Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Enjoy it!!!

I love being a mom.  I love my life.  I am happy.

But boy is it hard to enjoy the moment sometimes.  Life just sort of gets in the way.  Days are long.  Kids whine.  I’m tired.  There’s always too much to do.  It’s cold. We’re late. We’ve got to get to bed!

Sometimes I’ll go through a whole day so focused on moving us through everything only to find at the end of it all that I haven’t really seen the beauty of what’s happening.  This usually hits me when I see my kids in a picture I’ve posted on Instagram at the end of the day, or catch a glimpse of them sleeping when I come in to put away folded laundry.  When things are still and quite, stripped of the chaos of the moment, I see the wonder of the life I’m living.

I love this quote by Anna Quindlen:

“But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make…. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.”

Of course it’s impossible to grasp and enjoy every moment of a mothering day.   But I’ve been working hard lately on trying to find a few seconds each day to stop to treasure the doing.  To enjoy the moment.  Because it’s happening, and really won’t be happening like this forever.

As a photographer there are two ways to really capture beauty.  One is by zooming into it.  When seeing your subject up close, all the intricate details pop out and something simple transforms into something miraculous.  The second is by zooming out, way out and seeing your subject in the context of a bigger picture.

In my journey this year to figure out how to enjoy the present more I’ve tried to apply these two concepts to daily living.  When I find myself moving through a day harried and frazzled and devoid of joy I’ve been trying to either zoom in and see more acutely the details of my life or to zoom out and get above the chaos and grind to see what I’m doing in a larger context.  And when I exert the time and will power it takes to change my focal length I can see the joy in the moment.   IMG_4553 

Zooming in can be as simple as stopping for three seconds to see a beautiful but overlooked detail in your life.  I stop to see the dark brown speck in Emmeline’s right eye as she tells me about the game she is playing upstairs with Peter, it is beautiful and in it I can see into her soul.  Or I pause for a split second to listen to Hazel as she talks all motherly to Peter, there is love deeply planted in that sibling relationship.  Or I gasp as I walk out of the store to a parking lot filled with spring air lighting up a pink sky, breathing in the joy of the world.  Stopping to recognize the intricate loveliness in the mundane moments helps me feel the thrill of the present.  Usually it only takes a second, but I can bask in the beauty of that moment for quite a lot longer. 

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Zooming out might take a bit more time, but it is powerful.  We zoom out any time we take a step back from our lives to see it from a different angle.   We zoom out when we go away for a day or take a walk for 20 minutes or just shut ourselves in the bathroom for 30 seconds and breathe.  We zoom out when we walk outside of our house and look in. Suddenly we can’t hear the kids yelling, we can’t feel the crumbs under our feet, we can’t see the piles of laundry (or at least they don’t look so overwhelming).  Through the windows we just see a house with children running around inside, soft light flooding out of the kitchen full of people working to build a family.  We zoom out when we look at a picture someone snapped of us with a child at the beech on a stormy day, smiling, happy.  When we see the big picture of our lives the angsty emotions of the moment are drown out by the beauty of the whole. 

When we change our focal length by zooming in or out we turn down the volume of the chaos or discontent we might feel as move through life.  We see the whole of our lives.   And like a pointillism painting the dark bits combined with the light ones make a beautiful picture.  A glistening whole.  I’m stuck on that idea, that image.  The dark and the light together, the whole of it, experienced in the moment by changing our lens, that’s what makes life glisten.

So.  Speaking of zooming out, I get to come to a Power of Moms’ retreat in Utah in a few weeks!   I’ve been to quite a few of these retreats and they always give me a hefty dose of perspective.  They help me both zoom in and zoom out of my life.  They help me take a microscope to my mothering and think hard about where I want to be and where I am.  But also they get me get above my job as a mother to a higher ground where I can see the big picture and gain some clarity.  I love being in a room full of mothers all carving out space to think about their job as moms.  I always leave feeling inspired and ready to hit the ground running.

Not only do I get to attend the retreat but I also get to present about strategies for living in the moment.  My mom and I gave a speech together about this in March here in Boston and I get to present a big part of it at the retreat in May.

