November 12, 2014

Doing What Works

Life is going too fast.  I thought I moved for a slower pace, but so far it's anything but.  The morning begins with breakfast for five and doesn't stop from there.  There's working online, cleaning, feeding the kids again, getting them down for naps, cleaning again, homeschooling, maybe a trip to the store, feeding them again, then it's dinner time.  Then a quick bath, book or show, and bedtime.  They eat.  A lot.  And make a lot of messes.  As I mentioned before, we are staying with my sister-in-law and her family.  It's a crazy, loud, chaotic, fun mess.  And it's going by so fast.  I think I have this real fear of losing time.  Everyone says don't blink because your kids will be grown up.  My struggle is between wanting to savor every moment and feeling like there's just not enough time to savor it.  I know our living situation is so unusual right now, things will return to normal when we are more settled.  I hope.

Instagram cropped leaves on a fall day

This was the brightest, most beautiful rainbow I've ever seen.  If you look close you can even see a double.  Phone cameras just don't do it justice.

When we moved, I knew flexibility was going to be key to making this work.  And boy was I right!  We are doing things I don't necessarily like, but, right now, they're necessary.  Things that are working for us right now:

*Watching too much tv.  This is something I fight against, and put so much effort into getting our tv watching minimal and under control while we lived in California.  Now, in order to get anything done, the kids are being entertained my Mickey and Rescuebots.  It's not something I like, but it is working for now.
*Breastfeeding through the night.  Asher is almost 14 months.  Instead of weaning, we've been increasing to get him to sleep at night.  Even with nursing, he's still been awake.  A lot.  So, breastfeeding into toddlerhood is working for us.
*Sleeping separately.  Mike has been sleeping in the trailer so he can get a good night sleep before work, since Asher has been up so much at night.  
*Unhealthy eating.  This one kills me.  With so many people in one house, different foods are available than what I may usually buy.  And I don't have my own supplies to properly prepare foods.  Plus, willpower has been reduced with lack of sleep.  

I'm writing those down to remind myself that those are temporary ways we are adapting to life for now, but I will not allow them to become long-term lifestyle changes.  For now, we are doing what works.  

Playing in the leaves.  Getting dirty and not caring.  This works.

This big one year old is still not walking.  His sis walked when 
she was 14 months, and he seems to be following in her footsteps.

Another change that's been hard to handle is the change I've seen in my oldest son.  He has always had such a loving heart and sweet spirit, particularly towards his brother and sister.  Since we've moved here, he's developed a little boy attitude.  He is struggling daily with showing love, and it's hard for me to accept or know what to do because he's never been this way.  His daily prayer is "God please help me with my attitude and take away my pride."  

I think that's my daily prayer too.

I can't believe my first baby turned 5.  A five year old.  No longer a pre-schooler.  
I'll love you forever
I'l like you for always
As long as I'm living
My baby you'll be

We celebrated at this fun bounce house place with trampolines, 
bounce houses and slides, and foam pits

This is my favorite picture ever.  He always gives a 
super cheesy fake smile, but this one is genuine.

I painted Pax this garage for his Rescuebots!  He loves it and plays with it daily!

Group shot!

Halloween was one of those very hard days, full of tears and heartache.  The kids looked SO ADORABLE!  And one saw.  No one cared.  At home, we always had plans with cousins and grandparents and friends, where everyone oo-ed and aw-ed over their cuteness.  We drove to Costco to see Daddy, and I was reminded of how many people would have been loving on the kids if we had been at the Costco at home.  We have been shown so much love by the people there, and we've lived life together over the last 15 years, even if it's been sporadic. one knew us.  No one loved on the kids.  No one cared.  I know it won't always be this way, but it's hard not to compare a life overflowing with people to a life with very few.  

This girl.  She brings non-stop joy to my life.  She's my best friend and I adore being around her.
And because I can't pick just one to showcase her's seven more 

This dress was mine.  I wore it to Disneyland when I was two, and 
legend has it Mickey and Minnie followed me around and loved it!

I was so shy though; I didn't have her spunk!

But the very next day, we went to the home of some extended family to press apples and make cider.  The day was so fun, and was just what I imagined it to be like here.  We drove to a huge cattle ranch and pressed what seemed like thousands of apples, freshly picked from nearby orchards and wild trees. The antique presser was run by the men, while the women peeled and sorted apples.  And the juice. Oh my goodness.  So good!  My brother-in-law's step-mother (confusing!) was the host, and she is a wealth of knowledge.  Not only has she been making her own lotions, lips balms, soaps, etc for many years and cooking healthy foods from their farms and garden, but she was homesteading before homesteading was cool.  We talked GMOs, sustainable living, how to make your own everything.  And she's going to write a cookbook abut how to properly prepare your food.  I can't wait!  Thankful for another light in the darkness.  

Last night the freezing weather came, and left us this morning with frozen water and red noses.  And just like fall is slowly rolling out and winter is rolling in, life goes on.  Before we know it, spring will be here, bringing new life and beauty in it's wake.  

