Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Micah In The Middle

Selfishly, I probably always wanted three kids just simply so I could have a middle child. And my Micah is so much like me, in looks, personality, and birth order.  Being in the middle has its pros and cons.  You get to be both a big and little sibling.  But you never get your own room (unless you live in a mansion). You are never first or last. The middle seat in the car tends to be yours.

When I was in the fifth grade I remember sitting at the kitchen table and my mom handed me a present. "What is this for?" I asked.
"It's a 'just because' gift." my mom said.
Just because I was me. Just because I was in the middle. Just because that was a really tough year.  I'm not sure but it will forever be one of my favorite memories. I opened the box to find purple leggings, complete with stirrups, and a white sweatshirt with a multi-colored confetti design on it. I LOVED that outfit and wore it as much as possible. And every time I did, I remembered that it was just for me. And just because.

Recently, life has been hard for little Micah. School isn't as easy for him as it is for Jack.  His very best friend from Kindergarten is turning out to not be such a good friend this year.  He seems just a little lost in the chaos that is our family.

A few Saturdays ago between soccer ending and Christmas stuff starting, we found ourselves at home. It was the perfect day for a date with Micah.  Instead of pb&j for lunch, we headed to his favorite restaurant, Subway, for a lunch date. One tuna sandwich with cheese, olives, and pickles, later, we were set.  I tried a bite of his and gagged. He tried a bite of mine and declared it disgusting. We both agreed we loved our own sandwiches. We talked about school, soccer, and Hunger Games.

It wasn't a gift but it was a lunch date, just because.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Our Fake Thanksgiving With Strangers

That is what the boys called it.  I kind of thought it was more like mission work in our own backyard.  But whatever you called it we did host a thanksgiving meal, on Saturday, to three strangers.  And some really good friends.

For several weeks in our church bulletin there was an announcement to host a group of international students in your home for a Thanksgiving feast. The idea was that these students will spend a year or more in our community and never actually step foot into a real home.

Ever since moving, I have felt so blessed by our house.  It is not a giant house but the open space does allow for entertaining (even if the kitchen is quite small).  I have tried to be open to how we could share our home with others, but so far no one has taken me up on the offer to move into our extra bedroom. I thought hosting a meal for international students was a good first step.

Brandon was not as excited when I mentioned it to him. In fact he thought it was a bad idea.  Probably because the students were here to learn English and it would be challenging to converse with them.  I sweetened the pot by adding that we would invite some friends of ours from church (fingers crossed that they would actually come).  Plus, I said, remember when my mom used to host Japanese exchange students and how much my niece and nephew loved them?  This will be so fun, and a good experience for our kids.

It wasn't until I was getting instructions on how to buy a Halal turkey and to definitely not cook any pork that I realized I may have made a mistake in who I thought would be coming over. It wasn't Japanese international students but rather students from Saudi Arabia.

And this is when I realized just how ignorant and biased I was towards people from the middle east.  I have been reading the book, Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker, and in it she talks about going out into your community and serving the least, the forgotten, the forsaken.   For her it was walking alongside the homeless community and creating true relationships with them.  Realizing that they have stories that are not so different from you and I. That by loving them she is truly living out God's message to serve the forsaken.  When reading this in my small group a friend shared how she felt towards Muslims, and I remember thinking, 'huh, I don't know any but I am sure I am fine with them'.

Turns out that was not the case. As soon as I knew that we would be hosting students from the Middle East, I actually started to hope no one would show up. We live far from our church so transportation was an issue.  Maybe we would just end up with a thanksgiving party with our friends. Wouldn't that be fun? It would, but that wasn't the point.

We got our list of names on Thursday, we said 4 students who could provide their own transportation. 5 signed up and 3 needed rides.  And they were all men.  This is when I truly started to panic, and all of my ignorance came to light. I don't even know how to refer to these men are they Arabic, Egyptian (so not right, but Jack did a great Egyptian dance for them), Muslim, Middle Eastern?  How do I explain them and their customs to my boys?

