Sunday, January 22, 2017

Faith vs Fear

A friend asked me to guest blog for her 31 blogs in January series.  I said yes a few weeks ago as we caught up for 2 hrs on the phone in a LONG overdue conversation.  Then on Tuesday she texted me to see if I'd commit to Sunday.  This Sunday.  Like today Sunday.  Well, crap, I didn't want to!  

And I had a million reasons to say no.  
1.  The kids were on snow day number 9 (unprecedented for the Portland area!)
2. I had only been to the office 2 days so far since Dec 22, 2016, due to snow and holidays.  
3. January is a super busy time for an accountant, especially one in management.  
4. I still have employee reviews to deliver.
5. My kids are driving me crazy and everyone is stir crazy and I can't leave the house and I'm trying to reconcile excel schedules with kids just making noise and picking on each other because they don't know what else to do. 

So I waited until Wednesday night, after I had been to the office for one day and felt mildly better about catching up on my job.  I usually LOVE working from home, but I had never been happier about getting a day in the office.  Until 

6. All the rain melted all of the snow and our gutters are frozen and so the rain dumped in and our basement started leaking, and estimate #1 says $14K to repair properly to ensure it doesn't happen again.  

But instead I texted back and said yes.  Yes, I can write a guest post for you.  

Because the truth of the matter is if I don't set a deadline, I'll never have the time, there will always be things that are more important.  But you know what?  I want to write.  I want to practice writing again.  And if I would have pushed her off until next Sunday, I would have shipped it off to her Saturday night/Sunday morning at 2am, like I did in the wee hours.  

It was hard to write.  I felt clumsy and too worded.  I was sharing some personal victories and tips and waking up early, and not drinking or being on FaceBook.  It was hard to press send.  I didn't feel like it was good enough for her beautiful blog.  I didn't feel like I had enough to offer.  I felt insecure all night.  Until I got a text today where she said she "loved it"!  

It inspired me, it reminded me. Both of my love of writing and I encouraged my self in the topics I wrote about.  Articulating my "why" made a big difference for me.  

This morning in church, the story of Abraham and Sarah was shared.  How they are really the ultimate story of faith.   God made them big promises about the nations and gifts he would give them.  He didn't tell the how, why, when or where!  And they just dropped everything, in ultimate faith, and they went (Gen 12).  But we barely get into their journey when Abraham becomes afraid and tells Sarah to act like his sister instead of his wife, and if backfires and she gets taken into the Pharaoh's Haram and Abraham gets rich from it,  God shows up for them, even though they were not faithful, he gets them out of the situation and even let's them keep their riches.  But can you imagine how Abraham felt?  Knowing he basically gave his wife to another man out of fear, potentially giving up all the nations and the promises, out of fear.  Can you imagine what a dumba$$ he felt like?  And this is like 5 minutes after JUST DOING THE THING THAT REQUIRED MORE COURAGE AND FAITH THAN ANY OTHER THING.  And then that is the story, the bigger story.  Of Abraham and of the whole Bible, and of every story.  Fear vs Faith.  Which will we choose?  Which will I choose.  

But fear...dang it.  It gets us.  It's at the heart of nearly every problem, weakness, sin.  

We make bad family, financial, relational, professional decisions because we are so afraid.  

The bible says fear not.  Do not be afraid.  

I was afraid to even write that paragraph above.  I'm clearly not a bible study writer or teacher.  And I'm basically just paraphrasing what the paster said this morning, with much more elegance.  Who do I think I am, re-telling it? THEN, when I overcame that fear, and kept typing, fear told me that people were going to judge me for being so religious, for writing about the Bible, for sharing myself or my beliefs at all.   But that's just what fear wants me to do.  Be silent.  Fear knows that God has a plan for me, and he wants me to share myself.  To feel known and seen and loved.  Fear doesn't want those things at all for me.  

Faith though, faith wants me to be empowered and brave and trusting.  Faith says that it will be the adventure of a lifetime, not a comfortable adventure, but a meaningful adventure, one where I feel loved and whole and worthy.  

When I think about a life free of fear, I imagine TRUE FREEDOM.  So I'm going to keep my eye on the prize.  

I've had a few fearful days, paralyzing days, days where I felt doom and gloom seeping in.  

But every good story has a villain.  And only because of the villain do we get to truly experience the power of God, the love of God, the goodness of God.  God.  

Faith says he'll be there for me.  When I trust Him bravely, but also when I blow it big time.  In the meantime, putting myself out there is a small step.  

Thank you Dawn, for asking me to step out into your space, to share myself.  You gave me a gift to push past fear and get back to what I love to do, which is share myself unapologetically as I write my story.  

Thursday, May 26, 2016

But here

-I haven't posted anything since January of 2015.  A year and 4 months, that's a lot of life that went lived but undocumented.  That's okay, it's been a season of hard and busy (and good), and I think I've been in this season for several years now.  I remember back when I felt like I couldn't post another thing because I hadn't blogged Lily's 6th birthday, and now Bryson is 6, and I've yet to capture a single one with my words.  

-My mom and I are planning a trip to Paris in November for my 40th birthday.  
-Lily got accepted to go to Missoula Children's Theatre camp
-I'm trying to get back in shape after a good 3 years of not being in shape. 
-Some of my friendships are growing and some of them are not.  
-I feel lonely a lot, though I am rarely alone.  
-Last year's trip to the Montana and Wyoming and their National Parks has sparked a desire to see more.  
-This summer we plan to go to Utah to see the loop of 5 National Parks there, right on the heels of a week on Flathead Lake.  
-I have three kids playing softball/baseball and the scheduling needs for this family look impossible.  Yet somehow, each week, each day, we make it work, and all that worry is unnecessary.  
-Over the last year +, for the first time since having kids, I feel like I have a village, a community.  I don't need to rely on only myself and my closest friends.  We are a community of people who can meet our needs and whose needs we can meet.  This is deeply satisfying in my soul.   
-My oldest will start middle school next year, she is one of the best people I know.  Her heart, her courage, her ambition, her drive, her work ethic...I honestly don't deserve to be the mother of a kid this great, but I'm so lucky I am.  She's amazing, and I can't wait to see what she does with her life.  
-My Addie, she's 8, and still struggles within our family unit.  She's a fierce competitor, she's compassionate, she works hard. I will admit that at the moment, things are the most difficult with her.  We are committed to work through the issues she is having.  We love her so much and we want her to feel like she is not an outsider in her own family. Even though she puts herself in that position quite often.  
-Oh my joyous Bryson.  The boy is just overflowing with happy.  He still has as much energy as he's always had, too much energy I sometimes think.  And as I think about what's hard about parenting, I think about how happy he is.  How that makes him easy in so many ways, because it's something you can't do for him.  That would be hard.  My son is HAPPY and filled with JOY.  What more could I want?  
-I'm finding that I never take a minute to think.  I need to think, write, plan, analyze.  It's key to my happiness.  

