Sunday, December 15, 2013

Payne-full Struggle...

Tonight I struggle...

i have a few theories which might explain why I cried on the phone to my dad...

The Stomach Bug...
i can't handle when my kids all get sick. It always hits at 10 PM or later. No one over the age of 20 is getting any sleep.  It's so contagious. I rehearse the people who we exposed unknowingly that day. Clorox wipes are expensive, but I use them by the fistful. The agony of not being able to help your child feel better is unbearable. Also I have no clue how to mother after a night of vomiting every hour... Seriously. I'm throw-up hung over and my babies still want fed and changed and dressed all day... What's up with that? 

Day 3 Without Caffeine...
It had to happen. The stomach thing was just a good excuse. But I've heard that caffeine is a mild antidepressant and my children may vote to put me on something less "mild" after seeing my moods lately...

My House Looks Like This...
AfTeR tidying up... I'm serious. I tidied a little. This is the upstairs. I honestly don't know what the basement looks like. I do know I didn't put away the boxes the Christmas decorations were in... I do know the toy room is down there... I do know that I've chucked things over our half-door that belong not up stairs... Like I said, I "tidied up"... 

My High Expectations...
This week was the school play (which Hannah had a role in), and Mic's 6th birthday, and the release of the second Hobbit movie. After a meal out with the older two and a magical Christmas play on Thursday, my Friday was going to consist of a coffee date with dear friend, a school lunch surprise (including the balloon Mic requested 3 months ago), an afternoon showing of the Hobbit with my husband and another dear friend, and complete with celebrating Mic with BBQ chicken, soft pretzels & a new Harlem Shake production... Then I was going to wake up Saturday to a quick workout and party prep until we had a perfect ninja party full of fun and laughing and no one being maimed with plastic swords... So I had a high fall when the stomach flu hit.

The Browns...
It's hard being born and bred to support Cleveland sports... 

Running...
It's been over a week since I ran. I know I'm crazy, but this seriously is bad news for my mental health...

The Pressure...
There's one week left before Christmas break. One week to finish gift gathering, go carrolling, finish wrapping, have a Christmas tea, do some random acts of kindness, host 2 Christmas parties, help at school parties, pack for traveling... All of this while I look at my house & choose to sit and blog... Because that's all I have the energy for...

Two 1-Year Olds...
It's tough. I'm not the only mom to have multiple babies to care for, nor am I the best mom to do so... But it's hard. Maverick is good and healthy and into everything at full speed. Theo is sick... again... Who knows if the diarrhea is from a stomach bug or the month of antibiotics? That kid spits up way too much to know if he too has the flu. How do I tell if his glassy eyes are worrisome or just a side effect of his vaccine? Is his low-grade temp from discontinuing the antibiotic? Or from his little respiratory gunk? Or the infection returning? Sigh. I love all my kids. I can't imagine life without each of them... And days like today I don't allow myself to imagine life without as much crying, snot, spit up, diapers, screaming, meds, messes, teeth, bottles... They need so much, and today, I feel like I don't have enough to give...

Those are some of my theories...
Nothing life-altering (like a preemie baby, loss of family, a house fire, a job loss, starvation, war)... Just a hard weekend. They happen. I need to let my expectations go. I am thankful for many things these few days... Brice (who cares for me and our kids so well), we made it to the play, we had the party (& it was a ninja success), we have four children, we have a house and lots of stuff to fill it, I have good friends and family who care and pray for us... Many good things. But these things don't make my struggle less. Sometimes it's just hard. 
I'm not generically glad it's Christmas time... I'm sincerely gratefully that in the midst of a very crappy weekend (literally) that God is with me. When I'm struggling with just daily life, He's my strength in the minute. When I'm sick, He brings hope for healing. When I'm grumpy, He's the grace to ask forgiveness... He's God and He's here. In the middle of my life... and  I hope He's in the middle of whatever you're in the middle of this season too. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Short hospital stays with a one-year old

I've been blessed incredibly to (previous to November) only have ever stayed in a hospital after the births of three babies. I've been the "patient", but have been healthy, & entertained with a new life and the visitors a new baby brings. So I was shamefully ill-equipped to stay the two nights on my own with Theo after his surgery. I had no idea what to bring and what not to bring. Just in case someone else out there finds themselves in this situation, I jotted down a few notes on what is needed:

Things to bring:
- Toys: my baby was bed-bound & bored. I only brought the chew toy giraffe that hangs from his car seat handle. And by "brought" I mean that thing is always attached to his car seat, so it came with us. It did work well, as I could velcro it to the hospital crib so it couldn't be thrown down on the floor. So bring things that can hook on if your child likes to toss things. 
- Baby Books: There's a lot of still, quiet time to enjoy stories with your baby. 
- Blankets: it's nice to have one of their favorite snuggle blankets since they have to spend the whole time in bed. I also brought a blanket to leave in the car so when it was time to leave I could put a fresh, non-hospital-germ-exposed blanket on him. 
- A lot of pacifiers: Like, everyone you own. So many of them end up on the floor, which, in a hospital, deems them unusable. I could've used three times the number I brought. 
- Toiletries: Toothbrushes for you and your baby, your deodorant, face wash and anything else that helps you feel human. 
- Pillow: If the hospital offers you one, it won't help very much. Bring your own so you can at least lay awake on the fold out chair thing slightly more comfortably all night long. 
- Slippers: That way you don't have to choose between putting your shoes on a million times to leave the room or roaming the hospital halls in just your socks. I hate shoes. 
- Paints: Or another hobby that you theoretically enjoy, but rarely have the time to do (like showering). You've got nothing but time in the hospital. 
- Something to Read: Flipping TV channels is the worst! Apparently "The Bachelor" is still on... That's just sad... I'm too spoiled by our on-demand TV habits to search for something not too mind numbing to watch.
- A Pen & Notebook: I used mine for when I was studying the Bible & to catch up on my "what the kids are doing" journal.
- Nail Polish: I actually had time for it to dry!
- Cards: I wrote this down while I was in the hospital, but can not currently imagine why I wanted a deck of cards??? I actually think I meant greeting or thank you cards, as there was actually time present to jot down how much I appreciate those who mean so much to me. 
- Underwear: Oh, you think this goes without saying? Well, perhaps I subconsciously wanted to ensure the necessity of a Target run. 
- Lotion: Hospitals are very dry and washing your hands and your child with surgical scrub multiple times can tear your skin up!
- Snacks & Drinks: I had great intentions of eating delicious food that's not accessible to me in my small town... Instead I just went hungry between the three meals I managed to escape for in the two and a half days. Since you may have to wait to meet with the doctors for an undisclosed amount of time, having snacks and drinks on hand is smart. Think breakfast, late night, and waiting room snacks. 

