Monday, December 8, 2014

state of the mooneys, december 2014

i roast beets and the marinated chicken cooks in the cast iron skillet and i smile big.  i am allowed to bend lift, twist, push and pull after 6 weeks of not doing any of those things and now physical therapy for a few weeks and little things in life feel sweeter than ever before.  when the tide of struggle and intensity and the "i'm-barely-making-it" feeling subside a bit, it feels like we are coming up for air for the first time in a while.  and i am beyond grateful.  i am not 100% but i am on my way and just being on that road is side by side with some sanity.
one of the most amazing things about this back surgery season is the way the kiddos have all been sustained and have even thrived.  they have rolled with all kinds of amazing folks in and out of the house.  they haven't really even missed a beat.

anders will be 5 in january.  he is the tallest in his preschool class and when we visit hazel at her elementary school, the teachers  do a double take looking at him...trying to figure out where he belongs.  but, alas he is 4 and not a student there yet.  he is passionate and excited, tender and kind, rambunctious and wild.  he is the epitome of social and friendly and he will carry on a conversation with just about anybody who will give him some of their time.  with hazel starting kindergarten and lena not being in school for a full day, he and lena have had some sweet time together.  i'll look in the rearview mirror and he'll be rubbing her arm or hugging her head.  he is legitimately concerned about others in a way that sharpens and challenges me.  he's also as ornery as they come.  he's like a cartoon character in so many ways.  he takes piano at the university of arkansas every monday morning with a sweet college student from thailand.  she is strict with him and it is so good for him.  she will say "again, this time perfectly".  he may not be the next Rachmaninoff, but if he can focus and listen, he's pretty inclined to music.  although he has yet to do any sort of organized sport, he is constantly trying to decide between soccer and basketball as his favorites.  he wants to be a dad when he grows up...that's all, can't get any other occupation desire out of him.

hazel is growing before our very eyes.  not always, but many times she seems wise beyond her years. she is a lot like her dad and is into the school scene.  she's done great in kindergarten and i am so so thankful.  she's reading, she likes going, she likes her friends, she likes her teachers and all the systems and ways you can work hard to achieve something.  she entered the K-2nd grade spelling bee  and keeps me organized and up to speed on most of life. she does gymnastics and a local kids theater.  theater/plays/musicals are her favorite.  she comes alive.  her little class this semester at arts live was called create-a-play where the kids learned about developing characters and made up a story that they made into a play.  hazel, dear sweet hazel, created her character...she was "ms star" because, well, she said she wanted to be the star.  i'm not even kidding.

the picture on the left is her saying "i'm a star" and the one on the right is the face she makes for most pictures when you say's her ms hannigan face. the deep love for all things annie continues.
this was her play::

lena is in her last week as a 7 year old.  i can not believe that this little one we met 3 years ago is about to be 8! and what an amazing 3 years it has been.

she has done so great with my back surgery situation.  a lot of my love for her is how i physically care for her and a lot of that got adjusted and changed and i must admit that she did better than i did in the learning to roll it all.  and again and again, she is ever the teacher and i am ever her student.  lessons of patience and unconditional love and caring nothing of the approval of man and new mercies every day and the list could go on and on.  for a year and a half she has been at a small private school, set up more like a clinic.  they exclusively do a type of teaching/learning that is exactly what lena needs called applied behavior analysis.  if you are in the world of autism or disability, this is super familiar and if you're not then it's not.  ((a general idea of what ABA is can be found here. )) well, we love her school and her teachers and lena's experience there has been wonderful... due to a lot of logistics that have to do with insurance and tuition and policies that aren't sustainable for our family and blah blah blah, lena louise will be done with that school in december.  and i am sad about it.  and occasionally mad about it.  not at the school at all, we love those guys.  just at the whole system for kids who are not typical.  i sit in a parent-teacher conference for hazel and she is essentially getting all the education she needs.  whereas with lena, she's not.  and it's a fight, but a confusing one. 
what is next is still undetermined. but as with all of the mooney rascals, we hold her life with an open hand to the One who made her, who knows every detail of her heart, mind, body & soul, and is providing for her when i can't even see what's next.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

you're welcome

i've been off the blogging train for a while.  i wrote a little bit about the crazy and hard of this particular season of mothering back in the spring and then summer came and my back happened and then back surgery and the meds and 6 weeks recovering and it's like 2014 is such a blur and y'all, it is november already and snow is in the forecast for this weekend.  i have no idea how i even got here.

nothing like an epic preschool talent show to push me back into a little blogging.  our sweet anders...matt likes to say he's feeling his way through life and sometimes a dad just is so right.  it'll take a little time to watch all these, but i would venture to say it will be worth it.  he takes the audience on a bit of a roller coaster.

