Friday, October 24, 2014

And on and on it goes.

There was another school shooting today. In a small town just north of here where Vivian and I went on Saturday for a princess ball.  So sad. This world is such a depressing place sometimes.

It's Friday and I've been trying to get laundry and cleaning and work done.  Interrupted by a call from the school to let me know that Ethan had thrown up in the lunchroom. He doesn't seem sick, but I went and picked him up early anyway. 

Ethan getting a stomach flu is a particular fear of mine right now.  Last week I finally got around to taking the kids in for their well child appointments and both weighed in at 36 pounds. Which put Ethan in the 0.09th percentile for weight.  He has a BMI of just over 12.  I can't wrap my brain around that.  It was very discouraging, because we're now three years into him having the feeding tube in his stomach and I am so very tired of it.  I am so very tired of spending my days keeping track of how many calories he's eaten or not eaten.  And just when we make progress, then he gets sick.  And because he is so tiny, we can't let him play soccer or do sports that would burn too many calories, because he needs all of the calories for brain growth and physical development. Chess club it is!

He's been dealing with all of this food stuff for over five years now. He eats, but he's so far behind that just eating a normal amount is never going to cut it.

And he's so far behind in school too, despite all of the multitudes of specialists and therapists and everyone that he sees. I'm so grateful to have such a support team behind me, because it does get discouraging. He tries so hard and means well. It's just that everything is a struggle for him and sometimes he doesn't want to bother with it.

And then there's Vivian.  She's never attempted anything that she wasn't successful at within a short time. I refuse to explain how driving a car works to her, because I fear what she would do with that knowledge.  Everything is easy for her.  And it's great that I don't have to worry about her in the same way, but since they are so close in age and only one grade apart in school, it makes it more complicated to have one kid struggling and one not.

I need a nap. And a drink. Thank goodness it's Friday.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The man with the sign

Last Friday the kids had a day off of school. After a morning of listening to them play fun games like "lie on the couch and kick each other and then whine to Mommy about it", we loaded up in the car and headed over to have lunch with Daddy and then go run some errands.  A trip to Target was being contemplated as well.

Our usual route to Daddy's office was badly backed up with traffic, thanks to construction and lane closures and drawbridge openings, so we took the long way around. As I exited the freeway, I saw that there was a man with a sign standing by the side of the road.  I should note here, we live in the city and there are people standing with signs on many of our street corners. So this was not an unusual experience.

As I slowed to a stop, part of my brain silently cheered when I realized that I was one car back from the man and didn't have to pretend to be busy to avoid making eye contact with him.  I could see him well, however. He was clean shaven and tidily dressed. And his sign said something along the lines of "My family has fallen on hard times. Even a dollar would help us."

Before I go further, I'd like to say that I am a fairly generous person.  I love giving away my husband's hard earned money to all sorts of groups and causes.  But the street corner thing is a challenging one for me.  Still, as I sat there, the voice in my head started saying things like "Give him some money. He looks like he really could use it.  Can you imagine how hard it is for him to stand there and beg?" 

"Shut up, voice", said I.  I'd just paid our bills that morning and balanced the checkbook.  And although we are definitely a solidly middle class family, there have been a LOT of expenses lately and income hasn't been matching up. It's just one of those seasons. And I'd spent the morning looking over our finances and was feeling particularly anxious to hold on to my wallet and keep it closed.  "But you're on your way to pick up your husband to go out for a meal at a restaurant!" said the voice in my head. "And you were thinking about going on a random Target shopping trip this afternoon and you KNOW you'll spend way more there than whatever cash is in your wallet that you're keeping closed." 

By this point I was getting fairly annoyed with the voice in my head and also was sure that this was the longest stop light in the history of Seattle traffic control. 

Just then, Vivian's voice came from the backseat, where my kids had been unusually quiet and well-behaved for the past few minutes.  "What does his sign say, Mommy?" she asked me.  I took a deep breath, pulled out my wallet and read the sign to her while rolling down my window to hand the man some money.  As the light finally changed, I took a deep breath, thanked God for Vivian's interference and began talking (somewhat hypocritically) with my kids about the importance of taking care of others, since we have been so abundantly blessed.  It wasn't a new lesson for them, so they agreed with me and I wasn't sure they were really paying that much attention. We also talked about using wisdom in giving away our money and listening for God to tell our hearts when to give (despite me having totally ignored that second part for as long as I could).

