I got this…

I’m convinced God created children for parents just exactly so we could see a glimpse of how we are to Him. (And maybe also to teach us a tremendous amount of patience, self-control, and humility. Not to mention so our lives would be filled with joy and laughter…)

But really, they need us so badly. Sometimes they are just so helpless. And despite all their mistakes, constant questions, and totally un-funny-but-never-ending knock-knock jokes, we can’t help but love them more than words could ever describe.

It is really all a wonderful picture of our relationship with God, isn’t it?  How much we need Him, how much He loves us despite our sins. (And let’s just be honest here. Bad knock-knock jokes might as well be a sin.)

Yesterday, God used Annalise – yet again – to paint this picture for me…

It all started the Friday before Christmas break. It was supposed to be a fun dress-up day at school – Pajama Day. Annalise had been looking forward to it all week. Instead, we got a snow day, and vacation started early. (No complaints from me.)

Now, it was the first day back to school. We were back home, and I was in the kitchen, mind wandering to stresses and anxieties. Grown-up things. “God? What do I do about this? How do I handle this?”  I somehow felt like I wasn’t being heard. I felt like I bring the same stresses and questions to Him, and I get no response. My eyes started to well up, just as Annalise walked in the room with a nervous and stressed look on her face.

I could tell something was bothering her. “Mommy?” She spoke slowly and nervously. “I don’t know what to do. I know you aren’t going to let me, but I’m supposed to wear make-up to school. They told us we have to.”


Really, Mom! They did! What am I supposed to do? They said we have to wear it, and I don’t even have any, and you probably won’t even buy me some because you don’t want me wearing it yet and…”

I stopped her and asked her what she was talking about. I work at her school, and I’m pretty positive no one is requiring make-up.

“It’s true, Mom! They said this Friday is make-up Pajama Day.”  Ahh. Don’t you just love how literal 6-year-olds are?

Doing my best to hide my laughter, I leaned over and kissed the top of her head. “Oh sweet girl. Don’t worry. I got this.”

It was in that moment, as I started to explain to her that she had misunderstood what they meant by “make-up,” I realized that this was a perfect picture of how I must be to God.

Annalise’s 6-year-old worries were real to her. They seemed so big and impossible. Yet, to me, they were no big deal. In actuality, they weren’t a problem at all. She just didn’t fully understand. How many of my problems – my real human 35-year-old problems that seem so big and impossible are no big deal for God? How many of my problems aren’t even problems at all? How many of my worries and anxieties are wasted worries and anxieties, because in actuality, I just don’t see the big picture.

It was as if in that moment, when I was kissing my girl’s head and saying “Don’t worry, sweet girl. I got this.” God was doing the exact same thing to me.

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” Don’t worry, sweet girl. I got this… (Jeremiah 32:27)

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Don’t worry, sweet girl. I got this… (Isaiah 41:10)

In fact, He says it all the time. It’s found all throughout the Bible. Jeremiah 29:11. Joshuah 1:9. Romans 8:28. Matthew 19:26. Just to name a few.

And in case I do forget, He’ll gently use my own sweet girl to help me remember. Maybe you need the reminder, too. Maybe He’s saying it to you right now…

“Don’t worry, kiddo. I got this.”

Week 1

After lying dormant for a full week and a half as we all began the school routine, it appears every toy in the house has now awoken and burst forth in one fell swoop onto the living room floor. I can not walk through, which is totally fine with me, because I am wiped, I tell you. Wiped. Spent lots of Saturday and Sunday recouping from the first full week at a new school and the first full week as a mom to a school-age kid.

It is done. The first full week of the first year of the rest of her life. Yes, it may also just be kindergarten, and yes, she may just be down the hall from me, but I cried every day at least once. This parenting stuff is EMOTIONAL. Here’s a summary:

Day One:
Dropped off the eldest for her first full day. Waited at the bottom of the few stairs next to her room and watched as she quietly followed her teacher’s directions and found her place in line. Listened to the clicking of the camera next to me and the pounding of my own heart, waiting for her to turn and say “Bye, Mom! I love you!” Waited and breathed. Breathed and waited. She never turned. She filed right into her classroom without a hug, a kiss, a good-bye, or even a smile. The teacher poked her head out and said cheerfully, “Ok, you can all go and cry now.” Oh boy, did I. The whole way home. “Matt, I didn’t even tell her I love her! I thought we’d have a chance to give her a kiss! I didn’t give her a kiss!” I sobbed. He comforted, or tried to. I just kept crying.
Cried off and on the rest of the day while trying to stay in the moment with my boy. Posted this very true notice on Facebook:

