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Friday, August 17, 2018


This summer felt like a sneak-preview of what is to come with my daughters and their relationships with each other.

Eleanor started talking more. A few words at first, more, peese (please), no. She now knows a few sentences. I don't want it, being her most favorite right now.

I knew when E started to have words her relationship with Hazel would change, or rather, deepen.

They've had their ways of communicating in the past and to be honest, Matt and I have always been amazed when Hazel knows exactly what Eleanor is talking about and we have no clue.

She was saying she wants to get dressed? Okay...

Yesterday I peeked out of the kitchen as they ate lunch at the table. I can see Eleanor sitting in a chair next to Hazel. She's starting to think she's "too big" for her high chair.

They giggle, trade food from their plates--a strawberry for a carrot stick.

Hazel offers Eleanor a scoop of her mac and cheese as they play peek-a-boo behind a napkin. I think about how big Hazel is getting. She's only three, but being a big sister has made her seem older.

She copies me--the things I say, my gestures, and I see it play out with how she takes care of her sisters.

Rubbing Eleanor's back when she hurts herself, "You're going to be okay! Let me see it--oh wow, lets get you a bandaid!"

"Heyyyyy! Oh you're so sweet, Sybie Jane. I love you!"

"It's not time to go outside yet, Eleanor. Not everyone is ready."

"Don't touch the stove. It's very hot and you could hurt yourself!"

I'm careful to tell her, "I'm the mommy, you're the sister," when I feel she's over-stepping, but being a big sister myself I understand the desire to care for the little sibling in that motherly way (my brother can attest to this, I'm sure!).

I worry for a second. Does she think she needs to grow up faster? Take on more responsibility because she's the big sister? Have I made her feel that way? I bet she misses being the baby...

My worried thoughts are broken by, "Where's Eleanor?! There she is! Peek-a-boo!" And all the giggles.

I say a prayer as I pop my head back into the kitchen. Trusting God with my big girl--open hands--I pray for her to know she is loved for just who she is. She's accepted not for what she offers, but just for being her. Lord, please let her know that to her core.

More giggles. More peek-a-boo!

I think about how grateful I am that they have each other.

I don't want to rush Sybil growing, but man, I'm excited to see all three of them play together. What will that be like?

These girls, this family....I feel like I'm living a dream I never dreamt. Did I think this is what my life would look like?

Not exactly, but I do remember looking out a window when I was maybe 20? Maybe 21?

I remember telling God I was okay with an ordinary life. Okay with whatever it was he wanted for me.

Knowing I can be stubborn I prayed for a lot of trust and admitted that I might try to fight him on a few things, but asked for help to live life open-handed.

Am I living open-handed I wonder? Am I still okay with whatever it is he wants for me?

I think yes somedays and others I may have a tight fist.

Let me be open-handed today, I pray.

I soak in the giggles and breathe. In five minutes I may have to step in and break up a battle of, "but I was playing with it first!" But for now, there's peek-a-boo and silly faces and trading food. So I think I'll stand in the kitchen for just a minute longer...

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Life right now

Currently Hazel is three, Eleanor is 20 months, and Sybil is three (almost four!) months.

My days are full of diaper changes, cold cups of coffee, a scraped knee, snack-time, Dr. Suess books, teething rings, another snack, giggles, deep breaths, french braids, checking my email, a play-date with friends, short prayers, a work-call, another snack, attempting to get three little girls to nap at the same time, and probably another snack.

People say these years go by fast. People also say, "Man, you're in the thick of it!" I'm not one for cliches, but I feel both of these things daily. The wrestle to soak in every ounce of the time I have with these little girls, while also limping to the finish line some days after toddler tantrums, nap-time strikes, and honestly just the physical-toll of carting three little ones around this city.

A little over a year ago I found myself in the hospital meeting with a sleep neurologist after many series of tests. Sleep deprivation is what he diagnosed me with. He looked at my then three-month old Eleanor, then looked at me and said, "You have to sleep. You need to ask for help."

My adjustment from one to two kiddos was tough. For multiple reasons, but one of the biggest reasons was I just did not know how to reach out and ask for help. I felt like I needed to do it all. I quickly learned, though, in order for me to give of myself I need to care for myself.

With Sybil I planned ahead. I vowed to put things in place to help me thrive during the transition from two to three kiddos, to ask for help, and to care for myself so that in turn I'd be able to give more fully to my family.

Do I still feel like I'm drowning some days? Absolutely. Has this been a smoother transition? 100% yes, for multiple reasons I'm sure. A big reason, though, is that I've put some things in place that help me (as small as they may be).

During a particular hard season for me in college, my mentor asked me to make a list of things I was grateful for. "Things that bring you life," she said. I stared at her blankly. She offered, "Holding a hot cup of coffee?"

The next day I sat with my hot cup of coffee in between my hands.

I closed my eyes.

Took in the smell of hazelnut and vanilla.

Allowed the warmth of the steam on my face.

I remember feeling after a period of numbness.

After a while I sat my cup down and wrote a list of small things I was grateful for--hot coffee, putting on clean, cushy socks, birds chirping in the morning, and a cloudy day when I didn't have anywhere to be.

Years later I find myself going back to this practice. The small things that bring me life. I wake up at 5am--sometimes that gives me an hour or so before one of my kiddos wakes up. Lately, that's been giving me 30 minutes (praying this is a phase...please go back to bed, child).

Waking up early to read, pray, and honestly just be alone gives me life.

I create personal goals for myself so I don't get swept up in the busyness of life and forget the things that matter to me (I use this to help me to do just that).

I plan snack-time on the way home from the playground so I can have a quiet walk home.

I don't do-it-all. I say, "no" to more things than I ever have before. Knowing well that most of those things will still be there when my kids are older and I have a bit more time on my hands.

I say, "yes" to things that stretch me and make me trust the Lord more.

We hire a babysitter.

I'm present with my kids, present with life...until I'm not, and then I start again. Thankful for second chances.

I meal plan and then burn the cookies.

I'm learning life is full of "yay!" and "oh-no!" I need the tension of both. It keeps me humble, keeps my eyes fixed on Jesus, and allows me to practice gratefulness in the bountiful seasons and in the dry seasons.

I'm currently doing this Bible reading plan, reading this book (as well as a few others--why is reading just one book at a time always so hard for me?!), loving this mascara, and this facewash. Small things, but I'm so grateful for each of them.

I bet life will look different in a month or two--seasons + phases with kiddos are short, but I wanted to remember what life is like in this moment and in this season.

As my kiddos are waking up and I'm about to start my day I'm choosing gratefulness and remembering it's a practice. What are the small things that are bringing you life right now?