Tuesday, December 31, 2013

End of the old, welcoming the new

It’s 3:00 on New Year’s Eve afternoon and I’m sitting here watching my eldest child chase around after her littlest brother. The house is filled with laughter and shouts of glee. It’s a good moment, at the end of this year, to pause and reflect on all the good things about this life.

Yes, there are many challenges. But amidst whatever struggles we face, there is such goodness in the love we share and the ways that three little people in this house are growing and changing each day.

My big kids have certainly grown in compassion and love since bringing their littlest brother home. Yes, they are learning to read bigger words and do harder math problems. They each have their own interests that are continuing to develop, and they also have friendships at school that are forming outside of our family center.

But for all three of our kids, our family and the life of our home continue to provide a solid center for their lives. Learning to live in community, to be kind, to practice tolerance and respect, to take turns—these are the kinds of life lessons all five of us learn together each day. And maybe more important than new words or skills in addition, lessons like these are what make up the fabric of a person.

Each of my three children exhibits their own unique skills. They each have their own challenges. But that’s what it means to be a kid, with the safe harbor of a family to help a child grow and develop. And while it’s sometimes messy and crazy at our house, it’s also just as likely to be hilarious or sweet or memorable.

Maya and Sam with my brother Nathan and their cousin Marielle (11 mos.)

Sam with Marielle and cousin Parker.

Singing carols on Christmas Day.

Matthew LOVING the Christmas tree farm earlier this month

The girl cousins--Maya and babies Marielle and Hayden in their Christmas pajamas

Maya, Parker and Sam show their silly faces
So as I look back on 2013—a year of much change and growth for our family—I know that all the energy and time we invest in our children and our family is worth whatever it takes away from us personally. I certainly do have moments when I wish I had more time for me—to exercise more or read a good book, to hang out with friends or sit in silence. But this is not the season for those things in abundance. Instead, I feel an abundance of heart and life all around me.

And as I look ahead to 2014, I am quite certain that we’ll again spend the same investment in helping these three children learn and grow. Whatever else awaits is one glorious mystery, and this mama is grateful just for this day—for these giggles from my children—and for a deep sense of purpose and place in this home and this life.

Happy New Year. Welcome 2014!

All six Eklund cousins playing the backyard last week

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Our Boy

For a while now, I've been wanting to post a little photo history of Matthew over the past eighteen months that he's been home with us. We've had some fun photos taken by my friend Christi Hardy, who owns PureShots Photography. Here they are below.

Just less than a month home, our boy showed his sweet personality and good sense of humor with a gorgeous smile.

Last November, we hauled all three kids out to the backyard for a shot of all three of them. I absolutely LOVE Matthew's expression here.

That same day this silly mama made all three kids dress up in their Chinese outfits for some pictures inside by the fireplace. Matthew found this squishy yellow toy (I actually think it's a dog toy that my friend Christi brought with her) and was totally entranced. He never gave us an actual smile, but this is certainly a sweet expression. I love those big brown eyes.

This past August, we took the whole family to the Arboretum for a grandparent/grandkid shoot with my parents. Christi had some time to take a few of just my kids alone, and I love how active and engaged Matthew is with his world.

And then finally some shots of Matthew from last month, when Christi came to take our family Christmas photos.

It's going to be a very BUSY and very MERRY Christmas around our house this year, with all of sweet Matthew's activity. We keep telling ourselves, in our exhausted moments, that it's all just a stage and how wonderful it is that he's so explorative of his world. We're at that point where we can't really turn our backs on him for a minute, or he's literally getting into SOMETHING he shouldn't, but I know in retrospect we'll look back and be so GRATEFUL for the ways our boy is developing and growing.

Merry Christmas to all of you--and thanks, as always, for your support, love and care of our family as we grow and learn together.

Monday, December 2, 2013


It was a bit of a weepy morning for this mama as we sent Matthew off to developmental preschool for the first time. He, of course, had no idea what was about to happen, so it was a relatively normal morning for our boy.

At a little after 8, I helped him into his shoes and jacket. His new Cookie Monster backpack fit snugly on his back (thank you, Grandma Russell) and he was all set.

His big brother and sister flanked him as we walked down the steps to the front sidewalk. There was enough time to take a few photos of the kids while we waited.

Matthew and Maya even had time for a short walk down the block and back as we passed the time.

Finally the bus arrived, and we all boarded it to get our boy settled. He wasn’t sure about the car seat, but willingly let me buckle him in and give him one final kiss. Then I climbed back to the sidewalk and we stood there waving as the bus headed toward Hawthorne Elementary.

 And of course this mama cried and cried and cried, long after her boy was gone.

This is such a good thing for Matthew—this developmental preschool experience—but this morning I felt acutely the many transitions our boy has sustained in his short life, transitions he has had NO choice in. While I know that this preschool setting is just what he needs in the next step of his learning and development, for him it was something else that pulled him from his family.

I just got off the phone with his teacher, Miss Debbie, who told me Matthew actually had a really good morning and participated in several of the activities with the rest of the class. She had anticipated things being much harder than they were. I’m excited to know that tomorrow the routine may feel a little familiar, and as the days and weeks go on, the bus ride and the classroom will be part of Matthew’s regular routine.

We made it over another hump with our boy, and it will be fun to see what this next stage of life brings for him.