You’re about to be 9. In the car last week we started talking about what age you become an adult. We counted how many years we have left together under the same roof until you are old enough to venture out on your own. You and Char both started crying. You said you didn’t want to go. Char didn’t want you to leave. You don’t have to move out tomorrow, so I’m not that worried for either of you, but I sure did appreciate your desire to stay.
Surprisingly, I did NOT cry. Watching you grow older doesn’t pinch my heart quite the same way it sometimes does for Charlotte and Shelton. Maybe it’s because every extra year I get with you still feels like a bonus.
You asked for a microscope and Pokémon cards. We also got you a big new bike that looks huge and fits me. Poppa T got you the best microscope he could find and made your month by taking you to the lab to make custom slides. I think THIS is why I’m excited about you getting older, Shep. Every year you age up, you get even more interesting. Learning new information is what drives you and it makes talking to you so fun. You ask good questions and you really listen to the answers.
Right now you want to be a pathologist, like Poppa T, but who knows what you’ll end up doing…it’s cool watching you begin to sort it out.
This year you became a legit bookworm. We ditched soccer and Dad and I finally caved and let you start karate. You love it even though it means leaving the house twice a week so I’m kind of impressed. We cheered when you got accepted into the gifted program at school last month; you wanted in more than I realized. This little win for you, was a gift for me, as your mom. It was as if God was reminding me that he didn’t leave out a thing when it came to your healing. He was merciful to you, and in turn, to me.
Nothing about you is textbook Shep, but we are used to it now and we appreciate the ride. You challenge us as parents in the best way. Your passions are clearly defined: Relationships, science, hunting/outdoors and reading. You crave time with your dad more than anyone in the world and shot your first deer with him earlier this fall. It was basically the highlight of your life, and probably your dad’s top memory of 2019.
So babe, when you go to sleep an eight year old and wake up nine, we will celebrate you without the ache of time going by. It’s such a thrill to watch you grow into who you are. Engaging, curious and tenderhearted. My anxiety over your future is rapidly evaporating with each passing year, which means for now, your birthdays are simply happy celebrations.
I’ve started writing the “So, We’re Having a Baby” post at least three times in the last six months but just couldn’t seem to get the tone right. My excitement level about our 3rd baby has been called into question a few times by family members and when I sit down to write about it I guess I can kind of see why. I bailed on all my drafts of this posts because they didn’t sound “excited” enough and I didn’t really feel like fanning that flame. I’ve also bought next to nothing in preparation for this little guy even though I purged everything baby about three years ago. That’s probably why lots of people assume our baby #3 is a Whoops Baby, but he’s not. It also might have something to do with the fact that we actually SAID we were done. Like, repeatedly, for about 3 years. I even told the whole Internet just how done I was in this post . And we were done….until we weren’t, but that’ s kind of how we roll.
It’s simple really. I had a certain birthday and straight panicked. If I’m 100% honest, we said we were done but it was always because we were locked in a season where we just could not take on any more stress voluntarily. It literally took us a good two years to crawl out of the hole Shep’s drowning had thrown us into, and another year to figure out our new normal. I started a new career, we moved across town and then held our breath to see how Shep would handle mainstream Kindergarten. Full disclosure, it always stung us a little when we admitted we had reached our limit, but we knew enough to know we were stretched as far as we could go, as a couple and as a family. Not to mention, we were already so thankful for what we currently still had, that it felt unwise and selfish to push ourselves into a situation that didn’t work for us just to keep up. Finally, this last year life shifted, we felt steady, unified, and a little more relaxed then we’d been in a long time. We could finally see past a year or two into our future and cast a vision 10-20 years out. We agreed our kitchen table could use one more person at Thanksgiving.
We agonized over going for 3 and then deliberately went for it. We’ve never been able to play the If It Happens, It Happens Game because it happens, every time, in about a month or two, so that thought process doesn’t really work for us. Baby 3 was a decision. We decided, it happened, and then I spent the entire first trimester wondering if I’d made a huge mistake.
I think one of the main differences between this pregnancy and my other two is we are just too busy living our life to sit and THINK about having this baby. Sure, we know he’s coming, but our house is still in the phases of a remodel and our big kids are doing their things, so we just go on about our day. Every now and then I freak out, and remember I need a stroller at some point, and should probably clear out the office to put a new dresser in there. I’ll just say it: Large scale remodeling sucks. I hope I’ll tell you it’s worth it in the end. I can admit that our neighborhood is old school and charmed…but in the thick of it, I’m not going to preach that remodeling, on a budget, (meaning slower timeline), with kids while you live in the house is a great idea. It’s not, at least not for me. I’d rather live my life on the weekends and not be tied to projects, but I also care a lot about having people over and creating a cozy home environment. Let’s just say, I don’t love it, it makes nesting impossible, and I turn all shades of Envy Green when I’m showing clients brand new move-in ready homes.
