Category: the inevitability of change

on our second’s fourth

when she came into our lives, she changed everything.

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In a house of two babies – one 15 months old, one newborn – we had two cribs, two sizes of diapers, two carseats, and a lot, a lot, a lot of pink stuff.

We also had two teenagers in the house. There was chaos, high emotions, noise, and definitely a need for a third row seat in the car.

Mostly, though, there was just more love.

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Everything has changed again now. The teenagers are young adults, and they live in different states than we do (most of the time). The diapers and cribs are long gone. All things baby, which once dominated life, are now gone.

And Kaity?

She still has those blue eyes

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1st birthday

and still has her mama absolutely wrapped around her finger

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1st birthday

she still likes to pose for the camera

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2nd birthday

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3rd birthday

And she is still the laughter and life of a celebration:

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4th birthday

As she turns the corner from “toddler” to “pre-schooler” (although really, it seems that happened long ago), she is still very interested in music – playing instruments, singing, and making up songs. She loves to swing bats and golf clubs and to bowl. She loves to make up stories and pretend to read books (soon, I know, it won’t be pretend). She likes the beach, but mostly to sit on the blanket and eat chips. She loves animals. She is fascinated by both pirates and princesses, though she prefers to dress like the former. She puts together fabulous outfits, but no dresses, thank you very much. She has skinny legs and blond hair and is strong. She is fierce in her loyalties and convictions. She both fights and hugs like no other 3 oops, 4 year old I’ve known.

I remember when she was born, I used to wonder what my “little birdie” would be like, what her voice would sound like. She was such a mystery to me.

And now, every day, our KK loudly and proudly shows us how to “Be Yourself.” She is so…her. I am fascinated by her. I am delighted and challenged in the privilege of being her mama. And today, when we commemorate President’s Day, I am feeling how appropriate it is.

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… because she is going to do great big things!

Happy Birthday to our baby!

few words required

People keep telling us that this is an unusually warm winter, even for South Carolina. We say, “OK. Great.” Perhaps our arrival can signal the dawning of a new day.

The girls and I are doing our best to enjoy it, though. Yesterday, they played in our front yard while I cleaned the garage (a half-dozen boxes to goodwill, a few more to the recycle bin, and a good sweeping out, at least). Today, we went to, well, The Best Place In The World (Besides Disney World, and this is free)~



There was walking, carefully, in pre-determined lines.


And running, all Phoebe-like.

I could not get a picture of KK and Randa saving me from a flock of scary, scary sea gulls, but they did. My girls are brave…and also, very protective of their salt and vinegar chips.


The gulls are obnoxious. We are not fans, though we do admire them.

I don’t think the jellyfish are fans, either. Luckily, I took this picture yesterday. the girls might have been eeked out by this gull’s choice of cuisine.


Miranda did not believe me about how cold the water would be…

…but she was quickly convinced.

~

I was practically blinded by the sun taking these pictures, so I am happy how they turned out. Pictures replace the need for words, and I am about out of them right now. Our metaphorical season seems to be changing, though we still don’t know what the next one looks like. I hope it’s not like a Chicago February. I hope it’s like this Carolina January!

So now, I am smiling at their contrast once again: KK in boots, Randa in a sundress. I am smiling at the memory of one year and one week ago today, when my friends and I were daydreaming about a winter escape to a place much like the one where I am now living. I am smiling because one of my high school friends, whom I haven’t seen since high school, is in town acting in a show. I am smiling for a playdate tomorrow, cupcake baking tonight, and the promise of more quick stops at the beach.

Bring. On. February.

Kids, Health, & HOPE | The 12 Gifts of Christmas

There are more gifts, more to reflect on, more to share…gifts like knowledge, wisdom, words, and blessings, but today, at the end of the year, there is one permeating my mind:

HOPE

…and bonus for me, this also encompassed two other gifts I wanted to share: health and children.

Arwen told Arragorn there is always hope. It was one of the only moments in Lord of the Rings that I didn’t want to pull her ears off.

Faith tends to get a lot of the glory, but it is directly tied to hope –

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. – Hebrews 11:1

~
This morning I woke up with two thoughts on my mind. One was, of course, it’s the last day of this {riduclous} year. It’s not that this year has been bad, but it has been just overwhelming. I can’t even keep track of all the things that happened. Certainly, packing up Life and moving 1000 miles away from the only home I’ve ever known was a big deal, but it was really just an anchor for 1000 other things that have happened, are still happening, or are going to happen any day now. I am ready for this year to be over, I thought.

