Snapshot of Life – Fall

IMG_7563Our family routine is in contant flux. During the summer it’s less structured and slower. When school starts tasks become more time sensitive, and as different extracurriculars are added and subtracted things pick up and then slow down again. But right now, this is what our life looks like on a typical day.
20160811_081903Most days I’m up before the kids, an unapologetic morning person. I exercise (which has gotten harder as this babe has grown –  what was easy last week leaves me wanting to cry the next), and if the kids aren’t up by the time I’m done I take the time to read my scriptures and pray – if I can relax enough. Mornings are my go time.

Typically we have a big breakfast, I’m always starving in the mornings. Max wanders down first and asks for cereal every day without fail, no matter what I’m making. If the other two aren’t up by eight, we go get them.

Anna has requested that I personally wake her up and not send Max, he’s apparently not as gentle as I am.20160811_081615Then this one works through her morning job list with a peculiar joy. Marking off each task and hiding from me so she can do her very own hair.IMG_20160706_204537These two usually end up doing something like this instead. Josh runs out the door without his backpack/lunch/other important thing at least 70% of the time, while Max tells me he “forgot” how to put his books away or his legs are “too tired”.20160811_081802Then it’s me and this guy. Some days we run errands, do projects, meet friends, or play. I try to give him attention in the mornings – afternoons get crazy.20160803_165134He’s very helpful when I need to get things done.20160815_12001320160824_132900After lunch we curl up for naps.  This is how he usually sleeps – no light must get in. Max would always rather sleep with me than play by himself, which has worked out beautifully. I sleep for twenty minutes and then sneak out into a quiet house.20160731_105223 This has become my time. I don’t clean, pay bills, etc. Instead, I read my scriptures and pray. Then I write. If Max wakes up before I’m done or doesn’t fall asleep I let him watch T.V.

The big kids wander in at 3:30, I try to have a snack ready so they’ll stick around and chat with me for a minute. If I can be mentally present this is usually the best time for me to catch it if something’s wrong or extremely right.

Anna comes home full of stories and usually with an agenda in her head of what she wants to do/ who she wants to play with.

Josh is usually right back out the door to find friends.

Max will latch on to one or the other of them, glad they are home. IMG_20160712_181326 I can usually scrounge up someone to help me with dinner. They are usually more willing if I ask just them, no other siblings, just them and Mom.IMG_20160816_195135

Yesterday, I felt like I’d reached a new phase of motherhood. The three kids did dinner clean up while Justin fixed the trampoline and I finished a bookshelf for Anna. I’ve been waiting for my kids to be able to do dishes by themselves since I started doing them at eight years old.

After that, the evenings have been mostly our own.

Last night as I watched them play pickleball my heart caught a little bit as I thought about how it wouldn’t be long before they were scattered across town every night, and then across the country or the world.
IMG_20160818_175659Sometimes we branch out of the norm and knock down walls at Dad’s new office, but generally it’s good to be home.

Then it’s family scriptures and prayer. Max and Anna always fight about who gets to read first and neither of the boys can ever sit still. I always quiz them at the end to try and make sure they get something out of it. Max raises his hand first everytime, and rarely knows the answer. Anna likes the “what did you learn from this?” question, and Josh likes me to come up with the hardest most obscure question I can think of.

Afterwards, most nights, either Justin and I will go read to them. Lately we’ve been reading Harry Potter – Justin does all the voices, apparentely I’m not good enough and they beg me to just “read normal!”  But I can usually get someone to brush my hair while I read – my absolute favorite.

They each beg to be cuddled individually. This is hard for me (morning – not a night person). But I try to do it and not let them feel my reluctance. This is the only time that Josh is still enough to really talk.

Tonight, flag football starts, followed shortly by preschool and soccer, so we will shift again.

I think that’s why I like being a Mom so much. Every day is different, every day makes me stretch.  I have to develop new skills and constantly work to live aware of what’s going on around me so I can help these little people entrusted to me become who they were meant to be.

What we didn’t do this summer… and Oxnard beach house recap

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This summer was hard and incredibly precious. As my kids get older I get more sappy and nostalgic, I see the finite number on each day.

It winged by, but some of the days were long and now it’s in the past tense and my mind is reeling. By the time my kids are out of school again for an extended period of time we will be having a baby any day.

