Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What December looks like...

It's been a while since I've posted, but our home has been full this month of December.  As hard as it is to see time pass so quickly and the kids grow and change even more quickly, I love what comes with age - more understanding, more conversation, more wonder and awe of the spirit of this season.  And there has been plenty of all of these things.  New traditions have been started, old ones continue, and my love of sharing the meanings of the traditions we hold dear has not faded one bit.  Here is a glimpse of what the past few weeks have held for us!
Snow fun!

New traditions: Our Jesse Tree

Preschool Christmas programs (there's Braeden)!

Taking family Christmas pictures of good friends

Go Cowboys!

Christmas wonder.

Can I also just throw out there how thankful I am for social media?  I know it can be such a time suck, I know it can be an unhealthy thing, but I just have to say I'm grateful for the far reaching way of receiving and giving support, empathy, and encouragement from family and friends you never thought you'd see again.   These past few months have been full of an encouragement I've not known was possible except through Facebook.

Finally, the last picture I posted above, the one of Emerson and the tree, is up for votes on a local holiday photo contest.  If you wouldn't mind stopping by and giving me your vote (only if you believe I truly deserve it!) I would be grateful!  There are some pretty nice prizes up for grabs!  Oh, and you can vote once a day until the 22nd.  Thank you!  The link is http://laramielive.com/holiday-lights-photo-contest-voting-now-open/  .  It's the 5th photo and the caption is Kelly- Child by Christmas Tree.

I hope you are enjoying the season and breathing in the feeling of celebration.  I'm trying to savor every moment!

(P.S.  I'm using these last two pictures for my You Capture: Light post today!  Merry Christmas!)

Friday, November 25, 2011

What's important. This is it...

Like the past two days, we woke up to kids jumping on our bed,  ready to go at 6 a.m.  Showers, followed by a thankfully short-lived chase of Landen, who escaped our hotel room (which required a call to the front desk as he was nowhere to be found) and enjoyed a few rides, I assume, up and down the elevator, and then we loaded into the car to drive the 15 miles or so to the expanded land of my Grandpa.

 The build of my family isn't so unlike that which my grandparents had.  The oldest, a girl, and then two boys (my dad being the youngest).  As I sat in what used to be my grandma's chair today, I thought back on my memories of this house.  This, the house my dad grew up in, with the shag carpet and rolling doors and the acres of land that used to house cows, pigs, and chickens.  Memories of the stories my grandma used to tell of her own kids walking out each day to milk the cows and memories she had of my sister and I when we visited several times a year and we each had our own "pet" chickens.

I walked to the window and looked out to see my dad trekking up the "mountain," (as Braeden calls it) not with me and my sister, but now with my own kids.  Behind them held a beautiful landscape of blue mountains covered in snow and the heavy line of trees where I can't see it, but I know familiarly that they house and shelter a creek that runs through the land.

The smell of this house takes me back every single time.  Images of my grandma, who passed away only 6 years ago, are as fresh in my mind as the new snow that was already melting away today in the warm sun.  There are the results of the touch of her hand everywhere I look.  Pictures on the wall of family old and new, the cross stitching project I made for her when I was in third grade, the owl pot hanger positioned just above the stove...

I took over dinner tonight as my parents left for a while this evening.  I was in charge of reheating Thanksgiving dinner from last night in a home with no microwave.  As I worked around the oven, transferring pieces of last nights meal from one container to another, the sounds of rambunctiousness were above my head.  Several times I trekked up the old, creaky wooden stairs to check on my little ones.   Once, I came through the attic door to find Landen holding a small, old, pretty blue bottle with an overwhelming aroma of flowers in the air.  As I cleaned him up and collected the bottle and its lid, I realized I was smelling what would have been a scent that perhaps she wore when she was younger, and that this scene probably wouldn't have been too foreign to her - chasing down her own three children, while trying to make dinner, and laughing to herself as she cleaned up the pieces, knowing that this was her joy.

As we ate the delicious food (prepared the night before by my mom, who makes an amazing Thanksgiving meal), I watched, as if from looking outside in, as my grandpa teased my kids, conversation was free-er than usual and we all enjoyed each others company.

And as Jon and I were cleaning up, I came upon this scene.  Three generations a part, yet not so far apart to enjoy each others' company.

