Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Letters to You: The Last One

Dear friends,

This is my 578th post here at Castillo Party of 5...the 578th and final.  When I look back to the first post, I simultaneously feel like that very same girl...and that I scarcely would know her on the street.  The blog has documented five years, three pregnancies and deliveries, 9 little birthdays, and lots of growth stats.  It has captured my turning into a mom with all the awkward phases of stretching in and out of seasons.  The blog was a place I scribbled milestones, favorite sayings and zillions of pictures.  It helped me figure out how I felt about motherhood and hopefully captured memories of what I was like for the littles when they are little no more.  This little corner of the internet has been both good to me and for me.

Now, life has changed.  It isn't what I would have chosen, but God has been so faithful in the midst of all the upheaval.

I know that sounds a little cliche.  A little sterile and oversimplified considering the reality.  The truth is that every day is an emotional paradox.  A seeming contradiction.  There is an intermingling of true joy and great sadness in each day.  I would choose to pick one.  I would choose, if I could, to be perfectly happy or just mourn loss.  But that's not how it works, right?  We live in a broken world of hard things AND God's faithfulness.  His gift of joy in Himself is steady and the manifestations of sin are rampant.  It's both at the same time.  The sadness of this world isn't a thing to that can be escaped...and His presence is faithfully enough to fill up a hurting heart with Himself.  And He's just enough.  Each day.  One day at a time.

Though our life is changing, I am not giving up blogging entirely.  No, I know it's not as though I am writing the next great novel.  It's not as though I am penning new concepts or sketching fresh ideas into existence.  I'm just saying the same things every mother says to her children, albeit perhaps more wordily than others would deem necessary.

It's just that I like it.  I like the writing. I like reading the memories.  I hope the stories will be a good reading for the children one day.  My grandmother has suggested I write a book.  (It always brings to mind all those American Idol contestants who belt out off-key tunes in terrible rhythm and insist their mothers said they have what it takes to be America's next idol.  Ahem.)  I can't imagine what I would write in a book.  Right now, all my muse, knowledge, and content is wrapped up in the three tiny people I am ushering into childhood.  So, I will continue writing but at a new home:

In many ways, things will be entirely the same.  In others, very different.  Whatever I write, don't write, post, link or upload, I'll write all the words I can think of to describe this extraordinarily ordinary life we're building.

Thank you, for all the reading you've done.  (Or for all the pictures you've scrolled past, *cough Travis cough*.)  Thank you for being a part of our lives with your comments.  I am grateful for your kindness and extreme indulgence.  You are welcome in our new home where the words and pictures are never in shortage and the good gifts of joy never hidden.

Thank you my friends.

Love, Teri Lee

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Carter's birthday

Opening his scavenger hunt clues....I have always loved a good scavenger hunt.  Since the prize was a hard-to-wrap bicycle and he is a reader these days...a scavenger hunt seemed just right.  

This picture.  His little self and the kickstand. I just can't even you guys.

I'm really hoping that this is the spark to help Carter learn to ride a bike with no training wheels.  He is certainly still in the process...and my idea may fall flat.  Carter just doesn't jump into new challenges very enthusiastically.  It seemed like a new, big bike with no training wheels would be a good way to market trying a new, hard thing.  So far, so good...but slow.  We'll see how it goes.  I'm not going to even act like those training wheels aren't hidden away just in case :)

Friday, September 4, 2015

Carter's birthday party

Following our tradition of low-key parties on the "in-between years", we had family over the Saturday before Carter's birthday to celebrate.  He had ZERO cares about what we ate.  His only opinions were about what we played, having a cake that involved chocolate and sprinkles, and his own glass of sweet tea.

So he played hard with his favorite people, read to all of them, and blew out five candles.

Carter opened presents that were all so thoughtful...all so perfect for him and consumed far more sugar than he should have.  He ate his favorite snacks and a ham right off the grill.  He ran outside most of the day, and I am fairly certain never put on a pair of shoes.  It was just his favorite kind of day.

To be loved as this guy is just more of a gift than he could ever know.  And I'm discovering...there's just no way to love someone than loving their little ones, you know?  There's no way any one could care for me in a way that speaks to me more than loving my three littles.  There's nothing like it.

For family that drives, shows up, wraps presents, listens to easy-readers being painstakingly sounded out, helps set out and clean up, throws balls, chases runaways, pushes wagons, and wrestles and plays...It's more than I can express.  To know you are loved so thoroughly for so long...what better thing can you give a person just figuring out this world?

