Saturday, February 6, 2016

Lobster-ish

"And in every place he abandons he leaves something vital, it seems to me, and starts his new life somewhat less encrusted, like a lobster that has shed its skin and is for a time soft and vulnerable." 
E. B. White, "Good-bye to Forty-eighth Street",  Essays

I've been mulling over this quotation for several days now. I've found it particularly fitting for this season in my life, and E. B. White (of Charlotte's Web fame) provided me with such a fantastic mental image that I just can't stop thinking about it.

This was our fourth military move. With each move, we leave something vital: dear friends, favorite haunts, the mirror we got for our wedding that somehow didn't make it into the truck, and pieces of who we are, whether we realize it or not. While moving can be an adrenaline rush and carry with it its own exhilaration, it can also leave you feeling worn out, off kilter, lost, or beaten.

This move, I admit, I've mostly just wanted to hide for a while. I want time with my kids, time with the Man, time with the pets even, and definitely time by myself. My motivation level for meeting new people has been at an all time low. I've been inspired to set up house, because I want the comfort of home, but I do feel kind of lobster-ish right now. I feel soft and vulnerable, and I crave a little time to hide and let my skin re-grow.

In the past, I might've felt guilty about this. But now, I am trying to give myself space. After a season of brokenness and grief, God is allowing me time to heal, to put down roots slowly, to be gentle with myself. 

So here's to being a naked lobster--for a little while.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Come for the Update, Stay for the Pictures


I was planning to get to the blog sooner tonight, but evidently cutting four sets of fingernails and four sets of toenails (yes, that's eighty nails total) all in a row and then reading half of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory out loud to the big boys took more time than I anticipated.

Still, it is the third to last day of January, and this month has been all about settling in and reestablishing routine, and writing is a big part of that for me (no matter how often I consider just chucking it all). So I'd like to welcome you in to 2016 almost a month late and let you know that:

  • we have moved (and three weeks after being here, Owen still refers to it as our new home)
  • school has started again, and we've added a student--Tiny, who decided to stop praying that he would learn to read and start actually learning
  • there are pictures on the walls and library books on every flat surface in our home (also, the library is only two blocks away--yes!)
  • our guest room is still in boxes, so don't buy plane tickets yet
  • I went for my first run of 2016 on Tuesday and my second today (incidentally also my first runs since the surgery). I have now totaled five miles and I am sore
  • we had birthdays while I was on hiatus, and suddenly there is a six year old, a four year old, and two two year olds running the house (if that looks like a typo: it's not).
  • if you put a dog leash in your mouth and your brother gives it an encouraging yank, you can easily lose a front tooth that was formerly not loose at all.
I think that's most of the important stuff. But before we leave, here's A LOT OF PICTURES!

While the Man hung out with the movers,
the kids and I went on a few more Monterey adventures.
Here we are at the Monarch butterfly sanctuary.

Then we went to the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History
where Littles tried to learn anything he might possibly have missed
about marine life.

They had sand there from all over the world.
It made me happy.

Tiny liked the turtle.
He got his genes from his aunt.

Bruiser was pretty sure all the birds were geese.

I tried to get a picture of her with her favorite display (the butterflies),
but every time she was beside them she was too excited to sit still.

The twins turned two!
We took this super typical family photo!

Road trip! Four kids, three pets, and two very out-numbered adults.

Sucked into Mrs Piggle Wiggle.

He only let them do this while he was sleeping.

Bruiser: the awake version


Bee developed some new talents between Monterey and San Antonio.
{No pictures of Road Trip Tiny included because he was on the wrong side of the vehicle}



Our first meal in the new house.
Minus the Man because he was in processing
And Bee because she didn't make it in the picture and then my phone died.


FREDDIES!

Well, this side of the table was excited.

Tiny turned 4!
And wanted to show you our house.
And Littles turned six!

So now he thinks he's big enough to walk the dog.

And to look like this.
Stop the madness.

:Last picture to prove that we're already discovering
as many playgrounds as possible on base.