I sat down and breathed in the events of the day; the memories continuing to be made in this old, old house.  Emerson learned to cross stitch since we've been here.  My own kids found a creek and climbed the same "mountain" I did for the first time long, long ago.  I walked into the back porch that my children call the "garage" to find, with tears in my eyes,  my two oldest dancing together, Braeden twirling Emerson like a princess.  Looking out the window and not only seeing the most beautiful landscape, but equally as beautiful, the scene of Emerson and Braeden dancing and acting silly as Landen laughed hysterically in front of them.

I learned life lessons in this house.  I've felt a lot of love in this house.  This is a place that houses so many memories of my childhood, of time with my family, of getting to know my grandma and grandpa as they spoiled me with food and gifts and especially of being so tickled by my grandma's funny stories.

This house has seen so much.  It's given a home to stories of family and babies born in my grandparents' kids and then grandkids' families.  It's also been a home of our tears and comfort after my grandma passed away after living a long life.  And the funny stories and sweet memories continue.

This is life, this is what is important, and this is truly what I am thankful for.  This, right here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A jaw surgery update and Little boys love Christmas lights!

Right now, I hear a baby crying in the hallway of the hotel we are staying in.  The kids are sleeping soundly in the adjoined room next door and Jon and I have settled down ourselves for the night!  Tomorrow we will embark on making the drive out of town to my grandpa's beautiful land where we will be celebrating Thanksgiving with dear family and play outside in the crisp mountainous air and the most anticipated play with Max, the dog (which is quite humerus because my kids are 100% afraid of all dogs they ever run across, but for whatever reason, Max is different.  Silly kids!)  I am content.

So today marks 8 weeks!  The time has gone by so fast.  The joy of being home and regaining my strength with my littles nearby has been peppered here and there by the frustration of a liquid/puree diet and a still mostly numb chin and teeth, however healing has been much easier among the business of school schedules of  2 and a two year old!

Some small achievements:

I'm not sure how many millimeters I can open at this point, but I'm able to fit 9 tongue depressors stacked between my teeth.  That is a stretch from the four I began with! (It's my gauge at home to make sure I'm making progress with all of my stretching).

Feeling has just begun to come back into my chin.  It's not the relief I was expecting, though!  The nerves on my chin, when touched (or blown on by the wind), sends pain through the roots of my bottom teeth.  My skin feels like skin when it's "waking up" from being "asleep," but on steroids.  I'm wishing it along quickly to get full feeling again and get past the sensitivity.

The screw in my upper gums is driving me crazy, but I've been informed that I'll get this thing (all 1 inch of it) taken out in January (along with the hook in my bottom gums).

Swelling is down, but I still have some remaining, which I knew would probably be the case.

Finally, 8 weeks, is a special milestone!  I was given permission to eat soft foods (scrambled eggs, overcooked noodles, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie... Hello Thanksgiving!  Woo!) and probably as exciting, I am allowed to sleep on my side again!  Ah, such RELIEF!  My first Gerber-graduate type meal meal was Perkins' pancakes.  SO, so good! (I'll note, though, that chewing didn't just come to me like I was expecting.  It sounds ridiculous, but it was actually pretty hard.  My muscles have remained pretty dormant for the past eight weeks and being located a little differently now made it hard work to "chew" (if I could call it that) pancakes.)

I don't have any real recent pictures of myself except the one you see in the header of my blog (taken a few weeks ago), but I'll get Jon to take one of me soon so I have some more comparison of the changes.

Now, onto the joy of Christmas.

The usual:  Lights, Christmas trees, ornaments, and decorations always fill the couple of days before we leave for Thanksgiving.  This year was no exception as we all hung up the ornaments with the usual clump of ornaments hanging on the bottom branches placed there by the little hands.  This is the memory I carry most of Christmas when I was little, including a lot of fight scenes between my sister and I.  Ha!  I love that we are creating traditions.

The greatest excitement was shown in squeals turned to silence as colored lights were hung in the kids bedroom on their beds.  They became mesmerized. 

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the beautiful ceremony I was able to see of my sister-in-law and my two beautiful nieces.  Erin has been digging into the Bible, fellowship, and being the light of Jesus to her girls.  She stood in front of her church Saturday and dedicated McKenna and Peyton to Jesus, vowing to be held accountable for bringing them up in the love of Christ along with our vow to hold her up in prayer and support her.  It was actually really special because her girls are old enough to understand, to see their mom making this commitment, to see the importance it is to Erin and to see the support they have within their church and family.  It was beautiful.  I was thankful to be there with our family.