If you’re in Utah the first Saturday in May please consider coming, there is still space, but I know it’s filling up pretty fast.  Click here to find out more information.   I know it’s hard to get away for a whole day, but it is definitely worth the investment.  You’ll re-enter life the next day with a totally new perspective on yourself, on your kids, your husband.  I always go away from those things feeling more powerful, armed with the resources, ideas, motivation and love that I need to really enjoy my job as a mom.   

May 2011 Retreat1

So please join us!  Saturday, May 2nd, Park City Utah.  Click here for the details.  

Friday, April 10, 2015

On kids getting in the way of your parenting.

IMG_6011 We are in our last week of our Easter month celebration, and it has been amazing.  I’ve instagramed lots of Easter moments that might look awesome from the outside and I’ll probably blog some details that might look like we had it all together around here.  But I want to document that it’s also been much more of a rollercoaster than I had anticipated!  I had envisioned lots of spirit filled, sparkly devotionals before bed where the spirit would feel thick and sweet and we’d feel Christ more tangibly in our home.  I was hoping for some kind of Jesus magic to settle in around here and change all the pestering and bickering and button pushing to service and compliments and loving interactions.  Hmmmmm.  Things haven’t played out that perfectly.

Thankfully there have been a quite a few golden moments where we have felt that Jesus magic, where everything has snapped into place and time is slow and the air is crystally and the Savior feels near at hand.  A few times I have noticed my children talk about Jesus spontaneously and consider Him when they think about something new, or make a decision.  And I have certainly felt more bonded with the Savior in relearning so many things about who He was, what he taught and His mighty miraculous power.  But boy have there been lots of moments of chaos and fighting and resistance and refusals.  Lots of mom frustration and kid frustration.  Lots of pushing and resisting.  Lots of plans gone awry. 

Before becoming a mother I think I knew that things would be hard and that everything wouldn’t always go according to plan.  I imagined I’d be tired, that I’d lack vision and energy, that I’d have a hard time controlling my temper, that my kids would do cute little mischievous things, that I'd have to teach them to share and get a long.  But I didn’t realize how much my kids would get in the way of me parenting them!  Isn’t that some kind of oxymoron? I didn’t realize that I’d put in all this work and effort and time and prayer and planning on their behalf only to have them wreck it with resistance, a bad mood, too little blood sugar, a strong will to do something different, silliness, the list goes on and on. 

Sometimes I want to just say to my kids: “Trust me! Just go with it, it’s gonna be good.  Just follow the program! I HAD A VISION HERE PEOPLE!!  And that vision was so much more beautiful than this mess you’re making of it!” 

In those moments I find myself wanting a remote control.  To turn them off, or at least turn them down.  I want to move their arms and legs away from all the buttons they’re trying to push and into a nice folded position.  I want to turn on their ears and off their lips.  I want to rewire their little brains to see things from my perspective.  I want a button to mute, a joystick to move them into place and a pause button to keep them there until I get all collected and ready go.  And I want a rewind button, to go back and get it right.  And lots of times a fast forward button would be nice too (get sugar into their blood stream at fast forward speed!).  

But God didn’t give me a remote control.  That’s not the plan.  As fantastic as it sounds, that would sort of defeat the purpose of parenting.  We are to teach our children to control themselves, to ultimately make good choices without us using the remote of privileges given or withheld.  If we could control them they’d just be little puppets, unable to direct their own lives, and really, that might get a little boring. I’m finding that Motherhood is a constant dance between knowing when to be deliberate and structured and planned out and when to throw up our hands and just shower down love.  When to let things flow in a natural way and when to push your plan through even in the wake of resistance and chaos and discontented children. 

This Easter season has had a hefty dose of that dance for me.  I sat down to dinner on Holy Monday to tell the kids the plan for the week.  All four kids were in quite a state that night.  Maybe too many late weekend nights in a row, maybe too much sugar, who knows.  But one was pestering, one was screaming, one was laughing and one was arguing with me about how tired they were of Jesus.  Can’t we just do some worldly stuff for Easter?  We already know all this stuff about Jesus.

So, that night, instead of teaching them about Christ cleansing the temple I plated my own figurative whip and I put them all to bed in a quiet (but kind of scary) mothering rage and flung myself on my bed to have a good long ugly cry.  The flood gates opened and all the emotions contained for months spewed forth. I cried out pleas for Jesus to come in and clean out our temple here.  Cast out all the filthiness in me, in us, in our patterns of interaction.  I felt hypocritical, like somehow on the outside I might look like I was getting it all right, but on the inside things were a royal mess.  I felt the frightening and utter lack of control that is really the reality of parenting.  I felt stuck and unable to realize my visions, to love the way I wanted to, to teach and enjoy the blessings packaged up in these little children of mine.  I felt the frustration of trying with all your might to do something good and have it go totally wrong. 

