So we’ve arrived…tired, sweaty, excited, relieved!  Welcomed with open arms and settling into to our home away from home!

Saying goodbye to our kiddos was easier than I expected and tears were only shed the night before we left, NOT as we were walking out the door.  Thankfully I know that our kids will be well taken care of, distracted from missing us by grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins, camping, swiming, waterslides and many other fun activities. Continue reading

So James and I are on our way, shortly on an adventure that was totally unexpected.  It’s kind of a cool story actually…

Here’s how it started…

James and I were having dinner with his mom and she was sharing some things that were on her heart.  Nothing really new in terms of what she’s passionate about but things she’s always placed priority on.  We were happy to listen and share in her enthusiasm for said passions, the most important being support of friends in Taiwan.  She was telling us how she felt certain there was some way for her to be involved in encouraging them but she wasn’t sure quite yet what that may look like and we were under no illusions that this was her calling, NOT ours. Continue reading

Having a teenager in my home was always something I looked forward to.  The silly banter, awkward discussions, crazy mood swings (okay maybe I didn’t look forward to these but they are interesting to say the least), the activity and generally the life achievements that come at this age!

Enter said “one day teenager” (May 30, 2001)…

photo 1When I first met this sweet little boy I was not really thinking of the gamut of emotions I was likely to experience on a daily basis in parenting him.  I was more enthralled with his beautiful face, perfect features, warm snuggles and joyful firsts that come with a firstborn.  I filled a scrapbook with WAY too many pictures, wrote him long letters (that he’ll likely never read), basked in the glow of motherhood cherishing every little movement and noise that he made!

photo 3And let’s be honest James and I were too busy growing up ourselves to fully appreciate what we had gotten ourselves into!  We were almost newlyweds…two years into this amazing journey of marriage, now entering the rollercoaster of parenthood and all the trials that come along with it.

Which stage was your favourite….

photo 7I have been asked this question a lot!  Many parents do have a favourite stage and I do not fault them for their preference.  When I was pregnant with Sam I told my mom how terrible I felt to not be excited for the baby stage.  I was pretty sure I wasn’t the affectionate, coddling mother of newborns that I’d seen other women embrace.  However it didn’t actually take that long into Sam’s “newborness” that I was cooing weird little words to him and doing all the baby type things I wasn’t sure I’d like.

But as he grew I found myself enjoying every stage as much as the last.  He was sweet and funny, daring and adventurous, snuggly and kindphoto 5 and all the things a mother loves to see in her son.  I mean really, how could ANYONE not love the many faces of this humorous little man.  Of course, each stage brought its challenges.  Life isn’t rewarding unless you see through the moments that are difficult but somehow we were created to find the good and hold onto that for dear life.  I haven’t found being a mom particularly easy.  I realized some pretty serious weaknesses on my part pretty early on in Sam’s life and I spent many a night on my knees asking for patience and wisdom (find myself that way even more often these photo 6days).  But in each stage I have loved getting to know who this young man is.  His quirks, his strengths, his weaknesses, his passions, joys and disappoints.

What’s best about this stage…

photoOver the years he has blessed our home with many memories.  We’ve laughed together, we’ve cried together, we’ve yelled at each other and smiled at each other.  He has given us so many moments to be proud of him and a few disappointments.  James and I have seen him grow into a smart, hard-working, honest, young man.  He holds his friends close, values his family beyond belief and has a soft-heart that he tries desperately to hide.  He is quiet, not outspoken or gregarious like some of his siblings but he is SOLID!  He knows what he believes and stands firm in his understanding of what his faith looks like.  He is not keen to conform but is pretty conservative in his views.  While James and I are not perfect parents and he’s not a perfect son we’ve found our way through these last few years and I know that we will continue to work through even these challenging teen years.  Quite frankly I think that so far I’ve enjoyed this stage the most.  Half boy, half man…stuck in these weird years of trying to manage his emotions, still needing the love and affection of his parents but sometimes just hating the whole, wide world.  It’s a bit of a disaster but it’s our disaster and every moment of it brings us to a new understanding of ourselves and each other!

This kid is awesome and I’m looking forward to many more years of fun stages, crazy laughter and good times!

 

It’s been way too long since I’ve posted on my own, personal blog.  I had grand plans to blog every Tuesday and make it a “Teacher Tuesday” blog but the busyness of life as well as the intensity of the courses and my practicum just got the better and I had to prioritize.  As much as this avenue of outlet is important to me sometimes, we have to make sacrifices.

