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.

Persons’ Personalitites

As your children grow, you get to know their personalities. I love both of my children dearly, but they are very different. It really does fascinate me that two people made from the same genetic stuff can be so opposite, but here we are with two kids who act as differently as they look.

   
 
My son is cautious. As soon as I walk away, he’s close behind. I know that he will always leave when I leave and I have learned to use this to my advantage, particularly because I have another child who wouldn’t even notice being left behind all day.

  
Last weekend we went to a birthday party at a kiddie wonderland. It was a blast, but the only rides Brooks truly enjoyed were the ones I could accompany him on. We had to stop the boat and cars early so he could eject. That option wasn’t available for the planes, so he hid his head until it was over. He did great on the carousel, Ferris wheel and train, where I wasn’t too big to ride.

   
    
  
 Sabra on the other hand whinnied at the wind blowing in her face. She giggled and loved being on the move. She is a thrill seeker and rarely searches for my hand. And while B didn’t even attempt the pony ride, Sabra’s appetite was bigger than her stomach. Once she actually got up to the pony, she held on to the trainer tight and was quickly returned to my arms. Honestly, it’s refreshing to see her exhibit fear!

  
   
  

We had a great day of sweets and thrills and no naps. And I’m continuing to learn how to encourage each kid’s strengths and work with their personalities.

   
 

Following the Rules

Yesterday I read a blog post about following the rules. Let me back up a tad, the post was really focused on the author communicating to her children that they aren’t that great or special. Within this explanation, she repeatedly reinforced following the rules.

I thought about ways I break the rules, then this morning it hit me where I think I’m special. I’m especially irreverent to school, namely preschool. Sure, I get my tuition in on time and we support the annual carnival fundraiser, but I could care less about the Yankee Candle fundraiser, school pictures and the school mascot, which I translate as unnecessary parent homework.

See, on Monday, we got Huggy. 

  
I hadn’t heard of Huggy until Monday, but he is the school’s mascot and travels home with each student for a few nights. Along with his journal. It’s a sweet idea and I love that Huggy is more than a village of germs, but really I’m just calculating what I need to keep up with him and wondering what the minimum amount of work is that I need to do before he goes to the next dude.

   
 Huggy’s journal is filled with his adventures and photo proof of said adventures. They are written “Dear Diary” style. Of course parents do the chronicling, but I was so bored reading through the previous highlights of Huggy’s life that I decided to shake things up. So, for my journal I wrote something funny! I made the Williams family seem bonkers for letting me drive before age 16, eat blondies at 9:30am and dance to DJ Snake during clean up. I didn’t say “it was straight up dope” but that was implied. I read my clip to Spencer right before bed and we both got a laugh. “Nobody cares,” I said when he raised an eyebrow.

Then this morning, as I was flipping back through my masterpiece, I noticed a sheet glued to the front of the book. There were instructions! What?!? And, get this, Huggy’s adventures are shared in CHAPEL!!!! Ouch! I tore out the pages I could and went straight. I made what I could cutesy and rated G. 

   
 And in the end I found myself scolding myself for not just following the rules like everyone else. There is a reason they are there and I’m not that special–these are things I’m trying to teach my kids, so maybe I should lead by example.

Also, maybe I should put a little extra effort into my penmanship. It’s borderline atrocious.