The Summer That Never Was, Turning Six and Too Much Squash

Every day Facebook pops up these reminders, “Six years ago today…….” Pictures and memories flood back. I see my kids with their tiny round faces or a memory with friends I hadn’t thought about well, since last year when Facebook reminded me.

Some of the things I’ve posted on Facebook (especially in the early years) were kind of dumb. “I’m eating chicken and green beans tonight.” “I went to Target. It was fun.” Who cares what I ate on April 12th, 2010 and duh, Target is always fun. Why did I post about it?

I’ve honed my Facebooking status craft since then.

Then I get some reminders, like the one I got last week:

June 20, 2011

Had a great visit w/ Lil last nite. She thinks were at a hotelLOL They took out all my IV ports and put in a pick line; but its giving me tachycardia. Had 2 xrays and ekg & they may try to move it a little. Not painful, just uncomfortable. But its all good cuz we get to see Lil soon:)

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I get these memory reminders every June and July. It was our crazy summer from 6 years ago, when Henry was born. I sometimes call it The Summer That Never Was.

He was supposed to be born in September. He was born in June.

I was supposed to be in my home town hospital with my family waiting in the next room while Andy and I welcomed baby number 2 into the world. Instead I was 2 hours away confined to a hospital room and spending most of my time in bed.  When I gave birth to Henry, none of my family was there, not even Andy.

 

I was supposed to hold him in my arms when he saw the world for the first time. Instead I was still asleep from the anesthesia when he was born and wouldn’t see him for hours. I would see him later that day but would only be able to touch him gently with my fingers through a hole in his isolet. I wouldn’t hold him for days.

It was like God hit pause on the movie of our life that June. Everything that was normal, routine or familiar just stopped. Everything changed in an instant.

Getting a pic-line put in (which was actually very scary for me) was the new normal. Going two floors down to the NICU each day to see my son and hold him while he was being fed through a tube was now the new normal.

In August, the pause button was pushed again and life resumed. We brought Henry home. The movie of our life began to play again. I left my home at the beginning of that summer not being able to possibly fathom or imagine what our family would go through and learn. At the end of the summer we came home; but now everything was different. I was different.

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Now he’s turning six. How does this happen? How does time slip by so quickly?

This kid, he’s a force. He’s brought me before the Lord on my knees countless times. I don’t think he’s going to live a quiet or subdued life. He’s sweet and compassionate. He has an over abundance of energy. He’s awfully stubborn. He’s loud and can be overly sensitive. He’s smart and inquisitive. He’s the best cuddler. Did I mention he’s stubborn? I want to laugh and cry as I type this.

I love this little wisp of a boy so much. It literally hurts.

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He’s gotten really good at telling jokes lately and he likes to tell us really long versions of his dreams. I’m sure he’s making most of it up. I don’t care, I just like to hear him talk in that sweet high voice of his. He knows every name of every sea creature that ever was. I’m not exaggerating about this.

He gives the best hugs. He still needs naps. He’s want to do EVERYTHING on his own. (I think I’ve already mentioned that he’s stubborn.)

He’s been stubborn since day one at 3 1/2 pounds.

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He tells me I’m his best friend. My heart melts. He’s sentimental, like me.

He loves to go on errands with his dad. One of my favorite things he does is watch Andy through the window when he goes to work at night. He yells, “Bye, dad. I will miss you.” He says that when he grows up he wants to be a cop like his daddy. Heart melts again.

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This summer my biggest concern has been that I planted my squash plants too close together and my garden is being overrun by beautiful yellow summer squash.

What a far cry from our summer six years ago. That summer seems like yesterday and forever ago all at the same time.

I’m thankful for that summer, though. I’m thankful for the way it changed our family. I’m thankful for the way it made me see my Heavenly Father. I see Him as such a good Father. So good and giving us good things. Not always easy things; but good things. I saw Him time and again bring good from bad. Bring blessings from hard places. Bring peace from the scariest of places. Bring joy from despair.

