Archive for February, 2015

This is What We Do

Saturday, February 28th, 2015

This is what we do when my parents come in town.

My dad plays guitar.  This time Carter hummed along to some old hymn while Grampy tried to keep up.

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My mom and I make meals together.  Tonight it was sweet potato and apple hash topped with a fried egg, bacon, pepitas, and green onion.

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We play games together.  Bampy taught the kids to play dominoes.

Here, Harrison is fake crying for her as she returns…yet again…to draw more dominoes from the bone yard.

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Carter–who hasn’t taken any guitar lessons–picked out the melody of “Taps”.  Apparently, Emmie taught him a bit one day.

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(My dad gets kind of punchy when I take photos with him in them.  I am getting good at ignoring him.  I just told him, “Dad, when you see prints of these images at Christmas time in an album and start crying, you will be grateful.”)

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Bampy and Grampy’s visit to San Antonio made a cold and rainy weekend much better.

Emmeline’s 12th Birthday Party

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

We celebrated Emmeline’s 12th birthday a bit early last weekend.

We were so happy to have Ariel, Abby, Sydney, Laura, Kendal, Kriste, Lucy, & Elise join us.

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Right before the guests arrived, we enjoyed a few moments of quiet.

Yes, we have furniture in our house I promise! 😉

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Carter was reading some Percy Jackson, and Emmeline raced through the dining room to get a few last minute things ready for her party.

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We divided up the girls into two teams, and we started with a neighborhood scavenger hunt.

The girls had to knock on our neighbors’ doors; introduce themselves; and see if the home owner was able to share any of the following items:

Scavenger Hunt Rules

I thought if I made the girls T-shirts, they might have a bit more credibility–

and a fun party favor.

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Overall, our friends and neighbors were so willing to help and made it fun.

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The corn tortilla contribution came with some strings attached–a big hug and kiss from Mrs. I.

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Emmeline’s team’s finish was right down to the wire.  They barely missed the time cut off by seconds.

It was a hard fought battle, but the other team won fair and square.

Congratulations, Sydney, Lucy, Kriste, Kendal, and Laura.

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After the hunt, we ate tacos at Torchy’s.  The food is tasty and the decor is hip.

(Please, girls, ignore the word on the wall.)

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If you think middle school boys are loud, try hanging out with middle school girls.

…More confirmation that I am an introvert.

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Elise was in rare form.

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Emmeline asked for brownies and ice cream for her birthday dessert.

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We busted out the photo booth and all her friends jumped in.  Greg and I took a turn too.

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We gave the girls a bunch of glow in the dark sticks and fasteners.  They walked up to the park at night and played for a bit to wrap up the party.

We love you, Emmeline!!!!!!!!!!!!

The McNay

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Harrison and I enjoyed a few hours together at the McNay Museum today.  According to Harrison, the high points were the koi fish in the courtyard and the WWII Photography Exhibit.

Even though I was a bit bummed they won’t allow you to photograph inside the exhibits, I enjoyed a lot of good conversation with Harrison.

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After School

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

There is a dizzy-ing, repetitve intensity to my days.

Although I love my kids and they are precious to me, seeing 3:13 p.m. on the clock tempts me to be anxious.

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No matter where I am in the house, I can always hear the tell-tale thud of a boy hurtling himself at the door. . . which is almost always unlocked at this time.

Sometimes they also ring the door bell repeatedly.  And I can feel my heart race faster and my blood pressure rise.

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The door slams closed.  Backpacks skid across the floor.  And both boys start talking to me simultaneously–

…about how they fell during gym;

…about how a girl bugged them by stepping on their shoes while waiting in line;

…about an important note that they received from a teacher;

…about an upcoming field trip;

…about how many pages they’ve read in a book;

…about how they don’t want to do homework;

…about how they had a conflict with another kid walking home from school; and

…about how the other brother walked too slow or ran too fast as they headed home.

And it is just a lot to take in.  And respond to well.

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They clean out their lunches, take off their shoes, put important papers on the counter, start to get out their homework supplies, and wash their hands.

