Tuesday, March 3, 2015

leaving on a jet plane

"This is one of the most challenging and least practiced disciplines among Christians today. When we are silent, we come face-to-face with out addiction to being in control and always trying to fix things."
-peter scazzero, on silence and solitude

all week i was a mess upstairs.  i mean, my mind.  i want it to be smooth sailing up there but mostly it's more like that crazy ship in goonies with all the traps.

a few years ago, matt and i made it a goal to have quarterly respite.

{{respite is defined as "a short period of rest or relief from something difficult"....this is the heart of the part of 99balloons called rEcess.  and since it is a big part of what we long to give to others with kids with special needs, we decided after lena had been home for a while and we were in the thick of understanding what parenting her would look like...that taking an occasional break from the type of care we so love to give her would be healthy and good for our marriage and souls.  it would also be equipping for being the type of parents we want to be to all of our incredible kiddos.}}

so the goal was, and is, 4 distinct times a year that is set aside for rest.  this can be a day long break alone or a more planned out vacation for the 1 or the both of us.  for christmas, matt gave me a trip to los angeles.  i had never been there.  he had a conference near there for part of the week and i got to fly out to meet him when he was done working.
easy peasy. right. wrong.
leading up to leaving i was a mess.
the addiction to control that scazzero mentions is legit.  and super sneaky.  when you actually do have a lot of responsibility with the day to day functioning of a household with little lives involved, it can tend to feel like it's all about you.  you're in control and it all depends on you is the myth.  there must be a way to walk in my calling as a mom of all 4 of my kiddos and still allow my mind and heart to maintain a posture of surrender.  if it is all His, the kids He loves more than we can imaging, the home and tangibles He has given us...then He is in control, not me.  but there was no telling me that before my vacation...
i can't leave.  this is too much to put on other folks.  lena may not eat. what about her toileting...i can ask someone else to cover that for a few hours, but a few days?  that's alot for someone that's not her parent.  and weather, what if icy snowy roads makes them stuck somewhere and i'm in sunny LA.  what if anders or hazel gets really sad that we're gone. what if, what if...

and it went on and on...yep, addiction to control.

but no matter what i choose to dwell on mentally, the truth remains the truth.  He is the One in control.  and so i felt a mess, but i left.  i don't know the answer or solution to the addiction to control and how to fully let go.  but i'm learning...and i got on that plane and sat in silence for 3 1/2 hour flight. no screens, no music.  some silence and a little reading.  and that's a start.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

anders' 5th birthday

my youngest child, wonderful dear sweet anderson abel, turned 5 a few weeks ago and i am like dr jekyl and mr hyde about it.  on one hand i am so content with this season of life.  with the obvious exception of sweet lena's needs, the kids can almost take care of themselves.  long gone are the days of diapers and spills at every meal and not being able to open doors.  we talk less about "don't take that toy" and more about aslan the white witch and real gospel conversation.   instead of abby cadabie (how does one spell cadaby), we watched honey i shrunk the kids the other day.  there is less play dough and more uno and checkers.
it's a beautiful time.
then my youngest turns 5.  F-I-V-E.
all that basking in this great season turns into to a sinking feeling and this strange mom-lament of days gone past.  being a mom is so strange at times.

but our anders turned 5.  and despite all of our attempt to coerce him otherwise, he only wanted a party at chuck-e-cheese.  a friend with 5 kids ranging in age from 6 to 13 told me the other day that none of her kids have ever even been to chuck-e-cheese and i burned with jealously so deep.

dear anders,
you are a remarkable little boy.  excitement and joy and love for others runs deep.  you are still quite rambunctious, but you are so sweet about working on it.  the other day you said "mom, sometimes even if my head wants to be gentle because it knows it's a time to be gentle, my body just wants to run and do ninja moves".  (5 year old boy probs. the struggle's real yall).
the other day, you came to my bedside at the crack of dawn on a saturday.  you said "hey mom, is it sunday?" i told you, through still asleep eyes, that no it was saturday.  you were so disappointed and say "awwww man, i thought it was sunday so i dressed sunny".  you had on orange pants and a yellow shirt.  this is maybe one of my favorite anders stories to date.  that, and the epic talent show.   you love sports.  basketball, soccer, running, you are so active and pretty coordinated too.  you still have this beautiful bend to justice.  you want everyone to be treated fairly and you are bold to speak it.  you are great with visual and spacial learning.  you wanna know how things work or how they fit together and legos are all the rage these days.  you love coloring with markers with great detail and precision, bu you don't love writing, which makes learning to write your name better and better difficult.  but you push through and you are doing great in preschool.  you are so crazy friendly and you bring joy to others no matter where you are.  you will chat it up with a waitress or someone in a parking lot and the other folks always always smile.  you just make others smile.  and dear sweet son, you make me smile.  you are a joy.  i don't have words to tell ya how proud i am of your five year old self.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

