Lessons in letting go

 

My swimming star
My swimming star

Today was a big day. Today, we hit a new parenting milestone with Nayeli. Today trusting God with my kid really became a thing.

Usually you see these “milestones” coming before they hit. You prepare for months for your baby’s first birthday or your child’s first day of school. This stuff is a pretty big deal, so it’s definitely on your radar.  You take the time to buy supplies, plan parties, write dates on your huge ugly mom calendar that takes up half of the fridge. And then it comes, and you are as mentally and emotionally prepared as you can be to see your baby, your little tiny dependent baby, get on the freaking bus. You are huddled in a corner sobbing into your napkin cheering and celebrating along with your closest friends and family as your baby smashes sugar riddled cake and frosting into their mouth for the FIRST time (because none of us have dared to give our kids processed sugar before they turn one, right?).

But today was not a day I was prepared for, today I got sucker punched in the gut. For a lot of people, this may not have even been a big deal, but for me? Well, I was JUST.NOT.READY.

Nayeli started her first ever NON-parented class this morning. Today I had to take her somewhere, and rather than help her swim or help her do gymnastics or help her make art, I had to walk away and watch from an observation area while someone else that I don’t know, was responsible for my child. In deep water. Take my breath away!

Normally I have these sorts of things in the back of my mind way ahead of time. I’ve gone through the mental scenarios and feel fairly peaceful and comfortable with the situation in advance. But today, I woke up blissfully unaware of what was about to go down. I made a big saturday morning breakfast for everyone with ample time to eat before we had to be out of the house with two kids and a papa ready for swimming by 8:30.

This was huge for me by the way. Full disclosure, I probably have to make coffee for myself about once a month, if even. And even more disclosure, I probably have my coffee brought to me while still in bed at LEAST a couple times a week. I know! Spoiled rotten. I’m aware.

So today I had breakfast waiting and the kids eating by the time Teunis emerged groggily from the bedroom. Such a victory!  We all ate our food, got dressed and bundled up and were pulling out of the driveway with one minute to spare. The sky was so blue this morning, the snow covering everything was sparkling, Adventures in Odyssey was so…blissfully nostalgic, everything was perfect.

When we arrived at the pool, Teunis and Jude went off to the parent and tot class while I took Nayeli to her class meeting point. I put on her lifejacket, adjusted her adorable little swim cap, reminded her to listen to her teacher, said I was proud of her and I loved her and then walked away.

Parents have to watch from a viewing area looking down to the pool that is separated with glass (INCREDIBLY LAME!!!!!). So there I was, standing with my friend Kelly, as Nayeli’s lesson started. For a couple of minutes I watched her with a beaming smile on my face as she followed her teachers lead. Pride welled up in my heart as she kicked her legs and jumped off the edge and then eventually let herself be turned on her BACK (not cool in Nayeli land) and floated around by her teacher. Then it happened, her teacher sort of floated her back towards the edge of the pool, gave her a little push and left her to reach the last few METERS inches herself. As she grabbed onto the edge and pulled herself up out of the water BY HERSELF!!!! I lost it.

There it was, my baby girl, totally able to drag herself out of a swimming pool all on her own. On one hand I was so amazed and in awe of her beautiful independent spirit, her fearlesness. And on the other hand, it was like the next 15 years flashed before my eyes and I could see her waving goodbye to me as she did something all crazy town, like driving herself to college or something. Leaving the mommy nest (because that’s a thing with us when she’s sad or unsure)

I really did try to hold it together. But ya, that never really works for me. So the tears came, and sweet Kelly rubbed my back a little and said “Oh Feleesh” which was comforting (and I really hope I can do the same for you one day Kel, when E is leading her soccer team to a provincial championship or taking the lead in Swan Lake or having our first grandchild. Haha!).

This post is not just about swimming and growing up for me. Today it really hit home that we are moving out of the sleep, eat, poop, learn basic skills phase, like, for legit. And we are now (have been for awhile, but TODAY it got so real) walking into this sacred holy ground territory of gently guiding a child into a life long relationship and love for the Lord that runs DEEP and true and is theirs.

A few days ago I posted a link to this short message that Jen Hatmaker shared about raising disciples. In her message she talks about how we often think “we can ultimately guarantee in some way that our kids turn out great if we can control all the factors” which is humanly impossible anyways. It’s controlling and freakish and just plain looney faced.

I know for Teunis and I, it is our HEARTS DESIRE that our children grow into adults who love God truly, who place their hope in the gospel, who live a life of passion and purpose, whatever that looks like, in partnership with the Lord.

