Friday, January 23, 2015

field trip fun

In the past two weeks I was able to go on field trips with my 2nd grader and my 5th grader. While I've tried to make to at least a few class parties these past two years, nursing school made it difficult to do much else with the kid's school. I was so thankful I could make my work schedule to accommodate these trips. It makes me so happy that my kids WANT me to come on these trips with them. Especially the 5th grader. You never know when kids decide they don't want you around. My philosophy is to be as present as possible when they actively want me, trusting that will build bridges for the years when parents aren't so cool.

First up was a 2nd grade trip to the zoo! One of the benefits of living in San Diego is their educational trips are someone's summer vacation. I'm thankful these locations value education too--as an extra parent I was able to participate for just $11.

Gracie was being goofy and insisting I hold her like this for a photo. All the kids had some sort of identifying name tag with their school info on it. Gracie's class decorated these visors with animal stickers and the info was written on the underside. Cute and creative!

We took a bus tour first. Almost all the kids and the "official chaperones" sat on the top deck. As extras, several other parents and I sacrificed and sat on the bottom. And by sacrificed I mean we got to chat about life as well as what we were seeing and not be overwhelmed by loud clamoring kids. It pays to be an extra sometimes!

Here was our group of four koalas, I mean kiddos, and there were three parents along too. So we were pretty set!

Of course the zoo is always looking to make another buck, and so you can take a photo in front of a green screen and they photoshop baby pandas in. I may have gotten in trouble for snapping this photo of the computer screen. But we were under strict orders to buy nothing at the zoo, so I was just following directions. It was too cute not to have record of.

One of my favorite exhibits at the Zoo is always the monkeys and gorillas and Gracie loved them too. In fact her second birthday was a monkey theme because she loved monkeys.  It almost looks like she's right next to this orangutang, but in fact there is glass between them. The orangutangs were really active and seemed to interact with the kids. Gracie took about a bazillion photos on my phone at this exhibit.  I wouldn't be surprised if her future career involves animals somehow.

 And this week was a 5th grade trip to Sea World. The parent-child ratio in our group was much larger and wow I never realized how excitable and loud 5th graders are! Our little gang with a penguin friend.

We started off in on a simulation ride and it was mostly filled with screaming 5th graders. I felt sorry for the mom and her 5 year old son who ended up with us. She turned around at one point to tell me and another mom "I can't hear any of the narration." Sorry about that!

We've had Sea World passes for many years now and I always try to spend $0 when we go because it's usually just for a few hours and I bring snacks and drinks. But I acquiesced--because 5th grade field trip--and let Miss Rose feed the bat rays. She shared her fish with friends. Her face was priceless after the bat ray sucked up the fish with it's mouth which is on the bottom of its body.

There was an educational Shamu show for all the schools in attendance that day. Our school had a special post-show photo session and Q&A with a trainer thanks to a dad who works there. First, check out the one month old baby killer whale swimming the pool after the show.

It was a bummer the kids didn't actually see this whale up close behind them, but what an awesome photo! They had the whale come up just for the photo. I hope these kids know how lucky they are to spend the day at Sea World! (and my parent ticket was just $6!)

I am so happy I was able to share this experience with my first baby girl, who is turning 11 next week. She's just a few inches from being taller than me. I love seeing her interact with her friends and be a kid.

This is a blessed life. In spite of challenges and struggles and trying to make it all work, I love this life God had given me.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

in progress: manifesto 2015

It's been a few years since I made actual New Years Resolutions. Aren't they always the same anyways? Get healthier (whatever your version and method of this is), spend more time with loved ones, work on personal and career goals and a list of books to read. At least I know for many years I felt like my resolutions were always the same. 

However, I do have desires and goals for 2015--as we all do. There are things I want to change and do differently. But many of these things are a process, part of a journey. There is very little that can be done all at once or a change that can be made instantaneously. Often the curve balls of life derail resolutions, as so they should. Let's say you are a new-ish runner with a lofty racing goal. With proper training and dedication, you could resolve to meet that goal, and successfully accomplish it. But what if you fall ill, have an unexpected surgery or get pregnant? What do you do now about that resolution. 

The word "manifesto" came to me today. Merriam-Webster defines manifesto as " a written statement that describes the policies, goals, and opinions of a person or group." If part of your manifesto for the year is to gain health through fitness, you can adapt your regimen to your restrictions and time needed for recovery in the case of a medical situation. 

