About Me

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Blogging my way through this crazy, busy, confusing, every-changing, BLESSED thing we call, Life. I'm not perfect, auto-correct hates me, I don't specialize in anything, I'm not a professional anybody, and I'm full of mistakes, missteps, mishaps and lame choices. I'm constantly striving to better myself, grow closer to God, and live in such a way that I'm at least facing the direction of being worthy of all He's done for me.

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Picture It...

Picture it...
The baby is asleep in her car seat (because you don't dare wake a sleeping baby!), you've got one boob in the vice grip of your Lansinoh pump (because you refuse to wake up the sleeping baby) and from behind your closed door you hear competing coughs like an orchestra playing an ugly song called, "Your week in hell."
The 6th grader (the same one who cried like an angry baby when, out of caution yesterday, you made him stay home, and has turned around an hour into school today and called to have you pick him up) is currently leading the piece. You also hear the kindergartener/1st grader (Its complicated. Don't ask.) hacking along with his brother from his own respective sick bed. And then you hear the tot. The one who, on a good, non-sick day is valued at the cost of 10 toddlers and 2 obnoxious teenagers, is signing himself to sleep in his crib. Or is he signing himself awake? I suppose that bit is irrelevant. Between his melodious stanzas, he lends back up to the symphonic noise his brothers in the room next door are making. Only the erupting teeth have made his coughs more goopy.
You sniffle, and cough. But only the kind of cough to clear your throat... Certainly not the tickle cough. And definitely not a hacking cough. Your agenda says you are far too busy to pencil in a cold. You may have time the other side of never. But not this week.
The baby stirs. Of course she does...because you just emptied one boob of half of her lunch, which she will absolutely not take from a bottle. She couldn't have woken before the pain, or before the leak was sprung. She is your daughter after all, so naturally she would do things according to her own good timing. So be it. It's a left side buffet this afternoon. Sorry kiddo,  NMP. That's a texty acronym for, "Not my problem." (I just came up with that. It's not a thing yet, but it will be.) Except that it is my problem, of course, because I'm the mom, and I am responsible, and do the things and grow and nurture the small humans.
You disengage the vice cone, tuck away and adjust the wardrobe. So far, that now fussing, hungry baby and your husband are the only ones not coming down with this crud that you so hoped your family would avoid. And you, of course. You don't have time to be sick.
You kick back in the recliner to nurse the baby, hoping she gets her fill from the one side, now that the other waits on the counter for you to bag and tag it. You shift to burp her, where she promptly cozies up and falls asleep. "Perfect." You naively think to yourself. "Now maybe I can start on that endless list of things to do, starting with those barking seals that took over the kids' rooms." Just then, the husband and older middle child walk in the door. They make up 2 of the 3 who aren't yet sick. The startle reflex works and reflexes that sleeping baby awake. "Perfect." You think to yourself, less enthusiastically than before. You cough again. It was dust this time. Your husband is surprised the tot is still awake. He agrees to go retrieve the thrown binky, the bedding, and the stuffed toys that have become pawns in the war against bedtimes being waged by the tiny, wordless dictator. When he returns having won the battle (but not the war), he sweetly asks if you need anything. He's always doing stuff like that. Your to-do list flashes behind your eyes, but you don't ask for anything. "Ok, I think I'm gonna go take a bath then." says the burly man in front of you. You cough. Probably blood this time, from biting your tongue. You make no complaints about his plan, and in return he offers up the steam from his hot bath to you and the baby, should you choose to come keep him company while he relaxes, "It would probably do you some good, with that cough." You thank him, without spitting nails...or your mentally chewed up to-do list, and send him on his way. 
The orchestra is on to a new tune. Same baritone instruments. A few minutes later you're sitting in the bathroom breathing in the steam from the hot bath that's just been run, along with the remnants of the essential oils you've been dumping into the shower by the bucket full for the past 4 days for those barking, hacking coughs that have taken over your family, while you daydream of disinfecting every light switch, knob, handle, toy, mouth and hand in the house. He did sweetly offer that steam to you, so of course you'd take it. You cough again. Dammit. 

While you continue daydreaming of a natural form of Lysol that will disinfect all the things and the people, without all the nasty ingredients, you are reminded to be thankful. Thankful your bathtub-loving husband is home today, and feeling well. Thankful for his sweet, generous gestures. Thankful he came home early yesterday to help with the toddler snot you were swimming in, thankful it's "just" a cold (for all it's obnoxious timing and symptoms), thankful you were able to get the vitamins and medicines and things you all needed.... Well, they all needed...You aren't sick. You may feel like last week (which was a doozie of a week!) oozed into this week with a really unfair sneakiness, like you couldn't catch your breath before you were dragged back under into the underness of the beginning of this week.You may feel like it should be 5 o'clock Friday night instead of 2 o'clock Monday afternoon. But you're thankful. Very thankful. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Tender Spot

As she's stretching to snuggle her head beneath my chin, just before she musters up a cry, her soft, sweet cooing reaches the most tender places in my heart. It resonates off all the cavities of my mothering soul and leaves behind a glow of warmth that surprises even me. Nobody could do that to my soul the way my babies have.

Having a newborn girl is much the same as having a newborn boy. At this stage, the biggest difference is in our curiosity about when the differences will emerge. But their personalities show early on, and hers is far gentler than her brothers, up to this point. She coos sweetly like a bird, cries softly, and snuggles close. She's slow moving, less curious and more content to just be. Her brothers had a mission from day one. They were louder, more engaged, more curious, independent and stubborn.

I had a feeling she would be a gentle, tender soul before she was born. So far, it feels pretty accurate. I can't wait to see how things change in our family as she grows from infant to girl. She's our long awaited, priceless treasure. She's the last piece to our family puzzle.

I'm not sure what things will look like as she grows. I don't know what shifts her little being will take as she learns to explore her world, and finds her life niche. But for right now my aim is to just relish this beauty in my arms, the evening cries when she fights her sleep, the peeps and hums she whispers in my ear when I carry her, the need she has to feel my skin on hers...knowing my 'right now,' savoring this precious time, is enough for me.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye 2016

Dear 2016,

A lesser woman might be inclined to call you a bad name. Looking back, you were a nightmare of a year sometimes. You crushed a lot of hope I had in seeing my plans become fruitful successes during the year. You met me at rock bottom and instead of giving me a pep talk to get me back on my feet, you gut kicked me a few times to make sure I knew my place. You took from me 2 of the most inspirational people to ever grace my life. You devastated a few special relationships leaving me with more questions than answers. You nearly desecrated one of the most valuable relationships I have. You have left our finances in shreds. You've planted seeds of despair that have grown enough to tangle themselves among the beauty of the joy and peace we work so hard to nurture. You stripped our life down to the bare essentials, and forced our focus to narrow drastically. As I watch you go into the abyss where years past are nothing more than lessons and memories, I still don't know if the damage you've done is repairable or not. And should it be?

