september was work, work, weddings, work.
october was work, wedding, haiti, work, work, my birthday.
november was work, WORK, work, work, work, thanksgiving.
and i'm afraid december will be work, work, work, work, christmas.
i'm trying really hard to not let that happen. i want to breathe in this holiday season and not let it pass by unnoticed. annie is turning two in just one day and we only have a few weeks before christmas!!!
so thanks for putting up with the quiet around here. :)
in my makeup drawer there is an index card. it has been there for over 10 years and is written in the unmistakeable handwriting of my dad. it is an apology.
i see it most days and it never fails to make me smile. this morning as i was getting ready, i pulled open the drawer and while rummaging for something the note fell to the ground. when i leaned over to pick it up, i turned it over in my hand and thought about how much i love my parents.
see the thing that strikes me most about the note is, i don't remember wheat the apology is for. i don't remember what feelings were hurt, but i do remember there were tears involved and for better or worse i was upset about something that seemed important at the time. all these years later what stays with me is not the argument, who was right, what feelings were hurt or why. what stays with me is my dad loves me so much, he will always make sure i know i am loved.
as i go about my day with the girls i will hope that they do not remember the arguments, the hurt feelings, the yelling or the grumbles. my hope is that they remember that their mama makes sure they always know they are loved.
i had one of those this morning. eve was bringing me her craft scissors a little to swiftly for my liking and as she was rushing my way, i said it. 'don't run with scissors!'
hilarious and wise all at the same time.
day 18: i am thankful for afternoon snacks in a bowl shared with the little hands of my girls
day 19: i am thankful for peppermint mocha creamer for getting me in the holiday spirits early every day
day 20: i am thankful for ideas that grow into vision that grows into reality
day 21: i am thankful for family time & holidays.
day 12: i am thankful for caffeine. i don't know how i'd make it through the busy season without it.
day 13: i am so thankful for the joy my kids find in each other (during their good moments) and the patience to wait for that joy during the not-so-good moments
day 14: i am thankful for fuzzy socks on concrete floors.
day 15: i am thankful that after years of painfully straightening my wavy hair, 'beach waves' are finally in style and i can be lazy and stylish at the same time
day 16: i am thankful for whatever genius thought of pandora.
day 10: i am thankful for the families that trust me with capturing their weddings and lives. its an important job and i'm honored to do it.
day 4 - i am thankful for giggles, cuz they help mute the screaming from earlier in the day
day 5 - i am thankful today for warm coffee and cuddles in the morning. what a way to start the day.
closer to my family, my loves, and farther from my passion and my heartache. farther from what feels like a purpose. a calling. abandoned girls calling my name. calling for love. calling for a mother, while my children at home are calling for their mommy to return. i close my eyes and above the drone of the plane engine i can hear the songs of the little voices at yaveh shamma orphanage.
i hold their angel faces in my hands and plead for them to see their strength and beauty. beg for them to see their lives as a chance at real growth and change. they look at me and see a mother and everything they long for. they see loving eyes and hands that comfort.
we both see the best parts of one another. we both hope dangerously. recklessly.
faith the size of a mustard seed moves a mountain. this is no mole hill. it feels like the change in haiti would be moving an entire mountain range.
instead of backing up at the sight of what seems to be insurmountable odds, let's pickup the first pebble and move it. we cannot change a population. we must first educate a child, who empowers a community, who inspires a region, that shifts a culture. and maybe, just maybe that pebble can start an avalanche.
seeing they are barely older than mine, i take a look at the fried veggie straws in my hand and slowly set them down.
wherever you find your motivation, right??
the dentist as well as other health professionals have recommended we assist her in ending this habit. it is just SO EVE that i haven't had the heart to break her of it. i do ask her to take the fingers out from time to time but they are subconsciously re-inserted within minutes.
enter that yucky tasting nail polish my mother put on my nails to help me stop biting them. my memories of the stuff is mainly how it used to make my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches taste rancid. i've had a bottle of it on the counter for a week and just couldn't bring myself to use it until this morning.
eve hasn't sucked on her fingers all day! i wasn't sure if i believed her but i haven't seen her do it. i asked her if they tasted like a skunk and she said 'i don't know! i haven't tasted them!' so in my disbelief i licked her fingernail. HOLY MISTAKE. that stuff is just as nasty as i remembered.
so here is sweet eve doing a mime of her finger sucking to satiate her desire for now. we'll see how it goes at bedtime!
today in one of her less glamorous acts of defiance, she pretended to not hear kevin's warnings to beware of the front flower bed and marched decidedly into a cactus. now if this was my first rodeo i'd probably convince myself that this experience will perhaps encourage her to heed our advice more often in the future, but i would be fooling myself.
as it is, i tried to remind her we have her best interest in mind as i used tweezers to pull out each cactus tine from her baby skin. sweet annie. i know this is not the last time you will get hurt when the danger seems to clear to us in advance. being a parent is tough stuff.
when we returned from our first haiti trip i had such a hard time putting it into words. the obligation i felt to bring the experiences and interactions to life gave me a major case of writer's block. i just couldn't do it. i am so happy to take this group of story tellers back and give people the gift of their words.
either way, big kiss... MWAH!
