Where I Am

It’s been almost 15 months since Everett died and every morning I wake up thinking about him and every night I go to sleep thinking about him.  This week I hugged one kiddo while they cried through the sadness of missing him and watched as another one came close and wrapped their arms around the both of us.  With another child I had to have an in-depth conversation about what exactly being “brain dead” means.  I fielded questions about heaven and what heaven may be like for Everett.  I also held a kiddo in my arms as they absolutely sobbed for Everett and their birthparents.

All seven of our children have experienced loss and trauma.  We battle not only grief from losing our son and brother, but also the grief and loss surrounding birth families and beginnings Josh Kelley and I were not present for.  The questions and unknowns are big and hard and I’d give anything to be the answers they need, but I’m not.  So we cry together and we promise them we’re doing the best we can and we talk through all the things and we give lots of hugs and kisses and usually the only time I pray is right there in those desperate moments.  I fling prayers out and tell God I sure hope He’s real because I have no clue what we’re doing or how we’re going to make it.  It’s going to have to be Him.

I miss Everett something fierce.  I cannot even begin to give words to it.  There are none which would accurately encompass or describe the depth of how we miss him and long for him back.  Just today I found myself talking out loud to myself about him as I walked around the house gathering laundry to wash.  I reminded myself of funny things he did and said, I reminded myself Josh Kelley and I made the best decision with the information we had, I reminded myself of the letter from his surgeon explaining the complexity of his case and the urgency and I reminded myself of what a gift 143 days with Everett was and that 6 other beautiful, resilent children are still here.  I’m beginning to undestand that saying Josh and I are the luckiest is actually an understatement.  Our kids make us better and stronger and braver.  They push us forward and we’re so undeserving of them.  They are my greatest honor.

Right now I feel like I’m stuck.  Not only did the world plow forward after Everett died, but it continues to do so when I feel like I’m not going anywhere.  I feel like everyone outside our home is moving forward and we are being left behind.  Grief isolates and makes you feel lonely.  I’ve noticed I’m not as good at conversing with others anymore.  I’ve noticed I care less and less about certain things.  I’ve noticed I’m more okay with staying home and being accepting of the isolation.  I’ve noticed when bridges start to burn I just turn around and walk  away instead of grabbing a bucket of water.  I’m too exhausted…physically, emotionally, mentally and I don’t even know if I can say spiritually, but I’ll throw it in for good measure.  I feel like every day just moving through our day has to be good enough.

We have children with special needs and right now that is taking up so much mental, emotional and physical space.  My head is filled to the brim and anxiety can easily sink in between any of the tiny cracks of space.  We’ve got meetings at school and doctor’s appointments scheduled like crazy.  I’m seeing how grief has taken a major toll on my own body the past 15 months and never in my life have I tried so many over the counter, prescription, alternative healing, hippie voodoo medications in my life.  I just need a medical professional to look me in the eyes and say, “I’m sorry your son died.  This sucks and your body has been put through hell this last year.  It will get better.”

I spend far too much time combing over medical bills and hashing things out with our health insurance and all the billing departments.  I keep thinking how I need to work…how I want to work and create again…and then I wonder when I would actually do so.  Our days are filled and I’m not sure the time or space is actually there, but what I know is that I will never stop advocating and fighting for what our kids need.  It is my privilege to fight on their behalf and to make sure they are receiving all the help and assistance they may need.  They deserve the best…all kiddos do.

Leo has finally started really sleeping through the night again and I am so hesitant to even type those words for fear of jinxing it.  You should hear Josh Kelley and myself try and talk about it without really talking about it.

JK:  Did you sleep okay last night?

Me: Yeah.  Did You?

JK: Yeah.  (Slight shift in his eyes)

Me:  (Semi smirk smile)

The End.

Neither one of us dares not utter many more words than those because we do not want to take that risk and become sleep deprived zombies once again.  Sleeping is nice.

