Sunday, June 17, 2018

FATHER'S DAY

This year, I'm learning to embrace that I just don't like Mother's Day or Father's Day.  The layers of complexity for both are a little overwhelming. 🤷🏻‍♀️

That said, I have a LOT to be grateful for, given that I had the very best dad, I have a wonderful FIL, and my step-dad is fantastic.  And, I married a man who I had an idea would be a great dad, and that has come to fruition and then some.  Today I'm gonna talk a little about him.  (The guy who barely rolled his eyes when asked to wear matching shirts on multiple days on our most recent trip to DisneyWorld. 😜)

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I started falling for John while we were in college, and he was the director of a kid's ministry in a neighboring city.  The way he was able to connect with the kids was compelling, and it was evident that he genuinely cared about those he encountered.  John also walked with me during the hardest year of my life while we were losing my father.  He got to meet my dad, for which I am forever grateful.  All of this to say, I knew that John was compassionate, kind and willing to get in the mess, and I had a feeling that would shape up well in life and parenting.

Flash forward several years, and all of the sudden, we had four kids.  It really was sudden, because we collected four kids in four years, and TBH, I still have a little PTSD from how hard it was.  It was SO HARD.  And honestly, it is still really hard.  There are some complexities to our family that present ongoing challenges, and when we are all together, there is not a lot of "restful" time.  We have beautiful moments and often a lot of fun, but it is continually intense.

Another thing that we have grown to discover is that parenting is a skill that you have to work at.  By nature, I want things to come easily and don't like working for them, but God knew that I would need John by my side, because he is ready and willing to do the hard work.  He expects it in ways that I never think to, and he shows up.  He goes to the therapy appointments.  He takes the kids on individual dates.  He loves us all so well.  He pushes us to get the help and embrace the reality, which is critically important in our life.

Obviously, John is not perfect - he can get angry and frustrated, but he also knows how to apologize well, and don't we all want that to be true of us?  He is humble and gracious and giving, and I truly could not ask for a better partner.  He loves Jesus and shows that to our kids.

Because of the way that my dad was taken too soon, I have a compulsion to recognize and savor the good moments when we have them.  I know they may not last, and I want to be present and grateful.  And while we have a lot of hard mixed in, we have a truckload of sweet and precious.  Our children all love us and want to be with us, and they all super love John.  Playing Tickle Monster with him is probably one of the great joys of their life, and I am not even exaggerating.

So - here's to the hard work and the good and bad days that go along with it all - I'm so glad that John is the man called "Daddy" around here!

This weekend, we spent a ton of time at the pool, and we got to celebrate with his dad today at Purple Cow!

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Sunday, June 10, 2018

FAMILY LAKE DAY WITH FRIENDS

There is something magical about a day at the lake with hordes of friends, buckets of food, perfect weather and nowhere else to be, and yesterday, we experienced just that.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that it was what summer dreams are made of, and I'm so thankful for sweet time together, no major injuries and delightful memories made.

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There are six families in our group, and almost everybody could make it - we missed you, Nicole!, and one baby got left at home, which brought our lake total up to 33: 22 children and 11 adults.  Honestly, we could not have done this two years ago, because our kids are just collectively aging into this enough for the balance to tip more towards fun than stress-inducing.  (though you are constantly head counting in the water with that many kids!)

The Heads graciously coordinated the boat situation to get us set up with three total boats and all ready to go bright and early Saturday morning, and we got on the water with our very excited (and always hungry) crews!

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The boat John and I were piloting turned out to be an extremely popular place, because kids could climb on top and jump off.  This provided hours of fun.

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(my new favorite picture of John)
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We did tubing and wake-boarding which proved so fun for so many kids! (I was never on the ski boat, so I don't have many pictures of that!)

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There was a LOT of floating in the water on inflatables and noodles.  We adults definitely specialized in this area.

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We also had a lovely lunch break with more food than six families could ever need, which is a great problem to have.

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And kids went from boat to boat, and there was swimming and fun fun fun.

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Towards the end of the day, we were letting all the kids pile onto the tube or the rope and be dragged in very slow circles around our cove.  And they loved it.

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We moms took our own hilarious slow spin on the tube.  Getting situated provided more laughter than I've had in a while.

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We wore our kids plum out, which is the sign of any good lake day.

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And several of us ended the night with Mexican food, table for 22.

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All in all, it was a spectacular experience, and I'm super grateful to do life (and the lake!) with these people.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

DALLAS WITH FRIENDS

We wrapped up our TX trip (here are part one and part two) by staying in Dallas for one night.  Mercifully, we got a sitter (actually a set of sisters!) to keep our brood so that we adults could have a night on the town.  Thankfully, this precious bunch cooperated.

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We found a fondue dinner spot that had us feasting for hours on deliciousness.

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There is something so very comforting about old friends.  The longer that life goes on, the more I treasure the friendships that I carry forward.  These are people that we went on our very first date with and that we walked so many of our early stages together.  I've known Brian and Steph for almost 19 years now. 😳 Steph and I logged many college hours either planning over-the-top themed dates or playing Boggle endlessly in our room. (we were and are so cool)  Brian and John worked together for weeks at a time on construction sites in Chicago while John crashed with Brian's family.  And once we were all married, we traveled regularly together, including a six week stint in Costa Rica where they were doing long-term mission work, and John and I were doing Spanish language school and our weekends consisted of traversing the rain forest or binge watching 24.  Our journey has been shared in unusual ways as we have accidentally bought the same couches in two different states, the same cars (several times and usually in the same color) without consulting one another, and we both ended up with 3 girls and 1 boy.  But the things we share are much deeper and more solid.

As life continues to go on, I am beginning to better understand how the layers of living pile on top of themselves.  Some layers smooth themselves out, but others remain permanently wrinkled, changing the way everything falls.  I don't think I realized what the compounding effect of years and marriage and children and life would look like, or how difficult it would actually be.  God has graciously gifted us with friendships that help carry the weight and share the joy and the pain.

All of that to say, time with these friends is a precious gift that I never take for granted.
(I also taught Steph how to use Insta-stories and introduced her to filters.  You're welcome.  Though, to be fair, the college versions of ourselves could have totally constructed real beautiful flower crowns.  We once dressed as identical Tooth Fairies complete with Tooth shirts, tutus, Tooth wands - apples painted white, glittered and affixed to dowel rods and Floss tiaras made by melting down floss sticks to different heights and hot-glueing them all together.  You can see how we drew Brian and John in.)

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We finished out our kid friendly activities with a trip to the Dallas World Aquarium.  My highlights were the sitting sloth and the manatee feasting on his lettuce lunch.  I think Lily's highlight was discovering that one of her chicken tenders at lunch was shaped like a bunny - it's the little things.

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(She wasn't wrong.)
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(It is never said that the twins lack personality.)
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Thanks, Brian, Steph and crew for a wonderful few days - we loved it all and mostly we love you!