- Feelings. Kids have powerful feelings in little bodies. AJ has been very opinionated and independent and tantrumy lately. Basically, a two-year- old. My sister suggested giving him names for his feelings. So now AJ bows his head and slumps his shoulders at least ten times a day, says, “I’m sad”. And refuses to move…. But at least he can name it and at least he’s not screaming.
- Marriage and change. We are in many ways completely different people than we were when we got married. Sometimes, it frustrates me. Change stresses me out, especially when it’s not planned changed and when it’s not me that has changed. And then I remember, that I, the girl who asked for a hope chest for graduation (my parents wanted to give me a laptop), the one who dropped out of graduate school to have a baby, who wanted nothing more than to be a homemaker, is letting the house go, and doing whatever she can to outsource and streamline cooking, to chase the dream of becoming a published writer. I remember that my husband is going in to work 2 hours later than normal two days a week to help me chase that dream. Motherhood still brings me amazing joy and fulfillment, homemaking less so:) Change is uncomfortable and needed and just always there.
- Marriage and sameness. In many ways we are the exact same people we were when we got married. I still am extremely sensitive to violence, sex and language on TV. Several years ago, Justin convinced me to watch the TV version of The Patriot, I made it a half hour in before I was bawling uncontrollably and we turned it off. Justin’s more accepting of this quirk than he was when we got married. Last week when I apologized for not wanting to watch something he just said, “I love you, don’t worry about it.” We can’t ask each other to change or to stay the same. We just are.
- Sports: This is my favorite sports season. Basketball and soccer tournaments. I am still amazed at how much I love watching my kids play, and how much I care about the outcome. Sports have never been my thing. But watching my kids try so hard, learn so much, and be so brave, it’s awesome. I still have never yelled at a ref, but I’m no longer putting it out of the range of possibility.
- Love and Fear: I want to teach my kids to deal with fear in healthy ways. Lately I have been studying fear in the scriptures. It has many meanings there, being scared, awe….The scripture that keeps sticking in my mind is “Perfect love casteth out all fear.” Beautiful. I’ve often heard that we are either acting out of love, or out of fear. But then I stopped. Love of what? Perfect love for my kids only makes me more scared. I have more to lose. No, it has to be love of something else, something bigger, greater, expansive and inclusive of us all.
This phrase has been running through my head for months. It has it’s limitations, no one wants to be childish, but I have come to believe that if I watch closely, my children can teach me everything I need to know about how to live well.
Justin and I were in the middle of discussions of when and how and what to teach our children about sex/physical affection/body ownership when AJ did these two things within an hour of each other.
“Guy broke,” AJ says. Pointing to the broken wiseman on my desk, his eyes still sleepy from his nap.
I nod, distracted, in the middle of an online class.
“I know,” I say. “It makes me sad.”
His eyes open wider, he reaches up, wraps both arms tightly around my neck, and presses his warm body into mine. his hand patting my back.
I look away from the computer and hold him as long as he’ll let me.
An hour later my twelve year old jumps on him, giving him an overly exuberant hugs and tickling his tummy.
“Stop! I don’t like it!” the baby yells.
It takes a minute, but the twelve year old stops.
“But that makes me sad,” he says, an exaggerated frown across his face.
AJ walks away completely unconcerned.
You are a “tween” as you so delightedly called yourself this morning. Double Digits. In between.
I haven’t seen you play with your Barbie House in months, but you asked for PJ’s that matched your doll for Christmas.
You still love to cuddle, but haven’t come down scared at night in a long time.
Back and Forth. Childhood to young womanhood. But mostly, forth.
You have grown in confidence this year. At some point you realized that if you set a goal and work really hard you will almost always accomplish it. I say almost always, not because you’ve failed – you haven’t – but because sometimes circumstances beyond our control affect achievement.
You are resilient. After hearing about the HAL (high ability learners) class from Josh. You decided you wanted to test for it. You did. You didn’t get in. You cried for a minute and then asked me what you could do better. We decided reading a lot was the best way to progress. You read for an hour almost everyday for several months. This year, you tested again and scored in the very top percentile for reading. You got in. And you love it. You amaze me. But, I have a feeling that if you would have tested every year and never made it, you would have shaken it off and moved on. The same characteristic holds true when you get in trouble or do something you feel bad about. You cry for a minute, resolve to do better, and move on. It’s beautiful to watch.