Everyday I try and figure out Everett’s death and always end up sorely disappointed in the fact that I cannot figure it out…yet again.  I just don’t get it.  And I want to.  I want to see the reasons and the whys and then maybe my mind would quit running.  Maybe it would lend more to my healing and yet I know I will likely never know.  And when I think about sending Leo in for surgery it feels absolutely debilitating.  I cannot let my mind sit there longer than a second before I feel my chest tighten, my stomach feel all vomitty and my blood pressure start to sky rocket.  I try and avoid all conversations about it because tears are inevitable.

I guess I just needed to write out some feelings tonight.  It hasn’t been an easy week and grief is never tidy and I really try and be an honest person.  15 months might seem like a long time to some, but for those in the thick, darkness of grief it’s so brief…a blink of the eyes.  It feels like Everett’s death wrecked so much and we’re still trying to figure out how to piece it all back together the best way we can.  Everyday we get up and move forward.  Every day we take it one step at a time trying to simply do the next right thing.  Every day we remind each other of all the goodness in our lives and the brave, strong love our family is full of.  Every day we choose to live in a way that honors sweet Everett’s life and keep his little memory alive.  Everyday we choose hope.  Again and again and again. And that is good enough.

Hudson Is 10!

At the end of September we ushered our second kiddo into double digits.  The big 10 is so sweet and sentimental to me and celebrating Hudson turning this awesome age was a delight.  He had been counting down this day for well over a month.  He created his own calendar countdown and every morning marked each day off as his special day neared.

His birthday fell on a Saturday and was full of cinnamon rolls and bacon for breakfast, Taco Bell for lunch, Icees for a fun afternoon treat and grilled hamburgers and Funfetti cupcakes for dinner.  Some neighborhood friends came over to skateboard, play football and video games and hang out and his day was easily complete.  We broke out the cupcakes and Twin Snakes…google and then eat if you are a person who likes candy…drew on the sidewalk and soaked up a gorgeous day while they were here.

Josh Kelley and Hudson’s birthdays are exactly one week apart.  Last year’s birthdays sucked!  Big time!  Everett dying makes everything feel harder, birthdays included.  This year after we sang happy birthday to Hudson over a pile of cinnamon rolls, he went and sat on the couch with the saddest face.   I asked what was wrong, tears filled his eyes and he said, “I just miss him.”  We talked again about how special days are even harder because we’re all thinking about how Shuai should be here with us.  It’s something we all think about all the time.  I really wanted Josh and Hudson to have some fun this year and they both love to roller skate so we decided to have a skate party in celebration of them both the day following Hudson’s actual birthday.

We made tiny sandwiches, brought in bags of chips, a bowl of fruit and sausage balls and pealed the plastic off a cheap-o veggie tray knowing full well most of it would be leftover. 🙂  Hudson also asked for all the Airhead candies and a Little Debbie Zebra Cake birthday cake.

Insert backstory:  When discussing what kind of desert he would like for the party he asked if I’d heard of Zebra Cakes.  Yes child, yes I have.  Last year in his 3rd grade class his teacher shared Little Debbie Zebra Cakes with the entire class and Hudson said and I quote, “I haven’t quit thinking about how good they were.”  This is my child.  I partially felt mortified I had never provided him with the opportunity to eat a Zebra Cake, but also super thrilled with his choice of crazy easy birthday cake.  When the birthday person is making their food plan I always say, “Ask and you shall receive.” 🙂

It was the most fun birthday party EVER!!!!!  Josh and I actually have no idea what our children did during the 2 hour party.  Where was Leo?  We have no idea.  Hahahahaha.  All we knew is we were wearing roller skates and all of our roller skating memories and fun vibes came coursing back through our bodies and we could not be stopped out on that roller rink.  I’m not sure either one of us have smiled and laughed as much as we did that day since Everett died.  In fact, we declared that our next date night would be at the 21+ adult skate night.  Yes, this is a real thing and Josh and I plan to be in attendance.