And the next second, I thought, Is MJ going to have the baby today? One of my BFFs got pregnant with Baby #4 as we were moving. Her two oldest and my girls are also “best buddies.”

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I felt like surely she must be giving birth today. She was due days ago, for crying out loud :) I’ve been checking my phone first thing every morning, and lo and behold, the news that she was in labor had been texted in the middle of the night, and there was a voice mail from about 5 minutes before I got out of bed.

Her new son had arrived.

Is there anything more precious than new life? Anything? I can’t imagine it. As I talked to MJ, I could almost feel that sweet daze that overtook me after Miranda and then Kaity were born. I was taken back to nearly two years ago, when MJ’s third child, sweet Maggie Moo, was in my lap around my kitchen table, and MJ and Martha made fun of me for constantly kissing Moo’s head (just as I had done with Martha’s daughter just a few months before).

I wish I was kissing the head of Moo’s baby brother right now…

But that’s beside the point. A healthy baby being born is nothing short of a miracle. There are countless – COUNTLESS – things that can go wrong. Just in recent weeks, I have learned of EB, a disease I never knew about before, and found out that the son of a high school friend was born with it. I have friends with children affected by spina bifida, autism, Angelman Syndrome, and diabetes. KK, as well as others, are affected by asthma. So much can go wrong. Their little bodies – as well as our bigger ones – are fragile. And so our health, every day that it’s good or stable, is such a blessing.

Cancer has touched lives close to us this year. We have friends who have fought with all their might and through creative miracles, survived. We have a friend miraculously healed. We have one newly diagnosed, and one diagnosed again and again. It’s a scary disease with so many unknowns, and somehow this year, we have been witness to people coming through it.

There is always hope.

Perhaps these thoughts are a little disjointed today, and that’s ok. This year has been disjointed for me. I don’t know what is next but I am hoping for the best…and I am reminded in the sweetest way, by the newest life in our lives today, that when God does a new thing, it is always good.

Happy New Year to all my friends and readers. May your health be good. May you have kids in your lives to remind you to laugh and cuddle. And may you always, always, always, always have HOPE.

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1000 percent

Yesterday morning in the car, my husband made a statement about me. It was one of those observations that could have gone either way, you know? He said,

You live and love 1000 percent.

Sweet, right? But there was more:

And you get disappointed that everybody else isn’t the same way.

Ugh, right?

I am always that person who is walking fast, looking at everything, feeling it intensely. I cry with strangers. I hug the first time. I laugh with my entire being. I insert myself into the conversation or the situation or the cause. I obsess. And though I have learned to let go, and I have let go of some of my OCD, sometimes, unrealistic or even self-centered expectations creep back in and I must ask myself:

Why did you really send that card?
Why did you really say that?
Why are you really putting coordinating gift tags on the gifts?

If you have heard the adage “Your greatest strength in excess becomes your greatest weakness,” you know what I am saying. YES, I love with all my heart…but sometimes, I do so with an anticipation of being loved or approved of in return, and that usually ends badly.

Once again, I have learned a lesson through The Move. Having had comforts and securities stripped away, I’ve had much time and space to examine myself, my motives, and my actions. In relation to this holiday season in which we often find ourselves worrying and stressing about GETTING STUFF DONE this way or that, this year has been a gift to me!

So, without expecting anyone who reads this to feel the same, agree, or suddenly change their ways and see the light, here are some things I am 1000% loving today:

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Having days when this is the only thing I make.

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Taking pictures of Christmas gifts I will not buy, because they make me think of someone and make me laugh.

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Pajamas Day at the girls’ school.

And…
– planning meals for company
– late night movies with Rod and Paige
– Christmas cards that people actually write
– any Christmas card at all
– Bing Crosby.
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– the fact that Rod knows to turn down ‘The Christmas Shoes’ when it comes on…
– … But lets me listen to Taylor Swift’s ‘Last Christmas’ every single time.

