Monday, November 23, 2015

gratitude for children who leave home...

...and then come back.

It's like there's a magic in the air around here since Max returned for Thanksgiving early Friday morning.  

I don't know that there could be four more adoring sisters trying to soak up that brother of theirs right now.

It's like the relationships have blossomed and there's a maturity about them like never before.

Everyone wants to sit by him and show them a zillion new things since he left three months ago.

This one especially can hardly leave his side:

I love this sequence of pictures when Dave and I were trying to get a shot with just him.

Lu just couldn't quite leave the huddle;)

Yes it is indeed a bitter/sweet thing to have your child leave you.  It's like ripping your heart out and letting it live in a different place for a while.  And that "while" only gets longer, especially when we hit January 20th and he leaves for Taiwan.  But there are magical moments in between, on the phone, during a visit, watching him interact with others over Facetime, when you watch him become himself more than ever and it makes all the heart-rip-wounds heal a thousand times over.

It is grand to be a mother.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

gratitude for kindness and for blog readers

Years ago my sisters-in-law and I had a little rotation going.  Each week we'd take turns meeting at one of our homes and doing whatever little project that person needed.  It was a great way to get together and also get things done as our little toddler cousins wrecked havoc in a different area of the house ;)  One day we helped one sister-in-law hang up a collage in her kitchen.  One of the things we hung was a sign that said, "Be Kind."

Our little "helping" rotation didn't last for too long because life got in the way.  All those baby cousins grew up and went off to school as our schedules filled with different obligations.  But I've thought of that sign often since then.

Kindness is a magical thing.  Not only does it make a difference to the person receiving it, but it fills up the heart of the kindness-giver as well.  It is manifest in countless different ways, but today I want to concentrate on my gratitude for the kindness of blog readers.

Last week I got the kindest letter from a blog reader as I do from time to time.  Not only did she share gratitude to me for sharing what I have shared over the years, but also some advice on the side as I get ready to send Max out into the mission field.

As that little note filled up my heart it made me ponder on kindness.  For the way it can change a dark day to light.  For the way we can build one another in a world that is sometimes infiltrated with sadness and sorrows.  Even so much as a little smile or quick comment can make all the difference.

That little note filled me up with so much gratitude for blog readers as a whole.  I mean, I feel that quite regularly, but that note spurred such a love for all that I learn from keeping this little blog here on the world wide web.  For this community of people from all walks of life who come here, whether daily or occasionally, to learn and to teach.  For the ones who write comments or emails and the ones who don't.  For the ones who build me up give me the benefit of the doubt when I haven't taken the time to think through what I say and yes, even for the ones who make me think when they are upset with what I share.

Through the years this blog has become so much more than a family journal.  

It is, and will always be first and foremost just that.  It has become such a great way for me to express my thoughts and feelings.  Things I want to remember and I want my children and their children and their children to have some day.   

But it's become so much more because of blog readers.  

I have loved having a venue to share parenting ideas.  The ones passed down to me from my extraordinary parents.  The ones I've learned through the years from Dave's wise and wonderful mom and dad.  The ones I've collected from friends and relatives through the years of trying to be deliberate in how Dave and I try to raise these children entrusted in our care.  I've loved being able to vent when I'm frustrated and to be built up by people I don't even know on those days when I've reached the end of my rope.  We have felt the love from thousands who love Lucy and have sent her things and donated to the BBS cause and have shared their love even when they don't personally know her.  People I don't know have mourned with our family, traveled with us on adventures, shared their own advice and stories, and comforted us through the tough times.  We have received so many kind gifts and have become acquainted with so many lovely people who are trying to make a difference in the world.  My children have benefitted so much YOU, the readers of this blog.  They come home and read it after school practically every day.  They have learned from feisty commenters and from glowing kind ones as well.  

It's become a sort of laboratory to make me think more deeply about human emotions in my own little corner of the world.  I don't often get a chance to reach out and share the kindness I receive here back individually but I want to say right here right now that it matters.

It matters in every aspect of life.  At the grocery store, stuck in traffic, in a family, with strangers.  Kindness makes the world go around.  Thank you for those who exhibit it so graciously here on this blog.  I am truly grateful for you.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

gratitude for friends

Today I'm so grateful for friends.  

Grateful for the ones who mold me and help shape me into who I want to be.  Old ones who helped me raise my babies:

New ones who inspire me:
(Ok only one of those is really "new" but all three have been inspiring me for a very long time and I finally got to meet that middle one in person this week.)

I'm so grateful for high school friends and college friends and childhood friends I've lost track of but who taught me so much.  I'm grateful for Israel study abroad friends and neighbor friends and especially those friends who helped in Dave and my love story.

I'm grateful for how my children's' friends shape their lives.

