Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Slow Life

Last night, I snuggled in Will's bed with him by his little window as the last sunlight faded, and together we watched the season's first fireflies dance in the leaves overhead. It gave me goosebumps that they came out for the first time promptly on the first of June. There was something extra magical and soothing about that for me. 

There is something extra magical and soothing about this entire summer that we are starting. I was surprised when, chatting in pick-up line a few weeks ago at Will's preschool, a mom said something about dreading the summer that stretched ahead. I realized I had the opposite feeling. I have been so excited for my first summer since 2012 of not breastfeeding or growing a little baby; a summer that may be our last slow and quiet one... next summer Will will be about to start kindergarten, and I am sure both he and Henry will have outgrown their ability to sit agreeably in the double BOB for me to run. Plus I hope next summer we will be preparing to add to our little family ;). So this summer feels precious and too short already to me.

I wanted to go into this summer with very little on our calendars, so we could soak up a season of playing hooky as a threesome. I have been envisioning everyone waking up from naps and just winging a last minute run, or a playdate, or a bike ride. Jason is working hard at his new job, and I felt very keenly that I needed to be present and relaxed to keep the ship balanced for our family.

When I quit my little editor job in March, there was an immediate sensation of sheer relief. I am grateful for the opportunity of that job, and I think I learned a lot about myself. But I always felt that it would just be a season, and I went into it hoping I would have the ability to move on gracefully when I needed to. I think that happened. 

I did have a pretty hefty awakening to the amount of TV the kids had come to expect to watch daily. That was guilt inducing. And Jason complimented me so much on the cleanliness of the house I wondered how bad it must have been before when I was in a fog of deadlines. Guess I am not one of those women I have long admired who are good at juggling. 

It is hard not having the ability or pocket change to justify trendy clothing purchases. I keep lusting over rompers and studded gladiator sandals. But honestly I am grateful to be right where I am. 

Henry is getting so big and consequently is going through a phase of being a bit cuddlier. I believe they can sense their own growth spurts sometimes. He has a way of wrapping his chubby right arm around my neck, and nestling his big ole curly haired head under my chin that just melts me. He is daily adding words to his vocabulary. He is still a total imp in Church, though last Sunday we had the weirdest most well-behaved Mass since he was an infant. It made me nervous. 

We call him Blue Steel for his habit of staring steamily at every female he claps eyes on, until she falls under his spell. Which is inevitable. Blue Steel will getcha.

Will started reading short words. Jason and I are by turns busting with pride and worried we'll mess it up. We have honestly no idea what we did right, but it was a happy accident and we'll take it. :) We started private swim lessons today; bi-weekly, at a quiet country club pool, with one of Will's best buddies. The lessons will be the one steady punctuation in our slow, spontaneous summer. 

We lost our live-in uncle a few months ago. He got his own place, and then in May he got hitched to his lovely bride, Maddy. 

He is obscenely happy. ;) And nobody told me how emotional it was for a sibling to get married!!!! I think it is so much more shocking too when it is your brother - because I assume at least with a sister you slowly get used to seeing the engagement ring on her finger. My little sisters and I kept grabbing each other and going "OMG Moses has a wedding band on!!!" He looked so little and so old at the same time to us. 

Then we had a week at Lake Keowee with my Dad's brothers and their families, who are all the most fun and loud people to hang out with. My Aunt Alison kept laughing at how Henry always had something to eat in his hand paw - at one point she even rescued him from finding a little snack in the recesses of the kitchen garbage can. When I came home and we saw all Mo's wedding pics, this made me LOL:

My little Pooh-bear. 

We ended the week with family on our 5 year wedding anniversary, and Jason and I made an impulsive decision to book a room at the Hyatt in downtown Greenville, while my parents graciously took the boys for the night. It was wonderfully refreshing - the best part was getting to wake up slow, together. I am not a napper, so when I get really badly sleep-deprived, Jason will get up with the little guys and let me sleep. It was so nice for once to be able to sleep in with him. 

