Time to Blog

It’s time to blog. I just opened up my WordPress after months away to find an unapproved blog response from March. March! Spencer keeps reminding me that I haven’t blogged since February. It makes me feel like a failure every time, but it also reminds me of the truth. So, I’m sitting in the cafe at Lifetime with a few minutes before I have to grab my kids from Child-watch and I read Lorraine’s words in response to my last blog. It reminded of where we were at that time and much has developed since, so here we go.

1. Praise the Lord, Spencer got a job! In the Austin area. He will be IT Director for TDS and he couldn’t be more excited! I’m right there with him.

2. We had our best LLFC yet this summer. The kids are finally old enough to do the nighttime activities and we both teared up when Brooks sat through his first Round Up (mostly). There was a lot of fishing and a lot of peace about the job situation even though we didn’t have answers on TDS yet. Our week out there also provided me with a renewed love for my job as LLYC Alumni Editor. I hope I can continue doing this job for a long time.

3. Basically all of our family events ended around July 5, wherein I realized we have little to nothing until the kids start school Sept. 6. This makes me nervous, desperate to fill in the days and thankful we have a membership to LTF.

4. My kids are slowly but surely learning how to swim and, for me, it is one of the biggest reality checks that they are indeed growing up into real people.

 

5. It must also be mentioned that this has been a gluten-free summer for me. I have noticed not one change in my skin, but I’m giving it a full three months for a trial period, so I don’t ever have to wonder about it again. I will say that being out at camp also gave me such peace about whatever happens with my skin. I met with a counselor one day and revealed that I often obsessively read about how I can treat it and her response was, “What do you think God’s invitation is in this?” I had no answer. I still don’t. But I want to walk in the question. This is about His Glory. My body is going to die and fade and, apparently, lose pigment, but He remains.

6. Time is running out, so I will add this one last thing. In April I started lifting weights for the first time ever. Like EVER!! I don’t look that much different, but I feel stronger and I know it’s good for me. So, again, thanks, Lorraine and Spencer for encouraging me to get into the weight room.

No pics because I don’t have the app on my phone. Deal.

Testing 1, 2, 3

Yesterday, Brooks had his 5 year well check. I simultaneously peel my jaw off the floor as I type and register that I just said “son” and “5.” Anyway, here we are in 2017, with a 5 year old and I think about physical and academic testing. I think about how we are going to give him the gift of another year of preschool next year, fully encouraged by our magical pediatrician who has known this sweet boy since the day he was born. “No one has ever regretted holding their child back,” she said yesterday. “Now, they do have regrets the other way. So take that with you.” This is the woman who straight up manhandled our newborn when we wouldn’t even leave him in the next room to sleep by himself. This doctor is tough and taught us volumes, without which we may have been unable to handle our steel daughter, whose motto is: I’m okay!


We’ve been testing out the pool the last few weeks and I’ve never enjoyed my children more. Ages 5 and 3.5 are a great combination and I’m loving my time with them together and separately. It’s a sweet era for us, especially with Spencer’s unicorn schedule still being what it is. I was reminded by a friend on a trail run this morning that husbands getting home from work at 4:30 is not reality. So, yes, I am in for a wake up call. But man do I intend to milk it while we have it. And yesterday we did. The four of us went to the pool before dinner. We splashed with our kids, divided and conquered some intro to swimming.


The baby stage is over in the Williams house and we are sharing meals with young kids. These kids have thoughtful questions and are continually testing the limits, just as they will continue to do for the rest of their days in our home. But I love that we get to be part of it. I want that. I want Sabra to keep asking me to go under water with her. I want to go along on this crazy ride with these two special people God has entrusted us with.


I don’t know if parenting is a test or just constant refining, but a wave of reassurance and warmth comes over me when I think about how these two kids who are a mere 18 months apart can have this padding of two grades between them, this grace that allows us to make the best decision for our son without putting them in the same grade. I smile a huge, grateful smirk at the God above who sees all things and gives us what we need as we need it.

In the end, I don’t need an A, but I do want to learn the material.