I'm going to find my way here.  Even if it's clumsy at first and I can't figure out where to start or what to call it.  This is where to start, awkwardly, unorganized.  But here.  


Monday, January 12, 2015

Bryson and Buckeyes

The Buckeyes will meet the Ducks today in the college football National Championship.  Our whole family was all dressed in Buckeye gear this morning, planning to brave being the only ones at our offices and in our classrooms here in Portland, Oregon and our little suburb supporting Ohio instead of Oregon.    

Our Nanny roots for Oregon, and so for a while Bryson has been jabbing dad saying he likes the Ducks not the Bucks.  Like for a couple of years, when they aren't even facing off.  A Buckeye game is on, and Bryson is yelling GO DUCKS.  His dad LOVES this, as you can imagine.

So here we are, today.  It's finally happening.

Bryson went to school in his grey Ohio State T-shirt over a Red long sleeved and he didn't even argue.

In the car on the way to preschool, I asked him what he was going to do today when people ask him about Ohio State.  "Are you going to tell them your dad is a Buckeye?"

He said:
I'm gonna say, my dad roots Buckeye.  So do my two sisters.  I root Ducks.  My mom roots Griz.  (Lowered voice and dead serious face).  My dad make me wear this shirt.

I said:
Well you know, honey, I root for the Buckeyes too.  And Dad roots for the Griz.

He said:
We go to Buckeyes for Dad and Griz for you, so I'm just calling it you root for Griz.

Me:
Did you know that the Griz and the Buckeyes don't play each other?  The Ducks and the Buckeyes usually don't either.  So you can root for both teams.  You can like more than one team.  I love Dad, and he loves Buckeyes, so when they are on, I root with him.

Him:
Well, I love Dad too.  But I also love Green.  And the Ducks are the only person I know who are sports that are Green.  So I root Ducks.

Me:
There are some other teams that are green.  The Seahawks have green.  They are like green and blue.

Him:
Well Green and Yellow are my two favorite colors.  So that's why I have to root ducks.


My dad made me wear this shirt, and the tone he said it in, was my favorite part of this conversation!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Just do the next right thing

That's it.  That's my New Year's motto for 2015.

I can outline my goals and my lists and my wishes (and believe me, you know I will).

But what can I really do?  What do I really want to do when it is all too overwhelming?  When it is all out of reach and out of control and I am out of energy?  I can stop, breath, and do the next right thing.

Thank you Ann Voskamp for your little word of wisdom today.

I thought yesterday and today about how much I wanted to write.  To sum up the year, to dream and scheme, to muse.  But the days got away from me.  They were wonderful and they were hard and full and there wasn't a moment to write.  Or sum, or dream, scheme, muse.  There was time for feeding, and sweeping, and bathing, and cooking, and playing, and hiking.  Just the next thing that needed to be done.

And so…I guess that just has to be ok.  It has to be enough.  Rather than look at the mountains ahead of me, just take the next step, and then the next.  And I will get stuff done, and done well.  Whether it be an organization project of massive proportions, putting away one load of clean laundry, or not losing my cool when my little people are pushing all my mama bear buttons.  Just do the next right thing.  I can do that.  I CAN do that!  

I hope that I will be here more this year to write.  I do not hope to tie it all together with a neat little bow, because when I try to do that.  Sequencially, explanatorily.  I can't get a damn thing written.  Because I'm late and I'm behind, and all my show blogs have gone right down the drain as soon as I hear Addie scream at Bryson, or Lily scream at Addie, or Bryson scream at me.  Now that I think about it…the screaming, I swear, it ruins ALL my good blogs!

I need this space again.  More words.  Less pictures.  My space.  If you read it, I love that, but if you don't.  That's okay too.  It's for me, and my family, and my memories, and my records.  And for now, the next best thing was to write this blog with 4% of battery life.  Now the next best thing is to wipe down sticky hot apple cider counters, and then the next best thing after that will be to walk a few laps around the house picking up toys to reach my step goal on my fitbit.  One next right thing at a time.

Here are my beautiful people.  We are ready to start a new year, a blank canvas, a fresh page, a new chapter…it's our favorite series and we've learned so much from all the years we've left behind.








Monday, November 10, 2014

38 Reasons to Give Thanks (and why I love my beautiful daughter Jenny at age 38)

by Elane Dickenson, my mom 

(All of these are so sweet, but I bolded a few of my favorites, the ones that touched or made me laugh)

