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Thirty-four Week Reality

I tried to bend over.  My shoelaces felt like they were a mile away, and I sat back down on the couch, defeated.  My sweet baby girl, who is no longer a baby, knelt down in front of me.  Her own sneakers neatly tied, warm winter coat covering her little body.  It was so chilly this morning.  She deftly took my shoelaces in her pinkies and tied my shoes in her own special Betty way.  Unique like her.  Her helpful servant’s heart overflowed through her fingers to make a perfect bow.  It was a soft moment in a rather rushed and not so gentle morning.

2016-10-11-08-10-03-1My day began around 3 o’clock this morning when a noise woke me up.  Which in turn led my bladder to wake up and I shuffled out of bed to the bathroom.  It’s a dangerous journey these days, down the hall and through the bathroom doors.  As we’ve been painting baby Chip’s room, there are extra things tucked along the edges, making it very tricky for a balance-challenged-half-asleep-pregnant woman.  Often I can fall right back asleep, but this morning my body felt VERY awake, despite the long day of painting before.  I read for a little while, then dozed off right about when Matthew was getting up for work.  The next thing I remember is being fully awakened by a phone call from Matthew, at work, to make sure I was awake.  Only then did I remember hitting my snooze button.  Oops.  So, we had 45 minutes to ALL wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, and pack lunches for their day at camp.  Insert my shoes getting tied here, after an incredibly rushed and harried morning.

We did make it in time.  After I dropped them off, I had the entire day alone.  This is both therapeaudic and eery for me.  To not talk to anyone, or hear my name being called for the thousandth time, can actually be a bit lonely.  Right around 1 o’clock I somewhat lost it.  I had many hopes and expectations for my day, and about the only thing I accomplished was putting away the groceries I got and washing the dishes from our incredibly crazy morning.  Something about the water rushing over my hands, and the quiet of the house, made the tears fall freely.

There are other things at play, I’m sure.  Something like pregnancy hormones, and all the changes going on in our family right now.  For the past fourteen years, each and every pregnancy has been coupled together with major changes, as if having a baby isn’t change enough.  Yet their births have been like exciting exclamation points, accentuating God’s blessing on our family.  When we found out we were expecting mid-November, I knew God had something huge in store for us at the end of this year.  We’re still unsure of what that is, but we feel the crescendo of God’s masterful handiwork, as November swiftly approaches.  Stay tuned.



I Just Want A Yes

One thing which bothers me is when one of my children asks me for  a snack as I’m cooking dinner.  About a week ago, my littlest was doing just that.  As I looked at her and firmly told her, “No,” she sat down on the floor, tucked her head in between her knees and cried dramatically: “But I just want a yes!”  The outburst stopped me in my tracks.  It almost felt like her words were being interpreted from my own heart’s silent prayer to my Heavenly Father.  I just want a yes.

This week was a rough one for me.  That same particular little girl started having a fever and alarmingly swollen lymph nodes, warranting a doctor’s visit and a round of blood-work.  2015-06-01 14.07.46
Thankfully, the blood-work came back normal, but the next day she developed a scary-looking rash on her forehead/scalp area.  To make a long story short, 3 doctor visits later and an incredibly high temp of 105 at one point… she was diagnosed with Lyme’s disease.  Lyme’s is a tick borne disease and nothing to take lightly.2015-06-05 13.03.17-1
This was the point where I began to ask others to pray for us.  It was going on five days of constant fever, and Thursday night she was unable to walk up the stairs or move her leg from standing to sitting.  She hadn’t really complained yet, despite how wretched she felt, so when she started to cry about her leg hurting so badly, I knew she was in a lot of pain.  God promises us tremendous power is made available through a good man’s earnest prayer. (James 5:16)  I just wanted a yes, but realized God wouldn’t change in any way if He said no.2015-06-05 19.00.04-1
We went to bed Thursday night, the only difference being we were completely surrounded by the prayers of so many.  It was like a thick blanket or wall, surrounding her on all sides throughout the entire night.  It was palpable.  On Friday morning, I woke up to a sweet, smiling face in my bed.  She had climbed up without any pain or problem and said, “Look at my ear!” (which is where the rash had started).  It was completely normal, and there was no rash anywhere.  Her fever was gone completely.  She was smiling.  I’m so thankful He said, “Yes!”
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The night before, I had told the Lord again that she was His.  I am convinced of God’s goodness and faithfulness not because of what He will or will not do in my life, but because of Who He is.  We can not sit on the floor and scream: I just want a yes!  If we interpret what He does based on what we think is good, or what we think He should do, we misinterpret His character.  Our definition of good is limited by time and space and is tainted by our own selfishness.  We can’t see the big picture. Just because I told Betty “no” to having a snack, didn’t equate me as a bad mom.  In fact, I said no because there was something even better just ahead if she would just trust me and wait for it.  God always acts in accordance with His character and not just according to what we think is good.  Having Him take one of my children is something so difficult that I can not even begin to imagine or even dwell on it for one second because of the ache it produces in my heart.  However, I was swiftly reminded this week that everything God has given to us can be taken in an instant.  Yet, no matter what, God does not change in His goodness, His faithfulness, or His nearness.

