAD to wear boots), he just looked at me with disgust and finally said, "Fine.  I'll just take these boots."  So....his bear has boots.  (Which I might add have been in a big pile of our own shoes since three days ago.)

Miles still insists that we're "coming right back" every time we talk about flying back to the U.S.  But that's another post for another day.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Staying close to home.

We recently had a great weekend away.  After our very hectic and very fantastic trip to Morocco at Christmas I swore I wasn't stepping onto another airplane until it was time to leave this country, and we still haven't, although it is getting tempting.

Adventures at Streamvale Farm in Belfast
It's like childbirth, the good far outweighs the bad, and pretty soon you're getting the itch to travel again, and to see more of this continent before your time runs out.
Portavogie Coast, Northern Ireland
And when it's so inexpensive to fly from one European country to another (much cheaper than flying one state away in the U.S.) then you begin to wonder why in the world you wouldn't take every opportunity to travel while you are still here and it is all still just an arm's length away.
Castle Ward, County Down, Northern Ireland - another Game of Thrones location
And then you realize there is so much of the place you're living that you have yet to see.  And you remember that soon you'll have to go back to the country you've been aching for over the past 20 months.

The Mourne Mountains, Newcastle, Northern Ireland
 And before you know it (in less than 2 short months) your heart will be aching for this land that you called home for so long.  THIS land that is all your children know.  THIS house that is so small and so easy to clean. THIS community that is challenging, and hard, and magical, and amazing all at once.

Resting in the Bed and Breakfast after a hard day of traveling and playing

The River Mill Inn in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland
 And you'll be glad you explored the land you never before even thought of.  You'll be glad you stayed close to home.  Europe will be here for the rest of your life.  But your home....that will change the minute you board that plane with everything you own in four large suitcases.

Downpatrick Harbor, Northern Ireland

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Greatest Tool I Own.

I know it's been quiet on here. I can tell you exactly how long it's been quiet, because it is also exactly how long I've been in a battle with my body.

It's like when the electric windows in your car work every day, and then suddenly on a sub-zero day in January you can't get you driver-side window to go back up.  All you can think about is wanting that window to work again, because the wind whipping across your face is torture, and you suddenly begin to realize how you've been taking that working window for granted every day that it worked properly since you've had the car.  You didn't know how important it's successful function was until it stopped.

Or when your washing machine stops washing.
Or your refrigerator stops refrigerating.
Or when your electricity shuts off.

The things you take for granted, but need to work in order for your life to go smoothly - to go as planned.

I took my body for granted until this past week. It started out as a dull ache that I was sure was going to go away, and ended with me not being able to eat anything for days without wanting to curl up into a ball a shut out the world.  It consumed me. Then it one night it finally broke me as I sobbed in Dustin's arms as I promised to go to the doctor again in the morning.  I'm not the type of person that sobs in Dustin's arms very often.  And I didn't keep my promise, something that I still sort of regret, even as my body makes improvements.

My body has always been pretty good to me, but when it suddenly stops working it doesn't take long for a sense of desperation and helplessness to sneak in.

So I will start showing my body a little more respect.  A little more love.  A little more TLC - Because it really is the greatest tool I own. 

As I sit here moving slowly and gingerly between my laptop and flipping pancakes for my children, I hereby swear to thank God for my health every day that I have it. 
And the health of my husband who stands at this moment waiting to run his leg of a marathon.
And the health of my children who are switching between giggles and screams in the next room.

And, I will allow myself to sob in Dustin's arms more often, because it really is the best medicine.