Well, I'm off to SLEEP ON MY SIDE!  Oh, and also enjoy the hostess cupcake Jon just went out to get for me.  Ummm, yes, cupcakes are SOFT!  :)

Good night!  I hope your day tomorrow is filled with the joy of family and friends and much to give thanks for.   Happy Thanksgiving!  :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

There has never been anyone like you, ever in the world

On the night you were born, 
the moon smiled with such wonder
that the stars peeked into see you 
and the night wind whispered,
"Life will never be the same."

...So whenever you doubt just how special you are
and you wonder who loves you, how much and how far,
listen for geese honking high in the sky.
(They're singing a song to remember you by.)
Or notice the bears asleep at the zoo.
(It's because they've been dancing all night for you!)
Or drift off to sleep to the sound of the wind.
(Listen closely... it's whispering your name again!)

 -- On the Night You Were Born
by Nancy Tillman

 Just a few of the verses from a book I read to Braeden today.  

This morning was Braeden's family Thanksgiving feast with his preschool class.  Our plan for the day had been changed.  With necessary weekly visits to the orthodontist now, I had once rescheduled this appointment already and tomorrow the office is closed.  The plan was revised, with hesitation, that Jon would go ahead and take off of work and he would be the one to attend the family feast with Braeden while I went to my appointment.  

However, the plan was revised again when Landen awoke with a swollen throat, fever, runny nose, and cough which prompted me to suggest Jon take Landen into the doctor after dropping Braeden off at preschool and before the feast.  The doctor then confirmed both Strep and a cold (poor Landen!).

Besides the fact that he was feeling pretty miserable, this meant Landen shouldn't be around other little ones.

Which meant Braeden would have no parents or family at the Thanksgiving feast today. 

Braeden was picked up after preschool today, seemingly unphased, and when I got home from my appointment shortly after lunch, he and I settled down to read this book.

And I couldn't make it through.

I couldn't hold back the tears as I read the words in the book.  It's really pretty silly because Braeden was happy that he had dinner with his best buddy, Eli, and his mommy and daddy (who is really family to us anyway), and another great friend's mommy helped him get his plate.  Because of these things he had a full belly and got to have lunch with friends today!  Score! (At least in his mind)

But in my mind we failed. 

OK, I realize that these situations were out of my control.  We didn't know the day would play out the way it did, but I held in my mind the image of excited 3, 4, and 5 year old faces lighting up as their parents walked in while Braeden waited in anticipation, glancing toward the door, until dinner was ready to be eaten and he realized we weren't coming and someone else had to help him get his plate. 

This may or may not have been how it went down, but it was a stark reminder that it really is my job, my calling, and my passion to really show him that he was and is not forgotten.

In a couple of weeks, we'll have all but forgotten the preschool feast.  It will be ancient history in Braeden's mind as we move quickly toward the magic season of Christmas.  

I will choose to bring with me, though, the sentiment of the words I read to Braeden today.  The reminder from my Creator today that He created me to make choices to love my son; to show and encourage and point to Him as I lay with him at night, as I listen to him sing songs each day, as I do my best to always be at his special occasions, and as I balance my love and grace with logic and discipline so that he can come away knowing that he is special, he has my heart no matter what happens in his life, and that most importantly, he can rest in the fact that he is loved and safe and celebrated here with us at home.  

This, another verse from the book, is one I believe is really true, and loved sharing with Braeden on my lap today.

 Heaven blew every trumpet
and played every horn
on the wonderful, marvelous
night you were born.

Braeden, after briefly wondering why I was sad while reading this new book, even though it had happy pictures, picked up and ran off and kept playing (making his sweet sick brother laugh and laugh with the pillows on the couch).  

I'm thankful for the reminder today that Braeden held some grace for me, too.  His 5 year old heart believed me when I said I was sorry we missed it, hugged me, and went on to play and laugh in our living room.

He makes me a very blessed mommy!   :)


Tuesday, November 08, 2011

My Bucket List

I have been challenged to create a bucket list (see the details at the bottom of my post - it's a fantastic idea and worthy cause!)  Creating a bucket list for the purpose of stirring up the excitement of life and life goals really is a great way to remind us of the many things we have to live for (and is very fun to create)!  Falling into the mundane of life is easy to do, but it's exciting to be reminded we've been given.  Only God knows how long the span of our life will be, but the time we're given is a gift and every single moment gives us the opportunity to make good choices, to do what is good and worthy, and to love without hesitation.  Having children makes this statement seem even more pressing.  The cliche of these early years flying by is very true!  It does.  This time I have with my babies is fleeting and the moments I have to impress the important things in life, share in the joy (and sometimes disappointment) of aspiring to do our best, and follow our dreams and callings is short!   