Another difference: My kids are at my favorite ages yet to date. Five and seven. It’s amazing, and funny, and interesting. It’s all the good adjectives. They are SO fun, and can be SO easy, so I’d be lying to say going back to the starting line doesn’t make me flinch a little. I mean, newborns are Heaven, but potty training is Hell. Not to mention Char just learned how to sleep through the night at the ripe old age of FIVE. On the flip side, now I have helpers, so I’m eager to see how that plays out…. Sister is bursting at the seams with anticipation of her little brother’s arrival and Shep actually cried tears of joy when we broke the news. Their excitement melts me and their bond with each other is one of the main reasons we wanted to add to our family. Char is the one who forces me to walk through the baby isles at Target and points out all the things we will eventually need to buy. She’s a pressure salesman, by the way.
Finally, being pregnant and 30-something feels a lot different then being pregnant and 20-something. It’s just not as much fun this time around…I’m bigger, slower, and feeling a lot less darling about the whole thing. Also, I went mentally dark in the first trimester, something I’ve never experienced before and didn’t know existed. Thankfully, a Sunday school friend noticed me struggling, and shared that she too, went dark with all her boy pregnancies. She encouraged me that the apathy and negativity would wear off in a couple more weeks and thank God, around week 14/15 I was back to being social. My general good will towards life re-emerged around the same time the sun finally came out for Spring. I’m not sure if it was a combination of hormones and the winter months of January- March, but the experience freaked me out a little more than I’d like, plus makes me hyper-aware of post partum similarities.
All that to say, it’s just different this time around…but that doesn’t mean we aren’t pumped. The Pampers Swaddle commercials get me every time. I can’t wait to see what life is like as a family of five. We purposely bought tickets back to Crazy Town and I’m OK with it even if I’m nervous about maybe living there forever. Unfortunately, I’m also obnoxiously impatient, and knowing that Shep eventually ended up fine being born at 32.4 weeks means the minute I get to week 33 in this pregnancy I’ll be like, “Anytime kid. Come anytime.” Which is a TERRIBLE way to think when you’re baking a human, so instead I do the opposite. I just don’t think about it. It’s easier. God willing, our new little guy will make his healthy, fully cooked, debut in September and I’m sure he’ll be worth the wait. Who knows , we might even have a crib by then.
You are officially 7. Congrats sweet boy, you are a big kid, even though you occasionally forget now and again. You asked me yesterday if I thought you were too big to be in Kindergarten. The truth is, I second-guess our decision to hold you back every time someone asks you if you are in first grade. I inwardly cringe just a little, as I’m sure you might too. I’m praying eventually this shakes out, until you get your driver’s license before your friends and become The One With A Car. But deep down I believe what I said when I answered your question. “No, sweetie. I don’t. Your dad and I believe you are a leader, so that’s what you can be in school. Being the oldest will help you do that even better.”
If you take your name as a verb, the definition of Shepherd is to guide or direct in a particular direction. Synonyms include: lead, take, guide, and see. These are all attributes I see in you my son. I particularly like the word see. Because you DO see Shepherd. You are the most intuitive child I’ve ever known. You sense what people are thinking, good or bad. This can come in handy for you. You can read a situation and adjust accordingly if you pay attention. You also have passion Shep, and as you continue to gain control of it, you can direct it towards issues that matter to you, and can use your passion to inspire others. You stand out to your teachers and camp counselors for your ability to encourage. That’s leading Shep. Leading is helping others believe in themselves. You do this naturally.
My prayer for you this year is that you will grow in your belief in yourself. You have what it takes. You are a wonder, kid. You’re deep waters, curiosity, heart and fire. We love you more than you could ever know, and we’re right behind you, through this year of 7, and every year after.
Jeremiah 3:15- Then I will give you shepherds who are dear to my heart. Their knowledge and understanding will help them lead you.
My kids have left for school and I am home in a quiet house cleaning out my desk. It’s cluttered with school papers of ABC worksheets, and Halloween drawings depicting scarecrows or dancing skeletons underneath a disco ball. (Shep likes a good party.) Char’s big, lopsided, circle faces of our family stare back at me from the page, and my heart tightens. I feel that same feeling every time I watch her skip confidently into school from the car pool line. I am desperate to get them out the door, already aggravated from arguing over messy hair and brushed teeth. But I miss them as soon as they leave my sight.
