The internet is a funny thing. While some can’t begin to fathom why we open our hearts and our homes to complete strangers, it has woven a strange sense of community. It has made the world that much smaller. We read about the families and the stories, we come to know them and love them, and we want to ease their suffering, their pain, their aches. Even as much as we want to make it better for them, we can’t help but give way to our own questions. Why that family? Why those parents? Why?
I can’t begin to number the stories that I’ve read over the internet, of families who have struggled with the suffering and often times, death of their children. Oh. It makes me ache, the universal ache of every woman who has mothered a child. The collective pain of every father who has held a sleeping child and wondered at the miracle of them. But I can’t turn away.
I’ve often wondered why we put ourselves through it, why we connect with a stranger, grow attached to their family and their story, only to know its going to hurt us too. And a part of me wonders if perhaps we’re trying to share a burden, the burden of a pain so deep and so heavy that one can’t bear it alone. I don’t know… But if my reading their story, if my crying alongside them through a computer screen, can bring any comfort at all, I welcome it.
And the greater benefit of opening myself up to that?
It reminds me.
It reminds that there are no guarantees on this earth. It reminds me that only God knows the number of our days. It reminds me that the greatest treasures this world has to offer are the ones that are often taken for granted. It reminds me to stop. To listen. To play. To cherish. To cuddle. And to love.
So as I pray fervently for the strength and sustenance for Layla Grace’s family, I remember to be thankful for the ones I’ve been given and to cherish each and every moment with them. Because someday, months from now, Layla Grace’s mom is going to wish she had a sick child to nurture, she’s going to wish for a child underfoot, she’s going to wish for sticky handprints on her walls.
Oh, dear Father, let me treasure the here and now.
And blessings, Layla Grace. God speed on this journey of yours. May we always remember your story and the lessons it brought.
It hit me between the eyes, is running down my nose, over my mouth, and dripping off my chin.
I have officially learned my lesson about planning birthday parties during a 16-hour road trip. And waiting until the last minute. And sending out emails without the correct information.
February has been a crazy month. My mom disappeared to Arizona for over two weeks to make medical decisions for my uncle during his last days, and I couldn’t plan Hudson’s birthday party when I didn’t know when she’d be back. Then Ed died, and I also wanted to give our friends time to mourn his passing without feeling obligated to come to a birthday party. Then the weekend we were going to have his party turned out to be the weekend of Uncle Scott’s funeral and the need for our road trip.
So Sunday morning, I sat in the van feeling like a complete failure as a mother for letting two weeks go past his birthday without making a single plan for his party. I whipped out the blackberry, made some calls, and hastily sent out a text message invite.
Classy. I know.
The problem was there are three, THREE, bounce houses in our area. Bounce, Jump In, and Pump It Up. I called Bounce (thinking it was the Pump It Up location), made the party reservation, sent out the text with the correct address, but wrong city.
Then last night, Christine called me and asked for clarification because they couldn’t find the address in the city I’d provided. I assured her I was right and would verify the information before calling her back.
I called her back with a sheepish tone to my voice and said the opposite, that she was right, it was in the other city.
This morning I sent out an email to correct my mistake and directed people to "Bounce" in the correct city, but the wrong location. Two people immediately contacted me, wondering if I was referring to Jump In and/or the wrong address.
At this point I was hiding my face in my arms on the desk and wishing that I had better control of this situation.
I called the number I’d called on Sunday, clarified that I had all the correct information, and was embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t even known this third place existed. And yet somehow, I’d planned his whole party there while thinking it was at one of the other two places.
There’s been another email. I think its correct this time. But who knows with my lack of organizational skills. I think this response to my last email sums it up pretty clearly.
From: (Uncle) Caleb
Subject: RE: Hudson's Birthday Party *Correction*
If there are any mistakes in this email, we're not going to come...
But don’t think for one moment that I’m not giving voice to my emotions or thoughts; my poor husband must listen to my endless tirade until all of it has been drained. Poor guy! He really is a trooper for lending me his shoulder and his ear. I’m so appreciative of him that will let me talk in circles until I’ve exhausted every point two or three times, who then offers some encouragement or a thought to calm me down. Of course, on occasion, he has been known to fuel the flame until I’m completely riled up again, but I’m choosing to ignore those times right now.
