Monday, June 23, 2014

The Golden Rule

I came home from church yesterday wishing I knew what to say.  

C, my second daughter, is beautiful - I will always see her as that.  She’s small for her age, but just like her name defines, she’s little AND strong - with a spunky personality to boot.  Being new can be hard, and this past year, a small group of girls in her church class have been rejecting her.  I know, I know…they’re 5 year olds, but it hurts…week after week.  I haven’t been too worked up over it, because in the past, she’s always been very open about any incident or mean thing that has been said, and overall, she’s been okay.

I’m also not naive enough to believe it’s all unprovoked.  C tries so hard to be included - maybe a little too hard sometimes.  She’s not only eager to make friends (since our return from Argentina), but she’s learning to socialize like most girls her age.  Her personality insists that her presence be known.  

But yesterday was different.  I could see it in her countenance, and things were not okay.  The pain had built up, and something that was said seemed to break her.  It’s hard for me to understand how little ones can be so cruel at times, but I pray that this past year will be a stepping stone to higher ground.  We spent the majority of the day discussing her identity as a daughter of God and NOT basing her self worth on what others may say or do.  As hard as it is for my mother heart to accept, this life demands that we will ALL experience rejection at one point or another, including my very own little ones, and I hope that as a mother, I will react in a way that can move mountains rather than start fires.   

I’ve talked with her teachers, and we have a plan in place that I believe will improve the situation.  Regardless, I’m beaming with love over my little C, and I hope that even the tiniest belief of who she truly is can plant itself in her heart - a seed of confidence to not only let her light shine, but move her to dance into greener meadows and blossom into the beautiful flower she’s meant to be.  

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I just barely realized how perfect my shirt was for the day.  Drop of awesomeness right there. ;)

Friday, June 20, 2014

THIRTY!

Today has been a GREAT day!  It’s birthday season around our place, and today I celebrated turning 30!  How does that happen?  Jared & I had been making plans to go out - just the two of us - but when it came right down to it, we both wanted to be together as a family.  

I started a birthday tradition with our kiddos a few years back (something that was done when I was growing up): waking up to a birthday gift at the end of your bed on birthday morning.  I didn’t think much of it until I woke up this morning to a giant Tinker Bell gift bag at the end of my bed full of notes, pictures, paintings, poems, & a few photos that highlighted some of their favorite moments with me.  It was one of the sweetest things my girls have ever done for me - it nearly brought me to tears.  I know they worked really hard on it.  We sat at the end of my bed this morning going through each item in the bag - giggling & talking about how hard they had worked on everything while squeezing each other for a job well done.  

A picture in the bag of A & I (Chuck E. Cheese photo booth on C’s birthday last month):

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I took the kids to one of our favorite parks this afternoon - the wind nearly blew us away - but we soaked up what sunshine we could and ran through the water on the aquatic pad.  My favorite part was right before I got wet; Gabe took off my flip flops while I was sitting on the grass, grabbed my hand, and pulled me up as best as he could like - 'you’re not getting out of here dry, mama.’  SO I found my inner child & ran through the cold water squealing like a crazy person.  Classic. :)

I had some quiet time today, too.  My neighbor is one of the nicest people I have ever met, and her daughter & my girls have become such good friends.  We share back fence lines, & now that it’s summertime, those three girls play their hearts out.  They happened to get together outside today right during Gabe’s nap time which gave me some birthday peace. ;)  I really appreciate having them in our life.

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We finished the day off with some ribs at Tony Roma’s, and wow - it was divine.  I’ve been there maybe three times in my entire life, & it was the best birthday meal yet.  The very fact that I didn’t have to cook & do dishes tonight was heaven. :)  30 feels amazing, and I know this sounds cliche, but I’m excited for the decade ahead!!! Thirty, flirty, & thriving!  Oh yeah.  

 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

10 Years!

Once upon a time, this handsome little boy grew up to be an honorable, hard-working man.

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And this dreamy-eyed little girl grew up to be a dexterous :), determined woman. 

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He continued to grow,

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And so did she,

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Until one glorious day on a summer night in July, they met on her front porch for a blind date 

And they knew they couldn’t live without each other

So they tied the knot and promised their love for time & all eternity

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And 10 years later, they’re still growing in love, one day at at time.  

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Happy “Aluminum" Anniversary to my favorite guy! ;)  

Our anniversary was actually a few days ago, but we’re celebrating all month long.  I’m SO glad I married him, & I look forward to the many more phases of life we will share.

 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Father's Day 2014!

