Follow Me in Merry Measure

It has begun. Today marks the birthday that begins the busy season of 5/6 of the family birthdays as well as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Eve.

Today we celebrated in subdued pandemic fashion. This year the boys are 8. I still remember the night the doctors/team came into my room and told me it was probably time to take them out.

I also remember with the wisdom of already having a child, I requested one final nights sleep before our world changed from 1 child to 3. Thus in direct part, the boys can only specifically blame me for being exactly 1 day before their father’s birthday as well as awfully close to Thanksgiving some years, as it is in 2020.

I remember thinking as I watched their little little chests struggling to breathe, how someday it would be a distant memory, how I would eventually not feel like my heart lived outside my chest most days. It was so tough leaving those little fellows in their little NICU boxes and driving home. Bug didn’t know it then but she was my reason for tearing myself away. I had her to care for and to love and squeeze when I couldn’t hold the boys. For those who don’t know, they were born at 29 weeks and they were both under 3 pounds. It was a whirlwind.

Today I watched as they woke up before the sun, enraptured by their birthday balloons. They watched too much TV, ate too much sugar and were about as loud and boisterous as usual. My little men. Growing into big men. What a gift it is.

Tomorrow we celebrate the man of the house, coincidentally on Thanksgiving this year. He will insist on at least 4 cups of coffee, at least 1 Monopoly game and will of course downplay that it is his birthday at all.

This year has been an odd one for many of us, yet deep down we still hold fast to our dearest traditions. To celebrate, to enjoy, to sing and blow out candles and give hugs. In these times I am thankful for a “big” family. We are mostly loud and very busy, our house is rarely clean.

It is a house with merry celebrating and glad hearts (most of the time).

I am thankful for many things on this Thanksgiving Eve, my 4 wonderful children are pretty high up on the list. They teach me lessons I didn’t know I needed. They help me stay young at heart.

Given the uncertainty of our world right now I am thankful for a God who is a Father, who loves without expectation but wants absolutely the best of everything for us.

May your heart be thankful in this busy season. Take time to slow down and wonder at the family that you have, the friends who love you and keep celebrating no matter the occasion.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve.

The Season of Change

Despite the constant pandemic and election news, the world has continued to rotate around the sun. The seasons still come and Autumn is upon us.

I’ve done all my favorite cliche things, had a fire, watched You’ve Got Mail and gone on windy and rainy outings. We drink all the cider and cocoa we can, eat pumpkin pancakes at least twice a week and inhale pumpkin scones like no ones business.

Literally everyone in my family is a Fall baby, although Bug is on the edge, having been born on the Solstice and ushering Winter in her wake. Perhaps this is the reason I love it so, or perhaps I love it because of growing up in Washington where it rains constantly and forces you to read all the books.

This school year is 5 weeks in and we are getting into the rhythm of things. I am sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for the boys to finally be reading well so that school makes more sense for them. They are all hard workers and I have days where I would rather stay in bed all day than teach 3 children and a toddler, but I tell myself it’s for the greater good of the world and thus another school day begins.

I have a lot of sympathy for all the unintended homeschooling going on this year. For the 2 parent working families, for the single mom’s and dad’s, this year contains a staggering amount of challenges for educating our kiddos. For those who have no idea what they are doing, but are still trying, I salute your efforts. Above all else, READ, read, read, read to your children. Have them read all they can get their hands on. Enjoy the time you get to spent with them. Although siblings can drive each other crazy, this is also kind of a neat time for them to grow closer and lean on each other through all this.

I wanted to share a poem I found in an old book. Unfortunately, I don’t know the author (if you can find out who let me know). Hopefully it cheers you up as you form a new routine around this school year and all its challenges.

Happy Fall!

BE NOT AFRAID

Be not afraid to work your way

Thru life’s descending sun.

Because of fear you’ll lose that ray

By which your battle will be won.

Be not afraid!

Be not afraid to face the strife

Thru which we all must go.

Without a fight there is no life,

Be not afraid!

Fear not to live and grope the dark

To find your own success.

For after all life is the spark

That lights the fire to happiness.

Be not afraid!

***********************************************************

“Nothing happens to anybody which he is not fit by Nature to bear”

-Marcus Aurelius.

One Day at a Time

Day 67:

Well, we are still in this folks. Slowly easing back to real life. Each day learning new things about this particular virus and what it can do.

