Saying "see you soon" to my shadow...

Aug 16, 2019

Max was born in the midst of a very dark season.  We had just moved to Washington and we were all alone with the exception of our one saving grace, the Schambari family, who offered a safe haven to our family on the nights we didn't feel like cooking (which was most), loved our children when I felt like I couldn't, and gave Chris a place to escape in the darkest part of our marriage (both figuratively and was winter in the PNW, if you know).

When I found out I was pregnant with him I was broken.  Everything was new, I was a new stay at home mom in a new state.  My kids were not yet old enough to be in school, so my vocation became get through the day without throwing up on anything, and the rewards felt significantly less tangible. I was tired, lonely, scared, friendless, and mad at my body for making the process of growing a new life so challenging.  I was mad at the tiny clump of cells forming inside of me for simply existing, and mad at all of the tension added to our family.  I put all of my fears into this child.  I put all of my doubts and anger into this innocent being.  I wasn't gracious, or loving,  and didn't hold even an ounce of excitement for the preparation of a new precious life entering the world. So when Max was born and I still felt a resentment towards his presence, I was scared.

Thankfully God met me in this place, like He does, He sat with me in my anger and lifted me out of my fear.  He blessed me with a heart of change.  He told me that it was okay to fear, but reminded me that faith and fear cannot coexist.  I clung to a fear that I would never find a place in my heart for Max to reside, but was reminded that faith could and would replace that fear and cover it with love.  

Oh how I love this boy. The places he filled in my heart can not be easily expressed.  He was everything I needed to lift me from my darkest hour.  God blessed me with his existence, it just took me a 9 stubborn months to see it.

Max quickly became my shadow. As the kids grew and entered school, he remained my sidekick.  In him, I see me.  From an early age he found the balance between needing to be near, and exploring his independence.  He plays by himself for hours, as long as I am within his immediate horizon.  He is obsessed with crafts and science projects.  He loves to read and was born with the skill of a perfect pencil grip.  He is shy and silly.  He is easily embarrassed, and just as easily deterred from tears if redirected to a quick distraction.  He has many comforts that are constantly changing, and almost impossible to anticipate.  His hand will always find mine as a source of security, and mine his.  He is the perfect 5th wheel to our (God willing) finished family of 5.

And so, I entered this past Tuesday morning, his first day of school, with trepidation, knowing it was the day I would have to let him go with a kiss and a "see you later".  His hand gripped mine so tightly, and with a bravery that challenged my own, he said goodbye and let go.  I said "see you soon" to my shadow, praying this next chapter will be just as beautiful as the last.

First day of school...

Aug 14, 2019

Trying to get a first day of school picture with these munchkins was more than a challenge. 
Scarlett started 4th grade, Dominic started 1st and baby Max started Pre-K.

Summer time...

Jul 30, 2019

Is there anything that screams summer time more than swimsuits and sunshine.

Traffic jam of words..

Jul 24, 2019

Those of you that know our family of 5, probably have a soft spot for our middle child.  Mostly because my other two are shy, and don't allow many visitors into their sacred inner circles.  But Dominic, sweet Dominic, embraces who he is and everything he has to say. Which is A LOT!

Dominic has worked his way into hearts because he loves hard, and feels deeply. He gives all of himself to every emotion.  It is what we cherish about him most and also what we fear.  He will fall hard and loose even harder.  He will have many broken hearts,  and a lot of people will let him down.  But what is best about Dominic is he still loves.  He forgives, he believes, he feels, he hurts, he cries, he laughs, every emotion is there right on the surface ready to be shared with those lucky enough to be in his presence. 

But the very best part of Dominic is his mind.  He is always thinking, asking questions, navigating his day by vocalizing every step of it.  He speaks his actions, every one, out loud.  So when, without prompting, in the middle of a long hot day of Chinese tourism Dominic offered this little gem, "I have to always say what I am thinking because I feel like if I don't there will be a traffic jam of words in my brain." we weren't surprised. Mostly just floored that he could use such a great analogy to vocalize his feelings.

Most of the time we roll our eyes, and throw out a lot of "uh huh's" in Dominic's direction because the talking can be insanely tedious. But this statement caught my attention and really pushed my previous parenting tactic of, lets be honest...ignoring half of what he says, to the side. Because no one likes a traffic jam, whether they are driving or in the passenger seat.  I realized I would much rather encourage a clear pathway for Dominic to express himself now, open up the lines of communication when the conversations are "why do Zombies eat brains and not hearts?" and "Mom, did you know God is eating at that McDonalds and sitting next to you in the car, He is all around us", so when the conversations turn to the inevitable heartbreak he knows that I am listening.  He knows that I am with him, I am the tow truck clearing the road, or the passenger sitting beside him complaining about how much traffic jams really do suck. 

Beach days...

Jul 22, 2019

Trying to soak up our final weeks of my parents San Clemente condo and beach front parking.  In just 5 weeks my parents will have some major life full time with our noisy, messy, sometimes overwhelming family of 5.  My dad has already noticed that we have too much laundry and my mom has suffered through a number of early morning wake up calls with cold feet crawling into her bed.  But we are going to give this multi-generation living thing a go. Until then we will be soaking up the sun, beach side. Wish us luck.

Kunming (part 2)

Jul 18, 2019

We thankfully planned our trip to end right back where we started.  We spent our last four days revisiting the places that made us the most happy and gearing up for our final goodbyes.

Chris and I are not huge on over planning, so when we travel we like to have a vague outline of where we will be and when, but have found that when you leave the details open ended, that is when you can find the most adventure.  This entire experience felt open ended.  And when that could have opened the door for anxiety, it encouraged us and our kids to have a "go with the flow" attitude that we can never seem to find the balance for when we are home. It feels strange, but China was a breath of fresh air for our family.  A place we could just be.  A lot of times people say they need a vacation from their vacation, especially if children are involved, but this trip truly felt like three weeks of real vacation. Maybe it is the rose colored glasses I am wearing after being back for three weeks, but the fact that Chris and I were already discussing how to get back there while driving in our taxi to the airport is evidence otherwise.

 I was seconds away from buying all the animals from the outdoor market and bringing them home.