Tuesday, September 30, 2014

On loneliness

A few weeks ago Addie received the card that is pictured above from a little friend of hers who lives in Illinois. It was a sweet gesture and Addie loved reading the mail. At times when I see it propped up on the desk in her room, I can't help but feel a sting.

I don't like to admit it. I don't think anyone does. Being lonely is no fun.

A few weeks ago I was experiencing some pangs of homesickness, missing well-established, comfortable, easy friendships. I think those pangs were prompted by some discouragement here on the home front in Hays, so it was easy for that door to crack open and those homesick feelings to make an  unwelcome appearance.

I was able to get through it without throwing a pity party, something that, a couple of years ago, would have been natural for me. Anyone and everyone near or far from me would've known something was wrong, even if I didn't voice it, and I'd have pouted and furrowed my brows and snapped at any who dared threaten my pitiful self.

This is growth. I don't say that to pat myself on the back. I say it because as I recognized these feelings of homesickness and, ahem, loneliness, I was able to see through their haze and know with certainty that God is with me. While it's not wrong to allow myself to feel these feelings, the temptation to dwell on them and let them affect my every move wasn't there. When I realized that that is what was making me feel so different in the midst of these familiar feelings, I didn't hoop and holler and brag about growing. The truth is, I still hurt, but in that discomfort I knew (and know) my Comforter was with me.

Deuteronomy 31:6Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Sometimes we look for scripture that will comfort us, sustain us, teach us as we experience difficulty. I specifically searched for loneliness in the Bible and this is one of the many verses that came back from my search. It's easy to grab hold of the one that makes us feel the best and then move on, but as I read over the verses I came back to this one and read the context. (Read Joshua 31). Joshua is taking on a huge task. But he is not going at it alone. The Lord is going with him. He does not have to fear. He will not leave. In the verses following this verse the Bible talks about the Lord going before Joshua. So before he even takes a step, God has made the way. And then the Bible reiterates that the Lord is going with him, and that He will not leave or forsake Him.

I'm not taking on a task like Joshua's, but as my days are still peppered with feelings of missing home, or frustration or discouragement from the adjustments of being in a new place, I am comforted with knowing that there is nothing to fear. The Lord has made the way for us here, before we even got here. He is with me, I am not alone. And not only is He with me, He will not leave me.

I am thankful, so thankful, for God's patience with me and for His comfort.

Monday, August 18, 2014

How the lazy river taught me about kindergarten

Here in Hays we have an aquatic park. When we realized it was here I was both pleased and surprised - for a town this size it is a really nice park. Two water slides, a lazy river, a full size swimming pool with diving boards and a separate, large area for younger kids to play in complete with a slide and a few other water attractions. And, it is no more than three feet deep in the deepest area.

For us, when we discovered the reasonably priced season passes, it was a no-brainer to purchase them. We made our money back with our visits and I didn't have to feel bad if some days we went and only ended up spending an hour there.

The week before school started we met one of Addie's school friends, her mom, and little brother at the aquatic park to swim. At one point during our visit the girls expressed interest in riding through the lazy river. They wanted to ride together in one of the double inner tubes. Up until that day, Addie had only ridden on mine or Sabian's laps in a single inner tube. The lazy river is only three feet deep but at five years old, Addie has yet to master swimming and I feel pretty cautious around the water.

When the girls first asked to ride together I wasn't quite sure what to say, but when the other mom seemed comfortable with it, I reconciled in my mind that they would be fine. Both girls were wearing body and arm floats and there were lifeguards stationed every so often around the ride and we would be as near as our inner tubes would allow. I took a deep breath and they climbed in to their tubes.

They had a blast. I was proud of Addie as I watched she and her friend smile and laugh and responsibly hold on to the handles on their inner tube. The other mom and I, with the younger siblings, floated along near them and had some good conversation. I mentally patted myself on the back and considered this a little stepping stone toward Addie gaining more independence and her knowing I could trust her.