But we can’t MAKE that happen. We can pray and nurture and teach and guide our kids into that precious, lasting relationship with God. In the end though, we need to SHOW them who Jesus is, do life with him. Telling them is not enough.

For me, I often let the busyness of kids gets in the way of even just spending intentional, quality time with my friends, let alone making a difference in the lives of the poor, the marginalized, those with serious needs, my neighbours, you know, the people that Jesus really wants to be with.

So I have to look at this, what is more important for my kids in the long run? That I get them in a million awesome activities that give them all kinds of future opportunities in life and COMPLETELY take over our schedule? Or that we as a family take the time to serve those that Jesus calls us to? That we take our kids into the places where Jesus wants us to be His hands and feet and love? Holy convicting! For me.

Friends, how have you found balance in this area for your family? What advice do you parents with older kids have for those of us just entering into these waters?

Swimming pool romance
Swimming pool romance
Dear future Jude, I'm really sorry that watched you for a total of a minute. Just read the blog
Dear future Jude, I’m really sorry that I watched you for a total of a minute. Just read the blog
How to die for cute is her swim cap?
How to die for cute is her swim cap?
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Humans of New York

I know I am a little late in the game on this one, but I recently discovered “Humans of NY” on instagram. This photographer named Brandon goes around New York City engaging people he sees in conversation. He shares their stories, their personal tragedies, triumphs etc and takes a portrait photo of them.

 

Last night I seriously laid in bed for TWO hours, maybe more, scrolling through each and every picture, reading every single caption. I laughed, I cried, I bawled, I was challenged at times, offended at times and definitely drawn into a deep human connection with many of the people shown. Some of the stories that were shared really gave me a fresh dose of reality, a fresh look at how good I’ve got it. I feel like I would be one of those people living on the street if I had gone through even half of what some had gone through. And the people that had gone through hell and back and were doing well and helping others, man, if you need inspiration, check those people out.

 

There was one story that really struck me though, more than most. It didn’t even seem that deep or profound compared to some of the other stories, but it grabbed my heart and caused my eyes to sting with tears. One lady was asked what her personal tragedy was. She talked about losing her 8 year old sister when she herself was 20. She shared a story about a time her and her sister were walking somewhere and her sister stopped in the middle of the sidewalk as she went on. The young sister kept calling her back over and over until the older sister finally stopped, turned around and retraced her steps. The young girl had paused to look down an alleyway with a wrought iron gate at the end of it. Trees lined the cobblestone way and the light was perfect, illuminating a beautiful scene that most people wouldn’t have noticed as they quickly walked by. The older sister shared in her portrait interview that her sister had always noticed the little things, the beauty that many times gets passed by in the hustle and bustle of life.

 

For some reason as I read her words, I felt the impact of that beautiful moment so deeply. In all the years that I have been BLESSED to travel the world, I’ve had MANY moments of such unexpected, almost hidden beauty. So many times I wished that I had someone to share those moments with, I felt like the world had just missed out on whatever it was that I witnessed. One of those times that has come to mind, was a time that I was flying out of Taipei on my own. I don’t remember where I was going or where I was coming from. But I do remember that as the plane was backing away from the gate, I noticed the flagger who was assisting the pilot with visual signs. He was VERY precise with all of his movements and seemed so stern and concentrated. As the plane finished backing away from the gate and the flagger had completed his job, he placed both hands straight at his sides and bowed deeply in the direction of the plane. It was dusk and very misty with a low, heavy red setting sun behind him. I still remember gasping at the beauty of the moment and then crying because there was no one there to share it with me (besides a whole plane full of people). Maybe at the time I had just watched “the Last Samurai” and was all full of romantic ideas about family honor and pride in everything you do and such and such, but I was deeply moved either way. It’s those little moments in life, the ones that no one else sees, that can hold the most beauty. And when shared with someone you really love, they can bind you closer than you ever knew was possible. Let’s not be in such a hurry that we miss the beauty of life. 

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Lots of Socks

Odd Socks_0

Today our family will be joining hundreds of thousands of families worldwide, in wearing crazy colorful socks to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day. March 21st is not WDSD for some random reason. The 21st day of the 3rd month was chosen to represent Trisomy 21 which is another term for Down Syndrome-3 copies of the 21st chromosome. The lots of socks initiative was created this year to simply help bring more awareness to, and get people talking about, the many incredible individuals who live with Down Syndrome.

