Reality

18 08 2014

It is no secret…I have a passion for/addiction/obsession with The Bachelor and Bachelorette enterprise.  I should just say “no” and pick up a book and actually utilize a few more crannies of my brain.  But, sometimes we succumb to guilty pleasures.  This all began just before I got married.  My dear roommate and I would bond over Bachelors Andrew Firestone and Bob Guiney from Seasons 3 and 4 or Bachelorette Trista Sutter from Season 1, giving our lives true meaning, intrigue and excitement after especially hard teaching days.  The “MOST DRAMATIC ROSE CEREMONY EVER” kept us watching, week after week, season after season to see which contestants, vying for love, would come out the winner.

Now twenty-eight seasons later, I am still watching.  And shhhh….but….my husband will watch too.  We even included illusions to it in our Christmas letter the year we were married.

xmas 2004 ltr

Things have changed, though.  I have read more and more about how producers influence so many aspects of the reality we naively watch.  I now follow many former cast members on instagram and find myself thinking I have a true “insider view” into their everyday lives.  And shocker of all shockers?!?  I am a big Reality Steve fan.  Reality Steve is infamous for his “secret” sources which give him all the nitty gritty details on the season, prior to its premiere.  His “spoilers” allow viewers to know background about the cast, blow by blow details of the exotic dates and who goes home on which episodes. Steve even reveals who wins the entire kit and caboodle on the finale.

You are either a spoiler FAN or spoiler HATER.  Reality Steve is your hero.  Or your nemesis.  And the other day I got to thinking about this quandry.  What is my fascination with “reality” tv?  And more than that…knowing ahead of time what will REALLY happen and then watching “reality” unfold to see if they match up?  I think Reality Steves’ spoilers provide levity for me.  He is humorous and pokes fun at the whole Bachelor enterprise.  Yet, if asked, “Would you want to know is going to happen in the future or not?!?” I would invariably say, “no, thanks”.  In this case, though, I love how you can watch the show with totally different eyes knowing who is to come out the “winner”.  You watch for the nuances and catch the beginning sparks that lead to love in the end—or at least, perceived love.

There is so little in life that we truly know for sure, except perhaps,  that life is unpredictable.  So to know FOR SURE who will make what decisions seemingly before they even do feels pretty powerful.  The finale for this past season, season 10 of the Bachelorette, just finished up 2 weeks ago.  We were camping on the Oregon Coast, far from DVRs, cable and Hulu Plus services.  Even though I KNEW Andi and Josh would wind up together, I had a compulsion to watch the episode.  I needed to see it for myself.  Then….my phone connected long enough to see this picture come up on my instagram feed.  Proof!  Look at that ring!  Engagement confirmed.

 

But still, once we got home the following Saturday from our camping trip, I had to pull up the three hour show and watch it all.  See it and experience it for myself—-in all of its over-produced wonder.  Sometimes, though we want sure-fire, guaranteed knowledge of what the future holds, it really comes down to needing to walk through today, the here and now, ourselves.  Reality Steve may make me feel all-knowing and powerful, but really?  The Bachelor and Bachelorette are a lot of smoke and mirrors.  And the truth of it??  I still will watch despite knowing the absurdity.  Because sometimes it’s nice to escape reality by being privy to someone else’s.  After a long day of household chores and trying to help our children grow into respectable citizens, it can be fun to accompany the Bachelorette to Italy or Belgium or the Domincan Republic enjoying fancy dinners and over-the-top dates.

When it comes to my life, my decisions, my companions and family, though, I am happy to live in my reality. Our stories, our lives, our narratives, are like any plot.  There are low moments, highs & mountaintop experiences, day-to-day monotony. God calls us into the story, to be the main character, living in the unknown ourselves.  To have perspective to see how the harder moments of our past lead to our self of today.  But also, to see how we too can shape the storyline for our days ahead.  A call to—like the Bachelor and Bachelorette—to find love.  Maybe our love, though, is the capital “L”, love.  To find the places where God dwells and is moving and be co-creators on the journey.