This is the smile he only gives me. ;) I am the luckiest. 

I felt so inept as a wife when I realized we hadn't taken a single night away together since Henry was born. That's almost 2 years! I could have made it happen; but the last two years have been such a blur. We did it often when Will was little, because it was so incredibly helpful for our marriage. Date nights can be hard cause you can't always turn off the faucet of constant thinking and talking about the kids and work and focus simply on each other. You need time to unwind, which even one night away can provide. 

I am hereby committed to saving money more intentionally for just such occasions this next year. Priorities.

We took stock of the last five years together; we reminded each other of some of our favorite, most stand-out memories. We talked about how far we had come. And we made a list of what we hope to achieve together in the next 5 years of our marriage. Hard to believe that when my brother and Maddy will be celebrating their 5th, Jason and I will be celebrating our TENTH. 10 sounds so old, and so long - but 5 went by like a flash of light. I have a feeling the next 5 will too. 

So here's to putting on the brakes, if only for a few months. To long afternoons playing in the sprinkler; to walking and talking in our shady neighborhood; to air-conditioned mornings in the library. To late playdates toasted with wine glasses (the best kinds of playdates). To the slow life.

Yeah, yeah - it is easier intended than done. But I have been finding unexpected help. Even as I am writing this - I was supposed to go out and put a second coat of paint on our new shed during nap time; but a thunderstorm rolled in, so instead I got this time to just sit here and dwell on our lovely memories from the last few months - and focus on what is most important for the next few. 

Cause I will never get this season back.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Will's First Four Years *slideshow alert*

...aka, the slideshow I chose to dump hours upon hours (that I didn't have) into. I REGRET NOTHING. 
Worth every tear I shed every time I watch it. 
I really searched for pictures I had forgotten I had... pictures I salvaged from the burial ground of my deactivated Facebook page (YES I was logged in for like 10 minutes! was surrealllll. ;) )... pictures I found on Jason's photo stream... pictures that may be blurry but flooded me with the clearest memory of that moment. 

These are the years. 

I don't know why, but 4 feels so significant to me. It truly is his first birthday as a child, not as a toddler. Not as my baby. This is also coming on the verge of Jason leaving the job that he took when we were dating; and our 5th wedding anniversary in May. It feels like we are leaving not one year, but an entire season, behind. 

The bittersweetness takes my breath away. 

PS: I know its long, so probably no one will watch it, but it has a few of the sweetest little videos in there of baby Will!! I had to really agonize over which ones to use - Jason is a great video-taker. He has a bunch of these from the last 4 years. I cried buckets re-watching them. 

Anyway, something I never realized until literally making this slideshow, was how much of a baby Will was when I had Henry. He had instantly seemed so BIG to me side by side my new infant, I no longer appreciated the baby lisps and squeaky high voice (which still managed to be raspy, his entire life - his first babbles allllll had that precious raspy quality - so I never really even noticed it til Theresa or Sarah pointed it out to me lol). Part of me felt a huge ugly pang when I watched the video in there of Will on the bed with "Baby Ehrin!"... How had I let his last few ounces of precious Babyhood slip past me unnoticed?! 

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Power of Prayer.

I have been thinking about the power of prayer lately...  why we pray, how we should pray...
The power of prayer can't be that it changes His heart; don't we believe He already loves us infinitely? He already wants only goodness and mercy to follow us, all the days of our lives. 
I believe the power of prayer is that it changes our hearts. It changes us. It removes scales from our eyes; it focuses us on the things that truly matter. 
We have a lot of desires bombarding us. Desires that we think we want, that we are told we should want. At the core of the first temptation in the history of the human race, when the snake whispered to Eve, was a desire she was told she should have... "Don't you want to be like God?" 
These desires are distractions that confuse us from knowing ourselves and what lies burning at the bottom of our hearts. What was planted there by Him, to lead us to the peace that passes understanding. 
Prayer sifts through the noise and confusion. 
I have been praying so hard for my husband for so long now. As you know, he went to seminary his junior year of college, and got his undergrad degree at a "pontifical college" in History and Philosophy. When he left seminary, he didn't wait a second in making me fall in love with him. He bought me a ring a year later and we were married as soon as possible. ON TOP of all of that, my husband cried tears of joy when I told him we had an accidental honeymoon pregnancy. I never heard a word of complaint or regret from him. He was so generous with himself.
Jason and Baby Will in our old apartment

