Thursday, September 11, 2014

remembering.


Thirteen years ago the world changed before my eyes. It became darker as I witnessed the crushing magnitude of evil and hatred. But it also got lighter in some ways as I realized that people could be braver, stronger and more heroic than I ever even knew. There are many stories from that day – people who were there, people who knew people who were there,  and people just watching their television screens in horror. Many people still ask each other “where were you?” on its anniversary. We all seem to remember it like it was yesterday.
 
We call it 9/11 because that’s the date that it happened. I always kind of thought it deserved a better, more descriptive name, but then again I don’t think that proper words exist to sum up that day. Innocent, oblivious travelers boarded planes. Normal, devoted employees went to work. First responders sat in their police cars and fire stations, unaware. Mothers and fathers. Sons and daughters.
 
When it happened, I thought to myself, “Did that REALLY just happen?” It was so shocking, so unthinkable. And then it happened again, and again and again. We all became scared, unsure of what was next, not quite knowing what to do. And when those towers crumbled, so did our sense of control and security. Our hearts were like the debris field – scattered with insurmountable damage that we couldn’t even BEGIN to know how to fix.
 
I didn’t know anyone on the planes or anyone in those buildings, but I know that they are important. I know the collective loss felt that day is even more sharp and painful for those who are remembering their loved ones and just how senseless it is that they are no longer here. It’s so senseless. I think if I were in their shoes, I would never want time to distance people from remembering what was lost.
 
Today I will remember the business travelers, the vacationers who packed their suitcases and walked out the door that morning. I’ll remember the fathers and mothers who kissed little foreheads as they headed out to work. I’ll remember firefighters who saw death and destruction and ran TOWARDS it to help prevent more. I’ll remember first responders who stood strong even as their hearts were breaking. I’ll remember scared souls who had to make “last phone calls.” I’ll remember the brave spirits who decided enough was enough and fought back, sacrificing their own lives. I’ll remember the names and faces I don’t know because I know they matter and they should be here. And someone is still just as devastated today as they were 13 years ago that they aren’t.

 I’ll also remember the sense of unity and pride we all felt as a nation and all the heroes that emerged. We rallied while we were still broken and that was something to experience.
 
My kids will learn about this through stories and textbooks – a lens that will distance them a bit from the disbelief, fear and grief the day actually brought. But I want to make sure they “remember” also and know really what that day was about. It was a battle between love and hate, goodness and evil, light and darkness. It was a shocking, crushing blow to love, goodness and light, but we all know who wins in the end.
 
“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:15
 
I pray that everyone who hurts today feels the light shining on them. We will never, ever forget.

 

 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Just like us.



When Caleb was a baby, he started this quirky little habit of scratching my fingernails. At the time, I thought it was just a funny distinction about him, but NOW that he's older it’s a little … annoying distracting … when he’s scratching my fingernails as I’m trying to focus on something or fall asleep. You can find us saying “please don’t scratch my nail” at any time on any given day, and I have to hand it to the boy – for something that has truly become a habit for him, he surely does try to stop. His other quirky habit is biting his bottom lip, which he has done since he was two. I fear buck teeth and a lifetime of orthodontists bills in our future.

I’m generally not great at seeing how my kids are like us. When people say Kenzie is a mini me, I sort of see it and I sort of don’t. I sometimes see Luke in Caleb’s big eyes and thick lashes. Both kids have such distinct, interesting and sometimes unexpected personality traits that I often find myself thinking, where did they get THAT from?!

But there’s no denying it – they are more like us than we think. Take the chunks of fruit thing. I believe I am the only person I know who can’t eat things with chunks of fruit in them. Apple pie? No way. Yoplait yogurt with the little strawberries in it? I gag at the thought. As a baby, Caleb never knew of this, and yet, when I presented him with his very first spoonful of strawberry yogurt, he took a bite, then proceeded to pick out every strawberry one by one. He doesn’t like fruit in things! Like me! Needless to say, I’ll never be the only “ice cream only please” person at the table when our family has apple pie for dessert.

Then there’s Kenzie. I’m sure over the years we’ll discover more and more ways that she’s just like us. For now, I know she has powerful emotions. When she first sees us after school, she gets so excited that her entire body shakes. Her hugs are big and long and lingering as if she’s trying to demonstrate with one embrace the depth of her love. When she is hurt or disappointed – and these emotions come easily – oh, the big crocodile tears, the eyes shut tight, the mouth frozen wide open to emphasize her pure shock. From what I hear, I was this kind of a child. Sensitive and very attached to people.

