Category Archives: Bridget Blogs

I can do hard things!

She is a very diligent student. She is thorough and determined. She’s also incredibly sensitive. And when she doesn’t understand something, even a brand new something, she gets upset about it. I don’t know where she gets that. ;-) And it’s difficult for me. I don’t want to downplay her fears and feelings, but at the same time I don’t want to not push her. If we’re never pushed, we never move forward. It’s tricky.

Sometimes I take pictures when my children are feeling vulnerable, when they are struggling with something. These are pictures I never share with others. These are sacred moments between mother and child. These are pictures of conflict that beg for resolution. I don’t capture these moments to be mean, I do it so that I can show these pictures to them later. I want to remind them that once upon a time walking was hard for them. Once upon a time riding a bike was hard. Once upon a time adding seemed impossible. And look at you! You did those things! Was it easy to start walking, riding, or adding? No. But you did it! You did hard things! And it’s then…then they can really see themselves for who they are: someone who can do hard things.

On the dreadfully difficult days, this becomes our mantra: I can do hard things. It usually starts with me saying it quietly, reminding this determined little child of mine that she can indeed do whatever it is that we’re working on. I prod a few times and she whispers it along with me. We say it again, a little stronger this time. And stronger and stronger and stronger…until the tears are gone and we believe it. We both really believe it! And even once we’ve reached the pinnacle of belief, we keep shouting because once you know that you can do hard things, it’s hard to stop.

*This phrase isn’t just between me and my 8 year old, though she’s the one mentioned here. Some days find all 5 of us chanting it, cheering each other on. And I can promise you that there are days when I am shouting loudest of all. 

in the kitchen

I stand in the kitchen and listen to the quiet. The children are walking around the neighborhood, a freedom they’ve recently earned. The older two are now responsible enough to make sure the little two make wise choices, something we talk about over and over and over throughout our days. I relish the quiet now, but I can see myself standing in the kitchen years from now, making chicken and green beans and wild rice, but only for two. Then in the quiet I’ll hear my memories laughing and squealing and having fun. I’ve learned that it’s rare for memories not to become sugar-coated over the years.

I snap the beans two or three at a time and wish they’d come straight from the garden. One day, I tell myself, I’ll have a garden. One that actually produces enough to make it worth it. But by then I won’t need as much and I’ll (maybe) have more time, so that should work out nicely. I want peas, maybe purple hulls or lady peas or both. I want to sit on the front porch, rocking back and forth, shelling until my fingers are raw.

The pot sizzles at me as I move it onto the burner and I snap back to now. Even in the quiet, there is a cacophony of sound.
Snap.
Sizzle.
Hiss.
Hum.
Swish.
Bubble, bubble, bubble.

I love my todays. Sometimes they are exhausting. Other times, exhilarating. We laugh, guffaw even, together often. Occasionally we catch tears running down each other’s cheeks, overwhelmed by the moments.

I love my yesterdays. Drenched in sunshine and rainbows, they smile back at me. A few dark clouds hover in the background, the moments that will never go away but drift farther and farther away.

I love my tomorrows. Full of hope and promise. I love to dream and think about what will be, knowing darn well that nothing happens exactly as planned. It’s the swoops and swirls of life that make life what it is, makes us who we are.

I wonder who I’ll be then.
I wonder, too, who I am now.
But I do know this: we are more than just a collection of memories, more than a bucketful of dreams.
We are bits of this and bits of that, full of stardust and matter and imagination.
We have always been and always will be.
Matter is neither created or destroyed, remember.
Created in the image of God, I stand in the kitchen and wonder…

 

Bigger Than The Stars

We spin and spin and spin, one child after another and my head swirls as I fall into the grass. It’s been way too long since I let them wrap their arms around me and swing them ’round. One squeals in delight, one screams in exhilaration, one goes aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh with his voice wavering up and down, and one laughs and laughs and laughs. My heart races, but not from the spinning. I love their unbridled happiness, how each one does their own thing, personalities gleaming through the swish and swirl.

I’ve been listening a lot more lately. I laid in the grass so long one night that dew settled on top of me, soft, almost imperceptible. I looked up at the sky and watched the clouds pass, some scurrying along and others dragging, tired and sluggish. It is night, after all. And when they all had gone their own way, there was nothing left but me and the stars. I’m not sure where the moon ran off to. Maybe playing hide and seek with the horizon. I found myself spinning and spinning and spinning, heart racing and full. Here I am, just a girl in the grass. The stars seem so teeny tiny and I so big. Everything is relative, isn’t it?