We are in a good routine now, but this summer parenting left me at a new low I didn’t know I could reach. Personalities were hard, and schedules were loose. I found myself at the end of my rope and grasping at straws trying to understand why one of my children was so angry, seemingly every day. It was a terrible feeling. Dealing with crisis with your babies is traumatic, but dealing with big feelings and angry words on a daily basis drained me in a new way. I was failing…something wasn’t working and I couldn’t find the ways to fix it. It was a whole new type of defeat. Finally, I found help in the form of a sorority sister who happens to be a family counselor. She propped me back up, gave me some new tools and honest feedback. She reminded me that I am my kids’ mom for a reason and I knew what I was doing even when it never felt like it. The things I learned from this summer I’ll try to change over the next one, best I can.
It’s crazy watching your babies grow up. Shep’s reading abilities are slowly gaining momentum and I’m breathing a giant sigh of relief after parent teacher conferences. The kids are alright. My Shepherd boy is alright. We intentionally withheld all information about Shep’s drowning from his teacher and his new school. We wanted a clean read on Shepherd, without any pre-conceived opinions. After 3 years of wondering, I always knew Kindergarten would be my biggest litmus test and I feel like we passed.
I see patterns forming in his behavior, the randomness of ages 3-5 giving way to distinct personality traits. His passions are defined: Science, Legos, family, nature. Encouragement is his gift to others. He gives his heart away without reservation and is learning he won’t always get it back the way he thought. He’s an observer, quick to pick up on words not meant for his ears. Brutally honest, Shep will rat himself out any day of the week but he still manages to be a master manipulator of a situation once he’s pinpointed a weak spot. Our boy loves people but still does what he wants on the playground regardless of who does or doesn’t join his game. His imagination is still his biggest asset.
Nearing 7, his dance with faith is beginning to take on a rhythm of its own and the steps are becoming more complicated. Nothing slips by him. In a moment of intense frustration he furiously tells me he believes in God, but he doesn’t think He’s listening. His prayers have gone unanswered. All I can do is nod my head. “I get it buddy, I’ve felt the same way. But I know enough to know he’s listing now, so I’m going keep praying because this is a particularly difficult situation we’re in and I could use some help.”
I realized yesterday, praying will soon become my number one parenting recourse when things are going sideways. Erron and I will still encourage, set boundaries and enforce consequences, but once you send your kids off to school and they start finding their own friends, you rapidly start loosing some of the control you didn’t even know you had. It’s terrifying but also exciting to see them work out who they are….I day dream about flying Shep around the country and taking him to different science museums. I’m so curious to see how school will play out for him. He remains complicated, deeply loving, thoughtful and intense. Parenting him will never be boring.
This summer I walked though the wilderness as a Shep’s momma but I also know he’s too old now to share the details of our journey. All that matters is that we came out the other side and our path is much smoother now. This won’t be the last time we’ll get lost in the weeds but that’s ok. Like I said before, parenting is our favorite adventure, and I can’t wait to see where it takes us.
I don’t really write about work much on the blog, I’ve always liked to keep these two things separate. In my head, they felt separate. This blog feeds one half of my brain and soul while work fills a void in the other half. I sometimes feel like a split person….this blog is all thoughts and feels. My job as a real estate agent is more hustle, analyzing situations and problem solving. I love it though; it feeds a fire in me I didn’t even know existed until after I experienced life as a stay at home mom. It’s my dream job, and I’ve really only just started. What I’m realizing though is that what drove me to this job and what still drives it, is the other side of my brain. The feeling side. The people side, the side with emotions. So I decided it was finally time to share about it.
I am a working mom. I never thought I’d be happy to say that, but I am. I love what I do. It was a long road getting here though.
I started out as a teacher. Fourth and second grade. Darling ages. I picked that career by default as a freshman in college. My dad is a doctor and I recognized early on I didn’t have what it takes to walk that academic road. I was too social to be that disciplined. Plus, I’m a words girl; my brain is not wired for math and science. The worlds of business, design, or communications were foreign territory for my family, so I never even considered them as options when picking a major. There were only doctors, educators or musicians in my immediate and close extended family. At 19, branching that far out of my comfort zone seemed way too risky, so I defaulted to teaching. It seemed logical. I wanted kids, so I’d teach a classroom full, then have the same schedule as my own children in the process.
