"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Milestone Met

It has been such a good summer.

I am calling it our old fashioned summer.

The younger kids have almost nothing scheduled - no camps, no swimming lessons, no t-ball.  Nothing.  I know, it is nearly un-American!

Instead of rushing them from place to place, we are hanging out together.

We are walking the dog, planting flowers, chatting with neighbors, cutting grass, reading books, rollerblading, and riding bike!  We are talking a lot and laughing a lot and relaxing even more!

Joshua's BIG accomplishment this summer is that he learned to ride a two-wheel bike!  One morning I went to work and he could not do it.  I arrived home late - at 7 pm - and spied my littlest two peddling around the neighborhood loop.  I was more than ready to stretch my lags after a long day behind my desk, so I took off after them.  As I got closer I noticed that Joshua NO LONGER had his training wheels!

When I caught up to my kids, I gave JG a huge high-five!  I told him I was shocked that he did not need his training wheels anymore.

He shrugged and said, "Brenna taught me!  I am faster now!"  Then he took off, faster than I had ever seen him go, easily keeping up with his sister and his best buddy.

The really cool thing about Joshua learning to ride a bike is that he did it right on time!  Five is the average age to learn to ride a 2-wheel bike.  Average is something Joshua has not been when it comes to motor skill milestones.  Three summers ago, he was WAY behind.  At 2.5 he could not run or jump.  Slowly, with much work on his part and a fair amount of sneaky strategy on my part, he has caught up.  However, THIS is the first motor milestone he has hit right on the nose!

In fact, the only area in which he may be just the littlest bit "behind" remains in school skills.  He does not enjoy writing, drawing, coloring, painting, etc. . .  At.  All.  Thus, he colors and writes more like a 3.5 or 4 year old than a 5 year old.  He can write his name.  He can also identify letters and numbers, but he hates to!  He wants to climb and imagine and play, play, play.

So - he will spend another year at Montessori.  Because he is SO ready for Kindergarten in so many ways - socially, attention span, intelligence, motor skills - it has been a hard call for me.  He has made it even harder!  He repeatedly says, "Mom!  I want to go to real Kindergarten!"

Finally one day, I explained why I thought he should wait another year.  I explained that in Kindergarten he would be expected to learn to read.  He would be expected to spend much of the day at a desk/table.  He would need to write words and sentences.

He has not suggested "real Kindergarten" again!

Once in a while I still doubt my decision.  If I throw him into school there is a good chance he will swim rather than sink.  He is a competitive little guy.  Sinking is not something he accepts easily, so chances are he will figure out how to swim!?!  However, it is not worth the risk.  Not. At. All.

As one wise friend told me, "I don't think you can go wrong by waiting."

And really, shouldn't we all take more time to play?

I know I am working on it!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Lessons Learned While Walking My Dog

Our family has a dog.  He is a 5 year old golden retriever.   He and I have an interesting relationship.  He loves me and everyone else he has ever met, and I tolerate him.  I know most of you are dog lovers.  I am not.  I try. . . sort of - but I am merely a dog owner rather than a dog lover.

This spring I realized that I had to work on my relationship with our dog.  (Feel free to laugh here!)

He was totally driving me bonkers!  Whenever I opened the garage door, he ran off.  He would look at me and "laugh" as I called him back home.  Then he would take off.  At one point I was hoping he would disappear and never return.

Because I love my kids and my kids love our dog, I decided to dedicate some time to our relationship. (Again - feel free to laugh.)

So. . . I started making sure I took him for a walk or run every day.  Every. Single.  Day.  Yes - I know, all loving dog owners walk their dogs.  Remember - I am not a dog lover.  This is a BIG deal for me. 

Walking Riley is NOT peaceful.