(Well, at least they claim that they have washed their hands.  I often call their bluff.  They offer proof, “Do you want to smell my hands?”  Um, no thanks.)

After school, it is challenging to check the boxes.

After school, it is challenging to relate to one another.

Carter, in particular, creates an environment of emotional intensity and unpredictability.  Little things set him off.

I bring my own anger and fears and intensity to the table too.  I lose my cool.  I too live like I am fundamentally alone and have to fend for myself.

I know of grace and forgiveness, but I often experience alone-ness and guilt.

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Normally, Emmeline comes home around 3:45 p.m.  This day, she was sick.

When your kid is sick, it is awful to see him/her suffer.  You realize your limitations as a parent.

When your kid is sick, it is like your whole day gets put in a blender without the lid and the spin button gets pushed.

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No matter what happens with one child, in a sense, the show must go on.  I’m always looking for a pause button.  But there just isn’t one.

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This afternoon, I took the boys to our gym for their kids’ CrossFit class.  A lot of my life feels like  a carefully timed scavenger hunt.  (“Be here at this time with this person and this stuff.”)

And life feels this full even though we have tried to be strategic in our selection of activities.

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We spend a lot of time here as a family.  There is a wonderful sense of challenge and community in our gym.

Carter and Harrison’s enthusiasm for CrossFit reminds me of how kids usually end up being passionate about what you are passionate about.

Being active, working hard, welcoming others, nurturing community, being creative, making and eating good food, learning over a lifetime, and living in light of the gospel–these passions are ones that I hope our kids absorb.

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Homework often feels like this.  This day, I was calling out spelling test words for both boys.  They hate that I make them do this.

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Emmeline is pretty self-sufficient with homework.  Obviously, this day she wasn’t up to doing any work.

Carter needs regular accountability.

During this season of life, Harrison needs a lot of reading support.  He has to work for every gain in reading.  Like all of my kids, he is in Spanish Immersion so he is learning to read in Spanish and in English.

It seems so costly and inconvenient to slow down and work with him during this crazy time of day.  I hope it pays off.  I need to remember that I am not the author of my kids’ life stories, including their learning.

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Next, I called out Carter’s spelling words.

This expression of anxiety and worry is reflective of Carter’s complex interior world.

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Where is my multi-tool?  Where is my survival gear box?

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With older kids, some things have gotten easier.  Now, my kids can bathe themselves.  I usually just double check Harrison after he is soaped and then after he is rinsed.

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These angry words and complaints captured below were directed at me.  Seeing this image made me laugh.  However, in the moment, these complaints strike a nerve.

My kids’ words often highlight certain lies that I am tempted to believe–lies like “You must do this [fill in the blank] in order to be loved.”

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So much of my life revolves around food in terms of meal planning, shopping, prepping, and cleaning up after meals.  This night, we had hummus.

We were hosting a group at our house after the kids went to bed, so I knew the hummus could double as an appetizer.

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Sometimes my life feels like the movie “Groundhog Day”–except I never get it right.

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Tomorrow will look mostly the same.  We might have a different snack.  We might read a different book.  We might have conflicts about different things.  We might go to a different place.  We might eat a different dinner.

However, we will check many of the same boxes.  And more significantly, we will struggle to love one another in the midst of this swirling activity.

These dizzying, repetitive days painfully remind me that I cannot put my worth in my kids’ happiness.  I cannot put my worth in my kids’ academic or athletic success.  I cannot put my hope in our schooling choice.  I cannot put my worth in my kids’ health.  I cannot tie my identity to my kids’ emotional well-being.  I cannot put my worth in my own work and box-checking.  I cannot put my worth in our punctuality.  I cannot put my worth in my mood or feelings.

I cannot put my worth in my own goodness; my kids expose so much of my brokenness.  I need more.  I need hope.

I am choosing to take God at His Word and not trust my feelings or look to others–especially my children–for my identity.  I need the power of His Spirit.  I need to know of Christ’s love more.  I need God to act on my behalf and for His glory in my life–especially after school.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.