It changed my perspective greatly. It changed me deeply.

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What’s your summer been like? Good, bad? Hard, amazing? Wherever you’re at, it’s where God wants you to be at this moment. Lean into Him for strength. Praise him for the blessings.

Oh, and Happy Birthday, H. We are so blessed to have you be a part of our family. This mama loves you more than you know.

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The Dead Sea, Clogged Toilets and a Spelling Bee Champ

Life is full of ups and downs. Dark days and bright spots. Days when you feel alone and like the worst spouse/parent on the planet and days when you feel like it’s all rainbows and green lights.

When I was in the 5th grade I won my school spelling bee. I remember it clearly. The winning word was puce. More importantly, I defeated a 6th grader. That was a big deal. When I went into the school gym later, the kids cheered for me. That was a good day.

Then there was  hard day when someone thoughtlessly made a hurtful comment about one of my kids and their behavior/character. It was unintentional; but I still went into a bathroom stall and cried. I felt like the absolute, worst mom ever. That was a bad day.

Good days, bad days. We all have them. An amazing day can quickly be followed by a day you’d rather just forget

A few months ago, (Though now it seems like forever and a day ago.) The Hubs left on a  a 12 day trip to Israel. (I say two weeks because it’s sounds much more dramatic than 12 days. ) When your other half is gone and you are parenting solo for that long, there is bound to be some bad days.

Don’t get me wrong. I realize him being gone for 2 weeks is a drop in the bucket compared to those moms who are actual single parents. They do it alone day in and day out, every day. How about those military spouses whose partners are gone for months at a time? I am most definitely not you. You guys are amazing. You are strong and brave. My hat goes off to you.

But The Hubs had never been gone this long and definitely not while we had kids.

So as I said, The Hubs spent 2 weeks in Israel. When the opportunity came up several months ago it was a no brainer. Of course he had to go. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

As the trip drew nearer, I began to get more anxious. I  began to second guess my decision. Why am I such an amazing and selfless wife to let him leave me for two weeks with two kids and two dogs?!? Amazing and selfless were his words, not mine. I was not feeling so amazing or selfless, instead I spent the days leading up to his departure fighting back tears.

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//The Kiss Jar. One kiss for each day dad was gone. When the jar was empty,

dad came home//

The first week he was gone was hard. Just hard. It sucked. The calendar was full of commitments I couldn’t change. There was a lot of running around and finding sitters (or arranging drop offs with their Mimi) and just doing things alone. While the busyness of those days made the days go faster, it made for one stressed mama.

And I just missed his face.

Yes, there was a major meltdown (from child and me); the likes of which we hadn’t seen in quite some time. But what pushed me over the edge was the clogged toilet.

First, let me explain to you how often I deep clean my kid’s bathroom. Not often is the correct answer. Admitting that is really gross; but essential to the story. Well, I decided to clean that bathroom top to bottom. I scrubbed that toilet and sanitized every surface in sight. The floor was mopped and sink shiny.

And then one of my kids clogged the toilet.

And then I tried to flush when I should have plunged.

And then the toilet overflowed.

Thankfully most of the nasty stuffed had been flushed; but this murky toilet water gushed all over my newly cleaned floor.

Earlier that day The Hubs had sent me a picture of him floating in the Dead Sea. (Trust me. I see the irony here.) When I stopped to soak in how truly amazing that picture was and what a surreal experience that must be for him, for the first time I felt jealous. Up until that day I had felt nothing but happy for him.

I was holding down the fort and he was floating in the Dead Sea.

I was on my hands and knees cleaning up poo water and he was seeing and experiencing things I would have loved to see and experience.

The next day was church and though it may seem like it can’t get any worse than wading in poo water, it ended up being the worst day yet. I was just having some bad days.

One week down, One more whole, long week to go.

Monday, though, was a good. day. My girl was participating in the Spelling Bee. We had studied hard, she was stepping out of her comfort zone and we were both excited and nervous.