 

 

 





Love Does

15 08 2014

1504506_10152201835901039_6936286004288365899_o

 

The angst of the next few weeks is palpable.  Kids are gearing up for school to start.  School supplies are being purchased.  First day outfits laid out.  For myself and so many of my friends, it means preparing as an educator to begin another year.  Empty plan books.  Desks to be organized.  Closets to be decluttered.  Books to be “leveled” and labelled.   Truly the lists {and lists and lists and lists} go on and on.  And thus, the angst can go on and on.

We have three new curriculum areas at my school this fall and luckily for me as a part time teacher, I only have to grapple with two, Reading and Writing.  As any compulsive, obsessed teacher does, I turned to the source of all wisdom—Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers.   But the scary thing?!? Our new reading curriculum is SO new that we are the only folks using it on the west coast.  It is truly hot off the press and we’re hoping we actually have all the supplies when school begins.  There are no “cutified” {I know that’s a word…somewhere} worksheets to be found.  There is no plan mapped out.  There is no sage advice from those who have gone before.

We are living into Oregon’s history….the trailblazers.  The Pioneers.  We are making a trail.  Creating a path.  Trying new scary things and no doubt failing sometimes.

And it’s uncomfortable.  I really like to have a framework and wisdom from others.  We have gone to training, yes, and there is a suggested, clear, laid out plan in our teacher guides.  But even our trainer, in the sweetest way possible, shrugged her shoulders a few times when met with our incessant questions and basically said, “It’s up to YOU.”  We get to make those “adjustable seats” for each student with their own needs (did you watch the TED talk I referenced in my last post?  click here).  We are going to have to read the books the night before and think about themes and deeper implications.  We are the ones on the front lines with the students every morning at 7:55am (gulp) greeting them and creating a place they feel loved and supported in the midst of academic challenges.

And all of those tasks leave me tossing and turning at night, unconsciously grinding my teeth.  Living in the fear.  This morning, though, I got a jolt to push out of that place.  Author Bob Goff, who wrote Love Does {A MUST READ} wrote on Facebook:

“Quit waiting for a plan; just go love everybody.”

Maybe that’s the answer to the fears I keep grappling with….just go love.  Obviously teachers without a plan or preparation will sink in moments.  But the reason for the plan is to allow space for growth, learning and love.  Remind me of this on September 2nd, but for now, these words are going to hopefully quell my knees from knocking a tiny bit.

 

IMG_2350





Just add a Filter

13 08 2014

For the past few years I have oogled over photographic images posted on blogs I follow.  Pictures capturing so much of a family in one still frame.  I have been an avid blog  devour-er and began to see a common denominator on many….the work of Wendy and Tyler of Blue Lily Photography.  Some of my favorites are linked below:

Meg Duerksen (1, 2 and 3)

Nie Nie Dialogues (1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Design Mom (1 and 2)

Wendy and Tyler work as a team, but “double book” for most sessions so they are each capturing a separate family at the same time.  Shortly after our move to Oregon, I started noticing lots of blog posts saying that the Blue Lily calendar/schedule was up.  Wendy and Tyler travel the world, year round, with their two kids, photographing as they go.  From Hong Kong to Australia to Spain to most states across the U.S….they travel spreading immense joy and clicking picture after picture.

For our session, we worked with Wendy and man alive, she earned her money with our boys.  Drew was like a little puppy, running off down various paths and after every distractable option possible.  Alex was climbing trees and rock walls and going a mile a minute.  Just an hour prior to the session we had been sitting in horrendous traffic, trying to grab a quick dinner and checking into our hotel.  Matt dared to suggest we just call and cancel.  I exploded like a volcano, this session being something I had wanted for my 40th birthday—-photographs with me in them with our family since I am usually the one behind the camera.

