My dad

Thursday, December 4, 2014

I try not to brag about what I have, but please indulge me this one time. I have the greatest dad on earth. Growing up, we didn't have a lot of money--we weren't wanting for anything, but we didn't have a lot of indulgences. I didn't have "Guess" jeans, Cable tv, and I never got an American Girl Doll. When I was little, there were only three choices--Samantha, Kirsten, and Molly. I wanted Samantha. I never complained about not getting one, I understood they were very expensive. I joke now, that I was scarred by it, but I really wasn't. It was ok. You know why not having those things was ok? Because of my parents. My mom is awesome too, but I'll write about her later (poor moms, we always get shafted--do our work in the shadows).

My dad is awesome. I have many incredible memories of him, but something that I can really say, is that his love and time spent with me stayed a constant over time. Even though he worked full time, I think I can count on one hand how many of my tennis matches he missed during my four years of high school. He was always there, cheering me on, coaching me, encouraging me.

In college, my dad traded territories with another co-worker so that he could have Grand Rapids. He would come and visit me. He would take me to dinner, we'd go grocery shopping, turn in our aluminum cans (you get 10 cents a can in GR--paid for my books in college!), and then we'd go hang out at his hotel room and I got to watch Nick at Nite--we had very few channels on our college tvs, so this was a luxury. My roommates would often comment on how lucky I was to have a dad like that. But, it's all I had ever known.

Today, my dad was going to drive me to the American Girl store in Chicago so that I could pick up some things that my mom, sister, and I were going to get our girls for Christmas. He was going to take a day off of work just to drive Brendan and me to the city, and while I shopped at American Girl, he was going to entertain Brendan at the Lego store. We ended up not needing to go (the lady on the phone at AG was so helpful that I was able to just order what we needed), but honestly, I am a little bummed. I joked that I was going to pretend I was 8 and my dad was taking me to American Girl since we couldn't do that when I was 8 (and actually I'm not certain the store was in Chicago back then--good Lord, I'm getting old).

He chose the theme from the Princess Bride for our dance
It wasn't until I was an adult that I've really learned that not all dads are like mine. I know why it's so easy for me to love and trust my Heavenly Father. It's because He has given me such a wonderful earthly father. And for that I am so blessed--more than if I had a hundred Samantha dolls.

And I became a hot mess

Tour of my living room

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

This year I have grown up, in many ways. I am not going to go into the deep and meaningful ways right now--I'll save that for another time :) When Bill and I got married, we were blessed with a lot of hand me downs. We were really young, finances were tight, so these gifts were much appreciated. However, as time went on, I learned that my taste was different and I kind of hated the colors of my living room. It was pure laziness and obnoxious frugality that had prevented me from changing it over the years. This spring, I painted over our forest green walls with a gorgeous grey color.
This is the best picture I could find. Note the lamps--egad! and the color of the chair and the coffee table wasn't my style either.

We weren't sure what to do with the mauve/rose colored chairs. They are really good quality chairs, so we got them re-upholstered in a neutral taupe color. Then I got to pick my accent colors. I am obsessed with aqua! Bill and his dad built me a bench for our entry way that opens up and has 5 cubbies for the kids' backpacks and I painted it a happy shade of aqua. 

I don't know why I waited so long to be a grown up, but I am so glad I did. I love to sit in the living room and drink my coffee in the quiet of the morning. 

I'm not done with the wreath--I didn't have enough berries, but shocker, Brendan isn't up for going to JoAnn's until after he has lunch.

I love my woodland animals--Bill made fun of me for bringing the reindeer home, the next day he came home w/ the polar bear and fox

Love the picture from my mom of the kids acting out the nativity scene. 

So there you have it! I just have to get new curtains for the dining room, re-cover the dining room chairs and then I'll post pictures of it. I did get the most lovely light fixture that I'm excited to post!

Fear and Grace

Friday, September 19, 2014

My whole life I have struggled with fear. As a child, and honestly through most of my adulthood, I have been afraid of not fitting in, of being made fun of, of people not liking me. I care what people think.

Ever since losing our baby, Faith, my fear has turned into a sometimes crippling anxiety. I know that things don't always turn out the way we want. I know bad things happen in an instant. I know that life is incredibly fragile. Worst of all, I know that I have no control over any of it. Recently, I feel as if this burden of anxiety has lessened. The weight on my shoulders has been lifted.

I'm going to be honest. I think there are a couple of things that have led to my current state of being slightly less neurotic. I saw the doctor a month or so ago. He gave me a prescription to help my anxiety. I initially felt funny about taking it--but the fact that the anxiety was causing me to be "stress paralyzed" (please watch Moms' Night Out--you will loooove it) on a regular basis, I decided to give it a shot.