Man, I got a little carried away going through old photos yesterday!  I love doing that though because something about it lightens my heart and makes me happy.  I love my husband so much, and I’m grateful for all the good things he is teaching our children.  Fatherhood is important to Jared.  I love talking to him about our children.  He always has great ideas on how to be more projective and deliberate in the life lessons we value and want our children to understand.  

AnnMarie said that her favorite thing about dad is his smile & when he takes her out for a milkshake.  Carlie said that her favorite thing about dad is his laugh & when he teases her.   

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My own Dad is amazing!  He is a true gentleman.  He is hard working, stable, and kind.  This picture of my dad & I at my 7th birthday party captures his calm disposition.  He always has a pleasant look on his face.  Two Christmases ago, my sister-in-law put together an awesome binder of letters as a tribute to him.  Here is some of what I wrote:

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My Dad is a talented musician.  He plays the piano mostly by ear; he always accompanied me in my vocal performances growing up providing limitless opportunities for me to share music.   

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My father-in-law raised the man of my dreams which says everything!  Kim is a strong leader, and he values the importance of education and hard work.  He is service oriented and is constantly giving of his time for the betterment of youth, single adults, and the community in which he lives.  I love this man!     

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My father-in-law’s dad passed away 3 years ago - just a few months after his 70th wedding anniversary.  He was a competitive boxer, successful farmer, and dedicated husband and father to his family.  Isn’t he handsome?  Maybe I’m bias, but I think our little guy, Gabe, looks just like him!  I can’t help but think that they must’ve had many conversations in heaven before Gabe came to us.

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My mom’s dad - Grandpa Rex - celebrated his 80th birthday this year!  Last year my parents took him and my grandma on an unforgettable trip to Hawaii.  It’s amazing to me that he can still boogie board at his age!  I love talking to my grandpa - he is a fountain of wisdom on many different topics, and he has blessed the lives of too many scouts to count, especially his grandsons, through the scouting program.

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My dad’s dad - Grandpa LaMar - lived down the road from me when I was growing up.  It’s hard to sum up in a few sentences how special this guy is!  His posterity means everything to him.  He loves helping others.  He loves music & baseball & family gatherings.  He leads with wisdom from life experiences and takes every opportunity he can to share his testimony.   

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I hope these good men in my life know how much I appreciate their examples to me over the years, and I hope more than anything that they had the happiest of Father’s Days!!

“Noble fatherhood gives us a glimpse of the divine.”  - James E. Faust 

Friday, June 13, 2014

AnnMarie the Ballerina

AnnMarie was an Elementary Ballerina for the Academy of Ballet this past school year, & she performed in an end-of-year recital at the Columbia River Park last Saturday.  It couldn’t have been on a better night - the weather was PERFECT!  She looked beautiful, and both Jared & I were impressed with her careful grace.  It’s been tricky to watch her during her class time with my two other kiddos in tow, but she took her instruction very seriously, & it showed in her performance.

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As I watched her dance across the stage with such delicacy, it brought a tear to my eye.  I am so grateful for a daughter who values following the rules to a T.  I am grateful for a daughter who cares about others’ feelings.  I am grateful for her desire to share her budding testimony of the gospel.  I enjoy talking with her about all that goes on during her day or listening to her concerns about how to be a better friend to this person or that person.  She is growing up to be such a special person, and I love her.   

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Such a proud face! ^^^^^

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Great job Anna-Maria Ballerina (as we like to call her in our best spanish accents)! ;)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bahamas

On the second day of our cruise - back in February - we took an excursion through the island of Nassau which is part of the Bahamas.  We took a bus tour of the island’s capitol and stopped at a zoo.  I don’t really know what to say about the Bahamas…at least the part we saw.  For some reason, I’ve always thought of the Bahamas as a developed picturesque beach heaven, & I’m sure there are many parts that are - given the fact that the Bahamas is made up of nearly 700 islands, but wow - there’s actually quite a bit of poverty in Nassau.  It’s not seen as much in the tourist areas where we spent most of our time, but it was still a little shocking to see glimpses of poverty in the caribbean - I didn’t expect that.

We saw a black swan at the zoo which was amazing.  I’ve never seen one before, and I found myself contemplating the impact of the highly improbable.

(There’s a book out called The Black Swan: the impact of the highly improbable.  It’s possible that only an economist’s wife would know that.)