After apologizing and deep breaths, we drove along the unparalleled Columbia River Gorge towards Multnomah Falls.  It was raining on and off and my Burgerville dinner in a bag was threatening to drip all over my clothes.  But we made it in time and Wendy put us at ease right away, joking, keeping the kids on their toes and taking the time and energy to learn and know our names and part of our story.  She is truly a master at her craft, oozing out love and joy.

All this to say….photographs are only a moment in time.  They may tell or give off a story that isn’t quite accurate.  You can’t hear what was going on prior, during or after these pictures.  The bargaining for ice cream.  The gritting of teeth.  The hole Alex put in the knee of his pants earlier in the day.  Sometimes the images we put up for others to see are filtered.  We shield eyes, even our own, from the truth.  Make it appear perfect.  And yet, despite the imperfections—-the pounds I wish I’d shed, the discipline and frustrations uttered to the boys, the difficulty figuring out the clothing, etc—I feel like every single cent was worth it.

For me, photography is a deep passion.  I feel completely off kilter when I find myself without a camera in hand.  Capturing life through my lens, even my phone, is like breathing.  It helps me look for, see, and document beauty in the world.  And while I may add a filter to soften, tone down or even amp up an image, it is more about a sharing beauty than perfection.

In an attempt to set the record straight…if you think our family is perfect.  Docile.  Calm.  Pulled together.  Loving 24/7.  You are dead wrong.  No matter what the photos might suggest or the filters might hide, rest assured, underneath it all—it’s a bit of a circus.  So grateful that we were able to have some still frames of our family in July of 2014, though, as it might be the only STILL we experience for the next 15 years.

Thanks so much, Wendy, for working with us.  We truly had a blast!

Christine Gough 7_13_20140003

Christine Gough 7_13_20140009

Christine Gough 7_13_20140014

Christine Gough 7_13_20140063

Christine Gough 7_13_20140071

Christine Gough 7_13_20140105

Christine Gough 7_13_20140117

Christine Gough 7_13_20140132

Christine Gough 7_13_20140153

Christine Gough 7_13_20140165

Christine Gough 7_13_20140177

Christine Gough 7_13_20140302

Christine Gough 7_13_20140315

Christine Gough 7_13_20140344

Christine Gough 7_13_20140357





So Far…

12 08 2014

IMG_2251

Like many of you, no doubt, summer feels like a hot bed of opportunity.  Sometimes fall feels that way too.  School starting.  New clothes.  New backpacks.  New school supplies.  Or Winter?  It’s the new year.  Resolutions are made.  We can begin a new chapter.  Spring?  Everything comes back to life after hibernating.  Flowers pop through the ground.  In the classroom, it is non-failingly the time when everyone seems to kick into gear and really grow in their learning, cemented as a community.

But summer?  I have visions of relaxing in a hammock.  Roasting marshmallows.  Taking hikes.  Reading books.  Taking family trips and adventures.  Rejuvenating.

And while many of those things HAVE happened, it has also felt quite different this year.  Almost like holding onto a strong, metal support for dear life as a hurricane raged around me.  There have been many teacher trainings and days devoted to my new job come September.  Camps and preschool for the boys.  Two trips for us as a family.  Lots of visiting friends and family.  It has all been {{{good}}}, but that island living, relaxed and mellow vibe I envision each June?!  Not so much.

There have been some hard “Come to Jesus” moments lately as expectation has met reality head on—-with reality taking the cake.  Gulping down what I envisioned my life to look like, and realizing that things are actually different.  Mostly in the area of parenting.  For years, as a teacher, I have lived in judgement of parents, students and circumstances only to find myself becoming THAT parent, in charge of THAT kid. Humility can be a hard pill to swallow.

