Life lessons

School’s out for Summer

School’s out for summer.

School’s out forever.

-Alice Cooper

The executive order came out last week. 

In person school has been cancelled for the remainder of the year. 

Although I’ve known it was coming, the blow still hit me hard. Reality often does hit hard in this day and age, doesn’t it?

I braced myself to tell the boys, figuring it would be a difficult conversation. But they took it surprisingly well. I asked them if they felt sad or disappointed and they said they didn’t. I asked for some feedback and all I got was, “well if it means less work in the end, then I’m all for it”. Yep, that’s my introverted, homebody son for you.

And that’s when it hit me. Sometimes news like this is harder on the parents than on the kids. Not always, many kids do take it hard I know, but many times parents are left with the feeling of loss as well. I’m not even talking about the difficult logistics of having kids home all the time, trying to homeschool, keeping them busy, etc. That’s a whole other ballgame. I’m just talking about the loss of what was to come. 

This year we have an 8th grader and a senior. Needless to say, these are two milestone school years. 

Our 8th grader will be a (gulp) high schooler next year. He was looking forward to a spring track season to help him prepare for cross country in high school. He was having a great year and had formed some fantastic friendships. It really seemed as if he had found his place. Unfortunately, since his school this year is a small private school that ends in 8th grade, all of his friends will scatter to different high schools next year. I personally have loved his school. The nurturing environment and small size were really what he needed after a few years moving around internationally. I truly appreciated the support given freely time and time again by staff and parents. I can’t even begin to convey what an overall great experience it has been. 

Then there’s our senior. Now that school’s closed he clearly won’t have the opportunity to experience all his lasts as a high school student. He won’t go to prom. He won’t have his last class. He won’t even have a graduation ceremony.

These are things that I’ve realized mean more to me than I would have ever realized. I appreciate life’s milestones very much. Celebrating all the lasts and firsts in life are a really big deal to me and many of these experiences come into our family through our kid’s lives. 

So, are the boys ok? Yes. Am I ok? Not really, but I’m getting there. Every day gets a bit easier. I took down their school schedules. They’ve emptied out their backpacks. And we’ve gotten into a new ”normal” routine. But waves of sadness do still hit me. I suppose I need a bit of time to mourn. 

Life will go on. New firsts and lasts will happen. Our world will recover and these times will turn into a history lesson for the people of the future. But right now is hard. We will all be faced with disappointment and change in our life circumstances. Sometimes we may just need to lick our wounds for a bit before we pick ourselves up and keep moving forward. 

I am so proud of my boys and their resiliency. May it be a lesson to me to focus on the here and now instead of the what could have (or should have) been. We are blessed. We are together. And this too shall pass. 

But oh how the type A, hyper-planner in me hates every minute of it! 😉

Stay strong!

-Laurie

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Life lessons

Keeping the Faith

I’ve been on a bit of a journey today. 

Yesterday was a tough day. There was literally no good news. The pandemic is getting worse. There aren’t enough hospital beds. Stay-at-home orders are being extended. Some days the news is just too much to bear. It weighs on you and brings you down. 

So, this morning I woke up with a heavy heart. Realistically, I know our world will recover, but when? It’s interesting what time to think can do to a person. Usually life is so busy it becomes easy to push feelings and emotions aside in order to just keep up with life itself. But for now all we have is time and as my thoughts swirled around and around, this thought came to me. 

I’ve been through an awful lot of shit.

I’m not here to complain or give you a sob story about my life. Many, many, many people out there have had it way worse than me. I totally understand and sympathize with that. But, everyone’s obstacles are unique and no matter how big or small they may seem to others, they are obstacles unique to only you, and need to be overcome just the same.

When I was 19, I got pregnant out of wedlock. I was a freshman in college with my whole life ahead of me and found myself at the lowest point I could be. What would happen to me and the baby? How would I support him or her? Could I even finish college? It was hard. A lot of tears were shed. But I had a good guy in my then-boyfriend and we got married, trying to do the right thing in a difficult situation.

Our sweet Autumn

All was not wine and roses when we became a little family. Brett and I were young and had a lot of maturing to do. To say we really didn’t like each other was an understatement. I know deep down inside we resented each other. Him, angry with me for taking away his youthful freedom and me, just not liking anything about him. For six years we lived like this. Just going through the motions. Staying together for the kids. But we grew up, kept the faith, worked hard, and learned to love one another. 

