Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Inconvenience and Creativity

Here's the thing: Charlie loves to paint. Also, he is three. Everything about his painting passion is inconvenient. He is messy. He uses fingers and paintbrushes interchangeably. His creative juices start flowing right around the the time I am starting to fix dinner or teach a new math lesson to two wriggling, impatient seven year olds. I keep the paints tucked away on a high shelf for reasons any sane mother of a toddler understands, which means I have to drag the stool to the closet and climb up on it and get down the paints and fill up the water cup and find him some paper and strip him down to skivvies because he is wearing a new Gymboree shirt and it is all just so inconvenient. 

And then, these words: "What a child doesn't receive he can seldom later give." (P. D. James) 

I want these four kids to grow into people who can give love freely, forgive without record, assert themselves fearlessly, know who they are and what they were made to do, and pursue it with passion. 

Nurturing those things in each one of them is rewarding and hard and important and exhausting and the basis of just about everything I do, but there is one thing it is not.

It is not convenient. 

If you are laboring alongside me as a parent poured out every day for your children, whether they are at school or at home or all grown up, be encouraged. The absence of convenience does not indicate the absence of importance. Each yielding of what is convenient for what is hard is sewing seeds of goodness and truth and righteousness in your child. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

This Is the Only Decent Family Picture We Have From Seabrook Island:

Oh, wait, I was wrong. I also got these keepers:

Wow, which one of these should make the Christmas card this year?
Hoping to find the time (hoping is the operative word there) to document our lovely week on Seabrook Island on the blog sometime this week.
I miss being a more regular presence in this little online space! Alas, my hands are full with teaching my littles, and it is well with my soul :-).

Friday, September 5, 2014

First Day of School!

Wednesday was our first day of school, and the first day all four of my kids were in the back-to-school pictures! Charlie started preschool (sniff sniff) so I am officially responsible for the education of four whole human beings on a daily basis. Thank God for grace, ya know?

The day before our first day, we went to a big indoor bounce place with three of our favorite Rochester families for a Bounce Back to Homeschool party. (You see what I did there? Clever, I know.) All four of our families are doing Classical Conversations together this Fall, so we had lots of fun hanging out and chatting and exchanging prayer requests for the year while the kids ran around like maniacs. While all the other kids there bounced away, we forced them to stand in front of an ugly wall and have back to school pics taken. They were super excited about this.

Preschool pals Charlie & Maryn.

Here's hoping that God has already picked out some ultra petite little girls somewhere on the planet for Sam and Max to marry... the 2nd grade chicas are towering over them. Way to go, Smith genes.

Tales of a Fourth Grade something. She is as sweet as she looks, and so are her friends.

Greg and I started a tradition of going out to breakfast as a family on Chloe's first day of Kindergarten. I LOVE this tradition. The kids look forward to it every year, and it really is a great way to start our first day. Chocolate chip pancakes and icy cups of apple juice and lots of fresh hot coffee just seem to have a way of putting everyone in a good mood. It works for us. Here we are on the porch of the Chit Chat Cafe, our favorite breakfast spot in all of Rochester.

Another fun little first-day tradition we have is fresh school supplies. This was the first year that the kids remembered and anticipated them without any reminders from Mom. Max came running down the stairs in his PJs to check out the rad new second grade supplies waiting for him.

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in You."
Isaiah 26:3

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Halfway to Grown

Our Chloe turned double digits in July. She chose a baking theme for her party this year in homage to one of her favorite hobbies. The girls decorated chef hats and aprons upon arrival...

Cate is one of our sweet new friends. About fifteen minutes into the party I texted her mom and asked, "Who needs party games when Cate's in attendance?" It's pretty hard not to love this girl...

Six little bakers, ready to decorate cupcakes, make cutouts, and dip strawberries into chocolate.

Bakers Relay! Who knew how much fun smashing eggs on the driveway would be? Side note: the point was not to smash the eggs on the driveway, but as soon as the girls discovered the joy of it, my nice black driveway was covered in egg yolks. 

Cora kept her eye on the finish line...

Chloe lost her hat, but not her concentration. That's my girl.

Ten candles. What a joy and privilege to have had ten healthy, happy years with our Chloe.

Chloe, you are funny, bright, imaginative, and sweet-spirited. 

You bring great joy to our family through your selflessness, your encouragement, your enduring kindness.

I have cherished each moment of being your mother.

 There is just something lovely about you.

"Something in the way she moves, or looks my way, or calls my name
that seems to leave this troubled world behind.
And if I'm feeling down and blue or troubled by some foolish game,
she always seems to make me change my mind.
And I feel fine anytime she's around me now, she's around me now almost about all the time.
And if I'm well you can tell she's been with me now.
She's been with me now quite a long, long time and I feel fine."
-James Taylor

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Today I am a Fireman

He carried in the red plastic suit, dragging the long coat behind him.

"Today I am a fireman," he announced matter-of-factly.

As I snapped the clasps closed and pulled the too-big hat down over his ears, I said, "Charlie, I miss my baby! Where has mama's baby gone?"

He smiled and said, "I turned into a boy."

And so he has.

"The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow, for children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow. So quiet down cobwebs. Dust go to sleep. I'm rocking my baby, and babies don't keep."
-Ruth Hulbert Hamilyon

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Reading Garden

Spent a summer morning at the library today. They have a wonderful outdoor reading garden that we discovered in the winter. 

Back then it was sad and snow-covered, empty except for a few trembling birds.

My kids steamed up the windows with their sad sighs. We'll come back. I promised. Spring is coming! I promise, it is coming. 

Today is sunny and 80 degrees, and the reading garden was calling our names as soon as we walked through the library doors.

Grateful today for promises kept.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Celebrating a Superhero

Charlie turned 3 on June 6, and we celebrated the following weekend with a family party. He had requested superheroes, so that's what he got! It was a sweet time to celebrate our sweet little boy.

As always, we took a trip down memory lane with a few favorite pictures. I love putting this together for each of the kids' birthdays.

The party started off with a bang... Grammy presented Charlie with a brand new bike!

He love, love, loves his "big boy" bike. 

He didn't care that he was in the kitchen. I did though.
Out to the deck to show Daddy...

Food fit for a superhero and his buddies...

After some food, all the kids donned masks and went on a hunt for Mr. Menace, a villain who looked suspiciously like Greg...

One awesome crew...

So grateful for our sweet new friends.

Then it was time for cake... three candles for this big guy.

I'm quite certain that no three-year-old boy on the planet has a big sister as wonderful as Charlie does. She loves him with astounding devotion. 

And he loves her back.

Charlie was blessed and spoiled by his mates.

Charlie, you are the same delightful boy we fell in love with three years ago. The kids and I literally race each other to your room when we hear your chitter chatter crackling over the monitor after naptime. (I nearly always win, as I am not above clotheslining one of your bros if it appears he might beat me.) After three quiet (albeit restful) hours without you every afternoon, life feels oddly empty for all of us. Daddy and I love your chilled out, surf's up, whatever man attitude, your sweet smile, your determination to hang with the big kids. We love to slick your hair back for church, rock you at night, and watch you march around in your Spidey underpants. We're just so glad you're ours, Chilly. You belong with us. Happy Birthday crazy boy. You sure are loved.