When I think of the summer of 2010, I remember last weeks in our job at summer camp.  I was waddling around 8 months pregnant, waiting on the baby to come and a move to be made a few months later.  In 2013 we were packing, saying goodbyes, road-tripping north and starting a new adventure.  In 2003 I was newly engaged, enjoying 3 weeks in Europe, planning a wedding, on cloud 9.  Summers all have different memories attached.  And this one?  Well, some days I want to reframe it.  Rename it.  Recreate it into something a little more perfect.  In reality, it has been a tougher nut to crack.  I wish I could say I was entering a new school year, relaxed as if from a spa treatment, ready for whatever lies ahead.  Nope.  It’s more of a “hanging on for dear life”, diving into the next adventure.

One thing that remains, however, is my choice on how to look at the days and weeks to come.  I will be in a new school district come September.  Even though the needs of our students—on paper—are daunting, I see so much commitment, joy and determination in the companions that share classrooms around me.  There is a strong belief that every child can be educated, but more than that….inspired.  I can, and DO, look at my soon-to-be students’ reading scores, and get nervous, filled with fear that I won’t be able to help them grow and learn.  But, truly?  It comes down to what, in my core, I believe to be possible.  A paradigm shift to be had in my heart.  Some days this summer, my heart has felt rather hopeless or on an unpredictable, out-of-control roller coaster.  I am guessing that it comes down to re-framing things, not with Pollyanna, unrealistic memory-recreating.  Rather, with an open heart, accepting the days behind and ahead, believing that growth and inspiration waits to be found.  And when I look back at the pictures and images below, I see the inspiration that can be found, the growth & adventures  that were had and find myself grateful for the summer of 2014.

IMG_0595

IMG_0612

photo

IMG_1479

IMG_1956

IMG_1969

IMG_1973

IMG_1994

IMG_1998

IMG_2055

IMG_0840

IMG_0868

IMG_0886

IMG_0890

IMG_0920

IMG_0937

IMG_0943

IMG_0973

IMG_0993

IMG_1011

IMG_1040

IMG_1042

IMG_1045

IMG_1064

IMG_1121

IMG_1130

IMG_1136

IMG_1198

IMG_1211

IMG_1275

IMG_1299

IMG_1339

IMG_1408

IMG_1419

IMG_1424

IMG_0702

IMG_0720

IMG_0738

IMG_0762

IMG_0771

IMG_0774

IMG_0781

IMG_0803

IMG_0832

IMG_0835

IMG_0863

IMG_1515

IMG_1526

IMG_1551

IMG_1553

IMG_1609

IMG_1620

IMG_1629

IMG_1665

IMG_1669

IMG_1682

IMG_1825

IMG_1850

IMG_1852

 

IMG_1876

IMG_1919

IMG_1935

IMG_1016

IMG_1025

IMG_1077

IMG_1108

IMG_1327

IMG_2130

IMG_2161-001

IMG_2189-001

IMG_2197

IMG_2204

IMG_2219-001

IMG_2224-001

IMG_2227

IMG_2337

 

IMG_2303

 

IMG_2270

 

IMG_2259

 

 

IMG_1202

 

We watched the Ted Talk video found below at my teacher training today and it really says it all…the Myth of Average by Todd Rose.  Challenging.  Inspiring.  Paradigm Shifter for sure.  Worth each of the 18 minutes to watch.  And be sure to read Shauna Niequist’s latest post about her own paradigm shift (click here).  As she says:

I want to shift the math. I want to be deeply, wholly responsible for myself, my little family, my very close tribe. And I want to stop being, in the words of my favorite writer Anne Lamott, “the flight attendant for the planet.” I want to be entirely less responsible for a whole bunch of people and expectations and roles, and way more deeply, richly connected to a tiny circle of people who really do need me, in appropriate ways.





Roughing It

8 08 2014

IMG_2141

With barely a square inch to breathe or move, we pulled out of our driveway for a week of camping on the Oregon Coast.  Ever the planner, I had lists in hand.  Lists for packing.  Lists of “must see and do” activities and eateries.  Lists of campsite details and driving directions.  Lists of menus.  The kids were buckled into the car almost a half an hour before we actually departed, ready to go.  Or maybe just ready to view the long-awaited “movie in the car”, Star Wars?  For me, I knew that once we were on the road, I could exhale.  We would be off on the adventure!  Memories were about to be made.  We would bond while “roughing it”.

