Friday, March 31, 2017

The Spring Break Hangover

Things are dreary here.  A whole lot of cloudy, cold weather.  Rain every-other second.  Getting back to reality.  Not LOVING reality.  It's not pretty.

So today as I was doing yoga (reality: laying on top of my mat with my eyes closed and pretending I was in savasana), I decided I needed to change my focus from all of the things I'm mad/disgruntled/upset/annoyed at, to some of the many things I am thankful for.

I am thankful for...

...rain, and sunshine, and the changes in the season, for it means things will grow and new life will always come in the spring.

...our good health, for I know it is fleeting., for what is life without the connectedness you are bound to. book club, for they are some of my very dearest, very best ladies.

...friendships over coffee or wine or wings and beer. Conversations laced with laughter and tears, and offers of grace. Friends I can say anything to, for they are forgiving and lovely, and the peanut butter on my bread.

...a home I am excited to return to everyday, for it recharges me when I feel depleted.

...a lifetime of lovely memories, privileged moments, and "yes", for it reminds me that I have lively a mostly charmed life.

...a tutor that showed me this morning just how brilliant my son is, tears in my eyes as I watched her affirm his connections and understandings over and over and over again, for it reminded me of what I already knew.

...a job I enjoy going to, and the past experience that reminds me that every first year is the worst year, for things will always get better.

...enough, for although we are not rich by society standards and must watch every penny, we are in FACT very rich, and very lucky to have full bellies, heat in our home, and everything we need.

...peace, for although my heart rumbles with the sounds of resistance, I am so lucky to live in this place and this moment of peace.  I experience so little ugliness.  I am a lucky one.  

...sunrises, for they are daily new beginnings.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring Break

I am three days into spring break and I regret to inform you that I haven't once felt that ultimate freedom that comes with the onslaught of an amazing extended break from going into work everyday.  I have spent the weekend trying to decipher why my favorite non-holiday doesn't have me dancing the virtual table of celebration.   In the past I have always enjoyed staying home on spring break.  I love the week-long break from having anything required of me.  I usually fill it with a big project I can feel good about accomplishing.  Two year ago I built a fort in our backyard.  Last year I...wait, I don't know what I did last year besides highjack my family to St. Louis at the end of the week because I was sick of looking at everyone else have amazing spring breaks. 

Okay, so I was productive once on spring break.  It was my favorite spring break. I am a sucker for productivity. 

But this year I haven't been productive.  I'm leaving on Tuesday for my parents' house, but in the meantime I have completely forfeited all imagined responsibility to this place.  I have blown off Bible Study and my new workout classes that I think are the best thing since sliced bread. I even refused to go to the zoo with my kids (although no one really begged me to tag along). Okay, so I use the word "responsibility" loosely, and have only really blown off three things in the same number of days.  I'm not a monster.

I'm not leaving because it will be warmer there, or because I think there will be more to do with my children.  I'm going because I just need to step away from my life for a bit.  I'm going because for a few days I just need to be a girl with a mom and dad that will do things like buy milk and eggs, stock the pantry with oreos, and make me coffee.  I need them to tell me I'm doing everything I can, and maybe even too much.  Sometimes a girl just needs her mom and dad, and I'm lucky enough to have both there and willing.

I wish I could define it for you here, but the truth is that I'm tired of adulting for awhile, and for that I need a spring break. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Puzzle

My son and his brilliant costume imitation of Sharptooth.   It lasted a few days.

I have friends that are leaving for Seoul in less than a week.  As I am watching them pack and plan through the magic of social media, I am reminded of a trip we took to Seoul on the same week exactly 9 years ago.  Back then I kept a pretty thorough blog - spilling my guts with poor writing all over the interwebs.  It wasn't hard to figure out exactly what I was doing 9 years ago today.

Friends, I was so sad.  I was heartbroken and anxious.  I felt abandoned by God as I saw other adoption numbers gain ground on ours in line, and then pass it.  I watched as people who had attended our adoption class got calls and came home with their babies.  While I sat at home in cold windy Peoria folding cloth diapers over and over again - going to school everyday wishing there would be a voicemail waiting for me at every break.

