Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Little Buggie and His Pencils

I cried today. Hard. One of those ugly cries that comes from the gut...
I once read a quote, I don't remember who said it but I experienced it today.. The quote said something to the effect that when you have children, you basically pull your heart out of your chest and let it walk around. When I first read it, I thought about how critical the heart is to the body, how intimate the relationship between mother and child...
But today shed new light on that quote. When your heart is walking around - people can wound it. They can hurt it and say mean things to it and cause it pain. And I saw my son in pain today. And it shattered me for a moment. I was completely broken by the fact that my son was experiencing discomfort. I long for him to be spared the harshness of those experiences that seem to occur almost daily at schools around the country; the bullying, the teasing, the super-high expectations placed on the kids...
Nathan has begun to feel like he fails more than he succeeds. This is coming from a boy with almost perfect grades who is sooooo smart and so well liked by his peers. Nevertheless, he is experiencing doubt and fear. He doesn't always succeed. He's failed some quizzes and he's had his recess taken away on more than a few occasions...
I know that these experiences are meant to help him grow to deal with failure in life, to teach him time management and responsibility. But he is so fantastic! I don't want his focus to be on the negative. This pessimism has begun to encompass his entire outlook on life - on his sisters, on his lot in life, his abilities and his own worth.
Today this discomfort manifested itself with a simple assignment that was given to help the kids learn about profit and loss. They were each supposed to set up a store. They could either buy their merchandise - spending no more than $3 dollars, or they could bring things from home - homemade items or old toys, but they had to all be valued at $3. Nathan wanted to sell pencils. And he wanted cool pencils.
I could not, for the life of me, find cool pencils in bulk for less than $3.... And so I planned a trip to Michaels after work yesterday. And then I totally forgot. I came home without pencils. And by the time I remembered, it was too late. I was absolutely heartbroken. Nathan was so disappointed that he would only have 6 pencils (the most I could get from Staples for $3.) and that he was "a one man stand". (That phrase broke my heart)
Apparently, some of the other children had buddied up and made mega-stores by pooling their resources. There was nothing about this practice mentioned in the literature that came from school.
So, in the end, I ran to the dollar store and waited until 8am when they opened and got some pencils - $3 worth - 20 in all and dropped them off to him. Then I went to work where I stressed all day and called Nathan the minute his dad picked him up. Come to find out, he had a great time - sold all his pencils and made a profit. :)
I was proud of him. Proud of him for being willing to stand at his little "one man store" and sell his 6 pencils... Even though he was disappointed and a little ashamed of his meager lot... Because Nathan was at music when I dropped off the pencils, I had a chance to talk to his teacher a little. I mentioned that I was bringing more pencils and his teacher said, "Oh good because he came to me this morning and said, 'This is all I have' (meaning his six pencils)" I can just see him standing there looking dejectedly at the amount of things he'd be able to sell compared to the dozens that his classmates had... Again, broken heart... I teared up in the classroom because of his disappointment.... I had to excuse myself and get out of there.
I have no idea why, but even typing this story, my heart gets all balled up and the tears start to flow... I just get so emotional about my little boy.
In the end, he had a great day and the store was successful. But I think I'll be affected for a long time when I think about the pencil store.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I supposed its about time to blog about whats been going on in our lives for the past 3 months. I don't think there's anyone that I'm hiding from anymore so, here goes. I'm pregnant.

