Monday, April 30, 2012


I am ignoring a clean dishwasher that needs to be unloaded, a sink full of dirty dishes, and sticky countertops. It is naptime. I didn't write at all last week, and by yesterday I was bursting at the seams. Not in a good way either. Sometimes I just don't have much to say, but that was not the case last week. I had so much to say but so much tiredness too and an endlessly needy little guy. Good ideas come and then float away while I'm busy with life, and the end of the day comes and all that's left is blankness, the need for a hot shower, cold water to drink, and a bit of nothing for a while.

But if I don't write something, express something, make something--the day feels somewhat empty, and I just don't feel right. I'm thinking I need to carve out some space in the early morning, a few days a week, before little bodies are awake and hungry, to write and pray and think.

I got my tattoo. It's all healed up and I love how it turned out. It says "His eye is on the sparrow." The truest and most needful thing I could think of to inscribe onto myself.

Even though I was dying for some time to write/express/whatever, I was calmer. I intentionally spoke gently to my kids in the morning rush around and I took time to breathe. I have a print in my kitchen that says "hush, be still" and I look at it while I do the same things over and over each day; I think it's getting into my soul, finally. Yesterday morning I was reading Brian McLaren's book Naked Spirituality and did a little meditation on the word here. It was so beautiful and helpful, really. I am here, God is here. Wherever I go after this moment, whatever chaos ensues or doesn't, I am here and God is here. That was the gist of it, and it was a flashlight to my dark hiking trail for sure.

But. In the afternoon I totally blew it, got angry, lost all that calm I had been working toward. I had some rough news and hit my tipping point I suppose. I wanted to run away before an old familiar hurt could catch us again. I feel scared and sad and so, so vulnerable right now. I'm realizing just how much fear I've been harboring, and it's not going to be a picnic dealing with it. But I think I'm going to anyway. Vaguest paragraph ever, I know. Just need to get what I can down, for now.

So I'm back to it, today. I am here, God is here. Everything will be okay, chaos or not.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

capable: a letter

Dear Mama,

I don't know what stage of this mothering life you're in. Maybe you hold the dream of mothering in your heart but your hands are empty, for now. Or your body has been taken over by a thumping, kicking, nausea-inducing, skin-stretching little being who will soon rock your world. Or you've finished a mountain of paperwork and had your privacy invaded and you're growing a sweet little one in your heart; gestation length unknown. Maybe you're ravenously eating something while you nurse your newborn, in survival and sweetness all at once, drinking fast gulps of sleep like it's water. Maybe you're like me, in the lukewarm coffee, carpet-of-toys, aching over one baby in school and the other becoming a toddler, oh no this is going by too fast stage. Maybe your kids are now impossibly tall and consuming impossible amounts of food, and I could learn a thing or twelve from your experience. In any case, we're in the thick of it aren't we? This is tricky--it looks so easy from the outside and yet we feel ill-equipped to do this sacred job justice; we keep getting in the way of ourselves.

My kids are little, and I already want to start over. I want to have been as patient with my five year old as I'm able to be with my one year old. It's already too late for perfection; it was too late on day one. I'm a slow learner, but now I know, now I get it--how fast this all goes. The loud toddler protests and the wide hippo-mouthed cries will pass, his brain will change and he'll become reasonable, and this magical non-word language we have right now will be replaced with plain English. And I will be glad for that as well I suppose, but there's no going back. That's just it, isn't it? We don't get everything at once, that's the bittersweet truth.

We shine and we fail. One minute I'm living in the mystery and beauty of it all, drizzling laughter and silliness and generosity over the mundane like chocolate syrup on vanilla, and then what do you know? I'm yelling, frustrated to the max and where the heck did that come from?

