Thursday, November 30, 2017

A few attempts at mini podcasts

About 10 years ago,  we podcasted under the name, The Contranauts, this is our attempt at a revamp in a different style.  There's less equipment needed these days and we are dull learning the ropes of it all.  So polished we are not.  But its fun so I think we will keep it up. 
Here's our first two official 5 minute segments.
"On why this podcast is called Squall and Lucy" on Anchor:

"Where we recommend the book The Secret Horses of Briar Hill" on Anchor:

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Post holiday visit

I keep starting posts but never finishing them. So here's to hoping this one actually gets completed. I went to my childhood home for the Thanksgiving holiday. I hadn't been there fore 2 years. That isn't a huge amount of time in the realm of life, but at the same time, that's a good chunk of time. I needed the break and I'm glad I took it and can now come to things returning to the place of my childhood with a new perspective.  I don't need things from there that I once thought I did and that helps a lot. It just took a long time to get there, but I think I needed that as well.

My oldest child is such a dynamic child. He can be intense and he can drive one crazy quickly if you aren't up for all he has to give. However, at the same time he has the absolute biggest heart and just does everything to the fullest. He is unabashedly himself and I give him props for being so. When it came to this holiday, he was stoked about the whole thing. He would have time with cousins, he would get gifts, he would have time with his aunts and uncles and grandparents.  He would have free reign of a large yard in the country, something we don't have in the city so much.

He ate every single minute of it up when we were visiting despite having a terrible lingering cough that just would not go away. He did have a few setbacks when he didn't get what he was wanting in his Christmas at Thanksgiving gifts until very late in the gift giving, but still I cheered him on.  I knew that he had inherited my terrible gift recipient trait, darn extreme honesty and wearing our heart on the sleeve bites us in the butt here.

On the last night there, he was pretty quiet on the car ride back to our hotel we were staying at due to overcrowding in my parents house and my middle guy's severe allergies to dust mites and pets. I asked him if he was okay. He said he was having a lot of feelings at the moment. He then said he didn't think it was worth it to come all this way to just have to go home again and that he was just so sad about doing so. I said it was okay to be sad and that this sadness comes from your love for these people. And that's actually a very big thing. I gave him a hug and he was just sad for a little while, but like the sanguine he was he was able to go to bed happy and it didn't dampen breakfast the next morning with his relatives either.

It's interesting watching your child grow from being thing oriented to caring about spending time with others. I know he's still little, only being 7, but sometimes I feel like he's got a bit of an old soul and its interesting how it comes out in things like this. It makes me realize that its such a gift of grace to have him be part of my life. That maybe I could learn a bit more from him if I stopped and pondered who God made and is making him to be. Perhaps I could use a little more enthusiasm like him instead of my cynicism, and perhaps my heart could just be a little bigger and see more of the good in people like he does. I am truly thankful for this opportunity to be his mom.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Baby struggles

I think sometimes I am more high strung than I give off being. I guess its because I have a lot of balls to juggle and really mostly by the grace of God I do okay. But I am currently struggling. And I know in the realm of things its a minor struggle, so I'm not saying that its tragic, but instead its simply where I am at.  I remember when I starting this blog I wanted to be more candid about things, but then I realized that people were reading and I became self conscious. But I want to be authentic, so here goes.

You would think that by baby number four that I would have this baby thing down. But most days I don't feel that way. I will factor it under the each child is different and they really are. I want to say that this little lady is like Ephraim, but then she's not. She's completely herself.  I've been frustrated lately with her not being able to go along with the big kid chaos that surrounds her. Any time I take her out of the house, she refuses to nurse. So I can't be gone long and the big kids kind of require being out longer than a few hours sometimes. She also refuses to nap solo yet, so teaching some days is tricky. And if I take her out to an event that has a lot of people, well she kind of freaks out.  Sometimes she will simply pass out amongst the chaos when she's just had enough. Church is probably the one place that she likes because its rhythmical and methodical, so if she gets fussy in the pew as long as I'm standing with her in the back she's usually okay with it.

And the thing is that I love this baby girl so very much. She is sweet and is the best cuddler, I guess what I am saying is that I am struggling to figure out how I can best serve her needs and also everyone else's needs. Some things we have learned to be creative about, she seems to love (or at least not mind) to hear stories being read and so we read or listen to audio books a lot, and this goes over well with the big kids too. Recently she has transitioned to being back carried and if out will take a nap for me if she is on my back. She won't nurse when out, but we make sure we nurse as soon as we return. As for getting out, outside things or people's houses work best.

