Sunday, May 29, 2011

Life in the HC

We found ourselves at the Humboldt County Kinetic race today.  Found as in, went deliberately and then kept our children there despite tears and complaints of being cold.  This was the first I'd heard of the event and anything involving sculptures that have to be peddled and floated in a frigid ocean is a must see in my book.  I was especially eager after hearing that many of them sink almost immediately.  Not much better than costumed people bailing from a plaster, flower bedecked, twirling ball bike/boat.  A comedy of errors is great fun for the masses, it requires little other than watching 'sane' people flail through their trust in untested creation.

Not being from Humboldt I was amazed at the amount of people that came out for this and I have to say that one of the things I love about it here is the carefree, joy that escapes the majority.  Those making a statement, are a statement, the few who came to observe the spectacle, those who are the spectacle, the educated, the idiots and the massive amount of dogs.

Good times.

People pushing, getting wildly annoyed when touched, crowding beyond comfort zones, and me in there happily allowing my children to run through their legs.  Cries of 'I think it's going to sink' would cause a wave of people to grow and bend in the direction of the most recently launched spectacle.  We'd cram together to watch painted, spandex wearing 'originals' bale, then attempt to push their unmanned boat to the nearest dock.  Then we'd breathe a sigh and watch the next.   The MC would scold the crowd, mock the contestants and generally make a nuisance of themselves, but they had the microphone and as of yet a PhD does not seem to be required to wear thin the patience of the masses.

We finally found a grassy spot, near the lapping water, the wind whipping hard against our faces and the boats that survived softly floating past.  Avalyn had a moment in her element as she landed directly next to a very tired old dog who didn't seem to mind her constant pats and exclamations of 'cute doggy!!'.  Veterans of this event floated canoes, kayaks, crowded on ships to have a front row view.  A long haired woman in a boat lifted her wand and blew large, glistening bubbles over the crowd.  For a moment as wind broke, waves crested, people humming in shouts and conversation, boats bobbing, children running, hippies, yuppies, the old, the young milled in happy abandon to be.

 I was reminded of what brings America together.  That while we are divided between politics, religion, race, generation and belief for a moment we choose to be united in a common purpose.  Comedy merging life.

Before long we succumbed to the whining complaints of I'm freezing and can we go now?!?  We weaved through parents pushing strollers, pom pom twirling, the undead, men in orange jumpsuits, old women in woven hats, coffee drinking, dog leading, crowds milling together.

We landed at the line of 'ships' preparing to launch, next to a couple with two children and their dog.  All watching the crowd of people sing, chant, encourage, laugh and prepare to sink or swim.  Eventually my coffee ran out and as Avalyn enjoyed the last drops, Judah raced, Eric cursed and I blissfully captured the moment in my unskilled clicks of the camera.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Being a parent.

There are days that start in peaceful quiet, warm and smooth.  A full cup of coffee that goes down hot.  Where the aroma is enough to lure you out of bed and into the joy of snuggles and books.  The day's promise looms on the horizon and you take it in, soft and gentle.

Then.  There are days where the harsh sound of vomit landing on the carpet propels you with more force than that of a jet engine.  When you make it just in time to land in a heap with your crying child in your lap.  Your mommy hands wiping his tears, smoothing his hair off his hot feverish face.  When that cup of coffee is desperate and drunk in heavy chugs in the quick run by's between children in need.

Good Morning.

How many of you remember the new parents (or were those) who would become greatly annoyed when the veterans would share their tales of violent displays of tantrum, marathon labors and the unsavory *ahem* aspects of parenting.  May I just say that these are not scare tactics, but badges of honor that only parents who have been in the trenches can appreciate.  Therefore, what should be taken away is that women who have not yet experienced the throes of an all nighter with a cholichy baby only to be awoken from the scant moments of sleep to a vomiting toddler, have no value for what awaits.  BUT!  When they get there, will be thrilled to express their mighty mommyness, when they persevered, endured, only to collapse in a heap of exhaustion after the last child had closed their eyes in a Tshirt reeking of vomit, matted, greasy hair, to be awoken by the sound of. . .    You get the picture.  They however will not.  

There are also the parents who may never grasp this REALITY this, who may stop at one, who may have envyingly amounts of outside help, who may have those (I've heard of them, but can't attest to) EASY kids.  The thing is, every person's experience is DIFFERENT.  Some parents may be let off the hook. . .  And, they'll never know, because everyone's reality is the hardest, most painful, most intense.

