Saturday, July 30, 2011

Let it Be

If there's one thing I've learned so far this year it's that plans don't always go like you think and that if you are willing to let go of ideal, you can appreciate life in its raw, natural, beautiful state.

Yesterday, as I was prepping for an outdoor-turned-indoor-cuz-of-rain party, the synapses weren't firing. I'm not sure if it was the change, the last minute store run, the busyness of the week or the late nights of kiddos wrestling sleep, but I was off my game.

And true to them, my family and friends rolled up sleeves and went to work at a party they were supposed to just show up and enjoy.  They offered assurance in my mess.  And we decided that dinner could be late if the time together was sweet.

(Party pictures, courtesy of Kenna.)

My friend Sara's scrumptious Brazillian cheese bread.  Recipe here. 


Kendra asked Eden after everyone left what her favorite part of the party was.  She didn't talk about the food or the decorations...the hats or the presents.  She loved having her friends at her house, singing "Happy Birthday" to her, being together.  Raw.  Lovely.

Today we are slowly putting our house back to order. We are sweeping cupcake crumbs.  We gather trash. We return stray guest room pillows to their rightful place.

But mostly we are staying in our PJ's extra long today. 

And have dance parties and races down the hallway.  We will play.  And we will soak in the after party, resting in the aftermath of being loved and blessed by the dear ones in our lives.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Those of us who wear the Momma Badge can tell you.  Once you become a mom, you become a human napkin.  It starts with the spit up stains of infants and grows into the sticky hand prints of toddlers.  Skirts become portable Kleenex, perfect for littles to reach out and wipe their noses as you stand talking to someone at the grocery store.  

Like kids in a school cafeteria, we make trades as mommas.  We trade dry-cleaning-only-tags for machine-washable ones.  We trade alone time for story time.  We trade evening plans for littles' needs.  We trade order for mess.

Last week, my sweet niece, Makenna, found a stray yellow crayon.  Girlfriend must read my blog, 'cuz she totally agreed: my walls are too white.  And she's a woman of action, that one.

To be honest, I hated cleaning it up.  I love it - freedom of expression, baby.  But we are renting in this season and I know not everyone shares my point of view.  Magic Eraser (insert villainous music here) wiped the splash of yellow back down to it's original blah.  But I hold onto the mess in my heart.

We all get here differently, into this mess of motherhood.  Some of us were excited while others were terrified.  Some of us were more prepared than others.  Some of us waited a good long while before we dove in.  Some of us didn't have that option.  Some of us are mothering Aunties, loving and spoiling those not from our womb.

High school homecoming queen, Katie Davis, had dreams of being a nurse.  She went to school...and dropped out.  She made a trade - the American dream of being an educated, workin' gal for moving across the globe.  And young, single, in a foreign country, she became a momma when three girls, orphaned by AIDS, lost their home in a storm.  As Katie sat by the hospital bedside of one of the girls, they asked if they could stay with her.  How could she refuse them?  She traded in the yellow convertible of Homecoming Court for a minivan in Uganda.  Those three grew to thirteen girls who now call Katie "mom."  And she is actively pursuing adoption for each one.  She's only 22.

And, unafraid of mess, they are still taking people in.  A grandmother unsure of how to care for her starving grand-baby.  A young mother with three kiddos evicted from their home.  An alcoholic, dubbed the town crazy man, suffering from a burn wound.  They mend.  They rebuild.  They go and make room for more to come and mend and rebuild.  Katie says:

I don’t know why us and I don’t know why here. Our house is a wreck and dinner is late. We make a ruckus in the grocery store and we don’t get invited out much because surely we will bring a screaming baby or worse, crazy people. We are late to church and sometimes we get there and one doesn’t have shoes and one forgot to comb her hair. We are the messy ones. And we pray and we pray that we could spill out the grace God has so lavished on us.

I think it's because of the mess that so many feel safe with Katie and her family.  They know they won't be judged.  They will be accepted.  And all I can think of is:

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—
      this is God, whose dwelling is holy.
God places the lonely in families;
      he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.
Psalm 68.5&6

(Read more about Katie's story here or follow her blog.  And Kenna, thanks for putting me on to Katie.)


I've been haunted by a story I heard on the news a week ago.  Authorities were called about a possible pet hoarding situation.  Police showed up and rescued 12 dogs from the residence - all badly malnourished and unkempt.  Three had to be put down.  

I love our dog.  And I hate the thought of animals being abused or maltreated.  But dogs weren't the only ones rescued.  The 80 year-old-owner who couldn't care for herself let alone her animals, was also pulled from the home. 

I'm not sure how someone lives 80 years and ends up with no one but a makeshift family of canines.  No family, friends.  No one popping in on her to see how she was doing.  No one to find yellow crayons and color her white walls with happy.

