Oakley the Only

fullsizerender-7

As the last but not least, youngest but no longer a babe, and sweet son we cherish, Oakley Andrew fills an essential role in our family.

Oaks turned four last week. Four! Four is dangerously close to five which leads to way big stuff like six, seven, and eight, and is so separate from little kid stuff like two, or even three. I was in so much denial I asked Awesome Aunt Nat for 3T Christmas jammies. Unfortunately for me, and Nat who had to negotiate a return, Oakley’s leg length was 4T long before October. I simply hadn’t noticed due to summer shorts as his only style.

Now that I’m on board, mind set and heart happy even, I am writing the Oaks bday blog. 10 days late.

Oakley, as Osborne kid number three, not much is new for you. Daddy and I have been parents before, Eli and Andi have been siblings, and all our baby stuff was worn in well by the time you slept, sucked on, or sat in it.

However, you are the only you we get Oaks. And, you are prized and precious just the way you are, just because you’re you. img_0094

Here are some only Oakley things I celebrate and remember for you Oaks: 

  1. Planned on purpose. You’re the only baby Daddy and I decided to try for, waited for, and for whom we welcomed a positive pregnancy test without great surprise.
  2. I did not have a c-section with you after having one for both deliveries of Eli and Andi.
  3. You took to trains. You are our only kid who has enjoyed playing with trains. Thanks for introducing us to Thomas. Surely we would not have made it through parenting toddlers without that friendly tank engine?
  4. Life’s realities came fastest to you. Eli and Andi cared about you and loved you. Andi especially enjoys intentional time with you. However, since they are four and six years older, you got life handed to you a little faster. As a much younger kid than E or A, you got: candy, movies, Kidz Bop, tackles, Nerf guns, your own room, language( “What the heck in the world?” and “Boom! Heck! What?!” you say as a three year old.), and an 8:30pm bedtime.
  5. Closest to cousins. Oaks, you’re lucky to be only two years older than your closest cousin instead of the nine and seven years Eli and Andi spread between June. I’m grateful you’re loving all your little cousins (June, Wilson, Vienna, and Henley) now and know you’ll love being their littlest big cousin and friend. photo-2-13
  6. I enjoyed you all by yourself. I love that Eli and Andi were close in age and feel like life with both of them at once was my best parenting. However, I cherish and celebrate the solo shot I got at having you, later, on your own. I liked being older as a woman and more experienced as a mommy which meant I got to give you some of my best too. (**see number 4 for how I gave you not the best sometimes)
  7. Most intense medical history in our first decade of parenting. You went to the CMH ER for stitches on your ear in February 2014. Nothing worse than ear infections for Eli or Andi!photo-4

Oaks, it’s because of you we are doing the Gap Year. I loved my days home with you but wanted Eli and Andi to have the same chance to enjoy you as I did. I wanted you to get to know them really well, to play with, fight with, and learn with them.

Oaks, it’s because of you we get to laugh, slow down, be amazed and enjoy the little things through your eyes in a way we would miss if you didn’t share so well with us.

As you grow up, we will celebrate your uniqueness and affirm your connection to a life bigger than yourself. You are blessed Oaks,img_0637 to be a blessing. You have strength and sweetness, words and great ideas, humor and energy that can make a difference if you’re kind, intentional, grounded in Christ, and brave. I believe you can do big and hard things, and I promise to watch, process, and help as I can.

“It’s a good thing we have Oaks.” Amen. For sure.

Gap Year Journal Entry #1

14324681_10153900632687688_1299563341079070027_o14352368_10153900640757688_4162198471878249119_o14324163_10153900641632688_4769266993148320226_o
​​We are almost a month into our intrepid “Gap Year”, our intriguing home school experiment. We have been through a massive transition and feel unequal parts melancholy, bewildered, blessed, grateful, frustrated, and overjoyed.   (underlined words are vocab words for weeks 1-3)
In summary, we went this way because I felt it would be better for them and for me to have a year where they were home more than away and did school differently for a short season. Working from home with only Oaks left me feeling unfulfilled and almost sad as an extrovert and highly motivated worker. I thought, “This isn’t what I want vocationally or as a mom.” I made a change for me. 
I also looked at Oaks and thought, “He deserves the sibling connection E and A have.” I looked at Eli and Andi and thought, “If I have more working energy to give, I’d love to give it to you.” I wanted them to have more freedom to play, learn, explore and adventure and had the luxury to make a change so they could. I made a change for them.
To report in brief, we are achieving the dream. We have plenty of moments where it feels good, right, amazing and fun. And plenty of moments when the dream costs us all greatly. It’s really, really hard and really, really good, and even when it’s hard, its good.
Here’s how it’s been going in detail.
These are real life notes on my phone, written in the middle of a mess, or a bit of magic, and scribbled down at the end of my rope, I mean- night. 

