Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thankful

It's the day before Thanksgiving. The kids were off from school today so they went to have adventures with grandparents while I worked this morning.
 Aquaman and The Dude went to Gatorland with JT's parents.
 And Greystoke went to Noni and Papa's house to "do puzzles and read books". Two of his favorite things.
 I once again find myself sitting here more out of duty than desire.
 It's hard to write when you have barely slowed down to think for a while.
 There is laundry piled up in the walk in closet that serves as our laundry room. The floor needs vacuuming from this morning's cereal run. I need to find a better (higher) hiding place for the Christmas presents The Dude has been discovering. Which is one of the few things I have found hard about living in a small(ish) space.
 Life has been even busier than usual this past week as I prepare for December. December is a sacred time for me, I try to plan something fun and meaningful and Christmassy to do with the boys every day, even if it is very small. I like to have all the presents bought beforehand so I can put those out of my mind. I would really even like to get them wrapped before December this year because I always think that will be fun but with 3 little boys, wrapping presents is just another chore. I ordered a new activity called "Shepherd on the Search" to do with the boys this year and am looking forward to starting that up.
 I am planning my annual Facebook fast in December too.
 So, all in all, I am really really looking forward to December and hopefully deliberately slowing the pace of life for a little while, but preparing for December....well it has made me kind of even more tired.
 Which has made it hard to get into the Thankful mood that tomorrow is supposed to bring.
 But gratitude is the root of joy, I really believe it. And I am thankful for so many things this season.
 For one thing, I am thankful for the rhythms of life.
 I am in a necessary season of craziness. I am preparing for the small rest of December, but right now what I am really preparing for is the new "rest" of bringing a 4th child into the world.
 One of the best things about a baby is the necessary slowing down of its arrival. And I am looking forward to that family bonding period even in its upheavels.
 I am so so thankful for these three boys and this one girl that God has given me.
 Thankful for the moments when they just can't get along with each other. Thankful for the moments when I hear them all taking a shower after a romp in the sandbox, rotating in and out to give each other a turn, learning the give and take that is best learned with siblings. It is in those moments that I am grateful God has given them each other. They learn so much from each other that I could never teach them on my own.
 I am thankful for the moments, 10 minutes after a fist fight, when The Dude says "Aquaman? You're my best friend". And Aquaman says "You're mine, Dude." And The Dude, my huggiest little hugger says to the somewhat more prickly Aquaman: "hug??" And Aquaman says "ok" and they awkwardly hug each other.
 I am so thankful for the better year Aquaman is having in school this year. For the amazing teacher God has given him, for the friends he has placed in his life and that he has gotten his confidence back. Last night Aquaman told me that when he was making his thanksgiving card for me last year, his teacher told the whole class that if they didn't do a great job their parents wouldn't want to take care of them anymore. Now, to be fair, Aquaman felt so bullied by his teacher last year that he may have misinterpreted, but based on my encounters with the man I think the comment was entirely possible.
And I am thankful he doesn't have that teacher anymore. And that for every difficult one there is an amazing one. And that I am not terrified of public school anymore and wondering what I am going to do. And that I am wiser and will better know how to handle it next time.
 I am so thankful for Aquaman's growth, for his uniqueness that challenges me and exhausts me and shows me parts of myself that need to grow. So thankful for the incredible ways that his mind works and the way that a boy who has struggled so much with social and emotional delays can be so incredibly insightful into the hearts of others. Thankful for nightly story time when I read out loud and am constantly interrupted by his interpretation of the events, or his asking questions about them. That used to drive me crazy that he wouldn't just listen, but now I have come to really appreciate the window into his mind and heart at these times (as long as I have not taken my anti nausea medication, which makes me want to pass out, too soon), and it makes choosing new books for him interesting and fun.
 I am so thankful for his relationship with Greystoke. He is so gentle and so kind and so patient most of the time with him. He is so responsible and relishes the opportunities that I necessarily give him to entertain Greystoke and protect him and give him attention. Their friendship is absolutely beautiful. And it makes me look forward even more to seeing the kindness he shows to his baby sister...whom he is, on the outside, still wishing was a boy, but I know he will be absolutely adorable with her.
I am still so thankful for my happy Greystoke. He wakes up in the morning with the biggest smile on his face, and it rarely leaves him. He gives me hundreds and hundreds of hugs every morning, and has so enjoyed being a "big boy" who doesn't nurse anymore and (occasionally) uses the potty, but in the same moment he is always checking in to make sure he is also still my baby.
He is so easy going and flexible. I heard a radio show recently from a psychologist about helping angry kids with replace their "angry thoughts" with "flexible thoughts", with several key phrases to memorize and have been working on them with Aquaman who is so much more open to this stuff this year now that he is not so anxious and depressed. But this child, Greystoke, is just the king of naturally thinking flexibly. Aquaman always looks at him with envy and says "how does he DO that? How does he just say "ok, no big deal, when he really wants something?"
It's a happy life being happy.
He is two and a half now, so he certainly has his moments, but being that he is the third child and he doesn't ask for that much to begin with, I don't fight him nearly as much as I fought the other two. He wants to change clothes for the 3rd time because he got a miniscule amount of water on his shirt? Ok. Go for it. Whatever. Life is short.
His happiness makes him brave too. There is not much he is afraid of. And I often wonder what kind of adventures are in store for that guy. I'm just so glad that today I get to know him and to see him. It's pretty impossible to have a bad day with him around.
And I am so thankful for the Dude. He is all fire and strong will and extremes. He is the classic middle child, fighting all day with both brothers, and often finding himself left out and then longing to be let in. I am most looking forward to watching The Dude with his little sister. I feel that she is my biggest gift to him. The Dude and Greystoke are his best friends and worst enemies. But I really feel that this little girl will be his sweetheart.
He is such a wiry and affectionate, explosive and gracious little boy. He has settled down at school, getting three stars every day since the teacher started her new reward system. He is still struggling with his writing but he works away at it patiently, sometimes tapping his forehead and saying to himself "ohhhh focus. Why won't you focus??" Or "Oh I hope this M doesn't turn into a W!!" He was evaluated by the OT at school who felt that his fine motor skills were fine and that he was simply immature. Big shocker. I am dying, at this point, to let him repeat kindergarten and go at his own pace...my older boys at least just seem to be late bloomers like their Dad and I am totally ok with that. He will grow up and be ready to write soon enough. I don't want a discouraging 1st grade. But we'll see. It's still early in the year.
He loves playing games, especially Candyland. He doesn't play much with toys, preferring strange things like rubber tubing, or bits of string, nails stuck into crayons, or hammering a coquina rock. I love his creativity and so far at least I am relatively sure he is the only extrovert in our family, and I love to watch him bubble up inside and bloom among people.
I am so so thankful for the flexibility of my job. That I can pick the boys up from school every day if I want to, and thankful that I don't because the grandparents love spending time with them. I am thankful that I can make The Dude cream of wheat with strawberries in the middle of the afternoon, and break up all their fights and watch them play in the sandbox even though there are a million other things to do. Thankful for the extra income right now so that we can save for the new air conditioner and the maternity leave and the additions we are going to need to make on our home eventually and retirement and everything else we need to be saving for.
And thankful for the opportunity to see the other side of life, the elderly, who have been there done that and are looking back.
I am mostly thankful that JT does not have to work two jobs anymore. That he comes home at nights now and we can make campfires on the grill, or play Candyland together, or take a walk, or play trains. And especially thankful for this month and the next when he has weekends off and we can have a vacation every single week just being together.
I am so thankful for JT and who he is and for 9.5 years of marriage. Thankful for how much I love to be near him, for how he understands me, for how gently and adeptly he loves me throughout these crazy days in our lives, even when we are both tired and the work is never done.
I am thankful for the returning energy of my pregnancy though it hasn't come back as quickly as I had hoped. Thankful that even though I am still nauseous and resigning myself to the fact that it may remain the rest of the pregnancy, that at least I seem to have stopped getting sick.
It still hasn't really fully registered that I am going to have a little girl in the spring, but I am so thankful for surprises like that. For moments of realizing that you are being given a most special gift that you didn't even know you wanted. I know she is going to really be something. I can't wait, can't wait, to meet her.
I am thankful for cooler weather, and holidays, and family, and friends.