IMG_2108

But were we really “roughing it”?!?  French Press, extra-long, extendable marshmallow roasting sticks, wine, Ipads,  Legos and  down comforter were packed.  Or so we thought.  We had everything we needed to experience God’s beautiful creation—-in comfort.   And yet despite the thorough lists, and even double checking each item two times, we still forgot bedding for my husband and myself.  I say “we”, but really, it was me.  I somehow missed a crucial item.  When it hits the mid-50s at night and you are in a tent, blankets or sleeping bags are not really negotiable.  Was God trying to help me really “rough it”?  To test my worth and see what I was made of?

The non-negotiable elements of our faith journey can become lists used to plan out our daily lives.  Sunday?  Head to church.  6:00am?  Time to be up having a quiet reflective time.  Panhandler asking for spare change?  Empty your purse, smile, be on your way.  But are the non-negotiable elements of faith we so desperately want to impart to our children or be seen to possess in our own lives, truly LISTS?  I wonder if we begin to see each aspect as something to attain.  To get.  To pack.  To check off.  To do.  To possess….when God is raising the “red flag” on the sidelines trying to get a word in edgewise.  “Hey, Guys?!?  Over here!!  Did you forget?  What you need is already within you.  Don’t add it to your shopping list, just pay attention.”

IMG_2123

Like our own children, prematurely buckled into the car, antsy to GET ON WITH IT.  Like myself, smug with Type A satisfaction that I had made my list and checked it twice.  Like so many of us, toting around our figured out understandings about who God is and how God works…we often need a reminder that knowing and pursuing God and modeling that journey to our children is different than we anticipated.  It isn’t something to figure out or even plan for.  God’s Spirit doesn’t follow our rules,  plans or agendas.

To follow after God requires a paradigm shift.  Letting go of the lists.  Releasing expectations.  “Roughing it” by removing our perceived comforts and necessary must haves, seeing what God has already placed within us.  God’s love.  God’s joy.  God’s peace.  Patience.  Kindness.  Goodness.  Faithfulness. Gentleness and Self-Control.  The fruit of God’s very Spirit that is part of our selves from the moment we are created.  Rather than packing all of these qualities, demanding them of our children, trying to rough it on our own, it is a call to listen, pay attention and make space.

IMG_1330

Our parish associate preached on gentleness last Sunday and she reminded that gentleness is really about creating room for others to share their story.  It was a light bulb moment for me, ever the “always on the go”, list-maker, doer, God was trying to speak to my heart.  A reminder that making space for others, unlike our jam-packed car , allows for growth, breathing room and the chance to exhale.  Our children deserve this too.  How often do my boys feel like they are just part of my list of things pack?  To finish?  Rather than creating space for their story, to enter into their narrative and listen.  Often that feels rough.  And difficult.  And unnecessary.  But, lucky for us, God has already placed what essentials we need in us.  May we do the hard work to tap into these “fruits” instead of focusing on all we think we need to pack for the journey.  To realize that “roughing it” might look quite different than we planned and change us in ways we weren’t expecting.

IMG_1200

{This post is part of my monthly contribution at Practicing Families.  Feel free to hop over there too!….}





Life is Your Art

6 06 2014

IMG_0543

 

Last December I found myself sitting at the table with an interview team, sharing my thoughts about Literacy and reading with 2nd graders.  I was applying for a position which would change many things in our family’s life and also put me out of my comfort zone a bit.  Like so many times previously, I was feeling nervous.  If I got the job, how would I balance parenting and working?  Making lunches and grocery shopping with lesson planning and grading?  Having enough space in my heart and energy to meet the needs of my own children in addition to the 29 kids in the class?