Riley pulls like a freight train, dragging me around like a rag doll.
He stops frequently to take bathroom breaks. Gross!
He never passes by a puddle without diving into it -
and then he shakes the muddy water all over his owner.
He also tries to run off and chase every bird or dog he sees.
Until he gets tired.
Once he is tired, I get the honor of dragging him along.
He drives me completely crazy!  First he drags me and then I drag him.  Pacing a workout is completely impossible. 
About a month into this dog walking nightmare, God started whispering to me.  He was saying, "You are a lot like that dog."
"What?  I am certainly NOT like this annoying animal!" I grumbled back.
But then I started thinking. . . maybe I am.
I tend to run ahead of God, trying to pull him along on my plans - rather than allowing Him to lead me.
Just as Riley dives for puddles, I sometimes take breaks and follow foolish pursuits. 
I tend to get distracted and chase my own "birds" rather than following the path He has for me.
And then when I am totally, completely exhausted - I ask Him why?  Why is my life so busy?  How could He ask for me to finish the task He has before me when I am so tired?
I love that God has a lesson in even the most annoying tasks!  I have thought much about this lesson.  Each day as I walk the dog, I think about how I can better walk with God.
 I appreciate that He always walks beside me.  I am sure there are days He feels way more frustrated with me than I do with my dog!
I pray about allowing Him to take the lead.
Asking Him to keep me focused.
Trusting His pace guide me.
Each day, Riley becomes a bit more bearable to walk.  He is pulling much less. More often than not there is slack in the leash.  He is becoming less distractable, except in regards to puddles - they are still irresistible! But when I open the garage door, he no longer runs off.  Instead, he waits for me to take him exploring!
Little by little, he is learning to obey.
He is learning to trust me.
Even crazier, I am beginning to like him.
I guess this parallels my relationship with God as well.
The more time I spend with Him, the more I love, trust, obey - and ADORE Him.
In no way do I mean to over simplify or disrespect the holiness of my relationship with the Lord by comparing it to dog walking!  I surely appreciate that even in the mundane and annoying chores, He is guiding me and teaching me.
He is so good.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

She is 17.

Yesterday Krissy turned 17.

Having her turn 17 was incredibly nostalgic to me.  For one thing it is her last birthday as a kid.

Crazy!  In 12 months, Chad and I will have a child who is a legal adult!  Sometimes I don't even feel grown-up yet!

In the next 12 months she will encounter so many milestones - senior pictures, college applications, college acceptance, all the stuff that will make up her senior year of high school, graduation. . .  It almost feels as though there will be as many milestones in this last 12 months of childhood as there were in her first 12 months - except that in the first 12 months my job was to pray,  hover,  and protect.  NOW my job is to pray, support, guide, and release.

Krissy turning 17 was also nostalgic to me because 17 was a great year for me personally.  While I know she is not me, and I do not expect her to be me - I can't help but reminisce about my 17th year watching her live hers.  For me, the highlight of being 17 was falling in love with her dad.  (Nope, I do NOT expect that falling in love with her future husband will be the highlight of this year for her.  But as Chad and I approach our 19th wedding anniversary, it is really sweet to think about our first dates!)

I am SO excited to witness Krissy's 17th year.  I am so curious about some of the choices she will make!  Where will she choose to go to college?  Will she go to the Prom again? (She says no!)  What events will she enjoy?  What new things will she experience?

Krissy hates a fuss, so I have vowed to keep this year simple!

As proof of this simplicity, I only asked for 2 photos yesterday.  One with her birthday pies (she does not like cake) and one with me.  Krissy hates photos almost as much as she hates being called her legal name.  Two years ago, Chad agreed to let her get her nose pierced IF she promised to allow me to take some pictures of her once in a while.  I rarely collect on that promise, but yesterday I did.

She may or may not hate this photo - but to me it is a treasure.
Krissy, you have so much ahead of you.  I pray the road will be easy.  I pray you will make wise choices.  I pray you are surrounded by beautiful friendships.  I know some days will be hard - harder than you are ready for just yet.  I hate knowing that.  However, I know you will be OK.  You are so very smart.  You are so very determined.  You are so incredibly hard working.  You are so very faithful.  You are so capable.  I have been watching you strengthen your wings for years now.  Sometimes they are stronger than I wish my independent daughter.  And other times I cling too tight and refuse to allow you to fly.  I am sorry for those times.  I am sorry for the times I give orders or make assumptions instead of listening.  As you know, I am learning right along with you.  I am so incredible proud of you.  You are fierce and brave.  You are also compassionate and committed.  God will use you mightily if you allow Him to.  And I will have the honor of watching from as close as you will allow.  I promise not to bring my camera.  I love you beautiful girl.  I am so, so, so thankful that God chose me to be your mom.  You are an incredible gift.

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Whole Lot of Yard Work and Some Firework Fun