sometimes it feels like there is nothing you can do to help. that any impact you can have is too small to matter. that is, until you hold the hand of a child who goes to school because you care and eats a healthy meal every day because you love. then you realize that every little bit really does help. maybe i can't change a country, perhaps i can't fix what is truly broken, but i can love and i can hold those hands.
check out pure charity and see what you think! specifically i am funding the haiti tent city project. a tropical storm had its way with haiti this past week and no huge damage was done (whew) but a lot of tents were damaged.
i've been to this tent city. i've worshiped with them. i've seen the indignity of their living situation. and somehow it is now even worse. i have to do what i can to help.
i was surprised at lily's choices. not by the bling bling, light up shoes i immediately nixed, but at the sensible platinum gray ballet flats she chose to go with her blue and silver nikes. (i told them to pick a pair to run in and a pair to wear with dresses) she passed up the pink glittery ones and the flower adorned ones in most mature fashion.
eve however went for the sweetest raspberry pink pair with flowers to accompany her purple accented nikes. i can still count on her 3 year-old taste at least!
lily and eve wanted to wear a new pair out of the store so the clerk took the stickers off the bottoms and clipped the elastic bands to separate the shoes. annie took one look at the girls putting on their new shoes and in disgust at being relegated to hand-me-downs yet again she asked 'shoes? shoes?' as she took off her third-hand crocs. i handed her lily's worn in pink toms and said 'sure annie! you can wear these!' she looked at me with a horrified look on her face and said 'no! SHOES!!'
kevin and i laughed and hugged her. we hadn't figured she was astute enough to be upset about it, but being third kids ourselves we know how it feels. it was pretty darn adorable.
and thank goodness for discount stores. holy heck i don't want to imagine what four pairs of shoes at the mall would have cost!
it was brought to my attention by a friend that this sounded awfully mean for sweet annie. i would like to add that she has several almost new looking shoes from her sisters that just started fitting that she will sport this fall. if i had been a prepared mama i would have stashed a pair in my purse to give her at the shoe store but i plum didn't think about it. next time!!
but he was our casey bubba. our sweet dog that i once waxed poetic about on the blog before three certain little girls took over our lives. the boy that i once in confidence confessed to my sister that i was afraid i wouldn't be able to love a child as much as i loved him. and i meant it.
i loved him so much that when pressed to find the perfect gift for me, my sister had a painting of him done. and it has hung proudly in my home ever since. i loved him so much that i slept on the laundry room floor next to him the night of his knee surgery knowing he couldn't make it up the stairs to our room. i loved him so much that i would take him on walks to meet up with kevin as he finished bike rides just to see casey's tail wiggle with delight at the sight of his best friend.
he loved me so much he tolerated my three little girls that loved him and tormented him in turn. he loved me so much that he pretended not to notice when they took more and more of my attention and he got less. he loved me so much that he licked the salty tears off my face- more than once. i wish he was here to lick my tears one last time. i seem to have unending supply today.
the girls threw him a 'goodbye bubba' party at lunch. complete with cheeseburgers, tres leches cake, and several renditions of 'for he's a jolly good fellow', it was a fitting tribute. i'm not sure kevin and i were ready to say goodbye. we went together to the vet. we fed him treats. we held him tight.
when the end came i wailed. like a child i just couldn't control myself and i shouted. i wanted to take back the past few years and see him as a young spry fellow again and enjoy him. i found myself repeating 'i'm so sorry bubba. i'm so sorry. thank you'. then when faced with the inevitability of them taking him away i buried my face in the soft folds of his neck fur and just breathed in.
i miss him. i know it will get better with time and the sadness in my husband's eyes will soften. but he will be missed. that part will not change.
kevin took the girls out of town for the weekend and i have had sweet sweet silence (with the exception of casey's rather loud snoring). i got a haircut (a much much needed haircut), i met friends for happy hour, i ventured downtown with my fabulous friend brenda and met some new people. i worked a little and now i'm thinking about heading to barton springs.
really a girl could get used to this.
i miss my little ones- i will be crazy excited to see them when they get home. but really i have cherished this quiet time more than i thought i would. here's hoping kevin loved his weekend alone with the girls enough to do it again.
it is true what they say, the days are long but the years are short. except when your kids are out of town. then the days are short ;)
days when life overwhelms i seem to have a harder time putting it into words than before. my sister and i love the saying 'may your life one day be as wonderful as you make it appear online'. i find myself walking the tightrope between posting only the great things and posting the not so great things and being a debbie downer.
i have had an overwhelming week, feeling stressed and confused about the future and our direction. letting my negativity take over is never a good idea and tends to end in a inwardly selfish spiral.
then i was at the pediatrician for well checks with annie and eve. they were well behaved and delightful. as the doctor (that i adore and have known since lily's first 1 week check up) left the room with a hug she said 'life is good, mama'. and i thought, it is. it really is.
i love blurb!!http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/invited/2828914/a42865dbad5c4685785e88146a638d35d68c9a13
soooo glad to be caught up before i have yet another year to organize :)
i have always been a scaredy cat. haunted houses and the like are my kryptonite. i am 34 and sometimes still want to sleep with a light on. but to my kiddos, i'm 'mom' and i am their sense of security (false or otherwise). they don't know most of the time the noise that spooked them had me sweating too.
kevin has been out of town this week and i find myself in our new(ish) house alone for the first time. it isn't a small place and its pretty dark out here in the sticks where there are few street lamps. our fierce looking dog is beyond deaf and offers little in the way of protection these days.
i've been dealing with the girls' fears this week on my own. afraid of the dark. afraid to go upstairs alone. bad dreams. and it has had me questioning and thinking a lot about fear and security. i heard a speaker just this past week talking about the problem of having too many comforts means we don't really have to rely on anything outside of ourselves for security.
i just did my final rounds of peeking in on the girls before i retire for the night. i went and pulled lily's covers around her and gave her a kiss. it roused her enough that she fluttered her eyes open and said 'goodnight mama'. i said 'i love you' and she replied in a dreamy sleep voice with something i have never heard her say...
