Product of grace – 11 years in

It’s been eleven years today.

Around year eight I found myself wondering how we’d even get to nine.

But here we are.

Our union a product of grace, miracles and the faithful work of the God we love.

Absolute bliss marrying my high school sweetheart.

Then absolute real life…not bad.  Just real.

Real hurt.  Real joy.  Real struggle.

Growing and changing.  Like it or not.

Life always surprises.

Babies blessed us.

They stretched us.  In every way.

Work became something difficult.

Difficult became disillusionment.

Disillusionment became distance.

Distance became two people raising a handful of children who didn’t know how to love each other anymore.

We found our way back.

We found things to enjoy together and our hearts slowly unfroze.

We changed more than we thought possible.

God changed us, He still is.  We can’t take credit for making it.  It was and is beyond our ability.

Now, driving in the car today, I heard these precious words:

Man, I sure wish dad was here in the car with us.  Want to know why?  (everyone says yes)  Because if dad were here, we could watch them play that kissing game.  I love that.  Mama, if Daddy were here, you could put your coffee cup up and hide behind it and kiss him!  Or you could use this book too…(giggling then ensued)

Not long ago, we never played that game.  They were more likely to hear harsh words than to see their parents smooching in the car.  They were more likely to see anger than tenderness.  That’s the honest truth.  Life hurt a lot and we became adept at hurting each other.

My heart smiled today as I listened to my children chatter in the van.

We are learning and growing and loving and messing up and living in grace.

More now than ever.

And there is so much more to come.

Sir Caleb’s birthday bash!

Before I could write this birthday post, I had to write yesterday’s post so that the full awesomeness of the birthday could be understood.  I don’t want to forget this part of the journey.  It was Caleb’s third birthday, at a train museum with a bunch of kids, that I began to realize that I really didn’t understand what was going on in his little brain.  The noise, all the people, the attention, the pressure….everything completely overwhelmed him.  He didn’t have any fun, it was so sad.  I won’t post the pictures I have that prove it.  From that point, with a lot of help and support, we began to figure out how to do things so that he could enjoy them.  His next two birthdays were small, simple family events.

This past year he’s taken leaps and bounds and as soon as we started the birthday party brainstorming (this was the first party we let him invite just who he wanted to and actually plan with us!) – I really felt like he could handle a big, boisterous party.

Handle it he did.  Enjoy it he did.  Experience it by the minute in sheer delight he did.

And we watched in wonder.  Only those who’ve known him for years could fully understand the changes and appreciate what a monumental, life victory kind of day this was for our sweet six year old.

We made a last minute change of plans due to weather and met up at an elementary school so we could eat lunch at my parents house.  The phone call the night before went something like this:

Me:  “Mom, I was just calling to see if you think we should move the party since it’s raining and cold?”

Mom (not stopping to think):  “Might be a good idea.  You could have it here, we could use the woods at the school and then eat at our house.”

Me:  “Um, Mom, don’t you remember there are 18 children between the ages of 2 and 8 coming?”  And don’t you remember that you just remodeled your kitchen and that you have cream colored carpets?

Mom (cheerful and certain):  “Sure, it’s no problem, it will be just fine.”

Sort of in disbelief but very grateful at the offer, I said yes.  I almost called back and said we’d have it here.  But the reality of 32 people in our little rambler was enough to keep me from it.

First the kids decorated little burlap satchels that our kids had sewn for them.  They would hold their (chocolate) gold coins from the forest hunt.

Then everyone lined up to get instruction for the Sherwood forest adventure.  Chris had hidden dozens of gold coins in the forest and we also hid a bunch of canned food.  I explained that Robin Hood always wanted to help the poor and that in the spirit of Robin Hood, we would hunt for food then donate it all to the food bank after the party.  I also told any that might not know that when Robin needed help from the members of his band he would blow three horns on his bugle.  So everyone got handed a bugle (my friends may not forgive me for the OBNOXIOUS noise they make!) and they were off.