1. I love that Jenny has always included me as part of her life, even when we are many miles apart.
2. I love Jenny because she loves and appreciates me, with all my many flaws, and lets me know it.
3. I love Jenny because she is a wonderful, caring mother.
4. I love Jenny because she married Lawrence Herman on a mountaintop in 2002 and continues to make her marriage to him the priority in her busy life.
5. I love Jenny because she made me a grandmother, enriching my life beyond imagination
6. I love Jenny because she has always had her own mind, which gives her a unique and wonderful perspective and insight.
7. I love Jenny because she has a warm and giving heart.
8. I love Jenny because she has a sense of humor, that lets her see the funny side of life (eventually).
9. I love Jenny because she is able to communicate the ups and downs of her life, the love and the frustrations, the humor and failures, in writing. Her talent for turning life into a story is exceptional.
10. I love that as nice a person she has grown into, Jenny has never completely lost the “edge” she’s had since she was a little girl.
11. I love Jenny because she still likes coming “home” to Joseph, and loves that her husband and kids love her hometown.
12. I love that Jenny loves her “little” brother Matt, and has developed a special relationship with him as a grownup (even though she always wanted a sister).
13. I love Jenny because she enjoys, and is very competitive at board games (except for Scrabble).
14. I love that Jenny’s heart extends beyond her own family, and her compassion for those less fortunate resulted in financially “adopting” a little girl exactly Lily’s age on the other side of the world.
15. I love how Jenny is always striving to become a better person. When she falls short of her high standards, she picks herself up and strives again.
16. I love that Jenny, who independently on her own initiative used to ride the church bus to Enterprise when she was little, is a strong Christian whose faith both supports her and makes her a better person.
17. I love that Jenny has also embraced Lawrence’s Jewish faith, and incorporates it, as well as Christianity,  into their children’s lives.
18. I love that Jenny has a clear and wonderful memory of her childhood, with all its ups and downs.
19. I love how important it is for Jenny to create – and save -- wonderful memories  for her growing kids. Whether it be skiing and snowshoeing outings, fun or benefit runs, trips to Arizona or New Jersey or Joseph, soccer and karate or campouts with friends and families, the Herman kids are stockpiling a wealth of family memories.  
20. I love that spirited little Jenny, though teased and bullied, never gave in or let the “mean” kids win.
21. I love that the friends of her childhood and high school years are still some of her best friends.
22. I love Jenny’s intelligence and talent with numbers. Starting about age 6, she was the one in the family that had everyone’s phone numbers memorized.
23. I love how Jenny loves and celebrates  the individuality and special quality of each of her three children. On their birthdays and other occasions she’s written about each of them with such love, tenderness  and insight in her blog.
24. I love Jenny’s blog, “Herman, Party of Five,” where she shares  her talent for  writing, as well as  insight, humor, and most of all her life with friends, family and many who have come to appreciate her.
25. I love that Jenny uses Facebook to reach, and interact, with many family and friends. I love her photos and snippets of her life that might otherwise pass unshared in the blur of daily existence.
26. I love that Jenny buys and sells on craigslist, both for extra money, to cut down on clutter, and to save on things she needs. She found me the 1997 RAV4 I’ve been driving for four years on craigslist.
27. I love how capable and organized (mostly) Jenny is in her daily life, fighting the genetics and example passed on by her mother.
28. I love and am proud of Jenny, the working woman, who has excelled in a demanding job with Schrödinger for the last dozen plus years, being promoted several times in a company that values her.
29. I love that Jenny has double downed on my attempting to make birthdays   very special days when she was little by celebrating her kids’ “birthday week.” A traditional themed party is only part of the birthday child’s fun in the Herman family. I love that she also started making my birthdays special with cakes and even a watermelon basket as a kid, and with flowers and special gifts (such as a tent) as an adult.
30. I love that Jenny has also made Christmas a celebration full of fun and traditions for her kids, complete with Santa’s cookies and milk, and – as of last year – the Christmas elf. She also encourages Jewish traditions, such as the lighting of the menorah at Hanukkah.
31. I love that I never found out that little Jenny knew what all her Christmas presents were before Christmas. (Though if I did, I might have hidden them better!)
32. I love that Jenny is somehow able to find the time to maintain and nurture many friendships that are important to her.
33. I love that Jenny stays on the right side of the law and is not an alcoholic or drug user.
34. I love that Jenny (and Lawrence) enjoy an active lifestyle, teaching their kids to ski, run, swim and hike. I love that they all take part in 5K runs and am so proud of Jenny finishing the Hood to Coast relay this year.
35. I love that Jenny’s connection to family extends to her aunts, uncles, cousins, and even my cousins, at the Blanchet Ranch gathering on Memorial Day every year and Red Bridge campout most years. I love that it’s important to her that her kids connect and grow up with her cousins’ kids and the family roots at the Coombs Canyon ranch.
36. I love that though my little Jenny with her big glasses and in-your-face attitude grew up into a beautiful woman (inside and out), she’s never  gauged her own worth in her physical beauty.
37. I love that I was able to enjoy and be proud of Jenny performing  in many plays at Missoula Children’s Theatre, community theater and Joseph High School as she was growing up. She still loves theater as an adult and is passing it forward with MCT for her kids.

38. I love Jenny for anchoring my life and bringing joy to my life from the moment she was born 38 years ago in Emporia Kansas. No matter how old she is, she’ll always be my little Jenny Bug.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

My coffee broke up with me but I pressed on and we are back together again!

Based on the way my coffee treated me, I should have ended it, I should have been prepared for last week to suck a little, but I didn't see it coming.  My oldest baby was going to be 10, which means I was celebrating a decade of me being a mom.  This was the week of me and Lily.  This was also the week that Lily and Bryson were star of the week.  I needed coffee for last week.  

Monday morning started off like anything other.  A hundred things on my plate and trying to fumble through making coffee while finding sides for lunch.  How do I go to the store and purchase stuff for lunches every weekend but there is never anything other than saltines and dried cranberries for lunches?   I hated myself for not doing these two chores the night before.  I hate myself every single morning for this reason, but not quite enough to muster up the energy to do it each night.  That morning, I didn't end up pushing start on the coffee until the girls were out the door for the bus with Lawrence.  It's French Vanilla flavored coffee in the Dunkin Donuts bag, and I'm surprised that Lawrence bought it, he hates the smell of coffee (one of my excuses for not making it at night), and this brand is the strongest smelling.  After about 5 minutes I hear a singeing noise and see that there is no pot under the coffee filter.  It has a plug feature for that, but the filter has filled full and is brimming over the top in every direction.  I mopped up a bit of coffee, sighing with relief that the house is off the market and perfection wasn't in the cards.  I should have just quit there, spent $2.50 on the way to work and called it a day.  

Nope.  

I get the pot under in time, and salvaged the rest of coffee.  I poured my cup tippy top full and added some milk.  No sticky creamer thank goodness.  I finished getting Bryson ready, turned on Curious George to keep him still, and headed upstairs to get myself ready.  

I had already showered but that was about it. I washed my hands and reach back to dry them, when my left hand swiped the tippy top cup of too hot coffee and over it spilled.  It went everywhere.  E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E.  In every drawer and every cupboard and up under everything, in the jewelry holder, soaked every piece of laundry on the ground and every floor mat, around every piece of jewelry, in every toothbrush holder, and in every make up bag.  Everywhere.  I can't emphasize the everywhereness of it enough.  This one cup of coffee seemingly multiplied into gallon after gallon, soaking everything in it's wake.  