I realized quickly that teaching was not my calling. Which it really needs to be if you’re going to do it well. However, I LOVED my students. Because of them I learned some invaluable skills. They helped me learn how to pursue someone. How to study an individual and find ways to connect with them, then motivate them to do things they didn’t want to do, or harder still, believed they couldn’t do. Their victories were my victories and their struggles stayed heavy with me long after I’d left the building. I discovered how to appreciate hard and quirky personality traits, learned how to encourage, and how to stand my ground even when I didn’t want to. My students made me brave, they made me search for the positive, and motivated me to keep showing up for a job that in most other areas, left me completely depleted and full of anxiety. No, teaching was not my game. It taught me some necessary truths on how to be a grown up but the minute I saw an Exit Door, I ran for it. To be fair, I think part of the problem was the frame of mind I was in. All I ever REALLY wanted to be was a Mom, preferably full-time and anything less left me feeling cheated. To say I was bitter that my ‘life goal’ of staying at home was not within my reach when Shepherd was born would be a huge understatement and a whole different blog post. I was internally raging against this reality and it cast a shadow on the whole scene. Mercifully, my class that year was outstanding. Students AND parents. They handled Shep’s premature birth and my longer than planned time out of the classroom with such love and support. They made a hard situation so much easier and I will never forget their kindness.
Flash forward: After 5 years of teaching, Erron had a new job and I was finally at home with two babies. Money was super tight which brought on a whole new wave of anxiety and a complicated sense of self worth. Every stay-at-home Mom I’ve ever talked to gets this feeling of tension so I won’t elaborate on it much. It’s hard to reconcile your value sometimes when you have nothing to show for your day. Even though you know your efforts are meaningful it can often feel like building sandcastles on the shore knowing full well the tide will come and wash your work away. It totally caught me off guard how much I struggled with this feeling and I started wracking my brain for new careers that could provide us some financial breathing room while still allowing me to spend the majority of time at home. My heart still heart wanted to be with my babies but the reality of what that looked like was a lot more complicated than I had imagined. I went as far to enroll in the Dallas Community College. My plan was to pick up my sciences and work towards dental hygiene or PT school. Then Erron switched jobs once more to get back to Oklahoma and we moved before my first class started. I continued my hunt for the perfect part time career in Oklahoma but when Shep fell in the pool soon after our move, our entire world stopped for about a year. I threw my plans on a shelf and focused all my energy on digging out of my grief and guilt. My anxiety took on a new form, it was now a burning ball of energy that had no outlet and we were wracking up medical bills from Shep’s physical therapies and our weekly visits with a counselor. It all kind of came to a head one year after Shep’s accident and I enrolled myself in a summer long real-estate certification class. I was tired of waiting. I knew I loved homes, I loved relationships, and I needed a flexible job ASAP or I was going to go crazy from stress. I’d figure the rest out on the fly. Three months later I was certified and under my current brokerage and trying to build a business from scratch. I felt vulnerable and exposed and terrified. But it was also a little exhilarating. I had no idea I’d enjoy the hustle as much as I did and still do. When I closed my first deal, with the most darling family who took a chance on me, it confirmed it; I LOVED my job. At first I thought of my business as a side hustle, if I made any money at all, that was a win. I quickly realized that I liked real estate a little more that and little by little I felt more comfortable taking on more clients as they came my way. The thing about helping people move is that moving is HARD. It’s never simple and people don’t tend to buy houses just for fun. (Investors not included.) I like this part of the job. You get to really know who you’re working for when you help someone navigate a move. You find out how they respond to stressful situations which real estate can produce even in the best of circumstances. I discover what parts of their life are in transition that prompted their decision. Their family might be growing, or they went through something hard and needed a life change. Maybe they moved states and have to start over in an unfamiliar place. My job is to walk them through the process, support them, educate them, fight for their best interest and explain their options effectively. It’s communication to infinity. A friend of mine who is also a realtor explained it perfectly when he said our job is essentially helping our clients manage their expectations. It’s no small task but a pretty great way to explain my role. That, plus millions of other details. But my favorite part of the job? I take my kids to school, I volunteer at their schools, I pick them up at the end of the day. It’s truly the best-case scenario for my family. My job is all over the place; which I consider a plus, I’m not stuck in one spot which truly drove me crazy in a classroom. Sure, it’s totally wild….I’ve had to step out of the car and lock my kids inside while handling a business call. They pound on the window while I throw them the side eye. I send some of my emails out around 11:00-1:00 AM at night. I have about 4 sitters on rotation in case there is an inspection or appraisal or an unexpected showing. It’s stressful and it’s still work. But my babies are seeing me do something I love and I get to contribute, which feels SO different to me now that I’ve lived long enough to know what life looks like without me working at all. It’s worth the hustle and it feels even better because I earned it.