The kids had a blast.  Everyone skated and requested their favorite songs and played all the roller skating games you remember for your childhood and ate and laughed and it was the best.  Hudson requested we open zero presents and do not have a planned eating time and half way through the party he asked that we didn’t even sing happy birthday to him for fear of wasting precious skate time.  So we didn’t.  Everyone just ate as they pleased and skated their hearts out.  At the end of the night there was only one lonely Zebra Cake left and as the thought crossed my mind to finally enjoy one for myself, Huson skated through, grabbed the last one and popped it in his mouth.  Happy Birthday Huddy Love!

At school the next day we ate lunch with the birthday boy and shared fun Halloween candies with his classmates.  I sat listening to him and his friends chat it up about skating and Fortnite and all the funny things 9 and 10-year-old boys talk about.  I listened and thought about how fun they are and how great it is that two of those amazing boys’ call me mama.

There are one thousand wonderful things I could say about Hudson.  He’s a thinker and worrier and lover and justice seeker and losing Everett jolted him to his very core.  He has grieved so hard and is still grieving.  He has been forever changed in a way I never wanted for him, but this kid is fierce and strong and his love for his people has forged forward and tears me apart in the most wonderful ways.  He teaches me and grows me and makes me a better person.  He’s just a freakin’ gem.

So happy 10th birthday Hudson Hall!  We’re here just watching in pure amazement as you live your life with such loyal love and bravery.  We’re the luckiest!

Bible Journaling Class THIS Saturday!

Hi!  I have been quite MIA around these parts, but there is just too much going on to keep up with lately.  Leo has doctors’ appointments almost every weekday and I feel like I’m seeing how grief has taken quite the toll on my own body so this has left not much time to sit down and write…or for much else.  We’re pretty much all doctors, all the time right now.  #sucko

We do only have a couple of appointments this week so I’m hoping to write a little more, even if it’s lame-o random things, I just like to sit and write when I can.  I did want to stop in quickly today and share about a Bible jounaling class I will be teaching locally this Saturday morning.  I really meant to share before now, but my brain and body are shot, so, meh!  You can CLICK HERE to get all the details.

Very honestly I have not read my Bible nor journaled in my Bible for a very, very long time.  I don’t really have a lot of words to say about that or even know how to try and explain it, but I’m still figuring things out and that’s okay.  I do think this class is good and valuable if you are someone who likes to be creative and wants a different approach to the whole Bible journaling craze.  I never was able to retain scripture until I started reading the Bible through this creative approach and I was shocked at how it made me love reading the Bible and helped me retain it in a way I was never able to before.

If you are interested in taking the class, but cannot attend, you can purchase my full online class HERE.  All money from the class right now is going toward our ever growing pile of medical bills.  Whoop whoop!

 Okay, that’s it for today.  Just wanted to make sure I shared with you about this Saturday’s class.  Hope to see some of you there!

8 Things

1. These two.  Gosh, these two.  Aunt Jen and Winter.  They are insanely sweet and Winter knows she will always get all the love and attention and tic tacs from her Aunt Jennifer Lee who’s her namesake.  I love watching them love each other…it’s quite sweet!

2. He’ll be 10 tomorrow.  Another Kelley kid moving into double digits and we seriously love watching Hudson grow and change and be his full self.  He is funny and kind.  He is strong and empathic.  He is a lover and a fighter.  He often comes over and gives me random hugs and reminds me yet again I am the luckiest.  Quit growing man child.

3. For Amon there is nothing much better than his friends.  He thrives on time with them.  Then when his bestie also has a Power Ranger’s suit, his mind is blown.  Watching these three play and run and pose was simply amazing.

Bonus:  When I caught on camera Amon accidentally hitting Winter in the face while trying to rise into an eagle pose.  Hahahahahaha.  🙂

4.  We keep a basket of Everett’s photos on our coffee table.  Everyone looks through them all the time.  They are well loved and a lot of them are bent and worn and sticky.  Sometimes the photos are moved around the house.  Lately Amon has been pulling photos from the basket and sitting them around him while he plays.  I will forever be grateful for how all our children remember Everett and keep his sweet memory alive.