As we went through several rounds of words I thought, “Why are all the third graders such dang good spellers?”

The group started to thin out and it was down to one boy and my girl. At this point I was beyond proud of her. I knew she probably wouldn’t win and I was just giddy she  had made it this far.

Now don’t get me wrong. I believe in my girl 100%; but this other kid was a spelling machine!! Remember Drago from the Rocky movies? He was like the Drago of spelling. He didn’t hesitate. He didn’t pause. Nothing was stopping this guy.

Did I mention I won the spelling bee in the 5th grade? I loved watching these kids spell. There is nothing like a good spelling bee!

There is something so heart filling about seeing your kids work hard at something and succeed, even if it’s not first place.

She got second place. (There was  no stopping Spelling Drago.) We were both so excited. Her huge smile said it all. I think mine was bigger.

My string of bad days melted away. In fact, as The Hubs return came closer, ( I could count the remaining days on one hand) the days slowed down and got better, easier. I thought, “I can do this.”

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So, I took away 2 pretty big lessons from my short stint as a solo parent.

First- If you think marriage is 50/50 you need to redo the math. It’s really 100/100. Sometimes, it may feel off balance like I’m going 30% and he’s doing 70% and vice versa. The Hubs has been very thoughtful and has been trying to “pay me back” for letting him go. And yes, I needed some alone time and I’ve been on a girl’s weekend since then. But marriage isn’t about keeping score or making sure things are even. He went because it was a great opportunity and he would have done the same for me if the tables had been turned. There will be times when he picks up the slack and does more in our partnership and then there will be times when I will do more. That’s called balance.

Second- I realized how I need to get away and recharge a little more. There are times when “Me Time” seems virtually non-existent. There is nothing like spending 2 weeks without a break to realize that taking some time out for yourself each week (or even each day) is not too much to ask. In fact, it’s essential. I would take time for myself and then feel guilty that I had been gone from the house for too long.

If there is something that brings you joy and fills your bucket, then do it. I’m trying to do that more. What can I give my family if my own bucket is empty?

I feared my post would come off whiny and complaining because yes, we all have bad days and we deal with it. I’m not the only one with kids who melt down, toilets that overflow or have to do bedtime alone.

I guess that’s the point, though. You aren’t alone. If you are having a really bad day or a never- ending string of bad days, you aren’t the only one. There’s another mom out there who is cleaning up poo water, too. It might just be me.

 

 

 

 

Flabby Arms and Taco Salad

Ok, truth here. My first couple weeks of 2017 were not my favorite. I felt tired, impatient, was dragging my feet to start school with the kids, and feeling a general malaise.

There was non-stop rain. Kids and pups had been underfoot 24/7. My patience wore thin.

And then people started to get sick. Blurg!

The whole family, but especially The Hubs and I, had started a plan to eat better. We’d begun to cut out sugar, carbs and soda (Soda gets it’s own category because we are kind of addicted to Pepsi and Mountain Dew.) So my body pretty much revolted against me because I refused to give it all the things it was craving.

I had not been crushing my New Year’s goals like I envisioned. (Good thing it’s only January. There’s time to turn things around, right?)

I wish I was a glass half- full kind of girl. I tend to lean towards the half-empty crowd. I’m working on that. As I said in my previous post, God and I are working on the Worrier that is me!

As you can see, I was already in a funk. I was a prime candidate for negative thoughts and worry to take root.

But one night, a couple of weeks into the new year, God taught me a great lesson about Worry and how our thoughts are so powerful. And it all happened during the 5 minutes it took to brown hamburger meat for a taco salad.

I usually crave a quiet house because I hardly ever have one. Completing thoughts just isn’t a regular occurrence these days. I’m often grasping for simple words like “knife” and “shoe.” I just end up calling everything a “thingie” and somehow the kids and The Hubs know what I’m talking about.

