Sunday, May 29, 2016

Lessons in Summertime

Summer is here, I think. We missed out on summers at home for the last two years, opting instead to be surrounded by the four walls of the NICU and PICU, and the summer before that we were busy moving across town and getting settled into a new place.

But for now, Chloe's still home, so we're hoping that means we actually get to experience a piece of normal summertime.

The kids are signed up for swim lessons in a few weeks. Our son gets to start baseball with a local group of boys just on Saturday mornings, but he is thrilled and has done everything except sleep with his Storm Trooper baseball bat that his daddy spoiled him with. He did sleep with his new glove a few times. And he's learning how to ask for help instead of insisting on doing it himself first. Like finally asking how to throw a baseball, only to have daddy accidentally aim for his nose instead of his glove. So he's also learning that if we're out of ice packs, then a package of frozen peas is just as good. And he's figuring out that some things cannot be learned in a day, but over time and practice.

Our middlest child has picked out the perfect Anna Elsa swimsuit. She does not refer to it as Frozen, rather everything is Anna Elsa. No comma either. And she's also shed a tear because of the unknown that is Summer Swim Lessons. She's in a season of learning how to not talk to strangers, but how to trust and obey parents and swim teachers. And she's insisting that we do summer dance lessons via YouTube tutorials. We've mastered the plie, but beyond that we're still beginners. We because she's convinced me to do it with her. (Lord, help me!).

And our littlest child. She kind of controls the temperature of the entire household, metaphorically and literally speaking. She thinks summertime is for vent weaning, and has the official go-ahead to be off for 20 minutes at a time, three times a day, and so far does this with no oxygen. Her hair is starting to fill in, which is usually a sign for her that she's doing well, but heaven help that poor girl with the petite curls come July's humidity. She's learning to sit up. If you hold her hands now when she's lying down and you gently lift her hands, she takes the cue, lifts her legs, grips her abdomen, tilts her head forward, and after you help her for the first forty-five degrees, then that little woman is sitting up, looking bright-eyed at the worlds around her, and is ready to play. We still need lower torso support, but we're getting there. She's two now, and prefers most of her time to be out of her crib, in her chair, in someone's arms, on the floor wiggling, or on a walk in her stroller.

Oh, and she reminded us this week of just how quickly plans can change by revealing to us a culture growing in her urine after a local lab due to fevers, whereupon {great word, we should revive it and use it more often these days} the local ER got a wee bit nervous and suggested we hightail it to KC for IV antibiotics. There was a flurry of reactions from us for a moment and a slew of thoughts on logistics racing through our heads because our other daughter came down with a cold and fever and thus could not be in the hospital or Ronald McDonald house.

But God....

...Is ever awesome, and Chloe's KC doc said nope, treat at home with antibiotic given through g-tube.

Close call, but we're still home and keeping an eye on things.

Meanwhile, the hubs is balancing full-time work, full-time cuddles with the kids, and part-time online seminary each evening.

And neither of us have had time to mow our lawn, which is now under consideration to become a prairie reserve, although I don't think our neighbors are thrilled. Especially the ones to our left, because there sits a For Sale sign upon their meticulously manicured lawn, while our house looks more like a wildlife refuge for flamingos, gazelles, and pink bicycles.

And my summer plans? Learning patience. Learning to just bask in the moment. We're thankful to be home as a family this summer, but I find myself busying-up. New phrase. Feel free to use it. While I'm excited at the prospect of summertime, I'm trying to not busy-up everything, and just enjoy this season of us all under the same roof, each in our own season of growth and learning and thriving. My summer goals are to keep the family balanced between the new activities and the studying, the therapies for Chloe, and the unpacking.

Oh. Did I mention we're moving across town, closer to my husband's work? And 2.6 seconds closer to the hospital and pharmacies? Yeah. Couldn't let this summer slide by without some big change. So there's that too. The art of packing and unpacking.

I've already stripped the walls of all their decorative frames, pictures, canvases, and chalkboards. There was an obnoxious amount of chalkboards in this house. I'll place blame on my husband and say he loves them, though obviously I'm the culprit.

It's weird now to look around the house, half boxed up, with blank walls at every turn. The light catches a nail that's still left in the drywall, that at some point pierced a blank and stale wall in order to make it more vibrant and beautiful by hanging something beautiful over that dull space, making a once dry wall (pun) into a more vivid statement. Or, in my case, I usually don't measure twice, nail once, so there's nail and screw holes in abundance along with random pencil markings now off-center, and I try to center the picture over all of the failed attempts that have now dirtied up the gentle yellow paint, covering up the stains on the wall with beauty instead. Random poll: Do you measure, or eye-ball?