'i know you're always with me.'
i hope so, lily. always.
lily: where's the ipad?
me: its dead. you killed it, remember?
lily: but i killed your laptop and it came back to life
me: yes because i paid for it. it was three hundred dollars. the ipad would be two fifty to fix. you have two hundred and fifty dollars?
lily: i'll pay for it. i'll save it in my piggy bank
me: good luck. i'll make a genius bar appointment for three years from now.
lily: yeah... piggy probably wont cut it. i'm gonna need some of that money that's green.
me too lil. me too.
i never know what to say in these situations. yes! nooo.... i mean of course! but not really....
how do you all handle the little white lies of childhood? is seems magical at times but just plain absurd and setting their little hearts up for disappointment at other times.
i am really not sure but i have caught myself in the past few weeks winking at people at least 3 times. thankfully two of those times were to little kids who probably just thought i was some weird lady. is there a cure for this ailment? please tell me this is temporary...
i watched this video on her return to christianity this morning and it definitely made me laugh. i love her perspective.
what i love most about this is how intelligent she is. how critical and analytical her nature is as a researcher, but she still sees jesus the way that i do. as a child. with faith.
i hope beyond hope beyond a shadow of a doubt that we can be love to people. that i am love to people. this year has been harder than i expected so far. i thought with annie's first year under our belts life would settle, but that was before i knew she was what we affectionately refer to as 'tank'. aka: no obstacle can get in the way of what i want. it is hard to feel like you're loving others when you don't have any time or energy to love yourself.
so today this has to be enough. 'may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be pleasing in your sight, Oh Lord, my rock and my redeemer'. i won't be serving the poor today. i'm not in haiti. i'm not at a shelter. i'm a mom. and i will have to do my best to love my kids the way i am called to. and hope for them and pray for them. and love.
casey bubba has cancer. that's right the one and only c-c-c-casey bubb bba (to the tune of la la la la bamba)
as much as i have let that poor animal get on my nerves in the last few years, i have had some good cries about his diagnosis. i remember clearly telling my sister before i got pregnant with lily that i was genuinely concerned i could never love anything, including a human baby, as much as i loved casey.
now of course i see the humor in that statement seeing as the relationships are not as similar as i once anticipated. but it does stand to show you how devoted and doting i was. the day we met in 2003, he was still a mere 4 year old pup and we wrestled till my arms were covered in harmless scratches. i'm not sure who enjoyed it more- me homesick for the boxer at my parents' house, or casey who was probably used to his dad's girlfriends giving his 90 pound self the side-eye.
i have always been a little sad to have missed out on his true puppy-hood, though the stories i have heard scare me enough to want to an adopt an adult of whatever pet we have next. the sheer energy and destruction (he ate a sofa once. the whole thing.) baffle the mind.
'bubba' was in the top 5 first words for all 3 girls. he was their first best friend. his face licks have made each of them squeal with delight. his tolerance of their ear grabs and petting (that seems more like a gentle beating) has increased with his age and annie is hopelessly devoted to him.
we have told the girls that casey is sick and will not be with us too much longer. lily declared in the car yesterday 'oh i know!! bubba will just wait for us at the house that God is building in heaven! he will be so happy to see us when we get there!'
i tend to gravitate towards the high impact cardio classes. kickboxing and the like are my poison of choice. however my need for quiet and a break from my kids' constant chatter has been filled lately with some of the most inane platitudes shouted at me from the front of the class. i really don't know where the instructors come up with some of this stuff, but i feel compelled at times to either shout 'please be QUIET!' or 'i'm not a deathmatch competitor, EASE UP!'
i started taking stock of the completely silly things they call out during class last week and instead of being annoyed started a mental list to blog. i'll start with my favorite...
"do you WANT it? yes or YESSSS??!!"
(last i checked i wanted an hour of 'free' babysitting)
"don't you know bathing suit season is HERE?!"
we got the amazing news this week that the orphanage was shut down!! amen hallelujah and a million other fabulous exclamations :) if you are able and interested, please consider giving to support the 23 babies and kids that were rescued and in need of pretty much everything.
you can read more about it on the HELP blog!
