Friday night

I think we’re back to health around here. I would still like to sleep a little extra, but that’s nothing new. So back to regular programming.

Monday afternoon I was still too sick to go to work at the Weight Watchers meeting, but not too sick to make dinner. And it’s maybe the most I’ve ever enjoyed making dinner. I felt like I had awakened from a long hibernation and was at least halfway alive again.

The rest of the week passed by in a blur. I finished up a proofreading project, talked to a couple long-distance friends, readied half-birthday treats for Lillian’s preschool buddies, ate too many cookies, went to a Christmas parade, and now here it is Friday night. We had a family dinner at my parents’ house, and the grandkids decorated their Christmas tree. It’s so entertaining watching kids as they eye the tree carefully, looking for just the perfect spot. And always, there are one or two clusters where most of the ornaments end up.

Tomorrow we may be buying new tile for the bathroom floor. We recently discovered water trickling down Jeff’s built-in bookshelves in his basement office, and we’re pretty sure it’s because the main-floor bathroom flooring needs to be replaced and properly sealed. Enter my parents, who have tiled many a floor in their history of house renovations. I’m nervous about tile shopping, though. Neither Jeff nor I are good at making decisions, and I struggle to envision what I want in finishing/decorating a space. Something cheap, something that doesn’t show every speck of dirt and hair, something easy to clean, something that goes well with the vanity that we’re unfortunately keeping for a while. And now I’m overwhelmed.

The kids are quiet now, so it’s movie time with Jeff. I’m looking forward to this. The majority of recent weekends we’ve either been traveling, sick, or working. Just hoping I can stay awake.

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Let’s try this again

I do honestly like blogging. It often provides a way of processing the craziness of this season of life. Not to mention just keeping a record of these years that my kidsĀ  can look back on someday. I love that.

But it takes a lot of time. I’m not a fast processor, so I type something, delete it, type something else, correct my grammar, type more, move a few sentences around…it’s the curse of my occupation, for sure.

However, this month I’m hoping to free up some space to just sit and process again, whether minute little details or something deeper. I’ve proclaimed December 2012 the month of the reboot — I’ll be off facebook and pinterest and taking a break from reading blogs. And in this minimizing of computer tasks, I hope to allow more time for my own neglected blog. For my own sake.

But speaking of the reboot, I think I mentioned on facebook that I hope this will allow me to catch up on sleep. Well, that came today whether I wanted it or not, and this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind! Our family has been passing around a stomach bug since Thanksgiving day, and just when we’re certain it has left our house, it takes someone else down. Today it was my turn. So I stayed in bed until 4:30 in the afternoon. And returned to bed shortly after that. The saddest of all is poor Charlie. He was the first to be struck (during our drive to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner), and now apparently we’re starting round two. Poor kid is sick again. And poor Jeff is playing mom and dad to all of us. He’s a saint, he is!

Firsts of fall 2012

**My baby boy, who is very much not a baby, started kindergarten a couple weeks ago.

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At 5 1/2, Charlie:

  • much prefers to be with people than alone.
  • loves playing baseball, frisbee, golf, tennis, stomp rockets…especially in the side yard with daddy.
  • likes the thrill of spending money (grrrr…).
  • is very capable of being sweet and thoughtful toward his sister, and does often choose to be.
  • has long known his letters and sounds, and is now recognizing words and sounding out some.
  • is extremely curious and wants to receive solid answers to his questions.
  • likes to expound on game rules, jokes, stories, and memories until he’s exhausted every last detail.
  • proudly uses big words in regular conversation.
  • has an impressive memory for Bible stories and loves singing songs from this summer’s VBS.

**Then just last night, the kids started Awana. This is the first year they can both go without a parent working in Awana. It’s hard to believe I’m old enough to have a child in Sparks!

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**This morning little Lillian went off to school too. It felt very surreal, walking into preschool and leaving Lillian but taking Charlie back home with me (he’s only in half-day kindergarten for another few weeks).

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At 3 years old, Lillian:

  • is full of spunk and attitude and independence.
  • loves all things girly: princesses, nail polish, clothes, long hair, baby dolls.
  • is most definitely a mama’s girl.
  • really enjoys stick-on tattoos and band-aids.
  • has an impressive vocabulary and ability to express herself, but doesn’t care much yet about the alphabet.
  • is happy to spend all day in her dress-up clothes.
  • makes up creative stories and tells them with grand hand gestures.
  • loves watching Blues Clues, Boz, and My Little Pony.
  • could spend hours cutting up tiny pieces of paper with her green plastic scissors.

It’s a big year with a lot of changes for all of us, but there’s a lot to be excited about and thankful for!