Things to leave:
- Diapers: I brought enough diapers to last two babies four days... And the hospital generously provides them. And to a mom free diapers=best diapers. 
- Wipes: The hospital provided these as well! They were gentle, thick, hypoallergenic, and flushable! They even gave us a pack for the road. 
- Jeans: Comfy sweat pants are more than sufficient. I packed a pair of jeans and never once thought that sitting around the hospital would be improved by wearing denim. 
- Running shoes: Again, this is probably common knowledge that parents staying with their hospital-bound children wouldn't be able to sneak in a run...But I brought mine just in case. The most cardio I snuck in was taking the six floors of steps every time I had to go out to the car.
- Pump: Theo was still nursing when he had surgery and had to do two days of I-V or clear fluids only. I actually forgot my pump, and by the second afternoon I was really regretting that. The hospital had an amazing machine & sterile, one-user parts that they offered to me as a nursing mom. They even provided bottles with caps and labels to safely store the milk in their refrigerators. 
- Medicine: Any medications that the child routinely takes (even a multi-vitamin) as well as anything necessary after the procedure are provided & administered by the hospital. 
- Bottles: The hospital took complete care of my baby's meals just as he needed. Including the bottles for his clear fluids two days out. The exception to this would be if you have a child who is extremely particular about what they drink out of. In that case, you'll want to bring what your child will be most comfortable with. 

***Disclaimer: This is simply things that the Children's Hospital provided or didn't provide for us. I would assume that experiences will change from hospital to hospital (especially if you have to bring your child to a hospital which doesn't specialize in children). I hope this list is helpful to at least help you get started packing. Feel free to talk to your surgical prep team, if the hospital stay is being planned, for specifics. 

Anything that other hospital stay parents love to bring or know is unnecessary? Please share your knowledge in the comments below!



Friday, November 8, 2013

Myth Buster

We have all been lied to.

Consistently and repeatedly.

Catchy little phrases that almost sing-song in our minds try to sway our mental powers to succumb and accept a fallacy as the truth.

But not today.

i'm here to challenge this bold faced lie...

Weebles do fall down.

That's right, Weebles, much like all other objects of mass, are subject to gravity. Sure, they're designed with marvelously round little bottoms that are weighted in such a way to keep them from tipping over, but they still fall down. If you don't believe me you can ask Theo... who may or may not have been victim to a Weeble air strike initiated by the large, toddling one. If Weebles somehow had the superpower to only wobble and never fall down, then my toes would be perfectly safe from the threat of those heavy little creatures falling out of one of the 7 secret hiding spots in the Weeble tree house that i'm simply trying to put away... chubby little ninjas. And for the record, gravity also applies to that large Weeble tree house. Maverick (who is obviously freakishly strong for a 14 month old) proves this daily as he wanders around the living room carrying said tree house.

So no more buying the lie! No more repeating the catchy genius marketing chant of "Weebles wobble but they don't fall down." They DO fall down. If you would like to cheer Weebles as having the ability to wobble but not tip over, by all means, go right on ahead. For that is fairly accurate.

After all, why are we as a society placing such a burdensome expectation on these brightly colored figures? Why is not falling down something to celebrate? As a parent i think it would be kind of frustrating to new walkers if their toy were to somehow resist the fall that they took while carrying it. Weebles would be levitating, smiling-faced taunters to all children learning how to walk if they in fact never fell down.

Falling down is a necessity. If we allow ourselves to wrongly think that Weebles have reached the level of never falling down, we may start to expect the same for ourselves and others. This would be tragic. For how could our babies learn to walk? How could dances be perfected? How could the sport of diving or pole vaulting continue? Fear of falling would make soccer players dull and diminish tackling to a long, pointless game of chase, where no one is running too fast to risk it. Baseball jerseys would stay clean, circus acts would never be attempted, jousting would disappear, and no one would understand the game of rugby. (OK, that last one may not have anything to do with falling... rugby is borderline impossible to understand.)

And how harmful would this standard of perfection be if it were translated into more than just physically falling? Can you imagine if we all decided that wobbling in our thoughts, emotions, words and character was acceptable as long as we never fell... Expectations like this would eliminate our freedom to confess, increase hypocrisy, encourage escape instead of dealing with our actual struggles... And that would be terrible.

For if we can't fall then we can't
be broken...
be humble...
confess...
mourn...
be weak...
be weary...
be undeserving...
be contrite...
worship...

... and therefore we miss out on the blessings of
being close to God (Psalm 34:18)...
being lifted up by God (James 4:10)...
being forgiven (1 John 1:19)...
being comforted (Matthew 5:4)...
experiencing the power of God (2 Corinthians 12:9)...
finding rest for our souls (Matthew 11:28)...
receiving salvation through grace (Ephesians 2:8-9)...
repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10)...
laying what we have at the feet of Jesus and receiving all of Him (Revelation 4:10-11)...

... and what is life if we miss all that?

So let us free the Weebles from the torture of the expectation to never fall and may we find the grace to join them in that freedom.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Giving thanks

November is such a wonderful time! Fall weather... Family gatherings... Yummy food... Thankful posts on Facebook...

If you have participated in this 30 day thanksgiving posting and have, by chance, witnessed any lack of love, you just hold your thankful head high and soldier on. We all need a lot more thanks to be given. Facebook could always be improved with some positive vibes. I may personally scan past your postings... But I'm thankful for my thankful friends. 

The scanning happens more because if I've already read a thankful post or two, then I've already read the rest. We are thankful for our family, children, pets, home, freedom... And should voice such thankfulness more often than we do. But since those things have already been spotlighted (648 times this month) Here's a list of random things that I'm thankful for that you probably haven't already seen on your newsfeed...

- My eyebrows:
My face would look very strange without them. Also they're not too bushy and naturally lay in the same direction (a necessity in my book). I've never had to experience a brow wax. I'm thankful for that. 

- The pickling process:
I join cucumbers in singing the praises of adding veggies to incredibly salty water. 

- Salad dressing bottles with squeeze lid openings:
These save my salads from being drowned in a ranch avelanch. There's not enough lettuce left over to recover after I wrongly assume there is a squeeze lid when in fact there is not...

- I was born after toenail clippers were invented:
I'm trying to not imagine grooming practices previous to these silver hand-held helpers started being mass produced. 

- Bumbo seats:
The single apparatus that has allowed Theo to sit upright for the last 6 months. 


- My husband is bald:
He's seriously handsome with a bald head. 

- The Harlem Shake
This viral phenom is completely entertaining. The song is amazingly catchy. The creative group productions are hilarious. And the Payne Family version makes me laugh harder every time I watch it. If I can figure out how to attach a video y'all can witness the awesomeness... 

- I've never experienced air bags going off: 
Think about it for a moment. It's terrifying.

- The movie "Clue" was in the $5 bin at walmart:
Just buy it. Go to walmart, pay the $5, now you're thankful too. 

- Digital music: 
No more storing 639 cd cases and the ability to shuffle music from my entire collection... Yes. 

- The ability to connect to the internet silently:
Remember that dial-up sound? I'm thankful it's just a memory. 

- I outgrew the fascination with toe lint I had as a child:
I don't claim to understand it. I'm just glad I no longer have to check between each toe before I fall asleep each night. 

- No one has to follow the parking rules in our Kroger parking lot:
I'm not sure why, but this MuSt be true. There's no other explanation for what happens in that parking lot.

- Apple products:
They're seriously great. Regardless of what car taggers may think...

- People who will tell me they don't like my hair:
Whether it's Mic stating that my hair looks "more beautifuller without that circle thing on my head" (referring to my ponytail), or my husband who is honest about his favorite hair color on me... I'm so thankful that I have people who's compliments I can always trust because they tell me what they don't like as well. 