Yep. That's right. Baby #4. Holy crap. This was completely unplanned and was even being prevented when it happened so, I believe we're working on God's agenda instead of our own. When we found out, we were a little more than shocked and unprepared. We have long believed that our family was complete and we were both very happy with our three little minions. This new baby brought so much uncertainty to our lives and completely interrupted the "plan" that we had for the next couple years of our lives.
I was in the middle of beginning to look for a practicum site, I was finishing up my classes and getting ready to move on with my career. How would a baby affect that?
Our other children are all self-sufficient and all go to school. They have chores, they help out around the house and they can feed, dress and clean up after themselves... And my house is still quite a mess. How are we going to manage with an infant?
We have school-aged kids - we got rid of all of our baby stuff a LONG time ago... Where are we going to get money for all the "baby stuff" that we will need?
We LOVE our little family - just as it is... How will having another child affect our family? Will our kids feel neglected or resent that they have to share even more of the time and resources of the family?
Speaking of resources, we were just getting to the point of being able to go on vacations, getting ready to buy a house, paying off our car... How is this going to affect us financially?
Speaking of car, 6 people don't fit in a normal car. Do I really have to get a minivan? And how in the heck are we going to afford that?!!
And then there's the emotional adjustment... This isn't what I wanted, God. What are You doing? Are You sure this is the right thing at the right time!??!!
How much independence am I going to have to give up because I'm going back into the infant stages... Feedings in the middle of the night, carrying the car seat...
And what about working? How are we going to manage both of us working and having a baby??
Then there's the physical considerations.. The last time I was pregnant - the doctor told me not to get pregnant again because of my high-risk pregnancy. And now, here I am, going through it again...

The confirmation that we were, indeed, pregnant hit my husband very hard. There were many, many heated discussions followed by a couple months of silence.... We're still not really talking about it - at least not to each other. The kids know and they like the idea. I'm at the stage where its just starting to be evident to others when the baby kicks and moves. The kids really like it when they can see or feel the movements.

We learned on the 19th that we're having a boy. The kids are very excited - everyone wanted a boy! Nathan is thrilled that he'll have an ally finally!

We're definitely on a roller-coaster as we get closer to this newest arrival to our family. It is my hope and my prayer that we can celebrate this baby every bit as much as we did the other three... I'm leaving that in God's hands and trying to be patient as He works on both Lowell and I.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Grace and Mercy

I was terrible to my children yesterday. I was stressed and tired and sick and... well, there aren't any excuses that make it okay. I apologized to them and tried to explain that I was feeling overwhelmed - but that it didn't condone my behavior. And then, 30 minutes later, they were back to telling me that I'm the best mom in the world, and begging me not to go to Walmart by myself because they missed me. Their allegiance is mind boggling. And humbling.

And then this morning, Lowell and I got into it. He thought my tone of voice was disrespectful and that I was jumping down his throat. I was baffled how he could think that and I was upset because he choose to pick a fight with me on a morning where I have a lot of responsibility and added stress... I have a hard time believing that I sounded negative. But I can't hear myself - and honestly, I suppose what matters is what he heard, not really what I said. So, I tried to humble myself and apologize but instead I sounded frustrated and angry. I guess I really wasn't ready to accept that he may have been right about my tone.

Even now, two hours later, part of me still thinks he really could've waited until my morning was over - or could've brought it up without mocking me or being critical. So, I guess I'm still not ready to apologize. :) But I'm thinking about it. Apparently humility has not been one of my strengths as of late.

It would be nice if he was thinking about apologizing too, but I've learned that my husband very rarely does that. He doesn't think about his actions or words after they've come out of his mouth. I'm not sure how much thought goes into it before they are done/said, but I know there is very little attention paid to the aftermath. He is very good at justifying his actions and behaviors and is rarely willing to examine them or consider that something different could've or should've been done.

This really upsets me. REALLY upsets me. But am I so different? I am quick to pounce on the things that he does that hurt/anger me but I am still arguing 2 hours later about my tone of voice. I justify myself and I make excuses for my behavior and I think of myself as soo much more humble and flexible than he is. Where's the grace and submission in that?!?!!

So once again, I'm reminded that whenever I see things about others that really get under my skin, things that upset me - its likely that those specific things bother me because I know that they exist within myself.

Thank you Lord for reminding me that the focus should not be on the limitations of others - but of the unique, wonderful blessings that they are in my life. And that I, of all people, don't have any room to complain about my little family! I'm just as messed up as they are! :)
And thank you that You've forgiven me for all of the multitude of sins that I commit each and every day. And please use the reality of how much I've been forgiven to increase the amount of grace that I bestow on those around me. I don't deserve forgiveness or grace, but its been given to me and therefore I can show the same mercy to those I love.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Another Miracle about Chloe

