I haven't had much time to blog lately, but right now Jordan has taken Ivey and Robert grocery shopping and Suzi is still asleep. I am enjoying a cup of coffee and a few minutes to blog before our busy day begins! Here are some things that have been going on here.
1) I started a new homeschool blog, Pajama Party Academy. I plan to post at least once a week on what we have been learning, and maybe twice with posts about our favorite materials and specific experiences. We are still just getting off the ground and I wanted to document our journey.
2) I am just about to open a Hyena Cart shop to sell my baby cocoons and other upcycled wool and cashmere crafts! I will probably only stock a few items at a time (see #1; I'm busy) but I love making things and I'm excited to get them online into a shop finally. I'll post the link in a few days when it's up and running.
3) A quick Robert update: He has four teeth now and they are adorable, especially the top two. He's not walking yet, but he's cruising the furniture and trying to pull all our stuff off the tables. The other day he walked pushing a little wooden chair all around the living room to keep his balance. Here he is eating his birthday cupcake. He was baptized on Easter. The pictures from that day are mostly on my parents' camera, so I'll have to get them later.
4) Ivey. I think it is safe to say now that she is done with pottytraining. Yay Ivey! Lately she has enjoyed singing, visiting the pool at the Y, and doing homeschool and art alongside Suzi. She even joined in with the six-week drama class that only Suzi was going to take, so now Grandma takes both of them to it each week. Sometimes I think Ivey likes it even more than Suzi does! I've noticed that we need to put extra effort into helping Ivey feel involved. With the oldest homeschooling and the youngest literally screaming for attention, it's an easier mistake than I thought to not give the middle child enough of our time. She has a wonderful personality though, and I love spending time with her. Here she is with her Papa (Jordan's dad) on Easter.
5) Suzi seems to be enjoying our homeschooling. Our new approach has been better than anything else we've tried. She still loves making things and wants to be an artist. Lately, she's also been into putting on puppet shows. She makes the stage with a chair and a blanket and then we all watch. She lets Ivey hand out tickets. She loves swimming at the Y and we want to get her into swimming lessons soon. Also, you know what's funny? Right at the start of spring, Suzi suddenly started wearing dresses again. She told my mom she wanted one, and my mom bought it for her. I was shocked. Nothing too frilly, though! Here she is with both Grandma and Nana on Easter.
The bridge, from a distance. It actually only makes up a couple of miles of the 6.2 mile race.
I meant to blog about this weeks ago, as it happened March 31, but I figure it's better late than never.
Jordan and my parents and I decided we'd get a condo in Isle of Palms to share for several days so we could enjoy visiting the beach while we were in Charleston for the Bridge Run. We love the beach! At least my mom and I do. The children love it too.
We took sunrise walks, played in the sand and took lots of pictures. We did not go swimming, though--there were way too many jellyfish and the water was cold. Jordan and I took the kids to the market and we went out for seafood with my parents.
Saturday morning we left the condo at about 4:45 to go to the race. I'm glad we left early, because even trying to park at 5 AM for a race that was supposed to start at 8 was pretty difficult! We finally parked in a garage and got in line for a bus ride to the beginning of the course. Riding the bus felt kind of like being a kid in school again.
When they dropped us off, I started to wonder, as I always do, when my last chance to pee would be. That is constantly on my mind if I am in a place where bathrooms are scarce. And on this particular day, well, I certainly didn't want to run 6.2 miles having to pee the whole time! Luckily, there were tons of portable bathrooms. The first potty station was located nearby the bus drop-off. So we stood in line for that one. Then we walked for a few minutes on our way to the start line, saw another potty station and decided to stop there, too! It was getting closer to 7 AM, at which time we were supposed to be in corral H waiting for the race to begin. We ended up stopping to pee a couple more times, just because each time we thought it might be our last chance. They even had one potty station right behind a Starbucks, where hundreds of people were going for a quick cup of pre-race coffee. Perfect place for a bathroom. So we got some coffee and hit that one, too while we were at it.
We were in line on time, but the race (which was supposed to start at 8) was delayed. We stood there for a couple of hours. There was no room to stretch or move around, and I was just so glad I had Jordan to talk to or I would've been awfully bored! They kept telling us the race would start in five minutes! One minute! Okay, really, just 30 seconds now!!! But they were lying. When it finally did start, I don't think we had ever been so excited to begin a run. Unfortunately, corrals A-G had to go before us and there were so many people that they spaced them a few minutes apart.
