Hide & Seek at 26 Degrees

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You’re jealous, right?  I played Hide and Seek with Drew at 7:00am outside and it was TWENTY-SIX degrees-ish..

 Sally, our dog, joined in too.

I was trying to capture this…

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and this…

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but Drew thought it was all a fun game.

Mommy out in the yard before the sun.

In her PJs.

In her socks.

Squealing from the cold.

Yelping at the views that kept getting brighter and brighter.

Sally was jumping around like a deer…cold paws?

I couldn’t decide which of the three pictures would be for today’s last image, so my last December Photo Project shot for 2014 is a collage.

Cheating, but oh well.

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Last night, while walking to our neighbor’s house for dinner, Drew exclaimed,

“Look at the moon….it looks like golden treasure!”

So….

Here’s to a 2015 filled with—

Looking Up (see last year’s thoughts on that here)

Finding the “treasure” in the everyday

and jumping into the seemingly silly moments, like hide and go seek in freezing temperatures.

Happy New Year’s Eve!

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Four

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Dearest Drewsie,

This picture gets me every time…it is so YOU.  Moving, jumping, bouncing, alert, awake and living life to the full.  Have striped sweater with hood?  Will Travel.  You have had such a year…age three was one of settling in to our new “digs” in Corvallis, cementing some new friendships, diving into swim lessons, preschool and life in new ways.  You have spent most free moments playing LEGOS or coloring (sometimes even furniture and other off limit items), dressing up in costumes, kicking a ball, helping cook in the kitchen…not really wanting anyone or anything to boundary you.  That is such a “gift” of age three….exploration.  Testing limits.  Finding your voice.  And desiring to shout it all from the rooftops.  When things unfold in YOUR way in YOUR timing, you are in your element.  If anyone else suggests it?!?  No way, no how.  Sometimes this means we butt heads.  Sometimes this means we yell.  We experience time outs.  We get frustrated.  But, you, my dear Drew?  You are a reconciler.  You have to make it right.  You need snuggles.  Hugs.  You put your arm through mine, squeeze in tight and say, “I’m sorry.”  You always come back and remember.

I love watching your independence.  Your humor.  Your mind.  You can sit and color and write letters for hours, calm and focused. You love looking at books, absorbing stories and plots.  You observe, watch and remember.  You seek to engage with others.  You are busy, always on the move.  My little energizer bunny.  As your mom, I feel like it is all just a bit too much out of my control, sometimes.  It’s the delicate balance of push and pull.  Going out and coming back in.  And Bud, it’s not always easy.  I pray that in the year ahead, you continue to learn to use your voice.  To invite others in.  That we might all loosen our grasp on what we want and embrace what could be (or what NEEDS to be….aka…washing hands before a meal or NOT coloring on the NEW couch…or a bath once in awhile!).

It is my prayer that as Year Four unfolds ahead that you will take these words below to heart.  I found them in a book I’m reading, but they originally come from the Book of Common Prayer.  And really?!  They are about bravery.  You define bravery in so many ways (except your current fear of mosquitoes in the bathroom requiring our constant presence with you!!).  Anyhow, it says:

“This is another day, O Lord.

I know not what it will bring forth,

but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be.

If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely.

If I am to sit still, help me sit quietly.

If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently.

And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly.

Make these words more than words,

and give me the Spirit of Jesus. Amen.”

These are hard words for anyone, let alone a busy, curious and impulsive now four year old like you….but I pray them over your life and my own, nonetheless.  May the Spirit grant us bravery.  Patience.  Quiet presence.  Gallant waiting.  May you be ready and listening, curious what God has in store.  I know you’re only four, sweetie, but God’s not limited by that.  It’s my hope that you will know you are deeply loved and needed in our family and in our world.  May you understand that love deep deep down and may it be the energy that pushes you as you jump and leap through life.

We Love You So MUCH!  Happy Birthday!

Mom (and Dad and Alex)

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Reality

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.

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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.

 

 

 

Just add a Filter

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!

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So Far…

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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.

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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.

Notes from a Blue Bike

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Two months to the day from the last storm, we have Snowmageddon, the Reprise.  This was our view out the front window about 6 inches into a 12 hour, constant-flow snow storm yesterday.  We have a little reprieve this morning and then reports say it plans to start again in earnest this afternoon.

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A quick dusting at 5:45am became a steady dumping…..

and the boys were “striking”, begging their mean mom (notice the sign, “Mom’s Mine!”) to let them outside at 6:30am after school was cancelled.

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Finally let them out after breakfast and morning cartoons.

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….which lasted for all of 10 minutes when they barreled inside and stripped off all the layers.

Snow days are all about peace, calm, slowness and coziness, right?!??!

It became the perfect day to set aside my grading, lesson planning, schedule stressing and school concerns.