We are in the home stretch with our school year and the kids and I are all just DONE. We are done with trying to focus and keep a normal when things are going crazy all around us.

To just put the cherry on top Skittle went and broke his leg while dancing, so that has put a crimp in our style as far as outside sojourns. Thankfully he can still get around with a little wheely chair and hopping on one foot. It has been a challenge to deal with an already emotional little guy who is processing having a pretty massive injury that has slowed him way down.

Broken leg aside everyone is pretty healthy and growing. The baby (who is almost 2.5) is starting to talk a bit more and wanting to join in all the big kid schemes. For some unknown reason she has also decided to start waking up at 5-6am again. Consequently I have started trying to go to bed early to combat the crack of dawn calls of “mama!” It seems simple enough, but when kids are up at 6 and then not really asleep until 8-9pm it leaves very little time for silence and remembering I am an adult aside from being a mother.

I am treasuring my alone time when I get it, and taking some measure of peace in knowing this is not forever. History is a constant repeat of highs and lows and I think though this temporary insanity feels unbearable, we will marvel down the road that we made it through.

Cheers to another day together.

 

E

 

 

The One with the Pandemic

It hardly seems a normal title, however, this is the new normal.

For most of us around the globe we have seen our world go from usual to unusual in around the span of 30 days or less. We are living in a time of pandemic, a 100 years since our last encounter with something of this magnitude.

Heading to pick up dry cleaning? Closed.

Heading to grab coffee with a friend? No longer a societal norm.

Meeting your colleagues for lunch? Not allowed.

As Americans, this staying at home to slow the spread has been a challenge. We are used to our freedoms and tend to bristle at being told what to do. Our Republic has temporarily changed into one where we now have lines wrapped around the block to pick up groceries, and in some cases no groceries to be had when we finally get inside.

For me, it was February 29th when I realized it was getting serious, and about to get serious here in the US. We live in WA state and were the first to get a positive patient who was hospitalized with SARS-Covid-2 or “Covid-19” or “coronavirus” all names used to describe a particularly contagious combined upper and lower respiratory condition which strikes at those most infirm but has (thus far) a lower death rate.

By March 13 my husband was home and his firm had adjusted to having all of its 100 employees working from home. It was a big change, but the positive is that he is still working, as are his fellow employees.

As I write this I am perched at his desk (a folding table from the basement) looking out into our neighbors lawn. Thankfully we do have a spare room that was already set up as an office/man room. I cannot imagine him taking phone calls and video conferencing anywhere else in the house with 4 kids roaming around.

I think the kids at home adjustment has been pretty brutal for kids and parents alike. It is wonderful to be with family but it must be heartbreaking for seniors in HS and college to suddenly have the rug pulled out from under their feet. We are collectively all coping with a huge mental break as this thing bears down on us and the news cycle is 24/7 information overload.

Thankfully since we homeschool we can finish out our year just fine. The biggest adjustment has been for this extrovert and all my adventurers to suddenly not go anywhere or do anything aside from a daily walk or bike ride around the neighborhood or park. A daily outside excursion has certainly helped in the worst of times, as has our faith.

We live in an imperfect world but thankfully I believe in a perfect God. I don’t know the why of all of this, but there is always a reason. I think this season may fundamentally shift things for a lot of us on this planet, and I can only hope it is a shift in the right direction. For now I am trying to be thankful for a few things every day. No matter how bad it may get I know as long as there is breath in my lungs and my heart beats I can be thankful.

I miss my family. We have already missed 2 birthdays and will most likely miss a few more. I am really proud of the kids taking it in stride, this huge lifestyle change. They do understand and are grasping the concept of “a greater good”. We do this for all those that cannot, we do it so hospitals will not be overwhelmed, we do this for people whom we love.

This is a time of great sacrifice for many of us, and I cannot wait for the great joy and thanksgiving that will follow, when we emerge from our cocoons of isolation and walk into a different world than the one we left.

Keep your chin up, and lets do this together, for all of humanity.

Just remember, God has the whole world in His hands.

Just make sure to wash yours.