As I sunk into the ground, I felt the grass cradling me. I heard the air, really heard it barely sweeping by. A bird. A car far off in the distance. Crickets going and going and going. Do they ever stop? A bullfrog joins the song and there’s a symphony of sounds in the silence. If we only stop spinning long enough to listen.

 

See what you’ll see. Be who you’ll be.

It’s been so long since I’ve written here. I wonder if my children will look back one day and say, “What happened? She just faded away”. But the truth is that life got in the way. Things got crazy and busy and words needed to come, but they didn’t. Maybe I wouldn’t let them, or maybe they were just stuck. I can’t really tell. Either way, I feel them coming back. My fingers are dancing over the keys now, happy to be clicking and clacking away. My heart pumps hard with all the thoughts I want to share. There have been so many moments – splendidly amazing moments, painfully agonizing moments, and a million moments in between. I can never go back and recapture them, but sometimes you don’t need words to feel the moment as it was, as you remember it.

The moment below needed words. I want…no I need to catch his words and bottle them – the sound of his tiny voice, the way he stumbles over a word here and there, those big trusting eyes that look right into my heart. Oh, these precious children of mine. I do love them so. I like them so, too.

photoDate night with my funny little fellow. He ordered grilled cheese with broccoli because the other option was fries and fries are made from tomatoes. No, not tomatoes. Amatoes…ugh! What is it, Mommy? Oh, yeah…potatoes. And I laughed on the inside, but not the out because I never want to hurt his big feelings that are smooshed into that little body. I had a salad with chicken and a delightfully tangy vinaigrette and all the fruits I love best. I finished well before he did, even though he only ate one piece of broccoli and all of his sandwich except for the crust. (I don’t like crust either). We sat in silence for a while, and it made me think of so many meals I’ve shared with Marshall; just sitting together and being quiet. We’ve laughed before how other diners probably think we’re mad at one another or have just run out of things to say, but the truth is that my brain is always going, going, going and so are my words and I’m surrounded by a cacophony of sound all the time and it really is such a release to just sit and be.

We were there together because he’d had a rough day. He yelled in anger at his sister, and when I butted my head into the conversation he teared up and said, “But I never get to be alone!” And gush! My heart gate flooded because I know (oh, how I know) exactly how he feels. I love having my family around me. I love being with them. But sometimes it’s just too much. I need quiet and focus and {deep breath} just to breathe. So I asked him if he’d like to go on a date. Just the two of us and he grinned and picked the restaurant that had the best grilled cheese.

On the way out the door, I reached out for his hand. He’s taken to rejecting my hand by saying, “I’m brave enough, Mommy” as we cross the parking lot, but this time he obliged. I looked down at him. “Thanks for holding my hand. I love holding your hand”. “I love holding your hand, too, Mommy”. And almost imperceptibly , he sighed out, “I like you”. “I like you, too, love”, I whispered back. Oof.

As were were coming home, the sun was shouting goodbye as loudly as she could. She waved to us between every tiny crack and crevice of the forest. And he held his cup up to his eye – his big, beautiful eye - and looked out at the world around us. “Whatcha doin”? “Oh, just looking at the world in a different way. I like to do that sometimes”.

{Me, too}.

Over.

I just need today to be over.
It’s one of those days where I feel bad for complaining because it’s really not so bad
but SERIOUSLY with all the little things just slamming me in the shin over and over again.
And I think, “I should be able to handle this.”
But instead of rolling off my back, it puddles up at my ankles and rises slowly
until my nose is just very barely above the waterline
and if I open my mouth, it will all rush in and I don’t have time to clean up that kind of mess.

And every little thing, every.single.little.thing.
crawls under my skin and burrows there
And I try to close my eyes and take a deep breath
but even that doesn’t work today.

I just need today to be over.
After all…tomorrow is another day.
(Isn’t that what all Southerners say)?
Preferably one with lots of sunshine.
(Literal sunshine).
I think that will help.

goodnight, my love…

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Heart-to-heart and skin-to-skin calms your soul (and mine).
I trace your face with my finger, pulling your eyelids down low.
Swoosh down the bridge of your nose and land on your tiny, plump lips.
You pull your head towards my chest ever-so-slightly and sigh.
Your arms intertwined with mine jump then loosen as you dive into your dreams.
Goodnight, my love.
Sweet dreams.

