Thursday, May 12, 2016

Week In The Life: Thursday

Thursday. The day I often refer to as the day before Friday, as if it is only a stepping stone to a better day. I have been weighing that today as the day played out.

And although I had huge intentions, lofty, unreachable ones, of beginning my day like Mary Poppins herself, it felt a bit more like Cruella De Vil. Okay, not really, but you know.

I certainly did not drip with the sweetness of honey.... or the determination of the bees who gather and work so hard. I was tired.

Too tired for the breakfast I had planned to make this morning, but life it was it is and sometimes you press on and get it done, and somewhere deep inside you know it will get easier as you muscle through it.

And sometimes while you are in the shower, you leave them in a little too long, and they are a bit too brown. But they are still so warm and tasty that no one seems to care. Children are full of grace. Grace for our bad attitudes, grace for our overbaked muffins, grace that gives us fresh starts and new beginnings, more than just once a day, but hour by hour, minute by minute, if needed.

I prepared for some quality time with this girl. She was so excited all morning at the prospect of mommy time, just her and I, that when cuddling in our bed this morning, she moved completely out of the way for her brother, who wanted to snuggle close to mommy for a few minutes, and proclaimed, "Well, I will be all alone with mommy soon, so you need to have her now."
She has grown so much this year, become so aware of others, and their needs and feelings. Motherhood is full of these growing moments to celebrate. May I always choose to celebrate each and every one.

A little waiting for her is usually a struggle, but today she seemed to enjoy the attention it was bringing. And the pictures.

We went for a visit up this beautifully lined road. My heart hurts at the thought of it. Of the words, of the confusion. I wish I could stop this process, turn back time. I wish he knew who we were today. I wish it did not make him so embarrassed and sad that he did not know. The last, the only, Grandpa my children know, no longer knows them. It is impossibly hard. The tears welled up before I could even get back to my car. A whisper from the backseat told me that it was nice to hear Grandpa laugh. Her timing never ceases to amaze me. We carried on to the next place we need to travel to together on this beautifully thoughtful morning.

She wanted to pick the dandelions, but I told her I did not want her all yellow before we headed to her well child visit. She told me not to worry, they would love to see someone with yellowatitis. I think we read too much Pinkalicious.

Several times a year we end up in this office, with one child or another on this scale. They grow so fast. I am so thankful for health care that is available to us. I am so thankful for the health of my children. This girl checks out with a clear bill of health. Another year of following her perfect curve. Another year of becoming who she is. How blessed I am to be able to be her guide and comfort.

She loves the elevator. She asks. I say yes.

We headed home to work on some math problems. She is definitely a fan of her workbook and all things numbers.

Leftovers lunch plates. Bagel chips. Carrots. Cucumber. Hummus.

The New England blood runs deep, as they embrace a swim at 77 degrees.

Messy hair. Hand me down swimsuits. Free to embrace the cold water in the warm sunshine.

We find frogs at all stages of life... growing and transforming, up close and personal. Life cycles telling stories. Science and fun, in hands, buckets, and nets. Win/win.

Friends we would be absolutely lost without. They are more like family.

Some nights we just have spaghetti and sauce. That is okay. So are paper plates. And plastic silverware.

And big messes are okay, too. We have the baby wipes close by to clean up these two.

This girl was still wound up a bit from her day, so she came into our room to jump on the bed and then the two younger than her joined for bounces, then bedtime stories. Our bed is a safe place, for cuddles, for stories, for playing. It is where we talk about all sorts of things, process things we have been holding onto, and seek out security. It is a soft place to land.
I want more pillows... pretty ones, decorative ones. And a headboard. And some wood art above the bed. Someday.

This view from the bed makes my heart happy. The children have all stopped over the course of the week to notice that I have changed out the frame with our most recent family photo. They all love to sit in these chairs to unwind, reconnect, and just be with mom.

After we finish up reading I tuck these cuties in bed. This one is resistant. My hope is that I do not need to go back in too many times. His sweetness is hard to resist.

At the end of the day, when all of the busy is done, and all of the eyes are closed, it brings me joy and peace to have this room all clean and clear of clutter. Sure, the paint is chipping on the cabinets, and the faucet is dripping and needs to be replaced, but none of that really matters as I grab my last canning jar full of iced water and head to bed.