The very next day we were back at the aquatic park, this time with Sabian. Addie's elementary school had rented the park that evening for the school families. Once again, we found ourselves on the lazy river. This time, Addie wanted an inner tube all to herself. I went through the same feelings as before - my breath caught in my throat and at first I wanted to say, "No way!" but I realized she would be able to handle it. Again, armed with her floaties, she climbed in to an inner tube, this time on her own, and I floated as close to her as possible. Sabian and Olive followed right behind us.

At one point I was holding on to her inner tube so we wouldn't get separated and she said to me, "I can do it mom!" I reluctantly let go of her tube.

Not far after the beginning of the ride there is a fork in the lazy river - a short cut to the other side, or the long way around. The short cut and the long route meet on the other side, but in between is an "island" covered with grass and bushes, blocking the view of the long route until breaking out onto the other side where the two routes meet.

Addie and I met this fork in the river and as hard as I tried, I couldn't stay with her - the current took me through the short cut and carried her the long way. I yelled after her, "Hang on, Addie!" As I floated to where the two routes met, I was unable to see her, but I held on so I wouldn't float away until she reached me.

I can't even say how long it took for her to get around that bend - maybe a minute, maybe two, but that's probably stretching it. It wasn't long at all, but it was long enough for me to think about all of the bad things that could happen to her as she was out of my view - she could tip over, someone could be over there and snatch her so quickly out of that tube - irrational thoughts, but I'm fairly certain if you are reading this and are a mom or babysitter, you may understand what I mean!

It was also long enough for me to shove those thoughts out of my mind and think about how I trusted her to be smart, how I really knew she would be fine, and how I just needed to let her go. And then I made the connection between the lazy river and kindergarten - she would be okay.

When she rounded the bend, all smiles and wet hair, we laughed and floated on our way.

I recently read an article that dealt with something similar regarding letting our children go. We teach them, train them, and then send them out to put the things they've learned in to practice. If we never let them go to do that, they'd never have the opportunity to exercise those skills, succeed, fail, learn, try again.

Even so, I cried the night before kindergarten. Not because I thought Addie couldn't do it, but because of the transition it signified in our lives. In her little life. She was so excited and I was pleased she was looking forward to it so much. As we stepped into her classroom she visibly tensed and was reluctant to inch much further without help from us. No tears, and when she finally sat down in her seat, she smiled at the treats her teacher had left for her. A few more pictures, a kiss and goodbye. I shed a few tears in the car and around the house that morning and was so glad to see her little face at 11:27, just a few hours later. It was "awesome," she said.

When I dropped her off the next day, it was to be her first full day. She marched confidently to stand in line with her classmates, we said goodbye, and I sat in my car and watched until they walked inside...and I shed a few more tears. Happy that she was looking forward to her day, but also knowing I would miss her at home.

Change is a process, and sometimes a long one for me. In this case, I am thrilled for Addie, but it is still change, and it will still take some getting used to our new routine. Especially, this morning, when I dropped her off again and twice she sweetly told me she would miss me today. No tears, but I am wondering how this, her second full day, has gone, and I look forward to seeing her in about thirty minutes.

Some say this is "just" kindergarten, and to wait until we encounter the really big changes. I know that there are many major changes in our future, but for now, I prefer to take each one as it comes, and this is enough change for now. I'm thankful for a good school, a good teacher, I'm praying for good relationships, for Addie's protection, and that she might be a positive influence on those around her.

I am so thankful for Addie, my big (little!) girl.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Pencils. markers, glue...humility

Kindergarten is upon us. This Thursday we will drop Addie off at school, into the hands of her very capable teacher.

We are excited for her, she is excited to go...but I'm okay with the first day being a half day.

Preparing for school means tackling one of my favorite things - school supplies. This time of year isn't back to school season. For me, it is school supply season. I've always loved shopping for school supplies, whether I was in school or out of school. And now, after not having a "legitimate" need to buy school supplies (who are we kidding, there's always a need!) for several years, Addie gives me a reason to grab a list and breathe in the aroma of new crayons, crack open a new notebook, and hunt down the elusive brands that teachers are requesting (Prang watercolors, anyone?).

While Addie attended preschool at age three for two days a week and then pre-K programs in Ilinois and Kansas, we are encountering new territory with a different level of school registration, paperwork, the possibility of buying lunch, and...fees.