This year in soccer, you played boys teams. Your team lost at first, but you all worked hard to be better. And you started to win. Once your team started to win, you haven’t stopped. The hard work has been good for you, and so has the playing against boys. You realized that you could do anything that boys could do. It bled into the rest of your life. You became attuned to any suggestion that you couldn’t do something because you were a girl and shut it down, sweetly, but determinedly. It has made you a champion of everyone and instilled a belief that anyone can do anything they want to: boy or girl. A couple of weeks ago you asked if you could wear pants to church. I asked why you wanted to, you said, “Because they’re comfy and because boys can.” I told you yes but they had to be nice pants and that you had to be prepared for some questions. You smiled. Put on pants, high heels, curled your hair and didn’t seem concerned in the least what anyone else thought.
You ask questions. Lots of questions. Questions about equality, God, gender, science, geology, language. They are getting harder to answer and they make me think too. I love them. You also give answers. You have a unique way of looking at the world that is pure, merciful and just. When you were little you asked that Heavenly Father “bless all the naked people” every, single. time. That same concern is still inside you, and when you can, you clothe them yourself.
You are a nurturer. When I’m not around AJ runs to you when he’s hurt. I can trust you to take care of all of us. Last week when I was sick, you took care of AJ, did the dishes and told me, “Lay down Mom I’ve got this.”
You have so many talents, I can’t wait to see how you use them. You’ve moved past wanting to be a waitress/barbie/rockstar and have moved on to professional soccer player. I wouldn’t put it past you – but I’m sure you’d be writing stories, riding horses, and selling something you made on the side.
This year the phrase, “Become as a little child” has run through my head repeatedly. Often, because I want to be more like you. But also because I like to pretend you’re still a “little child”…
Love you forever,
I love to travel for the same reason I love books: new ideas, people, and places, all of which make my life richer and wider.
I also love to take my kids. I’ve heard a lot of people say that they don’t like to spend money to take their kids places, they won’t remember or appreciate it. But…. I don’t do it for my kids as much as I do it for me.
Not everywhere is a great kid trip, but Peru is! All outside adventuring.
Peru was Josh’s dream. It also has a mile long wave. Justin will make anyone’s dream happen if there is surfing involved.
We explained that we wanted to take anyone who wanted to go. But you had to want to. So each of the kids had to save a certain amount of money to contribute to the trip. $100 for the older two and $50 for Max. It was touch and go with Max, he almost stayed home with AJ and Grams, but I’m so glad he decided to come:)
He left four days before us and stayed at the Chicama Beach Hotel with his brother. A boat pulled them out to the waves and then they surfed in. There was tons of amazing food and daily massages. When they checked out, Justin was floored at how low the bill was. He’s already dreaming about his next trip.
He picked us up at the airport in Lima and we made our way to our airbnb in Mira flores. Our top priority on this trip was the Sacred Valley. I had read that it was best to take morning flights within Peru because they tend to get canceled later in the day. With three kids, we decided to spend a day in Lima instead of flying out super early the next morning.
Lima is tricky to get around. There’s no easy public transportation – And taxis for a family of five can get expensive (taxi green was the best). So we knew we needed to use our time wisely. The kids were most excited to do a day trip to the Isla Palomino and see penguins and sea lions. At the beginning, we were all smiling.
Justin and Josh saw the penguins and swam with the sea lions in too small, holey wetsuits. But we all survived.
Max was a trooper. Whenever he got tired he’d just lay down and close his eyes, and then smile at us groggily when we woke him up.
We made it to Cusco the next day. Our guide, Oscar (he was fantastic and I don’t particularly enjoy having guides as a rule) picked us up at the airport and drove us directly down to Ollyantaytambo. I was nervous about the altitude so we stayed in the sacred valley for five days before seeing Cusco.
On the way, we stopped at the Ccochahuasi Animal Sanctuary and saw llamas, alpacas, vicunas…
The last stop was Pisac, before we made it to our B & B in Ollyantaytambo.
We saw our first farming terraces,
And saw the Pisac Market.