working my way back to now…

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The “whatever” it is that has kept me from keeping up on the blog has, also, kept me from tracking some pretty cool things about my kids’¬†development, milestones, and adorable¬†idiosyncrasies. The purpose of blogging, for me, is twofold . . . to share with you, and to share with me and Josh and our increasingly forgetful brains.

Is it possible to backtrack, and document a year’s worth of firsts and “oh my goodness, did you hear what your child just said” moments? Absolutely not. But, here’s to trying, and to not giving my 2nd-born any reason to think that we loved him lessūüėČ .

Our Zacky…

In his most intense, giddy moments, he will move his body, and¬†flail his arms in a “dance”, resembling what one might imagine a cavemen, or the Hunchback of Notre Dame, to move like. In these moments, he will also purse his lips together and talk very “seriously” as well. He says he wants to do ballet like his sister, but I don’t see our little¬†Quasimodo pointing his toes any time soon.

He is the messiest little booger at the dinner table. I’m certain that most of that can be contributed to typical 2-yr-old behavior. Still, daily, I am blown away at what a mess he’s capable of dishing out. What’s more humorous, is that sitting next to Mr. Tasmanian Devil, is his sister, who squirms if she gets peanut butter on her hands, and insists on eating most finger-foods with a fork.

Our little guy has started to say “I love you” on his own, and not in response to our sentiments. Its in moments when I can tell that all is right in his little toddler world . . . and usually after being handed a fresh, cold, sippy-cup of milk. He’s also very cordial, especially in the morning, to whoever comes to rescue him from his crib. “Good morning, Daddy.” “How are you?” “Oh Mommy, I like your shirt…its beautiful.”

He runs pretty fast, and rides his bikes like a maniac. He can’t peddle yet, and has no interest in trying. But he Flintstone’s his way down a hill way faster than I can keep up, and it beyond thrilled when his bike crashes into the bushes. Its official, he’s all boy . . . and we’re in for it.

Sweet boy is seriously attached to me, and I am eating up every leechy moment. For being pretty audacious, he’s also pretty sensitive. He cries whenever another little person cries, gets his feelings hurt when a toy is taken, and calls for me a lot, especially when its bedtime. Josh has made a little game of asking if he can put him to bed, knowing full well that Zack prefers for me to do it. Josh will persist and Zack will say, “Mommy read a dory . . . you put Abby to bed”. Josh will insist once more, and Zacky’s little hand will reach out and nudge (not hit) Josh, and lean in closer to me. I just smile smugly at Josh, and breathe in the smell of my little cling-on.

He loves to sing, and will still¬†serenade¬†us from his bedroom, sometimes, for entire naptimes. When the singing is over, he is very eager to get our attention (through his bedroom’s accordion wall) by hollering “Mom!!! Can you get me?!?!” or “I want to talk to you!”

He loves cranes (trains) and crucks (trucks) . . . so much so, that about 57 times a day, he will ask a willing family member to get down and play cars or trains with him. Thomas the Tank Engine is his very favorite TV show, followed closely by Gay Gay the Getplane (Jay Jay the Jetplane), both of which have, according to Zack, very catchy and very singable theme songs.

Zack absolutely idolizes his sister, and each night when I ask him who loves him, his first response is always, “Abby”. Most of the time I believe his sister loves him back, but she’s also smart enough to know she has him wrapped pretty tightly. She can manipulate him like Play-Doh when it comes to a toy of his that she wants. But, she really loves him so deeply, and I’m finding her more and more, genuinely concerned for his well-being. Whenever they are apart, they ask about the other, and are happiest in all the world (as in uncontrollable giggle happy) when they are chasing and wrestling each other.

Our Abby…

Is all girl. With the exception of her shameless obsession with flatulence and her bare bottom (thanks Josh), she is an emotional, tender-hearted, feminine, whimsical little girl. I am really trying to take mental pictures of this time, because the imagination of a 4-yr-old girl is like no other. In one instant, she is a monster, the next she is a baby, the next a mother . . . a grandmother . . . a kitty . . . a pirate, and so on. I’m finding that Abby has a gift of orchestrating (not to be confused with being a little bossy) her friends into games of salon, or kitties, or the classic “baby-princess” (the role of said baby-princess is usually played by Abby herself . . . of course).