No matter how simple the place you call home is, it is always full of beauty, if you take the time to breathe it in.

On to Friday.

You can find Monday HERE.
And Tuesday HERE.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Week In The Life: Tuesday

Tuesday. The day after Monday. The day we start to settle into the new week, the routine, the waking up way too early, and falling into the comfort of schedule.... and knowing the weekend always comes after a week of working hard.

This girl is usually the first one up. Before she should be. It is rare I can get up before her and capture her sleeping, but this morning I worked really hard to drag myself out of bed extra early just to capture her. And I am so thankful I did. She looked so peaceful, restful, beautiful. 

This boy wakes up next. He is in a much better mood today, which we are thankful for. He wore his much too tight batman suit to bed. He still squeezes it on because it is his favorite. Someday we will buy him new superhero suits... and the action figures he wants, but rarely asks for. For now this is still working, sort of. He really is all boy. I love that. He is also content to make do with life, and what he has, and rarely complains about anything. I am so blessed to be his mother and learn from him daily how to live life sweetly and love well.

This girl wakes up with less sunshine than usual, which is ironic since her pajamas say "Good Morning Sunshine."... she is cutting teeth and it hurts. She wants more cuddle time this morning and I am happy to enjoy her cuddles when she gives them, since it is fewer and fewer that she needs me and more and more that she wants to explore and find her own way.

I am thankful for these little bottles with little white tablets that help my girl feel better.

Slicing. It is often. I think probably six or more times a day we are cutting some fruits or veggies. We all love fresh produce. It is the topping, snack, and side of choice. I wish these berries looked as great as the ones we can pick at a local farm in a few weeks. I miss the season of growing and picking and enjoying.... but it is coming soon.

Breakfast. Yogurt. Granola. Berries. Bananas.

It was a lovely morning for a walk in our small town. I capture the feet I journey with. How is it I get to spend my life with each of these life walkers? I feel overwhelmed by the gift of it. I feel like these moments where most of us walk together is coming closer and closer to ending, and it makes me want to push myself to do every single thing we can to make it count. Even if it is just a walk. Just. That word is never enough.

This girl has had enough. She lets us know she is ready to move on. Sometimes we listen. Sometimes we teach her flexibility.

Coffee and Tea for two. Iced mocha for me. Iced Chai for her. This is our thing. We love our local coffee shop.

Together. My youngest, inside. My oldest, nearly gone.
It is powerfully evident that I can hold onto this moment with all my might, with all my heart, but it will not last. This moment is over as soon as it is captured. And it hurts my heart as I feel that little boy move inside because I see the one beside me and know that my 18 years with him passes all too fast. It moves by before you can truly appreciate the every little second.

This picture. The beauty here is more than I can comprehend. I wanted to delete it. Honestly. But for her. Because of her. Because I know she also struggles. I can't. This type of perfection and feeling like we are never enough, in all ways, is a common hurt we share. As I was thinking about this picture later in the day, this song was on the radio and it made me cry. Big fat tears. It made me stop. It made me reevaluate. It made me brave.

Another voice, another choice
To listen to words somebody said
Another day, I replay, one too many doubts inside my head
Am I strong, beautiful, am I good enough
Do I belong after all, that I've said and done
Is it real when I feel I don't measure up
Am I loved

I'm runnin' to the One who knows me
Who made every part of me in His hands
I'm holdin' to the One who holds me
'Cause I know, 'cause I am
I know who I am
I am sure, I am Yours

Turnin' down, tunin' out
Every single word that caused me pain
Unashamed and unafraid
'Cause I believe You mean it when You say
I am strong, beautiful
I am good enough
And I belong after all, 'cause of what You've done
This is real what I feel
No one made it up
I am loved

I'm runnin' to the One who knows me

Who made every part of me in His hands
I'm holdin' to the One who holds me
'Cause I know, 'cause I am
I know who I am
I am sure, I am Yours

Fearfully, wonderfully, perfectly
You had made me

I'm runnin' to the One who knows me
I'm holdin' to the One who holds me
Holds me holds me-e-e-yay

I'm runnin' to the One who knows me
Who made every part of me in His hands
I'm holdin' to the One who holds me
'Cause I know, 'cause I am
I know who I am
I am sure, I am Yours
Oh, I am Yours
I am sure, I am Yours
And I know who I am

We head next door to the library. He is picking out new books before storytime.
We never tire of books. Or reading. Or this place.

