A place to share the joys and challenges of our little, but growing, family. Life with three girls, ages 5, 4 and 1 year, is a joy most of the time. But, there are challenges to every life and this is my place to share some of that.
For example, I can tell you we have had 34,632 diapers donated to be given to refugees and New Americans since the first days of the COVID lockdowns. Almost every single one has gone back out to the refugee and New American families to help take care of babies. Fun fact, none of the social safety network covers diapers.
But that is not really my point.
My point is counting.
Since each of my girls was born, I have been counting. Well, it actually started the moment I found out I was pregnant with each one. Counting the days I was pregnant, counting to the end of the first trimester. Counting the days until each midwife appointment. Counting the hours of laboring. Counting how many hours old they were. Counting how many days, weeks, months, years…counting.
A new counting started last May…how long until Caitlyn’s graduation? And Saturday, while driving home from a college visit, we hit 3 months until said graduation.
I remember it like it was yesterday, Caitlyn was 8 weeks old and I went to Target by myself. It might have been my first outing without her. I wasn’t even back to work.
But there I was, hiding in Target having a panic attack. I couldn’t breathe and I was sobbing. Like bent over sobbing. Because she was going to grow up and leave me.
That feeling actually goes back to the moment she was born.
After 25 hours of labor, they put this baby on my chest and I realized from that moment I would have to share her. I had her all to myself for 9 months but even in this moment, the midwife had touched my baby first and was going to take her away to do all the medical checks.
I was going to have to share her for the rest of her life.
Not wanting to come across as psycho, I shoved that feeling as far down as possible and began our life together. I must have done alright because my mother-in-law complimented me on how gracious I was in sharing her. I brushed it off saying I knew I got to take her home no matter what but in all honesty, I was internally gritting my teeth every time I had to share her.
But share her I have. Yes, we homeschool, but she has a full social life, volunteers, works, all the things. Now we are on the cusp of really having to share her. She has been accepted to 20 colleges/universities so far. And she is going to go to one of them. I will be so excited to see her grow and do things and pray that she knows we are always a safe place to land.
But for today, I stand at my computer trying to write something for her senior yearbook.
Words escape me. But tears don’t. I am back hiding in that Target struggling to breathe and crying.
So I had planned to shut down this blog but I can’t figure out how to print it all and I don’t want to lose everything which brings me to–I guess I better get writing to justify its existence.
I’ll start by writing about something that brings me great joy–reading. Not mine, but my girls’.
I love to read. My mother loves to read. My grandmother loved to read. I always assumed my daughters would love to read…alas, it did not seem that was going to be the case. Once, my mother even yelled across a family, “didn’t you think you would raise at least ONE reader?” I felt this criticism deeply and was so embarrassed I had not…, particularly as a homeschooler. But alas, Caitlyn only loved to read to learn things, i.e. Pinterest or other websites. Sue loved Graphic Novels and Patrice, well, she saw reading as an extension of school and was not a big fan. I, as a book snob, did not see graphic novels, or even audiobooks, as real reading thus I was left with no readers.
Then, last summer, something changed, Caitlyn decided to volunteer at the local library. She goes every Thursday afternoon for two hours.
I hoped, but thought it was ridiculous to consider, that she would fall in love with reading somehow while she was at the library…AND SHE DID! She discovered there were a lot more books out there than what mommy had chosen over the years.
Now, in my defense, she has chosen some of the genre I used to buy for her but they are a little more grown-up than I chose. But now she reads lots of things. Authors and titles I never would have thoughts. She and her friends give books as gifts and hang out at bookstores! I am still thrilled and in awe. I am sure I make her crazy because I keep commenting on it. I try not to but…I try.
Another thing happened that has helped my perspective–a year or so ago, maybe longer, I discovered audiobooks. I just don’t have all the time to read that I would like but with an audiobook I can run and “read”–it is wonderful. And this past summer, I discovered graphic novels! I thought they were just that, novels–basically comic books, but turns out you can find biographies, history, all sorts of things–I have two on hold at the library right now–which makes me a lot more accepting of what Sue, and sometimes Patrice, like to read.
I guess mom’s can use an education and an attitude adjustment!
Don’t mind me, I’m just over here giddy as I see my kids reading all different genres and formats!
I just went running into my daughters’ room to tell them the one phrase I know in Chinese–Happy New Year. You see, years ago I was engaged to a guy who’s maternal grandparents were originally from China. The relationship with him was a total bust (whew) but I adored his grandmother and I learned how to say Happy New Year.
Man, his family was good to me–but I digress.
Fast forward many years to 2012. Caitlyn and Sue were enrolled at the local elementary school. The school had asked families to unplug for the week. I failed miserably, but the school also sent home some activity ideas. It was this time of year and it was Chinese New Year so I made my first attempt at making Chinese food. I don’t remember the food at all but a tradition was born.
Every year we do our best to make Chinese food for the Lunar New Year.
Caitlyn chose her recipes, I bought the ingredients. She cooked for hours to make us spring rolls, dumplings, and wonton soup. I made beef broccoli (pretty sure that is not authentic but we like it…). Patrice was her assistant in this process. She used carrots and purple cabbage to make the dumplings orange and purple. Making fortune cookies failed us, per usual, but it was fun. Caitlyn wrote little fortunes. Mine was, “You will give Caitlyn money soon”, daddy got, “don’t tell anyone, but I poisoned your food” and Patrice got, “Did you thank Caitlyn for this wonderful food?” Sue also gets to give Caitlyn money…since the cookies failed, I taped everyone’s fortune to a piece of candy.
