Image
Image

Archive for sketch journal – Page 2

letters to my daughter . 091216

091216

It started out as a threat. I’m not ashamed to admit it. School mornings are tough at our house. School Monday mornings are tougher. Nobody wants to get up, including the Mommy in the room. I try my best to keep it positive, but sometimes that first hour of the day tries to do us in with cajoling, begging, groaning, and more often than not, a little raising of the voices as I try to pry my children from their beds to get started with the day.

Sometimes I resort to threats. The first (and least invasive, in my singular opinion) is this: “Do I need to start singing?” Yep. I threaten to sing if I don’t get a response to the admonitions to wake up and sit up. Now, I like to sing. And, my children are used to me adding my own brand of wackiness to situations by breaking out in show tunes, or 80’s tunes, or jazz tunes, or the occasional beat box. There was a period when they were younger (and the words were simpler) when I sang a song for every spelling word on their lists as we practiced for tests. But, that’s another story.

So, singing is not really all that unusual or earth-shattering around our house. In the mornings, however, it’s gotten pretty rare because of the groaning responses emanating from their beds. Enter the threat. Usually the morning singing threat is met with a chorus of “NO!”, followed by begrudging movement under the covers as they attempt to open their eyes to the light. This morning, however, something astonishing happened. When I asked the infamous question, “Do I need to start singing?”, Elisha Bug gave a small, half-sleepy grin and responded, “Maybe.”

Holy wow. Maybe. For a Monday morning, that’s pretty amazing. So, I brought out my usual morning song — the old Lake Forest Ranch camp favorite we sung at morning council to “wake up” the echo living on the other side of the lake.

Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory!
Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory!
Rise! And shine! And give God! The glory, glory!
Children of the Lord!

I sang it. I got some giggles — so as to indicate an actual awakening of the 4th grader. And then, this from Bug: “We might need the kick.” (More giggles.)

Now, Bug was clearly toying with me. Another good sign that we were actually waking up. “The kick” refers to my history of inserting a cheerleader kick/clap under the leg after the third “Rise! And shine!”

I was all in now. So, round two of Rise and Shine came, including the requested kick, more giggles, and the morning routine begun.

Just a morning. Just a Monday. Just an ordinary moment. That I hope we’ll never forget.

letters to my daughter . 090916
Maggie and the Moon

090916

I’ve had this Jazz standard on my mind today, poking up into that playlist in my brain in between all the residue from a very busy two weeks of client design work. It’s on my mind because of a little activity Baby Girl planned for us last night. Her third grade class is doing a unit on space, and they’re learning about constellations and the phases of the moon. They’ve been documenting the look of the moon so they can understand how the phases work. Each group has certain nights to look at the moon, draw how it looks and write down any other observations. Maggie had already recorded the findings on her night, but decided before school yesterday that it would be fun to do it again that night — along with the whole family.

Now, Maggie has great ideas. She has lots of ideas. And, I’ll admit that sometimes my response to her ideas is to try to simplify, to put her off, to cajole her with practicality. How did I get to be that person? I’m given to getting lost in my own imagination. I’m not usually practical minded. Except when I’m at the end of a long and busy day, coming at the end of a long and busy week, when I tend to want as little fuss as possible.

Last night, I tried to talk Baby Girl out of fuss. It’s true; I tried to encourage her to alter her plans in favor of just walking out and looking up at the moon. But, I could see the disappointment in her eyes. So, I rounded up the boys, and we decided to go for it.

It’s an interesting thing when you take a small thing and make a real “thing” out of it. When you take a have-to and make a celebration out of it. Those transformations are part of what I want to be “normal” in our home. We put a lot of time (and decorations) into celebrating things — even little things. Maggie has learned well. How easy it is to let the little opportunities for celebration get crowded out by busy-ness.

So, at 8:00 last night, the Montgomerys spread a quilt on the front yard, spread out the lanterns Baby Girl brought,  and stretched out on pillows looking up. At first it was a have-to — one of those things big brothers have to do to please their little sisters. One of those things Mommies have to do to keep from disappointing daughters. But, before I knew it I was breathing deeply — the first time all day, I think. I stretched out my arms. Bug snuggled close to me on the pillow. Maggie showed everyone her moon journal. Travis discovered an airplane. Then another. Bug got his glasses to see the stars better. We turned off the lanterns. We counted stars as our eyes slowly adjusted. We watched the clouds move across the half moon.

Time that moments before had been spent with each person gazing into a screen of some kind turned into time spent talking to each other, noticing the world around us, and celebrating the night together. And yes, everyone was ready to go back in and enjoy their own things after a little while. But, for those short moments, we were amazed by the sky and the night. And, everyone decided we should lay out our quilt another night to look at the stars.

For me, it was a treasured moment. A moment when I realized, I’d never see the moon the same way again. Because when I look up tonight or the next, I’ll think about Maggie and her ideas. I’ll think about Elisha scooting closer to me on the pillow and counting stars. I’ll think about Travis wondering out loud if we were seeing light from 500 years ago. I’ll remember that we looked at that same moon together. On this one night. And it was a “thing.” A beautiful thing.