But the lonely ones live here, too.  And they need a safe, messy place to take them in.

If your home is like ours, your days are filled with small things like bed jumping, party prepping, little marker people and (finally) throwing the paci's away.

Your walls are decorated with crayon and hand print smudges.  Your floors are littered with toys and scream to be mopped.  You throw the milk out because you forgot to put it away.  You're still make-up-less and in sweats when the doorbell rings.  These are all perfect conditions for taking in the lonely.  For setting them in family. 

Our mess doesn't disqualify us from adopting people.  It empowers us.

And we are able - because of mess - to make trades.  To trade in the quiet, "just-us," plans we had for our lives for something richer, fuller, better. 

You don't have to be a mom to make trades or open the door to mess, by the way.  Don't even have to be a woman.  Just need a few white walls waiting for a bit of yellow.

Monday, July 25, 2011


The week in Instagrams:

This week has brought in the summer storms.  Flashes of light slice through grey-cloud-covered skies.  Not to be outdone by its more bedazzled counterpart, thunder rumbles low and threatening, giving us plenty of opportunity to soothe frightened littles at all hours of the night.  To address real fears and hold them tight.  To whisper and sing about how safe they are because our God is faithful (1) and bigger than the boogie man (2).  (If only that soothed our dog, Miles...)

We welcomed the refreshing company of my friend Pam and her kids this week.  "We had a party," Edie told me after Avery left.  Toys, dress up clothes, play food and tea sets scattered around our upstairs proved that it was a wild good time.  

My sister-in-law, Anna, and two of my sweet nieces came to visit on Friday.  I'm looking forward to the pact we've made to get together, swapping the hour drive to work on projects and watch cousins play. 

Anna makes adorable hats among other things.  You can view more of Anna's adorables here.

I'm already compiling an order for fall.  Thinking this for Eden, this in brown for Si and this one for Baby Love.

The time to be women with these women was so good - to connect and steady souls knowing that our grown-up fears of balancing the love of parenting with the refusal to get lost in the process is shared. 

So much to be thankful for...

...fresh summer flowers on our dining table.

...popcorn and movie nights.

...pool dates with daddy. seat dancing.

...lessons learned at an indoor mall play-area (more to come on that later.)

...Sunday lunches with Uncle Sean (who pulls out straw-wrapper-spider-tricks to shock and awe his niece and nephew.)

So much to look forward to...

...celebrating the big 3-0 this week...30 weeks pregnant.  And as I sit here tapping out keystrokes our sweet unborn daughter is pushing elbows and heels against me.  I slipped out for a few hours yesterday to do some birthday party shopping alone (Friday baby!) and picked up our first Baby Love #3 purchase to celebrate: crocheted booties in mustard.  'Cuz every girl needs a new pair-a-shoes.

...meeting our new OB, another step in the settling in process.

...the gathering of family and friends for Eden's birthday party.  (And spending the day with my dear friend, Meika, preparing for it.) days, each full of possibility and opportunity. 

Happy it's-a-new-Monday, all.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Enjoy (v.)

You know you're at my sisters' place when you play Twister around Hot Wheels down the hallway, your morning coffee is wrapped in witty quotes from the Gilmore Girls, and you laugh...hard.  Gasping for breaths and tears rolling down cheeks kinda hard.

It was a really great trip.

"Oy, with the poodles already."  Oh, c'mon.  Try that one out today.  You'll be glad you did.

We reaffirmed our commitment that our kids will know each other, grow up together.  We shared toys and swapped stories.  We had races in the back yard.  We caught each other up on life and littles, and how rich littles make life.   

And we enjoyed the precious bond of sister.  That no matter how near or far away our houses are, we carry each other's history, secrets, and humor home with us. 

I'm so thankful Eden and Baby Love will share that.

Life is certainly enjoyed in the big moments, trips and celebrations and promotions.  First ultrasounds and bringing new babies home for the first time.  Reuniting with loved ones.  The I Do's and I Still Do's of wedding days and anniversaries.  But there's much to enjoy in the in-betweens - those little, less flashy moments of life.  We are finding our summer full of them.

Like dancing, whenever and wherever you hear a good song.

And family game nights.  Real men play games about princesses and peas, by the way.

And Sara's oh-so-yummy Affogato (recipe here.)  Delish.

Oh, yeah...and going braceless.  Hello there ankle.  I'll take ya - swelling and all.  Nice to have you back.

I sincerely hope whatever this Wednesday holds for you, you are finding yourself enjoying the big and the little moments that make up your life. 

Enjoy is a verb, you know, so go ahead and do something about what you are appreciating, relishing, adoring.  Even if it's just a simple nod of recognition, a pause to trace and freeze-frame it in your memory box. 

Enjoy this day.