I Never Thought

Never in my life did I think that quarantining would be a real thing. We are into our third week at home, and it still feels as weird as it did the first day. There is this odd conglomeration of feelings from mad, sad, joy, hope, and more. There are many days that I feel a little lost in what I should be doing with my day even though the to-do list is a mile long. But there have been some beautiful peaceful moments as we create different memories as a family.

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And while I do want to acknowledge the joys in this time of waiting,  I also want to wallow and process the weirdness of this time. There are so many privileges that have made me feel all the things, and many are things that I would never have guessed

I never thought I would have to cancel our first family vacation.

Since George was born, we have not taken a family vacation with just our core unit that did not coincide with another event like a wedding. There were a lot of things that impeded us in the past, such as our jobs and the size of our children. This year we planned a spring break trip with just the four of us, and it was heartbreaking to cancel that potential memory. We also have an extended family vacation planned for July that will be the first flights for the kids and the first time seeing the ocean. I know it seems trivial, but I will be devastated if he have to break it to the kids that Florida is not in our summer plans. We had big hopes of making this a summer big and flashy since George is off to big kid school in the fall.

I never thought I wouldn’t watch my students go through graduation.

Spring graduation is a beautiful sight. We have a wonderful ceremony that has so many beautiful elements of poetry uniting their first steps on campus to their walk across the stage. I have been known to dress up as our mascot and help pump them up as the line to walk into our gym. This one as going to be special because it was the graduating class of my first freshmen seminar class that I taught, and I was excited to celebrate with my students on how far they had come. While there are still accolades to be had for them, I am sad for all of them missing this big moment.

I never thought that I would dislike working from home.

I have always had this illusion that working from home was this magical thing where I can whip through projects while also cutting down on time away from kids by not having my commute. I had this vision that there would be so much more free time allotted to me. There was this allure that it was my introvert dream to have an home office. I am here to tell you though, that it is not for me. I feel very scatterbrained most days. I am on week two of actually working, and I still don’t feel like I have a good routine down. (I forget to get myself breakfast many days.) I feel like I have no way to compartmentalize my day. It’s like my brain needs an environment change to switch things off. I have found that it is easy for me to work a little extra each day (night) and even some on the weekends because I thought of something and well my desk is right in front of me while we binge on the Tiger King. I also REALLY miss actually walking to and from meetings. Even if it is right next door I need to get up and move to a different seat for the love. Back to back Zoom meetings all day are exhausting.

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I never thought it would take a pandemic to reunite with old friends.

I think I always thought “Oh we’ll get together again some day.” Or I would message them periodically through social media, but nothing like it used to be. This pandemic oddly enough has brought some of those relationships back, and I never thought I would be grateful for a global crisis to do that.

I never thought as an introvert I would miss social events.

If there was ever a walking definition of introvert, that would be me. While I don’t dislike social events, I pick them wisely and sparingly. I don’t like things that I cannot prepare for and large crowds are not my thing unless I can sit and not be perceived to be a wallflower. It generally takes me a long time to recoup from a social outing, so one would think that this isolation is really my jam. And in some ways it is, but I do miss the connection of being with people outside of the walls of my house. Or even just having people over to our house! I honestly never thought I would miss those things due to my homebody nature, but I cannot stop thinking about all the lunch dates and events that I want to put on my calendar!

I never thought I would not be celebrating my 35th birthday outside of these walls.

This one is hitting me pretty hard honestly. I love birthdays. Like LOVE. I don’t generally love the spotlight and I would never ask for people to make a big deal, but I love making a big deal about my birthdays. It just brings joy to me, and I think it removes the stigma that getting older is sad and not something to embrace. And 35 just seemed really special this year. I was really looking forward to making plans and hitting this mile marker in life. And now I don’t even know if we will be able to get ice cream cake at that point! I am just really sad and honestly it is making me feel awful about my age for the first time in my life.

I never thought Daphne would not get to have her third birthday party.

On the theme of birthdays, while our stay at home order is over in April, there are many sites that are predicting Missouri’s peak to be around Daph’s birthday. So just like mine, there is so much sadness in not putting on a show for her. I feel like year three was when it really hit for George that it was his day, and I was so excited to make this a big deal for her. Her theme was going to be so sweet and so her for her love of stuffies. While we can still celebrate and make it big for her little world, I just feel guilt in missing what it could have been with family and friends.

