Yesterday was my 30th birthday. About this day, I wrote on instagram:
In my 20's: I had 3 babies, moved 4 times, lost all of my grandmas, opened my own photography studio, had great success & closed it, homeschooled Nora & Braden, searched & fought desperately for Mabel's diagnosis, met countless friends, led worship, tried new churches & then found the true God deep in me. I started a successful, limitless non profit organization, endured betrayal and heartache, found love again & really learned what it looks like, traveled, studied, learned, gave & grew. In my 20's, I gained and lost 70 pounds 3 different times (in 5 years), I walked countless miles with a double stroller in front of me around this small town. I learned to enjoy food and maintain healthy and come to peace with myself. In my 20's I blogged successfully, learning to journal my journey...and then I learned to savor privacy. I have learned deeply about the fruits of the spirit; about forgiveness, truth, justice, mercy, tenderness, long0suffein, and wisdom. I stayed true to myself while learning & accepting new thinking. I have dyed my hair a trillion times, cried more than I knew I could, earned every single laugh line and loved fiercely in it all. Every day has been challenging and wonderful but I am so ready to bid these years farewell as I welcome what lies ahead; what a privilege aging really is! Here's to my thirties and whatever they may hold.
And for me, that about sums it up. I have had a wild ride in those 20 something years. But I am so much more content and at ease within myself that I cannot wait to move on and see where life leads me next. It's exciting to be starting a new chapter that looks so beautiful and vibrant!
Speaking of chapters, the greatest gift that I received yesterday was from Chris. He is the most thoughtful and intentional gift-giver. He had this blog, my words and photos from the past 18 months printed into bound books. They are durable and quite honestly, took my breath away. Not only was it an intimate gift for me, but even more so for Nora and for Braden. They will be able to hold onto those books, turning the pages of their mother's words for years to come. And significantly, they are words of a stronger more seasoned mom than ever before. The last 18 months, though challenging, proved to be some of the very happiest and best days of my life. I am grateful to have tangible proof of that right at our fingertips.
As I flipped through the pages of my words, I realized just how important it has been for not only me, but for others to read what I'm writing. What has gone on in my life and what I spend my days writing about means something. And even if it's only for these kids, it matters.
So with that, I think that a new spark was lit in me once again; to get back to doing what it is I love to do. The one thing I'm most passionate about doing other than mothering.
And so I will write.
In the last couple of weeks, after losing grandma, the kids have been very emotional. We've seen grandpa more which has been good but then it got colder and the kids have been not feeling well off and on. It's hard because I want to be with him and then I feel guilty leaving him. It's a helpless feeling when someone that you love loses the one they love the most.
I have looked at him with great empathy but also with a bookmark for remembering one day how others will feel when I experience loss. It's a very challenging and tormenting place to be on the outside of that hurt. I hope that I can show the kind of love and grace that he has.
Mabel's doing ok.
She has had some new seizures, and more often I'd say. They are bigger, sometimes last longer. She is more vocal than ever before, trying noticeably to mimic what we are saying. This week it was 'poopaw' that she was trying to say over and over, piercing her lips together perfectly in doing so. This past week her g-tube balloon (the part that holds the actual button in place in her stomach) got a hole in it. It as quite the ordeal but after a few days of waiting, we finally got it changed and situated. She cried as I changed it, showing me that she felt something-whether it was pain or discomfort I can't say; I was just proud to see that she showed some awareness.
For my birthday, I had a couple of really great adventures with those who love me most. I was able to enjoy the most romantic dinner with the most romantic man and then a few days later our village went out painting. It was so good to be together, laughing.
Nora had another rough week.
School, however, is going remarkably well this year. She loves her teacher and is doing really great academically. She hates to have to miss any days but this week she didn't have a choice as she has had a fever for 3 days straight. I took her to lunch after a couple of emotionally hard days which was nice. I think the onset of the holidays stirs up so much sadness for Nora and that will always break my heart.
Braden's doing really well. He's wild as usual and to be honest, that's about it. He's carefree, funny, hyper, makes a million obnoxious noises, has a lot of friends, loves big and still drives me absolutely crazy. He is the child that will bring me to my knees laughing out of frustration on a really hard day. He keeps me centered and reminds me that it's all going to be ok. It's not so serious.
Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving.
It has taken everything in me to not put up my Christmas decorations but Chris insisted that we give Thanksgiving a chance; a day on it's own to celebrate. So we will do just that. Today the kids and I made a Thankful tree and a table cloth full of hand print turkeys made with paint. We baked cookies and I burnt candles. It was warm, relaxing and important.
In the midst of it all, Nora looked up at me and said that these would be the best holidays. I smiled and felt so grateful that she felt happy in that moment with me.
On the thankful tree the kids cut out leaves of thankfulness, some of which included:
food, their teachers, medicine, electronics, clothes, Heidi, Harper, our home, daddy & kendall, Aunt Julie's family, grandma, and friends.
I am most thankful for a wonderful last year; one that was not only survivable but generally easy. I am thankful for these three gifts that God gave me in my first adult decade, my village of amazing friends, a supportive and wonderful family, and love. Deep, rich, honest love.
Tomorrow we will reflect on these things and one another as we get prepared to move into the days of advent that lie ahead.
Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours!