Abraham, Rachel, Soren and Liam. Our life together in Smalltown, Idaho.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Stuff I Forgot to Include in All Those Catch-up Posts

On the way home from Physical Therapy. For some reason, Soren wanted to be REALLY close to his brother, so they're sharing a seatbelt here. As I recall, Liam eventually got annoyed with the breech of his personal bubble and a fight ensued. For for a little while, it was pretty darn adorable. 

Liam acquired some superhero goggles at a fast food restaurant run with Grandpa. He also found a tiny plastic squirt gun. The two combined for hours of fun and repose. 

 Stack of lovies. 

More shots from Liam's birthday.  

Occasionally the boys still like to be wrapped up like burritos.  

This was taken while we were moving into our new house. The kids had found some stuffing and were making themselves comfortable in the new place by making a mess in their new room.  

Soren loves his baby cousin Rebecca.

My parents gave us a new porch swing as a house warming gift. 
(Oh, right, maybe I haven't mentioned this? In April we moved into a new home in a neighboring town. We love the home and the town and the porch swing whole bunch.) 
Anyway, we've spent many a happy hour on the swing (Liam calls it "the outside chair,") including doing some serious reading. Can you guess what book this is from this illustration? 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Lies I Have Lived

I've never been a big fan of lying. I could barely watch Aladdin as a kid because the title character's compulsive dishonesty threw me into paroxysms of vicarious guilt and shame. "Just tell her the truth!" I would scream at him. "The truth is so much easier!"

I was right, of course. The truth is so much easier. Even if it's more painful up front, I've found that the day-by-day toxic IV drip of prolonged deception is much worse than the ripped-off-Band-aid sting of bald truth.

Which is why I'm not sure what possessed me when, as a 19-year-old, I told a boy I was dating that I loved classic rock artists like Bob Dylan and Tom Petty.

Well, that's not entirely true. I know what possessed me. I was trying to look cool.

He had asked me what kind of music I liked. At the time, it seemed to me that all the sexy boys were into oldish weirdish counterculturish hippyish music, and I figured I could score points by showing that I, too, enjoyed deep music, not all that shallow contemporary crap. In my mind, liking Tom Petty was similar to knowing how to skateboard or being a registered Democrat. It was edgy and attractive.

The truth was, I could not have named you a single Bob Dylan or Tom Petty song. Not a one.

"Oh yeah? Bob Dylan?" was the boy's amused response. "You would get along really well with my dad. He loves Bob Dylan."

Curses. No points scored for coolness there.

"Me?" he went on. "I'm more into Collective Soul and Alanis Morisette."

Double curses.  I was into Collective Soul and Alanis Morisette. But there was no turning back now. I had committed to my love of Tom Petty Bob Dylan Music, whatever the heck genre that was.

"Hmm," I sniffed, trying to come off as smugly tolerant. "Interesting. That stuff's okay too, I guess. We can listen to some if you want."

My vain foray into untruth was something I could have gotten away with, had this ended up being a quick fling, a few dates and then nothing. But of course, we got serious.

The first time I met this boy's dad, he was very excited. "I hear you like Bob Dylan!" he exclaimed.

"Oh man, do I ever," I said, my stomach breaking out in an acid sweat. I was worried he was going to want to start talking shop. Fortunately for me, the conversation moved in other directions. I was safe--at least for the time being. But I knew my luck wouldn't hold forever.

The very next day, I dropped fifteen bucks on a Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits CD. I listened to the whole thing in one sitting. It wasn't bad. Dude had some harmonica skills, for sure. And interesting lyrics. "Subterranean Sunset Blues" was pure poetry.

I kept the album in my car and listened to it on continuous repeat for weeks. When I had analyzed all the words and memorized a few pieces completely, I started to believe that I really was a Bob Dylan fan. Yep, that was me: a regular hip music aficionado.

