With kids, everything happens in stages. Stages of waking up every few hours, and stages of sleeping through the night. Stages of independence, and stages of debilitating neediness. Stages of picky eating, and stages of so hungry they’ll eat sidewalk chalk after a three course meal. These stages – seasons, I like to call them – go by alarmingly fast sometimes.
Recently EK has entered into a season of snuggling, hugging and kissing. Voluntarily showing love, basically. It’s particularly merciful because this season is on the heels of a difficult season of not wanting to sit still enough to snuggle, yet screaming and crying if we left her for even a moment. But she has (for the time being) moved on to confidently knowing we’ll come back, and giving us smooches for the road.
For instance, the other evening I was leaving to go to a birthday party, and left the kids with a friend. When I announced that I was leaving, told her I loved her, and turned toward the door, she ran over to me saying, “Hug! Hug!” So of course I picked her up, and she said, “Bye bye mama. I miss you.” Talk about melting a mama’s heart. I mean, seriously… when I pick her up to hug her these days, she snuggles my neck, pats my back and strokes my hair! It’s truly a Pat yourself on the back, you good parent, you! sort of thing. The gestures of love she’s received from Hubby and me are being given back to us. She has so internalized our love and the way we show it that she is giving that love back out.
What if we, as children of God, took the gestures of love shown to us by the Father, and gave it back to Him? Or better yet, passed it on to others? The Heavenly Father gave up his only son for you. And me. And our families. And old folks in nursing homes. And inner city children. And celebrities. And sleazy politicians. And murderers and thieves. He loves us (all of us!) that much. As much as I love my children (a ludicrous amount), it’s only a fraction of the love God has for me. If we take even a portion of the love and blessing we’ve received from the Father, and multiply it by passing it on? That’s Kingdom business.
Obviously, there is no such thing as the perfect day. There is no 24-hour time span that goes exactly how you’d like it to, or exactly as you planned. However, there are days, from wake up to bed time, that seem to go pretty darn well. This is one of those days.
When I got up this morning, it was to the sound of J fussing (he had probably started out talking, but I was too asleep to hear it) and EK running around (she’s taken to not visiting me before she visits her toys). Hubby had a gig last night, so I let him snooze. I fed the kids breakfast, while putting on my running gear one piece at a time in between bites… EK’s toast in the oven, one sock. A few bites of fruit for J, the other sock. Grapes washed and given to EK, the sports bra is on. You get the point. Finally, everyone was fed, packed in the stroller, and we were off for one of my favorite things: a long, cool, morning run. This 10-degree cool off in the weather has been a saving grace for my running skills. Ain’t nobody got time for an Indian summer.
Recently, I’ve been running to the grocery store in the mornings. There are several reasons for this, not the least of which is that it gives me a bathroom break. It gives EK a chance to get out and walk around, and there’s always at least one thing that I discover we are out of, or I am randomly craving. So we run to the grocery store. I usually take a 2-mile route to get there, shop it up for 15-20 minutes, and then run a (different) 2-mile route home. It’s a nice process, I think. Anyway…
We get home, and two of my girlfriends come over for homemade pumpkin spice lattes. I came across this amazing-sounding recipe (check it out here, from Mama Natural) and the girls said they wanted to try it. So we spent an hour and a half making our lattes and chatting. Super nice. During this time, J went down for a morning nap and Hubby woke up, so life continued in the Hsu house as normal.
Hubby and I got to thinking about EK’s room, and how it’s oddly put together. When we put her in there, we weren’t sure how sleeping in a “big girl bed” was going to go. It’s a full size bed, and now she’s used to it, so we decided to make it look nicer (perk: deep clean the room in the process). We rearranged her furniture and vacuumed, dusted, etc. It’s adorable, functional, and she loves it. Win.
J woke up, and EK wanted to try out her new bed placement, so we swapped them out. While she was sleeping, we ate a stellar take out lunch (Vietnamese pho – a revelation), we ushered Hubby off to work with smooches and waves, and J let me take a shower without crying a lot (thanks, little guy!). I call that a productive two hours.
EK woke up, and J was ready to nap round 2. While he was asleep, EK and I got some quality time together baking. We made pumpkin muffins and banana bread (both clean recipes, check them out here and here). Both turned out well… muffins stuck to their cups a little but tasted delicious, and the banana bread was perfect, as usual. That recipe is bangarang.
When J woke up, I packed up my sweeties and headed downtown to meet some family and friends at the Texas Pete Culinary Arts Festival. For those of you not from around here, Texas Pete is our local hot sauce, and the festival invited all the best restaurants in town to have booths of Texas Pete-inspired dishes. Also there was beer, served especially by our sweet friend Aida. So basically, it was a great evening of yummy food and great friends, adults and babies alike. My sister-in-law Holly and her son Finley were there, as well as a long-time church friend Abby and her little girl, Elliott. Having time with girlfriends and their babies really is the best of both worlds.