5. The sky renews my hope.  Over and over again.

6.  They make me want to be a better person.  They push me to look beyond myself.  They remind me daily of what truly matters.  They take my mind from grief and push it towards joy.  They make me laugh all the time and drive me bonkers.  They are my greatest honor.

7.  Last weekend was Josh Kelley’s birthday.  He is my most favorite human being on the planet.  Josh is humble and hilarious.  He is constantly picking us up when we are down, he pulls us out into the sunshine on days when we want to hide away and he makes us laugh crazy hard.  I am beyond thankful for his kind, witty and strong self.  We’re the luckiest to have him as ours.

8.  And just a little over 6 years ago…the day before Josh’s birthday…we sent Amon into surgery to have his broken little heart repaired.  We handed him over to Dr. Christian and her team and held onto hope like crazy.  Dr Christian gave Josh the greatest birthday gift that year.  After almost a month in the hospital we finally walked out with Amon and his beautifully patched up heart in our arms and that will never ever be lost on us.  I have the deepest gratitude for this boy and his incredibly special heart.

Around Here

Hudson and Solomon are dreaming up their own Youtube channel which they have fondly named Dude Almost Perfect…not infringing on any copyright laws at all. 🙂  They’ve been filming their videos and they’ve designed their logo.  Hudson made a rough draft and then got their cousin Meiya to do the final draft on a cardboard skateboard cutout.  Fiesta with a baseball bat riding a skateboard and I love it.  I love how they want to incorporate little pieces of Everett in so many things they do.

I am loving the tween time with Harper.  She is funny and fun and kind and creative and not too cool for her parents.  Recently she and some friends covered our entire sidewalk in the most amazing colorful designs.  Sidewalk chalk forever.

While I’m declaring some things for forever, I’ll add licking beaters forever!!!!  Leo on the counter with a beater of cookie dough = love forever and ever and ever!  The end.

I was playing UNO with Amon and Winter the other afternoon and snapped this photo.  I feel like it truly embodies what life is like with the 3 of them…such an accurate depiction. 🙂  Smiles and chaos and excitement and screaming and some angst.

When Leo falls asleep at the table Josh Kelley and I always try to be ready…with our cameras.  When he finally jolted back awake he was left with crumbs stuck to his forehead.  He makes me heart sing in a bazillion different ways.

Fall is officially upon us and we are very much ready for it. We’re thrilled to see the heat and humidity disappear and the cooler temps and fallen leaves and Walmart mums and pumpkin shaped candy corn and Peppermint Patties appear in their place.  It’s my favorite season and I couldn’t be much more excited about it.  Let’s do this Fall!

  It’s been dreary and raining all week.  We’ve only had 2 doctors appointments which is amazing feeling.  We dropped one specialist for Leo, but then added an additional one this week.  Meh.  He is working so hard and we could not be more proud of his hard work and resilience.  With a chill-ish week Leo and I have gotten our legit snuggle on, spent time with Meredith, made birthday plans for Hudson, baked banana bread and cookies, watched the new This Is Us (OH MY GAH!!!!) and then hashed it all out with Leah, scheduled more doctor’s appointments and then snuggled some more.  Crazy thankful for this time with him…not a minute of it is lost on me.

When Things Suck

I know it’s Tuesday, but this week has already been heavy and hard.  Yesterday straight up sucked!!!  Like shit city.  I let life suck the joy and will right out of me.  I feel like we just stay in this state of hard and exhaustion is our normal now.  It feels like things are getting harder before they will get better and that’s life…I get it…things could be worse.  This morning I woke up after a really hard, long night.  Leo was acting off and Josh and I we’re sure something serious was going on.  One of the hardest things about Everett’s death is that I think about one of my kids dying every single day.  And not because I worry…I’m not a worrier at all, but because now we visit one of our children in the cemetery… that’s our reality.  There is so much of this life that is out of our hands and when your child dies it’s this GIANT reminder of just how little control you actually have so death crosses my mind about at least one of our children every.single.day.