The day finally arrived. I had emailed and called all the names on our list and had no response. I finally got an email from one of them asking for a ride.  An hour before dinner was to be ready Brandon left to drive 35 minutes to pick up our guests. In a moment of panic I called a friend and left a rather crazy message that basically said, "what if they get in Brandon's car with a backpack. Should we ask to see inside?" You know in case they have a bomb. DO YOU SEE HOW INSANE I WAS? It was humbling to realize just how afraid I was.

In the end our fake thanksgiving was better then most of us expected. One of our friends said he didn't really think this would be fun but he was going to support our mission outreach, but it turned out to be really good.  Our three guests were nice young men, who are far from home and their families.  It made me sad to think of sending my (in the future) 19 year old son so far away to live and attend school. We talked, we laughed, we probably confused them with our quotes from Friends, and scared them with our food.  Upon leaving all three guests said, "thank you for your hospitality". I hope they truly felt welcomed at our house.

It wasn't the experience I was expecting, and it wasn't quite a fake thanksgiving with strangers, but it was how we had, Sultan, Mohammed, and Turkey over for dinner.

Welcome in Arabic

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

And That's a Wrap

Micah just finished his 3rd year of soccer. I'm not sure how we became a soccer family, or even why we started in the first place. Finally after many practices and rainy games, we have an official soccer player on our hands.  This was the first year where the kids actually played real soccer, complete with goalies.  Micah loved being goalie. I kind of think it was because he didn't have to run as much when he was goalie.

This past Saturday was our last game of the season. With the way our fall has been, I have missed several of his games. Getting ready on Saturday he asked if I was going to be at his game.  I told him of course I would be there. And I was so glad I was.  Micah scored the winning goal of the game. It was only his second goal of the season, and the only one I was there for.  Micah kicked it and then we all held our breath as it went towards to goal, slowed down, and then (to be honest) ricocheted in.  But all that mattered was the ball went into the goal. Micah paused and then turned to look at me, with a "did you see that?" look on his face.  Indeed, I did, my sweet, competitive, soccer-loving boy.

The soccer star with his coach

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Windy City

Any Calamity Jane Fans out there? All weekend long I've been singing:

I just blew in from the windy city
The windy city is mighty pretty
But they ain't got what we got, no sirree

That's pretty much all I know. The point is I went to Chicago this weekend. On a plane. All by myself. And, while this may not be a big thing to many of you, it was a HUGE trip for me.  I got on an airplane by myself, figured out the public transit system in Chicago, made my way downtown, where I finally met up with my friend.  Had a great 48 hours in Chicago, before getting back on the train and doing the trip in reverse.  My usual way to travel, especially by plane, is to pretend it's not happening and rely on Brandon to tell me what to do. I did rely on him to tell me how to navigate the airport, train, and when to get off at the right station. But other then that I relied on my friend. Good thing she likes to plan trips.

Here is recap of our time in Chicago

Momo, my traveling partner, is locked in and ready to fly.

Momo - that apple is not for you!

Momo is SO happy to have landed.

Momo is super excited to be on the train, a little worried about some of the other people on the train. Maybe he should just stay in the purse for safety.

All tucked in to for the night. Traveling is extremely stressful work.

Momo was so excited to see his first glimpse of downtown Chicago.  Hmm.

Momo had to take a quick shopping trip to Target to pick up all the things I forgot in my rush to leave for the airport.

Momo visits the bean! 

We did not come here to ride the bulls, Momo!

Momo, it's too cold to swim!

Coffee makes everything so much better.

Momo is all tucked in for the night.  

Wait a minute! Momo, what are you doing in my purse!

Momo didn't want to miss out on seeing the view from the John Hancock building. Silly, Momo.

Momo gets to ride in a taxi! Best part of the trip!

Coffee love.

Momo put your life jacket on. We are about to go for a ride!

Ah, Momo, finally you found the famous Italian Beef. Yum!

Momo can't wait to take off. 

Momo has landed. Such relief!

Home at last Momo!

Such sweet relief. It was great to see my friend, visit a very cool city, but I did learn an important lesson on this trip. Do not fly without drugs. The poor man next to me on the ride home may have thought I was headed to a funeral. Slight panic attack, followed by some not so slight tears, followed by lots of wine.  Even Momo was embarrassed. 