But on the flip side, you've been generous and loving in your manic moments. For each of those relationships you destroyed, you filled the empty spaces with the goodness
... you nurtured some old relationships, brought back lost relationships and strengthened the connective tissues of some of the deeper, more meaningful ones.
You brought into my world a beautiful, healthy new life, and timed the next one to bless us just on the other side of the new year. Is that your way of making amends for wreaking emotional havoc these past 12 months? A partng gift, perhaps? A gift to start our relationship with 2017 off on a happy note?

You've taught me how powerful forgiveness, (true forgiveness) really is...the kind you never picture yourself having to give, let alone being remotely capable of. You've shown me it's not only a piece of solace in the dark, brokenness of a self's shattered heart, but that it unlocks the possibility for reparation of the other person's brokenness and hurts too.
You've taught me that grace isn't a sticky surface element, but that it seeps into the tightest places when you pour it out abundantly. And you taught me the world soaks it up like water to a desperate man lost in the desert, parched and dried out by the scorching sun.
You've shown me I need so much less to survive than I thought I did. And that the vital things I do need, I need so much more of than I realized I had. You've turned my priorities inside out and shown me how wrong I was in thinking I had them straight to begin with.
You've taken what felt like a life that was taking shape, and whittled it down to a bare, hallow cast. You've left in me the character grain that was there to begin with, the only details remaining being those crafted by the majesty of nature. I'm praying your plan is to let 2017 lovingly pour the mold and shape it into something more beautiful than it started out last year when it was handed over to you.
I have to give it to you; you are an efficient craftsman. You leave nothing undone, unless your intention was to undo it. Everything you did these past 12 months you did with precision. Every ingredient in your recipe was clearly chosen with utmost care, masterfully designed to flavor the pot to your exacting specifications.

For every rock and hard place you sandwiched me into, you gave me comfort. For every dashed dream I had for the year, you reminded me it's not over yet, and my dreams keep coming. For every broken piece of me, you've used kintsugi techniques to repair me. I am more beautiful now, in my vulnerability than I was in my confidence when you and I first met. I'm simpler, more narrowed down and chiseled. There's less excess. The pruning you've done has set me up to blossom beautifully if 2017 will do the nurturing.

But let's be honest...it's not any more up to 2017, than it was up to you. It's God who does the tending, the weeding, the pruning. It's Him who has introduced and taken away. Him who saw me stumble and fall so that I would reach for Him. It was in His infinite wisdom that my time with you unfolded the way it did. It's up to Him to continue molding and shaping, crafting and creating in the year to come. I have no plans for 2017. I won't hold onto a vision for this coming year like I did with you, because those character grains you've left me with are all I need going forward; faith in God, and hope. So as I say goodbye to you, I bid you farewell knowing that the hands that hold me after we part ways aren't those of a new moody year subject to external influence, but those of a mighty creator whose work is always good.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Blessings