An hour later my hair and makeup were left undone, most of the visible coffee was wiped up (I would find more for days), I had a load of coffee laundry going, and out the door my star and I went, late for school.  

French vanilla...the smell never goes away.  A week and a half later, I sit at my desk at work, and I can still smell coffee, every where I go, every minute of the day.  Maybe because it's on my toothbrush, hairbrush, and part of my eyeliner.  

My cleaning lady came on Tuesday of this week, I was so happy the smell would finally be gone, but alas…it's still going strong every time I plug in the flat iron.  

Tuesday, Lily turned 10, and the day was awesome.  We ice skated, I decorated her door all cool, Matt and Heather came over, her presents were appreciated and grown up.  It was a very good day.  More on that another time, but suffice to say, I thought my coffee woes were done.  

Friday we had a slumber party for seven little girls.  After sweating to death throwing together an around the house scavenger hunt, (E-GADS!) I made a cup of coffee to get ready for the night ahead.  Seven little girls are a LOT louder and more excited than five little girls a year younger were last year.  What a difference 2 people and 1 year made! I poured in the water planning to share with any moms dropping off girls who might want some.  Unfortunately there was only a little bit of coffee left in the Dunkin Donuts bag, not nearly enough for the amount of water I'd poured in.  It didn't stop me (or Shawna), we drank our coffee flavored water like it would fuel us for days.  

But. Oh. My. Gosh. you guys! 

The girls were up until 2am.  I got up at 6:30am with Bryson and around 7:30 it occurred to me, THERE WAS NO COFFEE FOR TODAY.  Lawrence and Addie left shortly after for her soccer game and I was not wise enough to realize that I should have run out quick to get coffee before they went.  And by not wise, I mean, I was running non-stop from the second I got up to get uniforms laid out and the coach's shirt clean and figure out if we were the home or away team and water bottles filled up and after game snacks ready, and hair in a pony…WHEN I SHOULD HAVE BEEN OUT BUYING COFFEE.  

One of the things I really am starting to like in this mothering for a decade is that I don't have to pretend I have my shit together.  I mean I couldn't even pretend that if I wanted to, so it's more than convenient that I don't have to.  

So I sent out an SOS.  To the moms of the daughters I "let" stay up until the wee hours.  

I need coffee.  I had a ten year old slumber party with NO COFFEE for the morning for myself and I am DYING OF TIRED over here.  

I looked at my coffee water left from the night before.  I reheated some.  It was so watery and sad.  I knew it wouldn't do any good, but I was desperate.  The SOS moms said they could bring some, but pick up wasn't until 10am, a whooping hour and a half away.  I poured some milk into my coffee water and put it in the microwave.  I took a big gulp and then looked into my cup.  

A small dark object with wings floated into view.  

A fruit fly.

In my coffee water.  

After 4 hours of sleep.  

And I actually contemplated picking it out and going forward. 

Instead, I dumped my coffee.  The betrayal.  After all we went through, it was over.

But you know what?  Those SOS moms, they were fierce with love for me.  They showed up early.  With coffee. Three of them.  And I drank all three cups! 

I was full as they reminded me of my community, that even in silly post slumber party coffee pity, all I have to do is reach out, admit I need something because I was thinking only of scavenger hunts and hard forgotten about my deep need for coffee.  I have a community of people who think I'm wonderful, despite my lack.  Who appreciate the night off I just gave them.  Who will show up early because they understand that this is a mama emergency.  With each sip of my delivered coffee, I thanked God for those ladies.  

Coffee and I made up, we are having a better week this week, and I see only good things in our future. I also smell them.  All. The. Time.  

 Thanks friends! 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Two apples

Getting out of the house on a Monday morning is no small feat.  Addie left mad at the world because I somehow lost her jog-a-thon envelope that I have never even seen.  Bryson wanted me to read him a lego magazine comic, but of course I didn't have time for that, so he slinked away and said, "That's okay, I'll just look at the pictures for now".  I let him watch Curious George to ease the guilt, just a little.  I could have had time, I thought, if I didn't need to eat, and wipe the counters, and make some coffee.  All in all, we got out of the house by 8:15 after I ransacked three cupboards through piles of papers tucked away during house showing with no sign of that damn jog-a-thon envelope and got Bryson to school by 8:25.  Beds made, laundry in hampers, cushions smoothed, hair cleaned off bathroom surfaces, sinks cleaned, toilets doubled checked for flushing, all just in case someone wants to look at our house to maybe buy it today. 

I got to school and Bryson's teacher asked me if we brought in two apples.  We did not.  Nor was it on my radar.  I asked her if I could bring them in on Wednesdays, she said that by Wednesday they'd be made into applesauce, today was for cutting them up and tasting.  She said I could bring them in after school when I picked him up.  But after school he goes to daycare, and I get home at 6pm at the earliest.  I left and thought about how I could get those apples to her after school.  Call our nanny, call another mom from the class? I ransacked my brain, trying to think if I knew about this at some point or not.  I could imagine a cartoony calendar, one from a month ago. Where was that thing now?  How could I let this happen.  I beat myself up most of the way home to get the apples. 

It's not the end of the world, you know.  

My friend is mourning the loss of her father
My friend is watching three of her kids thrive in health, and one in multiple therapies to regain mobility
My friend is worried that her marriage is hopeless
My friend is trying to understand her son's debilitating anxiety.
My friend is a newly single mother, worried that she cannot do it alone
My friend is pushing through the pain of her foster children.
My friend was in a car accident
My friend is worried about her mom's chemo treatments
My friend is struggling as she watches her daughter not recover well from surgery

I forgot the apples.
I had time to go home and get some and drop them off.
I still got to work on time.
I emailed the jog-a-thon team, new form will go home tomorrow.  
What is my problem then? 

My life with it's little blips each day is okay.  It's better than okay.  Today, I don't have any of those worries that I listed above and people I love have those, and that is a blessing.  Bigger than a blessing.  My day will come with some life shattering worries, I'm sure of it, but today was not that day, and if I pretend that it is, then I am a liar and a thief of my own time and joy.  

I will not let the liar into my head who tells me I am a failure because I forgot to bring some fruit to preschool.  Or that a mad kid over a lost fundraiser form determines my worth.  That my struggles are big or real, in the way that they have the power to take away my victories.  I will not let two bad apples rot away the tree full of good apples.  

