Monday, June 30, 2014

Celebrate good times, come on!

This weekend we celebrated the heck out of my two middlest children. Here they are in all of their cuteness!
 Here they are in all of their craziness. We're so proud.
Audrey and Elliot are two peas in a pod. They play Littlest Pet Shop for hours. They splash in the sprinkler and zoom on their bikes. They invent version after version of The Fun Game and play it for hours on end. No one else on the planet has any idea how to play it or even what it is, but they are perfectly happy to spend an entire afternoon playing it using scissors, small stuffed animals, paper, tape, and homemade wheelbarrows made from the paper and tape.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. On Friday, Elliot celebrated his sixth birthday with friends. This was his very first friend party and he was a little worried about the guest list and how it would turn out so he kept it nice and small, which was fine with me. He wanted a baseball party so we headed to the park to play and hit some baseballs. Thankfully the weather cooperated because the kids' back-up plan was to play a game they've invented called "Roar!" You can about imagine how crazy and noisy that would have been!

silly times at the park

Play Ball!

Six. Six. How in the world did we get to six?
 After the baseball party, complete with two friends from co-op, two cousins, and three siblings, Elliot had his last baseball game of the season. This boy loves baseball and while we are ready to have a few of our evenings back, I will miss seeing his big, happy smile on the baseball field.
 Saturday we spent the morning at Isaac's baseball game with his family fan club and the afternoon celebrating our new 8-year-old and 6-year-old with family. We played outside and raced in at the first raindrop so we could beat out the monsoon-like downpour that blasted us. Then we opened gifts, had a tasty dinner of pancake bar and egg bake, chatted and laughed. It was a special day celebrating two special kiddos!
She was excited to get an American Girl diner

More Lego City. He can't get enough!

Our Happy Birthday family photo

I just had to add this picture here because it's so stinking cute!

Birthday cupcakes to decorate with lots of toppings. Yummy!

Great grandma and grandpa drove over from South Dakota to celebrate

Grandpa Lenny, Grandma Patti, Mason, and Hollin joined in on the fun, too
Once again, I will go on and on about how fortunate we are to be loved so well by so many people. The love and support we receive mean the world to us. I pray our kids grow up knowing they are loved by many and are surrounded by people who will help them and lift them up when they feel alone and helpless. It can be a tough world. The right people by our sides makes it just that much easier. We have the right people on our sides.

I'm linking up with Life of Meg for Mingle Monday today.

It's Monday. Boo. It's a short 4th of July workweek. Wahoooo! We're looking forward to celebrating, but plans are still up in the air, depending on weather, sleeping baby, and Jim's work schedule. What are you up to for the 4th?

Friday, June 27, 2014

life's a party!

Right now I am all about surviving our summer birthday season combined with house selling combined with six straight nights of baseball/softball combined with life's surprises, the good ones and the tough ones, too.

I hope to be back to writing here a bit more next week, but right now the cleaning and cupcake baking and party planning (one today, one tomorrow) and lego building and library book reading and kid celebrating is eating my time. And that's okay. Writing is my hobby. Growing kids is my full-time gig. Pay is a bit sketchy. Benefits rock!
Elliot loved his games and Legos

blueberry buckle for breakfast

Rush Zone board game from his siblings 
We had a fun morning putting together his coast guard legos

making cupcakes. yum.

celebrating Audrey's birthday two weeks ago

because she's 8!

We love our birthday girl and she loves her rollerblades
Happy Weekend! Summer is in full swing with all of the festivals and beach days that come with it. What do you have going on?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Impatiently, patiently waiting

Here's the thing. I really want our house to sell somewhere around yesterday. Yes. Yesterday would be lovely. My reasons are legitimate.

The showings are wearing on me. I keep losing stuff because I shove it in a drawer in a mad dash attempt at show-ready cleanliness. (Right now I'm missing my Garmin (running watch). That is not okay!) I would like to be packed up and moved before September so we don't have to interrupt our schooling in the fall. Jim and I have work to do here until the end of August, but after that there is a natural pause in our schedules that would make a fine time for a move. Showing a spotless house is exhausting with this crowd.

Therefore, I impatiently check my email for a showing request and impatiently lament the people who "need" a three-car garage and impatiently sweep AGAIN and impatiently keep my kids up past their bedtime so people can look at our house and say no.

