Wednesday, December 14, 2016

By The Book

BREAKING NEWS:  I have a teenager!

I think it's completely unfair that the year I turn 40 I also have to have my first teenager.  Boy, did I time that one wrong!  If you're looking for an emotional wreck of a person, look no further.

I will say, though, that I couldn't have picked a better child to have as my first teenager.  Owen has been by-the-book since he was born.  He slept through the night when he was six weeks old, sat up at six months, walked at one year, potty-trained before he was three, and when he started school at age five, he was a model student.  All of these years I've watched him grow and change and try new things.  I have watched him ride a bike for the first time and catch his first fish and play t-ball and basketball and swim.  I have listened to his stories and his knowledge and his jokes.  He has taken this past year in stride and has just been a lot of fun.

This year has been all new for Owen.  He is now in seventh grade-the dreaded middle school years.  He has learned how to juggle books and classes and time and how to be accountable for himself.  He has also joined the cross-country team where he went from a timid newcomer who wanted to quit in the first week, to a comfortable, confident runner.

Owen continues to amaze me in his role as "big brother".

He trained for a 5k all summer with Emerson...

He shared the golf cart with Greyson...

He wrangled our birds in the yard with Alayna...

And he even took time to play with Nash in the shallow water at the lake.

I really got to know a lot about Owen this year.  I hadn't realized that he wasn't a little kid anymore.  We share books and then go to see the corresponding movies, always agreeing that the book was way better, we talk about running and how it challenges you, we tell jokes the younger kids don't get, and he's the only child so far that has gotten up on skis behind the boat!

I have always thought that Owen was the spitting image of his dad, but lately, he's been showing signs that he's my kid, too!  He loves to joke around and he is highly sarcastic.  When Emerson went off on one of her supermodel posing episodes on the beach, he even jumped in and stole her hat and imitated her, much to my amusement.

I love that he loves being outside.  This farm life has been so good for Owen.  He's always scooping up a chicken or a duck or a turkey and carrying them around and I can always get him to walk with me around the property.

He's also not too big to jump in the leaves, and I hope he never thinks differently.

I've always said that he's not a big talker, but really, he's just not one to initiate a conversation.  He's actually always up for chatting, but you'll just have to make the first move.  He really is a hilarious kid, and if the mood hits him just right, you'll get to see a genuine, uninhibited smile, and those are the BEST.

As usual, Owen asked for chocolate pie for his birthday instead of cake, so chocolate pie is what he got.

He could hardly contain himself when, after he blew out his candles, I handed him a fork and told him the whole pie was just for him.  I had made a second pie for the rest of us to enjoy.  How many times in your life do you get to eat pie like THIS?!

If you see Owen, mention that you heard he's a teenager now.  He's pretty proud of himself and it'll show.  And me?  I am pretty proud of that boy, too.  This year, I'm not spending too much time thinking about what's behind him, because I am really excited to see where he is going.  This kid might have done things by-the-book growing up, but he is ready to tackle the future and he's going to do it in his own unique way.

Happy birthday, Owen.  Mama loves you!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Find the Good

Thirty Days of Thankfulness, Day 30

Well, I made it. Thirty straight days of writing.  Thirty straight days of things past and present that I am thankful for. About seventy of you readers out there followed along, every day.  I thank you for your consistent support, motivation and comments.

I chose to write these thankful posts this year, because it's been a tough one.  I am not the person I was a year ago, and my family is not the same family.  If I'm being completely honest, there were days I didn't want to write about what I was thankful for-it seemed easier at the time to just chuck my computer across the room and give in to the bad.  Sometimes I think, if only for a moment, that I'd like to erase this past year.  But that thought is immediately drowned out by all of the good that has happened: we have grown together in our new home, we have cried happy tears, we have gone on amazing adventures.   I wanted to prove to myself that I really do have so much to be thankful for.  I have amazing family and friends in my life, my children are happy and healthy, and I've got a good man to go through life with.  The rest?  Well, the rest will have to be figured out in time.  And it will be figured out in time.  I know that the current struggles we are facing will come to pass.  After all, I've got a lot more living and loving to do, and as I look to the future, there is one thing that will always be with me: HOPE.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

This is Forty

Thirty Days of Thankfulness, Day 29

The internet is a strange thing, isn't it?  If you're missing someone, you can often access their life with a few clicks.  Of course, it's not their whole life.  You really only get to see what they choose to show you.  We are all made up of our past and our present.  Who we are, in the eyes of others, is how we are remembered.