It's Christmas time, and for weeks all I've been thinking of are ways we could make this holiday season look and feel as normal as possible for the older boys. We make no secret that money doesn't grow on trees, and that things are often tight for us. But we also don't share the full burden...little shoulders shouldn't have to carry those kind of details. So we go about our business in an honest way meeting needs but trying to keep the "wants" firmly in check.
This year is different. This year has been strange, financially and otherwise. We didn't start the year out hurting. In fact, we started it out doing pretty well for a large family living on a single income. But as we've neared the end of the year, we've become more familiar with food pantries. We've stretched food budgets of $75 so they fill 6 bellies for 2 weeks. We've spent weeks living on soups, eggs and dressed up beans and rice dinners. I personally have given up my dinner multiple times to be sure my boys go to bed with full tummies.
Times have definitely gotten tough. It isn't one particular thing that landed us here, no string of poor financial choices or anything like that. Just a bizarre wrench in the works here and there, an unfortunate this or that, happening at the most inopportune times, and one after another until we're doing more sinking than swimming.
Creativity has become a staple in every aspect of our lives, from meals to outings, to gifts this holiday season.
We switched to exclusively cloth diapers, because of the cost. I would have preferred cloth from the beginning for a whole host of reasons but hubby wasn't such a fan of the idea for awhile. Ultimately it boiled down to the fact that medically (because of our chemical sensitivities), we couldn't afford the risk cheaper disposable brands would pose for me or for the baby, but we also had absolutely no way to continue buying the brand of disposables we knew to be safe for us. We had no choice. I even pulled out my sewing machine and made my own diaper inserts to try to save money with the switch to cloth.
Our gifts to the boys for Christmas are going to be almost exclusively hand made. Longed for crocheted beanies, scarfs and handmade toys are a couple of the ideas I've been working on. And Santa has decided to forego the bulk of the Christmas Wish List for his own idea; He's been watching the boys and seen them lose some control of their "wanters," and he's also noticed the need for some work on brotherly kindness and family quality time. So in lieu of most all "want" items, he's putting board games and card games under the tree this year.
Because he's such a busy guy, we've been acting as Santa's helpers a bit with this board game idea. When I put out the word on social media and a neighborhood community app to see if anybody was getting rid of any games, I didn't expect much. But anything to help us (...err...Santa...) offset the cost of such a plan, would be a blessing. We ended up being blessed on a level far greater than we could have dreamed.
The first response I got was a man who said he had "one" to get rid of. But when we picked it up, he had actually given us 5 different card games, and contacted us later saying he'd found another if we wanted it.
The second response to my outreach was the following day from a woman who had a bunch of board games to pass along. She was kind enough to deliver them, so under the rouse that I was looking for something in dad's truck, I snuck out to meet her and stash the box of games without the boys ever knowing she'd been there. Within minutes of her leaving our street I got a text from her telling me she and her husband wanted to help more. She asked what else they could do.
This is where my story takes a turn. You see, I knew somebody was going to respond to my ad with an incredible blessing for us. I didn't know exactly who or exactly how. But I knew it would come about because of that ad and it would be from a stranger. You could call it my intuition, or the Spirit speaking to me. I didn't place an ad with details of our hardship, or even that there was a hardship. I simply stated that I'd had an idea for Christmas and would like to collect any, if folks had any to get rid of.
Either way, when I  got that feeling that some big blessing would come out of it impressed upon me in the groggy wee hours of the morning, I knew I could simply have been dreaming, or I could have been mistaken. But something told me differently. I didn't dwell on it, but it felt different. So when this kind woman asked what they could do to help, because I'd had that distinct impression already, and frankly, because of the position we are currently in, I knew I couldn't turn down her offer. God was putting a couple before us with the means and eagerness to bless our family. I wasn't about to turn away from God in that way, nor was I going to deny this couple the fulfillment and blessing that I know comes from serving others.
It was uncomfortable at first, because I struggle accepting generosity. Pride doesn't even begin to factor in...humility has become one of my strongest traits in recent years. It's more a matter of not wanting to be a burden to others. But either way, I struggled through the text messages I was receiving from this gracious woman and her husband asking what they could do for us. I finally said that the most logical thing they could do for us would be to help with groceries. Help with food would free up some money to go toward some of the bills we were facing a juggling act with.
A few hours and several texts later, this amazing couple showed up at our door with bags and bags full of groceries. Everything we'd put on our grocery list that morning had been taken care of for us. And in addition to that, they gave us a Christmas card and brought in a paper bag full of stocking stuffer goodies for the boys.
Words don't fully cover the emotions we felt. Gratitude is too simple. Thankful is too mundane. Blessed is true, but not enough. It was a big deal all the way around, from the delivery to when I put everything away after they left. But it really sank in and hit me hard when I was able to load the boys' dinner plates with salad and fresh veggies for the first time in weeks. It's not that we hadn't had veggies at all recently. But I had skimped and cut back, filled them more with rice to stretch the veggies as far as we could. In that moment, I didn't need to worry about stretching them. I could fill the bottomless boy tummies with the good, healthy stuff I normally would and not have to worry about how I would feed them in the coming days. That's not something I've ever had to worry about. Even during this difficult financial time, I had been very heavily leaning on God, and my faith that our needs would be met, regardless of how uncomfortable the situation could become. But I didn't realize something like filling their plates with fresh veggies would be something so powerful. The gravity of my own pattern of thinking and coping, hit hard.
I texted the husband and wife, trying to express my gratitude in the deepest, most meaningful way I could, without sounding fake. Nothing I said or thought maybe I could say, felt like it was nearly enough. I wanted them to know not just that we were grateful and that what they'd done had helped us a lot, I wanted them to feel what was on my heart. I wanted them to grasp the magnitude of what was surging through me as I continued to process and absorb all they'd done, the way it had come about and how they had been used as a vehicle of blessing by God. I said many, many insufficient forms of "thank you" that night. And I went to bed praising the Lord for His gift and intervention, for these people who helped us make Christmas a little more normal for our boys. I went to bed praising the Lord for protecting the boys' innocence during the season and beyond. Although they'd seen these wonderful people carrying in bags of food, they didn't know or fully grasp the 'why' of it all.
In the following couple of weeks, we would be blessed by others similarly. From Santa gifts given out at a WIC Christmas party we didn't even manage to attend, that staffers graciously called and asked me to pick up, to a secret Santa gift from a bible study friend who knew small tidbits of our struggle.
This doesn't even detail the generosity of a couple of grandparents who gave  gift money for the boys to spend as they wished, which are also thoroughly counted among our blessings this season.
Christmas Eve is tomorrow, and in the days leading up to today, as predicted, Santa managed to obtain a few items for the boys from their wish lists that he'll deliver to our tree by Christmas morning, in hopes that the gesture will keep the spirit of innocence and belief alive in them. It's not much, but enough to show them he's watching. And I've been working feverishly to complete some yarn projects for them, to show we've made an effort on their behalf. Carter gets a scarf to match his early-gifted beanie. Corbin gets an owl pillow and some soft balls to throw around. Caidan gets a boys infinity scarf in colors he chose. All the older boys also get hacky sacks I made for them. And Cuinn gets a couple of my first crocheted stuffed animals. The gifts from mom and dad don't amount to much. Nothing found in a holiday ad. Nothing on a holiday most wanted list.  Just a few small, relatively meaningless items woven together with a little yarn and time...a lot of prayer for a brighter New Year, and more love than there are fibers holding the shabby pieces together.
Although our abilities run on the measly side this year, we're running out of room beneath our tree for gifts. Our blessings are beyond bountiful. We were looking at it all the other day, marveling at how much they'll receive on Christmas morning. Other than their one or two handmade gifts from mom and dad, and the few small things Santa brought from their lists (2-3 small items each), every other thing under our tree is a blessing labeled,  "from: kindness," and "from: love," and "from generosity."  ... totalling into the dozens! I didn't want to label them "from: Santa" or "from: mom and dad." But I didn't want to label them with these beautiful stranger's names either, because it wouldn't mean as much in the longterm. I want them to dwell on the power of those words they see on the packages. I want them to see that the magic of the holiday season doesn't lie in those normal package labels, in twinkling lights, Santa and his elvish helpers, decorations or goodies. I want them to see that the magic of this season lies in God's promise to provide, in His infinite grace and the power of His mighty ability to use us to be a blessing to one another while we're here on earth.
The boys won't understand all of it this year. And we won't share many details, if any. But these labels will leave a lasting impression in their memories that, hopefully, they'll carry into their many years to come. And one day, when they do start stitching the memories together with some more mature life experience, hopefully they'll remember this Christmas for the magic that was built into it by faith, and love and generosity. Hopefully they'll carry that spirit of giving and loving with them, and will choose to be vehicles for God's glory and blessing to others, the way they received it this year.
There simply aren't words for my gratitude this year. There is no way to fully express how much these people's kindness has meant to our family.
All I can say, is that I pray each of those people we encountered on our rocky path to this Christmas day, receive every happiness and blessing their hearts desire this season, and long into the new year. And I pray the same for each of you reading this.
Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. And a blessed 2017, to you and yours. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

When I Grow Up

You've always been an inspiration,
a guiding light to share the road
You tenderly reached and carried many
It must have been a heavy the load

Your passing shifts the paradigm
of my efforts and my dreams
Your loss ignites something fierce in me,
With urgent need, it seems

I want to hug my boys
with an intensity they've never felt
To lavish them with kisses,
to make their boy-hearts melt

I want to pour into them the same confidence I got from you
To never leave a doubt or question that they "Can do anything they set their minds to."

I want to never sit it out, but dance even though I don't know how,
To cherish every moment my lungs hold air, and every beat my heart does pound

I want to never miss a moment, or chance to fill a room with light and laughter
I want be a beacon to the hopeless, lost and troubled
this day and each hereafter

I want to offer the kind of hug that fills a soul as much as any human can,
To be the embodiment of a Christ-like love, to all my fellow man

I want to dream big dreams and encourage others more
To not stop pursuing theirs,
when they come upon a closed up door.

I want to fill my children's hearts with undoubtable love and grace
The kind we all knew was ours, when we'd look upon your face

I want to be the stern one, the fortress in the storm
And yet I want to be a refuge to keep my loved ones warm

I want to be the lifelong love my husband falls for each and everyday
To fill his arms and catch his heart
As much for every tomorrow, as today.

I want fan the flames of imagination in every soul I see
To leave no room for defeatism,
just like you always did for me

You refused to give me permission
to accept or to believe
That I was anything less than beautiful,
That there was anything in this world I could fail to accomplish or achieve

You trained me to see my value and the worth I never knew I had,
To know that lost and sullen, broken girl I was, wasn't remotely, the least bit bad.

As the years have passed us, shifting our individual sands with time
I've never let loose your hand
Because you held so fast to mine.

Now the goodbyes are behind us and our story has found an end,
But you have written on my heart things which I'll cherish always,
My amazing, loving friend.

By: Tabby Deitrick

Monday, September 26, 2016

What's In a Name?

Naming babies is serious business!
It's the one thing kids can't really ignore growing up, they can't really fight you much on it...it's the one thing you do that's gonna stick with them (in most cases) forever. It gets even more tricky to do though, when the gender is new to you AND when the baby you are naming will be your last. You want to get it right. You want to fall in love with it every time you say it. You want the meaning behind it to resonate so powerfully within your heart, it feels like you discovered the treasure of a name God Himself chose for this sweet infant.

