Thursday, August 24, 2017

A Week Off

ACT Clinic took a break this week for the beginning of the semester so I've had five straight weekdays without going to Omaha. It has been GLORIOUS and I've loved every minute! Not that I mind going to Omaha, but I've been feeling lately that I'm never home and this break came at the perfect time.
picking Natalie up from school

Monday I was productive all day - I did a ton of the little or big chores that I've been putting off or haven't had time to do (clean/organize/vacuum the basement, wash out trash cans, clean out both cars, organize the desk, etc) and that felt amazing. Then Tuesday the boys and I dropped Natalie and Austin off in the morning and basically didn't leave the house again til we picked them up. We watched movies, had cozy time on the couch, and lounged around all day together. Wednesday and Thursday have been a mix of productivity/lounging, and it's just been so nice. We've played at parks, gone grocery shopping, played with friends, made good dinners every night, tried a new play-doh set, cleaned, rested, exercised, and just enjoyed being HOME. Home home homey home!

 We're not pregnant but I thought this picture would be a cute pregnancy announcement:


If you haven't read Little Women in the past ten years, put down everything you are doing and go read it right this second. Seriously. As much as I loved my re-read of Anne of Green Gables earlier this year, I loved Little Women even more. I soaked in every lovely word as balm to my soul and feel all filled up with love and "home-peace," as Lousia May Alcott says. It was extra providential that I happened to be reading this book the week that I had a little extra time for reading. Mmm, I'm already excited for when I go and reread it again! Last night Austin and I watched the Winona Ryder version (which is comPLETELY wonderful and perfect) and it was fun to notice things that I had newly gleaned from reading the book, even though I've seen that movie a million times.

 I got the boys good and absorbed in a movie and had a little reading time to myself, muahahaha : )

Another project I am close to wrapping up is preparing school boxes for each of the kids. Now they each have a box with hanging file folders for each year of school, labeled accordingly, and everything is juicy and prepared so all I have to do now is put whatever I want to keep in there as it comes!

Side note: I love our kids' names. Natalie Jane, Stockton Luke, and Jack Atticus. It makes me want to have a million kids so we can use all the literary references we want to!

Stockton thought it would be a fun experiment to throw the watermelon
down the stairs and see what happened....

Daddy, newly obsessed with and proficient at chess, teaching his padowan

Special Stockton/Mommy date to Target. Kids behave
so much better one-on-one!

the boys playing merrily in Daddy's car (which won't start, grrr)
I've been happier, more patient, less frantic, and more relaxed this week, and it feels great. It will be fine to get back into the ACT clinic routine again but it's sure been nice being home for a change!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


Everyone says moms are emotional when they send their kids to school, but I really felt just excited and calm about Natalie going to Kindergarten.

waiting for 7:40 so she can go in!

Then we pulled up to school on that first day and my chest felt like a 100-pound rock was crushing it, and I had a huge lump in my throat as I rotated through so many emotions:


 I didn't let anyone see what I was feeling, but the pressure and the lump only grew bigger as I walked Natalie up to the steps to wait for the doors to open so she could go inside for breakfast. She looked so SMALL. Teeny teeny tiny Natsby with a backpack bigger than she is standing half as tall as the big 5th graders. My heart could hardly stand it! Natalie and I had been talking excitedly the whole morning, but we reached a lull when the doors opened and she looked into my face with her big brown eyes and said, "I'm going to miss you all day, Mom."

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don't know how I got through that without crumpling up into a ball of tears, but I did, and we went inside and followed the group to the cafeteria. Natalie hung up her backpack and got right in line, and told the girl next to her that she liked her shoes.

 my fearless Natsby

 I knew it was probably time for me to go but I just couldn't. I told myself it was to make sure she got through the line okay and her cafeteria account worked like it should, but I knew all the staff saw right through it and were gracious enough to not mention it. They must've seen hundreds of moms just like me over the years. Natalie got her breakfast, found a seat without a spot of hesitation or shyness, and said "bye mom" like "okay, I have my breakfast, I'll see you later!" My heart lurched but I gave her a kiss and told her she'd have a great day, and then I walked out blinking furiously. I knew Austin would make fun of me (or not know how to react - crying Jessie can be hard to deal with) so I forced myself not to cry until I had dropped him off for his own first day of school. Then I cried all the way to Omaha, missing my Natsby, wondering how she was doing, hoping she was happy and knew who she could ask questions to and feeling like she was so far away from me in every sense of the phrase.