Even so, there are some really special God moments to be had. There are help, I don't know how to do this moments, in which I am humbled to the dust, fully aware of just how human and frail I am. There are the times you hear a new steadiness and strength in your voice, feel it in your steps, and you think oh, thank you. I needed this help today. All these things you're doing now, all the sacrificing of time, the biting your tongue--it will matter to them, at some point. Apologize, stay soft, be vulnerable, be steady even if it means going slow, embrace that mama bear strength, wisdom whispers, because no one can mother your children the way you can.

There's really no separation between giving and receiving, I'm starting to realize; just inflow, outflow, inflow, outflow.  And I've come to believe, finally, that they benefit from the real me. Not the future, perfect me (ha) but me, right now. I'm slow to learn, but this is how God is parenting me right now, with this freeing knowledge. This is how he is smoothing over my rough edges. I am more gentle with them when I am gentle with myself. I'm learning to move forward without despising the precious right now. Sit back, take a deep breath and feel God smile over your work, over all you are learning and teaching.

I feel like I learn the same things over and over, every day. Fresh air always helps, laughter always helps, gratitude over the little things will save your sanity, you can't say I love you too much or listen too closely or inhale their scent too many times or choose the mess too many times and no one, no one can mother your children the way you can.

You are capable.

Encouragement for mothers in the trenches? Um, yes please. Learn more about Mother Letters here. You can also read more letters, write your own, and get the e-book. I love this project!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

morning walk

It was beautiful and breezy this morning, so after we dropped Nicky off at school Silas and I went for a walk. I'm trying to incorporate exercise into life more lately, which is pretty cool since I haven't felt the need to do anything exercise-related in months (it's been a seriously lazy winter).

Fresh air is good for the soul, and I'm brimming with gratefulness for several things today. First, I heard from my mother a few days ago that the hip replacement surgery we thought was inevitable doesn't have to happen. It's pretty amazing--she's had a broken hip for months, and the way it was broken typically disrupts circulation, but it's healing properly on it's own. I'm so glad. She just has to walk a lot and build up her bones, but she gets to keep her own bones! What a relief.

And secondly I just feel so grateful to have all this space in my life, to breathe deep and be creative and spend non-stressful time with my littles. What a gift that is. Of course there are the cyclical things like housework and laundry and my incessant battle with dog hair, but seriously, right now I'm sitting with an iced coffee, blogging, while my toddler explores and plays around me, and I get to watch him discover the little things. I get the joy of putting him down for a nap, and getting him up from a nap. I have time to make things, to enjoy the fruits of my labor. It just seems like the little things--feeling the breeze on my face, preparing food, smelling bath-clean hair, reading a new book with a dog on my feet, laughing over verses in Ecclesiastes with Ricky, filling moments with music and silliness, looking forward to a square of dark chocolate with sea salt after the boys are asleep--those are gifts and I get to unwrap them everyday.

I get to inject excitement into my children's lives, to teach them gratefulness as well. There are things that are hard, like Nicky taking an hour to do one worksheet last night and consequently having no free time to play (and having to stick to my guns even though I so wanted to let him stay up later), or when Silas overturns a full basket of clean, folded laundry (happening as I write this) and the moments where I'm just wanting to accomplish something or think a full thought but I'm needed for something else--but wow, life is so sweet. And I just have to laugh as he runs around the house with my pajama pants on his head, declaring loudly in toddler-speak. I want to always remember this feeling, this windows-open, seeing the beauty, giving thanks moment. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

play kitchen

This past week Ricky and I did this little project together. Honestly he did about 75% of the work, as I'm fairly terrified of all things involving saws. It was fun and frustrating, as projects tend to be. Inspired by Pinterest of course.

We used an old kitchen cart/tv stand that's been sitting in our garage for about a year, and attached a flat board to the back after painting both pieces. 

Ricky cut a circle for the sink, and attached another piece of flat board on hinges for the oven door, and added a door pull onto it. We used a craft cardboard "J" and wooden craft balls and wheels for the sink and oven knobs, and painted on the burners with chalkboard paint. Everything is screwed into place except for the cardboard J which will definitely need to be replaced. We used Gorilla glue for that, but Silas has already pulled it off twice. I'm on the lookout for a wooden J that doesn't contain curlicues and that's not too small. The bowl for the sink and the little shelf were thrift store finds. I have an empty picture frame for a window as well that needs to be put on. I made a simple curtain and hung it on a tension rod.