One thing I didn't know about appendicitis and specifically, a burst appendix, is that it isn't uncommon for the appendix to take an ovary with it when it ruptures. When the surgeon first came out of surgery that afternoon, he had about 12 pictures to show us that had been taken from the laproscopic camera. First he showed us pictures of the appendix before and after and explained what we were looking at. He said that a normal appendix should be about the size of that person's pinky finger. Chloe's was the size of a full grown man's thumb. It was seriously inflamed. He also showed us the junk that was in Chloe's abdomen and the fluid that he removed. Then he showed us two pictures - one of the left ovary and one of the right. I questioned what the ovaries have to do with the appendix. That was when he told me that the ovaries are at risk whenever the appendix bursts. I was shocked! My daughter could've had her ability to have children taken away or seriously compromised!?!?!?!! Thankfully however, they were both completely unaffected and perfect.
Yet another miracle to add to the list of those that we were part of with Chloe's surgery.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chloe's Surgery Part 2

When we went in to see Chloe, she was still really groggy and fading in and out of sleep. The nurse told us that the first thing she did when she woke up was look at the surgeon and say "Am I all better now?". So adorable! :)
That first afternoon, she slept quite a bit but, by evening, she was wanting to be mobile. She had a catheter and so walking was a little interesting, but we managed. She walked two laps around our ward. The nurses were impressed and I was very proud. She claimed that she wasn't really in a lot of pain - her only complaint was the catheter. She really, really wanted that thing out! That night she also got to drink some water and chew on ice chips.
The next morning, we met with the doctors and the surgeon again and they ok-ed a clear liquid diet. Chloe got to have apple juice, grape juice and chicken broth. We tried a little Jello but her stomach was still not too keen on the idea of sugar. Even better however, was that the doctors said we could remove the catheter! As soon as that was done, Chloe was up again, walking around. She decided that she had seen enough of the ward and wanted to explore the rest of the hospital. We set off looking for the gift shop and the cafeteria. Because she was only 24 hours out of surgery, she was still getting tired fairly easily, so we tried to keep our walking to short trips. That day, she was up and about 4 times. She also got to visit the "Closet" where the nurses stock presents for the kids. She was able to pick out a present.
The nurses in general seemed to adore Chloe. They all commented about how well she was doing and how she was the faster recovery they had ever seem from a rupture appendix. One of the nurses even brought her little gifts and lent her movies from her own personal collection. Her name is Elisha. Chloe really liked her too. One of the things Chloe got out of the gift closet was something called a Zooble. And so, after surgery, Lowell went to Walmart and got her a couple more little Zoobles to play with. And then, the next day, Elisha came in with another Zooble.
There was also a lady on the floor who's job was to talk to kids about their procedures and their medications and their tubes and wires so that all of it was understandable to them. She was fantastic!!! She was able to come talk to Chloe before surgery and then able to stay with her during the whole procedure so that Chloe always had a familiar face she could turn to. She also came back frequently during our stay in the hospital to make sure Chloe was never at a loss of things to do. She brought coloring stuff, sand art, stickers, markers, etc... I joked when we left that Chloe had come into the hospital with jammies and a blanket and left with two bags of loot!! She was very spoiled! But she was also a fantastic patient!
