Miranda’s Birthday

Our family has a number of birthdays in August and September, and as I was thinking about blogging about some of those, it occurred to me that I actually never wrote my blog post for Miranda’s birthday this year! At the end of April, Miranda turned seven, which seems like such a big age for my oldest child!

We spent the weekend celebrating, starting with gifts from her brother and sisters and relatives from afar and a visit to Orange Leaf, a local frozen yogurt shop that has many topping options and is thus much beloved by our children!

Matt’s and my big gift to Miranda this year was one of our best gifts ever, I think. I came across the idea on Facebook and suggested it to Matt, who was shocked that I’d be on board with something like that, but I actually thought it looked amazing! And in particular for Miranda, who is a sensory-seeker, especially when it comes to proprioceptive input, it seemed like it would be such a great tool. But of course it was Matt who actually built it. The girls’ room now has climbing walls in the little alcove leading to its dormer window!

Miranda can often be found climbing on it and choreographing climbing shows to perform for the rest of us, and when she’s having a hard time, I’ll sometimes suggest that she go climb for a while. She really enjoys it, and we’re so glad!

This year was a big milestone in that it was the first year Miranda had a birthday party with friends. I am not in any way, shape, or form anything that remotely even resembles a Pinterest mom. I know some people love hosting parties for their kids at their house, the cleaning and the decorating and the theme and game planning, and that’s great – it’s just not me. That would stress me out to no end. Instead we paid to have a birthday party at the gym where the girls have done gymnastics, and it was perfect (from this mama’s perspective!). We got an hour of our group having the whole gym to ourselves and then an hour upstairs to have cake and open presents.

It really was a perfect set up for this crew! And even our littles got to enjoy it, as well šŸ™‚

We really had a great time celebrating Miranda and her birthday! And the benefit of writing this post a few months after her birthday is that I can say with some certainty that this 7-year-old year is a big one for her. She’s growing academically, yes, progressing with reading and math and her knowledge of science and history, but even more than that, we have been working hard on character growth. Miranda is passionate and intense, which serves her so well in some areas – there is no end to her creativity, and she’s a natural leader. But she’s also been working hard at learning how to harness that energy, how to self-regulate when her big feelings threaten to take over, and how to manage the grays of life. I’m so proud of her for all the hard work she’s been doing and all the growth we’re seeing. These last few months have been big ones, and I expect these coming months to continue in that pattern. I think God has big plans for this girl, and it is a privilege to be her mama and get to live out this adventure of life with her!

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This year I’ve been particularly reflective about the blessing of family. This time last year we were eagerly awaiting the arrival of our third baby, little Atticus Garrett, for whom my labor started the morning after Thanksgiving.

This past year has brought much growth in all of us. My girls became big sisters to a baby brother, and they have been challenged to love him well but alsoĀ to grow in their own independence. They’ve also continued to develop in their own right, growing closer and closer to being the women they’re going to be. Matt and I haveĀ been so encouraged by the ways in which they’ve grown this year, and we’re enjoying them more and more as people.

And that Atticus boy – I’m trying to soak him in. There are his adorable curls and the way he smiles and reaches for me when I walk into a room. There’s the way he curls into my chest and reaches his hand inside my shirt when he’s wanting to nurse. There’s the way he tucks his head into me and scrunches his eyes shut when he’s ready to go to sleep. There’s his increasingly steady gait as he practices walking longer and longer distances. There are his excited squeals and gesticulations every time he sees an animal, whether cat or dog or even fish. There’s the amusing way he seeks a way to climbĀ on anything and everything, whether stove, staircase, or couch. I want to take every part of this fun time and sear it into my memory for revisiting in the future when my little guy has moved beyond this stage.

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And of course there is my relationship with Matt, my partner in parenting and beyond. With the girls at Awana every Wednesday night, we’ve been able to get out for some regular date nights this semester, which we’ve very much enjoyed. This year we’ve been studying parenting, experiencing the writings of Madeleine L’Engle, and trying to dream big about future possibilities for art, writing, learning, building, ministry, and travel.

I feel myself, now a mom of three, being stretched and growing into more and more the mother I’d like to be. I’m more comfortable in this role of constant out-pouring of love, energy, and grace. I have the perspective of five-and-a-half years in this parenting role to know that the interrupted sleep and the need for constant supervision of my baby-almost-toddler will come to an end. I’m realizing that focusing on the difficulties of certain stages is less helpful than enjoying their positives and strategizing about parenting well in the midst of them. I’m content in not being able to do all that much ministry outside of our family (though it is a blessing to be able to do what I can with some lay counseling and children’s ministry and hosting our missional community group and a few other things), realizing that this is a season, and there will be other seasons that look different. For now, I can focus on loving my kiddos well, reading that extra book, taking those minutes to snuggle, listening to that made-up joke, rubbing that back, rocking that baby.

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And this year at Thanksgiving we are immersed in the added blessing of being with my family – my always-serving mother and game-playing father and my awesome brothers and Danny’s fiancee, Sharon. I see now what I didn’t as a child, that the friendships I had then were important, but it would be with my brothers that I would have my most enduring and meaningful relationships. I’m grateful that even as we live spread across the country from one another, we’re able to maintain relationships and support, encourage, and enjoy each other.

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And of course I am grateful to the God who is the author of it all. I find myself yearning to know and understand Him more and more. As Atticus cries for me and only me at night, I wonder what it would feel like to know that He and only He has what I need, to cry out for Him and refuse to settle for anything less. I pray for that.