My boys. My life.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bryce is turning into a fish!

Today is Day #2 of Bryce's swimming lessons. He is doing amazingly well. I'm so proud of him. Today he put his face under water, blew bubbles, kicked his legs while moving forward, moved his arms a little, etc. I watched in disbelief. My oldest child is growing up. Sniff.

Last summer I can distinctly recall taking the boys to Buckner Park for fun in the water. It was the hottest day of summer. Ethan, only a few months old at the time, was crying, hungry, needy. Typical baby at that age. Bryce couldn't make up his mind if he wanted to play in the playground or in the splash pad. He told me water, so I got him changed into his swim diaper and trunks. Suddenly, he decided Noooooooooo!!! Water. Bad!!! Took off toward the playground. VERY hot asphault burned his feet, making him scream all the more intensely. This scenario replayed itself what felt like 50 times at the time (though looking back, I'm sure it was less than five times). Finally, a stressed out, overwhelmed Mom gave up and took the kids home. I think I was in tears as much as Bryce was about his burnt feet. Would he ever get used to water?

We went back to the same splash pad a couple weeks later as a family this time. With Tim's help, one of us was able to concentrate on Bryce. He was able to enjoy running around this time much better. We also set up a kiddie pool at home. He was still awfully cautious, though....

Fast forward to this summer. I don't recall the exact order of events but it goes something like this. Splash pad once or twice = disaster. We went with friends and Bryce wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. He sat by himself next to our bag of water-fun goodies. I would have given up, like last summer, but this time Ethan was old enough to semi-enjoy the experience. He's kinda at that fearless age. He takes off on his own. So I wasn't going to take away a fun time for Ethan just because Bryce wanted nothing to do with it.

We went over to a neighbor's large kiddie pool and after much hesitation and still quite cautious, he started to have a good time. Perhaps a turn in the right direction?

Then we met with friends from Columbus in Indianapolis for a fun afternoon at the Children's Museum. That night we stayed the night in Greenfield at a hotel with a pool before going to see Thomas The Train the next day. That night at the pool was another pull-hair-out moment. It was like pulling teeth to get Bryce in that pool. After a solid 30-45 minutes of him crying and screaming, he eventually calmed down and I think he even smiled a time or two. Little did I know then, how much working through that with him would help.

Since then we've been to a splash pad twice and he's had a blast. Finally. And we went to a friend's in-ground pool last week. I even dunked him! He wanted to try on goggles so after I got that on him, I told him, "We're going to try something. You can keep your eyes open. I'll plug your nose." Did those things and dunked him!! He only threw a minor fit for a few minutes.

Yesterday and today I've realized the baby steps it has taken to get to this point. At his first swim lesson yesterday, he actually got in the pool by himself! I was utterly amazed by this, given how cautious he had been in the past. He'd never gotten in a pool without clinging onto us for dear life. Even more, he looked like he was having fun! Today at swimming, Mr. Dave taught Bryce how to blow bubbles under water. He did it without hesitation. Mr. Dave gave him a push towards the steps and side of the pool and Bryce went under water but was able to right himself all the while moving his legs and arms in swimming motions. I still can't believe what I saw this morning. My son is able to do stuff I never have been able to do. I didn't take swim lessons as a child and have always been very uneasy with water. I'm still not very good with it, although I have been wake boarding and scuba diving. I digress. My little man is growing up!!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Dream Come True ~ My New Business

For the past 4-5 years, I have dreamed of having an in-home photography studio. I am thrilled to say my dream is in the early stages of coming true. A week from tomorrow, I go to the Fort Wayne SCORE chapter for a free small business consultation, where I hopefully will get what I need to start the business from the legal standpoint.

Then, we will invest in the equipment I need. I have a pretty good idea of what we’ll be getting. This studio will be set up in our basement, and though I will have to charge money for my services, I hope to be an affordable portrait option for family and friends. I do not know for sure what I will charge, but I foresee providing different options based on your needs. One amount for portraits of one child, another amount for multiple children, another amount if you want indoor and outdoor shots, etc. These amounts will get you a CD with the full-resolution images for you to print where you please. Perhaps an additional small charge if you need custom invitations made and maybe a refer-a-friend discount. Normal photo enhancements will be included in the CD as part of the fee.

