Saturday, July 27, 2013

What a Ride

As of July 26th, 2013 Matt and I have been married for a decade!
 A couple days after our wedding we left for phase one of our honeymoon in Serene Lake, a small lake near Lake Tahoe. On the way we stopped at this lookout point to take a quick picture.

This was then ... July 2003

Fast forward 10 years and we pass the same lookout point as we are driving home from our annual family vacation in Lake Tahoe. We just had to unload our bunch of Barron's and take a quick picture.
And this is now ... July 2013

Wow! It has certainly been a busy and blessed decade.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Better Luck Next Time

We spent last week vacationing in beautiful Lake Tahoe. It sucked the life out of me was so relaxing. At the end of our week away I was beat down refreshed and ready to get home to do laundry, unpack, and make a trip to the grocery store. And thanks to my husbands offer to sit in the car with the kids while I ran in, I made it to the grocery store just after our return home.

As is always the case on a Sunday afternoon the store was packed. But because I had just returned from working overtime lounging around in Tahoe I wasn't bothered by the chaos. I made it through the aisles, checked out, left the store and made a beeline through the parking lot to our Expedition, waiting with my family inside. I tried to open the rear door. It was locked. Tried again. No luck. I tapped on the back window to let Matt know I needed a bit of assistance. And then I noticed something. Our Expedition was no longer the Copper color it was when it was purchased. It was now a dirty maroon. Nor was it still a 2011 model. It appeared to be more of a 2009. In fact, the family inside didn't look like my family at all. And the woman sitting in the passenger seat next to "Matt" was certainly not me. No. I was most definitely the woman standing in the parking lot trying to force my way (and my groceries) into a complete strangers car!  Well holy shit crap.

It looks like I need a vacation.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Family Photos ... Finally

When Emily was born my talented and beautiful friend Danielle took delivery room pictures of our baby girl's arrival. (You can see them here.) Capturing the moment our fourth baby came into the world was miraculous. I consider those photographs one of my most precious earthly possessions. Because I just love Danielle and her work so much, and because I had no idea what to get Matt for Father's Day this year, I asked Danielle if she would take some family photos also. Matt loves photos. And I'm a bit ashamed to say we've never had family photos taken! So Danielle obliged, and we received these masterpieces this week. I just had to share ...

I just love this one.  Somehow it captures all the kids personalities.

And a cameo by Papa Jim and my nephew Max. Max is the oldest grandchild (12 years old) and Emily is the youngest.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Everyone Needs A Happy Place

Running errands with four kids ages 6, 4, 2 and 6 weeks is really fun! My favorite part is when we've just finished a big haul at the grocery store and they're in their seats, all buckled in, the car is in drive, I can finally relax and I hear from the backseat, "I really, really, really have to go to the bathroom." Crud. Well, it is the six year old. He's been potty trained for over 3 years now so he wipes well, flushes semi regularly and almost always remembers to wash his hands. Perhaps today is the day he gains a notch on his belt of independence and goes into a public restroom alone. And I mean really alone. Like mom waiting in the car alone. Because goodness knows I do not want to unload all these kids just so we can all wait 30 seconds for Henry to pee.

The gas station around the corner should work. There are usually only a few oddities sitting out front. On second thought. Never mind.

Target? It's close. But no. Mommy guilt requires that I at least run him from the parking lot to the front door and those 60 seconds of leaving the rest of the kids alone in the car are enough to get me reported these days.

And then I remember something. Their dad is getting his car washed less than a mile away! I can park in the lot next to Scrubbs car wash and Matt can run out to my car and take Henry to the bathroom. Hallelujah! This is seriously almost as good as winning the lottery.

Just a quick phone call to let Matt know we're on our way ...
No answer.
He's on call today. Maybe he's talking to someone from work. I'll just try again.
No answer and straight to voicemail.
What the flip?! We have a bathroom emergency here! No time to worry if I might appear nuts by calling him every 30 seconds. I have to try again.
AHHHHHH! No answer.
 I'll text. Sometimes he responds better to a text.
"UM ... HELLO???"
No reply.
For crying out loud. I can't call again. That would just be crazy! We'll have to drive there and I'll bite the there's-a-good-chance-an-overreaching-parent-will-call-the-authorities-bullet and run Henry in while the other kids sit in the car.

By this time Henry has got to go. The "I really, really, really have to go and can't wait any longer and need a bathroom now mom" kind of go. And I'm sweating. The kind of condensation that forms on your brow not from physical exertion, but from the pressure you're under because at any moment your child could lose all control of his bladder and pee all over his big kid booster seat which unlike the infant seat no longer has a pain in the ass convenient, removable cover you can wash so you'll have to add a trip to Wal-Mart for a new booster seat to today's to-do list. NOOOOOOO!!!!!!