Now that you're all caught up and your eyes are bleeding from too many pictures, I'll stop writing for another month and see you sometime in late February. Good plan!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Listing

It's that time of year. No, not Christmas (well, yes, kind of Christmas), but I'm talking about the time of year when my life forces express themselves by list making. Let's see, I have a lists for:

What foods need to be used up and how.
What groceries we can't survive without this week.
What needs to be thrown away or given away before we leave.
Who needs what stocking stuffers.
What birthday presents must be packed (and where).
Who needs to be seen one last time before we go.
What Christmas presents must be sent.
Who needs what cold weather gear for an impromptu trip to Yosemite.

And yet, in spite of this, I feel like I'm forgetting important things that matter. And I also don't have enough energy to keep up with the lists, which means the Man is running himself ragged trying to take care of everything while I diligently "rest" on the couch by frantically making more lists.

With all that said, I feel that I owe all of you a few other lists, such as:

All the books I've been reading while I haven't been blogging the last few months.
Weird things my kids do during times of transition.
The best ways to avoid your children pummeling a stomach incision.
Twenty gazillion things I'm going to miss about Monterey.
And it's cousin list: Why a year and a half is just not long enough.

Instead, I'm just going to give you two ways you know your kids are growing up too fast.

First, your oldest son leads the family in Advent:

Shut the front door.

Second, your only daughter pretend-dries your hair and doesn't bash you over the head with the hair dryer--not even once:

Small blessings...

You don't need three ways to know your kids are growing up too fast because then we'll all be crying hysterically, and I just don't have enough tissue boxes for that right now.

Instead, I will close with this bonus picture that includes Tiny--just because he's cute. And if anyone is wondering what Bruiser was up to, I'm pretty sure he was busy trying to plug a curling iron into the Man's nose. But that might've been a different day. I can't remember because I forgot to write it down on any of my lists.

Picture taking is serious business, Littles.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Update {Only the Fun Stuff}

And by the fun stuff, what I really mean is pictures of the kids. Some of these are old, some of these are new.

This kid has her own unique sense of style
and no problem keeping up with the boys.

Aunt Jo came for a visit--fun for all of us!

We enjoyed cramming everyone in the car together.

Bookstores are the most fun. Right, Tiny?

Mayflower fun on Thanksgiving with the kids' favorite baby.

Neni and Aki stopped in for a bit too.
But before Aunt Jo.
So this picture is REALLY out of place.
Will I move it? NO.

Thanksgiving family photo

This kid cracks me up
and then he brings me flowers.


Bee has the Man wrapped around her little finger.
This is as it should be.

The twins skipped naps on my birthday to help me with my annual watching of Little Women.
It started out well.

And deteriorated quickly.


The boys even deigned to snuggle with me
and watch Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy.

Bruiser demonstrating the correct way to kiss a bear.

Neni came back again to help out while I had surgery.
We celebrated my recovery (and subsequent resurrection from the couch)
with frozen yogurt.


Early morning snuggles are the best.
The boys are making their lists of what to take in their backpacks for the move.
Tiny dictated his to Littles.
Littles asked for help spelling.

Introducing the fire team to White Christmas.
Best Saturday morning EVER.

I just like snuggling with this crazy kid.
Then he tries to bite my nose off.
Also, when he kisses me, he kind of looks like a dementor.



Bee left her lovey at church on Sunday.
When they were reunited, she remained like this for the next five minutes.
Reunited, and it feels so good.


Sometimes the waves are heavy;
this doesn't take away from the beauty of the ocean.

I know this is not my usual blog, but I am trying (again) to get back on the horse after several challenging months. Bear with me?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Unexpected New

We've lived here for a little over a year now, and we are already prepping for the move. Yet somehow, as things here are drawing to a close, I'm still experiencing all kinds of new things. I guess I always thought that one of the perks of a season of life drawing to a close was that you had a handle on things for at least the last few months.

But today I drove to a new library and, consequently, met some new librarians and explored an all new children's section. I also, and this is neither here nor there, discovered that the twins are just not quite ready to do the library without the stroller. I was re-shelving as fast as they were de-shelving, so I finally shoved the de-shelved books in our bag and made a break for the check out counter. Hope the completely illiterate twins picked good library books...