The following 5 years were good, and hard. My husband has tried so hard to catch up to his peers. He was already set back by seminary, when his peers were majoring in accounting and engineering and other career-oriented majors; and when you add on top of that getting married at 25 and having his first child the next year... it seemed at times he could never catch up. 
He has cheerfully walked out that door every morning to conquer the world for me and for our family. 
He has come home exhausted and frustrated and worried that he won't be able to do it. I have held his hand and prayed with him; I have texted him scripture verses of hope in God. I have reminded him over and over and over again: "God is never outdone in generosity." I believed that God would never let Jason suffer for the rest of his life because he gave his first fruits to God. 
But there were a lot of moments I worried too, and my prayer of trust would become
 "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief."
I believe you love us, I believe you want to bless us beyond measure, help my unbelief.
A couple weeks ago, God literally dropped a job for Jason in his lap. A job that uses all the things he has been loving at his current job and couldn't get enough of; a job at a very prestigious consulting firm that can provide him with a concrete career track - with the ability to look to the future and work toward real promotions and professional goals. 
I am so overwhelmed with gratitude to God as I watch my husband go through this. He is still kind of in shock that this is actually happening. But the papers have been signed, the hands shaken, the notice given. It is happening. 

It truly is about adventuring and experiencing new challenges as a family, not making a lot of money. We won't be making more at all for a while, in fact, since we will be paying the student loans from the MBA ourselves (one of the reasons we were begging God and working hard to get Jason a new job, before his boss paid a dime of those loans). 
But it definitely opens so many doors for Jason and for our family. 

"Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." - Psalm 37:4

"Look to God that you may be radiant with joy" - Psalm 34  

"I have come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly." John 10:10

These are all scripture verses I was claiming for my husband. But I was open that God's will sometimes looks different than we think it should. 

I started the year asking God - as I am reminded by just reading my last post on here! - for more. For greater challenges, for bigger opportunities to love and grow. Asking Him to Make Things Happen in our lives.

Since then, God opened the door in January for Will to go to the cutest little Catholic preschool with one of his best friends. 

They just called and said a little boy had moved away, and if we still wanted to, we could come in ahead of the wait list! It has been such a joy to watch him there, and it immediately took away the feeling that each week was dragging by. Will's happiness and contentment on a regular basis skyrocketed when he started this little school program.

His teachers love him. He loves his classmates. It is a perfect fit!

I met two awesome young moms in my neighborhood - who both run! - and each have two kids around the same age as mine. [This is a big deal cause our neighborhood is chock full of old folks haha]. Hannah and Bekah are both lovely Christians and super athletic, so that is fun :). We went for a run together before the arctic blast that hit NC lol... and we are planning on meeting up once a week.
I just feel like ever since I started praying that prayer - for a year of more - it has blown my mind how God has not stopped giving me opportunities for rising to the challenge. All I have had to do, literally, is say "Yes!"... Yes Will (and I) are ready; yes I want to come to your house; yes lets go for a run together; yes, I want to get to know you too... yes, thank you for sharing some of your heart and time with me.
Is it really only about opening up? Giving God that open door, that open heart, those open hands? 
For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds; 
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
 11What father among you would hand his son a snake
 when he asks for a fish? 
12Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? 
13If you then, who are wicked, 
know how to give good gifts to your children, 
how much more will the Father in heaven
 give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11)

I know I sound giddy with excitement right now; I do know that the going will get tough. Jason's new job will involve a good amount of travel and some long hours. And for he who is given much, much will be required (Luke 12:48). So there is that pressure. :)