And then there are those dark curls of hers. Thanks to me, she’ll be brushing those curls out of her face for the rest of her life. Those kind of confirm that she’s mine.

Both of our kids are surprisingly hilarious. They make up sayings and inside jokes and songs and games. They crack each other up, they crack us up and there is a lot of laughter in our house (which totally makes up for the a lot of crying part). They definitely have a great humor, silliness and  light-heartedness about them. And that is definitely Luke.

They each have parts of us and parts not of us that make them so wonderfully, uniquely them. I hope when they are all grown up, they’ll find that they kept the very best parts of us inside of them and left the rest behind. The truth is I have little control over what I pass on to them and how they’ll develop on their own, but I do know that God is involved in all of it. So I’m reassured.

Last night I was looking at my poorly painted nails while our family watched “Up” on the couch with a bowl of popcorn. I hardly ever paint my nails because I have a habit of picking off my nail polish, one finger at time, until it’s gone. I had successfully picked off the polish on my index and middle finger and decided to start on my ring finger while I had the downtime. This conversation ensued:

Caleb: Why are you doing that?
Me: Because I want to get my nail polish off.
Caleb: Don’t you have something that takes that off?
Me: Yes, nail polish remover. But I like trying to scratch it off myself.
Caleb (after a few moments of watching me scratch my nail polish off): Hey, you’re scratching your own nail! It’s not even me this time!

Oh yeah. That weird habit my son has? I may have it, too.

And as for biting his bottom lip? Let’s just say growing up, I had a retainer, rubber bands, headgear and braces. So it’s not out of the realm of possibility that I may have bit my bottom lip or done some other thing to sabotage myself into obtaining an overbite.  Don’t worry, buddy, mommy will start saving for the best orthodontist in town now – because if you’re anything like me (and you are) – you’ll need it.

 


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Luke,

When you first entered this world waaay back in 1974, who could have ever known that you’d grow up to be the boy who would make this girl’s dreams come true? I certainly didn’t know it when I met you at the Barca Lounge and was mean to you. I figured it out fast, though, and along the way I’ve been able to discover so much about who you are at your core. I see you day in and day out, at your best and worst moments, and I can tell you this: I have never met anyone – ANYONE – more genuine, forgiving, selfless, protective, faithful, strong, loyal, complimentary, thoughtful, loving and funny as YOU. I see it in big ways like how you switched from teacher to solider in an instant, and bravely faced so many unknowns while at the same time trying to comfort everyone back home. And you didn’t even bat an eyelash. It was just in your nature to stay composed, strong and compassionate. And I see it in the more subtle ways like how you always say sorry and I love you, how you drop everything and take over when I’m sick or just need a break, how when I just want to escape you always let me know that you'll run after me as soon as I need you to.

And you see ME day in and day out, at my best and worst moments and somehow you make me feel like I am enough. Even when I feel like I fall short as a parent or friend or employee – you are always there with the kindest words, warmest hugs and most reassuring encouragement. I often find myself saying “what would I do without you?” through tears, and you downplay it, but I truly mean that. You support and love me in the best possible ways. We don’t always get it right, and we are certainly not perfect, but you have set the most wonderful foundation for your family – we see you both as our strongest rock and our softest place to land.

Four years into this parenting thing, I am still amazed daily at how being a dad comes so naturally to you. You value the time we spend with our kids and are always looking for opportunities to show them the beauty of creation, take them on adventures and teach them new and exciting things. I love the true friendship that exists between you and Caleb and I will never know how I got so lucky to have our son have a role model daddy like you.  I love how you are so loving and protective of Kenzie’s heart and how she's a little wrapped around your finger. You pay attention to all the details - making sure every tooth is brushed, that ointment is put on owies, that the right stuffed animals are in their backpacks, that favorite snacks are in the car, that vegetables are eaten, that prayers are said before bed – and so much more. You know ALL the details because you invest so deeply into their lives and care about what makes them tick and what is closest to their hearts. They are so lucky and I live more confidently in this world knowing that they have you as a daddy.

I look at you and the life you have given me and I feel genuinely grateful. Grateful that God brought us together. Grateful that you chose me. Grateful that our families combined. Grateful that everyone who knows you knows you to be a wonderful man. To me, you're the best.

Happy 40th b-day (a couple months late!)