When we headed home, there was a mini-meltdown moment, spurred on by the fact that I forgot I needed gas in my car (come on, Mom! Rookie mistake!) but we made it home, had a quick bath time, and both kids were out by 8:30. I call that a great day. Everyone got the play and the rest and the snuggles and the exercise they needed. There wasn’t a sacred Double Nap but there was one-on-one time for me with both kiddos, and sometimes that’s hard to come by.
So here’s your encouragement: despite the meltdowns, despite the fact you forgot something at the store yesterday, and despite the fact that you’re on your own with those beasts all day, make the best of it. Look for the fun and the good, and don’t worry that you didn’t do laundry or dishes. You had fun. So did they. No one missed anything. Praise the Lord.
It’s fall. The weather is cooling off (thankfully), the pumpkins are out in front of every grocery store, Halloween decorations are popping up everywhere, and all I hear on the radio is that the stupid fair is coming soon. My daughter has started preschool. Church activities have been going for weeks. But something feels… weird.
It’s the first time in my life that I haven’t gone “back to school”. When I graduated high school, I went to college. When I graduated college, I taught middle school chorus for three years, then elementary school music for three more years. And here I am. Not back to school.
I’m not regretting this decision at all. I am happy to be working part-time at my amazing church, and spending the bulk of my time loving my children and my husband well. But still, as I am settling into a schedule (mostly by force – I need that routine!) I still have so much unstructured time. I’m used to cramming my lunch in 18 minutes, multi-tasking like a boss, holding my bladder for an abnormally long time, and changing what I’m teaching (read: living, breathing, doing, thinking about) every 40 minutes – and often sooner than that.
But you know what else I was used to? Being drained at 3:00pm. Working some nights after working all day. Thinking about the needs, wants, thoughts, and jibes of hundreds of children that weren’t mine. Missing my own children all day while I was off taking care of someone else’s. Feeling bad that I had nothing left for my family after I’d spent myself on my job.
That last one was my kicker. Because truly, I enjoy working. I love having a schedule (there it is again), having a reason to leave the house every day, and sowing into something outside my home and family. I love teaching, and the opportunities the job gave me to really love on some kids who needed it. I love instilling knowledge and love of music into kids who need something at school for be good at, when math and reading don’t come easily. But for right now, Hubby and my own kids are what I need to focus on.
I respect you, working moms – especially teaching moms, because I have been among your ranks, in those trenches with you. But I am incredibly grateful that I could make the decision to leave you for a while. I’ll return, but right now, I’m thinking of you as a wrangle my ridiculously strong son into his clothes for the day, make several breakfasts and eat whatever the kids don’t, and microwave my coffee for the third time. I’m thinking of you, because I know many of you are happily at jobs you love, knowing your kids are happy in their schools and day cares or with daddies and nannies. I’m thinking of you, also, if you’re wishing you were doing what I’m doing but it’s not possible. While it’s weird that I’m not back to school, I choose to rest in the unstructured craziness and enjoy it.
No point in being too detailed about a weekend at the beach. We enjoyed the sunshine, saw a wedding from our hotel room, ate delicious seafood, sipped delicious cocktails, got a little sunburned, and enjoyed each other’s company. We hadn’t had time together like that in years, and it was fabulous.
Overall it was a lovely, relaxing weekend. I’m already aching to do it again soon.
Here is my second Currently. post to link up with A Mama Collective and When At Home! I love being able to connect with so many awesome writers and believers and thinkers and doers. Y’all are really, really wonderful.
I am currently:
thinking about my family. Not just Hubby and the kids, but also my parents, my grandparents (of which I have only one living, but three dearly loved and missed), my great grandparents (two of whom I knew well), my brother, my aunts and uncles and cousins… We have a circle of love and support, a tight bond that can only be forged by doing life together. Living so far away from them and missing things and coming home not as often as I thought I would has only made me think more about spending intentional time with them, wherever it is spent.
reading Dragonfly in Amber. It’s the second book in the Outlander series. My mom and one of my best friends (and 947204275 other women) read these when they came out, and I am just now reading them for the first time – partially because now that Starz is making a series about them, I want to SEE it, not just read it! So far, I’m a third of the way in, and it’s a little more slow-going than Outlander was, but I’m still in it to win it.
eating banana bread and macarons. I am in the middle of finding all the banana bread recipes I can, and make them healthier without losing their yum factor. Also, on the subject of macarons, my best friend Lauren is in a macaron-making swing, so naturally I’m on the helping and receiving side of that. Let me not complain!