We'd made it about 2 more blocks before Vivian's voice sounded again.  "Mommy! When I get home, I want to get one of my purses and put my 2 dollars in it (her total net worth at the moment) so that I can have money with me to give to people who need help!"

I cried the rest of the way to my husband's office with gratitude for this little girl and her caring heart.  Being a parent is the single most humbling experience I've ever had. I am blessed by it every day.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Chess Club and other recent excitement

It's suddenly early October and our lives are firmly ensconced in our fall schedule.  The kids now have homework and swim lessons and chess club and I'm ready to drop from tiredness by 7 PM every night.  Ethan's math homework is already making me feel like an idiot who knows nothing about math.  I studied math for many years and made it through Calculus II, but am confused by 1st grade math.  In my defense, I skipped first grade, so possibly that's the problem.

Ethan's still steadfastly managing to avoid learning to read beyond the very basics. Last night both kids had books that repeated the word "things" on every.single.page and both kids were completely unable to remember that word from one page to the next and my brain exploded.  Homework time is challenging because neither kid can really do his/her homework on their own, so it's a long process.

They are also not really making progress in swim lessons, but I'm determined that they are going to get it this time around, so swim lessons will be continuing on for the foreseeable future. 

But, in happy news, they both started chess club last night and both love it. Vivian likes the social aspect of meeting new friends (she's suddenly become very outgoing) and Ethan has this mysterious love of chess. We still aren't sure who taught him the basics, but he knows them somehow. He doesn't understand strategy yet, of course, but that's what chess club is for. He loves all sports and struggles so much at them that it's thrilling to see him finally finding something that he is decently good at. And yes, chess counts as a sport in some parts of the world, so we are counting it here.

In other news, I went to Cancun a few weeks ago for work and melted, but it was fun to see the beautiful views and drink margaritas for a living.  I suffer for my job.  I also started working on marketing reports for work, which appeals to my organizing side, so am enjoying that as well.  Much more fulfilling than cleaning my floors for the 400th time that day. 

And this weekend we went to the pumpkin patch and it was fun and sunny and we had a great time.  It's still warm here, so doesn't really feel like fall yet, but the activities are making it seem like fall is coming. I'm happy to hang on to the warm weather for a little while longer though.

And that's what's been going on here.

Monday, September 15, 2014

This weekend my husband rode his bike 94 miles and I did not change out of my pajamas.

Daniel's new hobby of riding distances that I feel are long even when traveling them in the car is a little hard for me to wrap my brain around. Yet he keeps doing it and I keep being simultaneously proud and confused. This weekend he got up bright and early on Saturday (I assume it was bright, I have no idea. I was sleeping, like a normal person on a Saturday morning) and met his friend somewhere downtown and they joined a bunch of other crazy people and biked their way around Puget Sound.

The kids and were exhausted from our first full week of school and activities, so we had decided on Friday evening to just sit around on Saturday.  So they played on their tablets and then Ethan played Wii and then we watched a Star Wars movie and then around 4 PM we started all getting on each other's nerves, so I went and hid on the front porch with a book.

Sunday we had church and errands to run and then cleaned the house and had people over for dinner and then I was in "overwhelmed introvert" mood and then I went and hid on the front porch with a book. I have no idea what I'm going to do when it's too cold to hide out there in the evenings.

In other news, it's day 1 of Color Weeks at Vivian's school. The kindergartners have to wear a specific color every day for two whole weeks.  It caused the expected mess this morning, as some parents forgot and had upset non-matching children on their hands and other parents sat around and shared the challenge with finding clothes for their kids in the stores, especially when one doesn't want to spend much money on a clothing item that is not in a color the child likes.  Fortunately for us, Vivian is the same size as Ethan and can wear his shirts. I have no idea how pink and purple are going to work next week. Not to encourage gender stereotyping, but you don't see a lot of pink and purple on kindergarten aged boys, and most of the clothing in those colors also feature princesses and sparkles.  And seriously, it's enough trouble to get any clothing on these kids and to school on time anyway.

