Sunday, September 16, 2018

Day off of school

Monday, the kiddos were off from school, and the weather was fantastic for a trip to the beach! So grateful to embrace "beach days" in this chapter of life together! The ocean was calm and the kiddos were able to swim and look for seashells. We took the opportunity to learn more about why we had the day off - it was for the Jewish holiday, Rash Hashanah, and how we could honor that tradition we knew friends would be celebrating. It was beautiful to chat about amazing traditions of other faiths that surround us. And I was so happy to have a mom day with this crew. We're definitely in the chapter of lots of things happening all over different places, homework, and all kinds of things in-between, so to reconnect and enjoy time at the beach was so wonderful. 

And I can't help but look back on these photos with a big heart. They are all growing so much and share so much friendship with one another. Absolutely, there are arguments, and door slamming moments, but goodness, the connections and moments where they thrive together are ones I hope to keep soaking in with a front row seat. Love this crew and the amazing individuals they are becoming. 

Date Night

Alexis had her turn for date night this month! She was so excited to practice golfing with Mike and then they were off for frozen yogurt. Love her!!

Saturday Service

We have a back-to-back trend of Saturday service projects. This one was with Mike's company to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the acquisition. We went to Bill Baggs State Park and spent the morning cleaning up garbage along the beach. 

Two things we learned from this:

1. Wow. So much garbage. And so small. Like little plastic that won't break down, straws and SO MANY plastic bottle caps. 

2. It was really, really hot. Can't even put words to it.

Sometimes it's so good to just get into the thick of doing something hard together. I think we'll look back on this day with laughter and a sense of resilience of doing something in hard conditions. We have so much to be grateful for, and it always deepens perspective to get out and serve in the community. And that we can all be a little more mindful of what we're doing with our trash!

Getting the directions from the Rangers of what to look for, and to track everything we pick up on a sheet (they do research on the garbage and like to know what's getting picked up).
 Some of the group before heading out:
 Hard at work:

 These two digging for a big piece of plastic. Abigail thought the whole thing was like a big treasure hunt. The question she'd ask most "is this nature or is this garbage?"
Max found some cool blue crab legs!

 The distance shot hides to pools of sweat all over us! We drank SO MUCH water out there - Tayler and I had to go back and refill our big water bottles (definitely a good thing).
 We were able to catch a glimpse of this beautiful almost 200-year-old lighthouse.

 Abigail had a way of making friends with everyone. So sweet.
 The view of Miami on the drive home (crossing the bridge). Always so pretty!
 We came home and swam in the pool for the afternoon - felt SO GOOD to cool off!!

Sunday Thoughts: Mother

Earlier this week, Abigail and I were driving home and just before we turned into our neighborhood, we had to stop and wait for two raccoons to make their way across the street!

The larger raccoon was clearly the mother, and she was attempting to guide the baby raccoon across the street through follow the leader. But no matter what guidance she offered, this little baby darted a different way and got distracted. Instead of simply crossing the road, these two spent time running in circles. The mom was clearly trying to guide her baby to safety and simple direction. The baby was clearly embracing the curiosity and wonder of the moment. Upon reaching the middle of the road, the mom raccoon tried to correct the baby raccoon (in my mind she was probably lecturing on the dangers of roads and giant cars), and then swept this baby up by the back of its neck and carried it across as quickly as she could go to the other side of the road.

I was elated to witness this tiny moment in nature.

And can relate on so many levels.

Like the bazillion times I've been in a parking lot - simply focusing on safety while a little one, filled with wonder and curiosity - endlessly tries to run and discover while I'm simply trying to keep them alive! Corralling is a serious sport!

But today, I reflected on this beautiful experience in a different light. It made me think of each of us as that baby raccoon. Our intentions are good - but sometimes we get a bit distracted, or consumed by something other than what is needed most. We might be unable to accomplish the task all alone. We need the help of a "mother" to guide us, continually be with and love us, and "lift" us where we stand to help us on our individual journeys. Beautiful wisdom in so many ways.

And of course, I didn't document any of the real experience on camera. It was too fun to just enjoy with Abigail. But, later that day, I took a photo of the road to help me remember.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Feeding South Florida

Yesterday, Max, Alexis, Tayler and I were able to participate in a food-sorting shift for Feeding South Florida.

The car-ride out was full of voices like "when will we get there?" and "how long will this take?" and I wasn't really sure how it'd all pan out.

But the moment we stepped in the building, we were blown away with the small part we were going to play in a very large orchestra of goodness.

The three hours flew by. We loved doing it side by side 100 other folks, and so grateful for the large group of folks from our church that came together. Having the opportunity to lead these service opportunities, while I must say often feels overwhelming and difficult being so new to the area, has actually been a huge, fulfilling gift. Theres' something so magical about uniting together with the purpose of helping one another and helping others that completely connects us in deeper, more meaningful ways.

The car ride home was filled with a new sound - perspective.

To think a little more about how we can continually contribute. To think a little more about the needs of those right around us. To think a little more about what we can let go of in order to give. The principle of service is something we are continually striving to teach, learn and grow from. This experience definitely added a drop in that bucket.

Sunday Thoughts: Miss

Last night I put the last of the sippy cups into the recycle bin. It’s the end of an era. 