-This balloon:

- The lack of dress code for the stay at home mom occupation:
This may be my number one love of my job... Of COURSE I mean after my children... It's just that my sweat pants never whine or need their food cut up into smaller pieces...

- Down syndrome:
God definitely showed off His creativity with the addition of the 47th chromosome. Just amazing. 

- That I was out of high school before the invention of social media:
We recently looked through our old yearbooks. I'm very thankful that I could put all those awkward pre-teen photos back into a box...
(You're welcome for that laugh)

- Saltines:
These delicious, addictive salty crackers cost less than $1 for a huge box and are perfect to eat anytime. What other food do you desire the same 24 hour period after puking?

- How lilacs smell:
Just imagine it... Sigh...

- Super hero masks:
Making my life always interesting. 

- My In-Laws:
Be jealous. I get along as well with my husband's family as my own. That's something to give thanks for. 

- Teenager's love of ugly boots:
It's not that I understand all the styles out there, it's just that I love that I can wear big, clompy boots with my sweat pants when it's cold and wet outside and no one cares... (Expect maybe my fashion aware spouse...)

- Double Stuff Oreos:
What need is there for the normal-stuff Oreos now?

- The 3 people who actually read this whole list:
Thanks for your support and interest in what I have to say. I truly enjoy conveying it all. 


Friday, October 25, 2013

1 year of Home...

Today we celebrate 
  With small bites of solid foods...
By rolling around the floor to get toys...
    Fitting 9 month clothing...
 Sporting the faux hawk...
By singing, and cooing, and blowing zerberts...
   With big, face-grabbing, mouth-open kisses...
      Taking 15 minute naps...
 In cloth diapers...
    Weight bearing in the exersaucer...
Amidst breathing treatments for mucus management...
     Wearing the tuxedo onesie...
 Swinging in the big outside baby swing...
Attempting to crawl...
    Still leaking from his belly...
  Sharing smiles that melt will melt your heart...

Seven specialists...
Countless expert nurses... 
Five therapists...
20+ shots...
5 daily medicines...
4 internal tests...
365 days of nursing...
Three X-rays...
47 chromosomes...
An army of nursery volunteers...
8 months with a G-tube...
9 months without oxygen tubes...
3.7 months of helmet use...
6 teeth...
5 states visited...
3 days of successful glasses wearing...
Four jogs in the double stroller...
5 days until the finalization date...

1 YEAR of home!!!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It's Not a Competition

Let's just stop.
Stop the comparing, measuring, devaluing, hiding, nagging, judging, punishing, berating...
After we are done with all that... let's begin to deal with how we treat others.

For, while i do not know about you, the meanest things i say each day are not heard by another person. i actually probably wouldn't speak to an enemy the way that i speak to myself...
(Please feel free to comment below if you are an enemy of mine and have an opinion about this.)

For what is it benefiting us? Does anyone have some amazing story of freedom and victory that has emerged from your harsh, hate-filled view in which you see yourself? Is someone's life better from always measuring themselves against others? (Again, please share in the comment section if this is your experience.)

Because it's not working for me. There's always someone prettier, faster, more artistic, a better writer, more natural of a mom, stronger, more in love with Jesus, smarter, more creative, a better cook, funnier, more patient... than i have deemed myself to be. i try harder... but just find myself more tired and anxious. Whatever "improvements" i'm actually able to make i both refuse to accept and grow intensely terrified of losing.

All of this over invisible competitions where i participate as creator, competitor, trainer, coach, judge, and the sole spectator. Never the winner.

So let me be brave enough to state these simple, logical truths...

Pain is pain.
There is no standard of physical beauty to which we all fall on the sliding scale of...
A good dancer enjoys moving to music uninhibited by fear of those who may be watching...
A child's behavior in a moment does not define that parent...
Accomplishment is not relative. If you struggled through a challenge and did not succumb then you should celebrate...
Labor is hard.
Fear sounds terrible in a singing voice...
We get only one body. Hatred and wrong treatment of this body is to no good end...
Trying and failing is a vital part of growth...
Mirrors lie...
The beauty, talent, ability, etc of someone else does not fade your beauty, talent, ability or life...
Babies grow and develop at different rates...
Discipline determines how you will react... it does not take away the child's choice to misbehave...
Loss hurts.
The differences in trees make the forest gorgeous...
Marriage is two imperfect people being joined into one huge mess of a family...
No one can control when or how a baby grows, rolls, talks, gets teeth, walks, pees in a potty...
Tired is tired.
Running only for first place will leave you disappointed...
Doing more than you did before is an accomplishment...
Feeling fear is a necessary part of having courage...
Grades that your child brings home do not reflect your intelligence...
Your spouse can see your faults as clearly as marriage shows you theirs...
Clean does not keep...
Parenting is gut wrenching...
Even the models don't look like the pictures in the magazines...
You can't be a good enough athlete, student, or christian to make your offspring into the same...
Art is defined by each individual...
Keeping going through what is hard is strength...
Someone has it worse... this does not diminish our need to deal with the hardships in our lives...
Someone has it better... this does not diminish the joy we should celebrate in our lives...
Perfection is not an option.

Let's all breathe that in for a minute. Let's strive to silence the voice of lies that constantly whisper in our ears and scream at us from society. Let's refuse to continue needing to be the most injured, the most tired, the most perfect in order to feel justified in being who we are.

Let us stop... but not be so foolish to think we can change in our own power. i'm committing to listen to the One who is Creator, and Judge, and Perfect... and actually accepting what He says about me.
For God has called me
loved (1 John 4:19)
precious (Isaiah 43:4)
beautiful (Psalm 45:11)
shinny (Phil 2:15)
imagined (Jer. 1:5)
forgiven (Isaiah 1:5)
empowered (Colossians 1:11)
desired (Psalm 45:11)
royal (1 Peter 2:9)
treasured (Deuteronomy 26:18)
His (Isaiah 43:1)...
What imaginary title could i possibly earn that would satisfy more than these? Why would i choose to keep striving on my own against those around me? i want to claim the victory of peace with God so that i can claim that same peace with myself and watch the competitions disappear around me
into true relationships.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Little Warrior Payne

Today I realized...

I was tired...
   Of being covered in spit up...
    Of concocting meals of just the right consistency to both challenge him to chew and yet not choke him that contain high calories, protein, fats, carbs & vitamins that won't make him even more constipated...
   Just to have said "meals" leak out of his button soaking his shirts & pants & seat & me...
     Of applying silver nitrate to his button bump just to see it bleed through his onesie but not seeing any difference in said bump...
   Of the crying...
     Of fighting to keep his hand out of his throat...
 Of remembering to give all of the medications he needs throughout the day at just the right intervals...
   Of wrestling him into submission to take said medicine...
  Of finding another sitter for the other baby for another doctor appointment...
    Of changing his wet outfits 5 times a day...
 Of teething...

Then the Holy Spirit tenderly opened my eyes to see what was right in front of me...
Theo...
  That it was his meals that were leaking and erupting from his little body...
    His skin that constantly feels damp...
   How much effort he has to give for everything he does...
  That his stomach must feel so strange emptying from so many directions...
     That grumpy is acceptable when constipated...
  His little gums must be so sore from working on breaking teeth through...
   How frustrating it must be to be denied his favorite self-soothing technique...
  He's the one tasting all the yucky medicines...