UPDATE!!! head to THIS blog to see the kids and read more about them. i can't believe these precious faces were on the other side of the wall we passed every day. i wish i could have just hugged and loved them.
i'm feeling out of good things to say lately (poor ali had to hear an earful of it on the phone yesterday) and this was my first word to read this morning. how timely of you, God.
i just wanted to send all you mamas a hug and say, i'm there with you. i'm empty most days and i'm out of goodness when that third cup of water is already spilt on the ground at breakfast. i'm bone dry by the time one of them whines at target about a little fancy doll i will not be purchasing for them.
its time for me to fill 'er up. there is so much goodness to be had and love to share and all i have to do is go to the source for a refill so that i have my own abundance to pour out.
kevin and i were lucky enough to get to go run errands and have dinner by ourselves yesterday. i thought up a bunch of fun ideas of activities for us to do, but in the end all we really need is each other and quiet moments to be together. i am acutely aware of how nice it is to have so much fun with my husband when doing something as boring as couch price shopping.
at dinner we talked about goals for our summer. i talked some about wanting to work on strength at the gym. i said something about schedules. i didn't mention storing up good. i'm glad to have been reminded this morning where my real strength comes from.
it was totally subconscious. i really wasn't that smart, but dad noticed it enough to finally point it out.
today i was in a crummy mood. just grumpy all around yuck and i noticed for the second time that when i'm in a bad mood i keep wearing my haiti clothes. i have on the t-shirt i wore during most of the trip and the bracelet i bought at heartline. i guess i figure somewhere deep down that was a time i found simple joy. that i had perspective. that i thought less of myself.
i'm not sure the outfit helped today but it made me smile when i realized the more things change, the more i seem to stay the same.
i have never been to a range, never shot a handgun. two things he is very experienced with!
moon is in town helping my sister and knowing the littles would be at preschool today, i decided it was the day for our outing! i picked him up 9:30 after finding out the shooting range is open 9-9 7 days a week. (because of course being in a shooting range at 8pm on sunday night makes total sense.)
the indoor range is located logically next door to a pawn shop. so clearly we're talking a top notch joint. the folks at the range helped dad guide me to a small semi-automatic pistol. we donned our earphones and protective eyewear and headed for our target!
we opted to share a 'lane' (is this the correct terminology? is it like bowling??) i have to admit for the first 10 minutes every time someone shot their firearm i flinched. it is freaking LOUD in there even with the headphones on- and the air pressure changes every time someone shoots. its a little unnerving at first.
i would like to brag that i'm a pretty good shot. maybe its all that time i spend staring down the barrel of my heavy 70-200 zoom lens sure-ing up my hands? ha!
to me in many ways it seems the best of both worlds.
until you take the bugs into consideration. wait, not just bugs- don't forget the vermin.
we were out on a walk yesterday in the rain. it was just barely sprinkling when we headed out and the girls were loving it! kevin was pushing annie in the stroller and i had a firm grasp on eve and lily's hands. i was so happy when we got to meet another neighbor who was also outside- we haven't met as many as i'd like quite yet.
then as we round a bend in the road eve nonchalantly said 'that's kinda a big spider' and i glance in the general direction she is facing and HOLYFREAKINGSHIT i screamed 'KEVIN!!!!'
it was a full on huge tarantula just casually making its way across the street. i jumped back and pulled the girls with me. kevin reverted to his 11 year old self and set a fabulous example by spitting on the spider (which in the rain you would think it might not even notice?). the thing literally charged kevin and thankfully 11 year-old kevin is a pretty quick runner.
we turned around on the walk since it was starting to actually rain rather than just drizzle and i promptly announced 'if we ever find one of THOSE in our house, i'm moving downtown'
he also said those all important words that every neighbor longs to hear.... "feel free to use the pool any time you'd like"
and the weirdest part of all is the peace i have about it. what paul said to the phillippians is eerily true- god's peace surpasses all understanding. i can't explain it. i am not responsible for it. this peace i have just IS.
and really i don't know what i'll do with myself when kevin does go back to working because frankly i like having the guy around :)
i love everything about that statement. good or bad, win or lose, i LOVE to watch you is what it boils down to. and along that sentiment, here is the best commercial i've seen in a while...
as excited as i am about this new chapter, i have a twinge -okay maybe more than a twinge- of sadness. y'all know change and i aren't exactly friends! the truth of it is, i have lived in this house longer than any other in my life that i can recall. we moved a lot growing up and 5 years is oddly enough a record.
the girl moving out of this house is so starkly different from the girl who moved in. i was giantly pregnant, managing accounts from home, eager to meet my first baby and still in many ways a newlywed. i move out as a self-employed mom of three beautiful little ladies finding my way as a community member and happily married to my best friend. i never would have dared to hope for the amazing blessings we have experienced while living here. i am so eager to see what this next chapter holds, but nervous that nothing could be as wonderful as these years in our little house on the park.
i'll leave you with this precious iphone shot of my girls at the new pad today. i can't wait to see them on these steps on christmas morning!
i'll be honest, its a sweet sentiment, but i just can't get on board. kids let you down. no matter how dearly you love them, your family will disappoint you. building up my worth based on people who are imperfect does nothing but set myself up to be let down.
certainly it is easier said than done but if i am comparing myself to moms who make fancy bento box lunches while my kids eat room temperature turkey, i'm making that mom into an idol. transferring that valuation of myself to my kids' eyes or my husbands' doesn't change that i am only seeing my worth as a reflection of how someone else needs/loves/values me.
i heard an old song today while driving. isn't it weird how you can go 10 or 20 years without hearing a song and the lyrics still in some magic way find their way to your lips? the song belts out "I want to leave a legacy, How will they remember me? Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough to make a mark on things? I want to leave an offering."