Lillian will be turning three and here is where I write about it

Lillian turns three in less than two weeks.

Surprisingly, I’ve been feeling pretty sad about this impending milestone. This year with Lillian has been a big one, and a fun one, and I’ll be sad to say good-bye to the “two” year. She’s a quirky, smart, curious, and sassy two-year-old, and we’ve had a blast watching her grow through this toddler year.

In the past year, Lillian has been potty trained, had kidney surgery, thrived in her communication skills, participated in Awana for the first time, transitioned smoothly to a big-girl bed, become more an equal with Charlie and less the baby sister, developed a love for paddling around the pool, and grown blonde curls nearly all the way down her back. She loves her grandparents and adores her Aunt Kristi (“Aunt Tisti!”); she gets excited about princesses and dress-up clothes and dessert and Minnie Mouse and anything pink; she likes bossing Charlie and helping him do things that he’s a little too nervous to do alone; she climbs up and down the playground equipment at the park as if she were part monkey; she’s been excited about going to preschool and counting down the months until she turns three.

It’s both thrilling and heartbreaking to watch my baby get so big!

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It’s been a long week

My largest-ever copyediting project was due on Wednesday. So I spent the first part of the week in a daze, sitting at the computer too long and sleeping too little. No matter how well I plan ahead or how prepared I feel to finish a project on time, those last two days or so are always a booger.

I’ve had a little extra time with my kids in the latter half of this week. My dad, who watches the kids on Wednesdays and then Friday afternoons, has been sick. Poor guy — he almost never gets sick (well, he used to never get sick, until his grandkids moved to town), so he’s miserable when it actually happens. Well after the crazy, distracted-with-work start to my week, I was okay with having some extra time with the wee ones. By yesterday we were in a pretty good groove, and the kids played together like the best of friends for long stretches of time while I dusted and swept and cleaned the bathroom and even set out a few wintry decorations. I felt more productive in terms of housework than I’ve felt in a very long time.

And then today happened.

Jeff had to work most of the day, which was a tough realization for me. By late afternoon, the house was cluttered with toys and papers and crayons, and I was so weary of picking up after my children. Charlie wanted my constant attention, but I desperately wanted to be left alone. And every time I entered the living room, I felt a heavy weight of fatigue at the mere thought of cleaning up the mess.

They say this season — these years of having preschool children at home — flies by. They say we should treasure it and embrace the chaos and let them make messes because that’s how they learn and they’re only little once! But this afternoon (and on more other days than I care to admit), this season of this particular breed of chaos felt like an eternity. I just wanted my living space to stay tidy for more than ten minutes. Even ten seconds. And the fact that my kids didn’t have the same aspirations — that their very mess-producing presence was in direct opposition to my aspirations — weighed. me. down.

Once the kids were in bed, I collapsed on the couch. Jeff was there reading his Bible, and I thought, “I need to pray.” But as I looked around me at the mess that had dampened my attitude for much of the afternoon and evening, all I could utter was, “Lord, I’m so weary.” And so prideful, too, as it turns out. I wanted to whine in my prayer, “It’s my home, and I want it to be free of all this crap that’s all over the floor, all the time!”

While I don’t think these are invalid complaints, I was reminded in the back little corner of my heart that this home, our home, is a gift from God. And it’s a gift to be lived in, a place to raise my children and teach them to love Jesus, a place where they have the freedom to be themselves and to learn and grow and explore and be kids!

And if they learned anything today — anything at all about loving one another, or about how the world works, or about seeking God — well then, I suppose the mess was worth it.

Lillian’s surgery

It’s hard to believe, but we’re finally on the “after” side of Lillian’s kidney surgery (nephrectomy). I’ll post more details soon, but for now, a few hospital pictures:

Our overall experience at Children’s Mercy was awesome. Lillian seems almost back to her spunky self, just with a bandage on her left side and a regular dose of pain meds. We’ll keep things pretty lazy for a few days, then follow-up will include an ultrasound in two weeks and an appointment with the surgeon in early December.

Thirty

For my 30th birthday, due here in about 2 hours and 20 minutes, I’ve compiled a timeline of sorts: thirty major personal events, good and bad and completely neutral, from my 30 years of life. Presented to you here in chronological order.

1) 1981: Born in Kansas, joining the family of Mom, Dad, and big brother Jeremiah.

2) 1984: My baby brother, Josh, was born. And I think this was the year we moved to the tiny town I would call home for the next 20 years.

3) 1990: Skipping ahead to 3rd grade, when I transferred from Catholic school to public school, a decision I had initially resisted. But I loved my new friends, who introduced me to The Babysitters’ Club and New Kids on the Block.