But... wow, God is good. He truly, truly is. I just need a moment - like you see in the Psalms! - of gushing with praise for Him... for His goodness to us, for His undeserved love to my family, for His mercy, and His plans for our future full of hope (Jeremiah 29:11). 
Thank you for your prayers for us. So many of you have told me you were praying, have encouraged me when I needed it. I am so grateful. I hope that whatever you are praying for right now, God will show you the desires of your hearts. Quickly!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2014 + a little slideshow ;)

This past year saw Henry rapidly and heartbreakingly [but also relievedly? ohhh the mixed emotions of motherhood] outgrow babyhood.  He left the bassinet next to my bed for the crib in Will's room at the beginning of this year; sat, crawled, walked, and started getting into real mischief this year; he said his first words; he had his first ride in a swing - his little arm up like a confident pro the whole time; he experienced his first Carolina spring from his bouncy seat in the orange BOB, as his mama pounded out her stress through miles and miles behind him, in our hilly, dogwood covered neighborhood; this year he weaned himself over the summer, to my mix-bag emotions (again)... I went from weeping and mourning to rejoicing and singin' "Freeedommm!"; he had his first roll in the sand at the beach, and his first experience of ocean spray in his face; he went on his first bike ride; his first car-cart ride at the grocery store (he tried to commandeer Will's steering wheel as well as his own, which should tell you a lot about his personality); his first birthday party - which was really all Will's thing, he "decorated" for it and everything... this year, my baby Henry went from being a chubby bystander on the sidelines to jumping in for everything. 
2014 gave us a huge snow storm - the biggest I have actually ever experienced, I think. The morning that the snow came down, we were in the doctor's office for a double ear infection for Will, and we literally had to race into the CVS for the antibiotic, with barely enough time to drive home safely. I thanked every saint in heaven that Jason had stayed back from work and gone to the doctor's with us, because I would have absolutely ended up abandoning our Buick on the side of the road, we were bombarded with so much snow in the last 10 minutes of our drive. 
This past spring took the longest to arrive. I remember this because I escaped to Charleston for a weekend to visit my pregnant, tired, and single-parenting friend Sarah (whose husband was deployed) in March, and, though I had hoped to get a taste of spring FINALLY, it was unreasonably cold for the low country. We had a cozy, chatty weekend anyway. 
Last spring also brought Will's first failed foray into swim lessons. He did not take to them kindly, and after two sessions, I decided to wait til the scarring memory had faded before trying again. Maybe very soon...
This past summer saw three beach vacations... one (chilly) week with my family at the beginning of summer in the wild solitude of the Outer Banks, one week with Jason's family in the sleepy muggy coziness of Edisto for the 4th of July, and one 4 day weekend for trick or treating and drinking cosmopolitans and roaming a deserted Edisto Beach in October. 
It saw a few trips to the zoo. A few trips to the mountains with my family, one wonderful and exhausting [and triply documented ;)] adventure to Charleston for the blog friends. It saw us forge that friendship! A friendship that blesses me literally daily - the three of us all stepped a little out of our comfort zones to start a group text and I can't imagine my long, sometimes lonely days without it. This year saw afternoons at the sunshiny SouthPark Mall for coffee or frozen yogurt with just me and my little boys. It saw hot Saturdays with Jason getting a bite to eat at one of our top 5 burger joints (my favorite food, I think). It saw Will grow from being a cute semi-burden to an actual buddy. He has tagged along with me all day every day for the last year, and I think I have become as attached to his company as he has to mine. 
This year I fell in love with the Foster the People album "Supermodel" in the spring, and Taylor Swift's new album (oh yes. I did) in the fall. They were the soundtracks to my feet on the pavement, and my desperate dancing with little melting down toddlers in the kitchen before dinner. These albums made me feel like flying when I was running, and smiling when I was cleaning. 
This year saw me turn a freelance thing into a [very] part time job. Its been a nice challenge but it also has reminded me that there is a season for everything in life; nothing is set in stone. I like the work but I am not attached to it. Every month I fantasize quitting. I don't get to write as much as you might think with it. At least, it is all marketing writing so its limiting how creative and well-crafted it can be. 
This year saw my brother Moses move back in with us after his stint at adult apartment life with a no-good roommate. We got to be first-hand witnesses of him saving for a ring, and planning his beautiful proposal to his adorable fiancĂ©. We have loved his presence upstairs and hanging out randomly in the kitchen with us... and will miss him dearly when he inevitably moves out this coming spring. Henry asks for "Mmmm-OH?!" every day. One of the things we will miss the most is, admittedly, the free last-minute babysitting. We never have tried to take advantage of him on a weekend night, but Mon-Thurs has been fair game. I doubt Jason and I would've made it through the MBA without those life-saving cheap dates, just the two of us getting a breath of fresh air, a strong drink, and that high of uninterrupted adult conversation. There's a great little place 4 miles up the road with a movie theater and nice restaurants, and trees lit up with little white lights at night - we tended to get drinks and fresh spring rolls from P.F.Changs then walk over to catch a movie together and let the alcohol subside;)... or we just got stuck talking. 
THE MBA! this year saw us finish it with a bang. The last break before Jason's last semester was the first break that we didn't get in a fight. MIRACLE. We saw it coming (huge fights every other school break, y'all. huge.), and planned accordingly. Jason walked on eggshells and I checked myself before I wrecked myself. ;) 
We are still a little dazed in the aftermath. It hasn't quite sunk in yet that its actually over. We got up early this morning and sipped our coffee while we prayed and talked about our plans for the year. We have some big hopes and dreams. Please keep our family in your prayers. I can feel the change about the erupt, I just don't know how or when. Its like the calm before the storm. But in a good way! I want a year that challenges and excites us; a year of adventure and growth. FAMOUS LAST WORDS. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas at the Oakes House