- Ewwwwww! I can't believe she's touching that fish. And a headless one at that!
- Is she playing with his mouth?!
- She is SOOOOO not my daughter.
- Did Jon make her wash her hands when she was done?
- Did she catch that all by herself?
- Look how proud she is!
- Love the freckles across her nose and cheeks.
- She is beautiful, and growing up so fast.
- I love that she loves fishing with her daddy.
- She is a braver person than I...
But I truly, truly pray that Jon made her wash her hands.
Speaking of designs, have you checked out my design gallery lately? I’ve added a number of new designs and still have about three more on my plate. I have been so very blessed to find something I love doing and a great way to make a little money on the side too. He is so very good, isn’t He?!
We had an incredible whirlwind of a weekend. In 63 hours, we drove 32 of them, over 1660 miles, through 3 states, with 12 people, and we managed not to kill each other. Although I’m only half-kidding, it truly could have been so much worse. We sisters are known for our highly-spirited debates that can often end in hurt feelings, but we rarely did any of that. And the children! Wow, they get Kiddos of the Year for sure. In fact, we haven’t left at all today for fear that there’d be a revolt against carseats any time soon.
We got to spend time with cousins, which is always a good thing. You’ll notice in this picture that my cousin, Daniel, is refusing to smile. And while he’ll un-tag himself in any pictures on Facebook, he can’t do anything about the ones I post on my blog. Hee-hee. The other little girl with Devyn is actually MY cousin, Alex, who happens to be only seven months older than my oldest. I could try to explain but there isn’t enough room.
The funeral was really good! There were some great testimonies to Uncle Scott’s character and I found myself wishing I’d known him better in his later years. Unfortunately, distance played a huge part in our lack of closeness. But it was good to be there to say our good-byes.
The highlight of this fast weekend trip was getting to meet dear Stacey for a coffee/cheesecake date! We have been reading each other’s blogs for 4+ years and have moved from blog friends to Facebook friends to texting friends and now, to real-life friends. Seriously, we could not stop hugging each other, it was just so good to sit and chat to our heart’s content. We got so wrapped up in conversation that we barely noticed the time. And I especially love the part where we got lost in Phoenix, at 11:30 at night, and had no idea where we were going. Good times!
(Side note to Stacey- My mind is still reeling from all the great subjects we touched on that night! Thank you for the wisdom you imparted and I can’t wait to put my thoughts to paper, or computer screen.)
And lastly, I tried Pioneer Woman’s Pasta With Bacon and Mushrooms recipe tonight and posted my thoughts on the What’s For Dinner site. While I’m a little annoyed at myself for not reading through the recipe in its entirety first (a rookie mistake) and accidently cooking 4x the amount of bacon than was required, I can’t help but think that one can NEVER have too much bacon. (Right, Mary?!)
And to think we're taking the same trip back in just 27 hours. (And to clarify, the four kids, two of whom are babies, did so awesome!)
Sent: Feb 19, 2010 5:56p
: We've arrived and I believe that pizza is soon to be ordered. We survived!
Sent: Feb 19, 2010 5:41p
: The last hour of this 16-hour trip has children in meltdown mode. And now we're in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Joy!
Sent: Feb 19, 2010 5:38p
: My favorite quote of the trip by @allisanchez "I'm not going to calm down! Its a blackberry!"
Sent: Feb 19, 2010 5:08p
: Through 15 hours of driving, numerous sing-alongs, and naps, we're about an hour from Phoenix.
Sent: Feb 19, 2010 1:45p
: Um, correction, Gallup, New Mexico. We're looking at another five hours. I wonder if the kids might revolt soon.
Sent: Feb 19, 2010 12:12p
: Near Gallup, Arizona, Hudson is loving his own personal DVD player. http://tweetphoto.com/11880867
Sent: Feb 19, 2010 12:05p
: In a 15-passenger van, we've had to play the game Telephone to communicate. Its made for some interesting communication.
Sent: Feb 19, 2010 11:41a
: Alli and Dad are out for the count... correction, still out for the count. And we're about to start Cars.
Sent: Feb 19, 2010 11:38a
@seanrjanelle - Surprisingly drama-free so far. Of course iPods and movies are playing a part...
Sent: Feb 19, 2010 8:33a
RT @jbasedow4: Breakfast, then 60min into phoenix.// Very, very jealous! We got a L-O-N-G way to go.