I like the club of parents who span time, race, generation, religion, politics, to land in the glorious puddle, of 'oh yeah, well this one time'. . . !  Not to outdo one another, but to share in joyous experience that comes from the refining chaos of parenting.  This raising of children is the scariest thing that you will ever do.  It will consume you from the moment you bring your helpless, perfectly scrubbed infant home and check their breathing twenty times the first hour, to the day they start school, to when they peel out in your car, to when they pack their bags and leave, to when they call to tell you they're starting a family.  So, I chuckle a little when the pregnant woman reaches over and says, we prefer to not be 'scared' about what awaits.  I just hope they're grounded enough to push up their sleeves when the poop flies.  And you thought having a monkey would be a chore.

  There are different ways to parent.  Where I've landed is head down, heart open, hands free, happy to be in each and every moment.  Even the ones that reek.  

I have been guilty of sharing my HORROR stories with new parents.  I'm very sorry for those that I've offended.  I guess to me they aren't scary, they aren't terrible experiences.  They are the amazing moments that I've been given to CHOOSE my CHILD over ME.  Where I've looked at the baby covered in bodily fluids, pulled them close and held them, because they needed my arms more than my disgust, they needed my love more than my practicality.   They needed their MOM and that was ME.

Today is one of those days, where I get to joyfully be in all of the moments that 4 years ago would have left me curled in the fetal position.  It's not even all that bad anymore.  What was once obscene has now become common.  I have been desensitized by the wild demands of my children.  and I LOVE it!  Here is to this DAY.  I'm thinking it's time for another cup of joe.  

Monday, May 16, 2011

a living hope

Flurry flurry, fast and fury, don't stop you're in a hurry.  Work work night and day, never ending, never play.   Can't take a break, can't think to worry.  All this busy, all this scurry leaves me empty, tossed and turning.

This has been my mantra, it plays in  my head as I load the washer, trail behind my children, constantly cleaning, trying to be creative, trying to refinish my chairs, trying to be a fun mommy, trying to educate them, trying to blog, trying to be all things to all people.  And I am failing.  Everything has been crumbling around me and rather than find the leaky whole, I'm cursing the skies pouring rain.  I've been exhausted.  I'm pushing myself beyond my abilities, demanding perfection.  For what reason?  So, everyone may pat me on the back and tell me I'm excellent.  It's a wonderful thing to hear isn't it?  I'm having to refocus my gaze, I do this a lot, and find the true reason for my life.  Uncover my real goals and realize that what I'm striving for is turning my world upside down and stealing from my true passion.

God.  He is all, in all, he is.  He is the first to get the boot in my life.  Perhaps because I am constantly praying I feel that I don't need to get on my face, be in his word.  It's easy to turn on worship music and call it good for the day.  There are millions of people who give their all to their deity and I begrudge a few moments a day to focus on the one who holds my heart.  It's time to push in, to make space to learn, grow and nurture the relationship out of which I live.

Kids.  I have been quick to shove them in front of a movie, pushing them out of my presence so that I can have a moment to accomplish one of the millions of tasks I give myself.  Then when their attitudes are effected and I feel my frustration mounting we enter a vortex of me against them, spinning wildly until we all retreat to our corners. This is my life's work, to steward my children, to uplift, build and strengthen them.  That they may start where I end.  Refocus.  This is my priority.  Time to get muddy, to lie in jammies reading books under the table, to be in their day.

My house.  I love to clean.  I love every corner of my world to be in perfect order.  It makes me happy and when things are out of whack, I feel off.  But no one really cares what my house looks like, in fact my children are constantly fighting my efforts.  I'm learning to let go, embrace the mess a bit more.  Enjoy the life I can live when things aren't always in the correct place.  Laugh at the water puddles on kitchen floor and cuddle my kids while we lie outside in the mud and dance barefoot through the grass.  I do my best to remember that the saddest day of my life will be when there's no one to clean up after.

Create.  I love to make new things.  I am often thinking up fun crafts or projects I want to start.  It is very frustrating when I have to stop in the middle.  I am an accomplisher and in this present state I'm having to learn to be proud of baby steps.  But what I make with my two little hands will eventually fade, it will go out of style, break, or end up in the trash.  What I create with my presence, my words, my actions will grow up into a generation of people who are given over to transformation.

Perhaps I talk about this a lot.  It's what I have to come back to when I start down my own path.  Take the Uturn and press my face into the chest of an Awesome God and beg him to hold me, to lift me up, to give me grace, to sustain me when I'm sinking.  Most importantly to remember that no matter what I think NOTHING matters more than the two lives with whom I've been entrusted.  How blessed I am to be their mom.  I want nothing more than to be in the moments of their lives.  Everything else will slip away, but they will always remain.  My efforts will not go unrewarded, they will be passed down long after I have faded.  I do not effect a child; I effect a generation, a city, a country, a world.  It is a global responsibility to give the best to my children.