What if I developed a manifesto for this next year? 

I do realize that this is a case of semantics. Resolutions and manifesto could be viewed quite similarly. But to me resolutions are this list of things you want to do (or not do) that are often quite specific. A manifesto speaks more to a way of being, to goals that may be broader and not so specific.

It's my blog and I can write a manifesto if I want to. 

I am ready for the turn of the year. I am ready for a new chapter and a new start. I am done with waiting and wondering. I want to look to the future with a new career and a budget that can balance and meet the needs of my family. 

I love this definition of a personal manifest found here:
A personal manifesto is a declaration of your core values and beliefs, what you stand for, and how you intend to live your life. It functions both as a statement of principles and as a call to action.

If a goal isn't tied to personal principles and doesn't also have a call to action attached, then I can almost guarantee it won't be met. 

Maybe there are some things you want to change in 2015. Maybe you are tired of making resolutions and need to write a manifesto for the year that is reflective of your principles and the action you want to take to make sure they reflected in your life. 

Consider a manifesto for this next year. A statement of what is important to you without the specifics of how you will accomplish it--because life happens and things change.

Frame this next year with intentions that reflect who you are and what is important to you.

Friday, December 12, 2014

waiting and running

It's another midnight posting. I'm almost halfway through my shift tonight and oh how I would love to be in my own bed. I'm "sitting" with a patient tonight who needs supervision, the sweetest 2 year old who has spent way too much time in the hospital in her short life. Sometimes I like sitting because I get to read and talk to God and watch TV and surf the internets. But after a while there is nothing new to find on the internets and even TV gets boring and my brain can't process an intellectual book and I resort to cheesy "inspirational romances."

My life these days feels like a lot of waiting, and a lot of running.

First, on the running. Runner's World Magazine "hosts" a holiday run streak---the goal is to run 1 mile every day between Thanksgiving and New Years. I was running with a friend two days after Thanksgiving and she mentioned the streak. And I talked about how difficult it was to run on the days I have to sleep after nightshift. But then she gently challenged me, "Come on, you could do just 1 mile a day. You do have a treadmill." She was right. One mile a day is 10-15 minutes. 4 laps around my block is just over a mile.

So I decided to take the challenge. I have gotten up at 5am and run laps around my block (because I won't run any further from home alone in the dark). I have put on my running clothes after sleeping all day and raced around the neighborhood, often with my 5-year-old setting the pace. Some days I set out to do a mile, and the 5-year-old wants to go "one more time." So we do.

One day it was raining and I didn't plan well and I could have gone out in the rain. But I only have 1 pair of shoes and didn't want to ruin them for the next day. So I did a DVD instead. Yesterday I had a massive migraine and so I didn't run. I had to remind myself that I'm doing this for me, I'm not a slave to the streak.

The crazy thing is, most days I am running 1-2 miles and yet I am getting faster. I ran 4 miles today at a faster pace than I have since nursing school. These short quick runs are agreeing with me I guess, and if that's how I'll find my running feet again, I'm happy. It's hard to imagine just a few years ago I ran an entire marathon. But I will again one day.

It feels very apropos that during this Advent season, I too am waiting in expectation of things to come. I am grateful for the job I have and the open doors it has afforded me. But I am ready to being my R.N. career, get a paycheck that can actually support us and finally replace my broken couch---among many other things in my house that are falling apart. I interview...and I wait. I think I know what God has for me and where he wants me, but I won't count on it. I will wait until it all is revealed.

Hopefully in early January I will be offered an R.N. job, which will begin mid-February. Oh the waiting is so hard. I feel stuck, in the in between, in the middle place. Not there, but not quite here either. The whole interview and waiting process is exhausting and consuming.

I'm not always a patient person, especially with myself. I am not accomplishing things I want to or feeling as productive in my everyday life as I would like. Although today I did "curb dive" and pick up 3 white laminate awful shelves to finally get my kids books out of boxes after a room re-arrange. I need to Pinerest how to fix those things up. But they are serving their purpose. So that was productive today.

Sometimes I feel like I'm lazy, or a procrastinator or just scatterbrained. I may be a little of all that---but the truth is I am in a waiting season and it's causing me to be a bit stuck in other areas of my life. This is a truth I need to accept and give myself grace for.