We were in Boston during the events of 9/11. I remember sobbing trying to call my mom who worked right up the hill from the Pentagon. Fear ripping through me until I heard her voice on the phone. Then fearful of what could happen next. Should I run out and get my kids from school? Should my husband leave work and come home? It was terrifying.

When our daughter was 13, we discovered she was battling with anorexia. It was devastating to watch her suffer while feebly trying to help her, all the while knowing she would only find true healing from within. I found myself on my knees many times weeping over her pain. It was a long, painful journey for her, and so gut wrenchingly difficult to deal with as a mother.

Later, she went on to run the Boston Marathon. The year she ran was 2013, the year of the bombing. We were at the meeting area near the finish line when the bombs went off. Her childhood friend, Shapleigh, had watched Autumn finish in the exact spot where the first bomb detonated and only left the area to come congratulate Autumn right after she watched her cross the finish line. We found ourselves in a place where we didn’t know what to do or what would happen. All we knew was that we were scared and needed to get out of Boston as quickly as possible. It was terrifying.

A few years later, we found ourselves on a plane bound for China. We were uprooting half of our children and leaving behind all we knew to start a new journey as expats halfway around the world. It was an incredibly difficult thing to do. I won’t even go into all the emotions that surrounded that time in our lives. I’ll just say that it was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done.

Last year alone, Brett had to undergo two major hernia surgeries, we had an unexpected move back home, and decided to build a house. All major life events (stressors) that just seemed to keep coming at us.

And that brings us to today. I don’t need to tell you what a challenging time we are living in. Worry for health, worry for job security, uncertainty about the future, mourning over the loss our senior has to face with missing all of his “lasts”. The list is endless and if you’re like me, emotions are running high. I might be laughing one minute and bawling the next. What makes it even worse is that many times I find myself overcome by emotions and don’t even know why. 

But that’s where my journey today began. 

Looking back on everything I’ve been through I realize that through it all, God has never forsaken me. In the beginning I wasn’t a Christian. My faith was in myself and my own strength. Going through the pregnancy at 19, I felt very alone. I had made such a mess of my life. Then facing a terrible marriage became more and more difficult as I continued to heap more and more weight upon my weary shoulders. Later, I discovered that God was the only one who could strengthen me. And He did. As you’ve read, there has been a lot that has come my way. Some heavy stuff. Things came along that were honestly just too much for me to bear. But as my faith strengthened, I began to see that I had strength not through me, but through God. He has never left me and has always carried me through life’s difficulties. 

Lately, I’ve been allowing myself to get caught up in the heaviness of life. It’s been overwhelming at times. Although I’ve been praying in earnest, I’ll admit, I’ve allowed myself to take my eyes off of Him through worry. But today I thought, after all He’s seen me through why would He forsake me now? Running through the memories of life’s milestones and the blessings that have come out of most of them, I feel a bit foolish doubting this time will end any differently. We now have four wonderful children. My husband is my best friend. Our daughter is married, happy, and expecting as baby of her own. Our life overseas ended up being one of the greatest things that we have ever done, not just for the four of us that made the move, but for all of us as a whole. And the fact that, although we did not expect to be, we are home, close to our family during this difficult time is such an incredible blessing.

Before we moved to China, I got a tattoo of a cross on my wrist. It was meant to remind me that no matter where I am in this world, God is always with me. I need to remember this and make sure to remind myself of it constantly. Because, just like all the other stuff I’ve been through, He will bring me through this as well. I truly believe this is the only way I will be able maintain my strength. 

It may not be easy from one day to the next, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that we grow the most through adversity. This is my chance to strengthen my faith and I need to do my best to remember the strength that He has instilled within me.

Remaining faithful,

-Laurie

Sorrow looks back.

Worry looks around.

Faith looks up.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life lessons

Joining the Sweatpants Revolution

I usually have pretty high standards about what I consider an acceptable level of self-grooming that I need to complete in order to leave the house. A shower is a must. A decent outfit, also a must. And make-up, well I just won‘t leave home without it. That’s the way I’ve been since pretty much the time I started dressing myself. I don’t think any less of people who don’t go to the extent I do in order to go out into the world, unless of course they didn’t even bother to change out of their pajamas. It’s really hard not to get a bit judgy about that. But for me, my level of comfort is not fancy, but does take some effort.

So, I’ve been feeling a bit rebellious over the past week-and-a-half over the fact that my make-up drawer has remained closed, and my outfits have become a bit redundant. I’ve quickly grown tired of picking my good, “out of the house pants” in order to wear while only wandering around from the bedroom to the kitchen. Are they just jeans? Yes. But even a good pair of jeans has a wear life and if you’re like me, it’s challenging to find that perfect pair.

