Friday, July 11, 2014

For today

You know what? I spend a large part of every day being totally, 100%, wholly and completely overwhelmed with gratitude for my days. 

For my life. 

For the people with whom I spend my days. 

For the things I have which make the days more fun. For my profession. For the house I get to upkeep. For the money to pay bills and a little bit more. For, as cheesy as it sounds, the freedoms and life this country provides. For it all. 

Do you ever find yourself so smothered in gratitude that you think, "if anyone ever heard me try to express this I'd sound like a lunatic- or a liar." 

As I sit here watching a baby sleep and boys play, these are the thoughts that keep me company. 

And sometimes those blessings are so good, I am tempted to think, "It can't possibly stay this sweet forever. What horrible tragedy is going to strike that will squash this sweetness?" 

But then I quiet ugliness that threatens to turn my gratitude to fear. Necessarily. Because those things aren't for me to be concerned with. My "to do" list for the day is simply to be grateful. 

And so I am. 


Friday, June 13, 2014

to the weary mama

I see you sitting there, mama. I know your heart is weary and your body is worn. I know your days are long and you wonder briefly, though for the fifteenth time today, who is going to take care of you after you're done taking care of everyone else. I know you have wiped too many diapers to count and the number of times your name has been yelled through the house is driving you crazy. I know you wish someone would tell you that you look pretty today, or that your workouts are paying off. I know the thought of alone time makes you salivate more than the thought of the chewiest cookie, but the thought of a chewy cookie {now that you mention it} doesn't sound too shabby. I know you wish there was someplace you could curl up and someone would say to you, "Precious one, lay right here. Let's just spend time together. Let me fill your cup. Let me take your burdens and lighten the load. Don't worry about all the things on your list that didn't get done today- that's what tomorrow is for. Just come sit. Be still. Rest."

I know that because that's me, too.

And I know that reading those words makes you cry because writing those words makes me cry. Because that's what we both need right now.

I want you to know that God is saying those things to you. So go lay down your burdens. It's okay if a box of mac and cheese is dinner tonight. You don't have to save the world. You have only to rest. And I know just the One who can hold you.

Sending hugs, friend.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

the answer to "how's it going with three?"



Were you to ask, "How is it, being a mom of three?" I'd tell you it was wonderful. My heart is at peace. Our family feels wonderfully complete. And Henry is a dream. Really, truly, a dream. Having three sons is, for me, the marrow of life. It's one of the best, most valuable part. And I am setting aside every drop of expendable energy to ensure that I thoroughly soak in all of these moments of sweetness. 

For some reason, three makes me pause life with my heart. I'm no longer trying to plan our days, I'm savoring our days. I feel a big like a turtle who, if it were possible, desires to tuck her whole family inside her shell, wanting for nothing to invade.

I'd tell you I'm as exhausted as one IS with a newborn, but when said newborn only wakes twice each night between the hours of 11pm-7am, it could be MUCH worse. And even these sleepy, incoherent twilight hours are spent in quiet appreciation.... savoring. Taking mental pictures so that I can remember it later.

I'd tell you that the logistics of actually mothering THREE children has been....dare I say it??....cake. {picture me now, physically grimacing and waiting for the chaos to strike!! NO ONE is stupid enough to utter that, are they? ARE THEY!??!} But seriously, this is the easy part. It's a newborn. All they do is eat and sleep. Well, that's all this one does. And this is my third time doing this part. I know what the cries mean, we have seamlessly embraced a schedule, and he will sleep anywhere. Aside from the fact that it now takes me yyyyyyyyyeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrsssssssssss to go ANYWHERE, I feel like I've got this part. Now, that being said, ask me again in a year when Henry is now a walker who wants to keep sticking his finger in the electrical socket and won't leave my favorite decorative rhinoceros alone,(yes, that's a real thing) and I'm sure I'll feel differently. But this world we are in right now is beautifully familiar to me. So for this time, it feels simple. I will also point out that we are only 13 days into the journey, only 3 of which I've spent alone. Give it time for the exhaustion to truly kick in and the dirt to accrue in my house. I'm quite confident my answer will be different then, my friend. But had you asked, this would be my answer for the now.

On the practical side, I'd tell you my lower back is killing me and I have a sinus infection that WILL. NOT. go away. I haven't breathed through both nostrils for more than three glorious seconds in over two weeks. And I have a migraine that comes and goes. But aside from that my body is pretty well put back together, so it feels, and I think that's amazing. I will allow it these complaints. It has served me well.