We thought we had it figured out.
We chose Camberlynn for a girl's first name between what we call or angel baby, Chayne, and finding out we were blessed with rainbow baby Cuinn, almost 2 years ago. Middle names would come later. But we knew Camberlynn was IT if we ever had a little girl. Camberlynn is a rare, modern name said to mean, "amber, beautiful, and precious jewel" according to what we found after choosing it.

When we were surprised to learn God had blessed us with another baby, we landed on Camberlynn Etnie Grace. Etnie is such a rare name, it apparently doesn't have traceable roots, and has no known meaning. We love that kind of uniqueness in a name!! Grace, we chose because we felt she had to have meaning behind her name. And Grace serves as a reminder to give it and receive it, to accept God's blessings of mercy and love.
We were basically decided. And we felt prepared, when we learned and was a girl after all.

But then I happened across an article that caught my eye.  (http://www.mothering.com/articles/11-irish-names-cant-say-sound-lovely/)
I read through the names, and the first one really struck me. Aibhlinn (pronounced Ave-leen... Ave like Avenue). It was beautiful. But we were decided and loved the names we'd picked out. The few people I'd shared her name with heard, "We're like 99% sure she'll be _____."
Still, I was gonna save the article and show Trent. It's been a busy time, so I hadn't had the opportunity to whip out the article. But strangely, it kept showing up.
I'm a firm believer God uses a variety of signs and things to direct and guide us, not just directly answered prayers. So the 3rd or 4th time it showed up, I was finally in the same room as Trent and showed him. I told him, "It's not like we're gonna change our minds or anything, but I love the first one!" He used it in place of the middle names we'd picked and said her whole name a couple of times. I fell more and more in love with it every time he said it. I couldn't shake it. And Trent loved it too.
We hemmed and hawed overnight and part of the next day. But I just couldn't shake the name. It felt so right. Aibhlinn is Gaelic (which we love) and means, "longed for, hoped for" ...No truer statement could be made about this sweet girl and she isn't even here to know yet. We still love Etnie though, so we broke all kinds of norms in deciding on this girl's name.

She's got 3, before you count her last name. We don't care much about confusing spelling or mispronounciation because 3 of the 6 of us have our first names either mispronounced or misspelled (or both) regularly. And our last name is ALWAYS getting messed up. So for us, it needed to feel and sound right. It didn't need to be common, well liked by others, popular or anything like that. It just needed to resonate.

We've decided she will be Camberlynn Etnie Aibhlinn (Ave-leen) Deitrick. It's a mouthful. It's weird (*unique*)...but we love it. The meaning suits. The sound isn't quite as fluid as Etnie Grace, but is still timeless and elegant. She'll go by Camber. 💚

Bittersweet Monday

Somebody recently said they "thought I was totally against public schools." I took very personal offense to the comment, both for it's context and because it implied an air of haughtiness I absolutely don't have. I don't, nor have I ever turned down my nose at parents who send their kids to public school. I wouldn't. Parenting is hard enough without outsiders passing judgment on things they know nothing about. Families are too uniquely and intricately made to be assuming we know better for somebody else, when we're just watching from the sidelines. There are too many variables for an outsider to think they could do a better job dancing in somebody else's parenting shoes. That said, do I like or agree with the management and happenings of public schools? No, I don't. In fact, there is a whole lot I really can't stand and a whole lot I get real worked up over. Here's why;

We began our homeschool journey four and a half years ago, amidst a lot of chaos. An intended out-of-state move (that didn't happen), the final straw to 3 years worth of bullying and not just one, but two schools that failed to do their part to protect my son, were all deciding factors for us at the time. My sweet, sensitive, people-loving 2nd grader was being disciplined for flipping off his daily tormentor, who was routinely getting off scot-free for every assault she made against him. He was coming home in tears, and afraid to go back to school in the morning. We were doing our part at home, but where were the other parents? Why was this girl still getting away with these horrible behaviors left and right? All the while, it began to look like my son was being nailed down by disciplinary actions more because of his gender than anything else. Staff acknowledged the girl was a terror, but made excuse after excuse for her. He'd never laid a hand on the girl who was tormenting him, despite the fact that she had put her hands on him several times. Yet somehow, he was expected to take the brunt of the blame and punishment for every incident, both at home and at school. Even though we fought hard in his corner over the bullying that was happening, it wasn't until much later that we learned he was much less at fault than they had led us to believe. It was gut-wrenching to begin to see how those things that didn't make sense actually fit into the bigger picture toward the end.

Outside of the bullying issue, we disciplined and lectured for several months over what we understood to be in-class behavior problems (talking too much, distracting others etc.). We figured a lot had to do with him struggling with the bullying. He was acting out. It made sense, and frankly, you couldn't blame the kid for trying to find some footing. We would much later learn, our advanced child, a 2nd grade boy, was actually finishing his work right away and then was expected to sit around quietly for the rest of class. His teacher (a 25 year teaching veteran) "had too many students to tend to, to be able to offer our son additional work, or a more challenging project." when I had asked why that hadn't been done. And she was "much too busy to facilitate the testing that would be necessary to allow him to sit in on the next grade up when he'd completed his assigned work." when I asked about that option.
Yes, those were her actual words to me when I finally learned the truth of the matter. Believe me, I was seething! How had those pieces gone missing from the full story for so long? How had I allowed myself to be so misled by these people? These were supposed to be trusted adults. Mistakes happen now and then, but I was supposed to be able to rely on them to do right by my son. Instead, somehow the meetings, emails, notes and phone calls that happened between us and his teacher, his principal and his school counselor, failed to reveal any of those facts. Actually, the info we were given steered us toward believing his teacher was doing her job and it was all behavior problems on our son's part. Who had I been handing my son over to every weekday?! None of it had ever sounded like him. But again, it was a difficult time for him. We thought, based on what we were being told, that these struggles were manifesting themselves through his behavior in class.

So, since we'd planned on homeschooling when we moved anyway, we withdrew the boys 2 months before the end of the school year. Every fiber of my being felt the need to shelter and protect my kids at that point. The guilt I had from being so grossly misled was physically sickening. I cried for days, when I spoke about it all. I wrote out an apology letter to my son that I saved for him to read as an adult. In it, I apologized for not championing harder for him. I apologized for not doing more advocating than I already had, for allowing myself to be duped for so long.

Aside from our personal experience with that one teacher, we know that there are some amazing teachers out there who truly love their students and are willing and able to move mountains to help them feel safe and to succeed. We recognize not all schools or staffs would fail our children the way this one did, this one particular school year. But as a whole, when we look at the misplacement of funding, the struggle those wonderful teachers have to get support and to provide for themselves and their families, the lack of support and funding for important school programs, the one-size-fits-all standards our children are held to, the values/messages we send our kids through twisted policies...It all needs help. So yes, I do think America's public school system is a failure.
My opinions on those things don't change the fact that I respect and appreciate those hard working teachers and staff members out there, who strive to make a difference in these kids' lives. It doesn't mean I am "against" public schools. Assuming otherwise is cramming a whole lot into one tiny shoe box it doesn't fit into. And it's also a serious miscalculation of the type of person I am.