I never thought I would not be able to go to the dentist.

Y’all, I am weird, but I love to go to the dentist. It is a moment of pride when they give me the all clear that I don’t have anything going on. And I love getting my teeth cleaned. So when I got the call last week that they were postponing mine and Daph’s appointments until the pandemic is over, I was sad. They had rescheduled several times, so I had a glimmer of hope that I would still have my routine check-up, so it was a hard hit to have that taken away. I really feel like I am being put in time out for something I didn’t do.

I never thought that George’s first school experience would end without us seeing a preschool concert and preschool graduation.

If any parent tells you that they aren’t excited to see their little 4/5 year olds wear a cap and gown, I mean come on. And I was so excited for this to wrap up the year for George. He has loved school and his teacher, and I KNOW he would have loved all his people watching him be George up on a stage waving that little diploma. While it may seem like it a small accomplishment to outsiders,  it is a huge accomplishment for our small person. And you know he would have put on a good show at a concert! While they haven’t completely cancelled the year yet, I am preparing my heart for it.

I never thought I would find myself cloroxing my groceries.

As Tom and I sat on our dining room floor with all of our groceries sprawled out so we could wipe each item down, I was taken aback. A month ago, how different our lives were, as I am sure they will be a month from now. Never in a million years, did I think that me wearing gloves and taking a bottle of sanitizer with me to the grocery store be a normal thing. Never would I have believed I would be cleaning my groceries and leaving them out to disinfect before I put them away. Here I am changing clothes after my trip to the store and wiping every surface I touch along the way.

This is hard. I know logically many of these things are pretty trivial, but I feel that we are all grieving missed things and lost plans.

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This week in our sermon, the pastor shared about Silent Saturdays. Jesus’s followers had a silent Saturday before the resurrection. They mourned in silence. They didn’t know what was going to happen next and felt lost. (While this wasn’t the exact sermon, this is a great summary of Silent Saturday in much more eloquent words than mine.)

And here we are. We know that this will end someday, but here we are in our Silent Saturday. We are grieving and there is so much unknown.

However, there is faith and hope to lean into. There is so much to be grateful for. I am thankful for my family, my health, and the opportunity to still do a job that I am passionate about.

But that doesn’t mean that parts of this doesn’t hurt, aren’t scary, and aren’t downright crummy.

I just have to believe that our “Sunday” will come, and on that day there will be much celebration.

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“Be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord” (James 5:7 NKJV)

 

Our Family Refuge

Heartbroken is an understatement.

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Today my grandpa joined my grandma in their heavenly home.

While he had been declining honestly since my grandma passed 5 years ago, I don’t think knowing the end is coming makes it easier to bear. There is still so much pain knowing that I will never get to hear his voice again saying, “Is that my youngest granddaughter?”

My grandpa was one of a kind.

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He had one of those magnetic personalities that everyone seemed to love. And he loved everyone right back. I was always in awe of his spirit and love of the Lord. He was one of those people that when he walked into a room his presence was felt.

He would randomly mail us pictures of scriptures that he had clipped from various paper goods. He always made a point to bring it back to God.

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He had a gift of talking to people. He wrapped his love around everyone he met, and no one was a stranger for long. He always had this uncanny ability to connect souls through stories. He had so many stories from his childhood, working and delivering for Coca Cola, driving a school bus, to his pastoral days.

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And he could make just about anything too. He was so skilled with wood working, and he would save so much thinking about how he could weave it into his next project. I still have all the things he hand-made us over the years from a hope chest, hand mirror, to even doll furniture for my American Girl doll. These things aren’t just things. They hold precious memories of his love for us.

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He was always a person you could call to help you figure something out. He was so patient, but he made jokes with you the whole time. He had an answer for anything. And he would drop anything for you. I think we all spent countless days at my grandparents’ house as kids (and as adults). They were our refuge.

He and my grandma were the epitome of a great marriage. Watching their love was something magical. The way he spoke in adoration of Grandma was a force to be reckoned with. And that love spilled over to their kids, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He knew how to make us all feel so special and wonderful. I hope I always remember the way his voice lifted as he would call our names out in joy. He was so proud of his family, and you could just feel it in the way that he talked.

