My favorite time of day the past several months is the hour after lunch. Jack has afternoon kindergarten so after he has left for school we have an hour until quiet time. Schaeffer and Logan have become great playmates during this time. It's just the two of them which doesn't really happen all that often. And every day they spend this hour playing nicely. There is almost no fighting. They fully engage their imaginations. They converse constantly as their play takes them from one universe to another. I love just observing them during this time. They don't really want me and don't really need me. So I take the hour to listen in on their made up stories and get a few things done. This hour every day reminds me of one of the joys of twins. They are brothers, they are best buds, they are playmates and they are galactic heroes together. No one is older, no one thinks he knows better, no one is trying to control things, and no one understands more or less. They are equals and they play as two parts of one unit. Any other hour of my day and things probably look completely different, but for this one hour five days a week they have found a treasure in each other and I have found a treasure in them.
Here are a few signs that I live in a house full of boys...though these things could surely happen with girls too.
1. We have a sword basket in our kitchen. It actually is more of a general weapons basket with light sabers, throwing stars, swords, noodles and nun-chucks.
2. One constant reminder is the dart-like toy sticking out of one of the shades on our foyer chandelier. It has been there about a month and I expect it to stay there for many more, until we get around to bringing in a very tall ladder. (Thought it's possible a friend who is a girl did this!) Regardless, we find Nerf darts EVERYWHERE! During Christmas they added a nice orange pop to my mantel garland.
3. If anyone says anything related to poop, pee, underwear or butts (even just the word) they are the comedian of the moment and the household roars with laughter. Apparently these are the funniest words in the English language.
4. We are either loud, louder or quietly doing something we shouldn't.
5. Our favorite way to play any board game is to destroy it and scatter its remains all over the house.
6. Turbo is our normal speed unless it's time to get socks, shoes and coats on or get in the car.
7. Our drawings and colorings often are a bunch of scribbles described as a tornado or the Earth exploding.
8. Typical conversation in the car. "What if there was a tornado and it picked you up and you accidentally had to go to the bathroom so you pooped and the tornado blew your poop away and it landed on a boy who was in his bed sleeping and he woke up with poop on his face and he said ewww! why is there poop on my face?" other passengers in the car respond with a chorus of "ewww" and lots of giggles.
9. Our two favorite books are "I Love You Stinky Face" and "Underpants Thunderpants"
10. We have a limited understanding of girls. For instance, girls don't eat popcorn, gum or pickles (because I don't).
11. Tackling, touching or roughhousing of some sort is a daily, if not hourly, occurrence.
12. I have the privileged distinction of being "their girl" as the only girl in the house. They said the other day "Mommy is our girl". I thought that was so sweet.
If I had a hunch I'd say people older than me might chuckle at my realizations. They probably already know what I feel like I'm just starting to figure out. Learning about yourself is a lifelong process. I'll be honest, I thought surely by 30 I should have some things figured out. I'm learning that I have much to learn. I'm not talking spiritually. I learned in my 20s that sanctification was a life-long process, that spiritually we should always be growing and learning and changing to be more like Christ. What I'm talking about is the more mundane, day to day things of life. Like household chores and who I am.
Here's what I would tell you about myself. I am a procrastinator. The pressure of the last minute is a great motivator! I am messy. Keeping up with laundry and dishes and putting the mail and my clothes away is such a challenge. And why make the bed when I am just going to mess it up again? I like to think that my less than picked up house helps people feel welcome, like I don't need to put on a facade of perfection. I am a keeper. I have a hard time letting go of things because you just never know when you might need it again, or when you might remember what that thing goes to, or if your kids might enjoy it when they are older, or maybe a loved one gave it to me, or it's just too hard to let go.
These are all things that I have always thought were true of myself. But here is what I'm slowly learning.
True enough, I am a procrastinator. I've been known to push projects off until the last possible moment. Sometimes I think I have a sixth sense about just how much time I need to allow to complete a project. However, I have made a few attempts at not procrastinating lately and it turns finishing a project early is quite rewarding. It's much less stressful, allows for more regular sleep, gives a cushion of time if issues arise or things take longer than expected. It's quite thrilling to get things done early. Maybe I'm changing my ways.