"I see my mom!"

"bye Miss Beck!"
We're halfway through the second week and I'm still tearing up thinking about everything. I keep wondering: does the pang ever go away? I'm sure it will lessen, as it already has a tiny bit, but it feels like she spends so much time at school and so little time at home, and my tunnel vision shoots straight to college in however many years when she leaves me and I get so sad thinking of that day! But then I stop and take a deep breath, hug her close, read books and have light saber fights and watch Curious George, and remind myself to take it as slow as I can and not bring the future faster than it is already coming.

Jeez, listen to me. This is what happens when I try to process my emotions.

Of course she's doing well, having a good time, coming home full of stories about silly songs they learned or what she ate for lunch and being excited to show me what she picked out of the prize box. She doesn't know I'm sad, and I try to hide my face when she says things like, "but what do I do when I just want a hug from you but I'm at school?" or "school is fun but it takes so long; I wish you could come inside with me."

And it's not sadness, exactly. Just heavy, deep emotion. I don't feel old enough to have a five-year-old. It surprises me that she is as much of a "real person" already as she is. As I checked on her before I went to bed the other night I just stared at this little girl feeling bewildered that she was mine and that she already had hopes and dreams and opinions and feelings and that I was her mom and was I doing enough/doing it right/being who she needs me to be? I just wanted to wake her up and hug her tight and talk to her all night and never take her back to school because I don't want to miss a single second of being with her.

I love my Natsby with all my heart and hope that she will always turn back to give me another hug before she hops out of the car for school. Here's to twelve more years of the public school life! Hopefully my heart can take it!


For over a year we've been hearing about the solar eclipse happening August 21, 2017. Well, today was the day! All summer it's been all safety precautions, background science, and predictions about what it would be like. My mom and I happened to be at a Hy-Vee last week and we saw people waiting in a line wrapping around the entire store for a shipment of eclipse glasses that wasn't coming for another 2 hours! It was crazy. (I picked up some glasses a few weeks ago, line-free - thumbs up for planning ahead!) The hype was real and it was everywhere! T-shirts, travel arrangements, all the hotel rooms in Lincoln were booked...ALL OF THEM! The area for private jets to fly in to the Lincoln airport was full to capacity, and officials have been worried about traffic and highway safety for months leading up to this one day.

This map shows the "path of totality" across the United States. "Totality" is when the moon is 100% in front of the sun. Areas outside of this "path" can see varying degrees of the eclipse, but you have to be within the path in order to see full coverage. Guess which city is fully in the path!? As a completely naive non-scientist I didn't realize how important this was, but it was crucial! Until the eclipse reaches totality, you can't look directly at the sun without the eclipse shades. (I tried it with a super brief glance upwards, and it was really painful!) During totality, because the moon is completely eclipsing the sun you can safely look at it, and it was completely mesmerizing. The sun turned into a black circle with rays of light like a halo around it. It was indescribable to stand on my doorstep, looking up at this miracle of science and astronomy. It made me feel very small and minute, but also very blessed and an important part of the cosmic world. Big thoughts! Totality lasted just over a minute, and the instant the moon crept to the side and released the sun's light, it was again impossible to look at with bare eyes. It was a spiritual experience for me - I felt surprisingly emotional and can't really explain why. It was just extremely cool and like nothing I have ever seen before. Especially since I didn't even have to leave my house to experience it! 

totality, with a black sky

the moon starting to cover the sun
 The picture above is exactly what it looked like with the eclipse shades on (all orange-y), but when you take the glasses off it just looks like the normal sun.

the progression
 When I first went outside to check on the eclipse, I felt silly looking up with my eclipse glasses because to my naked eye everything looked the same as always. I felt a huge thrill and got goosebumps when I saw that part of the sun was indeed starting to be covered by the moon! I ran inside and texted Austin because I was so excited and could hardly believe it, even though we've been hearing about this for months. It was very surreal.