Home for lunch. It seemed like a good day for simple and comforting. Tomato soup. Grilled Cheese. Carrots.

The lunch view. Every day the chairs are filled, as the bellies are filled. I am thankful for the oldest girl who served us this sweet meal. She has always had a gift in the kitchen and we are all blessed by her gifts and her willingness.

We head back to the village to drop the oldest boy off to do homework and to find new books to read at the library. I bribe him with this picture. He is not a fan of pictures, or this project, but I have found more ways to convince him. I have no doubt these will be the only pictures I will have of him this week, but I am learning that pictures are not always the way to capture the story. And sometimes it is just not worth it to push too hard.

16 looks good on him.

We decide to walk over to see the animals at the farm before we head home.

If one picture could tell you everything, this is the one. A confident girl. A sensitive girl. A girl who loves to lead, one that is all to happy to grab a hand to hold and travel on to new adventures. A boy with a story to tell.

Taco Tuesday.

No taco is alike, just as the ones who create them.

You can see the wear on the table. The life we have lived is written all over it.  Our house is not a showroom or a pinterest picture, it is a home. One we actually live in. Make messes in. And play in. And one that we can afford. That is all that matters in the end, even if I want a gorgeous table that can fit our whole family, and pretty linens, and wall decor. But there is a balance in there somewhere, you know, between dreaming and thankfulness.

These girls have shared these bunk beds for a long time, at least in kid years. They are often in here reading and hanging out before bed. They spend more time giggling than sleeping, if you ask me. Sometimes the beds are all made and they can actually sit and relax, like today.... sometimes there are clothes, books, and who knows whats all over their beds and their quilts are half on the floor or something. It is all good.

The raised beds are ready for planting. We have many gardens around our small piece of earth. All evening my husband prepared them. He works so hard on these gardens for our family... planning, planting, tending, harvesting. It is therapy to him. It is a huge blessing to all of us.

I spend a few minutes outside as the air cools to pray, think, and enjoy this tree I have claimed as my own. This pear tree is my favorite part of our yard. I love watching it change all year. Right now it is just beginning to blossom. It is reminding me that we all blossom at different times, and in different ways. Each blossom opens when it is ready, in no rush to catch up to another blossom. And the evidence of both pruning and weather is written all over it, with that beauty. It makes my heart fill with hope.

This Tuesday we embraced being "townies" like we do so often. We love living in our town. We love the library, the coffee shop, the little park, the farm, the simplicity of our small town. It is easy to embrace.

But way more notable on this Tuesday is I embraced myself in this season of not wanting to. You will find very little photos of me at all in these kind of projects. You cannot undo years of  insecurity with one project, or a hundred. You have have to embrace something much deeper than you. You have to embrace truth, so this Tuesday, I am learning to let go of lies, and opening my heart up to these truths.

the truth that I belong to Someone who loves me more than I could even understand

the truth that I cannot earn or lose that love no matter how hard I try to mess it all up

the truth that it really has a whole lot less to do with me, and a whole lot more to do with Him

the truth that I cannot ever document life the way I planned or wanted, because life keeps happening in spite of what I try to control or make happen

the truth that bad days are still good days at the core because you always have something to learn and gain from the hardest moments and largest hurdles, but good days are really really sweet

the truth that every day you have another chance to wake up and face it all again and it is up to you what that looks like, you cannot change the circumstances, but you sure can change how you choose to face them

the truth that I can still capture my family, even if that does not include pictures 

the truth that my house is beautiful, even in all of it's simplicity and imperfection

the truth that this is all worth it and it will always be worth it

Monday, May 9, 2016

Week In The Life: Monday

Sometimes I find myself remembering a little of years ago and feeling melancholy. It is that feeling of knowing how quickly moments change and grow into new moments. It is the realization that what I hold today, this week, is fleeting. It will never be here again, and it never was before.

