Things slowed down this week and my family was able to take a trip to the Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach. After being completely spoiled by the Tennessee Aquarium, this trip lacked its luster but being together was the main goal anyways. Our first stop was Margaritaville and not because I needed a lunchtime drink (even though by about two, I could have an extra large) but because it was the closest restaurant. Little known fact: Wil does not like beach music. I grew up listening to the Beach Boys so sometimes this is a conflict of interest but he made it through the barrage of Jimmy Buffett songs and with full tummies, we ventured on. What the Ripley’s Aquarium excelled at was a moving walkway that took us on a trip through a tank tunnel! The first time we did it, Willow was not in a good mood so it wasn’t very enjoyable but once she calmed down, we did the tunnel again. The crowds had pretty much gone away and we took our time seeing all the fish. Fish kind of creep me out a bit so I uttered a lot of “ewww”s, especially when we saw eels and ugly looking fish. Wil’s reaction: “I could really go for some sushi.”
On Wednesday, I went to the Taize service held in the chapel at HCFM. I had to race over after dropping the girls at the nursery and was a little late but I entered to beautiful guitar music and candlelit props. This service is so much my speed. It is meditative and thought provoking and I love the ambiance of candles and stained glass. I’ll be going again this week…….
The week got even better when I decided to get really lazy Friday and most of Saturday. Sometimes nothing is better then wearing sweats, making popcorn, laying on the couch with kiddos snuggled up, and hearing rain fall outside. By Saturday I was over it and ready for sunshine which, though cold, Sunday delivered. The minute we saw the sun, we headed to the beach for a short walk around Pawleys point.
Right now, I am reading a book where a boy has lost his eye sight and a wise man tells him about fear. The boy is of course afraid at not being able to see and although I am only half finished with the book, I know his fear will be replaced with awe inspiring courage. I’ve seen the words on bumper stickers and tattoos: No Fear. There’s a place for fear. Fear is an emotion that can warn us, excite us, motivate us and overpower us. I wonder if having no fear, giving all doubts and concerns over to God, knowing that God will take care of it, I wonder what emotion would come out leading? It is fear that stops us. It is fear that makes us doubt. It is also fear that once we are no longer afraid brings the greatest sense of accomplishment.
This past week was extra busy. The pancake supper kicked off the endless activities followed by Ash Wednesday, Valentine’s Day, and a meet and greet with fellow church members. The meet and greets have been the best idea because I can actually talk with the people at our church without being distracted by Willow smearing after church cupcake icing on my black dress or Lilly running around near the alter with the other kids. Having that small group connection has made HCFM even more of a special place.
Somewhere in there Wil managed to escape to Charleston for the night with his friends and see a concert and somewhere in there I was able to visit with two new friends. I helped out with Lilly’s school Valentine party. Wearing her favorite pink dress, she sat down to a table of pink and red and feasted on strawberries and heart shaped Rice Krispy treats. The bag of goodies and cards she brought home was huge! I, of course, ate most of her chocolate that night with a small twinge of guilt. Last year, Wil and I made the girls a sock puppet video. We had plans to do another video but things just got way too busy. I did manage to create a heart scavenger hunt. When the last heart was found and the prize was an “I love you” with a kiss from us, Lilly was so sad. Even though I thought I knew the reason for the gloomy face (no treat at the end) I was surprised that her real reason for the gloom was that she just wanted more hearts to find. Note to self: make more hearts next time!
Willow has been EXTRA cranky this weekend. I can’t really pinpoint the issue but I am guessing teeth or general frustration with growing up. Every once in awhile, she will try out yet another new word (today it was clock) and I will cheer like a crazy lady and then we never hear the word again. Also, I cannot get the kid to eat a vegetable. I’ve tried sneaking it in, I’ve tried buttering it up, I’ve tried raw, I’ve tried cooked, I’ve tried red, green and orange; she’s just not having it. Lilly was a decent veggie eater so when I read an article about pregnant mothers having an impact on their babies taste buds based on the foods they ate during pregnancy, it all became clear. Womby Willow was treated to my pregnant impulses where with Womby Lilly, I ate much healthier.
After such an intense week being with different and wonderful groups of people, it was a confusing thing when I sat down in my chair at church this morning, looked around at my church family and felt so utterly alone. I usually sit by myself anyways but I find myself in this strange position of being able to insert myself into swarms of loving and generous people but not really being able to unleash all that goes on in my Amanda brain. I am always honest and true to myself but I have to pull back with my thoughts and hear them in my head first. This is a good rule anyways but it can be tiresome and at times, makes me pretty boring. As that solidarity consumed me before the organ music had even begun, I decided to grab on with both hands to first a prayer about how I felt. Telling God how thankful I am for all that I have made feeling so raw and selfish more bearable. Then I reached out to the group of women I have been most connected with. The funny thing was, once I voiced my sudden onset of poo brain to them, I found out that they had been kinda struggling too. Most in totally different ways then me but it was like I had karate kicked the dickens out of my stubborn mood swing. We all made plans to have girl time this week and vent to each other. Take that moment of self pity!