I now felt more confident crossing the threshold of my boyfriend's parents house. We could now safely discuss Bob Dylan. I even passed a happy evening watching a videotaped Jethro Tull concert with his dad. (Who knew that the flute could be a rock instrument? And so artfully played by a fellow standing on one foot?)

Eventually, things with that boyfriend went sour. As the months passed, I started to sense that he hadn't been honest with me. Not intentionally dishonest, but I could start to see, in my limited 19-year-old way, that he had bent and squeezed and contorted himself into the shape of the guy he thought I wanted him to be. And as a result, in the end, neither of us knew who he really was.

When we parted ways, my Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits album went back to its home within the plastic sleeves of my CD binder. I don't think I've listened to it since.  

Stake Pioneer Day Picnic

Our stake put on a Pioneer Day Picnic and it was truly a good time. At one point Liam completely disappeared. Soren and I ran around desperately trying to find him, only to eventually realize that he had hopped a train. I should have known.

Here's my child, riding around in a toy train with complete strangers. 

At first, Soren was too cool for the train ride, but he finally gave in and went for a few circles around the park.

The boys in their new jackets. The Captain America jacket is proof that happiness can be bought. It's available in Target stores everywhere for just $18.99. I love to tease Liam about actually being Captain America, because he takes it very seriously. He will take off his hood and unzip his jacket to show me that he's actually just Liam. Soren also enjoys his Minecraft-themed "Creeper" jacket (never thought I'd have a kid who willingly referred to himself as a creeper). 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

To: Me From: Exhaustion

Dear Rachel,

The Tired here. I read what you wrote about me earlier. It's cute that you think I'm here as a teacher and a friend. Sad for you, I will only ever be your tormentor and arch nemesis. Bwahahahahahahaha! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

I kid.

I'm actually glad to hear that you've decided to welcome me into your life. I realize I'm not your favorite, but I'm not going anywhere for a while, and it's for your own good. I do have a few things I want you to learn. And since I'm aware that you spend your days editing internet articles, I'll put this into a format I know you'll be comfortable with. Ahem.

7 Things I Am Trying To Teach You By Keeping You Insanely Tired All The Time

1. Your worth is not dependent on your accomplishments. 
For too many years, you have judged your worth as a human being by the number of items you've been able to check off your to-do list by the end of the day. You must learn that it is who you are, not what you do, that gives you value, that makes you precious and irreplaceable.

2. Identify your priorities. 
I have taken away all but a few of your precious hours each day. I've done this so that you can understand that there are many ways for you to spend your time, but just a few that will feed your soul and make the world a better place. Figure out what (more importantly, who) is most important to you, and strip life down to those essentials.

3. Be grateful.
Appreciate the feeling of the earth beneath your feet. Relish the sound of your husband's voice as he reads Matilda aloud to your son. Enjoy the antics of your coworkers. Appreciate little hands tucked into yours. Marvel at a sunset. Savor a life lived without pain, without hunger, in freedom, in sunlight. Focus on what you have, not on what you don't.

4. Take it one day at a time. 
Don't think about all the things you need to do in a week, a month, a year. Write down the things you want to accomplish and focus on what you need to do today, just today, to meet those goals. It is true that "through small and simple are great things brought to pass."

5. Know that you can do hard things.
You are strong. You are a warrior. Even when life is hard, you can do it. Even when dreams are hard, you can chase them. Find a way. If a paraplegic can complete an Iron Man, you can write a novel.

6. Nurture yourself.
Give yourself permission to nap when you need to. Feed yourself good food, even when I tell you it would be so much easier to just eat cereal. Sit and read sometimes. Listen to NPR while you cook dinner. Dance with the kids. Allow music and poetry to percolate in your soul. Sit. Breathe.

7. Fear is not your friend. 
Fear is wrapped up in all of the above, in one form or another, but I will tell you now: fear has nothing to offer you. It will only ever hurt you, strip you of hope, leave you alone, and suck away your strength. Put it down. Walk away. Don't look back.