I have had so much on my heart lately - so many things I would love to sit on the couch with my nearest and dearest girlfriends and just lay out there... that I haven't had the ability to sit down and write about them at all. Like the mound of dirty clothes in my laundry room... it gets so big you would rather put it off than make a clumsy start, only to feel like you can't make a dent in it.

Except this is more enjoyable than doing my laundry. Really, not even comparable.

This Christmas season has been.... hmm... I'd say its been hard, but good.

Will has been SO into everything about Christmas this year - finally! - and it has been both exciting and exhausting to do all the story-telling, singing, explaining, and preparing with my little buddy hopping along beside me. 

He is very, very excited for Santa. He dictated his first letter to Santa to me a few weeks ago...

The only guidance I gave him on it was the "sincerely" part. For the rest of the day, I would hear him chattering happily to himself, and the word, "sincerely" kept popping up randomly. 

I love my children, and I love being with them all day - truly. But I am not an arts and craftsy mama. Its not one of my strengths. I don't say that to sound like a "cool mom"... it is embarrassing to me to have to admit to people, I can't get my shit together with freaking toddler craft supplies. I have tried MANY times, and they always end up broken, missing, or otherwise insufficient after the first day. 

While I knew it was silly, I have sincerely (ha) struggled with insecurity about this over the last few years. I frequently felt like a failure; like a less attentive, caring mom. We never have matching holiday outfits planned ahead of time; we never have cutesy little crafty traditions; we never remember to get an advent wreath, much less a countdown calendar; we never even get a Christmas card out. 

So it came as a shock to me when, this year, I finally got something right. 

I can't take credit for it - because it really just happened. But it makes me smile every time I remember it, and I think Will and I and Jason will cherish the memory we made for a long time.

We went to see The Nutcracker at a local youth ballet here in Charlotte. 

My lovely mother in law agreed to come in town for that weekend to watch Henry and put him to sleep so we could go in the evening together, just Jason and I and Will. I had the mysterious wherewithal to have planned this weeks ahead... even getting him the illustrated book from Barnes & Noble during one of our morning outings there (they have the best train table in the city). We listened to the music and read the story all month. 