This morning I pulled it back out for a quick photo. I still remember standing in the store isle to buy this very cup. Max was just exiting the baby phase of bottles and nursing, and I was overwhelmed that there really were that many sippy cups to choose from. He was so wiggly and hated being contained in any way at the store. I remember needing to choose quickly so we could leave before melt down time. I remember feeling the internal heat of stress as a young mom, walking a road that felt so unknown. This one was fairly simple, within our price point, and was sold as a two pack. I'd say four kids and over a decade later, it served it's purpose well.

So grateful we were able to experience this chapter and season of life. Looking at this cup, I miss it. 

The babies in the high chairs picking up and throwing the cup down on the ground. Filled with wonder and curiosity. Me, bending over and picking it up for them. Again. And again. The wobbly toddler who's head is so heavy, when they tip back to take a drink, they fall over. The toddler coming into the kitchen to pull on my leg and say "dwink!" or "donkey milk!" (long story, but that was a nickname for chocolate milk). The little ones cuddled on my lap as I read them a story and they drank milk or water to settle down. The little bite marks from teeth coming in. The water in their cups in their crib at bedtime. Finding a two-day old sippy cup filled with milk in the basement. Ha, okay, that one I won't miss (and that cup was thrown away!). 

It's beautiful to think of all the memories connected to such a simple object. But the joy of those moments wasn't in the cup. It was in the experience. And for that, I'm okay letting the cup go. I'm okay creating space in our cupboards for the here and now.

Because the more I think about something I "miss" the more I realize that it doesn't mean that moment must still exist in the now. Nor does it mean regret.

Instead, to "miss" means that there was something within that moment that was loved and embraced. Something that wired a memory into our minds.

And as I sit in a kitchen, typing this up, I find myself energized and empowered to continue creating space more moments that will someday be "missed." Not to simply "get through" this chapter of motherhood, but to grow and learn within it. To stretch myself beyond comfortable and really become who God hopes for me to be. 

And as this journey continues to unfold, I see these moments like strings of beads on a never-ending strand. Beads of moments that will someday be "missed" and not lost in the routines, schedules or to-do lists. 

But to create moments that seek "to do good continually..." that "inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God." (Moroni 7:13)  

Those are the moments I hope to someday "miss."

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Utah - Part 1

Just as the heat and humidity were rolling into town, we packed up and headed out to Utah for three weeks. It was the longest trip we've ever done, and we had plans to go a few different places during this trip. It sounded awesome up until the week prior when I was trying to figure out logistics, how to pack everyone with the least amount of stuff possible, coordinate the food for the different spots we'd be, and figure out the general schedule. And attempt to fly all four kids solo (Mike would be meeting us later).

I know, I'm a bit of a planner. Trying really hard to "go with the flow" more, but the week leading up to leaving, most of my excitement was drowned with throat-closing-off-increased-heartrate anxious emotions. How many suitcases? Can the kids handle carrying their own stuff or do we need to check some of the baggage? Clearly, most of my worries were centered around packing, which really when I look back, kind of chuckle because we could have borrowed/bought anything that was essential that we forgot. Once I started to realize that packing was not the end of the world, and breathe in the joy of this opportunity, I was much better about it all! Thankfully, the excitement from Mike and the kids kept the ship steering forward - they had that "Christmas excitement" energy and it is so contagious!

And the funny thing about all that anxiousness - sometimes the best cure is to simply keep moving forward! Mike was a huge help in getting us unloaded and on our way at the airport, and the kids were amazing on the flight. So grateful!

We've flown a few times and have learned a few tricks - less is always more and lollipops are awesome for plugged ears - these guys prefer them to gum.

We landed with the sunset. So beautiful!

 The kids and I arrived in Utah just before the 4th and were able to spend a few days with my parents. We had a blast checking out the new park in town (next time we will definitely pack a lunch and spend more time there!). The kids loved the long slide and variety of climbing toys, but hands down the favorite was the access to the creek. So beautiful. And the trees. Ahhh, the trees. I LOVED how they built the park AROUND them! My mom said this land was actually a man's home, and when he died he gave the land to the city to build a park. What a gift and legacy to share with the community!! I sat there thinking of this man, and that he must have sat in his house thinking how beautiful it was to live where he did. He probably had kids, grandkids that enjoyed these trees, and must have thought that he wanted this place to be enjoyed for all. I never met him, but felt an abundance of gratitude for his kind actions.

 Funny enough, we'd been there about an hour when Alexis came down and said "mom - there are kids that we know! Come with me!" And sure enough, one of our dear friends from our old neighborhood was at this park as well! :45 minutes away from her home, randomly meeting up with another long-time friend, and at the same time that we happened to be there! It was so fun to catch up with her, and of course we never even got a photo of the kids - they were all over the place!

 We headed to Costa Vida for lunch. I think one of our goals with Utah, other than seeing family, and going to the mountains, was to eat as much Mexican food as possible!

 We headed back for time to play in the pond before the family barbecue and Eaglewood fireworks.

 I remember going to those fireworks when they first started and you'd go across a dirt road and watch the 10 single fireworks with the 50 other people there. Okay, there was probably more than 50 people, but to see how extensively it has grown is CRAZY! I don't think we'd consider it if we couldn't walk up like we still do! But it's such a fun tradition, and I love a good fireworks show!

 Mike was flying in late that night and we weren't sure when he was going to meet up with us. He surprised us all and met us just in time for the fireworks! It will remain one of my greatest memories of the trip - when two girls were piled on my lap (they were cold in the mountain air), the other two kiddos watching the fireworks and Mike sneaking right next to me. Love that feeling of being together after being apart. Feels good to be whole again.