IMG_7416

Home school is hard today because

  • Andi gets frustrated and flops, and because Eli is so easily distracted by ANYthing.
  • Oakley won’t play alone today and keeps bugging the kids intentionally or asking me to play with him in the middle of the my lesson to Eli. I want to say yes to Oaks but cannot.
  • Eli cried when he got the consequence of me taking his water bottle away- which he took apart three times, refilled and tossed in the air as a massive distraction throughout the day.
  • I am doing more work than they are. They barely put any effort with a good attitude. Instead they whine or distract themselves and don’t get it done. I return repeatedly to help or sit all the way through it. I thought they’d work more independently.
  • Really hard because I can’t believe Andi throws attitude at me every day

  • Really hard because Eli can’t sit still and focus, speaks rudely to me and gives up easily on surprising stuff.

  • Hard because as siblings, they are fighting and using harsh tones. They are playing practical jokes and being dishonest when saying, “Mom is calling you Oaks” just to get him out of their way.

But wait, home school is great today because…

  • Eli asked Oakley to build a cool magnet car with him “Just like we did yesterday… That was fun. “
  • We got to go to a sunflower field with 4 young life girls.
  • They read alone in the ENOs and then lay in them and listen to me read Little House on the Prairie. They beg for more.
  • Christine came for lunch and we ate together on the deck outside.
  • Daddy got to come home for lunch with us.
  • I love hearing them pray for meals with gratitude and enthusiasm.
  • We talked about John the Baptist and what it would mean to carry a message people didn’t want to hear…We want to stand and say, “Black Lives Matter” today.
  • Andi is asking for breaks to play with her toys alone in her room. Her imagination and creativity gets air time today.
  • We are not in a hurry to go anywhere and take our time getting into the school day because they all three found their own imagination outlet around the house from 8:30-9:45am
  • Andi asks Oakley to play the cat game again
  • Oakley gets to watch and play with them all day and they with him- they are getting to know each other as good, good friends
  • I don’t feel lonely during the day
  • A weekend has never felt so delicious- I couldn’t wait for weekend number one and it was a wonderful one- Labor Day weekend with projects, people, Worlds of Fun and actually staying in town.
  • They cooked tacos on their own and were proud to tell  neighbor friend Will and our dinner guest.
  • Great because they played outside throwing mud balls after listening to me read aloud for 30 mins and still wanting more. They were active, together, outside and creative. I felt like i was living little house on the prairie- reclaiming simplicity
  • We went to Colorado on a Tuesday afternoon and saw Aunt Nat and Uncle John, Grandpa, Maama, Grammy and Granddad and Great Grandma! Plus we got to see the new Buchan house and visit with Bill, Tamara and Molly up on their mountain.
  • I love them being here all day and feel a peace about it even in the Terrible Times 

Our community and classes, tutors and friends at Shawnee Classical Conversations is encouraging and helpful. GG is offering support and help, tennis lessons and GG mornings so I can keep up with my Young Life job and even go to the staff retreat next week. Drew is cheering me on and working hard at home after long work days at work.  IMG_7396

What we have to do is intimidating at times. What we get to do is tremendous. We are blessed and bound together.

 FullSizeRender (6)

Summer Summary

When the sun was shining in 2016, we were soaking it up.

