Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Humanity tugging at me.



The world has been tugging at me lately.  I move through my packed life often complaining about all my busy woes.  And then I come across an image or a story or a thought that squashes all those worries with sudden gratitude and brings things into focus.  It is in these moments of clarity that I realize that most of the things I dread, most of the reasons I drag my feet, most of my complaints are rooted in the fact that I have a full life.  Full of food that needs preparing, a house that needs cleaning, relationships that need tending, clothes that need folding.  Basically luxuries that need maintaining and blessings that need managing.  It’s the stability of my life that enables me to worry about little details, notice small headaches, feel wearied by my to do list.  This impossibly long list of things to work through each day exists BECAUSE my life is FULL of good things and the security to pursue them.

Lately most of these moments of clarity have come from thinking about the plight of SO many people in the world seeking refuge right now.  At our most recent church general conference this talk urging us to reach out to refugees struck me hard, had me in tears.  In the fall we had a great lesson at church about finding refuge and how we all need different kinds of refuge at different times in our lives for different reasons.    And over the past 6 weeks I’ve been working on interviewing women in our congregation to make a video of how they have needed and found refuge in their lives.  It’s had me thinking about the refuge I’ve personally received during turbulent times in my life and what a balm it has been to be succored by others, by my faith, by my savior.  The refuge I’ve needed has been mostly emotional and it has been manageable.  I can’t imagine living through the to-do list of so many mothers right now: stay alive, keep my children alive, don’t get shot, get on the boat, get through the barbed wire, find food, find shelter, build a new life in a strange often unwelcoming place.  I can’t imagine having the safety and security stripped away that enables me to work through my little day to day worries.18-lens-reuters-pulitz-slide-Q4WT-superJumbo18-lens-refugees-slide-8UWR-superJumbo216890135342e1257fb5115a986a20b6
It’s tricky sitting in my cushy life, knowing what to do. I’ve had so many conversations with sisters and friends about how sad this refugee crisis is but we always leave the conversation uneasy, not sure what it is we can actually do.  And then life gets busy again and those feelings get swept up with the laundry and errands.
Enter Go Jane Give.  I’ve been serving as a board member of this brilliant new non profit that is targeting women just like me.  Women who want to do something to alleviate suffering but don’t know where to start.  Women who have felt the tug of humanity but feel they are so small compared with the big problems of the world.  And so far away.  And so consumed with their every day lives.  Go Jane Give aims to help women like us know where to start.  To help us turn our talents and interests into simple fundraisers to get money to some of the most effective non-profits addressing the world’s biggest challenges.

So I went through their platform (here) and viola! within minutes I had my page all ready to go.  It’s super simple and is packed with inspiring (and easy) ideas that will help us become activists for change just by doing what we do day to day.

Click through to my fund raising page, Say Cheese for Refugees!  I'm offering mini-portrait sessions in four different cities this spring/summer for anyone who donates to RefugePoint, an amazing organization that helps the worlds most vulnerable refugees.  And if you can't make a portrait session still donate!  I'll send you a list of my top ten tips for taking your own portraits. 

Also, go explore Go Jane Give, and thank me later.  You can be among the first to use the platform and create your own fund-raising page.  The site is just lovely and you'll be tickled by how easy it is to start making a difference, there are even ideas for 'no effort' efforts (my favorites). You’ll also feel super motivated to start making a difference in the larger world if you read Josie’s article here, it’ll give you a clear vision for the unique mission of GJG.  You'll find an awesome new community of women who are serious about doing our parts, within our spheres, with the time and talents we have to change the world for good.  This idea of lifestyle giving is going to take off like wildfire, I'm sure of it.  I’d also love to hear your reactions to this new space in social media.  I think it’s super refreshing!



But by the Grace of God there go I.

(images all Photography Pulitzer for Coverage of Refugee Crisis, NYTimes)



Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Some of winter 2016 that I don’t want to forget