so i will continue to try my darndest to not compare myself to other moms. i will also try to not find my identity solely as a mother or wife. i will call myself a child of God because that is who HE calls me. i am loved for that simple and most important of all reason. thank God.
the woman next to kevin and i on our flight was on her first trip to america. she had the window seat and in her broken english and my awful creole we conversed upon takeoff long enough for me to teach her to use her seat belt and her to say it was the first flight she had ever taken.
as the plane flew beneath the clouds, i saw the florida landscape through her eyes. so flat, so intentional, so clean, so vanilla boring. oh how i wished we spoke the same language. i had so many questions for her.
open box, move contents of drawers to box. close and label box.
my version of packing my bedside table:
open box, open drawer, make stack of all hair bands and miscellaneous earrings that have found their way into the top drawer. open book to the folded page and try to remember when i was reading it last. thumb through an issue of the discontinued 'domino' magazine and lament its untimely demise.
you see, this is why it takes me approximately 10x longer to pack anything than my husband and might just drive him a little bit crazy. it is also how i came to spend an hour on saturday reading my journal from 2003.
2003 was the best of times and the worst of times. 'a tale of two cities' had nothing on my life that year. what pulled me in when i casually thumbed open the spiral was how un-like me the writing sounded. how sad, distant, lost. i started wondering how i ever got to such a low point in my life and how absolutely broken i would be if one of my girls ever wrote the things i was reading.
i was in a terrible awful no good relationship and frankly it was a close call. i made it out by the skin of my teeth and within a year i was healthy again, training for triathlons, making new friends, moving into a positive living situation, and meeting my soul mate. reading it was fascinating and made me so thankful that God has a plan and that it was for me to prosper and not to harm me.
last night watching 'glee' i love love loved blaine's version of 'somebody that i used to know' and for the first time in a long time i feel like i could maybe possibly let go of the anger i have held onto in the back of my heart for the last 8 years. anger at myself mostly for getting myself into that place. letting go means i can see those choices as a part of how i got to be who i am now.
(and as i type this last sentence my children are dancing 'ballet' to the song linked above and i can't be anything but thankful.)
today was our last real holiday in our house. eve's birthday party will be the last hurrah next weekend then we are closing the chapter on this little house that has loved us so well.
looking through the very few pictures i took today of our easter celebrations i laughed at this one. it is so telling of their personalities. lily already dressed to the 9's for the day in pink. eve wearing whatever in the world it is she is wearing (clearly following her own unique sense of style) and annie is along for the ride in halloween footie jammies- just happy to be included.
my three. i couldn't love them any more than i do right this moment!
after a day of packing and hanging out at home, we headed downtown for our church's grillout with the homeless. it is a semi-monthly event year-round but a tradition on easter. the girls enjoyed themselves for about an hour before the lack of food (sorry, i wasn't going to let them cut in line for a burger in front of people who may have not had a hot meal in a while).
it was fun while it lasted though. lily danced a jig with a crazy bearded guy. annie begged for peanuts from a homeless guy on crutches. eve danced to her own music as usual (which was proven when the band stopped playing and she danced on!). i'm sad we didn't get to stay longer, but we were there long enough for communion and to share hugs with friends.
we ended up pinch hitting with a spaghetti dinner at home and got the girls in bed a good half hour before their usual bedtime. note to easter bunny: no candy in next year's basket. we seem to have paid the price for their giant sugar crash all afternoon :)
i hope your easter was memorable and meaningful. he is risen!
i asked mom more about it and she told me that when the kids started getting older, she wanted to tackle the attitude that starts to pop up along with their molars :) around 4 my struggles with lily started to be more about HOW she obeys, not IF she obeys. at one point a few weeks ago she actually crossed her arms and gave a loud 'humpf!' when she didn't want to do what i asked.
the chart is about spirit, about not just obeying but doing so with a positive, happy heart! needless to say i went to the store for posterboard and stickers and made two identical 'happy heart charts' and got lily and eve schooled in the wonders of a sticker chart immediately. we practiced a few common requests on my behalf (ie. can you please take your shoes upstairs and put them away?) and role played what their responses might look like with a grumpy attitude and then with a happy heart. eve particularly liked the over the top grumpy answers :)
both girls got on board and have been super excited to earn stickers. i have a 'surprise' box (aka old shoe box) that they can select one item from upon gaining 10 stickers and both girls chose candy necklaces as their first reward. i remind them often that we are ALL still learning to 'obey all the way, right away, with a happy heart'.
the proof is in the pudding- here is eve tonight with her booty. she earned 10 stickers this week!
the first night in haiti i took maybe the coldest shower of my life. we're not talking just 'not warm', we're talking 'was this water steeping in ice before it came through the shower head'? starting the mental list of things to be thankful for... 1) traffic laws 2) hot water heaters
we spent our saturday at the yaveh shamma orphanage, run by pastor gaetan (who has been dubbed 'best smile in haiti' and he deserves it!). we pulled up in our van outside the gated walls and my heart was in my throat. we have been sponsoring one of the children at the orphanage and the thought of meeting her and her friends had already brought me to tears several times before even leaving on our trip.