Today, I made two new friends. And tomorrow I go running with a new running buddy because my old running buddy decided to make a trip out of town for a whole week and getting myself out of bed requires a lot of motivation right now.

The family that watches football together...
...stays together.

I've also been mastering driving a new car...a significantly bigger car, which has been a bit terrifying and also a lot humbling as I've just accepted the fact that one does not learn how to park a small bus in one day. Incidentally, my driving is improving the kids' prayer life. So: bonus.

Also, and this is not related, we are debating names for said new car since the Man says I need to stop referring to it as "The Great White Beast". My follow up options were "Old Abominable" (in a loving reference to the Abominable Snowman, of course) and "Moby Dick". Littles then made an across the board decision that Bruiser should get to pick the name, and naturally Bruiser picked "Trash-truck". When I protested, I was cooly informed that the Man and I could name it something else, but from then on the kids would refer to the car as "Trash-truck". Somehow this didn't go the way I had planned. Also, Littles took the opportunity to let me know that Moby Dick was a sperm whale. Not a Suburban. And he knows this how? (Incidentally, I looked it up--and he was right. Know-it-all.)

Back to the point, this semester we started a homeschool co-op thingie which has involved lots of new--and especially lots of new people. May I just say: it's tons of fun meeting new people and telling them you're going to be there for a grand total of four months. Come be my friend so I can leave you!

We're also experiencing some new paperwork hoops that we have to jump through this move. And you should know: I love paperwork almost as much as I love gouging my own eyes out.

And I feel like I could just keep going. I really could. But I'd bore you.


The point is that change is a constant. Sometimes I lure myself into thinking that there are seasons, and I can pick what kind of season I'm in. As in, I'm not moving so I shouldn't have to deal with new stuff right now! But no. Evidently it doesn't work that way.

Instead, I'm trying to remind myself that I like new things. New things are fun and exciting and adventurous! But when I'm honest, I know that I am stodgy and boring and when I go to restaurants, I always order the same thing because I already know what I like and why be disappointed by getting something you don't like.


So let me end on this: thank God that He doesn't let me do that in real life and only tolerates it at restaurants. He keeps sending me new things because He knows that while I may be content to stick with the old and comfortable, He has even more wonderful gifts to give. His mercies are new every morning.

And sometimes those mercies look unfamiliar and occasionally scary. And sometimes they just look like new friends and awkwardly bad parking jobs and library bags full of unexpected book choices.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Stained Glass

Stained glass has always fascinated me. I love the way the light breaks through the colors, stretching different hues across the walls and floor and ceiling. The Man and I visited the Chihuly Gardens while we were in Seattle. It was a fantastic exhibit with the contrast of dark and light, the use of reflections, and the joining of the man-made into the natural world.


About halfway through the tour, we watched a video showing how Dale Chihuly and his team created these masterpieces of art. Some of them, when assembled, are enormous, much bigger than they could've been had they been created from a single piece of blown glass. Hundreds of unique pieces joined together, sometimes hung precariously, to create an awe-inspiring work of art.


To me, this is the Church as it should be. All of us different, blown with God's own breath into unique shapes, tinted with our own colors, and connected into one expression of beauty. 


I don't necessarily think this is a bad analogy for the Church. But in reality, it seems like we are much closer to traditional stained glass than we are these perfectly sculpted Chihuly pieces. We are broken. We are made of shards of glass that would've been litter to a lesser artist. We are pasted together with glue and boiling metal. It is a painful reality, and one that we may not understand fully.


In those moments, we do not see the masterpiece. We cannot even glimpse the finished product. We are wholly overwhelmed by the pain of the breaking and the heat of the joining. The Artist's face seems far away at best, coldly unconcerned at worst. We ask ourself where the beauty is and what happened to the purpose.


And then the light breaks through the window, and we may not see ourselves as we are or as we used to be, but we see the sun beams, split into a thousand colors, filling the room with glory. 


Stained glass may have other meanings to other people, but to me it reminds me that my brokenness (and maybe your brokenness too) will be used for beauty. It may not be my beauty--after all, what am I but a broken shard of colored glass?--but when the sun comes up and the light floods in...


...there is the breath-taking wonder of hope in new life.