It’s so easy to forget the everyday little things that really make up a life.  And, to be honest, there are parts of the winter that I’m always happy to forget.  But, for family history sake, here are some little things I found on my phone from January and February that I don’t want to be lost forever. IMG_2654First, Jeff had a birthday!  And he got a great cake made of twinkies.  I think maybe he thinks if he keeps asking for twinkies for his birthday it means he’s not actually growing up.  IMG_2667We had a little party for him at home and then sent him on an errand on his way to church for bishoping/mutual stuff so that we could rush ahead of him and pull off a little surprise party. IMG_2693 Bless those dear youth of the church and their leaders who participated in some crazy birthday games meant mostly to embarrass the bishop.  We played the never-fail-to-laugh-make-you-laugh dress up game and …IMG_2679[4] THROW THE WIG ON THE BISHOP! It was pretty epic.  I’m sure the best birthday ever for poor Jeff who went along with our crazy plans and even seemed to enjoy them.  IMG_2590We did some Joy School.  Peter has a cute little group of three and we meet once a week, rotating houses.  If you don’t know much about Joy School, check it out.  It is, hands down, my favorite mothering activity (oh, maybe not, maybe reading aloud is).  Either way, I love how Joy School forces me to do all these fun mothering/teaching things that I might not do otherwise.  It has give me a language with which to talk to my pre-schoolers about the most important things and has helped me to re-discover so many joys in life….joys these little ones feel so naturally. IMG_3251 I got to go out to dinner with these women.  Two of the most incredible women it the world, doing really pretty miraculous things with their lives, and I get to call them my friends.  They’re an inspiration.  And, since it was Karaoke night at our favorite Indian place we requested, and got, our own private room.  That was good for the soul.IMG_2715IMG_2663Peter started piano lessons!  He has been SUPER eager to start.  I love watching him during his lessons, he can hardly sit still with all that excitement bubbling up inside of him.  I love our busy with music lesson Wednesday afternoons.  I love watching my kids work hard for their teachers.  I feel all this love swelling up for them that isn’t around when I’m practicing with them.   IMG_2735We got to go up to New Hampshire to stay with a former work colleague of Jeff’s before he gave a presentation at Dartmouth.  This couple was so kind to us, so gracious to our kids, and, miracle of miracle, our kids were pretty civilized!  They had me sweating up a storm, wondering what follies they might commit, but all went smoothly.  It amazes me how good they are at stepping up to the plate when the stakes are high.  My kids know how to be polite!  How to carry on a conversation with an adult!  How to look them in the eye!  Yeah! IMG_2740We had our first big snow of the season while we were up there.  It was so magical to wake up in such a beautiful old farm house with snow all around. 

IMG_2758After sledding we were famished so we decided to take the kids to the Dartmouth Collage dining hall for dinner.  I highly recommend this kind of excursion for college motivation.  After all that all you can eat pizza, soda, ice cream, Mexican food, cookies etc etc etc our kids are SOLD on going to college.  IMG_2933I got to go to a little women’s retreat, out to Western MA to stay in a beautiful house with some pretty stellar women.  About 10 women, all incredible thinkers, talented in so many unique ways.  This is where my obsession for planets was born, inspired by the incredible Leslie Graff.    IMG_2947More Joy School. IMG_3002More selifies (at the Rock Climbing gym….we really wore out that three month membership!)IMG_3191IMG_3096Convinced these kids to go on a total of two family Sunday walks.  Still trying on that one.  IMG_3118IMG_3131IMG_3135These two celebrated a DECADE of friendship. Yes, their friendship began in utero.  I’m so happy that they have each other.  People at school all think they are brothers.  Friends like that are treasures.  Rare as rubies.    IMG_3193Our cousin Max left on a mission.  The first cousin to go.  The kids were so excited about this, and so sad to miss his farewell.  We poured all our energy into letters and a package the Sunday after he left.  I’m so thankful for Max’s example to my kids.  They’ve always thought he was the coolest person ever and are hanging on every bit of news we get from his mission.  IMG_3210IMG_8640This amazing family got baptized into our ward in February.  We are growing to really love them.  We’ve been praying for friends Hazel and Charlie’s ages at church and bam, here we go! SMKQ8760

Santa pretty much nailed it with the roller skates for Em for Christmas.  This girl doesn’t take these things off.  Every day she goes back and forth down the little stretch of open wood floor between our entry way and kitchen.  IMG_3528Over February break we got to go to the MFA to partake of all their totally awesome kid friendly school vacation week stuff.  I love that our friend Stacy is always willing to come along with us…makes us all a lot happier about being out and about.  Here (above) they are with the instruments they made. IMG_3558

IMG_3572We also got to go up to our friends Lake House for a few really relaxing, snowed in days.  I love being together without a single place to go or person to see.  We played lots of games, read lots, watched some movies, did some painting, ate way too much rich food and went for two short outside walks.  We were gluttons, feasting on family time.  It was great.  IMG_3579IMG_3595

Jeff took Hazel and Charlie skiing one of the days as their Christmas present from him.  They had the time of their lives.  IMG_3610

We also played a lot of foosball and Legos.  I love these Lego games Em sets up with Peter.  All those poor lego guys waiting in line for their pizza and ice cream.  That girl at the counter did not understand customer service.

IMG_3775  Saturday morning cuddles with these two.  IMG_3762

And I stole away a few times this winter to the Public Library to try to work on some mind and soul enriching projects (more on these projects later).  It feels good to start to use my brain in different ways again.  But boy is it hard to make that happen.  I thought I’d do this once a week starting in September.  It amazes me how quickly my time is sucked up by just getting life done around here. 

Oh, normal day.  Please, help me be aware of the treasure you are.  These days are feeling slippery.  They’ll be gone before I know it. 

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Peter Grew Up

On March 15th my baby turned 5.  I’ve had this blog post running in the back of my head and heart since then.  Truthfully, it’s been hard to process this milestone.  I’ve been pushing it off, I don’t want to let go of this baby! 

It’s hard to believe that this tiny miraculous thing that took so little space on the couch:IMG_9669

Is now this big miraculous thing who nearly stretches the length of it: IMG_0118

It is a wondrous thing to watch a child grow.  To watch a little helpless blob of a baby become a little person.  As Peter has grown he has filled up our lives, washed over so many parts of it with a new joy.  And now, as a little five year old, his light is starting to spill out into the world.  Brightening it, a little halo of golden of light surrounding him.   