And pick up Tsh Oxenreider’s new book, Notes from a Blue Bike:  The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World.

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I have followed Tsh’s website The Art of Simple (formerly Simple Mom) for a long time, often referring back to her wisdom or ideas here on the blog.

When she began to share about her current book project, now in finished form, Notes from a Blue Bike, the theme resonated with me before I read a word of the text.

Living intentionally in the midst of chaos.

Making intentional choices.

Leaving margin for doing nothing.

Making choices, even hard ones, to live the life we truly seek.

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Back in 2008, we made a very difficult decision to leave our current jobs, house and close proximity to family.  A smaller town beckoned and a job that promised (in our minds) a slower, more intentional framework for our lives.  It was a sweet season for our family.  Our first born was nine months old.  We had a chance to work together in ministry.  Our house was surrounded by Redwoods, we had a creek mere feet from our back deck and the ocean only 20 minutes away.  Within 1/2 an hour we had more wineries than you could ever visit in a life time.  It was a perfect recipe for a slower life.

But…..despite our remote location and ingredients for a calmer pace, it didn’t end up looking that different that our days in the Bay Area.  The pull to work hard while balancing life with a toddler and later, another baby, took its toll.  It wasn’t a BAD life, it was just busier than we had expected and more hectic than we imagined possible “out in the boondocks”.   As Tsh reminds in the opening pages,

Life is chaotic. But we can choose to live it differently. 

It doesn’t always feel like it, but we do have the freedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so that our path better aligns with our values and passions.

Notes from a Blue Bike hits on six main areas of intentional living—food, work, education, travel, entertainment, and revival, with an added appendix on finances and budgeting.  Her style is part travel memoir, with a heavy dose of inspiration and application.  Through her example, I found myself reflecting on our family, the choices we have made, the moves we have endured.

Just as yesterday’s “BIGGER THAN PREDICTED” snow storm halted plans and schedules, we can do the same.  Living intentionally and slowly in our fast-paced world doesn’t just happen.  It requires staying true to our selves and to choices our family has made even when other expectations and voices and internal pressures feel VERY hard to ignore.

In the food vignettes, Tsh emphasizes the importance of slow food, time around the table, menu planning, being intentional with what we buy and valuing the community & connection that can be formed over a meal.

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As I have recently re-entered the working world, her words about work and education rang so true.  As parents and educators, today’s push for each child to learn in the same type of fast-driven environment may not be best.  As adults, deep down, we want more freedom to learn, to be creative and grow.  She writes,

“We are hardwired to learn, and creativity is in our DNA; we’re made in the likeness of an ultimate Creator.”

So often, creativity, time and space to experiment and explore is squelched.  As a teacher, I have a lesson plan book with detailed, daily plans.  I have larger range goals for each subject area, tied to the core standards, to ensure the students are getting a well rounded education.  Despite so much controversy over Common Core Standards and the various “swings” we are taking on the education pedagogy pendulum, I find their intention to be sound.  Deep down, it is about depth of knowledge, critique, analyzing, explaining thinking and sharing learning.  Every theory and educational approach has its “issues”, but truly, if we are encouraging our students, children and ourselves to be lifelong, intentional learners, we are on the right track.  Tsh shared CS Lewis’ thoughts,

“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.”

My heart sung when I heard these words.  As my friend commented, it is about being proactive and not destructive.  To offer refreshment, challenge, tools for growth and learning.  As parents, we can provide a wide range of books, out in our living spaces, ready to be cracked open, read and enjoyed.  WE can read more too, modelling an inclination to learn.  Ironically, Tsh’s book was electronic for me as it was an advance reader copy, but typically, I am very intentional about reading paper style, from the library.  I want the boys to see me reading and know that I’m not engrossed in work email, texting with a friend or researching this or that.  Encouraging creativity can mean having toys out that lead to free, self-directed, unrestricted play—LEGOs, trains, art supplies, cars.  And even in the midst of a snow storm (gulp!), pushing the kids, and myself, to be outside, exploring, getting messy and having free time to explore.

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After too much time on the tv yesterday, we said “no” this morning.  Of course, the boys kissed our feet and thanked us profusely for setting this boundary for this {uh, no…..}.  After getting over the initial, painful hurdle, they have settled into playing and creating huge train villages and LEGO communities.  In Notes from a Blue Bike, Tsh shared about the general malaise she noticed in her kids, the lack of productivity and propensity to snap at one another that began when they started their mornings out with tv.  It seems so much EASIER in the moment, but in the long run, it bites us in the rear.

Boredom is a new concept for many of us.  “Lack of stimulation and the accompanying feelings” are almost painful.  My eldest’s grandiose ideas and plans often leave me crying for a trip to the spa for some peace and quiet….  Fostering his creativity has dividends I even can’t imagine, though.  So, within reason, I am working to see his cardboard box creations, never-ending self-authored & illustrated books, hand-drawn game boards and Taj Mahal forts with a different eye.  Intentionally seeing this creativity as learning blocks for who he is becoming.