Our Osborne 2016 summer highlights include:

  1. Celebrating James’ birthday and America at the Celebration at the Station Memorial Day weekend
  2. Having the Bruce’s come live with us. Mornings with June x Cousin time + Adult shared life = Joy IMG_7279
  3. World’s Of Fun Season Passes and fun days at Worlds and Oceans- even an anniversary afternoon for Drew and Linds at Oceans- almost Jamaica, but not quite. IMG_6691
  4. Swimming on the Coves Swim Team for the third year with Oaks joining the team as a Little Croc. All three kids made huge strokes towards personal successes and new strengths, plus had so much fun with their swimming neighborhood friends.IMG_6382IMG_6644
  5. Colorado 4th of July with a Henke Family reunion and street fireworks with Daddy in front of Nat and Johns. IMG_6934 (1)
  6. Bearing rings and flowers and a marriage license for Michelle and Alex Mead as we celebrated their wedding July 9th and will forever be their friends and fans. IMG_6990 (1)
  7. Going to Young Life camp at Castaway with my Park Hill and Park Hill South friends for a week of amazing fun and and depth. We made major memories and moments for God to call deep into the lives of ladies with love. IMG_6712 (1)
  8. Going to Young Life camp at Castaway on assignment as a Summer Staff Coordinator Session 3. I was privileged to lead, listen to, walk with, and learn from the strong and sweet college students who brought their brokenness and their bravery to set themselves up to serve, share, and change. I loved my friend Alex the Castananny but not nearly as well as she loved my kids. I was challenged and cheered on by good leadership and friends, new and old,  full of integrity. IMG_7213IMG_7142 (1)IMG_7162
  9. Turning 36 and splitting my life loyalties. I have now officially lived HALF my life in Colorado and HALF in Missouri. And of course, many a summer month in Minnesota. Also, Drew turned 35,  Eli turned 10, and Drew and I turned 12 years old in our life together. IMG_7182
  10. Ending the summer Osborne style with the ever-epic Z and C End of Summer Cookout, and then a trip to the Lake of the Ozarks with GG, Pops, and special attendees Mary Kate and Walking Wilson. IMG_7297

Now its all over and school is in session and our school session is at home.

With summer behind and our gap year now rolling, we lift our eyes to the sunlight and anticipate adventure.

Moving Beds

I cannot sleep because my kids are sleeping in new beds. All three.

We went from bunks plus toddler bed, snug and stuck together in Eli’s room, to no toddler bed, one full size bed for the 10-year-boy now all alone in his own room, and the bunked set in Oakley’s space. We moved Oakley into his room here in a tiny crib as a 7 month old, and tonight he just went to sleep on a bottom bunk with no rail and no extra loving needed?! 

And Sister Soo, sweet Andi. The little lady likes a permanent slumber party.  Her first stop out of a crib was the bottom bunk, under Eli. Andi was four when we snuggled Oakley in his crib in our old house next to them. She slept happy between brothers. When we moved, she got an awesome room and a big, old bed for her small self. In 2013, our first year here, Andi slept in her bed for a few nights. We walked between three rooms saying blessings and giving one last drink. After a month of sleeping alone in her own room, she went back to what she’s always and only known: being bunked with a brother. 

After two years of dressing and playing in her room and sleeping in Eli’s, we invited another family to live with us for three months. Eli welcomed Oaks and the toddler bed into his room when June moved in to sleep in Oakley’s room.

James, Laura and June moved in this summer while they looked for, found, and renovated a house they now sleep, shower, and eat in just three, literally three, doors down from my bunked beds here. Life was crowded with loud early mornings and restless dinners, mosquito bites, grilled salmon, shared kid care, late night shows or games, help, fun, and bliss more than burden.

When it was time for the Bruce’s to pack up and walk to their new house, we walked around the topic of where Andi would sleep. Eli was vocal about wanting his own room to be his own room. I loved hearing what he wanted and why and had a lot of fun getting it ready for him today. He is 10 and free of climbing into a lofted bed. May you never worry about your head and that circulating fan blade again, buddy. IMG_6610IMG_6611

Andi had options. She was welcome to bunk up brother-wise once again, it would just be with Oakley and she’d need to move up; the top bunk was open now. Or, she could sleep all cozy and all alone in that room she really does like so much in a bed we fixed up fancy with a clip-on light today.