Today's homily was talking about humility and children have definitely helped me with humility. I know pride runs deep in me, I want to prove that I can do it and be who I need to be in any situation. But kids, they are helping me to see that it isn't me who is in charge. Most everything and everyone is out of my control. I don't get to say if I will have an easy baby or a more challenging one. I can't predict if everyone will be in a good mood or a bad mood that day or if we will have lots of joy or lots of tears. I can't know that my child is going to blurt out about someone being pregnant that is not one bit pregnant or if someone is fat or thin or short or tall.

Honestly, I am glad I am not in control because I am an awful manager. I feel like the only way my kids learn anything is by the grace of God or that it was innately in them. I am their guide and I am trying to get them to heaven, but wow do I suck at it on my own. On my own me is mean and yells and get frustrated easily. On my own me wants to give up when its hard.

So I surrender that this baby is going to be who I want her to be and instead be who she is meant to be. Somehow I am learning and growing into God wants me to be being her mama.  I know she is an amazing child of God and that she is growing well in her own way despite me and my failures. I know she won't always be so needy and I'll miss it. I am praying for the grace to be the best mom I can be for her and to have joy in doing it. I've been grumpy for too long trying to fit her into a square peg when she is definitely a star. And that star peg is beautiful, I pray I don't miss the chance to really see it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

He's SIX!

I wrote this on an Instagram post.

And we have a six year old! Buddy, you bring us so much joy with your enthusiasm and your creativity. We never know what you will invent or make next. You get an idea and follow through to the end. You are determined to be the fastest and aren't afraid to try new things. Happy 6th birthday, Ephraim Gerard!

I would say its all very true. There are things that just appear with this one, like, lets make a paddle out of a stick and duct tape or we apparently needed a tree on our wall for some scenery because there it was. A profile of Mario is methodically made out of Lego bricks or a map of the local aquarium is drawn out in scroll form. My hope that his creativity never goes away we appreciate it despite never knowing where the scissors or tape are in the house without an inquiry from Ephraim. 

He has the biggest heart for his baby sister, probably because everyone tells him he looks like her and he loves that someone is like him.  He will make the silliest of noises or a crazy stunt and make Stella laugh uncontrollably.  There is definitely a neat bond there that I hope matures with time and lasts for the rest of your lives. 

You pick up things quickly but can be fierce in resistance when its something you don't want to do. You are adventuresome in what you do as you declared to me yesterday that you touched 10 sting rays at the touch tank while I turned up my nose at the fish scrap infested waters. You keep us moving and you are always up for a good race. You even are willing to rise early to voluntarily watch your mama play soccer at 8am and then also be the ball boy on top of that. 

May you never stop running a million miles an hour or creating worlds upon worlds. 

We love you so much Ephraim Gerard! Here's to another awesome year in store for you!

Photo credit : Grace Lyons

Photo Credit : Grace Lyons

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Maybe I'm not entirely broken anymore

So, I don't have it all together. I really don't. I may seem to flawlessly take on the job of mama with four kids that home schools, but there are many bumps and bruises along the way. Last week we spent most of it being sick, this week it seems we are recovering, though at the same time we are still not 100%.

I think what I'm referring to is that right now, I don't feel like I am at a place of a major breakthrough or drama piece. Life is what it is, I'm not in near mourning and I'm not figuring out what to do with a new baby, nor am I pregnant or trying to piece together something huge of what I thought was but isn't or even planning for a crazy excursion. Instead I've got ho hum life going on, and its wonderful and messy and I yell probably way more than I should about doors being left open and legos being within the baby's reach. I think I'm learning what it is to be in a routine and to see who I am when I'm not in crisis. I am still chock full of sin and I can't hold my tongue to save my life, but I think its nice to be here in this brief lull of everyday business.

I have been doing a lot of forming the community that I need around me in the last 7 or so years, or however many I've been in this house, which I think technically is now 8 years (Wow! Time is going fast). I say that because I think I had to learn that because I couldn't really count on my past being my current social set up. I had to create the community I needed. I had to be the one to make calls to set up play dates, sift through the dead ends, form groups and just say hello or linger to listen when a person had something to say. And while I know really this wasn't me doing it, but God's grace and the abilities he gave me to do so, but I know I still had to say yes and be open to whatever his will was for me.

