thankfulness 2015

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 also 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 have 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 climb 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.

Christmas 2014

Obviously this post is a rather late, but I did just have a baby recently, so I think it’s understandable that I have gotten a bit behind 🙂

We so enjoyed our Christmas, though, and I do want to share just a bit and post some photos here. Our celebrations started off with our Christmas party with our missional community group from church.

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We are super blessed to have these people in our lives…and even though I doubt he’s really aware of it yet, Atticus already has two built-in best friends in our group!

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We basically announced to our families when we told them we were pregnant that we were not going to be traveling for any holidays in 2014, and they were welcome to do whatever they wanted, but we’d be here for everything. We were so blessed that Matt’s sister and mom visited before and after Christmas, and my whole family came for Christmas itself.

The girls, of course, continue to love their uncles beyond measure. They enjoyed some rocket-ship construction with Uncle David…

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…reading books with Uncle Danny and Sharon…

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…snuggling with Uncle Danny and SharonIMG_1291…and doing puzzles with Uncle David (and me)!

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And of course, we can’t forget Sharon, who remains a favorite of both girls, for obvious reasons! Here she is helping them to frost cookies.

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And here she is painting their fingernails.

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And she also apparently gives piggy-back rides!

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Danny and Sharon actually brought their dog, Dixie, with them for this trip. I was a bit apprehensive at first about how things would go with 7 adults, 2 kids, a newborn, and a dog all in one house, but Dixie was the most well-behaved, pleasant dog I’ve ever met. The girls loved her, of course!

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She was a bit less enamored with them – she enjoyed having them along on her walks but otherwise generally hid in the guest room until they went to bed at night!

Not to be forgotten, Atticus enjoyed snuggling with every member of the family at some point during their time here 🙂

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The girls and my dad and I made our traditional Christmas cut-out cookies…

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…though some of us were distracted by the tastiness of the dough itself!

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We also looked into other activities that we could enjoy as a whole family, and we opted to give bowling a try.

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Thankfully it was a hit for everyone!

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And then we had the more traditionally Christmas-related activities – a Christmas Eve church service (to which the girls wore these adorable outfits that their Aunt Denya sent for them!)…

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…our Christmas dinner (of which I made none – thank you again, family!)…

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…and of course our Christmas tree and gifts to one another!

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My dad hadn’t upgraded his phone in quite some time, so we got him an iPhone for Christmas. It’s a good thing he had Madeleine CaiQun to show him how to operate it! “This is how you plug it in. Then it needs to be brighter. Here. This is the weather – it tells you if you need to wear a jacket or not…”

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And then we were blessed to have a warm enough day for the girls to try out the plasma cars that my mom got for them! It took a bit of time for them to figure it out, but they were loving this!

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It was such a great Christmas and so much good time with so many people who are so special to us!

Visits from Family

Most often when people ask how we are adjusting to life as a family of five, my thoughts jump immediately to my “to do” lists and how well I’m keeping up with them – and as an afterthought I consider our hearts, how we are loving each other and taking care of ourselves. Really we’re doing pretty well on both fronts, but I definitely need continual reminders to address the latter. And so today, as the girls are upstairs enjoying their rest time and Atticus is sleeping beside me (because this boy is a snugglebug – why sleep in a bassinet when you could have full body contact with your mama?), I open this page to write. Writing, even if not profound, reminds me that I still have a self that is distinct from care-giver-for-the-littles – while that occupies most of my time and I truly believe that it is my calling and I love it, it does not make up the entirety of me. I enjoy these few moments I can grab from time to time to write…and writing also reminds me of what we have celebrated and for what we are thankful.

One of the things for which I am thankful that I haven’t yet shared here is our December visits from our NY family. Matt’s younger sister Stacey flew out for a long weekend about a week and a half after Atticus was born, and Matt’s mom joined us for a few days after Christmas.

They, of course, were quite willing to spend some time holding our little guy 🙂

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And that truly is helpful! With 2 other kiddos for whom to care and a household to run, I certainly didn’t mind other people spending some time snuggling with and getting to know the newest member of our family!

The girls also got in some great quality time with both their aunt and their grandma, which was a blessing for them and also for Matt and me. Since they live over 1,000 miles away, we don’t get to see our NY family very often. We still want our kiddos to have good relationships with them, though, so it really was wonderful to have some of them here and spending so much time with our kids.

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And of course it was great for Matt and me to get to see his mom and sister, too! We so appreciate the fact that we can keep up with far-away family through Facebook and phone calls and texts, but there’s so much ground you can cover in a few days together that the sporadic long-distance interactions don’t provide. It was so nice to have some time to get more caught up on each other’s lives! And we hope to make it out to New York this summer to have the opportunity to re-connect with the entire New York side of the family and introduce Atticus to them!