After the mad frenzy search for coins and food, we all took turns shooting with Caleb’s new bow and arrows that he graciously shared with everyone.  Check out that handsome archer!

After everyone had had a hand at the bow and their fill of gold in their purse, we headed for Nana and Papa’s.  The kids pulled the red wagon full of food and walked the few blocks home in a darling parade.   Then there was food and feasting!

We shared many sweet glances throughout the day, that said more than words could have.  All the hard work, late nights sewing, etc was worth it.  Way beyond the party work, I think we both felt like life in general was worth it.  And for all that life has been these last couple months, we really needed a day like that.  All of us.

For a few more fun photos, especially of my nephew Isaac at the party, check out my sisters’ blog!

Perfectionism’s downfall

Being a responsible first born and growing up in a family where success and ‘making a contribution’ were at the top of the importance list (which isn’t necessarily bad!), it’s no surprise to me that I’ve struggled all my life living under enormous pressure to be perfect.  Much of it I’ve heaped upon myself, all by myself.

Perfectionism is innately prideful, in my opinion, and says “I should be able to do all, and do ‘all’ well, all by myself”.  When I type it out it sounds utterly ridiculous.  But as it plays out and creeps up time and again in my life, it somehow holds tremendous weight.  I want to be independent, self-sufficient and capable enough to do the job right, whatever it may be.

Being a mother is ripping the grip of the facade of ‘perfect’ away, one painful piece at a time.  While I may have thought before I was rearing children that my life was fairly ideal and I had a pretty good grip on things, I certainly realize now that it isn’t and I don’t.

For me the great trap is believing that if I can’t do it perfect, I shouldn’t do it at all.

If I can’t work out 6 days a week at 6 AM then I shouldn’t even try.

Turns out doing a quick video workout at home is still better than nothing and my body thanks me for it.

If I can’t have a devoted and lengthy time of prayer and study then I should just forget the whole thing.

Well, to be honest I still feel like this sometimes but I’m coming to see that it’s actually a big cop-out.

If I can’t start the day with order and a somewhat clean home, then I should just forget cleaning entirely.

Despite the dread I feel waking up to a house disaster, I still am better off trying to get ahead throughout the day.

If I can’t eat foods that are more nourishing for me then I should just give up and eat cookies all day.

Turns out this mentality has kept me looking 5 months pregnant while my ‘baby’ is two years old, talk about flawed thought!

As a wise writer and speaker said so simply in January, “Work harder”.  No one else is going to exercise for me, make healthy food choices, hug my children for me, give honor to my husband or make more time for school/chores/cleaning/cooking.

Regardless of how great the mound of life is that is set before me, it is my life to live.  It is my responsibility, dare I say my privilege to live it out.  I may not feel like it today, or this month.  I may be in a bit of a funk.  I may be filled with doubt about things that I’ve always held to be true.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life it’s this:

Life isn’t all about me.

I can do everything in my power to make my children do something and sometimes they still won’t do it.  They are after all their own little persons.

I can try to impart the truths and values that are important to me and then listen as my son answers the question ‘What is Easter all about?’ tonight with these few words ‘I have no idea.’  I could have died I was so embarrassed.

Despite multiple lessons in modesty, somehow my almost 4 year old still welcomes the UPS man at the front door while wearing absolutely no clothes.

One would think with the daily dose of humility I am offered in this life with little ones that I would maybe arrive at some great place of ‘letting go’.  While I truly have let go of much, there is still so much I hold onto…and for what?  I don’t really know.

Random thoughts I know, but since I’ve been blog-quiet for so long, that’s all I have to share tonight…

What would Mrs. Piggle Wiggle do?

Absolutely one of my favorite things about homeschooling is the feast of words which we are indulging in together daily.  We are discovering old books from discard piles and thrift stores that hold magical, rich stories with all sorts of vocabulary words that sometimes I don’t even know how to say.  Today we’ve logged over three hours of reading aloud together or the kids reading their books to me.