The other, and more powerful contributor to my ability to make it through the day without wanting to curl up in a ball in the corner and rock, is the gift of time. Time with Him. Jesus, The Lover of my soul. Brendan is in the Early Childhood program and they built a new building over the summer. Due to this new building, Brendan gets on the bus at 7:00 am. This was BEYOND traumatic for me. But, as always, God knew what he was doing, even if I was kicking and screaming. Now, every morning I put Brendan on the bus, and then while the other two kids are still sleeping, I have my quiet time and read my Bible. I sit in the living room, where for now the sun pours in (winter is a-comin') and start my day seeking Him. I haven't had this kind of quality time in so long, I didn't realize how much my soul was craving it. I am filled with peace, and it spills over into the rest of my day. I am much more pleasant to Rori and Liam when they get up in the morning (most days--I'm not perfect, and neither are they ;)  ). I am less stressed about things I have no control over. And honestly, I believe I no longer have a heart of fear. I am becoming comfortable in my own skin (granted I wish there was a little less of it ;) ).

I know that I am not cured of my anxiety, it is probably going to be the thorn in my side that rears its ugly head now and then, but I am thankful for this respite, no matter how long it lasts.

Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

The Great Time Bandit

Monday, August 25, 2014

I hate change. I am pretty sure that anyone who knows me is not surprised by this statement. I feel like Anne of Green Gables when she asks, "Why does everyone have to grow up, marry, and change?" The other day I was going through my old Facebook pages, from when Brendan was born. It felt like a lifetime ago. I saw messages from our old small group--bringing us meals and loving on us, I saw my nephew Noah calling Liam "Baby Bill", I saw Jenna and I experiencing babies together, I saw posts about blow out diapers, kids needing naps, me needing naps, and so many other things that are no longer a part of my daily routine.

So many things have changed since 2009. None of the people who made up our old small group still attend our church. It was a hard adjustment, but we have developed other friendships at church. However, the time with that group is one that I look back on fondly. I don't know if I could've survived the baby stage without those friends--we walked through those trenches together.

I no longer have any kids in diapers! This is not necessarily something I miss, but I miss many of the other things that went with that stage--the snuggles, the tiny fingers and toes, the firsts, the baby laughs, I could go on and on, but Bill would prefer I didn't get my uterus all worked up...

One of my greatest blessings--my friend Leslie, just moved. She moved about 8 minutes away, but she was 2 minutes away, so it causes some change as far as just dropping by. I hate change. People are moving, growing, changing, having big life events.

And now, my friends, the world is continuing to spin. My babies are going back to school tomorrow. My sweet Rori Rose is starting 4th grade. She's in the upper grades of her school. Her body is changing--her face is older, I want it to stop. My Liam James is starting 2nd grade. He is going in with much more confidence than he did first grade. He is changing too--he's all arms and legs and feet. Big feet. And then there's Brendan Rhys. He's starting a new school. He will be riding the bus to school every day because with the other two, I can't take him to school. I hate change.

My life is full. God has blessed us with wonderful friends and family. He has given me grace and a little bit of maturity to deal with all of the change. I miss my babies, but I am immensely proud of the people they are becoming. I just wish it didn't happen so fast. So I will beg the time bandit one more time, please slow down.

Happy 7th Birthday Liam James!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

My sweet boy turns 7 today! My firstborn son, the first boy to really capture my heart (Papa was a man when I met him ;) ). It has been quite a year! You started first grade, and God gave you the best teacher for your personality, Miss Stanley. She helped make the transition to all day school much easier. You love to be home and would rather have stayed in half day school :)

You have turned into an excellent reader--you don't enjoy the writing log portion of the reading, but as long as we can find Star Wars or Ninjago books, you are a happy camper. You have also turned into quite the photographer. 80% of the photos of myself that I post on facebook, were taken by you! Somehow, you make me look skinny, pretty, and young. You should start charging for that :)

You started playing soccer, with Papa as your coach. I can't describe how excited I was, watching your first game, thinking of how much you had grown up. It was bittersweet.

You did a mud run this year and I couldn't believe what a difference a year made. Last year, you were tired from running. This year, you took off and left everyone in the dust. I had to sprint to keep up with you and take pictures!

This is when I realized I was going to have to work to keep up with you!
Most of all, I have watched you grow in so many of the qualities that are natural for you. You are a sensitive boy who cares about others. I am often amazed at your generosity--it comes naturally for you. When I say that I would like something--a bite of your cookie, or to play with one of your favorite toys, you are always willing to share. You are a good friend and you make wise choices about who to hang out with. You stand up for what is right. You saw a boy being punched on the playground and you told him to stop, even though it ended up with you being punched. I am so proud of you that my heart feels like it will burst. I wish time would stand still, but fortunately you have promised me that you will live with me forever, I am going to hold you to that!

My Beautiful Mess

Sunday, May 11, 2014

This last year I had a bit of a mid-life crisis. I want to write about it because someday Rori may feel the same way and I want her to know that I felt this way at one time and it's ok. Mark Twain said, "Comparison is the death of joy." I know this. I KNOW this, but I can't help it.

One day, I called my mom crying. I felt like my adulthood has been a disappointment to her. I have friends that have beautiful homes, successful careers, or serving the Church in wonderful ways. I feel like I am not enough. I can't keep up with the house work, I went to college and don't use my degree in any way that makes money, I am constantly exhausted, I go from varying stages of out of shape to in shape back to out of shape again, and as far as this raising three kids thing--I don't have a clue what I am doing!