The boys were around while we were making it, so it wasn't a total surprise, but we did stay up late Saturday night to finish it and stocked it with some play food and dishes that they didn't know about. They were excited to see it all finished and ready to play with. Silas just likes that he gets to take stuff out and carry it around, and Nicky's had fun playing restaurant with it. I'm so glad they like it, and I'm also excited to have something that both girls and boys can enjoy, since we may have a little girl staying with us soon.

It feels really good to have this done. It sure looked a lot easier to make than it was! Thanks, Ricky, for innocently agreeing to "help" me with this project.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter 2012

We had a really nice Easter Sunday this year. Ricky was asked to play music with some friends for the city-wide sunrise service, so we all went. The boys stayed snuggled up and quiet for exactly one song, then we made a not-so-graceful exit to the back of the park so they could move around. Our kids are used to running, playing, and being fed copious amounts of sugar while at church, so. (Reminds me of the time we visited our friends' church, technically a cathedral, and Nicky said loudly "let's get out of here, Papa.") 

I enjoyed it and hope it's a tradition we keep up, even if I'm that parent :)

Next, we indulged in some Santa Fe Grill burritos and did Resurrection Eggs with Nicky. They're such a great teaching tool.

Since we got up so early, we had a nice slow morning and then went to church. Here's what I love about worshiping on Easter Sunday: it's a little easier than usual to lay everything aside and just sing and be joyful. At least for me, and especially this Easter. Because I have struggled so much with my faith for years now, times of ease and lightness are such a gift. I just love Jesus; that's all I really know. A day that celebrates Jesus and the arrival of Spring--now that is a good day.

After church we prepped lunch and put an enormous ham in the oven while Silas took a long nap. We dyed eggs outside and finished planting our garden. We're growing Roma tomatoes, basil, ancho chile, jalapeno, lettuce, spinach, green onions, mint and cantaloupe so far, and maybe corn and some green beans when I get a trellis set up.

Once Silas woke up, we ate lunch and then set the boys loose to hunt for eggs.


Then we parents collapsed on couches and the kids continued running around. In other words, a typical Sunday evening :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

foster/adoption update

Today our social worker came over, mainly to do a final home inspection but also to tie up some loose ends. She asked if we're willing to take a sibling group, if we're willing to be on the "after-hours" call list, and if we'll provide respite care to kids of any age. I pretty much gave our stock answer: "it depends".  (Respite care means watching other foster parents' kids for a few days so can have a break. Foster parents can request up to three days of respite per month, but it's not really guaranteed since there has to be someone willing to do it.)

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that today would be the first official day of our licensure. We're foster parents!  Honestly, this process has been so drawn out that I expected it to be a few more weeks before we heard anything definitive. I don't know when we'll start receiving calls, but it could be very soon from what I understand.

She suggested we have some clothes ready, so I perused a little in Target this afternoon and found some cute comfy things. It's really hard to know what to buy at this point, since we could be placed with a kiddo who's anywhere from a newborn up to age five, and also it's likely that we'll have many precious little people pass through our home before we're able to adopt. I'm thinking I'll hit up the thrift stores this week and try to have just one outfit in each size for starters. Buying little clothes sure makes this whole thing seem a lot more real.

As far as other practical preparations go, we may need another carseat, crib, toddler bed, or twin bed. We have an infant carseat and a spare toddler booster seat, and a pack-n-play that could serve as a bed in an emergency. This is definitely motivation to stay on top of things cleaning-wise. From what we've learned, it's important to stick close to home for a while when a new kiddo comes to live with us, since they can be pretty traumatized, so I guess just being prepared for that is something to think about. One foster parent suggested having comfort food on hand.