My life. The story of it. The people in it. The footprints I leave behind are imprinted as lightly or as heavily as I choose. And those I bring along with me on the journey, the ones that I carry closest to my heart, are ever changing, too. They are fast, and slow, evolving into people they were not before, and will change into people someday that will feel entirely different than how they feel today.

Having a family of unusual size and unique paths, it is becoming a curiosity, even to me. I am definitely unsure and unprepared for the journey I am plunging forward with, falling forward on.... being drug along for the ride for... take your pick. But for today, I am capturing. I am story writing. I am sharing. And if you are interested, you can read along. It may be a single powerful word, or it may be many, it may be a few pictures of the willing of the 10 who hold hands and push on, or it may be many... but either way, this one week, of many we process as a family, will be here, one day at a time.

Starting with Monday.

the Mondays can eat me up. they are unpredictable and overwhelming. they can be long and tiring. but mostly, they are days for getting things done.

Mondays start too early. Most of us get up before the sun is all the way up, some by choice, some not. This guy woke up too early this morning, and when he is up too early (which happens far too often), we all feel it. I would like to sleep until 9. Honestly. Wake up looks much more like 5:30.

This little lady may feel a bit trapped on a Monday. We often corral her when we get things done. Mostly she does not mind, bouncing, jumping, and giggling as we make beds, get dressed, and put the things that have seemed to grow overnight away. I often wonder how this stuff seems to reappear as quickly as we clean it up. I think someone is going behind us and pulling it back out.

Her crib tells a story. A gift that other babies before her also slept, and bounced, and smiled, and cried in, but not our babies. It is a cherished gift, the white crib I always wanted. And a quilt that was sewn with love, before she ever arrived, by someone who may never meet her, but loves her deeply. The simplicity of her wall is pretty much the definition of our home. Simple, clear, less.

But then it all turns, as does it with all toddlers, and we move on.

And because Monday. We have granola bars I bought for some other purpose, with chocolate on them, for breakfast. It is not the usual, but not unusual to mix things up on a Monday either. The inner mom struggle to pull it all together and let myself rest in premade ease wages a war inside me.

She just smiles and it is all good. Big, bright, happiness is written all over her sticky smile.
This table she adores is beautifully worn and old, a bit like the mama who served her. It is a good reminder that there is beauty in everything, even the seemingly overused and underappreciated, barely still standing, table from a different time.

I spend time getting ready, preparing myself for the day ahead, praying I will be balanced, faithful, and guide with love and care. I always mess this up, but I desire it. I want to be a joyful light to the eight I have been entrusted to. I swallow five giant reminders of the littlest one that I have safely tucked inside for a few more months and get on with the day.

I notice the wrinkles in my hands and mourn the rings I no longer wear because they do not fit, although I love deeper now, than I knew I could when I wore them, even just a few years ago. I make a note that I really want to resize them. 

Sometimes I interrupt playtime, even if it is going perfectly, so we can leave. I rather leave it alone, but responsibility awaits, so it comes to an end for now. I give her the good news that she can "pum wit mom". She is especially happy when she hears who will be joining her. I will leave two behind, drop two off to play with a good friend on her birthday, and bring two with me.

She has one last cuddle and "shush" for this little baby before we leave. This baby belongs to a different sister who I warned about sharing with her. Unfortunately, it looks a lot less like sharing, and a bit more like letting go. This little babe has a natural mothering and nurturing bend, one I know will serve her well as a big sister all too soon.

We make little stops for the Monday necessities for the mom, quarters and coffee. One of which I do not want to choose, one of which is the sweet nectar of this mom of many's survival. I prefer it from Dunkin Donuts. I prefer it to be caramel, cream only, especially when pregnant.

Mondays are for laundry. Bags and bags of  laundry. This is not how I want to be doing it at all. I want to let the weight of it weigh me down. I want to refuse to go. I want to do it at home in my beloved washing machine. But this season is not about what I want, it is all about how God is writing my story. All seasons are. And this season is about lugging laundry here and there, seeing it spin in big machines that we fill with quarters, and snacks from the vending machine. And this sweet girl has no complaints, even if we corral her once again. She loves watching her big sister help her mommy. I am thankful for the help. I appreciate this season has helped me see more of my children step up, and grow into servants in new and unexpected ways.