from the moment the gate rolled back we were swarmed by little hands, hugs, tugs, smiles, looks of yearning for love and affection. it was breathtaking, literally. i was glad to have on sunglasses so i didn't have to pretend i wasn't crying. i had at least 4-5 girls holding my hands, arms, waist pretty much the entire visit. if i could have just stayed there all week i am pretty sure that would have suited me just fine. looking around at their little faces full of hope and love, recognizing the little smiles from families at church who sponsor them, i was beside myself.
it is the overall emotion of that day along with the little moments of showing the kids pictures of my girls and hearing their sweet voices learn the names 'lileh, eef, anneh' that i will hold onto. their stories are heartbreaking but hopeful and we will continue to do what we can to improve life and potential at yaveh shamma.
sunday we spent the morning at church. i have never attended a service in another language and i spent a lot of time observing the attendees, the details. i was blessed to witness the positive affects of a microloan on one of the families at church and see other micro loans given out. the smile on his face when he held the check that his paintings earned him- this wasn't charity, not a hand-out. this was money he earned that will support his wife and child. it was priceless.
the hardest part of transcribing any of this is that the experience is in the details. it is in the people you pass on the side of the street selling produce, the smells and sights as you drive through town, the little orphan boy one pew over trying to capture your attention during a sermon in creole, the smiles and stories of everyone you meet. it is in the beauty and hope of this country that is so close to ours.
so we made it happen. it was a clear decision- we were not worried or uncertain. it was one of the clearest callings we have experienced and because of that i was excited, anxious, READY. we chose the next planned trip, just 3 short months away and didn't have much time to fundraise or prepare. in hindsight i think that was a good thing.
the morning we spent traveling to port au prince was probably the most fun we have had in quite some time. just laughing and joking with each other felt like a vacation in so many ways. by the time we made it to haiti we were already enjoying the group we traveled with. we didn't know any of our teammates until we arrived- another blessing in disguise.
our crew consisted of three married couples and 5 guys. a missionary, a faith blogger, a musician, a photographer, a techie, a firefighter, a teacher, a soccer referee, a pastor, a stylin mom, and me.
we were in the country a whole 15 minutes when we saw a woman die in the airport of what seemed like natural causes. the cultural differences were suddenly very apparent. the next cultural difference was quickly presented in the form of traffic. trust me, anyone who complains about austin traffic has never driven in port au prince.
when we made it to the pastor's house that would be our home for the week we felt so thankful and well taken care of. the girls' room was fairly empty with just 3 of us. truthfully we were all such different gals, but we got along famously. we stayed up late the first night laughing and talking and it felt like one part summer camp, one part college dorm room. i just know i was feeling thankful knowing i had these two amazing women with me for the week.
every person we met had an amazing story. our translators, our hosts, our cooks, our pastors. i just loved listening to each of them. we were there in haiti not to come with answers or to show haitians how to do things, but to be the students and supporters of the wonderful leaders already working so hard at improving life in haiti. it was our gift to be in the presence of such thoughtful and gifted leaders and to be a small part of helping them achieve their vision.
this is my first attempt at putting any of this into words. i will keep writing when i have time and space. for now babies are crying which means i am back in reality and i have to go be a mom. and this makes me even more thankful that for those 7 days in haiti i got to be so much more than a mom for just a week.
she smiled and said 'that makes total sense. just keep experiencing it'.
and i am.
i'm so thankful in a million ways for our life and the treasure of this awakening we are experiencing as a family and as a couple. i hope for so much i feel like i can't even wrap my mind around it. so i am choosing to do my best to press in to God in these moments and stay near to Him and keep my heart open and listening.
it made me so sad each time lily and eve got those teeth. it is a natural progression from the adorable two teeth on bottom first and so on for almost all kiddos. not for annie! it is as if she knew how to make something so small into a new and fun part of motherhood instead of something else to dread about them growing up.
enter my snaggle tooth. girlfriend got all her teeth in the most bizarre and abnormal pattern and you never know which one will break through the gums next. i admit i love her snaggly smile so much. i have tried without success to capture it in the past but i just love this snapshot of her in the bath showing her wonky teeth off with pride!
this year we have committed to change that. heading to haiti together was the first step in a direction i am really excited about. the amazing people we met and served in haiti were inspiring and we are going to continue serving one of the local leaders from austin. we have committed (along with some fabulous folks in our church community group) to raise the funds to build another home similar to the one we worked on during our trip.
the home we are funding is part of a focused initiative to prevent human trafficking on the Haiti/Dominican Republic border. we will build a cluster of homes that will be dedicated to the most vulnerable orphans. each home will cost $6,000 and we will sacrifice in several ways this year to fund the project. we are still figuring out the details, but ideas so far include cutting back on our grocery bill and donating the savings, having a garage sale, donating our birthdays, being sponsored for athletic events, etc. other ideas are appreciated!! :)
so as lent gets underway we are asking ourselves, what will we sacrifice? what is God asking us to do with our lives? who is he calling us to be?
no answers yet, but i am enjoying living within the questions for now.
our trip was restorative. it was burdening.
i'm not sure i'm ready to talk/write about it yet. i'm trying. i will. i appreciate your patience :) in the meantime, you can see pictures (some that need explanation- to come i promise) at flikr - HERE... but consider yourself warned- there are almost 500 images.
and because words are seeming to fail me today, i will refer to a blog post from kisses from katie that says more than i can about how i feel about the trip right now.