Sent: Feb 19, 2010 7:47a
: On the road again. I can't believe we thought this would be a good idea. 12 family members road-tripping. http://tweetphoto.com/11860010
Its a 14-hour drive both ways.
Let the good times roll.
But as we're dealing with the sad news of two losses, we're still in the midst of celebrating life too. Specifically the life of one three-year-old boy who makes me laugh every single day.
That's right, Hudson turned three yesterday. Three. It boggles my mind. Three years ago I pleaded for him to stay inside... just through Valentine's Day... despite the fact that he was already three days late. I was adamant about not having a Valentine's Day baby. Yet the very next day, I was ready for him...to...come...out!
I begged the doctor to put me on the calendar for an induction, as I was NOT going 10 days past my due date like I did with Devyn. And as soon as I was put on the schedule at the hospital for two days later, wouldn't you know he decided to come on his own? Like Dareth said, it was the beginning of Hudson doing everything the unconventional way.
Hudson. There's just no simple way to describe my little man. He is a complicated guy for one so young. And strong-willed to boot.
He must be given choices. Even if you know what it is he wants, he will not be satisfied until he has made the decision.
Case in Point #1: Every single morning, we troop into the kitchen for breakfast where he is given three choices of cereal. Never mind that he's chosen the same one for the past two months, he must still ponder over this decision and I'm forced to murmur, "Great choice" when he finally chooses. But if I had dared to assume that he'd want cereal #2, all heck breaks loose until I can convince him that he wants cereal #2.
Case in Point #2: After I have poured said cereal into a bowl, I then turn to our eating utensil drawer. I once again withdraw three spoons, of the exact same design, and present them to Hudson. Again he ponders his choices (as if there any difference between the three exact same spoons) and finally selects his chosen utensil.
Case in Point #3: And at some point during the day comes our struggle with what to drink and in what cup. He has to choose between two of the exact same red cup. Then the carousel begins as I suggest water, milk, or juice. A decision is made and then changed several times more before he finally settles on the thing he asked for to start with.
Oh, I jest. (Kind of.) But I can't help but wonder how boring our lives would be without his presence, and particularities.
Let's see, at three years old:
- He is weighing between 24 and 25 pounds (yes, very tiny!) And is 2 feet, 10 inches tall.
- He is obsessed with cars and GI Joe's.
- He absolutely refuses to wear big boy underwear of any kind. (Boxers or briefs, doesn't matter. He flips out.)
- He is saying so many words, and full-on sentences. I'm absolutely enthralled with his imaginative play.
- He is intent on helping Daddy and Papa Dave finish the basement, even yanking out his pretend measuring tape.
- He adores carbs of any kind (breads, pastas) and is not a fan of protein.
- He adores his big sister, wanting to do everything she does, then turns around and bosses her to do it like he wants.
- He loves his green hat.
- He tolerates Reagan, but if she gets too close to his cars, watch out! (Its ok, she's holding her own.)
- He is terrified of the monsters that live behind his changing table and in his closet.
- He is loving.
- And silly.
- And a heart-breaker. (Mine.)
- And a protector.
Happy Birthday, Little Man. I love you, all the way to the moon and back.
Yesterday we finally got Reagan in for her one-year well-child check-up. And if you’re doing the math in your head, yes, it was a good six weeks late. Ready for the stats?! At one-year (+ six weeks), Miss Reagan weighs in at a whopping 16lbs, 3ozs, and is 26 inches tall. She is by far the tiniest out of all three children. Miss Devyn weighed 19+ lbs at her 1st birthday and Hudson weighed 18+ lbs at his first birthday. So while Miss Reagan is one of the most mobile one-year-olds (+six weeks) around, she is still chilling in her infant car seat, facing backwards. And I don’t expect that to change any time soon.
Hudson turns three years old in less than a week! Truly, I’m in awe at how fast time has flown. We’re holding his party the weekend AFTER his birthday, seeing as how the weekend before is Valentine’s weekend. Has Mama done any planning for said birthday?! Of course not. I really need to get on that, don’t you think?