I knew that this year the district here in Kansas was, for the first time, charging a fee for registering kindergartners. As I went through the registration process and neared the end, there was another fee I was unaware of, for supplies and other things I can't remember. It would have been nice to have been aware of that fee beforehand (and maybe it was in some paperwork I didn't fully read), but what was I going to do? Not register Addie? I wasn't upset, just a little surprised. I paid the fees and registration was complete.

Tonight I was out taking care of some errands. We had already bought Addie's school supplies, but on my agenda was to pick up a couple of extra boxes of crayons and markers. At this stage of the school game it appears that a lot of teachers pool the classroom supplies. Each child has some items that are exclusively theirs, but other supplies are used by the classroom as a whole. In a letter we received from Addie's teacher, she suggested buying extras of a few items, as they are on sale now and they will go through quite a few crayons and other specific items throughout the year. I was up for that and had added a few things to my list.

While I was standing in the checkout lane I was behind a woman and two kids, probably a middle schooler and maybe a high schooler. To be honest, I wasn't paying a lot of attention, until they started removing items from the checkout conveyor belt. Even then, I didn't pay too much attention, other than to notice they were picking and choosing what to purchase and what to put back. They left, I moved up, checked out, and left.

I was a little annoyed because I was headed to find two more boxes of Crayola classic broad tip (Oh, the specificity!) markers that the previous store was sold out of, sending me to hunt them down elsewhere. I found them, even on sale, and got in my car to drive home, when the realization came over me, right there in the parking lot.

I was able to buy what I needed for my kid to go to school. I didn't pick and choose, I just got what she needed.

That thought was followed by a reminder. Earlier in the week, I had complained a little to a friend about the kindergarten registration fee and the additional fee that I didn't know about until I had to pay it. But, I paid it and went on my way.

And then I was thankful. Humbled, and thankful. While we may not have an overabundance of cash at our disposal, we are taken care of and are able to take care of our needs and those of our girls. We are able to give a little and spend a little. 

Tonight, I didn't have to put things back. In fact, I was at the store to buy more.

I am thankful for this reminder, especially as we are headed into this school year. I am consistently reminded of how we are provided for, and although that provision may not always look like I think it should, our needs are met. I am reminded that others may not be able to do all they want to do, and may have to pick and choose, which could come down to some really hard choices, I'm sure. I am reminded that at times we have been, are, and will be in need ourselves.

I pray that this year our family will be givers. Not to be known as givers, but that God would open our eyes and that we would have a willingness to step out and give where we can. I say willingness because giving isn't always easy. It requires time, patience, resources - things that can be uncomfortable to sacrifice. 

Again, I am thankful for tonight's reminder, and challenged as we start this school year.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Happy two, Olive

My sweet Olive turns two today.

Technically, she's been two since about 7:20 this morning, but I'm not counting, and I certainly don't want the time to go any faster than necessary.

I love remembering the details of Addie and Olive's births. Having had C sections with both of my breech girls, there were no drop-everything-and-get-to-the-hospital moments, but there were the anticipation and excitement and can't-wait-to-see-her-face feelings as we got ready to head to the hospital each time.

I was the first scheduled C section of the day with Olive. I left Addie for the first time. I had fun anesthesiologists. When Sabian brought her to me in recovery he pointed out her dimples and a little skin tag she had by her ear. She was so pretty. Addie was incredibly sweet with her when she visited. By our second day in the hospital I was ready to get home to Addie and move forward as a family of four.

There are so many more details that I've remembered today, but for now, here's Olive at two:

Olive, you are such a joy. You have a sweet laugh and endearing smile. You love, love your big sister and frequently attack her with hugs and kisses. Your vocabulary is growing - it seems every day you say something I didn't know you knew. I love to hear you say, " bunny" and when you try something you don't like you say, "don't like it." When you're watching Daniel Tiger and the credits start to roll you say, "Oh no!" You don't want it to end. 

You really, really dislike being disciplined. At first you smile at us as we tell you "no," but if we get firmer with you, you fall apart. Or, you throw and kick things. A little temper, you have!

You have such a sweet heart and you love to have fun. We are so thankful you are part of our family.

