Saturday, May 31, 2014

Day 151: Alfresco

Tonight I am thankful for a beautiful simple dinner outside on a beautiful warm night filled with great conversation.

Day 150: Friday

Yesterday I started the day off with a to-do list and very little patience - a potion for disaster.  And, if you must know, that's pretty much how it played out.

This morning we had nothing much to do besides prepare ourselves for an awesome playdate.  We pulled out the baby pool and slip-n-slide.  Traded our pajamas for swimsuits and sliced cut-up watermelon into a bowl - preferably to be eaten with our fingers while juice dripped down our chins. And that is basically how the morning, and afternoon, and evening went.  No agenda. Nothing to get done (we told ourselves - we were liars).  I started and finished a novel in four hours.  The boys ate pizza in front of a movie. 

Today I am thankful for Fridays and do-overs.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Day 149: Tomorrow

Today was a rough day.

So today I am thankful that I get to start over tomorrow.

Day 148: New Food

Yesterday we got our first order of the local CSA vegetable share we joined.  It was full of vegetables I would never think to buy, and totally intimidated me at first - but here's to trying new things!

Today I am thankful that I live in an agricultural area.

This land was made to grow stuff.  And I'm happy for it. :)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Day 147: Introduction to Summer

Even though Miles is still in school, and I technically have to go to work tomorrow, today felt like the first day of summer to me.

It was probably the combination of warm temperatures and diminishing list of things that MUST GET DONE!

But it was wonderful. 

Today I am thankful for the beginning of summer, and all the hope and anticipation it brings with it.

Day 146: Vacation Days

An occasional day off during the week when we can hang out as a family with absolutely nothing on the schedule.

And there is even beautiful weather.

Today I am thankful for today.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Day 145: Weekend

So far this has turned out to be a glorious weekend.  Beautiful weather, happy boys, and lovely friends.

Originally we were scheduled to go up to Michigan for the weekend, but plans changed at the last minute.  And the amazing things about this is that our empty weekend has turned into a very full and very relaxing weekend all in one.  It is easy for one to easily justify being completely unproductive when one was originally planning on being gone anyways.

We've celebrated birthdays, rejoiced in good news, had red wine with friends in their back yard, and an impromptu lunch with others after church.  Instead of cramming a million plans into one weekend we've had the flexibility to just say "yes" to everything that comes our way.

Today I am thankful for an empty weekend.

That ended up being full of only the good stuff, and the best news is that there is still one day to go.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Day 144: Happy Birthday

Today I am thankful for...
  • your tenacious spirit.
  • your smile.
  • your laughter.
  • your clever ways.
  • your fast feet.
  • your able body.
  • your fearless attitude.
  • the way you've made me a better and more patient mother.
  • the way you introduced me into parenthood.
  • the times when you make me laugh.
  • the milestones you surpass.
  • the milestones you work so hard to reach.
  • YOU, and that you're mine.
Happy birthday sweet sweet boy.

Your mama

Day 143: Short Visits

Dustin's brother and nephews came into town for just a few hours today.  And Dustin's Dad had a handfull of tests at the hospital this morning....which came back negative.

Today I am thankful for short visits and negative results.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Day 142: Picture

I can think of a million reasons why I wouldn't want to get family pictures right now. 

At the top of list are things like "dire state of my wardrobe" and "10 extra pounds".

But this year on Mother's Day weekend I decided to suck it all up (and in) for a photo session with my friend and photographer, Katie.  I don't necessarily want more pictures of myself, but I DO want more picture of my boys with me.  Some of my favorite childhood pictures are of me with one or both of my parents.  The older I get, the more value I see in their very existence.

No matter what happens to me, I want my sons to have physical proof that I loved them.  I was there.  I am here.

Today I am thankful for this picture.

I don't care what the rest of the proofs look like.  All I know is that I can't stop looking at this one.  Because, by some miraculous act of God, she was able to capture a moment where we look like how I see us in my head. Somehow, between the laughter and non-stop talking and wrestling and disobedience there was a moment when we all just took a breath and sat.