She chose brother bunk bed and I’m fine with it, happy really. I had quite a day thinking of moving them and then going through all the work of setting up beds, cleaning up rooms, and finding more pillows. Emotion, plus work across three flights of stairs, is a big day.

There is something about having them together that makes me swoon. The mess of the first night this summer where no one would go to sleep and everyone cried or yelled or got up and out of their beds in that triple sibling room, makes me think they can adjust to anything and get good at it. Eli, Andi, and Oakley are my favorites and having them all in one place led to special nights all summer.

If we’re lucky, we’ll have Castaway as a chance to smoosh them all back together next summer.

For now, I’ll just go look at them one more time, in two different places, and try to get to sleep myself.

 

 

Little Kids, Big Questions

The title is ironic. I think my kids are still little but in all reality, Eli is 3 days into being 10 years old and Andi is not far behind. They are mid to upper elementary school age. Even Oakley, at three, is bigger than little. I mean, June, our live in cousin, is “little” at age 1, and so cute and smart too!!! Waking up with June in our house is a gift. but I digress. My kids are big but in the scope of aging humanity, with medical miracles and God’s grace, they should live many more decades.

IMG_6699

So assuming they are all actually still little, I’m reeling from and relishing the conversations we’ve had this summer.

Conversation #1: The Sex Talk

It was early June when Andi found a condom in our bedroom- she plays in small places…I guess her imaginary world was under our bed that day. When she asked me what it was, I said, “It has to do with sex. Do you want to know more about it or just know it’s for sex?” She said she definitely wanted to know more so I told her she had to find Eli and I would find Dad. Oaks came too and we had “the talk”, a bit spontaneous and completely open with Eli and Andi. We were all five in Andi’s room; Oaks played in his own world on the floor.

We talked about the purpose (for connection and creation) and the mechanics (they had anatomical questions). We talked about the ways it can go wrong and how absolutely great but private and intimate it is. They had questions about frequency and were a little surprised to know we have decided for sure on no more babies. Yes, the small package that started the whole conversation, is stopping the sibling expansion.

I said that day, and in the next month to my high school campaigner girls (not planned), that I love to talk about sex. When I talk about sex I love to say:

  • Sex is good, precious and powerful. So good, precious and powerful, it’s worth protecting and saving. 
  • Sex is healthy and good to talk about with the right people. Don’t hide your questions or feel like you can’t ask them.
  • Sex is part of who we are and works with what God wants us to do as people who love, know and follow God.
  • Sex is best with one person who really loves you, and always will.

Conversation #2: What is the meaning of life?

One night with Drew at bedtime and the next day with me at lunch, early July, Eli posed the question, “What is the point of life?” Like I said, little kid, big questions!

I asked it right back and they had ready answers.

Eli said, “I think its to have fun, make friends and do work.”

Andi said, “To love and be loved. To have water, family, food, home, and clothing…so you can really live.”

I feel like I should have an answer for them too. Do I say,  “It’s to live as a child of God and ambassador for Christ, making God’s kingdom real on earth with reconciliation and love?”.

Or, simply, “It’s to live loved so you can go love“.

Or, “Life is about relationships. To know and be known, love and be loved. Life is about living in relationship with God for full life on earth.”

It’s fun to think about and I hope they keep asking.

Conversation #3 Birthday Attention 

Eli turned 10 on July 17th and we marked the moment. I hosted a Decade of Parenting Party to toast with my friends about our 10 years of lessons and laughter in parenting. We shared what we learned, how we messed, up and what our kids have done to change our worlds. Then we listened to my friends, who have young 20 year old kids, share about how to make it through the next decade. What was shared that night is worth it’s own post!

Then we had an Epic Eli bday party on Saturday the 16th. With a few friends and some of Eli’s adult friends, had lunch, played Nerf Capture the flag, and went to Oceans and Worlds of Fun.

I had 10 people write craft a page and made a book celebrating Eli’s life so far and cheering him on for the days and years ahead.

On Sunday, Eli went to church in the morning and the end of the season swim banquet at the end of the day with a family party in the middle. He was grateful and said so all throughout the celebrations. Here’s the conversation part.

Me: “Eli, did they know it was your birthday at church? Did anyone say anything?”

E: “Nah. No one knew. No one said anything.”