I've included some examples of pictures I have taken in the past – however, this is without professional-grade equipment. So stay tuned for updates on the start of this business!

I hope my new business interests you. If all goes well, we’ll have the equipment in the next 2-3 weeks and then I’m sure there will be a learning curve for me to adjust to the powerful equipment we will be purchasing. But hopefully I’ll be officially open for business within a month or so. I’m really excited about this endeavor and hope you’ll consider being part of one of my life dreams coming true. J

This was included in my nephew, Dylan's, birth announcement.

Below - I took pictures of them and their family for their 10-year anniversary.

Friday, July 2, 2010

One Proud Soccer Mom

Bryce completed his first ever organized sports season last night. For the past few weeks he has been playing in Little Kickers, a soccer program through Parks & Rec that is designed for 3-4 year olds. It has been pure joy to see him embrace the experience. That first night, it took half the session for him to warm up to it, but at the end, he was running to us with his adorable grin on his face.

He participated in this program with his friend from preschool – a boy named Carson. The two lit up each Tuesday and Thursday evening upon first seeing each other. Sometimes they were so happy to see each other, they were a little distracted for soccer. One memorable moment came one evening when the kids played Red Light, Green Light. The two boys ran alongside each other but were so busy talking and laughing that they ran opposite of the other kids and what the coaches were instructing. So when the coaches would say “Green light,” they had inadvertently stopped and were talking. Then when the coaches said “Red light,” they realized they were behind the rest of the group and ran to catch up with the other kids. It was so cute and funny to see. Before soccer, we would often tell Bryce to listen to the coaches. But who doesn’t smile to see their child so happy about seeing a friend? That’s more important than soccer. More important than many things in life actually.

Then there’s us…. Mom and Dad. We sat and watched the kids each week from lawn chairs. Jumping at the chance to participate when the parents were needed. There will be a day when our participation in extra-curricular activities will be much less. We’ll be just a spectator, so this was fun to experience this with him.

This whole experience has made me one proud “Soccer Mom.” Over the past several weeks, I have contemplated that title some. There seems to be a negative or almost-embarrassing connotation to it. Yes, our son played soccer (even at the age of 3.) Yes, we have a minivan. Yes, we watched proudly. Yes, my son even has several soccer shirts in his closet. Just embracing the experience here. And I’m happy to admit that. Our minivan helps us get around town and travel with much more ease. We got excited to watch our son and participate in this experience with him.

So I say, ditch the negative “Soccer Mom” connotation and embrace what’s real – being a loving mom and wanting to actively participate in a child’s life. There is nothing negative about that! In fact, maybe the world would be a better place if there would be more Soccer Moms and Dads. I know I'm thrilled to have so many Mom-Friends who refuse to settle for the negative connotation (whether their child plays soccer or not.) I have so many Mom-Friends who define what it means to be an involved "Soccer Mom" like I've described here. Thank you, Mom-Friends. We are raising the next generation. Let's continue to do it with pride and active participation.

The boys enjoyed an ice cream treat after their final Little Kickers session. Above - Bryce with his soccer certificate and some Animal Crackers after his final session.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Contemplating Life on this Rough Day

(I promise future entries will be shorter. Just had a lot to say on this first one.)

I have been thinking about starting a blog for some time now. Through this my intent is to share my thoughts and experiences from my finite piece of existence. Right now I feel so tiny – like a spec in time. I want to be real, to be authentic. Thus the title I have given this. Today is a good day to start this for several reasons. It’s only a couple days after celebrating my oldest son’s birthday. Three years and two days ago, my life changed. FOREVER. I became a mom. So much has happened in the last three years. A lot of joys. A lot of heartache. A lot of laughter. A lot of confusion.

You see a lot of posts and pictures about my journey through motherhood, so I’m not going to restate all that here. I want to turn to a different perspective now. I mentioned a little over three years ago, my life changed forever. Life has been drastically altered several times since then – in the deaths of my grandfather, Tim’s mother and Tim’s grandfather. Since today is the one-year anniversary of my MIL, Cindy’s, death, I’m going to focus this on her at this time.