I began homeschooling my kids in large part, to protect them. After the couple of years my oldest had, he needed to know he was loved, that his intelligence mattered, that he could do anything and that his possibilities in life were limitless. He needed to learn that although he always needed to put his best foot forward, he also didn't have to conform... He didn't have to fit into their box for learning styles deemed OK to have. He needed to be reminded that school and learning could and should be fun. We also felt given where we were at the time, that it was vital to give him a firm spiritual and moral foundation to start rebuilding from, because all of the work we'd done to teach and encourage him in those areas had been swiftly undone by careless adults and a few horribly misguided kids.
We needed to help him put back in place the building blocks of humanity, kindness, compassion, respect, fairness and love that his experiences at that school had scattered across his heart. We didn't want him to go on believing he wasn't worth protecting, or that it was ok for anybody to treat another person the way he'd been treated. We didn't want him to hold onto the idea he'd been given that it was ok to dismiss another person's pain, or that respect for bodies or hearts is only given to snotty girls. We didn't want him to go on believing he couldn't speak up because he was a boy, or that he was too smart to be given opportunities. We wanted all the opposite for him. And more!

Yes, I did feel that I could do a better job teaching and nurturing my kids than the public school system could. I still believe that. But I also recognize when I don't meet the mark, when it's no longer my mark to meet, or, when things just need a shift. That's where we're at now.
It's no longer up to me to try to measure up as his teacher. I can teach forever, but I can't make him learn. I can't do it for him. It's time I fall into the background, and time he take up the reigns on his own education. Our oldest (who never fully recovered his love of school and learning) is struggling to see the value in education. He's not taking it seriously and although I would if I could, I simply can't force work ethic, accountability or work-to-real-life connections down his throat. I can't force him to pick up on those work related values we so desperately want him to develop. We've talked, encouraged, lectured, disciplined... All it's really done has put a wedge in our relationships. It's turned our connections to one another into something none of us ever signed up for. I don't want my son's memories of homeschooling to be me drilling him with lectures about time management, the importance of his education and how easy he really has it if he'd just put in some honest work. My aim has always been to build him up, to teach him how to be the best that he can be in everything he does in life. To serve God first, then others, then himself. To love others, unconditionally.
He's a 6th grader now, and based on a litany of struggles we're all having due to his choices, we're entering a forced "sink or swim" stage. Things HAVE to change! Do I think I could do a better job for him than the public school system? Yes. But not like this. This isn't what I want for him. Or me. And although I would choose a million times over to continue homeschooling, I am woman enough to recognize it's not the least bit about what I want, or what he wants. It's about making a choice that's going to serve him in the very best way possible for the rest of his life. It's about setting him up for successes and greatness. I could continue trying to do it all for him, holding his hand through things he should be solely responsible for. But what good would that be for him in the long run? What values or life lessons would he pick up from that? And his self-worth? I don't want that to suffer because mommy enables him his entire life and then when he enters the "real world" that is the first experience he has with expectations and responsibilities that are for him alone. I want him to be positioned and confident enough in who he is and what he's capable of, to be limitless in life. I want him to break every ceiling and barrier put before him. He's not going to be positioned for that kind of success and achievement until he learns some values and lessons he's not wanting to learn from us. He needs a sink or swim environment so he can learn for himself, what he's capable of by himself, and what it takes for him to be capable of it at all.

Today, all 3 of the older boys got out of the car together for their elective classes, for the last time. One blew a kiss, they all waved and yelled "bye mom!" as they walked toward the door. Next week, it'll just be those middle two waving me off as they head for the door and I drive off. The oldest will hopefully wave me off from a school bus next week (assuming he isn't too embarrassed) as he heads back to public school. Middle school. (*sigh*...*cringe*) I'll spend my weekdays teaching his brothers and carting them to their extra classes, wondering how his day is going. He'll likely not think twice about what we're doing, at first. I'll spend a lot of my days and nights praying for his safety, for his little soul to develop into the deep soul God wants for him, and when he comes home I'll pretend to be excited when he is, until the day comes that I no longer have to pretend and can feel more confident in all this newness. It was a very bittersweet Monday. I may never forget that goodbye scene.

I feel a lot like this new chapter is about faith-building. I believe we are being led to this decision because we need to have stronger faith in God's craftsmanship of our oldest, to believe that He's always at work and that His plans are great, even when we don't see the work happening firsthand. I also believe it's going to be faith-building for our son. He's going to be tested and taken through the fire, experiencing a culture-shock as he adjusts. He's going to see and hear things from his peers that he's going to have to make character-building decisions about, and with God's mercy, he'll rely on his faith in God to guide and direct him through the bogs of adolescent nonsense that comes with it all.
This isn't what I want. Not by a long shot! But it's what feels right. So we say goodbye to homeschooling our oldest. And we begin to transition into being a solid support system that waits for him to need to lean into us. And when he does, we'll be here waiting with all the things we have always had ready to offer him, but which he hasn't been prepared to receive from us this last little while. We'll be working on bridging the gaps and wedges that our educational struggles have caused in our relationships, just with different building materials than we'd planned.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Caution in the Face of Blessing

I'm not sure how familiar you are with the feeling of sharing wonderful news with your nearest and dearest, and getting incredibly negative, judgemental feedback. But I can attest that it's a lot like getting a physical slap in the face. It's shattering. The sting of it doesn't heal or go away. It's a permanent sensation left on your heart.

When I excitedly shared with a loved one that I was pregnant with Corbin, the response I got was, "Are you kidding me?! What the hell are you going to do with another kid?! " (Insert exasperated, indignant scoff).... "Well, maybe it'll be a girl and you can quit." That's never left me. It hurt in the deepest way. Then, when I shared with that same person that we were thrilled to be expecting Cuinn (following an emotional miscarriage), the response was more measured, but the "excitement" and support was very fake, very superficial. I knew without a doubt we were being judged and that behind our backs, the words and sentiment were entirely the opposite of what was said in front of us.

Again, those things stick. It's a scum that nothing properly cleans and clears away. And for me, it created a fear of rejection, of judgement. This was one of the most important people in my world, and if they had this kind of response, what would my friends and acquaintances say?

For nearly 5 months I've cowered, and wrestled with those past rejections and judgements. My entire life is different now, in many ways. That relationship that was so damaging is contained within carefully constructed walls and boundaries. But still, somehow, I was scared. I felt so utterly blessed, on the one hand. But on the other, I couldn't bring myself to feel confident enough to praise God's plan for my life because although He'd given us a precious gift, I was the one who had to struggle with the people in my life who couldn't care less about my emotions or happiness. I was the one who would get the looks, the nasty questions, the insensitive remarks, the scoffs and blatant lies in the form of support. The fear robbed me of the ability to express the excitement that was on my heart. I felt like I had to contain it until I was strong enough to share the news...or just too big to hide it, and then I had to hope the rejection wouldn't kill me.

