Friday, August 28, 2015

Morning Joy

I'm not a morning person.  I never have been.  I'm not sure it's something I can ever become.

But I've learned to enjoy certain parts of my mornings.

My long-time favorite part has been the first time I see each child for the morning.  It may be when I wake them up with a hundred kisses on their warm, soft skin.  Or it may be when I drag myself out to the kitchen, following the scent of coffee, and find the boys already sitting at the table eating breakfast.  And then I kiss them each one hundred times on their warm, soft skin.

It's been crazy around here trying to get into our new morning routine.  Today completes our first full week of school for this school year.  Our timing is different because Nolan's new school starts 30 minutes before the elementary school does.  I'm caring for my friend's kids, Garrit and Abby, each morning for about an hour before school.  Last year I had to get all 5 kids into the car on time, but only 3 of them had to be ready for school.  Now I have to make sure all shoes are tied, jackets remembered, lunches in back packs, and back packs in the car.  Like I said, it's been a little crazy.

But I'm starting to love a new part of our morning.  When it's time to go, everyone piles into our new (used) minivan.  This is the first time we've owned a minivan!  I'm still opposed to the gold color and the fact that I'm a minivan mom, but I'm LOVING the convenience of this vehicle.  It's a good thing I love it because we spend so much time in that car!

So each morning we pile into the minivan and set off towards Nolan's school, which is about a ten-minute drive.  The route is new to us this year, so we've been observant of what we pass along the way.

Our morning drive has become an adventure.  On the first day of school, we noticed some geese in an open field.  Then we passed a lake where there was just one single goose floating on the water.  A few turns later, we passed some flood water in a field and saw ducks in the water.  Most of them were diving down into the water (presumably getting their breakfast), leaving their hind ends up in the air.

So now our morning adventure has morphed into a daily story involving these settings and characters.  We check the open field and notice whether the geese are gathered closer to the road or further back from it.  We guess what they might possibly be eating in that field.  Some suggestions may be weird or even gross.  We drive by the lake and look for "the lonely goose."  Yesterday he wasn't there, but then we saw a few geese later in a new spot.  We all agreed that it was the Lonely Goose and he had finally made a few new friends.  We were very happy for him.

Then we turn onto a road where I accelerate quickly and the kids are positive that this activates wings that come out of the side of my minivan.  This is just one of the many features of our fun new vehicle, in addition to its ability to morph into a submarine should we ever have a need to go under water.

Around the curve we come up to "Duck Bottom Pond."  This is everyone's favorite part of the drive.  We all tell each other when it's coming up.  Then as we pass it, we search for ducks diving down to get whatever they're getting (we guess about that, too).  We all triumphantly yell "Duck Bottom Pond!"  And that's when we are officially ready to start a new day.

I haven't been a very playful mom.  Imagination isn't my strongsuit.  But somehow these kiddos have helped me see the fun in making our morning commute into a story.  It starts their day out on a fun note.  It gives them little things to look forward to and distracts those who don't really feel like going to school.

It also reminds me to truly enjoy every minute of time I have with my kids each day.  Even the time in the mornings.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

First Day of School 2015

Here it is.  The dreaded first day of school.  Well, dreaded by me anyway.

Let's look at pictures of my precious babies and then we'll talk about this day.

Even Mom got a new shirt for the first day of school!

After school when I got all my kiddos back!

I always love the choices my kids make each year for back packs, lunch boxes, outifts, and shoes.  Nolan is into basketball and anything neon.  Griffin still loves blue and Minecraft.  Nora is a wildcard and continues to surprise me with each choice.  I loved this gray polka dot dress and she agreed!
This was a big year for us.  Nolan moved up to middle school and Nora--my youngest--started kindergarten.  It's been quite an adventure trying to learn the ways of middle school.  It's about 10 minutes away from our house (the elementary school is about 1 minute away from us).  It's a different car line system.  There's a lot more responsibility on the kids and a lot less parental control involvement.  And we don't know where anything is in the school.