Friday, October 18, 2013


A pet peeve of mine is checking people's blogs, only to find out they have written a new post all day!  If it's been a couple of days, I write that person off, they are dead to me. Ironic isn't it, since this blog has barely been updated in the past few months.

I have many things to blame it on: raising three boys, soccer, Brandon, Brandon's hair, online class, Friday Night Lights. But it basically comes down to this: I'm just too tired. At night, when I can write, all I want to do is sit on the couch and watch TV (hence my obsession with FNL).  The effort to open my computer and actual write something that makes sense is too much. Plus, I may have had a glass of wine which makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside, but kind of kills the creative brain cells.

So for a little bit, I am just going to state, there will be no more blog posts. Hopefully not for long, I do have an insane trip to Chicago next weekend that I feel warrants a blog post.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Turning Tables

I have written many times about our annual Seaside trip, I wrote about family camp, I even wrote about our trip to Spokane. What do all of these have in common?  They were trips I took the boys on and left Brandon home alone.  If you know me, then you also may have heard my slightly snide comments regarding how Brandon felt about these trips. This is the part of the blog where you can roll your eyes and decide I am a terrible person, it's okay.  You see, every time I left, Brandon would be sad. From the first trip when Jack was 8 weeks old, to family camp this summer, when Jack was now 8 years old, he hates when we leave.  I used to say to him, and probably my friends, MOST guys are happy when their wives leave and take all the kids with them.  I didn't understand why he had such a hard time with it.

Brandon has slowly begun to come along with us on our trips.  Seaside, is no longer a sister's weekend, more like a Sister-Wives weekend.  I did ask Brandon to come when Finn was born because I did not feel that I could keep all 3 boys safe at the ocean for the weekend. Considering I lost Jack one year, that was probably a very wise parenting decision.  Family Camp is now truly "family camp" as Brandon joins us for the weekend (that is another blog post).  There are no trips that I now take with just the boys, and part of me is sad for that.  Slight tangent: being a mom of 3 boys, I feel a strong need to do things with just the boys and myself.  Camping in the woods with just mom? I think that is a pretty cool adventure and a memory the boys will always have with them.  

So, when Brandon told me he wanted to take the boys camping, my first reaction was: no way.  Selfishly, I didn't want hm to have his own special trip when I didn't get to have one.  Also, I have a terrible fear of being home alone. Immature, probably, but still as soon it is dark, I am locked in the bathroom crying.  I blame it on the movie, Are You In the House Alone? Don't watch a scary movie with older boy cousins around. They will scare the bejezus out of you and forever cause you to be in therapy.

I handled the weekend away as I handle most things that scare me. I pretend it's not happening. Even up to the minute they were leaving, I was cleaning the bathrooms and vacuuming. Packing, nope. Food shopping, not my job. I had no idea what clothes they were taking, what they were going to eat, or how Brandon planned to handle the weekend.  Even avoiding the issue, 4:00 still came, and the boys all climbed into the car.  

And that is when I started to cry. I tried to not cry in front of the boys, but it took Brandon a heck of time to finally get in the car to leave. By that time Jack said, "Mom, you have tears in your eyes." and then "Mom, I do too".  I give them the best smile I could, made a funny joke about having to take care of the dogs, and went inside.  And cried some more.  

Because now I know why Brandon hates it.  I did enjoy having time to myself at home, but I missed the boys so much.  I hated going to bed alone at night and having no one there to keep me warm. (Not to be mistaken with how much I love my weekend away, that is something I still love). But being home, without my family, was sad.

When I stopped crying, I went upstairs to get the coffee Brandon had made for me, and saw this:

And then I smiled.

Full Disclosure: I did not stay home alone, because I am that much of a wuss, my 16 year old niece stayed with me to keep me safe.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Another First

This week marked Finn's last first day of preschool. Next year he may or may not go to kindergarten, that has yet to be decided, but this will be our last year at this school.  Jack started here when he was 2 years old, for the past 6 years I have driven down the same road, walked up the same stairs to drop off one and sometimes even two boys.  This was my first step away from all kids all the time.  These teachers were the first to know that a little Finn was on his way. They were the ones to let me know that my Jack was more special then I even knew. This is where I made some of my best mom friends. Where I finally accepted that I was a stay-at-home mom and joined an organized mom's group.  This place has been my life for the last 6 years.