This past year has been amazing, overwhelming, crazy, fun, and a whole list of very descriptive words.  I wish I could say it was a breeze…that because it was where God placed me it was a snap but much like many other journeys we face in our life times it has been challenging.  Balancing family, school, activities, etc. is an interesting  task!  Thankfully that task was made simpler by an amazing husband who chose to move his career in the direction of a new business and home office to accommodate my workload (and yes starting your own business adds a very interesting dynamic to an already crazy year).  Plus two great sets of grandparents who are extremely dedicated to being a part of their grandchildren’s lives AND some amazing friends who have stood in the gap so many times!  Without all these phenomenal people in my life this year would have looked very different.

During the last few months there have been so many “ah-ha” moments for me!  Some as an educator, some as a parent, some as a wife but each contributing to the expansion of my pool of knowledge.  My course work has given me tools to move forward in the dream of becoming a teacher and I can honestly say that I feel equipped in a way I never was before to face the world of unit planning, lesson planning, classroom management, assessment, and so on and so forth.  I have felt fulfillment in my life in so many ways and this year is just one more opportunity to say that I know this is where I’m supposed to be.  Despite the challenges of discovering who I may be in a classroom I walked away feeling confident and certain that God has gifted me to face this new adventure.

As a parent I wouldn’t say I’ve changed but I think that I have a deeper understanding of how my children are affected at school.  I know that the mornings I send them to school rushed and busy, frustrated and disappointed or angry does impact how they function.  It’s not a guilt trip and it’s unlikely that it will never happen again but it makes me want to ensure I help them start their day off right AND it helps me know that when they come home from those days and the report isn’t necessarily good that I should really have more grace for the attitude because there’s no telling what else they may have faced in the day.

As a wife, this year has helped me to appreciate my husband more.  To recognize the love we share is deeper and more certain than it was when we were newlyweds and that he is, in fact, my partner in all aspects of life.  It’s helped me to appreciate his commitment to his family, to me and to our children.  To see how much he is willing to lay on the line to provide and the risks he will take to ensure his presence in our lives.  And most importantly, to see myself through his eyes.  To feel the pride and love he has for me and my accomplishments and recognize that they are as much his as they are mine.

In the weeks to come as I wrap up the last semester of my coursework, apply for my actual certificate, wait patiently (or not so patiently) to hear word regarding employment with my local school district and cross the stage to receive my diploma, I know that I can walk away feeling good.  No matter what the future holds I am walking a path designed uniquely for me, with the people placed by my side to encourage, bless and challenge me.  I am thankful for the tears of frustration, the knots in my stomach, the not-so-great exchanges that have led to laughter, confidence and deep conversations to build and shape me for this next leg of the journey.

I know there will be many more to share, moments of questioning, silly stories, fun adventures, deep pondering and reflection.  But for this moment in time I will rest and soak up the accomplishment thus far.  I will celebrate the victory that it is and look forward to the next challenge.

 

 

 

Living with the blur

We all know there are times when you just aren’t sure exactly what the plan is and you don’t even know where to start to figure it out.  I feel a little like that these days.  I have nothing to complain about in the big picture of things so I won’t do that, but I do often wonder what the bigger picture actually looks like.  This week has already been amazingly interesting and it was only Tuesday night when I started this and it’s only gotten more intriguing, although, I guess in fairness there isn’t much in my life that’s just quiet and slow-paced.  Most of my life is lived in a bit of a blur and while I know there is constant encouragement from various places to just slow down and live in the moment I literally feel like this stage of my life is somewhat out of my control when it comes to the pace.  I know I can choose to add things or not but quite frankly there is little I can take away at this point.

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So while we celebrate Father’s Day every June, we also celebrate the birthday of a pretty special guy!  This year we were set to celebrate a pretty big milestone with my Dad.  60 glorious years of life!  He may beg to differ on all 60 of them being glorious but it seems appropriate that this milestone deserves a bit of exaggeration.  Needless to say that with the events of the previous month we were all finding it difficult to muster the energy and desire to put together a big shindig AND my father is not one for extravagant parties.  He is the epitome of the “strong, silent” type.  Instead we opted for a small, family gathering with just our immediate family.  A fun, photo scavenger hunt was put together, teams were created, funky hats were distributed, 60 citronella candles were purchased and food arranged.