I'm serious, I just can't stop looking at it.  Like all good things, it makes me want to cry.

Thank you Katie.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Day 141: Medicine

Tonight I am simply thankful for modern medicine and doctors that listen.

Day 140: Neighbors

Today started out as a rough day.  I can always tell if it's going to be rough day by the state of my kitchen when I take Miles to school.  Today it wasn't just my kitchen, but the entire house.  Seriously.  It was atrocious. 

This afternoon when our neighbors pulled up and had the outstanding idea of putting out their little pool for all of our kids, it was the most amazing news I had heard all day.

Pretty soon instead of counting down the minutes until bedtime, I was forgetting about dinner as we sat out on lawn chairs and watched our kids entertain themselves.

Today I am thankful for neighbors.

And living in a community where I want to be around the people I live by.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Day 139: Notes

Disclaimer: The above picture has nothing to do with note, but is simply used to draw you in by its adorableness.  Mission accomplished?

Today is officially the final day of a class I'm teaching at the college.  This is the second time I've taught an Art Appreciation class at the university level, and both times have been slightly humbling experiences.

Here's the thing... I slept through almost all of Art History in college - 1 AND 2.  At the time I had better things to think about, like this really cute boy with blond hair (later known as Husband) and Days of Our Lives, which just happened to be on at the same time as above mentioned class.  Let's not even mention those first few days of spring when going to class at 2pm is UNBEARABLE.  Needless to say... I don't remember much besides sitting through billions of prehistoric slides that all looked the same to me. 

But here's the other thing... The history of art is SO FREAKING AMAZING if you pay attention.  Who knew?

I spent the first half of the semester teaching about color theory and art elements - things I am well versed in and love to expose people to.  I thought the semester was going really well, so imagine my surprise when I opened up the book after the midterm and realized the first thing I was going to teach in the second half was about Mesopotamia and all things ancient.  Cue the prehistoric slides that all look the same.

Here's something else... it's hard to learn about something that you need to TEACH TO ADULTS when your plan all along has been to keep your life chill and playful for the time being.

Needless to say, I was terrified.  I read and reread everything a million times.  I felt like I was learning it all for the first time, and although I LOVED it I was still terrified.  I just hoped and prayed that none of my students would realize this. 

The second half of the semester went just okay.  There were a few class periods when I clearly knew little to nothing about what I was talking about, but I filled in the gaps with awesome projects that led everyone to express concern over "not being good at art".  This is where the carefree, "Everyone is an artist" art-teacher chant can be played out, complete with twirling around the room in my gypsy skirt while swinging a paintbrush in the air like I'm painting the SKY!!!! To be honest, I love getting people out of the art comfort zones, and letting everyone believe I am a crazy artist that doesn't know better, so this part about terrifying non-art students was fun for me. 

By the end I felt like I was practically apologizing for the way the semester went, without actually admitting that it went poorly.  I refused to look at the teacher evaluations that have been done for  weeks now because I'm just plain scared.

But this afternoon their final part of their final exam is due - a two-part essay.  I was half-expecting nobody to turn it in.  But I opened my mailbox to see not only the first half of the essays sitting there securely for my reading pleasure, but also a couple of lovely wonderful affirming notes from students.  

Today I am thankful for the simple gesture of a kind word.

What took these students probably three minutes, actually changed the course of my day/week/teaching career.  Never underestimate the power of a lovely and unexpected thank you note.

Or the power of fake it till you make it.

Thank you.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Day 138: Class

Dustin and I have started taking a parenting class at the local church that is geared mostly toward parents of adopted or foster children. 

I don't think we're bad parents, nor do I think we have bad kids.  We were just simply looking for a support system.  More importantly, a support system that "got it".

And we found it.

Tonight I am thankful for that class.

It gives me energy and hope in ways I didn't know I was lacking.

