Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hi Five, Liam!

Dear Not-So-Little Liam,

Did you know that up until this last year, mama thought we had legally named you William?  You were always meant to be Liam, but I was quite certain that you'd been named William on your birth certificate.  How about that?!  I had a good laugh over that one.  Your great-grandpa was William, as is your Uncle Billy.  I know that William is also a family name on your daddy's side.  I'll always think of you as a William-turned-Liam.  I may change your birth certificate...

Wow.  You're 5!  You have grown up so fast.  You're so different than you were a year ago.  We had just sold our house and were days away from moving away at your 4th birthday.  I felt like you got the short end of the stick.  So much was going on.  But you were happy to be 4 and celebrated with us happily and contentedly.

You are an amazing kid.  This year, you started your first year of preschool (Pre-K).  You're learning to spell, write, do math and read!!  You're also learning some Chinese and Spanish.  You're learning how to be a good friend and student.  You love to stay for lunch some days and play there through the afternoon.  You get upset if I pick you up too early and you miss "recess".  You love school and look so cute with your little green monster backpack.   You are soooo smart!!!

This is the year where I'll see the last of the "little boy" turn into a big boy.  You're still so silly, sweet, innocent and preschooler-ish in so many ways.  You love to laugh and you can go from laughing to crying to laughing in the same 30 seconds.  You feel everything so much more than your brother and sister.

You love Rainbows (a church class you attend).  You love learning about Jesus and playing with your friends.  When you make a wrong choice and I ask you to explain why it was a bad choice, you have starting saying, "Because it hurts your heart and God's heart"  Oh, bless.  You really do have a heart of gold.  You are a really great kid.

You love our church and your friends there.  Sometimes you still act unsure at drop off, but you're smiling and happy when we pick you up.

You're testing your boundaries daily.  At 5, you've learned the art of negotiation, pleading, begging and not taking "no" for an answer.  When you don't get your way, it's a huge injustice.  You just totally fall apart.  Luckily, when I don't give in (which I don't), you're quick to say sorry and snuggle.  You have such a sweet spirit, but can glare and stomp just as well.  You tell me you love me a lot, which means so much to me.  You cry THE biggest alligator tears!  You have the longest eyelashes of anyone I've ever seen.  You still can be really sensitive and shy.  It takes you a bit to get used to things and new people, but once you do, you're good to go!

You love Lego, your "ganky" (blanket), your stuffed animals and video games (discovered this year).   You love "mama dates" and going to eat lunch with daddy at Nike.  You usually have the waffles with the peanut butter/syrup sauce.  You adore french fries.  Your favorite meals at home are spaghetti, chicken noodle soup and fish tacos.

You're tiny.  I'm so glad I can still carry you around and lift you up to hug or cuddle!  You have no rear end, so your pants are always falling down.  You do the funniest little walk to try to keep them up.

You get to start ALL DAY kindergarten this fall.  I am really sad because I will miss you, but I'm excited for you to learn and play with other kids.  I've really enjoyed my time with you at home and will be really lonely without you here!  You are so ready though.  You used to be able to play all day without your siblings, but you tend to miss them more when they're gone.  You'll all be at school together, which will be really fun.  Your brother and sister will keep an eye out for you and make sure you are ok.  AND you'll get to eat lunch every day at school - which you will LOVE.  I hope you get Ms. Jackson.  She was Delia's kindergarten teacher and she is wonderful.  But have to get some pokes before you can start.  I'm not looking forward to that!

You had successful dentist visits this year.  Still no cavities ever!  You do such a great job opening up, taking pictures and getting your teeth cleaned!

We got a dog this year.  I love to watch how you can come racing over to the dog, then you slow down, and carefully pet him, barely even touching him.  Your sweet little hand barely brushes over Wilson's head and then you run away again.  You adore Wilson!

You're still an amazing sleeper.  You go to bed around 7PM and sleep until 7PM!  Before you go to sleep, you always ask for your "Kissy-coo, nose-kiss, 'yuv', 'tickle-yuv', 'arms tickle-yuv' and 'spanking-yuv' (you are so weird)".  You keep trying to add more different kinds of "yuvs", but we have to draw the line somewhere.  You rarely take naps anymore, but will always take one when you're overtired or growing a lot.  You're a great eater as well and you LOVE snacks.

I love you, Mr. Moo.  You're my baby and always will be.  I wish I could keep you at this age forever because it is so much fun!!  I can't wait to see what you do this year!!!

Love, Love, Love,

Friday, February 6, 2015

:: Me & Thee ::

When we were newlyweds, I used to lament the fact that someday, the newness of our love would fade. The infatuation, sparks, and excitement would wane and life would once again be mundane and predictable. I was 21 years old and you, 25. We hadn't dated long before marrying, and much of our growing up was done through those early years of our marriage. Those vows we took...I have to chuckle now. We had no idea what we were talking about. 

