Among other things, I've decided that this year I will become a better seamstress. Clothes sewing, in particular...with the long-term goal of being able to sew more of my own clothes and more of the kids' (I already sew some of them) and actually not have them look too homemade :) My mama made sure I learned how to sew as a girl, for which I am forever grateful, and I've sewn off and on throughout the years; mostly home goods with several skirts thrown in the mix. For my birthday last year, I asked for a new sewing machine...and with it, I think I've sewn more in the past year than in our entire married life! Including the first "fancy" dress I've ever made for B. She wore it to the Daddy-Daughter dance...and now, she has a new dress. I've been wanting to learn to sew with knits (like the ever-popular jersey...maxi skirt, anyone?) for months and, after getting some ballpoint needles and some advice about the stretch stitch from the girl at the sewing machine store, I dove right in. My first project...well. It turned out fine, but the jersey I used is absolutely see-through (oops) and so will not be featured here today. Or ever.
I decided for my next project to do something small...3t sized, to be exact. And since I made up the pattern from another tank top and my own sewing knowledge, I have to say I'm thrilled with how it turned out! Especially since it cost me nothing, being made up of leftover fabric from other projects. The best part, however, was absolutely seeing the joy and excitement on her face when she put it on...when the girl won't stop dancing or twirling long enough to eat breakfast, and then starts to cry that night
Somehow, just like that, it's August. Somehow, the craziness of PA school has made things time-warp...no longer are we in the first month of school. We raced past that milestone without blinking, and the kids and I flew to Ft. Collins to spend they week of midterms with my folks, and half of this past week with great friends up in Flagstaff. You know, so Adam could bury himself in bodyparts (that sounds weird, but it's kinda true) and come out victorious. Or at least still standing.
Somehow, we are adjusted (for now, at least) to his crazy study schedule and I have learned to balance having my husband home but not available 90% of the time. I'm seeing more and more just what an incredibly beautiful support system of friends and family we have...I've gained insight from sistercousins on how to deal with the days when it's overwhelming...and then the hubby comes home and must go study. I've been reminded by a dear friend and mentor that each minute does not last forever; and that there isn't a limit to how many times you can ask God for the strength and patience to make it through this temper tantrum and not freak out too each day. I see that even in the hard times, in the exhaustion, in the trips by myself with the kids when I throw up on the airplane as we land in a crazy lightening storm; there is still a beauty there to grasp that does not come from me. (My daughter kept singing joyfully, "oh, no, you never let go; through the calm and through the storm..." and the baby bounced up and down and laughed at the turbulence and Pax stared at the lightening flashing just outside the window and exclaimed, "Oh, wow!!" 18,000 times during that landing...)
Adam and I are both soaking up more than ever the beautiful truth of, "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you," (Matt. 6:33) Adam has learned to be efficient in his studying; and it has made his time more productive. Like drinking from a fire hydrant. He's been home every night for dinner (when we're in town), been there for bedtime every night; and although sometimes I feel the absence of "us" time more than others; the kids know their Daddy will be there every night. That's HUGE right now with the hours some of the students are keeping-but we knew it was a priority. We're both finding out, again, the importance of true connection with each other every day in some small way. And that good communication is worth its weight in gold. And that love notes are never, ever overrated. And so we press on....
The kids slept better in Colorado than they ever have at my folks' house. It truly was Grace, because as they sleep all-too-often so goes my day; as was evidenced 2 weeks ago when the baby was cutting his one-year-old molars and up three times a night and then the bigs started getting up (for no reason I can find) several times a night themselves which all added up to a very tired, half-lonely, sleep deprived mama who caught a bad sore throat and may have had a tiny breakdown one morning in which the words "it's not fair!" poured out with my tears....for about 2.5 seconds. Until I realized, again, that there is no guarantee of fair, only of grace. Having the right priorities, being intentional, meeting the needs of my husband and kids, filling up my heart with the Lord's goodness daily, checking my attitude...these things are essential. Wonderful. But they don't guarantee an "easy" life, only a life rich with goodness. Some days I have to look harder than others to find the richness. But it's always there.
It was there on my bathroom mirror later that same morning, where my husband had written:
What to say?
Know that even in struggle you have great purpose.
Your effort...your great work is NOT in vain.
Your Lord God sees and loves you.
He is your strength.
He is your comfort.
Look up and be encouraged.
(yes, I absolutely know how wonderful he is. He knows I think he's wonderful, too.)
And then there's Celine..the grieving we are all going through along with all the craziness of PA school is continual. We think about her often, of course. Some days, the kids come to me and simply say, "I miss aunt C.C."; to which I can only reply, "Oh, honey, so do I,". But we don't ever leave it at that. We talk about where she is, what heaven might be like, what she might be doing. Why she left. Who she's with. We've had more conversations about the what-ifs of heaven in the past 3 months than I ever have before...because they want to know what it's like. Except I don't know what all of what it's like, of course; so I tell them what we do know and sometimes we "maybe its" the rest. But we always, always end these conversations with good memories about times we spent with her...because that's the best way to remember her and celebrate her life. And I want them to remember her.
It breaks my heart a little, sometimes, when Blythe asks me what she used to do with Aunt C.C. She's three-and even though she's very smart, she's too young to remember some things very long. So I talk about how we were in Paris with her when Blythe was almost two; and when Aunt C.C. was here for her third birthday and played tea party with her new tea set. How Celine loved to carry B around long after she actually needed someone to carry her because B was so tiny.
I think about the picture I found on my phone (which used to be her phone) just a few weeks ago of Celine and her sushi and I smile even as I tear up a bit; and I am thankful for this chance to teach my children that it's ok to grieve, it's good to let yourself feel the sadness because it means they left an imprint in the softness of our hearts; but that joy-the good memories and the knowledge of what comes next-always comes at the end. I find myself wishing our kids had memories of their Aunt Erica, too; but instead I give them mine, so when they think of both their aunts together they have an idea of who she is, too.
So tonight, Adam will come home. A bit late, but he will be here. We'll eat breakfast for dinner and play in the pool and put the kids to bed exhausted, since there was no napping today. And I'll go to my computer, put on my headphones, smile at my studying husband across the room....and remember again how very far we've come to get to this point. How very blessed we are. First term finals almost done. Next week, we will rest and just be together and talk and talk and talk.
I can't wait :)