Day 137: Kite

Two years ago I met a woman that volunteered at Corrymeela every summer.  She was retired and had lost her husband a few years ago.  Instead of using this time to wallow in the sadness of losing the love of her life, she spent her fall and spring in Wisconsin, her winters in Florida, and her summers in Northern Ireland.  Not a bad deal.  My boys loved her, and I did too.  She was good at everything.  She taught me how to make my own lotions and could stitch up a mean funky quilt within days.  I still have many of her dessert recipes in my cupboard.  I think I gained ten pounds the summer she worked in the kitchen.  (Of course, I was also VERY pregnant, so that didn't help.)

At one point that summer she bought Miles and Liam kites out of the blue.  We waited for the perfect day to give them a whirl - I hadn't flown a kite since I was young, and most windy days in Northern Ireland are accompanied by rain.  When the day finally came we had so much fun getting them into the sky.

The woman, Jo, later commented that she saw us out there flying them, and that it had made her so happy.  "What I like most about kites is that you can never look up at a kite and frown."

She was right.

A few weeks ago Liam won a cheap little kite at night church that I was sure wouldn't fly.  I took him out this morning with little hope of getting it into the sky, but under his strict instruction that we must at least try.  I tried for a good 15 minutes before we decided it just wasn't windy enough.  As I was telling Liam to wrap up the string while I was plopping Oliver in the stroller, he directly defied my instructions and gave it one more shot all by himself.

And he did it.

I forgot that he had defied me and looked up at the kite that was now sailing in the sky.  he ran around like a wild man trying to keep it up before finally finding his groove and staying in one place, working with his older brother to give it less or more rope.

And as I watched that pink princess kite bouncing in the air I was smiling fiercely.  It was this weirdly exhilarating moment.

I was smiling and laughing and thinking of our Jo. 

Today I am thankful that Liam got the kite up in the air.

Last autumn Jo lost her short but intense battle to cancer.  Little did we know that when she said goodbye to us shortly after Oliver's birth that it would be the last time we'd see her.  Because of the cancer she was unable to come back the following summer.  I had little confidence that the boys remembered Jo or how much they adored her for that summer, but when we were walking home from the field I asked the boys if they remembered Jo.  And Liam, without skipping a beat looking right at me and said, "Of course Mom, she gave me a Spiderman kite."

Friday, May 16, 2014

Day 136: Drinks with Friends

I think the title pretty much speaks for itself.

Today I am thankful for a tiny break to have drinks and conversation with some dear co-workers from the past. 

Now back to work...

Day 135: Footage

Today I am thankful for silliness.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Day 134: Bible Study

A few months ago I joined a small group of mothers I didn't know based solely on an invitation by a neighbor.  I didn't really care that I didn't know 90% of the group.  All I knew is that there was fancy coffee and delicious desserts.  Throw in an encouraging message and then just try and keep me away.

The group seemed nice enough.  The messages were lovely.  But I really wanted to know more.  I wanted to know more about them and who they were.  I wanted us to know more about each other.

So last night when I was in charge of the message I decided to talk about heart-given, soul-crushing, completely selfless love.  Like the love God has for us.  And to go along with that, I shared the story of meeting Miles' foster mother in South Korea.  Through ugly cries I told them about how my heart broke for her on that day, and how I have thought of her every day since. 

Then they shared their stories.

And in a room full of tears I felt suddenly felt a closeness to them I just realized I had been craving.

Today I am thankful for this group of women.

A group with which I can share my hopes and fears, even after knowing each other for such a short period of time.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Day 133: Mothering Days

There are many days that being a part-time stay-at-home Mom is not my thing.  I mean, it is a blessing in so many ways, and I am lucky that it is a possibility, but I'm just being honest and saying that on some days (okay, a lot of days) I don't feel like I'm very good at it.

And then there are days like today when all of the mothering moons aline and things are fun and laid-back and filled with swelling hearts.

Today I am thankful for days like this.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Day 132: Tooth Fairy

When I dreamt of having kids someday I always went back to this magic of the tooth fairy.  I never believed in Santa or the Easter Bunny, so the tooth fairy was the most magical thing that I could never wrap my head around.  I loved losing teeth, and sometimes forced the process along so that I could be a part of it all over again.