I will admit I have never given up or added anything to my daily life during Lent. Of course I have a list of things that I need and could do but if Lent is a time for me to prepare, I am not that good at preparation the rest of the year either. I don’t know how many times I’ve wondered why I didn’t start dinner a little earlier or why I didn’t put the extra kids clothes in the car (as they ride back from a restaurant milk spill in their skivvies.) Friends have done some pretty amazing things over the years during Lent. I know a gal who gives away one thing each day. I also heard tale of someone who wrote a letter each day for the 40 days. Shoot, just giving up sugar seems pretty impressive to me. What is given up for Lent can be very personal and very heart heavy. For me, I think if I added prayer to my life, daily, that would feed me and prepare me for Easter. It seems like such a simple idea. Prayers can come in all sorts of forms but there has to be intent behind them. Now to do it every day! I love the season of Lent because I love spring, I love Easter and I love that the sun sticks around a little longer in the sky. Thanks be to God.
Welp, Willow has finally learned herself a word. After being asked pretty much any question that doesn’t involve cookies or kisses, she sticks out her lips into a perfect little circle and draws out a sweet little, “Noooooooo.” Of course it is adorable and I try to contain my smiley eyes because I do not want this word to stick as her one and only. Meanwhile, she is tearing up pretty much anything she can get her hands on that looks either old or valuable. As I looked down one evening whilst doing the dishes to see Willow wielding a kitchen knife, I realized that she has grown just tall enough to reach the edge of the counter. Time to baby proof in a whole lot of ways I just forgot about.
Every parent has a moment when they walk into their child’s room at night and are literally breathless when they see the beauty of their sleeping babe. Lilly is such an angel. Her cheeks get rosy and her eyelashes rest perfectly on her sleepy lids. This helps when she has asserted her independence right before bed time. After reading stories, I always hope that we will share a kiss and a hug and I will float out of her room with a rainbow trailing behind me but the reality is that Lilly usually prolongs my leaving with a million questions and ultimately cries out for me while falling into a puddle of her own tears. This is not every night but a good percentage of them. In a way, I cherish the fit because I know all too soon, she will shut the door behind me so she can read Nancy Drew and listen to her records (okay, maybe not exactly but I can hope.) Lilly is such an amazing big sister. Usually patient, she will proclaim her love for Willow and will even share her snack. I am proud of her for all the things she tries and whether she gets them right or not, she does them with joy and innocence.
It was nice knowing you Wil! I kid but in all seriousness, Lent and Easter are definitely a very busy time for him. I don’t really expect much from him on the home front during these next few weeks. Yesterday, we had dinner without him for the fourth day in a row and I got angry. I definitely became irrational and cranky and was a bit jealous. In true me fashion, I was fine once I hung up the phone on him, gave him the stank eye for a good 30 minutes then worked out till I released the frustration in sweat. I do hope he can get outside and fish or wander around aimlessly. He is truly amazing and I am proud of him for all he does.
Ever since we got back from WNC, it seems that things haven’t slowed down. It is definitely feast or famine in my life. As the church welcomed a new Bishop, Wil, Lilly, Willow and I headed to Charleston for the Episcopal Convention. I was able to go to the meet and greet for the Presiding Bishop and I must tell you, there was a lot of joy in that place, a lot of good energy and a lot of excitement for the future. During the actual convention, the girls and I wondered around Charleston getting a better feel for the town. It is a beautiful city and we had fun finding parks and people watching.
The week that followed was full of visiting local friends, night time gatherings, Wil’s hands and brain being constantly busy at church, and a wonderful visit from my friend Marcy. When I am getting ready to go somewhere, the girls just have to find things to do which usually involves Lilly hanging out on our bed and Willow taking things out of any drawer that she can open. At one point, Lilly exclaims, “Mommy, watch this!” and she proceeds to stick her legs out and make a funny face. It was so sweet the way she was overly proud of herself for what I’m not sure.
Willow was then found in a drawer that she had emptied, unable to get out and she flashed me her classic face that seems to be her answer for all questions and occasions.
As her teeth continue to ache in her head and her inability to communicate frustrates her, her cranky demeanor is also laced with sweet baby laughter, kisses, and arms held up for a ride. Lilly is perfecting her big sister skills as she helps Willow navigate new territory, like the top of the train table. When I’m not sitting with them playing, I’ll hear Lilly talking to Willow, offering her choices and sharing toys with her. It makes me smile in my place but can quickly turn into tug of war or crying. I enjoy the moments we do have of peace and sisterly love.
The new week is here and with it comes a few more evening events, all welcomed but I am ready for things to slow down a bit. Wil is taking the day off (for the most part) and I am playing catch up. My friend and fellow church mom Caroline made a statement on her blog about how church gets her ready for the week, prepares her with joy to get through the daily grind. I have thought many times why more young adults don’t attend church. I have even wondered if I would go if Wil wasn’t my husband. It can be very difficult to get everyone ready and if it is one of our only days off in the week, the motivation might not be there to rise and shine in your Sunday clothes. When we are younger, we think about the future in statistics: job, money, location. Now that I am working my way out of young adulthood, I look to the future trying to find opportunity, opportunity to be loved, to give love, and to have God be a constant reminder of thanks. Church gives me this and every week it delivers the right mind set for the way I want to live. Maybe if I didn’t go to church I could find this somewhere else but because I do go to church, I know that the people there support us and I know my children are looked on with loving eyes. I am never sorry that I motivated ourselves out the door on Sunday mornings even if we are late a few times.