Day 3 we had a PICC line scheduled. This is a heavy duty IV that goes into the upper arm and allows the antibiotics to flow directly into the main arteries around the heart. Apparently the anti-biotics that Chloe was on are very heavy duty and so they can be irritating to her little veins. Also, normal IVs in the hand are usually only functional for 24-48 hours before they have to be moved or replaced. Chloe, however, was the exception. On the morning of day 3, the doctors and the surgeon all concurred that she was just doing too well to require the PICC line and that she would be able to get by with her current situation. Her IV in her hand was holding up miraculously well and she wasn't have any reaction to the antibiotics. That was also the day we learned that, if she could eat, she could go home!! So, she was taken off of IV fluids and only had to be attached to the machine when it was time for the medicine.
So, for breakfast, we busted open a little box of Honey Nut Cheerios and she also ate some fruit off of my plate. For lunch, we tried some mac and cheese and some mashed potatoes. Neither of these went over well and her stomach rebelled a little. So, for dinner, back to the cereal and fruit. Wednesday was also the day of Chloe's biggest triumph! She climbed three flights of stairs - much to the amazement of the nurses and doctors!! She was very proud of herself and got to make another trip to the Closet! (I told you she got spoiled!! :))
Thursday morning, Chloe was up and ready to go on a walk, but I wanted her to wait for the doctor's to make their rotations so that we could find out if we could go home! Chloe was antsy, so we made a short trip upstairs to see the newborn babies. When we got back to our room, the doctors were on the floor. When they came in, it was decided that she was well enough to go home so long as she could follow a few directives. She is unable to bathe or swim for 1 week, (but she can shower) and she can't do PE or recess for at least 2 weeks, possibly 3 depending on our follow up with the surgeon, and also that we follow up with a doctor at the clinic in 3 days.
YIPEE!! Homeward bound!
So we signed a bunch of papers and then packed up our things and headed home! The first thing we had to do was go grocery shopping so that we would have light, easy things for Chloe's stomach. Then Chloe wanted to go see her classmates. We stopped in at her school and picked up her classwork and she got to say Hello to everyone. She was very shy about being the center of attention but then didn't want to leave when it was time. She's so funny. Then we picked up the other two kids a little early so that they could come home and spend time with their sister. They had visited her once in the hospital, but because it is flu season, visitors under the age of 12 are not allowed on the floor itself. Chloe came out to the cafeteria to see them, but she was really tired that day so the meeting was fairly short. Thankfully, this time, she was well rested and as excited to see them as they were to see her!
We experienced so many blessings during this whole experience that I can't even begin to say how thankful I am. The nurses, doctors, aides... Basically everyone at Banner Thunderbird were just fantastic! Even from the very beginning, the staff at Good Night Pediatrics were fabulous! I also worked with Hospital Patient Services because our kids don't have insurance - well, they didn't - and that process was fairly painless as well.
I'm so thankful mostly for everyone who prayed us through this! I'm thankful that Lowell and I both were able to take the week off work, that our neighbor was willing to pick the kids up from school, that I received countless text messages of encouragement, and that our family and friends were constantly bathing our little one in prayer. So, thank you - from the bottom of our hearts - Thank you!!!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Chloe's Surgery Part 1

