Thursday, August 21, 2008

Happy Birthday to Brion

Because it is my husband's 34th birthday today, I just wanted to say a few things I like about him. I think we are blessed to have Brion. He lets me be imperfect. He dances with our kids to rock-n-roll. He appreciates art - all kinds of art, and he'll go with me to artsy-kind of things. He's dependable. He has a good work ethic...too good at times! He gets more handsome as he gets older. He lets me be a baby sometimes. He's not a picky eater. I often hear, "This is the best meal you've ever cooked!" He has always taken the kids to cool places - they don't care where they go, as long as he's going! He's an awesome artist. He's an awesome builder. Even after he's asleep and I want to talk or I start laughing in bed for no reason, he doesn't get mad. He has a heart for the downtrodden. He gives cheerfully. Even though he has a lot of stuff, he'd give it to anyone in need. He encouraged me through school and sacrificed his time to help me do it. He let me stay home with the kids and we COULD NOT afford it!! He moved back to Amarillo because he thought I wanted to, and he LOVES Austin! He appreciates the little things I do for him and the kids. He likes me! He's gotten in the bath with the kids with all of his clothes on before! He looks at our kids a lot of times with a look that says what I'm feeling for them in my heart. He doesn't want a lot. He's let God heal him a lot. HE IRONS!!!! When I'm behind, he doesn't usually act like I've failed! He tolerates many animals simply because he loves me! He tries to be a better man because of us. He sticks with me when I AM a baby! He trusts my intuition and my discernment. We have an understanding of how to deal with and laugh about things that are outside of US! We grew up together! He was the best 'post baby' daddy there is - changed every diaper, didn't gross out, and got me anything I wanted to drink! He is his own person, and he's not overly concerned with what others think about that. He doesn't hold me to any standard that he thinks is what I should be like - He really likes me just the way I am!

There's a lot more, but I'm going to go spend some time with the Birthday Boy!!!

Kindergarten (and 3rd Grade) Here We Come...

Well, Bryson and Camryn started school this past Monday. I can't believe that my kids are officially 'school-aged!' I'm so weird - on Camryn's first day of Kindergarten, I didn't cry. At our school, each class walks out and down the brick wall together each day to wait for moms and dads. On the last day of Kindergarten, after watching those 14 bodies grow all year, seeing them begin to read and form friendships that might last for years, on that day when I saw them walk out like they had done so many times before, I bawled like a baby! I couldn't believe that they were big enough to soon be in 1st grade!

I have recently thought back to Brion and me, sitting on our bed in Bastrop, Texas, holding a tiny, tiny baby girl and planning our future. We were laughing and talking about far, far in the future when Camryn would start school! How did that day (that previously seemed like light years in the future) come? How is she not even one of the 'little kids' at school anymore?

When I became pregnant with Bryson, I quickly remembered some things that I had somehow forgotten from Camryn's pregnancy! Bryson starting Kindergarten brought back something similar. Although I remembered not crying on Cam's first day, I didn't remember how it would hit me at random times that she was starting school. Last Friday, after visiting Bryson's classroom and meeting his God-sent teacher and having lunch and playing with our dear friends, the Ramsey's, we were helping JoDee in her classroom. Bryson came up and hugged me like he does often, and I just lost it! At that moment, I remembered doing the same thing with Camryn! It's funny the things we remember so adamantly and the things we file somewhere back in our memory!

Bryson is doing great at school. That is, when he gets there. This year, our school started full day Kindergarten which actually works out great for us, but for the first 2 weeks, they are releasing the Kindergarten students at 12pm. Even though his days are shorter than his preschool days were right now, he already thinks he needs a break! When Bryson was in preschool, I helped him keep track of days by telling him that he would go to school for 3 days and then he would have 4 days off. Now, of course, we have 5 days at school and 2 days off. The first night, he asked if he had a day off yet. The next morning, he said that his 'spine and chicken bone' hurt (that's a shoulder blade if you don't live in our house:)) and this morning, he thought that we needed a 'family stay home day' because it was Brion's birthday! He's pretty creative, you gotta give him that! And again, I'm remembering Camryn having the same problem coming to terms with the fact that after starting school, our carefree days are gone forever. After that first day of school, we all really become subject to someone else's timeclock!