There have been moments where I wasn't my finest or was completely awkward in everything I said or did, but thing is, people didn't give up on me. So maybe I am not so terrible as I tell myself. Perhaps I am a little bit likable and not maybe the pretentious know it all that I see as myself. Or maybe that is the sinful me but the me that lets grace be part of her can be pretty okay. Whatever I may be, I am thankful for this journey and I'm thankful to be here in tis place with this husband and four kids of mine if full reality that the only chaos I can control is to keep kids out of the road and perhaps keep the lego bricks away from the baby for another day.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

When to slow down

Today we went apple picking. It was late in the season so the apples were scarce, but overall it was an enjoyable experience. However, my oldest went along and he really shouldn't have.  Because when he got home I checked him out as having a 102 deg F fever. The thing is, I didn't realize he was not doing well until we were almost there, and at that I just thought he had got the cold the majority of us had had last week that seemed to be lingering in parts. I was the event planner for this event for the homeschool group, so I needed to be there, at least with that late of notice. I limited what he had to do, and his brother was a super helper with helping me cart B around and being adventuresome despite circumstances. And when he got home B fell asleep for a good hour and then he actually seemed much better after resting.

So who knows what it was, but I felt bad for having him out, even though I didn't know beforehand and I probably should have just gone home. I guess perhaps I struggle at knowing where to draw the line. Fever is usually it, but he wasn't acting feverish all morning and he decided he wanted to go. He would have been allowed to stay home with his dad because he works from home now, and so it would have been okay. But he went. I guess I need to stop beating myself up about perhaps not the best decision, to stay, but also that I couldn't predict what happened. What would friend me say to me? That I didn't know, that he seemed okay in the morning before we went, that the fresh air was going to be good for us.

The rest of us enjoyed picking apples, my middle guy enjoyed it the most because he could climb the trees as high as he wanted. My middle girl enjoyed climbing as well and S enjoyed sitting amongst the orchard. Next time we go apple picking remind me to go in September as apparently that is the best time for it. It somehow seems off though because of the fall connotation to apples, but oh well. Goodnight.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Weekly writing

I have been reading the book, "She's Still There" by Crystal Evans Hurst. And its amazing. I think honestly if you frame it right it can help you to work towards bettering any situation if you have the intention that you want it to be better and are willing to do something about it. I picked it up under an Elizabeth Foss recommendation and because well I do sometimes think that I have lost me along the way of the craziness of life. Let me tell you, its held up to its esteemed recommendation.

I know everyone seems to be talking about self-care these days, and I think this was one of my means of achieving how to know how to do that for me. There are the usual healthful diet and regular exercise, of which I try to adhere to, where I struggle is with up keeping regular habits that are beneficial in thought so as to change the outlook of things around me.

So in trying to figure that out, I realize that writing helps me tremendously in my mood and I had gotten away from it for so very long. I blamed the baby and the homeschooling and just about everything. I guess I wasn't really ready to own up to the fact that I needed it. But I finally decided that this was my one habit that I needed to continue and so here I am.

As for today, today I'll tell you how my children truly amaze me. I shared on twitter how the children decided to make a lemonade stand this afternoon. And they did it. They cleaned my drink pitcher, they made the lemonade, they made a sign with the price and product, they hauled out the table and chairs, they found the cups to distribute and they even brought out extra quarters for change. They did this all while I was hauled up in my bedroom with the nursling that wouldn't let me go. Their dad was nearby watching from a far, but still, they did it all by themselves. It made my mama heart proud.

Apparently, Ephraim "read" a book that featured a lemonade stand in it, so he then got the idea and carried it out. This guy has a born initiative that I did not teach him and I love it. It seems to work well with his brother's personality that smooths out the kinks with the conversing with people and the knowing the exact proportions of things. But honestly I am still amazed. They actually had customers too. And Helena told me that she said thank-you and she said that customer was like Maui and said "You're Welcome".  Her little personality makes us laugh so much at times.

Tomorrow is Stellamaris's feast day, so we shall see what that brings. Sweet dreams.