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As the snow continues to blanket our little neck of the woods, I have turned to dreams of travel and sun to cope.  Tsh’s chapters on travel inspired me to step out into the fears of the unknown and plan some adventure.  To “love the world and drink it in deeply.”  To remember that road trips {despite hours in a small vehicle with young, cranky children} can lead to memories formed and family bonds strengthened.  As we plan for summer ourselves, I am trying to hold true to the stage our family is in.  To lower expectations a bit, think about places that allow for space to explore and room to breathe vs. a fast paced, jam-packed schedule.

Tsh has written a book that leaves me excited to make some tough choices and decisions.  It is not “simple” to make these changes.  It is “easy”.  But it is “good”.

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I would love to hear how you are choosing to live with intention.  What is one change that you are making or would like to impliment?  Leave a comment below, and head to http://notesfromabluebike.com/ to find Tsh’s book.

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Notes From a Blue Bike is written by Tsh Oxenreider, founder and main voice of The Art of Simple. It doesn’t always feel like it, but we DO have the freedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so that our path better aligns with our values and passions. Grab your copy here.

Dpp 2013 :: December 26th :: a “twist”

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Started the morning out right with a veggie scramble and tangerine juice with a “twist”, aka Prosecco. Between the 8 of us we took in 3 movies—Frozen, the Hobbit and Saving Mr Banks. And ended the day with a bang with a feast of crab.

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It has been a wonderful, full week with family. Said goodbye tonight as they leave very early tomorrow. Eldest shed tears as, despite normal squabbles and “moments”, cousin love runs deep and Grandmas, aunts and uncles are the best. We agree!! As I mentioned on Facebook this morning, “It is 7:49 am and Drew is still sleeping….mind you Alex is up and learning about geometry and the engineering behind bridges with Grandma at the hotel.” God Bless, Family and yummy food!

Made It to the Finish Line While Waiting in the Starting Blocks….

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Today is that weird ending and beginning kind of day.  We have had countdowns.  Summer Bucket Lists of activities.  Moving trucks.  Moving boxes.  Beach days.  Mom pulling her hair out days.  Coffee to survive days.  And here we are—-almost three months after finishing up Kindergarten, we walked into a new school, with a new teacher and classroom and twenty-three other kids to get to know.

I trust that God will surprise us.  God will do amazing things.  There will be speed bumps.  Struggles.  Growing pains.  Days of monotony.  Days to remember.  But today marks the closure and the beginning all in one.

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Yesterday, we got to go to an Open House and meet his teacher, Mrs. Stone, and do a little classroom scavenger hunt.  It was the perfect way to take the edge off the transition, allowing us (and Alex!) to know the procedures for the day, where his classroom would be and to meet some of his classmates.

I mentioned on Facebook this morning, “As feared/predicted, the best pic this morning was the one with the umbrellas that Alex insisted on. It’s 60 degrees and a beautiful morning, yet he decided the umbrellas would make a better picture. Oh that boy. Despite almost three months out of school and counting down the days til today, I still got teary eyed watching him go into class. I don’t get how he is so confident and fearless entering a new school, knowing no one. God gave that boy a heart of steel for new adventures and for that I am so grateful.

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Some more pics from the morning—

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And yes….the R2D2 lunchbox that lights up and makes R2 noises.  Poor Mrs. Stone….

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I read this verse this morning on the blogpost from one of the Editors at Practicing Families {where I’m a monthly contributor}.  Jill’s whole post is amazing and resonated so deeply with me as she is in the process of a big move.  Please take a moment to read her reflections here about Genesis Moments.

But the truth of her thoughts and my emotions today is found in this verse—-

God, make a fresh start in me; shape a Genesis week [day, moment] out of the chaos of my life.”

Psalms 51:10, The Message

I am holding onto this truth this morning.

May the new school year beginning be a new start for each of us too.

May we trust and believe that God has good things in store—-

even when everything around us spells chaos.

May we, like Alex did this morning, walk into the new day with confidence, trusting God is shaping a new thing.

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lovely pic of the September page of my Lisa Leonard calendar…

love this!

Of Rainbows

I find it hard to believe that it was 4 weeks ago today that family was arriving in Corvallis to help us move into our new home.

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So much has transpired in 4 short weeks.  Some days it has felt like 4 LONG weeks.  Transition is like that—–Sprint.  Crawl.  Rush.  Slog.  Some days it feels like the clock has ground to a halt.  Other moments, the hands are spinning out of control.