On Friday morning, the day of the ballet, I was very worried because of course the boys decided to wake up a full hour early. Looking at my clock at 6:30 that morning, knowing Will would be up til at least 10, I wasn't sure how it was all going to pan out. 

After a busy day of running some errands and cleaning the house before Alane came, [and dealing with some major whiny meltdowns, I might add]... I decided to try a Hail Mary last resort. Now, Will has not napped since April. He will very occasionally doze off in the stroller or carseat, but he has not needed nor accepted a straight up nap in months. 

I took him upstairs - Henry was still fast asleep in their bedroom - and I let him help me set up the big air mattress for Alane in our playroom. It was cold and dreary outside. I told him he needed to rest since we were going to be out very late tonight to see the Nutcracker, and he didn't have to sleep, but he did need to lay down. He snuggled into the huge air mattress, and I left him with a few books. 30 minutes later, when I went to get Henry, I opened the creaky door as slowly as possible, and there was Will, fast asleep, his little face looking more like my baby than he has in ages. 

The house was dark and the sun had set when I finally slipped up to wake him. He opened his eyes when I patted his little shoulder, and immediately he remembered what we were doing. I dressed him by lamplight in his black corduroys and red shirt, with his Sunday shoes, and we went downstairs to see his Gobby. Jason walked in from work just in time for our quick dinner, and we took a picture with Henry in front of our tree that we had gotten a few days earlier. 

To say Will was excited cannot begin to describe his state of being. It was precious. He was eager and polite and I beamed with pride all evening. He was the youngest child I saw around us, and he was better behaved than all of them. Of course :). 

We sat just two rows back from the stage.

He did keep begging for more of the Mouse King - but really, don't we all?

At intermission, we got him a sprite and some Cheetos - his first actually, haha. 

When the audience applauded after every dance solo, I looked down to my left to see my little boy  leaning forward enthusiastically and clapping as vehemently as possible. A regular patron of the arts. 

I think half of his excitement that evening was due to the fact that he was staying up so late past his bedtime, with just Jason and I. He felt very grown up.

As I sat there with him, soaking up his happiness, I had a flashback to my own childhood - but oddly, not to the Nutcracker, which I loved deeply as a little girl, and even got to see my parents act in (they played parents in the opening Christmas party scene, and I will never forget my mother's dark green velvet ball gown, and watching several dress rehearsals in the dark theater with my babysitter - I was 5)... what I unexpectedly found myself remembering was my first Midnight Mass, with my cousin Teresa, and my beloved Aunt Caroline. She was my Dad's only sister, closest sibling, and his best friend - and you all probably already have heard about her dying in 2009 in her early forties, leaving behind a hole for her friends and family (of 6 kids) that will never be filled.  

My aunt had a gift for making the smallest of things into an Event, capitalized, that you would never forget. For my first Midnight Mass, she made it this whole big exciting deal for Teresa and I. We were 6, I think; and it was the most unbelievable thing in the WORLD when she allowed us to have a tiny cup of coffee. "You have to drink this to stay awake!" she said, importantly, as she stirred in some sugar and gave us our mugs, which we drank in our Christmas dresses and made wide-eyed faces at each other at the kitchen table. 

I sat there in the theater with Will, and realized just how many memories my Aunt made for us in my childhood. She was so good at that, at making her own excitement for life contagious. 

As I watched the dancing candy canes, I realized that my aunt was probably just as bad as I am at the little cutesy, crafty details that I can never pull together. Their house was always clean, but never tidy; while she made some of my favorite memories from my childhood, they all involved adventures, not crafts; and I don't remember any Christmas cards from them growing up either - but every few years, she would write the most entertaining family Christmas letter you had ever read and make up for it. 

I realized that none of us mothers have every desirable quality or strong point... but we do each have something unique to offer our families, something they will cherish long after we are gone. In my own bewilderment that somehow I, the non-planner and procrastinator extraordinaire, was sitting in a theater with my child and making what was clearly a very special memory with him... it crossed my mind that maybe, just maybe there is hope for me that I could be following in my aunt's footsteps. 