She is my helper. Having the kids pretty close together hasn’t been without obvious challenges, but now she loves helping me and feeling responsible for her brother and household. She and I are trying to get into a new pattern of cleaning up her stuff (me not picking up after her so much, and she taking responsibility for her messes), and its been going so well. Now, the challenge is me taking as much pride in my bedroom as she does in hers.

After, apparently, giving it up for Lent some 2 years ago, Abby has started eating again. Our picky-as-all-get-out preschooler has been chowing down on everything in sight. Ironically, this is happening at the same time that her brother is beginning to forfeit meals for driving his cars all over the house. At least we know, now, that in 2 years, he may one day start enjoying non-processed, non-sugary foods again.

The Asthma monster has, apparently, made a home in Abby’s lungs as well. We’ve known about Zack for a while, but its become clear that neither of my kids have escaped their family heritage of poor-breathing. Abby is now doing breathing treatments daily, will begin allergy testing next week, all in hopes of avoiding another, very sick Williams’ winter. Like her brother, she’s a trooper, but we look forward to the time when we have her little system figured out so we can avoid missing preschool and playdates like we have had to.

She is almost enjoying preschool. She’s missed quite a few class days, so has only begun building relationships. But she’s getting more comfortable, and especially enjoys when the sun is shining and there’s nobody on her swing. When her daddy picks her up in the afternoon, he finds her in the same place each day . . . in her own world, swinging and singing away. She also just learned how to cross the monkey bars, a feat which she has challenged herself with for a while now. I am so proud of her. She has persevered with the monkey bars, so I know she will come to love school soon.

Abby is so grown up. Physically, she is on the tall side, which only adds to her dad’s and my angst. Then, when she says things like, “I’m just a little bit exasperated” in response to being reprimanded, a parent can’t help but cringe at how quickly this ride is going. She’s my little buddy. The other day, I was out on a pretty tough walk, and the last tiny hill to our neighborhood was killing me. Abby leaned out of the stroller, and chanted, “Go, Mommy, go!” then, “I believe in you Mommy. I know you can do it!” Then after I came to, “Look Mommy, you persevered!” I love my little cheerleader!

Both my kids have beautiful, curly hair, which on a good day, stops people in their tracks, soliciting the question “Where did they get their hair?” On a bad hair day, however, the tone of that question sounds a bit different, as the kids’ hair begins the process of dreading with 5 minutes of a bath. Abby’s hair, in particular, can be a point of contention some mornings, as brushing it out it necessary . . . and painful for both of us. I’m always shocked to hear “Ow!” come from my baby’s mouth in the same cadence that a 14-yr-old might sass her mother.

As grown-up as my baby is getting, she still loves being sung to and rocked to bed, is attached to her white “binky” like Linus, thinks that anything that occurred before the present happened “last year” and any impending event will take place after naptime, and screams her way through the dark hallway (creating a domino effect of screams between she and her brother, usually ending in tears).

Well, in a nutshell, there’s the “right now” of our little ones. Hope you enjoyed reading, and so thankful I got it all down before my silly, sleepy brain let it slip through its brain fingers.

late bloomer

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I just had a serious “aha” moment. I finally get why the college years are valuable. It has little to do with grades. It has a LOT to do with experiencing new thoughts, new experiences, and new relationships.

How does this revelation relate to me personally?

Leaving the classes and dorm-life of college to get married, while not the WORST thing in the world (don’t worry honey, I would do it again 100x over), may have seriously stunted my development. And the worst, most terrifying, most exciting part is? This Erin’s coming-of-age period is happening right now…in the thick of my mommying-preschoolers time. What the?!?! Ask any of my friends. I cannot engage in conversation without wanting to REALLY engage. Conversations that start with “How was your week?” or “How is little Jasper sleeping lately?” end in discussions about poverty, human rights, and worst of all,¬†inexplicable¬†theological questions. Maybe its not a bad thing. But I fear that, before long, my mommy friends, also in the thick of their own mommying-preschoolers period, may start ducking behind walls when they see me walking in their direction. Generally, mommies of youngsters don’t have time to talk. And when there’s “time”, they (generally) aren’t able to focus…because little one is in the other room, someone needs to be fed, changed, bathed,¬†consoled, or Princess needs a Queen mommy, or Thomas the Tank Engine needs a track built. All good, beautiful, incredibly INCREDIBLY important things.