IMG_0540

 

During our interview, a display of bar graphs were referenced—a visual representation of how the students were doing in the area of reading and literacy.  We talked about what methods and plans I would draw upon for meeting their individual needs and helping to move the students towards progress and growth.

This type of discussion is nothing new in the field of education, but I do get nostalgic for the days gone by… when teaching felt more like an art and less like science.  Instead of being calm and calculated, some days I just seize up in fear.  I see bars of green, blue, yellow and red.  Everything blurs and I think to myself, “Why even try?  Why would YOU know what to do?!   The world of education is spinning at a speed too fast for you….no point trying to keep up…

The lists of standards and expectations feel impossible to reach and I find myself comparing myself with others, feeling inadequate to even step up to the plate, let alone swing the bat or make a dash for home plate.

As a parent, I find these same types of questions tumble around in my brain.  Judgments.  Fears.  The desire to be perfect.  I look at the green, blue, yellow and red bar graphs for my own self.  For my kids.  For my marriage.  For our finances.  For my parenting.  The red bars are flashing “URGENT INTERVENTION” and it seems impossible to “move to the next column”.  As we argue about cleaning up toys, I feel fear rising, “What does this mean for the teenage years?!?!  He can’t even pick up his puzzles and LEGOS?!?!  He’ll never get a job.”  Or as the voices raise and arguments swell, fear pushes up to the surface, “How will we ever survive age 16 someday??  I know he’ll just slam the door in my face and shut down, not communicating with his ‘annoying’ parents.

URGENT.  URGENT.  URGENT intervention.  Red.

ON WATCH.  Blue.

Fears turn to bright and bold bars on a graph.

And yet… despite the benchmarks, even in the midst of the expectations we all place on ourselves, fears aside, there is the gentle reminder that something more lies out there as we parent.

It bubbled up on Tuesday after Memorial Day for me.  As we prepared to move into our last literacy unit, focusing on Caldecott winners, my mind was spinning on the gifts of the artists of our world.  I found a little wisdom from Mr. Ansel Adams, renowned photographer.  He wisely reflected, “Life is your art.

LIFE is your ART.”

Art is meant to be appreciated.  Fearless.  Creative.  Evocative.  Unique.  Expressive.  Reflective.

And as the moments of fear fight for our loyalty and attention, as pressures to perform perfectly hold fast, we are called to something bigger.  To live our lives as art.  Our parenting as art.  Our conversations lived as art.  Our work and professional life unfolding as art.  Our friendships, a vehicle for our art.  Each and every aspect is an opportunity to live our lives as art, not as a revelation of fear.
Little did I truly comprehend last December, though, that these three women who were interviewing me that day weren’t asking the questions in an attempt to make me feel inadequate or filled with fear.  Their deeper goal was to find a person to fill the position who would have these areas at the forefront of their teaching and planning, while seeking to provide an environment of love, challenge and support for students.  And going it alone?!?  No way, no how.  The last five months have been filled with more support for myself as an educator than I could have ever predicted.  Colleagues that provide inspiration as they let their art unfold, becoming friends and confidants in the process.

God promises us the same.  God says,   “I will make a pool of water…springs of water….fountains, rivers….”  God hems us in, already waiting on the canvas before we start to paint.  God is hovering over the artwork, after the piece has been signed and the last brushstroke completed. God gives us companions, not critics, to help us along the way.  God reminds us that we can turn to one another and encourage.  To say to our own students, children, spouses, “It is good.”  To exhort, “Take courage!”

Rather than live in fear, to be limited, may we be freed to see our life as art.  An offering in the small mundane, everyday moments to change the wilderness and dry land to new life and refreshment.

 

I, the Lord, am first,
   and will be with the last. 
5 The coastlands have seen and are afraid,
   the ends of the earth tremble;
   they have drawn near and come. 
6 Each one helps the other,
   saying to one another, ‘Take courage!’ 
7 The artisan encourages the goldsmith,
   and the one who smoothes with the hammer encourages the one who strikes the anvil,
saying of the soldering, ‘It is good’;
   and they fasten it with nails so that it cannot be moved.