The ones who root for them on the sidelines of sports:
 The ones who take selfies on my phone:
 The ones who ask for mini-photoshoots:

 Love that Claire missed the memo on the "funny face" for this one:
 ...and caught it just in time for this one:)

I love friends who think of nice things to do for others, like Grace's cheerleading friend who's heart wanted to reach out to their coach who is dealing with a family member with cancer.  She rallied the troops to raise money to donate to the cause and surprised her.

I love friends who are willing to help Claire babysit Lucy and are happy with a simple soda shop payment when they're through.
 ...and friends who work there who make them feel like they just met a movie star:)

Grateful for friends who get together to help other friends have good birthdays:

School-project-working-together friends:
 (they had to make ancient Roman clothing and decided to use their dolls as models)

...and friends who let us borrow their babies once in a while:

For artistic friends:
Late-night friends:

"Making-school-fun" friends:

Gymnastics friends:

Date friends:

Lego friends:

Accidentally matching friends: 

Dance friends:

We better add "blog reading friends" since we need to include Max and these cute girls who recognized him up at BYU:)

So grateful for all the friends up there who are enriching his world in countless ways before he heads out to Taiwan.

And perhaps best of all?  Sibling friends who help you learn the ropes of soccer on a Fall evening:

Just feeling so grateful for friends that make our world so full of life and love.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

gratitude for the people who help us keep Lucy's vision

As I mentioned a while back, a couple months ago we decided to "give" a sink to Lucy.  I told her she "got to" be in charge of keeping that special thing spick and span all the time (for the random dishes through the day and after breakfast) and that she could even name it if she wanted.  I mean, that's exciting stuff, right?  

She didn't jump up and down in glee or anything, but she has been pretty great at getting right to it when we tell her it's looking neglected.

But that's not the point of this story.  This story is about the day when she thought she was done with the breakfast dishes.  I reminded her not to forget the clear cup sitting right there on the side of the sink.  

She nodded with a cute little "of course I won't forget that one" kind of a nod, and then reached out to grab it.

But instead of reaching the cup, she reached to a spot a few inches away from the cup and started to feel around the counter trying to find it.  She was looking right at it, but couldn't see it.

My heart froze.

It's weird how a day can be plugging along just fine...all is right in the world and then suddenly everything stops.  And you wonder what in the world the future holds.  How much can she really see and how much is she just compensating for?  How many times does she act like she can see and get where she's reaching right so I don't even notice?  How quickly is this going to go downhill?  Or is she going to be one of the fraction of the lucky ones with her syndrome who will keep that vision that so many of us take for granted every day?  What does her future hold?  Will she be able to continue with her love of reading and art and Legos?  Is her sense of feeling and smell starting to take over to help her navigate her world?

I don't know the answers to any of those questions.  And most of the time I try to close them out.  I push them away.  I want to concentrate on the goodness of right now.  

But at the same time I'm trying to concentrate on the good, little instances like that clear cup story start to prick my awareness and my eyes will fill up and my own kind of darkness looms heavier.  I know we have to be proactive.  And we have to fight.  Because the vision time bomb is ticking (most BBS kids lose their vision in middle adolescence). 

So each year I'm even more grateful than the last when the Turkey Trot rolls around.  Because it's an automatic fund raiser that makes a difference for BBS kids.  I think I've neglected to ever relate the history behind that great thing:  

Five years ago our friend had a grand idea.  It was to start a Turkey Trot in our own community.  Something to build up our community "togetherness" as well as to help a good cause.  He recruited Dave and a couple other friends to put it together.  As they were looking for good causes to put their efforts toward.  A favorite local charity called Brain Food came up, but also of course fund raising for BBS kids came up since they were looking to help kids specifically and we needed all the help we could get.  So we connected that first Turkey Trot to the "I Love Lucy Project" my mom and I came up with a couple years before.  

Here is the second year when it grew a little bigger...

Each year for the last five years those ideas have expanded and become bigger.  The Turkey Trot started in the retention basin down the street from our house the first year and now it's at a big outdoor shopping mall filled with so many great people and all kinds of activities going on on the side-lines.  The funds we raised for BBS kids the first couple years went directly to the Foundation Fighting Blindness since we didn't have anything specific to contribute to at that point, we just wanted to fight blindness any way we could.  But we found that was just a drop in the huge bucket of vision research, and we (other BBS families along with us) knew that time was ticking and we wanted some serious research specifically for BBS kids with their unique kind of retinitis pigmentosa (the vision loss associated with BBS).

With the help of the BBS community we've figured out a way to make those funds work specifically for BBS kids through starting the clinical registry that helps researchers help our kids.  Much more on that over HERE.  Last year we were in China and weren't able to coordinate the BBS side of the Turkey Trot as well as we wanted to, so we're excited to run with it this year, as other families have done through their own family fund raising (more about those efforts HERE).  Our good friends in the BBS community just held a great golf tournament to raise money and others are joining the cause.   I loved this great thank-you video they did after the tournament:

Thank You Golfers! from Alms Creative on Vimeo.

