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Parenting olders and youngers

We will be down one this Thanksgiving.  I don’t know how I feel about our oldest leaving without us at 4:30 AM Thanksgiving morning.  Off to warm and sun in California.  Off to play soccer.

It’s strange this parenting older children.  We still have a little one who is giddy about getting out the Christmas boxes and play with the Little People drummer boy kit.  Sometimes I feel like I’m on a teeter totter; up and down.

20141123_155622Each child requires separate parenting.  For the olders, it’s now the coaching of doing laundry, putting down the phone to get tasks done.  It’s reminders to always put your glasses in a case BEFORE you sit down.  Yep, thank goodness for merciful and understanding eye doctors who give one free pass!

20141125_134138It’s making choices to still make Christmas cookies and Qtip ornaments, even when you’re dead tired and just want to watch a movie with the olders.  It’s making two Thanksgiving meals so ALL your family can be at one together.

20141125_150256It’s getting up at 6, fitting in a workout so you can take middle schooled kiddos to a movie.  It’s asking, for the fourth time, that the pan be washed by a child rather than just doing it yourself.

It’s a lot of work. It’s exhausting. It sometimes feels never-ending.  BUT it’s so very rewarding too.  It’s filled with the moment your child comes up and just hugs you.  It’s that quiet thank you from another who realizes, this one time, that you went out of the way to help her.

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How was Kenya?

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IMG_9552It’s been too long since I’ve last written here.

I returned from Kenya Saturday, filled with the life Africa always gives.  My mind and my heart are full; my brain maxed out.

IMG_9563I spent the week listening and asking.  Hours of conversations recorded, intentional conversations.  It’s  hard work sitting and listening.

This week I’ve been reviewing and writing.  I’m working hard to summarize the experiences into reports that will benefit Biblica.  I continue to learn new ways to communicate cross culturally.  I find myself misstepping at times.  

People have asked me highlights of my time.  How do you summarize the colliding of worlds?

IMG_9594The trip began revisiting my high school 20 years later.  As I walked the rugby field and visited the dorms that were my home, waves of memories poured over me.  That time at Rift Valley Academy was truly a gift. That place is still, to this day, filled with deep grace and love.

I am forever grateful for the 4 years I spent at RVA.

IMG_9765Mashed in the middle were meetings and people–the reason why I was there in the first place.  I have never worked so hard as I did last week.  Waking up 6 am and dropping into bed at 10 pm; each hour filled with ministry, conversation, meetings and learning.

IMG_9959Friday came and I met Edwin and Mama Edwin; our child we’ve supported through Compassion International for 16 years.  As we walked and talked, I felt like I was in the middle of a dream. Edwin kept saying, “I will never forget this day.”  Yes, me too Edwin.  Once a small 5 year old boy in a picture; now a man ready to begin adult life.  We ate at Kentucky Fried Chicken, visited Elephants, shopped for tea and flour at Nakumatt and spoke so many words while in “jams” (traffic jams).

No, I do not have a highlight.  See, it was all a highlight.  Each conversation, each experience, each meeting was new.

I continue to turn it over in my brain. I continue to be thankful for the time spent back in my homeland.

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Daring Greatly these days

It seems that every time I have an international trip, something goes wrong the week prior to departure.

IMG_9480This time has been no different.

Monday I woke up to a dead computer. Hard drive  dysfunction! Thank God for a back up computer and a very smart IT department. I have my laptop back and all my files are safe and secure.

Lesson learned?  Put all important presentations for your business trip on a flip drive.  Don’t believe the lie that they are safe on the desktop!

I also woke up Monday to the dreaded fall cold.  It hits EVERY TIME after our birthday madness month, aka October.

Thank God for a doctor who had mercy and perscribed a Zpak.  I have been ingesting vitamins and should have purchased stock in Puffs Plus.

Here’s hoping this ridiculous cold is complete and done with by Friday morning when I have 36 hours of air travel.

On the bright side of things, we have a new wonderful afternoon/any time we need her helper.  When our former childcare helper had to take a full time job, I panicked.  As Ed Behr says, God just has something better.

Yep, while we miss our first girl, Joi has been a delight to have.  She lives super close and selfishly, she can braid Desta’s hair.  I am thankful!

I hope to post pictures of my adventure ahead.  I am excited for what lies in front of me but feel the weight of leaving my “crazy but I love them with my life” family behind.  Being apart is never easy and as the kids get older, I am very aware of how little time I have at home with them.

IMG_9465On another note, I’ve been stewing on this Brene Brown thought…

You might think, “if I’m not busy, it must mean I’m not productive or relevant.” That sense of vulnerability is a big reason why people stay on the hamster wheel.  

Dare to be honest about what burnout looks like for you.  For me, resentment is a huge warning flag. So is judgement.  I start to think, “Why is everyone always disappointing me?”

Dare to set boundaries.  The next time someone asks you to do something, consider whether you’re doing it out of obligation or to prove your worth.”

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Birthday week is almost over

IMG_9369We celebrated Caroline’s 13th birthday this week.  Yes, mothers who told me when my kids were little and I was dying with boredom mixed with mundane, yes you mothers, you were right.  The time goes INCREDIBLY fast.

IMG_9370IMG_9377This is the first Halloween we had only one kiddo with us.  So Ashley, our babysitter, came. She handed out candy and Matt and I walked around the hood with D girl.

IMG_9411It was lovely. And sad. And happy. And time is moving way too fast.

IMG_9426October closes its doors for another year tonight.  November rings in and we will continue this march of life we hold dearly in our hands!

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Revisiting high school

I’m getting ready to head to Kenya soon.  I have the privilege of meeting with several of Biblica’s Regional Directors of Africa.  Have I told you before that I love my job!?!

While in Kenya, I have the opportunity to Rift Valley Academy; my high school.  It will be 20 years since I left that place.  As Caroline and I were driving to soccer today, I was telling her about my trip.  She said, “Mom, you’re not going to cry are you?”

I will never forget the day I left RVA for the final time.  We had celebrated four years of amazing friendships. After graduation, we’d be scattered literally around the world.

rva fieldWhen I think of RVA, vivid memories come to mind.  Chai every morning after Chapel, singing the Kenya National Anthem in Swahili outside by the flagpole.  Freezing cold days in the summer, huddled around small space heaters.  Popcorn and crepes for lunch because the dining hall food was terrible.  Well, except for French fry days and Sunday lunch.  Running loops around the campus in the early morning hours.  Playing racquetball on the courts.  So many hundreds of hours laughing in the dorms.

rva gymFor me, an 8 pm curfew as a senior was no big deal.  We had each other to make our own fun.  We were taught the value of hard work.  We had chores every day.  To this day I cannot let a bed be left unmade. RVA taught me so much about friendships, communication, God, love, hope, culture, life.

So I’m going back.  To walk the paths again, this time as an almost 40 year old.  This time as a mother of three.  This time as a woman who’s finally lived longer in the USA than in Africa.

This growing up business is hard stuff.  It’s hard to watch my kids go through it and it’s hard to keep going through myself. But when I stop and reflect on the many amazing things that have happened in my life, I am so thankful that I get to live each day.  It’s a good life.