Me: “Did that bother you? Did you want them to?”

E: “No. It’s fine.”

Me: “Really? I love people knowing its my birthday!”

E: “Yea. I just don’t really like the attention of people who don’t know me very well being paid my way. “

Indeed- Eli meant not to disparage the relationships he has at church. He was simply stating reality. His birthday is about relationships, the knowing and being known, the celebrating and having fun, should be with people who are invested in his life. The obligatory “Happy Birthday” from stranger or acquaintance wasn’t necessary to expand or deepen his weekend. He was humble and honest and I think, very mature. That 10-year-oldness fits him.

So, with fear and awe, gratitude and joy, I can only hope these big conversations keep happening with my little people. 

 

 

Gap Year

IMG0709

For over two years, I’ve been toying with, mulling over, wondering about, dreaming towards, wishing we could, forgetting about for awhile, discussing with close friends, praying privately around, and researching the possibility of what I’m calling, “A Gap Year”. Also known as, “A Sibling Year“, also known as, “Home School Year”.

Sunday, as a family, with varying levels of excitement (from very angrily anti, to eagerness tinged with trepidation), and with faith, trust and hope in each other and the God that holds everything together, we committed formally to the Gap Year reality.

Next school year, August 2016- May 2017, Eli and Andi will not return to Line Creek Elementary but will stay home with Oaks and me for home school through the Classical Conversations (CC) curriculum and our part in a local CC community. We will accomplish all the necessary educational requirements for them to stay on track and re-enter as 5th grader and 4th grader for the 2017-2018 school year.

I was never drawn towards the home school idea because of dissatisfaction with the public school education we receive. In fact we are beyond blessed to live in one of the top school districts in the state and have had great teachers in each class for the past four years.  One of Drew’s biggest questions or hesitations has been, “Why do we need to change something going well?” Drew doesn’t like changes and is slow to process big ones. I’m thankful he’s walking with me in this, listening, and agreeing despite the parts of himself that cry out, “What?! Why? Now?”

We are NOT going Gap Year because anything is broken, or because someone else is doing it, or because anyone else suggested it. Nope, instead, this has been an idea, an urge, a desire, a pull that I have had felt and engaged all on my own as I trust God is speaking to me and moving me on kingdom purposes for the time, place, and people God has me in and around.

I feel it is the right thing for us right now.

In and through the Gap Year, I want to:

  • Develop a depth of relationship between parents, siblings, and learning.
  • Be with my kids.
  • Know my kids deeply and establish a deep trust in each other.
  • Deepen roots of love and identity
  • Bond them as siblings. I want to give Oakley what Eli and Andi experienced their first 5 years of life- daily life with each other.Castaway 2011 018
  • Have family be the most formational force in their life for a year. I want to shape, mold, inspire, get to know and encourage them more intentionally.
  • Dump a ton of facts, knowledge, and data into their malleable brains- taking advantage of the capability now and building a foundation for everything they’ll need later.
  • Secure their identity as children of God and coheirs with Christ
  • Expand their understanding of God and God’s kingdom purposes in the world- I want to make their world bigger, not create a small Christian bubble world, but engage God’s work, experience how Jesus loves people, and serve together in some cool ways. (Play games with nursing home residents? Deliver Valentines to lonely and left out people?)
  • I want them to become more fully who they are and expand their personality and gifts.
  • Have an adventure, a challenge
  • Engage this choice for the benefit of my kids and because of the flexibility of my part time job. I have extra capacity for my capabilities in the current scope of my job. I want to give what extra I have to my kids.
  • To go to Colorado and Chicago to be with our extended family more often for longer periods of time.3 line up

It’s scary and exciting and asks a lot of us because it changes everything we’ve gotten used to. I have a list of things that could go wrong. However, the list of what I hope for and feel we could accomplish together, is a stronger one.

As we walk this out, I’m sure I’ll update and share stories. Or perhaps, blog writing goes off the list of things I can accomplish- a gap in my writing?

When we talked about it with our kids Sunday morning, I told them I wanted to extend an invitation for relationship, education and adventure. I told them they could feel anything they wanted about it (nervous, excited, mad, ready, angry, so-so, pumped etc…). We agreed we all need faith, trust, hope, and teamwork to make it happen.