Redbuds

The Redbuds started blooming in February this year. I’ve loved this purple bloom for years, but I’m only just now certain of it’s name. For me, “Redbud” means more than just that purple explosion on the tip of branches all over Austin at the moment. See, I once lived in Westlake in college and in order to get to my house, you had to take Redbud Trail. For an entire year I drove this (probably my favorite) Austin road at least twice daily. I would hit the peak, where you can see the entire Austin skyline (back then, of course, it was much smaller), before descending towards the dam, passing Redbud Isle and then turning onto Lake Austin Blvd.

I most recently took my kids on this drive a few weeks ago. It was one of those gorgeous days when we had the sunroof open and were unreasonably early for a downtown event. I told the kids I was going to take them on my favorite road and show them my favorite view. I can’t say they were amazed, but it always invigorates me to hit that peak view and then drop with the most beautiful city spread out before me. I honestly can’t believe I had the privilege of living in such a gorgeous part of Austin for a whole year.


I guess where I am now is fearful that I will lose the city and its people who regularly invigorate me. I’d only run three times since NYC until yesterday. It was one of those suck the marrow out of the day kind of afternoons. We’d been outside playing for hours and yet I couldn’t breathe in enough of the crisp weather. I ran the streets of my beautiful neighborhood and felt great. I even got the tiniest running itch. Not so much to race or train, but just to get back to Town Lake and soak up the beauty of this place I really do love. Sure, I know everyone wants to live here because, honestly, it is so great, but I have this old, simple love for Austin. I like the idea of raising these little Austinites (not overly hipster “we’re from Austin” snobs, but just kiddos who’ve taken advantage of all that’s offered here). I’m not small town. In fact, I think I would lose my mind in a small town. But the idea of living somewhere enormous scares me. I like our little life, our small world in the big city. At the same time, I know nothing ever stays the same. I’m clearly not the poster child for inner peace and trusting God with our future. God, please help me with this slight snag.


Where I DO have peace is in giving Brooks an extra year before we start Kinder. Phew. I have peace and encouragement and hope for next year and I pray that he will continue to grow and mature and become this amazing little dude we are beginning to see glimpses of. I suppose this could happen anywhere, if I’m honest. I mean, look at Spencer. And me. And Danielle. And Lorraine. None of us were raised in amazing cities, but we turned out pretty darn okay. Maybe even neat. I saw a bumper sticker the other day on a Honda Odessey that said: I used to be cool. Maybe I did. Maybe not. I like the anonymity of a large city, the community of a small church and Goodwill stores filled to the brim with independently wealthy people’s cast offs. I cannot express how much fun it is to dress my kids in Mini Melissa’s, Patagonia and Vineyard Vines that I paid only a few bucks for.

So, there it is. I’m pretty shallow. I guess that means it’s time to take a plunge into the refreshing depths of Barton Springs (but only if I’ve run the 3 mile loop first).

The Sickies

Sometimes your kids get sick and it’s no fun. I think the most surprising part about my kids interrupting my sleep with vomiting/the big D/midnight cleanup is how much harder it is for me to recover from. I used to get up with my kids once or twice and night and still be able to function somewhat. Now, it takes me a week to re-establish homeostasis.


36 is calling. I have about a month left of being 35 and then I’m on the downhill slope to 40. I can’t believe it. I’ve accomplished a few goals, but it’s becoming clearer to me that my body is aging. I don’t bounce back the way I used to – pretty much all the way around. But the one thing that is clear to me at this point is that I want to be strong. I see shirts that say Strong is the New Skinny. I don’t really like shirts with sayings on them, but that’s one I dig. I can run marathons, but am I strong? No. I’m trying to change that. Because I want to be around to play with my kids. I don’t need any more medals or physical feats, but I do need the health to keep up with my son when he finally shoots up taller than me and begs me to hurry up when we hike Yosemite one day.

Brooks is about to turn 5. It’s two steps forward and one step back with that kid, but he’s really getting to be fun. He’s his own little dude and we are just falling more in love with him. I look forward to the day Sabra is no longer a three-nager, but we are mad about her, too. Also, it should be noted that she got to ride a unicorn at a birthday party this weekend.


And, ultimately, I want my kids to be strong – inside and out. Hopefully I will be part of teaching them those things and pointing them heavenward where I fall short. And yet they will still get sick. And so will I. We will lose sleep and have hurdles our whole lives. My prayer is that we would look to the ultimate Healer to make us whole.