Eric asked me once when we were dating why, when their are 'too many' people I'd want to contribute to an overpopulated planet.  My response, if no one raises world changers the world will never change.  I do not want to just have children, I want to raise revolutionists who will transform the life of those around them.  I am not training my children to sit on welfare, but to contribute, to change the world in which we live.   If good people do nothing. . .

Just coming back to base.  Reminding myself where my passions lie.  It is not in the praises of men, but in the 'well done, good and faithful servant.'

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The child of my dreams.

Each day dawns, bright and full of promise.  The testament to life and joy.  The excitement begins, games are played until we fall exhausted into our beds at night.  I have the privilege of stewarding young minds, training them in imagination and reality.  It is full and incredible, it takes me beyond my strengths and leaves me dangling in new territory.  There is always something to be discovered, a march, through a life of dreams.

When I birthed my son I was prepared and eagerly anticipating all the things we would do, mountain biking, rock climbing, snowboarding, fully grasping life in our ever clenching hands.  Judah is fearless, he takes big heaping gulps and always asks for more.  His eyes are wide and ever open for adventure.  He is my dreamer, my risk taker.  He is my friend, quick to cuddle and incredibly aware of the moods and feelings of those around him.  He's never been a violent kid, it's just not something in him.  He cares too much, is too wildly connected to those around.  I am amazed at him, I love the time we spend and the constant pursuit of more than we can handle.

My daughter snuck into my life.  Like a mine field there's no going around her and when she is encountered, beware, there's always an explosion.  2 years ago there was not anything in me that wanted a daughter.  My life had been filled with pain and I was too afraid of the effects that would have on a little girl.  Like a red cord of agony weaving through the generations the mother/daughter relationships in my line have been filled with pain.  I decided long ago it would just be best to not hand that down and hoped that I would be blessed with lots of boys.

Exactly two years ago Eric and I drove from Eureka to Redding to find out the identity of the baby nourished and growing in my womb.  As we crested the hill and began to descend, Eric looked over and said, 'I'll be okay if it's a girl.  We just have to name her Avalyn Rhodes. It's the only name I like.'  It's the first time he was open to our having something other than a boy.

We knew even before the Dr told us, that it was a girl.  We were there because we hoped it would be a boy.  It wasn't disappointment I felt at the words.  Just fear, thin and crimson, slicing through me.  What if all I gave her was pain.  What if she screamed 'I HATE YOU I HATE YOU!!'  Because I had failed.  Had left her when she needed me, misunderstood, misrepresented, and thrown her under when I should have held her up.  What if.

I knew in that moment, my stomach exposed, my baby moving.  Vulnerable.  That she would not be a life unwanted, no matter what it took I would heal my brokenness that I might give her a platform to start from.  I chose her, right then.  I became desperate for her.  Knew that I had always longed for her and despite my fear, I was the best for her.

Avalyn means desired life.

I began to dream.  I dreamt of flowers and ruffles, long talks and shopping trips.  Lying in a field of flowers weaving daisy chains, twirling for the thrill, laughing in a canopy of joy.  One day I would watch her birth life and I knew I wanted her to be prepared, without fear, to fully receive what she would bring forth.

It is amazing to me that in the last few months of my pregnancy God fully restored my relationship with my mom and her's with my grandma.  This was not a sudden thing.  Just the completion.  I'd been working through and learning to forgive and live with my past for the last ten years.  Through our healing, my mom was able to work through the hurts from her mom.  Restoration.  Healing, peace and joy.  We created a legacy of health and life.  And quietly a cord of pain turned to a stream of promise.  Strength and life.

Avalyn.  My daughter.  She is strength, in a line of strong women.  She is life without fear.  She is free to be whomever she chooses.  She is passion without limit.  She is beauty, untarnished.  She rules from her two foot height, eyes wide, hair wild, she directs all within her vicinity.  She is joy and laughter.  She is a quick smile, a dance when no ones watching.  She lives wildly and free.  She is my child.  The full explosion of a line redeemed.

I do not have mellow children.  They are an imprint in the sands of life.  They run, they shout, they dance, they grab hold of the wild ride and laugh wildly through the jarring turns and perils that leave others biting their nails.

We live.

Friday, May 6, 2011

excusing my excuses.

I am thankful for grace, for surely without it I would not be where I am today.

I did not realize until recently that the things in or not in my life were my fault.  That I truly could be all that I wanted and dreamt of being, but that I would have to step out and become that person.  I am amazed at the amount of years that I have wasted.  Yes.  Wasted.  Because God is awesome and has used me even when I didn't realize, there is redemption in those years, but. . .   I've been feeling the weight of where I could be if I hadn't settled for where I was, allowed myself to be bogged down in my circumstances.  There are so many things that I have not accomplished and I have the list of excuses to prove it.  I don't consider myself a perfectionist, but I have this crippling fear of failure.  I also have an overactive imagination.  Not necessarily a good combination.

