This month I had two family snapshots to choose from! They both happened naturally, with no real effort on my part. I couldn’t decide which one to use, so I am using both.
The image of us in the tent was taken on our first family camping trip at San Elijo state beach. A friend of Jeff’s had a spot overlooking the beach that he wasn’t going to be able to use, so he offered it to us. We packed and threw everything together in just about a week. It was last minute and quite the adventure for us. A lot of work, but a good memory. On our last morning, just before we packed up, I asked everyone to pile on the air mattress for this shot. I can still feel the sticky morning warmth of the inside of the tent, and smell the campfire.
The other image of us was taken on the night of Drew and Mckenna’s musical: Willy Wonka Jr. They had just come off stage, and our family was gathered around in support. It was such a wonderful night for all of us. Pride and love for our talented performers oozing from our pores. Before the show started, I walked Mckenna into the backstage area to help with hair and make-up, and several of the girls walked up to us to say hello. Two or three of them separately said, “You’re Mckenna’s mom? She looks so much like you!” And because Kenna has always had her own look, it made me smile inside so much. Thrilled me. Gave me shivers in a good way. My mom also mentioned how much Mckenna looked like me with her hair pulled back the way it was for the show. I can picture the 7th grade photo she was thinking of and will have to dig it out to compare.
Drew NAILED his performance of Willy Wonka. I was not surprised, but I was very happy for him. When rehearsals started, I offered him some advice. I told him to act his face off, with no hesitation. That it is the people that hold back that tend to draw more attention to themselves because people feel uncomfortable and embarrassed for them. I told him to embody Will Ferrel (he wants to be Will Ferrell) – and to visualize him pushing the limits and making people react. He loved that and latched onto it immediately. Whenever we would talk about it, I would ask him if he was becoming Will Ferrell, and that would always get a grin out of my boy.
If you look closely in the camping photo, you can see that Mckenna has acquired a second Uniqua. They go everywhere with her. Everywhere. They were, in fact, in my purse during the play which is why she is not pictured with them in the second shot.
Drew got his cast off. The whole experience was a piece of cake for him thank goodness.
Anna is still working on learning to ride a two wheeler, but has a lot of fear. She prefers her scooter.
The entire month of April was dedicated to a major clean out of our house that was a very long time coming. Every spare moment during the week, and all day on the weekends. We have lived in a lot of clutter for a very long time because I simply couldn’t handle the decisions I would need to make regarding whether we kept or purged the items. There were things shoved into closets that I haven’t thought about in years. I felt completely overwhelmed and stressed out by all the STUFF I DON’T NEED. I finally felt ‘enough is enough’ and got to work. We decided we would start upstairs, moving everything we didn’t want to the garage. We would move through the house, and then end in the garage with a complete purge.
We started with the kid’s bedrooms. Mckenna and the boys actually traded spaces. She was always in their room because she genuinely loved the space. She loves the sound of the bathroom fan that you can hear in there. The boys needed more wall space and a better room configuration. Now our Jack and Jill bedrooms have the girls connected, and the boys have their own separate space. After the kid’s bedrooms were complete, I moved to my office, the two upstairs bathrooms, the two upstairs linen closets, and our bedroom. My next plan of attack is to complete the kitchen, the downstairs art closet, and then move into the garage. When I do move into the garage, I might have to send up smoke signals to get help finding my way back.
I feel such a sense of peace in my home again. I can sit upstairs in a clean and organized office. I know where things are. I know where things belong. The kids actually have room in their dresser drawers for clothes. Ample room. Their closets and bookshelves have been stripped of everything except for things they use or find to be really special. The bathroom cabinets are nearly empty, and so organized I could marry them. I was able to actually USE all of the baskets, jars, and miscellaneous other containers I collect for organization and storage.
I have to say it again: I feel such a sense of peace in my home.
We had our first BBQ dinner of the summer season this month. It is always so nice to fire up the grill after winter and spring. Windows open, music playing, Jeff cracks open a beer for us to share, the kids stand around tantalized by the smell of cooking. All of us LOVE to eat BBQ and we typically plan 2-3 meals around it during the week all summer long. Our favorite dinner this month was definitely steak, cheese bread, caesar salad, vegetable, and a baked potato.