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I was always so grateful in how he treated Tom too. He was always intentional to be invested in our relationship and how Tom was doing. He always asked about his job and his parents and cheered him on as if he had been part of our family our whole lifetimes. He was an important part of who we are, and I am so glad that I will forever have the memory of him being part of our wedding day.

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He was a refuge for our family. He was the pillar that we all looked to for so many things.

I have so many memories of him, but some of my favorite were wrapped around my grandparents’ dinner table. From making home made ice cream, eating shrimp for Thanksgiving, to saying grace with such emotion that we’d either be laughing so hard or be brought to tears. His life filled ours with such beautiful moments.

It is going to be hard to go back to Kansas City now and not feel the pain that we can’t pop over to his house for a little visit. I am sure we will be feeling this for years to come. He was home for many reasons.

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I am so thankful that we were able to see him a couple weeks ago and spend an entire afternoon together just swapping stories. And he will live on in all of us, but especially in one little boy, who I can only imagine is just like Grandpa was as a kid.

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When I told George today that Grandpa went to heaven, he wrapped me up in his little arms and kissed my tear-stricken face. He told me that Grandpa was special and that he was with Jesus now. (Don’t worry he still acted like a five year old and said he was glad he got Grandpa’s train sets.) I am not sure if he fully got it that we will never go to Grandpa’s house again to play with Lincoln logs, but I am so glad they were able to have a relationship together even if it was for a short time here on Earth. They were two peas in a pod.

My hope is that we are able to carry on his legacy of grace and love and extend our own tables out to others. And bring back the era of homemade ice cream.

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Chiefs Kingdom

I have pinched myself several times this week. I still can hardly believe that the Chiefs won the SUPER BOWL!

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It is unreal!

Growing up in Kansas City, I always imagined what this would feel like. You always rooted for the Chiefs like this was going to happen, but then it never did.

So to watch this come to fruition this year was purely magical.

The Chiefs aren’t perfect, but what a perfect testament to never giving up and picking yourself up each time you fall. They are the only team to trail in all the playoff games to come back and win the whole dang thing. I felt like I was watching a movie all post-season.

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I really don’t know how to explain the spirit behind rooting for the Chiefs in KC.

The Chiefs have been an important part of my life making so many memories possible.

Growing up, it was just what we did on Sundays in the fall. We got home from church and put on our red and yelled at the TV. I would say part of my relationship with my dad was built through this time we spent cheering on our beloved Chiefs.

I still remember the first game I went to with my dad when I was in middle school. I remember feeling the electricity run through the Arrowhead stadium and the pure joy that filled my soul.

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During college, our marching band was fortunate to play at halftime. I remember being giddy for days after the experience of being on the Chiefs field. I also still have that field pass!

When I moved away, football was a connector for me and my family. We would often talk through what was happening and have hope that this year was our year…or move our faith into the next year when inevitably things went wrong.

But that is the thing as a Chiefs fan, you always have the hope.

There is something about hearing “TOUCHDOWN KANSAS CITY” that gives me chills and makes me want to jump up and down.

Being a Chiefs fan is often times agonizing and I bite all my fingernails off, but it also means that all the big moments are BIG. I jump out of my seat with every long pass, and I have lost my voice to many games. Being a Chiefs fan is emotional and stressful, but gosh it is so fun.

I think because they have always been scrappy and a little chaotic, they become so rootable because they aren’t always perfect. We are always the underdog, and that is fun to get behind because no one expects us to win. It’s relatable in a sense. Watching this team come back time and time again has a lot of life lessons in it.

I mean Kansas City is known for being the come back kings. I remember writing a similar post about the Royals

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But in the end, what I love about being a Chiefs fan is the way it connects people. It ties people together whether you are family or complete strangers. There is beauty in that, so that is why rooting for the Chiefs, rooting for our hometown, rooting for a football game is so enchanting.

And now I get to share that love with my own family. We get to create our own magic moments as my team becomes their team too. To hear my kids say “Go Chiefs” or “Come on Kansas City” brings me pure bliss. The Chiefs have been such an integral part of my life, and I hope it brings them the same level of joy.

How about them Chiefs!!!

WE WON THE SUPERBOWL!!!