All this led to me finding myself shopping online for…dare I say it? Sweatpants. It’s true, I actually sought out and bought two pairs of sweatpants. Because, while I don’t want to wear my good jeans on a homebound day, staying in my pajamas all day just doesn’t feel right either. So for now, my alternative has become a comfy pair of sweatpants. 

Isn’t it funny in today’s world the new things we get worked up about? Many of the things that bother us are completely different than the issues we had a mere two weeks ago. Some silly, some not so silly, but unique challenges all the same. 

Sometimes this means we have to step outside our comfort zone a bit in order to maintain our sanity. Even if it means joining the sweatpants revolution. 

So for now I say, viva la sweatpants! 

Just do me a favor, please. Don’t come knocking on my door unannounced because in a week or two, I might just get to the point where I decide to exchange my sweatpants for pajamas and begin to think showers are optional. And if, when this all blows over, you see me in Costco in my pajamas, please don’t judge. I will have gone through a long time being stuck in the house with two teenagers and a husband working from home.

Stay comfy, my friends!

-Laurie

p.s. This post is not in any way knocking sweatpants. In fact, I’m surprised I haven’t owned a pair until now. They’re amazing!

p.p.s. And just to feel a bit more classy, I decided to buy joggers over the traditional grey sweatpants of old. Why are they more classy? I have no idea (and in all honesty, I’m sure they’re not), but my conscience somehow feels better about it, so I’m going with that. 😉

Life lessons

Tea Time

Hi Friends! It’s been a while but things have been a bit crazy around here. Know what I mean?

These are incredible times we’re living in, that’s for sure! No one living today has ever lived through anything quite like this. Every day brings change. Everyone is glued to the latest news. We are all learning a “new normal”. Countries are coping with many obstacles and it’s been crazy how quickly life as we know it has changed. 

For many of us, last week was the first week of us being home more. For a homebody like me, this wasn’t too unusual but having everyone at home with me 24/7 was. Adults had to try and figure out how to work from home and parents had to try and figure out how to support their children when most of us had very little direction from schools as to what we should do. 

I would say our first week was a success but it wasn’t easy. Right off the bat, I made a daily weekday schedule for the boys so they wouldn’t be walking around on their devices all day and night. We certainly had our ups and downs. Jack’s school has been very proactive with remote learning but Elijah (our senior) has still not received any direction from school. I’m not blaming them. These are unprecedented times and everyone is trying to figure things out. However, it has made my job “Momschooling” a bit more difficult. That being said, we’ve managed to figure things out. Both boys watch documentaries, read, help cook, do chores, and projects around the house. We’ve all had more family time, and Elijah and Jack are spending more time together which is all a huge blessing. 

But, perhaps you were like me last week, and experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute I was laughing and the next crying. I found that often times I woke up with a great attitude and ended the day in frustration. I’m worried about our parents and our kids who are away from us. We are worried about Brett’s job, about our house build, and bills. Now don’t get me wrong, at our core we know that God is always with us and how incredibly blessed we are. Those are the things that always carry us through. But emotions run high through volatile times and we have all learned that prayer, patience and flexibility are key.

So, overall last week was a success. Honestly it was a peak and valley kind of week and I’m sure you can totally relate. I am so grateful for this time we’ve been given where we can slow down and just get to know each other again. Where we can have lingering conversations over a meal, or I can teach the boys basic skills that we are usually just too busy to do. Have I had waaaaay less time for me? Absolutely! I’m working on that. But when I step back and remind myself that I am investing in my family even more than I usually do, I feel really good. I hope the boys will come out of this knowing how to cook a meal, and make a bed. They will understand how much work goes into keeping a house running smoothly and how to shop for a family. But most of all, I pray that by the end of this, they will know just how much their mom loves them. Because if that happens, my heart will be full.

Hang in there, my friends!

Do as I do and take this one moment at a time. Try to see the good before the bad. There are so many blessings that can come out of this. Turn to prayer and trust God that He will bring us out of this stronger and closer than ever before. Sit back, treat yourself to a cup of tea and a handful of M&M’s and just enjoy the peace of home. We may never have this opportunity again to invest in ourselves and to invest in those we love.

A goal of my more “me time” is to write more. If I can swing it, expect lots more updates in the next few weeks. They may be short, they may be happy, or they may be sad but I hope you’ll join me through this journey.

Together we are strong, and we can get through this!

-Laurie