We passed another potty station on our way up to the start line, after we'd been standing in line for well over an hour. Of course we jumped out of line and went one more time, with plenty of time to spare! And then, finally, we were on our way. I've never seen so many people running/walking at one time before. It was awesome. They did their best to keep it safely organized, telling people they were not allowed to have jogging strollers except in the last corral, placing large signs that instructed walkers to stay to the right, and things like that. But people do not listen. One guy had a jogging stroller with no baby in it, just a sound system. He blasted tunes while he ran.
The worst was that people just walked wherever they wanted, some of them in a row several people across. Maybe they thought well, I'm not really a walker; I'm just walking for a little while and then I'll start running again. But this is the worst, because instead of falling into a rhythm and finding a comfortable spot in the pack, they stop in front of you and then after you maneuver around them, they start running again and dart back in front, forcing you to repeat the process numerous times. I get that we are all doing our best, but is it really necessary to trip so many people up in the process? Walk on the right! It's easy! Also, the corrals were organized by speed starting with the fastest, yet some people who clearly should have been in D or so ended up running in our corral or behind us with the walkers, darting around all the slow people.
There were also costumes to entertain us while we ran for over an hour. A group dressed as the Flintstones ran the race in a homemade Flintstones car. There were men in skimpy prom dresses. But the best was a huge yellow Pac Man, followed by several pastel-colored ghosts. I can't believe they ran 6.2 miles in those things! I am trying to think of something fun to dress up in next year that won't make the running harder.
We trained for this with an awesome group called First Flight, and had successfully run 6+ miles without walking at least once or twice back home. However, Jordan and I had not run in a long time due to a foot injury for him, a busy schedule (my mom's party), and awful pollen, so for me especially, this was not my best run. It was also warm and humid, and extremely aggravating having to weave in and out of the run-walk-run-walk-run-walkers. On top of all that, I depend on my iPod to zone me out and my earphones would not stay in! I had no music. We made it over the big hill without much of a problem, and I am proud of that. I eventually started feeling sick, though. We made it four miles, and that's when I told Jordan I had to walk. We walked a mile (over on the right, of course) and then ran the last 1.2. Jordan could have run the whole thing easily. I wanted to run the whole thing, but considering that I couldn't have run this race in my wildest dreams this time last year, I'll take it.
A few yards shy of the finish line, there were a bunch of people cheering and holding signs that said things like "the end is near," "chafe now, glory later," and my favorite, "run like you stole something." They made me smile. We crossed the finish line holding hands, and I heard a splash. The guy behind me had puked on the street, just a couple feet from my leg. Maybe walking a little was the right decision for me after all. I make it a point to never throw up if I can avoid it!
The after party was insane. It was hard to even find a bottle of water, but we eventually did. And a muffin. And then finally we found this enormous grill and got free Johnsonville Brats. The guy handed us a hotdog bun and said "This is YOUR bratwurst. You EARNED this bratwurst." Ha ha. It was a fun day, overall.
We'll probably do it again next year... Because, you know, we'd hate to miss out on a beach trip! Maybe in 2013 I'll be able to run all of it!
Yesterday was Robert's birthday party, and today he was baptized. He wore the same gown his dad wore as a baby, even though Suzi fussed at us. ("He is a BOY. He needs to wear a SHIRT, not a dress! Am I clear?") The baptism, and being with our families, and the Easter music, it was all beautiful.
But then, as we stood on the playground after church, Megan and Jenn told me a friend of ours died last night in a car accident, leaving behind a two-year-old daughter and a six-month-old son. Utter shock. It made no sense to me. I didn't know her as well as I'd have liked to, but I loved her. We all did. Her family had already been through unbelievable heartache over the past couple of years. Right now, her husband is in the hospital undergoing chemo treatment for leukemia and waiting for a bone marrow transplant. He is isolated, five hours away, and can't even be with his children right now. My heart breaks for all of them.
We were chatting on Facebook just days ago. I kept telling myself that after this lonely winter, after I wasn't so afraid of passing germs to her family at such a vulnerable time, I'd invite her over for a playdate.
Last month she left me a message on Facebook:
also, i love you, thank you, and every picture of me since last summer has a flower in my hair. my gymnasts even commented on how they love that i dont wear barretts, only the prettiest flowers!
I made her some flowers recently. How glad I am now that I took the time to do that! She made me feel so good about my crafts, wore my flowers all the time with such enthusiasm. She was a bright spot. And perhaps more than anything, I looked up to her because she was so open and free-spirited. I recall several times hearing her say "I don't have a filter!" It was a good thing. I wish I could get rid of mine.
Lots of lessons today. If you love someone, go on and tell them. If you see an opportunity to help someone, make it your priority. Don't waste the time you have been given on things that will never matter.
