Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Between the lines

"Few people will understand that to love is like being able to select and read a good book. They don't just stop at the title or the cover. They stop because...they wanted to read the content. They wanted to read each word, each sentence, each line, but most of all, what was in between the lines."
-Lauren Klarfeld

I like doing life with my family. I don't mean just the highlight reel. Birthdays, holidays, vacations, and other extraordinary days. But the guts of life. The mundane, hard, suck the very being out of you stuff. It's not always pleasant. It's loud and busy and messy. And it's rarely easy. The tantrums and attitudes and fighting and sleepless nights. But it's these ordinary moments bookended between the photo worthy ones that stick with me the most. Homework and baths and chore charts and endless pages of chapter books and tummy raspberries and high-pitched giggles and kitchen dance parties and school drop-offs and grocery runs and towering laundry piles and a life lived like a run-on sentence because it simply doesn't stop, like, ever. It goes on and on. The good and the bad intermingling. The ordinary and extraordinary distant cousins. Each day resembles the next, yet distinctly different.

I like doing life with my family. Even on the nights when we're sitting around the supper table and the only thing I can think of as my favorite part of the day is nap time. Because yesterday or tomorrow a definite favorite will stand out, and someone will hooray with agreed enthusiasm--their favorite part of the day was the exact same thing! This life may not be glamorous or easy and it's definitely not mess free or quiet, but it's mine and it's my very favorite.

Here are some pictures from last month when I thought it was a good idea to take all three kids out for their yearly photo shoot--at the same time. The experience could be the perfect metaphor for our life. Disastrous, with both kids and parents having tantrums and attitudes and poor listening skills, but ultimately coming together to get the job done. And messy. Always with the mess.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Ordinary Moments

"Enjoy the little things in life. For one day you may look back and realize they were the big things."
-Robert Brault

As fall winds down, I look back at the whirlwind days. I'm always thinking the next season of our lives will be slower, but things only seem to increase in speed. Our days zoom by, leaving quite a bit of wreckage in their wake. The beautiful wreckage that leaves a trail of evidence that might otherwise be overlooked as ordinary and discarded. But isn't the ordinary really the extraordinary in the grand scheme of things? Two smiling boys getting off the bus and running with open arms to their sister. "Jillie!" they exclaim, and she bounces on her butt and squeals her hello. The walks to the mailbox, each journey unique depending on which mode of transportation each kid chooses--bike, trike, scooter, wagon or running. The frustration level during homework, one kid whining for a snack, another an obnoxious distraction. The supper time struggle to get food in bellies and plates cleared from the table, yet a family convening together to share their days' highlights.

These ordinary moments transpire daily but are often dusted into the recycling bin, a new day of moments ready to replace them. I know that these will stand out far above the extraordinary moments when I reminisce these child rearing years, though, so I strive to document them as best I can.

As we bulldozed through yet another season, we certainly collected quite a few of these keepsake moments. This fall brought us extended warm days to frolic in the golden leaves and binge on all things pumpkin. We're on the precipice of a new season, but I'm still enjoying this one, as I'm sure I will long after it's gone.

Along with the small, ordinary moments, we also collected some big ones in the form of costumes and candy. Halloween is one of our favorite holidays. We talk about it for months leading up to the big day. Ashton has bins of costumes in his room that he pulls from daily, one minute living in the world of Gotham City fighting Bane and Joker, the next minute shooting webs from his Spider-Man glove. Yet on the one day it is socially acceptable to dress up, he decides he'd rather be Ashton. I spent the whole day convincing him that he'd have much more fun spending his Halloween in a costume. Finally, he selected one from the bins in his room, and after we collected Spencer from tutoring at school, we wasted time outside on the beautiful day. Waiting a few hours for trick or treating time is awfully hard when you already waited 365 days. 

This year Jillian wore the giraffe that both boys wore as one-year-olds and Spencer recycled his army pilot costume from last year. When it was finally go-time, we formulated a plan and set out on our cul-de-sac to hit up all the houses. The boys ran ahead of us, then impatiently waited until we caught up before they were allowed to ring the doorbell. Ashton announced every single time that he does not like Skittles, and, finally, at the second to last house we managed to break him of that rude disclaimer. Jillian happily rode in the stroller, the plastic pumpkin pal resting in her lap, the three pieces of candy she collected firmly gripped in her hand. She barked at every house in anticipation of another dog sighting. When we hit up the last house, we retired home and the boys sifted through their buckets to pick the three pieces they were allowed and snuggled up on the couch to enjoy our tradiational Curious George Halloween movie. The Halloween wreckage still litters our house, signs of a successful holiday. Now on to the next one.