Thursday, September 21, 2017

Project 365, Week 38

September has a special place in my heart because even though it means back to school and even though it means lots of activities, the weather is divine and the routine comforting.

September 11
I spent the morning flipping channels on the 9/11 coverage as I did my 18-mile long run on the treadmill. Its still so shocking and raw and unbelievable that such a horror actually happened. Though its difficult, I want to always remember all the brave people who gave their lives that day.

I met up with my brother's family for a photo shoot. We found a beautiful tucked-away spot.

Sweet girls.

September 12
A running club has started at the kids school so I was there to support it. Gavin and I were at the half way point of their laps, offering high-fives and encouragement.

Soccer, soccer and more soccer.

September 13
The photo doesn't capture it, but I got a giggle out of Aiden's uniform. The pants are way too short, so his ankles are sticking out, which means you can tell he has one ankle sock and one regular sock, one is black, one is brown. And he cares not. :)

Family meals have temporarily been replaced with family homework time....and grabbing food before you have to fly out the door.

September 14
This boy. We are all the benefactors of his great and vast knowledge of all things "awesome". :)

Because J is in a school outside of our town, she is required to be part of the Vocational Science program, which is actually such a great fit for her! She's able to integrate the work that she's doing at the barn in with the work she's doing in her animal sciences course work. She needed photos for a slideshow presentation she put together and I was happy to help.

September 15
Amanda's team had a scrimmage. Our first string goalie couldn't be there, so Amanda filled in. In the second half, Shaun wanted to do some offense work with Amanda and none of the other girls would agree to step up and play goalie. Aiden went! :)

September 16
I'm currently training for a marathon, which requires a long run every weekend. As part of that, I decided to enter the Milford Half...its right on the water, making it both flat and scenic. As I drove down early that morning, a flood of memories came back. The last time I ran this Half was in September 2014. I had been training for a marathon all summer, while dealing with intense pain that I was somewhat managing with Advil. However, on the day of the race, I wasn't able to take any medication, in preparation for the colonoscopy I would be doing later in the week.

By the time I finished the race I was in so.much.pain. (and looking back, I was a fool for doing it). To answer my family's questioning stares as I worked through the pain, I mentioned that I was going for this silly test, which I was mostly annoyed about because we'd be paying out of pocket for it.

Days later, I would have that "silly test" and what I could never have dreamed or considered is that the colonoscopy would show that I had a cancerous tumor.

All these thoughts were churning through my heart on my drive down to the 2017 race and I sobbed. It completely overwhelms me when I start to think back over the years, even in tiny pieces and it also floods me with gratefulness that I am still here.

Still here, but not the same girl I was three years ago. My body is riddled with scars and I am no longer naive about intense suffering. The hard of it all is still sometimes more than I can bear. But I'm stronger and more compassionate. I don't take as much for granted and I allow less things to bother me. I hold very loosely to all things in this life, being ever mindful of all things eternal. I am here today, with breath in my lungs, even running again and I'm grateful.

Laryssa, Sarah and AJ ran, too!

After a stop at the soccer field, I got showered and ready to go to church. Our daughter K has a beautiful voice that she doesn't use, so I asked her if she might join me in singing in the choir at church. To my surprise she said yes, so we both tried it for the first time. With a weeknight rehearsal and a commitment to do all four weekend services, it was a lot, but we both enjoyed the one-on-one time it allowed and it was a fun experience.

Avery spent the day with the youth group at Six Flags. She's so old!!

September 17
While I was at church, Shaun was running kids around to soccer games.

From Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon we were packed with activities and going, going so it felt SO good to finally sit for some of the Broncos game. These fall weekends are no joke...grateful for health, endurance and an amazing life partner.

Friday, September 15, 2017

September's 10 on 10

10 pictures on the 10th day of the month (Sunday).
{Document a snapshot of your life & find beauty among the ordinary things in your day! }

My best intentions to get up early to do my 18-mile long run didn't pan out, since I was exhausted from a full day of activities the day before...took me a few hours to "let it go" and give myself grace. But I was still up for a gorgeous early-morning drop off at the horse barn.

A couple errands, then back to see my favorite horse-rider compete in her very first horse show. We're still learning all about this horse world, but its a joy to support something J is so passionate about and has wanted to do for so long. Out of six, she placed 6th, 2nd and 6th in her event. We were so proud of her for getting in the ring and trying something new and scary!

I normally take a kid or two with me grocery shopping to get some time with them and throw in how-to instructions on shopping, but since I had no one this time, I put in earbuds.

Then we went to work prepping for our afternoon party and the 30 people coming to our house.

The softball team got together for the annual end-of-season picnic. Its a nice group of people that we really only see during the summer/softball season. It was a lovely afternoon to just be outside.

Once everyone left, I still had enough time to get to my first game of Amanda's.

