Whenever we went to my grandparents or my great grandmother's house you would find me curled up in the corner sorting through boxes of old pictures. I loved to stare at those pictures and make up stories about all of those people I didn't know. That hard working men, the glamorous women in red lipstick and fur collars, the smiling kids in metal wagons and newsboy caps all captivated me for hours. Even today, I still head straight for the boxes of old photos when I visit an antique store.
I have been playing with the idea of doing 1930's style photo shoots with my kids and then on Pinterest I saw a photo that a mother had taken of her little girl wearing her mom's wedding dress. She said she would use that photo for her daughter's wedding day. Today I decided to try to get vintage style photos of Abby in my wedding dress to show at her wedding one day.
For the last photo she asked if she could show some attitude. Ha! A pre-teen? Attitude? Un.Heard.Of. I had to include her version of attitude:
A little over 2 weeks ago my husband finally returned home from a deployment that kept him from home for a year and a half. Last week we did something I never imagined we would be able to do for our kids...we took 5 days off of life and spent it in Orlando, Florida at Disney and Universal. It was such a wonderful way to bring our family back together. We loved everything about the trip...even having the 5 of us squished together sleeping in one room was wonderful. Several times during the trip I had tears in my eyes as I shook my head in amazement at our blessings. We have come so far in so many ways. Looking back at where we have been, I just never thought this would be possible for us.
You see, although we both had college degrees and jobs, there was a time when we had to apply for public medical assistance to take care of our kids and use WIC to feed them. It was a hard choice for us to make and we didn't want to do it, but we did it for our kids....then we worked our butts off to not have to rely on it anymore. We started to get back on our feet and then Caleb was diagnosed. Cancer is not cheap...even with medical insurance. I took leave without pay so I could stay with him in the hospital and Josh went down to part time.
Between the past financial struggles, long deployments, and cancer all I ever want for our family is health, happiness, togetherness, and enough money to pay our bills and feed our kids. Thoughts of vacations have never crossed our minds...thoughts of a week at Disney never seemed attainable so it never even crossed my mind. Honestly, I am just thankful everyday our kids are healthy, everyday our family is whole, and each time I can fill our pantry and fridge with healthy things to fill their bellies. I literally get down on my knees and thank God for every normal day. Although we are comfortable now, a part of me will always remember our struggles. Those struggles have made me grateful for our everyday blessings like health, food, and shelter. Those struggles have moved me to tears of gratefulness when we can do something like we did this week:
It was a beautiful day (sunny, high of 70...sigh) so my dad decided to take out my very first bed and hang it between 2 trees. My very first bed happened to be a hammock. My parents set it up near their bed and attached a bit of rope. Each time I cried, my mom would pull the rope and rock me. Between the tight snuggle of the hammock and the rocking, I was a great little sleeper.
This hammock is the very same hammock that I slept in. I can't believe how long it has held up...it's pretty old for a hammock and still in perfect condition. The kids played and relaxed in it for hours.
They are all so great about taking photos for me...then this happens:
When she left for school yesterday, she was five years old. When I picked her up, she was almost eleven. For some reason, I have frozen my children at certain ages in my mind. She was always a 5 year old. My son, who is 9, will forever be three. My baby, who will be 5 in July, is always a toddler. My brain knows and understands their real ages, but my heart has not caught up to my brain yet.
Yesterday, as I watched her run towards me, with her back-pack slung casually over her shoulder, my heart stopped for a nano second and my breath caught in my throat. I was, for a few seconds, overwhelemed and stunned that she had become a young woman in a matter of hours. My heart and my eyes finally acknowledged what my brain knew all along...she is gowing up.
I stared at her and hugged her and told her she was beautiful, right there in the middle of the school parking lot with tears in my eyes. Right there in the middle of all her friends. She hugged me right back and didn't let go until I did.
As I drove them to our favorite ice cream shop, I could not stop staring at her through the rear view mirror. I still could not process when and how this had happened. My heart was running a marathon, still trying to catch up with what my eyes were seeing. As we ate our ice cream, I snapped this picture with my phone so I would not forget the day I suddenly realized she was growing:
I still cannot stop looking at it. This morning, I thought I had accepted the fact that she is no longer 5. Then she bounded down the stairs, full of life and ready for her day, and stopped right in front of me. Being just a few inches shy of being the same height as me, she pats the tops of my head and says "Good Morning my pretty little mama"....I do not think my heart will ever catch up.
Summer is such a busy time if you have kids home from school, isn't it? The school year is busy too, but summer is just a different kind of busy that revolves around keeping the kids entertained and wearing them out. I struggle with trying to balance fun, activity, rest time while still trying to get them to do a few academic things at home...well, only one month of summer left and we have done 'school work' exactly one time! Sigh.
Since Amy and I (and many of you out there) spend so much time at the library and book stores during summer, we decided 'books' might be a great theme:
I chose "books" because our life seems to revolve a bit around books lately. We spend lots of time at the library and Barns & Noble. My 7 year old is obsessed with books...reading them, collecting them, starting them all and taking forever to finish them! And my 4 year old loves books too, but in different ways. He loves Star Wars and Batman books, books about animals, and anything funny! He more likes to look at the books and talk about them! Either way, I'm so happy my kids have a love for books. I didn't enjoy reading until I was an adult. So to have them enjoy it now makes my mommy heart swell. :)
My kids love to load up our 'book bag' at the library and then come home and spread out on the floor with blankets, pillows, and all of their books. I love their expressions when they open up their treasures
Whatever happened to the lazy days of summer??? I think the person who made that phrase up did not have kids. I'm not complaining. I do love these days of sleeping in a tiny bit later (7am), packing up to go to the pool, the river, the zoo...etc. I love the non-scheduled feeling of summer, but I certainly don't feel the lazy part of it. You know what I mean. With all of the kids at home, moms do not get any 'alone time'. I remember joking with my husband that his alone time was in the car on his way to and from work. It was kind of a joke, but also kind of true...30 minutes in the car alone sounds like a dream to me...imagine, actually being able to listen to a whole song uninterrupted!
Here is a little peek into the alone time of Amy and I.
Amy: With the kids home for the summer, I don't know what alone time is. I think the only time I can have a peaceful time being "alone" is when I'm asleep. But of course as you can see from the Spiderman pillow in my bed, that doesn't always happen either! :)
During the summer I like to take advantage of the kids 'sleeping in'. Sometimes I will sleep in myself, but other times I will wake up before everyone else. I can read a few chapters in my book, drink an entire cup of coffee while it's still hot, and answer emails without distraction. I love being the only one awake in the morning and having the house to myself while knowing that all of the kids are tucked in and cozy. My favorite kind of alone time.
I usually do not put heavy subjects on here, but I thought this was very important. 2 young girls from the area left home with an older person and are thought to be headed to San Diego. I do not know them personally, but I know people who know them and they are all surprised and very affected by this.
It has been discovered that an adult they chatted with online coached them on how to run away, deceive their family and friends, and possibly even bought them cell phones to aid in the running away. It seems like these young, vulnerable, and impressionable girls were taken advantage of....so many scenarios are possible...I can't even begin to imagine what is going through the minds of their parents.
Please keep these girl on your mind and in your prayers. Be on the lookout for them and spread the word.