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Honestly, 2 years ago, down syndrome was not something that was on my radar AT ALL. I had had some limited contact with a couple family’s who had young children with down’s.  And then there was the guy that worked at McDonalds when I was in high school. He was also in high school and it was his first job, he kept the tables clean and kept the customers happy and entertained by sitting down for a visit while you ate your Big Mac. That guy was AWESOME and my friends and I had many a chat with him that left us all smiling. You couldn’t help but be happy after talking to this caring loving guy who often gave you a hug. Thankfully I had non-lame, non-too cool for school friends in high school and we were privileged to have quite a few hang out’s with our friend at McDonalds. But that was it, a couple encounters.

So needless to say, down syndrome hasn’t been a part of my life or affected me in any real way before. That all changed on May 15th 2011, the day that Jake was born.

jake

Jake was born to our good friends Curtis and Karyn and it has been amazing to see the journey that they have been on as a family and as individuals since Jake came into their lives. I know that I will probably never understand the depth of emotions and the struggles that they have encountered, and will continue to deal with for the rest of their lives as they parent Jake. But I will continually strive to empathize with every raw, vulnerable pain they share or exciting triumph they experience on their journey. Karyn has faithfully blogged about their families EPIC journey over the past couple years (you can find her blog here…and let me tell you, it is WELL worth reading, wether you know her or not) . The way she has honestly shared her heart, has changed my perspective and widened my world regarding Down Syndrome and the incredible individuals who are diagnosed with it. We really, really love Jake, his awesome little brother Cole and his inspiring parents, and are privileged to join them in celebrating and honoring every person with Down Syndrome on WDSD.

So as Karyn said in her most recent post about WDSD, “partner with me in doing what we can to make the world ready to receive Jake with the dignity, grace, and respect that he deserves.”

Also, this video that Karyn shared in one of her blog posts is SO SO good. I would really encourage everyone to take the time to watch it. And if you have kids that are in school, who get to interact with children who have Down Syndrome-this is a GREAT teaching tool to help them understand Down Syndrome a bit more.

THAT mom

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I really never thought I would be her. You know, THAT mom. The one hanging out in Starbucks deep in conversation (let’s be honest, gossip) with her friends while her kid is dangling like a frantic monkey from the end of a LEASH! Seriously, who leashes their kid? I just never got that… until now.

With our impending June flight across the continent, the pond and then the hemisphere, I have seriously been having NIGHTMARES about Nayeli being taken or lost in London Heathrow.

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Because we got our plane tickets to SA for so cheap, we have a miserable 9.5 hour layover in London which is going to be all kinds of fun with a toddler and a NEWborn (this baby had better be born in time). And seriously, I keep having the same nightmare over and over again. Me screaming and crying, as I run up and down the concourses of Heathrow, grabbing random strangers-shaking them and asking if they’ve seen the sweetest little 1 year old girl in the world. Basically acting like a total psycho.

Then today, I was going through a box of clothes that had been given to us for Nayeli, and I found it. The thing that is calming all my fears, the one thing that I said I would absolutely never do to my kid. The thing my horrible pride would probably never allow me to actually buy. But there it was, it had somehow made it’s way into my house. That wonderful double strapped horsey backpack with a leash attachment on it. And cue angelic singing.

I’m not sure why this upcoming trip has my stomach so in knots. Nayeli has flown countless times already. Heck, the kid has already been to 7 countries and she’s ONE. I’ve been spending all kinds of time on “traveling with kids” blogs, reading stuff that I already know, over and over again in an attempt to feel more prepared. But I guess the only thing we can really do, is to just get on that plane, trust God, roll with the punches and learn from our mistakes. Kind of like life.

FIRST FLIGHT TO SOUTH AFRICA AT 4 MONTH’S OLD

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FLYING INTO ROME

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Patience is a virtue…

One that I am causing some of you to practice by not posting a blog for such a long time :). See, I’m helping you to develop character. But seriously, while we are on the topic, I may as well share a little about my adventures in patience lately. The list of patience-inducing scenarios in my life is a long one for sure, some being a little trivial and some being fairly significant.