My struggle? How do you continue developing as a person (your theology, worldview, talents, passions) when your world is so much about the world of your Ragamuffins. And we ALL know how much is necessary for their little worlds to continue spinning. I don’t THINK the answer is “get a job”. This time IS incredibly fulfilling, but this time (sniff, sniff) will end, and I don’t want to be “stuck” with myself. I don’t want the world to be “stuck” with a once, awesome, kick-ass mommy, who forgot to learn and grow along the way.

So, what are your thoughts? “Seasoned” moms, did you grow alongside your children, or will you admit to wishing you had given a little more time to your own personal (spiritual,¬†intellectual, social) development? Or, or did the lessons of parenting, in your opinion, develop you enough?¬†Younger moms, tell me you struggle with this also…

 

sweet tooth

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My sweet girl has a sweet tooth. It was inevitable. It’s a family trait…one we’re very proud of, I might add.

In less than a week, our first-born will turn 4. When asked what she wants for her birthday, she will tell you, “Birthday cake…oh, and polka-dot pajamas with feet on the bottom.”

Daddy’s “sweet sugar”, Mommy’s “sweet girl”, and Grandma’s “sweetness face”, you shall have your cake…

(Now, where the heck am I gonna find polka-dot jammies with feet on the bottom this time of year?ūüėČ )

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turbulence

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Apparently today is a beautiful day in Seattle. Its all over my friends’ Facebook pages. I do miss Seattle days like today…the views of the cityscape, its surrounding lakes, and Mt. Rainier are probably spectacular. There is no place more beautiful than Seattle when its wearing its sunny clothes. But in my time living in that area, I came to realize that that beauty comes at a great cost…rain, gray and cold. I remember staring out of my living room window, day in and day out, from, hmmm, October to July, wondering when it was going to stop. I also remember longing for more violent storms. I figured that if it was gonna rain, it may as well be fun to watch. But those thunderstorms were few and far between. I also longed to see the massive evergreens outside my windows move and shake, in violent winds. But, the trees didn’t sway like I had wanted…more often than not they were still.

Being a Southern Californian, I hadn’t realized how much I missed wind. There’s a lot of it here. To most, its a complete¬†nuisance, sending people running to their allergists for relief. However, to me, during weeks when the damp cold of the Pacific Northwest really got to me, I just wanted to see movement. On the rare occasion that the wind really blew, that turbulence made the world outside my living room window seem alive.

On my walk today, I was realizing how thankful I am for the wind. I was thankful for how it made the world around me appear vital and beautiful. I was thinking, too, about how turbulence, dare I say, struggle, makes life seem more vital and beautiful. Can you even imagine a life without struggle? An existence devoid of redemption, forgiveness, and healing? So many people live their lives in such a way to avoid turbulence, eliminating those hurdles that stand in the way of personal comfort. But its struggle that leads to growth, learning, understanding, and joy.

Life’s turbulence is¬†inevitable. God, that struggle would make me uncomfortable, and move me. May turbulence motivate me, not floor me. Cultivate a vitality and strength that only comes from being present in the most violent of winds.

just so

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I love my job. With all its quirks and challenges, I am still so thankful that I get to be home with my kids. I’m not always that positive about my job title, and for a time, I struggled quite a lot with not being able to bring home a paycheck and get the accolades of a “real” job. But those moments are becoming fewer and farther between. And as we are preparing to send Abby to preschool for a couple days a week in the Fall, I am seeing this precious PRECIOUS time start to dwindle. So, for the next few years, I will (I WILL!) savor the “at home” time I have with the kids.

My house will NEVER look “just so” during this time. And as much as I battle with this reality, I will never look “just so” in this period. In fact, the more I scramble to make sure all things are “just so” in my at-home mommy reality, the less time I am really “at home” and more I am stowed away in my own head…organizing the empty boxes of perfectionism.

So, my prayer for today, is that I can truly celebrate this period and give less and less attention to “just so”. Understanding that religiously throwing on my uniform (hoodie, jeans, t-shirt, flip-flops, sunglasses, and a ponytail) doesn’t necessarily mean I’m lazy. And really believing that the stains on my carpet are a beautiful symbol of what I want my home to be…a place where all people are welcome, dirty feet and all.

terrific twos

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Our “baby” has recently turned 2. And suddenly, incredibly contradictory. He’s defiant and hilarious. Independent and clingy. He’s a pleaser and a rule-breaker. Little can he do to stifle the song in his heart, until a creeping case of the “NOs” emerges. He’s snips, snails, puppy dog tails, and as sweet as the mashed strawberries on his pudgy cheeks. My cranky, silly, snuggly, little Stinker…

devotion

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Abby and Zack…if I ever get this blog stuff printed out for you, there’s something you need to know about your Daddy.