let me preface the videos with a few random bits of information::

1) anders loves people. loves them. hazel calls him "mr social" (she does not share his affinity)...when the parents of his friends arrived to watch their own children, anders greeted each one with great enthusiasm.  i think a part of him really thought they were all there just to see him.
2) the plan was for anders to do "ninja moves" for his talent.  i suggested singing or piano and he insisted on the "ninja moves" and practiced at home for days.
3) anders loves harper like a sister.  they have known each other since birth.  he loves her.
4) had i known how it would all unfold, i never would have turned the camera off
5) every time it's shakey, that is due to my laughing hysterically at my wonderful son and his adorable friend.

and without further ado, i give you the talent show

video #1 - i'm so excited...until i'm not

video #2 - i love harper, she's such a pretty dancer... hey, i know this song

video #3 - why don't i just...

video #4 - we were meant to be together (please note, harper never stops dancing for even a moment)

not shown...anders escorts her off the they planned it.
i can't even handle all the cuteness.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

hazel is 6

dear hazel,
you turned six last week and in some ways the time between the day you breathed your first breath and that 6th birthday is only a blur. but in other ways, i remember with such clarity the day by day way you have been becoming.
you are adventurous, but with a wise caution beyond your years.  you are creative and imaginative, but you don't give that away too often, reserving it for specific times to let your true colors burst forth.  you are thoughtful because well, you are always thinking.  you love to give gifts and cards and creations away and even though you are great with words, you'd rather give the tangible to show love rather than give the words away.  you are doing so great in kindergarten.  you seem to really love it but you also are really great to let me know in your own way that you miss me too.  you still take gymnastics and still like it a lot.  you also started play practice at a kids theater and you are all about it.  you have loved annie for well over a year and when you went to kindergarten this year i had to tell you to leave ms hannigan at home...she is your favorite character to act like and sing like, which is so risque.
so approaching your 6th birthday you said the only thing you wanted was for your friends to come over and watch annie.  and that is just what we did.  and you were on top of the world about it.

hazel, you also have been saving your own money for a ridiculously huge giraffe.  so, we surprised you with it on the morning of your actual birthday.  you named it GG and i don't know if you've ever loved anything more.  you carry it around and sleep with it, bring it to the table to eat with us, put it on your back for walks around the yard. so funny.
happy birthday, sweet daughter.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

stay for rest

so, 10 days ago i had back surgery. 
a lumbar microdiscectomy to be exact.
good times.
i guess i had my tonsils and adenoids removed when i was 7 but i don't really remember that so my only association with hospitals has been involving my children, the birth of them or procedures for lena.

prior to the date and time of the surgery, i tried to come to grips with the reality of my situation but i actually lived in an acute state of denial up until the exact moment my birthday suit was covered by a hospital gown in a pre-op room with a nurse named nicki that laughed awkwardly to fill silence. nicki put in my IV & i thought, "well, i guess i'm having surgery now" and grabbed the weird remote thing attached to hospital bed by a cord that allowed me to turn on the small tv too far away for me to actually see in my glasses since you can't have surgery in contact lenses. 
queen latifah had snoop dog on her talk show... did you even know that queen latifah has her own talk show?! and it is just me or has snoop dog been around forever? oh the things back surgery can teach you. 

surgery went well, doc was happy with everything and i had little to no nerve pain almost immediately and just occasional nerve stuff now. this is pretty remarkable because even on lots of nerve pain meds, my foot has been numb since july. 
all the denial, but i did the surgery and it went so well.

now i "recover"...which in my world translates to watching gazillions people take care of my family, my household. the whole 6 weeks is supposed to be spent walking or laying down, with an emphasis on no BENDING, LIFTING or TWISTING...sounds simple enough right? 
try it. 
just do something basic like go to the sink and brush your teeth. 
it's been so funny to me how much we bend, twist and lift. especially the mothers of little kiddos.

first week was a lot of trying to manage pain and figure out the best way to move and get in and out of bed. the second week has felt much better but requires a lot of discipline because feeling good does not mean i can do anything more than the laying down and walking.
but i can walk as much as i can handle and only 10 days in, i was able to do 3 30-minute walks.

so thankful to be walking more and more as autumn makes it's way to fayetteville.
so thankful for incredible people, being the body of Christ in beautiful and basic ways like jumping to do laundry and meals and playing with kiddos and even just an encouraging text or call.
so thankful for kids climbing stairs to bring me their latest artwork or pipe cleaner bracelet and kids going on walks with me.
so thankful for season 7 of the voice. (liking Gwen & Pharrell so far)
so thankful for a deck renovation. (more on that later)
trying to be thankful for being pushed to rest. not the laying down kind but the soul kind of rest. which for me, has followed the back stuff, the laying down, the total change of rhythm of every single aspect of my day to day.
only 5 days after surgery, when I was already feeling sorta sick of the lying around so much, i came across this ...
yes, come for rest. but stay for rest, too. stop all feverish haste and be calm and untroubled. come unto Me, not only for petitions to be granted but for nearness to Me. be sure of My Help, be conscious of My Prescence, and wait until My Rest fills your soul. Rest knows no fear. Rest is strong, sure. the rest of soft glades and peacefully flowing rivers, of strong, immovable hills. Rest, and all you need to gain this rest is to come to Me. so come. 