I love to see the way he fills up the frame:  IMG_9669[IMG_5673%255B3%255D.jpg]IMG_5678IMG_1940IMG_2925peter growing up - 3-13IMG_0037Really, when people tell you your babies will be gone before you know it, that time will whiz by, believe them.  It’s all true.  I remember listening to some cheesy song when Hazel was just a few weeks old about how I just had to turn around and she’d be a young girl, walking out of the door.  I thought to myself, “pasha! I just turn around and she’s hungry again.”  But now she’s 11.  They day to day of little babies is slow, the days stretch on forever, the nights are endless.  It’s grueling at times and so monotonous.  But the years go fast and then they’re gone, never coming back.   These warnings to cherish babyhood have always sort of bugged me.  I love this article here about not having to cease ever moment of them.  There are parts of the baby years that just suck.  And I don’t want to relive them even for a second.  I’m happy that my kids are strong and healthy and growing.  That they are spilling out into the world.  That they are starting to get it, to make a mark, to have their own lives.  This is all part of why I wanted to have children I the first place.  I’m thankful that I listened to these warnings enough to really grasp lots of little Kairos moments with my babies.   But there’s still this sense of loss, this need to mourn a beautiful era that is only mine now in my memories.   And that’s ok.  I’m going to sit with this mourning for a little while.  I’m going to hope that it propels me to cherish those little Kairos moments more.  Because before I know it this next era will only be mine in memories too.     IMG_0045Ok, enough philosophy.  Onto this amazing little 5 year old.  Pardon me for a minute while I document all the awesomeness that is Peter.  He is seriously an angel boy, complete with halo.  IMG_0063He’s strong. He’s competitive. He’s full of adventure.  He can rock climb like Spiderman would. IMG_0071And he’s fun and feisty and is starting to fill in as the family clown, always trying to get the big kids to laugh.  Lots of times at not so appropriate times.  (We’re working on that.)  IMG_0073Peter tells me he loves me even more than I love him probably 7 times a day.  He comes and gives me voluntary cuddles.  He still wants to kiss me.  (swoon).IMG_0077IMG_0081

Peter is totally positive about almost everything.  He exudes enthusiasm about the most mundane things.  He puts on his little high voice and says things like, “That will be AWESOME!” and “Oh, YES!  I love that!” and (out of the blue) “I am HAPPY!”IMG_0143He is also brim with self-confidence.  He knows he’s pretty much the bomb.  IMG_0156IMG_0163These two faces are so totally Peter (above and below).  I had him talking about something while I snapped these photos.  He has pretty great facial expressions…and like his dad, he uses his hands when he’s talking.  IMG_0166IMG_0182I can’t get enough of this kids hair and his skin and his eyes.  The combo just melts me down.  I love the little details of our children that we only know as moms.  From looking at them so intensely and so often and for so long.  IMG_0185Peter is a sensitive little soul.  As rambunctious and full of life as he is, he is still has a pretty strong shy streak.  Pretty timid at times when he doesn’t know what kind of behavior would be pleasing to people.  He’s been like this since he was a baby, always a little worried about getting something wrong.  Especially doing something wrong in the presence of people he doesn’t know well. This year he’s coming out of his shell a little, making more friends at school, navigating the bigger world with a tiny slice of boldness.  IMG_0187IMG_0192Peter started playing the piano in January.  He BEGGED for lessons for months and months (having accompanied the other kids to their lessons for so long).  Finally I let him start piano and he is a little obsessed.  He has a brain for music I think, at least a total fascination with the language of music and notes.  He will sit and study his piano book for long chunks of time, noticing all the symbols and the way the staff is put together.  When he was just a little one, about three, he’d come up to me with paper and instead of asking me to draw him cars or airplanes, he’d ask me to write some notes.  Some musical notes.  Not sure where this will all lead, but it’s pretty intriguing.  So interesting how different brains work.   IMG_0197Peter is a really incredible little sibling.  He lets the big kids boss him around (especially Emmeline).  He loves Hazel in a way that she really needs right now.  He idolizes Charlie.  IMG_0200This guy is full of introspection.  He can play by himself, in another universe, for hours.  Perfect for the last kid who spends lots of time with just me.  IMG_0226IMG_0232Again, the details of his person.  That hair.  Those lashes.  Things I just can’t star at for long enough.       IMG_0242IMG_0256

And there’s that little dimple that he gets when he flashes his winning smile.  That little crease on the left.  The one I’m surprised I haven’t kissed off by now.

Despite all my commands to this boy to “PLEASE STOP GROWING UP!” he is growing up.  And as much as that fills me with nostalgia and this deep sense of loss and longing, it fills me with an even deeper sense of joy.  It is incredible to watch a life unfold.  To see a little person, so clearly full of his own soul, start to spread out into the world.  To sprout wings.  To fly.  IMG_0102

Happy Birthday Peter Pie!


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