November 3, 2014


Wow!  I can't believe it's been six weeks since we arrived in Idaho!  I've been wanting to update but our computer is in our bedroom, and there is usually one or two kids asleep at all times!  I decided to power through it, and as I type Asher is asleep in the Pack N Play and Cambria is watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates on the iPad behind me on the bed.

So far....Idaho is exactly as I thought it would be.  Beautiful, great weather, many things to do...but lacking my favorite people to do them with.  The struggle is between enjoying where I live but missing the very people who make where I live a place called home.  

To summarize the first six weeks, just so I can remember:

The night before we left California, our friends and family came to help us move.  Our house was filled with loud, screaming children having the time of their lives and making lasting memories, and adults who were holding back tears (some not so efficiently) as we saw them making memories for the last time in a long time.  These friends....gah.  Not only did they stuff our car and our Uhaul so full, making sure every last picture frame and bowl and jar of sauerkraut fit, but they came over the following day and cleaned everything while we were on the road, and have even cut our grass while our house is in escrow.  I know all too well that friends like these are to be cherished and held tightly in our hearts, no matter where we are.

This was our going-away/early birthday party for our boys.

Look at all these kids.  What a difference five years makes!

Grandpa was holding them tight.

My mom made the long trip with us with 3 kids, 3 adults, 2 cats, and 2 dogs.  (Our third cat was killed by a coyote shortly before moving day and found by our poor sweet neighbor who cleaned it all up so we wouldn't have to see her like that).  The trip took a very long time with all the kids, animals, and the Uhaul, but it was thankfully uneventful.

Pit stop!  (And we did NOT eat at that McDonald's!)

Birthday boy showing off his belly.

We arrived in Idaho on Asher's first birthday. Mike's sister, Auntie Mary, had balloons and cupcakes for a small party.  Mike's sister and her family have graciously allowed my large family to stay with them as we get settled and figure out where we will live.  Our living situation is working out so well.  It's making me rethink the need for a large house...just kidding!

We are staying in a 12x11 room with Mike and I on the full bed, Pax and Bri on the floor with blankets, and Asher in the Pack N Play.  We have a cubby bookshelf doubling as a dresser and a small tv stand doubling as computer desk. This room is directly off the laundry room, which they have allowed us to use too!  We have another bookshelf out there for bathroom stuff and school books, and a rod to hang clothes across one wall.  They even gave us one whole cupboard in the kitchen!  It has been an organizational challenge, and I have to daily put everything away and re-organize so our small areas stay livable.  But, it's been totally doable!  I just can't express my gratefulness enough.  I know that taking on a family of five with three small, loud children is a grand task and to be gracious throughout is truly divine.

This barn is my favorite.  Be prepared for it to be in all my pictures.

The first week after we arrived my mom was here, so we didn't get much organizing done, but rather drove around and explored a few tourist places.  I dare say my mom wasn't too impressed with our town, as she is not much for farming.  I think her favorite areas were in the city and along the Boise River, where the hustle and bustle is similar to So Cal. It is nice knowing those places are only a short drive away.

It was sad when my mom left.  Not knowing for sure when I would see her or anyone else was daunting.  I held it together when she left but woke up sad and overwhelmed the following day.

Since that time, I have had many such times.  Times when the pain of not having my family and friends close by is overwhelming and I can't hold back the tears.  I am SO grateful for the family here taking us in as their own.  It gives me hope that the pain won't always be so deep.

Busy day here.  Tutus are always appropriate, especially with Brother's Fireman rainboots.

A few weeks after we arrived there was a small party with some of my brother-in-law's family so we could spend some time with them.  They are the nicest, sweetest people.  But me?  I sent this text to my BFF:
                     "Jeremy's family is here and they are all so sweet and nice.
                      Everyone is having a great time and I'm sitting in the laundry
                      room in the dark crying and texting you."

It was so bittersweet, seeing these new awesome people that are in our lives, but knowing the old awesome people were not there.  It's so daunting, the thought of starting over.  Getting friendships to the point where you can be real, where you know what the other is thinking, where you have inside jokes....that takes time and effort.  Coming to a new place, it can seem like forever before that's a possibility, especially when the friendships here are already established.

I feel like I'm learning a hard lesson about the value of relationships.  You can live in the most beautiful place that is everything you want it to be, but life is best enjoyed within the context of community.  

The reason this guy is in fewer pictures is because he's usually on the photographer's back.

I look back to a time about 10 years ago when I had no community and no deep friendships, and it didn't bother me.  I have learned so much since then about living life with others and what joy it can bring.  It's scary, because it can also bring heartache and pain.  But the joy?  Oh, it's worth the risk.

It's easy to cling to what we know and not allow change to happen to us.  Change can also bring heartache and pain.  Trust me, I know.  But it's possible, even probable, that it could be the very best thing.  As I wrote about before, Jesus makes me brave.  And if He's the One initiating the change, we can trust the joy will come after the mourning.