And yet he smiles... So much more often than he cries. 
He works SO very hard... Everyday. 
He giggles and wiggles and hugs. 
He faithfully takes in food... regardless of how it may exit his body. 
He tolerates my bad moods and irrational grumpiness... And still lights up when he sees me. 

He's constantly fighting. Every minute of every day. To grow & learn & function. He handles being in the thick of it all so much better than I handle my front row seat to his battle. He displays so much strength and grace and joy regularly... That the occasional grumpy spell is well earned. And I am blessed to be given such a close-up view. For here I get to cheer, and challenge, and assist, and pray over, and witness him. And it's true that this seat is currently in the "splash-zone" of stomach contents and medicine spills... But it's so small in comparison to all he feels and battles and will overcome.  

So while there are days where I will feel tired... I am learning from my baby how to handle struggles a little better along the way. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Dear Princesses...

There are a few things i think you should know:

1) i'm talking to you. 
Yes, you. God Himself dreamed you up from an infinite amount of possibilities and put skin on you. He paid the price that you couldn't pay so that you could be a part of His royal family. One of His daughters. He's already accepted you, and when you receive that acceptance for yourself, you become a princess... You who are riding on the homecoming float, and you who are hiding under the bleachers. You are a princess. You who are currently admired and celebrated, and you who feel forgotten and lost. You are a princess. Regardless of how you look, how you feel, how old you are, how sick you are, how much you laugh or hide or cry. No matter how you imagine other people view you... or how they actually do... You are a princess. 

2) Get to know the King.
After all it is Him who has made you a princess. Don't assume that what others have told you about Him is enough. You are His daughter... know Him for yourself. For if you do not know God, then you will not know what good even is... for we are all insufficient at determining good. If you do not see Jesus, then you will not be convinced that He loves you when His love doesn't fit into our understanding. If you do not hear from the Father, how will you know which way to walk? For while you are a princess, you are not the omnipotent King... but you do have access to Him. Run into His throne room daily to be embraced by Him. Report your troubles and fears directly to His ears. Ask Him for what it is that you want and need. Listen to His power-filled voice singing over you... Know Him and be known by Him. For that is the true value of your royalty.

3) Princesses don't compete.
There is no need. Your Daddy is the King, therefore know who you are. Don't view other princesses as threats. You don't need to be fancier, or more adored, or wear more crowns, or carry more titles. You are already adored by the the Ruler of the world. You have arrived as far as esteem is concerned. The confidence of a princess is not put in who you are better than, prettier than, better dressed than, liked more than... it is simply that you are a chosen child of the Supreme Lord. Stop competing. Start living in that celebration.

4) Life's more like a battle than a pageant.
Don't be fooled into daily donning your most sparkly costume. Don't waste energy memorizing simple answers to hard questions that sound good but help nothing. Refuse to cover over who you really are with a mask of make-up that you are convinced others will like more. Develop your talents, but not to be voted by imaginary judges as better than those around you, but in order to gain honor for your royal family. Dress in a way that will protect you from the enemy who wants to steal your beauty and replace it with regret. Burn away hours seeking Truth and Wisdom at the feet of the all-knowing, generous King, so that your words will bring life where death is ringing. Let your weaknesses, and fears, and imperfections, and scars, and faults be seen by the audience in your daily life... for in that terrifying act of bravery you will allow those who are blind to see your God be enough. Be passionate. Be disciplined. Be bold. For there are masses, who right now, are starving, and bleeding, and falling, and dying both spiritually and physically... and you, as a princess, have the opportunity to fight for them. Ignore the lull of pageantry that will leave you feeling empty and hidden, and accept the call to battle that will truly free you to sparkle.

5) Your position is purposeful.
Your Father, the King, knows better than you. He has placed you where a princess is needed. Stop fantasizing about how magical other princesses must have it, and look around you. Your popularity does not define you. Your strength is not in yourself. Your riches do not provide for you. Your hope is not in your circumstances. You can shine from a dark corner with dirty, exhausted hands of faithful service to those God has called you. If God has placed you on a shiny platform... then shine and speak for Him. Don't just wave at the crowds who clamor to be seen by royalty. Show them how to join in the family. Determine in your mind daily to shine as a princess where you are, and trust the King to keep you and move you in perfect time.

This is just a brief excerpt from a love letter written to you by the King. Know that your status as a lovely princess of God is not reliant on any title man can give. i'm proud of my homecoming princesses. i root for my lovelies who compete in pageants... i just want you all to see the bigger reality of who you truly are. i hope it leaves you hungry to hear more. 

Check out some of these passages...
Psalm 45
Isaiah 62
1 Peter 2:9-17
Isaiah 43:1-6
1 Peter 1:3-9
Romans 8:14-18





Thursday, July 11, 2013

My sweet birthday girl

I love that I've had 7 years of you...

I love how you smile... I love how perfect your lips have always been... How they pucker so sweetly when your face is relaxed... It's so fun that you're missing your two front teeth... And that one of those tooth-loss events has something to do with you biting a pillow & your brother tugging on it... 

I love your laugh... How currently you find anything having to do with hind ends, nostrils, or farting hilarious... You are a natural at movie quotes... You are improving on your joke telling skills... Which we are very grateful for... You are silly & free & contagious in your joy... I often pause to let my heart grow warm when I hear you giggling in another room...

I love your dreams... How you want to be a farmer, a doctor, a zoo dentist, a flavor-maker (our personal favorite), a teacher, an artist, a karate girl... And so many others that you labeled your bedroom door "job women" to simplify the sign-making process... I love that you dreamed of a boy named Luke... Who you have never met yet... I love that you are not limited nor driven by money... And you are right... We will miss you when you're grown up & live in China... Because China is very far away...

I love your heart... That you are aware and care that there are people who really are starving... I am in awe of the generosity the Holy Spirit has filled you with... It's so natural for you when it's been a struggle for me... It's awesome how you're constantly making surprise books for people... We enjoy the envelopes you deliver with hand written cards and candy from the drawer filling them... You always want to share about God... And I hope that doesn't change even as the microphone becomes less magical to speak into... I love watching your patience & acceptance of people who are different from you... You shine like a star in a dark world...

I love your heart for Jesus... Praying with you each day is a blessing... I'm inspired by your faith... You know Jesus heals... You are rightly convinced how much God cares about every thing we care about... Communion is something you regularly do with somber joy... I love how you want everyone to come to church with you... I love hearing you sing praise... I cherish your excitement at seeing God answer your prayers... It is awesome how you hide God's Word in your heart... Keep loving Him...

I love your skills... Your hoola-hooping skills... Your singing skills... Your drawing skills... Your bow staff skills... Your dancing skills... Your ability to teach others... Your imagination skills... Your monkey bar skills... Your knack for foreign languages... The scripts you're writing for your play are very good... You are given many talents... Much will be expected of you...