My own mom did amazing crafts with us. She would hand-make our Halloween costumes every year - and they were without fail better than anyone else's. She would make the most amazing Advent crafts... one year, for Lent, I think? - she did a papier mache Whale for Jonah and the Whale, and even hand-sewed an unbelievable Jonah costume for one of our Ken dolls. I loved those things, and her own enjoyment of them. 

But it was my Aunt Caroline who made the most vivid memories of my childhood. It was her loud, infectious laugh, that sparkle in her eyes that told you this is a big friggin deal, her hilarious ideas that she would have out of nowhere, her endless energy to make them happen... and her fearlessness to throw routine and schedules to the wind for an adventure that awaited. She single-handedly turned Saint Nicholas' feast day into a giant prank-fest, where she dressed her whole family of 8 in all black like ninjas, complete with ski masks, and terrified friends and family by randomly dropping off a black garbage bag of candy. She did a Hall of Martyrs one year for her teenagers for All Saints Day... and got tons families to do it with them - a bloody, spooky, uber-Catholic event. She threw the most fun New Year's Eve party I still have ever had, and it was just me visiting them and my cousins. We made a delicious spread of food and stayed up til 2, playing games and having a LOTR marathon (this was 2004 ok, Orlando Bloom was so cool).

I was 20 when she passed; but I think of her so many times as a young woman and a mother. It suddenly clicks that she wasn't good about the details either - but that is part of what made her so adventurous. And we need both - the planners and the pirates. Aunt Caroline, if you're reading this, pray for me. Pray for me to have the grace to give from my heart with everything I have, and not compare myself to others so much in the process. 

Oh PS: Henry hasn't appeared in this post much, so here is his contribution to tree decorating:

Merry Christmas. 

Friday, November 14, 2014



This month has been one of writing (lots of it), of family time, of contentment, of the rising thrill that Jason has weeks left of his MBA... of sleepiness at 8 pm, of cozy gloomy days, of running in tights again, of post offices and chilly mornings...

I walked on the beach a few weeks ago, holding the hand of my almost 4 year old, and felt the familiar ache; this time, it wasn't to live there... it was the ache of life passing too swiftly; the inner recognition that beautiful things die and change and are always in motion. 

This boy, with his sweet raspy voice and his tousled hair. He and his baby brother are the most beautiful things in my life. They are good children. I can't take any credit for it - they came out that way. Happy to be my companions all day, every day, up for anything. 


His annoyingly inquisitive eyes and his sharp little ears that don't. Miss. A. Word. He told me I was his "best friend Mommy" recently, and I teared up. 

He loved his Halloween; Edisto was really fun for a change, though I felt kind of sad to miss being in our sleepy neighborhood for Trick-or-Treat. 

My party animal.

Jason and I joke that Henry is headed for keggers and pong and insane sports-related concussions. There's already something so reckless and wild and hilarious about his attitude towards life. He has landed himself in the doctor's a few times already with his antics and he is barely walking. My doctor chuckles after examining Henry's bumps and bruises at his last well-check, and informs me that there are just some kids who have all the broken bones... "they have something inside them that says Just Go!"... imagine my relief? 

I also took Will for his first dentist appointment and I couldn't handle the cuteness. 

Notice his crossed feet? He owned it. He was all chatty and comfortable with the hygienist the WHOLE time. He even piped up to the grumpy dentist when he walked in, "I'm SO eh-scited for Halloween."

One last thing I have to write down, and then I have to run - having dinner guests, and my sister for the weekend... but the other night, he told me he was scared of having a bad dream. (There have been lots of ghoulie, scary things in the air lately, you know). 

Me: "You don't have to be scared of anything Will, cause you have a guardian angel. Everyone has a guardian angel."
Will: "But where is he?!" 
Me: "He's right here with you, always. Jesus asked him to protect you. We all have an angel. Mine's name is Tom Vilden." *
Will: "Well what's my angel's name?"
Me: "You should ask him."
Will: "Well what is it?!"
Me: "Its whatever you think it should be."
Will pauses. Then: "Well, I think my angel's name is Mommy."