I know half of those rushing emotions that night were irrational….hormones flaring up their crazy heads.  But I truly believe that sometimes those crazy, seemingly irrational emotions are also meant to propel us towards something new, to get us back on track, to give us the ambition to change.  So I tried to embrace all the feelings flooding my soul that night.  I entertained them.  I felt them fully.  I wrote them down.  And I woke feeling much better, but weak and reliant on God.  Like all of those tears had washed away my resolve to cling to what I had believed was right, leaving me clear to rethink, a cleaner slate to rewrite. To start fresh and carve a new path, less mired by my limited vision and more inspired by God’s. 

And so Holy Week went on.  One of my newest friends in our ward who doesn’t have children of her own came over to do some cute Easter crafts on Tuesday and stayed for our devotional.  She was a god send.  Everyone seemed to be reset, to be ready to listen and feel and focus again on Jesus.  I relinquished some of the control I had been wielding over to God and was reminded again and again (by the Spirit and by Jeff) that really the purpose of all of this Holy Week, this Holy Month was for all of us to feel love towards each other. 

So, as soon as I felt things were going awry, as soon as I felt that urge to throw up my hands and give up, I just let go instead.  I let things flow.  I delegated parts of our celebration to the kids so that they felt more involved. I modified when things started going south.  I danced that dance right on the edge and realized that with each situation I needed to start with a plan but be so ready to look for God’s way rather than sticking to my own. IMG_6122

On Thursday we met up with Eva to go for an Easter Walk through the (still snow covered) woods at the Ipswich River Wild Life Sanctuary  (thanks so much for this beautiful idea Catherine).  I had printed out little lists of things in nature that I wanted the kids to look for.  At the end of the walk I had envisioned that we’d sit in some nice warm sun filled spot and look through their bags of nature symbols and discuss the ways in which each one points to Christ.  The kids weren’t too excited about this plan and I was bracing myself to be seriously disappointed until I decided to just let it flow.  They traipsed through the woods unfettered and, being led by serendipity instead of the printed sheet they found symbols and signs much more profound and real and thrilling than the ones I had included on the hunt.  IMG_6125 (1)

We stopped still for nearly an hour to feed little Chickadees who fluttered down and ate right out of the kids’ hands.  The excitement was thick as the kids felt a new connection to the wild.   We noticed the thawing earth, the melting ice, the succulent water lily plants poking through the snow, the warm bright sun.  We noted how thorns hedged up some of the way, how the lichen looked so brilliant and alive against the rest of the cold world still waiting for more warmth to bring new life.  We spotted crosses in branches and bright green mossy growth.  We walked through a tunnel carved through stone and stood in the damp middle of that path breathing in the smell of an empty tomb.  We didn’t read any scriptures or talk about anything too serious.  We just let ourselves feel the thrill of breathing in the brink of spring.    IMG_6007

One year we’ll do the Easter Walk I had planned.  We’ll collect beautiful signs and bring them home and make a centerpiece for our Easter Table.  But this year where serendipity took us was perfect. 

Parenthood is a great balancing act.  Of course we want to plan and think and be deliberate and create meaningful experiences for our children.  Of course we should push through lots of things even (and maybe especially) when our children cry out in protest against them.  But this Easter season I’ve been reminded that the minute I feel like my kids are getting in the way of me parenting  is the minute I need to step back, zoom out, re think my plan and connect with God who sees the big picture. 

I can’t wait to post more about our Easter season, because it really was stretching and bonding and strengthened the foundation of our family.  But I wanted to post all of this first because it’s so easy to see all the happy perfect pictures and forget that there was a struggle beneath them.  We can’t forget the struggle because it’s the struggle that  makes everything beautiful.  The dark parts are what make the whole glisten.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Let Your Light Shine!

 

I just registered for this Women’s conference, and I’m so looking forward to it!  The workshops all look so fantastic, it was hard to pick which ones to attend.  And I can’t wait to hear Stephanie Nielson speak.  She is one inspiring lady.