Psalm 39:4-6 says:

“Lord, make me to know my end,
and what is the measure of my days,
That I may know how frail I am.
Indeed, the number of my days is small like the size of a hand.
And my age is as nothing before You.
Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor.”

A mere vapor. And hers even less than that since she died in her early 50s. Her life ended all too quick. Both about her and my grandfather especially since the most time has passed since their deaths, it makes me sad to think about fading memory. Can I recall my grandfather’s smile? Can I still hear Cindy’s laugh?

I thought about these things as I nearly cried myself to sleep last night. And it dawned on me. At least in part, this is what is driving at some of my passions in life. To savor moments. To capture them. To help others capture them. I dream to someday have a photography studio in a basement of a home we have dreamt about since college. (We plan to build. Someday.) But back to the pictures for a moment. Pictures help, at least me, to keep memories going. To keep memories sharp of our loved ones. In part, maybe that’s why I’m so picture-happy. I snap pictures like there’s no tomorrow. Cuz what if there isn’t? And then if there is and I grow old, I want to remember my children when they were babies and toddlers. And continue to as they grow up. This is the only chance we have at savoring and capturing these precious moments. As the lyrics of one of my favorite songs goes, “You only get just one time around. You only get one shot at this. One chance to find out the one thing that you don’t wanna miss.” And it’s never been more true. We have to make the most of this thing called life.

Back to the visual and audio memories for a moment. While those kind of memories can go out of focus, I can very sharply recall many of the emotions surrounding my loved ones’ lives and deaths. My grandfather passed away very suddenly. I can remember the intense anguish of losing someone so quickly – unable to say good-bye. With Cindy, we knew her death was coming as we saw the life fade from her frail body. She battled cancer for 1-1.5 years. One of her final goals of life was to attend a combined party for our sons – her two grandchildren. This party celebrated Ethan’s birth (he was about three months old at the party) and Bryce’s upcoming 2nd birthday. I can all-too-vividly recall the emotions I felt while Bryce received his final gift given together from his paternal grandparents – his John Deere pedal tractor. While he was overflowing with excitement, and I was excited for him, I stood in a corner trying to hide tears. That I know of, only Cindy’s sister saw me and told me the words I needed to hear. But I was overwhelmed with sadness because Cindy would never see Bryce learn to pedal this tractor. I knew her time was coming. I didn’t realize it was going to be only 1.5 weeks later. After that party in Iowa, we came back to Indiana. Tim tied up some loose ends at work and we had Bryce’s 2nd birthday party here before heading back out to Iowa. Obviously the party here was mixed emotions again. It was so darn hard trying to put on a happy face. It really was. We were going through the motions in trying to make it a fun day for Bryce. And for him, I believe it was. For us, we half-enjoyed. And then that night Cindy spoke her last audible words to Tim on the phone. He could hardly hear her but told her he loved her and she said the same. And that was it. She basically slipped into a coma that night. And died two days later at Hospice.

I still find it hard to believe she’s gone. That she’s gone through this life. That her eternity in Heaven has begun. That even though we mourn her loss all over again, she has no more pain. No more tears. She looks down with love on us all.

I guess to tie together one more thing that I believe says a lot…. When Tim’s grandfather passed away in the fall, the nurses at the care center told family it was a matter of time. He was fairly incoherent in his final days, from what I understand. But nurses heard him talking so went into his room. Expecting to find a visitor, they only found Rudy there. When asked who he was talking to, he said he was having a talk with Cindy. To everyone’s knowledge, he never knew about her death. He died 1-2 days later. That still speaks volumes to me. God allowed this conversation between Cindy in Heaven and Rudy near-death to happen for a reason. Perhaps to remove any doubt from us left behind and hurting, that there is a life after this one. There is a Heaven. I’ve been pretty strong in faith for several years now but this sealed the deal for me. God is real. The Bible is true. We will all be reunited some day as we share the same fate as those who have gone before us. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Death is real and the reward for those who love God far outweighs anything here. So for now, we hold on to the only things that truly matter in this life – the people we love, the God we love. That Jesus really did die for us and He's taking care of my loved ones in Heaven and my loved ones here. He is the link that holds all these puzzle pieces together.