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My face is cracking me up! ^^^^^

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My niece was having way too much fun posing like a flamingo.^^^^^

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We didn’t spend a lot of time on the island, but I was grateful for the chance we had to see a new country & once again, see the world with new eyes.  I’m okay with not visiting the Bahamas anytime soon, but I will say, the people have a distinct personality - are generally happy, full of faith, & good humored - something I’ll remember for sure.  ;) 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Mother's Day 2014

Mother’s Day is always a day when I feel extra appreciated, but the idea of having a relaxing Mother’s Day has never really worked for us. :) Sundays are intended to be restful (this I know), but it seems like they can be some of the hardest days for me.  This year on Mother’s Day, I really missed my own mama and the idea of being with her on a lazy Sunday afternoon enjoying family dinner.  It also happened to fall on my dad’s birthday this year which didn’t make it any easier.  When everyone in the house fell asleep for an afternoon nap after a quick Sunday dinner of leftovers and whatever else I could muster up, I took a drive to a nearby park and had a good cry.  Despite my faults, I have three beautiful babes who need and want me anyway.  Their demands can be overwhelming, and sometimes my heart aches for them (and me!) to have extra loving grandma hands close by...but those times when we’re tired of each other, yet we only have each other, simply make us stronger.  

I came home from the park a better me.  Jared spoiled me, and the kids showered me with homemade love.  Being a mother isn’t always a yummy piece of cake, but it’s worth it in every way for so many reasons that continue to surprise me and fill me up with overwhelming gratitude.  

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Welcome Summer!

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Summer is off to a great start, and now that it’s pretty much here, I don’t know how I lived without it!  I took C & G to the aquatic pad at the Grange Park yesterday to soak up the sunshine, and we really had a great time.  It felt weird not having A there (school can finish any day now - one more week left - man alive), but I enjoyed spending time with just these two together.  G refused to wear his swim trunks, but at least I had plenty of swim diapers for him to sport around in.  Aside from applying sunscreen every 30 minutes or so, they seemed to be more into the play system than anything else - funny kids. 

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Today all three kiddos & I went to a swim party at a friend’s family pool, and it was a "best day ever!" type of day.  Even though it’s almost been a full year since we moved back to the Tri-Cities, it’s taken time to adjust.  Although I didn’t expect it, it’s been a time of major growth and reflection moving forward into a new reality.  It hasn’t always been easy, and I still find myself struggling to know where I fit in, but when my heart turns toward serving others, everything falls into place again.  Today I recognized more fully the amazing women & friends surrounding me….and as I drove home through a peaceful farming community, down the mountain, & through the canyon to our drive (all while the littles lulled to sleep with the late afternoon sun on their faces in the backseat), I got that tingling confirmation that we ARE where we need to be right now...and that’s good enough for me.  

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Disney Dream Cruise

The day after our gator tour, we boarded the Disney Dream cruise ship.  It was definitely a sight to behold!  Disney never ceases to blow me away.  Since this was Jared & I’s first time on a cruise, we really had no idea what to expect, and we were not disappointed.  Our niece came along with our girls much of the time - three little peas in a pod - they had so much fun.  fyi - Gabe was in Idaho with my mom & dad which was a back-and-forth decision leading up to the trip, but as much as we missed him, we decided to make this all about our girls and give them our full attention.  I can’t thank my parents enough for accommodating our little guy and for allowing us this opportunity to be with Jared’s family and our girls.    

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Checking in... 

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Deck 11 was the place to be the majority of the time - swimming pools, The Aquaduck (an amazing water coaster that carries you over the side of the ship & back), AND the food, of course.  The sail-away party was FULL of dancing, singing, swimming, and games with Mickey’s crew.   

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The Oceaneer Club was a children’s activity center - Kid’s Only - where adults could leave their children with an ample supply of child-care counselors.  We attended the open house the first day, and wow, it was the perfect place to take our girls while Jared & I had some alone time here ’n there.  

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Pixie Hollow (AnnMarie’s favorite place) inside the Oceaneer Club:

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This is a kid’s cafeteria (inside the Oceaneer Club, too) where the counselors served meals and baked different goodies with children throughout the day.  The security procedures were unbelievable.  Check-in to check-out included password identification, wristband screening, & photo id. 

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A few walls in the halls. :)

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Our room keeper surprised us every night with a different towel creation.  So funny!  

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We attended a Broadway-caliber show each night in the Walt Disney theatre; it reminded me of a 1930s Hollywood style theatre (rich golden & red hues throughout - so pretty).  We LOVED "The Golden Mickeys” which was basically an awards ceremony where different Disney characters were nominated for heroism, romance, etc.  

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As I finally sort through these pictures, I’m so grateful for this magical experience we had.  I’m looking forward to posting more pictures again soon.  :)