Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Stealing Sticks

I'm tired. Really tired. And if I'm really honest I'm struggling. I usually focus on the positive here, but I also want to capture the real. Someday, I imagine the kiddos reading these, and I want them to know that sometimes the behind the scenes was really messy and sometimes I struggled. It's part of life. Life is just hard sometimes. That's okay. It's in the hard that we grow.

I have a fairly demanding job. It's not physically difficult, and while it's mentally engaging it's not overly difficult most days. It is emotionally draining, though. I have tools in my toolbox to compartmentalize and not own everything that comes into my office, but I have a point where the tools start to falter. I'm there. A lot of heavy stuff has come through my door this week, and I'm running on fumes.

Add to that emptiness the fact that life is really a series of spinning plates. Juggling work and home, house and home, ninjitsu and dance. It's a bit much some days. But, I have great support sticks that keep it going.

I have fabulous sitters, but one just hit a deer. While she is fine, her car is not, and she's out of commission for the next two weeks. Stick gone. Another stick in the form of a great friend stepped in to pick up that plate, and I kept moving.

Our primary sitter just gave us two weeks notice last night. Stick gone. I totally understand her school schedule needs to shift and that absolutely comes first, but boy was that a sucker punch. The plate is still spinning, but I'm on the quest for a new sitter.

This is crazy season for Brad and his travel is heavier than usual. Double stick gone. Plates get wobbly.

The kids' school is full of beginning of the year meetings, which means extra stuff and shuffles in the schedule, the schedule that I rely on. Stick gone. Plates still spinning, but it's a little fast and wild.

And then the stick that broke me last night: we had some fruit go funky on the kitchen counter. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it was just the last straw. I walked in the door to some serious funk, and soon found it. I don't even know how it happened so fast, but I got rid of the fruit and thought all was well. I realized late last night the funk was still there. I realized juice had leaked onto my cookbooks--two I thought. They got hit pretty hard, but I wiped them down and put them out in the garage to air out and hoped for the best. This morning, I realized 14 others got just a little hit. So...instead of eating breakfast and drinking my coffee I dealt with that.

All the plates are still spinning, and I have Faith that nothing will fall that is not supposed to. The silver lining in all of this is the kids seem blissfully unaware. My new mantra, "Unrush Me," has kept me fully present for them. We have been snuggling and reading at night. I'm getting up early enough to be ready when their alarms go off so the morning isn't rushed and frantic. I hear them laughing and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt they feel safe and loved. That's what is keeping everything spinning right now.

I'm looking at this feeling right now as an opportunity to grow. I'm leaning more on the Father who can fill me and is the only stick I truly need. I'm trusting the details to Him and knowing all will be well. I'm trying to Be Still. Honestly, though, I'm also very much praying He sends a few earthly sticks my way...


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Alice

We have a new friend at our house. Her name is Alice and she is a wild dreamer with a tendency to fall down rabbit holes.

We started into Wonderland a few weeks ago, and it's the first book in a long time that has grabbed all of us. At first, I wasn't sure the kids were engaging. They were so quiet and still when I read, but as soon as I closed the book the commentary would start. They had just gotten lost in the adventure.

Last night, Alice awoke from her dream. I read the last page, and closed the book. Evan and Issa were silent. Finally, Evan whispered, "Is that the end?"

"It is."

"But I don't want to leave Wonderland," chimed Issa.

Magic. They have found the magic of getting so lost in a world that you are actually truly sad to leave.

But then it was my turn to whisper, "She can fall through a looking glass tomorrow..."

Monday, September 8, 2014

Community Weekend

Every once in a while, I am reminded that we live in a really cool area. Not only is our little community a great place to live, but we are surrounded by bigger communities that have some really cool opportunities. This was one of those weekends.

Saturday, we headed into Chapel Hill for a UNC football game. Issa had earned the tickets as an Academic All-Star last year, and we were all really excited to go. Kick-off was at 8, but we headed into town to enjoy the pre-game festivities about 5:
The bounce houses were big winners with the kids. Brad and I enjoyed watching the marching band warm up, and Evan was in heaven watching the team walk in. Issa was excited to see the cheerleaders and dance team up close, and somehow we even ended up with a Carolina Blue football and pompom on our way into the game.

Daddy sure does love his kiddos: 
It was roughly the temperature of the surface of the sun but he carried Evan so he could see better. And please note that he is in a UNC shirt. He was a little afraid it would give him hives, but he managed, and Issa was thrilled.

A family selfie before the game:
We were up pretty high, but it was a great view of the field and the big screens. And, the fireworks were right above us. Since the game was on ESPN, they had pulled out all the stops. We only made it until after the half-time show, but it was so much fun. Daddy even finally learned how to say, "Heels" when he heard, "Tar."

Sunday, we headed into Durham for the tenth anniversary celebration of the Historic Tobacco District. Really, we went to see Issa dance. A little pre-show Tiny huddle:
Several small groups performed, and then the whole Company took the stage:
Issa was a bit nervous, but she said it was just fun to dance for "real people." There wasn't a huge crowd, and  considering the Company had spent an hour learning the dance, expectations were low.

After the performance, we enjoyed some street performers, food trucks, and live bands. It was just plain fun.

