Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Terry the Turtle

We made it through June and entered July with another whirlwind.  Mike was in town indefinitely until the baby came.  And I was READY for baby to come any day.  I'd been having significant contractions since the beginning of week 37.  The real deal.  I was dilated, effaced, and baby had totally dropped.  My kids had all come between 37 and 38 weeks, so I felt like it was any day.

We were sitting on the front porch, and I vented to him.  A lot.  I just wanted to hit the fast forward button and not have to go through another month of crazy stress.  It was hot and humid.  I was terribly uncomfortable and ready to have a baby at any time.  I felt overwhelmed with the logistics of moving, enrolling the kids in a new school, trying to build a house from a different state, and trying to imagine doing it all with a newborn.  

For a brief moment, I paused and looked out on the street.  Crossing our street was a large turtle who’d just crawled out of the storm drain. 

Now, in Nebraska, the storms are big.  And the storm drains are huge to handle the flow of water.  No storm covers; the drains are long and wide.  I used to worry my daughter would fall in if she tripped!  This turtle must have been swept into the sewers during one of the recent storms.

We’d never seen an actual turtle just crawling along our street, and the events that followed – from gathering him into a bucket, to giving him a name (Terry the Turtle), to listening to my kids try to negotiate him into a family pet, to driving him to a nearby pond and letting him go, launched one of the best afternoons and evenings we had that summer.

Some may call it a coincidence, but I testify to you that the Lord was with me that day.  All of my concerns were valid, but they were beyond my control.  While the Lord knew the path ahead, it was not time for me to know or understand it.  It was my time to deepen my trust the Lord.  To practice faith and enjoy the journey a bit more.  I am so grateful he opened the door for us to create such a beautiful and simple family memory.


June was a bit of a whirlwind.  Going into it, I knew it was going to be tough.  While I was in it, I think was a grouchy/crazy/stressed lady.  Looking back, I have so much gratitude for it all.  While it was a lot to soak in, so many good things fell into place, moved forward as they needed, and really set us up for the next crazy month.

In summary:
*Mike was gone during the weeks, and some of the weekends of June.  Already working in his new position, and then house hunting. 
*I was prego.  And really wanted to just be prego.  So I was pretty grouchy.  Picked a realtor, got the house "show ready" and then showed the house like crazy for a solid 6 days.  And seriously, had an offer on the house by the 6th day.  Can't even express how stressful and crazy those 6 days were cleaning, showing, and corralling kids solo with a bun in the oven, finding things to do while we were "homeless" in the summer, and then doing it over and over.  At the same time, can't even express how much gratitude I have that the Lord helped us with the whole process.
*I kept our boy busy that month.  A week long cub scout camp was simply amazing for him.  And then a fun basketball camp.  
*We spent lots of time at the pool.  I loved being in the water and taking the baby weight off my hips!
*I stayed busy and taught my fitness classes through the end of June.  It felt good to feel relatively "normal" with all of the change going on.
*Tayler had A LOT of meltdowns.  And by a lot, I actually mean a lot.  Max and Alexis were huge helpers.  So were fruit snacks.
*We wrapped things up with doctors appointments, and Tayler's first dentist appointment.  So cute.
*We had plenty of "movie nights" together.  As by that time in the evening momma was so, so tired, and often on the phone talking to the hubby about the logistics of everything.
*Mike had success on his end as well (no photos), but actually found a house in a day.  Prior to leaving on the house trip, I checked with the doc to see if I'd be able to fly out, but I was just too far along.  So he was house hunting solo.  And promised he'd find a quick move in ready home.  You can imagine my excitement when he told me the house he'd found was only a foundation.  But that's a whole other story.
*Church was one of our favorite things.  All the Sundays but one, Mike was with us, so it was great to spend time together as a family.  And to be surrounded by so many great people.  I snapped this photo - Max and Mike had the weekly job of collecting the garbages at the end of the meetings.  This kid loved doing it, and I just can't get enough of him in that suit.

Sights around Omaha

Having family in town gave us a great excuse to get out and enjoy some of our favorite places.  The zoo, the safari, and a cool nature preserve we'd never actually been to before (but had wanted to check out).  It was so fun vacationing with our families, and while the chaos of relocating had begun at the same time as their visit (Mike actually had to leave while they were visiting as he was jumping into the new chapter that quickly), it was great to see their surprised smiles when we told them all we weren't going to visit this summer, but were moving instead.


So this happened.  Max turned 8, and was so excited to be baptized.  It was the first Saturday in June, and we were so grateful to have both our our families come out to support him (and us!).  A friend gave me some great advice to keep things simple.  And I took it.  The week prior to his baptism, Max hand wrote some invitations to some our our church "family."  And, after the baptism, we had our families (who were visiting us for a few days) over for lunch.  The rest of the day I left to Max to plan - who chose various activities including - baseball in the backyard, games with his cousins on the play set, and everyone going to get pizza for dinner.  

Just after being baptized, Max entered the chapel in his new suit - just beaming.  He'd told his dad how he just felt so happy.  Our hearts beam for this guy and his spiritual strength.   

Pay it forward

At this point, we knew a fast move was approaching.  Which, like with any move, meant we needed to let go of a few things.  I'd been holding onto this bag of dog food from Kermit (I had actually just purchased it a couple weeks before he passed, not knowing he was going to die).  Along with some unused treats, I found out the local Humane Society will take donations like this.  I was happy to not just throw it all away.

It actually took me about this long to rev up the emotional courage.  For a long time, every time I looked at his stuff, I just teared up so much.  By this point, the grieving process had moved forward enough that I didn't feel like a crazy crying lady dropping off dog food.

Ended up being a fun adventure, and a good way to put things to use again.


So this guy turned 8!  We celebrated his big day as a family.  He was pumped for his new bike helmet and suit (the two things he'd asked for!).  We spent a great day together as a family and finished it off with his favorite restaurant for dinner!  Beef brisket at the local barbecue!  He opted out of the cake and chose donuts instead.  

The nest

This photo melts my heart.  While I didn't know it at the time, it embodies so much about what we loved in Nebraska.  Soccer was so difficult for my son when we arrived, as his anxiety and all the change had stripped his confidence.  But, soccer is also what brought back.  Seeing him finish this last game with his team he'd been with for two years was such a strikingly different moment than his first.  Confident, fast, smiling, and happy.  He scored goals, defended and hustled.

His beaming sister next to him saw his example and couldn't wait to join in on her own team.  I'll never forget watching her from the sidelines as she smiled and ran every single game.

Behind them is our lilac tree in bloom.  I remember when the landscaper recommended it, and I'd been pretty hesitant at first.  But, as it was planted, I loved the shape.  And loved to watch it bloom.  We never realized we'd only see it bloom twice.  I think our most favorite part about the tree is it was home to baby robins both years we lived in the home.  And since it was close to our window, we had a front row seat to see those beautiful blue eggs turn into hatched chicks (we even rescued one when we saw it try to fly out a little too early), only to discover them gone almost as quickly as they had arrived.  The first year, we watched the momma work tirelessly on building the perfect nest.  Amazing speed, work ethic, and precision.  The second year, another momma found the old nest at the last minute.  As if she'd let time slip by a little too quickly, and needed a place to stay.  With just a little sprucing up, she made it home.

And, this picture embodies how in that moment, while we knew change would be on the horizon, we had no idea how drastic or swiftly it was to come.  Beautiful reminder to savor those moments in the present.