 

Looking Back

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This picture was taken yesterday. Oh, yes. Just yesterday I was nursing and getting no sleep and revolving our lives around naps. But today, my kids are both in preschool for several hours and I get to write. Alone. At a coffee shop. It’s amazing and yet it came out of nowhere. The other night the whole family looked through old photos and videos together. Spencer and I had to peel our jaws off the carpet because it all seems like it just happened. But it didn’t.

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That 3 year old little boy that hiked The Window Trail at Big Bend in a Kelty Kids backpack upon his daddy’s back is about to turn 5 and hike it all on his own. Baby Sabra who screamed bloody murder over any hint of tummy time is about to trade her crib for a big girl bed and will camp overnight in a tent for her first time this coming weekend.

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Looking back, I also have so much compassion for myself because, really, I had two babies at one time. Little eighteen-month-old Brooks was still needing to be a baby when I was rocking a newborn. For better or worse, this is our scenario. Wam-bam-done. Kind of like my marathon career. Two marathons in one year and I’ll never run another 26.2 miles again in my life. I should probably retroactively blog about the whole NYC trip (because it was balla!!!!), but for now I’m tapping the keys over my growing babies.

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Looking back, my son’s best friend was healthy this time last year. But tomorrow he returns to Dell Children’s hospital for his 3rd round of chemo. We went to see him yesterday, thin and bald and still a little boy who shares a love of dinosaurs with my son. He wore out quickly, but we loved on him. My son is a feeler, like me. We internalize it all. Brooks crawled into our bed and slept with us last night, just like he did the last time we went to visit his little buddy at Dell. He wrestles with the pain he sees. His questions are big and heavy and I feel unprepared to be his parent. And yet, we do the best we can. I find myself making it up as I go most of the time. Sort of faking it until I make it (which will probably be never).

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I ran my first marathon last Valentine’s Day. The following weekend a buddy of mine found out her husband was having an affair. It’s been a long year. He did it again and now they are getting divorced. I’m also friends with a woman causing similar pain – a flip-flop of selfishness. And all of this is happening while little by little I’m losing my skin pigment. No one really notices until I point it out, but every time I look in the mirror I see it and wonder where I will be white this time next year.

Looking back, I have this wonderful husband whom I love, yet fail to show him often enough. My life is a cycle of baths, making lunches, and drowning in laundry, but I know that in 13 years I will have one less kid to do laundry for. So I try to thank the laundry for a full house. And I try to look forward. We are out of the baby stage. These toddlers are becoming little kids. Brooks is wearing a 5T. There is not 6T, people. He goes from a toddler’s size 5 to XS kids! My face is in my hands. But I will continue to lift it. I will keep spreading sunbutter across bread before I squeeze out the jelly. I will make 3 meals a day, every single day, while tossing the wet laundry into the dryer. Because this is the last February I will have a 4 year old little boy. Maybe we need to pull out the pool this afternoon and let him splash and play – a 4T playing in the pool under the swealtering 85 degree heat of a February in Austin.

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And while Sabra played Soccer Shots yesterday, maybe she takes up ballet tomorrow. We will see.

As I sing to the kids every morning: This is the day. That the Lord has made. We will rejoice. And be glad in it!

Alive

In the words of Eddie Veder, “Oh, I….uhhhhh…I’m still alive.” Yes, I’ve been avoiding this blog, but I have been out living life. I chose this particular lyric because Spencer has been playing some Metallica and Pearl Jam for Brooks. Obviously, Brooks loves it, especially when Spence informs him that’s what he heard every morning whilst in the womb. It’s funny to see your kids jam out.

Changes

I don’t like change. I don’t like when I get a new device and I have to remember my password, which I’ve definitely forgotten, in order to make things happen. I got a new phone and I can’t remember my WordPress password, which makes it impossible to upload photos from my phone now. So, what’s my solution? Quit blogging for two months.

There have been two pretty big things going on in our household for the last few months and I feel like I can only write honestly and openly about one of them. So here we go. I have this thing called vitiligo. It’s a skin disease that doesn’t have a cure. Michael Jackson had it. Anyway, it’s an autoimmune disease that kills skin pigment. If you search images on Google, you can take a little roller coaster ride to see what I may look like in 10 years. And did I mention stress triggers this adorable little situation? Oh, yeah.