Yesterday we finished Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald.  I remember reading her when I was young, it in fact is older than my mother even, written in 1947.  Now reading it as a parent my perspective is so different.  The kids were so tickled listening that I couldn’t even get them to pick a favorite chapter, they found them all so funny!  I think the most laughs came from the “Answer-Backer Cure” chapter when the cure was that the sassy girl who talked back to everyone had to live with a snappy parrot who was even ruder and more disrespectful than she was.   It was easy for me though to pick a favorite paragraph, let me share…

It certainly was fortunate for Patsy’s mother that she thought of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, because although Mrs. Piggle Wiggle has no children of her own and lives in an upside down house, she understands children better than anybody in the whole world.  She is always ready to stop whatever she is doing and have a tea party.  She is glad to have children dig worms in her petunia bed.  She has a large trunk of scraps for doll clothes and another large truck full of valuable rocks with gold in them.  She is delighted to have children pick up and look at all the little things which she keeps on her tables and when Hubert Prentiss dropped the glass ball that snowed on the children when you shook it, she said “Heavens, Hubert, don’t cry.  I’m so glad this happened.  For years and years I have wanted to know what was in that glass ball.”  Mrs. Piggle Wiggle takes it for granted that you will want to try on her shoes and go wiggling around on high heels.

There are rich parenting gems in there I believe, the one that stopped me in my tracks was that she was always ready to stop whatever she was doing for a tea party.  It is the easiest thing in the world to go about the day, do the tasks at hand and miss the little sweet moments of actual, purposeful interaction with our children.  I am constantly reminding myself of this and taking note of time spent with each one.

The no-nonsense, reality-based discipline of Dr. Kevin Leeman is what came to mind as I read this book to my kids.  It made me want to dig out the book I read by him last year “Making Your Children Mind without Losing Yours“.  His basic premise is that parents need to let reality teach kids the consequences of life.

While Mrs. Piggle Wiggle address’ many common ‘ailments’ of childhood like kids who won’t bath, kids who fight with their siblings or kids who take too long to eat – I want to know what she would prescribe as the remedy for “Binky-itis” for my 3 1/2 year old boy who is absolutely, interminably in love with his binky.  It’s not in the book sadly.  And I’m starting to wonder if he’ll be taking his binky to college…with a dreadful overbite to go with.

Punishment or incentive?

I was talking with a friend this week about their job.  The work environment is is poor and morale is at an all time low.  Management has created an environment of fear through a variety of methods.

As we talked I honestly had to hold back tears trying to imagine myself in the shoes of the workers who had been hung out to dry especially in this tough economy.  I could not help but draw parallels between this method of leading a team of employees and the leading of a family.  In both situations many things are similarly true.  Sometimes behavior or actions must be changed.

What struck me though was how sometimes I see myself falling into a pattern as I raise my children of implementing a list of punishments and consequences in order to obtain the behavior or compliance of my children.  Sometimes in desperation I yell.  No matter how much I want to get it right and shape the lives that are in my care in a kind-hearted, gently spoken and forgiving way – I fail on a regular basis.

There are moments when instead of seeking to facilitate an environment of grace, I unintentionally facilitate an environment of fear.  While the fear of punishment may produce results, it is so not the home I want to abide in with my family.  I want the love and acceptance our kids feel here to be such a draw that they want to be a part of it.  Fear and punishments really isn’t that appealing for the long haul.  And I constantly hear from veteran parents, “The stakes just get higher with choices as they get older.”  Sigh.

While I don’t need to berate myself for getting it wrong some days, I really believe that I do have the responsibility to keep aiming for something greater.

First on my reading list for the new year is a book that is unlike any parenting book I’ve ever read.  I wrote about it here back in March.  In his book “Loving our Kids on Purpose” Danny Silk lays out a great framework for loving our kids the way God loves us.  If ever there was a model for loving with grace, it’s God’s model.  As I understand more God’s love, I understand more HOW to love the children in my home and every other person who comes across my path.

That kind of love is the answer to a good many problems in life I’m convinced.

