Monday, March 31, 2014

Celebrating 37 Years of Life

I turned 37 yesterday. My two oldest boys woke me up with hugs and kisses just before they left for school. My oldest son isn't much for hugs and kisses these days, so his hug felt extra precious. My little baby snuggled in close to me as I fed her. Then my four-year old son and seven-year old daughter burst into my room, dancing with excitement as they half-yelled their birthday greetings to me. I feel so richly blessed to be the mother of six pretty great kids and the wife to an amazing man. My parents and sisters sent their birthday greetings through text messages and phone calls. Later in the day, my Facebook feed and Instagram feeds were flooded with birthday wishes from friends all over the world, reminding me how rich my life really is.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Stones, bugs, and a new baby

In the spirit of sharing those ordinary stories I wrote about yesterday, I am going to inundate you with details about the ailments plaguing our family. Just kidding. I won't go into all the details, because. . . yuck.

Since January. . .
four cases of strep throat
two cases of ear infections
seven really bad colds and coughs
the stomach flu has stalked us this week, making the rounds through most of my children
more stomach ailments (the specifics of which I won't frighten you)
Kidney stones
more colds and congestion

We've had antibiotics, breathing treatments, nasal sprays, and crackers. Lots and lots of crackers.

In two days, I had an ultrasound, ct scan, and x-ray for my kidney stones. While waiting at the hospital to get my scan, I remarked to my husband that I was the most expensive family member because we spend the most money on me. And we aren't spending it on fun stuff like books, scrapbooking supplies, or jewelry. No, we spend it on boring (and possibly, lifesaving) stuff like ct scans. Fortunately, or unfortunately, whichever way you want to take it, we have met the deductible of our high deductible insurance plan. I think I did that just with the birth of my baby. Hospitals are expensive! I got the bill for the one-night stay in the hospital and was floored. I've stayed in some REALLY nice hotels in the Middle-East that were far less expensive and much more luxurious. Still, they didn't come with the cutest little baby on the planet. So I'll take the expensive bill and enjoy my little one.

And just to prove that she is the cutest baby on the planet, feast on this. . .

Warning: Babies this cute have been known to induce intense baby hunger.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Recording an Ordinary Life

Snuggling my new baby girl and reading.
It's the simple things in life. . . 
I recently began reading the book, Little House in the Big Woods, to my children. The story is deceptively simple one of a young girl living in the woods with her family. Their life revolves around survival at it's most basic core. Pa hunts animals and then he and his family spend much of their time preserving food for the coming winter. Of course there are fun times such as playing with a ball made from a pig's bladder. These details must have seemed mundane and ordinary to Mrs. Wilder as she recalled them. However mundane and ordinary the details are, they compel us with their simplicity. The Little House Series reminds me that I have stories of my own to tell, even though the details seem insignificant and small.

Joe Fassler wrote a fascinating piece in The Atlantic about the author, Claire Messud. In "Words on Paper Will Outlast Us": How Claire Messud Distills Her Life,"  Claire Messud says this,"Just because we lose so much does not make the small fragments we do preserve less valuable--quite the opposite. Storytelling is a human impulse, and making meaning is a human impulse. We want to make sense of things, and we will always try to tell the fuller story from the fragments that we've got. . . There is always a world to discover within the shards we have."

This article blew me away as author Claire Messud reminds us that once we are gone, what remains of us is often words on paper. Eventually the people who knew us best and loved us will die, and their memories will die with them. Isn't this so true? Haven't we all lost people in our lives whose presence are gone because of what they haven't written? And don't we treasure those fragments we have even more because of their scarcity?

My grandparents died more than a decade ago. I have hundreds of questions I would ask them if they were with me right now. Those unanswered questions compel me to share my own stories and experiences  through blogging and scrapbooking. The last eight months of my life have been incredibly full, but also difficult to record in blogging. I simply haven't had the energy to write lengthy or even brief blog posts. What I have recorded comes in short, almost cryptic phrases that I am now starting to flesh out.

I believe very strongly that we all have stories of our ordinary lives to tell. Remember that life isn't just about the grand moments or the big events that punctuate our stories. We all have small moments and details that paint a big picture of a life well-lived.

My challenge to you is take some time today to start telling your story in a journal, blog post, or a letter. It doesn't have to be grand or earth-shaking. Just share a piece of yourself.

Share with me what prevents you from recording your life. If you do take time to journal or blog, what keeps you going?

Here are some ideas to get you started:
What's on your shopping list? And what does that say about your life and family? How does it compare to your shopping list last year?
What is your routine like in the morning? (Trust me, you'll want to write this down because it really does change based on the schools your children are in or where you live.)
What is the hardest part of your day and why?
What is something you do well?
What is something you do really, really badly?
What is an accomplishment you are proud of?
What is something you regret and why?
Share a favorite childhood memory.
What subject were you best at in school?
What was your hardest subject in school?
What do you do that relaxes you?
What stresses you out?

Have fun!