Late Sunday night, early Monday morning, I woke to incredible hearing loss in my right ear. I figure it was plugged up from the recent cold we had but it would NOT become unplugged. So while at Reagan’s check-up, I asked Dr. Susie if she would mind looking at my ear, which she was happy to do. Come to find out I perforated my eardrum and that pus is draining from the ear. I’m on a mighty antibiotic and eardrops; hopefully all will heal in time. In the mean time, I can’t hear a thing and I’m shouting, “What?!” throughout the house, sufficiently driving Jon and the kids nuts. It’s very inconvenient.
In about two hours I’m dragging all three kids to Devyn’s school to register Miss Paige for kindergarten. I truly can’t believe that this time has arrived and that I’ll have a school child in the fall. Wow! Thankfully, I have a little girl who hasn’t quite gotten the memo and still loves to cuddle in her mama’s lap, as she’s doing right now as I type this. I’m going to miss this so much someday…
And now some Valentine-themed photos to tickle your fancy…
On Friday we heard the news that our dear friend, Ed, had passed in his sleep. It was completely unexpected and a total shock to all of us.
Ed was more than just a family friend, he was the pastor of my childhood church. We walked in the doors of that church when I was just six years old and stayed for 12+ years. Pastor Ed and his wife were the same age as my parents, their oldest son was my age, their second son fell between Christine and Allison, and their baby girl arrived the same year Courtney did. His wife, Donna, and my mom became best friends. I can't even begin to describe how many times we got together with them outside of church. Their family was so intricately intertwined with mine during those years; they seem to always be in the background of my memories.
How does one even begin to describe Ed? He was larger than life, enveloping everyone in huge hugs. Hugs that spoke of how much he cared for you, hugs that brought comfort and strength, hugs that showed the depth of love he had for people. No matter where I ran into Ed throughout the city, ball games, grocery stores, movies, or restaurants, I could count on being on the receiving end of one of his bone-crushing hugs. I'm going to miss those hugs.
Ed and Donna have been there for my family in so many ways. During the hard seven years our family went through, I remember the nights they showed up to pray with us, to offer support. When Alli went through her eating disorder, they came alongside us with emotional, spiritual, and financial support. When Mom was in the hospital last year, they were always visiting and bringing her encouragement. He has always been there, steadfast in his love for family, friends, and people in general.
We grew up alongside their children; Jeremy, the oldest, married one of my good friends. I was blessed to be a bridesmaid at their wedding. As Jill walked down the aisle to be joined with Jeremy, I looked at Ed. There he stood, so tall and proud, and I could tell he felt so honored to be officiating his oldest son's wedding. It was a tender ceremony. The same could be said about Grant's wedding to Jennifer. Beautiful, poignant, and special.
And now, in one moment, he's gone. And it hurts. It hurts to know I'll never get to see that big, wide, infectious smile again. That those hugs will never be again. But what truly hurts the most? Its seeing the pain in his children's eyes; thinking how Donna must be feeling; knowing that Amy will not get to walk on her father's arm down the aisle someday; of how upset Jill and Jennifer are that their daughters will not get to know their grandfather. I hurt for them. I especially wonder how everyone will fare when shock has worn off and their new reality sets in.
Today we went back to our old church, the church that Ed pastored. It felt right to be there, a mini-memorial service of sorts. As people got up one by one to share memories of Ed, they flipped through my mind like a rolodex. Of being baptized by Ed, of Broncos-Raiders football games, of double-dating to prom with Jill and Jeremy, of dinners and church functions and of strength. He was one of the greatest this earth had to offer and he will be greatly missed.
After the service was over and my children had been retrieved from their classes, we stood there hugging old friends and offering support and encouragement in whatever way we could. In the back of my mind I could hear the sound of running feet and soft shrieks of laughter and it registered as I turned to watch my children running around the sanctuary, not a care in the world, that it was the sounds all too similar of my own childhood in that same church. I watched as Jeremy's own girls join in on the carefree play, and wondered at how life certainly had come full circle. From the days that Jeremy and I raced around the sanctuary, to watching our own children chase each other. There's a legacy in that; a legacy that could only be born of one man with a desire for God and His people. He will be greatly missed!
It’s their fault that I got sucked into Pioneer Woman’s love story, ‘Black Heels to Tractor Wheels’. I was a very distracted wife and mama last night as I spent two hours absorbed in the tale of Pioneer Woman and her Marlboro Man. And at the end of it, I sighed (I appreciate a good love story) and suddenly had a voracious desire to traipse off to the prairie and settle my family on a ranch.