I'm feeling grateful and also a little scared. This thing has always been a mix of exciting and scary though. I've really just been waiting--kind of wanting to "nest" but really having no idea what makes sense to do--so it feels good to have something I can actually do with my hands, even if the details are still uncertain. I'm certainly praying for wisdom, and trying to prepare my heart. This is such a bittersweet thing, but we feel strongly drawn to it.

So that's the latest :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

29 gifts

  • waking up to the sound of baby feet headed my way, and little boy whispers and Papa directing.
  • my sweet husband who seriously spoiled me today--with lovely presents, birthday pancakes and coffee, and a whole day together....and he spent a good chunk of time outside in the cold wind cutting boards for the play kitchen  I'm making we're making for the kiddos. 
  • the way he makes me feel so, so loved.
  • the way he plays with our kids.
  • my new iPad (wow!) that's on it's way (seriously spoiled here).
  • the fun of opening up facebook and seeing lots of sweet, funny and encouraging messages (remember birthdays before facebook?)
  • this song I heard this morning. I am so grateful for God's perfect peace. I feel it in my marrow lately.
  • my church community
  • this post and specifically Isaiah 50:4-10. To know the word that sustains the weary. So, so beautiful. 
  • color when I look out the window
  • Nicky, who thanked God for doors (so when we go places we can go in) and napkins, and for the food, and for "everything" when he prayed for dinner tonight. Actually, his prayers in general are a gift--he always thanks God for whatever little thing is on his mind. I told him he already knows some pretty important stuff about life.
  • Another Nicky thing--on Sunday he helped one of our friends clean up her classroom after church, without being asked (and actually I didn't know where he was), after an illustrated sermon that was largely about being a servant like Jesus. Coincidence, or maybe he "got it"....either way I'm a proud mama.
  • laughter
  • gardens, potential
  • one more year of being twenty-something, because I'm a bit more aware of my mortality these days.
  • soul-stirrings and dreams
  • Nicky putting a pillow under my feet before he went to bed so I'll be "comf-ter-ble"
  • baby curls and soft after-bath skin
  • Silas, blowing kisses and waving goodbye, head-butting and laughing, burying his face in the dog and marching around like he owns the place, asking for mas and laying his head on my shoulder. I'm a mama of a toddler again, and I kind of love it (mostly. you know.)
  • Ricky helping me paint the back door blue. I love how it turned out.
  • Springtime and energy, even if it does include the darn wind. 
  • text messages from my mom
  • a group of people to meet with each week and talk about the deeper things--it's been awhile since we made time for a small group and it's so nice to be part of one again. 
  • finally deciding on the script/design for my tattoo--hopefully getting it soon!
  • courage to tell the truth, and also to listen
  • heavy burdens being lifted
  • the big piece of tiramisu I'm about to share with Ricky
  • stillness.
  • knowing that no matter what day it is, my favorite thing is just to be with my little family

Sunday, April 1, 2012

thoughts on Palm Sunday

Out of all the special days in the church calendar, I think Palm Sunday might speak the most deeply to me. It's such a paradox: a sobering reminder of how fickle and showy we humans can be and at the same time a joyful celebration of the goodness of God. We wave palm branches, we sing or cry out Hosanna! and we know the betrayal, the crucifixion, is coming. It happens in the story; it happens in our hearts. We love him so much. We fall so hard. Hosanna captures the paradox; crying out for help and declaring praise in the same breath.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

How did you set your face like a flint toward Jerusalem, knowing our nature? Knowing we would hide away and protect our own interests? Knowing our capacity to understand and then somehow forget?

I love these stories in part because they continue to happen; they tell us so much about ourselves and more importantly they tell us who he is.

I am Peter, seeking to promote myself. I am Judas, looking for fast comfort and coming up empty. Sometimes, in my better moments, I set what is precious to me at your feet and simply worship. I want more of those moments. I want to live there.

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