I love how you tell me your secrets... I love how you hug me... I love how you smell... I love how compassionate & passionate you are... I love how you figure things out... I love that you make-believe... I love how gorgeous you are... I love how determined you are... I love that you make a slurping noise & lick your chops to show that something is yummy... I love that you finish what you start... I love how you nudge me with your elbow when I tease you... I love that you love going in alphabetical order... I love that you tell me "I didn't like dinner, but I ate it anyways" just so I'm aware... I love that you know that I know how you like things... I love your servant heart... I love your encouraging words...
I could go on...

 I love you forever

Friday, July 5, 2013

a secret of love

i'm in love... it's no secret... in fact having no secrets is the secret to marriage i want to share with you...

My husband is amazing, hilarious, super handsome, strong, sweet, loyal, trustworthy, honest (to a fault at times), stubborn, talkative, my best friend, a great cook, tough, an incredible father, devoted, disciplined, fun, talented at many things, committed...

He holds me, calms me down, challenges me, dyes my hair, loves our children, builds me up, spoils me, tries to be patient, increases my fashion sense, makes me laugh, provides for our family, changes our cars oil, watches movies with me, teaches me, shows me videos that make me chuckle, understands me...

But he doesn't read my mind... Nor is he telepathic.

Therefore, if there is something i need or want or am considering; we have to engage in a highly complicated marital practice... talking. i have to tell him. 

i have to tell him what i feel. i have to say what i need. i have to put into words what i'm thinking... even when i'm not super at understanding myself.

So for our eleventh wedding anniversary i'm giving him the gift of literally spelling out what i want! i'm SUPER thoughtful like that! This way he doesn't have to spend any time or energy trying to figure it out!

Disclaimer: As you peer into my "what i'd like" list please know that some of these things i've already told him i want & therefore are already being taken care of... but a list is always good :)

Eleven Things i Want For Our Eleventh Anniversary:

1) A day off. i would like a day where i wake up & go. i'm unsure of where i'm going to go or what i'll do there... but i want to go & do. Specifically i don't want to figure out where our 4 lovely children are going to go or what they're going to do or how they're going to eat or sleep or so forth. It doesn't matter to me if you choose to 'Mr. Mom" it for the day or if you hire 4 babysitters and 2 housekeepers... whatever works. You just need to tell me what day this is happening. i guarantee my schedule is already open.

2) Flirting. Please don't mistake this for me asking for gag-reflex inducing PDA. i'm talking about sneaking in excuses to touch my hand or kiss my neck or compliment me or sit near me when we're outside of our home. i pretty much want to be regularly reminded that if i wasn't yours you would actively fight to change that. 

3) Surprises. Mostly i'm looking for yummy coffee beverages, cream that has been iced, coconut water, and things i randomly mention i would like but don't "need." Currently i don't have any items like that to mention to you... but i'll keep you posted.

4) Help with the kitchen. You've probably noticed that i'm drowning in dirty dishes. Having you stand next to me and wipe stuff up and talk to me and put things away helps me tremendously. Mostly i just need you there, where i am, in our crazy mess with me. i don't care if you put the dishes in the wrong place... i don't care if you explain the best way to wash a pan to me... i just need to know i'm not alone in the everyday. (This goes for laundry & vacuuming & the budget... but you're already know that.)

5) A foot rub. You're so amazing at rubbing my feet. You're incredible at letting me know you are always up for the chore. i'm not so good at asking for it... mostly because you work so hard and i fear turning into another thing you must take care of. i need to get better at taking you up on this offer.

6) Compliments. i trust your words more than any other human. i just need constant reminding. i recognize that it's my issue. Logically i know that if you tell me you like how i look in an outfit, then whenever i wear it you like it. But my insecurity is deeper than i'd like and it often denies logic. i need to know what you're thinking. i need to hear it over and over and over again. 

7) Your opinion. It's hard to convey to you how much it means to me that you read my blog. i regularly surrender this blog to the Lord and out of the grasp of the clutches of the idol "acceptance"'s hand. But it's still a fact that i float on clouds of confidence when you find what i write or how i write it to be clever. Just as important is when you tell me when it's not your favorite... for how else could i believe the nice things?

8) Fun. Sometimes i forget the importance of fun. Sometimes i'm too tired or too busy or too hormonal or too grumpy or too empty to pursue fun. But i need it. i need to remember that i'm me with 4 kids... not just a mother of 4. Getting away with you helps me remember. Laughing way to late into the night helps me remember. Being ridiculous helps me remember. Let's ride roller coasters or float on rafts or play a game or try a new recipe together... because you're good at fun... and i want to join you there.

9) You to be my Hero. Don't worry... you already are. But i want you to keep fighting to be that hero. Keep learning. Keep digging deep. Keep reading the Word. Keep obeying our Lord. Keep uncovering the depths of who you are. Keep tearing down the walls that keep you from accepting love fully. Keep training when you don't see results. Keep teaching me. Keep speaking life into our family. Keep being my hero.

10) Segway Ride & "Bouldering". It's not going to happen with two infants in tow... so a raincheck will have to do on our anniversary date. But lets do this...

11) You to read this. i respect you too much for you to be anyone but the first person to read this list. Also you kinda are my source of humor so i'm sure you can give me a few tips for improvement...

There's my list. If you are married make your own. True romance is not having a spouse who figures out what you need or want... but instead it's having a spouse who will listen to what you need and cares enough to make it happen. Yes it hurts worse if you say what you need and then don't get it. Yes we have been there before. Yes it's worth it anyway. Grow more open with your spouse today. 


Love you more than i knew i could 11 years ago...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Milk... It's what's for dinner.

 Nursing...

That's what this post is about. 

Not the medical kind either... So if you're squeamish about that or just male in general, feel free to skip right on over this post... Figuring out the answers to the "quandaries" post might be more your speed. 

But for any of you out there who have or are or are hoping to or have tried or have walked with someone who has... Let's be frank. Well not too frank... After all I'm guessing not too many people named Frank have nursed & I'd like to avoid a "parental advisory" label on my blog...

Nursing an oxymoron. It is amazing & traumatic & confusing & natural & simple & nerve racking & hard & messy & sweet & fleeting & overwhelming & more all rolled into one miracle. It's as awesome as it is weird. 

I have nursed 4 babies. Not at the same time... oye! I'm not an expert, I've just been there & am currently there. Both Maverick & Theo are currently in the "milk... It's what's easier for dinner" stage of nursing. What?!? You're unfamiliar with my completely made-up in my head stages of nursing?!? Let's remedy that...

Let's back up & tackle this in chronological order...

Not Ready-
That's what every mom-to-be is. Maybe you need to read your seventh book or talk to one more mom who's nursed and two others who didn't... Or maybe you're like me & are so weirded out by the thought of milk and babies surrounding what's been so over-sexualized by our culture that you are too uncomfortable to even think about it before the baby is born. Either way you're not ready. It's ok. If I was going to offer preparation advice it'd be to talk to someone you trust who's been or is there (even if you can't look them in the eyes during the conversation) & exfoliate... Use a loofa or the edge of a towel to gently build up some exposure to friction where you're hoping your baby will drink from... Yep. That just got real awkward real fast...