How do you remember me?

Do you remember when I was the only child in my family?

Do you remember me as a shy toddler?

Do you remember me with goofy faces when I lived in Clio?

Do you remember me with fluffy curls and how I had to be forced to walk down that long driveway from our house to the bus stop when I lived in Muskegon?

Do you remember me with a toothless grin from when I first moved to Flushing?

Do you remember playing softball with me throughout our childhoods?

Do you remember piano recitals, where it was just a very big piano and a very small me on stage?

Do you remember me with permed hair and how much I loved my Flushing jacket?

Do you remember running up and down the court with me, playing basketball against other Big 9 teams?

Do you remember me when my antics earned me the Class Clown title?

Do you remember playing basketball and softball with me at Mott and in West Virginia?

Do you remember me as a bride?

Do you know me only from Twitter, or Facebook, or Instagram?  Or have we become real-life internet friends?

Do you know me as a mom from MOPS?

Do you know me as a mom?

Do you know me as a runner?

Maybe I fit into a few different categories in your memories.  I am a daughter, a granddaughter, a mother, a sister, an aunt, a cousin, a parent, a friend, a teammate, a classmate, a coworker.

I am old enough to say that I remember when Pluto was a planet in our solar system.  I remember when the latest music was sold on cassette tapes.  I remember when telephones had cords, and not for charging.  I remember using encyclopedias to look up information.  I remember going to baseball games at Tiger Stadium.  I remember when watching television required turning a knob on a box to move the antenna on the roof of my house to find a channel.  I remember when the only thing to do on road trips was read, sleep or play the license plate game.  I remember playing outside all day and not returning home until the street lights came on.  I remember when the wait in a restaurant for a table in the smoking section was longer than the wait for a table in the non-smoking section.  I remember when making it across the street in Frogger was something to brag about.  I remember how the dog I grew up with used to smell. I remember my first kiss.  I remember singing on stage on Graduation Day.  I remember cutting the net down after we won the championship in college.  I remember the weekend I met my husband.  I remember those first pink lines on a pregnancy test.  I remember the big and small moments of being a parent.

Today is my 40th birthday.  I've got 40 years of memories stashed away.  If you're reading this, chances are, you are a part of those memories.  When I think back through the years, I can't tell you that all of my memories are good ones-highs and lows are a part of every life.  But what I can tell you, is that the good ones far outweigh the bad.  All of these past memories are a part of who I am now, in the present.   That shy toddler and that goofy teenager and that piano player and that first baseman are all parts that I continue to carry with me.  That's the best part about  life-all the things that you used to be stay with you and as you age you just keep adding more to the list.  I hope in another 40 years I can tell you all of the new things I have learned and all of the new people I have become.  Right now, though, I'm living life in the present.  I've got a hard-working husband, five amazing kids, a growing farm, and the support of family and friends who always seem to know just what I need, and for that, I am thankful.

Monday, November 28, 2016

My Parents

Thirty Days of Thankfulness, Day 28

Forty years ago on this very day, a couple awaited the birth of their firstborn child.

Would it be a boy or a girl?  Would the baby be healthy?  They didn't know it yet. but this night would be their last night as just a couple.

And then there were three.

The first few months their daughter lounged in front of the television with her dad...

and giggled with her mom...

and of course she made her first visit to the lake when the weather warmed up!

Life moved quickly, and soon enough, there was another daughter, and then a son.  They spent the next twenty years parenting these three children, taking them on outdoor adventures, up to the cabin, camping, and even to Disney World.  While the dad worked at General Motors and helped out coaching various sports for his kids, the mom sewed beautiful clothes for her children and made sure everything was running smoothly at home, even when the kids had her running in every direction.