Plus, raising three school-age children? It's exhausting people! They need conversation and interaction. Supervision of school work and follow through. And they hate taking showers, cleaning up after themselves and are allergic to putting their dirty laundry actually IN the basket. Just how many times do I need to tell them to bring their lunches to the kitchen, hang up their backpacks and FOR THE LOVE put your shoes and dirty socks away! Every day. All day. Or at least that's how it feels.

I am still not sure how I feel about this grown up thing. I am days away from being 37-1/2, which is almost 38 which means I am *this close* to 40. I never imagined my life at 40, so I don't know what to expect. I don't know what grown up me, raising growing children should look like.

I guess I'm just figuring it out as I go. Running and waiting. Embrace the day.

Friday, November 28, 2014

dear daughters, what to be thankful for {thanksgiving 2014}

My dear daughters,

I don't want Thanksgiving to be a single day of the year. I think it's a wonderful holiday to truly reflect on the thanks we have given through the 12 months prior. But giving thanks is a way of life, a daily habit we need.

I hope and pray that your dad and I are instilling true gratitude in your lives, although I'm not quite sure you get it yet. Although today Miss Rose learned from Auntie Robin that because she had a meal in the last 24 hours, has a roof over her head and her family has at least one vehicle she is in the top 10% (I think that's the number) of the nation.

Girls, you may not have everything you WANT, but as you look back on your life you will see that you will have all that you need. And the list of things you need doesn't contain the latest technology or wheeled toy or doll that looks like you. 

The true blessings of God come in the form of family and friends who fill our lives with life and color.  Stuff is just stuff, but the true value of life is found in our people and the God who's grace is lavished upon us daily.

I pray that you have your people. I pray that we, your family, are your first people. But we are not all you need. I pray in years to come, you are blessed with dear friends from all the seasons of your life. And with the advent of social media, you'll probably get to keep in touch with them too, if you want to.

Joy is friends spending holidays with you from out of town. Happiness is seeing your children play with the children of your friends. It is the close friendships your children share with cousins and the friends who have become family. What a blessing to call my sisters and my brother, my sister-in-laws and my brother-in-laws among my closest friends. Contentment is exchanging text messages with friends near and far.

Every good and perfect gift comes from God and he does give us the desire of our hearts. May the desires of your hearts my sweet girls, be for family and friends who are always on your side, who are your home team, your safe place. Without each other, we have nothing.

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up...a cord of three strands is not easily broken.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12

Friday, November 14, 2014

It's not that I'm lazy

For two years now, many of my mental to-do lists and projects to complete have started with the words "when I graduate from nursing school..." There was no time or mental energy to take on projects, to organize or do things around my home that I have pinned on Pinterest. Come on, I know I'm not the only one with a few hundred (or thousand) pins of things I have yet to attempt. But doesn't stop me from pinning more. 

I have been done with school for more than three months now. For the first time in motherhood, all three of my children are in school and a few days a week I have several hours to myself.

The empty walls in my house scream to me that they want the cool prints and frames I have pinned. The cluttered closets want to be organized. The kitchen counter perpetually piled high with papers from school, mail, and other paraphernalia is a thorn in my side. Drawers and cupboards need to be wiped down and put in order once again.

The truth is, I have done nothing. Well, I don't call working full-time, keeping up the daily life of the house and raising 3 kids nothing. But I've done no extra projects or tasks.

Some days I feel guilty. And disappointed in myself.I wonder if I'm wasting time and why I'm so unproductive. A voice whispers that I'm lazy.

While the day will come when I will tackle these projects, I believe right now I am choosing the one thing that is most important. I am saying yes to what I truly need and saying no for now to adding more. It's not that I'm lazy, but my priorities have nothing to do with outward appearance or the satisfaction of checking things off my two-year-old to do list.

The days I am home and not sleeping after a nightshift, I spend a lot of time with Jesus and a cup of coffee. Usually it's my second cup of coffee, the first being consumed while making lunches (the bane of my existence). I am amazed by how quickly my devotional time passes. Lately, I could easily spend 2-3 hours soaking up the presence of God.