It’s beautiful, perfect and unchanging.

My fab five baby picks (after 4 kids!)

I was pondering the other day what kid stuff I would choose if I had to pick 5 favorite things.  After four babies in six years, there are a few things that I really love.  Some I discovered later into the game and some have been around from the start.

1.  Phil and Ted Stroller (with double ‘jump seat’ attachment) – This is my newest discovery but it still makes the list because it is so wonderful that I’ve sold every other stroller that was taking up space in our garage since this one is so top notch.  It has options for every possible baby/kid scenario.  It is incredibly lightweight, it folds up so small that it takes up a fraction of the space in back of my van compared to my other recent strollers (the Joovy Caboose and the InStep double baby jogger).  We often go out without a stroller, but when we need one, this one fits the bill in every way.

sept 09 089

2.  Ring Sling style baby carrier (like the one I bought from this darling Etsy shop) – I’ve been through about 12 different baby carriers.  Most have been sold on Craigslist.  The only remaining ones around here are an Ergo, a Baby Bjorn and my ring sling.  The ring sling is so easy to nestle a newborn in and so quick and easy to slip a growing baby into for a hip carry.  Mine is a deep cranberry Tencel material and it still feeling positively yummy.  It packs up super small (which has become one top priority criteria these days!).

3.  Food.  Dinners I mean.  Okay, so it’s not a baby or kid product.  But there is something completely magical about getting to dinner time and having someone bring you food when you have a new baby.  Or in the months/years that follow when the days are still quite chaotic and exhausting, opening your freezer to find….real food.  Not a frozen pizza or corn dogs.  Food that nourishes and leaves you feeling full and good.  Food that you made.  Food that your friend who has five kids made you and brought to your freezer.  Food that Dream Dinners made or maybe the deli at Costco made?  Yes, that kind of food.  Absolutely priceless.  (And diet coke has been my long-standing unhealthy vice/coping beverage since day one as a mama.)

4.  Swaddling blankets and special blankies.  The first for new babes who startle themselves awake.  The Miracle Blanket saved our life more than once when we were going crazy with fussy babies.  It is weird looking and expensive but worth it’s weight in gold.  The second for all our kids has helped in them sleeping on their own.  They have all had a blanket that was special and smelled like their smell that they would snuggle with to sleep as they got older.

5.  A diaper bag that is organized,  functional and easy to clean.  I had to delete the word ‘cute’ because honestly, it wasn’t on my list.   For our first three kids, this was the Eddie Bauer diaper bag backpack.  It worked so hard for me it didn’t matter that it wasn’t pretty or trendy.  It held loads of clothes covered with bodily fluids of every kind.  It was big enough to hold snacks and baby supplies and serve as my ‘purse’ even once we had three kids.  It was small enough to fit under the stroller.  It was black and waterproof.  Need I say more?  I love that backpack.  But for baby four I did splurge and get a darling pink camo Wendy Bellisimo diaper bag that I have had such fun using the past year!

The things I didn’t need that I bought?  The list is long but on the top of it would be the giant carseat stroller combo thing.  I would have just needed a good carseat and then maybe the cheap little carseat carrier stroller if at all.  Also things like bottle warmers, powder scented bags for dirty diapers, a swing/bouncy seat/baby rocker (none of our kids spent much time in any of the above no matter how hard we tried).

And all the baby toiletries I thought I needed!  I had lotions, creams, washes and products up the wazoo.  And now, we just use Burt’s Bees Baby Wash for all 4 kids and some apricot oil if their skin is dry.  Same for baby medicines, holy cow we used to have a baby medicine for EVERYTHING.  And we shelled out doses of Tylenol like it was candy.  Last year I threw it all in the trash (since it was expired anyway!).  And now we have homeopathic tablets we use as needed and give a dose of Tylenol every once in a blue moon.