I have to proactively work at this thinking.  We all do.  For some reason, it doesn't come naturally, not unless you practice it.  To wake up each day and remember to listen for the Voice of Truth over the lies of the busy and condescending world.  Each day starts anew, you have to remember again and again and again, until you are weary wondering how many times you have to learn the same lesson.  But then, there isn't a better feeling than feeling perceived failure pushing you down, sinking lower…only to remember the brightness of the good truth, and to feel your heart raising up, the fog lifting, the truth about who you are and what matters carrying you high.  

So today started with a feeling of defeat, but then, then I remembered.  

And now my heart soars with gratitude.  

Monday, September 1, 2014

summer of 2014 and the run on story of ours

The summer is coming to an end.  In fact, I sit here on Friday at 5pm, Labor Day weekend in front of me, and I cannot believe 1. The summer is over and 2. All of the awesome stuff we got to do this summer.  

June: 
We finished up baseball season and the school year on June 13th, it was both girls first year in Softball and that kept us VERY busy.  Lily had a great coach who gushed on and on about each kid, including mine at her team party, leaving me feeling so grateful for coaches and this one in particular.  A wiffle ball game of parents vs kids ended with LOTS of super fun laughs and some really good new friends.  On the first weekend after school we celebrated Father's Day, and then the kids and I headed out of town  to visit my college roommate in Spokane.  We went to Riverfront park and Silverwood amusement park, but perhaps the biggest highlight for me was just spending a week with my kiddos together with Robin spending a week with her kiddos, doing life together for a few days.  As soon as we arrived home, ran in the twilight run (girls got 1st and 2nd in their age group for the 5K), then bright and early went to the airport the next morning because Grandma & Grandpa Herman and cousin Tyler came for 2 weeks!  Bryson went to a VBS camp the first week, and the kids had an amazing time together. They went to Multnomah Falls, OMSI, berry picking, and to lots of parks in there area.  We did our best to show Tyler a fun Oregon summer experience. Addie had her "tag" Hot Wheels birthday party with some school friends and their families at Cook Park.  We got to celebrate Addie's 7th birthday together before they flew home on the red eye.  

July: 
We spend fourth of July weekend at home for the first time in years, watched fireworks at THS and went to a local small town parade.  It was fun, but nothing compared to Shake the Lake, we definitely don't want to miss the 4th at Wallowa Lake again anytime soon.  We received news of a great opportunity and made the decision to put our house on the market because a friend is selling her house in a location that would be perfect for us, she's giving us first dibs.  We did some minor stuff in the yard and around the house to get ready to go on the market, and then headed to the Blue Mountains for the Blanchet family reunion at Red Bridge state park.  The weather was perfect this year and the kids had so much fun with their cousins.  They have developed a super close relationship with my cousin Grace's boys, Colton and Caleb, and they were inseparable all weekend.  Camping keeps getting to be more fun as the kids get older.  It's still a lot of work, but nothing like it has been for the past 9 years! Four of the Herman's headed home, and Lily went to Joseph for two weeks with my mom.  Addie and Bryson had VBS camp while Lily went to Chief Joseph Summer Camp and spent a bunch of time with my friends and their kids.  I loved it for her!  I loved it for me, I went to CJSS when I was a kid and have great memories there, it was so nice to see Lily get a slice of memories of Joseph in the summer.  We had one weekend at home, while our house went on the market, so we stayed out quite a bit.  We went to see Planes 2, had a BBQ with the Ornelas Family, and rode bikes at Summerlake Park.  On Tuesday night we packed up to drive to Joseph.  This would be our kids first time at Chief Joseph Days, and of course we could not WAIT to see Lily.  As soon as we pulled up at about 11pm, she dove into the car to hug us all.  Reunited and it feels so good! 
We went to the Rodeo, played at the lake, the kids were in the Kiddie Parade (got second place as Cat in the Hat and Things 1-2 come to CJD), we had my 20 year HS reunion at Vali's, watched the grand parade, had my 20 year HS reunion at the Joseph City Park with families, and more fun at the Lake.  We drove home on Sunday tired and happy.  No rest though, the girls started soccer camp first thing on Monday morning! 