Well, anyone who has been on Facebook lately knows that Chloe has been in the hospital. It all started last Sunday after church when she began complaining of an upset stomach. I should start by saying that Saturday, she had a play date with a friend from school and they were everywhere. They played, they ran, laughed, ate, etc. So, on Sunday, I thought that maybe we were dealing with hunger pains or possibly a 24 hour bug. I had no idea that stomach ache would land us in the hospital prepping for surgery.
By Sunday night, Chloe had been throwing up and was writhing around on the couch in pain. She was whimpering and couldn’t get comfortable. For Chloe to be showing that much pain – that’s a big deal! She is a tough little cookie who only cries if she’s feeling emotional – not from pain. At around 7pm, we decided to take her to Good Night Pediatrics. She was crying and couldn’t walk out to the car. Lowell carried her out and we wrapped her in a blanket. While I was driving, she fell asleep and was still sleeping when we got to the doctor’s. I hesitated to even take her in, I figured that maybe sleeping would help and she would wake up fine. She said she was feeling a little better, but she still thought she needed to see the doctor. (Honestly, my hesitation was financial – none of the kids are insured and I didn’t want to go pay $150 for them to tell me she had the flu… Terrible what we have to think about – choosing between our children’s health and money..) So I decided to take her in. I, blessedly, got a parking spot right in front, and went in the office before her and signed her in. There were about 35 people in the waiting room and I didn’t think it would be good to wake her up if I could leave her in the car until they were ready to see her. I explained her symptoms to the lady at the front desk and she suggested that Chloe be seen immediately. Instead of charging me for the visit, they took her back to the triage area where she was seen by the doctor. He said that he thought the risk was too great and that it was all too possible that she might have a problem with her appendix so he wasn’t comfortable with her being seen there and suggested that we go straight to the emergency room. They directed us to Banner Thunderbird hospital and said that they’d call ahead so that the children’s emergency department would be ready for us.
On the way to the hospital, Chloe fell asleep again. When we got to the ER, it was quite a walk from the nearest parking spot to the door and she wasn’t very happy with the fact that I couldn’t carry her. She did a great job, only complaining a little bit and then curled up in the waiting room. Again, we didn’t have to wait long before they took us back to triage. Chloe got an IV (didn’t cry) and they took blood and set her up with IV fluids. Then they scheduled a CT scan to take a better look at her appendix. The doctor said that “Clinically, she had appendicitis, we just need the CT to prove it.” So we waited and waited and waited…. Chloe slept a little here and there but basically we just watched tv and waited for the call to have a CT scan. The doctor came in a couple hours later and stated that she was furious that she had placed the order for the scan and also for IV antibiotics 2 hours before and nothing had been done. So, she decided to admit Chloe based on her findings. She said that even if the CT didn’t show appendicitis, she would need to stay for 12-18 hours to have another CT just to be sure. So, we waiting another hour or so and then got taken upstairs to a room in the pediatric ward. The CT scan didn’t come until 7am but when it did – it confirmed that Chloe definitely had appendicitis and, likely, her appendix had already burst. So, the surgeon PA came in to speak with us and get us prepared for what the day would bring. Surgery was scheduled for 12pm. We were told that Chloe would be put under anesthesia and that the procedure would be done laproscopically. She was supposed to be in surgery for about 1 hour unless they found something significantly wrong. We saw the surgeon about 75 minutes after surgery started. He let us know that, yes her appendix had ruptured and that her stomach was quite full of pus and junk. They used 5 liters of fluid to wash out her belly and removed the junk that they found. He said that she was doing just fine and that we would be able to see her as soon as she came out of anesthesia.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Christmas has come and gone. The New Year is here. I never did get my Christmas decorations out of storage, didn't decorate or ever really get into the Christmas spirit... Nevertheless, we had a good day. Christmas Eve the kids and I wrapped presents and after they fell asleep, I made fake stockings out of Lowell's wool socks and put them around our "tree". Here are some pictures for the day.
Christmas Day we opened presents after Lowell got home and then relaxed a little before I set about making green chile chicken enchilades, peanut butter cookies and a German chocolate cake for an early birthday for Lowell. After lunch, we sat down to watch A Christmas Story. I had never watched the whole thing, start to finish. And I still haven't. :) Lowell, Jillian and I all feel asleep. It was great to take a nap and just relax.
Unfortunately, due to the move and some other unexpected expenses, we didn't have very much money to spend on Christmas this year. As a result, the kids got a lot of hand-me-down toys and thrift store finds. Unfortuntately, a couple of Nathan's presents were unusable. One of them didn't work at all, and the other was a board game that had most of its pieces, but not the instructions.... I'm still working on downloading the instructions from the web. Dial up internet is a whole new world that I'm not liking.
New Year's Eve I worked and then came home and had fun with the family. We laughed and played Uno and just enjoyed each other's company - all 5 of us. Lowell works in Tempe and the Tempe Block Party for New Year's Eve is one of the biggest parties in the country for ringing in the new year. Every bus that his company has is needed for the night so needless to say, he was extremely busy and a lot was expected of him to be the supervisor on such a crucial night. I'm so proud of him. And he totally spoiled me this morning too. He called to say 'good morning' and to ask what size shoes I wear. Odd, but I didn't question him. He came home with fixings for breakfast, laundry soap and some comfy, warm slippers for me. The heater in our new house doesn't work and our "winter clothes" are in storage... So we've been making it work with blankets and space heaters. It was so thoughtful for him to spoil me with something so practical and helpful! I love him dearly!
New Years Day was just a break - a day off, a day to rest and relax and read a book... Actually I just finished "The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo" and I'm excited to read the next book... The kids and I worked on some homework and they played outside. Tomorrow means more housework and doing some final moving and cleaning at the other house. Just another day...