I’m determined today will be better.  What little control I actually have I’m fully extending today to keep myself afloat.  I’ve made myself keep moving through the tears.  I’ve eaten some chocolate.  I made a smoothie.  I stared at Leo all googly eyed.  I finally paid some medical bills.  I took a shower.  I’m drinking lots of water.  I’m eating good foods.  Great music is blaring all day long.  And now I’m sitting down to write.  I’m choosing joy because when I examine things more closely how could I not.

Today I’m picking out things I’m crazy thankful for…the deep and shallow…because gratitude in the midst of sorrow is empowering and meaningful and life giving and can pull you from the darkness.

I’m thankful for trusted people who can directly connect with my kids in ways I cannot.  I will never be everything they need…which is insanely hard because I want to be everything they need…and we have kiddos with hard beginnings and more trauma and loss than most of us will see in a lifetime.  When I see special connections with others outside of Josh Kelley and myself I am grateful in a whole new kind of way.  After our last party, I noticed this sweet little drawing Aunt Becky had done, I snapped a picture and smiled deep.  Gratitude for all the little and big ways others love and connect with our kids.

Josh snapped this photo of Leo and me and I love it.  Not the best lighting and I’m not looking my finest, but that look in my eyes is one I love and recognize…one of love and pure smittenness and honor to mother these amazing kiddos.  I’ll tell my kids for all their lives, Josh and I are the luckiest and all 7 of them are my greatest honor and privilege.

Our journal project is helping keep my creativeness from completely disappearing.  Even on days when I don’t journal I’m at least thinking about it…what words to choose, what mediums to use, layouts, how to make whatever happen, etc.  I know I’m a creative person, but I’ve felt lost the majority of the past 2 years and I’m just holding on hoping it doesn’t fizzle out.  These journal projects are keeping the flicker from snuffing out.

(You can see more about this group journal project on my Instagram story highlights.)

I’ve been wanting to give Harper and Winter’s room a little facelift and once Winter’s adoption was final it was the perfect time to do so.  Maybe on the shallow side, but I’m thankful for their sweet space.  Their sisterly love and their Everett rainbow love.  For cripsy white and pops of bright color and bright open windows to let the light in on the darkest of days.

This past Saturday was the heart walk in Nashville.  We have tried to go every year since watching it out Amon’s hosptital window while he recovered from his open heart surgery in 2012.  This year we had soccer games so Leo and I picked up a heart ballon for each of our brave heart warriors on Friday afternoon to represent for Saturday.

Saturday morning as I watched Amon run his little heart out I was overcome with such immense gratitude for his life and Everett’s and Leo’s.  Overcome with gratitude for all their specialists and doctors and surgeons who have chosen hope for each of them.  I really wanted to go to the heart walk this year.  With losing Everett and Leo being home I wanted to be there to walk and represent 3 of the bravest boys I know, but instead I cheered Amon on.  I watched him run up and down the field going as hard as he could.  His heart isn’t perfect, but it serves him well.  He has to self regulate and he’ll need another surgery at some point, but Amon gives it 110% and nothing seems to slow him down.  Crazy grateful for our 3 heart guys and the way they have battled and fought.

And I’m thankful for how far Leo has come and each day we have together.  It’s hard because he has now been with us longer than Everett was with us.  It seems broken and crazy and unfair.  And yet, I’m grateful for every second and all the leaps and bounds he’s taken to bond and attach and trust us as his forever family.  He now has a whopping 7 specialists…which is insane feeling, but we’re working and fighting every day for answers and the best for Leo.  We want the answers he deserves and we’ll fight like hell for them.  Leo is joy!  He loves so big and he has seriously changed so much and we all just beam with pride over his life and his love and his fight.  Gah, we adore him.