August: 
The first weekend of August Lawrence got a job offer (he had been looking since May for something with more opportunity), and this was a VERY happy way to kick off the month.  We stayed home that weekend and IT WAS SO NICE to have a weekend at home. We found time for a BBQ with our friends the Smith's, which we had been trying to schedule since school got out.  We shopped for Bryson's wedding outfit and a few school clothes, then we went to the Tualatin Crawfish festival and ran into some new good friends on accident, which was awesome.  Then Addie and Lawrence got to go to the Thorns (Portland's professional women's soccer) game, after I got my first church going in all summer!  The kids had 4 straight days of swim lessons from my friend Kim, and it did wonders for each of them.  Addie gained so much confidence and they were all putting their face in the water effortlessly (something that has been a challenge).  Enough of this relaxing stuff, Lawrence had his last day of work on August 8, took off half day, and we were off to go camping.  We were supposed to go camping with the Ornelas Family at RAAB campground, but they had a family medical emergency, so at the last minute we changed plans and went to Swift Forest campground in Washington near Mt. St. Helens with our newish friends the Schlichting Family (they have kids Addie and Bryson's ages and she was my postpartum nurse with Bryson!).  Lawrence borrowed kayaks from a friend and we LOVED this campground and the lake, it was so nice.  Lily paddle boarded on a piece of wood for a long time, it was so much fun.  Bryson and their little boy Paul got to be good friends and they just had so much fun.  On Sunday we packed up and stopped in Hood River to pick up a few forgotten items (somehow we messed up on packing for this long trip) and we got lunch at the Brewery there and then headed over Mount Hood to Central Oregon and Lake Billy Chinook at Cove Palisades State park.  It was so incredible.  The weather wasn't great, too hot, too rainy, too much lightning, but somehow we just had the time of our lives.  We met new friends at the campground across from us, and the dad was from New Jersey, so instant connection, we had a great time with them.  Wednesday we headed back to Portland so we could pick up Julia from Germany at the airport. What a beautiful reunion it was.  Time for another quick and long overdue BBQ with the Jordan family (Addie's BFF).  No rest though because it was time to head down to Mount Angel for the weekend for NannyJenny and Tim's wedding!  #burtonhanneganwedding  The girls were both flower girls and Bryson was the ring bearer and they all looked adorable and did great.  The wedding was at Vanderbeck Valley Farms and the location was to die for.  Really amazing amenities but not so fancy pants, really comfortable and great.  Jenny and Tim looked incredible and happy, such a beautiful bride and all of their wedding party were also fun and great to be around.  We all danced and sweated our pants off and it was a fun family night for all.  The next day was our anniversary and we celebrated by back to school shopping and watching the Glockenspiel.  Monday, Lawrence started a new job, and that week we juggled cars, and got used to him working 2 + hrs later than he ever has, which was an adjustment for us all, and our dinnertime/sports schedules! We all found time for the ALS challenge, and donated to alsa.org after dumping big buckets of ice water on our 5 heads.  The next weekend it was time for Hood to Coast.  Thursday night we met our team and decorated our vans, and then Friday, time to run.  More stressful packing, but once we got on the road to pick up the rest of our group, all was well.  I was proud of how everyone on our team ran, including myself.  I was nervous and wasn't sure how I would do.  My longest training run was 5 miles, and my shortest of the three legs was 4.55 miles.  But I did it.  I ran at sunset, I ran in the dark, I ran 6.24 miles, then 4.55 miles, then 5.24 miles.  I supported my team, I had no sleep, I had fun doing it all with my husband.  We stayed one extra night at the beach, sort of to celebrate our 12 year anniversary the week before.  We came home to another week of work, swim lessons, and BACK TO SCHOOL night.  Labor day weekend was super relaxed, we had pancakes for dinner as a request for by Julia for her last night, an EARLY morning goodbye on Saturday, then a day of family fun.  Lawr and I went to a tailgate party hosted by friends of ours that was sold at the PSO auction to benefit the school and it was so nice getting to know/reconnecting with a bunch of parents who have kids in both our girls classes.  Josh and Shawna took our kiddos for the night and we enjoyed our first night alone at our house since the night before Addie was born!  We returned the favor and had a fun Sunday with our kids + the Powers kids at Alpenrose.  Monday we had some house showings and went to "no playground park".  You know, since there was no soccer practice on Labor day, might as well go play some soccer.  

One more ice cream sandwich and backyard water fight and we were showered and in bed.  

Back to school tomorrow.  

What was your favorite part of summer?  Everything!     


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Bus weirdness and growing up

Addie didn't want to ride the bus this morning, Lily did.  I said that it was fine for Lily to ride the bus and I could drive Addie to school.  Lily would NOT accept this, she NEEDED Addie to ride the bus too.  Finally, FINALLY I got the reason Lily wanted Addie on the bus.  It was for me walking the girls to the bus stop, standing and waiting, I told her I'd still walk down with her before driving Addie, but she needed her friends to think I only come down for Addie and not there for her.

Awww...

Friday, February 28, 2014

stream of consciousness about a boy

he sits there.  in his pjs.  his bare feet are still plump with baby fat, and half a leg showing from the pant leg pushed up.  he looks intently at each page as his dad reads him amelia bedelia.  his curious face is almost too much for me to look at i love it so much.  the way he studies each page and picture and knows if the wrong word is read, i look at him in disbelief.  disbelief that he is mine.  disbelief that he is this old.  disbelief that i don't take more time to marvel at him.  look at him.  look at him.  i shake my head.


we go upstairs to brush his teeth.  he is a ballet dancer on the bottom as he prances up the stairs.  he is spiderman on the top as he slings his web.  every single thing we pass catches his attention, he wants this walk to the bathroom to last forever. he sucks the toothpaste off the brush and then hands it to me to rinse.  i squeeze his jaw and brush all four pockets haphazardly.  his lips pucker cutely and his bright clear blue eyes dance as he looks inquisitively into my own.  i don't care if his teeth are as clean as his sister's were five years earlier.  good enough.  he'll live.  i tell him to go potty and then shake my head at the way he expertly lifts the toliet seat 45 degrees to pee under it, pants barely down, shirt pulled up, back arched.  a year ago i couldn't get him to do this even with my best song and dance, now look at him, a pro.  he forgets to flush.  and wash his hands.  i shrug and we walk to his room slowly.  he's not ready for bed he tells me.  i wish i felt the same.  

he studies his cd collection to decide which audio story to listen to to fall asleep after i leave the room.  he can't decide.  i am equal amounts amused and impatient as i watch him sift through a stack of cds in his basket.  he says he wants to listen to author and friends collection volume one.  i laugh that he refers to it's name in it's entirety.  he wants to listen to francine believe it er not.  he keeps saying francine believe it or not but he mushed the word all together like believeiter not.  this cracks me up.  he can't find francine believeiter not cd because i have taken it back to the library already but he remembers that his dad put it on his ipod for him already.  he gets his little green square full of stories and puts his headphones on.  he asks me to stay for a while while he listens and i do.

i sit on the floor next to his toddler bed.  he tells me the dark is scary and can i leave the hall light on.  i wonder how much longer he will have a small bed.  i wonder how much a twin mattress is.  i wonder if that's the reason we haven't moved him into the twin bed frame in his closet or if it's because this is the last toddler bed and i'm not ready.

his breath gets heavy like a wide awake snore.  he listens and looks at the the ceiling, paying close attention to the words coming out of his headphones.  i love him so much i can't stop staring.  i wonder how much longer i have to stay.  i want to get out of my work clothes, get the girls to sleep, and become one with the couch and my book. i think he must almost be asleep despite the light being on, i see his eyelids are heavy.  he sits up, pauses his green square, takes off his headphones, and looks at me to tell me about francine believeiter not.  francine is acting very strange.  he lays down get the headphones on, pushes play, gets settled.  twenty seconds later again.  he tells me that francine won't let the other kids play street hockey, she just makes them guard the goal.  again settled.  i can't get over how he keeps getting totally out of sorts and sat up and unheadphoned, just to give me the goods on his story.