My how things change!  I am continually amazed at how simple things can be, how much we can do without (whether it is voluntary or involuntary) and how my perspective on parenting is ever evolving.  Just when I think something is worked out…it isn’t.  There is no “I have arrived”,  there is simply “We’re at least on the road” and doing our best every day (which on days like today means getting really, really dirty and laughing till we scream…and drinking diet coke…and eating tamales from the freezer that I bought from a darling little Mexican girl at a garage sale).

A gift my parents gave me

gift

Same as most people, there are things I want to do just like my parents did and there are some things I’d like to do differently.  A few nights ago I was reminded of something they gave us that was perhaps one of the greatest and most character shaping gifts they gave.

From an early age, before my memory even, my parents modeled a life of loving others.  When I was a baby, they welcomed a Laotian refugee family into their small home and my dad lost 15 pounds eating what they ate, mostly rice.  When I was an adolescent they welcomed unwed pregnant women who had no place to live and no one to support them in their choice to give life to their babies.  Seeds of unselfishness and sacrifice were planted in our lives. It wasn’t perfect, one girl taught my sisters and I how to unwrap our Christmas presents so we knew what they were then how to carefully wrap them back up so no one would know!  When no young mother was living with us, we hosted a Japanese exchange student and another time two twin homeless men who smelled so bad I can remember it still.

Into my early teen years just when any twelve year old is convinced that the world revolves around her and a small offense is a major infraction, my mom went back to work.  She found a job in private home health nursing.  She would provide care for two men with muscular dystrophy.  They were twins and the youngest of 5 children.

These two men quickly became a part of our family.  I honestly don’t even remember being apprehensive about their big wheel chairs, or the different way they talked or the fact that they were quadriplegics.  I remember being amazed at their sense of humor, at the fact they coached adult softball games and at the way they lived life despite tremendous limitation.  They let me and my 13 year old friends come play at their beautiful home and sing karaoke for HOURS.  They took our whole family, my mom working for them, to Sun Valley in Idaho one summer.  We sat at so many softball games where they coached from their chairs and were brimming with life and attitude.

My mom could have let it just be a job.  But it wasn’t.  Not for her.  It was a calling on her life for a season.  And we were all profoundly blessed as it unfolded.

Our mom worked for them for many years, her life, our family and Rod and Randy were all changed in the process.  Eventually she was led to a new job but we have remained in touch over the years.  On Wednesday, Rod and Randy took my little sister and I to a Colbie Callait concert.  The concert was monumentous.  Truly amazing at a small venue in Seattle.  But what was more amazing to me after our night when I got home and told Christopher about the concert and tried to talk but couldn’t because I was so choked up, was the impact these two men had on our family.  I really hadn’t pondered it too much before and when I did, I was overwhelmed.

Rod told me that night as we had a long time to talk before the show that he was so glad our mom had come into their life and that it was at a time that they so needed it.  I simply answered, “We felt the same about you”.   And that’s the truth.

My parents have lived a life of loving people-radically, extravagantly so.   The way that I feel comfortable around people who are very, very different than me.  The way I walk into a room and can pick out who most feels left out and who needs love.  The way my heart breaks for the marginalized and less fortunate.  All these things are the fruit of watching parents who weren’t afraid to generously love the people around them.

I can’t speak for my sisters but I can say at least for me that this is probably the thing I want most to do well the way they have.

Organization = success (sort of)

In the weeks that preceeded our formal beginning of homeschooling this past Monday, I spent a great deal of time trying to brainstorm ways to streamline our daily life and ways to set myself and the kids up for success as we prepared to dive into learning together.

The phrase that kept churning around in my head was that I wanted to “set me up for success”.  I wanted a plan.  I like plans.  Much as I like to let chaos rule sometimes and just make messes and play with the kids, it isn’t conducive to a happy home for very long.  Much as I also like to obsess about cleaning sometimes and get every tiny thing picked up, it isn’t conducive either to a happy home with happy children.

Middle ground.  It always seems to be my goal in most areas of life.  Finding the balance between a cleaning maniac mother who can’t let one thing get out of place and a disorganized, frazzled mother who can’t even find her shoes is the place  I am shooting for these days.

