Saturday, November 08, 2014

Riley Family State of Affairs

Keeping up with blogging over the last year has been harder than it's ever been in the last nine years I've been at it.  I can't even remember the last time I did a blog post that had more to do with my feelings and processing than it did the actual event and recording pictures.  But, that too, is worth recording, and it will be remembered that this was a crazy time of my life.

So, I figured it would be a good time to do a general overview of how we are navigating this fall season of 2014.  Let me just sum it up in one massive statement, MUCH BETTER THAN LAST YEAR!

This first descriptions is why-


This collage was put together a couple of weeks ago, when Mikayla and I decided at the last minute to join John up at OHSU for his eye appointment.  Unlike last year, this visit didn't happen because of a catastrophe - it was to fit him for a contact that could radically help his vision.

We ended up having to take the tram down from the main campus of OHSU which was its own adventure and worthy of picture taking.

John's appointment did turn out amazing.  They sampled a contact on him and he was able to read out of that eye and when directed to look out the window in the office hallway was able to see the shingles on rooftops a great distance away and even see them in more vibrant color than his "normal eye".   When he came in to tell us about it, he was fighting back tears of joy.

What we found out after this appointment is that the shape of his "altered eye" is just a mess.  It's flat instead of curve-shaped, and even more than that, the surface is ruddy - which is why when he sees it looks like he's viewing life through that eye out of stained glass.  With this new ocular technology (only available in the last 5 years), they are able to put liquid behind the surface of the contact - press it to the eye...and Bingo -you now have a curved smooth surface in which to focus perfectly!  AMAZING!!!!!

Sadly,  he didn't get to come home with the sample contact- and had to give up that vision for a short time.  December 5th is when we'll return with, undoubtedly, the best early Christmas present he's ever received.  It's quite possible he'll get to 20/20 vision again....what a miracle.

As for the rest of life for him - life is very good.  He's loving the Bible Studies he's in, guys he's meeting with, and the new challenges of marketing development at work.


Oh, this guy.  I don't even know what to say.  I spent Thursday morning angry and even in a bit of tears at him because of his "only mediocre" grades and the lack of effort he made in the final stretch before quarter reports to achieve what could have easily been "very respectable" grades.  He knew it.  He didn't have school that morning, so I was texting him from the trampoline (playing with Whitley) while he was still in bed.  (And, let's just say I wasn't very accommodating to allow him to sleep in on his day off).

But, here's the thing about Brayden, it's easy to be angry with him when you aren't around him, but once in contact with him (when he's trying to earn your favor), it's virtually impossible to hold on to that.  He stood outside of the French Doors leading to the patio (trampoline area) with his hands in a heart shape pressed against the glass staring at me with big puppy dog eyes.  What do you do with that?  I did give him the cold shoulder for perhaps another hour - he really needs to grasp that his academic efforts are important right now and we need to figure all of this out if he wants to get in to the UO - but, somehow, that doesn't seem as all-encompassing of an issue after a while.

Instead, the focus for Brayden has been all about what this picture shows - taken from last night's football play-off game where the theme was "America".  He'd gone with Andrew (on the right) to Goodwill on Thursday to outfit themselves - and it was like a Halloween costume redo all over again.

He's in a "happy place" right now in life - I think he's found a spot in the social set-up of high school that he feels like he really fits - and gladly embraces the role of making people smile with his antics.  With the holidays on the way and no current sport to rob a lot of time (Indoor lacrosse kicks in at the beginning of 2015), he's a pretty happy camper.


Unlike Brayden, Mikayla has had a lot to contend with in regards to sports - and that has been the source of a great deal of stress from her lately.  She just completed her try-outs for Webfoot this week, and spent from Tuesday through Friday agonizing over whether or not she wanted to accept her team placement based on how many tournaments we'll miss between Kaela's wedding/shower and Disneyworld, and her own disappointments of where she was placed.