Deer In The Headlights-
Am I allowed to say "headlights" in a post about breast feeding? Moving forward... My nurse midwives have been incredible. The one who delivered my first born stuck that baby to me as soon as she took her first breath of air. I didn't know what was happening. I was shaking & laughing & crying happy tears & nursing a newborn all at once. That was good, because i didn't have to cloud the miracle with any awkward thoughts. I jumped the gorge of feeling embarrassed to even think about breast feeding to doing it before my epidural had completely worn off. I remember looking at my newborn daughter with complete amazement. Yes because it was a miracle, but mostly because I had no idea how to do what I was doing. I guess it's a good jump start to the reality of parenting. Out of the fog of amazement and wonder comes the next stage...

L-L-Lamenting (Latching & Leaking Problems)-
Nursing is hard. It hurts. It's frustrating. Right in the midst of recovering from evicting a human out of your womb a body part that you never expected to hurt starts burning like crazy. There's a crazy emotional battle when it's time to feed the baby because you really want them to latch (because nursing is important) and you really don't want them to latch (because nursing can be off the pain chart). There's a false feeling of rejection and failure when a baby struggles to latch on. The thought "this is never going to work" is always crouching nearby ready to spring into mind. And no one really know what lanolin actually does... But we use it like crazy anyway.  Often this short pain-ridden period is traversed only with the realization that it HAS to get better... Because NO one would nurse for longer than 2.1 days if it didn't improve. 
The problem is once the latching thing starts to get rolling the milk has arrived. It's never the right amount at first. Some moms worry that they're starving their baby while others could nourish a small country with their abundant supply. You no longer recognize the size of the chest on your own body and you have a new ability to squirt milk... You just don't really have control over said ability. So you leak. In the shower, while you sleep, when you let down, when a baby cries... If you're in this stage for the first time PLEASE know this: it DOES get better. Your body is created to produce the amount of milk your baby needs. It just takes some adjustment time. I recommend giving nursing a two week commitment before giving into the "it's never going to work" thought. Your laments won't be completely gone, but you'll see enough improvements to know you can make it. Also rely heavily on lactation consultants, cotton breast pad, spit rags and other moms who have been where you are. You can do it. It is worth it. 

Cry And Cuddle-
This stage is full of hormones. I have no medical understanding of what exactly happens in the chemical land of post-partum but I've been there & it's crazy. Nursing rolls right along with the highs and lows of hormonal and mental adjustments. Getting to snuggle your teeny tiny person for hours on end while they make the sweetest expressions & sounds whilst they drink is unbelievable. This time makes you be still. Nursing causes you to take time to feel... to process... to bond... to cry when you need to but can't explain why... All while cuddling. It's good. Very good. Don't sucome to worry. Don't stress over a schedule (in fact give your baby all the milk and sleep that little body demands without even a resemblance of a schedule for the first 3-4 weeks). Don't play the baby comparison game with your husband's cousin's whose baby is 9 days younger than your baby but is already turning cartwheels & sleeping for 14 hours at night... Just cuddle close & cry tears of joy or stress or sadness or amazement and watch your baby change drastically as you adjust... Because adjustment brings about...

Rythym Established
It does happen! Your milk supply starts to match up to what the baby needs, so you leak less. You develop the super power to predict when your baby will need to nurse, which means you can make plans of sorts. Your baby has improved at nursing and is more efficient, so you no longer feel like you're anchored to the couch for 40 mins of every other hour. You can be "normal" even though you're nursing! Tip for pumping: If you have trouble getting any milk when pumping, try to pump while nursing. Your baby will cause you to let down and you'll get a lot of milk and you don't have to try to find time to try to pump when your body isn't used to producing milk. Also signing "milk" when you nurse will help your baby learn to communicate with less whining. 

Nursing Is Easier Than Dinner-
Spoon feeding isn't my favorite act of infancy. I realized with my first baby if I put it off long enough it didn't last very long... Like 2 weeks then on to soft solids. Lets just say that child #2 and #3 were having none of that "waiting long enough" gig. They came out interested in steak & pizza. Baby #4 requires me to slow down more & his extreme enjoyment of baby food is pretty contagious... Even for this hurried, impatient, dislike-the-mess mama. Baby food is easy to forget at home. Impatient baby mouths make mean-sounding threats if you happen to try to sneak in a bite of your own food during the hour in which they expect a constant stream of spoons of baby food. Babies love to feel the food with their hands, their face, their hair, your hair... It is in this light that I often think "I'll just nurse the boys now... We can do food later..." After all, milk is always with me. Always ready. Always the right temperature. It calms them down when upset. It calms me down if I'm upset. Helps them to sleep. There's no pickiness involved. They can eat while you lay down. Not so much with baby food. This should give you hope if you're reading this in the middle of your L-L-Lamenting stage. It gets to the point where milk is what's for dinner by your choice. Tip: If you are still predominately nursing, don't stress about baby food. See it as a way to introduce new flavors & textures, not as a three meal a day regimen that you must abide by.

Prolonged Panic-
This is the slightly irrational fear that you won't actually ever stop nursing your child. Whether you have a baby who still wakes in the middle of the night to nurse, or you actually did the math on how long you have been the source of nutrition for this person, or possibly you're feeling controled by a four-hour leash, or maybe your ginormous infant wants to eat 5-course meals three times a day and still nurse as often as his premie brother whose superpower of Down syndrome requires his main source of calories be from milk (like me... there's a chance i might be experiencing some of this stage as I write...) Habbits like pinching (those baby nails are crazy!!!) and the introduction of teeth (a little flick on the cheek is how I deal with biting) and the smell of constant spit up don't help this stage. Nevertheless the fear that breast feeding won't end is a lie. As with all lies, the truth is what will set you free. Nursing is so very fleeting. Once it's over you have the rest of your child's life to not do it. Many women would switch places with those of us who are blessed to be able to nurse our babies in an instant if they could. I'm not belittling the effort it requires. I'm not denying that it is draining. I'm only suggesting some perspective. It will be over one day... and we will miss it. So let's determine to breathe and spend these moments looking at our babies. Let's enjoy the moments we can & realize the ones we simply can't are passing. 

Weaning-
Yep. This pretty much directly follows the panic stage. It could take you 6 weeks or 6 years of nursing to get you here. It could be involuntary or you might have fought hard and long to arrive. You may feel depressed at the end of this era or be wearing your "normal" bras and long, maxi dresses with excited victory. So far my weaning expiriences have been extremely smooth & easy beginning with the introduction of cow's milk around a year. Hannah weaned completely when I went on a 5-day wilderness canoe trip & i left her with family. Mic just lost interest in nursing before bed (the only time we were nursing at that point). This time around I have NO clue what weaning will look like since I'm nursing two very different babies. Theo will require more time nursing... Therefore so will Maverick. I'm currently switching him to the side that produces less so Theo can get more milk from my super-producer (yes that's too much information... but maybe you thought you were the only one with a big difference in production per side... Now you know you're not). I'm planning on introducing cow's milk at around Maverick's 1-year birthday (which is close to Theo's adjusted 1-year birthday) and seeing where we go from there. I'm more tired this time around. I produce more milk this time around. I have twice the demand this time around... And yet I'm more at peace with the prospect of a longer weaning process. The difference is having years of not nursing my first two babies to grasp how fleeting of a process it really is. Also we're  praying that around that time Theo will no longer need his G-tube at all (we're currently at 3 weeks of not using it!!!) so that excitement trumps wearing a normal bra... for awhile. 