Years ago, when I started my first blog, I wrote a column called “Gift Tags…”

“the tiny messages God continues to include with our gifts — 2 little joys of boys and 1 little jewel of a girl, each with open eyes, open ears, open hearts, and much to teach. “Behold children are a gift of the Lord…” (psalm 127:1)”

The series was an exercise in paying attention to those little miraculous things I learn from my children. It was before I had this business. Before Mike died. Before I was tasked with being the sole provider for my family. Before these last few weeks and this season, when I feel like I’ve been so stretched emotionally and creatively to meet the challenges of work and art and parenting. But, the messages are just as poignant. Just as essential. Just as much balm to my soul.

I realized that again in a new way last night. I reminded myself what a treasure they each are. What a treasure time is. And how important it is to take advantage of every moment. Maggie is our living laboratory assignment for the pursuit of beautifully embraced moments. I’m so thankful that she stretches us toward experiencing them.

“I’ll be looking at the moon, but I’ll be seeing you.”

Programming note: Today is Number 55 in the Letters series, and I’m on a mission to get to 100 this fall. Stay with me!

letters to my daughter . 090816

090816

I used to say this to my kids all the time. Back when they were younger and just growing their vocabularies. When they were filled with thoughts, and maybe frustrations, they could not fully express. They had to learn how to articulate their feelings. Like we all do. They had to learn how to speak their minds in ways that could be heard and understood. Like we all do. Today, we still have times when this reminder is important. There are still times when being tired, or over-scheduled, or frustrated makes this reminder come up again. Let’s use our words. I know you’re frustrated. I know you’re tired. I know you’re trying to make me see something. Let’s take the time to use our words. Helpful words. Slow words. Patient words. More words than we think we need. To be sure others can follow along. And, when we are hurt or confused or afraid, let’s find out why. Together. When we think someone’s angry, let’s be brave. And use our words. When we don’t understand. Or misunderstand. Let’s use our words.

We don’t have to go far into the media landscape to see the reckless and callous use of words. We don’t have to go far into our own seas of distractions to find a shocking lack of words where meaningful and honest ones might be life-changing. We live in a culture where daring to bring up the awkward subject or address the emotional elephant in the room is quickly deemed “drama.” Or “TMI.” Or “oversharing.” We live in a culture where it’s easier to turn away and just “block” or “unfollow” or “delete” rather than bear the demands of honest differences. I trying to learn to allow my words to reflect my true values, even if they are uncomfortable. And to create a space in our home where we use our words to make peace.

letters to my daughter . 083016

083016

Wishing a Happy Birthday to my Baby Girl today!

letters to my daughter . 082916

082916

It’s birthday week around here, and I’m reflecting on all things Baby Girl. When she was born, the most wonder-inspiring thing for all of us was just that — that she was a Baby Girl. Born into boy-land. And capturing our hearts more fully with each little movement. Since then, I see this so much in her, even in her short eight years. Her bravery. Her willingness to jump right in to chase that thing she has in her mind. Even when she has to drag us along. And convince us. With some of the most challenging things a little girl can face, she just keeps on. Being who she knows she is. So I know. Even in those fleeting moments when she may not feel like it. You are brave.

letters to my children . 081116

081116

The funny thing about growing is that it’s really hard to see from the inside out. I guess we’re so used to our own skin and the sound of our own thoughts that sometimes we don’t notice when they shift a little.

This morning, my oldest and I were talking on the way to school about the schedules for the next few days, and I was trying to encourage him not to feel too stretched with some weekend activities coming up. His young heart puts on a brave face most of the time, but sometimes I see glimpses of the uncertainty coming out. “Mommy, every day I already feel stretched.” It was a small admission of his feelings about how he’s handling a new school year at a new school, being a 6th grader with seven classes instead of four, and several new weekly activities. There’s a lot of new there, and we all have uncertain feelings about change. The thing is, not three minutes before his comments, I was thinking how proud I was of how he was handling the newness and how well I thought he was doing with these changes. He just couldn’t see it for all the fear and concern in his own heart. I was able to remind him of what I see… that he’s growing. That he’s changing. That last year this time and for several more weeks, his struggles were showing a lot more. They were taking over. But this year, he’s learned to press forward and to take little steps to tackle the change. This year, I see more of his strength shining through. I see him growing.

Stronger, braver, taller, funnier, brighter, more curious and compassionate and confident, joyful, creative, and faithful. I see it so clearly every day. Every day I see him growing — and the other two as well. Sometimes we need that reminder of the growth that’s showing through on the outside.