Ultimately, after a lot of prayer, and a rewarding exchange of emails with the volleyball club director, we said "Yes" to another year of Webfoot.  Basically, if she chose not to play this year, it would be that much harder to continue to play amongst her friends in the future, especially in high school.

On the bright side, she'll be joined on her team with Savannah and Emily, part of the "Four Amigos" that played last year together.  However, Grace and Noah, pictured above, dazzled in try-outs and made a higher team so we won't get to sit on the sidelines with Ann (Brennans) and Kristen (Natts) anymore which is a big bummer.  But, those two really earned it and I'm very proud of them.

In the meantime, she's playing for the community Kidsports program through December, and I'll have to get my act together in a few hours to get her to the first of the average four games a weekend.  In this program, she did make the team with Grace - and will also play with Kenady again.  Given Kenady's soccer and running focus, volleyball is definitely a back-burner sport - but, she was able to (barely) squeak this in her schedule, so they are delighting that, as best friends, they get to finally participate in a sport together on the same team.  (And, I'll get to sit on the sidelines for a while with Jonna -which is priceless too!)

Unlike Brayden, Mikayla aces out in her classes.  They are so different (she's a mini-me academically and Brayden is a mini-John).  She works hard and I let her go at it without a glance at all at her grades online.   While that may sound like the perfect scenario, it comes with its own problems, as everything is 10x more stressful for her when it comes to drama or concerns.  The free-spirit vs. the worrier.  The otter vs. the beaver.  The slacker vs. the responsible one.  Not always, nor an exact stereotype - but, its close.

Which lends itself to the final member of our family....


I thought this was a great pic to put up.  Whitley is literally sitting on my lap watching "Baby Einstein" on the computer while I attempt to get my Bible Study done at the last possible moment.

I feel like my time these days is broken up to these segments of contrasts-

- Time with Whitley, where, if it's just us, and there's not a lot of stimulation, it can seem like time is at a standstill - and I'm sometimes bored (hence all the activities and hanging with Christi/Elsie).

- Time in the evenings where I'm kind of burned out when I should be doing all that I need to to stay caught up - and instead I just zone out with Pinterest on my phone and a tv program John and I will watch together.

- Time in the margins - the mornings especially, where there is "no time", but so much to do, clean up, prepare for, organize... and I can't ever seem to fully get my act together.

- Time that is lost - maybe 3 or 4 days a month, to stupid headache pain.  Either literally in bed - or emotionally as I fight it and try to function simultaneously, but spend the time bitter at life.

- And finally, Time that I want to "Screen Shot" because this is what "life is all about" - and I need to just pause, be thankful, and savor every precious moment.

Fortunately, I feel like I've been better at getting to that last segment - sometimes finding it even in the midst of the other scenarios.  I feel like this fall season has been embraced more than any other in life to its fullest - I'm sure all of the farm visits and brilliant weather has contributed.

Participating in a Beth Moore Bible Study with other mature believers, including Christi, and my dear friend, Dawn, has also been a wonderful "grounding" for me.  As have the opportunities (rarer these days) to hang with collegians and post-collegians - and even the opportunity to speak at the Trinity House the week of Halloween as their "Devotional Presenter".  I spoke on our own expectations and how dangerous they can be to our contentment in life.  In many ways, I've realized, that just as WORRYING can be us repeatedly telling God, "whatever it takes, don't let this happen", OVER-PLANNING can be us repeatedly telling God, "whatever it takes, do make this happen".   Both, I've come to accept, can be equally limiting in experiencing fully all of what God wants to do in us that can exceed our wildest imaginations.

I think that talk was probably more orchestrated for myself to hear more than anyone in the room - as I've had to continually remind myself of that day after day.  Expectations of parenting, use of my time, losing weight, what this holiday season should look like - all of it needs to be continually handed over to God for me to ever feel any sense of lasting peace and contentment - and ultimately overlap all of those different time segments I experience each and every day. 

No comments: