Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Birthday

Well, Blake turned 14.  I'm not sure who gave him permission to do that, but it happened before I could do anything about it.  Not that I would change anything, but gosh how does 14 years go by so fast?
He's such a great kid, and is growing into these teenage years with grace.
I'm thankful that he's still very much a kid.  He's never been one to scoff at something because it's "for little kids", and he has not once, ever, not wanted to do something that the whole family was doing.  Maybe that will still come, but in the meantime I'm enjoying his pleasant, resourceful nature, his company, his help, and his playful sense of humor.
He really wanted to have friends over on the day of his birthday.  So we cleaned up the basement and invited his four closest guys over.  They hung out down there for the afternoon, we had pizza and cake and ice cream, and then I drove everyone home in the evening.  We attempted to claim our free slurpees (the perks of your birthday being 7/11), but the location we stopped at had given out all the small cups, so we paid for big ones.  I don't think the boys minded.
Blake is a huge J.R.R. Tolkien fan, and is, to put it mildly, consumed with excitement over the release of the The Hobbit trilogy.  We're counting the days until the next one comes out (143 from today), and LOTR, and Tolkien in general, is a daily topic in our home.  So for his birthday we got him this and this.  He loved the book so much, that he immediately used a gift card from my sister to buy the other one in the set.  So, given all that Hobbit-ness, I couldn't resist a few playful touches to his day.

(Jessica has this document available for free!  Just check out her party themes tab.)
All in all, it was a great day.
Next up:  A certain little girl is turning one soon.  What to do about that...

Monday, July 8, 2013

Beginning Again

Today kind of feels like the first day of the rest of my life.

I just can't explain, or really even comprehend myself, how busy life has been lately.  And by lately, I mean for as long as I can remember.  Is it homeschooling?  Is it having seven kids?  Is it having teenagers and babies at the same time, with a bunch in between?  A combination of all, I'm sure, plus some.  Some days I just feel like I don't have time to breathe, much less relax.  

So we pretty much finished up our school year a few weeks ago.  We didn't get everything done, but I'm comfortable with where we're at.  Some math is going to continue to happen for several children, but mostly anything we didn't get to will be pushed into our new year, with a start date to be determined soon.  It must be a big relief to have schooling off my plate for the time being, right?  Well sure it is, but since we stopped our formal schooling, we've had:

  • a major yard reconstruction project
  • two asthma episodes for Isaac, with one resulting in a hospital stay and both resulting in many, many trips to the doctor
  • a week of VBS for 5 of the kids = utter, mind-numbing, suck-the-life-out-of-all exhaustion
  • a week of in-laws in town from Tennessee = non. stop. spoilage.
  • the 4th of July
(must interrupt bullet points for this very important and related photo)

(necessary, yes?  I thought so.)

  • a broken water heater = a Tuesday away from work for Mr. Smith to replace it = a Saturday at work for Mr. Smith to make up the hours
  • a camping trip
  • a new vehicle for the Mr. = trying to sell the old one
  • two birthdays
  • the general, everyday craziness that is our family life
So I guess it's no wonder that I haven't felt the sipping-iced tea-on-my-back-porch-while-the-kids-romp-in-the-sprinkler thing happening just yet.

But will I?  I mean like, ever?  Sometimes it doesn't feel like it.  It feels like the weight of the housekeeping and child rearing alone are enough to crush me, never mind all my other responsibilities and anything extra that might spring up.  How will I ever keep up with it all?  I don't know.  Maybe I won't.

But I do know that today is a new day.  There's nothing monumentally challenging on my calendar this week, or really for the rest of July.  Today I got up early and in the wee dark hours of the morning a little voice told me to make some time for a quiet rosary today.  I think I will.  My morning coffee/clicking brought me this reminder.  Why yes, I think I needed to hear that today.  And at this very moment I have a soon-to-be 14 year old who's eager to have some friends over later in the week, waiting for me to join him to clean up in the basement.  Sounds like a good place for a fresh start to me.

So that's what I'll do.  I'll begin again.  I'll pray.  I'll simplify, and wipe out the cobwebs.  I'll continue to find inspiration for good, and I'll have hope.  That will be enough.