And then suddenly there was. We bought insanely expensive plane tickets - two for there, three for back.We packed as though we might miss our flight that was actually 4 days off.    We threw in everything one might dream of needing on a 13 hour flight with a baby you only just met, but have loved for a lifetime. We made runs to Target. We called someone to feed our cats.  I called my sub.  I took a pregnancy test.  I told Dustin we were actually getting two babies now.  And then we got on a plane and met our son. The rest is history.

Except it's not.  Everyday I am confronted with new things I don't understand about this parenting thing. I knew parenting was going to be amazing, and joyful, and also hard.  I had no idea parenting was going to be like putting together the most intrinsic of puzzles, trying to figure out what will make my boy successful, what will show off his clever problem-solving brain, or what makes him tick.  I had no idea that other people were going to come along and throw their well-intentioned puzzle pieces into my pile and try to tell me it can all be figured out with this, this, and this. I didn't expect to have second guesses about the way he learns or how all of my boys will thrive in this set-up I've always accepted as good and true.

So today I'm coming from a place that feels hopeless in moments, but is also filled with moments of love and grace than 9 years ago today.  I have what I always wanted - a family.  I have our health.  I have giggles at bedtime, and surprise accomplishments.  I have snowball fights and nerf guns that always make someone cry. I have bedtimes that seem to take forever and mornings that come too soon.  I have my husband in the other room reading bedtime stories, the sound of his voice lulling them to sleep - pleas for just one more chapter of the Penderwick Sisters.  I have joy, peace, and goodness. 

But I also have immense moments of fear and anxiety, frustration and anger - bitterness that my puzzle will never be complete, or times when it seems like I am the only one trying to put it together. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Words on Wednesday

Words that have defined my week so far...

My classroom that is.  It is PARCC testing, so I've been spending a lot of time lesson planning and doing things like this...


Read this article by a woman about her husband right before she died of cancer.  If you have a husband with even a smidgen of good in him, you will weep.  Or a dad, or a brother. Otherwise you're heartless.

This week is the first week I am keeping Miles home to tutor him in the morning.  Homeschool mornings we'll call it.  I'll write more on that later.

That's my son you hear coughing on my lap as I write this.  The third one.  We've been doing a lot of staying home and getting on each other's nerves.  Well, not me - I've been able to escape to work everyday so far because I was lucky enough to tackle my sickness over the weekend, but poor D-train has been on spring break - livin' large; taking care of coughing feverish children, fixing drains, and buying groceries.  Do you remember when we all used to sit around in middle school and watch MTV Spring Break and dream of participating when we grow up?  Yeah, me neither. (side-eye)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Well hello there winter.

After the warmest winter in my memory, the snow finally arrived yesterday.  As I was driving through what can only be labeled as blizzard conditions after such an absence, I couldn't help but compare the freaky weather to the older brother you are constantly waiting for, hoping will show up to the family gathering, knowing that when you see him you will be flooded with a great mixture of relief and love.  But then he arrives.  He's late, the food is cold, he smells like cigarettes, and the only thing he brought with him were gas station donuts. 

That's just a taste of what I felt yesterday.

It took me decades to fall in love with winter. I finally did after not having it for two solid years in Northern Ireland, and then having the most glorious, coldest, snowiest, most everything-is-shut-down-for-day winters ever.  I knew then that winter was everything I dreamed of: warm drinks, stretchy pants, sweatshirts, an excuse to stay indoors, etc.

This year my kids have been playing outside in shorts since January.

It's disturbing to say the least.

And then winter shows up all late to the party and beautiful. 

I take it back.  Yesterday the snow wasn't like my always-late and often-absent brother.  It was like your frenimy that you've decided you really DO like, but then you host a party where she is the guest of honor and then she shows up one hour late looking all amazing.  You're trying really hard to hate her again, but that charm!  That charisma!  That excuse to stay inside and wear stretchy pants!  All of it. You secretly love all of it.