On a positive note, we love all the teachers the kids got this year!  Nora has the teacher Griffin had for kindergarten, and Griffin has the teacher Nolan had for second grade.  Both of those teachers happen to be in our family's Teacher Hall of Fame.  Nolan's teacher, whom we know nothing about, is young and energetic and kind.  I think she's gonna be awesome.

So let's talk about that dread feeling.

About ten years ago, God placed an unbearably strong desire in my heart and calling on my life to be a mother.  About a year later, that dream came true.  When I kiss Nolan's soft cheeks before I go to bed, my mind instantly transports me back to kissing my soft, precious firstborn baby.  Griffin came along a little sooner than planned, and he presented us with unforeseen challenges.  But with greater challenges come greater victories.  And at the end of the day, that boy has the softest face and the sweetest smile and the gentlest kiss.  I love him more than I ever thought I could.  Then, of course, came Nora, the fulfillment of my secret desperate longing for a daughter.  She has proven to bring more joy than we ever anticipated.  She is hilarious and energetic and affectionate.  She's fiercely brave and will uphold our family legacy of strong women.

These kids have been my calling, my purpose, my daytime and nighttime, my job.  It's been the most difficult job a girl could ask for.  I couldn't possibly count the number of times I just didn't think I was up to the task.  I suppose God designed parenthood to be harder than we can do on our own because then we see our need for Him.

I have been so incredibly blessed to be a stay-at-home mom.  I wanted to be the one to teach my kids, play with them, help them grow and develop.  I wanted to experience the firsts and to be part of their everyday lives.  It's not that I'm trying to rehash the war on stay-at-home moms versus working moms.  I'm saying that this was my own desire and God allowed me to experience it.

That dream job technically ended yesterday.  Today marked the beginning of a new job, and I don't yet know the job description.  I feel sad to close a chapter in my life, especially a chapter I loved so much.  That's not to say that there aren't great things ahead.  I just need a minute to grieve the end of something wonderful.

For now, I am not planning to seek employment during this first year of having all my kids in school.  Anything could change at any time, of course.  I spent last school year overbooking myself, saying "yes" to everything, wearing myself down, and juggling too much.  I need a minute to breathe and figure out how to actually choose how to use my time and energy in the best possible way.  I'm still taking care of my extra kids, Garrit and Abby.  Last year I had them before school and then Abby was with me all day.  Now she is in Nora's kindergarten class!  So I'll have them for about an hour each morning and then will start the process of dropping off 5 kids at 2 schools.  At least I get to do it in my brand new (fairly used) gold minivan!

So I survived this day.  You know what, we kinda rocked this day.  I think it's okay to say that.  Gotta celebrate the victories.  Today goes in the "Success" column.  The kids are looking forward to tomorrow.  It won't be long before I loathe the sound of my alarm and the kids will be so sick of the morning routine.  But that's a problem for later.

I'm going to get some sweet sleep.  I need to be rested up to face that new car line tomorrow!


Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Attention please!  I have a very important announcement:
All three of my children ate asparagus without complaining.

Epic, right?

We've tried asparagus before and it wasn't pretty.  We are an alternating corn-and-green-beans kind of family.  Occasionally we mix it up by serving edamame (who could forget the time we found a snail in our edamame?). 

When I planned our August dinners, I sprinkled in several new recipes from Pinterest.  Most of the new recipes are for main dishes, but last night I tried a new recipe for a side dish.  Thank you, Tastefully Simple, for the recipe for Crispy Baked Asparagus!

My asparagus looked slightly different because I used grated Parmesan rather than shredded because that's what I had on hand.

Of course the kids wrinkled their noses when they came to the table and saw the asparagus on their plates.  But the next thing I knew, they had all finished their asparagus without any complaining!

So now we can be a corn-and-green-beans-and-occasionally-asparagus family!