It was all hidden under my clothing until this summer, but now I’m reminded of this thorn each time I look at my hands. I just want to shout: vitili-GO-away!!!!!!!!!!! I know it won’t, so I just have to do what I can to stop the spreading. It’s not entirely impossible, but you could blow a month reading online about various treatment routes that may work for some people sometimes. Oye.

Sometimes I miss my first real personal computer. It was an IBM Thinkpad that Spencer got at a conference. I did all of my first writing on it and, honestly, no keyboard has felt like home since. I wanted to write on that until the end of time, but technology is cyclical…..oh, wait. I want to look the same and feel the same and have predictability until kingdom come. Too bad that’s not God’s idea.

Until my last breath, things will be changing. Hopefully I will be changing because God is still working on and changing me! I need to live more in the Spirit and less in my own head. I need to trust the changes God is bringing about in my children and believe God is fashioning them into the adults they will one day be.

God, help me let go of my Thinkpad. Help me to just suck it up, reset new passwords and move on with technological and skin changes, whether I like them or not. After all, I should be pretty stoked that I’m not still using a Nokia flip phone! And while I’d prefer my skin and body at age 25, I also know that this vessel will wrinkle, decay and die, so I better live the days I have inside it to the fullest.

So, I will let go of Mister Rogers (whom I deeply wanted my children to love and beg to watch) and let the 2016 version of him, Daniel Tiger, take his place.

Maybe it’s okay for the things around me to change if God is continually changing me.

 

Mom Lyfe

It’s been an interesting week. I spent Monday downtown getting oriented for my new part-time job writing ad copy. I always thought this big ad agency I’d driven past a million times was the mecca of cool – no entry unless you had the correct handshake and skinny jeans. Turns out, it’s just a bunch of folks doing their jobs. But, stigma sticks. It was a busy morning getting my badge, parking permit and computer, not to mention the fire-hose of orientation. Don’t get me wrong, I am pumped to be doing something I love as an actual job, but the learning curve is real. I’m rusty. Yes, I’ve been working from home since Brooks was born and this job will be mostly from home, but being in the business world was a jolt. And I can’t say I’ve ever had as much respect for working moms; I haven’t been that tired at the end of the day in a long time. At the same time, productivity is almost intoxicating when you’ve been reading the same Winnie the Pooh stories over and over for years. At the same time, it made me so happy to see pictures of kids hung around employee’s cubicles.

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Tuesday, I transformed into the epitome of a SAHM, doing laundry all day and cleaning up around the house. Note that I was in my PJ’s until after lunch. None of us even set foot outside until 4:30pm. We “home day”-ed hard!

Then last night, I went to a MNO (mom’s night out). I joined MOPS (moms of pre-schoolers) this year mostly because it’s held at the same location where my Bible study girls attend school. This gave me a nice mom break, but also allowed me to have lunch with Sabra and my 11th graders twice a month. They aren’t the 6th graders I once taught. Nope, they have tennis and dance and Latin club, so coming to my house every Thursday night isn’t as easy as it used to be. In only one week, they will be seniors! And I may cry.

Anywhoot—MOPS is not for me, but I did it anyway. I boycotted all suggested crafts, enjoyed several speakers, but mostly rolled my eyes at the ultra-mom stuff. Funnily enough, I have been saying YES to every event proposed by MOPS lately and last night was a MNO at the Drafthouse. They rented out a theater and we watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding II. My expectations were low (for the movie and the event), but I ended up sitting next to the one girl at my table whom I really connected with and we had the best time. Also, the movie was spit-your-soda-out hilarious!

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A cynical friend of mine who has much older kids than mine once brushed off these women by saying sarcastically, “MOPS moms act like they served in ‘Nam together.” I never told her that I joined, but she’s sort of right. We are all moms in the trenches. We are doing a hard thing together, getting diagnoses, watching our loved ones have surgeries and battling our own fears. We are working moms and SAHMs who need an excuse to have our husbands put the kids down so we can gab with each other over chips and queso, then watch a chick flick and laugh with reckless abandon. The 9-5 mom and the one in her house dress until 3pm each day all need the break because whether or not we are with our kids each day, they are with us. When I was at the office downtown all day Monday, I kept checking the clock to see what my kids were up to. And I don’t think I have ever plastered my kids with so many kisses at the end of the day, the poor things were shiny from all of my saliva.

