Friday, August 28, 2015

KINDNESS COUNTS

After losing our cat last week, I was reminded of a whole heap of things.

It was my first time to lose a pet up close since childhood.  I knew it would be hard.  I also knew it was time when the time came, so I had peace in that decision.  But, it still was no fun to go through those motions of putting an animal to sleep.  Tears streamed down my face at the vet's office and many times in the days leading up to it.

Revisiting grief was an interesting and not wholly unpleasant experience.  Of course, I do not like grief.  But - being able to experience it reminds me of the circular nature of our human experience.  With love comes loss.  Grief is borne out of love, and it is worth loving, even knowing that it will not last forever.

The other thing that stood out to me last week was the way that I was enveloped in kindness by my friends and family.  Even though I was losing something that was not important to most of them, my people were so very gentle and gracious with me.  I was a bit amazed, to be honest.  There were tangible things like flowers and cheese dip (these people know me well), and there were so very many intangible things that showed up in texts or other messages with prayers being prayed for us and kind words.

It sounds a bit silly, because I already know I have really great friends and family.  But even still, people were so incredibly kind.  Really.  And it took my breath away to realize how well loved I am and how far kind words really do go.

As a general rule, I've grown in compassion and empathy as the years have passed.  Losing my dad (which was obviously far worse than losing my sweet cat) taught me what grief is for the first time in my life.  Since then, I hope that I have done a fair job of walking well beside people who are experiencing difficult times.  I am much more sensitive than I ever was before to when others are suffering.

That said, last week reminded me of how much kindness matters when you are hurting.  Each sweet word was like a bit of salve on my rather raw heart.  My grief was lessened by the ways others responded to me.

Nothing in this post is revolutionary, but living though something unpleasant again was a good reminder of what matters in life.  I learned all over again how wonderful it is to have dear friends and family (thank you all for your kindness to me!), and how far kindness really stretches.  It was an inspiration to me to be sensitive and aware to those around myself and to say something instead of just passing on by.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL: LITTLES EDITION

Today was a beautiful day.  I got everyone up and managed to make sure everyone was dressed and had roughly most of what they needed.  And I drove them there, and I did it all on time.  Which I think is a "First Day" miracle, because it is certainly not our all of the time norm.  I also marveled at the moment when I asked each child to take a picture, and they stepped in front of the wall and looked at the camera in turn.  It was sort of surreal.  And wonderful.

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Everyone went cheerfully into their classes, which was really nice.  They were excited to be back, and it was so nice to drive away in a quiet car.  The morning disappeared quickly, as mornings tend to  do, but it was so nice to have the time and space to think and breathe and not have little people all up in my space.

Lily has been adjusting to first grade really well for the most part.  I think she is exhausted with the transition, but little by little, we are getting there.  She still LOVES riding the bus and sprints home once she's free.

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The unstructured summer has had its perks, but I am heartily glad for the routine of fall!  We're glad to be back at it all.

Monday, August 24, 2015

PICTURES BY MAIN STREET STUDIOS

Well, I've oft sung the praises of my dear bro-in-law (Luke Davis of Main Street Studios) who is the picture whisperer.  He manages to get amazing photos of my children every. single. time., which is no small feat when they are 6, 4, 2 and 2.  On our way back from Branson, we stopped in to Siloam Springs to get portraits of each child made.  I LOVE them all.  (The kids and the pictures.)

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Lily has had a really loose front tooth for the past several weeks, and I was so nervous it would be out before these "Six-Year-Old" pictures.  I wanted one last round of pics with her sweet baby teeth smile, and I'm thrilled to get it.  Strangely enough, that tooth is still holding on - though only by a thread now.  She'll be missing those top two any day now.

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Bella really is a natural in front of the camera.  She smiles sweetly and seems so charming.  You would never be able to imagine the kind of screaming she can produce while looking at these shots.  She will actually be turning five in a few short months, which is unfathomable, so I'm glad we have these pictures of precious "Four-Year-Old" Bella.

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Violet is quite frankly a spit-fire, but she is also the most loving child ever.  And she loves Uncle Luke and turned on the smiles and laughs for him.  Our sweet "Two-Year-Old" Violet - I love to see the joy written all over her face in these shots.

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Though William is actually quite smiley, he is more difficult to photograph, but Luke still manages somehow.  He did not want to sit in the orange chair - he wanted me to hold him.  He also wanted nothing to do with sitting on a step, but he did love running.  Our "Two-Year-Old" Chilliam totally makes me laugh with his antics.

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And for good measure, here's one of the twins together.

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Honestly, when I look through these pictures, they make my heart ache a bit - I can't believe these beautiful children have been entrusted to my care.  I am so thankful for each of them.  And, I'm so thankful to Luke for capturing their sweet spirits better than I ever could.

At the end, Luke took a pic of John and I in front of a new mural in downtown Siloam Springs.  Since John and I met, dated and married in that city, we think of it so fondly.  I love that we get to go back regularly visiting friends and family and JBU - it holds a special place in our heart!

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(to see past pictures of our family by Main Street Studios, click here!)
(for more details on the girls clothes, here's a blog post about them!)

Friday, August 21, 2015

THIS WEEK: HIGHS & LOWS

This week has been a bear on many fronts.  Transitioning into the school year, while a welcome change, also comes with its fair share of challenges.  How am I supposed to cope with getting up every morning at a certain time?  It's like I have to pretend to be an adult again every weekday, and I'm only half-way decent at it.  Here are some of this week's highs and lows.

High:  Last Saturday night we had a family date night that ended up being quite delicious and fun.  We ate at a favorite noodle restaurant downtown and then rode bikes by the river.  The weather was pleasant, and the children were *mostly* pleasant, which is a win for us.

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("Rule for life: keep your shirt down."  Something we say a lot in our family.)
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(The natives are getting restless.  Time to go.)
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Low:  With school starting and the drama and grief involved in the decision to put our cat to sleep, I didn't get a lot of sleep.  There was also a lot of crying.  And my body freaked out a little and betrayed me into the land of congestion and break outs.  What a delightful response to stress.

High:  I don't use the double stroller much when we go places anymore, and instead I rely on the fact that the twins will cling to each other's hands.  This just doesn't get old to me.

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Low:  Obviously, losing our cat was awful, but we did have some good moments this week.  She was mostly spending time in our closet, so I hung out in there with her.  The kids also joined me on several occasions.

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High:  I went on an impromptu walk with a friend.  Since our bigs were in school, that meant we only had five kids four and under.  They were a bit unruly, but it was great to be able to talk and enjoy being outdoors.

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Low:  While on this walk, a biker came up on our left, and I didn't know he was coming.  He tried to go around us, and instead, he fell, in slow motion, right next to me into a giant shrub.  I was mortified, but it also didn't feel like it could really be happening, since it happened so very s.l.o.w.l.y. The recovery was also slow and awkward as I continued to stand there and apologize.  All in all, there were terrible feelings for everyone involved.

High:  The weather took a turn towards AMAZINGness this week.  I know it probably won't last, but it has been so very pleasant.  We enjoyed a beautiful picnic at the park yesterday afternoon.

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It is Friday, and the weekend is actually upon us, Praise be to King Jesus.  I'm hoping for rest and recovery in the midst of everything else.  Hope your weekend brings those as well!  (If you need them.  Otherwise, I hope your weekend brings endless fun and partying.)