13  I, the Lord your God,
   hold your right hand;
it is I who says to you, ‘Do not fear,
   I will help you.’ 

When the poor and needy seek water,
   and there is none,
   and their tongue is parched with thirst,
I the Lord will answer them,
   I the God of Israel will not forsake them. 
18 I will open rivers on the bare heights,
   and fountains in the midst of the valleys;
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
   and the dry land springs of water. 

~Isaiah 41: 4-7,13,17-18

 

IMG_0531

 

{This post is part of my monthly contribution at Practicing Families.  Feel free to hop over there too!….}

 

 





Seven

20 05 2014

IMG_0237

Alex…

It’s lucky number SEVEN!  Tonight, the eve of your 7th birthday, we went back and looked at your photo album from last year.  We read the letter I wrote to you and reminisced about all that has transpired.  I was surprised to see no mention of our pending move to Oregon.  The weekend of your birthday last year, Daddy was travelling up to Corvallis to interview for a position as Head of Staff at First Presbyterian.  And days later we would be sharing the news of our move.  It was not an easy pill to swallow.  I remember lots of crying.  You had made such wonderful friends in Sunnyvale and had a great Kindergarten year.  The thought of uprooting our family and changing the life that you knew and loved was kind of like ripping off a bandaid.  It hurt and stung (even though we knew it would be so good too).welcome

 

You spent June wrapping up school at Ellis Elementary.  Enjoying last day hurrahs and dress up events.  Lots of hugs from your teacher (who even called you a few months later on an especially hard day when you were missing familiar faces the following September).  Packing boxes after boxes.  A last week of Vacation Bible School.  Last All Church Picnic.  A week of LEGO camp.  Last burgers and fries and Neapolitan shakes at In and Out Burger.  Just thinking back to all that must have been going through your mind makes me a bit sad and overwhelmed now, a year later.

IMG_6117

579328_10151420063136039_898975857_n

aff9f600dd9811e2b61c22000a9f4de7_5

a85f3668dba311e28ed022000a1fbc58_5

1043909_10151468745706039_1490393159_n

1010904_10151460389956039_1397388051_n

1003679_10151457198796039_873635531_n

 

4a39e17adb7911e2951522000a1f99d1_5

IMG_6542

IMG_3665

IMG_6200

IMG_6192

IMG_6105

 

Your zest for life…your stubborn independence….your inner JEDI seemed to propel you through those weeks of impending transition with strength.  Instead of dwelling on being sad, you grasped onto the adventures ahead.  You embraced our trip North with fun stops along the way.  You quickly made our new house your home, acquiring a library card on day one and promptly losing your first tooth at dinner that same night, our first in Corvallis.  We took trips to the Oregon Coast and anchored our new home back to a vacation spot we’d enjoyed for years with you “way back when”.  As with everything, you embraced it all with open arms.  Without meaning to, you seem to find ways to mark the important moments in our family life with pomp and circumstance and flair.  You push Daddy and I to explain our thinking.  You ask hard questions.  You freely share all you are learning.  {if I have to choose one thing about age six that will stick with me the most it will probably be this love of learning that ignited this year}  You are never lacking in drama (mostly the best kind) always breaking out into song, planning and implementing plays and roping Drew into your schemes.  You write and illustrate story after story.

IMG_7112-001

IMG_4618

IMG_4597

IMG_4491

IMG_6960

IMG_7465

IMG_7446

IMG_7306

IMG_8620

 

We began, with your help!, to create new family rhythms and routines.  A new church family embraced us and you quickly forged new friendships that I don’t doubt will continue on for many many years to come.  Two long weeks after your California buddies began school, you FINALLY got to start 1st grade.  God truly gave us one of the biggest gifts with your assignment to Room 7 and Mrs. Stone.  As with Miss Moorehead in Kindergarten, Mrs. Stone has become a true inspiration and guide to you this year.  She has helped you work on your love of “calling out” with the goal of earning the illustrious “gold star” and “staying green” on the behavior chart.  You have learned to become a fluent reader this year, picking up books for fun (your Teacher Mama has cried many happy tears watching this unfold).  You studied plants, the human body, engineering of bridges and so much more.  The thing is….the specifics aren’t what really matter…it was truly the unfurling of more and more of YOU that happened.  It is a joy to watch YOU become more and more YOU.