GIRL NEWS: Dropped her off for her first full day of Kindergarten. This time, we didn’t get to stay. Cried like a baby on the way home. Why did the first day have to be on my day OFF? There will be no checking in on her. Although, I may or may not have texted some staff members to peek in and/or stand guard over her. Just one question: HOW DO YOU PEOPLE DO THIS EVERY SCHOOL DAY ALL YEAR FOR THIRTEEN YEARS? I will now hug each parent as they leave my classroom. I’m with you. Solidarity. You are the bravest of soldiers to have a little bit of your heart rip out each day.

BOY NEWS: In the meantime, I’m having a day with my boy. We’ve played cars, 4 wheelers, and Batman. He took me on a date to Woods. Opened doors, ordered for both of us, and paid with his very own Woods Card he got for being an awesome ring bearer. Total Stud.

And also, this: If you don’t hear Jacob talk for the rest of the year, it might be because he’s used up all his words in the last 3 hours. How thankful I am for Mommy Mondays. But if you notice I’m in a daze on Tuesdays, just know it’s likely because my ears are grossly overworked and shut themselves right down somewhere around 2pm the day before.

Today, I am grateful for: Time with my boy. Mommy Mondays are the best, even if my ears do get tired!

Day 2:
Drop off was a little easier. Teared up a bit, but not as bad. Made for darn sure I gave her a kiss and hug good-bye. Geesh. Told her I love her, and reminded her who walks the halls with her. Headed home for a bit, then back to school for my Tuesday afternoon shift. Ran into her in the hall as I was headed to the art room. Busted my buttons with pride when she waved and hollered from her class line, “Hi, Mommy! I love you!” Am I the only teacher-parent who dreamed of this moment? Cried happy tears walking back to my classroom.

Today, I am grateful for: The dream come true of having my girl in my own school, the security of having her down the hall, of knowing her teachers and the staff, of opportunities to see her throughout the day.

Day 3:
Drop off was the hardest this day. Not because of my own heart, but because of her tender little brother’s. In the car on the way, the sweet boy next to her got an overwhelming sad face (if you know him, you know his emotions are perfectly expressed in his face.) I was already sad seeing his look in the rear view mirror even before he’s said a word. Then he looked at his big sis and said, “Sissy. I dist miss you so much when you’re gone. I don’t want you to go to school!” His eyes filled with tears, and he squeaked out, “Will you dist hold my hand on da way?” Heart Break City. Massive tears and an even more massive lump in my throat. Spent much of the rest of my day wondering if I should be homeschooling just so as not to break my youngest boy’s heart each day.

Today, I am grateful for: Kids who love each other so much! They really, really do! Even if I did need to remind them of this later in the day when they fought over which My Little Pony shoes they got to play with and where to sit at the dinner table.

Day 4:
It was only day 4, and we already had a minor emergency causing her to be late for school. She has a pretty big plantar wart on her foot, and when she went to bed, we noticed redness around it and red streaking across her foot. Up and to the doctor instead of to school. She was so afraid she would miss something very important, “like song time, or dancing, or… or… recess!” No worries. Doc dug through the wart a bit to release any puss, (fun, right?), prescribed an antibiotic, and she was back to school just an hour late. Not as many tears from me this time. But there were more from me than from her when the doc mauled her foot. (I had no idea that girl could be so tough! She didn’t shed a single tear while the tender infected area was being poked, prodded, and squeezed. Interesting, considering she nearly faints – or at least cries and throws herself to the counter sobbing – whenever I have to brush her hair. Hmmm….) Once home after dropping her off, Jacob and I had this conversation:

Jacob: Mom! Here’s the plan. We are gonna play trains, then have lunch and cookies, then play trains some MORE.
Me: Nope. Sorry, Bud. The plan is we are gonna eat lunch, take you to the babysitter’s, and I’m headed to work.
Jacob: Sorry, Mom. I got bad news for ya. The plan is off!

Today, I am thankful for: Modern medicine! Antibiotics! Working half-time so I could take my daughter to the doctor without writing sub plans! A boy who knows what he wants – play time with mom – and makes me smile all the time.