And that, my friend, pretty much summarizes the lessons I'm currently planning on teaching you. I'm excited for us to spend time together exploring these essentials. And who knows? Maybe more lessons will emerge in the process. But I promise you this: When we're done here, you will be glad I came. Because I will have made it possible for you to live a fuller, richer, deeper life.

You're welcome.

Your Friend,

The Tired

Beating the Heat

Sunday, October 11, 2015

I'm So Tired of Being Tired.

For the past three years, I have been tired. Really tired. Unnaturally tired.

Before I experienced this, if someone had told me that they were having a hard time because they were "always tired," I would have given them a cynical look and said, "Right. Always tired. Welcome to adulthood."

But it's different, this Tired that I have. The Normal Adult Tired, it's something you can live with. You know you'd sure appreciate a nap, but you've got all these things to do, and a little tiredness isn't going to stop you.

My Tired is different. I know, because I've experienced both. This Tired is like having weights tied to your arms and legs, like having a brick in  your chest, like trekking through mud while a giant cosmic hand presses down on you from above. You can power through it for a while, but eventually your spirit starts to tremble and all you can think about is collapsing on the spot. And you do.

Little things, like checking your voice mail or mailing a check to pay a bill, loom large like mountains. Big things, like painting the kitchen table or turning apples into applesauce, seem nearly impossible. You cry every time you see your son's scouting book, the symbol of one more responsibility that you just. can't. handle.   I watch in envious silence as women around me hustle and bustle and do all the things I wish I could do.

I have done everything I can think of to shake off this relentless exhaustion. I've seen doctors and had numerous blood tests run. (Everything looks fine.) I've tried eating a freakishly healthy diet. I've kept a gratitude journal. I've tried positive affirmations. I've begged God for healing. I've exercised consistently. I've taken supplements. I've switched from one antidepressant medication to another to another.

So far, nothing has helped.

In fact, it seems to be getting worse. It's becoming almost all-consuming. I hate it. I've wept and cried and screamed at how frustratingly difficult and overwhelming everyday life has become. I used to be a productive and active person. Now I do the bare minimum to get by. I'm too young to be so tired, I insist angrily to the universe. The universe stands quietly by. My kids need a mom who has vigor and vim, I shout. My voice echoes off the vast emptiness. I want to foster children. I want to give them a home, security, consistency--but I need energy to do that, I plead. Silence.

This Exhaustion seems hell-bent on staying in my life. For whatever reason, God has decided to leave it here.

So I've decided to change tactics.

I've decided to open my arms and accept The Tired into my life. As a teacher. As a blessing in disguise. As an opportunity for growth. As a way to build strength and courage. The wind, it can be cold and miserable, but it can also fill the sails of a ship and take you where you want to go.

I've decided to unfurl my sails and use this wind to take me to new and beautiful places.

I would tell you more about my new strategy, but I'm about spent for now. I'm going to take a nap. More later.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Camping Trip 2015

We took a little family camping trip this last June to Swan Valley. It was a short little trip (just one night), but successful, in that we all had fun and the children actually slept the entire night. (Well, they did wake up in the middle of the night to whisper-fight over their shared blankets, but they didn't even try to involve me or Abe, so I call that a win.) 

Activities included: 

A water fight between Abe and the children,

Sword fighting in a park in Swan Valley (after square ice cream was consumed, of course),

and a wrestling match in the tent (you can see evidence of our previous marshmallow roasting on Soren's shirt):

Besides all of this aggressive testosterone-letting, we also did a little walking, a little creek wading, and a little reading. 'Twas pleasant. Maybe next year we'll go for two nights. 

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Liam and Soccer

I have faith that eventually Liam's soccer pics will show up, but in the meantime, here's a blurry take of his first practice. He's the kiddo in the red shirt. He was very excited about his shin guards (they would make him run faster) and also seemed to feel very hip when standing with one foot on his ball.

His coach was really great. She took a lot of time to teach the kids about the rules and techniques of soccer and was very positive.


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