Hair Force 1

Haircuts are those things everyone does, but no one breaks down. They should bring a mother to tears seeing all the days, weeks, and months it’s taken for their child’s hair to get to this shaggy point from the last time they sat in that funny car. See, we go to a cheesy kid place where the kids get spoiled and bribed just so someone can chop off their hair. Somehow they WANT to go here. It makes haircuts, which were once a huge, painful ordeal, into a sort-of field trip.

A friend of mine with a third grader informed me that her daughter told her upon leaving this establishment a few months ago that’s she’s grown out of it. So, there you go. There’s a timeline for the annoying kid stuff that you think will last forever.

Things I probably won’t remember about my kids:

  1. How someone always has to go potty the second we get our food at a restaurant (when I am parenting alone).
  2. How they turn down Chick-fil-A to eat grilled cheese at home.
  3. How gross sticky their hands get when they eat lollipops.
  4. How Sabra will eat anything off the floor (like the ice she picked up and kept dropping on the floor at Chipotle today).
  5. How they never had “room time” once they dropped their naps.

Things I will definitely remember:

  1. How much my kids LOVE the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles soundtrack.
  2. And how haircuts are my reality check that they are growing up before my very eyes.

I see it. And with every haircut, I see it more. All of this is to say that today, I saw my kids grow a little more. And in the midst of all this, I hope they are able to see that I’m growing too. My heart, for sure.

These Are The Days

This is a selfie (did I really just use that word?) I took on a casual run while the kids were at school. It was a nippy, but gorgeous Friday morning and I felt amazing! I’ve learned never to take these runs for granted; I’ve been injured so many times, I now know better.

And this is me wearing a back brace only days later. Because I know running is not sustainable, I often try to get into other things. So I tried out barre. And I threw out my back. It was an awful week of pain and I will never go back. Must we all simply lift weights? I want a more fun option. I just want to run and hike and play. Do I really have to make my bones stronger? Ugh.

And so…Barnes and Noble is our literal haven in times of trouble.

Two weeks later and the pain is minimal. Don’t get me wrong, it was TERRIBLE for days. I could hardly move, so even a walk sounded dreamy. Also, something awful happens to my brain when I get hurt. I think it’s called depression or something. I start researching vitiligo and seeing pictures of my future and it’s all downhill from there. I think the best part of feeling physically better is getting back outside. Being outside is tricky for me because of the sun, but winter is kind to me.

This morning my children slept until 7:30, nothing short of a miracle, and I found myself already feeling nostalgic for this sweet time when we don’t have to rush to school in the morning. Every morning after breakfast, the kids play in the living room. I drink my coffee and load their backpacks while they get along or argue (or both). Slowly but surely, they get dressed and I do too. We often make it out the door with enough time to swing by the little free library. None of this is special, but it’s what I will remember. I will remember the crazy house we drive by 3 months out of the year (because that’s how long it takes them to put up and take down their 25,000 decorations). I will remember lingering at the SHPC playground after pick up because we have nowhere else to be. We are living slow right now. My house is wreck, I may never be caught up on laundry and I have no clue what I’m cooking for dinner. But, man, I love my kids. I love that Brooks is a Lego-maniac and Sabra quite possibly knows more about dinosaurs than her brother at this point. I love that Sabra pretends she knows the words to songs and just blurts out sounds. I love that Brooks is off-roading on his bike and that he and his sister will play out back until the sun goes down (note: adult must be present for outdoor play). The days have been long, but they are coming to a close. Elementary school is around the corner and life is about to shift. BUT, we still have about 8 more months, so we will soak it up until then!

 

My Monet

Here’s what I have learned about my son. Brooks Williams does best when he has zero information. For instance, when he asks what is on the agenda for the day, it is better if I shrug and say I’m not sure rather than give him the rundown.  Spencer just texted me: “Taking B hunting after we go camping. Don’t tell him.” This is similar to me not letting him know that I’ve signed him up for art this spring.

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We started back to preschool today after a lengthy three-week break, but the Monday art class does not begin for another two weeks. It does me no good to let him know that he will be part of this class ahead of time. This is a boy who draws and crafts every chance he gets. He will forgo TV to color hour upon hour and gets giddily amped up at whatever the special craft is that Grandma’s concocted for her weekly visit. You would think a kid like this would be dying to do an art class (and I already know he will love it), but this is one curve-ball of a kid. Every time we think he’s going to love something, he hates it. And when we are sure he’ll throw in the towel after five minutes, he pushes through an hour. In the end, we’ve learned that the build-up and anticipation are not our friend. For whatever reason, it’s his biggest turn-off.