Dreams change. I used to dream of staying at home full time. My time at home is still so fulfilling, but so is sitting at the closing table next to a happy client and knowing that my efforts have changed someone’s life in a significant way. Knowing that a unplanned trip is a possibility because of my financial contribution doesn’t feel so bad either. Basically, it’s way more than a side hustle now. Going out of my comfort zone and diving in headfirst into a new career helped drag me out of my depression after feeling like I failed Shep and failed Erron. It gave me a new sense of value, new challenges to master. Two years later and behind each house I sell is a client and a friend. Working adds to my sense of purpose. If you had told me as a new mom I’d eventually feel happier working, I might have slapped you. Funny how you don’t know what you don’t know about yourself until you slowly figure it out.
I have abandoned my little blog accidentally on purpose in these last 5 months. I mean….I’m busy…ish. Work, two kids, the house. Trying to keep the house looking clean in the middle stages of a remodel is like trying to apply make up in the shower. It feels very “What’s the Point-ish.”
When I was really into this blog, I made space for it. Space in my day and space in my head. My mind used to be writing all the time. I would be propelled out of bed at 12:00 AM desperate wrestle stuff out of my head and heart so I could fling it on to paper. That same itch would lay claim to an entire day without kids, me editing at the keyboard, dirty dishes left untouched in the sink. At 2:00 in the morning, I could hit “Save” then crawl back into bed, relaxed and calm. Handing over all my thoughts to the page released me from them, even if the break was temporary. I would wake up relaxed, light hearted and clear headed. Walking through the aftermath of Shep’s accident was so emotionally heavy that I could feel a physical difference before and after a blog post. I still feel better after writing, only now, the situation is different. I write when I process things, when things get sticky and complicated between my head and my heart, I work them out on paper. Only now, there is no trauma or even its aftermath to pin the struggle on. To my dismay, there is still uncertainty and restlessness, annnd character defects. I’m sure no one is really that surprised, except I kind of am…and I’m a little miffed my old habits haven’t kicked the bucket like I thought they might after walking through so much fire. Or if they have, those habits have just decided to reincarnate themselves and comeback as the 2.0 version of Allie’s Most Common Hangups. They’ve upgraded. So for the last four or five months I’ve just ignored it. Except then we moved—-and the buzzing is getting harder to tune out. For sure, I’m not the same person I was before Shep’s drowning, but the shadow of that girl is still there and she’s been staging a comeback in the last several months. I don’t exactly love this version of me, so I haven’t wanted to fully engage in what this comeback might mean. Writing about it felt annoying, like re-writing old chapters again only never being able to change the ending. So I just didn’t. Instead I got “distracted.” I am SO talented in this department. It plays out something like this:
Me, staring intently at the walls of my living room, turning the lights off and on, agonizing over 4 different shades of white paint samples. My kids are asking me to play with them. I am having none of it. I am FIXATED on the paint samples. In fact I am getting kind of angry because my walls aren’t even primed yet, so the “paint” stage of this Reno is actually further away than I care to admit.
INNER VOICE: (In my case, I blame Inner Voice on… you guessed it, The Man Upstairs and his BFF the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I can’t really tell the difference if it’s me or Him. Either way, I’m annoyed. For all practical purposes we’ll call this voice “V.”
“V”: Hey, Allie. Psst. HELLLOO. Just a friendly reminder: You CAN enjoy your life before your walls are painted. This is not what it’s all about. You know that right? Yeah, you know that. I know, you know. NOBODY cares that your walls are bare. The kids DO NOT care. Your baby sitter tonight, she won’t care either. Does your cable work? Perfect. Then she won’t care. Chill out…go play.
Me: Shutup V! Can’t you see I’m trying to decide between Egret White and Off White?! I have a legitimate chance at getting this drywall painted in early 2018 so it’s obviously critical I make this decision today. I NEED TO BE READY. Go bug someone else.
V: I’m just saying….you’ve been kind of a B to every member of your family lately, your slavedriver tendencies are showing. I can hear Erron’s prayers for a break you know. He told me you didn’t smile at him last week unless he was holding a power-tool. But seriously, your discontentment is palpable.Recalibrate.
Me: Drives to Sherwin Williams to buy more white paint samples.