Day 5:
My full day at work. We started the morning saying good-bye to Daddy, because he was headed out of town overnight for a wedding in Bellevue. Tears from both kids in the car as we drove toward Jacob’s babysitter. More tears on the way to school as she cried for her Daddy. Spent the morning trying to work in my classroom with a 4 foot leech attached to my side and standing on my feet. Suddenly, I wasn’t as sappy and sad as I was irritated and impatient. Funny how that can turn so quickly.

After a great but long full day, we left at 5:00 to pick up the boy. I was too tired to cook, or really to even think. Headed to Milt’s for pizza, then home, then back to the babysitter’s to pick up his blankie that I forgot, then home again. Noticed a nice note from my husband on the counter, and was so tired that I picked up a pen and wrote my response on the paper as though he was going to get it instantaneously. Modern technology has melted my brain. (C’mon. You know you’ve had the urge to rewind something that happened in real life, just like you do with the DVR, right???)

We got in our PJs and climbed into my bed, all 3 of us. I sat up in the middle with a little angel leaning on me on either side. “Momma, will you sing us a song?” she asked. I quietly sang the first song that came to my mind: Great is Thy Faithfulness.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee…

I choked up as I thought about the words I was singing at the end of quite a big week for me…

…Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not.
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be!…

I looked over at each of my babies.

…Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!…

The one on the right, already sound asleep. It had been an awfully big week for her, too. But each day, we had so much to be thankful for…

…Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided…

The one on the left, doesn’t move but quietly whispers, “Momma, when you’re done with this one, will you sing Jesus Loves Me?

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Bellingham Photographer -1

Bellingham Photographer -2

Puppy Love

You know those parenting moments you don’t really look forward to, but you know are coming and there’s nothing you can do about it?

Moments like when your child gets his/her driver’s license. Expected, a good thing in many ways, but also terrifying and maybe a bit sad as your “baby” is nearing adulthood.

Moments like when your child moves out of the house to go to college. I cry just thinking about it, and mine are only 5 and 3.

Moments like the day your son or daughter comes home and says they’re getting married. Hopefully, you’re elated and this is all a very wonderful thing, even though it might be very emotional at the same time.

Tonight, I got to witness one such moment. One of those “I knew it would happen sooner or later, but how did this happen so fast?” moments.

Matt is still in New York helping with hurricane Sandy relief efforts.  He calls nightly, and while the kids miss him terribly, they haven’t been super chatty…

…until tonight. The second he called, Annalise asked to talk to him. Her conversation went pretty much like this (names have been removed to protect the innocent):

“Hi Daddy! I have a problem. THREE boys want to marry me. THREE. I knew about the other two, but one I just found out tonight that I’m his girlfriend. The first one is _boy#1_. Then _boy #2_ who ALWAYS says he’s gonna marry me – UGH – and tonight, I gave _boy #3_ a hug good-bye. But then he whispered in my ear, ‘You’re my girlfriend!‘ (giggle) So I don’t really know what to do… …Daddy, _boy#3 is REALLY nice….”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   I get the phone. Matt says, “Really? THIS is the bomb she drops on me while I’m on the OTHER SIDE of the country?”

Hours later, I’m still laughing picturing his look of shock and total bewilderment.

Prayers appreciated. Looks like Matt is gonna need them.

Happy Dramatic May Day

I posted this on Facebook this morning:

It’s 8AM. We’ve already had enough drama to fill several days. My children. They were not blessed with calm, unruffled, phlegmaticalness. (Yes, it’s a word.) Bless them.

Who am I kidding? Bless ME. And give us grace on this very dramatic average Wednesday. We could use a heap.

But oh how I love these dramatic littles. Their drama (sometimes) brings me much laughter… resulting in further drama. Apparently, I’m not allowed to laugh. Or at least not at them.

So just a couple examples of the average Wednesday drama:

Child 1, while discussing the possibility of doing May-Day flower deliveries, throws herself on the bed in a heap of tears. Because HOW DARE WE leave flowers WITHOUT SAYING HELLO. When I let her know that is just exactly the point – to surprise people who are expecting to see someONE, but just see flowers – she only cried harder. Because that just CAN. NOT. HAPPEN. Ever. “Mom! I can’t NOT say hello when I am at someone’s house that I just love so much! (sob) I mean, how COULD I???? (sob sob, loudly sob)”

Child 2, while getting his ginormous claws clipped after ripping holes in my skin by accident, announces in his most dramatic tone with dramatic facial expressions and dramatic one-handed-motions (the other was being clipped), “MOM. You HAFTA stop. dis. now. Because I am SO DONE getting my nails cut. I have stuff ta do.” Of course you do, 3 year old. Just cutting me to shreds isn’t on the to-do list today.