(April 2018)

(September 2018)

Camp Create 2018

Last Tuesday I hopped on a plane and headed to Kansas to hang with two of my most favorite women ever…Kimberlee and Meg!!  They run this crazy amazing Camp Create where women from all over can come and create and learn and rest and eat and feel seen and it is by far one of my most favorites places.  When they ask me to come to the craft house, I’m all, “Ummmmmm, yes, of course.  Are you kidding me??!?!  No brainer.”  It’s the best job EVER!!!!!!

It is fun and relaxed and the ladies create all day long….from morning to late into the night, but they can also sleep late too or take a nap, eat Kimberlee’s most delicious food, shop for amazing junk treasures, share and chat and laugh.  It’s an incredible time all around and the main reason is because  Kimberlee and Meg are legit good, like really really good at hospitality.  They make you feel seen because they choose to really see you.  When you hear there’s room for everyone around the table, they mean it.  I absolutely love that because they are everything they portray on the internet world and even more.  And that is refreshing!!!

The group of ladies who attended this camp were amazing.  They were loud and kind and inclusive of everyone there.  They shared openly and honestly.  They laughed and cried with each other.  It was such a genuinely sweet group of ladies and I was totally honored to be among them and hear pieces of their stories.

On our first night all together, shortly after arriving, my new friend Shelly walked over, hugged my neck and whispered in my ear, “I’ve been wanting to do this for the past year.”  Instant tears in my eyes and gratitude in my heart because there’s nothing like knowing our son is remembered and thought of by others.  Nothing.  And she chose to share that hug and her words with me.

Kimberlee’s food and the creating always top my favorite parts chart.  I loved listening to Megan Wells teach us how to create her funky florals.  I learned so much from Megan on several different levels.  When I picked her up at the airport, that was it, instant friends.  Megan is kind and funny and real and creative and honest.  I loved hearing about their foster journey and her business.  I loved seeing into her heart and felt so honored to get to know her, wash dishes with her, create along side her and eat peanut butter M&Ms by the handfuls with her.

I taught everyone how to create these crazy fun rainbows inspired by Mandi Smethells’ insane creativeness.  I LOVED teaching this and even more so, loved making more of them.  I thought of Everett the whole time.  Creating is a deep part of who I am, but since Everett died it has been  pushed to the side to make room for a whole list of things our kids, Josh and even others need from me.  And it is still pushed to the side to make room.  I know this is a season, but sometimes I feel like I’ve lost my creativeness altogether.  Never in my life have I done anything harder than being there for our children…walking this everyday journey with them…after losing their little brother.  While there’s not another place I’d rather be than helping my kids along this path, hard as hell feels like a light and airy description for a family of 7 grieving altogether.  Having this time at the craft house to create felt sacred and special to me.

When your child dies everything changes and everything gets harder…at least it did for me.  Things that used to be fun and nice aren’t anymore and your relationships with people change and are very different in general as well.  Holidays, special events, trips, work, hobbies, basically everything just feels harder than before and you re-learn how everything is going to work now.  With all those factors I’ve experienced plenty of highs and lows around life events the past 14 months.  I would work them up in my head and then be sorely disappointed and sad about the way they played out.  I’ve learned to try and go in expecting nothing from the actual event or the people I will be surrounded by.  The night and afternoon before leaving for Kansas I had moments of anxiousness and sadness.  Home is my one sure fire safe place so it’s always a bit hard to leave.

Let me tell you, this trip ended up being exactly what I needed.  A little break from the hard of our life.  I told my friend Sherry recently I’m always afraid we’re too much for others…we’re too hard, we’re too jaded, we’re too sad, we’re too loud, there are too many of us, we’ve got too many problems, we’ll eat too much of your food…seriously, all the too muches.  It’s always in the back of mind wondering when a friend or family will realize I’m too much or our family is too much and bail.  Kimberlee and Meg never make me feel like too much.  When Kimberlee tells me I’m her favorite person to feed, besides her husband 🙂 , I believe her and take it has the highest compliment.  They are both dear friends and when we hug, it feels like my Mom’s hugs did.  They have created a safe place for ladies to feel so loved and cared for and that’s exactly what they did for me yet again.