It’s on. I can’t fully believe it and simultaneously believe it’s about time.

Have you ever known?

I’m privileged to get to write an e-newsletter for the ParentUP campaign here in Kansas City that works to inform and assist families in helping kids avoid underage drinking. The campaign also encourages responsible use of alcohol among adults.

The statistics for how many younger kids drink are sobering. (Punny?) The risks to their current health and future success are high. Here’s a smattering of what I’ve written in the ParentUP newsletters:

  • Every day in the United States, more than 4,750 kids under age 16 have their first full drink of alcohol.
  • Underage drinking accounts for 11% of all the alcohol consumed in the United States.
  • Youth who start drinking before the age of 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse in their lifetimes than those who begin drinking at age 21 years or later.
  • A teenager’s brain is still developing the important pre-frontal cortex functions of decision making, planning, appropriate social behaviors, and complicated cognitive functions in learning, memory, and organization. The affects of alcohol arrest or stifle the development of these important areas.

  • Kids who drink in their teen years have a higher tendency towards poor scholastic success, depression, and emotional disorders.

 

What I’ve never written about, is responsible use among adults.

While writing the latest edition of the ParentUP letter, I was clicking through websites of foundations with data and research on everything alcohol use and abuse. I realized I’ve never done much research into what qualifies as a healthy amount of alcohol drinking for adults. Of course, there are familial, religious, or health reasons to drink NO alcohol at all. If however, one wants to drink occasionally and responsibly, what do doctors and researchers say about how much and how often?

I didn’t know but was interested in to learn.

Rethinking Drinking and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says:

  • Low risk drinking levels - On any single day: Men, no more than 4 drinks on any day. Women, no more than 3 drinks on any day. Per week: Men, no more than 14 drinks per week. Women no more than 7 drinks per week.

And a drink is defined as: 0.6fl oz or 14 grams of pure alcohol which is usually found in,

5 fl oz of table wine - about 12% alcohol                 12 fl oz of regular beer - about 5% alcohol

12 fl oz of regular beer (5% alcohol)

8-9 fl oz of malt liquor (7% alcohol)

5 fl oz of table wine (12% alcohol)
2-3 fl oz of cordial, liqueur, or aperitif  (24% alcohol)
1.5 fl oz of brandy or cognac (a single jigger or shot) (40% alcohol)

1.5 fl oz shot of  80-proof distilled spirits (40% alcohol)
They explain the difference between women and men as a typical difference in weight and the female body’s natural water content.  As alcohol is dispersed pound for pound in body water, women have less water content usually than men.
It helps me to have a scale, barometer, or instruction. To have a mindfulness of what goes in, how often, when, and why.
For one who writes to instruct or share, and is paid to teach and train, it is essential to educate and live out in my behaviors , what I profess with my speech.
I desire health, wholeness, and honorable celebrating. So,
CHEERS!
to mindfulness, life giving limits, gratitude, respect, health and wholeness. 

2 Years Time

When we moved in to this house

Our muscle movers.

Our muscle movers.

two years ago, it meant we had sold our half-duplex, moved out of the (half) house we had our three babies in, out of the house we wanted out of three years earlier, and out of a house we really loved and made our own.

I cried the night we turned in the keys. Sitting in those empty rooms where we had lived so much life, made me ache in a good, goodbying way.

Then we came here. And here is wonderful. It is good to love what we had and appreciate the gift of moving. Two years into transition, we are still in the space of vivid memories and palpable memory making.

When we moved two years ago, two things happened on nights 1 and 3. On night one, April 26th, 2014, we went room to room, and dreamed about what we would do in each room. In the basement, we measured the heights of our kids on the door frame.

Then, on night 3, we had a hole cut in the kitchen ceiling, above the kitchen table, because there was a bathtub leak in the master bath above.

Alas, the leak was fixed in moments but the scar in the drywall was deep and wide and open and a bummer. So we (Drew, bravely) patched it. And we waited and debated for 18 months about fixing the hole and patching the popcorn ceiling, or scraping the ceiling and getting it to flat.

