Whitener Season Three

We have been keeping a little secret with our home “Office” crew.

We are so excited about this newest little nugget. There is so much to share in time about this pregnancy: why three, conversations with my doctors about the risk, how the kids are reacting to having another sibling, and how having a pregnancy during quarantine has gone for me so far. I have been pregnant since before we started working at home, so that has definitely added to the dynamic of quarantine…and also clears up for everyone that this is not a quarantine baby because that seems to be the first assumption.

For now, we just want to share that come December we will have another Whitener little in the mix.

Year 9

Today is a totally normal day. We both have work. Daphne has gymnastics. Totally normal, and yet, there is so much to celebrate today.

Nine years ago, we high-fived our way into this marriage.

In our time together, we have been through a lot. Through all the hills and valleys, there is something that has always remained constant: Belief.

Belief that this relationship was more than a summer fling.

Belief that we made each other better people.

Belief that when one of us fell the other would be there to pick up the pieces and put us back together.

Belief that even in our darkest moments there was trust between us.

Belief that our love was meant to create this wonderful family life.

This year has had it’s ups and downs just like any other. But as I sit here reflecting, it really is the belief that we have in each other that has gotten us here. (Maybe our stubbornness too, but mostly belief.)

This year we saw George start preschool. We endured the loss of my grandpa. We watched the world turn upside down due to a pandemic.

There were so many moments in between that we laughed, cried, and were down right angry.

There have been instances where we have had to claw each other out of a dark hole, and others where we sit peacefully in amazement at how fortunate we are.

It’s amazing that even though we have been together for over a decade and our life has gotten seemingly comfortable, there is still so much to endure together. I continue to learn about Tom and how to make our marriage successful.

This year has been full of introspection and dreaming of our future. It has been a pivotal year and extremely personal making sure that we are heading in the right direction on our own paths but together as well.

Here’s to another year together, and one for the record books. I think year 10 is going to be a big one.

Daphne Turns Three!

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Today my baby girl is three. It’s hard to believe that this sweet girl is now such a big girl. She is less and less like a toddler every day. To honor her today, I wanted to share three words that I feel perfectly describes this gal.

Independent

She has always done things in her own time frame including her own birth. She came out early and hasn’t stopped doing things at her own pace since. She is constantly telling us that she can do things on her own. She rarely asks for help, and she is the most determined person I know. She is constantly learning and pushing herself to be a big girl. I think the perfect example is watching this girl push herself on the tree swing. She is most content when she does things for herself. She is ambitious and curious, and I love seeing her come into her own power. But again, she will let you know when she is ready. And I love her confidence about that, and I pray that she always feels free and knows her worth.

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Headstrong

Along with her independence, this girl’s will is nothing to mess with. She is as stubborn as a mule. This comes with positives because of that determination but can be also extremely frustrating when she tries to out wait you on something. Her tantrums can last for hours, but that stamina also plays really well for her when she is learning something new. When she puts her mind to something she will find a way to do it. She is uncompromising when it comes to what she wants. She also knows how to fight for what she wants. This girl can hold her own with George and often leaves him in her dust. Daph is not going to buy into something that she doesn’t find meaning in, and she stands by her opinions. She has such conviction when she decides to do something or stand for something, and this makes me excited to see how she is going to change the world.

Purposeful

These words all seem to over lap, but I feel that with her feelings she is very intentional with what she shares. She can be guarded and shy, but when she lets you into her inner circle she is never letting you go. She loves big, and to feel her love is nothing short of amazing. There is no one she loves more than her stuffies. She has names for them all, and often does roll call to make sure she knows where they all are. She is always mothering them and carrying at least one stuffie around at all times. She rarely cuddles with anyone, but lately she has been sneaking in our bed in the middle of the night to be close to her mommy and daddy. She says the sweetest things and has the most perfect timing and delivery. She has purpose with everything she does, and you can see those wheels turning as she is processing things around her. It is amazing to see how smart and careful she is with her feelings.

Daphie Girl, you inspire me every day. I am honored to be your mommy, and you are always amazing me with who you are becoming. You are going to do incredible things my dearest.

I asked George what he loved about his sister, and he said that she eats a lot and is funny.

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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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