Happy Birthday, little sister.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Words to remember

Today Addie said this to me, unsolicited:

"Mommy, thank you for all you do for me, and Daddy and Olive."

Followed by a big hug.

I'm posting this because I want to remember these moments.

Today I am thankful for these words. They were much appreciated, especially after what has felt like a really long week.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A March birthday post...in May

In my last post I wished Addie a happy birthday and mentioned that we took a trip back home to visit family and celebrate Addie's birthday. This is the add on to that post, the remembering (as best as I can, almost two months later!) of that trip.

This move to Kansas has been a little tough for my sweet Addie. Spending a year in Illinois, going to a great school, attending my home church, making some sweet friends and being around the comfort of family - all of this provided a really good year for Addie after transitioning from Florida, the life she'd known until she was a 3 1/2 and can recall with her amazing ability to remember. Leaving all of that was just plain hard. I told myself that she'd be fine and often kids adjust to change more quickly than adults. Those things may be true, but change is still...hard.

Since spring break here was just the week after Addie's birthday we thought it would be a good thing for her to see some familiar faces, so we took off after church on a Sunday and drove to Illinois. We had planned a casual party later that week at one of her favorite places (Chick-fil-a, which they do not have where we live now!) with family and a few of her friends. Addie was really glad to be back in Illinois and even more so, happy to see her family and friends.

Finally taking time to enjoy her cake after all of her friends went home.
 I've never known anyone who enjoys a birthday quite like Addie.  Throughout the year she wants to know how long it is until her birthday, or if she sees something she likes she'll say, "I want that for my birthday." At times it can get tiring, but when it is time to actually celebrate her day, her excitement makes it even more fun.

After our celebration in Illinois we headed to Missouri to celebrate with Sabian's family. We were staying in a hotel with a pool so, of course we had a poolside pizza party!

Wearing her awesome handmade unicorn hat made by one of our friends.

 When all of the celebrating was done, the next day it was time to hit the road back to Kansas. It was hard to leave home but we were so glad to celebrate with our families. I think it did Addie good to see everyone and we appreciate the love that was shown to our girl.

This birthday post wouldn't be complete without sharing photos from Addie's actual birthday:

Our annual birthday balloon tradition.

Pizza Hut for lunch, her choice.

We sure do love this girl. Five, not without its challenges, has been fun so far. She is fun to talk with, I still love overhearing her play imaginatively, and it is a privilege to watch her grow and learn. As hard as it will be to send her off to kindergarten in the fall, I really believe she will thrive there. Praying for her along the way.

I am thankful for this sweet, spunky girl!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

I have a five year old

Five. Adelaide is five.

After we celebrated her special day together as a family we had a chance to head home to Illinois and Missouri to celebrate with friends and family there. It was a short trip, but it was good for Addie, as she has missed her friends since we moved to Kansas.

I am challenged every day by this little girl. Challenged on what I am doing wrong as a mother, challenged to do better, challenged to remember that the days we have are the days she will remember when she looks back at her childhood.

She loves to have fun. She can be very social, but also needs time to herself to play and dream up scenarios for her Barbies and ponies and dolls. I love to over hear her playing and imagining - she does a great job at playing independently. Currently, she loves playing with smaller dolls and animals, figures she can set up and create little worlds in which they can play.

She still hangs back a little when it comes to new situations. She wants to check things out, watch other people, before she dives in herself. But, when she does jump in, she jumps all the way.

She's a bargainer, and will let us know how she wants to do things, even when she's supposed to simply obey us. She wants to be heard. Sometimes what she says is valid - sometimes it's just an attempt to stall and to do things her own way. Sometimes she is completely compliant, polite and ready to do the right thing.

She's a sweet big sister. She will speak for Olive, who is just learning to speak. At times she wants to be left alone, and other times she is Olive's caretaker, her protector. She is learning to share her space.

She's still not fond of goodbyes, although she is getting better. She has a memory like none I've ever seen. She likes to be silly. She likes to tease. She can be very sweet, loving, and thoughtful.

She is growing up. I see it every day in the way she handles herself. She makes me proud, she reminds me of me in good and not so good ways, she makes me laugh, she makes me thankful.