We have unpacked boxes.  Boxes have been passed on to others in transition.  We have explored parks, the library, figured out some of the ins and outs of our new house. Alex started swim lessons. We have worked on our toddlers’ inability to stay in his crib or sleep past 4:30am.  Oregon driver’s licences were obtained (took two tries for me….yikes!).  We had a wonderful 36 hour visit from my friend Becky and she helped us plant our fall garden.   Matt has been working like a mad man on our house and has officially started his new job.

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It has been full.  It has been rich.  But it has been hard too.  Lacking rest and peace due to Drew’s current sleep issues has been tough.  I find that my best intentions and hopes for each day are often off to a very rocky 4:30am start.  Even on the rare days he isn’t up by then, MY body has acclimated to waking at that time.  It’s one thing to have a child wake up and cry or have challenging sleep, but in our current age, developmentally and physically, he is also leaving me super nervous.

Today, he came in at 5am.  I watched him stand at our door for awhile, stretching and looking in and out.  Finally he came in and touched me.  His hands were FREEZING.  He excitedly reported, “I see the TRAIN!”  Mister had opened our side door and been standing outside on the picnic table, on the deck, monitoring Amtrak’s progress.  AT FIVE AM.  Alone.  So moral of the story, even when I am sleeping, I not fully resting.  Because scary things like that happen.

Previously, in these phases, I have had support in person, often at my fingertips.  Following this recent move, however, logically…..it isn’t quite the same.  I find myself putting pressure on myself to be adjusted.  To be perfect.  To be fine.  To exude, “Energized”.  And realistically?  Moving is hard.  Leaving community is tough.  Not knowing the new community well or having your people, your “home team”, as one of my patron saints, Shauna Niequist, coins them.

“Everybody has a home team: It’s the people you call when you get a flat tire or when something terrible happens. It’s the people who, near or far, know everything that’s wrong with you and love you anyways. These are the ones who tell you their secrets, who get themselves a glass of water without asking when they’re at your house. These are the people who cry when you cry. These are your people, your middle-of-the-night, no-matter-what people.” 
― Shauna NiequistBittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way

I still have this home team.  They just are a little further away.  Your “home team” becomes a lot more localized after a move.  As in your HOME team—in my case….my immediate family that resides IN MY HOME.

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Like with marriage, family is one of God’s most direct ways to show us God’s self.  And also, to mirror back the parts of our selves that we may want to hide.  It is not always pretty.  Polished or not, family is something that must endure and live in and push through hard moments.  I have walked away into hidden corners of the garage or our master bathroom to be alone many times over the last few weeks to make it through challenging interchanges with the boys.  I have texted friends.  Sent raw emails.  Received phone calls of grace and listening ears.  Found postcards, letters and care packages from friends.  All have allowed for walking forward, even when it is hard.

Some of the growing pains are ones we would have experienced move or not.  We have two “highly spirited” children.  So California or Oregon?  We STILL would have faced these moments.  Maybe we would have had some more in person support to survive day-to-day prior to the move or enough on our schedules to brush over the nastier moments.  But the hard and ugly would still have been there.

A dear friend sent me a letter a week ago that I still haven’t completely read because I cry every time I pick it up.  But, she included a quote that has been resonating and sitting with me:

“Every experience God gives and every person He places in our lives is perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.”

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Deep down, I know that to be true.  God’s promise—-in the midst of flood and rain and buffeting waves of change—-is trustworthy.  The other night, as Drew and I traveled home from a dinner party, we were given a visual reminder of this promise.  It was muggy and clouds full of rain hung low.  Suddenly, after popping out from a tree-filled neighborhood the sky filled with light, rain and….a HUGE rainbow.  The biggest I have ever seen.  We sped home to catch a glimpse from our porch.

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Drew was exclaiming, “Mommy! I love the blue!!!! Alex likes the green and Mommy likes RED! Look at all of the colors of the rainbow!!!!!”  I had no words.  It was one of the most beautiful, magical moments I have EVER experienced. I will always remember seeing this with Drew. He was mesmerized and then climbed in my lap, snuggled and said, “Rainbow went for a nap. It’s gone. I want to go take a nap with the rainbow.”  It was truly a moment when I felt God’s presence reminding me that indeed, God is preparing me for this new adventure and that God doesn’t leave me in it alone.

As each day unfolds, there is screaming and fighting, negotiating and bargaining between the boys.  We have to navigate schedules and try and balance the needs of the kids.  We are counting down to a visit from Grandparents and 1st grade and preschool starting.  But for now, we take it a moment at a time—trying to be awake enough to see the meaning in the experiences unfolding in the here and now.  All the while trusting God’s promise to us.

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We remember that even in the unknowns…

Even in new communities…..

Even in new relationships and friendships….

Even in lonely days….

Even as we miss tried & true, long term friends….

Even as we walk kids into new schools and explore unknown neighborhoods….

Even in all of that….we are held.