and then a few days later, i came across this...and you'd think I googled rest for the soul or something but I didn't...He's just good like that and He has me here to rest. 
to stay for rest.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

michigan 2014

so every summer we pack up, load the van and drive to northern michigan.  it's visiting family and cooler temps, it's a road trip and vacation, but it's really just a circus transport.  i love every part of this…even the long drive.  i set up activities for the kids and we play games along the way and find interesting places to stop along the way.  i used to make this trip as a kid and i love that my own little crew gets to have the same experience up north at a magical little place called bay view, michigan.  my dad did this as a kid and my grandparents.  my kids are making similar memories to the ones i made and  that ones have made for generations past.   
i skipped some years going after matt and i were married and before kiddos.  we've been going back up there since hazel was born and now, this summer…it was gonna be the best summer.  we set up a sitter from home to meet us  there to help, so that matt could just work from up there.  hazel and anders are both old enough to do more of the activities offered up there.  lena loves riding in the trailer behind the bike and walking in the cool breeze.  i pictured running with my sister and sister-in-law along the trail that kisses little traverse bay and spending some mornings in a coffee shop all by myself.  
i re-injured my back on the way up.  this happened 2 years ago, before lena was walking.  and now, after she's struggled more in the last few months, i have scooped her 7 year-old self up a lot.  it's just what mom's do…when your kid is crying or needs you, you scoop them up.  i could've been smarter  with the scooping of a 50lb kid and that is easy to say now, i guess. 
and well, on the way to 4 weeks with family in a magical was a bummer.  and saying something seemingly real laid-back-no-big-deal like "bummer" and laughing awkwardly is just all i can do these days.  now that we are home, surgery is likely and likely soon.  and when we wonder how we'll do all this, He will be near.  and that's how summer up north went as well.  i was hurting and we wondered how we were gonna make it but God didn't just show up, He was there all along.  lena did amazing, she was happy and content, even with my parenting from the sidelines and our sitter who came up was remarkable with her and everyone there.  my family helped a ton with kids and groceries and laundry.  hazel and anders did great and made great memories with their cousins.  
this is all so much grace, i can't even describe it.

i packed and was so proud and matt mooney still thinks this is too much for 16 hour road trip, 5 humans and 4 weeks away.  

they do so great on long trips.

i plan all these organized crafty-activities and anders doesn't do them…he rigs his drink and bulldozer on a string somehow.  such a little dude.

lena discovered pringles.

we stopped at a hotel/resort place outside of chicago with an indoor arcade, watermark and amusement park.  everyone was a fan.

some serious focus at the arcade game

hiking at starved rock state park in illinois…ya know, back when i could do things like hike (insert awkward laugh here)

finding pretty things along the way

after a day of driving, a day of adventures and another day of driving…we made it!

and cousins are awesome


lena loves sweeping and my dad is showing her how to actually sweep and not just bang the broom on the floor…he was a patient, kind teacher…and lena still prefers to bang the broom on the floor

papa tom's sail boat

bookshop fun at one of the best independent book stores, mclean and eakin

fun treats from the candy shop

this is our fearless and joyful sitter, michaela…i can not describe what a champ she was

cousins and aunts and duck duck goose

sometimes you go play in the park and your 4 year old boy finds a zumba class and joins in from a distance and then joins in close up for 3 songs.  maybe the most i've ever laughed in my life.

i loved how all the grandparents, aunts, uncles, adults around would think that kids weren't listening to adult conversations…this is never the case with hazel. 

sunday night vespers concert…not pictured: an attempt to bring lena because she loves music, but the first few songs were guest acapela singers instead of the orchestra and so she didn't last long

beautiful bay view

when the mom has a bad back and the dad and the sitter are doing everything, there has to be yoga, aka comic relief, when the kids go to bed

pirate day and she lost her first tooth!!!!

cousins and pj day at tot lot

lena louise, so loved and so hip

our friend josh came to visit and hazel jumped on asking him to swim with her all the way out to the buoy because he can't say no to our kiddos and no one else will stay in the freezing cold water that long…haaa!!

still managed to get some good time with ms lena even though i couldn't physically help her and be with her like we are used to

so crazy thankful for this place…no back injury makes this less beautiful.