loving this fall weather. NC hasn’t seen as much fall yet as some more northern states have I suppose, but it’s definitely cooling off a little, and I’m seeing a few yellow and orange leaves. Also, the temperature drop has really helped my running (read: I’m not as miserable doing it) because I tire less easily and I pick up the pace when I’m not sweating into my eyes and stopping to take a drink every 12 feet.
wishing my sweet daughter would extend her sweetness to her brother. Every time he gets near her, there’s a squeal almost at the pitch that only dogs can hear. And he adores her. I just want her to tolerate him a little, ya know?
watching all of those lovely shows I’ve been missing all summer. The shows Hubby and I are excited to start again include Modern Family, New Girl, Once Upon a Time, Parks and Recreation (SO SAD it’s on it’s last season!), Grimm, and 30 Rock.
listening to Citipointe Live. They’re an Australian Hillsong-like group that writes tons of worship music. A friend recommended them to me for possible new worship songs for church, and I was happy to listen to several great tunes to share with the worship team!
anticipating fall and winter and CHRISTMAS! I know, Halloween isn’t even here yet, but fall/winter weather and holidays are my favorite (yes, Hubby and I both have birthdays in there) and Advent through Christmas is by far my favorite few weeks of the year.
thankful for my incredible Hubby. When he found out that my grandmother had passed and I needed to get to GA, he cancelled his weekend, helped make a plan and pack, drove all the way here, and has done everything he can for the past few days to make my life a little less stressful. He is the biggest supporter and encourager I have, and I don’t know where I’d be without him. Love you, babe.
There ya have it – what’s happening with me Currently. in a nutshell. What are you doing currently?
…that age where your grandparents are old. Really old. I’m 28, so my grandparents are in their late 80s and early 90s. They have ailments. They move more slowly. They do fewer things. And then, the inevitable happens. They get a disease – for some, it’s cancer. For others, like my dad’s mom, it’s Alzheimer’s. They deteriorate. They lose parts of themselves. In an Alzheimer’s case, they can become someone totally different than the person you knew.
In the span of 11 months, I’ve lost two grandparents. My mom’s father passed last November, completely unexpectedly. I don’t know whether that’s better or worse than the months or years of deterioration that can prepare your heart and your head for the end result. In a way, it’s merciful. There’s little suffering, few tears cried on the front side, and less burden of who will take care of the person or where they will live when they need around-the-clock care, and (yes it’s cold, but a very real problem) who will pay for it. But on the other hand, he was way too young, too healthy, too close to us to say goodbye right then. And the fact that he was visiting me in North Carolina at the time instead of home in Georgia when he passed? That was brutal.
My dad’s mom, on the other hand, passed away on Thursday after almost ten years of physical and mental degeneration. Before that, she had showed signs of Alzheimer’s and we knew it ran in her family, but the passing of her husband in 2005 just unhinged her. Her doctor has been saying for several years that it could be days, or months, or years; we wouldn’t know. But what we did know was that her essence has been gone for a while. She hasn’t recognized me any of the last six times I’ve seen her, until I introduce myself. She thought my brother was my dad, thought my dad was her husband, and never even met my 8 month old son.
In spite of the past 11 months, I’m glad that I had so much time with all four of my grandparents. I even knew two (well, technically three, but only barely) of my great-grandparents. I’m luckier than many. But it also disillusioned me – those people are supposed to be there to witness my entire life, not just part of it, right? They’re supposed to see graduations and weddings and births and my kids’ milestones as well!
And there’s where I get happy. My grandparents are seeing those things. They’re seeing my kids, all day every day. They’re watching from Heaven, where they are way happier and whole and healthy. New bodies, new minds, and in a paradise better than any place on earth.
I think we all (well, if you’re about 25 or older) remember where we were when the planes hit the two towers. When you found out that tragedy had struck, while you watched the news and waited for calls from friends and family to let you know they were okay.
I was a sophomore in high school, and I just happened to pop into the school store (a senior lounge type place) where every single person in the room was standing, staring open-mouthed at the tv. The bustle of the hallway hadn’t slowed down; it was mid-morning so few people had a tv on in their classrooms. But word spread quickly. I went to a school with boarding students, and several were from NYC. We all waited on pins and needles to hear from their families. People went or didn’t go to their classes, called parents, and generally cried and shook and prayed. It was so uncertain why or how or what was next.
So today, on the thirteenth anniversary of the event, and in light of my visit to the site in July, I want to say that I appreciate every single human who was there, who helped, who died, who fled, who lived, who lost a loved one, and who made the ultimate sacrifice for the strangers they saved. I am thankful now for each police officer, fire fighter, member of the military, and any other man or woman who helps protect me and my family. Thank you. You are why America is still awesome.