Also, I've been trying to work out some confusion in my mind. I hear so many people talk about "God's plan," but I don't think God means for horrible things like this to happen. I'm pretty sure they usually happen because our collective free will has consequences for all and causes pain for those who do not deserve it. Our world is beautiful. There is so much goodin it. But there are also things that are hard and cruel and make no sense, and we have to accept them both--knowing we can lose our good and beautiful gifts at any time. Once when I was a toddler, I crawled up inside a cabinet in the kitchen. It was a tight squeeze, a bad idea. My mom did not plan for me to do that. She said "Alright, Jenny. How do you plan on getting out of there?" I started crying. She got me out somehow. I think "God's plan" must refer to the never-ending work of bringing us through the tangled web we have woven for ourselves and others while helping us grow, find meaning, and find God.
After church, before I retreated to our van to cry over the loss of our friend, I listened as our minister's wife explained that just as Jesus' tomb was empty, so is hers. I can feel that this is true. There is no pain Heaven can't heal. No human mistake or problem that can't be redeemed. This Easter, I'm clinging harder than ever to that--for myself, my friends, my family, my newly baptized baby son.
I am still left with this song in my heart from this morning in church.
I am so glad the amazing Jenn was there to capture this moment because I would've totally botched it. And she did a beautiful job.
A couple of months ago, we decided to throw my mom a surprise 65th birthday party. This was a crazy ideafor a lot of reasons. I've never planned anything without input from my mom. I am not sneaky. And we planned most of this thing in front of a four-year-old and two-year-old. But we wanted to do it--for one, because I knew if I told her she'd say she didn't need or expect a party. I also didn't want her doing work for her own birthday celebration. Besides, surprises are so much more exciting!
We had numerous planning discussions with my dad and others when she wasn't around. With my dad's help, we knew when to sneak into their house to find photos for a montage. It was a little tricky getting the guest list and all those addresses together, but we finally got it. We decided to have it in the party room of a local restaurant, so there was no need for me to cook. I got to focus on what I am actually good at--making decorations and things! I had the best time looking for ideas on Pinterest. My second favorite thing I got to make is this heart bunting (tutorial from Moda Bake Shop). I know it's not Valentine's, but those are my mom's signature colors, and the hearts remind me of the Raggedy Ann dolls she sews, each with a little "I love you" heart on the chest.
But my very favorite thing I made was her fascinator. Those are melted-edge flowers and a pad of guinea feathers. The feather choice is a little inside joke. It looked really pretty on her. She has one of those cute round heads that looks good in anything.
It's a good thing I talked to my mom over the phone in the days preceding the party, and not in person. My face would've told her something was up. She kept saying stuff like "I don't need any big thing for my birthday. I don't even know if Brad or Paul (my brothers) are coming, and that's just fine; we'll celebrate whenever we're together." Of course, they had been planning to come for weeks. As had my grandmother.
My grandmother lives several hours away and we had planned for Jordan to leave before the crack of dawn Saturday morning to go get her and drive her back here. Then just days before the party my dad decided that to make it easier on everyone, he'd ask my mom if she wanted to ride down and get my grandma to come visit for her birthday. Except my mom said no. Whoops! Eventually they did end up going--she had said no because Robert's baptism is coming up and Mama Susie will want to come for that, too. But by the time it was all worked out we'd made up one good excuse for Jordan being out of town and then had to figure out a way to untell that story without making her suspicious.
The day of the party, we said we'd meet her, my dad, and my grandma at the restaurant. Jordan sat out front and waited for them, since he is the sneaky one out of the two of us. When they arrived, Jordan told them we had already been seated in the back and he just wanted to be sure they could find the table. By the time they reached the door of the party room, my mom was saying "gosh, they really did put us in the back!" And then, SURPRISE! A few of the people present had driven for hours to be there. Some of them she hadn't seen in months, like my brother Brad. She just stood there agog for a few seconds. I mean, the whole thing was just so far-fetched it was probably the last thing she'd have thought of. My dad is not the surprising sort and he had been living with her and lying about it for weeks! (Thanks Daddy!) Dozens of people knew about it, some of them were involved in the planning, and no one blew the surprise. It was a group effort!
My mom with my sneaky husband
My aunt painted her this hydrangea, one of her favorite flowers
My grandma tells a funny story about my mom
Blowing out her candles with Suzi and Ivey (a friend made the cake)
We turned on the photo montage and she said "you stole my baby book!" Then we told our favorite memories, sang happy birthday, and ate cake. There was a small afterparty at our house.
She said she had never been more surprised in her life! We will never be able to get her like this again. But it was great.