This summer we didn’t

-make it to any summer movies

-only went to the lake once

-go paddle boarding

-go skim boarding

-look for crawdads up the canyon

– only made it to the library twice (completely unheard of for me)

– didn’t do any kind of structured learning activities

-didn’t do any kind of structured service

-didn’t organize any activities for our friends

-didn’t go hiking or to any nearby national parks

-set or accomplish any goals

(all of which are standard summer activities in the Taylor home)

The days poured by, starting and ending as slow as the sun rising and setting. We rarely made it out of the house before ten and often, my kids were up way later than my sleep-loving heart usually allowed.

We did, enjoy each other, swim, Anna, Max, and I busted out two crafts,play several hundred board games – mostly Chutes and Ladders and Score 4 on repeat, with one epic game of Monolopy thrown in (I won – which should be documented), spent some time learning to cook, and towards the end as I entered my second trimester, we deep cleaned the house (sprng cleaning is overrated; summer is much better when all your kids are home).

We weren’t stressed and only occasionally bored. Partly the kids are older and happier to entertain themselves and play with friends, and partly I was sick and tired and happier to be home. Either way – I call it a successful summer.

Now my house is quiet. Max and I putter around, getting things done, playing, and then there is blissful naptime when I can write, and be. The circle of change always seems to occur just before my heart is ready – I wasn’t ready for summer – and I wasn’t ready to send my houseful back to school  for the whole day – but both were just what I needed.

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As mentioned we did take two family vacations. The first: In the midst of “June Gloom” we headed to Oxnard for the annual Esplin Family beach week.   Continue Reading

On Social Media, Friendship, and Reality

***Updated post***

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*This I would post on Instagram20160718_100402

**This maybe not, with the freeway overpass in the background***

Social Media makes my life better and worse, opens up the world and closes it off into idealized windows, connects me to amazing people I wouldn’t have otherwise met, and occasionally makes me  resent those who seem to have something I don’t.

I’ve been writing this post for years in my head. It started as a rant after seeing picture after picture of a girls trip I hadn’t been invited on.

For the love of everything people if you go out to lunch, go on a trip with your friends, anything where you didn’t invite absolutely everyone who might feel left out stop posting pictures of it for the world to see!  What purpose does it serve except to make yourself feel cool? oh – you want to make sure it’s included in your chatbooks?? Get a separate account, that no one follows. Even if no one likes your picture it will still get printed in your precious books and sent to your house.

The hurt and anger were real, and unfounded, and slightly ridiculous. Over the years I’ve matured a little bit from this perspective, I think… I hope – we all like to think we are on a better path right?

The message that pinterest and instagram images of immaculate, beautiful homes, extravagent crafts etc are just a moment in time, not the whole picture has been widely talked about. “Don’t compare your whole life to these moments,” they say.

It’s the same for a picture of a group of people that may have gotten together without you. It’s just a moment not the whole picture.

Often I blame other people when I’m hurt when as always there is always a choice, and it’s only myself I can change.

_____

It’s simply not feasible to invite everyone to everything.

Every Christmas we like to make graham cracker gingerbread houses.  One year I invited a few families to join us. In the middle of the festivities, a friend from a different family knocked on the door looking for someone to play with. We told him to go home and get his family and to come join in, but they were a last minute addition and I felt terrible I might have made anyone feel left out or unwanted.

The next year, I invited everyone in the neighborhood – and it was pure madness. I covered my furniture in sheets to try and avoid getting frosting and candy everywhere, I didn’t get to chat with anyone,  and my house was completely destroyed.

The next year, we did it smaller again. This time, I forbid anyone to get the door and I told those invited to keep it quiet.

I didn’t necessarily like the ones I invited more than anyone else. They were just the ones that best fit the activity, that I hadn’t seen in awhile, or that had kids my kids got along with.

Not everyone to everything – If I’m not invited it’s not a reflection of how anyone feels about me.

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The snapshot that you see is not a  complete picture of reality.

All summer I have been scrolling through instagram posts of a local river/waterfall hike (Little Jaimica).  The photos showed  families and friends laughing and splashing in a beautiful natural pool with a waterfall cascading down on their heads. It looked like a perfect, free, beat the heat activity, so one afternoon I set out with my sister and my parents to find it.

We arrived to find a pungent smell and piles of garbage all along the short trail to the waterfall.

Then, we found, a waterfall… with no way down to the idyllic pool, except to climb directly down the slippery face with a pregnant lady, two adults who had just had surgery, a baby, and six other children. It was exciting and memorable, and only a few tears were shed.