Jesus said in John 14:27- I leave behind with you- peace; I give you my own peace and my gift is nothing like the peace of this world.  You must not be distressed and you must not be daunted.  This verse popped up twice on Thursday.  Once, on a crumpled piece of paper that survived an entire heavy duty whirl in the washing machine.  (When does paper ever survive a wash?)  God knew I needed to hear from Him and be reminded that circumstances don’t change His gift of peace.
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The scariness of the situation didn’t shift the truth of God’s nearness.  I also read this reminder: Never forget the nearness of your Lord...He is right here with me.  Don’t worry over anything whatever. Whenever you pray, tell God every detail of your reeds in thankful prayer, and the peace of God…that peace He knew we so desperately needed, so He left it with us when He went back to Heaven… Which surpasses human understanding… if you’ve experienced it, you know it…  Will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.  This peace doesn’t come and go, but is like a sentry over our hearts and minds: keeping worry out and keeping peace in, so we can rest.

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Two Foot Bologna and Wolf Ears

Yesterday morning started off relaxed and chill.  Some kids listening to a story in one room, someone else slowly savoring their bowl of cereal.  I still meandered around in my sweat pants and two-day-old shirt, after having ignoring the little voice that told me I should get dressed immediately upon rising.  All of a sudden I got a panicky feeling that I was supposed to be somewhere.  I texted my friend to ask her if the kids had science class today.  I had checked the schedule, but must have read it wrong. Yes, science class began five minutes ago.  I jammed on my boots, didn’t even tie them, shrugged on another layer over my limp shirt, and shoved a hat on my morning hair.  Betty, who was in the middle of being a ballerina, put a coat over her stockings and leotard, and off we went.  It was harrowing.  Amazingly, they were only twenty minutes late for class.  Wearing my junky clothes (okay, pajamas) I still had to fetch a lunch for my poor students, so I ran to the nearest grocery store.  Somehow, in 15 minutes we managed to use a two-foot-long piece of bologna to whip other siblings in the meat department and we also were able to tip the cart on top of ourselves just before the checkout line.  We, meaning, those of us under the age of thirty-four.  The worst part of the morning was in the parking lot.  Just before our van, Elsie ran ahead of me by a few feet and as I called for her to stop, my voice quickly changed into a scream as an SUV pulled forward from behind another parked car and came within one foot of hitting her.  Praise the Lord for protecting us!  Praise Him too for fresh beginnings and new days.

January came and went, leaving a few fun memories behind in its wake.  Matthew and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary.
As a belated gift, I surprised him with going to see Les Misérables at a local theatre.2015-01-16 23.53.51 Processed with Moldiv

We were gifted with the treat of going to Great Wolf Lodge in the Pocono’s with our family and some of Matt’s co-workers.  It was a super-fun memory with the kids.  Sadly, Elsie got pretty sick for half of our time there, so I bonded with our hotel room more than the indoor pool area.
This girl right here turned four.  She multi-tasks like a natural woman, and makes us laugh so much.DSC_6883
What’s not to love about a girl who burps, giggles, then says, “Some girls have some burps.”  Or someone who plays in the snow and says, “My feet are soaking, soaking cold!”  Or calls firecrackers, “firecrackles”.  Sometimes when I overhear her and Elsie playing together I get such a kick out of what they say.  Once Betty exclaimed enthusiastically, “Hi!  You can call me Aunt Vicky!”  I have no idea where that came from, and I laughed so hard.  Some mornings I get woken up with this:2015-01-21 07.46.30-2
A little baby wolf with big brown eyes.  “Can you come downstairs with me?”
January 2015 phone photos
Sometimes I wish she would stay bitty forever, but I do love watching her grow.

Today Matthew is having his second infusion of Rituxan.  He has no side effects from it, but he also hasn’t felt any better yet.  The big kids had a computer class last month, so Elsie and I enjoyed some one-on-one time.  The kids have also been having a blast each week at a winter class at Black Rock. Jack has been wrestling like a champ.  We went back to Matthew’s highschool in Philly and watched his old teammate coach the current team to Public League Champions.  It was very nostalgic watching those boys wrestle, just like I used to watch Matthew wrestle many moons ago.
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There is much more to say, but time to dive into February and all it holds.  Without the two-foot bologna.

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Terrifical Twos

Click.  The dreadful sound of Betty locking herself in the bathroom.  Again.  It is futile to describe to her how to turn the old-fashioned lock on the other side.  One inch away, yet so very far.  So I don my imaginary cape and slip out Nadine’s bedroom window onto the steeper-than-I-remembered roof.  Again.  I’m sweating profusely in the January air.  I really hope I don’t start to slide.  Carefully, I crawl to the bathroom window, praying it’s not locked.  It’s difficult to open, but not impossible.  There she stands, in her baggy pink panties, yelling at her siblings through the door, oblivious to my presence behind her, climbing very awkwardly through the window.  I think if I had a real cape on, it would have looked more impressive.  I show her (again) how to turn the lock other other way, and we’re out in the hallway again!