Word of the Year {2014}

I typically choose a word of the year when the school year begins but when August rolled around, I just didn’t feel done with my word. I still haven’t conquered ‘illuminate‘ as well as I’d like and it’s completely possible that I’ll come back to it in a few years. I really love all the meanings hidden in that bright word. But my heart is yearning for a change and I’m really trying to simplify all aspects of my life, including my word of the year. So this time I chose something I know I won’t be able to do or be at all times but something I want to be reminded to do or be at all times. It’s not a big word or a fancy word. It’s not even a very pretty word in my mind. (Yes, some words are prettier than others). It’s something that even the “baby” understands the basic idea. This simple word is: kindness.
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I don’t expect living up to this word will be easy. Especially that part about wanting and liking to do good. It can be easy to fake-it-til-you-make it with one of those but not both (at least not easily).

Four and a Half Pounds

As Thanksgiving drew near, I made a conscious decision to soak in all of the holidays. I promised myself that I’d leave my head and heart open to the things around me. I wouldn’t stress about all the things I “needed” to do. And one of the biggest decisions I made was to ignore my “rules” for eating. I haven’t always been the healthiest of eaters, but in the past year or two we’ve made a decent number of changes to how we eat in our house. We still eat out too often. There are still days when we eat cereal for dinner. And I still drink too much Diet Coke. But over all, we eat a lot of fresh, non-processed food that has been simply prepared. I lost a decent amount of weight since we started eating that way and I certainly love the way my body feels when I’m eating properly. But I decided that over the holidays I wouldn’t stress over what we were eating. And you know what? I gained 4.5 pounds. But, truthfully, I don’t even mind. That’s 4.5 pounds of happy memories. It’s from making snacks with my children for others and sampling as we went. It’s from enjoying goodies gifted to us from friends. It’s from (collective) hours around the tables of friends and family where we lingered a little too long…sometimes long enough for second dinner. It’s from drinks and chocolate and laughs and (good) tears. My pants may fit a little more snugly than they did before the holidays, but my heart is also full to the point of bursting wide open with the happy.

And the most interesting part to me is that now that the holidays are over? I’m not dreading a return to our regularly scheduled diet. I’m craving fruits and veggies and whole grains. Bring it, 2014. We’re ready! Starting with this:photo (7)

Bridget’s Bookshelf {13 Favorites of 2013}

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A few months ago I mentioned on Facebook that I’d managed to read 20-something books before I got stuck in a reading rut. I do this periodically. I inhale books as if I think words are disappearing and then all of a sudden I just stop. Sometimes life gets in the way, but other times I just don’t feel like reading. I got over that reading rut and managed to scarf down something like 10 or 12 more books before the year’s end. Some of these books are really short e-books, some of them are silly and mindless, some of them are deep-thought inducing, and some of them aren’t. The books are listed in the order that I read them and I’ve added notes to any that I think have note-worthy points. The ones with links are the ones that I liked the most.