Every four Mondays I enter a door with this sign just above my head. I feel anxiety every time I enter. My pregnancy should be the happiest of times. And it is. And it is not. I have had far too many losses, the burden of fear sits on my shoulders. I often find myself remembering some of my favorite peace bringing verses and repeating them to myself as I walk in. I know He holds this baby, but in my heart I want to hold it tighter, claim it as my own, instead of remembering that truth. I sigh and walk in.

And a Monday peace washes over me as I stroll out, a bit lighter in step and heart, after hearing a sweet little heartbeat, feeling supported, encouraged, and cared for, by a very dedicated midwife. I look up, through the blossoming trees, to the sky with much more blue than was expected today, and smile.

As a special treat I shop with two, although this one still keeps it real. 
I have the privilege to fill my cart with foods we enjoy, freely. I wonder how often we let the drudgery of this chore gets in the way of that realization. 
The cart fills up way too quickly. I am still resisting the two carts, but I am not sure that will last too much longer.

Lunch plates, as we call them, are a favorite around here. Random bits of this and that bring color to a simple white plate and make for a happy silence around the table. Salami. Garlic hummus. ColbyJack cheese. Carrots. Strawberries. Blackberries.

I love that I have more freedom at this stage in our lives for taking groups or spending quality time with each child. The three middle girls needed some girl time and to get some wiggles and giggles out, so we headed to the pool for some swimming, splashing, and connecting. 

It just so happens her sparkly blue retainer coordinates with her swimsuit.

These two have a unique relationship, thye love each other, they don't. They play together like the best of friends, and they fight like the worst of enemies... and yet their ability to create games together that are exciting, yet follow rules they are given, is amazing. This frog game was only interrupted by giggles as they played.

Heading home to the simplest of dinners. Frozen pizza, sliced apples, and carrots. You know that feeling after you shop and you come home and you just want to order pizza? Or is it just me? Well, this was close enough.

At the end of the day, these two needed some quality time with their "MommaMomMuver". I gladly obliged. Having a "bubble" is the best thing ever when you are little. These two do not get as many these days, and they really savor them when they do.  I won't lie this bathroom, like every room in my house, needs some scrubbing and repairs, so I would not look too closely.

Please tell me how it is his feet have gotten this big. It is not okay. At all.

The night is always coming, quickly, and although anticipated, I mourn the fact that another day has passed, one I cannot get back or relive. There are bedtime prayers, stories, and cuddles, hugs and kisses. There is love, and there is complete exhaustion. It is a balancing of  "I am done" and "I cannot believe it is already bedtime".

The olders make popcorn on the stovetop, and it is near silent in our home, besides the munching and page turning of my book addicts...

and I drag myself off to bed, just as my guy comes in with a handful of these. He never fails to provide for us, in so many ways, I could never list them all.

And I want to embrace this Monday. The very day we were gifted.
Because the next thing I know, I will turn around and all of this will be gone.

The cranky preschooler who needed some sunshine and smiles to help him prepare for today and shake off waking up on the wrong side of the bed.

The toddler who sees life as an adventure, throwing in a bit of drama here and there for good measure.

The newly turned teenager that is fast to help, and also fast to offer her input, whether welcomed or not.

The days where I learn flexibility and patience as we do our laundry somewhere other than where we are normally blessed to.

The days where I feel the baby moving and growing inside and feel encouraged and supported by those who care for us on this gestational journey.

The days where it is totally acceptable to pick your nose while riding in a grocery cart.

The days of many plates, filled with random things, that fill giggly little people with hungry bellies.

The days where I watch little girls make up games and splash and play without concern of what they look like it their bathing suits or whether anyone is watching them be creative and unique.

The days where frozen pizza is not only exciting, but a treat of momentous joy.

The days where a simple tub filled with warm water and bubbles is worth running to with anticipation after dinner.

The days where nothing is more loved and cherished than bedtime stories read by mommy.

Thank you, Monday, for being all that is right in the world, once I saw through the weight of it all.
I am ready to welcome Tuesday, with coffee, after a good (define that as you will) night's sleep.

And a special thank you to Ali Edwards, for her creativity and vision, in starting this life changing documentation process.