When over a year later, we decided ultimately to go flat ceiling fix,  we found out there was asbestos in the ceiling so we had the popcorn professionally scraped and taken away.

Then, just 10 days ago, we had the whole ceiling drywall patched, repaired, healed and smoothed to flat by a dust vacuuming prince of smooth ceiling charm.

Then, just last week, Drew (mostly) and I (a little bit around the edges) hired ourselves to paint the smooth ceiling.IMG_6464

And before we painted, second coat, night two, we toured the house for the two year anniversary of moving here.

We remembered dances, games, Royals watch parties, Daddy eggs, Andi imagination stations, Oakley road riders, finding hidden things, reading tons of books, cuddles, night lights and getting things done. We remembered people and food and ways we laughed. We remember a lot of things that just happened and wanted to bring back somememories from two years ago because they are favorite things we’ve done in our house.

IMG_6467

Then we measured our kids and they jumped inches again. I love how much they love to gawk at each other’s growth.

Love it. Love it here. Love what will come.

A few other notable home happs:

  • A piece of fence fell down in heavy winds. IMG_6440
  • Andi turned 8 and we rearranged her room and had two parties!IMG_6449
  • Update on the hole- it’s been raining and despite our effort of covering the hole with a fire bowl bowl, it’s half full of rain water! Agh! Uncle Z suggests a siphon which is a grand idea but one I’m not enacting yet.IMG_6466

A Hole: Half Full or Half Empty

To the tune of “There’s a Hole”

There’s a hole in my backyard dear reader, dear reader. 

There’s a hole in my backyard, so deeply, a hole.

Who dug it, you’re asking, you’re asking, you’re asking, 

Who dug it, dear Lindsey, who dug it so deep? 

It’s Eli! and his friends, and buddies, and siblings, 

It’s Eli! and his friends, and with shovels and buckets!

IMG_6381

10 days ago Eli asked if he could dig a hole under our swing set. I was happy to say YES! Not able to fully gauge the scope, or should I say depth, of this request, I knew at least this was a good spot for a hole. Other areas, other times (ie: 1. Beside our deck when Oaks was a toddler and the 12 inch hole filled with water- not a good place! or 2. Right after the neighbors moved in under their deck without asking- not a good time or place!) were not good ideas but here, under the swing set, the grass grows high and waits for a whacking. There isn’t much else to do under there. Yes, Eli, go ahead and dig.IMG_6386

He wasted no time. Eli thinks about the hole at first waking and heads out for some digs before school.  He comes home and drops his backpack by the rakes in the garage and heads back out to the hole. His clothes are filthy, his shoes filled with dirt, and his soul singing.

There were a few days where the hole brought neighborhood havoc- hole leaders Eli, Will, and Drew wanted to charge fees for touching the hole ($.25 per day) or $1.00 for full hole membership. There was the scale conundrum where only those weighing 60 pounds could jump on the shovel in an attempt to dig deeper.

I intervened with what I thought was a great lecture about how greatness created should be greatness shared.

“Think of all those free apps you like playing on your phone.” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Wouldn’t that stink if you had to pay $.25 every time you wanted to play?”

“Yes.”

“Just like great games, created by someone who worked hard and made something cool,  we share the hole so everyone else gets to experience what cool thing we made.”

The scale was put away and no fees have been charged or collected. IMG_6383

The hole is a WIN!

  • Impressively deep and wide and made completely by kids
  • Lots of kids have participated, played, and worked together and hung out for hours around the hole.
  • Eli loves an adventure and project and goes intensely into what he sets his mind to. This is one I encourage and enjoy watching wholeheartedly.
  • And my favorite part, the hole reminds me of my brother Scot who dug a hole when he was nine in our backyard in Colorado. Along the way he dug up three shoeboxes of bunnies we had buried after their stint of being our pet passed. I remember the bunnies and then I remember the bottom or the hole. It was deep and wide and cool in the shade of the giant pine tree it was under. I don’t remember all the hours Scot spent digging, I don’t think I helped much. But I do remember being proud of him. He had made something great, by himself. With muscle, grit, and determination and back then too, help from friends.

Now, I’m proud of my mom as well. She said YES to Scot when he thirsted for adventure that would make a mess. This is not always easy for me.

