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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Plans to Celebrate

The end of March culminates a month of remembering and celebrating the births of my children. . .along with regular scheduled activities like laundry, extra-curricular commitments, delivering Girl Scout cookies and working. We enjoyed celebrating both Molly and Anna Cate with visits from family.   Since the lioness of March forced us to cancel her party on it's originally planned day, we were able to reschedule Molly's party and we had a delightful time.




 She was really happy, and as my Dad says all the time, "when your kids are happy, life is good."







We were thankful many of her friends were able to come a week late. 














 Her turning 5 is a big deal to her and to me. 



Coincidentally, we had Anna Cate's 5th birthday party at Splitsville, too. 

The wall has seen some wear and tear in four years.
So has has my parenting. I didn't do handmade favors or have a custom outfit made for Molly's party, as I had for Anna Cate. I reused the hat and made a last minute Etsy order of a #5 tshirt. I could feel guilty and share on this blog (for posterity) all the excuses -- when Anna Cate was turning 5, she went home to TN for a couple weeks before her party and I had a baby going to sleep at 7 every night, so I had time.  I enjoyed the season in my life when I could do the extra touches, yet rather than lament the time I don't have or my unwillingness to lose sleep or workout minutes over those details, I am going to focus on the fact that Molly was happy and my pleasure that there are are places like Splitsville to make parties happen. She knows she is loved and celebrated.


At the end of the month, we enjoyed a visit from Nana, Aunt Becki and Kitty, whose spring break coincided with Anna Cate's birthday.  Molly and Kitty went to DC with Mom and Becki.  I let Anna Cate stay home from school one day for them to go to a movie and enjoy each other's company. On Saturday, we attended a community Easter party.  







This year rather than a party, Anna Cate got an experience.  So on her actual birthday, her experience was a trip to the zoo, dinner and cupcakes at Georgetown cupcakes. The zoo was a hit. 










 After the zoo, we headed to Georgetown for what I thought was the main experience for Anna Cate. 



 And it was fun, I think. . .but to be honest, it wasn't the best part of the day.  Molly and Kitty were tired and traffic was heavy and I got flustered about which way dinner was and Mom got fussy because she didn't get the group picture she had dreamed of. But life isn't always going to work out where everyone in the picture is ready to be there, and we have to accept that it's ok. 


The very next day, at a yoga class the instructor made two comments that really found meaning in my life. The first was in yoga poses (and in life), the struggle is to find balance between effort and ease. I can apply this in celebrating my children.  Sometimes, the effort doesn't always produce more happiness; I had this perfect experience planned to DC cupcakes but it wasn't great for the whole family. 

The other sentiment shared by the teacher is  a call to find yourself in the space between the breaths, that is where life is (I'm paraphrasing of course.

The "in between" moments of family time or the less-planned activities we experience create the life-force available to us in the most authentic ways.  What Anna Cate and Molly might remember about their birthdays might not be exactly what I planned, but it may be more important. 






“If you want to find God, hang out in the space between your thoughts.” Alan Cohen. -- found on a yoga inspirational website

"If you want to find God and happiness with your family, enjoy your children and family time in between all the planned activities." -- Sarah King

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Coins and Tickets

Molly Mae turned 5 last Monday. I have been quite sentimental lately  about this milestone representing a chapter in my life coming to a close; I officially don't have young kids.  While, I haven't carried a diaper bag or sippy cup for quite a while, #5 seems to nail the big kid plaque on the walls of our family life.

  And as everything seems to be with motherhood and my daughters, I often think about their lives linked to existential meanings for me.  Are these these milestones about the passing of time for them or for me?
Is it about the big girl or the lines on my face?  Is it the milestone of her birthday or my trying to grasp this journey? Last week, as I often do even if I don't have the time to sit and write a blog, I ruminate the significance of our life as if I would put words to events and feelings.  In  my mind and heart, I was preparing myself to think about and celebrate the big deal of Molly's birthday. I was thinking of how I would describe her phases and moods, her strengths and frustrations and the way she exudes personality with force and femininity.   I excitedly thought about welcoming my parents for a visit, including a surprise visit from Daddy Doug and celebrating my mother's birthday.  My parents came in on Thursday but on Tuesday, we received some news that has consumed my thoughts and emotions even as I'm trying to focus on Molly and the journeys of our life.  