There hasn’t been one night since he’s been a father, that he hasn’t tiptoed into your rooms, long after you’ve fallen asleep, to make sure you’re both ok and at peace.

You’ll love knowing this one day…

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tell me about it

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It would appear that my son cannot go to sleep until he’s told everyone about it. That “it” can be any concept, song, show, person, food that he has encountered in his week. He can talk for hours about “it”…and I’m enjoying “it” for now.

off script

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I sang with Josh this morning in service. I get to do this on a regular basis on Sunday evenings, but this morning was extra special. I also, somehow, managed not to look at my music as much as normal. I have this bad habit of reading the words to songs I already know. I was talking to the pianist, and she, too, struggles with playing what’s not written. But today, we were both surprised at what we were capable of doing, when we looked away from our “scripts” (or in her case, when not all of her music was available to her).

I was thinking of “scripts” in the context of being a Christ-follower. Another, much younger, friend of mine was sharing with me that she struggles with associating her faith with being a good person. She is a “good” person. She’s kind to all fellow students, encouraging, modest, disciplined in her studies, and so on. She is good at following a “script” of what a “good Christian” is supposed to be. But, she is feeling like her faith is shallow, and her understanding of the heart of God is weak. I was challenged by her vulnerability, because I, too, struggle with letting the “script” determine how I live out my faith…often resulting in a monotone, over-acted, even fake portrayal of what engaging with Jesus looks like.

Back to this morning. Not reading the lyrics allowed me to engage with God way more than if I were peering at the screen. It enhanced my¬†corporate¬†worship experience. Now, how does this translate to my everyday, dealing with difficult situations, pay the bills, poopy diapers and smashed fishy crackers type of worship? I’m thinking that this kind of worship could also be enhanced by going “off script”. The script I systematically pull out that tell me what I should look, act, feel, do as a (Christ-follower, wife, daughter, mom, sister, friend, voter, consumer, blah, blah, blah…) is the same script that binds me, and puts limits on what God can do through me.

Like my young friend, I have this habit of making sure I’m doing the right thing, at all times…and ultimately at the expense of experiencing the authentic struggle, doubt, joy, and peace of encountering Christ. Oh, and when I can go “off script”, that’s when I encounter God’s most beautiful gift of grace. No doubt I missed a few words and entrances during this morning’s service, but a congregation of friends showed me grace, and I was able to freely move in and out of harmonies, and hug the melody way more than if I were locked in on the lyrics.

So, I’m going “off script” this week. And so thankful that God will¬†show me grace, and also allow me to fall, learn, grow, and be an improv player in His story of redemption.

with a purpose

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A few years ago,we and Pathways Church, had the pleasure of meeting a couple who were in the middle of a very trying adoption process. They had met their 3 boys already, and turmoil in Nicaragua left them wondering, at times, if they would ever really be a family. Happily for them (and sadly for us), the brothers finally came home to their new parents shortly after we moved back to Cali. As much as I would love to still be doing life with this amazing family, I am so glad they are together in WA.

We have an opportunity, again, to be in community with another family who is engaging in another, tedious, adoption process. My friend, Melissa, has given me permission to share their adoption blog with you. I am so blessed by families who have felt the calling to adopt and bring children out of unsafe, hopeless conditions, and Ben and Melissa will be amazing parents to their third child, who will happen to be Ethiopian. The Fishers are typical, in that they also struggle with the ins and outs of parenting preschoolers and nurturing a marriage, but unique in that they are choosing to struggle through the additional stress of the adoption process. I am so blessed to know them, lucky to get to really know their hearts, and hoping that, maybe, I can use this blog to bless them.

I love coffee (and I know many who read this do as well, you Seattlites), and one of the ways you might be able to ease the financial burden of their adoption is to buy some. They’ve partnered with “Just Love” Coffee to assist in bringing their little one home. Would you consider breaking away from your normal Starbucks routine to brew some of this coffee at home?

Buy some beans, leave a comment here or on their blog, and pray for the Fisher family and their emotional and monetary journey.

Oh, and have a wonderful day!