Monday, May 31, 2010

To the Girl in the Video

Two nights ago I was sitting at the Mac with Bill while he was editing our wedding video. Even though we were married seven years ago today, and Bill himself was once a videographer and edited countless wedding videos for other brides, he is just now getting around to editing our own wedding. I guess the old saying "The cobbler's children have no shoes" is true.

While watching him edit, it amazed me to see how much the two of us have changed in a relatively short period of time. I looked at the young girl on the screen and remembered all her hopes and dreams of their life together. It was surreal to look at her and know her thoughts then, and to now be able see partway into the future she was waiting to unfold. I wanted to tell her that she was about to make one of the greatest decisions of her life. That she would fall even deeper in love with this man standing next to her- that their love would grow stronger with each passing day, that they would speak words of encouragement to each other and never try to tear the other down. That she would lay next to him in bed and excitedly explain that they would soon be parents. That watching a tiny heartbeat on a ultrasound screen and knowing that life grew inside of her is even more wonderful than she imagined. That she would have the greatest privilege of delivering four beautiful babies from her womb and straight into her loving arms. That even though her body on that day was young, perfect, and unscarred, that each of those babies would make their own beautiful marks, each one more important than any tiny bikini ever could be. And that her husband would still find her sexy, scars and all. That she would get her dream of becoming a stay at home mom, and give kisses, wipe smudgy faces, and go shopping with her mom for cute baby clothes.

But the best part, as I sat there with Bill at the computer, is that I don't know the rest of the story. I don't know what other adventures or perhaps even sorrows that I'll be able to tell the girl in the video, but I am ready to keep living and find out. Happy Anniversary, my love! Thank you for making all my dreams a reality. I love you!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Lydia's Newest Milestone

Thirty times a day I hear the words "I'm hungry!" Half my waking hours are spent in the kitchen area, either making a meal, serving a meal, or cleaning up a meal. And when you consider I myself am a human dairy farm for our youngest child, providing nourishment for my children is, in fact, a 24/7 endeavor. I'm thankful we are able to provide for them, but it can be exhausting. So I had hoped that Lydia could wait about six months before she needed anything other than breastmilk. That idea quickly changed about four in the morning last week after I had been up five times already trying to soothe a hungry baby back to sleep. Rice cereal time.

I have a love/hate relationship with this milestone of life. Any milestone with my children is fun- a permanent memory made and documented in pictures and video. Brooke's first bite of food was in the first house Bill and I lived in as a married couple. Madeline first tasted solid food at our church's young adults New Years party. Isaac first ate cereal in our home that was up for sale after we planned to build our new home. These memories are so much fun. The work involved---another story. Feeding a baby requires about an hour's time out of the day, even grosser, smellier diapers, messy spit-up that stains clothes, and extra planning when on an outing. You get spoiled when they are tiny infants in the food department, especially if exclusively breastfeeding. Aside from the awkwardness of public nursing (I wear a cover, but still...) there are no bottles to wash, no formula to pack, no fear of running out of food.

So last Wednesday, it was Lydia's turn to make a memory. She did well with her first taste of cereal; not a fan at first, but now at a week later she waves her arms in excitement when I put her in the Bumbo and she sees the cereal container. I started her on bananas yesterday and she LOVED them. It's so adorable to watch her try to eat her bib the entire time I feed her. Even if it is so much extra work, the additonal one-on-one time with her is priceless.

Enjoy the pictures from the first meal- she is such a beauty!!

Bon appetit!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Goodbye Preschool (for now)

Nine months ago Bill and I dropped off our two oldest children at preschool for the first time. It felt very weird to drive away that morning and leave them behind. We trusted they were in good hands, but it still seemed strange. A part of me wanted to run back in and grab them.

Here a few pics from that day in September.

At the start of the year, the girls were super excited to go to their school twice a week, and I was excited to have a couple hours to myself while Isaac napped. As the year progressed, Isaac dropped his morning nap and we got to spend one-on-one time with each other. Then in December, along came baby sister Lydia. Getting the girls to school became more of a challenge, but thankfully the sweet teachers at the preschool helped me out in those early weeks. As winter dragged on, the girls had to miss several days because of the snow, but then spring soon arrived, and the last days of school were upon us before we knew it. My girls have grown so much socially in this past year, it's amazing. They have made great friends, and love talking about their classmates. We "played" school most days they didn't have preschool with workbooks at home.
Here are some pictures from their last day of preschool. I can't believe how much they have grown in such a short time.