When we finally reached the bottom we found a water snake which sent two of the girls screaming in terror and it was soon obvious that there were at least a couple of homeless people living near this beautiful natural spring, tucked directly under the graffiti covered freeway overpass.  One especially delightful message read “John died here”, inciting speculation among the older kids on what exactly that meant and if they were going to stumble upon something gruesome.

Despite all of that we had a blast. The water was clear and cool, there were lots of places to explore and an abundance of beer bottle caps to collect. Anna has been begging to go back every day since…. Which is not going to happen.

20160718_104006**This I would, even though he would only get in for a second***20160718_104311

**This yes, even though this sweet girl cried if her body actually got in the pool**

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***This one maybe not – with the pile of trash in the background***

The reality was better and worse than the snapshot – it was real.

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True friendships are real and reality is messy and complicated, the bad and the good all jumbled together into a crazy  multi-dimensial picture.

Social Media gives us a snapshot.

Now when I scroll through my feeds and I stumble on a gathering that I was excluded from:

1.)I take a breath and identify the jealousy, because that’s what it is – down at its core – and then I compliment the poster.

Wow that looks like a fantastic group of girls at lunch.

What a great idea for a group date.

You ladies are always so creative.

(Sometimes I’m cheesy, but I aim for sincerity. Writing the words usually inspires the feeling)

It’s empowering. It makes me feel real, free, and grateful for the people in my life.

2.) I remember that I can’t see the whole picture and what they do most likely has absolutely nothing to do with how they feel about me. Just because they went to lunch, doesn’t mean they do it every day, most likely they are cooking and cleaning and working and doing the joyful mundane 90% of the time, just like me. (and in reality the lunch might have been miserable – you never know, the whole story isn’t as easily captured)

3.) I evaluate whether I would have really wanted to go. Sometimes it’s something I might not have enjoyed anyway, if that’s the case, thinking about it any further is pointless.

4.) And then,  if it happens over and over. I stop following the person – because sometimes oblivion brings the greatest happiness.

I can’t invite myself to gatherings, but I can invite others to my own. I can notice who else might have been excluded and reach out to them.

Mostly I do my best to not do it to others.

I enjoy the snapshots and look for the reality; compliment the good and put it in perspective. After all, with the terror, heartbreak, fear, and hate that’s been constantly in the news over the summer sometimes it’s a relief to only look at carefully curated glimpses of life.

 

Mother’s Day In Hawaii

use this one_5I am 2 months late and about $100 short on my Mother’s Day post, and a day late and a dollar short on posting in general. Such is life. I decided to grant myself some grace and not skip over this memory.

I woke up in Hawaii on Mother’s Day to the excited sound of my kids giggling outside my door. I sat up (tried not to throw up – just keeping it real), and smiled as they pranced in holding pictures, handmade cards and flowers. Apparently, Josh had been thrilled the moment he saw all the flowers in the backyard and had been planning on picking some of them for me for days.use this one Then it was breakfast and off to church, where one of the leaders came over to introduce himself and promptly said, “You guys are visiting right?” When we nodded he said, “I could tell because you were on time.”

Fifteen minutes later church began. It was nourishing and fulfilling. The teenage boys greeted each woman old and young with a huge hug and a lei. You could fill their joy in handing them out, it lifted my heart.

use this one_1Then we followed a tip, and fulfilled Max’s dream of finding sea turtles.  We were all a little excited, the turtle not so much.
use this one_3use this one_5After that grand adventure it was lunch from the food truck of my choice (Brazilian cochinas).

Anna had suggested earlier that I might be getting sick because I was eating too much and maybe I should not do that. Ahh the honesty of kids. So I begged Justin to let me tell the kids about the baby as a Mother’s Day present. He agreed and I whipped up a quick hangman game.

Josh figured it out first. “We’re having a baby? We’re having a baby!!”

Anna “No we’re not!”

Max: “But I wanted a baby doggy!”

When we convinced them it was true they were all fairly excited.

We wrapped up the day with a breathtaking drive and the gorgeous hike I talked about in my last post. It was one to be remembered.

The word mother in and of itself evokes powerul emotion in almost everyone. It’s a powerful job. I’m grateful I get to have it and that I learned of it’s power, importance, and joy from my own mother, who learned it from hers, who learned it from hers…Such a legacy of wisdom that I hope to learn from and add to.