So to help in getting there, these are the things in place that may (or may not) be helpful to anyone else that I wanted to share…

I asked Christopher (nicely) about 3 weeks ago to help me get the house back under control every single night of the week.  I asked that we commit to reigning it in before it got out of control because I don’t believe my kids can learn well when there is complete disorder.  I put very specific stipulations on my request, namely that neither of us go online until the dinner dishes are done, the laundry is put away and the house is generally picked up.  This is a big, BIG sacrifice during fantasy football season and I knew it.  But I also knew it might have benefits that outweighed that hit.

I am amazed at what has taken place since we agreed on that.  If I slack during the day (and granted some days are so darn hard, it’s not slacking it’s just survival), then I am choosing to spent at least an hour maybe more late at night helping regain order.  If I keep myself going on the hour by hour tasks of the day, I am choosing to have little left to do at night and go to bed early or read a book snuggled in my bed for 2 hours.

In 3 weeks I’ve read more fiction books than in the past 3 years of my life.  Not kidding.  I have chosen to do a load of laundry every single day instead of save it all for the weekend, thus creating a monumentous task that I have grown to hate.  I have chosen to spend time each morning and afternoon with the kids doing a quick pick up instead of ending the day with a battle of who’s going to clean which room.

My kids are still getting used to what it feels like to find clothes in their dresser instead of in the ‘clean pile’ in the family room that was usually taller than they were.  So is my husband.  He recently asked me where to find a clean shirt, I replied “folded, in your dresser” and he said “Really??”.  Yes.  It was true.

I also spent several hours two weekends ago organizing our homeschool closet.  I bought rubbermaids in all sizes for each subject and genre of supplies and magazine holders that serve as a spot to put the materials that we’ll use daily.  I did a big run to the goodwill with stuff we don’t need.  I got myself back to planning dinners for the week too, knowing that with school at home I’d need to be really to feed the masses on a constant basis.

I am well aware that the spectrum of daddy’s/husbands runs wide.  Some help a lot, some hardly help.  Some work long days and some don’t have a job.  But the feeling of being on the same page with the one who made this family with me is touching a deep part in my heart.  It is worth the effort and the several tries at communication that it’s taken to forge a new path in this area of our life.

I have two more posts about homeschool and daily life coming up later this week!  We are having so much fun I can hardly stand it.  The biggest reason for that is everything I wrote above….and extra measures of the grace that only God can dole out.

A weekend at the Nooksack

This last weekend was supposed to be a trip to Mt. Baker, to spend time together as a family with Nana, Papa, Auntie Stephie, Dee Dee, Buzz, and little Isaac…however, plans change.  As it turned out, I got to take the three big kids to Mt. Baker while Karissa and Audrey stayed home to rest and to work on other projects (blog post to come I am sure).

With Nana and Papa sharing their time share at Mt. Baker with the rest of the aforementioned family members, we were looking forward to some quality time staying right off the Mt. Baker Highway near the Nooksack River.  Karissa and I found a reasonably priced place to stay since our growing family no longer fits in the condo.  I was lucky enough to get off work early on Friday night, came home, packed up the van with our little family minus the two and headed North.

We got to our rustic cabin, moved in, and got ready for bed because we had a tremendous day ahead of us.  We were off to some breakfast with the family and then to hit up the Skyline Divide trail. This was an ambitious undertaking for our three little hikers, but they were up to the task, well, mostly anyway.  From the trail head, it is a two mile, 2150 ft elevation gain (steep for those counting at home) to a most beautiful North Cascades meadow with stunning views of the surrounding Cascades and Mt. Baker looming nearby enticing all climbers.  Our little group was not about to go one step further, so we enjoyed lunch in the glorious meadow resplendent with wildflowers.