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– And, he gives me the Colby cheese wedge from his salad when I’ve ordered the cinnamon streusel French toast
– texts from friends that make me laugh out loud
– tight hugs
– good news for good people
– the fact that on FB, I ‘suddenly’ have 50 mutual friends with Pastor Allen. I’ve really met that many people in MB?
– forward-looking meetings with colleagues we respect and adore
– holiday flavored Coffee Mate (how do they get it to taste just like a holiday?)
– baking alone, with the girls, or with friends
– opening the windows, even though it’s almost winter
– still losing weight! (in spite of so many reasons to eat cookies and cheese)
– Christmas movies

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– all things Fuf

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– the people who every day, give me reason to believe.

the friends

I admit I feel a little creatively wrung out after all the posting in November.

It’s not that I don’t have anything to say.

December is already blazing by us. Many of the Christmas cards are sent. Visits and outings are being planned. Paige will be home next week. And the snow…is far away from us (hoorah!)

We had a quiet weekend, even though it was full of nice things. Friday afternoon, we took a somewhat impromptu trip to see our ‘(North)Carolina Next of Kin,’ our ‘Carter Side of The Family,’ known to the rest of the world as Jay Stone Singers:

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This picture is from the cruise, which is when Rod and I last saw them. The girls hadn’t seen them since Labor Day. Funny thing is, even though we moved only 90 miles away from them, we’ve spent more time with them out of the Carolinas than we have in. Such is the nomadic life of singing friends.

We had a great time doing what we do…drinking coffee, eating Mexican food, stopping at Walmart, and kicking around their cozy, chaotic house. Time with friends who are family is balm for the soul.

On Saturday, we stayed a little closer to home and hung out with friends again. We did normal friend-things…watched the Wildcats beat the Tarheels (who is this talking about college basketball? I have no idea…), made sandwiches, played outside. It is so very good to have close friends, close by.

On Sunday, well, we had Journeychurch, of course. It wasn’t the same without our dear pastor and his family there, but we had an awesome service. And the guy on the drums? Total babe.

{of course it was Rod}.

Afterwards, we decided spur-of-the-moment to go for pizza. We called our Saturday-friends to meet us, and turned out some other friends were there. I love having random meetings with new friends!

~

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And then Sunday night happened. Aren’t they hard sometimes, as we try to cram in the last sweet minutes of weekend while simultaneously preparing for and avoiding the stresses of the coming week? Sunday nights used to be anchored by church, but we haven’t gone to a church with Sunday night service in quite awhile. So yesterday afternoon, the girls played, Rod took a cat nap, I folded some laundry. And at some point, I got sad. Because ’tis the season, and my Christmas season looks so different than it ever has before. I know that this is part of the deal…new traditions, blahblahblah. But I’m reeling a little from those ‘little’ losses. Not seeing my cousins. Not hugging my gramma. Not singing with the church choir. Not finding the right time/look/feel of hosting a party for the kids (like we did last year). Not having an intimate dinner party with my closest girlfriends. Not seeing It’s A Wonderful Life at Hollywood Boulevard.

…and not seeing my parents or my brother on Christmas for the first time in my life,

not to mention my brother’s family, and of course, Rod not seeing Josh for the first time in his life.

Moving is a strange thing. It has brought me through emotions I expected and many that surprise me. I constantly have the feeling or fear or stoic acceptance of being left behind, and then I feel stupid about it because we’re the ones who left. Sometimes there is no logic to any of it, and last night was one of those times. I was just getting to the teary, make-no-sense portion of the evening when,

Jen called.

She is one of my closest friends.

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She is the one I suffered/made it through student teaching with. The one who came to the hospital hours after my babies were born. The one whose house I retreated to every Monday night for 3 years. That one, you know? But I don’t usually lose my junk with her. And last night, I did. Heard her voice, and let myself cry. By the end of the call, I felt better, I was reassured, and we’d basically planned the next 50 years of our friendship, dancing at kids’ weddings and such.

Today I texted through another event with other friends far away. I don’t have to send them complete sentences. Sometimes, just my location, the view, or a few choice words (Jeggings! Laminator!) succinctly communicate all we need.

It is so very wonderful to have close friends who stay close, no matter how far.

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After talking to Jen, I got the kids to bed, popped in another Christmas-movie to watch with Rod, and smiled all night because 1) even virtual hugs rock at making me feel better and 2) our light-up garland on the mantle that wouldn’t light suddenly lit (you got that?)

Christmas looks different this year because everything is different this year. But the things that count, the preserved relationships, the always growing ones, and those in a state of careful but fun discovery, they matter the most.