Isn't Christ like that? He died on the cross to cover up our pencil marks and busted up walls we've put up around ourselves, and instead hangs this beautiful image over our failed ones. And even some of the walls that never held a picture, that seem still unblemished after these last three years, upon closer inspection could use a touch up and new coat of paint, perhaps because the closer you inspect the wall, while from a distance it looks nice, up close is covered in tiny dings and scratches and accidental ink marks. Isn't that also like Christ? To till up the stale ground and cause a new sprout to push through, in hopes of a new bloom, often times even when we think that the grass growing there was perfectly content to begin with when in reality there was potential for a garden full of daisies to grow?

The process of packing up three years of life and unfolding it piece by piece into another home seems a bit overwhelming in this moment of our lives, but there's a trust in this season that He will provide the time and energy, and Chloe to continue to be healthy at home, and use this season to continue to cultivate our lives more into His plans. We're excited for the new layout which will help with Chloe's needs and our family's needs. And to hang back up those chalkboards.

And perhaps how to throw a baseball.
And how to twirl.
And how to breathe on our own.
And of the scriptures that breathe life into us on their own.
And of patience and trust and renewal.

I'll leave you to guess which of those fits each member of our family, and bid you good luck in watching for the first fireflies of the season.

**Editor's Note:
Here's a link if you'd like to look up more about the correct usage of the word whereupon
I might add that it is apparently still used these days...though mostly on legal documents and police crime reports. My personal goal is to use it in texts with my husband and not need to associate it with any crime reports. Ten points each if you can leave a sentence below in the comments using the word whereupon correctly. Twenty points for whoever sticks a lawn flamingo in our refuge. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Chloe Girl's BOOK RELEASE!!

Hardback $24.95

Paperback $16.95

Thoughts On Mother's Day, And Most Holidays For That Matter...

Last night I went downstairs after the kids were in bed to get my daughter's nightly medicines. There was a big sign taped, with my fancy washi tape the kids know not to waste play with, on the cabinets above the coffee pot. Why my son chose to hang it there, next to my morning coffee, thinking I'd obviously take note of it is beyond me.

He also made me a hand drawn card, a Lego set of his own creation, and set out my coffee mug for the morning. Oh, and the paper crown that said Happee Muthurs Day. I wore the crown back upstairs and smiled and laughed about all that with my husband, when suddenly we heard,

My son LOVES holidays. He gets so excited at the idea of decorating for family birthdays, setting the plates and dishes and silverware just right for Thanksgiving, and he usually tries to declare what festivities will take place during the Christmas season. He'll even make up pretend birthdays for his stuffed animals and wrap up his toys as gifts and decorate for it.

I love that he loves this. It's his jam. It's his thing. It's who he is. He loves to celebrate things.

Until today, when Mommy lost it. GASP!! Yes, please do not report me to the Council of Best Moms Ever because losing it on Mother's Day is like the ultimate no-no.

My son kept asking why he and his sister couldn't have hot cocoa yet like I promised last night at bedtime. My daughter kept asking why I hadn't started her Brave soundtrack yet on the computer so she could make her new Merida doll dance around. My littlest girl was filling her britches with very inappropriate sounds and smells. I was behind on her meds  by at least 40 minutes. The sky was looking dark and I was home alone while my husband is a mile away leading worship at our church, and I was trying to find the most recent weather report, because we do live in Kansas after all and we have a healthy fear of the yellow brick road.

And worst of all, the coffee hadn't been started yet.

So when I walked into the kitchen and asked my son to please put his light saber away and get it off the table {to which he replied, "No weapons on the table! Right, Mom!?"} and then after reminding him again he started with, "Well, but it's clean, so it's fine," and I lost it. I scolded him for talking back to me instead of simply doing what I asked of him. By the grace of God I was able to stop myself and calm down and explain why I was upset. But then he said, "Well but are you having a great Mother's Day!??"

And that's when I snapped. And I teared up. And I explained to him that no, I wasn't, that I was thankful for his cards and poster and crown, but that I was tired and felt overwhelmed in the moment and needed help and needed him to just listen and obey {and in the back of my mind unspoken is that every Mother's Day I remember the fact that I don't have a baby here on earth, and that there's a possibility that another child might not be here all of my Mother's Days to come}.