For two sets of grandparents that just pour into my kids, that love them and give to them because they want to, not because they have to. My children are so lucky to have that kind of village around them, I know so many do not.
I am thankful for our little house. The house that I really hated early in my pregnancy because every time I walked into it I would smell something and throw up.
It felt small and hot and cramped and claustrophobic.
But now that I am feeling better again it just feels like home. It feels like peace. It feels cozy.
The more time goes by the more we talk about staying here, which I know so many will think is crazy, but I guess we are minimalists at heart.
I don't want to deprive my kids or make them feel claustrophobic, but there is a no trend toward smaller houses, and I think it is a good trend.
We're family, we don't need to hide from each other.
We've realized we can enclose our porch, our balcony, and even knock out the wall between the walk in closets and make them a bedroom. So we can still have some small private spaces.
We love our neighborhood, love our schools, and most of all love the financial freedom of not being slaves to a mortgage. I don't want a huge house that I have to work and miss my kids' childhoods to pay for. In the end, I think the best gift I can give them is to show them that people matter more than stuff. That time is more important than money.
But I digress. I guess what I am saying is, I am thankful for options.
A year ago I never would have guessed we'd have a baby girl on the way. Life is full of surprises like that.
I am thankful for surprises.


I am thankful that God endlessly pursues me. That every time I open His word He comforts me with something new. Thankful that when I get "too busy" to search for Him and make time for Him and make space for Him, He waits patiently for me and doesn't condemn me, only loves me.
Just looks at me and loves me.