For any of you fellow New England warriors out there come and join me.  We need a little light after the winter we’ve just survived!

It is a free conference, but registration is required since space is limited.  So sign up early!  And let me know if you’re coming, I’d love to connect.

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Hello New England Women of Faith! 

We would like to invite you to Let Your Light Shine 2015, New England's first FREE conference for ALL women of faith, hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Come join 3,000 women from all six New England states on Saturday, May 30, from 10am-4pmat the Lowell Memorial Auditorium in Lowell, Massachusetts, and let your light shine a little brighter. 

Registration Opens Saturday March 28, and SPACE IS LIMITED and so REGISTEREARLY at www.letyourlightshine2015.com to reserve your seat for this great event! Distinguished keynote speakers from around the country and more than 25 workshops will be offered to build your light spiritually, physically, and intellectually, including:

· The Power of Everyday Women of Faith (Sandra Rogers, Humanitarian and LDS General Relief Society Board Member)

· The Lord is My Light (Stephanie Nielson, author of the Nie Nie Dialogues)

· Your Secret Superpower: Using Positive Reinforcement to Pleasantly Parent Teens (Coleen Bennett)

· Entering New Life Phases with Courage, Hope and the Power of your Dreams (Whitney Johnson)

· His Face: Christ and Christianity in Western Painting and Sculpture, a Visual Feast (Jennifer Helvey)

(Some foreign language workshops, translation, and ASL available)

This conference has been built upon the common ground that connects us all: faith, hope, truth, love, and light.  Please join us for this unique event and let your light shine a little brighter as a result!

With great anticipation,

The Let Your Light Shine 2015 Team

Friday, March 27, 2015

A whole Easter Season

IMG_5957We’re really trying to make a big deal over Easter this season.  After this long winter we need the joy and hope that Eater brings (since spring won’t be here for a while!).  Ugg.

Now, by big deal I don’t mean lots of bunnies and chocolates, but lots of Jesus.  For a while we’ve done a pretty good job at celebrating Holy Week with so many good ideas from here and here.

But this year my friend Heidi and I decided that Easter needs more than a week.  It needs a whole season.  And since the world doesn’t go as commercial crazy for Easter like it does for Christmas we decided that we could take it over pretty easily and help our season to really have Jesus at it’s center.   

We came up with an Easter month plan mostly to use with our own families, but also to share with friends and members of our church congregation.  It starts three weeks before Easter and extends one week past Easter.   Here at our house we’ve been trying to do a daily devotional in place of our regular scripture study to have time to talk about Jesus, his teachings, his life, his miracles.  We’re trying to really help the kids connect with these stories, to see his miracles and teachings come alive in our lives. 

And we’re watching a lot of the LDS bible videos to help the kids really get a better feel for how real Jesus is and was.  They’re not perfect, and sometimes I cringe a little at the way they’re produced, but for the most part they’re great.  And I know we all feel the spirit as we watch them. 

This new shift and focus on Christ has changed the feeling in our home.  Sure we’re still fighting and tattling and pushing buttons.  But not as much.  There is a distinctly different tone in our home.  And I know Jesus is rattling around in the kids heads more because they’re talking about him and asking questions about him and trying to figure him out.  Hazel and Charlie are grappling with hard questions about Jesus:  Did he get mad?  Is he bragging when he talks about who he is and what he’s here to do? What would he do in a certain situation?  Emmeline and Peter are hungry to hear his stories and asking real questions, like what did he eat?  Where did he live?  Where did he go after he was resurrected. 

My dad always says that the strongest families he knows are the ones who have Christ at their center.  Sure, it’s good to make family your center, or the church your center, or service or education or healthy living.  But Christ is where the real power is.   I want, more than anything, for my kids to know how to tap into that power.  And it begins with really knowing who he is and how he lived.

We haven’t done it all right.  I had planned to wake early and read the scripture passages I wanted to share alone first to come up with questions and feel out what my kids most needed to hear, but instead I’m usually winging these devotionals, and lots of times we’re tired at the end of the day and things don’t go as planned. We aren’t doing all the activities (there are way too many for to pull off while still remaining calm), so we’re picking and choosing and doing what we can.  And somehow, in spite of our sometimes week efforts, through the magic of the sprit and the power that comes when you think about Christ, it’s working.  The gaps are filled up.   We are abiding more in Christ.  And he is abiding in us. 