Nostalgia-
Ahhh the memories... At this stage you've finished nursing and you have drier sheets, looser fitting shirts, more energy, and require babysitters to stay for longer periods of time... The rate at which nostalgia sets in is directly proportional to how long the weaning process took you. But you will look back with delight on the moments of sweet sounds, private looks, milk-drunk smiles, close cuddles, hair twirling, finger holding, little hands patting, and lots of sleepy rocking. After all, you are the only person who had that view. For as long or as short as you were able to nurse, you shared it with your baby. Be thankful. Be encouraging to moms who are struggling. Don't ever be judgmental. I praise The Lord for allowing me to nurse my four babies. It is a miracle that I am glad I struggled for. 

If you have more questions or need more tips I'm obviously WAY past being uncomfortable talking about breast feeding. Again... I'm stating clearly that I'm not an expert, just willing to share what I know. However lactation consultants are experts & they're awesome. So don't walk thru this alone. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Quandaries

Things I ponder...

How do they know Theo is near-sighted if he doesn't yet know the letters of the alphabet?

Am I lying when I repeat the phrase "I will not repeat myself" over & over thru out the day?

Why does it take my daughter 6 minutes to wash her face but I can't get her to brush her teeth for longer than 27 seconds?

Why does Mic randomly say "chicken"? Or better yet... Why don't more people randomly say "chicken"?

Can I just allow the older two to eat in the living room, not vacuum & let Maverick crawl around & call it "introducing solids"? Or do parents get called in on that?

What's up with pens? The nice writing, expensive ones are never around... But the out-of-ink, from the festival booth, pretty-sure-I-already-threw-you-away ones are multiplying in my junk drawer? 

How do we know people are color blind? If I teach my babies to call what they see "red" but they're seeing different colors how would I know?

Does Maverick's pointer finger work like a bug's antenna?

Is having a telephone up to my ear the international sign for "tell mom a story right now"?

Does it count as tummy time if Theo is laying on his belly on my belly & we may both be sleeping?

Do only hillbillies bathe their children outside with the hose while watering the garden?

At what age does it change from "she's learning to ride a bike" to "I don't ride bikes"?

Who invented singlets & why do wrestlers still sign up for that sport if they know they will be required to wear one?

Why do I dislike my own crooked teeth so much yet absolutely adore my son's snaggley grin?

From which source do I truly seek strength for my day: the Holy Spirit or caffeine?

Isn't it weird that the word weird doesn't follow the "i before e except after c and when it says a" rule?

Since we're on spelling... Which letters are supposed to be doubled in "tomorrow"? And is there anyone out there who can actually spell "restaurant" correctly without auto fill?

Why is it important for kids to learn nursery rhymes?

What do my children have against covering up with a flat sheet?

What happened to phone booths? I mean, obviously we're not using them anymore, but are they still around? Or did people get hired to take them somewhere? Is this a profession? Is there an A&E show about people who move phone booths into warehouses or something?

Why make the bed when you're just going to sleep in it again? Should I also be tying my shoes after I take them off?

How come water fights are so fun? You're both trying to get wet but not get wet at the same time...

Who first came up with the idea for Mount Rushmore? And did anyone think he was kidding?

Is there a lego gene that enables some people to create from legos? Because I don't have that gene... 

Are there Spanish-speaking people who can't roll their "r's"? Because I think I have a Spanish speech impediment. 

Why won't they make more Avitar movies (The water bending one not the live-action Ferngully one)?

Are female mimes called ma'ams?*

Why am I suddenly clever when I should be sleeping?

*props: while I do ponder this, it is only because my hilarious & way-too-clever-when-I'm-trying-to-sleep husband brought it up... I'm fairly certain this is APA correct siting happening here...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Learning together...

Motherhood is a team sport. 

You realize how little you know when you step into the world for the first time with your baby in your arms instead of your gut. It's overwhelming and marvelously terrifying... Because we all could benefit from a larger grasp on how little we truly know...

First thing I suggest learning is this: we need each other. We need other moms. Moms who are right where we are, moms who have made it thru, moms who are just starting what we just passed, moms who are different from us, and moms who see things similarly... We need them to help us & challenge us & inform us & comfort us... We need to watch & listen & talk & observe... We need to learn what works & what doesn't work & what just doesn't work for us... 

This crucial first lesson is the key to unlocking a world of answers, tips & tricks to thriving in motherhood. A sampling of the life-altering wisdom & tid-bits I've drawn from other moms...

- the days are long but the years are short
- teaching babies "no" is easier than teaching a 2 or 4 or 13 year old "no"
- baby wipes take almost anything off of almost anything
- baby food is not a big deal
- be the parent by setting the expectations & boundaries 
- enjoy my kids
- listening is invaluable 
- mom spit somehow kills germs off of fallen pacifiers & utensils
- consistency is key
- laying a baby who is awake down to play is more than ok
- sometimes a baby just needs to cry
- sometimes a mama just needs to join in said crying
- kisses & snuggles should be doled out in excess 
- potty training a boy requires a long t-shirt, carpet spray, and nothing else...
- tuck in time is important
- don't automatically say "no"
- playing like a kid with my kids is fun... even when it doesn't sound fun
- how to wear a baby
- limit my cautions to things that require more than a cast to heal so that I don't instill unnecessary fear
- get rid of stuff... excess is overwhelming for everyone 
- when a baby won't stop crying & the "losing it" feeling is creeping in... lay them down somewhere safe & walk outside for a quiet breath & prayer... don't escalate with the baby 
- there are worse things than Santa not being real
- my words are powerful even when I don't mean them
- read to my babies
- teach babies to sign & it cuts down on the whining
- be strict enough that I like my kids & easy going enough to like myself
- every opportunity is a teaching opportunity
- provide appropriate clothing then let them wear what they want to wear... even if it's baseball gear to church 
- just because they're awake doesn't mean it's time to get up
- guard them... their eyes, their ears, their hearts... guard them
- wrestle them... often
- spank... but not in anger
- put the baby bouncy seat in the bathroom so i can shower while they play
- discuss what they see on tv & in public that is not biblical
- nap when they do anytime I can
- make them search for me in hide & seek
- I don't have to keep everything 
- school pictures aren't a necessary purchase
- blow outs mean its time to go up a size in diapers
- movies can be memory-makers too
- "go play" is a necessary instruction
- God has a purpose for my kids' lives right now 
- nap time can still be enforced even when they no longer sleep
- nursing is great... hard but great
- celebrate summer vacation
- always answer honestly... even when it's a hard answer
- point baby boy parts down while diapering
- early bed times = better behaved children (& adolescents)
- my goal shouldn't be "fairness" but what's needed for each individual 
- parent with grace & truth
- support them in doing what they want to do but are scared to do
- they're in real danger of catching my self-hatred if Christ doesn't intervene 
- leave them with trusted sitters early in life
- it's ok to parent differently...

My hope is each mom who reads this will be as blessed by the team of moms around them as I am. Fight judegemental condesencion or fearful solitude... none of us know it all. Reach out in love today. You're not meant to mother alone...

"Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored..." (Titus 2:3-5)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Things that make you go hmmm...?

Questions I often find myself asking...

Which came first, the screaming or the gas?

Are you wearing underpants?

Are they the same pair of underpants you wore yesterday?

Are said underpants on backwards?

Did you swallow that?

How many scoops was that?

Who's spit up is this?

When was the last time I showered?

Who's crying?

Why is Theo's pump beeping?

Whose toothbrush is lying next to the toilet?

Where did you bite your sister? No, I mean where on her body not where you were standing...

Where's Maverick?

Is that stain from pre or post-digested baby food?

Who's choking?

Where do you need a kiss?

What language are you speaking?

Who told you that?

Do you want a spanking?

Why is the floor wet?

Where is my phone? Can you call my phone? Is it on silent?

What happened to Maverick's hair?!?

Are the contents of Theo's stomach leaking out into his bed?

What's Maverick chewing on?

How did Theo get way over there?

Did you drop your brother?

Do you smell that?

Did you brush your teeth well enough that Miss Ashley will think they're shiny?

Do you need to poop?

Is Theo's button seeping? What is seeping from it?

What are we going to eat tonight?

Why are you mumbling in the backseat while we're driving with the windows down?

What did I say?

Do you want a cotton ball?

Can you do that again?

Can we pray about it?

How's your heart?

Why are you in different clothes than when I put you in bed?

Which superhero should I be today?

What story do you want to hear?

What song should we sing?

Where is your food supposed to be?

Who's there?

How did you get up there?

Why do you kinda smell like fritos?

Who ate the last banana?

Where did you put it last?

What is THAT?

What do you think?

Are the clothes I just washed & folded in the hamper now?

Where'd that nuk go?

What are you supposed to be doing?

Would you describe this diaper aroma as "barnyard" or "ammonia"?

What day is it?

Who wants to babysit???


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Theo's birthday

One year ago my life silently changed forever... 

It was May sixteenth of 2012 when my baby boy was born. I didn't have contractions (except for the Braxton Hicks that recently had started)... I didn't cry (except for pregnancy-induced sensitivity)... I didn't push (unless maybe we played on the swings or I mowed the lawn)... I didn't scream (at least I hope not)... And yet my tiny miracle boy came bursting into this world on this day. 

He had a short 24-week stent in the womb... Not enough time to close the hole in his heart... Or fully develop his eyes... Or have his lungs working on their own... A mere 1 pound 12 ounces was all there was to hold... And i honestly wish it was my hand which he was laying across in his first photo... But there's much to celebrate...

I applaud the nurses who cared for him when we weren't yet there. 

I marvel at the doctors whose medical skills allowed such a tiny baby to have a chance. 

I admire the courage of a terrified birth mom to look at the child she just bore and see my son. 

I'm thankful to the many therapists and specialists who believed in the huge potential locked in a teeny body. 

I'm honored to be a part of the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network who join together families who are born apart. 

I praise the Creator God for forming him so perfectly...

On this vastly significant anniversary of Theo's arrival into this world I'm overwhelmed that God called our hearts to be open & that it is Theo He wanted to fill our arms with. 

One year ago we didn't know his name... Hadn't seen his smile... Hadn't touched his smooth tiny hands... Hadn't kissed his awesomely flat head... But God made him & then gave him to us... An honor I'm overwhelming humbled by. 

And while we celebrate a healthy heart with no holes, lungs that breathe on their own, a son who can nurse like a champ, eyes that have grown, an adorable round head, neck control, feet eating, giggles, and rolling freely... A miraculous year... we also party because Theo has now been home for more time then he was away from us...

Yay Theo!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Momma's Day...

My momma is amazing... she has taught and continues to teach me...
~ how to love
~ to say "no" now so you can say "yes" later
~ it's ok to cry
~ that pain is not weakness... nor should one seek only to avoid pain... but instead pain is an opportunity to make God's strength a reality in daily life
~ never mess with a cub when momma bear is present... or anywhere in the vicinity... or if said momma bear will travel...
~ a house should be always full of singing praises
~ how to draw the coolest stick-figure representations of our family
~ about birds
~ consistency is non-negotiable in the mothering job
~ to be passionate...
My momma rocks... she doesn't like to brag but she...
~ is one of the most generous people i know... and i'm surrounded by generous people
~ sings with soul
~ gives the warmest, softest hugs
~ has an enormous laugh that is contagious
~ is Boggle champion... i'm not joking... my mom CAN beat your mom at Boggle...
~ is super smart... not in the show-off kinda way... but in the has-a-lot-of things-figured-out-and-you-should-listen-to-her sorta way
~ has incredible style
~ is so very beautiful...

As if having 31 years with a momma like this wasn't enough God has blessed me with the best mother-in-law EVER! i'm not exaggerating... this is true. She loves me like a daughter and has raised a son who knows how to work, and play, and serve, and love, and cook...

... And then there's the others... They might not know that they help teach me how to be the mom i am... or at least am trying to be... They probably don't realize that i watch them and hear them and remember what they said years ago (sometimes daily)... They are the "older" women (although some are not that much older in years but very rich in experience) Titus 2 talks about... they are my own mom & mother-in-law & grandmas & more... they might even be you... 

So thank you for encouraging me to be a momma who...
~ enjoys my kids
~ teaches my babies what "no" means
~ let's go of what doesn't matter... such as what they wear or if they want to jump on a bed...
~ re-directs energy
~ chooses to encourage a spirit of adventure instead of teaching a spirit of fear (even when it's hard to watch...)
~ plays with my kids
~ listens now so i can hopefully have an invitation to listen later
~ wonders at my kids
~ considers my "no" answers before automatically giving them
~ always answers truthfully... even when it's hard to explain or awkward or not popular...
~ dances
~ doesn't count to three...
~ runs with my kids
~ figures out when they need to talk most and makes myself available... even if it's at bed time
~ recognizes manipulation
~ prays with and for my kids
~ confesses my sins and asks for forgiveness to my kids
~ lets my kids get messy
~ models accepting who God made me instead of giving into self-hating comparisons
~ loves Jesus
~ enforces outside play & early bed times
~ demonstrates that doing my best is more important than being the best (i.e. when i sing to them or draw them pictures...)
~ balances what the "experts" say with what works for our family
~ doesn't buy over priced school pictures
~ believes God has ministry for them even now
~ laughs... but not always when they can see
~ takes breaks for refreshing myself so i can serve hard
~ cheers for them
~ is present and doesn't lose right now by wishing for tomorrow or missing yesterday
~ allows my kids to "help" even though it makes more work for me
~ doesn't just do what's easiest right now (aka getting up and dealing instead of threatening again...)
~ purposely enjoys being away from my kids so i can purposely enjoy being with my kids
~ surrenders all the natural, nagging mom-guilt to Jesus 
~ disciplines my children in love
~ makes my house a place they want to bring their friends
~ gives my children responsibility (aka chores)
~ teaches my kids about consequences... even when it's hard
~ tells my kids to "go play"

So enjoy this Mother's Day knowing that you are part of a force that is shaping the world... & hopefully you get spoiled with 27 hand-drawn pictures, plastic jewels from a treasure chest, and end-less hugs like me!