Love,
Nisha  

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

big brother jace.

dear jace,

in a matter of days, or maybe even hours, you will enter into a brand new realm. you are going to be a big brother.

and i know exactly how your mama feels.

she is over the moon for you because she knows the fun, loyalty, friendship and unique connection that comes with having a sibling. but she's also scared for you. she's nervous. for two years you've had them all to yourself and they had you - just you - to give their everything to. tears come easily when she thinks you may be a little sad, confused or lonely at first having to share their time and attention with another little person. and she just generally laments that the time with the three of you will soon switch from reality to memory and only be known again through pictures and the permanent etches left on her heart.

but i want to tell you, and her, something. this world you are about to enter is going to be one you are never going to want to leave. well, there may be moments, but they will be fleeting. i personally think you are gonna rock this big brother thing. you are generally good at everything you do, and i don't expect this to be any different. at first the little guy won't do much other than eating and sleeping and maybe crying. you'll either entertain yourself like you are so good at doing, or you'll be interested in everything he does (even if it's not much).

as he grows, you will be the lucky dude that gets to show him the ropes. he will look up to you and want to copy everything you do. it's a big responsibility, jace, to show your brother how to grow up to be the best little man he can be. i'd say this little guy is pretty lucky to have a big brother like you to pave the way for him.

to your mom, i want to say, i KNOW. i know your heart is completely twisted and your emotions are all over the place. you so want jace to know how important he is - how the immense love you feel for his little brother was never and will never be borrowed from the immense love you have for him. i want to tell you that he'll get it. he'll always know he's loved and special because you and owen are incredible parents and you'll never stop showing him. and never forget that grace is always, always swirling around.

having two is hard and wonderful, tiring and invigorating, and more magical than your most vivid dreams could have ever shown you. you are giving jace a gift - a lifelong buddy and an unbreakable bond.

there will be moments when they are arguing, telling on each other or not sharing and you will want to rip your hair out and run away from home without even stopping to put on your shoes. i wont lie.

but oh man. you are going to see jace touch his baby's brother's face for the first time. and hold him and smile at him and talk to him in a gentle little baby voice. you'll see him teaching baby barton to use a spoon and helping you pack the diaper bag and telling you not to forget his favorite binky. before you know it, you'll see jace showing him how to do a puzzle, count to ten and play hide and go seek. they will chat in the backseat of the car and enterain themselves with their silly games and inside jokes. they will sing at the top of their lungs to songs they made up, race down the halls at top speed and splash each other at bath time.

when the sun sets on a lazy summer day, you will see the silhouette of two little people skipping rocks on the beach and you won't be able to imagine one without the other - and you won't believe how your heart was able to contain the same, limitless love for them both.

it will take your breath away.

i love you guys. and i can't wait.



Sunday, March 16, 2014

Two.




My lovely Kenzie girl -

I was thinking the other day how so many people see different sides to you. Some may see a shy girl who always wants her mommy and daddy. That’s okay. That’s you.

Some may see an adventurous girl who loves interacting with people. Yep, this is you.
 
Some may see a friendly girl who says hi and bye to everyone and lavishes strangers with beautiful smiles. Totally you.

Some may see an introverted girl, who looks like she’s suspicious of everyone around you. You, too.

Some may see a little lady who combs the house on a daily basis looking for her brother (Laleb, arrrrrrrreeeeeeee you??) Who always wants to hold his hand and snuggle beside him. Others may see a girl who is easily annoyed by him and ignores his displays of affection. You are both of these people.

I’m pretty sure everyone sees a girl with a smile like sunshine and eyes that can make you melt. No one can miss that. You are glorious.

I realize that you are a lot of things, you have so many sides to you. Some only get to see one or two sides. Some see more. How lucky I am that I get to see them all.

Your preciousness in the morning when you stand up in your crib and greet us with a sweet giggles and outstretched arms. The way you run around everywhere like a little weeble wobble, knees high in the air and your hair floppy around. How you draw out your words to be funny (yeeeeeeeeeees, nooooooooo, daaaaaaaaada, etc.). Your crazy, big belly laughs that sound exactly like your brother.

The way you sweep your hair out of your face and purse your lips when you are concentrating. Your funny dance moves and how you “shake it” when you hear music. The way you finish the words to a song when brother is singing.

You’re our little handful. Literally. Our hands are always full because you love to be held. Even if no one else is around, you just love to be snuggled. You love to sit in your favorite spot with daddy with your back resting on his stomach and your legs outstretched on his legs.

You’ve consistently been an awesome sleeper, even during our crazy moves, and I’m very thankful for that. You sleep with your lion, Kuma, who permanently resides in your crib. In fact, whenever we’re ready for bedtime, we say “Are you ready to go see Kums?”