i keep my hand on his heavy loud chest as he listens and breaths and dozes.  i run my hand across the fleece mickey blanket.  i see his snuggled monk monk in the crook of his neck.  i'm glad he hasn't noticed than he is missing one.  i wonder if i should go get it now, or wait for him to notice, or maybe he won't notice.  wouldn't that be nice if he doesn't notice? i'll get it later if he notices.  one hand on his chest the other in his little hand i kneel beside him and marvel at him.  t think about how i need to write it down.  how i keep missing stuff and not writing it down.  how i keep missing stuff.  how i keep forgetting to notice the details in the tired and in the piles and in the lists.  there is always so much to do and so many who need me.  the noticing, it takes backseat.  but the time flies.

today i wrote it down.  i memorized his long eyelashes.  i remember the feel of his chubby foot in lego pajamas.  the dimples on his knuckles.  today i took the time.  today.

i love this son of mine.  four years. two months, one week, and five days.  the me of the future will appreciate the me of today for not rushing past this oh too short night together and taking the energy to be with my boy and memorize the details in the beautifully mundane.

before i go to bed, one more look in at him.  i have to go get my camera for one quick click.




i don't want to leave the room.  i just can't get enough.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Mean girls

This has been a really rough week for me.  I know I haven't blogged for a while.  It may feel like I'm talking from the middle, and that's okay, this if for me.  

Much of this week, in those few precious hours I have with my kids before work and before I tuck them in for bed, the kids, the girls especially, have been…mean...to me.  Mean because they over slept, mean because I hurried them to get their shoes on, mean because one sibling took up time that they wanted from me, mean because I said no to another piece of chocolate, mean because I asked them to stop being mean.  

I'm worn.  I feel particularly disheartened because maybe for the first time, I feel like can't reason with them, like they don't care.  They've always cared before.  

These big-hearted loves of mine, they are growing up, and I race ahead wondering what will ever happen to me and my tender heart when they are teenagers.  When their mean is not because they don't want to go to bed, or in an argument over movie night, but it is meanness over stuff that matters and stuff that lasts?  


Am I screwing it all up?  Today I looked at Addie as she screamed at me in anger.  I think it was an emotional issue not a discipline issue.  I did discipline, but it didn't feel right.  I was calm on the outside but raging inside, I had to fight hard for the calm.  Her yelling and raging lasted for so long, I kind of fell apart on the inside, while I told her I loved her and I would help her with whatever it was that was upsetting if she just stopped screaming at me.  Eventually she did, and while she had a nice evening, I couldn't help but wonder if I did it all wrong, letting her have movie night anyway, and sleep in the playroom with her sister.  Finally at bedtime, while getting the playroom sleepover setup, when Addie was sweet and kind and loving, Lily was short and rude and exasperated with me for the third night in a row, mad that I was setting up the bedding wrong.  She sighs heavily and cliches the muscles in her neck and shoulders and shakes looking at me with big eyes like she just can't take me and my annoying blanket folding ideas for one more moment.  While I prayed with her for the first night in 3, I cried because we are hurting each other and we don't know why and we aren't even really sure how to stop.  

Lily cried too.  

Much better at expressing herself than her sister who just whimpers and whines, Lily said that she has felt like she wanted to mean lately and she doesn't know why.  She admitted that it's not just me, she really has been acting mean, and she wants to stop.  She will try to do better tomorrow.  

So will I.  

Tonight though, I sit here sad, and exhausted, emotionally very tired.  And yet ever hopeful and thankful that tomorrow is a new day, that I can live in that day, not race ahead to borrow worries of a day ahead that could be harder than this.  

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Be Bold, and Beautiful, and Humble, and Healthy

I'm sitting at my desk.  The last business day of the year.  Accounting hell, normally.  But today was slow and steady and nearly done by 3:30.  Before I rush out the door to the busy that awaits me at home, the busy that does not expect me until 6pm, I decided to pause.  

I lingered through my Facebook feed during lunch today and so many posts about out with the old in with the new.  We all look forward to tearing off the page and looking at the hopeful blank canvas of the new one.  

The last few years, I chose a little motto and said it in my head when things got cloudy, out of focus.  

I am overwhelmed with the swirling thoughts of all I can do with my own blank canvas.  And when I become overwhelmed, I go back to things I've said to myself in years past, things that get me to good.  

Never wear your blessings like burdens
Do not let perfect be the enemy of good
Be where you are

Reminders that the things that haunt me are really of such little importance when I line them up against a simple sentence.  I find myself longing for another simple sentence to add to the list of wisdom.  

I saw some things that worked well for me this year

Bible Study
Early Rising 
Eating Well
Simplifying
Writing
Saving  
Running
Setting Goals
Creating 
Nature
Documenting
Connecting
Giving
Seek Beauty
Serve

You might read those words and thing they look like a pile of cliches, things people commit to doing, but to me, I see a loving list of works that make my heart sing, so I know they are MY things.  Hard things that I can do.  Things that will give me joy

Things I want to leave behind

Fear
Worry
Perfection
Waste

I want to pay attention to what is ruling me.

I want to be bold, and beautiful, and humble, and healthy.  I know what those words mean to me.

The stillness of this moment washes over me, and I am reminded beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am loved and blessed and cared for.  When moments are frenzied, if I can remember to be bold, and beautiful, and humble, and healthy, I can love better, both myself and my others.  

Thank you for beautiful lessons 2013, thank you for a beautiful life.  Joy awaits, I only need to be still and know.  My heart is open and ready for all the good as I turn my page and look at my blank canvas.    




Sunday, December 15, 2013

It's been crazy...

I think about this blog 2-3 times a week.  I haven't blogged since school started and it's Christmas break, and just because I don't write them down…I still think them up.  Then they are gone and it makes me sad that I don't find/make/have the time.  

I hear myself say to my friends, to the ones who work, to the ones who don't, heck, I even say it to myself.  "This has been a crazy week!"  This week school started.  This week soccer started.  This week Bryson started preschool.  This week is my first week without a nanny in 6 years.  This week we have the warrior dash.  This week I'm getting ready to go on vacation.  This week I'm recovering from vacation.  This week is quarterly close.  This week is Lily's slumber party.  This week I'm volunteering at school.  This week I'm recovering from being gone volunteering at school.  This week I'm in charge of mapping our old 401(k) plan to our new 401(k) plan, balance by balance, fund by fund, ticker symbol by ticker symbol.  This week I have school conferences. This week is Halloween.  This week I go to Seattle for Women of Faith.  This week is my birthday.  This week the sister of my best childhood fried died.  This week the kids have 3 days off school.  This week is family pictures rescheduled  and I need to pick out outfits, and convince my family that we are taking family pictures and they better enjoy it, or at least look like they are enjoying it.  This week I have auditors.  This week I was so very thankful for this life.  This week I need to find a costume for TV Bunco.  This week we get to watch the Griz / Cat game.  This week is Thanksgiving.  This week my co-worker and one of my staff are out.  This week is my week to volunteer at school.  This week I was sick all week.  This week I was sick again.  This week Lily had a science fair.  This week my baby boy turns 4.  