someone asked me the other day, "really? is it really as great as you make it sound?i could never do that! are you really happy?" for all of you who wonder, this is my response.
you know what i want sometimes? to go to the mall and spend a ridiculous amount of money on a cute new pair of shoes. i want to sit on my kitchen counter chatting with my girlfriends and eat a whole carton of cookie dough ice cream. i want to watch grey's anatomy, or any tv for that matter. i want to cuddle with my sweet boyfriend. i want to hop in my cute car, go to the grocery store, and pick up any kind of produce i want. i want to wake up in a house with my loving family, not all by myself. i want to go to blockbuster and pick out a movie to watch with my little brother and his friends and i want to cook for them at midnight. i want to spend mindless hours with my best friends talking about boys and fashion and school and life. i want to go to the gym. i want my hair to look nice. i want to wear cut off jean shorts. i want to be a normal teenager living in america. i do.
but. you know what i want more? ALL the time? i want to be spiritually and emotionally filled every day of my life. i want to be loved and cuddled by100 children and never go a day without laughing. i want to wake up to a rooster, my two africa dogs, and a splendid view of the nile river. i want to be challenged endlessly; i want to be learning and growing every minute. i want to be taught by those i teach. i want to share God's love with people who otherwise might not know it. i want to work so hard that i end every day filthy and too tired to move. i want to feel needed, important, used by the Lord. i want to make a differnce and i want to follow the calling that God has planted deep in my heart. i want to give my life away, to serve the Lord with each breath, each second. i want to be here. right here.
'now say that back to me, what did i just tell you'
'i don't know isn't an answer. you DO know'
'look at me when i'm talking to you'
'just so we're clear let me say that back to you so that i understand what you're saying'
and so so many more.
despite his somewhat *achem* unorthodox parenting skills, we really are three very lucky kids. one of the things that stands out most about my dad is the way he loves my mom. you'd be hard pressed to find two people that are more different but so compatible at the same time. i remember his notes on her bathroom counter in the morning (always on index cards) and the way he made sure respecting her was our #1 priority as a family.
i can't wait until the day my kids torture me over email with all the ridiculous lines they tired of hearing as kids. because that will mean i did a pretty good job or they were at least listening at some point.
then our housekeeper showed up. oh maria how i love you, let me count the ways. she has been cleaning our house for nearly 4 years and we appreciate her so much. as soon as we said hello she told me in the most excited voice about how she filled out her citizenship paperwork this weekend. there were volunteers at a local high school helping her through the process and she had a huge smile on her face telling me about it.
what an exciting prospect for her. i have thought about it all day. we are just really really lucky.
kevin and i are leaving on friday for our week voluteering in haiti. i am most looking forward to spending time with the orphans that our church sponsors and giving our 11 year old michel, who we have been sponsoring since she was 8, a big big hug.
i have a feeling we will return feeling even luckier than ever.
we have had about 25 scheduled showings and so far, no dice! we are being as patient as two parents of 3 babes keeping our house spotless at all times can possibly be. (which is to say not nearly as patient as we could be)
in more hilarious news my dad now owns and iphone and is texting. so far he has sent a photo of his dogs via text message and is cracking me up asking if his texts were 'tweeting'. (which i find particularly hilarious since this was intended as a joke and i was simultaneously amused and proud of him for making an accurate technology joke). i'm just happy to know i can now stay close to my phone for all the breaking news in possum kingdom deer blinds and whataburger drive thrus.
i realize we often have to sweep the gray under the rug to move forward with conviction and consensus, but you can at least admit the gray exists.
i am proud to say that i have facebook 'friends' on both sides of pretty much every political spectrum and issue. i have the (un)lucky position of seeing my conservative friends high five each other while my liberal friends lament a policy change and vice versa. i'm sure this does not make me unique but being someone who often sits in the middle, i am sometimes surprised by whose responses rub me the wrong way.
in a somewhat similar light, i picked up a copy of 'when helping hurts' last night. we leave for haiti in just 7 days and i feel incredibly unprepared. reading this is a sobering realization that 'doing good' doesn't always fare so well for those left behind. again, it isn't black and white. there is a lot of gray.
at least on facebook i can 'hide' a feed that puts opinions in my face that i would rather not see. i have a feeling what we see in haiti will stay in the forefronts of our minds for a long time to come.
in the meantime, if you know anyone buying in south austin, i really can't say enough amazing things about our neighbors and the awesome park and our cozy home :)
we had 12 showings this weekend, one contract that fell through and i'm starting monday hopeful but realistic :) if we don't have a buyer in the next few days we will likely have to pull it from the market until after our haiti trip (which was our plan in the first place before we fell for a house we'd love to buy now... but its not in our hands at this point!)
i'll save you the trouble and copy and paste the description of a show taped by ABC in 2005 that never aired (thank goodness).
"Welcome to the Neighborhood"
Welcome to the Neighborhood is an American reality television series produced in 2005 by ABC that was notable for the amount of controversy it garnered before it was aired. It subsequently became one of the few American TV series to be cancelled before airing a single episode.
The show was a contest to win a lush dream home in an exclusive cul-de-sac in Circle C Ranch in Austin, Texas. The catch is that the local families decide who will win, and while they are all conservative, white, upper-class Christians, all the contestants are not.