Not a bad way to remember her 2nd birthday.  Little miss has been strutting around in panties too big for her, held up by a giant safety-pin.  She wants to sit on the potty all the time, but nothing comes out.  Every few minutes: Mommy!  Potty!  Then nothing.  Finally, about the fifty-third try: success!  That chocolate chip never tasted sweeter.  She loves to talk.  She, like her two siblings preceding her, loves oats.  Opes with bananas!   She loves to help unload the dishwasher with Nadine.  After they’re all finished, they bump the door closed with their bottoms.  She laughs every time.  We just love our Betty Ann.  Happy birthday, darling Betty!

I’ve never liked the “terrible twos” title.  I think it boxes them in to being a certain way.  She has certainly found her voice and exerts her will, but are those terrible things to learn?  I can’t allow a stereotypical label dictate how I perceive or train her.  She is not trying to frustrate me, and I need to respond to her challenges with love and firmness.  It’s an hourly, sometimes moment-by-moment work.  It’s sweaty, tiring, and sometimes takes me away from my personal to-do’s.

We recently switched bedrooms around, and she is now sharing her little pink room with Elsie.  They are both thrilled with the arrangement.  Now the boys share the attic and Nadine has her own room.  She has been craving her own space, and feeling the age gap between her little sisters very keenly.  Other arrangements throughout the house have been an improvement on our space: switching the dining room table with the kitchen table, adding a shelf here or there, throwing more things away, doing a little tidying every day throughout the day.  Sometimes I feel like I’m growing up.

Maybe one day I’ll get that cape.

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Thrilling Tapioca

Today I’m thankful for the tapioca pearls someone gave us awhile back.  They’ve been sitting in my cupboard, and I pulled them out this week for some sensory play!  Betty was immediately pleased with herself that she was cooking alongside mommy, and set to work scooping, pouring, and taking handfuls of the fun little spheres.  Soon all the kids wanted in on the game, and there were tiny white balls all over the kitchen floor.  They roll and bounce very easily, by the way.  Every day now, Betty goes to the big drawer under the oven, pulls out the muffin tins and a spoon and looks up at me with those baby browns, expectantly waiting for me to fetch the tapioca.  I’m thankful for imaginations, the grace when messes happen, and the joy on my children’s faces from simple things.  Who needs toys when you have tapioca?

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Every time you ask Betty a question she will always answer, “Yeah!”  I love it.

Betty, are you hungry?  YEAH!  Betty, are those your shoes?  YEAH!  Betty, do you love Elijah?  YEAH!

She sometimes pulls out the cheerio box and grabs a handful.  Doesn’t happen a lot, but if you asked her if she likes cheerios, she would say, YEAH!

Betty, do you love your daddy?  YEAH!  Betty, are  you finished your banana?  YEAH!  Betty, do you need to get dressed?  YEAH!

Betty, do you love your bunny?  YEAH!  Betty, does Jesus love you?  YEAH! 

She is our major key lift when life feels minor.  She reminds me of how I need to approach life every day: with an enthusiastic, yeah!

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Growing Betty

Sometimes I just sit on the ground and watch Elsie and Betty play their games.  This particular day involved a cowboy hat and a load of towels hanging on the clothesline.  In and out they went, laughing and chattering.  Betty’s personality is quickly emerging as she approaches the big two.

She loves to play.  She just discovered that she loves apples, so now she fits in with the rest of her siblings when they each are chomping on an apple.  In fact, the other day Jack was eating a huge apple and his loose tooth came out and he swallowed it with the apple!  Oops!  He was very nonplussed about it and kept eating his apple.

Her pants are starting to look like flood-water pants, and her shoes barely squeeze on her little feet.  She’s been in size 3 for a long time!

When I asked Nadine what her favorite thing about  Betty is right now, she said, I love it when she puts her hands behind her back and just stands there.  It’s true.  Super cute!  Her favorite song is “Ten Men”, where we act out the story of the ten men that Jesus healed and only one man came back.  Then she brings one hand out and puts up her pointer finger and waves it around while we sing, “Thank you, thank you, Jesus…”  So cute.

When we ask her a question and it’s a yes, she excitedly says, “Da!”  When it’s a no, she shakes her head very fast, tilts her head down, and looks up with no expression on her face, except whatever her big brown eyes say.

A typical afternoon with Betty includes a few changes of shoes, running around with something on her head, and lots of giggling.  She also seems to leave a whirlwind of messes wherever she goes.  I think the main reason she makes messes is so she can clean them up.  She loves to help pick things up, sweep the floor, unload the dishwasher, and put things away.   It’s hard to get upset when I turn around and she’s smiling at me.