Making life goals - fun, heavy, serious, silly or lofty - is a worthwhile task.  It's inspiring.  

Will you make one with me?  Make it good.  Make it meaningful.  Make it fun.  And then, start crossing off those items! 

 I loved being challenge to make this list, as I have never actually made one before!  

In no particular order:

1.  I want to sing again.  I miss it so much!  I want to sing with a choir again and beyond that, someday travel to Europe to sing perhaps a beautiful Requiem of a great composer in a grand Cathedral (it sounds lofty, but there have been opportunities before that passed me by.  I know there could be one again!).  

2.  I want to share my love of music with my children.  I want to teach my kids how to play piano, and I hope to someday, enjoy my love of music alongside of them, making music together.

3.  I want to learn more every day about taking pictures, composing shots, editing photos, and capturing moments that people want to remember.  I'd love to take some classes!  At this point I love it as a hobby and as my creative outlet, but someday I think I would love for it to become more than just a hobby.

4.  Scotland holds much of my ancestry and I desire to someday travel there and spend time with long distance family and learn more about the home of my grandma and great grandparents and beyond.

5.  Our family is lucky and blessed enough to support a child in Thailand (through Compassion International) and it would be amazing for our family to someday meet the sweet little girl we correspond with and her family.  

6.  I want to volunteer and serve alongside my children.

7.  Someday I would love to travel with Jon - to Australia... to Canada... I'm not sure.  But I want to explore another country with him.

8.  Read the entire Bible.  I am ashamed that I have been a believer of Christ for more than 10 years and have read much of the Bible, but not all of it.  (This is one I can and should start TODAY!).

9.  I want to find my niche in the exercise world.  What I mean is, several of my friends enjoy running, but I just don't love or desire it like they do.  Perhaps I could dance or bike or swim.... I want to figure that out.

10.  Having a home that caters to hosting has been a dream of mine since becoming a home owner.  I want to have parties and host dinners and have Thanksgiving at OUR house someday.

11.  Someday I'll teach again.  And when I do, I want to be good at it, to be fun, and to feel the great calling and purpose of teaching young minds.  

12.  I want to go to another (or several) Broadway show (and perhaps be a member of the Sing Off Audience, too!).  

13.  Jon's family lives on the East coast and I have never been to that side of the country or seen the Atlantic Ocean.  I want to swim in the Atlantic.

14.  I want to learn to play the guitar.  And well.

15.  I want to be a full supporter of my kids' dreams and desires. I hope to be uninhibited in supporting them, finances or not, risks or not.  I want them to do what they love or what God has called them to do!

I think that's it!  If you decide to join in and make a list, will you please add your link or even your list in the comments?  Of course, enter your link in the site below for the chance of winning a prize.  This is a good motivator, too!  :)

Happy listing!

This is my entry in the Just Ask Bucket List Getaway Giveaway. Just Ask offers a breast and ovarian cancer screening and is encouraging people to share 15 things that I want to enjoy in my lifetime as a reminder to be aware of my health. Want to enter? Head over to TodaysMama.com to get the details. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Real life is the good life

Honeymoon phase between the kids and I is officially over!  They have resumed their normal sibling rivalries and the occasional defiance, though I think my senses are still heightened.  It doesn't take much for me to remember how much it ached to be far away and I'm reminded to not take for granted this precious time with them.  The joy from returning is still present.

I picked up my camera this week for the first time in about a month and it felt SO good.  I had forgotten how much I love to document our family life in this way and let myself enjoy the creativity of taking pictures.


Capturing family pumpkin carving, rolling down the leafy hills at the park, and drawing on the screen door window, freshly steamed from dinner baking in the oven - this is the real life I've been able to capture, reminding me in this season of difficulty, to just be thankful.

And, um,  check out that boy in the 'big boy' undies!  Today was day one of potty training and not one single accident ALL DAY!  Can I get a woo hoo from all the parents out there?!  He told us each time he had to go (even after we put the diaper back on for bedtime tonight) and made it through nap time.  I think Landen really loves me - or maybe it's the M&M reward system.  :)

As for me, I'm doing well!  It's been four weeks today since surgery!  I look for the joy and the humor in the place I am.   I mean, I have some serious ventriloquist skills going on right now.  Jon enjoys thinking up funny things to make me say.  Jon so easily makes me laugh and laughing, while not totally comfortable, is stretching out that scar tissue and I believe it's bringing my face back to life.  :)
My sister and I.  I think we are looking much more alike now, after surgery!