E

 

Goals vs. Growth

Most years I tend to whirlwind through January. Checking off to do lists gleefully and wondering where the days went. The house is never clean, but the workings get a dusting off. This year it didn’t exactly all happen. I’m tired. Just overall, having 4 kids and essentially managing 6 lives is exhausting. I can’t pretend its not. I won’t ever have a clean house or look like someone out of a magazine. Most days I have my hair in a mom bun and have trouble putting on real clothes before 8am. This is my life. I love my life, my complaints are minor, but I feel like it is okay to admit that it takes a lot out of me some days!

This year I finally felt like letting go of some of my aggressive “goals” while wholeheartedly embracing others. This year I don’t have any of my filing sorted yet, because when you keep 3 years of impeccable financial and medical files as I do, quite frankly you don’t want to have to look at them unless the IRS is calling. I usually rollover a new year and shred/sort/keep/recycle all the paperwork. Right now, it is sitting in our office/man room and I’m okay if I don’t see it until June.

Last year in January I started prioritizing time for ME. The Husband and I signed up for starlight yoga every Wednesday and we have been going now for a year. It has been fantastic for both of us. Date night with no talking, no kids and going straight to bed after stretching for an hour? Welcome to 12 years of marriage! In all seriousness, it benefits him because he sits in a chair all day and talks on the phone and for me the silence is almost like being at the spa, not to mention how tight my hips are from having 4 kids and running around with them constantly. I also started trying to run/walk 2x a week last year and I have been somewhat consistent with that as well. I haven’t seen many fitness gains, but I sure can tell I have a better mental attitude.

All this to say, perhaps this year is your year to let go of some “Goals” and focus on “Growth”. As much as my type A self wants to get things done, here are some ways I am more focused on Growth than Goals this year:

1. Financial Growth: this feels like the first year where I have really looked at if our money is working for us. I finally sat down and compared interest rates across the board on our savings, IRA’s and investment accounts. Let’s face it, interest rates are bad if you are trying to save, although ideal for any homebuyers thus far this year. For me, I’ve decided to do my best to set some money aside into anything that earns more than 1.5%. For us this meant some short-term CD’s (certificates of deposit) and moving some money into an e-account which is still FDIC insured but earning 1.75%. We want to be somewhat liquid but also make our money work for us if possible. I am also trying to squeeze more money into my investment account if I won’t miss it in the household budget. The market is an adventure, who knows what will happen, but putting your money under a mattress certainly isn’t doing much.

2. Mental Growth: I am going to try to schedule myself a writing workshop for this year (I say this because it has been a goal for 3 years….it WILL happen this year!) as well as scheduling my writing time (as my exercise) away from the house with certain measurements in place. I am writing this post at a café downtown, alone and with something yummy. Major thanks to the Husband who is putting them all to bed in my absence after a long week himself. My aim is 1 post a month and I figure the last day of January is a good place to start! I love to write and as much as I was occasionally able to blog last year, I realized how much I missed being more consistent in documenting our lives and my writing.

3. Physical Growth: This is a tough one for me. I love my 4 beautiful babies, but they did a doozy on my body and my health. I had some good work put in last year and this year I really want to buckle down and get my labs looking better and feeling better in my body. I also want to sign up for a few races, even with the kiddos it’s fun. I don’t often lack confidence regardless of what size I am, but I am feeling more pressure to really get in better shape as I approach 35. My “baby” is 2 and since I know I am not having more my journey can only go up from here. This means going back to Pilates (which I love) 2x a week if I can. I have told myself I have to do 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. I love dancing and I found an ancient Dance Central game from pre kids, so I have been busting out the Xbox Kinect a few nights a week to do my cardio and I LOVE it. I love competition against myself (the best kind) and dancing doesn’t feel like an intensive weight regime.

4. Spiritual: I have not been consistent at all in any sort of Bible study on my own or within a group. I need to prioritize my reading time when the kids and I do Bible for school and make sure I am delving in and listening to what God has to say to me. I miss the intensive frenetic study of being a student, but I also need to find a balance in the quiet moments since I am a busy mama. I have been devouring library books (I try to read 100+ books a year) but I need to do my Bible reading first. I also love history and catch myself getting lost in the stories, I would love to find some books that explore the history of what was happening parallel to the Biblical narrative. To do!

In the end, I am not one for big New Year resolutions, so instead of specific goals, I am aiming for growth. As I grow older, I can only hope to grow wiser, and I hope some of my ramblings on the subject can motivate any of you who are staring at the vast landscape that is the next 11 months.

Happy New Year! May the 20’s be roaring in the best way.

Adieu, until next time.