Other phenomenal ways of hitting the mute button on V are detailed below:
1. Re-watching the entire series of the Office.
3. Running comps on MLS.
4. Window shopping on Wayfair, Houzz, Joss and Main and Birch Lane.
5. Eating mass quantities of dark chocolate brownie dough.
6. Realizing that I do not metabolize brownie dough the way I did 3 years ago, and going to the gym.
7. Deciding which cosmetic, non-invasive procedure I should try first, and who will do it. Set up consultations accordingly.
I have more, but you get the general idea.
So, apparently I’m not super holy even though I walked through a holy experience. I know, it shocked me too. Kidding. Sort of. The truth is, I do know better, I’ve had an up close encounter with “What Really Matters.” And this remodel Is. Not. It. But right now I am a walking talking version of the Chris Janson country song “Buy Me a Boat.” I keep thinking money will save the day here if I just had an excessive amount of it at my disposal. Except I wouldn’t buy a boat or a truck to pull it. I’d buy a professional painter, a stainless steel gas range and sectional. Also, about 4 new light fixtures and an electrician to install them so Erron wouldn’t have to. It’s that dang champagne taste. Unfortunately for me, unless Erron and I want to spend all our extra dollars to get the house looking sparkly, (which we don’t) my current budget for our remodel will actually buy me a couple La Croix.
I know these wish list items are not the magic key to life. I might breath a sigh of relief when I look at painted walls, but it will not bring me any joy and that’s what sticks. Playing with Shep and Char while they still want me around and enjoying Erron are the big ticket items. My heart knows this but my head keeps dropping the ball and forgets every 10 minutes or so. I will have days where living in a totally unfinished house is PERFECTLY FINE. It’s great! It’s an ADVENTURE. And what an amazing example this is for our kids!! They will be Home Depot babies and learn how to do cool and useful things like hammer a nail and not expect instant gratification. (It’s a reach, I’m aware.) Three days later the charade comes crashing down when I want to murder someone because I don’t have a dining room table to host anyone for Easter Sunday. I mean, it’s basically a sin to not have a dining room table. For Easter. You know, for hosting. Because I’m so spiritually in-tact and what not.
So there it is. How’s the remodel? It’s slow. It’s sometimes super fun and lots of times hard. It has revealed some of my bigger suspicions. That I still struggle with materialism and my house is still a gigantic part of my identity. I still need grace for behaviors I thought would fade away after being so intimate with God and almost losing something so heartbreakingly irreplaceable. But it will be beautiful someday, it’s a work in progress. Just like me.
It’s been so busy around here that I’m just now getting around to writing down Char’s big 4 back in February. She had a princess party. Naturally.
She went with Aurora, not necessarily her favorite princess movie, (Rapunzel) but I think she likes Aurora’s hair and her dress, so there you have it. We hosted Princess Aurora and all Char’s royal friends at our old neighborhood clubhouse because at the time, our house was full of boxes. Aurora showed up and did her royal thing and it was the best money I ever spent. From the moment I let Her Highness in the door she took over the whole party and mesmerized everyone. She never broke character, even when her phone rang, interrupting her Disney soundtrack. She just chirped, “Oh!! I think Prince Phillip is trying to call me!” And flushed the Prince’s call. (Her hard- to-get game is strong.) We were dying. And a little impressed. It’s not every day you get to hang out with an adult sized princess, so committed to her role. There were a lot of bubbles, face painting, and a scavenger hunt. The whole thing went off without a hitch.
At four, Char is still a full-on Momma’s girl. She and Shep are thick as thieves, when he’s not being rude to her and she’s not telling on him. Char starts the night off in the bottom bunk of his room. They stay up way too late talking to each other but their conversations are so silly, Erron and I struggle finding the motivation to shut them down. She still craws into my arms nearly every night between 1-3 AM. Her love language is touch–cuddling and a movie are her idea of a dream day. She wraps tight little hugs around your neck that make you feel like the most important person in the world. She is also THE MOST impatient person on the planet…I think she got that one from me. It’s a constant work in progress.
At four, Charlotte can do a perfect cartwheel, the monkey bars, and ride a bike, which will mostly likely loose its training wheels by the summer. She can sorrrrrt of write her name. Tumbling is her new favorite thing. She is still our baby and the source of lots of our entertainment. When she turns five I don’t know what I’ll do…. so four, you need to last a long, long time.
I’m not sure anyone reads this anymore, besides my dad, who loves his daughter and subscribed. (Sweet Dad.) But it’s hard to read a blog when the writer doesn’t say anything for months at a time.