remember december

december is such a great month all around. as the kids get older, it's even more wonderful.  advent and the anticipation of christmas is more real and palpable with each passing year.  they ask questions about the Savior and His birth, why He came, what He came for and the gospel becomes more in view, more in focus.  and traditions are actually traditions... they remember from the year before and want to do the cookies and the tree and the music just like before.  

the ocd in me wants to do it all myself, but the kids really did all of this.  they rolled the dough, used the cookie cutters and of course, decorated all on their own.  so fun.

the parties and dinners for grown-ups are especially fun when you had a back injury for 1/2 of 2014

we love doing different things other than just the gifts that can be opened as part of christmas gifts.  this is a surprise trip to boingo bounce (blow-up bounce house place)
and these next pics are from a big part of hazel's christmas...a day with mom of pedicures, lunch date and going to see the new Annie movie.  not sure if she had more fun or if i did?!

my wonderful mother-in-law & i at a really fun diy night hosted by the awesome gals at 17th design

                              lights and lena!                                                 sweet sisters 

after watching the grinch, a change in hair was a must

cutest elf ever

anders' preschool chirstmas program wasn't as epic as the preschool talent show, but still, little kids singing and ringing jingle bells is pretty cute.  please note that a) anders may be the tallest preschooler in the universe and b) he loves friends and bow ties.

every year, as soon after thanksgiving as we can, we load up into the car, go grab hot chocolate, drive to the middle of nowhere arkansas where there is a christmas tree farm and let the kids pick out our tree.  this was THE best year yet.  a few years ago, anders peed his pants then last year lena was in a "cry-alot-in-the-car" phase and now, oh glorious now.  they were old enough to just have a blast.  after the tree is selected we get breakfast for dinner at cracker barrel and head home singing christmas carols. pretty great.

hot chocolate

the search is on for the tree

this is one of my favorite pics ever...hazel and anders found matt and i and brought us to this enormous one to tell us it was what they wanted.  they thought they were so funny and ya know what? they were!

the actual tree!

it truly was a great december i wanna always remember.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

lena is 8

lena's birthday is december 12.  born in gorlovka, ukraine in 2006.  she turned 8 last month and we celebrated with such joy.   and it's so much more than just a birthday.  we traveled and were in ukraine 3 years ago at this time of year.  we were there from december 4th, 2011 until january 14th, 2012.  so each year we not only celebrate her birthday, but we also remember those first moments with her.  we look back in awe and amazement.  i don't even know how we got here, weren't we just meeting this 5 year old, 27 pound, mystery of a child.
and now she is 8.  she is 53 pounds.  she is tall and rail thin but do not be decieved, she is strong as an ox.  she has long beautiful blonde hair.  she fights us on everything, but has learned to trust and signs "up" to her dad the second he enters the door.  how painfully difficult, both emotionally and physically the whirlwind of the last few years have been.  how triumphantly joyful and refining and beautiful they have been as well.

(december 2011)

(december 2014)

happy birthday, my dear sweet loved child.  not many get to see all the layers of all you are, but to those of us who know...you are spectacular.  

the celebration started on her birthday eve with friends and pizza and the lights on the fayetteville square.  she LOVES lights, so this was a perfect way for her to feel happy and special and to have fun while walk, walk, walking!

(seriously, how great is that face?!!)

then on the actual birthday, we had balloons and gifts.  hazel and anders got to pick out whatever they wanted to give her {within reason}.  it was the first birthday that she understood the concept of opening gifts, and wanted the toys so it was really great....she equally wanted the paper and ribbon!

then, a few days after her birthday, we did our now annual ukrainian feast with family.  we cooked and ate varyneky filled with potatoes and some filled with apple for dessert, and authentic ukranian borsch, that i make less authentic by adding more chicken and cajun seasonings. ha!  then instead of pushing cake or cupcakes on a gal who just doesn't like sweets, we stuck a candle in her favorite thing: greek yogurt.  happy birthday Lena!