The hole is a PAIN!

  • Have I mentioned the dirt? Dirt in the shoes, on the carpet, in the entry way, on their clothes, in the kitchen, in pockets, caked on socks…
  • Where do we put the dirt that’s dug out?! I readied a spot along the fence and very quickly, it overflowed- completely covering my baby and barely there lilies. We rescued them…I think.
  • The dirt is all over the grass right around the swing set box. This grass is probably dead. We work so very hard to not have our grass die.
  • Eli wants a snack at a most inconvenient time now…not right after school as regularly scheduled and when Andi and Oaks have theirs, but later. Like 30 minutes into hole digging when he is covered in dirt, surrounded by other kids, and wanting it served hole-side.

But mostly the hole is just another reminder of how lucky we are to live here and call this home. Like the hole, our family in this house is: a bit messy, unstable in parts, crowded and loud, but deep and fun and open for hard work alone or with a crowd. IMG_6384IMG_6389

Come on over…bring a shovel.

And beware, if your kid reads the book Holes 3 times, the digging itch will probably take root.

 

 

On Schedules with Routine and “May I speak to someone else?”

I like a bit of organization and appreciate parameters. I know better where to go when there is a benchmark set before me.

A month ago, Drew started writing down to-dos with abandon and I had an idea for our Monday nights. The result is two-fold. There now hangs on the back of our basement door, a recycled sheet of school paper with my hand written scrawl forming two columns.

I’ve typed it up here for easier viewing. You don’t want to view the chaos that surrounds this taped up list on the back of that door!

Saturday Jobs

Monday Midrash

1st Saturday- Dust, Do allowance (pick up basement) 1st Monday- Money/Budget/Goals
2nd Saturday – Wipe cabinets, Beat Rugs, (wash kids beds) 2nd Monday – Something Spiritual
3rd Saturday – Turn Compost (wash our bed) 3rd Monday- Parenting
4th Saturday- File paperwork (deep clean kid rooms) 4th Monday- Marriage
Every Saturday: bathrooms, sweep, mop, vac, (clean out the van) Every Monday- No TV, follow up sex optional

*Kid work in italics.

We structured our Saturdays and Mondays for manifold reasons but mostly these two:

  1. We wanted to get some things done more regularly.
  2. Nights seem to go by quickly- kids to bed by 8:45 if we’re lucky and then, often we default to a device, more work, or a show instead of spending intentional time talking together.

This has been a good rhythm and helps us have something set to accomplish that keeps us moving.

Of course there’s more that needs to happen and weeks we have to boot the whole thing. The idea is teamwork and a structure that takes it off our minds.

The success of the schedule so far begs the question, “What else should be listed in routine?Kid showers? My work life?! Fingernail clipping? Iphone photo deletes?

The other big win for 2016 so far has been some negotiations. Talking to strangers about money, services or contracts is not high on my list of fun afternoon activities. Put it right behind changing bunk bed sheets, or getting a shot. Not comfortable!

However, our internet service fee increased and I was charged for some insurance on a rental car that I did not need. In both cases, I spoke to an associate on the phone who explained they could not remove the fees or adjust the bill.

In both cases, with trepidation and yet some gumption, I asked if there was someone else with whom I could speak. Both times, I was transferred to a manager and got my issues resolved.

The next person on the line had more power to make a change. I reciprocated the power given with my own power to thank, promise return service, and yes, I’ll give good feedback on our conversation if I’m surveyed.

Seems like perhaps the first answer isn’t always the end answer.

We say this a lot in Young Life as we ask kids to camp. At first, an adult leader asking you to go to a camp far away in the summer can be a NO.

“Is there someone else I could talk to?”, asks the timid or too-cool high school friend.

Yes, yes there is. Please speak to one with more power- your peer who went last summer.”

I want second opinions or another voice in most everything I do. I make quick decisions and then back pedal later in some decisions (external processor probs), so I understand coming back around to revisit something.

In a world that is whirling and threatens to accelerate our emotions, schedules, families and souls beyond our health, I think reminders, set routine and rhythms give life.

Second opinions, “under further review”, processing more, or pushing past the first hesitation, just might get us the action or answer we really want.