30 WEEKS!!

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An obvious area of patience is waiting for the newest member of our family to arrive. Partly because I just can’t wait to hold and get to know the sweet-smelling precious little one that is growing in my womb, and partly because I can’t wait for this pregnancy to be over. It’s definitely not been the way it was with Nayeli, easy, fabulous, energizing and healthy. This time around has honestly been a real struggle physically and I am only now starting to feel “normal” again. I’m also DYING to know the gender of the baby and am not a person who is good at waiting for surprises. One example of this, is that as a kid, I used to meticulously unwrap my Christmas gifts soon after they were placed under the tree (when mom was gone from the house) just so I could see what I was in for come Christmas Eve. I just couldn’t handle the suspense. Sorry mom! So needless to say, I consider asking for another ultrasound every few days. In a way, I sort of feel like I want to prepare myself to potentially be done with having kiddos and would like to know if we are having a girl or a boy. When Teunis and I first got married we both talked about how we were going to have and adopt a whole bunch of kids and have a huge family. But more and more lately we have come to realize that our families are on opposite sides of the world from each other and if we realistically want our kids to be able to spend time with all of their family, the more kids we have, the more unrealistic that will be at $2,000 per plane ticket. Not to say this is a set in stone decision, just something we have been throwing around a bit. I have many friends with 3, 4, 5 and even 6 kids who I have seen travel the world and put their kids through university on a missionary income. So I  know that God is always faithful to provide.

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Anyways, back to patience, let’s talk about spring and gardening. In short, I’m obsessed, I dream almost every night about dirt and plants and seeds and pruning, mulching, manure, blossoms, vegetables and the list goes on and on and on. This all poses a real problem for someone who lives in a zone 3 climate with a last frost date of May 20th and a couple feet of snow still on the ground. But I find ways to satiate my desire to get my hands in the ground. The other night, Teunis was his usual super husband self, and gave me the night off to go to the gym and then hang out at the library afterwards. Of course I settled myself on the floor in the gardening aisle and quickly had a stack of books that looked interesting piled around me. I soon realized that all of the books I was so interested in were more like textbooks you would need if you were getting a degree in horticulture or something. Then I started thinking about all the Master Gardener and Horticulture courses and seminars in Calgary that have recently been popping up on my radar from out of nowhere. I didn’t even know this was a thing before last week. I started to think about how incredibly interesting and beneficial it would be to pursue something along those lines and got really excited about it because hey, it’s what I really love to do. And then they hit, all those old thoughts about how I’ve never been able to focus on one thing and actually excel at it or pursue anything seriously. The fear that when it comes down to it, I have no sticking power. I started going back through my history of failed endeavors, half-hearted attempts at pretty much everything I’ve ever gotten excited about in life. I started hearing the voices of people who have in their own way confirmed my fears that I just have no focus. And then I started to compare myself to every inspiring person in my life that has set their heart on something, pursued it and is making a difference in some way. Whether it’s starting a ministry that is changing peoples lives, starting a successful business or achieving academic goals, all of these things make me feel useless, unaccomplished and listless. The result of this train of thought is that I immediately start to shut down any new dream I may be having because really, who am I kidding, it’s just going to end up on the backburner of my life in a years time. So there I was, red faced, sweaty and pregnant doing stretches on the floor of the gardening aisle, crying over gardening books. The guy reading at the end of the aisle must have thought I was a real freak.

And then, His mercies are new every morning. Thursday morning I went to meet two dear, wise, sister friends for a birthday coffee. Through our sweet time of conversation, I was both challenged and encouraged by their words.  I was reminded that so often we don’t see what God is doing in our lives until months or even years later. That in our impatience to “arrive” and become the finished product that we feel we should be, we just can’t see the bigger picture. I know that I can look back over the years and see how so many seemingly random life decisions I made have contributed to where I am today and many of the most important relationships in my life. And I can be thankful, very, very thankful

I need to remember not to put a time limit on what God is doing in my life and just trust that His timing is perfect. If I spend all my time looking at what God is doing in everyone else’s life around me then I will miss what He is trying to do in my own life. I will miss His direction, calling and still small voice.

Well I think I will end this for now as it’s gotten really long. The following are a few more “patience” pictures.

The first is the two amaryllis flowers that are about to bloom after over a year of nothing but leaves sprouting from that bulb.. All that watering and coddling is finally about to pay off.

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And here is Nayeli sitting on her potty waiting to do her business, probably while watching Caillou or something. Oh man is this a patience testing experience. Hoping she acts on her obession with telling me she has to go poo poo soon.