We have been working really, really hard on our yard for the past month and a half.  While I enjoy yard work, the start-up stuff is not my favorite.  Thankfully many hands make less work!  Our kids are always (well usually)happy  to help! 
 Having 1.6 acres is a lot different than a small town lot.
On 1.6 acres, we want trees. . . lots of trees.
So I agreed to do something I vowed I would NEVER, EVER do.  I planted "sticks."
(Side story here: When I was in early elementary school, my parents bought 40 acres.  It was a treeless pasture.  It was to become home just as soon as they could afford to build a house on it.  One of the first things they did was to plant a shelterbelt.  My dad hyped the fact that we were getting trees, big time.  I have rarely been as disappointed as I was when we arrived at the land to check out the trees.  The "trees" my dad had raved about were nothing more than sticks.  They were only about 18 inches high and had absolutely no leaves.  I had the extreme (dis)pleasure of weeding those sticks for quite a few years.  I did not enjoy them - at all.  Thus I vowed to NEVER go near another stick when I was an adult.
I kept that vow for 38 years.  I would have kept it forever, but my mother-in-law went to a tree sale.  She bought all the trees on my list, BUT some were sticks.  When Chad told me, I seriously had a stomach ache.  For real.  In the end, I agreed to plant them.  And now,  my children will be able to tell their children how awful growing sticks really is!  Ha! 
Actually, I decided that we may as well try them.  They were super cheap. 
Like father, like daughter I suppose.
 Brenna happily helped Chad plant the sticks.
 Joshua joined in as well.
He is a great digger - not?!?
If you are going to plant sticks, you will also need to water them.
 Good thing I have a lot of helpers.
 Sierra makes me smile - always.
 Here is Brenna standing next to a Maple stick.
Chad figures in 5 years it may be as tall as Joshua.
(thus my aversion to sticks)
We do have several full grown trees on our property, thank the Lord.
We also have a few mid-size trees, so it is not quite as pathetic as I am making it sound!
I admit, I am milking it.
After Chad hauled in and leveled the black dirt, he taught me to level pavers.
I spent a full day and a half laying a paver edging around the perimeter of the house.
Then Brenna and I FINALLY did something fun!
We went flower/plant shopping.
Brenna has a great eye for color and texture.  She also loves to garden.  So, I let her choose the perennials for our border.  I can't wait to watch the plants grow and remember shopping and planting with my 10 year old Brenna girl. She positively glowed at the greenhouse.  Touching this and that, putting plants side by side trying to decide what she liked.  An artist in the making, she is.
After she finished helping me plant, she took the following photos of her work.
 (OK so this one is really just a weed, but I love how she captured it on film.)

 Blue Hydrangea - her favorite of the flowers she chose
 After the plants and grass seed were in place - it was time to run the sprinklers.
And run the sprinklers.
And run the sprinklers.
Chad and I wake up each morning and carefully count the number of blades of grass that have poked out of the dirt overnight.  (That is only a slight exaggeration.)  We have joked that sometimes hope is spelled g-r-a-s-s!  Not weed, though grass! HA! (Can you tell we are parenting teens.)
We took a break from the toils of yard work to play on the evening of July 4.
 (Sorry Gubs.  I love this photo.)

 Sister love.
 Brenna Joy
 This photo is SO Jay.  It makes me laugh out loud.
It perfectly captures his subtle sense of humor.
 Only 4 of our 5 were with us on the 4th.
That is new for me, but I suspect I better get used to it!
 Brenna snapped this shot of Chad and I.
I think I told you she has an artistic eye. . .
One of Daddy's girls
 Jamison was SO good with Joshua!
He coached him through firework safety.
And no one got hurt OR overly annoyed in the process.
He is such a good big brother.
JG was SO proud to be shooting off fireworks with the big kids!

 Tom was quick to clean up with his high power vacuum!
(If we ever get grass and plants to grow, I may be a bit of a neat freak as well! There is no doubt his perfectly landscaped masterpiece is worth keeping clean.)
 After the firecrackers were gone, Joshua played with Lucy while he waited for it to get dark.
Finally - the real show began.

 I have extremely mixed feelings about fireworks.  On one hand, I CAN NOT justify spending money on them when we could go to the Capitol and watch for free.  It makes me nearly ill to watch money get blasted in this way.  It is not something I grew up with.  I do not personally enjoy lighting them off - and if it were up to me, we would never spend another dollar on them.
However, my kids had a blast.  They would NOT have had nearly as much fun sitting at the Capitol.  They would have been bored.  They look forward to this night all year.  Memory making is an important investment too.
In the end, I am undecided. For me alone, it is a gigantic waste of money.  But is it for the rest of my family?  THIS may be the topic of more than one family meeting this coming year.
On the 5th, Chad and Jay were at a jobsite by 7am.  I headed outside to begin shoveling and wheel barrowing rock into my edging.  It is NOT what I would call a fun day.  It was also NOT relaxing.  BUT I did get the job done.  Actually, we got the job done.  I hauled rock from 8 to 4.  I was nearly ready to collapse when Chad and Jay got home from work.  They helped me haul the last 5 loads.  I have never been so thankful for their help.  I think I hauled about 5 ton of rock all by myself.  Each stone had to be shoveled into the wheelbarrow from a pile in the driveway.  Then the load had to be wheeled around the house and dumped into the edging.  Then it was leveled into place.  Then the process was repeated.  I am really glad it that Friday is over!
Saturday, Chad, Jay, and I made a permanent firepit.  This was a FUN project.  Partially because I love how it turned out and partially because I was surrounded by muscle!
 Step 1. Level the spot
 Step 2. Measure and mark the area.  Chad used a laser for precise leveling.
 Step 3. Stack the stones
 Step 4. Edge out the fire area with pavers
 Step 5.  Fill it up with rock.  This time, Jay and I took turns hauling and Chad used the tractor bucket where possible.  This was WAY less physical then Friday!
 Step 6.  Take photos.
Eventually we will use rock and pavers to create a path from the firepit to the concrete patio.  We will also plant grass all around the firepit.  I am really happy with how it turned out! 
 Here is a fun view of my edging.
I piled up a totem of rocks just like we saw along the coast of Aruba when we were there a few years ago.  Chad noticed it right away.  Aruba. . . now that is a good memory!
Only one week after we planted them our sticks are coming to life.
After much work. . .
hope blooms.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Day at the Lake