Keeping a house in order is certainly a struggle for me. I always just took it as "that's just the way I am". My house growing up was often, or maybe almost always, a big mess and keeping a spic and span house just never seemed to be in my skill set. However, I'm slowly learning that I can be more successful in this department if I can just figure out systems that work for me and my household. And figuring out a system that works often starts with trying many systems that fail. So my house is a work in progress. But slowly I am figuring it out. And guess what? I love it when my house is clean (for me that means picked up and the floors and counters with no visible crumbs....not perfectly mopped, dusted and scrubbed). When the house is in order, rather than chaos, it frees me up to spend time with my kids, read or work on projects that I've been procrastinating on. So I'm not sure I'll ever be a "make the bed every day" kind of gal. But I'm learning the benefits of finding successful systems, sticking to them and enjoying a relatively clean house. Who knew?
I am not a hoarder....but perhaps I'm a step down. Minimalist has never been a word to describe me. I've been known to request the help of friends to sort through belongings and convince me that it's ok to through things away. I have visions of my children one day sitting in a storybook attic (that I don't have) reminiscing and laughing as they sort through my belongings and flip through my boxes of pictures and old schoolwork. However, as I sort through my parents basement with my mom and have previously been apart of sorting through Paul's grandparents old home....I have realized that I don't need to hold on to everything! In fact, it's a bit freeing to let go of the junk and the garbage that have filled bins and crawlspaces and attics and closets. I still hold on to some things. Because there are some things that really are wonderful to go back and look through. But mostly I'm learning to just let go.
Maybe by the time I'm 40 I'll be a morning person?
Yesterday was a day we won't soon forget. Partially because it was memorable and partially because our boys will not stop talking about it. Yesterday we hunkered down in our church worship center and weathered the storms that seemed to cover our state. I have never been so close to a tornado. I'd be ok if I am never that close again.
We had just finished up selecting a child's name from the angel tree and were gathering up the boys to head out of church. As we were gathering the power went out- we started for the door. Just as we got to the exit we heard people telling everyone to get into the worship center or another safe place. I wasn't sure why. Paul and I looked at each other, both thinking we should just keep walking and get to the van. A little bad weather wasn't going to scare us off and we wanted to get to lunch, not be stuck at church. As we looked at each other and had a silent conversation between us we heard that there was a tornado warning. We still wanted to head home. But then we saw that the church greeters and security and parking team members were ushering everyone that was outside, back into the building. Even if we tried, I'm not sure we would have been allowed to leave. For this we are praising God. We estimate that we would have been directly in the path of the tornado had we got in our van and drove away. Instead we complied and took the boys into the dark worship center. I have no concept of time after this. But shortly after we sat down you could hear the wind. Then our ears popped and people started saying to get down. As we pushed our kids onto the floor under the seats and put ourselves over them we could here debris pounding on the building and what sounded like a train go through. It was so fast. It was so scary and despite my best efforts I started crying. All during this time our church was amazing. I can't recall all the timing but during the worst of the storm there was prayer by our pastor, corporate prayer by those of us huddled together. We were praying, our children were praying. There was worship. I wish my pictures would have turned out. Hundreds of us gathered together lifting our hands as we sang to our King, our protector. After the worst seemed to have passed Paul went out to survey. When he came in and told me our van's windows had been blown in, I sat down and started crying again. I don't know why. It's a van, no big deal. But I think that was when we realized how close we were. That tornado went right through our parking lot. Cars had been pushed into each other. Metal from a nearby storage place was piercing cars, windows blown in, trees down, fences mangled. Those in our church who saw the most say the tornado came right to the edge of our sidewalk, blowing the doors to the church open and blowing debris in, but harming no one. Our God was with us. He was protecting us. Had that tornado scooted over and hit our building, there's no telling what would have happened but almost certain injury and probably death. I think this is what has me so shaken, even today. We are so grateful for God's protection yesterday. And we are so thankful for our church staff, volunteers and body. They handled the situation beautifully, without panic, with complete faith and trust in God. They reached out to highway passerbys who had minor injuries, they reached into their closets and pulled out what food they had for people who had no way home. Those whose cars were not damaged gave rides. We were one body, for Christ working together, sacrificially to meet the needs of those around us. I'm excited to see how we as a church can work together to help those more severely affected by yesterday's tornadoes.
I'm grateful this all there is to our story. Our family is all safe, our kids are
unharmed, and our house lost power, one shingle, our flag and a wreath. As I told our boys sitting in the dark yesterday, it is merely an inconvenience that our van was damaged. It's just a van. It can be fixed or replaced. So much of what people lost yesterday cannot be. So while I still feel shook up and I still keep tearing up, I am thankful for our situation and so prayerful for our neighboring towns.