I refrained from telling that one person for over 4 months, but told a few other nearest and dearest. The first person I told, I fully thought I would have support from. Instead, she said, "(Gasp) Oh no!!!" She then began to cover it up and tried to muster a better response, and show more support. But the damage was done. You can't undo that.

I can't say I've come full circle. I've prayed and prayed about my reactions. I've asked God's forgiveness for my lack of outward enthusiasm, and praised Him privately for the blessing, for His will and His plans being everything mine could never be. I care less than I used to what people will say and how we'll be perceived. But I'm still a little scared. I'm THRILLED, and incredibly blessed, and insanely thankful!! ...But yes, still a little nervous.

So please, measure your words carefully. If you can't be supportive, don't say anything. If your reaction can't be loving, it can be kept to yourself. If you can't share in the joy of our news and blessing, please just silently excuse yourself. I want to be surrounded by people who can be happy for us, who can support and encourage us. I want to be surrounded by people who recognize the blessing in God's plan and timing, and embrace it with us.

That said, the other caveat to this is that this will be the last time we share this kind of news. It's the end of this chapter in our lives. Never again, will we get to experience the firsts that come with this kind of blessing...first ultrasound, first time hearing a heartbeat, first time seeing a precious face, then later first smiles, first steps, first words...that is coming to an end for us. That's both gut wrenching and bittersweet. I can't describe the emotion that comes with knowing this is the last of the firsts. It's painful and lonely. There is a hole where possibility used to be. There is a finality that leaves more questions than answers.

So friends and loved ones, I'm sensitive. I'm a little nervous. But I'm blessed. Exponentially!! .....Yes, folks.....
*** I'M PREGNANT!!! ***

Truly, we are THRILLED to share that we are expecting our last baby at the end of January/beginning of February!!

It's a GIRL!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Road Signs

This morning I had a powerful "Ah-HA!" come through my bible study. In fact, I was so excited by this epiphany I had, that I used it in bible study with my boys when we started school a few hours later. I felt like a preacher in front of a congregation of hungry Jesus lovers, preaching the feast! You may laugh, but it really was an awesome lesson and seemed to resonate almost as much with the boys as it did for me. 

I began my personal bible study today by mistakenly re-reading the opening for the week, thinking I was further behind than I thought. The opening talked about Self-Control. One quote shared in it is, "We must have a spirit of power towards the enemy, a spirit of love towards men and a spirit of self-control towards ourselves." ~ Watchman Nee
The other big neon sign in the opening was this; 
"The flesh is that voice in your head that tells you, "If it feels good, do it. It tells us we need things when we don't, and if we followed it we'd sleep too late, eat too much and eventually come to poverty. That's where the heart wants to lead us.
The Spirit is the voice that leads you in truth. The closer you walk with God, and the more time you spend in His presence the more you become aware of His will in your life." (Thank you Darlene Schacht, The Time Warp Wife for this amazing study!)

At this point, I've been struck a little bit by the above portions of the week's intro, but I'm still really just hoping I can get some reading in before all the boys clamor out of their rooms and start making noise. So I go on to read last Friday's chapter (did I mention, I'm behind?) which is Galatians 5;1-15 "Freedom in Christ." And WOW! It hit me like a ton of bricks!

The little gem of greatness is rooted in Galatians 5:7 (ESV) which says;
"You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump."
Ok. So I break it down, sentence by sentence in my head; 
- You were doing well. 
- Who got in the way of you obeying/doing what was right?
- God gives direction, not persuasion. Persuasion (aka, temptation) doesn't come from the Lord, it comes from Satan. 
- A little yeast makes the whole batch of dough rise, not just parts of it. Either it's going to be leavened and rise or it's not. There is not in-between.

Wow! That's big. So here the bible is telling me I was doing so good, so what's suddenly gotten in the way? What's stopping me from doing what I know I should? The answer for me, as it is for most of us human folk, is me. I get in my own way. Daily! Have you ever heard, "Just get out of your own way and do it!"? I have always loved that, because it's so true that we all have a tenacious knack for tripping ourselves up in life and then making a bigger mess of things. Here the bible tells me, "Get out of the way! Do what you're told, what you know is right, and stop getting in the way of yourself on this path I've set out for you." God didn't design us to fail. Not in the long run, anyway. He designed us to be able to obey His word and achieve what he set us on a path to do. Couldn't get more direct than that, could it? But then this passage goes on to give us further direction when it tells us God doesn't give us this persuasion. If something doesn't come from God, who then does it come from? Only Satan. 

It was later in my study when faced with the study question, "How can you apply this to your life?" that it dawned on me that perhaps in some areas a more appropriate word for persuasion, would be temptation. We are all tempted to do things throughout our day, right? I'm not the only one tempted to go back for another piece of the chocolate bar I swore would last me the whole week, am I? Or what about a second glass of wine? It was a long, hard day after all. And exercise? Sure, I want to get fit and be more healthy. But I also really wanted a nap so when that sweet baby decided he didn't want to sleep anywhere but in momma's arms...well, who am I to fight it? Guess I'll just have to find some time later this week, since that little window of time has passed. Oh and that new outfit! Can't forget that! Of course I should be replenishing our rainy day fund after we had to use it on some unexpected plumbing expenses. But then again...I do have that credit card with a little credit left on it. What's another $25 or $50 bill per month? No biggie. 
These are just a few examples of allowing temptation to rule over sound judgement. 
So hold those thoughts, as we look at the next big section, Galatians 5:13 which says, "For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another." We know we have freedom of choice thanks to the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden. They chose of the flesh, because they were persuaded by Satan instead of abiding by the word of the Lord. Ok. Well, in our present day world, freedom to choose probably sounds nice. I get that. But then when we go full circle back to what we were talking about a minute ago, in those temptation examples, I feel like it puts it all under a whole new lens. 
You see, none of those things I gave as examples were positive choices. They were examples of a person being persuaded or tempted to use poor judgement or be lazy. The extra bill for a new outfit that wasn't needed all the while ignoring the need for a rainy day fund, putting off exercise altogether with no plan to make up for it, to take a nap instead, the over-indulgence in wine or chocolate...Those are desires of the flesh, or heart desires. God doesn't put those desires on our hearts. He doesn't instill in us or even encourage, a sense of laziness. So in my feverish marginal writing as all of this came through my mind like a deluge, I wrote that you are not persuaded by others, if you don't already have those heart desires and lack of self-control. Where on earth, did that come from!? I hadn't ever thought of that before. But suddenly there it was in the margins of my bible with big fat arrows pointing to the verses I gleaned it from.