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This picture came up on my Facebook page yesterday and it caught my attention for two reasons.

  1. My lips are sealed.
  2. I am young enough to give bangs a legitimate shot.

I have no children at the time of this photo. I want them, but it won’t happen for a while. Whatever tricks I have to make it through the sticky stuff at the point somehow won’t work on my future children. Because they are so unique, each their own puzzle. The pieces of Brooks’ puzzle were dumped out onto our table almost 6 years ago and it continually amazes me how we may think a piece goes along the side, but then we realize it’s a key bottom piece. We have 18,000-piece puzzle that we are only a few thousand pieces into completing. It’s a delight to step back now and then to see some beauty, a little progress in this parenting process. Mostly we are up so close that it just looks like a mess. Colorful, to be sure, but not enough information to make out anything of substance.

Our little work of art is coming together. I hesitate to say those words, because Brooks is ultimately God’s masterpiece, but baby-step for so long that the leaps take my breath away.

Yesterday, he sat with us during the church service. I read scripture from the pulpit and I looked out at him, ¾ of the way into the congregation and snuck him a tiny wave. I was so proud of this boy. He slumped and covered his ears while we sang and colored on the program, never cracking a single smile (or uttering a single word to The Lord’s Prayer), but he did it. He whined the whole way to church and the free donuts after the service may be the only thing that makes him happy there at this point, but he’s growing. And we get to be a part of that.

I am trying to land the plane here, maybe somehow tie this back to keeping my lips sealed or the puzzle thing, but I’m only a C writer at present, so I need to keep practicing (at both momming and writing).

Not into Mutation

Spencer gave my last blog post a solid C, so I guess I need to keep practicing. There is nothing super profound with this one, except that I don’t want to forget it.

Brooks Age: 5.75

Brooks
Age: 5.75

As I put Brooks to bed each night, I sing Jesus Loves Me. He then says The Lord’s Prayer the best he can and then I say it., emphasizing those spots where he is fuzzy. He always misses a few words and gets a couple of things wrong, but it warms my heart to know that after five years of saying this prayer to him daily, it’s sinking in. He knows it. Mostly.

“Lead us not into mutation,” he says. “But deliver us from evil.”

I feel like I could really delve in to not being led into mutation and what all that could mean, but I don’t have the energy. All I know is that when these words come out of his mouth each night, I tell myself to write them down so I won’t forget. And to remember that even though he refuses to utter a word of this prayer during church each Sunday when the congregations recites it in unison, it’s down in there. God, thank you that it is in there!

I’m sure God sees me using my own made up words and rules and just laughs, noting that one day we will look over these things together. I never feel God’s compassion for his children more than when I am tucking in my own. I don’t care if they get it right, I just want their love.

Insta-life

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The days are so long. It’s easy to take pictures and give them snappy little captions, then move on with your life without ever really thinking things through. See, that’s what I’ve done for the last year. The kids in this picture have been heavily photographed as documented every move we’ve made, all in the sacred name of Chatbooks. It’s simple, convenient, and you can make everyone look phenomenal with filters. But that’s not life. Instagram certainly isn’t real life either.

As I flipped through old photos, this one caught my eye. The kids are so much younger, as are we, yet I was blogging much more. But it wasn’t the photo that caused this deep heart change. No, it was a very un-special car ride with my son last week that made me ache to get back to the keyboard and delete Instagram from my phone. It was a cold December afternoon and as we sat at a red light, Brooks pointed to a man on the corner holding a cardboard sign.

“Mom, what’s he doing?”

I glanced up in my rear-view mirror to make eye contact. “Well,” I said, “He doesn’t have a home. He’s asking people for money or food.”

“Maybe he could come live in our house,” he suggested.

My heart has never been so warm. Sure, I’m a ragged, exhausted parent, certain I’m screwing up my kids most of the time. But then one of them says something like this and gives me hope that God is salvaging some of my efforts.

I don’t want to miss these moments. I don’t want to simply take cute photos of my kids. I want to put my phone away and engage with them fully, later following up on the page.  I love writing. I love my children. And I love making sense of this parenting life through words. I will go on making my Chatbooks, but the Insta-life doesn’t serve me well, so I’m moving on. Because there is nothing “insta” in this parenting game and it requires time and effort to fashion these kids and these thoughts and words. I can’t think of the perfect antonym for instant, but “slow-cooked” comes to mind, so that’s what I’m shooting for.

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!