I love my life.
Sometimes I am afraid to say so. Maybe I think I'll jinx it or something.
But, it's true. I love it.
I love waking up in the morning to warm sunshine streaming through my windows, a toddler snuggled up so close that her breath is tickling my face, a little someone standing beside my bed asking for hair to be braided or breakfast to be cooked or plans to be made, puppies barking at grasshoppers, and hours stretching out before me full of normal every day beauty and promise.
I love watching my kids love each other.
Ethan is quickly becoming less of a little boy and more of a young man. He is testing limits but still holding onto the sweet innocence of a child. I am proud of the man he is choosing to be, and I'm proud of the example he sets for his younger brothers and sisters. I know that sometimes I don't give him enough credit (or slack) in the job he has as the eldest child in the family. It's a tough assignment. I often tell him that I realize it must be hard, but he is the one the Lord chose for the position so he can handle it! Ethan and Ezra have a special relationship that completely warms my heart. Although they are 7 years apart (Ethan is 11 and Ezra is 4), they totally enjoy each other. Ezra likes to pretend that he is Ethan's little pet dragon. Don't tell my big, tough 11 year old that I told you this, but Ethan loves this game too. When we arrived home after church and lunch today, these two shed their church clothes, hurried into their bathing suits, and ran out to the pool. Just the two of them, lost in a world of imagination and brotherhood.
While I was taking these pictures of the boys, Juni snuck outside behind me. You wouldn't realize it until you really get to know her, but this girl is quite a character. She can kiss you and pinch you in the same second, all with a mischievous little grin on her face. And just like her brother before her, she prefers to be naked. All. The. Time. I'm not kidding, I can't keep clothes on the child. She yells and writhes when I try to put a diaper on her and if she can manage to wiggle out of my grasp she takes off running like her tiny bare hiney is on fire, laughing all the way. But without the pressures of neighbors and busy streets, it just doesn't matter. Our little streaker can run, slide, jump on the trampoline, chase the dogs, play in the creek, and feed the chickens without a stitch on. Our own little hippie baby.
As the late afternoon sun began to make its way behind the hills, Justin grilled steaks, Asa and I made mashed potatoes and green beans, and Astrid and Julia made dessert.....mud pies! I guess some days sisterhood involves some serious mudslinging.
And what young boy could sit idly by and watch his sisters have all kinds of muddy fun without him?
Would you believe me if I told you that we moved out here to play in the mud? Ok, that may not be the only reason, but it's part of it. I guess it's less about the actual mud and more about what the mud represents.
Freedom. Freedom from the pressures of pristine lawns. From thinking that my children always need to look cute and clean. From fears that someone else's kid might get caught in the muddy crossfire and end up in tears. Freedom from the gossip chain, the mommy bikini competition at the neighborhood pool, and my kids always feeling like they need the newest toy, video game, or electric scooter.
Mud is a beautiful thing.
As I walked alone out to the chickens this evening to herd the ladies out of the woods and into their coops, I was suddenly struck with gratitude. I had a full belly, a healthy body, a warm breeze on my face, cicadas singing in the trees, birdsong surrounding me, fields and trees and hills before me, and a house full of love and laughter behind me. I just had to stop and say, "Thank you".
Thank you, Lord, for smiles...
big brown eyes
scratched up blue framed glasses
little fingernails and toenails that need to be cut
dirty handprints on my walls
half eaten apples in my fridge
...the every day, normal sweetness that I am blessed to encounter at every turn.