I have found myself identifying in a new way with the Psalmist when he says "as the deer pants for water, so my soul longs for thee." I just want to sit with Jesus. To talk to him and journal. To read His word and words he inspired in others. So I turn on my Bethel Music Pandora station and pour my heart out before the Lord and let him pour into me.

My heart's desire is to hear the voice of God and to do His will in every area of my life. I was reminded recently that knowing God's voice requires time spent with him. Understanding what he's doing in my life requires knowing him more.

This is where a good portion of my "extra" time is spent. And I don't feel guilty about it. Much like a dating relationship, true intimacy and deep knowledge of the other cannot come without the passage of time and a quantity of time spent together. In many seasons I have focused on quality time with God at the expense of quantity. But both are required. And I am so enjoying my time with the lover of my soul.

Slowly but surely I see what he's doing in me. I am more confident of his voice. I am trusting him more. I am more patient and calm. More of Jesus just makes me want more of him.

This season is about finding a new rhythm and He is the composer.

Friend, don't feel guilty about what you aren't doing--if what you are doing is more important and you have chosen what is best in this moment. The true goal in life is to know Jesus and make Him known. No pin on Pinterest trumps that. What is God calling you to focus on right now? Don't let anything, no matter how good it seems, distract you.

I do look forward to the day I actually get prints on my wall and have curtains in my kitchen (although after 6 years strong of none, I feel like I need to stay strong in this trend--sorry neighbors).  All of the things on my project list are good things. But they just don't seem to be what is important right now.

We need Him more.

I need you more, more than anything. 

Parts of these reflections inspired by The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

31 days of...not much blogging

As usual, I was industrious in thinking I could actively participate in the 31 Days challenge. Yes, I've been working to find my rhythm. Some progress has been made. But blogging is a luxury, a hobby that is quite low on the priority list currently. And finding a rhythm has meant being purposeful about my time.

But, in the spirit of the journey, here is a post to tie up this month and my experiences.

The beginning of the month felt extremely challenging. My work schedule and life seemed to leave me little time for anything and quite exhausting. But I found myself more aware of life and the periods of time that presented challenges and the distractions in my day. I saw where I was most off-beat and discordant.

I have had to extend myself a lot of grace.

The last few weeks I've felt a bit more rhythmic. I'm learning what work schedule is most conducive to life. As I make my schedule going into the future I am keeping this in mind. Having 2-4 nights off in a row is important. Having a few weekend days off each month is too. I try to have the house and the family prepared for my shifts.

My kids have gotten used to the way I make their sandwiches and pack their lunches. Daddy just doesn't do it the same way. And while I am fine with telling them to eat it anyway--if I can make their lunches ahead of time, it's one less thing for Daddy to do and one less complaint I have to entertain. Hey---my kids ask for a lot I have to say no to right now, but I can say yes to this.

This morning while making their lunches I make 2 sets of sandwiches and packed up double the other lunch items. So tonight when I'm working, Bean just has to assemble their lunches. This is just one simple example of the new routines I am finding.

Time with God each day is so crucial. It helps my mood, my patience level and gives me peace in my soul. I am working on getting up early enough to have my devotional time before the morning routine begins. But I'm not a great morning person and so far sleep is winning. My time with God is typically after I get the kids off to school. The more time I spend with God, the more time I want to spend with Him.

I've started running again, as well as other forms of exercise. Physical activity increases my energy, puts me in a good mood and feeds my soul. I have been so NOT in the rhythm of exercise that it's taking discipline to do it regularly again. But I don't have any excuses anymore, especially on the days I don't work and the kids are in school. I am a happier person when I exercise, so I know it's important to be disciplined and make it a non-negotiable. Some days it's a short neighborhood walk or a DVD workout at home. I tailor it to the day and my energy levels--what counts is I'm doing it.

Time with friends is so important to me. I went from working in an office with people I loved hanging out with, to spending 3-4 days a week with my nursing school buddies. Now the majority of my time is spent with my three little minions. I love them dearly, but mama needs friends! So I have been reaching out to the friends I've missed and not been able to spend time with. Meeting for coffee or breakfast, catching up on life and making plans for the next time we will hang out.

I am far from reaching the end of this journey. I have a lot of rhythm to find. There are overflowing closets, broken chairs and messy counter tops that need my attention. Like many, I find myself consumed with dozens of 5-minute tasks that eat up the day. This morning I sat at the computer for two hours, updating my work schedule for our family calendar, sending necessary emails, applying for a job and other small yet important tasks.