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Wonderful Wednesdays

Wednesdays are definitely our favorite day of the week lately. Just over a month ago, Teunis and I instituted a weekly Wednesday family lunch date. We meet at a cute little place called Relax Café  that is a true neighborhood hang out kind of place. The same handful of people are always working there and seem to know everyone that comes through the door. It’s no Cafe 1134 for me, but I’m starting to settle in there and it will do for now. Hmmm, I see a future blog post about the importance of having a place to go with a sweet vibe where everyone knows your name. The family date times have been a perfect way to break up the same old same old of the week that tends to take place when you have a regular 8-5 job or are at home with a kid all the time. We have been learning about the importance of creating time and space to intentionally connect and interact as a family, something we didn’t really think about before. You always have it in the back of your mind, that married relationships, at times require work and focused attention. But sometimes it’s easy to assume that family dynamics will just flow and happen naturally. Totally not the case, for us at least. We can individually get so busy working on different projects or just keeping on top of day to day tasks, that we end up tag teaming our time with Nayeli and don’t connect as a whole, as a family. So family date time, GOOD.

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The fabulous swimming facility at Cardel Place.

The other cool part of wednesdays is ALL the swimming that happens! Almost a month ago, I finally took a leap and got a gym membership at Cardel Place which is the MASSIVE newish community sports facility near us. This place has EVERYTHING! Indoor skating rinks, climbing walls, gymnastics, every class you can think to take, swimming and more. Because Nayeli is still under 2, she gets in for free. So Wednesday mornings, her and I head on over to Cardel for the “parent and tot” swim time. This is good because a) it gets me up and moving in the morning which I have to admit, has not been easy for me during this pregnancy. And b) it gets Nayeli excited and ready for her structured swimming lessons in the evening. I have to admit though, I feel like I do much more “advanced” swimming excersises with her than what she gets to do in her evening swim lessons. I have to be careful I don’t push her too much and freak her out, I tend to forget she is only a year and a half and I go a little Julia Braverman on her from time to time (for all you Parenthood watchers out there). Really the night time lessons are an awesome time for her to get to play with Teunis, something good for both their souls as she is a Papa’s girl to the max and he is a self professed girly daddy, wrapped around his little girls pinky finger.

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That’s all for today friends, thanks for reading!

 

Why I said goodbye to Facebook….for now.

This morning I did it, I got my morning coffee (or had it served to me by my ever serving husband), sat down at my laptop, took one last gander at what was happening on Facebook land and then with much trepidation, hovered my cursor over the “Deactivate account” option in settings. I have to admit, that at the last second, I wavered in my decision. I thought of all the engagement and baby announcements I was going to miss out on, birthday notifications, photos and general goings on of peoples everyday lives. But then I reminded myself of my reasons and sent my account into dormancy.

A lot of people have asked me WHY?! Why would I seemingly cut myself off from everyone else like this? Many people that asked me this also sent short messages saying they will miss all my updates, photos and so on. I hate to admit this, but many of the people I heard from were people I have not seen or had much of a conversation with for a LONG time. There were some of you who I didn’t even know I was still facebook friends with (sorry).

And therein lies one of my main reason. I have gotten so tired of this habit I have created of thinking of someone, an old friend, a family member, whoever, and just creeping on their facebook to see what is happening in their life rather than actually talking to them. I want to have relationship with people again. If someone is on my mind, I want to tell them that and ask how they are doing, tell them they are important to me and I value their friendship and input in my life, find out what is new with them, TALK to each other.

There were some other secondary reasons as well. I find that it is very easy for me to quickly start comparing myself, my kid, my family, my life based on things I see others posting. It’s easy to be jealous of fabulous trips or experiences etc. I realize this is completely lame when I have an incredibly blessed life myself. But it still happens. It’s amazing how quickly I can get down on myself or feel useless based on the great things other people accomplish. All of this is my own issue that I need to deal with, and for now, removing myself is what I am going to do. I’ll touch on this in a little more depth in the future.

I know I had made a comment about pregnancy hormones and getting angry about other peoples political opinion posts. I apologize for that, it is far from an adequate reason to distance myself from social media. Everyone is allowed to have an opinion. I just think sometimes it would be so much better to have a discussion about our differing opinions than just jump to conclusions or have a knee jerk reaction to a news article or quote that is shared. So again, I am removing myself from the hot headed anger and reactions that I often have had over the things that are important to people I care about. I will be blogging and sharing about things that are important to me. If you think differently about something I post, let’s talk about it! We could learn a lot from each other.

I’m really looking forward to a loooong sabbatical from facebook. I feel that it will be a time of reconnecting with people in a new way, a time to reflect, think deeply and reconnect with writing and sharing my thoughts rather than offer a plethora of sound bytes and “likes”.

If at any time you would like to stop receiving my updates and emails, please let me know and I will remove you from the list. And if you read this entire post, thank you for taking the time to hear my heart. I appreciate you!

Have a blessed day.

Oh, and here is a picture of Nayeli in her sweet Burberry shirt for all of you Nayeli fans. Tomato addict.

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