I'd tell you that watching Roman and Liam love on Henry is something that never gets old. They honestly adore him. He is one of them, already. Welcomed instantly. And they tell me, daily, the list of things they can't wait for him to be able to do with them. Important things. Like eating corn on the cob and running and playing monster. 

And the way they love Henry is expressed in their own, personal way. Liam's love is haphazard and hazardous. Just like Liam lives life. Poor Henry James will be lucky to survive this brother's love. But it is even more special, then, that I have had {on more than a handful of occasions} to shoo Liam out of Henry's crib while the smallest babe naps because his big brother wanted to rub his head and watch him sleep. Roman's love is gentle and fiercely protective. And he is already, and rightfully so, the adoration of Henry's entire being. Where Roman's voice is, there Huck's face will be. Searching. Tracking. Bobbing, as if to say, "You're my hero forever, big brother." 

I've been really struck lately by the belief that a sibling is the best thing I can give to my boys. (And no, before you suggest it, they don't need more. haha!) Their brothers are better than any toy they will ever get. They will know them better in certain ways than anyone else ever can, simply because they were raised in the same town and house by the same parents and will have spent the same vacations together. And their brothers will stand beside them to walk life with them when I can be no more. I believe, in my motherly heart of hearts, that I have given them my best. 

I'd tell you I'm emotional.
SURPRISE.                
                       Ha.             Ha.              
I know. I usually have the emotional thing down pretty well on any given day. Pregnancy just exacerbates the fire and childbirth inspires the tears. It's all normal, postpartum. It's not that I'm even sad, per se. It's just that I get these glimpses of the days when Roman is driving, or Liam is too busy with his friends to want my snuggles any more, or Henry has moved out, and darn it all if that isn't just the hardest thing. It's so easy to be in a season of life and assume that the particular season is just "how it's going to be from now on." Except it will never be the always. Life is fluid; it's always changing. And even though those are sad days to think about, it will also be a season filled with more date nights with that man-o-mine, less spit up on my shirt, and much less to do when trying to simply get out the door to go somewhere. I'm looking forward to more face-to-face time with my husband and less side-to-side teamwork. I'm so very grateful that every season has its own sweetness to offer.

And I'd tell you, lastly, that I have hit an all-time low. I am a big, fat liar!! Let it be said that I place 100% of the blame of this moral collapse on the Athens Salted Caramel and Honey Greek yogurt that Target forced me to put in my cart. After the boys ate half the container yesterday, I pushed it to the back of the fridge and moved the leftover ziti to the front, assuming that they would forget it the way most children do. A little "out of sight, out of mind" action. Wrong. Today Roman asked me for some of the caramel yogurt, and out of my mouth I heard the ugly lie uttered. "It's all gone. We ate all of it yesterday." I squeaked, while all the saliva fled my mouth and left my tongue to fend for itself.

And as if that wasn't bad enough, during nap time, that precious time of day when I "should have been sleeping," there I was- feet tucked underneath my body while perched on the couch, knobby fingers clutching the tub to my chest, my own little Gollum peeking out from my loving exterior.

It just goes to show you that motherhood will destroy a girl, no matter how strong she may be. And today I'd tell you I learned one more thing about myself: I may share my uterus with a little person...... but apparently I will not share my yogurt.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Meet Henry James


Well, world, meet Henry James Becker. 
6lbs 11oz and 20" of pure squirmy goodness. 



Saturday, April 19, 2014

gratitude

I told you in the last post that I spend my days being overwhelmed with gratitude and that it's 100% the truth. And I've been rolling it around in my head.... and well, this is what I've come up with.

I'm no good at waiting for things. Generally speaking, I'm an instant gratification kind of girl. But it seems like because of that, the things I have had to wait the longest for are the things that I treasure the most. I mean waiting for children to grow in the womb, waiting as I save up for an item, and waiting for questions to be answered about life. All of it. And I feel like we are in a season of reaping right now... of watching dreams unfold and seeing longings fulfilled. Like owning a home.

Because of our time in the military, we spent years wishing we could buy a house but never being in one place long enough to do it. We longed to plant roots. To be established. To drive past an elementary school and tell our children, "That's where you'll go to school when you're bigger."  We wondered whether we would have neighbors that we could stand outside and chat with across the fence. We looked forward to the day we had at least a handful of friends that weren't leaving every year, and for careers that we could invest time and effort into as we watched them grow and develop. So for 5 years of married life, we waited for those things with the longing for them in our hearts.