December 12

I wrote this December 12th but have only now gotten the internet so that I could post it...

We’re in our new house. There are four bedrooms, 2 baths, a family room, living room and dining room… And we’re soooo excited about all the space. With four bedrooms, each child has their own space and Lowell and I have a bedroom that has a “sitting room” space that will give me a place to have my scrapbooking stuff! Yipee.
Last night was the second night we slept here. The first night, Jillian was not sure about sleeping by herself. In California, Chloe and Jillian shared a room, with bunk beds. Since we’ve been here, they have not only shared a room, but a full sized bed. So this is a big change. And Jillie wasn’t so sure about it. Chloe is excited because she will only be responsible for cleaning her own messes in her own room. She says she pretty sick of having to help clean up messes in their room that she feels Jillian was responsible for. I guess now we’ll see who was making all the messes. J
Anyway, so Chloe is excited about having her own space. Jillian is too, except when it comes to sleeping. She didn’t want to sleep by herself. Being that it’s a new house, new place, new experience.. And because she’s only 5 – I let Boogie sleep with me that first night but only on the condition that the next night – last night, she’d sleep in her own bed.
So bedtime came last night and Boogie bravely settled down in her room… About five minutes went by and she came out asking if she could sleep with Chloe. She knew she couldn’t sleep with me, but maybe Chloe would be more open… So, I told Jillie to ask Chloe. Chloe said she’d think about it. J (I wonder where she’s heard that one.)
Brave little Boogie went back into her own room and laid down… And fell asleep. She slept all night in her own bed. In her own room. By herself.
When I went in my room to sleep, I was sad and proud at the same time. I realized that this was a big step in her journey to being “grown up”. And I don’t want my baby to grow up just yet… Even typing this I have tears in my eyes because I am so crazy about that little curly-haired angel… And, even though it might not seem like a big deal, I know that it was hard for her to be obedient and lay down in there by herself. Part of me wanted to run into her room and scoop her up and snuggle with her until she fell asleep. Because I don’t want my children to suffer…
But the responsible part of me remembered that my job as a parent is to root my children in God and to teach them to be separate from me – independent and relying on God, not Mom. I teach my babies that if they can’t sleep, instead of counting sheep, they can talk to God. He’s always awake and always listening… I would love to snuggle on their little heads and listen to their little snores… But I have to teach them to not need me. To self-soothe and to be able to fall asleep on their own.
Sometimes I doubt my timing.. Is it too early to be pushing my children from the proverbial nest? Am I expecting too much from them? I snug on them frequently during the day and I love to snuggle with them in the mornings… But bedtime means that everyone goes to his or her respective bed. Honestly, part of this decision comes because I simply don’t like sleeping with a little wiggly body that hogs all the covers and kicks me… I love having my bed to myself. (Disclaimer if you’re new to this blog – my husband works nights. J)
I had a conversation with a good friend last night about parenting. We were talking about doubt. There are so many nights I lay awake thinking, “Why did I…” or “Why didn’t I…” or “I wish I hadn’t let that opportunity pass me by.” My friend made a good point. She asked if I ever lay in bed and wonder why my “mom” snapped at me this one time, or why she didn’t teach me when she could have or why she…
I guess I don’t really fear the individual moments, I fear the pattern. I don’t want my kids to grow up and remember their mom as one who was snippy or grouchy or impatient or tired… And I definitely fear the “last”. The whole idea that, if I had known that would be that last time my son would come lay in bed with me asking to be snugged, I would’ve stayed and hugged and snuggled sooo much longer. Or I had known it was the last time my baby was going to ask me to read her Dr. Seuss, I wouldn’t have growled or sighed when she asked me. I might have read it twice. Or if I had known it would be the last time Chloe would come to my bed in the middle of the night because she had a nightmare, I would’ve actually sat up in bed and hugged her instead of just inviting her into a hug and then falling right back asleep.
I suppose there comes a point where you just have to let yourself off the hook. Honestly, I believe that I will never be the parent that I want to be simply because my standards for myself are too high. I want perfection. And that’s impossible. Even knowing that, I still regret all the times that I fall short. I work so hard to teach my children about having grace and mercy with each other… Forgiving little grievances and overlooking unintentional wrongs. But I don’t give myself the same courtesy. I wonder what is speaking louder – my words or my actions.
I don’t want my children to be perfectionists. I want them to be proud of themselves, to be confident that they are loved by both God and their parents, and to humbly know that they are just fantastic little people. Ignoring all the rest, I hope that message gets through.