This is the closest picture I found online to what I saw (minus the jets). I just can't get over how amazing it was to stare at the SUN being blocked by the MOON with this perfect black circle and white halo, with a darkened sky. It was so amazing!!! 

This is the picture I took when the sun was totally eclipsed. It's still so bright that it doesn't show any black on my wimpy camera, but imagine that a black circle is over most of that dot, and you know what totality looks like. It's breathtaking. My camera wouldn't capture how dark it really was outside - imagine a twilight/thunderstorm kind of dark and that's what it was like. Crickets started chirping at 1:03 in the afternoon.

 Stockton loved playing outside while I was watching the sky, and it was cute to see my old neighbors enjoying the spectacle as well. I loved the sense of community that Lincoln (and the US) felt about this cool event. When the eclipse reached totality and we could take our glasses off, I heard cheering from afar as everyone in the city saw this amazing sight in the sky. I loved it!

And then I noticed that my gum was very fitting for the occasion.

Thanks, sun-moon-and-earth for doing your eclipse thing right where I live! I'll never forget it!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Natalie turns FIVE

We have a five-year-old!

She has been looking forward to her birthday for months and she was so excited when it was FINALLY her day. She could hardly sleep the night before - this girl knows how to anticipate!

Decorations the night before, and the little book we put together with comments and stories from various people who sent me their messages. So many people love our Natsby! I hope this book will be something she'll treasure as she gets older; if not, I know I will.

She woke up bright and early, naturally (although not much brighter and earlier than normal) and got right down to present business. We got her lots of little things so she'd have more to open, since that's probably her favorite part of the whole affair. She immediately changed into her new outfit and birthday crown, and had a delicious breakfast of peaches, strawberries, blueberries, and cream! She was very kind and let the boys share her presents and breakfast. She is one that enjoys experiencing things with others, and this is a good example of her selflessness. She knew it would be fun to share the experience of opening her gifts with Jack, and I think that's very sweet.

We got matching necklaces because she asks to borrow my necklaces DAILY, and now we can both wear them when she goes to school so even when we're apart we can still be connected by our necklaces. Also, the pendant is two puzzle pieces, which I'm sure wasn't intended to be a reference to autism from the necklace company but we definitely took it to be!
Birthday selfies!

Isn't she sunshiney? : ) I love that Stockton got in on the action too.

She was so excited to have a party - she wasn't specific in what she wanted at the party, she was just adamant that there be a party. So a party she had! We invited church friends over for "cake for breakfast" and they played inside and outside and people brought breakfasty things and it satisfied Natalie's desires for a party.

Waiting patiently for people to come, then getting super excited when she saw someone park!

I think we blew out the candles before more than one person got there, haha. Natalie didn't want to wait, and since it was her birthday she got to call the shots!

Then we headed over to Austin's office to partake in their party for Natalie, which was also a going-to-school celebration. Roy told her to "stand there and let us sing to you," and her face and posture made me laugh hahaha.

We came home so Jack could take a nap. Stockton was downstairs watching a movie but then came up with these shoes on and made Natalie and I giggle.

Stockton took his shoes off, got his snack, and came to hang out with me on the couch. He always seems to find a way to be close to me : )

Then, we picked Daddy up from work and headed over to Grandma and Grandpa's house! She was thrilled to have a THIRD party of the day and loved opening more presents. We ate the THIRD cake (I didn't even have a bite, I was caked out) and then headed out to the traditional Lost in Fun birthday outing.

An outfit change was necessary - too many cute clothes to choose from! Doesn't she look like a little angel?

These are randomly the only pictures I have at LiF....they had a great time and the Beddeses even came with their twins and Taft (yay!) so Natalie felt extra celebrated.

Happy birthday to our wonderful Natsby. She's already looking forward to next year!