We had our share of setbacks. Two people learning how to hold onto love as it changed and aged, like relationships do. We learned how to manage a house, money, our jobs.  We hurt each other at times.  We spent money on frivolous things and spent every free moment with our friends - happy, and having what we thought was the time of our lives. And it was fun!  We learned which buttons to push, how to hurt each other and how we fought unfairly. There were a few years when we limped our marriage along, willing it to work out of sheer willpower. We tried so long to have a baby. We had almost three years of pain and heartbreak before we learned I was pregnant. I'll never forget the look on your face when I came out of the restroom holding that test. We cried and you held me for a long time. 

We learned how to be mama and daddy to three young kids.  We learned how to be more selfless and gracious to each other. But oh...still...those years were hard. Life just kind of took over.  Our relationship took a back burner as we at times desperately held together our family of 5. Still harboring resentment and hurt, we did the best we could. Almost two years ago, I felt our marriage was dangling by a thread. That was a dark and scary time for both of us. 

Last February, we sprinted into this new life in Portland, eager for change, rest and a chance to catch our breath. A year later, we are so different. With less noise and busy-ness, we look at each other and see each other again, as if someone took their hand and wiped the fog off the window. I know we both feel an incredible sense of relief. 

And now, here we are. I can honestly say that I am so glad we don't have the love we had back then - back when it was so new and I was dreading its inevitable shift.  What we have now is so much better. Sure, we have our moments. We still hurt each other. But it's becoming less frequent and there is just so much more grace, and we are quick to come back to each other.  It happened without me even noticing, really. It's like one day, something inside me just ignited.  I have fallen completely, madly and deeply in love with you. The you as a man. The you as a father and husband.  It's not a shallow, carefree kind of love. It's a love that has deep roots and reaches high. A love that has seen the bottom and has climbed its way back to the top.  It's a love that is solid and unwavering.  No. No, I would not go back. Ever. Because what we have now is what I've always wanted.

If I could go back to those early years, I would tell myself to hang in there.  The best is yet to come.  If we had to make vows to each other again, my vows would be so different.  Grace, forgiveness and understanding would be first on my list.  I'd vow to take better care of myself from here on out - because I know that's what you want me to do.  I'd vow to be better at praying for you daily.  I'd also vow to look for ways to better honor you and make you feel special and appreciated.  I'd vow to tell you more often about how much you mean to me.  Not just on special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries.  I'd vow to focus on what's important and not worry so much about the small things.

I don't tell you enough how much I admire you. Some of the qualities that drive me the most insane are what make you as amazing as you are. You have so much integrity. I always know I'll get the truth from you, even if it hurts to hear at times. You're dedicated, driven and purposeful. The way you manage your new job astounds me. You're reliable, steadfast and intelligent. And you are so handsome that I stare at you a lot. You're an amazing dad. You're talented and gifted.  All of this makes up for your stubborness. :)

Thank you for being such a great provider.  For always being financially wise and faithful. Thank you being so good at what you do that it brought us to Portland.  We love it here and I'm so proud of you. I hope our boys grow up to have all of the same qualities I admire in you. 

Lastly, Thank you for loving me. It hasn't always been easy. I'm equally as stubborn (you would argue that I am more so), emotional and opinionated.  Thank you for never leaving me.  And thanks for being my best friend. 

I love you so much. Happy birthday. And I meant it when I told just get better with age. I would take the "us" now, compared to who we were ten years ago. Life is just getting started!

Paris 2003

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

:: Percent of Your Daily Value ::

Well, here we sit in December.  DECEMBER.  Am I the only one losing my mind over the fact that it's already freaking DECEMBER?!  [Insert maniacal laugh here]

Wow.  Ok, so hi.  

I have so much to say, but my thoughts are a mixed up jumble - much like the boxes of puzzles the kids have gotten into in the messy closet upstairs.  The glass of homemade kahlua isn't helping, I'm afraid...


Welp...Things are...good.  Here's a running inventory.  I'll start with the youngest and work my way up:

Liam:  He's thoroughly enjoying preschool - er, Pre-K, rather.  Apparently, he's even learning some Chinese.  I wouldn't know.  He won't tell me.  He's learning quickly - letters, numbers, how to not be a jerk to the other kids, how to respect authority and (most importantly), how to love Jesus.  Oh, this sweety.  He can kill me with his sweetness and then turn around and kill me with his sassiness...all in a scan of 5 seconds.  He's amazing.  