Things have been crazy. Work was busy. Then, over Christmas, we decided to move. Our move was hard, I underestimated it greatly, and didn’t pay what I should for good movers. (So dumb. Pay the money.) The logistical aspect of moving basically imploded on us but that’s another story I’ll tell later when I decide it’s finally funny. However, the hardest part was my mom got really, really sick. Scary sick, so we dropped the move like a hot potato as soon as physically possible and I rushed to Tulsa to be with the family while Erron held down the fort (boxes) at home with the kids. A few days later, once Mom was in the clear, Erron called at 9:30 pm with kids crying in the background saying water was spilling out of the bathroom onto the the carpet of the new house. I rushed back to watch the kids while Erron snaked the drains. All in all, life has been a circus since December.
I should be unpacking, or testing paint colors but I’m not. I should be folding laundry or doing any of the things that you get behind on normally, and I’m exxxxtra behind because MOVING.
But, I’m not.
I’ve missed having a thought that wasn’t logistical or practical. A thought that wasn’t work related or move related or based around a schedule. I miss my old house, with all of it’s windows. Getting used to this home has been harder than I thought, even though I picked it, knowing full well what I was getting into buying an older house that needs to be updated at every turn. My pretty stuff doesn’t fit on the shorter shelves, the rooms are dark, the wall texture is driving me crazy, and the kitchen is tighter. I KNEW all of this….but it’s overwhelming me. My attitude is darker than it should be.
More than anything, I need some space to be quiet, to listen to my thoughts, and go over what just happened and all my reasons to be thankful. My mom is getting better, praise God! This house WILL be beautiful, it just needs time and work. My kids love the neighborhood and the school is fabulous. Besides moving day, the entire transaction could not have been smoother. All things to give thanks for.
I got too busy to listen to the Man Upstairs like I used to, and my heart is reacting. Our conversations have been one sided, rushed and panicked. I’m a girl who likes to knock stuff out but today I have an overwhelming urge to ignore the half eaten toast still out from breakfast and gather my thoughts instead.
I scrolled across this quote in my IG feed the other day and it has stuck with me:
“I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”-Martin Luther
Can you imagine!? My kids are only gone for about 6 hours at school and to spend 3 of them in prayer feels a little like taking twenty dollar bills out and lighting them on fire one by one. I do not have time for still.
9:00: Laundry and Errands
12:30: Home Depot/Paint Store….You get the picture.
But I’m still today. I have no visible signs of accomplishing anything, but I recognized a deep need to reign in my OCD, and look for blessings in the middle of the chaos. I’d still call that progress.
In the last year, any shred of baby boyness has dissolved away leaving behind angles, sharp cheekbones, and an entire wardrobe you don’t fit anymore. You learned how to ride a bike without training wheels this year, and lost your first tooth not long ago. You are our first born, and conversations with you feel strangely adult-ish. It can become complicated, but also incredibly fun and fascinating. Your mind never stops analyzing, we can practically see the wheels turning as you process what you’re seeing, hearing, observing. You get a read on the situation and peg it for what it really is when we least expect it. You are an observer of your surroundings, but always manage to engage others along the way.
Shepherd. We love you more than words can describe. But on your birthday today, let us try to tell you how much.
This year I asked our family members to tell me 6 things they saw in Shep that they loved. I’ve documented the responses and we’ll read him different ones to Shepherd throughout the day. Getting back my family’s replies made me cry. They see the same treasures in Shep that I do. The big and little things that make him our sweet and complicated Shepherd boy who we all cherish.)
So sweet Shep, here is just a taste of some of the things we all adore about you. Six is not a high enough number, so I’ve listed more than that here. The truth is, there are too many to count.
We love the little things about you, like how you laugh waaaay too hard, at your own jokes.
And the bigger things you do. How you care for Charlotte, or care for anyone really, even when no one is looking. God gifted you with a heart for hosting, for making others feel included and cared for. You are great at introductions and you love a good party.
Your dance moves. Good Lord, you love to dance as much as your momma! When you feel the beat there is NO stopping you. NO ONE has moves quite like you Shep. No one.
Your questions! You make me think too hard constantly. If you are interested in a topic, you are in deep. If you feel like something is off, you take notice and you ask. Your questions are thought provoking, curious, and frighteningly perceptive. We love conversations with you.
Your insatiable obsession of all things Halloween. It’s creepy and darling and we love it SO MUCH.
Your art work. We’re obsessed. It’s all over our house because you create the best drawings for any Holiday season.