Here's the other thing. I'm fine that our house hasn't sold. I know that God's plans for my life are bigger than anything my brain could imagine. I know that our little family will end up just where we're supposed to be when we're supposed to be there. I know that if I have these five people, fat lips and crazy faces included, with me, I can call almost any place home.

There have been so many times in my life that I thought I knew just what I needed and it didn't happen. I wallowed in my disappointment only to be blown away by what happened in my life instead. It happened when we were trying to sell our first house on Jackson Street. We had Isaac and Audrey and a picture in our minds of what our next house would look like. We found a few we liked and waited for our house to sell so we could make the move. We waited more. Then even more. We got nice and frustrated about it, too. 
Isaac's first Halloween at our house on Jackson St.-celebrating with cousins
Then, in the middle of our waiting to move, we had our tenth anniversary and a splendid little conversation about adding to our family. One month later I was pregnant with Elliot. The houses we hoped to buy would have been great for a family of four, but not what we had in mind for a family of five. If our house had sold faster, we would have ended up in the wrong house for our growing family. Instead it took eight long months and the timing was perfect. One month after the pregnancy test was positive we sold our house. 

Perfect timing. Not the timing I thought I wanted, but perfect timing nonetheless.

So, yes, there are many reasons it would be great if our house sold soon. And I get impatient waiting. But when I find myself stressing or obsessing, I remember all the times I thought I had it figured out and was wonderfully surprised by God's plan instead.

Like the time I thought our family was complete at five and got the holy moses surprise of this little fellow. That's a good, darn surprise! The best kind of surprise for our family, in fact.

So, I'll roll the dice and trust that good stuff is coming.

I'll trust that I don't know precisely what it looks like.

I'll trust that my address has less to do with my happiness and joy than the thoughts I think and the people with whom I surround myself.

I'll trust.

"Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait for God to act." Psalm 37:7

I'm working on it. It's not easy. But I'm working on it.

What about you? What are you impatiently or patiently waiting for?

Monday, June 23, 2014

You should watch a marathon-Grandma's Marathon weekend

On Saturday, I loaded up the car, complete with two bikes, one bike trailer, and one tag-along, not to mention snacks, books, and art supplies. Then I scooped Audrey and Asher up at 4:50 am and plopped them in their carseats so we could pick up a friend to drive to chilly, foggy Duluth to cheer at Grandma's Marathon.
Shaun and Audrey biking along Lake Superior 
Asher in the bike trailer for optimal marathon viewing
Have you ever cheered or volunteered at a marathon? It is honestly one of the most life-affirming, inspiring ways to spend a day.

If you have, then you know I'm not exaggerating.

If you haven't, here's what you might see.

Let's get the gross stuff out of the way first. There will be bloody nipples. There will be gastrointestinal issues. There may even be a dude running in an American flag thong. Unfortunate, but true.

Here's the pay-off. You'll see grit, fierce determination in the face of overwhelming odds, the will to finish what one started, dedication, teamwork, and strength. The kind of strength you discover is within you only when you're at the very end of your rope and have exhausted every other option. You just have to dig in and make it happen.

You will see that in spades in a marathon. From the wheelchair racers to the elite runners zooming by at a pace that seems impossible to sustain to the regular joe runners to the people fighting through injury, illness, and mental exhaustion in order to cross that finish line. They will run, walk, or crawl to get there.

They will do this because they trained for this and because they are the kind of people who, unless it is absolutely impossible, will finish what they started. It's one of the reasons companies want to hire runners in general and marathoners in particular. It's one of the reasons runners make wonderful friends.

Every marathoner has a story, a reason they decided to push the limits on what our bodies are capable of in order to run 26.2 miles. It is a beautiful thing to watch. So if you've lost faith in humanity and think the world is full of creeps and crooks, go cheer at a marathon. Watch the young runner prop up the older runner until the finish line is within sight and then let him finish on his own. Watch the woman stop on the side of the road to stretch her muscles and hear the other runners shout encouragement to her as they pass until she starts running again. Watch the wheelchair racers zoom by, showing us all just how able people with disabilities are.

Every time I watch I am inspired and filled with awe. Every time I watch, I am more certain that someday I'll be crossing the finish line instead of cheering at the finish line.

The people of Duluth, from the spectators to the volunteers to the course marshals, go out of their way to make this a wonderful event. The course along Lake Superior is stunningly beautiful. It was a fantastic way to spend a Saturday. Congratulations to everyone who raced this weekend. You are awesome!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Making time for the things we love-book edition

I am a reader. I am happier when I have run a few miles and have a few books on my nightstand. Over the last few months reading, and running for that matter, have taken a back seat to the rest of my life. Actually, reading has been in an entirely different car altogether. I just haven't picked anything up because of school and house and life and stuff. Last week, after writing about reading, or the lack thereof, in this post, I decided I needed to carve a space for reading in my day again. It is time to prioritize a part of my life that fills me up and helps me grow and offers a chance to escape and relax.

It is summer so our school schedule has slowed down significantly. Our house is usually close to clean enough to show so I don't spend as much time cleaning in the evenings. The kids are older so they can help more around the house and Asher doesn't need my constant attention. . . Lest you think I'm ignoring him, he still needs and receives my almost constant attention. Plus I need it. So no more excuses!

Here's what I'm reading these days. Surprisingly there are no really good, really sad books on my list. Usually those are my go-to books, but I guess I'm easing back in.  I do have one on hold at the library that a friend recommended as right up my beautiful, tragic alley. Thanks, Jaclyn!

The Last First Day by Carrie Brown-I just started it so I can't comment on it much, except to say that I like the style of writing so far and it seems interesting. Not earth-shattering, but like a nice, sweet little read with likable characters and an engaging setting.

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen-This came recommended from a running and reading friend. Not only did she recommend it, she brought it over to my house and handed it to me. Just the push I needed to open a book again. It's YA so I didn't expect stellar writing, but it is an inspiring story of overcoming odds and the friends that help us along the way. Thanks, Kristen!

The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer-I'm rereading/skimming sections of this book as I prepare for Isaac to enter the second stage of the trivium, the Logic Stage. I am so excited for the upcoming school year and all the kids and I will learn. (yes, I definitely learn something new every single day!) He will start logic, which will be great for both of us, and Latin, which all the kids are looking forward to. This stage also focuses on using the information learned in grades 1-4 and forging connections and pathways. He will make new connections between historical events and leaders, notice patterns and think more abstractly in math, and use his grammar lessons in new and more challenging writing assignments. I am so excited! Thankfully he is, too.

I got a new devotional for my birthday called Trusting God: A Girlfriends in God Faith Adventure that I started. It offers a bible verse and anecdotes that are very appropriate for my stage of life. The devotions are also short and to the point, so it seems I am in their target audience. Thanks, Jayne!

Reading with kids before bed has become something of an issue since baseball and softball monopolize our evenings. We are getting inventive about when we read together so sometimes it's before breakfast, after lunch, or while Asher takes a nap.

As a family (well, really, the kids and I while Jim is at work) we are reading Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers after watching the movie in the winter and loving it. This usually happens at the breakfast table. We've already done some comparing and contrasting between the book and the movie and the character of Mary Poppins in each.

Isaac and I just finished up Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling. Oh my goodness. It was the best book in the series so far. We wanted to devour it in one setting, but bedtime called and we had to take it in chapter by chapter doses. We'll take a break from Harry Potter to read a few historical fiction books we've had our eye on, but the Order of Phoenix is definitely calling our names.

Audrey and I read Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery earlier this year and just watched the movie last weekend. It was perfect. We are hooked and started Anne of Avonlea on Monday. We get such a chuckle out of those books. I miss Matthew Cuthbert more than I probably should considering it is a book, but his relationship with Anne was just the sweetest.

Elliot and I are reading the Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop. It is a fun adventure book that has him on the edge of his seat. Right now he is straight up addicted to the Droon series so he usually asks to read a chapter of that instead. I oblige even though the books kind of drive me batty, but his enthusiasm for them is so infectious that I am happy to do it.

Asher's favorite books are Goodnight Moon and I Love You Through and Through. He still sees most books as a food group, but he will sit in my lap and listen to those even if I don't give him another book to chew on. That's how I know he loves them.

Oh goodness, I feel so much better with a few books going.

What books should I add to my long and ever-growing reading list? What are you reading? And, if you're not a reader, what do you make time for in your life because it fills you up and makes you happier?