Delia:  Well, as you can imagine, this one...she's an extroverted, giggly, sassy little miss.  She begins her school days by groaning as she rolls out of bed.  It takes an act of God to move this child.  I'm rejoicing if she gets out of bed, dressed and downstairs in 30 minutes.  She is in her own little time zone.  She loves to read.  Like, LOVES.  She's secretly glad her little boyfriend Carver left his Sonic comic book here.  I found her by the Christmas tree, wrapped in a blanket, head propped up on a pillow, giggling over this book (we'll make sure to bring it with us back up north for Carver later this month).  All in all...this girl is good.  Learning how to be a good friend, how to be beautiful on the inside and trying to find patience and tenderness (she's like her mama in this area).  She is a total crackup - always flying around the house with a mess of brown hair flying behind her.  She's excited to start ballet again and loves to play the piano/compose her own songs.  She's a musical genius.

Aidan:  This kid has come a looooong way.  Oh, how we've risen above the challenges we were faced with at the beginning of this Portland journey!  I'm so impressed every day by this kid's wisdom, intuitiveness, personality, huge heart and love for me and for others.  Sure...he's still an annoying big brother, but my heart grew 3 sizes the other day when he brought his wallet to the Christmas Tree Farm to buy himself and his siblings each their own ornament.  He thinks of others.  I used to be worried about his lack of empathy.  But I was wrong...he has it.  In buckets.  He loves Royal Rangers, reading, playing soccer and snuggling with mama.  Oh, and video games.  He's blossoming, people.  Really blossoming.  I love hearing stories of how he finds his little sister at recess and hunts for ladybugs with her and her little friends.  Of his improving behavior and attention during class.  He is one awesome kid.

Me:  Yeah, hi.  I'm coming along too.  This grieving process hit me about 3 months ago.  I thought I had eluded the sadness...been spared....whatever.  Ha!  Oh, man.  It hit me.  I used to pride myself on my extroverted-ness.  I've become a bit reclusive, I'm afraid.  Wallowing, even.  And maybe a bit bipolar-ish as I am happy/sad.  I know this is just a season and I'm trying to do my best to be happy and positive as I move through it.  It comes and goes in waves, really.  It's hard to not get caught up in the mundane-ness of the days.  You'll never believe this, but it turns out taking care of this house, cooking meals, doing countless mountains of laundry and raising three ridiculously cute and smart children all while trying to deal with my own health issues and finding the motivation to work out and eat right isn't any easier in the ol' PDX than it was in Lynn-hood.  Balance.  I'm working on it.  Seems I always am.  We're getting there with my thyroid dosage.  I'm feeling...better.  Not great, but better.  As for my mental health (ha), I need to get out of my own head and house once in awhile to appreciate what's around me.  I'm so blessed to have what I have -- I get that.  I feel that.  But...I just miss Seattle and all that it (and the surrounding cities) holds.  I miss Green Lake, the water, and even the cheesy Space Needle.  But Oh....I'm in a beautiful city here.  Don't get me wrong.  I love it here.  I love the friends I'm making...dear, dear friends.  I'm just in a weird place still.  I still haven't hung anything on my walls.  I feel like I need more time.  Maybe 2015 will feel new and different.  But for now...I choose to wallow a bit.

I'm sinking into the holiday season feeling less stressed than I have in years.  Things will get done, bought and time.  I'm in no hurry.  I'm not being run by my schedule and our social calendar and it feels so good.  The lack of a social life (at least the kind we were accustomed to up north), has been amazing for our family.  It's insane to think about how busy we were up there, as I still consider us busy down here.  But it's not even close to the same.  We spend a lot of time with the kids, trying new restaurants, exploring new places. Our kids are thriving and happy.  After taking some time off, we've been (slowly) getting involved in our local Foursquare Church.  It's strange and good in some ways to be sort of anonymous.  I haven't sang in a good long while and I get quite emotional if I talk or think about it.  I feel like I am missing a limb.  But I know that will come.  I have been feeling challenged in this area in recent months.  I will be working hard to learn some new skills and polishing up some old ones in the coming new year.  So here I am.  A bit of a mess, but doing well.  If that's possible.

Ryan: He's awesome.  He's rocking his job and I'm so proud of him.  Most of all...he's still so happy at Nike.  I know he has been missing our friends and his guy friends a lot.  And I know he'd love to be doing music again in some capacity.  We're praying God provides those opportunities in the right time.

So that's us.  We're still feeling the newness of our situation, yet those tiny rips and tears are slowly healing and we are becoming more "Portlandia" by the day.  Note, I didn't say hipster -- which, by the way...I think I've seen just as many if not MORE hipsters in Fremont, Ballard and Seattle as we see here.  Silly people.

We love our home in our little village near our new city.  Life is good.  Crazy, crazy good.  I think we'll stay awhile.

Here are a few recent shots from recent visits with friends and Halloween!