Your creativity. The running play that goes on in your head is fun to watch. The sheer originality of the insults you throw at me in a fit of rage also deserve some merit. (Some day I will write them all down for you Boy and then give them to you your children so they can dazzle you with your own words as often as you have amused me…;) Seriously though, the imagination. Only you can entertain yourself with your own two hands, pretending one is a good guy and one is a bad guy, and create an entire story line out of it on a drive to Tulsa. It’s impressive.
Your honesty. In the middle of conflict you struggle with apologies because you’re not sure if you ACTUALLY feel bad for being rude or unkind. “I KNOW I should be sorry Mom,” you tell me through dramatic tears, “But I don’t FEEL sorry so I’m not sure if I really mean it! So… I can’t say it! I’m NOT sorry!” Annnnd then more tears. You and I are so related. Ask your daddy how many times I actually feel sorry when I should probably just be asking for forgiveness…..There’s a SIGNIFIGANT time delay for when head and heart sync up. But you’re honest about it up front Shep. You cannot lie kid… about anything, and I’m so grateful. #sorrynotsorry
Your fortitude. Born 8 weeks early, you took it like a champ. Exactly three and half years later you survived another devastating hit and thrived again when everyone told us otherwise. But you never come across as the tough kid, and you’re quick to admit your own limitations or fears. You are so much stronger than you give yourself credit for Son. You CAN do the hard things….you already have, when no else could do them for you.
The way you respond to music. You get embarrassed that a song can make you cry. But this is one of my very favorite things about you. It reveals your heart.
Your eyes. They come from Poppa T. They are captivating and soulful.
The way you love God, question Him but still trust Him encourages me to do the same. I pray this never leaves you.
Shep–Charlotte loves you because you build things for her and you’re her best friend. Your cousin Grey likes you because you ALSO like Legos like him, Ves loves you because you’re so cool. Obviously.
You made me a momma and because of you Shepherd my greatest dream came true. I was made to love you. We share the same heartstrings but you have your daddy’s analytical mind and attention to detail. You have captured all our hearts in so many ways. Cheers to 6 little man. May it be your best year yet.
I know we haven’t always gotten along. I’ve blamed you for a lot of things. When Char cried on Monday that she didn’t want to go to school because she hates nap time, then cried again on Tuesday that she was NOT at school napping with her friends, I blamed you Three. I know you made her do it, so don’t lie. I also know it was you who told her she could run around the house with my lipstick and smear it on my couch. You have it out for parents Three….you try to pin it alllll on Two, but we know what’s up. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve trashed talked you Three. I’ve said I hate you and I’ve sat around with other parents and slammed you behind your back, calling you names….God knows we have never been on great terms.
I didn’t know what to think of you the first time I met you Three, when you where hanging out with Shep….but I was pretty sure you were trouble. I didn’t get to experience you fully, six whole months of our time together were foggy and confusing. I didn’t know what to blame on you and what to blame on circumstances. Frankly, I was just so thankful to meet Four I cried and slammed the door on you then tried to forget you ever existed….until you showed up at my house again, two years later.
You and I won’t be hanging much longer Three. Your time is up in this family soon. I only have three more months to really etch you into my brain. But I’m realizing I was wrong about you. There’s a lot I love about you and I think you should stay. You see, I need you Three. You keep my daughter’s body round and soft and squishy in all the right places. You keep her cheeks full and kissable. Just like you told her it was OK to scream about a missing toy, you also told her I could make her finger feel better with nothing but a kiss. I need that Three. I need it to be that easy for a little bit longer. Because of you Three, my baby can run around the house naked and we still laugh. The edges of her words are soft and her sentences are not yet perfected….that’s all you Three, those are some of my favorite things, and you will take them with you when you go. Her brother left you behind and I didn’t even know to look back. Now, I’m about to meet Six and it’s all long skinny legs and angles when we snuggle. Six is too heavy to pick up and carry. You, Three, are responsible for chubby fingers and princess panties. Your favorite game is chase and you love to be captured and tickled. Because of you, my sweet Char grabs my face and turns it towards her in the morning so we can sleep nose to nose.
Darling Three, I take back all the things I said about you. You are like all of us, you have just as much good as you do bad. Don’t leave Three. Stay. Please stay. I will cry when you go. I don’t know if I’ll ever see you again Three, but I know I’m not ready to say goodbye. I didn’t know how much joy you brought us, and though I like your friend Four well enough, my heart will ache when you leave. I will remember you fondly Three, thanks for everything.