But I am learning and discovering. Experimenting and practicing.

The biggest truth I've discovered is that the true rhythm is found within. It won't exist in my schedule, routine or to-do list. I need to be at peace with who I am and where I am at. I need to feed my soul and care for my body. It is then that I find the best rhythm for the day, for the season of life. It is then that I care for my family the best, and that is what this season is truly about. The external is constantly changing. But the soundtrack of my day flows from inside me and I choose the songs with my actions, words and attitudes.

I discovered a new favorite song today, It Is Well sung by Kristin DiMarco. These lyrics resonated so deeply. (and it incorporates the refrain of one of my favorite old hymns)

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on you. 
It is well, with me.

The key words there "with me."

When my eyes are fixed on Jesus, through whatever life brings, it can be well.

It is well, with me.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

the hard thing about rhythm and learning

I never promised to write 31 posts, although that is usually inherent in this particular blogging challenge.

My true goal is to find a rhythm in my life and record my thoughts along the way. Unfortunately that rhythm doesn't necessarily involved daily blogging. That's one of the hard things about rhythm. You can't always do the things you want to do. I have mentally written countless blog posts and even a few books in the past two years. i have so many things I WANT to do. But they have to wait on the shelf while I establish my rhythm and determine how to make time for them.

The last week has been difficult. I did it to myself really, although with the best of intentions. We schedule ourselves at my job.Which is nice because I can look at my calendar and family obligations and do my best to schedule around them. For instance, I don't schedule myself on Friday nights or Saturday day because we have two soccer games each Saturday--one of which Bean coaches. And if the games are at the same time, we are both needed.

This past week the soccer games were hours apart and the schedule had openings for day shifts on the weekend. And so I scheduled myself to work Friday, Saturday and Sunday days. I managed those three days ok and was happy to at least see my family for a short time each night.

The difficulty arose when Monday morning came. Because I had also committed to my other side job for two days of event childcare. I was lacking physically and emotionally, but I had to suck it up and go.

I'm good at sucking it up. For however long and however much needed. The price comes later, just like a credit card bill demanding to be paid.

Wednesday I was a bit of a basket case. I am in a state of limbo, waiting for results on my nursing board exam. Most get results in a matter of days. And then there are a handful of us who wait weeks---for no apparent rhyme or reason. I was too tired to exercise. I was overwhelmed by how behind I felt in life. I was tired of waiting and not knowing and having to tell people, "I still have no results."

Everything is magnified when I'm in that state. I feel lonely and forgotten. I only can list the ways I'm failing as a wife and parent. I doubt myself, my decisions and my future. I worry about getting hired as a nurse and the impending loan payments for my newest degree. The one I don't yet have the license to go with. I feel like we are so far behind in keeping up with our home and belongings, we will never be able to afford to catch up. Our couch is seriously broken, our mattress is as old as our marriage, the entire family needs fresh bedding and let's not even talk about how fast my kids grow out of clothes and shoes and are constantly wanting to eat.

I had a good cry and then a good time with God, finding my center and my foundation once again. I know I have to take it easy on myself and my schedule when I'm recovering from doing too much. I do what has to be done and leave the rest. It is hard for me to hold back, to not tackle the projects I have or the deep cleaning my house always seems to need.

Thursday I was in a slightly better emotional state, but still feeling so drained. It takes twenty minutes for my eyes to stop being blurry when I wake up in the morning. The kids are lucky I manage to make their lunches correctly as I rub my eyes over and over again trying to force them to fully wake up.

I learned my lesson. I am learning. I won't be committing to so many days of work in a row. I will trust God for provision and remember he doesn't want me to have a breakdown because I am working too much. That's not good for me or my family.

I just started reading The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst and it is just what I need. I am only a few chapters in, but it's giving me so much to reflect upon. I sometimes lack appropriate boundaries and commit to too much--usually for good reasons. But not always the BEST reasons. And I do want to choose what is best. It goes back to Mary and Martha. Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen what was better.

I want to choose what's better, the best. In every area of my life.

I also want to sit on the balcony of a cabin on a cool crisp morning drinking coffee while enjoying a view of majestic mountains.

I can dream, right?