8 years ago

Born 5 weeks before her March due date, Rylee Jeanne made us parents for the first time 8 years ago on Wednesday.  She is a treasure of a girl and we are completely blessed that she is the oldest of our brood.  Tonight she wrote me a note and brought it to me while I read to her little sis on the couch:

To mom.  Thank you for teaching me to reed.  I love you so so so so much.  Love Rylee.

She told me this was the ‘whole earth’….and in the middle is mama.

It’d been an extra long, extra rough day and granted, I am 9 months pregnant.  But I started to cry and was reminded afresh one of the things I love most about Rylee.  Her heart is so tender.  She loves people so well.  She may not have spelling all down or punctuation and she may throw some sassiness my way a bit often.  But she is an incredible love-giver.  And that is for certain what I most love watching play out in her little life.

The joy of a good planner

I’ve owned all sorts of planners over the past 15 years.  Most lasted about two weeks or a month maybe though, I never quite found a groove.  I love the idea of a plan and thrive off of having a guideline for my day.  I’m a perpetual list maker.  About 2 years ago I came across a great article on Simple Mom that totally clicked.  I put it into practice mid school year, in January 2009, and it took me all the way to summer break.  Loved the simplicity of the Moleskine journal and I could set the bar as low as I needed to still be able to check things off.  It was what fully sunk me into meal planning because it felt so good to know what was for dinner before 5 PM every night, that alone took my stress level down a notch.  For the early childhood years, I think it is a really helpful method.

But the next year I tried, all year long, to write my own lengthy lesson plans and meal plans and shopping lists and such every Sunday.  It took hours and by the year was half over it was hit or miss getting all of the above done every week.  This left me disorganized and in constant ‘catch up mode’. I’m not sure why I gave up the Moleskine/daily docket plan of attack but it would have worked much better!

When a friend showed me her very loved and worn out planner last summer, it looked a bit daunting and much.  But she explained how she used it and I was inspired enough to try it.  Since late August, it’s been home to all the details of our school work and meal plans and even has little tear off shopping lists.  It is the longest I’ve ever stuck with a planner and though it surely doesn’t solve all life’s problems and everyone is different, just thought I would share.

The best part is that having the week filled in and laid out has given me more freedom to get up early before kids wake up and just read or pray instead of starting every day feeling ten steps behind (that still happens sometimes, regardless!).  It also helps me see where we can fit in fun stuff, playdates and such in the midst of keeping up with our home learning goals.  If your kids are still younger or if you don’t homeschool, they make a basic day planner as well and if it’s any bit as great as the Well Planned Day one I’m using, it would be a worthy investment!

At the moment the Well Planned Day planners are on pre-release sale ($5 off I think), which is a great deal – I intend to order mine this week!

Daddy time

One of the hardest adjustments, even two years into the ‘new’ job, is the change in flexibility, length of work days and the loss of the 4 weeks of vacation a year.  However grateful we are for steady work, as with all things, there are challenges.  One of the greatest has been still maintaining family time and carving out the individual time each of our kids needs with us.  Lately I’ve been hearing a lot more of “When’s my time with dad?” and “I can’t wait for the daddy daughter dance” (which incidentally isn’t till next fall!).  So despite being a very weary 9 months pregnant, it was clear this needed to be pulled to the front burner right away.

Caleb and his dad spent Saturday afternoon discovering the adventure of letter-boxing.  It proved a tremendously fun activity for them both.  And the girls spent a long while getting dressed up and doing their hair for a nice dinner out with their daddy.  They were beaming as they took off with him and came home with their little love tanks quite filled up.  I’m so worn out from the weekend that we’re having to take the day off school and I’ve not moved from the couch nearly all morning (and I might still be in my pj’s)…but it was worth it!

Cinderella girl

This year in celebration of our 8 year old birthday girl, we headed to the PNB ballet for their exquisite performance of Cinderella.  It did not disappoint.  We shared dinner with two girl friends and their mamas along with both Grammy and Nana.  I’m pretty sure never before has Rylee anticipated anything as much as this night.  Here are a few snapshots of our fun:

A love like this

In cleaning a few weeks ago, I found this letter I penned just about 2 years ago.  Tumultuous would have been a mild way to describe the status of our life. We were facing huge change and loss and everything felt out of control.

I was overcome with emotion as I read.  And remembered…

My beloved.

It’s been a long year.

A longer 8 weeks.

An even longer 10 days.

I have a lot of observations and thoughts about our life together, why it has been so hard, why there has been so much pain, why we’ve had more than our share of struggle.  Those aside, I just want you to know that though the road has been bumpy and left us bruised and broken more times than we can count-I would walk through it all again to have the privilege of making this beautiful family with you and following Jesus by your side.

I believe in you.

Let me say it again, I believe in you.  I have watched you find Jesus, walk with Him, walk away from Him, make good choices, makes poor ones, thrive in your talents and gifting and falter in your weakness.  I have watched your heart break.  I have watched you rebuild and roll up your sleeves as you have relentlessly pursued healing and restoration in your life and in our marriage.

Whatever this next season looks like, wherever it is going to take place, however great the amount of change and struggle-I want you to know, I need you to know that I am in it WITH you.  I stopped wondering when we would ‘arrive’ in a place of near-perfectness and ease.  I am done waiting for a magical place of ‘easy life’.  We’ll never be there.  Ever.

But we are here.  Today.  Together.

And my heart bursts with price for who you are allowing God to mold you into, what you’ve let him do with your heart.  I am secretly excited for the way we will have to trust Him to care for us in the coming months.

Because He will.  And we will get to watch.

I love you more than I ever thought possible.  I choose you, even if I could see every hard thing we’d walk through.  I would still choose you.  I choose pushing through, working hard, letting go, dying to myself, moving forward and believing with you for great things.

My thankful list this Monday is short and all hinges of the absolute miracles God can do with the human heart.  Our life, our family, our marriage is testimony to just that.  If this “love day” finds you less than confident in love…can I just say to you today that there isn’t any heart-challenge that the redeeming love God gives can’t mend?  I used to say that because it sounded good – but now it is a resounding truth that sits deep in my soul because I’ve sat by in wonder and watched it happen.

Now to keep counting…

#372 – breaking years long destructive habits

#373 – learning over and again that incredible beauty is born out of great pain

#374 – looking back and seeing the faithfulness of God

#375 – realizing how much love is a choice not a feeling

#376 – how the “worst thing ever” can become a treasured gift

#377 – pure, unceasing, overflowing, perfect love

#378 – the fruit of saying “yes” when you want to say “enough, I’m done”

#379 – watching grace infiltrate our union

Thankful

#362 – kids and forts and all the fun that means on a rainy morning

#363 – the 37 week mark of pregnancy and all the fun that means (grin)

#364 – a peek last week at a happily large growing baby inside

#365 – dinners for the week!

#366 – thrift store finds

#367 – getting invited to hang out with new people (trust me, with a slew of kids, this is a rarity!)

#368 – my health holding just steady enough to not plan an induction

#369 – washing newborn outfits

#370 – hippity hop balls – complete lifesavers for my boys and therefore for me

#371 – big kids reading to the littles…one of my favorite things about homeschool