.... yikes. perhaps we should widen our home search :)
in 7th grade a classmate showed up at school with measles, which meant everyone (yes all of us) had to get an MMR booster. well they set up all the nurses on the school auditorium stage and all of the classes sat in the theater seats until it was our turn and we walked across the stage like cattle waiting for our shot. at first i tried getting at the back of the line a few times. when it became clear i was still going to eventually make it to the front, i threw my permission slip in the trash.
my mom saw right through my 'lost' permission slip shenanigans and had to bring me back up after school to get my shot. i sat on her lap and cried like a baby while it was administered. i remember her exasperation with me very clearly and all i could think was 'see THIS is what i didn't want my classmates to see!'
so you see, i've never had a flu shot. i am not immune to chicken pox and instead of getting that vaccine i keep getting pregnant (because if you're pregnant you can't get the shot). and i even have all 4 wisdom teeth still.
cue yesterdays' appointment at the travel clinic for our trip to haiti. maybe the sweetest nurse in town works at the travel clinic- she was equal parts kind and encouraging and having kevin with me was nice as well. the 4 shots truly didn't even hurt on their way in. my arm afterwards is another story...
the nurse told us to be active- movement will help lessen the soreness. she even mentioned lifting weights. well i took that to mean kickboxing was fair game. i may have overshot. i showed up today and after just 30 minutes of looking like perhaps i didn't have full control over the use of my left arm, i gave up and packed it in.
hopefully tomorrow my arm will be back in business. and i will continue to block out the fact that i still have to go back for a 2nd hepatitis and chicken pox shot in a few months.
it is right that my heart should be broken for the the broken things of this world. myself included. but today i took a big deep breath and realized it isn't my problem to solve. i can certainly choose to be part of the solution but it is not MY problem. i see that being a part of the blessing of reconciliation is a gift and i can choose to participate and be doubly blessed in the process.
God's blessings are abundant and i am called to share, give, serve, love and pray. believe.
whew. it may seem so simple to you, but to me it is a weight off my shoulders.
let's talk about me being crazy for a minute. i'm not what you might call a traditional learner. i can read a fabulous book about parenting with amazing insight in the morning and by mid-day i'm yelling at my kids ripping my hair out. i just learn better by action.
so the general idea is, we live in the land of plenty right? well maybe plenty as i experience it is just too darn much. i'm cutting back in the spirit of a fast. i'll be eating 7 foods for 30 days. i'm two days in and gosh i really don't know that i will make it. i like food. i love food. i like cooking. i love filling my house with the aroma of dinner. i like filling my belly with chocolate.
it is an experiment. the book is jen's telling of her own experience- not an instruction manual, but an account of reducing 7 areas of her life for 7 months. i just so happened to want to try out this first month, reducing food. reducing the variety, quantity, obsession, costs, and time it takes in my life. what will take its place? so far prayer. and you never know where that's gonna lead... :)
lily shrieked when i came into her room during naps to ask if she wanted to go swimming. she was on board immediately and donned her pink ruffled tutu suit within a minute flat. we drove to the springs and she was just plain giddy the whole way there.
we stood at the edge of the water for a minute or two and she threatened to jump in without me if i didn't get my act together and just JUMP ALREADY!
i let out a yelp and jumped in with both feet, came up howling a little and she jumped right in on top of me. when the cold water hit her, lily's initial reaction was to attempt to crawl on top of my head to get out of the water completely. needless to say, there were many people watching us and laughing behind their sunglasses.
after i got lily to relax she realized the water was about the same temperature as the air had been and she started having a blast. i told her she was now an elite member of the polar bear club and she called out 'this is AWESOME!'. a random bearded guy (keep austin weird, right?) yelled to her 'happy new year little pinkey!' she yelled back something that sounded like 'shing ying hao!' (i have no idea what this means or where she learned it.)
that is us, post dip. all in all, we got in about four times. lily would have swam all day if i had been up for it. but man it was COLD! she tried to guilt me into getting back in by saying my sister (auntie e) would have been in the water with her longer.
of course i shouldn't have expected any less from the girl who swam in the springs at 18 months old in january with her e and had this expression plastered on her face the whole time:
it was a gorgeous day today but a bit windy. after i coaxed her out of the water we sat in the sun getting warm again wrapped in towels. she crawled into my lap and i said 'happy new year lil' and she said 'happy new year mom. this was ten and one miles of fun!'
well i can promise you we laugh a lot around here. heck if we weren't laughing we'd be crying, right? kevin commented in bed last night as we watched the ball drop (in new york. we were both well on our way to dreamland before it was midnight in our time zone) that 2011 was the hardest year he has ever experienced. with a newborn and the struggles of a newly born business, we both just did our best to keep afloat. it wasn't always easy.
in 2011 i yelled more than i wanted to, i wasted too much time, i squandered far too many precious moments worrying about something else. my youngest baby is a toddler now, her first year is behind her.
i'm not much of a resolutions girl. in fact i regularly lament from january to march about resolution gym-goers and how they take my spot in class just to disappear in a few weeks. bah-humbug much?! this year my resolutions are short but a tall order.
that's it. do things for a reason. let other things fall away. find joy where i am.
happy 2012 to you and yours. may this be the best year any of us could imagine.