  1. Beginner’s Grace: Bringing Prayer to Life (Kate Braestrup) – I still reference this book quite often.
  2. Twelve Days of Christmas (Trisha Ashley)
  3. The Book of Tomorrow (Cecelia Ahern)
  4. From Notting Hill with Love…Actually (Ali McNamara) – This book references almost every one of my favorite ‘chick flick’ movies.
  5. A Year of Biblical Womanhood (Rachel Held Evans) – At the time of this post’s publication, the kindle version of this book is listed as only $2.99!
  6. The Next Big Thing (Jennifer Weiner)
  7. Then Came You (Jennifer Weiner) – I typically like Jennifer Weiner books but I could never really get into this one.
  8. Our Town (Thornton Wilder) – I read this book at least once a year. One of my all-time favorites.
  9. Fly Away Home (Jennifer Weiner)
  10. Quiet (Susan Cain) – A really great book about introverts that many of my friends really enjoyed. For me, a lot of it was redundant material from my social work classes in college.
  11. Start. – Jon Acuff
  12. Bossypants – Tina Fey
  13. The Cross in the Closet (Timothy Kurek) – Very interesting book about a conservative Christian young man who decided to come out as a gay man (even though he isn’t) to everyone in his life, and to see for himself how the label of gay would impact his life. At the time of this post’s publication, the kindle version of this book is listed as only $4.99!
  14. The Book of Business Awesome (Scott Stratten) – You know a book is well-written when you can hear the author screaming maniacally in your head while you read.
  15. KidVentures: 50 Outdoor Experiences of Wonder, Discovery, & Childhood Memories (Jennifer Murray) – You may know Jenn as QuatroMama. Even if you don’t know her, you’ll love this book! Tons of great ideas for kids and parents!
  16. Work Happily Ever-After (Jeff Jochum)
  17. To Kill a Mockingbird(Harper Lee) – Another of my annual must-reads.
  18. Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn)
  19. Actually, Clams Are Miserable (Bryan Allain)
  20. Dad Is Fat (Jim Gaffigan) – Written by one of my favorite comedians, this book was laugh-out-loud funny in more than a few places
  21. Redeeming Love (Francine Rivers)
  22. Cold Tangerines (Shauna Niequist)
  23. Mother’s Letters (Seth & Amber Haines)
  24. The Fault in Our Stars (John Green) – I teared up in this one a few times. At the time of this post’s publication, the kindle version of this book is listed as only $3.99!
  25. Cold Sassy Tree (Olive Ann Burns) – This is a Very Southern Book. Non-Southerners might not ‘get’ it but she has the accent down pat!
  26. Firefly Lane (Kristin Hannah)
  27. Steal Like an Artist (Austin Kleon)
  28. The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew– Three Women Search for Understanding (Suzanne Oliver, Ranya Idliby, and Priscilla Warner) – It took me a while to read this one because I’d have to read and re-read some sections before I could really absorb all that they were trying to say.
  29. Chasing Rainbows (Kathleen Long)
  30. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban (Malala Yousafzai) – Wow! This young woman is simply amazing.
  31. The Guernsey Library and Potato Peel Pie Society (Shaffer & Barrows) – I have been eyeing this book for ages. I’m glad I finally read it, but it is not one of my top choices.
  32. Bread & Wine (Shauna Niequist)
  33. The Wilder Life: my Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie (Wendy McClure) – We are knee-deep in Little House on the Prairie around here with my older two children and it was interesting to read while we were going through the books. If you aren’t a LHotP fan, you can skip this one. But if you are, it’s a fascinating read.
  34. Don’t Trade the Baby for a Horse (Wendy McClure) – The book is what I would consider a short companion book to the one listed above.
  35. The Gifts of Imperfection (Brene Brown) – I’m not quite done with this one yet but it is full of insight. If you’re searching for something that you just can’t quite put your finger on, this book is for you!

Full Disclosure: The links in this list are Amazon affiliate links which means if you click on that link and purchase that book, a small – and I do mean very small – portion of your sale goes to me!

Five.

Oh my sweet, big boy,

I want to say all those Mommy-things about how I can’t believe you’re already five. FIVE! And about how much you’ve grown and how big you’ve gotten. I want to go back and look at pictures of teeny tiny you and reminisce about the day you were born and the moment when your siblings first saw you and coming home from the hospital and cuddling in my chair with all three of you in my lap. Did you know that when we left the hospital, we didn’t take you straight home? We stopped at church. It was Christmas Eve and that’s one of my favorite services of the year and it was about to start, so we slipped in the back – you in your carseat and covered with a blanket. I don’t remember much about that service, honestly, but I remember staring at you and thinking of how similar me looking at you must have been to how Mary looked at Jesus. A mother’s love. Oof.

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And some how we went from that to this in 2.6 seconds. I loved that little baby, but I love this little fella even more. Because this guy? This guy is a trip! I never know exactly how to describe you. Laid-back? Friendly? Exuberant, maybe? Yes! Yes, that’s it! Exuberant – joyously unrestrained and enthusiastic. You have an energy about you that pulls people in and makes everyone feel important. You are so full of joy and light, your smile is infectious, and you’ve never met a stranger. You are tough as nails when you need to be, but you are empathetic and sensitive as well. You can be quite mischievous sometimes, but those long lashes and big ol’ eyes keep you out of trouble (probably more often than it should).

I love the things you come up with. You will do anything for a laugh, which sometimes isn’t the best of ideas, and you very often succeed. And your laugh is just the best! I love it so much that I recorded it and turned it into a ringtone for my phone.

You are starting to sound out words and can read some things. While we were wrapping Christmas gifts you sounded out “Dddddd…D. Aaah…aaah…A. Ddddd. D. Eeeee. E. Daddy is D-A-D-E!” I probably should have corrected you but you were so proud and it was so totally you and I just couldn’t. Kinda like with the word remember. One day I’ll miss you saying “binimber”.

I’ll binimber you for always, little buddy.
I love you soSOsoSOsoSO very much.
Love,
Mommy