The kids met some new children in our neighborhood. And finally, finally, finally, they seem to be children that really get along with mine. They like the same things. They have been spending so much more time outside than usual. Hearing about their antics and activities reminds me of how things “used to be” when I was a kid. When we would leave in the morning and not come home until the streetlights came on. I love hearing their laughter and fun wafting through our open windows. I love knowing they are happy and outside.
Nathan has a new interest in basketball, and wants to sign up for some type of coaching.
Anna and Ivy spent several hours this month on iChat, drawing pictures together and talking about what they will do when the Falconbridge’s return to America. Even Yindi gets in on the action. It brings me overwhelming joy to listen in on their conversations. One of my favorite interactions:
Ivy: Anna, can you read?
Ivy: Do you know that I don’t know how to read yet because I go to a different kind of school?
Anna: Yes, I know that.
Ivy: Some of my friends know how to read but I don’t yet. But I can knit and play the recorder and they can’t.
Anna: It’s okay Ivy, I will help you read and you can help me knit.
(INSERT MELTING HEART HERE.)
Very early one weekend morning I stumbled blearily out of my room and walked over to the office. I heard voices coming from the boys’ room so I poked my head in to say good morning. I was surprised they were already awake. I saw Drew and Anna, both sitting cross legged on his bed. Both with a deck of cards. He was quietly teaching her how to shuffle as Nate snored away in his own bed next to them.
Nathan learned how to make a pot of coffee for an assignment at school that was focused on public speaking. He had to learn the steps of something, and teach them to his class. He chose “How To Make Coffee”. Since, he has loved being the whitney kitchen barista, and loves making me a cup on weekend mornings. (The only time I allow myself to drink coffee, for the most part. I know I will get dependent quickly, so I limit my intake.)
The other night as I was making dinner, it hit me hard that I am now in the phase of mothering that I always dreamed about when I was at home with three children under the age of three. The phase where there is some independence. The phase that is way way way past diapers and potty training and temper tantrums in the grocery store. The phase where my middle school aged son helps my elementary aged daughter with her math homework while I make dinner. It is a brave new world here in this phase. I spent ten plus years with toddlers and babies. The entire decade of my 20’s, and some of my 30’s. I still get shocked with how fast time is passing. I still get shocked at how big they are. How adult they are becoming. Yet I feel like I am in my motherhood prime. I ache to go back in time and hold them as newborns again. To smell their toddler necks and experience their toddler voices. But I was exhausted or drained or depressed for most of that time, if I am going to be perfectly honest. I think I had them too fast, I was stretched too thin. I wouldn’t go back and change a thing, but that is the truth of the matter. I loved them just as fiercely then as I do now…but it was a harder time for me personally as a mother.
At the same time, it is such a huge huge part of my identity – being the mother of four young children. And now that I am no longer that, my identity is shifting and I haven’t quite caught up. I still feel a part of that “group”. The one at the park after naptime. The one with goldfish crackers and sippy cups falling out of the stroller. The one walking a toddler down the hall to avoid a tantrum at the post office. And it is SO BIZARRE that I am just not there anymore. I miss it, even knowing how hard it was for me.
I did my best, and I think my best was enough. I hope it was. If who they are today is any indication, it was enough. Thankfully, gratefully. I can now REALLY see how tender and special that millisecond of time was, and it makes me want to hold onto this time all the more, because I know our next phase is speeding down the runway, arriving at the gate soon as a house full of teenagers. And then, lickity split, take off into a life of their own.
So here I am, looking back on a lot of memories with a lot of fondness. Recalling who they were then and feeling very full in all that we have experienced together.
Here I am, learning about who they are now and leading them down the best path that I can. Loving who they are becoming.
Here I am, looking forward into the future, with great hopes regarding our safety and health, and a lot of excitement over what is to come.
PS: As always, if you joined in, leave a link in the comment section.