It helps foster bravery, I think.  To know there is always a place to helps with the jumping.

Anyway, all my metaphors aside, Carter had a delightful birthday.  Four was such a fun year...I am really excited about getting to know this five year old of mine.  This determined, interesting, kind-hearted guy...

I took this rare opportunity when all the cousins were not napping simultaneously to try to get a group photo.  I hate group pictures of kids.  Well.  I don't hate the picture.  I hate the process.  I despise trying to line them all up, get them all to look, make them all smile...just feels like losing.  But on this day, for whatever reason, I really wanted one.  Everyone pitched in, and the kids were remarkably cooperative.  No one fell, cried, or ran away.  Total win.

These little hams made about fifteen different faces for me on command, and the series would have made such a great video.

I love these littles...and I am so glad cousins are a part of my kiddos' world!

Happy Birthday Carter!  

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Under the Sea

The kiddos and I had been studying ocean life in school for two weeks and were able to go to the Georgia Aquarium at the end of our unit.  

When I plan adventure with little ones, I have found the best plan of action is to generally expect and plan for the worst so that you can be pleasantly surprised by and prepared for lesser twists and turns on the days plan.  As an optimist and planner, this has been a bit of a learning curve for me.

And there was a lot that could go wrong with this trip.  
  • A drive to downtown Atlanta during rush hour.
  • A day full of really great things...and the potential that the boys might just race by them all, more interested in running than observing and talking.
  • Crowds upon crowds this place is KNOWN for.
  • No napping during the day: no further explanation necessary
  • A drive home after a full day.

 Guess what guys?  This day was: idyllic.

Seriously.  I can't even.  I mean, there was this one ride in the car to supper that Ella screamed throughout...but other than that?  Perfection.  Crazy perfection.

They stared at the fish.  Just sat and stared.  Have you ever met my people?  They aren't sitters.  They are loud.  Fast.  Great in any outdoor environment. can be a bit much.

So when they sat in their little matching shirts with their 3D glasses, soaking in a movie with overly loud music, 3D animation, shots of air hitting our backs and bubbles coming down out of the ceiling and NO ONE CRIED from fright but instead LAUGHED WITH DELIGHT?  It was like a little, tiny, super, enormous miracle.  (Samuel did burst into tears at the very end and said, "That was too loud!"  But was over then.  No problem, man.  Done!  Perfect time to decide you don't like it.)

When they followed instructions on all the educational exhibits and quoted facts we had learned the weeks before to passerby's?  Startlingly nice.

When we had the place mostly to ourselves for the morning due to summer being mostly over and it being too early in the school year for field trips?  Amazing.

Ella catnapped in the Ergo and the stroller held all of our stuff in the designated and heavily guarded stroller area (not kidding....there were ropes and numbers and IDs and guards...)  We wandered into the infamous Dolphin Tales show just in time and still found seats.  The boys were so patient and Ella was so laid back.

Sometimes the boys ruin fun things with whining. Sometimes an errant non-napper loses his obedience between the hours of 2 and 3 in the afternoon and never regains sanity until he has had a solid night of sleep.  Sometimes bags get lost or things spill or crowds make the trip feel like a nightmare.  Sometimes all of that happens.

And sometimes, there are days like the day at the Aquarium.  Days of playing and learning that feel like all you hope for.

(They asked to take this picture.  What!?!?  My kids have stranger danger like none other.)

We went through every exhibit multiple times and stayed almost seven hours.  

Our best effort at a group photo...I told the guy who offered to take our picture that the goal was to get all four people in the same frame.  He nailed it. :)

Samuel and Carter got to talk to the scuba diver using a special microphone and speaker system.

We got to see everything...and wondered into several feedings, including the whale shark!

After a full day, the littlest two napped in the car while we drove over to meet Uncle Kyle for a fun supper.  It was such a great way to end the day, and it helped us beat round 2 of rush hour traffic.

By the time we were on the way home, I pulled out the DVD player and Mary Poppins worked her magic for a no-stop drive home while Ella slept and the boys sang along.

Some days include poop in ears, and others poop in armpits.  There are days that involved taking enough deep breaths to hyperventilate and other things that are so hard that you can't find any humor at all.  

But there are also days like the day at the Aquarium.  And I'm really glad to have them to remember.