It was really good and as Caitlyn said, “well, it kept me off my phone all afternoon.” Maybe the school did accomplish something all those years ago… 😉
Where did this year go? I swear it started yesterday but here we are…starting our last week on Monday!!
I am ready.
The girls are ready.
Frazier is probably even ready.
I am sure the turtle is ready.
Did we get it all done? Heck no!!!
But Sue did an amazing job with reading. She read so many books! She read things like Bridge to Terabethia, Paddington Bear, Island of the Blue Dolphin, Refugee, some Dork Diaries books, some Who Was biographies, Anne of Green Gables, Across Five Aprils. A lot.
Ukranian eggs were decorated.
Ice skating was discovered.
Dissections were done (grasshopper and squid).
Syrian foods were eaten.
Math was done–each of the girls completed a level and started the next!!
Today, Caitlyn and I tried making our first Syrian food on our own. We made sambousak. The variation we made is Spanish cheese wrapped in phyllo dough and fried in zayt (olive oil). I did some of the frying–Caitlyn did all the rest. We realized part way through that the oil needed to be hotter…that made her nervous, actually made me nervous too, but I had to be the mom and be brave.
It brought to mind a story that pretty much encapsulates much of motherhood for me.
When I was about Caitlyn’s age, 12, I had to swallow a whole lot of fear to help someone else.
We heated our house with wood when I was growing up. We had two wood stoves on the main floor of the house and a wood burning furnace in the basement. Putting wood in them scared the crud out of me. I was terrified of the flames. Then, in the dead of winter my mom got really sick from an allergic reaction. In my young mind, I was afraid she was going to die. I did everything I could think of to take care of her. I got worried she would get cold so I gathered up all my courage and learned to put wood in the furnace. I did it time and time again. I can’t even tell you it got easier, but I learned I could do what had to be done.
That, to me, is a lot of what motherhood is. Seeing the fear, feeling the fear, and doing it anyway.
The results aren’t always pretty, but it gets done. One fire at a time.
It is incredible how much we say in a day…print media, broadcast media, social media…it is all focussed on one thing–what we have to say.
Do we mean what we say or are they just words?
When Caitlyn was little and learning how to say words, she picked up the phrase oh my gosh. We as a family do not say oh my G-d, to borrow a way of writing it from a friend because even typing that phrase hurts me. We believe using the name of God in this phrase goes against scripture where it says in the old testament, Exodus 20, verse 7, among others, you shall not take the Lord thy God’s name in vain. So as a weak substitute, we say oh my gosh, but in her young speech you couldn’t really hear the distinction, so we banned the phrase altogether.
Time has passed and we have let oh my gosh slip back into our speech…and as I write this, I realize we need to change that. God, my Heavenly Father, deserves more than just changing a d to a sh.
We’ve been working on this a bit anyway as Sue talks so fast it is almost impossible to hear if she is saying d or sh.
Well, that wasn’t what I meant to write about…
Anyway, in a conversation with a friend tonight, I said, “I’ve been praying about it.” And I wondered if she knows that I have been or might that sound like just words.
They aren’t just words to me. Ever. But especially not right now.
I have always loved to pray. Since I was a little girl. I believe in prayer. I know God hears us. And I know He answers according to His will. For decades, I have known the Lord has a strong desire on me to pray. But prayer is daunting. How do I start? How do I keep my mind from wandering? How do I not fall asleep? Will any of my prayers get answered?
Years ago, I read a book, Intercessory Prayer, by Dutch Sheets. * Parts of it I found outside of the teaching I have heard in the church, but none of it evil, so I reread the book recently. And then another of his, and another. Now I have branched into other authors. And actually spent time praying. I love it just as much as I have always said I do. There is a connection with God that is comforting and challenging. A desire to see if that close feeling continues if I keep praying or if it is a passing fancy. I find it to be consistently, over the years, always feeling like I am home, where I belong when I pray.
So, next time you talk to me or read me say that I am praying for you or that situation, rest assured it is true, very, very true.
*Please note I just found this website as I was writing this post. I have not studied it and including it here is not stating that I agree with his ministry 100%. As I read, I will decide that, but I thought it was worthwhile to include this link.
Today I ran twice. I am training for a half marathon (13.1 miles) on May 20. Caitlyn and Sue are logging miles for a Martian Marathon April 14. We all needed to get some running in today.
The Martian Marathon is specifically for kids. Each logs 25 miles before race day and then runs 1.2 miles with their group to each complete 26.2 miles or the distance of a full marathon.
Caitlyn and Sue did it last year for the first time.
I ran with each of them today (I don’t want them out there alone just yet–crossing roads and such–even if they are just side roads).
Both of my runs together only equaled 5 miles–but I got faster with each run. I have always found after mile two I get faster and hit my groove. Every mile I ran was faster than the one before.
This week has had some good mileage in it. I ran to the library and back on Tuesday–6 miles in the rain, around in circles on Wednesday–3 miles, no rain, and 5 miles today with my girls–no rain. The schedule calls for 10 miles tomorrow, but 8 or 9 is more likely…
Back in the day…before hubby…there was this guy. We made it as far as engagement…and then he dumped me via text message. Cool, huh? We’ll skip all the messy details and go with, it was all for the best and I learned how to say hello and Happy New Year in Chinese from the whole situation.
And today is the day I get to use that knowledge!
It is the beginning of the year of the Dog.
Caitlyn made Wonton Soup (so yummy). I made beef broccoli (in the Instant Pot). Sue, Patrice, and Caitlyn made a dragon. Sue and Patrice wore their outfits that grandma gave the girls years ago.
A place to share the joys and challenges of our little, but growing, family. Life with three girls, ages 14, 12 and 10 years old, is a joy most of the time. But, there are challenges to every life and this is my place to share some of that.