And then he teared up. He broked into a sob and said between tears, "I just wanted you to have the best Mommy's Day ever!" He then ran into his room to hide and cry.

Awesomesauce. I really nailed this great parenting moment on this Hallmark holiday about being a parent. But I collected myself, had my son come sit next to me, and said, "Hun, I'm sorry for being upset earlier when you asked if I was having a good Mother's Day. But here's the thing: Mother's Day isn't only today, it's every single day that I get to be your mother. And since I get to be your Mommy forever, that's a really long time and an eternity of Mother's Days all strewn together. Each day that we play Sequence, go to the zoo, cuddle on the couch, and play airplanes is Mother's Day for me. Each time that we go run and jump in the van to chase the sunset in pj's like last night is Mother's Day for me. Each time we make pizza and watch the storms and play rollercoaster is Mother's Day for me. Because being your Mommy is an everyday thing and daily I get to enjoy and love you as my own."

To which he replied, "Well but what about when we don't listen and on the days that we take forever to pick up our playroom because we're not listening?"

"Even those days. Because even when we argue, we get to say we're sorry and ask forgiveness of each other. And even though you might not listen, though I'm disappointed in that action, I'm not mad at you and I still love you."

He smiled and wiped away the tears and loved the idea that EVERY day can be celebrated. Not just the ones marked and set aside on a calendar. He then said, "Well I'm thankful that I get to be God's child every day." {{{I did NOT prompt that! But my heart might have swelled a bit}}}.

"Right, and do we only praise and worship God and celebrate Him on Christmas?"

"No, we celebrate and worship Him each day."


In general I've always struggled with Mother's Day because the first Mother's Day I was supposed to celebrate, I instead was grieving a miscarriage. And on another Mother's Day I was rocking a preemie in the NICU. And I've walked beside friends in my life who battle infertility. And I've grieved with my own mama when she celebrated the first Mother's Day that my grandma wasn't here with us. I've watched from the sidelines as friends who long to be married and have children one day are still wondering if that's part of God's plan. And I've wondered if I've loved them well through their season as I've lived in this season. And also, there are those who ache for the relationships that aren't spectacular with their mothers or with their children. There's a brokenness that is felt stronger on the holidays that are supposed to be surrounded with such joy and gratitude when in real life, the relationships are more crooked than straight.

There's this stigma and weight that goes with Mother's Day, a heavy weight for many.

Let's let go of this holiday stuff once a year on the calendar, and embrace life each day. Let's stop putting pressure on ourselves to make that day {Mother's Day, Father's Day, Grandparent's Day, Valentines Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas even, and all the appreciation days} a once-a-year event. Let's make our husband a steak dinner and celebrate him as our spouse or as a great father on a day that's not the third Sunday of June. Let's picnic with the grandparents just because. Let's send the handmade letters and make the Skype dates a weekly event. Let's have the freedom to grieve a miscarriage any day instead of being bombarded on Mother's Day and dreading that day each year. Let's appreciate the secretaries and nurses and teachers in our life often because they deserve it often. Let's have random acts of kindness days more often, and love on those around us more often and give each other bouquets of flowers just because more often. Let's lessen the expectations of holidays and elevate the family time and love for one another daily. Let's show gratitude and thanksgiving for all we have often and teach it to our kiddos, not wait for them to ask why we celebrate Thanksgiving.

I think the struggle as a follower of Jesus is that on each of these days, we watch as social media explodes with images of the perfect relationships around us. Valentines Day is hard if we're single or in a marriage that is having a rough time. Thanksgiving is hard if we don't have someone to celebrate it with or can't go home to visit family. Christmas can be hard for those who just lost a loved one and will be sad come time for family traditions. Mothers Day and Fathers Day can be hard for so, so many reasons. Siblings Day can be hard, and so on. It makes us covet what's good and right and His will right in front of us, while we watch as the grass is greener in someone else's Instagramed yard.

I want to teach my children how to love one another and serve one another well. To be thankful for any situation and circumstance, even if it's not especially if it's not what society says should be a normal life. Personally, I think that's a daily challenge, not a calendar event.

How about this year we celebrate the people in and around us more often, and put less emphasis on what the calendar says we should be doing. And we go out of our way to give grace and love to all, not just those who get an appreciation day marked on the calendar.

Oh, and somewhere in between the asking for breakfast and the weapon on the table, my son also said, "Hey Mommy, since it's Mother's Day, I think you should get to do what you love best as a Mommy and clean up the house for all of us!"