In barely the blink of an eye, their children were grown.  Their daughters soon married and their son set out to chase his dream job in computers. Even after retirement, their kids and grandkids were their life.  They would do anything for them.  They attended the births of all of their daughters' children and watched them grow.  They attended dance recitals, and choir concerts, and softball, baseball and basketball games, and taught those kids how to build things and bake things.  Their children and grandchildren knew they were loved.

These parents are my parents.  They have taught me so much in my life.  It's hard to comprehend how much your parents influence your life until you are a parent yourself.  Only then do you realize the magnitude of the task of parenting.  I know it isn't easy.  You make mistakes and you get back up and you find a different way, a better way the next time.  My parents have guided me through my life with love and support and have taught me the true meaning of what those marriage vows we recite on our wedding day really mean.  I am thankful for the way they have raised me and for their endless guidance in my life and hope that I have made them proud.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Nash is Four

Thirty Days of Thankfulness, Day 27

Guess who's four today!!  This kid!

It has been four years since Nash came into this world in a BIG hurry.  You can read about his birth and beyond by clicking HERE. 

Last year I wrote about how challenging and stubborn Nash was.  Well, I'm here to tell you that not much has changed in that department.  Maybe it's because he's the youngest, or maybe it's just him, but this boy always seems to get his way in the end.  *Sigh*

He started school this year-a montessori program here in our town-and although he protests going every single morning, his teachers assure me that he's happy and playful and completely fine once I leave him.  Whew!

Aside from school, Nash has had some other "firsts" in the last year.  Of course, one of his favorite things was raising our chicks.  And of course, HIS chick who was supposed to be a hen turned out to be a rooster, but Nash named him Rosie, so Rosie is his name.

Also on his list of firsts were holding a frog,

Crossing the Mackinaw Bridge and handing out high-fives to the soldiers,

Using his brother, Greyson, as a chair,

Making wishes while trick-or-treating,

Jumping into enormous piles of leaves,

Pumping his legs on the swing to go extra high,

And sleeping at the dinner table.

Three years ago, we learned that Nash has a variety of allergies, including dairy, egg, and many nuts.

Even small exposure to any of these things causes a reaction which often leads to a full-blown respiratory issue.

These events occur more often than I'd like and take Nash out for three to four days at a time.  Watching your child struggle to breathe is a very helpless situation.  But when he's healthy, he's happy and we take the good as long as we have it.  One thing Nash loves (almost as much as his beloved almond milk) is oatmeal.  Even when nothing sounds good to my picky little boy, he's usually up for a bowl of oatmeal, on a tv tray, with a magazine, watching Paw Patrol.  I am almost entirely convinced that he's an old man trapped in a little boy's body, by the way.

Today, there was no party, but grandparents stopped over to wish him a Happy Birthday and to bring gifts.  He received a robot, money, and legos-a current love of his.

This year he also discovered that he loves Mint Oreos.  Did you know that Oreos make many flavors that are completely vegan? That's great news for Nash with his dairy allergy and it's a great substitute for cake at parties. But I do have one recipe of cake he can eat, so when he requested cake for his birthday, with blue frosting, I made him chocolate cake with mint-flavored blue frosting-just like a minty Oreo.

His big gift this year was this super cool ride-on toy.  He needs a little help figuring out that steering, though, or he might end up in the ditch!

Looking back, a year ago Nash seemed so tiny.  He's turning into a big boy, though, and time is starting to whiz by.  Sometimes I snap a picture of him, and when I look at it later I can hardly believe that's my little baby boy.

But sometimes, just when I need it, Nash delivers.  These days, when I hear, "Mom.  Mommy.  Mom.  Mom.  Mommy.  MOM!!" it's usually followed with an "I love you" or "I need a hug-a lot of hugs!" and sometimes when I snap a quick picture of him and look back on it, he is still my little baby boy.

Happy 4th Birthday, Nashypoo.  Mommy loves you.