This whole self-control, accountability, temptation thing has been a theme for my boys for awhile. "X told me to do it! He MADE me!" I admit, I've used the age old, "If X told you to jump off a bridge, would you do it!?" (I got a firm and equally measured "Probably!!" in response last week). 
So when I approached this with the boys for a bible study for them a few hours after soaking all of it in myself, we had a lot of examples among us. Since we're always talking about these things, having this biblical direction tie in matters of the heart to self-control was a really big learning moment for us. 
We talked about things they are tempted to do, and how if they didn't already want to do those things, even a little bit ("A little leaven leavens the whole lump.") then they wouldn't do it. But because they (I actually said, "we") aren't practicing self-control, their hearts desires are stronger and tend to win. 
I went on to explain that in my opinion, self-control is probably the biggest spiritual muscle we have, and therefore needs the most work. It is the hardest to tone and refine, because we are daily bombarded with outside influences that tell us things are ok that really aren't or shouldn't be. Things like the check out line, the ads, the posters, the infomercials, the commercials, our peers...The list is endless. I explained that when we practice self-control, and the more we practice it, the stronger that spiritual muscle gets. This is important because when it comes to temptation, as long as we allow our heart desires to have even a little say in our choices, we leave open the door for persuasion (temptation) to burst through and muck everything up. It stops us from doing what we should, or allows us to do what we know we shouldn't. This is us getting in our own way. But when we practice self-control, we close the door on persuasion. It's no longer an option. 

This is where things become more black and white for me. I'm now equipped with this incredible moment, and an incredible lesson I gleaned straight from God's word. The direction is clear, and applications are without limits. I need to practice self-control in a BIG way! I need to recognize my heart desires from His plans. Sure, I think it's great to have dreams and to want nice things. We all want something in our lives. I don't see a problem with that, for the most part. As I explained to the boys, I think the problem comes in when we accommodate those wants knowing we shouldn't. That split second where we think, "Weellllll...Maybe I should/shouldn't ________." THAT is the moment we know it's a heart desire, and Satan is in our midst trying to persuade us (tempt us) to do/not do something. And what do we know about Satan's plans? They are not God's plans. Those things are not what God wants for us. 

My summary for the boys was essentially that we should continue working that spiritual muscle, self-control, so we know it's always strong enough to close the door on persuasion. Nobody and no circumstance can make us do something, or keep us from doing something. The choice and doubt is either already on our hearts, or it's not. When we're practicing self-control, we're doing the things we may not really want to do, but we know are good for us or those we serve. Or, we're not giving in to temptation and we're avoiding the things we know we shouldn't do. So simple. 

There are times I read passages in the bible and come out with a particular message or lesson, and I can later go back to that passage and come out with something entirely different. I love that about the bible. Maybe this will strike a special place in you, or maybe you've stopped reading the rambling already. I don't know if any of this will make more sense to a reader than a hill of beans. But it seemed to resonate with the boys, and it most certainly was a game changer for me!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

And Then It Finally Sinks In

Two years ago when I miscarried at 5-6 weeks, I was devastated. I was early on, and I felt foolish for being so heartbroken... like I didn't have a right to be attached to this little person inside me who was barely more than an idea, or a possibility, at the time.
Not too long prior to becoming pregnant, I had struggled something fierce with feelings of unworthiness, inadequacy and self doubt. I felt unlovable, and as though I was a burden to all those who were most important to me. Losing the baby I so badly wanted only perpetuated those feelings. I wasn't suicidal in the sense that I had a plan, but the idea that I would be helping those I loved if I were dead was not far from my mind most days. I felt sure they would be better off without me. Happier. Less burdened. Free to move on and find something - someone - better than I was. It took a lot (A LOT!) of prayer and reflection and deep digging to overcome those things.

Fast forward to today, when I'm sitting here rocking our 6 month old little boy, whose love language is already very clearly an unquenchable physical need...For me. I have no doubt at all that God sent this precious gift to us, with this particular love for me, to show me my worth to my family. This little boy, who definitely loves his daddy, but who has only just recently began accepting his snuggles and care for more than 5 or 10 minutes at a time, shows me day in and day out that I really am needed, aand accepted as I am. I really am loved and valuable. I belive with everything in me that God sent me THIS little boy to address all those feelings and insecurities I experienced just prior to my miscarriage. But I think there's a bigger message I'm intended to pick up from mothering this sweet, cuddly,very attached little boy of ours;

Some days, it's really hard to mother this little boy. Not because he's anything less than perfect in my eyes, but because he wants to be held, by me, every second of every day. Occasionally I can squeak out a few minutes here and there alternating between his walker, playpen, tummy time and chair. The litany if tot gadgets we've collected to try to gain a few minutes hands-free is ridiculous, really. And none lasts long, before I'm back to struggling with even menial tasks all over again. I joke that we couldn't surgically remove him from my arms if we tried. But today, it's sinking in even more for me, that God intended him to be this way. My baby's stubborn need to be held by me all day is a 2-fold design that I'm supposed to be paying better attention to than I have been until recently.

One thing I'm learning from my son's need for me, is how I should be clinging to my Father in Heaven. I should be lifting my arms up to Him with the same stubborn tenacity my son does for me. There shouldn't be a moment I'm not seeking God's cradling, protective, loving arms. Not a moment I don't crave the spiritual embrace from God that I spend my day lavishing on my son. And not a movement I make without looking over my shoulder to be sure I'm making Him smile.
The other thing I'm learning is that just like I spend my day doting on, and caring for my son's every need, every cry, so does my God care for me in the same way. Every whimper, every emotional and spiritual bump or bruise...all I need do is cry out for Him, and He swoops in to rescue me. He's there, doting on me and seeing to my well being every second of every day.
Those are a couple of big revelations!

We're six months in with this precious boy, and although I've considered all of this before, I think it's just now beginning to sink in. It's only now, as I claw my way back onto the ledge I've been holding onto for dear life, that I realize it's God I should have been clinging onto instead. I've felt like I was absolutely losing it, drowning in the busy, the chaos, the to-dos, and literally sinking under the weight of it all. And I was...because I was clinging to the ledge instead of my life preserver. I read something recently that said our kids - the stubborn, the hard to handle,  the full-of-attitude, the tiresome... all of them - are meant to be like a sandpaper to our souls. They are meant to be a helper to God, to refine and mold us into better versions of ourselves, and most importantly, to draw us closer to our God because we can't be what our kids need without Him. Those difficult kids (or difficult seasons) are meant to bring us to our knees and force us to raise our eyes up to Him. We are supposed to find the precipice through our stewardship of our children that shows us God is the light, the only way. And once we do that, and as we continue to do that even in our hardest moments, we begin to see and understand that there is a peace in our God that can't be found in anything but Him. No amount of completed to-do lists, no amount of quiet showers, trips alone to the bathroom or alone time could give us what we need in our day. Sure, we need to take time for ourselves and refill our tanks now and then. But when we allow our to-do lists, appointments, chores, yard work, and hobbies to take priority over the stewardships God gives us, or our relationship with Him, we will sink. It's just a matter of time.

I'm not saying my day got any easier having this all finally sink in. I still toted my clingy, momma-loving, cranky boy...all.day.long. My arms still got fatigued. That muscle near my shoulder blade began to tingle again. I still got almost ZERO accomplished today. So no, I won't say it was an easier day, re-realizing all of this. But I will say, it made all the difference to me. I see my purpose, my worth, my value. I see the direction my Father would have me go. I was allowed to see and understand a few "Whys". And I get it now. I get it.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

God's Masterpiece - Truly Inspiring!