Beginnings and Endings

I have found that with parenting, once a new phase begins you are not only dealing with the excitement of the new phase but also the feelings of leaving another phase behind. The art of watching your kids growing up is bittersweet.

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This last week I have been pondering on this thought quite a bit as both of my kids are going through pivotal moments. We registered George for kindergarten, and Daphne is now potty trained and moved out of a crib.

I am not ok.

The stark difference of what these things mean has left me in a weird place.

THEY LOOK SO GROWN.

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I am so excited to see George start big-all-day-kid school. I love learning, and school was a magical place for me growing up. I see that curiosity in George, and I know he will love it. But there is also this sadness that there will be so much of his world that I no longer know. I wrote about the emotions of sending him off to preschool this fall, but something about kindergarten is even more momentous.

And with Daph, potty training is such a big step in toddlerhood. For the most part, I am so ecstatic to no longer have diapers in my house. I feel a sense of freedom for us all with letting her learn more about her body and taking control of herself. She also moved out of the crib like it was no big deal, however my insides were breaking since that bed had been a crib for both my babies over the last 6 years. And while I am so proud of her walking into this next phase with so much confidence, part of me knows that the diapers and crib were the last of the babyhood stage.

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The thing about independence is that I believe it is the thing we all hope that our kids have when they get older, but man is it hard to see it slip away.

It’s funny that there are many stages that we see coming, like registering for Kindergarten. I have seen this coming since he was born. Yet it is still hard to know I am watching a season of our lives end this year. I wonder all the time if we are doing this phase justice and doing all the we can to make it positively memorable and impactful.

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Then there are other stages that you don’t even realize are gone until you are well into the next one.

There was a day with both kids that it was the last time I rocked them to sleep, but I don’t recall thinking let’s change up the routine. I couldn’t even tell you when that stopped for both. In my head, I am distraught because how could I forget that!

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I am not sure which is harder on the emotions: the ones you see coming and plan for or the ones that change with more subtlety. Either way when the worry of one phase ends the worry of the new phase comes flooding in to take it’s predecessor’s place.

As we are entering full force into the big kid years, I am trying to remain present. As I watched Daphne this weekend, I was reminded that it is all fleeting. I wonder all the time if the snuggles George asks for will be the last ones or when Daphne decides she doesn’t want to make me a bedtime snack of plastic food before I tuck her in. My heart just breaks thinking I might miss the significance of the last ask. So let’s read an extra book or build one more Lego structure.

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It is like there is a little mourning that happens with things of each phase. There are days that I really miss the sweet newborn stages, but then I see moments like tonight where George came in to comfort his sister when she was hurt. If he stayed a newborn, I would never get to experience watching their relationship evolve.

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But that is the push and pull of parenthood I guess. There are often times we are looking for a phase to end and rushing into the next one (hello George at 4…). Then other moments I never want to leave the sweet innocence, or I look back and weep that they have grown so much in a blink of an eye.

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I am not sure I am really saying anything profound. Parenting is this weird mix of polarizing feelings. I am sad my babies are growing into big kids, but I am happy seeing how fun the big kid stage can be. I am sad that it seems that they need me less, but I am happy that they are figuring out their own way. I am sad that there are things about their lives that we will never experience again, but I am happy to welcome all the new experiences we will have together.

With the beginning of each new season, brings an end to another. There is some poetry in that I suppose. I could see that if we stayed in a season for too long, you would lose sight of it’s beauty. It does give us something to hope for with the change, and something to look fondly back on when we have forgotten the mess of it all. I guess we are in each season as long as we need to be, and we can thank God for that.

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These kids I tell ya. The things they do to my heart!

Word of the Year

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Chaos, never ending to do lists, constant demands have taken me away from this space. Writing here for awhile became a chore and just one more thing to take up brain power.

As with every January, there is a refreshing push to start anew.

I want to get back to this space and my free writing. It has been so much for me in the past from my time as a military spouse to my first days as a new mom to learning my way as a professional.

I have missed it and the outlet it provides me.

So here I am putting some thoughts down on the page about how I want to approach the year.

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Many people do a word of the year or resolutions. I have done both in the past, but as I have thought about what I want this year to be focused around I couldn’t get two words out of my head. And one of the biggest mantras of “goal setting” is to share with others to keep your accountable, so here we go!