But sometimes, when I do get those quiets moments, they lead to no good. You know those moments. The ones in the shower (That’s where all my most brilliant and worst thoughts occur.) or while I’m folding clothes in the garage. (And no one has figured out where I am yet.) That night my quiet moment happened while I was browning meat for taco salad.

Everyone was occupied (H had fallen asleep on the couch.) and I was happily standing at the stove browning away. As I vigorously whisked my wooden spoon, I noticed how much my arm flesh jiggled. I was taken aback and little disgusted.

“Geeze, my arms are jiggly. I really need to work on that.” Note to Self. “I’m just barely getting started on this healthy eating thing and now I have to work in an arm workout?!?  I can’t even remember the last time I walked around the block. Ugh…. I have so much to do to get healthier!! I’m never going to be able to do this.”

See what I did there? My thoughts spiraled into that deep, dark, defeated place in about 30 seconds.

I then whispered to myself, “Take it one day at a time. One meal at a time. Forget the jiggly arms, for now.”

But it didn’t end with the Jiggly Arms. Then my mind jumped to Little H.

He’d been having a tough time in Sunday School the past couple of weeks. This is not our first rodeo in having “tough days”. We’ve  had lots of “tough days” at Sunday School, Awanas, Target, you name it. But he’d been doing so much better at church. Our first week back at our church’s weekly club for kids (Awanas) was that night.

Inner monologue number two.

“What is going on now? Why won’t he just listen? We are going back to Awanas for the first time after a long break. Maybe I should talk to his teacher and let her know he’s been struggling. He’s been so tired and taking extra naps lately. Is he growing? Is he coming down with something? Should I give the teachers a heads up?”

This is 4 min. and 30 seconds into browning the meat.

I had a choice at that moment: To let the worry take over and try to fix things myself (Just like I had a choice to let the negative thoughts about my arm flesh discourage me from my eating plan.) or to not worry and take things as they came.

Don’t borrow tomorrow’s worry.

Don’t go down that road of “The Worst Is Bound To Happen.”

Maybe H will have a bad night. But maybe he won’t!

I commanded my thoughts to not assume the worst. Yes, I said Commanded. I told the Worrier in me to not try to fix something that hadn’t even broken yet.

I decided to not jump in and talk to his teacher. I just prayed that God would give him a great night or give The Hubs and I wisdom if he didn’t.

The meat was browned at this point and I was adding in the seasoning. I began to set the table and The Hubs gently woke up H and called Lily to dinner.

My mind and my thoughts are the most unruly part of me. They take me from  zero to  freaking out in about 30 seconds.

God has been challenging me to not let worry control me and take me down paths I have no business traveling.

I’m doing a Bible study called Loving God with All Your Mind by Elizabeth George. She talks about taking our thoughts captive. This is a proactive word- Captive. I am going after  and chasing down those unruly thoughts and putting them in their place. It takes effort. It takes work. And more often than not, I fail. But God is so good and His Word is so powerful.  It tells me to focus on what is true.

Philippians 4:8 Finally Brethren, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.

When I read this verse and then actually started to do what it said, I began to experience little victories in this struggle with worry. Most of what I fret over is not true and it’s definitely not lovely. And it wasn’t until I started doing this Bible study and really started to pay attention to my thoughts that I realized how much worry overwhelmed me. I’m an internalizer- big time. It so easy for me to pack those fears quietly down within me without even realizing I am doing it. I know I have so far to go; so I have to read and meditate on this verse often.

But that is how powerful God’s Word is. It sheds light on the dark places and gives us a way to be victorious, to make the right choices.

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You may ask, you got all this while standing at your stove for 5 minutes?? Well, the mind is a powerful thing!

And while my arms are still jiggling away, H did just fine that night at Awanas. He’s still five and  can give Tigger a run for his money. But he did just fine.

 

 

2017, What Changes Will You Bring?

It’s January 1st and the day is just about done. The lights are glowing on our tree with their perfect Christmas glow as only Christmas lights can do. The soft, yellow lights from my Christmas village remind me of how much I love this time of year.