4) 1991: Without a clue as to what was happening, I and a small group of my classmates were led to the basement of the school and told we would learn to play an instrument. I chose the violin. And that naive decision was instrumental (ha) in the shaping of my identity through jr. high and high school.

5) 1993+: My (first) country music stage. I proudly sported T-shirts from the concerts I attended, and my mom kept me home from school one day so that I could have Billy Dean autograph my jean shorts.

6) 1993: I finally convinced my mom to let me have bangs. And contacts. That was a big year. Also in sixth grade, I adored my teacher, and for the next 7 years, was certain I too would be a sixth-grade teacher.

7) 1996-1997: Freshman year of high school. The year I received my only B throughout my entire high school career, in — you’ll never guess — P.E. The teacher was a punk.

8.) 1996 (I think): Started working part-time at the nursing home, which helped shape my love for the elderly and probably my character and outlook on life.

9) 1997: In the wee hours of a February morning, my dad came into my room to tell me that my brother Jeremiah had been in a car accident. After a day or two in the hospital, he died as a result of it. I, as well as my family, have never been the same, and I don’t think I realize, even now, all the ways his death has affected me. We weren’t close, but I did love him, and I always looked forward to the day when we would have families of our own and grow close again. Now I have lived almost as much of my life without him as I did with him.

10) 1997: Shortly after Jeremiah died, I went on my first ski trip with our high school youth group. A very poignant spiritual high in the very raw aftermath of family tragedy.

11) 1997-1998: My first of two years on the high school dance team. I really can’t dance well, and I hated the early-morning practices, but I loved the performances and the shiny outfits!

12) 1998: My first missions trip, to Monterrey, Mexico, ignited a love for missions and for experiencing other cultures.

13) 1999: A second trip to Monterrey, the time I held a teeny-tiny Mexican baby and knew I wanted to be a mother.

14) 1999: I became really close with my friend Cassie during our senior year. I had known her since preschool. We both grew up with only brothers, so we adopted each other as sisters. After a few years in college of chatting only occasionally, we’ve had weekly phone dates for the past 4 years. I think she’s pretty fantastic.

15) 2000: High school graduation, which seemed at the time like the most important and wonderful day of my life.

16) 2000-2001: Attended a missions school and spent two separate months in foreign countries. I formed some powerful and lifelong friendships that year — a year of personal struggles and identity questions and seeking God like I never had before — and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.

17) 2001: Enrolled as a sophomore at John Brown University. Met a tall and handsome Kansas boy named Jeff.

18) 2002: Jeff asked me to be his girlfriend in January. I was totally smitten from the start.

19) 2002: Spent my junior year as an RA in the girls’ dorm, a role I had wanted to fill since the first day I started dreaming of attending JBU.

20) 2003: A whirlwind summer. I started out with 10 days in Thailand, flew home for a friend’s wedding, worked the summer at a family camp near Branson, then…

21) 2003: …said “Yes!” when Jeff proposed to me in the backyard of my childhood home.

22) 2003: Became Mrs. Reimer on December 27. My favorite day of my whole life.

23) 2004: Graduated from JBU. Then spent the latter half of the summer packing for Canada.

24) 2004: Moved to Vancouver, BC, for Jeff to attend grad school. Pretty quickly met a group of girls who would journey with me through the unknowns of living in a foreign country, being newly married, and working to support our scholar husbands. Those girls remain some of my dearest friends, and we all dream of someday living across town from each other again, rather than across the country.

25) 2007: Charlie Auden entered our world and changed everything about who we were and what the heck we thought we were doing with our lives. He is one of the best gifts I have ever received.

26) 2007: We moved to the western suburbs of Chicago for what we thought would be the rest of our lives. Or at least many years. Jeff worked for a small publisher, editing books by day and reading books for fun all evening.

27) 2008: I got my first freelance project from a local publisher, and I’ve spent many naptimes and late nights hunched over a manuscript ever since.

28) 2009: On Mother’s Day, Jeff announced that it might be time to move home to Kansas.

29) 2009: Lillian Christine joined our family, fulfilling and exceeding all of my hopes for a daughter. She’s a joy and a sassy-pants, and sometimes my heart wants to burst just watching her prance around the living room.

30) 2009: Moved to Kansas. Eventually bought a house (2010). I love our crazy life here, near our families and alongside other people in this same life stage. We’re grateful for the friendships we have here and for the roots we’re putting down in Kansas soil.

Well, I haven’t been writing this whole time, but now it’s 2 1/2 hours after I started this post, which means it’s September 29th. Happy 30th to me! I am blessed indeed.