This summer we spent quite a bit of time looking at preschools closer to home, making pros and cons lists, trying to convince Finn he would love to go to a new school.  In the end, we chose to stay where we were. Long drive, short hours and all. This is where we felt we needed to be.  And when Finn came down the stairs after his first day of school and whispered into my ear, "I loved it". I knew we made the right choice.  This little boy gets one more year, to be in the big Pre-K, just like his brothers, to be with his very best friend, and to be mine for just a little while longer.

Friday, September 6, 2013

First Day

The first day of school has come and gone. In some ways I am still in denial that summer is over, although our current weather is definitely fall/winter like.  This is the first year we are not starting a new school. We are finally in the 'returning' family group, and I couldn't be happier. It was so nice to go in and see familiar faces, say hi, and even give hugs. Okay, that last part wasn't my favorite but I persevered and gave several rather awkward hugs.  

The day to find out our teachers arrived and I think I was more nervous then the boys. I knew in my mind who would be perfect teachers for the boys and I hoped the higher ups at the school had realized that also.  Micah got Jack's teacher from last year, who I love, and knows all about my terrible crying at parent-teacher conferences behavior, so that is a plus.  Jack got the teacher I was 100% convinced we would not get.  Seriously, when Brandon saw Jack's name outside the room he looked at me and said, "this is it".  Wait, what?!  It took me a second and I was still a little in shock as we walked into Jack's room, but by the 3rd day of school, I am convinced this was the best choice for Jack.  He was up before 7AM on Thursday ready for school because he had such a good first day.  Now, that didn't happen today, but that's okay. He was still dressed and in the car on time.

The actual first day of school was a blur. I couldn't believe how fast the time went. I had a long list of things to do. Make a special dinner of the boys choosing, CHECK. Burn dinner while wasting time on FaceBook, check.  Make healthy chocolate chip cookies, CHECK. Burn the granola I had to make to add to the cookies, check. Taste cookies and immediately spit them out, CHECK.  Rush to get boys so I would be in the correct carpool lane of them to find me, CHECK.  Pick up happy boys who loved their first days, CHECK, CHECK, CHECK.

The boys had great first days, they loved seeing friends, and getting to know their new teachers. Finn and I are settling into life just the 2 of us again.  Which means watching TV and reading blogs, and buying treats at Starbucks.

All in all the transition to back to school went well. Up next, Finn returns to preschool!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Last Full Day of Summer

School does not start until next Wednesday but yesterday was the last day where we woke up with no agenda. I had purposefully left this week as empty as possible to try to soak up some last minute time with my boys. What I failed to realize is that we are all pretty ready for school to start. Now, I'm not looking forward to getting up early, making lunches, having homework, and what not, but I am ready for the routine and predictability of school. And, I believe, the boys are ready to be with someone that is not me.  Although Jack did say today he wished summer was 10 more weeks, I truly believe they are as ready as I am.  

Even so, I was determined to make this last day count. I asked the boys for ideas on what they wanted to do on this last day. Micah offered up open swim at the local pool. Jack first said stay home all day, which was not a huge shock, but then changed it to the zoo. Finn just echoed whatever his bothers said.  Going into Thursday I was debating swim or zoo, zoo or swim. Really, both are my least favorite activities, but it wasn't about me (or so I kept telling myself).

Unfortunately we woke to rain on Thursday. At first it was a little rain, and I thought we could probably do the zoo but then it said thundershowers/lightning were predicted later. So, no swim or zoo for us.  Instead, and I know you are all dying to know, we went BOWLING.  The one bowling alley near our house was recently torn down so it was pretty fun to surprise the boys by telling them we were going bowling. They were pretty sure I was crazy.  But we went, we bowled, and we had a really good time.

Showing our muscles

Agony waiting to see if any pins would be knocked down

Finn has the longest ball roll ever, sometimes it didn't even make it

And bowling makes us hungry

Also, I won. But I guess I shouldn't gloat since my competitors were under the age of 10.