 After the joy, though, I sometimes get discouraged.  Discouraged with the discomfort (though, thankfully still no pain), with the numbness and inability to open my mouth very far,  and with the blended diet.  Wonderful friends have been bringing the kids delicious meals and while serving them, my mouth waters and I imagine enjoying these yummy foods, while instead I wait for Jon to blend my can of Campbell's soup (yes Jon blends most of my foods for me.  What a guy!).  It's only a short time until I can eat real food, though, right?  Only 28 more days, at three meals a day... ugh!  I'll get there...

(And you know, some of these friends' meals I've been able to blend, and there are those who bring me shakes or juices, so I suppose it's not entirely bad ALL the time!)

But real life is resuming.  Taking kids to school, picking them up, naptimes, bathtimes and all the playtime in between has gained momentum in our routine again.  And for this I'm thankful.  Life is moving on.
 Thanks, friends, for doing this journey with me.  :)

(Oh, and mostly for me, here are a few from Emerson's birthday and party!)


Happy day to you!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A letter to my girl on her birthday

I'm a week late posting this (man, life has felt like it's getting away from me these days!).  A week ago today Emerson turned 7 years old.  Seven!  When I imagined having kids I imagined the littles I've had.  Seven, though.  That's big.  That's old.  That's not even close to a baby anymore. 

But my baby she'll always be.

And when she's someday older, together we'll sit down as mom and daughter, friends, and I imagine us chatting, laughing, and maybe crying together.  We'll talk about life, how things were, and what we were most thankful for.  Here are some of the things I hope to tell her, about the things I knew and saw when she turned seven. 

You are SO special.  I can see clearly some of the gifts that God has gifted you with in your seven years. You are one of the most compassionate, caring, sensitive, and most aware little person I've met.  And you may think I'm biased, and I am, but you are what you are.  You are my beautiful girl.

You're so smart - surprising me sometimes with an understanding beyond your years.   Your inquisitiveness feeds into  thoughtfulness - always wanting to know more so you can understand better and therefore do better somehow. 

When someone has caught your heart, I love how you let them know.  In pictures of crayons or paint, words, phone calls (and now lately, texts!), or any way to help, you'll find a way to show it. 

You are an artist!  I'm so excited for you about this!  You have a fantastic creative mind and a perseverance to do things right that makes your work shine!  I am so proud of you!

You can also be a perfectionist, practicing and practicing until you get it absolutely right.  Every time. (And right now your cartwheels and handstands amaze!)

You love us well.  I can see in you a genuine desire to serve us and show us that we are important to you (even those brothers who pester and pick on you most days!  :)). 

Someday, that smile of yours will melt the boys' hearts.  But for now it brightens the room, spreads easily, and makes my day. 

You are such a good friend.  Your desire to care for your friends and give them gifts is beautiful.  I pray so often that you remain the faithful and true friend that you are and that you find the friends who are the same to you.

I don't use feisty too often when I describe you, but I know you have a little bit of it in there somewhere!  And I can't wait to see how you  use it to push yourself and others to do well and at the same time use it for some fun and harmless mischief along the way.  :)

Kiddo, you celebrate life.  You celebrate well.  For any occasion (even our hamster's birthday) you are my go-to girl.  Decorating, planning, inviting, and preparing - you love to do it all.

I'm thankful to have you on my team in this house.  Just us girls.  :)  And there's something to say about that - something special about us.  We stick together.

I also want to tell you that you have blessed me so much since coming home from our long trip to California.  Your desire to be with me, to help me, to show me love and hugs and words of affirmation when you sense I'm discouraged has meant the world to me.  Don't let your young age fool you.  He is using you even now.  For a girl of now only seven, you have served me and showed me your faithfulness and kindness.  I'm so, so proud of you.

I can't wait to watch you grow and learn, fall down and pick yourself up again, and hear the details of your every day as long as you want to tell me them.  I pray that I show you every day that you are worth my time, my energy, and my heart.  There is nothing more pressing to me than our family and each other.  You are, and always will be, my sweet girl.

You are my first born.  I thank God for you every single day and pray for the special plans He has for you.  Happy (belated) birthday to my Emerson Anne!  I love you so much.



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