And then we jumped.

Getting out of the military was a huge, scary jump that created more question marks than answers at first. And as we watched the dust settle around the new life that emerged, I knew it was good and it was what I had been longing for, but I was afraid to grab onto it and claim it. I was afraid it was too good to be true.

Have you ever felt like life was so good, so sweet, that it caused you to be afraid? Because surely all good things must come to and end, right? And no one can live in a perpetual state of bliss. And pity the fool who is caught unaware? That's sort of the place I lived this past year. We had a house that I was smitten by, but I guarded my heart so I could function from a place that didn't care too much about it. I was afraid that "anything could happen and we might have to move again, so why get attached?" And Jerr had a great job that provided a good life, but why enjoy that? He could lose his job tomorrow, so I might as well be prepared. And that just continued. At night I'd lay in bed thinking up contingency plans in case the paychecks stopped coming or the house burned down or tragedy came upon our family members.... And it was exhausting. During the day I felt like everything was fine and good, but at night things got scary and there was no security and I needed to make sure I was prepared.

Have you ever been there?

Man, that's no way to live. Definitely not what God wants us to do with the gifts He hands us. But I also think it's part of the process. I can say that it was part of the process and not the landing strip because it's not the place my heart settled to stay. It was just a stop on a journey of major life change. And I think when something comes to fruition that you have longed for, it's natural that at first it seems hard to accept. I think it's normal to spend a few minutes rolling it around in your hands, inspecting all the corners, deciding whether it's as great and as sweet as maybe you'd hoped it would be.

And so that was the season. The season that found me grateful, but hesitant to get attached. Actually, I think a lot of that was connected to our leaving military life. I hadn't realized all the security I felt in the life we had lived. There was a house we couldn't lose with a career that was next-to-impossible to lose, and so I just never stayed awake worrying about those things. So I think that was another part of the transition- living life on the outside of the comfort of security. Where government closings now meant we didn't get paid, and where a mortgage bill came regardless of life happenings. Last year life was good- just as good as it is now. But I couldn't enjoy it yet.

Now it's this year. THIS year I can enjoy it completely. And you know what? I think the best way to describe life is this: I'm determined to steward what we have WELL. We have a house. Who needs a place to stay? We have food. Who can I bring a meal to? We have money. Who needs help? We have time. Who needs relationship? What do I have and who can I bless with it?

I think I just got to the point where I was done worrying about how long our blessings would last; I decided that for as long as *it* would be mine, it was also mine to give. And the determination to hold my blessings with open hands became my new song. Because clenching onto things with a death grip takes so much muscle that it wears you out. And living in fear robs you of joy. And I was even tempted a few times to feel like God was surely going to take back the blessings eventually, because "_____ just went through ____, and my life doesn't have pain like that. So when is it my turn? When am I going to be taught a lesson?" And it felt like life was too good to last.

But then I realized that understanding of God is soooooo beyond flawed. And that is never the way He would operate. God doesn't give us stuff just so He can take it back and make us hurt. I look at it this way: the reason He gave us the parent-child relationship is to better understand how He parents us, right? And so on a smaller, flawed and human level, I can understand the way He blesses me by the way I bless my kids. If I want to bless Roman I might give him a ninja turtle costume. Because he loves to pretend and he loves fighting bad guys. But if I want to bless Liam, I'll buy him a big dump truck. Because he loves things with wheels. And because they don't love the same things, I don't get them the same things. And I didn't give them the toy in the first place just because I wanted something to take when I needed to "teach them a lesson!" I love them! I gave it to them because I wanted to bless them- because it brought my heart joy to bring them pleasure! BUT, when I need to parent them and teach them, I will do that. Still with love, though sometimes in a way that grieves them and makes them feel yucky. But only because it's needed, and not because it feels good and I was waiting to pounce. And the way I can best figure it to be,that's how it is with God and us, too. And that's the way it is with His blessings, too. It's not that we deserve them, but that they were given to us: to steward well and to revel in, and to use for His glory.