September 16, 2014

Wild and Free

Jesus makes me brave.  Jesus makes me strong.  Jesus makes me free.

One of my favorite things about following Christ is the ability to be all in.  I don't have to have plans all laid out, I just have to be willing to trust that He does.  I can jump, feel the rush of the air as it swooshes past my ears, knowing He will open the parachute just in time.

My flesh knows fear.  Through Jesus, I have confidence.  My flesh worries I'll fail.  Through Jesus,  I know that all things will work together for good.  My flesh hears the negativity from other people.  Through Jesus, I am able to choose joy.

It was for freedom that Christ set us free.  Freedom from fear, freedom from worry, freedom from whatever weight is holding us down.

I like to be happy.  I've been told I poop rainbows.  I love to look on the bright side.  It's kind of my hobby.  I know there are people who think this move is crazy.  I have been told I'll never make it.  I know there are people who seriously question our judgement because we don't have a long term plan, or because selling all our stuff and moving 1000 miles isn't something that people expect. We are learning that less is more, simple is better, and normal isn't necessarily wild or free.  We've learned to walk through a door when the Lord opens it, not to wait around until we are ready.  What is the purpose of faith if we know the outcome?  I believe the Lord is most honored when we don't have everything planned, but rather when we move forward and leave the planning up to Him.

There have been times when I've let fear keep me from trying.  Fear of the failure, fear of looking like I don't have it all together, fear of embarrassing the people I love.  But I'm learning that success is in the trying.  Success is giving it your all when you feel the urge to hold back.  There is no failure, unless maybe it's just never trying.  There's just a different route that the one that was anticipated.

Taking this step of faith has produced so much freedom.  Selling all my possessions has produced freedom from selfishness.  Waiting on the Lord has produced freedom from worry.  Moving when the Lord says move has produced freedom from the illusion of control.

Faith in Jesus can take an ordinary life and turn it into an adventure.  Being wild and free starts with saying yes.  Moving when He moves.  Anyone can be extraordinary.  Anyone can live an extraordinary life.  The risk is great.  But so is the reward.

September 8, 2014

Every New Beginning

I remember the night I graduated from high school.  The event I had been anticipating all year, maybe all four years.  We spent so much time planning that night, from the decorations to the music to our speeches.  Time spent trying to decide how to summarize the last four years into a five minute speech.  Hours shopping for the perfect dress to show that I was classy yet fun, studious yet playful.  Then I'd make the call to my friend.

"What are you wearing to graduation?"
"Is your dress long or short?"
"Are you going to wear your dress to the school or bring it with you?"
"Are you bringing something else to change into after?"
"Are wearing your hair down or up?"

Nothing in high school can be left to chance.

{Insert high school graduation photo here.  Except they're all packed, so we have to use our imaginations.}

While not a flash back to high school, these were taken in 2009 and 2010.

Friends who vacation-in-Maui-with-a-9-month-old-together, stay together. 2010

I remember after the graduation ceremony was over, taking picture after picture and giving hug after hug to my friends that I'd seen every day for the last four years.  This event I had anticipated for so long was now passing, and I didn't want it to end.  With all the excitement of graduating, I forgot.  I forgot I wouldn't see my friends first thing the next morning.  I forgot I wouldn't slide fancy-folded notes in their lockers or share lunches the next week.  We wouldn't be sharing secrets and inside jokes in the five minutes while waiting for the bell to ring.  It was over.  My life with these friends would never be exactly the same.  We'd still be friends.  But that life was over.

New Year's Eve 2010

The best part of my life was ahead of me, but I didn't know it at the time.  All I knew was a sense of loss that life as I knew it was ending, changing into something unknown.

I feel like it's high school graduation, and while I can guess the best is yet to come, I also know that life is changing, and with that comes loss of the familiar comfort we've found in each other.  These friends have been with me through thick and thin the last five years.  Births and deaths, confidence and fear, joy and sorrow, we've seen it all.  I know it's not ending, just changing.  And change can be so good.  But.  There's still a but.

Celebrating a new life 2012

My heart overflows with good memories and thankfulness that these friends were part of my daily life for a time.  We now have the chance to experience friendship of a different sort - long distance.  We now have opportunities to use our time to be intentional in loving each other in new ways.  A chance to grow and be creative in our love.


Growing larger every year 2013

I'm left remembering songs we played during our graduation (and possibly yours if you graduated around 2000).  A favorite line from an old Green Day song that goes "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."  So profound, that Green Day.  But the high school song I've chosen to commemorate this group is another cheesy throwback, from Michael W. Smith.  Anyone who grew up in youth group in the '90s will remember this classic.

Packing up the dreams God planted
In the fertile soil of you
I can't believe the hopes He's granted
Means a chapter in your life is through

But we'll keep you close as always
It won't even seem you've gone
'Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong

And friends are friends forever
If the Lord's the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
'Cause the welcome will not end
Though it's hard to let you go
Into the Father's hands we know
That a lifetime's not too long
To live as friends