Gratitude and Connection

I am trying to be more grounded  going into this year. My job is very stressful right now. There are a lot of things as a director that they do not prepare you for. There are a lot of challenging months ahead for me, so the gratitude is definitely something that I need as reminder of the great opportunity I have to make an impact.

I am being intentional about my devotions moving forward. I highly recommend the YouVersion app. You can really tailor to what your needs are. And my first day with my most recent plan was already a big reminder about not being grumpy. “Maybe part of my grumbling came from my desire to feel powerful while truly feeling powerless.” I am extremely guilty of this. I think we all fall into the trap of complaining. And seeing this statement about grumbling being that grasping effort to have some power really resonated with a change I need to make internally. My anxiety really ramps up when I feel like I have lost control. I need to stay grounded and humble, and I believe that reminding myself of all the blessings will keep me from circling around the drain in a sense. It will also help me to not just focus on what is happening negatively and being consumed by the toxic nature of those thoughts.

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I know I am not perfect though. And just because I put these words out there, doesn’t mean it won’t be work. Just last night I lost it on my kids more than once. I have this unique opportunity to mold them, and I don’t want them to get a sense that I am not happy about the time that we get together. I want to be grateful for their neediness and constant touching because I know these days are numbered where they want to hang on me or find immense joy in playing together. I also need to walk the talk when I tell them about appropriate emotional output. I want to be more mindful about the environment I am building, and I feel that gratitude is the center of that. (This was made even more apparent after this past month with my kids attitude towards presents…but another topic for another day.)

One of my closest friends recommended a gratitude journal for me to take a minute every morning to start my day fresh. This will be so vital in beginning my day with positivity and centering. It is also a good reminder that every day is a new day to forgo the negativity from the day before and move forward instead of sitting in the junk. Thanks Jeannette!

Then we look at Connection.

I will be honest making friends has not been easy for me here. We have lived here for five years, and I would say only recently do I feel like I am starting to create my circle. Having young kids and the fact that we live outside of town has made it hard to really cultivate friendships.

Tom also has gotten our basement to a place where entertaining is a little more feasible. There are so many memories to be made, and we really want to focus on bringing a community together. Now that the kids are a little older and Tom’s job has completely changed, I am hoping for a little more freedom for us to take the time to connect with others. We redesigned the spaces in our house to allow them to be filled with activity, and we hope to do that more and more this year.

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I have grand plans at work to increase connections at the college. I won’t bore you with all my ideas, but one that I do want to work on is starting a podcast of sorts for our institutional staff. I want to hit on our stories and show how we are all inter-connected in helping our students write their own stories. This idea is the most scary on my list, but also the one I feel most convicted to carry out. Hearing about people’s stories is what keeps me going to work every day, so I want to find a way to harness that for our institution. My hope is that by creating this platform we can find connections and similarities which in turn create more bridges with our stories instead of continuing silos. (This is me speaking a goal into life…the more people I tell right?)

And of course I want to connect more with this family of mine. Tom changing jobs has turned our world upside down in the best ways. And the kids, while wild, are at such a fun age. We have so many plans to connect as a family, especially with this being the last summer before George is officially in school. We have several trips planned, and we want to start new traditions in our weekly schedules. I know this is the age where I started remembering large chunks of my childhood, and I hope to establish routine opportunities for us to connect.

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Lastly, I want to connect more with myself, which is why I want to come back to this blog. This last year, I have gotten lost in what is expected of me and trying to be all the things. Putting my thoughts and feelings out in this blog is a therapeutic thing for me. However, it has been hard since my brain is on overdrive all day, and the last thing I have wanted to do is to get in front of another computer when I get home. I have found though that I miss this outlet and little space I created years ago. I also need to do a better job connecting with my faith, so I want to center myself more with my devotions. My prayer life has been lacking, and connecting my soul again is definitely something I need to focus on. And since I know the stress is only going to come at me with even more fervor in the upcoming months, I need to keep connecting with my core so I can be my best self instead of just trudging along waiting for the next expectation to define me. Through continued prayer and introspection, I hope this connection will just come more naturally.

For me, gratitude and connection will be highly intertwined, and I hope that having these words as my focus will help me to grow but also to remain grounded in my faith and who I am meant to be.

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So tell me, what do you want for 2020?