So I'm learning that when you can hold those blessings on the open palm of your hand, and you hold them out in front of you, fingers wide open, you can really enjoy them. You can see them, roll them around, and you can even give them away. And if all this rambling is too vague and you're completely lost I get it, but man...if you can get it then I'm just saying it's going to free you. It's going to open your heart right up. And the fear is going to flee and the joy is going to grow. Because when the hands that hold your blessings are open, you get the chance to really be grateful for them. And gratitude is a great best friend for joy. And when there is room for both of them to exist, there isn't room for much else.

And so I will continue to posture myself in a way that holds blessings with open hands. And I'll be grateful for as long as they're around. And no matter what God is, was, and still will be good.

Friday, April 18, 2014

a catch up.

I have eggs cooking on the stove so they can be decorated tomorrow, a hot cup of lemon tea cooling by my side, and the house is quiet because nap time is grand. So I can ask you- How ya been? :)

It's been quiet after the spurt of blogging for February, I know. That's because third trimester hit and I've been using nap times to NAP, and by the time evening comes I only know I need to find a bed. And stat. And so my usual pattern continues, and the closer I get to due date the longer the radio silence becomes. But here we are.

Hi. :)

So let's play a game of catch up, shall we? "How's pregnancy?" You ask. "It's good." I cannot complain. Partly because I have pleasant-ish pregnancies, but mostly because I am very aware at how much of a gift it is to be able to grow our family inside of my belly, and so the last thing my heart desires is to complain about the honor. So I won't. But for the sake of honesty I will admit that my ribs are KILLING me these days, I'm super tired and pretty fabulously grumpy some days. And I would be lying if I told you I weren't counting down the days until Henry can join us. It always blows me away when I think about the little guy that is going to join our world and be loved so intensely that the thought of living without him is equivalent to the thought of not breathing...and yet, sitting here right now, I don't even know him. That's wild.

I'm excited, though. I feel like life with two is incredibly sweet, and most days I walk around feeling like I've got the whole thing handled pretty well. That's not to be confused with "I'm rocking at this parenting thing"- what I mean is that I'm not overwhelmed by my job. It's totally doable and enjoyable and I feel like things fall into place pretty well. It's these moments I am taking time to enjoy an extra amount, though, because if experience has taught me anything it's that I won't have this feeling again for a year or so. And this feeling of successful maneuvering through days is one of the things I miss most about two months in with a new babe, when all I long for is a house that is run as smoothly as it used to be in the days of old.

Dear self, you will return here again. Power through.

Other news: Jerry is out of the intel world and into the world of business as of Tuesday. :) Same building, same company, totally different career. This is in line with his masters degree he has been working on (he is going to school full-time to get an MBA in Marketing) in the evenings, and he is beyond excited that he is moving into the career that appeals to him so much. Intel was a good transition out of the military and into civilian life, but it wasn't his heart. I'm so impressed by his bravery- it takes a lot to leave your comfort zone and a career that you love and leap into something with many questions and unknowns. But I married a brave man. And I love watching him go.

The boys are doing well. They are best friends and would be lost without each other, and genuinely love being inseparable until they don't, about 3% of the time, and then you can find them pounding on each other the way real brothers roll. It's all part of the game. But their hearts- Oh. Man.

I told you my ribs have been hurting, and that's kind of a massive understatement. Monday I didn't get out of bed except to feed children, and then to spend the afternoon in the ER making sure all was okay. (It is.) But during that time it was my oldest who made tylenol runs by his own offering so that I didn't have to move to get it on another floor. And it was my youngest who never sits still who spent HOURS by my side in bed, snuggling and tucking his feet into me so that I would be loved and comforted. You guys, being loved by sons is unlike anything I have ever experienced, and it makes my heart explode into little tiny pieces. It's a given that as a parent, I'd shoot the moon for them. It's amazing when that love is returned. I blame their dad. They watch their father and the way he treats me, and they copy it. That's the only way to explain the phenomenon that occurs when your 3-yr old notices that you don't have a seat and so he gets up to offer his own. Without anyone drawing attention to the fact that I had nowhere to sit, let alone asking him to surrender his cushion.

What men I have.

So when you ask me "How are you?" and I respond by saying, "I'm great. Life is good...." That's the real answer. Life is good. It is sweet. I love my family. I have more precious friendships here than I have ever had in one location previously, and that is coupled with being close enough to see friends from days past for important moments. And I spend my days being overwhelmingly grateful.

But that's another blog post. ;) Come back for tea tomorrow.