IMG_7840

IMG_7839

 

IMG_8380

20131015_081159

IMG_8305

 

12.19.13

12.17.13

12.12.13

 

IMG_9266

IMG_9264

unnamed (1)

IMG_8527

IMG_8505

IMG_8455

IMG_8433

IMG_8429

IMG_9044

IMG_9018

IMG_8992

unnamed (7)

unnamed (1)

IMG_9517

IMG_9351

IMG_9348

IMG_9576

IMG_9859

IMG_0076

IMG_0186

IMG_0051

IMG_0041

IMG_0038

IMG_0222

IMG_0388

 

Your love for building and creating—–Do.  Not.  END.  And even after umpteen times of stepping on those BLASTED (*#%$&#&!!!) plastic bits, I wouldn’t trade your love of LEGOS for anything.  I love watching your brain move and create and be inspired.

unnamed (1)

IMG_8094

 

Your love of ties and now bow ties is becoming a bit legendary and like so many other aspects of your life, it is ALL YOU.  In case you wonder when you are 25 if your mom and dad MADE you dress up?!?  Well, no.  It wasn’t us.  It’s just YOU.  You like it.  You do it.  Even though we have had a few folks suggest we curb your tie enthusiasm, we know two things….number one?  It can’t be tamed.  And number two?  Why would we want to?  We love you fully, as you are, with your passions, individuality and enthusiasms included.  We hope you feel our support and love bolstering you and surrounding you and cheering you on no matter what.  Ties or no ties.

Now you and your brother.  WOW.  That’s a new one for your only child mom.  You two are like oil and water and yet….simultaneously….inseparable.  Watching your unique bond unfold is a true mystery and a wonderful gift all at once.  Thank you for the ways you desire to teach and inspire him.  To make the world magical for him.  To keep him laughing and including him in all your crazy ideas.

7b9164b0d88511e2b1c722000a1fba7b_5

IMG_7773

IMG_8637

12.1.13

IMG_9068

IMG_9061

IMG_8602

IMG_8597

unnamed

unnamed (12)

unnamed (8)

IMG_0009

IMG_0047

IMG_0181

IMG_0315

 

It is our deepest hope that you will continue to be comfortable in your skin.  To get teary-eyed when something moves you.  To be lost in imaginary play.  To find books too good to put down.  To go on date nights with mom or Starbucks sessions with dad.  To see the beauty around you and name it.  To be excited by all there is to learn.  To go the extra mile to make things fancy (who doesn’t want to drink milk from a wine glass?).  To indulge in the joys of a snowy day and NO SCHOOL!!!

IMG_0307

IMG_9526

1384266_10151681287941039_1295727199_n

IMG_9577

IMG_9579

IMG_9589

unnamed (9)

unnamed (8)

IMG_9079

 

Because….what we really want you to know deep, deep down,

in your bones and in the furthest reaches of your heart,

is that we see you.

You matter.

And we LOVE to watch you.

 {even if we have to turn away for fear of another ER visit from your antics!}…

 

IMG_9548

 

Blessings in this magical year of Seven.

 May it be filled with adventure.

Friends.  Fun.  Play.  Learning.  Family.

Because through it all,

you are growing and changing and becoming more and more the person God created you to be.

 And we LOVE watching it happen.

IMG_0247

Happy Seventh Birthday, Mr. Al-Bug.

IMG_0131

Previous Birthday Posts

Six and a Half (some reflections on “the half years”)

Six

Five

Four

 

 








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,228 other followers