All of us BBS families know that vision research, especially the pin-pointed kind we need, takes funds.  Lots and lots of them.

So back to my original point: I am so incredibly grateful for everyone who works so hard on the Turkey Trot every year.  So grateful for my talented sister-in-law who made this idea of a logo come to fruition for us:

So grateful for friends who have helped us brainstorm on all kinds of ideas to get information out about BBS on the big day and to make it fun for families.  So grateful for so many people willing to put in hours on end coordinating logistics and for all the love we feel as we work to help BBS families as well as the kids who benefit so much from the other charity involved.

I will be trying to update the I Love Lucy blog with new pictures of BBS kids and their stories in the next week, so check it out if you'd like.  And come join us on Thanksgiving if you're local!  We'd love to have you join in the fight to help these kids keep their vision.  Research is coming so close we can almost taste it.  

Here's to hoping we can help Lucy and all the other BBS kids see those "clear cups" in their future as well as seeing the people they love and the sun setting on a beautiful day.  

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Pray for Paris...and for humanity

I'm a little bit slow to the Paris post, but my heart has been breaking for this beautiful city and the beautiful people who fill it up.  
Dear Paris, we are praying for you.

And we are praying for the world we live in as well.  A world that needs softened hearts and to love more, more than ever before.

Friday, November 13, 2015

gratitude on Friday the 13th and Turkey Trot info.

It's a pretty day here in the desert.  

I'm so grateful for winter here.  I'm in love with the slanted light and the slight crispness in the air.

I'm so grateful that Elle and Grace wear the same size shoes I do.  I know, another weird thankful thing and I don't know why I like it, especially since they take some of my shoes and thrash them.  But for some reason somehow maybe that makes me happy as they are becoming my peers in so many ways. 

And they are fun peers.

On that note, I love that I am the mother of girls.  Lots and lots of girls.  I love hanging with them and doing their hair in the mornings.  I love that they like photography with me.  I love that they like each other (most of the time).  I like looking around at their sweet faces at dinnertime.  

I'm grateful for prayer.  I'm grateful that when I let it, it helps me have a clear mind.  I love that I can come to it when I'm struggling with mothering or life or direction and if I'm still I can feel little nudges and help when in need.

I'm grateful for goals.  Even goals that I'm failing miserably at like keeping up on our scripture reading right now. Oh boy, gotta revamp that one.  I'm grateful for second chances.

And I'm grateful for the Turkey Trot coming up.  I mentioned that yesterday but neglected to attach the info.  

SO here you go:

I think early-bird registration ends on Sunday night.  So go HERE and register if you can join us on Thanksgiving!

It's gonna be a good day.

gratitude and our traditional Thankful Tree

Ok, I am really starting my gratitude posts as of today.

Because it's already November 12th for crying out loud!  How did that happen?

I'm grateful for my computer.  It's getting fixed and there's nothing like absence to make the heart grow fonder.  Oh boy that was a good investment.  So grateful for how my brother set it up for me and how he helps me keep it organized.  

That brings me to my brother.  So grateful he lives close and that we get to hang with him as much as we do.  That my kids think we can't do anything big or exciting without him.  How he will drop anything to help us any time and how everyone gets so excited when he walks in the door.

I'm so grateful for a body that works.  I'm extra aware of that today since I can hardly walk from a squat workout I did on Tuesday. 

I'm grateful for puffy coats and for our fire.  It got down to the 40s this week so it feels extra good to snuggle up.  (Yes we are very wimpy here in the desert.)

I'm so grateful for Palmolive.  I know that's weird but my Grandma always used that green Palmolive and so now I always buy it and the smell reminds me of her.  We're out of it right now and I miss how clean and sparkly it makes my sink and dishes.

I'm grateful for the Turkey Trot and all the people who are putting in countless hours to get ready for that baby in a couple weeks.  So grateful for such a great way to raise money for BBS families and for how fun it is to gather together on Thanksgiving morning for a good cause.

And I'm so grateful we are here this year so we can help in the same time zone instead of being thirteen hours ahead like we were last year.

But today the thing I'm grateful for that we actually have pictures of is our traditional Thankful Tree.  I love gathering together and creating something.  This year it required a little FHE trip to Target to get the supplies and then some work figuring out how to do it in our new house.  (We weren't here last year but improvised in China back HERE.)  

We decided to go big.

These faces show how seriously we took our little project:

...and the Desitin is sitting there in the middle of our foliage creation just to keep it real :)

Here's how it looked just the tree part:
Let's go ahead and pretend like it doesn't look like these were taken in a wavy mirror...not sure what's up with these weird angles.

Claire was the "tree model."
As usual, we couldn't stop on our first-night gratitude.
We'll be adding leaves to that baby each day until Thanksgiving.
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