Those have been my weeks for the past 3+ months.  

It's been crazy.  

Every single week, every single day, life is crazy.  And I hate hearing myself even say that.  I think I might have been saying it for the past, oh, 5 years, maybe longer.  

I am forever living in a state of apology and I hate it.  I'm also living and looking for an escape.  Like if I could just get through this one hard time life would be easy again.  Life would be balanced and I would be able to catch all the balls in the air.  

ha.  HA!

I've been putting a pen to paper and recording the things I am thankful for.  What started with picking up a book that was recommended to me and with 30 days of Facebook thanks, it's changing for my heart.  

Be where you are.  That was the motto for this year, and I have not been very successful.  I can't shut down the endless ways that the crazy in my life.  

And this has been a relatively uneventful year.  

I'm sorry, and I'm grateful, and I'm tired, and I stay up too late, and I go on FaceBook to often, and I'm constantly striving, and I beat myself up far too often, and I'm a grumpy distracted mom, and I'm thankful, and I'm so very love, and I talk to God and He reminds me that I am covered under Grace, that nothing I could do could make him love me any more or less than He already does.  And all is well again in the world.  

And then the next hour starts.  

And it's crazy again.  

And I remind myself that life is full.  

Abundantly full.  

Now I hit post rather than go back and edit myself.  Raw, true, honest.  Recorded.  

Friday, September 13, 2013

Loads of back-to-school blessings


First things first.  After being pee-trained since April! Bryson started pooping on the potty on a consistent basis.  So after 8 years, 10 months, and weeks....I am finally DONE changing poopy diapers, once and for all (I hope!)!  Also, Uncle Matt can finally babysit all three of my kids at once without Heather, now that the possibility of poo is not in the mix.  Ha.

We saw our first movie in the theatre as a family of five!  Also Bryson and Lily's first movie in the theatre.  It was a great last day of summer!  
Remember how Lily didn't want to hold my hand at the Ice Cream Social?  Ouch.  Well on the first day of school, I took the day off work, and I walked them to their classrooms, and she held my hand most of the way.  She was a little bit weird when I dropped her off at her classroom, because we'd been in Addie's class too long, so I took a snap and bolted.  But after school, she held my hand the whole way to the car, and from the car to stores to look for a new dress and from the car to Red Robin to get root beer and recap the day.  The real blessing here was not that she held my hand, but that I paid attention.  I felt her hand in my heart, I savored it, I was grateful for as much time as she would let me hold.  My heart was so happy.  

In Addie's soccer game last Saturday she scored 5 goals.  She was awesome.  Or should I say Osum? She was also a little cocky confident, I heard that after her third goal she was holding up three fingers back down the field.  

Lawrence and I did the Warrior Dash together.  I was awesome.  I'm only sort of kidding, I really impressed myself.  After planning to sort of dial it in and skip obstacles I didn't want to do, I got going and pushed hard.  We ran the whole race together and I did every obstacle.  One I needed a little boost from Lawrence and one I fell off of.  But I did it, and it was a great time.


Lily set a goal for herself to read 75 books over the summer, she did that and more.  Now she has read up all the box car children books that I got at the library and is ready for number 30-40 to be reserved at the library.  I LOVE the teacher she got this year.


My company had a "summer party" on the second day of school.  That was not the blessing part.  It was at OMSI and while we didn't spend a whole lot of time connecting with work people it was a really fun family night.  Since I work downtown, Lawrence met me there with the kids.  As Lily and I were leaving, I looked across at our city.  It was so beautiful in the setting sun.  I made my girl go stand in front of the skyline to add to the beauty.

Actually I will make that it's own blessing.  I LOVE all the kid's teachers this year.  Teachers are so awesome.

This was our first week with no nanny.  I have had someone in my house, taking care of my kids, at least on a part time basis, since Addie was born.  This week went great.  Lawrence went in early and I was on my own.  I got up early, everyone got up and ready with happy hearts and on time.  I even left that house cleanish.  Did you hear that?  Happy. Hearts. And. On. Time.  Mamas of three know what a miracle this is.

On Monday, we pulled up to Bryson's new 2 day a week childcare provider, let's call her "SuperSitter". She helped us out earlier in the year when our nanny had her surgery.  Bryson announced as we pulled up, "I LOVE SuperSitter's house!!"  I LOVED hearing that.  And I already told you yesterday how well he did at Preschool.  This kid is loving that he isn't getting left at home anymore, he has places to be, things to do! Blessing!

I survived a grueling two day New York Sales Tax Audit this week.  Not a blessing per se, but I work with some great ladies who helped me pull FOUR HUNDRED AND THIRTY additional records from the last 4 years that the auditor requested last minute. It was not pretty, but...It's done!

A few days ago, Addie was excited to tell me that she played football at recess with her best friend C who isn't in her class this year.  The next day I asked her if she played football with the boys again, she said, 'They don't really pass to me, I just run all around and stuff".  Awesome.

In other news, Addie and Bryson both have their first recess this year, it is pretty much the best thing for each of them.  

The week before school started Addie had her oral challenge to test for Peanuts after having 2 negative skin tests and 2 negative blood tests, after 5 years of her allergy getting worse and worse, it is gone!  We had an ice cream party to celebrate, with lots of peanut toppings!
I have been a little off this week, as I mentioned yesterday.  I've been making things work, getting there on time, being proud of the little things, but jeez at the end of the day, I am spent.  Lawrence has been making up the difference.  Yesterday he coached Lily's soccer team of 10 girls alone with Bryson on the side lines (good friends who are parents of the other kids on the team - BLESSING!).  He has just been in a great mood.  I don't love it when one of us is feeling slumpy, but I love the way we work together as a team.  


Having Lawrence on my team, might not be the one I give them most attention to, but it's also my biggest blessing of all.