So when Miles plucked his very loose tooth out of his mouth yesterday like it was nothing, I was so super excited (and a little amazed).  I FINALLY GOT TO PLAY TOOTH FAIRY.

It was simple really.  A little envelope with his name on it and a dollar inside.  No glitter.  No special note.  No "tooth fairy doors" to come through.  Just simple and mysterious - followed by many scenarios thought up and imagined by my two oldest.  I loved sitting there and listening to them spin up their very own mysteries.

Today I am thankful that I got to play Tooth Fairy.

It was everything I imagined.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Day 131: Mother's Day

In the spirit of everyone posting adorable pictures of themselves with their mothers - here's mine.  Little did either of us know that she was probably already pregnant with my younger brother and my world would be turned upside down and sideways.  But in a good way.
And that I would eventually dress like a boy a lot but play Barbies like my LIFE DEPENDED ON IT.  All while wishing my life off the farm.  Or that in my teenage years I would spend an exorbitant amount of time eye rolling and wondering how my parents were so clueless.  Then later in my twenties wonder how they suddenly got so smart.

This picture is before all of that.  When it was just me and my Mom. 

Don't worry, it didn't last long.  Like I mentioned before, my brother was probably already threatening his surprise appearance. 

Today I am thankful...
...for my Mom.
...that I get to be a Mom.
...for my Mother-in-law.
...for my Grandmothers.
...for the women who treat my children with a mothering spirit.
...for the women who treat me with a mothering spirit.
...for my sons' teachers who are their mothers when I can't be there.
...for the mothers who show me how to be better.
...for birth mothers that make the difficult decision to care for a child while they are in the womb.
...for all foster mothers who make the choice to love a child that is only theirs for now.
...for the women that step in as substitute mothers when they see the need.

All this.  Today I am thankful for all of this.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Day 130: Laughter

I feel full when my family can laugh together. 

Believe me when I say that there are many times that we aren't able to laugh together.  Times of anxiety, grief, and even anger. 

That sounds way serious, but just know that we are a normal family that sometimes has to deal with that outside the "norm". 

So those moments when we can laugh together - those are super precious to me.  Moments filled with silly-ness that is happening at the right time and in the right place.  THOSE are my favorite bits of being a mama. 

Today I am thankful for collective laughter and lightheartedness.  

And like a greedy girl, I wish for more.

Day 129: Bystander

Nine years ago my dear English-teaching friend and I started something at the high school where we taught.  We had no funding, no history of working together, and were charting completely new territory. 

What started out as a simply beautiful Fine-Arts Journal turned into a well-attended book release party and art sale/poetry slam.  That first night we had the ultimate high of creating something from scratch only to have it so awesomely received in a community that must have been craving it.  Every year it grew and got better.  She left the school and I gained a new partner - someone who took my ideas and made them happen.  People wanted to be involved.  Other departments offered to be a part of it. 

When I left the high school three years ago it was big and beautiful and amazing.  I was scared of what would happen to it without me there - one of the original planners who had tucked all of her ideas deep into the depths of her brain because she is unwilling to hand things over to other people.  (She sounds awful - I'm so glad that person no longer exists.)

Tonight my dear English-teaching friend and I decided to check it out as patrons for the first time since handing it over.  It wasn't only out of pure curiosity, but also because we have some pretty amazing friends that have taken it over in our absence and we wanted to support them. 

They didn't just take it over, they made it flourish. 

Guys, it was more beautiful and bigger than anything I had ever seen.  It was no longer a book release party, but an event.  It was lovely and fabulous and all of the other nice adjectives I can't conjure up at this late hour.

And I didn't have to do any work.  I simply walked in as an art lover and wandered around admiring the talent that comes out of that school - a school I hold dear to my heart.  I know pride is a sin, but at that moment I couldn't help but feel proud of how far it had come and how it had not only sustained itself, but had blossomed into something amazing.

Today I am thankful for the experience of enjoying something from another angle.

And for the hard-working teachers that make it happen.