It's a been a great year, and I'm now enjoying having all four of my babies at home with me. This September Brooke will enter kindergarten (gulp) and Madeline will return to preschool minus her big sister. I feel like I'm grabbing at sand in an hourglass trying to slow their childhood. I am trying to soak in each moment, and the days I get frustrated and tired, I think of how much I will miss holding a tiny hand in mine, getting sloppy peanut butter kisses, and hearing "mama!!" yelled from upstairs. I am in the happiest time of my life, and so thankful to God for all He has given us.

On a side note: Two new babies have debuted today- my cousin's wife delivered baby #4, and our friends from church delivered their first child. Congratulations to both families- enjoy counting those fingers and toes, and memorizing that tiny new face. Can't wait to meet them both!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Quit that worrying!!

One of my biggest downfalls my entire life has been that I worry. I know it is a sin to worry, and I confess this problem continually. But I seem to fall right back into that hole time and time again. I remember worrying as early as four years old that the police were going to come arrest me over an overdue cassette tape and book set borrowed from the public library. A few years later I held my breath waiting for a police officer to put my mom in handcuffs after a fender bender. (The accident wasn't even her fault.)

Needless to say, this problem has carried with me into adulthood. Most recently my worry involved a new summer job I took on at my local alma mater. I graduated several years ago as a physician assistant, and decided two years ago to stay home full time with my kids. Last fall I took on a small teaching job for the same PA program from which I graduated. I stressed each week because I wanted to do the best job I could. In the end, I had a lot of fun and was glad for the experience. So when the school called me in January this year asking if I'd instruct a summer class, I immediately said yes. Here is what I didn't take into consideration. In the fall semester, I was one of three instructors for the Gross Anatomy class, and my small part involved speaking for 20 minutes once a week in the back of a small dark room beside a projector. This time around I would be speaking for 90 minutes in the auditorium standing on a stage behind a podium and a microphone. Did I mention that public speaking makes my hands shake? My palms sweat? My heart race? My tongue dry and swell up?

Last week, the morning before my first lecture, I stood in the shower literally trying not to vomit. I felt so sick I was afraid I wouldn't even make it to the school. I finally pulled myself together and drove the 25 minutes to campus, shaking and praying the whole way. (Funny, I prayed that I would do well and know what to say, but I didn't pray for Him to take my fear away. You'd think I would have learned something about that in my past 20 odd years on this earth.)

When I got to the school, I saw a sign on the door that read "All classes previously scheduled in the auditorium will be held in Room 137 until further notice." I stopped and read it again slowly. A regular sized room without a stage... and no microphone! A smile crept up on my face and I almost squealed out loud for joy. "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" I repeated it the entire walk down the hallway into the classroom.

Another lesson learned: Do. Not. Worry!! Maybe this time I've learned this lesson for good. If not, I know and trust that His grace is sufficient, even for a repeat worrier like me.

Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mommy's Day

It's been awhile since my last blog post, but I've been a little busy. (Imagine that.) I start teaching a new class at my alma mater tomorrow, and I need to release some nervous energy, so I'm taking a few short moments to blog about this year's Mother's Day. It was an especially big day for our family this time around, for many reasons. The older girls were playing in our church's Joy Bells group, and Brooke was singing in the children's choir. We  had also chosen this special day to dedicate our children to the Lord in front of the congregation. It is a moment to publicly testify that we are choosing to raise our children in a Christian home centered around our Lord and Savior.

Here are a few pictures of the day. I could give a minute to minute play-by-play (which I personally would love to do and just don't have the time or energy), but I'll sum it up by saying that I spent a wonderful day with my family, and gave thanks many times that I have been so incredibly blessed.

My sweet boy before the service started.

Prayer during the dedication, alongside the other parents dedicating their children.

Lydia was able to fit into her going-home outfit for the special occasion. I'm going to put it in a shadowbox to hang in her room.

Madeline got stage fright during Joy Bells. I rescued her after I noticed she was silently crying.

Brooke singing the Mother's Day song. I am stunned she is already five- I am so proud of the young lady she is becoming.

My beautiful family. I am still in awe of how much my Lord has blessed our family. Ok, teary-eyed again. Moving along.

I am trying to savor every moment, so that when they grow up and leave, I will know that I did my best to cherish every moment of their childhood. Wow, I need to buy some waterproof mascara. And something for these postpartum hormones still raging inside me.

The three girl cousins in a row- Lydia, 4 months, Kessa, 2 months, Gwen, 2 weeks.

The three boy cousins in a row- Isaac, Kirklen, and Noah. We McCollams like to be predictable. (FYI- there are 15 McCollam cousins in total. That is until someone else announces they are expecting. Angie- I think you are next in line.)

Bill and his pretty momma.

 Me and my own beautiful momma.

Every day with my children is Mother's Day, but it is certainly nice to take one day each year to stop and reflect on what a blessing that role in life really is. Not cooking for one day also is something to grateful for.
Less than 360 days until we get to do it again!