You’re my little doll girl. It brings me such joy to get to dress you in cute little outfits and do your hair. You’re not always crazy about the hair part and say “ow, ow, ow,” even when I know it doesn’t hurt.

You’re quite the talker, saying all sorts of words and phrases. Your favorite is to say "I love you" to either me, your dad or Caleb in different octaves. You start with your voice really low and you go higher and higher until you are squealing, "I love you, Laleb!"

You are great at expressing yourself with words and we have such fun conversations. Your favorite book is “You are my Cupcake.” Brother memorized it and loves to read it to you. The last line is “Baby, I could eat you up.” You and brother like to go crazy and pretend that you are eating each other up.

You always want to use the potty. Even when you don't have to go. You say, "I go potty?" Then you love flushing and washing your hands while you sing abc. Speaking of abcs, you just about have it down. The lmnop part gets a little jumbly, but from qrs to the end, you've got it. You love counting during hide and seek and saying "ready or not, here i come!" You also are a dead giveway when you are hiding because you always giggle and lead us right to you.

You are a great giver of hugs and kisses and always lose your mind when we first see you after school. You like to hold my face with your hands and say "eeeeeee." I think it's because that's what I do to you.

You are really sensitive. If a voice is raised or you are reprimanded, you get the biggest frown and tears. It's difficult not to laugh because even the smallest thing can hurt your feelings.

Sometimes I just sit back and watch you do your thing and I am mesmerized – completely engrossed in my thoughts of what will this little girl be, what great things will she do, will she ever fully understand how much I love her, can she really be mine forever? 

Makenzie Kay – you are tender and tough, adventurous and shy, snuggly and independent, giggly and sensitive, loving and particular, and so, so sweet (and a lot spicy). God certainly used a lot different and beautifully-colored threads when He knit you together. And I love seeing all of your colors. I love being your mom.

Baby, I could eat you up.

Love, Mom

Monday, March 3, 2014

4 years.



Little man,

I knew there’d be a day when I didn’t remember Feb. 28, 2010 like it was yesterday. When I would need pictures and videos to remind me of the details. It seems at four years, we are there. That day seems farther and farther away. And I know what that means.

You are growing up.

Too soon and too fast. It’s all happening so quickly. Those days and months of newborn life that were real and raw and in my bones, are now just in my heart. The memory resides peacefully, with no rough edges, few regrets and much longing to return and relive.

You’ve become far more than what I had even hoped. It’s easy to believe that motherhood changes people, but I am convinced it was not just becoming a mom, but becoming YOUR mom that has transformed everything in my life to something better. No one but you, Caleb Beans. Your warm, sparkly eyes and your take-my-breath-away smile have stayed constant throughout the years. You bring me effortless joy. I’m sure if I had a hidden camera following me around all day there would be countless images of me just staring at you and smiling. It’s because I’m so proud of you for just being you. You are one in a million.

One minute you’re bouncing around the house, running from room to room, chasing a football, pretending you’re Russell Wilson. The next you are sitting quietly in the car, looking out of the window with such contemplative innocence. You can be goofy and energetic and independent, and still be the biggest cuddle bug in the world. Often times when I pick you up from school, you’ll be the one sitting on the teachers lap as she reads a story to the class. You are the one holding her hand and scratching her nail.

The words that come out of your mouth are funny, kind and amazing. You tell people that they’re beautiful and pretty and cute. You tell them that they are hilarious and silly. A lot of times out of nowhere you’ll say, “Mom, I just love you.” You tell us stories of exactly what happened on the playground and you leave nothing out. You remember just about everything. If we drive home a different way, you’ll notice immediately and point it out. You are able to tell where we are going by landmarks and often say “Are we going to Edmonds?” or “Hey, we are going to Red Robin,” before we even get there.

You listen to everything, even if it doesn’t seem like you do. You are very perceptive. You encourage your sister to make good choices. You help me when I need it. You give unsolicited hugs and kisses. You make me laugh adult-sized laughs.

You are the best singer in all of the land. You memorize entire songs after hearing them only a couple of times. It’s amazing to hear you belt out “How Great is Our God” or “Lord I need you, oh I need you, every hour I need you, “ at random times during the day. You sing with feeling. You have a playlist of your favorite songs on daddy’s phone ranging from Pearl Jam to Chris Tomlin. You may love you some Jay-z. And yet, during your spring and Christmas programs, when EVERYONE else is singing at the top of their lungs, you are totally silent. In your words, you don’t sing in front of “too many people.”

