Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Things

As the weather turns dark and gray and the skies are threatening to snow, I'm finding myself gathering up happy thoughts like a squirrel collects nuts for the impending doom of winter. I'm writing them down; capturing photos and storing them in my memory bank so when I'm in hibernation mode, finding it difficult to even step foot out the door, I can look back and see that winter doesn't actually last forever. It just seems like it.

Some happy things that I'm collecting right now...

Great friends. Friends that don't judge; listen to you vent; laugh with; text with; drown your sorrows with; smile with; commiserate with; build you up when you feel torn down; confide in...I can't imagine living a life without friends.

My favorite running trail with leaves still on trees .

Family game night.

Little girls painting their nails all by themselves.

Impromptu zoo trips on days off of school.

Pumpkin carving disasters...

We didn't carve pumpkins until last night, and everyone was so excited!!to do all of the carving and the picking out of the seeds and scrape the insides and hollow those suckers out, and in all of the excitement all of the kids came in from the wet, muddy outdoors and walked right over our newish tan carpet with very wet, muddy shoes. Disaster of all disasters...not really, but it feels like it when it's edging closer to bedtime. I put everything on hold because it had to be cleaned up rightthisveryminute!! So they all stood on the front porch, looking in through the window, waiting with their pumpkins at their feet and I felt like the biggest ass. Take a deep breath, count to ten, it's only carpet and dirt and it can be cleaned, let's start over and carve these darn pumpkins like they've never been carved before. Kids can do do-overs so easily, me? not-so-much. But as I was scraping out the guts and emptying the insides, I realized that I'm kind of like a pumpkin being hollowed out sometimes; I think we all are. Scrape out the yuck to make room for the light we put inside. And when we light that candle we glow and shine and everyone can only see what we've become, not the yuck we've just emptied ourselves of. The pumpkins turned out wonderfully, and the dirt on my carpet has been cleaned, like the whole thing never happened.

Glow bright little pumpkins...and Happy Halloween.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Happy Monday...

Sharing some quotes I love...
and some photos....

It doesn't happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept. Margery Wilson--
The Velveteen Rabbit

When Katelyn tells me she loves me and wraps me in a hug, she tells me You're soft

I'm still becoming.  I'm still learning how to love bigger and better and more. I'm learning that you can never give too much love. Love is meant to be shared and showered on those around you. You'll never ever regret sharing your love; when you do, it multiplies; it's passed on; it grows.

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echos are truly endless.---Mother Teresa

I'm learning that my patience and kindness and empathy for my oldest and youngest has to be endless these days. They are both anxious and sensitive and need some extra doses of love and kind words to see them through some rough patches. Some days my patience cup overflows...and some days it runs on fumes. But, never ever do I regret giving them an extra hug or telling them I'm sorry when I'm a little too short with them. Never ever do they go to bed at night doubting if they are loved or not.

Kindness is a language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.--Mark Twain

Our trip to the pumpkin patch wasn't really a pumpkin patch. It was tables and tables of pumpkins set up on the side of a road. And the kids were fighting, and yelling, and if anyone else was around they were probably thinking we were crazy. One picture of all four of them was all I wanted. It didn't happen. One of them was pouting at all times; one of them was screaming at the top of his lungs; one of them refused to budge on the size of the pumpkin she wanted; and one didn't really care if we got any pumpkins at all. My cup o'patience happened to be overflowing this day, though, and we managed to pick out pumpkins and donuts and apples and I gave a hug and a smile and held hands and said that's OK and everyone got back in the car happy. Becoming...

I hope you're smiling today; I hope you can make someone else smile today. Plant some seeds and watch them grow...become...spread some love wherever you go.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Running...Full Circle

When I was in the 7th grade, we had to run the mile in our gym class. We ran around the green football field on a warm, sunny day, and as I passed my gym teacher, she said, Jenny (because people used to call me Jenny), I think we've finally found something you can do! Some people might have taken offense to that, but that one sentence made me light up; it made me smile; it made me believe in myself as others stopped to walk and I kept running. See, I wanted to play basketball, and be a gymnast, and be in dance, and be a cheerleader. I wanted to be able to hit the softball when it was pitched to me. I couldn't do any of those things. I was really short; afraid of the balance beam and parallel bars; uncoordinated, awkward and clumsy. But this running thing? I could do it. And I could do it pretty well.

This last Sunday, I ran in my only race of the year; the half-marathon that winds around on my favorite running trail. I wish I could say the weather was perfect and sunny with not a cloud in the sky, but it was cold, and a little bit rainy, and the last half mile I was met with a cold, bitter wind blowing straight in my face. Not one of those things mattered, though. I wasn't looking to beat my personal record; I didn't even try. My running is in a new season, and that includes running while pushing the jogging stroller; winding around the glorious trail, pushing a 30 pound toddler up and down the hills while she sings (and occasionally screams at me that she needs to get out and walk right now!!!). We never make it past 6 1/2 miles, and we never break any speed records, but that doesn't matter, because I'm running, in the sunshine and beautiful fresh air and that's a good season to be in.

When I was running on Sunday, I kept thinking about how this running thing got started for me, and how my high school track coach encouraged me to keep going one particular track meet when I wanted to quit, and told him I didn't feel well, but really I was just nervous. Thanks to him, I learned to channel my nervousness into my running. Today, I do that with a lot of emotions. I channel the highs and lows of parenthood into my running; the good and the bad; things I didn't mean to say and wish I could take back, the impatience, the laughter, the frustration, the funny, the's my saving grace, my therapy session, my talk with God, my love affair with everything beautiful in nature. When I'm running, nothing else matters.