 *Tom Vilden - is a long story going back to when I was 5. My charismatic mother taught us that we should pray and ask our angels to tell us their names, and we would receive the name in prayer. A few days later I informed her my angel's name was Tom Vilden - because angels want to have last names, too. The name has stuck though, and good ole Tom Vilden always comes through for me.  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Adventures in Fall

Happy weekend. I just got through a little 3 day stint of Jason traveling. It was nothing worth complaining about, except for now when I'm tired and I still miss Jason and he had to go off this morning to Queens to study. Almost to this finish line. But the week was actually a fun one; the boys were sweethearts... We had a few awesome playdates which didn't feel like playdates at all because I really really enjoyed every second with these mamas. Definitely worthy of being called Friend-dates. ;) 

 My brother is still living with us and obligingly watched the boys Wednesday night so I could still make my Mothers Of Toddlers group's monthly Moms Night Out... I have looked up to this sweet and unique bunch of mamas for 3 years now. This month was margaritas at La Paz in the Metropolitan near uptown.

We went on a few long walks and a couple [short] runs in our perfectly autumnal neighborhood. 

I couldn't resist taking pictures. Even of random neighbors' driveways. The light and the scenery made my heart leap. I listened to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on CD from the library while I made our dinners each night.

I took the boys to a little Halloween event at Morrison Shops (one of our clients at scoop) in SouthPark on Thursday night. I had had a really long day of it - starting with being in the car spilling my coffee on the leather seats at 6:50am so I could get the little guys to our sitter's house before my OB appointment. JUST a yearly checkup you guys, keep your hats on. After my checkup, we had just enough time to grab lunch before Biblestudy. THEN I drove us home and got the boys dressed in their costumes - puppy costumes Will had picked out months ago. 

*heart eyes*

I felt more than a little nuts doing this on a night I was a single parent, after the long day we had had. It turned out to be one of the best ideas I had all week. There were way way way more people than I had anticipated, but Will was the brightest-eyed little pup you ever did see. He was so obedient and adorable because he was so dang happy. 

Then there was this REAL choo-choo train that would take you for a little 5 minute ride around the shops. The line was SO LONG. I stood there for a second like, no, I can't. But in that second Will caught sight of the choo-choo and all bets were off. 

I stood in that line like the biggest pushover parent for FORTY-FIVE MINUTES. 

It was just long enough for Will to spontaneously say he loved me. No prompting. I started crying. (Found out a day later I can thank my big P for that one ;) ). 

Look at this little dance when we were finally at the front of the line waiting our turn:

The very nice train lady put us in the adorable little red caboose, and the even nicer fellow mom passenger offered to take this picture of us. 

I don't think I have a single picture that has captured such pure bliss on Will's face. 

He loved every split second. He was so excited that he was actually pretty quiet, as he leaned his head through his window letting out little squeaks of happiness, his eyes taking in every detail hungrily. 

The sun had just set as we walked back to our car. The air was cold, and the trees were lit like cozy fires in their oranges and reds by the warm street lamps. I felt a surge of gratitude for God giving us changing seasons. I am always taken aback by how ready I am for each new one... for the changing foliage; for the freshening of routines; for revisiting the old books that are like favorite friends, but that you can only read at particular times of year; for the inspiration to get rid of clutter - in my home and in the way I spend my time; and right now, for the way the dropping temperatures and waning daylight hours inspire us to both new adventures, and cozier days at home. 

I don't feel disloyal to my belief that I am a summer soul by the way my heart has been surging with this chilly, crunchy, auburn season. I think all of us were created to need both the glorious dying that is fall as well as the exhilarating newness of spring; the cold and the warmth; the harvesting and planting. The essence of a Bob Dylan song. Ha. But I love that God created 4 seasons. And I love living in a state where I can experience them. 
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