We had so much fun celebrating the man who has quietly loved us through life.  My dad is an unassuming individual who has spent most of his life giving of himself so that his family would never go without.  I don’t think I have ever heard him complain about how difficult life can be.  Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of stories we could share about his amusing antics, making us graham cracker chicken, making us eat outside or in the garage as a punishment for poor table manners or disobedience, an encounter or two with a belt of the leather variety, etc.  Better yet, we could probably share some insider information on the fact that he’ll eat almost anything because his tastebuds are literally broken, he has a few grandkids but one little granddaughter has him particularly wrapped around her little finger, we mock him sometimes because he used to be so strict and the man we now see doting on his grandkids is not the same one we recall growing up.  But the truth of the matter is that we love him so much and he has given us an amazing amount of memories and experiences that have made us kids, the people we are today.  There are many attributes and character qualities that we can pick out in each other that remind us of the best we see if our dad.  While it wasn’t the same celebration that we’d hoped to give him and we were all aware of the little missing person that should have filled the frame of many a picture, we know the memories we created on that day will give us each a great deal of joy as we reflect on who this man is to us and why we are so incredibly thankful and blessed for his presence in our lives.

I’ve included the link for the slideshow we put together to remember the day and I think it’ll give you a better idea of just how much fun we had being silly while we celebrated this very amazing man that I am proud to call my father!

A Day of Memories

I will probably write this post multiple times in my life…in fact I found its sister on the pages of my blog from two and half years ago when the letting go was merely beginning.  The fact of the matter is that life really is about letting go many times over.  We find things, people, events, moments and we reach out to grasp them.  We hold them close for a time and then realize it’s time to let go, then we repeat the cycle again with something new and fresh.  I find myself in a season of letting go and it’s really not a bad thing, in fact in so many ways it’s been very freeing.  If I were to spend time analyzing it I could say it may be the years of maturity or perhaps the realization that I can’t control everything anyway, or even better, things just being pried from my tight grip.  Regardless of the circumstance I’m glad I am in a place to experience this immense burden being lifted.

The truth is, that part of my personality has always been to maintain, organize, control (if you will) the situation.  My brothers liked to refer to me as the “mother hen” or “bossy pants”, both of which I’ll freely admit to being.  My husband teasingly refers to me as his “little planner/organizer”, again both things that I can see as glaringly obvious tendencies.  I do think that all of these qualities have their place, they’re all part of my talents and abilities and what makes me who I am, but they can also be part of my weakness.  They cause me to hold on too tight, to forget that part of our life journey is to let things go and move ahead.  Over the years, I think there are a few areas I’ve held on a little too tightly, my family, both immediate and extended, my friendships, money, reputation, just to name a few.  But the last few months I’ve felt my perspective shift a bit.  While you may be expecting an amazing experience that led to some great epiphany, the truth is that my eyes are just opening.

The reminder that things can be great and amazing without my firm grip has occurred daily.  As I’ve stepped back and opened my hands I’ve seen the great joy that comes with acknowledging that I control little and that there is One who oversees all.  Here’s a few, that over the last few weeks have brought me to a place of peace…

An evening with friends, that I could have spent stressing over the budget, or lack thereof.  I could have agonized over appetizers or not, steak or salad, a glass of wine with my meal or abstain, dessert or just have something sweet at home but instead I turned to my dear husband and told him to pay the bill and keep it far from my sight.  The reward of just enjoying myself was immense.  No knot in my stomach wondering how on earth we were going to pay for this.

A dinner with family that I walked into with the soul purpose of enjoying what EVERYONE had to offer.  No worries about what may or may not unfold, no apologies for how I handled my children, no desire or need to discuss dos and don’ts, just pure and simple being together.

A last minute dinner with my husband and a co-worker that resulted in leaving our oldest home to baby-sit and for the first time put his sisters to bed.  Then to be rewarded by coming home at exactly bedtime, for said little girls, and find both of them peacefully sleeping in bed.

A work event, glitches here and there, but trusting those whom I’ve asked to help and releasing my expectation in exchange for knowledge that what will be, will be.

A spontaneous jaunt to the mall with all four of my kids.  Usually a place I avoid, but their desperate plea to shop broke my barriers.  A few well placed words and a “letting go” of my usual need to corral and ensure they appear to be the most well-behaved children in the entire universe left me with the amazing opportunity to watch them “grow up” right before my eyes.  It was as if they physically sensed my grip loosening and with that realization came the ability for them to finally take that moment to show me just how incredibly great they CAN be.

So many opportunities to experience the peace and joy that comes from recognizing that my need to have it all together generally makes a situation chaotic.  When I choose to let go, I give room to experience the bigger picture that my Creator has designed and the ability for others to journey alongside me in the most fulfilling, uplifting way.