Child 1, while playing (dramatically, of course. Because all her play is like a stage production), suddenly bursts into tears again, “MOM! I just don’t understand… WHY would you want me to ring the doorbell and RUN AWAY from someone I love so much? (sobs and more sobs)” Oh dear. We’re still on this. It’s now a thing. Bless her.

Child 2, after I got him dressed and walked out of the room unintentionally leaving him alone, he sings – yes sings (and rather well, I might add) – this song from Les Miserables (Castle on a Cloud”)… “Please do not leave me on my own. Not in da darkness by myself…”

– Let me pause here. Because what just-turned-three-year-old ON EARTH sings songs from Broadway productions to communicate to their mother just exactly what is happening? Mine. MY just-turned-three-year-old does this. Yes. We are dramatic in this house. –

So then I post my comment on Facebook. The one above. A few kind friends post encouraging words. And then this conversation happens:

  • Paul Kuzina Love you Holly–your honesty is refreshing, and you will glean much prayer support as a result of it. Holding you up in prayer—Dad
  • Holly Priestman ^And dad, were you not totally and completely PROUD that I used such a BIG word? Phlegmaticalness. That’s like a dozen syllables or something. I MUST be your child.
  • Paul Kuzina I was wondering if it actually IS a word!
  • Holly Priestman Ummmm…. YES. Although FB doesn’t seem to think so. Whatever. Look it up.
    (I have waited YEARS to be able to tell you that! YEARS!)
  • Holly Priestman ^Probably even decades. Because I am officially THAT old.
  • Paul Kuzina I don’t own a Funk and Wagnall’s. Sorry! (Mom did that to me! She mocked my predisposition to loquaciousness, and this is the result!)
  • Holly Priestman Funk and Wagnall’s? You might be dating yourself. I’m not certain of that, since I don’t know what it is, but I’m guessing so…. Try this new thing called GOOGLE, dad. It’s even better than old Funk.
    And you just trumped me. Because now I have to look up “loquaciousness.” Whatever.
  • Paul Kuzina Okay, I apologize for ever doubting my teacher daughter. “Phlegmaticalness” is, indeed, a word. (Loquaciousness” is also, I might add.)
  • Paul Kuzina Syn: verbosity, garrulous, logorrhea, prolixity, etc.
  • Paul Kuzina I personally think “logorrhea” is a good one. That sounds a lot like “diarrhea” of the mouth.
  • Marie Scanlon HAHAHAHAHAHA! I love this convo. I love words!
  • Paul Kuzina And one last thing…how dated do you honestly think I am, Holly? I just used Google to verify those words. So there! Your old man isn’t too archaic!
  • Paul Kuzina BUH-bye!
  • Holly Priestman I HATE it when dad says a big word that I don’t understand and ask him to define, only to get a string of words that I also mostly don’t know. Dad, you WOULD like logorrhea. (FB doesn’t think it’s a word either. Underlined in red.) I expect it to come up in conversation soon…
  • Holly Priestman My FAVORITE part of this entire conversation: The man who uses the word “loquaciousness” without having to look it up, then leaves the conversation with the “word” BUH-bye.
    I have absolutely NO IDEA where my kids get their dramatic flair.

Dramatic flair? Yes. And maybe also his flair for words. One of my favorite words they say is “butcept.” They use it regularly…

“I LOVE this doll, butcept it’s hard to change her clothes.”

“Mommy, you look really nice, butcept you should probably fix your hair!” Um, thanks.

And so I end with this:

My life is a bit dramatic. Of the 3 and 5 year old kind. It’s the best kind. I so love those dramatic littles (and their just-a-wee-bit-dramatic grandpa who makes me laugh in his wordy drama all the time.)

And maybe, just maybe, I inherited a bit of said drama. And maybe even dumped it by the bucketloads into these children I birthed.

We reap what we sow.

Butcept I am so thankful. Their drama brings so much joy and entertainment. I am blessed.