In other other news, I just signed my kids up for Chess Club.  I have no idea how that's going to go, but they seem interested and Ethan randomly knows how to play chess already. It would be nice to find something that comes easily to him. Those things are far and few between these days.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

In which I face up to some of my less-great behaviors of late

Today I went to the first week of my church's fall women's Bible study. I've gone off and on for years, but usually make it through about half of the session before work or grad school or sick kids get in the way too often and I get out of the habit and stopped going.

But now I have free time. And I'm the type of person who can't have too much free time or else nothing gets accomplished in my life. And one of my priorities this new season of life is to spend much more time reading my Bible and praying.

So I went to Bible study today and my small group sat around at the beginning and introduced ourselves and mentioned our reasons for being there. Out of the 6 of us, I think I was the only one who wasn't partially motivated by the idea of not just studying the Bible, but connecting on a deeper level with other women in the church.

I REAAAAALLLLYYYY struggle with the idea of connecting with other people in the church. If it wasn't for the fact that I'm married to Mr. Outgoing Man and have gotten to know people through him, and also have met other parents while our kids were in their children's church classes, I'm pretty sure I would have made zero friends at church. And we're 8 1/2 years into attending there.

So I was thinking about that whole connecting thing and then went after Bible study and had lunch with Daniel. Because church is close to his work and the kids are already taken care of, so we're going to have cheap date lunches on Tuesdays as often as possible. But he and I were talking about some of the problems with people at church that we've both become aware of lately since Daniel is also getting more plugged in at church... family issues, sicknesses, sad times... all of the stuff that you can easily avoid getting engaged with if you are the type of church goer that I've become lately. I'm very good at serving and being friendly to the people I know through Daniel and the kids, but I have not let myself become intimately involved with the lives of my brothers and sisters at church.

And I sat there at lunch with Daniel and was thinking about all of this and pretty clearly heard God telling me that my time of avoiding and not engaging was done. I believe my first response was something along the lines of what my kids whine at me all the time "but I don't waaaaaannnnnnttt to!" I've used the excuse of having been a pastor's kid and having to know about people's problems and not wanting to know all that stuff anymore. But that's not the authentic, loving life that I want God to transform my life into.

In other news, swim lessons start tonight. They have got to learn to swim this time around!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Laundry. And other Monday morning excitement.

Well, we survived our first Monday morning school dropoff of the year. Ethan's classroom is on the second floor of the school, and last week he went upstairs with one of his classmates, but today had to walk up all alone and he looked so teeny tiny. I haven't heard from the school, so I assume he made it up the stairs.  This is challenging for both of us :)

And then after sending my tiny son up the stairs in a mass of elementary schoolers, I walked my tinier baby to her class where she managed to remember to give me a kiss before pretty much skipping off to her class. Kindergarten is a BIG hit with Vivian. She even made some friends last week. Currently her biggest challenge is recess, because she doesn't like big groups of kids. She reports that she and one other girl just walk around.  Recess was pretty much Ethan's only reason for attending school, so it's funny to see the perspective of a different kid.

I'm loving having actual free time to accomplish actual things. I made it to the gym today and have Bible study tomorrow. I wrote an article in under an hour because I could actually complete entire thoughts without interruption. Kind of weird. Mostly I am liking it as much as I thought I would, but times like after I do school dropoff or on my way to pick them up or when I need to run an errand and I have no little hand to hold... then I get a bit panicky about this whole kids growing up thing.

I've also loved the time that I have to think and meditate and pray.  Daniel and I both feel that there's something new around the corner for us.  We have no idea what it is, but we're both praying for wisdom and the ability to hear God clearly when He speaks to us.  I just finished reading Jen Hatmaker's book Interrupted last week.  Sat down to read a chapter of it and got up 2 hours later having read the whole thing. It really spoke to me where I'm at. Not wanting life to just be about being middle class comfortable Christians, but wanting to truly be His hands and feet in the world. And maybe that just looks like volunteering at school and being involved at church right now and remembering that folding 500 loads of laundry per day is my ministry to my family. I'm fine with that.  But still listening and praying.

In other news, I'm apparently going to Cancun for the weekend at the end of the month. D and the kids aren't coming on this trip, but they are going to Canada  to see his family, which is a win-win for all of us. I need to go buy sunscreen or something.