It's been a big week here at the Friend house. Yesterday I accompanied Jack to his first, very short day of kindergarten and today he went for his first regular day, a half day in the afternoon. I am usually the type to be excited as my kids embark on new adventures and this was no exception. However, I was am extremely nervous and apparently a bit emotional. For the first day I kept reading and rereading all my school papers to make sure I had all the right supplies and did't forget any details like what time to arrive and where to go. I was so nervous and Jack thought it was just any other day. He said he was a little excited, not worried or nervous about anything, thought it was cool that Mason was in his class and was pretty much accepting of Silas not being in his class. Meanwhile I was practically biting my nails off! Day 1 was uneventful. Day 2 was today and I spent all morning watching the clock, ticking off the minutes until it was time to leave. We got their a few minutes early and although Jack was really excited to go in by himself he did ask if I would stand outside and wait with him while he waited for his teacher to start their line. It was so sweet of him and as I walked back to the van, waving good bye I started to tear up. I was so shocked at my emotions and honestly it took me a bit to recover. I couldn't even really tell you specifically why there were tears. I suppose it's just emotional seeing your kids grow up and take big steps like going to kindergarten. Probably safe to say I'll be a bawling mess when they go to college. Despite my continued nerves about this coming year I am so excited to seeing Jack learn and grow. Between him being in kindergarten and the twins starting preschool soon, I predict lots of change/growing up this year. Should be an exciting ride!
First day as a Lincoln Lion. All ready to go with his really heavy backpack full of supplies and his gift for his teacher.
Jack with his teacher, Mrs. Parkinson, at the end of his first full day of school. Hopefully he'll learn/remember her name soon!
This past weekend we enjoyed a long weekend in The-Middle-Of-Nowhere, Wisconsin with two other families for some fun and relaxation on Big Hills Lake. The Oxley Cabin has been our host before and it never disappoints. Somehow a lake setting is always so peaceful to me even with 7 kids running around. We enjoyed riding in the fast boat, tubing, walks, bike rides, wakeboarding, playing games and swimming at the beach. The kids had fun trying new things and playing with friends we don't see very often. The weekend almost took a terrible turn for the worse when Paul had a bad tubing accident. Thankfully, he survived with not much more than rope burns, soarness and bruises. Although I didn't see what happened because I too was being thrown into the water, from the looks and sounds of it the accident could have been A LOT worse than it was. We are so grafetful for God's protection and that Paul's head is still attached. The kids have been asking to go back since before we even left and Jack has proclaimed that he would like to live there instead of our home in Morton.
All the kiddos.
Within our first hour on the boat our fearless captain (Nate) ran over the rop to the tube getting it tangled in the motor. We spent the next hour and a half trying to flag someone down to tow us which is difficult when there is no one else out on the lake. Finally, Tanya caught the attention of these fisherpeople and they graciously pulled us home.
Paul tubing with the boys and wakeboarding.
The Oxley beach. Much fun had here.
Chanda and I tubing. She laughed the whole time and I screamed the whole time. Much fun was had here too.
Our garden has done quite well, despite our best efforts to let the weeds take over. I spent hours and days weeding in the spring and hardly made a dent. The task was so great that I pretty much just gave up. A few of our plantings did not reep a harvest due to the weeds but so much of the garden has done well, perhaps better than I expected. We've had radishes, peas, carrots, lettuce, onions and a few tomatoes. In July Dad picked our first round of corn which was perhaps not the prettiest, but was really delicious. Our second crop of corn yielded well over 15 dozen ears of corn and was good but we liked the first round better (we had tried two different types). The kids had fun running through the corn "forest" with their papa though I'm not sure they were ever too helpful with the harvesting. We've also had more cucumbers than I can handle from our one or two cucumber plants and it's not even done. We have had two watermelons from the garden which have been small and very seedy in my opinion but pretty tasty. We still have potoatoes left to dig up and our pumpkins are still growing. We have one (or maybe it's two) plants that have really gotten large and seem to have over a dozen pumpkins growing. We will see if it continues to do well. The kids would really enjoy picking pumpkins this fall.
I'm me. I blog my life. Most of it is about my three boys and my experiences as their mother. I try to keep it honest, real and funny when possible. Hopefully, one day when the memories have faded this blog will remind me of this sweet time of life when my babies were babies.