Now, on with this dramatic Wednesday…

Feeling old

Some days, the reality of how old I am hits me.

Well, once I can remember how old I am, it does.

This morning was one of those mornings. Today was a family day. No work. No computers. No cameras. Just me, the Hubs, and the kids. We were headed to the Pacific Science Center.

I remember going there as a kid. I remember some of the same exhibits (Touching the sea life? Oh yes. Loved it.) I remember family days and car games and all the stuff we were going to be doing today.

And as I was getting ready and remembering all these things, I started to feel old. The kind of old that starts with this thinking, Who allows young people like me to be a parent??? Don’t they know I’m not ready for that? Then changes to, Oh wait. I’m not young. I’m in my thirties. I remember my parents being in their thirties.

Am I the only one? The only one that remembers things from their childhood and feels O-L-D when observing said things being repeated in their kids’ lives? The only one that has these moments of panic where I realize I’m not just out of high school? But then begins to do the math and suddenly realizes I’ve been out of high school longer than all the years I was ever in school… including pre-school, but excluding college – or at least some of college.

Then this conversation happens in my head EVERY. SINGLE. TIME: Ok. So I’m 33… No wait… I’m not 33…I’m thirty – …34… No wait… I was born in ’78. It’s 199-… NO WAIT, it’s 20–… what year is it, dangit??? Am I that old?… Calm down, old fogey…It’s 2013… That makes me… 33… no wait… I’m 35… no wait… I’ll be 35 when my birthday comes this year… HOLY CRAP. I’M ALMOST 35… I remember when my parents were 35!”

(Funny thing is, I’ve had that same conversation in my head for a few years now. And I went an entire year believing I was 33, only to discover at my birthday that I, in fact, was turning 33. Which was a great birthday present to myself – to not grow another year older. And now, I still think I’m 33. That would make me 33 for 3 years and running…)

Anyway, this conversation that I have regularly in my head gets me thinking (once I figure out exactly how old I am) about what time I have (or don’t have) left. It usually goes something like this:

So, I’m 34. If I live this long 2 more times, I’ll be 112. Not gonna happen. So my life is more than 1/3 over. If I live this long just one more time, I’ll be 68. That’s likely and doesn’t actually sound too old. So hopefully, my life isn’t yet 1/2 over. Which means, my life is more than 1/3 over, but not quite 1/2 over. 2/5 over? That would mean I’d live to be 85. Maybe. Give or take a few (but not too many.) So I still have 3/5 of my life to live. Not too late to make some changes…

This morning, this thought was interrupted right about then by the sounds of children fighting, reminding me that however long I live, I have a job to do now. Which makes me feel just a little bit younger.

The family day was great. The science center was the most crowded I’ve ever seen, but it was still enjoyable. Look at me! I’m not a grumpy old lady! We stopped for dinner on the way home. At the noisy restaurant, we saw a man about in his 60s working with the hostess at finding the perfect table for himself. He apparently requested a quieter area, to which she replied, “I’m sorry. We don’t have an area designated for quiet dining.” And then she sat him directly behind our booth. A recipe for disaster, if you ask me. (Maybe she planned it that way. Just to annoy him for his snooty request.) And despite Annalise’s bumping the back of the booth (also his back of booth), he never once asked us to quiet down or stop jiggling his seat. So even though the waitress spilled Matt’s coffee and dropped a knife on Jacob and brought Matt the wrong entree (he ate it anyway, also a very “not-old” thing to do), and even though Jacob dropped the ice cream right off his spoon six times – three of those times right onto my lap – I’d consider the dinner a success. And I left feeling sorta young again. And sticky. Young and sticky.

Now home, I was no longer thinking about age but was just enjoying reflecting on the moments of quality family time that filled my heart throughout the day. I overheard Jacob talking to his daddy, who was helping him get his PJs on…

“Daddy, I’m starting to get bigger! Den I’m gonna get big… and big… and Big.. and BIG… and BIG. And den, I’m gonna be bigger den Mommy one day! And den I’m gonna pick her up, and put her to bed, and get her all tuckied in. Wight, Daddy? Wight?”

Which, of course, made me teary, and also reminded me of this book:

love you bookWhich also makes me cry.

And I remember this book making my mom and my Auntie Jill and Trish cry.

Another childhood memory I’m now living out as an adult…

…And so now I feel old again.