This blog is a place where I get my thoughts out in the spirit of honesty as I share my heart and mind as our story, yet sometimes what is on my mind isn't exactly our story.  Elise, a little girl in Anna Cate's class, has been diagnosed with brain cancer.   (You can see Elise's beautiful face or read the strong, heart-wrenching, yet beautiful words from her family on their public Facebook page here.) I do not know the family, but have met the little girl at lunch once and heard Elise's name fondly from Anna Cate all year, yet their story has been on my heart and mind ever since. I think about the family so much and can only admit that as much as my heart is breaking, I can not realize what they face, so I just send prayers, including a plea for them to enjoy the present in the face of such struggles. . . absurd as that sounds. 

Needless to say this news has permeated my thoughts on my own life as we go on with our story. So without sounding trite, I hope to relay our story. 

We welcomed Mom and Dad and planned an elaborate surprise for Daddy's appearance. I went to the train to pick up Mom, but BJ went to pick up Dad. In the car on the way home, Molly cried, "I just don't know why Daddy Doug never comes."  After we came home and got settled, Daddy rang the door bell, and Molly could not quit hugging him. It was grand!

Friday, they went to school to have lunch with Anna Cate and that evening,  we enjoyed a lovely dinner to celebrate Mom's 68th birthday. 










On Saturday, we went to an air and space museum. I let Anna Cate take some pictures:







 Clearly she knows how to capture the moment. 


We then enjoyed a lovely meal at our friends' Geoff and Dorinda's home. Dorinda and I have been friends for over 20 years but reconnected really in the last 10, and her husband Geoff is sort of like a clone of my Dad. 

Dorinda is truly a phenomenal hostess. 
 She is like 14 months pregnant and put on a fabulous spread enabling us all to visit in their beautiful home. 

 She does everything perfect. . .including an arrangement of the Tennessee state flower. 

The next day was the day we had planned to do Molly's party, but winter weather forced us to postpone, so we had a family day with movies and pizza. Molly didn't throw a fit about her party being postponed; in fact she lets a lot smaller things drive her crazy.  On Monday, Molly's actual birthday, Mom, Dad, Anna Cate and I took Molly to Chuck E. Cheese for an hour.  



If you've managed to avoid it, let me explain the rouse: you buy coins to play the games and the kids want to play as many games as possible to get as many tickets as possible so they can redeem their tickets for a prize. Both girls had a blast playing the games. . .and trying to get tickets.
After the coins run out, the kids go see the prizes they can get with their wad of tickets, and they are junk . . .the kind of things that come in a McDonald's Happy Meal -- junky as the food and the toys.  Clearly, the joy of Chuck E Cheese is playing the games, not the prize at the end. That translates well to my heart and mind as we celebrate Molly turning 5.

In general, the focus of parenthood and our goals for our dealings with children are long term pay offs, but often the experience trumps the outcome. The coins metaphorically are the present and should not be disregarded.  I am not saying to ignore the values in delayed gratification, yet the theme of life seems to continually call us to savor the journey, and no better teachers of this truth than children. 
Molly grasping her coins on a ride.


 On her birthday evening,  she was happy to have her family around for her. 
 I hope I will always remember the place of my heart and mind as we welcomed the celebration of Molly's 5th birthday. Love and Light.
I don't see all the worries, yelling, frustrations and chores that come with parenthood. I see pure love and light in the hearts of the family surrounding Molly and in the spirit of a little girl.  

So as I think about Molly and pray for a family on my heart, my hopes and prayers are the same.  By the grace of God, in the midst of whatever the tickets will get us, help us to seek love and light in the ride of life.  


All men know their children mean more than life.
 - Euripides










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I love my family, deep thoughts, pure feelings and a good time making lasting memories with people I love. I procrastinate, but love to plan. I'm insecure about my body but confident about my heart and mind. I grew up in a small town, but feel like I'm a citizen of the world. Being a working mother was not in my life plan, but neither was being poor so I'm using this blog to help me focus on the precious time I do have with my family. My husband is the most competent person I know, and in many ways, he is more motherly to our precious girls than I am, since I have the job of being the disciplinarian, more like my Dad. I love to work out, write, eat, drink wine, entertain, decorate and think.

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