This week is set to be a blur of busyness, but I'm hoping for some quiet in the storm. If nothing else, I'm grateful for such a fun weekend going into it.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Sacred Priviledge

Wednesday at work was just awful. Awful. It wasn't one thing in particular, but it was one of those days when you go home and wonder if you have made a poor career decision. Poor Brad had to pick up the pieces.

Yesterday, though, yesterday was a gift. It was hard. I was pretty emotionally empty at the end of the day. But...it also made me remember my work is a sacred privilege. I spend my days working with young adults. Young people who are learning who they are and where they fit in the world. They are deciding what they believe and how they can make this world of ours a little better. They are trying to figure out what being a grown up means. I get to be the coach and the guide. Sometimes, that means all I can do is wrap them in my arms and let them cry. Sometimes, it means I have to help them develop some tools and brush themselves off. Sometimes, like last night, I get to just sit back and watch them dream. They remind me that nothing is impossible. They remind me that one small step can have a huge impact, and they remind me that you never know until you try.

They are brave and fierce and sometimes a little naive around the edges, but it is my honor to get to be there for it all.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Poet Laureate

Issa is the official family poet laureate. Our vet hosted a poetry competition last month, and Issa was one of the two winners. The original call for entries was a poem that said Dr. Wilson would recognize the winner by arriving on tricycle, and yesterday she did not disappoint:
 Issa was so surprised and excited.

The certificate included a copy of her poem, which was written shortly after the honeymoon phase had ended with Neela:
She amuses me. As proud as I am of Issa for entering and writing, I am also just as proud of our vet. She is amazing. She loves our critters they way we do, and I'm so very grateful she is part of our team.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Birthday Begins...

We began celebrating Issa's birthday this weekend! My family all flew in Friday for the occasion, and much fun was had by all.

After dinner out on Friday, Issa and Nana got to work on her cake:

 It was by far the most involved Issa has ever wanted to be in the decorating, and I loved watching her and my mom work on it together.

Saturday morning, we girls took Issa shopping. She wanted to check out a new line of Disney clothes, and Nana and Papa thought that taking her shopping might be a bit easier than picking clothes for her on their own. We had a blast. Issa has a quirky sense of style, but she was so fun! She's not an easy one to fit, but she never got fussed when things didn't work. We just kept trying, and we all laughed when she gave pants the jump test to see if they would stay up.

When we got home, Nana and Issa got to work on the cake again:
 Issa did about 75% of the decorating, and she was pretty thrilled with the end result:
 I believe she pronounced it: "Hello Kitty Birthday Bam!"

With the cake finished, Issa provided us with a fashion show of her finds from the morning, and the best big brother proclaimed everything, "stylish:"
 This was the favorite dress:
 Such a grown-up, sweet girl:
 Aunt Shannon and Uncle Jeff also brought some surprises, starting with Evan's new Spiderman jacket:
 He was a little excited.

So was Issa:
 The boots were awesome, but that face was for this dance outfit:
 That's a sports bra under there. She was thrilled. Aunt Shannon is also miraculous because everything fit!

Evan just couldn't wait to give Issa his gifts:

 He got her spy gear--walkie talkies and a laser alarm. The love between these two is palpable. However, they don't quite get the walkie talkies. They spent much of the weekend walking side by side and talking into them.

The rest of the evening was spent enjoying cake and being together. Sunday and Monday offered more of the same. Playing Uno, playing outside, building Legos, face painting, and doing art projects:
 Crayon art is always a favorite:

In so many ways, it wasn't an extraordinary weekend. We didn't run around all over the place. We didn't eat anything extravagant. But it was exactly what Issa wanted--time with her family--time to just be. I will be forever grateful that they made that possible...

Friday, August 29, 2014

Last Summer Adventure

With all of the excitement this week, I didn't get to post about our excitement last weekend. 

We have always tried to do one last hurrah before school starts--just a day trip to celebrate the end of summer. Unfortunately, the weather was not feeling very cooperative. Fortunately, one of Issa's former teachers turned us on to the Greensboro Science Center. It's part science center, part aquarium, and part zoo, and as it turns out, their feature exhibit right just happens to be pirates right now. My people love pirates. So...off we went.

Per usual, I took the camera with grand intentions. I took so few. We started in the pirate exhibit, and we were all terribly entertained by the hurricane tube:


You experience Hurricane 1 winds. Thankfully, there are no pictures of me as I didn't think this through and spent my time in the tube holding my skirt down.

The boys loved sailing the virtual pirate ship through a storm:
But the highlight was this robotic arm. Most of the exhibit features real treasure and pieces of an actual pirate ship. They also have the underwater robot that recovered these treasures from far deeper than people can dive. And...we got to try picking up a coin with the actual arm that they used:
It's way more difficult than it looks.

After a brief tour of the bodies exhibit (from which I am almost recovered), we headed out to the zoo. Of course I didn't take any pictures of the tortoises, tigers, or various primates that we watched play and explore. But I did get pictures of the kids and goats...which we see every weekend at the farm:

The kids still find these kinds of pictures and statues hysterical:
My fierce pirates:
We ended our tour at the aquarium, where we watched otters and penguins play, sharks hunt, and rays glide. And...we got to pet many, many rays. It was the highlight for the kids.

We will definitely be going back to explore the rest of the museum soon! Maybe I'll be a bit better photographer...probably not.