I felt so lost and broken, so not enough, so much a disappointment, and so alone in these thoughts. In so many ways, my life is exactly what I wished for. I wanted to be a mom, I wanted to get to stay home with my babies and raise them. However, I felt like I was failing at that. Things like Facebook and Pinterest show me how all the mommies have their stuff together. Smiling faces, perfect pictures, beautiful homes, and people who are good at doing stuff, people who have talents and are using them in their every day lives. They are all so confident and I felt like they were all rubbing my nose in it. I told myself, "look how organized they are, look how well they are doing this mom thing, look how creative they are, look how talented, how gifted, etc." "Look at yourself, your house is disorganized, you are never going to be able to afford to move, you haven't showered in two days (it actually may be three days), you start things and never finish them, your kids don't like reading, they don't appreciate you, your job doesn't matter, you need some new clothes, and oh yeah, your love handles are getting a little squishy." Most pictures of me, taken during the winter, have me in my winter uniform. That's an Old Navy hoodie with a superhero t-shirt under it. I actually own two Old Navy hoodies. They are exactly the same, except I wrote a number 1 and a number 2 inside of them so that I remember which one needs to be washed. My fashion status has plummeted.

Shortly after these feelings were swirling in my head, my dear friend Leslie, whom God has already used in my life more times than I can count, took me to an early screening of Mom's Night Out. I felt like it should've been called "Mom's Night Out, a movie about Jaime" I imagine very few people would see it with that title though. Basically, the main character says that she is feeling exactly the way I told my mom that I was feeling. An ex-con tattoo artist ends up asking her who she's not enough for. It turns out, she feels she's not enough for herself. He tells her that God made her to just be. To be who He made her to be and not someone else. She learns that while she is a mess, she's a beautiful mess, His masterpiece. 

And this is true. I may be flailing about though this motherhood thing, though this wife thing, through this whole grown-up thing. But I am who I am. I am who God made me to be. I am the wife to Bill, mom to Rori, Liam, and Brendan and that is enough. It's who God wants me to be right now. I wouldn't change that for a bigger house, a wildly successful career, a housekeeper, THREE Old Navy hoodies, or anything else imaginable. 

So, my dear Rori, if you ever feel this way as a Mama, know that you are exactly who God made you to be. Don't miss out on the beautiful moments of today because you are focusing on the messy ones. Being a mom is hard and messy and scary and challenging, it's also beautiful, and amazing, and so very very worth it. I am enough, you are enough, and until you realize that, you can't experience the great JOY that is in the life God has given you. 

Old Sweatpants

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I decided to not blog during our Advent activities this year. It was part of my attempt at keeping things simple, sacred, and sane. I feel pretty confident that I did as well as I could this year, and will strive to do even better next year. I may do a wrap up post at some point because I took pictures and I will need to remember what we did so I can do it all again next year :)

I also chose not to do at tenth birthday post for Faith. I have been wanting to take pressure off of myself this year. I feel under almost constant pressure to make everyone happy, do the right thing, be strong, etc. It got to the point that a few times last year I was experiencing heart palpitations. So, I decided that if a post didn't come to mind, I wasn't going to force it and pressure myself into something deep and meaningful. That's not to say that I didn't think of her. Honestly, I think of her all the time. And ten years is a big birthday. I hate that our world is broken, that DNA is broken, that humans are broken and that I have not had her with me for the last ten years. But God is good. He is good yesterday, today, and tomorrow. That is the hope that I will cling to for the rest of my days.

Anywhoo--this is becoming much longer than I had planned and I haven't even gotten started :) Bill and I watch the show "Men at Work." It's on TBS and we think it's hysterical. It's probably totally inappropriate, but whatever. Anyway, last week, one of the characters told another character that her relationship with her boyfriend was like an old pair of sweatpants. He meant that they go together well and are really comfortable. She took this as a bad thing and when her boyfriend proposed, she broke up with him.

This winter has been rough--and it's not even February yet. It's been the winter of vomits--in my case I felt that my insides were now on my outside, and that I may have to die to get better. I was so exhausted and dehydrated that when I got an ice cube and dropped it on the carpet, I almost ignored the cat hair, dog hair, carpet fuzz and Captain America sticker stuck to it instead of going all the way back to the kitchen to get another. Almost. To say that it's been cold is an understatement. I'm pretty sure that my kids will be going to school until Fall. I have fed my children 14 times today and was interrupted at least 5 times, for emergencies, during my shower today. There were all kinds of emergencies--"can I have a popsicle?" "Can you open my popsicle?" "Can you find my DVD?" etc. Let's say I am ready for Spring.

Sunday night Bill came home from basketball. We watched some shows, talked for a while and he rubbed my feet. He could tell I was getting drowsy and ready to go up to bed. He said to me "I am starving, but I'm scared if I get up you will go to bed." For some reason that sentence meant the world to me. He enjoyed my company (drowsy as it was) so much that he was willing to skip his after basketball snack. There is really nothing like an old pair of sweatpants. I can do the vomits, the interruptions, the whining, the cold, as long as I have my old pair of sweatpants, and there is nothing boring about that!