Tomorrow, the decorations come down and the house will feel really empty.

I do love a new year, though. I love to declutter and start again. I love the hope of starting new and doing better. I like to set goals and make big plans. But, honestly, I get a little sad at the start of each new year, too. Excited and sad. It really is a mixed bag!

A new year means my kids get a little older. This is always really hard for me. It also means that I get a little OLDER. I tend to fight change. I usually like things the way they are.

Change is bound to happen, though. God has been teaching me a lot about embracing change lately.

I wasn’t even planning on doing a New Year’s post. One of my goals for this year is to write more and to write regularly. Not necessarily post more on the blog; but write more. I’ve been missing the joy of writing just to write. I’ve been wanting to write without feeling any pressure (which comes only from me) to make it a finished product.

But, today my husband posted something on face book and I knew immediately that I needed to do a New Year’s post. He wrote that New Years is always special for us because we got engaged on the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve in 1999/2000 and at midnight on New Year’s Even 2010/2011, I found out I was pregnant with Henry.

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Yes, I always remember that we got engaged on New Year’s Eve; but I hadn’t realized that 2 of my biggest life changes ever happened on New Year’s Eve.

Those events forever changed my life for the good.

Change, whether wanted or not, is important. While it can be wonderful and wanted; it can also be painful and unexpected. But we all need change. Staying the same and never moving is not a recipe for a happy life.

I get really reflective at the end of a year. I like to set goals for my new year and pick a word that I can focus on for the upcoming year. My word this year is BRAVE. (I’ll post more about that in the weeks to come.) As I reflect on 2016, I can see God changing a lot in me. I’ve been afraid to embrace those changes and He’s telling me to be brave and let go. God has brought new challenges into my life that I have no control over. But He’s in control. My biggest challenge is to not worry and to place every. single. need. at His feet.

Sometimes, being brave means not doing anything. Sometimes, it’s just letting God do his work. Not fighting it, but embracing it.

What will 2017 bring? I have no idea! Whatever sort of change comes in my life and my family’s life, my hope and prayer is to embrace it.

Good- bye, 2016. Welcome, 2017.

 

Happy Thanksgiving:: Eat Lots of Pie

I hope you know that today, you have so much to be grateful for. Your table may have an empty seat this year that was not empty last. Those harsh words or misunderstanding may be still be fresh in your memory. The reality of the bad news you just received may be ringing in your ears.

But, you are alive. You live in a beautiful (though flawed) world. You have a God who loves you so much He sent His to die on the cross for your sins. You have the hope of eternal life.

Life is good. Now go eat lots of pie.

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Sticky Doors:: We All Have Them

 

It’s been a rainy day. It’s quiet and dark in my little writing space. Just the light from my bedside lamp and the gray of late afternoon through my bedroom window.

The only way I can get away to write these days without leaving the house is shutting the door to my bedroom and having a hard and fast rule of “Don’t bother me.” That goes for everyone, even The Hubs.

Once a week. That’s all I ask.

Just one afternoon. And half the time I don’t even get that.

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That’s okay, though. These are the days of being busy with my family, in a good way. Oh, and it’s never really quiet. Except for the very rare occasion that everyone is gone, there is always a low hum of background noise. Muffled through my closed door I hear the T.V., the fridge opening and closing, puppy paws pacing up and down the hallway and that sweet high pitched voice of Little H.

There is no ideal situation for me to write. If I wait for the just the right circumstances, it will never happen. So I take my glorious two hours and then panic.

What if I can’t get out all the ideas that have been bounding around in my brain all week? That great opening sentence for a blog post……what was that again? If I don’t type it out, I’ll forget it. Then it will be lost forever, somewhere in the murky depths of my mommy brain.

Today, though, my thoughts keep coming back to- my sticky doors. Yes. I said sticky doors.

We bought this house in May and moved in June. We repainted, refloored, sanded and knocked down walls. (Okay, one wall. One half wall.) We scraped ceilings and textured. We took every door off it’s hinges to paint them.