I meant to get this doc up here before now, but at least its in time for Holy Week next week.  And of course you can continue your Easter season after Easter too.  Maybe Easter is just the kick off?  I think we’re going to continue.  We’ve just barely scratched the surface. 

Enjoy, and Happy Easter Season!

Click here for the doc. 

 

(Two more things)

I love this new video produced by our church.  Powerful. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?t=11&v=BZqTRSVA1YA

And I just discovered a great online Easter week source here.  You’ve got to scroll down to the Easter week part.  I’m excited to have so much info all in one place – quick access is essential around here!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Grammie and Hazel and Lousia May

IMG_8663 Somehow a few months ago my mom and Hazel started emailing.  I’m not sure how it started, but they emailed  back and forth about how virtual school was going, how Hazel was doing with her piano and singing, how she was feeling about friends etc.  And then it morphed into books.  Hazel would email Grammie about the books she was reading, Grammie would respond with recommendations which Hazel would then devour.  And then somehow Hazel started reading Little Women and told Grammie how much she loved it, which got Grammie to read it. And then, somehow, Grammie had booked tickets out to Boston to take Hazel to tour Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House.  That mom of mine is one amazing Grandma.  All of this emailing back and forth was exactly the boost Hazel has needed this year.  It makes me tear up just thinking about the special bond these two have formed over the past few months.  A bond Hazel will always have, rooting her into all that is good and strong and beautiful about my mother.   When I named Hazel I hoped she’d have a special relationship with my mom (whose mother’s name was Hazel).   I’m so thankful to my mom for seeing this need and nurturing it.  And for loving Hazel so perfectly.  Hazel feels from her the kind of unconditional love that I wish she could always feel from me.  Sometimes it’s hard for mothers and oldest daughters to fully feel the love they have for each other with the day to day tasks of raising and growing.    IMG_5669Grammie and I also read Little Women (well, we at least got through part one) in preparation for our visit to the Orchard House.  We stopped at the Colonial Inn in Concord before the tour for some brunch.  The dining room we ate in dates back to the 1700’s and as we ate we liked to think about how Louisa and her family certainly had walked through that place, if not eaten there for a special occasion.  The food was surprisingly delicious (Hazel got Chicken and Waffles!?!) and we had a nice chat.

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We were all incredibly inspired by our visit to the Orchard House.  I wish we had a picture of our amazing tour guide Kathy.  Since no one else was there we had a private tour.  It only lasted an hour but I think we all wished it could last forever.  We learned so much about the Alcott family.  We all left feeling inspired in different ways.  I left feeling like I wanted to ditch my kids for a whole week and just read about Transcendentalism, read Thoreau and Emerson and Alcott and all the memoirs and biographies I could get my hands on for Louisa and her sisters and parents.  What an incredible group of thinkers.

Here are some notes I took on my phone, things I wanted to remember and think about more.  Maybe I’ll write more about them one of these days:

  • The Alcotts were incredibly deliberate parents.  They raised 4 solidly independent and talented daughters who each thoroughly perused their passions.   Anna was an actress, Lousia a writer, Beth a pianist (and an angel) and May a very accomplished artist.  I was super inspired by this, I want to help my children to find their passions and pursue them.  I wish I could take Amos and Abby to dinner and pick their brains about how they discovered their daughters strengths and how they encouraged them.  Maybe someone has written this in a book somewhere. 
  • The Alcott children kept two journals.  One was a heart journal where they wrote the private workings of their hearts.  The other was a journal that their mother (and maybe father?) read and wrote responses in.  I love that idea.  Just started it with Charlie and hope to do it with Hazel too (once she warms up to the idea…sometimes that takes a little while).
  • Grandpa Alcott wrote this beautiful poem to his little Grandson (I think it was Anna’s child).  It’s framed in the room that was their nursery once their father died and Anna spent more time back at the orchard house.  Darn, I can’t find it on the internet.  I’ll post it when I find it.
  • Lousia believed that you should run and play and do lots of housework in order to be a good writer.   My mom bought Hazel a whole little booklet of “Aunt Jo’s Literary lessons.”  Lots of great advice for young writers.
  • Lousia was a stormy woman with a strong will and a lot of gusto.  Lots like Jo in Little Women. 
  • She wrote Little Women on her little desk in her room right in that house. She wrote part one in 6 weeks.  We saw the desk, I wanted to sneak a hipshot picture, but I liked our tour guide too much to blatantly disobey her.  So we took pictures in our mind. 
  • She wrote sometimes for 16 hours a day.  She taught herself to write with both her right and left hand so that she could just keep going.  Her pen couldn’t keep up with her thoughts most of the time. 
  • Little Beth (third sister) was the Angel of the house, but we all decided on the tour that the mother, Abby Alcott was the arch-angel of the house.  She came form privilege and money but then gave it up to marry for love.  The Alcotts moved like 27 times before finally settling in the Orchard House.  They were always struggling financially. Abigail worked to help support her family and found positions for her daughters to also work. Part of the reason Lousia wrote was to help support her family.  Abigail seemed to be fiercely dedicated to her girls, to raising them to be strong and good and complete.     
  • Louisa had a “mood” pillow.  It was set different ways on the couch to indicate Louisa’s mood.  If it was one way than it was safe to talk to her, if it was turned the other way she was in a mood, or busy writing and was to be left alone.  Hazel LOVED this idea and now has her own mood pillow. 
  • Louisa’s first book is called “Flower Fables” and is a collection of stories that Thoreau told her as he walked with her through the woods.  She had a huge crush on Emerson and seemed to always be mingling with all those great minds. 
  • The group of people who lived in Concord during that time were INSPIRED.  Amazing things happened within that group of people at that time.  Connections are so important to furthering ideas.   IMG_5894IMG_5676 That afternoon when the kids got out of school we took a trip to the Science Museum.  I love that view from the Museum.  IMG_5678We got to see a free IMAX film about the Galapagos as part of the MOS Free Friday Films.  My mom and I kind of fell asleep, but everyone else loved it.  IMG_5886Of course my mom showered us with new books.  She knows what we like!  These were some serious winners.    IMG_5902  And then people started throwing up.  We spent the greater part of Sunday with barfing children.  My mom came to the rescue when, just as we were leaving, all gussied up for church, peter was sick all over himself and me.  She calmly drove everyone to church and did all the sacrament meeting wrestling that I normally have to do.  Bless her!IMG_5904

On Sunday night (after all of Peter’s birthday festivities) I got to speak with my mom as part of our Stake Women’s speaker series.  This was so fun for me.  We spent a lot of time preparing (for my sake of course, I don’t think my mom has ever prepared so much for a talk!).  It was so fun to talk with her about so many deep issues about life and being present.  And to see how her mind works and to work together to put all of our thoughts into some kind of structure.  I will always cherish that working time I had with her.  And then when we finally got up there in front of our audience it was fantastic.  My dad’s a lucky man to speak with her all over the world.  She is so full of charisma as she speaks and even though she is usually speaking to total strangers, the room always fills with her love.  I hope we get to do that together again some day. 

I promise to post some of what we talked about soon.  It was all stuff that really has altered the way I’m thinking about life. 

And after the event a few friends came over and we talked for a few hours.  I think I need a weekly dose of that.   I wish I had a picture so that I could remember that evening and all we discussed.  Hopefully these words will help me recall it.  IMG_8657 On Monday she took Emmeline and Charlie each on their own little Grammie Date.  Em had earned a trip to get frozen yogurt for filling up that whole happy practicing chart and she was thrilled to have Grammie take her rather than boring old mom. 

Charlie and Grammie went together to buy Charlie a batting helmet that he’s been dreaming about.   

IMG_8665 Oh how we love that Grammie.  IMG_5826

As I drove away from the airport after dropping her off, thinking of all that she did for us in that little extended weekend I lost it.  How did I get so lucky to have this woman as my mother?  She has loved me my whole life, I’ve always known that, but to watch her love in action?  To see it transform my children?  I can see that it’s got a supernatural power to it, a power that has blessed my life beyond what I can comprehend but that I can see a little more clearly as it encircles my children, arming them for life in this world. 

I know I’m sounding super over the top here, but really, she’s that great.

(for a better written and more complete account of this trip see my mom’s blog here….)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Peter turned 4!

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It was hard putting this guy to bed the night before his birthday. To think I’ll never have a three year old child again.  It nearly killed me.  This is the most angelic little guy you could ever dream up.  I hope 4 is just as golden, but I’ve seen three other times what four can bring.  Kids do change.  Angels to devils sometimes.  It’s hard to believe that could happen to this guy.  He’s a powerfully good little soul.
I could feel it the minute they placed that wet little body in my arms four years ago.
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Peter did not have a hard time going to bed the night before his birthday.  He had been waiting and waiting for his big day, literally counted down the days.  At Christmas time he started to get psyched that his birthday was coming up.  We told him he had to wait until after Charlie’s birthday (which was in January).  So the day after Charlie’s big day Peter woke up giddy with excitement to celebrate his big day.  Oops, It’s so easy to forget how literally 3 year olds take things and how long each day is for them.  He was crushed when we told him he still had to wait.  So I made him this little calendar.  “My Calendar” he called it and he crossed off the days until it was his big day.  That boy does have a mountain of patience for a child.  I wish I could spread if his out between his older siblings.   
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His siblings might have been even more excited for his birthday than he was.  They spent the week before preparing.  THey (mostly Hazel) spent the whole day before making that cardboard car for him.  And they hung little gifts above his bed with tapeHe was thrilled with this morning birthday surprise.     
Boy do his siblings adore him.  You’d think with a younger sibling so golden they might harbor a little resentment, but they all adore this kid.  If I ever get mad at him for doing anything wrong he has three staunch little defenders coming to his rescue.  I’m sure that’s going to mess him up one day, but maybe not.  Could anything mess up this kid?  IMG_8557 We had a breakfast birthday party since Peter was done with waiting (and since we had a packed day with church and a speech later that night).  The kids showered him with presents and cards that they carefully picked out and planned.  Cute Hazel, of course, saved up her money bought him something extravagant.  That girl is generous beyond belief.  IMG_5900IMG_8560 I love pictures of kids giving and receiving gifts.  So much emotion.  So much joy, on both sides.  IMG_8570 IMG_8574  IMG_8577 IMG_8580  IMG_8588 IMG_8591 Charlie (who usually wants to give a good gift, but is too poor to afford anything new) gave Peter his old MP3 player which peter has been coveting. 
And then came the present from Grandma and Grandpa Shumway.  Somehow they always pick winners (see Peter rubbing his hands together in delight?!).
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It was so great to have Grammie there for his birthday party.  She wrapped her gift in the traditional Eyre tin foil wrap.  A dino car that he is wild about. 
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IMG_8633 IMG_8635 IMG_8637   And a four year old birthday party isn’t complete without Gronk flakes and a Nerf gun. 
Peter requested Mac and Cheese for his birthday lunch which we fit into our busy Sunday morning, only to have him barf it all over himself and me just as we were packing up to go to church.  Thank goodness for my mom who just stepped right in and took the big kids to church while I stayed home with Peter.  I was sad that that little guy didn’t feel great on his birthday, but so glad to have three quiet hours in the house with him sleeping by me.  Before he settled into that happy post barfing sleep I retold him the story of his birth and we looked through some pictures of his birth day.   Time slowed down and I was able to remember some of the feelings I had on the day he was born.  One of the most thrilling days of my life (click here for the story of his birth….magic).   
IMG_8650 IMG_8651  He woke up happy and ready to eat a bite or two of his requested spaghetti and meatballs and have some cake.  This kid puts a smile on his face and sees the bright side of life even if he’s not feeling great.  It’s really who he is.  I love that cheerful streak that runs deep in him.   
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I’m not sure what life would be like without this sun shine in our lives.  Peter is full of light and happy joy and delight and wonder.  He is always wanting to please, to make us all happy, to do the right thing.   I’ve worried at times if this is too much of a responsibility for someone so little….but then I realize that it’s just who he is, how he came.  He came with this amazing natural ability to make others happy, to love, to enjoy, to brighten up the world.  We are so happy that he was sent to us. 
It’s tempting to keep telling Peter not to grow up.  He is my baby.  I want to hold him forever just as he is, his little body bouncing around our house, leaping into my arms.  But lately I’ve been trying to tell him it’s ok if he grows up.  That I know he’s going to be a fantastic big person, that I’m sure he’s going to forever bring us joy.  I can just feel that deep in my bones. 
Happy Birthday Peter.  We love you more than you can know. 

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