Sunday, April 27, 2014

Enjoying the Game

My oldest is 7.  He's always been very creative, detailed, and into sports.  Nearly every day for 4 years he's played some sort of a sports game:  baseball outside, basketball inside, or with one of his several sets of "guys" (hockey, baseball, football, and basketball to be exact!) he loves to play with.  While he loves his friends, he loves to play alone and get lost in his games.  He is an introvert at heart.

In his room you will find jerseys from all of his favorite teams in home and away colors.  Each day he comes home from school with his schedule showing the game for the afternoon.  Some days he even brings home tickets he's made for the stuffed animals that will make up his crowd. If he's going to play a game, he'll change into his uniform, set up a stadium, bring the fans to the game, and get the music prepared.  If he's going to play with his guys, he'll complete all of these steps except for changing!  For as long as I can remember, he has just loved sports...period.

At times, I admit, I find this frustrating.  He enjoys this part of his life so much and gets so into it, we run into disappointment, and often some tantrums, if we can't fit a game in on any given day. These games can take hours.  He loves to report to us who has scored, how the game is going, and any other little details he finds important.  There are days when I get annoyed with the reports every few minutes.  I struggle with feelings of guilt because I don't sit and watch them like I used to.  It's such a big part of his life and I know that someday it will abruptly stop and I will think to myself, "I wish I would have taken the time to watch him."

When it comes down to it, I think it's just his way of dreaming of things yet to come.  It's his creative outlet and a way for him to put all of the sports knowledge swimming around in his brain to good use.  Today I caught a glimpse of how much he wants someone to pay attention to his game.  How important it is to him to be noticed.  It was the seventh inning of his baseball game and I realized soon it would be time to sing the 7th Inning Stretch:  "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."  His voice got louder as he approached the third out in the top half of the inning and he looked around to see if anyone would watch what was to come.  I've seen this hundreds of times over, but it still brings a smile to my face.  I can still see this sweet little boy playing his games in the backyard when he was just a preschooler.  The little boy who sang the "National Anthem" to start his games, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in the middle, and if we were lucky, "Go Cubs Go" on a winning game day.

These will be the memories that will be engrained in my mind when I think of my oldest son growing up.  I often wonder what he'll be when he grows up:  a baseball player, a sports announcer, a sports writer.  If his profession has nothing to do with sports I will be shocked!

I love my little boy and his imagination.  I just need to remind myself to stop and soak in some of the games while they last.  All too soon the sounds from the stands will be gone...

2014-7 years old!

2012-5 years old!

2010-3 years old!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Nostalgia: Birthdays Are Hard...

Birthdays are always hard for me.  Some days seem to last forever, but in the blink of an eye another year has rolled around.  This year I am struggling even more than normal.  You see, my girls' birthdays are just a day apart.  Last year I was impatiently awaiting the arrival of our little surprise bundle of joy and now I am preparing to celebrate a fifth and first birthday.

Five seems so old, after all she will head to kindergarten in the fall.  No more carefree days at home relatively shielded from the reality of the real world and the not-so-pleasant experiences she will more than likely encounter.  Oh, I know it's not all bad, there are plenty of wonderful experiences and opportunities that go along with heading off to school, but there are also tough, sad moments along the way, too.  My daughter is a sweet, sensitive, imaginative little beauty.  She is so excited to grow up and her mommy would just love for her to stay innocent forever.  It's so hard to watch them grow and leave the nest, if only for awhile.  Sigh...

My sweet little baby is turning one.  That first year is one I'd love to be able to freeze forever.  I've struggled with all of my baby's first birthdays, but this one is even more difficult.  There is a good possibility this is the last first birthday celebration we will have.  The last baby of my own that I will hold so close.  The last firsts we will experience.  The last sweet snuggles.  I love, love, love babies.  I may be hours and hours behind on sleep and yearning for a bit of me time, but I wouldn't trade these years for anything.  For as long as I can remember I dreamt of having a lot of kids.  I was never certain how many, but I knew I would love a big family.  We are fortunate this has been our reality.  I'm just not so sure how I could already be at this juncture in my life.  I had dinner with some ladies this past weekend and one of them put it so simply, "I think we always thought about having children, we just never thought about being done having children.  It's so final."  

It is so final.  I'm just not ready to close the door just yet.  Ah, it is just so hard.  

This weekend I will do my best to hide the tears I know will come.  I've felt so emotional and anxious since the calendar switched to April.  I will celebrate all we have been blessed with and count my lucky stars that I get to be "Mom" to these four sweet little kiddos.  I'll also do my best to imprint these memories in my mind and remind myself on the days when I feel like I'm going to go crazy that I wouldn't want my life to be any different.

Happy Birthday to my sweet little daughters.  Your mommy loves you so!

Princess #1

Princess #2

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Quest for a Simpler Life: Being Okay with Swimming Upstream

Intentional living.  Recently a friend sent me a blog post about a newly released book called Notes From a Blue Bike:  Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider.  I knew I wanted to read it and am so happy I did.  For me and for my family, it is time to quiet the noise.  To sift through all of life's distractions and decide what is truly beneficial and what needs to go.  To live simply in a way which reflects our values, priorities, and purpose.  To be okay with swimming upstream.

Our society encourages us to fill our days to the brim.  The busier the better.  Young, old, or in between; no one is immune.  We are encouraged to buy, buy, buy.  To fill our homes with so much "stuff" we find it difficult to appreciate what we have.  Work follows us home and we are accessible all.of.the.time.  In our culture, less is definitely not more.  Family time is spent on the go and so often our children are robbed of the opportunity to simply be kids.  We're all chasing this idea that our worth is defined by our achievements and to achieve great things we must go, go, go.  Work more, sleep less, enroll in an abundance of extracurricular activities, always say yes.  How far from the truth is this way of thinking?  Far, very far.

By nature, I am an organizer and a busy body.  I enjoy being involved in my community, working on projects at home, and keeping up with my kids.  I have a hard time sitting down and just relaxing.  I feel like I am doing my best to balance my role as a mom with the need to be an individual too.  I spend the majority of my time at home with my family, but need to do a better job of quieting some of the noise that distracts me from my purpose for this season:  being a mom to four impressionable young children.  Saying no to the opportunities outside of the home that aren't a priority, limiting social media, and ignoring the pressure to keep up with the Jones'.

In our home, family will always be number one.  It is time to focus on our priorities in many different areas of our life (examples taken from the book:  food, education, travel, entertainment, and work).  The decisions we make each day should coincide with these priorities.  Our children may not be pleased when we tell them no, but there are times when it needs to happen.  For our family, time for free play, eating dinner together, and early bedtimes mean we limit our extracurricular activities and schedule them to work with these priorities.  Limited screen time may mean saying no to the technology that may interfere with reading, cultivating creativity, and outdoor play.  Taking a family vacation may mean saying no to costly local entertainment in order to save up for a bigger adventure.  

Slowing down may seem like such a challenge.  Ridding our homes of excess "stuff" may seem impossible.  Living simply takes work.  Our decisions may be different than our neighbors, friends, or extended family and that's okay.  The key point to remember: to be confident in our decisions and keep our priorities at the center of our decision making process.  Slow down.  Quiet the noise.  Remember our priorities.  While we may be swimming upstream, we are putting our family first and holding true to our beliefs.  You just have to own it and carry on.  As the old saying goes, "To each his own."