I saw my old high school coach on Sunday about 1/4 of a mile before the finish line. I don't think he saw me or if he did, he probably didn't recognize me. I thought back to his words of wisdom, with his hands on my shoulders, saying, if you're really sick, you don't have to run, but I know you aren't sick, and I know you're going to do great, but the decision is yours, and I don't want you to regret it if you don't run...and there is never a day when I run and regret it.

Full circle, baby.

My son took this photo after the race. My official time was 1:57:43.
All other photos were taken with my DSLR.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Summer Favorites Photo Dump and a Little Rambling...

A good story was written this summer; one of the best. Many of my favorite memories happened at the beach and baseball fields. Baseball isn't just about watching your kids play ball, it's so much more. It's friendships made and strengthened, not only for our kids, but for the adults too.

I am completely humbled by this photo. There's so much more, you can see it in the expanse of the sky; forever blue and neverending, and my littlest looks so teeny compared to it. It seems like the more control I try to have over things; the less control I actually have...I think I'm finally learning that. The tighter I try to grip something, the more it floats and flits away. Everything happens for a reason, and while my mind knows this, my heart doesn't always. It takes a while for that part of me to catch up, and when it does, I have a forehead-slapping, a-ha moment of clarity, and kick myself for worrying in the first place.

This kid, he has my heart wrapped up in the palm of his hand. With his dimples, and big toothy grin, and one-liners, and the way he still wraps his arms around my neck at night for his goodnight hug; he's just so sweet...except when he's not, and he's throwing a fit or fighting with a sibling or slamming doors or throwing rocks at his big sister's head. I want to remember those things too. The good, the bad, and the rock throwing. We welcomed ourselves right into the new neighborhood, that we did. 

My softball girl. It was so much fun watching her bloom on the softball field this summer and early fall. She is 8 going on 18, and that scares the crap out of me. I'm not ready for her to be so grown up yet, and I don't think she is either, because sometimes when we read at night, she snuggles right up next to me and puts her head in my lap and asks me to rub her head. We all gather on a bed and read Charlotte's Web and Junie B. Jones. I'm trying not to hurry, hurry, hurry and get bedtime over with because if we can end the day on a good note, with a laugh and a hug, then I feel like I accomplished something good that day, even if the rest of the day was a disaster.

And this one, with his tender heart, makes my heart explode right out of my chest. Just last night at the dinner table, he was talking about a boy in our neighborhood who said we (my kids) were his only friends and that he didn't have any at school. And then he started to get all choked up because he felt sad for him, and told his brother and sisters that we needed to help him and be extra friendly. And then I got all choked up and cried in my chili. Why are friendships so hard at such a young age?

And these two...either love each other or are yelling at each other. She's bossy and he won't be bossed. Bad combination, and a very loud one.

And this picture kills me. She's so afraid of the sound of the lawn mower, so she stands at the kitchen window, yelling and screaming for PAPA!!! to look at her and wave.

These last few were taken with my iPhone...

Rambling and summerish photos...done. We're on to fall and the leaves are gorgeous, and my kitchen most often smells of apple desserts being baked. I'm learning that I can love another season just as much as summer...i'm not done growing yet, I guess.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

I'm Back!

I've missed writing. I've been writing in one form or another since I was old enough to form words and string them into sentences. I had a brown diary with a gold lock when I was little. I wrote things in there like, I love Bobby, who was two years older than me and had blonde hair and didn't know I even existed. That was in the 3rd grade, exactly the age my daughter is right now. I'm pretty sure she doesn't love any 5th graders yet, and she's certainly not doodling about them in her diary...I hope.

After the brown diary, I graduated to a wide-lined spiral notebook, with doodles on the front cover in my loopy, pre-teen cursive writing. Then it was a black binder with loose leaf paper, and finally I got some real journals, with inspirational quotes and pretty pictures on the cover. The point is, I've always written. I've always told my story, even if nobody else has read it but me.

I was looking through my summer photos the other day...thousands of them...and I realized that writing and photos and creativity need to be let loose from my overflowing mind. My fingers have gotten twitchy from not tapping our stories out on the keyboard; just like my legs do when they haven't run for a week or two. My creative juices need to be squeezed again; my fingers need to dance over the keyboard; my words need to be strung together again; and my memories need to be written.

So, I'm dumping some photos, and working my way backwards through the summer, which was jam packed with moving into a new house, and baseball, and softball, and trips up North on vacation, and pool days, and beach days, and really, really good days full of laughing, and playing, and no-school-lazy-days of summer...the best kind of days.

 First day of school.

My youngest, the pistol.

She has completely given up on naps...see?

Anna the fierce and mighty.

Conquering fears.

P.J. fishing is the best kind of fishing.

He's always been surrounded by light, from the second he was born. I love this photo so much.

And these sunset photos are SOOC. The sunsets up North are really just that gorgeous.

Sunset swimming.

Our house is almost unpacked; most of the pictures are hung; and everything is settled, right where it belongs, as are we. I didn't realize that this was our dream house until we were all moved in, and I laced up my running shoes and ran right down the block to get on my favorite running trail; the trail that I used to have to run a couple miles to get on before; and while I was running, I remembered how I would always think to myself, I wish we lived in this neighborhood, in one of these houses, and now we do...the reality is so much better than I dreamed it to be.

Isn't this the biggest wish maker you've ever seen? 

The last few photos were taken with my iPhone on my runs...I have a thing for the rising sun. And the setting sun. And maybe sun rays too.