You might be wondering why I was not wearing a shirt for some of those pictures.  It was not because I was trying to show off my manly physique, nor was it because I was too hot (it was a delightful temp), it had everything to do with the fact that Kyler had decided that a good way to thank his Daddy for carrying him all the way up the two mile trek on his back was to pee on him.  Yep, Kyler was in a ergo backpack, meaning that the only thing between me and him was his pants and my shirt.  So that wetness on my back that I thought was sweat, it turned out to be urine.  Nice.  So off went the shirt.  Of course both boys wanted to get in on the shirtless action.

A few other highlights were Nana singing “Climb every mountain” from the Sound of Music and of course Auntie Stephie getting knocked off the trail, down the hill, and onto a tree by a little horse fly.  You might want to ask her about that.  Once we figured out she was okay, we all shared a bit of a laugh.

Of course the hiking was Daddy’s highlight, but the highlight for the kiddos was the pool.  They just loved jumping in from the side, “swimming” over to the stairs to do it all over again.  Kyler must have jumped into my arms 200 times during the three times we went to the pool.  Time with their Auntie’s, Uncle, and cousin was treasured as well.  One of Caleb’s most treasured activities is throwing large things into the river.  Pictured above you can see him holding up quite a large tree that he found and proceeded to toss into the river.  It wound up getting stuck on rocks, but between throwing rocks at it, Papa going wading out in the water, and some enthusiastic cheers, that tree made it down the river (at least around the bend).

We missed Mama and Audrey, but we had a great weekend away.  We are so grateful that Nana and Papa have a little spot that is not too far away, perfect for a weekend getaway.  Much fun was had by all, and plenty of memories were made.

It’s not glamorous but…

…this is my life.

Last night I found myself sitting naked in the kitchen holding a puking toddler for longer than I care to tell you.  I had been snuggled in my bed reading a (fiction!) book relaxing from what had been too long a day.  And we had just heard that a friend’s son had fallen from a 2nd story window onto concrete and I was shook up and sad, after we prayed for them I grabbed my book and tried to calm down.

It was about then that Kyler opened his door, sobbing, holding a stack of baseball cards tightly in his chubby little hand.  I ran over to him, asked what was wrong, he mumbled, I tried putting him back in bed, offered water, offered to snuggle him, etc.

Then he threw up all over me.  I ran to the kitchen, while hollering for Christopher’s help (he was on the computer in the family room).  In one move, I stripped my puke-covered jammies off, sat down, grabbed a bowl, tried to catch the quickly coming additional vomit.

By about 3 AM Kyler had nothing left and finally rested for more than 30 minutes.  I took another load of disgusting laundry out to the washer.  I remembered what I had thought just this afternoon, “Wow, I caught up on 13 loads of laundry in 3 days…all by myself and I even folded it and put every bit of it away…this is pretty awesome.  The only thing that could undo how awesome this is is a puke-fest kind of night where I do wash in my sleep!”

Oh the irony right?!  But somehow shaking food chunks out the back deck at 1 AM I was honestly nothing but thankful.  Fairly close to gushing gratitude in the midst of the grossness.

I was not at the local trauma hospital hoping my son’s brain and body would survive a bad fall.

I was not at Childrens Hospital like another friend of ours is with a sick little girl.

I am not worried about how we will eat or pay our mortgage like several people in our life are.

I am not sick, my family though maybe encountering a bit of a bug, is not truly sick.

My husband has a job to go to today.  He will work his butt off on our behalf today.

Not knowing about my awful night, my older two kids got their baby sister out of bed and left me sleeping.  They changed her diaper, got her dressed, made her breakfast, put her in the high chair, fed her, played with her.  When asked by me if Daddy told them to help because I didn’t sleep, they were confused.  They said no, he was gone long before they woke up.  My heart bursted with love for them.

Watching Christopher spray the heck out of the nasty bedding in the backyard with a flashlight at midnight made me love him just a little bit more than I did yesterday.

Somehow despite no sleep,

not feeling great,

my husband being gone for 12 hours or more again,

and sick children…

We will get through the day.

Isn’t it amazing what a little bit of perspective does to the way we look at life? I am fairly blown away today just thinking about it.