It’s the same for me. It’s been almost four years since Mike died, and life has been moving. Sometimes I see myself as that same scared, newly single mom, overwhelmed by the responsibility and the emotion of all that’s happened. Sometimes I still am that woman. But, if I look carefully and I step outside my own head, sometimes I can also see glimpses of the woman who’s grown stronger and braver, more curious and compassionate. Joyful. I hope these three souls in my care can see me growing too.

letters to my daughter . 081016

081016

Yeah, carpool. It’s often unpredictable, especially at the beginning of the school year. Plus, it seems to bring out all kinds of stress, frustration and even unkindness in even the most mild-mannered of parents! Our first day of school last week had the typical carpool chaos at Baby Girl’s new school, and even though you know it’s going to be crazy, as a parent, I seem to always underestimate the time needed for those first few days. So, we were late. On the first day. And, Baby Girl got out of the car in tears, which made for a rough first day of school for me as well. Since that day, we’ve been leaving earlier and I’ve been trying my best to keep my attitude light as we navigate the crazy school traffic.

This morning, I couldn’t help but smile as we turned onto School Street for the last crucial lap of Wednesday morning carpool. Baby Girl was practically bouncing, and said, “I wish I was in there right now! I can’t wait to get in there and get started!” School, she meant! [Bravo, Henderson Ward Stewart Elementary staff!] I assured her that we were in “the loop” now and she would be inside in no time. Her response… “It’s really a Rainbow Loop!”

She proceeded to discuss the idiosyncrasies of various circular shapes that resembled the traffic flow on the HWS campus until we made it to her jumping out stop, and determined that “rainbow” was, indeed, the best description of the carpool line.

I love a girl who can see a rainbow in even the most harried of situations. It made me think that maybe seeing rainbows has less to do with light and water, and more to do with joyful hearts and happy attitudes. Thanks for the reminder, Baby Girl. I hope you always see rainbows!

letters to my daughter . 071916

071916

This week I’ve been trying to convince Baby Girl that following through with something she started would be a brave thing. That’s true. Most of the time. And, it’s a valuable lesson to learn for hearts of any age. But, she taught me something else this morning. She taught me that sometimes, when you know yourself and what makes you happy and excited, the brave thing is to say “This isn’t me.” It’s not a good fit. It’s not my place. It’s not what I want. It’s not what makes my heart sing. And, that’s ok. Because being truly brave is having the courage to  stay loyal to who you know you are.

That girl.

letters to my daughter . 070816

070816

More peace. More justice. More listening. More sorrow where we’ve been silent. More seeing, more protecting, more defending. More breaking walls. More building bridges. More repairing breaches. More standing in gaps. More reaching across. More pulling up. And stepping down. More laying aside. More embracing. More understanding. More giving. More human-being. More peace. More peace.

We better get busy. I better get busy. To my generation: WE BETTER GET BUSY. Friends, neighbors, church: We better get busy. We better get busy identifying with that 99.6% of our DNA God duplicated in every one of us. We better get busy righting these wrongs, putting salve on these scars, loving all these shades of the same color. We better get busy making peace.

Because I want Baby Girl’s generation to live long enough to be peacemakers. I want her to know how to make peace because she’s seen it in OUR TIME. I don’t want her to inherit a scourge that we should have healed today. We better get busy.

journey . Summer Days at the Farm

mayfarm3
[so many greens]

My oldest has been talking about memories a lot lately – not necessarily specific ones, but more the concept of having them. And how they’re associated with places. Busy Bee, as we call our family farm land, is one of those places that has instilled memories for me, and it’s always been my goal for my children to have them there as well. We’ve set aside weeks to spend at the farmhouse each year to help build those memories, and it was neat for me to realize again this summer that the memories are taking hold.

We usually take a week of farm fun around Memorial Day to kick off our summer vacation. This year, as we were driving on the gravel road leading to our property, Travis noticed the typical cows in the fields. They are almost always black ones like the ones my dad used to keep. Now my uncle keeps a similar breed on our property. I think what caught Travis’ attention was the unusual red cow in the field. After pointing it out, he commented that it wasn’t like the ones on “our farm.” And then, “See Mommy, we have memories here.” It was a small and unselfconscious declaration taking ownership of one of our places and experiences. And it brought a smile to my face. What joy to have my children enjoy some of the same experiences and build some of the same memories I had as a child!

may_farm9
[fairy stages?]

mayfarm6
[growing wild all over, but not quite ripe]

mayfarm2
[trumpet vine, somehow this has made it to my yard over the last year]

We spent the week enjoying more of our favorite farm adventures… walking the gravel roads, throwing rocks in the creek, noticing a thousand greens, digging through fallen trees, exploring the woods, finding old animal bones, the tree bench, gathering sticks for a bonfire, s’mores, driving to the “back back” and checking out fences, rocking on the deck, picnics by the barn, discovering blackberries, cooling off with a dvd marathon, sleeping late, and lots of conversations. I try to document our journey with photos and sometimes paintings. This trip, I painted most days on the deck each day, and the kids joined me a couple of times. Maybe that will become another tradition.

mayfarm8
[found cow bones now repurposed to dig in a tree stump]

mayfarm7
[does anyone else see a fish?]

mayfarm5
[my grandmother’s fig tree still producing]

mayfarm4
[old milk barn window with vines]

farmpainting9
[Elisha’s tiger]

farmpainting1

farmpainting2

farmpainting7
[Maggie’s sun]

farmpainting8

farmpainting3

farmpainting4

farmpainting6 [Memorial Day 2016]

farmpainting5

mayfarm1

Image