Just when I think he's going to lose it, I see our safe haven. Or rather the big yellow "Scrubbs" sign. And I also see Matt's truck in line to be washed. So I know he's there. I pull my boat of a vehicle into a tiny spot, throw it into park, open the door for Henry, tell the others I'll be back in 30 seconds and not to scream or cry or laugh or breathe or do anything to draw attention to themselves, and I run Henry in to find Matt. Surely by now he's seen I've called 3 times and sent a text. He'll know we're in some sort of a bind. Maybe his daddy mind is even reading my mommy mind (we can do that sometimes) and he'll be at the door waiting for his bride and his firstborn. As I open the door and Henry runs toward the bathroom, I spot Matt. And a wave of confusion and envy wash over me. He is sitting in a massage chair (you know those huge, leather "Pay $5 for 5 minutes" massage chairs), TV remote in hand flipping channels, with the most serene, contented look on his face. He is clearly enjoying a moment of pure peace and total oblivion. And I 'm frozen in time for a moment. All while  Henry is sprinting to the bathroom, the other kids are probably talking to the nice lady in the parking lot who is calling the police on her cell phone, sweat is running down my brow, and Matt is in his happy place; the massage chair at Scrubbs Car Wash. I snap out of my trance and walk toward him and my dear, sweet husband finally spots us.

"Oh hi guys."

"I've called you 3 times and sent a text! Henry has to go to the bathroom. The other kids are in the car waiting for me. Bring Henry back when he's done."

"Oh. Okay. Man, my work might be trying to get ahold of me too. I better find my phone." And he calmly reaches into his backpack on the floor.

And I just stare. I don't reply. I don't blink. I might not be breathing. I just turn around and walk out the door because the police are on their way for our other kids. And then, I laugh. From deep in my gut I laugh. Because no single experience so clearly exemplifies our vastly different personalities and parenting styles. Here I am, about to have a heart attack over an everyday occurrence - one of our kids needing to tinkle. And Matt's as cool as a cucumber, unfazed and in his happy place. Which unknown to me is a massage chair at the car wash.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Be Encouraged

I love Dutch Bros.Coffee. It's not even the actual coffee I love as much as the convenience, the (incredibly caffeinated) people who work there and the heart behind the business. And lately, I love their lids. This morning the lid on my Annihilator was imprinted with this message:
At first I laughed. A laugh from somewhere inside of me that said, "As if I'm changing the world today." And then somewhere in my mind, my tired from the ho-hum of everyday mothering mind, I remembered that when I wake up each morning that is exactly what I'm doing. I'm getting up early, staying up late and changing the world. And so is every other mommy out there. This task before us isn't something we can phone in. It takes heart, grit, love and a whole lot of dedication to raise these little people. And with every tear that falls (from their eyes and ours some days) we are changing the world. Because someday very soon these boys and girls are going to be men and women and they will be as kind and loving and dedicated as the example they see in the mothers who raised them. So be encouraged and know ...
"They shall not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord - they and their descendants with them."  Isaiah 65:23
 ... And  this morning when you wake up ...
Sit down and eat breakfast with your kids. As you clean up together tell them what you felt the moment you first saw their little face. Give them a hug and a kiss and remind them how God has gifted them with an incredible intellect and a loving heart. Encourage them to use their gifts by sitting together and writing a letter to their Grandma or their friend or their dad. And then send them to play. And watch them as they do what they do. And silently pray over them. And change the world.
And when lunch arrives, and their bellies - and voices - grow demanding, remind them that patience is a beautiful fruit of the spirit. And encourage them to say please and thank you. And use it in return when they clear their plate and wash their hands. And as they grow tired and cuddle in bed for a nap or lay on the couch to watch cartoons, sit down yourself. Rest your tired feet and as you do say a  prayer of thanksgiving for the child God created and gave to you because he knew you would be the perfect mother to bring them up to change the world.
When the 5 o'clock hour hits, and everyone is grumpy and tired and hungry (again), turn on some music. Turn it up and dance around the house. And show your children that mouths filled with laughter and tongues with shouts of joy are pleasing to the Lord and to those around them. Show them that even when they are tired or hungry, they can choose joy. And watch as they are filled with The Spirit that can change the world.
And when the day is done and bedtime finally arrives, stay patient long enough to cuddle up next to them on their little beds. Rub their backs. Talk about the joys you shared today. Tell them that of all the jobs you've ever had, being their mom is your favorite. And make sure they know your love for them is great, but the love their heavenly Father has for them is even greater. And as you tuck them in, pray they will find rest so they can wake up in the morning and continue growing into people who will change the world around them.
And because you're a mom, and your day is not done dig deep and pray for the energy to load the dishwasher, and fold a load of laundry, and pick up the house, and kiss the husband, and pet the dog. And when your head finally hits the pillow, know beyond a shadow of a doubt that your dedication to the simple things today will mean a changed world tomorrow.