We crammed A LOT of stuff into the last four days.  Too much for one post.  So I am left with a dilemma, write about the fun first or the work?

Chad and I are both first born children.  Which means in our home work almost always comes first.  Work does not necessarily mean our jobs, and we try to put relationships above work - but FUN is at the  bottom of both of our lists.  That does not mean we don't like to have fun.  It just means that when we have to choose between a "frivolous/fun" activity or purchase and a "sensible/useful" one we always gravitate toward "sensible."

Most of our weekend was sensible.  Most of the weekend we worked on the yard. 

But not today.

Today, we went to the lake. 

Ahhh.  I love to be near the water.  It is most certainly where I feel happiest, calmest, and most carefree.

Our boat is by far our most frivolous possession.  It may also be our smartest.

On the boat, Chad and I play.  We laugh.  We get rowdy.  We totally relax in a fun and exhilarating way that our kids never see off the water.

It is so very good.

On the boat, we encourage the kids to be silly and daring.
 Trying brave new things is expected.
 (Notice Jamison in the water with his little sis.  He is our master wakeboarder.  When Sierra wanted to learn today, he jumped in the lake to coach her.)
 Falling is not failing at the lake.
Trying is what matters, not perfection.
 Even momma plays at the lake. . . once in a while, that is!
Funny thing is that although I love to be on the water, I do not love to be in the water.  Getting wet is not my favorite.  So when momma sets down the camera and swims, it is a BIG deal!
Beauty at the last is pure, calm, and crisp.
The water was perfect today.
Jamison skidding across the water, with his reflection clearly following him, makes my heart sigh.
 (Can't you just imagine Joshua envisioning himself being as big and strong as his brother in this shot?  He wisely adores his big bro.)

 Craziness and laughter are expected at the lake.
As is fun for every age child - at the same time.
 Teamwork and competition collide when you tube side by side at the lake.
The Dietrich rule is the first one to fall off has to rotate back into the boat and give a waiting tuber a turn.
 Some win and some lose - but all laugh and have fun!

 Some danger is embraced -
with complete parental approval!
 This was perhaps my favorite moment of the day.
Joshua insisted on trying the lay down tube.
The lay down tube is NOT as safe and secure as the sit down tube.
I was worried.. .
until I saw Jay and Krissy form a pyramid of protection around their smallest sibling.
Then I knew they had his back.
No matter what.
 Eventually they hit a wave hard and fell off. 
I gasped, feeling scared for Joshua.
What if he hit too hard or was scared when he went under water.
I had no reason to be afraid.
Even before Jay surfaced, he had Joshua up and out of the water.
He grabbed Gubs under the armpits and hoisted him firmly above the wake before my little guy could feel any fear.  In fact by the time we circled back to them with the boat, they were all laughing.
They way my kids take care of each other never ceases to amaze me.
I am so thankful they have each other.
I am so proud of the way they love.
Surprise rules at the lake.
Switching tubes with no warning. . .

is just too funny to resist.
Joy and celebration are commonplace at the lake. . .
I wish all the world was like the lake.
 Chad totally enjoys dragging these crazies around the lake.
It is fun to watch him relax with our kids.  When we first got to the lake, he confessed to feeling lazy - like he should be getting some work done instead of playing.  Slowly, the "lake Chad" returned.  His shoulders relaxed, he laughed more, he played tricks on the kids, and his "horsepower grin" resurfaced.  I have missed "lake Chad."
We stayed later than we had intended.
By the time we packed up, we were all tired.
The happy kind of tired.
The best kind of tired there is.

Lake Tired.