You think the five food groups are pizza, fish sticks, Indian food, hot dogs and cheeseburgers – and you’re often appalled when one of these items isn’t on the menu. You have to have mustard with your pizza, hot sauce with your eggs and tartar sauce with your fish sticks.

If you spill even the slightest amount of anything on yourself, you have to change your clothes right away. You may have OCD.

You are my pint-sized superhero. The little boy who has to hold his pants up when he runs, but who doles out love, affection, compassion and fun in such a BIG and mighty way. Whether it’s stopping to pray after you see a fire truck blasting past us with its sirens on (“Lord please bless the firemans and whoever they are helping and keep them all safe …). Or walking into Sunday School for the first time, hardly knowing anyone, and sitting down bravely while we leave you. Or putting Kenzie’s jacket away for her or getting a glass of water. Or being happy for your opponent when they win at Go Fish. Or laughing endlessly over a knock-knock joke. Or hiding in the same spot every time and being AMAZED that we can find you.

The YOU that you are is the sparkle in my world.

Yes, being your mom has changed everything from the inside out. Outside I may have bags under my eyes and a “squishy” stomach (as you like to call it). But on the inside I am filled to capacity with the deepest love and most profound gratitude to God for designing you just as you are.

And then giving you to me.

Our relationship is my treasure. My bright boy. Giver of effortless joy. You hold so much magic in your heart and you generously share it with everyone, every day, over and over again. Thank you for forever being my heart, little man. Happy four years. You’ve made my last four years shine brighter than the sun. Love you to the moon.

You are my best.

Mom

Thursday, December 19, 2013

a hero in the making.



luke's football hero for almost all of his life has been steve largent. forget the ones who've come and gone - his highest admiration has been steadily reserved for number 80. he still wears his largent jersey for most every game, and on those home games at century link, people know him as "largent" rather than "luke."

for years my husband has petitioned to hang his largent poster in our living room and i've laughed at him and said no way in the world. i have a feeling that the poster will make its way onto our walls one day, but no way EVER in our living room. but somewhere. sorry, steve.

i've quietly watched this largent admiration and found myself admiring something right back - the fact that my husband, the great man that he is, picked someone like that to look up to. not only was largent a great player on the field, he was a man worth respecting in his daily life. luke is the biggest football fan in the world and i'm glad he chose a player like that to call his football hero. i'm glad he saw at an early age that being the fastest, strongest, most popular athlete doesn't matter as much as what spills out of your heart.

last season, we were introduced to a guy named russell wilson. i liked him immediately because, well,  he seemed like a bit of an underdog. he was short. not well known. a third round draft pick. a scrambler. and he was good. just when you thought he had no where to go, he'd make something happen. he'd sneak out of a sack, scramble down the field, throw a hail mary and connect. and off the field, he was humble and optimistic. he seemed like a good team leader. and i loved how he'd end every interview with "go hawks." i was becoming a fan. pretty quickly i learned that wilson was more than just a great talent. he was someone who wasn't afraid to tell people he loved jesus, someone who served and witnessed and wanted to make a difference.

and then something started happening. we starting winning. he got us excited and made us feel like we were winning, too.

in the meantime, i saw caleb watching this guy. closely. playing alongside with wilson as he watched him on tv. throwing the ball in the air and saying "he got it! wilson! we got this!"

so last year, as the hawks were making a play for the playoffs, i took my boy to the seahawks team shop and bought him a wilson jersey. he was ecstatic, proudly wearing his number 3 jersey and more than excited to show dad. the reaction we got; however, was a little unplanned. luke looked at me, then looked at caleb, then looked back and me again and just shook his head. apparently, we weren't supposed to buy authentic team jerseys for a three year old. apparently luke didn't even have a jersey that nice. apparently i should have waited.

but caleb was so on board the wilson train that luke couldn't help but let him keep it. i'm so glad that he did. that jersey has seen so much. almost every seahawks game for two seasons. almost every friday at school. he'd wear it every day if we'd let him. and that little 3t jersey has come to represent so much of  this irreplaceable time with my three year old boy.

caleb is certainly luke's son. a boy who loves football. and a boy who is choosing the right people to want to emulate.

and we will make sure he celebrates wilson's rare talents, but also make sure he sees how wilson points to the sky after every touchdown. how he volunteers at Children's Hospital every week with his wife. how he gives all the credit to jesus.

maybe, just one day maybe, caleb will try to convince his wife to hang his wilson poster in their living room. and i will maybe, just maybe, empathize with them both.

go hawks.