All the local grandparents came out for the game...and on Grandparents Day! :)

My favorite coach. He puts his heart and soul into this girls team the same way he would if it was the USA Men's team...that's just his way and I love him for it.

He's also been doing a significant amount of Geometry tutoring. J's desire is to do well but she has to work really hard to get there. They've spent hours on it so far this school year. (We're looking into a tutor for tax season, because I am NOT the backup plan for math help! ;)

I still have one kid who is ALWAYS up for reading a story with me. Right now we're reading Prince Warriors, Book 1 of a series we are both enjoying immensely.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Project 365, Week 37

Our Fall got well underway this week, with homework and activities and bedtimes. Five busy kids is...busy, but its also fun  and full of blessings. I know better than to wish even one day away. Instead, I want to purposefully enjoy it. 

September 4
Shaun and the girls had spent a very rainy day playing in a soccer tournament the day before so everything had to get dried out...this is the only picture evidence that I have of the weekend tournament. :)

While my aunt was in the area for Lobster Fest, she arranged for she and my mom to visit the home of their late grandparents, which is currently on the market and was an important piece of their childhood. It was built in the 1700's and some of it has been preserved, like this incredible fireplace.

September 5
Jared is back at UCONN, so we stopped in to see him. From his dorm we can see J's new high school, which is convenient! While there, he swiped us all through for dinner in his dining hall. The kids were amazed that his friend was eating ice cream with his dinner, not after it.

Our two household Red Sox fans got to go to Fenway!! As it turned out, the game went into extra innings...NINETEEN total innings, making it the second longest game in the 100+ years of Fenway history. They, and 700 other crazy dedicated fans stayed for the entirety of the game, getting home at 4AM!

September 6
It was H's birthday, so we picked him up and took him out to dinner. Among his gifts was a photo book I made of his 18 months here. Having a nice evening with him made us miss him, though he seems to be doing well.

September 7
Every year, towards the end of September, we like to do a Girls Night Out at a restaurant on the Connecticut River. I'm so thankful for friends who inspire, challenge and keep me accountable, and who are just fun to be with!

September 8
This is the time of year when I probably make my kids nuts, exclaiming more than usual about the pure loveliness of our surrounding. New England in the fall is an international destination spot and we live here!

September 9
This day had four soccer games, a horse show and several other activities. I'm just getting me feet wet with the whole horse world...there was a pre-show dinner we attended this week and I was amazed by the things I heard from other parents...the level of commitment, the amount of money, the community. Its all a little crazy to me, but J's passion and love for it makes it easier. And I'll just have to be the queen of "no". No to the 15th bake sale of the month, no to the extra additional riding lesson of the week. But...I was so proud of her this weekend!

September 10
We had an end-of-season picnic at our house with the softball team on a beautiful day!

The crowd cleared out early enough for me to be able to see Amanda's game, my first of the season.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

State of the House ~ Summer Edition

We're just going to go ahead and lump the latest "State of" together into one post, entitled the State of the House ~Summer Edition. :) I really do miss writing and blogging. The reasons for my lack of writing are varied...some legitimate, most excuses, but still I feel the void. 

June was spent wrapping up school and spring activities until the middle of the month. At the last minute I decided to shirk all my adult and household responsibilities and join Shaun in Las Vegas for his business conference. I'm so glad I did! We desperately needed to connect and just get away. And thanks to family stepping in, the kids were alive and the house was standing when we returned.

In July the teens girls worked at day camps and H and the younger three attended overnight camps (Aiden's first year!). Shaun worked in ernest on the other house, trying to have it ready to rent for August. The projects were major and time-consuming and taxing on us all. 

To greatly add to the stress, we began to have serious talks about whether H was going to be able to stay in our home. Around the first of the year his behavior, already tenuous, began to decline and we noticed a significant shift. Worse, it seemed like the more we invested in him, the more we loved on him, the more he pulled away and made poor decisions. After much prayer, talking it out, input from social workers, we made the very painful decision that our home was no longer a good fit for him. So we started making a thoughtful plan of transitioning him to a new place at the end of August, just before school.

But that all changed when I got a call from the camp director. H was on an excursion trip to Cape Cod, something he really wanted to do, and after many intervention attempts by camp staff, he was getting kicked off the trip. So on August 1, with just hours notice, I drove him to his new place and said goodbye.

Shaun and I worked really hard with him and have clear consciouses that we did all we could to salvage the placement. But it still hurt badly and we mourned the loss. We trust that what H learned and experienced here in 18 months will stay with him and that he will continue to seek out and yield himself to his Good Father.

Foster care is a difficult, sometimes lonely road. It is refining, it is sacred, it is unorthodox blessings.

I'm thankful for summer and extra time with the kids. Its fun to be with them, even if we're working together and I'm grateful for that flexibility.