3 things happened:

1.) We forgot to take one door down completely. It’s the only brown door in our hallway with 4 other white doors.

2.) Because we were in an extreme time crunch one of the doors, didn’t get a second coat of paint. And it shows.

3.) Our bedroom door sticks, terribly. And I’m wondering if in our haste, we didn’t put the doors back in their proper door frames. Now that the weather has changed, the door has swelled and it’s even worse. It’s painfully loud each an every time we open or close it.

And……

It wasn’t until about a month ago that we realized the hallway bathroom did not have a lock! I mean, seriously? How did we miss that? Right before we had our Open House, we had a bbq and a friend asked me to guard the door while she went to the bathroom. I was puzzled as to why she would ask me to do this. That’s when I discovered we had no lock on the knob.

This was not our first gathering of friends or family at the new place.We had had several of them. No one of ever mentioned it to us. I’m sure they all assumed that we knew.

There is still no lock on the bathroom door and now the door doesn’t latch closed at all. I discovered that this week after I’ve berated my kids about leaving the bathroom door open. Open bathroom door= puppies in the bathroom= toilet paper from the garbage can all over the floor and puppies drinking out of the toilet.

I’m sure they weren’t remembering to close the door but the dogs can simply push the door open with their noses. They know where the sweet toilet water is and they’ll do anything to get it!

This house, like everything else in life, is a work in progress.

It will never be “finished”. Can I get an AMEN homeowners?

When I wait for things to be finished (or what I think will be better) to be happy; happy I will never be.

I’m shooting for contentment in the moment, in the process, in the journey.

My house and it’s sticky doors are a reminder to me that life will always have a sticky door or two. What I don’t want to do is let my sticky doors distract me from all the other great things about our house. I don’t want to let certain circumstances in my life or hard relationships distract me or detract from the things and people that bring me joy.

So, here’s to sticky doors and a trip to Home Depot to buy a new knob for the bathroom door, with a lock!

*I actually wrote this post a couple of weeks ago and I’m so glad to report that we did put a lock on the bathroom door. The door closes shut so our toilet is no longer another water bowl for the puppies. Thank goodness!!

 

Our Gratitude Pumpkin:: Year 3

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If I made a list of the biggest life lessons I’ve learned this year, at the top would probably be this:: Having JOY in life is a choice. ( Actually, it’s a command. I Thessalonians 5:10 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.) Being joyful is a reflection of who I am as Christian to others. It’s a reflection of Christ.

Being thankful and having a constant posture of gratitude is definitely NOT always easy. Like most things, it takes effort and repeated practice until the behavior you want to achieve becomes habit. Being thankful takes practice. Some days it’s easy. Some days it’s like pulling teeth to find something to be thankful for.

I am learning this in my life right now. And while I’m learning this lesson I’m also asking myself, how do I teach this to my kids?

Being an example and living it out for my kids to see is the best way I know to teach them this lesson. But, we  have come up with a fun way in our home to develop the habit of thankfulness – The Gratitude Pumpkin.

It’s just a fun twist on what a lot of people do during the Thanksgiving season. Each day we list something or someone we are thankful for. We write it on our pumpkin. By Thanksgiving our pumpkin is full.

It gives me something to do with one of the 5 million pumpkins I have in the house. Okay, more like 20. Yes, I’m a pumpkin addict.

We got off to a little late of a start this year; but our pumpkin is filling up nicely.

2016

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Only 50% of us were willing to pose for this picture. And you can’t see all of it; but it does say scary spiders off to the left.

 

And here’s our pumpkins from past years.

2015

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2014

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This is actually something new we tried this year. We wrote what we were thankful for on a pumpkin throughout the month of November. We may not do this next year; but it sure was fun.

It’s funny that this was the caption I put with the picture because the tradition actually stuck.

 

How are you developing a heart of gratitude? I’d love to hear other’s ideas of how they are practicing this or teaching it to their kids.