Friday, October 24, 2014


In 3 minutes, it'll be Caden's birthday.  The day of his birth.  The day, 12 years ago, that he entered the world and made me a mom.  A day I will never forget.  A day I will always be thankful for.

My first everything.  My first pregnancy.  First cravings.  First baby bump.  First nursery, first crib, first onesies.  First burp cloths.  First REAL fear - can I handle this? 

And then, 4:01am he came bursting onto the scene.  Literally.  He was in a pretty big rush.  And I didn't mind too much, as the whole "first labor and delivery" thing wasn't really turning out to be fun.  But then came the first moments of worrying...why wasn't he crying?  Why did he need oxygen, and so much?  What was wrong?  Our doctor kept assuring us he was fine.  And after a few minutes, he did start to make some noise.  Relief.

Wow, so much hair.  SO MUCH HAIR.  He looked like Elvis.  Like a literal, made up doll.  His thumbs were so broad.  We joked he must have been playing Nintendo in there all 9 months - it flattened them out.  But he was mine.  And James'.  We made him.  We loved him the moment we knew he was going to be arriving, but we loved him with skin on now.  He was ours.

And then this mom thing started to be tricky.  He couldn't keep any of my breastmilk down.  He threw up so much, all the time, every feeding.  He was so very very tiny and wasn't growing like he should.  We were at the doctor constantly for weight checks.  I was sure I must be doing something wrong.  At one weight check our doctor listened to his precious little heart and told us there was a problem.  We made appointments for many things...and found out that he had special needs.

First label.  Many labels.  First pain, real pain.  Unimaginable pain.  The pain of seeing everyone else get what they want, and we get this kid with labels.  The grief stands in the way of seeing him for just the precious little boy that he is.  First massive panic - CAN I HANDLE THIS?????

First I take it hour by hour.  Then I can handle day by day and suddenly many months have passed.  I CAN handle this.  Do I want to?  No, but one glance at this sweet little boy with a smile that lights up the ENTIRE COUNTY and I know I can.  I will do it for him.  I will do it for me.  He is mine.

Years pass, as they always do, and yet he is still my first in many ways.  No, he didn't reach all the milestones first in our family, but he is our first.  He is the oldest.  He is our parent-beginning.  And I really couldn't have learned from anyone better.  He loves everyone.  He cares about everyone.  He likes order and routine.  He doesn't judge you.  He doesn't care if you have food on your face or if you're mean to dogs or if you're a hardened criminal.  He loves.  Unconditionally.  He makes me a better person.  I would not change him for the world.  I would keep him exactly as he is, for he is perfect.  I know they say "no one's perfect" but I can tell you, Caden is the closest I have ever met.

Caden, happy 12th birthday.  May I continually learn to let you be exactly who you are.  May I learn to love like you.  May I learn to leave judgements up to God like you do.  Thank you for choosing me for your mom.  You have made me a better person than I was before.  I am learning to be even better still.  Together, we will move mountains.  Thank you for still holding my hand, kissing me on the lips and never being anything but insanely happy to see me.  YOU are my greatest first.  I love you, Cay.  You may have been knit together in my womb, but you are most certainly knitting this family into a beautiful work of art.  We are blessed by you.    

Thursday, July 24, 2014


We live just outside the city limits.  There's a very main road that runs out of the city which is our thoroughfare to get to our home.  This past week, there's been road work on that main road.  It's been closed off in a section and there's a detour around to several other roads.  It's a small city, but in terms of relative size, the detour is a pretty good hike. 

It has frustrated me multiple times.  As a creature of habit, my van simply turns toward that road every time and then I see the signs, alerting me to the detour.  And I give an internal "crud".  But there's no way through it.  There's no plowing down the signs and just getting to where I want to get in exactly my chosen way.  It takes me longer, it makes me later, and it makes me grumpy.

Many of you know I have been on a journey to lose weight.  More than that, I am on a journey to find and embrace a healthier way of life.  But since April, I have been on a self-imposed detour.  I have not followed the direct route to get to where I want to get.  It's frustrating, but mostly because I seem to have no sticking-power to stay the direct course.

During my detour, I am working hard on a healthier mindset.  And this is vitally important.  This is the kind of stuff that makes the detour a blip on the radar screen of the journey.  I have some bad thought processes to break up with.  And I am making that the focus.  So my detour is important.  You might even say it's absolutely essential.  

My detour is a pretty good hike.  And I'm not sure how long the detour signs will be up.  But...and this is what's different than many other times I have endeavored to embrace a healthy lifestyle...I know I will eventually get to where I want to get.  That's why I'm comfortable calling it a detour, and not allowing it to be a derail.  I still end up at home every time I have to take the detoured roads in the city.  And I will still end up a healthier version of me after I take the detoured path to my wellness. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Who are you?  I just want to reach out and give you a squeeze every time I see you respond to a post of mine.  Thank you for your encouragement!!  If you get a chance, would you shoot me an email and tell me a bit about yourself/ves?  I would love to know you more!!

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Today is...

my baby girls' 5th birthday.  How can my BABIES be FIVE???  It chokes me up.  We never had more than 3.5 years between any of our kids.  And now...the littles are 5.  I just can't really comprehend it. 

Today is also the 2 year anniversary of our house fire.  Yes, it HAD TO happen on the same day.  I hate that, but hey, at least it's easy to remember.  No, I really don't want to joke about it and make light of it.  IT SUCKS that it happened on the same day.  I said I wasn't going to think about it much today, but I truly can't help it.  Right now, 2:15 is the exact time I made the 911 call to tell them our home was on fire and was going to be fully engulfed at any time.  Avery and Declan screamed in the back seat.  Their worst fear, playing out in front of their very eyes.  I just felt so helpless.  No one could help.  Not in the way I needed them to.  I needed a complete fix.

And so it is with my twins.  Each year of their life they get closer to the day when they can no longer take that flight of stairs, can no longer walk "that far", can no longer move without pain.  I need a complete fix.  No one can help.  I feel very helpless.  I love seeing them grow in knowledge and understanding, but with agony I realize that growth means they are hurdling toward the days of wheelchairs and accessible vans.  Right now they are carefree and full of life.  They love life, they love to run and play and jump HIGH!  I want that for them forever.  I'm honestly not dwelling on it, but I would be lying if I didn't say each birthday for them is somewhat bittersweet.  I know moms say they want their kids to stay little forever.  I really REALLY mean it for my girls.

But God has other plans.  God sees the future and, thankfully, I cannot.  I won't dwell.  I will write this out, close the computer and go play with the new five-year-olds.  I will take them to Applebee's tonight and pick up their monkey cake from Dairy Queen and give them pieces big enough to make their eyes sparkle with excitement.  I will kiss them and love them and promise my love for all of my years.  Thankfully, with each passing year, God also grows my heart just a little bigger so I can pour out more of Him into each of them. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sixteen years of marriage means...

Tomorrow marks 16 years since the day I married James.  To say these 16 years have been easy would be to lie.  They haven't been easy.  But they've been worth it.  Everything.  Worth it.

Avery told me today that she realized it was 5 years of marriage before we had kids.  "Why was that, mom?" she wanted to know.  Good question.  When James asked my dad if he could marry me, my dad said I wasn't ready.  And honestly, he was right.  I wasn't.  We did a heck of a lot of growing up in those 5 years.  We made some mistakes that should have ended our marriage, but we fought for it and came out on top.  Those years were terribly difficult, but those years were very necessary.  Looking back, those were the years that taught us how to be a couple.  They taught us that just because you never fight doesn't mean that you have a great relationship.  They taught us that communication was key.  The rest is just details, but you must must MUST communicate.  Those years taught us to fight for what's worth it, to let go of what isn't, and to love with all your heart.  We learned that our marriage was not 50/50 but 100/100.  And we gave it 100% each.  Those years broke our hearts, but not our spirits. 

And then came children.  The first one, bursting into the world with rapid speed for a first delivery, but yet, something was so not right.  Those days and weeks were agonizing.  There was something so.not.right yet our hearts swelled with pride.  We loved him.  He needed us.  And that was all that mattered.  The months and first year were filled with doctors appointments, therapists, diagnoses and a constant longing for "typical".  Typical was not to be for our first born.  Once that desire began to, once we decided that we didn't necessarily even WANT it anymore, we began to relax.  We loved, no matter what.  We accepted, unconditionally.  We saw that slow was fast enough, and we embraced it. 

Of course, it wasn't perfect, and we didn't do it perfectly.  We grieve sometimes, and that's ok.

The second born, just 22 months after the first, was sugar and spice and everything nice.  We marveled in her easiness.  We marveled at how easily she figured things out.  She was, by our standards, a prodigy!  She was so easy to love, and continues to be so.

The third we waited a bit for, but he was worth the wait.  He was so SO sweet.  You've never met a sweeter baby.  He was amiable and quiet and slept through the night lickety-split.  His older siblings adored him and so did we all.  He was SO easy, in fact, that I talked James into "just one more" when he was only 10 months old...

Halfway through that "just one more" 4th pregnancy came the news that just one more was going to be TWO MORE.  Twins.  And oh, was I overwhelmed at the thoughts.  On July 8, 2009 those identical twin girls came into our family, moving us from a family of 6 for 3 minutes' worth of time to a family of 7 forever.  Their first year was a blur.  I survived.  I made it.  Oh it was hard, and I had 4 in diapers for quite some time.  But I was thankful.  Grateful for the ability to carry these precious ones to term and care for them while James worked hard to provide for our family.

When the twins were not quite 2 they became sick.  It wasn't your usual sick, it was the inability for them to move their bodies.  They were locked inside there, for weeks on end.  We were terrified, but they slowly came around.  They were back to high chairs for feeding and eating from a spoon instead of from their own hands.  But they were coming around.  And then.  The unthinkable happened.  On their 3rd birthday we came home to decorate the cupcakes we'd baked that morning and found our beautiful home, the home James had spent years remodeling, fully engulfed with flames.  The horror of standing in your yard, watching everything, everything you loved and had painstakingly chosen as your identity disappear with you being helpless to stop it...indescribable.  But we had each other.  We were all together.  We were heartbroken, but we were together.  We had our camper to sleep in.  We had loads of love from our friends and family.

And we've rebuilt.  We live in a home that we've rebuilt that is fully handicap accessible for those twins, now diagnosed with Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy.  I am decorating it and making it mine again.  There are holes in the walls and scratches in the floors already, but it is ours.  There's landscaping to be done.  There's a playset to be put together.  And there's loads of love inside. 

Tomorrow marks 16 years of marriage.  We've experienced more than most.  We've loved harder and cared deeper and feared more than most.  But through it all we have each other.  And we have the 5 beautiful, imperfect children we've created.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.

I love you James.  Happy Anniversary.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Five months, really?

It's been 5 months since I wrote anything here.  I like to write.  I do.  So why am I not using it as an outlet?  I think it's time to pick up the pen once again.  Or hammer on the keys.  That actually feels more cathartic.

Tonight we're facing a strong line of Iowa thunderstorms.  I've been prepping the kids for it all day.  NOT SURE why, because honestly, they act like morons at the THOUGHT of storms.  Well, not all of them, just the 3 youngest.  So I prepped them a bit, but then came actual thunder.  Oh lord, the thunder.  I made a huge exception and allowed all of them (except Caden, who wanted to be in his bed, bless him) to snuggle under blankets on the couch to fall asleep.  This lasted about 5 minutes before they started filtering in, with the "I'm scaaaaaaared!" routine. 

Which I understand.  When I was about 6 I remember being terrified of storms, and once my dad took me outside INTO THE FACE OF THE STORM to "get brave" about it.  Folks, that didn't work.  I have always had a very vivid imagination and this was just too much for me.  I thought I might get sucked into the wind.  Not a good move for me, and one I'm not willing to risk with my scaredy-cats.

So yes, Declan was scared.  So I made another big exception and allowed him to sleep on our floor, but I made a few rules.  #1.  Lay down.  #2.  Don't be a jerk.  #3.  Be quiet.  Declan couldn't handle any of the 3.  He was lunging at the dog and just generally being ridiculous.  And he was laughing, showing absolutely no signs of being scaaaaaared.  I gave too many warnings and then finally carried him upstairs to the room he shares with Avery (he has his own room, but he's been "too scared" to sleep in it since we moved in...sigh).

He screamed.  Boy can scream.  He screamed bloody murder for 15 solid minutes.  I know why some animals eat their young.

Finally we asked Avery (bless her heart) to go up with him, and James offered to go as well (bless HIS heart).  It is now quiet upstairs.  Declan has my ipod and is listening to the Frozen soundtrack.  Macey and Madelyn finally cashed out on our bedroom floor next to Chloe's kennel.  The dog is having some sort of dream in said kennel where she is outrunning a Great Dane.  Caden is fast asleep in his bed and James is just tucking himself in as well after coming downstairs.  I am blogging.  And sipping a Diet Dew.  Most all is right with our little world.

Please storms, be as quiet as possible tonight.  Mama's tired.    

Saturday, January 04, 2014

You take the good, you take the bad...

I really thought we were getting all on the mend over here.  The twins have been done throwing up for a few days now.  We finally settled on the right meds for Caden's miserable ear infection.  We were getting there!!

And then Declan throws up in the wee hours of the morning.  And Avery follows just a few hours later.  And they continued right up until bedtime.  They are both loosely tucked in with towels and buckets...

But you know what?  I'm so thankful.  I am thankful that we are warm and cozy at home for them to be comfortable.  I am thankful it is MY OWN CARPET they're hurling on, I own it (or at least it's my mortgage on it, lol) and I don't have to worry about stains.  I am thankful that they waited until we were home from our trip to deluge the home with illness because really, who wants to be sick away from home?  I am thankful, that's what I feel overall.  Thankful.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Soooo over it

Alright.  Not even 24 hours into 2014 and I am SO over it.  It being sickness.

I think we finally have Caden's massive ear infection figured out, but it took 3 ER visits and countless hours of him sobbing during the night.  Tomorrow he has to go back to the clinic for a follow up and possibly more antibiotic injections AND we have to wrestle the brute down for drops 4x a day.  After holding him down he said with all the fury he could muster: "THAT'S NOT NICE!!!!"  HE MAD.

Then the twins have been vomiting off and on since Saturday...Madelyn screamed about her ear hurting a couple of days ago along with the vomiting so I started her on antibiotics that we had in case of strep throat during our Montana trip (we have the world's best doctor, just fyi).  Well, Madelyn is STILL throwing up and of course tonight she begged to sleep in Avery's bed and yes, you guessed it, puked all over in Avery's bed just after bedtime.  So Avery is bawling because "she threw up all over my STUUUUFFFFFFF!" and I'm ready to be mad at Madelyn for her puking (I know, stellar mom moment) and just GAH!!!

Macey felt like she had a fever when I kissed her goodnight.  I'm guessing the odds are in my favor that she does indeed have a fever upon waking.  I do also have antibiotics left for her but really REALLY don't like to use them unless I know for sure there's a problem...

And Declan.  The only one without real issues, except Madelyn slid down the slide on his loft bed last night and her toenail scraped along the fleshy part of his hand.  And you'd think he was dying, right on his deathbed.

HAPPY FREAKIN' 2014!!!!  It's not starting off nice, but I bet we'll see brighter days ahead.  We better, anyway.