Monday, March 24, 2014

the day-maker

Today was Monday: grocery day. I have become an avid Aldi lover, so we always start there to get the basics and slide over to another store to grab whatever specialty items Aldi didn't have. It needs to be said that if you have never been to an Aldi, and there is one anywhere near you, YOU MUST GO!! NOW!!!! It's a sister company of Trader Joe's and can always be counted on to be found in the most ghetto shopping center around, but golly. The produce rocks my socks and the basic staples are so cheap you'll think it's a joke. I don't buy my meat or coffee there, but everything else is fair game!

I digress.

So we just pulled in, I handed Roman the cart-quarter, and I reviewed our plan of action with the boys: be good helpers, walk beside the cart, please don't ask for things that aren't on our grocery list. And for the love of all that is good, PLEASE DON'T RUN. And between there and the time he gets unbuckled, he lost the quarter. Twice. Three times. So I dig out the secret Aldi quarter stash in the ash drawer and explain that money is to be handled carefully and since he lost it that many times, he would have to wait for another turn next week. Mother translation: I don't have any more quarters in case things go south again, kid. Sorry.

Cue Lady Awesome.

She sees that Roman is distraught as I pull out our cart, and she smiles at me saying, "If it's okay with you, mama, I'd love if he got my cart out..." Shh! Lady, I'm teaching a lesson here. "...And it's been a long time since I've had little hands to help me with my chores." Dang it. So you want to bring joy to a sad little kid while reminiscing your days gone by, and I'm going to keep you from that privilege? Okay, fine. We'll teach the lesson of manners and thank yous today instead.

Lady gives quarter to kid. Kid gets cart. Kid smiles. Mother reminds kid of manners. Kid says "thank you." Into the store we all go.

Five seconds later, I have said "no" to at least five things, and Liam is in a dead sprint down aisle one.

Remix.

So I take a deep breath, and in the calmest voice I can muster, (Because kids are kind of like animals in that way. When you're angry and just need to get your hands on the little buggers, you have to let the pretend-sugar ooze from your voice in order to override the common sense that is screaming in their head, telling them to flee from danger and run for their lives!) I gather them quickly to my side. And there, kneeling on the floor on the right side of aisle one, and four feet into the door, we review our rules for the grocery store that day.

Take two.

Lady Awesome is now reaching for eggs as Liam grabs the milk and lugs it over, met by my celebration and encouragement. Meanwhile, Roman is giving himself props for getting the mayo into the cart like I had asked him. She leans over to me and quietly says, "Keep going, mama. I know it's hard when the days are long and it's inconvenient, but putting in the time now will make things so much better when they're grown. Remember, you're building helpers." I glance over through my tear-brimmed eyes to see her two teenage daughters standing with her cart.

Grateful, I utter some sort of inadequate expression of thanks and offer a trademark crooked smile.

It is some time later, around the cheese case, that we meet again. She approaches me and, in a hushed voice, explains that she and her daughters are buying some oyster crackers to feed the seagulls that are gathered in the parking lot outside. And, if I'm okay with it, would my boys and I like to join? Of course we do. We agree to meet over by the birds after putting our groceries into our separate cars, and she hands my boys the sacred bag of crackers to hold and bring over.

So I have the boys standing in the back of our SUV while I load the groceries from cart to car and barely finish explaining "Okay, boys, stay right there. I'm just running the cart over to the return and then we'll head over. Don't push buttons and don't hop out." And there, coming up to my right shoulder, is her oldest daughter. She hands me a quarter back and says, "I'll take your cart back for you."

Stunned. I am stunned. As if this lady hasn't already been kind enough, she has thought of every step I have to organize to make this happen.

Some people really know how to love on other people. 

It is among the flock of seagulls that we all meet up, passing the bag back and forth while making small talk with each other. We throw our crackers high in to the air and out in front of us, occasionally taking pause to laugh at small boys who prefer to eat many of the crackers that we expected would be in bird bellies. And we continue the dance until the bag is filled only with crumbs.

We exchange the expected pleasantries, me making sure my boys each look them in the eyes and say "thank you" and myself explaining how kind and thoughtful they were. And how much that made my day. She smiles and says, "I just really love when I see a mom with young children who is taking the time to do things the hard way- the right way. We are all in such a hurry these days, that we miss the big stuff. You're doing a great job, Mama. You need to know that."

And it was there in the Aldi parking lot that I cried.