Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Endings and Beginnings

It rained yesterday.

It's been a hot, dry summer, but yesterday was cool and wet.

There was a strange feeling in the house before Brent went to work in the morning. Right after early morning scripture study with the older kids, he read them a fresh email: Motorola/Google will be shutting down 1/3 of their sites. 4000+ lay-off-ees will be notified in the next two days.

Kid worries filled the air at the breakfast table...Will Motorola lay YOU off? Is that the same as firing? Will your work fire you, Dad? Will we have to move? Will I ever see Jennifer again? Will you have to give your phone back?

Brent and I combated their questions and reassured them that whatever happens...All is well. We love the Lord. He has guided us to where we are today. He will continue to guide us on whatever path is best for our family in the future.

Then Brent made his round of kisses and went off to work. Brent has survived many lay-offs over the years. But he had a different feeling about this one. I wondered if a salad and a peanut butter sandwich was good enough for a potential last Motorolan lunch. It wasn't very glamorous.

But then it didn't need to be. Brent's automatic "On my way home." chime sounded on my Droid Razr at 9:40 am. A few minutes later he called to confirm that this time his name was indeed on The List.

The kids were playing a game in the basement. MaryAnn was taking a nap.

So I sat on the front porch breathing in the rain...waiting to welcome Brent home...and embrace the man I love to have walking by my side through the ups and downs of life.

Endings are hard.

When the kids saw Dad home early with a big box in hand, the little ones scrambled to his side with excitement. But the big ones knew. "You lost your job Dad?" I preferred to hear the younger questions: "Did you bring us a present?" "Is that box the package they gave you?" (because we had explained a bit about severance packages during the breakfast table extravaganza).

We found treasures in the box...among books and important papers was lots of child art, one of Diggy's hand-crafted ships made of paper and duct tape, a tin of Motorola mints to evenly distribute, old Father's Day cards...
and my favorite:

Tears came.

Thoughtful Allison, sensing the tender mood and knowing how sad it is to lose something, brought me a piece of paper and asked me to help her spell, "Dad...I am sorry you lost your job. Love, Allison." She then carefully transferred the message onto fancier paper...once for herself...and again for Cienna to sign.

From little people comes such big comfort.

After a day of not quite knowing what to do with ourselves, we held our usual Monday evening Family Night. It was Cienna's turn to say the prayer that would open the meeting. As a three-year-old, her prayers typically consist solely of just a few "I'm thankful fors..." Hearing her combine this with Kenny's solemn reminder to pray for Dad sounded something like this: "Dear Heavenly Father...We're thankful that Dad lost his job. We're thankful that Dad gets to stay home with us. We're thankful that Dad doesn't have to go to work anymore. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen."

We laughed. Then, with tears of joy, I shared how grateful I am for how hard Brent has worked to provide for our family for so many years. And how grateful I feel that we, since the beginning of our marriage, have listened to our church leaders' counsel to avoid debt, live within our means, and save for the future.

Besides our mortgage, we have no debt. We're frugal folks (looks like I won't have to go curtain shopping anytime soon...shucks). And for years, we've been tucking $$ away for a rainy day. So, it can rain and we can still provide for ourselves. All is well.

We said, "bittersweet" a lot yesterday. Change is in the air. And change can be good.

I will always remember that it rained yesterday.

It felt heavy and light at the same time...solemn and refreshing, uncertain and hopeful.

What beginnings will come because of this ending?

Monday, August 13, 2012

MaryAnn Memories

These little ones grow so fast I can hardly stand it. 

So I hereby declare that some memories be recorded before time marches onward...lest MaryAnn's brain keeps developing and I forget a few of the adorable and unique things that make MaryAnn so precious right this very minute.
Like...she's sleeping right this very minute (which makes babies extra precious, no?). Otherwise I would not have the luxury of recording anything at all because MaryAnn adores the exact same buttons, mice, and cords that I like. (Except she has the magical ability to erase documents, uninstall programs, and shut down entire systems with one pound of the fist...remarkable.) 

When MaryAnn meets someone new, they often comment about her eyebrows (conveniently pictured below). She's very curious and very focused. She means business. And she can scream/screech louder than the loudest decibel level ever uttered under our roof (which is super loud according to recent visitors) if unsolicited sibling attention approaches...or when she wants another bite of spaghetti. 

MaryAnn also speaks English now. She chants "Dada, Dada" every time the front door opens. She cries "Mama, Mama" whenever she's done having her personal space invaded. She says "ball" whenever she sees one. She says "ba-bye" and accurately inserts an appropriate little wave. She raises her eyebrows and says "Wow" when a sibling excitedly runs up to share an impressive random tidbit...like "Guess how many mosquito bites I have on my right leg?...Nope. 12."

The "Wow!" face:

And her first recognizable word combo was, "Maa-um. mm-dun." because it's one of the most frequently yelled phrases here at la Casa de Smiths...at least until Older Sister builds up the confidence to wipe herself after spending time here:
Oh yeah...and MaryAnn says "bum" too. We're so proud. 

MaryAnn's middle bottom two teeth came in crooked. After 5 kids with straight middle bottom teeth, her unique crookedness deserves special mention. It's adorable enough to be forever documented in cyberspace. (And I know the average blog browser won't be able to tell just how cute those two teeth are in the above picture. But my Mother Eye can tell...and my Mother Memory will have a nice gleeful flashback when my frail hands go perusing through old blog posts in fifty years.)  

At least one of those teeth is a sweet one...

MaryAnn pulls her own weight regarding Sibling Entertainment. I should pay her.

When we went to Six Flags recently, we expected MaryAnn to have a sensory overload too-many-strange-sounds-and-strange-people-and-take-me-as-far-away-from-Bugs-Bunny-as-I-can-get type reaction like Cienna did at her age (and for many years after)...but MaryAnn soaked all the excitement right in. It energized her.  

She happily went on all the kiddy rides (often with Kirsten at her side instead of Mom) and screamed only when I had to peel her away from the steering wheel and move her on to the boats.

Brains-wise...I love the passion of this spongey stage...MaryAnn's developed senses now work together to absorb everything, her growing memory retains it, and her limited thinking capacity naively (but admirably) prioritizes every new experience as perhaps the most important thing she could possibly know...and so she lives and breathes to re-enact life around her...with intense purpose. Sitting very still and observing her innocent zest for life is often more rejuvenating than finding quiet time by myself somewhere. Such a treat.   

MaryAnn especially finds genuine joy with:

flip flops 


and waving.
MaryAnn feels a special purpose in life when she's permitted to go outside, sit on the front steps, and wave at every car/pedestrian passing by.

People wave back.