I will spare you all of the things that I could have done, but didn't.  They are easily seen on my resume.  I have often become sidetracked in quick remedies that don't have lasting weight.  I am learning to be faithful, to be diligent.  

I have a confession.  I have complained, since having kids, of all of the things that I wanted to do, but couldn't because they took up all of my time.  Do you ever want to slap yourself?  Where are all of the people who should have slapped me?  Then we could have had a very straight talk, where I would have stormed out, come back, cried, and God help me, hopefully have seen the light.

Some things I guess you just have to learn for yourself.  

I am therefore learning, that there are not any excuses for my not being where I'd like, just a list of poorly thought out choices.  That seem very big and important.

In order to come near my dreams, I have to practice every day.  

Only I can steal my dreams and I have been very successful of robbing myself.

Children are all encompassing and keeping a clean house is work, but if I am focused I can find the time to learn, to practice and to better, even me.

For too long I thought that when the kids went to school I would start on my dream list. Then I realized I would probably be working while they were in school and it would again be pushed to fantasy.  So, I'm taking the time that I can find to push into my dreams, to write, to accomplish little tasks every day.  I'm choosing to better myself.  I'm sorry for all of the excuses that I have made.  They seemed very real at the time.  For better or worse, fail or succeed, I've struck out, hopefully something will last.  

Failure seems to have marked my past.  I think I have almost a phobia of it.  The moment I start to think that I won't be good at something I just quit.  This is my 25th blog.  I don't know if it's really that great, but I'm excited to keep it going.  Because I'm pushing through my fears that while no one may like what I do.  If I don't continue to practice I will never get better, I will never know success.  I hate quitting, it is a nauseous thought, I'm excited to quit it.  Here is to a life filled with accomplishment.  Regardless of renown or size, if I am never recognized or heralded, the mark of faithfulness will be there for my children, a footstool for their legacy.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

(not) my life.

I am ill.  Not fainting, hospitalized or fanned by worried loved ones frantically waiting for me to recover, ill.  More lethargic, grumpy, glaring at the glorious day and suitcases waiting to be unpacked, ill.  What a fantastic word and wildly overused so quickly.  Much better than sick.  Ill is a beautiful woman resting on a couch of pillows, tiny drops of sweat forming on her brow and perfectly red lips turned oh so slightly down.  Whereas sick is puking in a bucket or hacking up a lung.  Hmmm, come to think of it, we may be sick.  Either way I am not doing anything.  I should be.

There are suitcases in the hall half unpacked by Avalyn who has been taking things out and leaving them in random piles around the house or in cupboards.

There is popcorn in the couch (not on the couch because all of the cushions have been pulled off and look like bunker hills in a war zone) and flung like confetti over the living room floor.  Because this morning before I was fully awake I said yes to a movie and yes to popcorn.  New rule, nothing I say before coffee counts.

There is not any food in our house.  Which is not entirely true, but!  It does mean that my children have sucked on old lemons, stored banana chips in little corners of the living room like squirrels and half of the clothes pulled out of the suitcase have almond butter grub marks from Avi's little hands.  Almond butter on toast is a table or outside food, unless mommy is ill.  Then it is just a bigger mess to be cleaned 5 minutes before daddy comes home.

I think that my feet were dirty when I went to bed last night, which means the sheets must be washed today.

Ahhh laundry.  What an adventure this last little trip was.  Twenty minutes into the drive on Sunday Judah vomited, in the car.  Jiggity jiggity jog, home again to wash the hog. (sorry) Then back on the road.  Last night Judah woke somewhere between the shire and mordor and had to poop.  So he did.  In Avi's potty seat, in the car.  

Have I mentioned my chore list is a mile long?

Have I mentioned that for the very first time, it was MY child vomiting in a restaurant?   We went to Mongolian BBQ last night and as we were going through the line dishing up our food Judah began to vomit.  Thankfully I had just put him down, so this went on the floor and not all over the food.  He then puked all the way down the line til we made it to the bathroom and he felt 'all better'.  So we washed our feet, I took him to the car and changed him and we went back inside and finished our food.  Oh my goodness I can't believe we did that!  blech.

The things you I do.

I love my life.  I love that it is utterly unrefined, ridiculous, magical and hysterical.  Absolutely should not have taken my children from home this weekend.  ohhhhh well.

Does it ever seem that everything is a haze and you know you have to push past it, but just for a little while it is all encompassing?  In this moment I am engulfed.