I found this video through a blog I follow on Facebook & fell in love with it!! It couldn't be more timely, full of more conviction, or pack more of a punch! This is perfectly done!  I cried when I watched it & can't stop thinking about how fitting it truly is.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Blanket Bloopers

I have one very sleepy baby this morning! He's nursing a bottle & stole a baby blanket from the clean laundry pile & is dragging it around the house like Linus. Well, I also have two very playful kitties this morning. Greaser really enjoys being around Corbin, despite the abuse he sometimes receives.
These are a few pictures from their trip around the house this morning.

Kitty followed him to take a ride on his blanket....

Kitty digging at the blanket... 

Corbin trying to escape kitty, but kitty thinking this would be a super cool hideout!... 

 Corbin checking out exactly what it is that kitty is doing down there...

 ...This is about 2 seconds before Corbin grabbed a handful of fur & dragged kitty out from under his blanket & then promptly when running away with it to lay down....


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Oh Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy!

"Master Corbin". How fitting?!
He's been walking since he was 10 month old & he graduated quickly from walking to climbing. Still, he didn't get into too much trouble for a little while. But in the past couple of months, it's a never ending struggle to retrieve my kitchen utensils, pot & pan lids, dvds, tupperware (where did he put all my lids!?)...All day long I'm juggling my chores with "His Diapered Highness". I try to sneak dishes out of the dishwasher while he's engaged in something, but he seems to have some kind of dishwasher detecting sonar sensor. And it never fails, as soon as that dishwasher makes even a quiet sound, barely audible over Elmo's songs (I try my best to time it just right), he's racing to the kitchen for a piece of the action!
Our newest learning curve is the yelling. Oh boy, that yelling...!!! Much like his brothers, he feels in order to be heard he must speak above everybody else & must belt out his demands with all his might! He even has to arch his back to really muster a good yell. No joke there. It was funny at first, to watch him stick his little Buddha belly out as far as he can before projecting his toddler opinions about what his brothers were doing that he didn't approve of, or the fact that they had something in their possession they should have clairvoyantly known he would want...
Teething hasn't made the last couple of months any easier on any of us residing in his service. The poor kid has been needing to push out some teeth for what feels like an eternity...I'd be cranky too! I don't remember either of the brothers ever having gums as swollen as his are. We finally (FINALLY, FINALLY!) had a tooth break the surface though, so hopefully his #5 will be make a swift appearance from here.

Despite the last couple of months being as exhausting as they have been, I must admit I am absolutely smitten with him. He does some of the most adorable things sometimes. He mimics most things we say & is learning all kinds of "tricks" & things, like giving kisses, blowing kisses, waving, shaking his head...He's been doing all of them for awhile now, but he seems to have a new found sense of humor when doing them & he really cracks himself & us up sometimes. He loves babies all the sudden & I love the big smile he gets when he points one out. I love watching him shake his head "no" & laugh at himself.
If I sit on the floor, the way he rushes over to me & very determinedly turns himself around & carefully plants his butt on my lap, before looking up at me with an expression fixed on his face to say that really, that's all he wanted all along, is something that endears me to him even more every time he does it. Or the way he wraps his arm around the back of mine & holds extra tight when he's sitting on my hip, because he doesn't want me to put him down, is pretty sweet too. Then, when he gets "the look" from mommy or daddy, the way he instinctively sticks his tongue out at us behind a grin...
He's definitely a momma's boy. He has this whole family wrapped around his little finger & he pretty well knows it.

He's driving my beyond crazy, exhausting me more than I thought possible & really making me really appreciate that moment I flop back onto my pillows at night....
But this little boy has my heart! (Well, so do my others...) He's so smart & much too adorable for his own good. He puts his smarts & good looks to good use though! ;0 )

(Trying on Halloween costumes to be sure we know it fits in time for the big day...he's gonna be a spider!)

(I turned the view finder around on the camera so he could see himself)


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Big Dreams

Tuesday evening I finally decided to try to make some gluten-free crackers for DS1. I'd had the idea rolling around in my head for a few days, but hadn't made much effort until then.
DS1 was helping me with it after dinner & was really enjoying it. He asked me a question (I forget the question now) to which I replied, "I don't even know if these will work or not buddy. I've never made crackers before, so this is an experiment." He very swiftly advised me, "If you want to DO big things, you need to DREAM big dreams." I almost choked on my own saliva. "Wow! You're right. Where did you learn that?" I asked. "I don't know. ....Oh wait! I saw it on a Chuck E. Cheese commercial. They were saying it on there."

I often reflect on the personalities of my boys. And I often think of how much DS1 is 100% my "old soul" child. He's startlingly wise for his age, and he sees more in the world than he typically lets on. He's like a sponge, absorbing bits & pieces of everything around him, and storing it away.
I've had a few days to brag about this moment & to think back on all the moments that took my breath away, just like this one & am reminded that I want him to do big things in life. He is such an intelligent boy & has so many admirable, wide-ranging interests. He has a compassion this world is sorely lacking & a heart made of the purest gold. So even though he's only just entering the age kids begin to "dream big dreams" I have spent his whole life dreaming big dreams for him, and I just know this kid will change the world one day.

When we were done with our crackers (they were lousy in texture, but he loved them!) he was dragging his chair back over to the kitchen table. DS3 was in bed, so I shoosed him saying, "We need to be quiet. Corbin just went to bed." and he replied, "I'm sorry mom. I know. There's just a lot of friction on the floor that's making it loud." Smarty-pants.



Saturday, August 6, 2011

Heart shaped love notes

DS1 has such a compassionate heart. I have a bond with all of my boys that is unique & very special to me, each boy brings their own wonderful qualities to our relationships. But there is something about my bond with Caidan that touches me in a very tender way. He's like my sidekick, always there for moral support, always there to lend a hand, always there even when he's not...
I haven't figured out why but for some reason DS1 has been "sharing" his treasured things with me for a few weeks now. He's very sneaky about it...It's always after they've been in bed a few hours & I finally turn in for the night, as I'm adjusting the mountain of pillows on my side of the bed, that I find his favorite little kissing fish beanie snuggled between pillows, or his beloved "Daisy" dolphin pillow pet perched atop my own pillows, or his regular pillow with the adorable frog print pillow case his grandma made him. I offer whichever treasure he's shared with me the night before, back to him the next day. Sometimes he takes them, but generally he says, "No it's ok. I want you to have it." or "I don't want it. I want you to use it."

During his whole kindergarten year, I used to stash little red heart shaped pre-made notes in his lunch box, for him to find during the day. I wanted to remind him that I loved him, or wish him a good day at school. I think this must be his way of reminding me he loves me too. And I have to say, each night I've found something sweetly tucked into my bed, it's been when I've needed it most.

(old pictures, but good pictures!) 


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Moments like this...

It's moments like this that fuel my soul, restore my waning sanity, and give me the composure to get through anything the day might throw my way.

(Caidan & Corbin relaxing together & watching Super Why...Does it get much cuter!?)