On one particular night at the craft house I missed Everett just so desperately.  Grief is like that and you are not in control of when it decides to show up in super intense waves versus more controllable ones.  I went upstairs and sat in Meg’s bathroom floor and sobbed.  It was one of those moments when I missed him so desperately I felt like my desperation could literally will him back.  I know that might sound nuts or crazy, but it’s my mama’s deep grief.  Desolate, desperate, insane and the most intense of feelings.  I finally picked myself up off the floor, wiped my face off and headed back down.

That night I went to bed really late, hanging and helping out, but still carrying the weight of how much I miss and need my son back.  I moved quietly through our dark room trying not to wake Kimberlee and Megan and in the dark I saw this little gold E sitting on my bedside table.  Meg told me earlier she had something for me and I knew instantly before she’d left that night she had placed that little E on my bedside table.  I held it in my hand, took the deepest breath and felt seen.  I want to do this for others.  I want to be the type of person who knows how the simplest of actions or words can make a persons deepest, loneliest part of their soul feel seen.

When Saturday rolled around the house started packing up and heading out to all their different states and homes.  I was excited to see Josh and the kids, but I truly had such a lovely time.  I left feeling lighter.  I left feeling loved.  I left knowing there are women who want to legitimately be a part of my hard story.  I left knowing I wasn’t too much.  And for all of those reasons, that is why I will head back to the craft house for Kimberlee and Meg’s hugs and friendship any chance I get.

If You Need Us…

The Kelley kids took the past year off from all extra curricular activities.  We all just needed a break and zero commitment after Everett died.  We needed zero strings attached and we needed not to have to be anywhere at a certain time.  Grief keeps you feeling crazy and the last thing we needed was to try and run ourselves ragged with kid activities, so we took a break.

When we started talking about maybe doing sports or something again, Winter mentioned wanting to play soccer and soon everyone wanted to play soccer.  There were a few boys on the fence about soccer or baseball or flag football, but in the end soccer won out.  In my head this was amazing.  Never ever ever has everyone wanted to participate in the same activity and I thought this would make life smooth and easy.  Ummmmm, well, nope.

We didn’t really think how this would mean 5 kids on 4 different teams which meant 4 different practice times 2 times a week and 4 different games every Saturday.  We pretty much live at the park, but also quickly learned we would choose to skip practice when it becomes too much.  We remind everyone this is supposed to be fun…kids soccer is not our life.

Like everything for us, it took a trial run to figure out what we were doing right and wrong in surviving so many Saturday games and week day practices.  This past Saturday ran much smoother now that we’ve got a better handle on things.  Our kids also totally feed off our moods and the first Saturday of games Josh Kelley and I were fried and annoyed and done!

Perfect example:  For Winter’s first game, she literally would not play.  The coach would send her in and she would seriously walk right back off the field.  Then if she actually stayed on the field she would just stand there.  We all sat in the hot heat watching her do absolutely nothing and pretty confident you could see literal steam coming from my head due to my intense anger.

Josh and I had a big talk after our first insane Saturday of soccer games, made some changes to our game plan and the past two Saturdays everyone was in much better moods…including Josh and myself.  For Winter’s game she was a beast on the field.  She scored 3 goals…one a breakaway where she dribbled the ball down the length of the field and scored in the other team’s goal all while the whole crowd was yelling “wrong way” “other way Winter” “turn it around” 🙂 but we counted it because you should have seen her sweet face.  She made a complete 180 and I really think it’s because she could feel that the rest of us were less stressed this time around.

Everyone is enjoying playing and we’re enjoying watching them.  It’s fun seeing them have fun playing a game they really love.  It’s also great seeing their pride in themselves despite winning or losing.  As we walked away from Winter’s game I asked her if she had fun and she said she did.  And then she said, “I feel really proud of myself too.”  And I loved that.  I want them all to enjoy things like this and feel proud of themselves for working hard at something.

So if you need us at any point over the next 2-ish months, you know where we’ll be. 😉