Summer Love

Right out of the gate, I’m going to say that summer is NOT my jam. The idea of three solid months between school years scares me. The heat is so oppressive that it makes me feel trapped and I just spend all of May freaking out that I can’t possibly mom myself through the three months ahead.

This summer started out with a work weekend out at camp. We had a blast and then it got real on Monday. Like very real. And then we quickly joined the Y thereafter the “real” hit the Williams world, which has been our saving grace for several reasons.

Today, we are one month and two days into summer. I don’t want to get too confident, but I’m going to say that this has been my favorite summer so far. Sure, right out of the gate we had several 100 degree and above days, but that only drove us to the pool. And back. And back, wherein my children are simultaneously improving their swimming skills, cooling off and having a blast, plus they get worn the heck out (win!). Brooks has not only blown me away in the pool, but he straight killed his first 9-4 day camp at Mad Science. He’s never been gone the whole day and I was giving it until Tuesday or Wednesday before we called the whole thing off, but low and behold homeboy freakin’ LOVED every second. Not only was I encouraged that he went all day for an entire week without knowing a soul and LIKED it, but he actually wanted to go. He was pumped up every morning to get back to his experiments. This settled so many fears I have for kindergarten coming up in two (gulp) months.

He also spent a week away at Camp Gigi and loved the VBS at her church. I did not talk to him once! And he was great! Spoiled, to be sure, but just dandy without me.

Back to the Y, I have been able to take Sabra to the downtown Y a few times and walk Town Lake. I’ve scheduled a few coordinating walking dates with friends and enjoyed it so much. I love my city. I love that there are so many beautiful places free and open to the public. I love that I can enjoy the river every single day if I choose. And I love that, at least this year, all the flowers are so vibrant.

The first time I ever saw the agave was in Big Bend National Park in my 20’s. It was immediately my favorite bloom, but I’d never seen one outside of that region. But this summer, they are somehow all over town. I am seeing the agave left and right. The nerd video at Big Bend informed us that this beauty blooms only once and then it dies. This is it. One shot and then goner! And I think about that every single time I pass one. It’s a little sad because they are so beautiful, but also a reminder that we all only really get one shot. This beauty is fleeting. We may bloom now, but it’s short, so wake up. Smell the roses. Or agave!

I simply cannot get over the vibrant colors and lush greens all over town. I usually think of summer as hot and desperate, but the gorgeous blooms along the trail and the shade-providing canopy of trees that covers most of the trail during the summer simply remind me that God’s got it. God has me when life is good and when it’s hard. And right now, it’s good. It’s also 82 degrees outside because it’s been raining. So there’s that too, which may help.

Camp Mommy

Last week I was a mother-of-one. Brooks got the royal treatment at Camp Gigi in San Antonio, so Sabra and I were just two girls on the town. And we had a blast! We swam, ate out and read nearly every children’s book under our roof. I love this girl and I love her age. I love that she remembers every fact she’s ever heard and that her eyes are as blue as the Frio River. She is brave and fun to be around. She does her own thing and makes me want to live more in the moment. I have this 4-year-old for another four months. I will cringe when she turns five because it means my baby is really growing up, but I am beyond thrilled to have two full days with her each week next year before she goes off to kinder. I love this girl something fierce. And I thank God daily that I get to be her mommy.

My Little Wonder Girl!

Life in Death Valley

We’ve been married almost 12 years and I have never once gotten to tag along on a work trip. I always thought it would be dreamy to visit places with Spence and explore a city all day while he was at an important meeting. It never happened though. Until it did! Just a few months ago, I got to wife work freeload for the first time! Spence had a conference in Las Vegas and I got come. I have never wanted to go to LV in my life, but I was all over a week-long break from mom life and totally up for some one-on-one time with my main squeeze.

This was our maiden voyage on a plane and leaving the state since we’ve had children, so it was a pretty big deal. We hit Hoover Dam the first day we flew in and geeked out at the scale and man-power behind this wonder. Finally descending upon The Strip in Las Vegas, we settled into our hotel and I adjusted to the odd beast that is Sin City. I have to admit that I spent the first few days just chillaxing and soaking up the feeling of only having to feed and care for myself. I explored the city some in the morning before it got too hot and witnessed the sad leftovers from the night before. I was offered drugs at 9am and saw actual prostitutes for the first time in my life. If there ever was a city that is the antithesis of what I’m about, it’s LV. By day I lounged and spa’d and read, but by night we got dressed up and ate some of the most delicious food I’ve ever eaten. Did you know $10 truffle butter exists as a steak topper? It does. And I ate it. And it was scrumptious as all get out!

As fun as luxurious hotels and fancy restaurants can be, natural beauty is more my speed. After the conference was over, we drove out to Death Valley National Park in California. We rented a Jeep and spent the day exploring this place that has the vibe of another planet.

I never would have pictured huge snow-capped mountains in the distance or vibrant colors blooming in the desert, but we saw it all. And it was breathtaking. The vivid colors against this bland backdrop woke up my senses and made me go inward. I thought about how hard parenting is and how often we can feel like teammates or ships passing in the night, but then we take these adventures together and I realize there is no one else I’d rather drive around in a Jeep that plays no music with than this guy. He really is my favorite. And sometimes you have to be in the middle of nowhere to see that. Spencer is my bloom. Life isn’t always easy and a lot of times it’s just downright hard, but I love walking through this world sitting in Spencer’s passenger seat. He’s a control freak and HAS to drive, which is fine with me because I LOVE being a passenger. We laughed and explored and shared this life we started together, almost 12 years ago, in Death Valley. Till death do us part.

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.