Camryn is enjoying being back. She loves seeing her friends again, and I think she loves Bryson being there, too. She is definitely glad that our school has eased up on the uniform policy this year! She has me roll her hair almost every night!

It's so fun to watch her develop into a thoughtful, drama-loving, mature, picky, mini-me! I love the innocence she still enjoys. I love the signs that growing up is on the horizon. I truly like this girl!

I thank God for their school and their teachers and a staff that loves them. I thank God that Brion and I share the same heart for these kids. I thank God for what He's put into each of them - it is such a joy to watch them come into their own. I thank God that Camryn is across the hall from JoDee, who she considers a 2nd mother! They are stinkers, and I am blessed! They are exhausted tonight as they wind down their first week of a new school year. Truly, these are the days!!!

Dad's Visit

My dad visited in July. He has lived in Las Vegas since 1997, so we don't get to see him very much. My dad and I have always been really close. Something that has happened lately with both of my parents is that I now view them as more than my parents. Gosh, it only took 34 years for me to see that they are more than mom and dad. They are a lot more than mom and dad, actually. Something else that I'm noticing or sensing is close is the time when I'm more the adult, and our roles begin to switch. That is bittersweet for me. Although there are definite things that separate me from both my dad and my mom, I love them dearly. One thing that I have always felt is that they love me so, so much. It's hard when decisions are made and consequences are lived out sometimes. But now that I see them as more than immortal mom and dad, and now that I see that life isn't so easy sometimes as an adult, I realize that they are truly just people. Great, flawed, loving, nutty, interesting, confused, intellegent people - just like we all are. More than anything lately, I've just needed them to know that I love them - despite all their screw ups and absolutely because of all of their screw ups!!! They are so much more than that. Thank our God that we are all so much more than our worse days, huh? I love who they are, and I'm sorry for them for things that were hard on them. I love them and appreciate who each of them is!! Thanks for always loving me and all of my screw ups, you guys!!! And you most definitely have (and there have been a lot of screw ups, believe me!)

You should see my dad with the kids. He only sees them about 2 times per year, but you wouldn't know that to see them together. I love that. I want them to know him like I knew him as a kid. And he really wasn't the perfect dad, but he is close in my eyes simply because I felt so loved - even through the bad times. He made me feel special. See, people, we don't have to be perfect parents. We just have to make sure that our kids FEEL loved! My friend, Jonna, (who has PhD in Psychology, btw) just wrote an interesting article about this very thing. She wrote about moms feeling like we have to be perfect in every area and how absolutley impossible that is!! Yet we continue to compare ourselves and believe Satan's lies because we aren't as good as our friends in other areas of parenting, etc. As long as our kids FEEL loved, everything else is so small. But they have to FEEL love. I know people who have loved me before, and I'm 99% sure that they did/ do. But I don't FEEL that love. There's some disconnect.

So, how do we make them feel loved? And how do we capitalize and be the best mom that we can be?

First of all, know your kids. Know what makes them feel loved. Moms know what makes their kids tick. Don't get so busy that you don't do the little things that mean a lot to them. Again, that doesn't mean that you have to do everything, or even anything extra. Just use your time and other precious mommy resources wisely. For example, I can tell that Camryn really feels loved when I'm loving on her and tickling her. That doesn't take any more time when I'm reading them a book at night; I just make sure to make physical contact with her as I tell her goodnight. I think Bryson is more of an 'acts of service' kind of guy. When he's really worn out, he really appreciates me helping him with simple things like getting ready for bed or making his bed extra cozy.

Secondly, know yourself. Know what you're really good at and pick a few ways to capitalize on that. For example, I'm not so much of an organized mom as I am a fun mom. I'll sleep out on the trampoline with the kids. I'll run around looking like a fool at Jump n' Jive. It's harder for me to make sure that the laundry is clean and put away for them or that their backpacks and papers are all ready to go in the morning. It doesn't mean that I can just let all of that stuff slide (Iwish!!) It just means that I have to find ways that work for my family, but that I remind myself that it's okay that I'm not Mrs. Cleaver on most days (or...well...ever!)

Now, disclaimer: I know that I'm not mother of the year. And I know that there are plenty of times I have/will make the absolute wrong decisions regarding parenting, etc. But I think my biggest hope is that when my kids look back on their childhood, they'll remember a mother who kept her eyes focused above often enough to show it through her priorities, her time, her patience, her laughter.