Day 128: Productivity

Today I was able to focus on some things that I've left neglected in the past.  Something about the sunshine and warm weather and cooperative kids all mixed together created a recipe for productivity.  As of this moment I am ahead of the game. 

It is fleeting, as I know I have to finish writing an exam this weekend that I will hold off on for as long as humanly possible, and then will curse myself for having to "work" on Mother's Day.

But for now...

Today I am thankful for that feeling of accomplishment we get to experience every once in awhile.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

127: Garden

When we decided to rent rather than buy a house I was a little sad that I wouldn't get to plant a garden - something I had really missed while we were in Northern Ireland.  So this winter when I broached the subject with our landlord he seemed all for the idea of me getting a garden.  He even went so far as to offer to turn it up for me with his fancy machine once we could see the ground again.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago.  I was at work and Dustin texted me vaguely to ask how big I wanted to garden.  Like most text messages that come to me during work, it didn't make it into the depths of my basement office so I had no idea what to expect. 

What I got was the largest garden I've ever had in my life.  What you must remember, is that someone else's "big" may be someone else's "quaint".  Either way, you won't hear me complain.  Yesterday I was so excited to finally plant the tiny tomatoes I've been coaxing into existence.  It felt good to be out there putting things into the ground that I have been nurturing since "birth". 

Today I am thankful that I got to plant my garden.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Day 126: Nursery School

Liam loves school.  He loves it so much that he has a little song he sings on Tuesdays and Thursdays (the days he actually goes).  It's a catchy little tune that he made up himself that includes the phrase, "Today is school day!" over and over AND OVER again. 

The kid loves school.

Which is new territory for us.  And welcome territory. 

But the truth is that I've been in his classroom.  I've sat through carpet time.  I KNOW why he likes it. 
It is totally awesome.  It's engaging and his teacher is this most amazing woman that I can never imagine ever saying a cross thing in the history of ever. 

I wish she was my teacher.

And on Saturday I bore witness to the MOST ADORABLE spring program I have ever laid eyes on.  Seriously.  It was like magic. 

I don't think I'm being partial here either - I did teach at a preschool/daycare when we were first married.  I've seen what a mess programs can potentially turn into.  Usually none of us care because the kids are so stinkin' cute no matter what sort of havoc they are wreaking.  But this program was so over the top cute that I almost started crying. 

Today when I dropped Liam off at school I was reminded how lucky I am that he has such a lovely place to go and learn.

Today I am thankful for Liam's preschool.

And his teachers that do all of the work of making it awesome.

Day 125: Children's Day

Today in South Korea it was Children's Day - a day where the entire country shuts down to honor and love their children.

Growing up my parents always told me Children's Day doesn't exist, because everyday is Children's Day.  I guess now we've found a Korean holiday loophole for our family.

We've done a host of different things in the past for this holiday, but this was the first year where the boys could actually tell us exactly what they wanted to do without any prompts from us - which made it extra fun.

That's sort of what this holiday is all about - letting the Children do exactly what they've always wanted to do, and (in our children's case especially) your parents never usually let you do.  On Thursday I explained to the boys what Children's Day was (since they never actually remember from one year to the next) and asked them what they would like to do if they could do ANYTHING IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.

Miles immediately said, "Bowling", which I completely didn't expect.  He's never even talked about it before, so I was pleased that he was branching out.

Liam quickly followed with, "Pick out new sunglasses", which didn't surprise me even the smallest amount since all the boy has been harping on for three weeks is how and when he is going to get a pair of MUCH NEEDED sunglasses.

Oliver chose nothing, so we decided that the only thing in the entire world he would want to do is come along for the ride and participate.

We started out with the sunglasses, which was super easy because the shop we went to has tons of children's sunglasses, and they are all super cheap.  In predictable fashion, Miles and Liam chose identical pairs, but Oliver stole the show with his utter enthusiasm for getting to wear sunglasses without anyone yanking them off his face and saying, "No Ollie!"