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Mom Life is hard and we need other moms. Now that I’ve quit MOPS, I actually get it. Who cares if they want to craft together? I’d prefer to play around with words on the page, but that’s my preference. And how cool is God that I get to make some money doing what I love. From home. Where my heart really is. But the truth is, my kids will keep growing. They will need me less and less and I will have to think about what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. It excites me that I may be able to continue earning money doing something I love. And I’m even more excited to step it up to the next level with this job. We shall see where it goes!

Conquering Fears (all in one weekend)

This weekend was big in terms of conquering fears within the Williams household. Did you know that forgoing free stuff can be a legitimate fear? Well, it’s true. For me, it’s hard to pass up free stuff and when you are offered a day and night of it, it’s hard to keep your head on straight.

   
    
 Spencer’s company provided us with a free night at the JW Marriott in San Antonio during the Valero Texas Open, where they have a villa above the 18th green. Did I mention a/c, free food and drinks and 18th green? So, free badges to the best seat in the house, a night at the most beautiful resort I’ve ever seen and 24 child-free hours with the man I love.

   
    
 
For me, the hard part was the free booze. In four days, I will not have had a drink in one whole year. May 1st is the marker and yet this occasion made me want to throw it all out the window. I’d convinced myself that it would all be so much more glamorous feeling if I had a glass of wine (or 3) in my hand to really feel out the whole experience. Thanks to the prayers of a few of my friends, I abstained. And then Spence and I proceeded to have the best night ever. We had the whole pool to ourselves and acted approximately 10 years old. I think we needed a dose of silliness and a reprieve from being parents/adults. In the end, I was so glad I passed on the drinks. For me, it just lights a fire that doesn’t go out.

  
In the smaller end of our house, my son is a conquistador. He is scared to death of mannequins (we are talking the kid won’t even enter an Old Navy), so as you’d expect of Spencer, he ordered one. Yep, we now have a mannequin in our home so Brooks will learn that it’s just a piece of plastic and nothing to be scared of. Little by little, the fella is warming up to the fake human and realizing it’s just that.

  
I guess you can say we are big fans of exposure therapy. Aside from mannequins, Brooks is not a fan of loud noises. BUT the kid loves monster trucks! So, Spence took him to a Monster Truck Jam where he was timid at first and then warmed up and stayed the whole time. No melt-downs, a few jaw drops and many cheers later, he returned home to inform me that monster trucks are REAL!!!!

   
 It’s unclear where Brooks and my fears originate, but we are putting on our big kid pants and facing those fears day by day. And that’s what I love most about kids; present is the only place they know to be. 

“Oh, Look! They must be doing really well!”

“Oh, Look! They must be doing really well!”

I can’t stop thinking about what this statement means. And it’s because my best friend asked me point blank when I used it flippantly. I’d shared with her that often my Facebook motivations are aimed and bringing up this little thought in others. Lorraine knows my heart and when she questioned me, What does “doing well” even mean? I sat back for the very first time and thought about that little phrase that gets thrown around all too often.

Maybe I heard my mom saying it a lot while I was growing up and it always meant financial wellness. But more and more I am really (like really, truly, deeply and to the core) learning that money isn’t the answer. It doesn’t solve every problem and often only creates more. So, what is the wellness I’m really after? It’s spiritual and relational. My looks are guaranteed to fade. I will age and we can lose every dime we have at any moment. We live in an unstable and unpredictable world. But the Lord does not waver. And that is where we must be rich if we are to survive here with any hope of thriving.

So I am thankful for my key relationships and that they are rooted in God.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

This morning, I’m sharp. I got to spend the weekend with my best friend. We shared our souls, spoke truth, laughed and cried.  And then I was able to come home and do the same thing with my husband last night. As I rocked my daughter to sleep before I put her in her crib, the thought flooded my mind that even if we lost the house, the cars and our money, we are doing really well.

I want to invest more in my eternal wealth.