So many times I fail and so many times I wish I could rewind and redo. But each time she forgives me and we start over.

I am so thankful to be her mommy.

Happy Birthday, Adelaide. I sure do love you.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Miss Olive

My Olive is 18 months old.

I fear as she reads through this record of our lives some day, she may feel slighted - her first year has not been as well documented as it should have been. I am sorely behind in doing so. What a crazy year her first year has been for our family. But, I've said it before - she has been a source of joy in an otherwise uncertain time.

Olive = fun. She loves to have fun. She smiles big, toothy, drooly grins. She belly laughs when you tickle her or flip her around or nuzzle her neck.

She's her own little person, but if big sister is around, she'll willingly imitate her, whether it's mom-approved behavior or not.

She's still tiny, toddling around on sweet, spindly legs and wearing about a size behind her age in clothes. But those legs are long like her sister's, so finding pants to fit that tiny waist and those long legs is proving to be an ongoing challenge.

She's talking. This is one of my favorite things about this age. I love hearing this new voice. I've heard it plenty in yells and general noises, but now I hear the words apple, owl, yeah, Daddy, Maaaaaama, bowl, door, boo (moo), and many others. She roars and has her own words for baby and doggy, two of her favorite things.

She's my little bookworm. Ever since she was able to scoot over to the bookshelf and pull book after book after book down, she's been enamored. More often than not you can find her in a corner, on the floor, sitting on the couch, flipping through a book. She'll drag a book, bigger than her, over to you, open it up, and start pointing. She may even grab your hand and want you to hold hers as she points to pictures and looks to you to tell her what it is. It's likely she'll already know what it is, especially if it's an animal, but she may just want you to say it anyway.

She's running. Doesn't like the word no. Teases when she knows you want to change her diaper. Likes to hug. Has a personal rule of one pacifier in the mouth, one in the hand.

She's so much fun. There's something about this age that tempts me to want to freeze my kiddos, knowing full well that even more great times are ahead as they get older and, frankly, who wants to have to figure diapers in to the budget for the rest of time?

At times I feel sad that she's no longer quite a baby but I love being on the front row of watching her learn and grow and I'm so grateful she is healthy enough to do the things she does.

I'm so thankful to be her mommy. 

Friday, January 24, 2014


Did you know that my Adelaide's initials are ABC? Adelaide Bell Chaney.

When we were naming her we knew her first name would be Adelaide, but what about her middle name? When my sister suggested our maiden name, it sounded right, we loved it...but then I realized her initials would be ABC. 

I wasn't thrilled with the idea, although Sabian loved it. It stuck, and I do love her name.

And I love her.

My heart feels a little sad for her lately. While moving to a new place can sound fun in theory, when it's lived out it naturally comes with challenges. When we told Addie we were moving she was excited, and we were excited with her, and we talked about the fun aspects of moving. We did talk about how it meant we would be leaving family and friends, but then we talked about visits to and from them.

Now, not quite a month later, I see the signs of transition playing themselves out in this sweet four, almost five, year old. And I feel sad.

I want to make it better. Quickly. I want to make it easy. Now. But it doesn't quite work that way. There are plenty of opportunities for learning and communicating and growing. I want it to be comfortable. Soon.

I find myself wanting to shield her from the not-so-fun side of all of this change, but I can't, and it would be counterproductive. I know that the best thing I can do for her is show her I love her. To listen, to be patient, to be gentle, to be understanding, but to not let her get away with bad behavior at the same time. And really, the best, best I can do is to surrender her little self to God and pray for her.

I know that if God has sent us here, He will provide in every way. I know it, but to be honest, I don't always feel it. But I know it and I do believe it.

I also know that this super strong little girl is going to adjust better than her worrisome mom, and that when she says, "I miss my friends," in the same minute she's off trying on the day's favorite princess dress and hunting down a crown and missing her friends moves to the back burner. While I know it's important to address the "missing of friends," I'm learning that it might just be more important in that moment to find the shoes that match that crown, and to trust that God is guiding and directing us and that He is taking care of my little girl.

So, I might be a little sad, but I do have hope.

I am so thankful for Addie and so thankful that God cares about the little things, the big things, and everything in between.