Next we went bowling, which was interesting.  The boys are still learning how to force the ball down the lane fast enough to even register on the computer that someone actually rolled a ball down the lane.  Let's just say we definitely got our money's worth when each boy got to roll a ball down the lane at least four times for every turn.  It was killing my score-keeping husband when Miles and Liam were racking up Strikes and Spares like crazy.  It's a bit easier to get a spare when you get five tries at it. :)  We were there for a LONG TIME. 

Today I am thankful for my children.

Not just each individual child, but who they are as a whole when the fill the room by just being.

I am one lucky mama.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Day 124: Inspiration

Today at church we had a guest speaker that I found to be quite inspiring.  I need a little inspiration every once in awhile, and luckily, God knows when to deliver.

Today I am thankful for inspiration that comes in many different packages. 

Day 123: Saturday

Oh man I love Saturdays.  In the summer and spring time I REALLY love Saturdays.  Even when we lived in Northern Ireland I REALLY REALLY loved Saturdays.  Starting the day with no plans whatsoever makes Saturdays even more awesome, and that is sort of our our Saturday went down this week.

Today I am thankful for the blessing of Saturdays with no plans.

No soccer games.
No Korean language class.
No swimming lessons.

A day carved away solely for the purpose of doing nothing, yet doing everything - when you can get away with it.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Day 122: Chicago

I just got home from a whirlwind trip to Chicago with a dear friend.  I thought for sure I'd be too tired to post anything, and that I would just collapse into my bed with exhaustion, but since I spent all day cafe and restaurant-hopping, I'm pretty much hopped up on caffeine and sugar.

Today I got to take a train to Chicago all by myself, armed with nothing but an apple, an umbrella, and a brilliant book.  The train ride was relaxing and spent with my nose thoroughly planted in my book.  I wasn't even bothered by the loud obnoxious baseball fans that marched up and down the aisle throwing insults back and forth while passing sour cream and onion chips past me every three minutes.  I didn't care, because they were not my responsibility.  I even got to run into a friend that I don't get to see nearly enough as she was off to give her daughter a fabulous birthday in the big city. 

As I climbed out of the train station and into a city I once adored I was overwhelmed by the sense of total freedom I felt.  It has been over 3.5 years since I've been in the guts of this city, but it enveloped me like I was 22 again - a student that walked with confidence and flippancy.  It didn't hurt that I had on Converse and a backpack. 

I spent a beautiful day with a beautiful friend.  We had good conversations that we've needed to have, and we had an entire day to do whatever we wanted.  No one decided for us.
So we ate.
And looked at art.
Then ate again.
Then had desert.
And finished with a second desert, because we knew it would be that much better. 

It was a great day with a great friend. 

Today I am thankful for a trip to Chicago and a friend willing to meet me there.

And I feel giddy inside as I sit here listening to my youngest sigh deeply in his sleep.  The best of both worlds all in 18 hours. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Day 121: Laughter

My kid has the best laughter.

"Nonsense!" you say.  "All kids have the best laughter.

But I tell you that you're wrong and blinded by cute kids.  My kid ACTUALLY has the best laughter on the face of the planet.  If you don't believe me, you can come over and check it out for yourself.

Not all at once though - I do live in an apartment.

Just take my word for it.

Today I am thankful for his laughter.

Day 120: Clean-out

Today I finally got to empty my closet office (new term: offet) of all the things that small rooms in college art departments get used for when a person isn't sitting in them - outdated art materials.

For months I've been hunkered down between shelves and filing cabinets filled with slides and carousels, all of which are rendered useless without an actual projector - something I guess our department hasn't had for YEARS.  For every well-organized, thought-out, and labelled slide carousel I dumped into a garbage bag I thought sadly about the person before me (many many years before me) that must have put such thought and consideration into putting together these presentations for students. 

And every time I heaved a large garbage bag full of once-valuable slides I held my breath and prayed that my Art History professor would never know what I had done.

But all of this was soon replaced with a sense of lightness.  No, I mean actual light-ness, because I was no longer sitting in the shadows of stacked boxes.  Plus lightness of my soul I guess - less clutter and all that.

Today I am thankful for a little spring cleaning and how it lightened my mood. (And my office.)