I have been blogging for four and a half years now, of course I’d heard of the big bloggers, Big Mama, Boo Mama, and, yes, even Confessions of a Pioneer Woman. These were the big ones before Bring The Rain, MckMama, Kelly’s Korner, and The LPM Blog were around.
However, I refused to read them. It wasn’t out of spite, trust me on that, but because I have a weird aversion to do anything because it’s the popular thing to do. Trust me, I know it’s bizarre, I know that makes me crazy, but it’s out there. I’ve confessed it.
In my years of blogging I have seen so many themes come and go. There’s the Menu Monday, Wordless Wednesday, Five-Ingredient Friday, and the list goes on and on. I rarely participated in any of them.
The Harry Potter books? Nope, haven’t read them, simply out of the principal of not giving in to peer pressure. And I’m an avid reader too!
The Twilight series? Ok, honestly, I had no plans to read them. I could care less about vampires and werewolves, plus, you guessed it, my aversion to all things popular. But then I caught some scenes from the movie and my sisters convinced me to try it. Confession: loved them!
Let’s see, what else?
Actually, I can’t think of anything else off the top of my head. This principle that rules my life is very haphazard and really has no rules. It’s a decision I make as I go, and truth be told, they aren’t even conscious decisions. They’re made on a whim and have no guidelines what-so-ever; add another check in the “weird” column.
So where am I going with this? I just can’t believe I’ve been missing out on the amazing blog that is Confessions of a Pioneer Woman. Seriously.
When her cookbook came out and she did her tour across the United States, blog after blog after blog discussed the stalker-ish type behavior as they converged on bookstores to meet her in person. I didn’t get what all the fuss was about. When Big Mama and Boo Mama talk about her delicious, to-die-for recipes, again, I wondered. Its just food people, for crying out loud.
But when I saw two friends discussing her blog and love story on Facebook, I had to see what all the fuss was about. Now I know.
I haven’t even tried any of her recipes yet (they do look simply scrumptious) and I can’t imagine how my new-found stalker-ish love will flourish after I do. I’ll keep you posted.
I have been praying for this day for six years; praying for the guidance and wisdom in answering her questions; praying that I would be an example for her; praying for the day that Devyn would make her own, personal decision to follow Jesus Christ.
We have talked on numerous occasions over the years regarding sin, our need for a savior, and Jesus Christ being that savior. I didn't want to rush her or push her; this had to be her decision. I considered it my job to lay the groundwork, to plant the seeds, to answer her questions as clearly and simply as I could. She'd listen and ask a couple of questions, but I never got the impression that she was ready.
These past few weeks I sensed something at work in our oldest child, she was coming to me with questions. If she woke during my early morning bible studies, she quickly grabbed the pink Precious Moments Bible that I'd passed on to her and would "read" alongside me. I just had a feeling that she was finally getting it. A few days ago, I even mentioned to Jon that I thought it was going to be soon.
That day came today.
I was distracted as I toweled all three kids dry from their bath and asked Devyn to help with something, I believe it was getting a diaper for Reagan. She handed it to me and proudly said, "I'm trying to obey you, Mommy." I murmured my appreciation and she continued, "Because I trust God." And something in her tone caused me to look up at her. I felt my heart beat faster, as I knew the significance of this moment.
"Really?" I asked. "Did you become a Christian, Paige?" She nodded her head yes and I posed another question. "When?"
"Right now." And I knew the time had come, it was here, it was now. I pulled her down until she was kneeling next me, face-to-face. "Do you want to become a Christian now, Devyn?" I asked her. And she nodded her head.
I never knew what it was like to feel your heart burst with joy as it did in that moment. Tears stung my eyes as we went over everything again, trusting and hoping that she finally got it. I asked her once more if she was sure, and at that last nod, we prayed together and my heart soared.
I get that she's still so young and there are times ahead that will test her faith. I understand that at some point in the future she will have to decide to make this faith her own. But I cannot even begin to describe the feelings of offering your child a path and having them take that first step on their own.
"We are so very proud of you, Devyn Paige! We rejoice with the angels in heaven today as your name was written in the book of Life. May this first step in faith lead you down a path full of adventure as you follow Him and all He has to offer you in this lifetime. We love you, baby girl! Mommy and Daddy"